In this work we have attempted to present materials which may serve to furnish a foundation for the study of medieval economic history. In undertaking this task we have been fully aware of the existence of the numerous source books covering the general fields of social and political history. The justification which we offer for this collection, however, is that there is no book, so far as we know, which gives to the student a translation of sources purely economic in character. Much of what we present is our own translation, and has not previously appeared in the English language. Where the translations of others have been used, due acknowledgment has been given.
The general design of the work has been to treat Europe as an economic entity, and therefore the materials have not been divided so as to show the separate development of different territorial units. Indeed such an undertaking would obviously have extended far beyond the scope of a single volume.
The book has been arranged on a topical, rather than on a chronological basis. To that end we have broken down some of the longer documents, and fitted them under appropriate subject headings. In making our selections we have tried to present a balanced and comprehensive account of the economic life of the Middle Ages.
A glossary has been added to explain some of the more unusual and inaccessible words found in the text. We gratefully acknowledge our indebtedness to the following libraries: Aachen Stadtarchiv, British Museum Library, Library of Congress, Harvard College Library, Library of the University of Illinois, John Crerar Library, Munich Staatsbibliothek, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis University Library, and the Library of Washington University. In addition, we are particularly indebted to the Rev. H. Regnet, S.J., librarian of St. Louis University, Miss Woodside of Washington University Library, Miss Gratiaa and Miss La