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THE PREFACE to the Reader.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 _IT is dangerous (gẽtle Reader) to range in ſo large a fielde as I haue here vnderta|ken, vvhile ſo many ſundry men in diuers things may be able to controll mee, and ma|ny excellent vvittes of our countrey (as vvell or better occupied I hope) are able herein to ſurpaſſe me: but ſe|ing the beſte able do ſeeme to neglect it, let me (though leaſt able) craue pardon to put thẽ in minde not to forget their natiue coũtreis praiſe (vvhich is theyr dutie) the encourage|ment of theyr vvorthie coun|trie men, by elders aduaunce|ments and the dauntyng of the vicious, by foure penall examples, to vvhiche ende I take Chronicles and Hiſto|ries ought chiefly to be vvritten. My labour may ſhevv mine vttermoſt good vvill, of the more learned I require their further enlargement, and of faultfinders diſpenſatiõ till they be more fully enfourmed. It is too commõ that the leaſt able are readieſt to finde fault in maters of leaſt vveight, and therfore I eſteeme the leſſe of their carping, but humbly beſeech the skilfull to ſupplie my vvant, and to haue care of their dutie: and eyther to amend that vvherin I haue fayled, or be content vvith this mine ende|uour. For it may pleaſe them to conſider, that no one can be eye vvitneſſe to all that is vvritten vvithin our time, much leſſe to thoſe things vvhiche happened in former times, and therefore muſt be content vvith reportes of others. Therein I haue bene ſo careful, that I haue ſpared no paynes or helpe of frendes to ſearch out either vvrit|ten or printed auncient Authours, or to enquire of moderne eye vvitneſſes, for the true ſetting dovvne of that vvhiche I haue here deliuered: but I finde ſuch vvant in vvriters for the neceſſary knovvledge of things done in times paſt, and lacke of meane to obtayne ſufficient inſtructions by reporters of the time preſent, and herevvith the vvorthie exploytes of our countrey men ſo many, that it greeueth me I coulde not leaue the ſame to poſteritie (as I vviſhed) to their vvel deſerued praiſe. But I haue here imperted vvhat I could learne, and craue that it may be takẽ in good part. My ſpeech is playne, vvithout any Rethoricall ſhevve of Eloquence, hauing rather a regarde to ſimple truth, than to decking vvordes. I vviſhe I had bene furniſhed vvith ſo perfect inſtructions, and ſo many good gifts, that I might haue pleaſed all kindes of men, but that ſame being ſo rare a thing in any one of the beſt, I beſeech thee (gentle Rea|der) not to looke for it in me the meaneſt.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 But novv for thy further inſtruction to vnderſtand the courſe of theſe my labors. Firſt cõcerning the Hiſtorie of Englãd, as I haue collected the ſame out of many and ſundry Authours, in vvhome vvhat contrarietie, negligence, and raſhneſſe, ſomtime is founde in their reportes, I leaue to the diſcretion of thoſe that haue peruſed theyr EEBO page image 5 vvorkes: for my parte, I haue in things doubtfull rather choſen to ſhevve the diuer|ſitie of their vvritings, than by ouer ruling them, and vſing a peremptory cenſure, to frame them to agree to my liking: leauing it neuertheleſſe to eche mans iudgement, to controlle thẽ as he ſeeth cauſe. If ſome vvhere I ſhevv my fancie vvhat I thinke, and that the ſame diſlyke them, I craue pardon, ſpecially if by probable reaſons or playner matter to be produced, they can ſhevv mine errour, vpõ knovvledge vvher|of I ſhalbe ready to reforme it accordingly. VVhere I do beginne the Hiſtorie from the firſt inhabitation of this Iſle, I looke not to content eche mans opinion concer|ning the originall of them that firſt peopled it, and no maruell: for in matters ſo vn|certayne, if I can not ſufficiently content my ſelfe (as in deede I cannot) I knovve not hovv I ſhould ſatisfie others. That vvhiche ſeemeth to me moſt likely, I haue no|ted, beſeeching the learned (as I truſt they vvill) in ſuch pointes of doubtfull antiqui|ties to beare vvith my skill. Sith for ought I knovv, the matter is not yet decided a|mong the learned, but ſtill they are in controuerſie about it: Et adhuc ſub iudice lis est. VVell hovv ſoeuer it came firſt to be inhabited, likely it is that at the firſt the vvhole Iſle vvas vnder one Prince and Gouernour, though aftervvardes, and long perad|uenture before the Romaines ſet any foote vvithin it, the Monarchie thereof vvas broken, euen vvhen the multitude of the inhabitants grevv to bee great, and ambi|tion entred amongſt them, vvhich hath brought ſo many good policies and ſtates to ruyne and decay.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 2 The Romaines hauing ones got poſſeſsion of the continent that faceth this Iſle, coulde not reſt (as it appeareth) till they had brought the ſame alſo vnder theyr ſub|iection: and the ſooner doubtleſſe, by reaſon of the factions amongſt the Princes of the lande, vvhiche the Romaynes (through their accuſtomed skill) coulde turne very vvell to their moſte aduauntage. They poſſeſſed it almoſte fiue hundreth yeares, and longer might haue done, if eyther their inſufferable tiranny had not ta|ken avvay from them the loue of the people, aſvvell here as elſvvhere, either that their ciuill diſcorde aboute the chopping and chaunging of their Emperours, had not ſo vveakened the forces of their Empire, that they vvere not able to defende the ſame againſt the impreſsion of barbarous nations. But as vvee may coniecture by that vvhiche is founde in Hiſtories, aboute that tyme, in vvhiche the Romaine Em|pire beganne to decline, this lande ſtoode in very vveake ſtate: being ſpoyled of the more parte of all hir able menne, vvhiche vvere ledde avvay into forreine regions, to ſupplie the Romayne armies: and likevviſe perhaps of all neceſſarie armour, vvea|pon, and treaſure: vvhiche being perceyued of the Saxons, after they vvere recei|ued into the Ile to ayde the Britons againſt the Scottes and Pictes, then inuading the ſame, miniſtred to them occaſion to attempt the ſeconde conqueſt, vvhiche at length they brought to paſſe, to the ouerthrovv not onely of the Brittiſh dominion, but alſo to the ſubuerſion of the Chriſtian religion, here in this lande: vvhiche chanced as appeareth by Gildas, for the vvicked ſinnes and vnthankefulneſſe of the inhabitants tovvardes God, the chiefe occaſions and cauſes of the tranſmutations of kingdomes, Nam propter peccata, regna tranſmutantur à gente in gentem. The Saxons obteyning poſſeſsion of the lande, gouerned the ſame being deuided into ſundry kingdomes, and hauing once ſubdued the Brytons, or at the leaſtvviſe remoued them out of the moſt parte of the Iſle into odde corners and mountaynes, fell at diuiſion among themſelues, and oftentimes vvith vvarre purſued eche other, ſo as no perfect order of gouernement could be framed, nor the Kings grovv to any great puiſſance, eyther to moue vvarres abroade, or ſufficiently to defende themſelues againſt forreyne forces at home: as ma|nifeſtly vvas perceyued, vvhen the Danes and other the Northeaſterne people, being then of great puyſſance by ſea, beganne miſerably to afflict this lande: at the firſt in|uading as it vvere but onely the coaſtes and countreys lying neare to the ſea, but af|tervvardes vvith mayne armies, they entred into the middle partes of the lande: and although the Engliſhe people at length came vnder one King, and by that meanes EEBO page image 5 vvere the better able to reſiſt the enimies, yet at length thoſe Danes ſubdued the vvhole, and had poſſeſsiõ thereof for a time, although not long, but that the crovvne returned againe to thoſe of the Saxon line: till ſhortly after by the inſolent dealings of the gouernours, a deuiſion vvas made betvvixt the King and his people, through iuſte puniſhmente decreed by the prouidence of the Almightie, determining for their ſinnes and contempt of his lavves, to deliuer them into the handes of a ſtran|ger, and therevpon vvhen ſpite and enuie had brought the title in doubte, to vvhom the right in ſucceſsion apperteyned, the Conquerour entred, and they remayned a pray to him and his: vvho plucked all the heades and chiefe in authoritie, ſo cleare|ly vp by the rootes, as fevve or none of them in the ende vvas lefte to ſtande vp a|gainſt him. And herevvith altering the vvhole ſtate, hee planted lavves and ordi|naunces as ſtoode moſte for his auayle and ſuretie, vvhich being after qualified vvith more milde and gentle lavves, tooke ſuche effect, that the ſtate hath euer ſithence continued vvhole and vnbroken by vviſe and politike gouernement, although diſ|quieted, ſometime by ciuill diſſention, to the ruyne commonly of the firſte mouers, as by the ſequele of the hiſtorie ye may ſee.

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