The suggestion for an illustrated history of early modern Europe originated with the Oxford University Press; I thank the Delegates and successive History Editors, Tony Morris and Ruth Parr, for their constant support and encouragement. The preparation of an illustrated book requires considerable collective effort from the publisher's production staff. thanks are due to all at Oxford, but especially to Anne Gelling, and the picture researcher, Anne Lyons. The matrix around which the book is organized is, however, my own, and responsibility for whatever limitations this has imposed on the themes covered rests with me alone. Any attempt to write the history of three centuries of a crucial phase in Europe's history will involve an unusually large measure of selection and compression. My hopes for this book are that the selection process may be at least clear and transparent, and that the whole text may offer a coherent vision, filtered through the insights of eleven diverse historians.
My ten fellow-authors have made the composition of this book into a true journey of intellectual discovery. All have responded to the challenge to write in this format with verve and commitment. They have handled my editorial interventions with unfailing courtesy and infinite patience, and have been in every sense collaborators rather than contributors. It is a pleasure to record my thanks to them here. The owners of copyright material used in illustrations are acknowledged elsewhere; here I add only my general thanks for their cooperation and assistance.
Gosforth July 1997