The main purpose of this book is to offer a clear and simple survey and discussion of the history of Europe in the period between 1494 and 1598 for students in sixth forms, particularly those who are studying history at the Advanced level of the General Certificate of Education, though it is hoped that it will interest other readers as well.
The same plan has been followed as in the author's Seventeenth- Century Europe, Eighteenth-Century Europe and Hanoverian England. The first eight chapters are devoted to such introductory subjects as population, science, social and economic development, war and diplomacy, and these include chapters on the medieval Church, the Renaissance and overseas discovery and exploration to provide the background for the great themes of the century. Readers who prefer to begin the book by reading the narrative of the sixteenth century in Europe, however, may start with Chapter 9 and consult any necessary explanations by referring to the footnotes, which throughout the book have been confined to indicating complementary passages in the book so that repetition is avoided and the chapters are linked together. The aim has been to confine the narrative to the essential events and characters of a period and subject rather than to tell a detailed story, so that as much space as possible may be given to the discussion of the issues involved in a consideration of the important topics of the period.
An indication of the many writers on this period to whom the author is indebted would be too lengthy to include. The bibliography is, therefore, short and selective and consists largely of the leading authorities in English which may be used for further information on the most important aspects of the period, and at the same time is confined to those books which may be found in most libraries.