Prince most serene, sacred king and most powerful lord: The brevity and fragility of this arduous and painful life, the constancy of inconstancy, the variety of fortune, and the mutation itself of the will and thought of man are the reasons that I have not written the prologue due to Your Excellency in this beginning. It is said by the philosopher, most serene prince, that all subjects naturally wish to serve their lords. And as I find myself desirous of the said propensity, a book came to my mind about the wise Merlin, among other books I have looked over, and it seemed to me that for the sake of Your Majesty's occupation it would be good to transfer it to another language than the one I read so that it could be understood, as it is desirable that Your Majesty should have and read from a library of many and diverse books, as many Catholic as chivalric.
The ancients were accustomed, most enlightened lord, in their daily meals, to bring sweets of varying kinds after the first courses, since they did not understand that the table would be sufficiently served if it provided only the necessary mainstays of the body, even if it did not satisfy such delights as gluttony demanded, despite their not being necessary or pleasing to the stomach. And as in the maintaining of the body there are principal foods and others, like sweets, which are not so important, there is a similar difference in the writings about churchmen and chivalry. This I say, most enlightened lord, because you will read this tractate on Merlin as a sweet, for the enjoyment of your occupation and knightly condition, compared with those others from the Catholic doctrines and the other sciences that your clear wit has seen.
With great gravity, most enlightened lord, runs the quill to write about the tumults of your reign, so much so that my speaking of it would be superfluous to recall it to your memory. Among many other misfortunes which Your Excellency has endured, one occurred to me which you suffered not long ago from the Duke of Berri's men, from whom you saw your subjects suffer infinite miseries in such degree, that we did not doubt we would swallow ten thousand misadventures as well as the flesh of the men whom our enemies killed; and not only that your subjects should see their womenfolk and relations die of hunger, but that a starving woman should eat her son whom they had killed and give a part of his flesh to another son she had, as well as other incredible misfortunes that were suffered there, as Your Excellency knows. And my opinion is that there has not been a king or prince or lord in these times who has suffered the named misfortunes with such courage. And so in this misfortune which you now endure, the eternal God orders your business, and what must be believed is that no other may alter it. In conclusion, enlightened lord, may Your Excellency receive the offered gift from this your servant, since at present I cannot serve you as your birth merits. It occurred to me to do as the good woman did who offered a single coin she had, which was to God a great offering, since he esteemed more her perfect and devoted will than the richness of the other offerings from noblemen made through ambition and vainglory. I humbly beg Your Serenity to give some place in the meanest part of the heart of your royal and virtuous humanity to the boldness that my rudeness of intellect has dared in your perusal of the present work.