Gilbert Burnet. Bishop Burnet’s history of his own time…. 2 vols. London: Printed for Thomas Ward, 1724. Volume one displayed.
Burnet, who served as Bishop of Salisbury from 1689 until his death in 1715, began writing his ‘secret history’, as he called it, in 1683. Published posthumously, the two volumes cover the period from the English Civil War and Commonwealth of England to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession.
According to the Dictionary of Biography, Burnet’s History ‘engendered much excitement and clearly sold well in England, each volume going through a number of editions. In the following years several Dutch and French translations were published on the continent. Not all the attention was favourable, and Burnet's critics, of whom there were many, fell over themselves to excoriate it.... His problem came not in collecting information, but in sifting through the chaff to find the seed.... Burnet was a journalist [though] not a discriminating one, and his History, although a valuable source for the history of the period, needs to be used with some caution’.