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This book aims to present a series of progressive views of the chief political changes in the world's history, by means of a map for each century and accompanying text upon the opposite page. It also aims to furnish a series of brief statements, with short illustrative citations, in regard to the most important national movements and the character and manners of each century.
One may thus readily trace the rise and growth of the more important states and empires, — their revolutions, decline, and fall,—and may see at a glance the states that have been in existence at the beginning of each century. It is merely intended to show in a general way the situation and extent of the chief nations at the beginning of each century, and the principal movements in the "course of empire;" therefore no attempt has been made to secure minute accuracy in drawing the boundaries of the various countries. A minuteness of detail in many cases would be very difficult or practically impossible to obtain, and would be entirely superfluous in a work of this limited character, as such details can be best found in the various elaborate historical atlases now in use. It is hoped that these Outlines will provide the general reader with a small manual for easy and quick reference, — a hand-book to answer the every-day questions about the world's political changes, and also to provide the student of history with a comprehensive outline-view of the whole subject, preparatory to (or in connection with) more extensive study or reading.
The grouping of pertinent passages from various authors to be found in the Illustrations for each century will be at the same time much more entertaining and valuable than the compendium of a compiler, and will give the reader at one view concise and independent judgments of competent critics, which it is believed cannot elsewhere be found, except through an amount of research entirely beyond the opportunity and inclination of most persons.
This volume is not offered as a substitute for the many valuable histories and historical atlases now in use, which, however indispensable to the special student of history, are oftentimes unavailable to the general reader or ordinary student, either from their cost or from their complexity, which renders them inconvenient for ordinary reference. Companion volumes upon the subjects of literature and art, arranged upon a similar scheme, are now in preparation.
It is hoped this book will answer many of the questions daily occurring to the ordinary reader, except where more minute details in the form of a connected narrative are sought.
CHARLES GARDNER WHEELER.