ENCOMIUM EMMAE REGINAE
May our Lord Jesus Christ preserve you, O Queen, who excel all those of your sex in the admirability of your way of life.
I, your servant, am unable to show you, noble lady, anything worthy in my deeds, and I do not know how I can be acceptable to you even in words. That your excellence transcends the skill of any one speaking about you is apparent to all to whom you are known, more clearly than the very radiance of the sun. You, then, I esteem as one who has deserved of me to such a degree, that I would sink to death unafraid, if I believed that my action would' lead to your advantage. For this reason, and, furthermore, in accordance with your injunction, I long to transmit to posterity through my literary work a record of deeds, which, I declare, touch upon the honour of you and your connections, but I am in doubt concerning my adequacy for doing this. This quality, indeed, is required in history, that one should not deviate from the straight path of truth by any divergent straying, for when in writing the deeds of any man one inserts a fictitious element, either in error, or, as is often the case, for the sake of ornament, the hearer assuredly regards facts as fictions, when he has ascertained the introduction of so much as one lie. And so I consider that the historian should greatly beware, lest, going against truth by falsely introducing matter, he lose the very name which he is held to have from his office. The fact itself, to be sure, wins belief for the veracious presentation, and the veracious presentation does the same for the fact. Having reflected upon these and similar matters, shame powerfully afflicts my spirit, when I likewise consider how very imperfect the customary behaviour of mankind is in such matters. In fact, when a man sees somebody giving the rein to words to express the truth of a matter, he blames him bitterly for loquacity, but another, whom I describe as one avoiding reproach, and too restrained in his account, he declares, indeed, to hide what was open, when he ought to uncover what was concealed. And so, hedged in by such difficulty, I fear to be called loquacious by the envious, if neglecting elegance of form, I adopt a prolix method of narration when addressing myself to writing history. Since, indeed, I see that I cannot avoid writing, I aver that I must choose one of the alternatives which I am about to enunciate, that is either to submit to a variety of criticisms from men, or to be silent concerning the things enjoined upon me by you, Lady Queen, and to disregard you, who enjoin me. I prefer, accordingly, to be blamed by some for loquacity, than that the truth of so very memorable a story should be hidden from all through rne. Therefore, since I have chosen this way for myself, greatly esteeming the lady who commands me, I will set aside one after the other affairs from which I can excuse myself, and proceed to the composition of my narrative.