English Life in the Middle Ages

English Life in the Middle Ages

English Life in the Middle Ages

English Life in the Middle Ages

Excerpt

The objects of a text-book should be first to stimulate interest, secondly to satisfy that interest up to a certain point, and thirdly to indicate to those who wish to travel beyond that point by what paths they may attain to fuller knowledge. The two first of these objects I have endeavoured to keep before me while writing this book, and the third is partially fulfilled by my Bibliography.

Bearing in mind the fact that the book is intended for schools and for students who are not already experts in the matters treated of, I have confined myself to the more important or characteristic features of each subject, and have striven to state them as simply and lucidly as possible. For the same reason, when I have quoted medieval English writers I have not hesitated to modernize the spelling or even to substitute a modern word for its obsolete equivalent when I considered that the original would be a stumbling-block in the way of the unwary. My quotations are important for their meaning, and it is more essential that the reader should grasp that meaning than that he should have the exact original before his eyes and be left to gape amazedly at unfamiliar combinations of vowels and consonants. But no one will be more pleased than myself if any readers are moved to turn to those originals and tackle them for themselves. The Social Life of the Middle Ages can only be properly understood by the intimate study of the vast mass of confused and fragmentary remains which that life has left behind, and it is from no foolish modesty that I would point to the illustrations, taken from medieval sources, as in some ways the most valuable part of the whole book.

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