This book is a translation in a somewhat shortened form of the second edition of my German work, Die wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Grundlagen der Europäischen Kulturentwicklung, which was published in Vienna in 1923-4.
Cuts have been made first in the sections concerned with the older historical theories of the problems here dealt with, and secondly in the discussion of opposing theses and of the material yielded by research. In many places, also, the investigation into the origin of place-names and the examples put forward in illustration have been considerably shortened. Certain passages referring more particularly to England have been omitted, since a more detailed presentation of this material can be found in the works of English scholars, while in this English edition of my book stress is laid rather upon conditions prevailing on the Continent. The reader desirous of a fuller exposition than is given in these abbreviated sections, may refer to the footnotes indicating the corresponding passages in the German edition.
I should consider it a great honour if by means of this translation the results of my historical research may be spread throughout the English-speaking world.
My special thanks are due, above all, to Professor Eileen Power, who is the instigator of this translation, and who has throughout given her expert advice and support to the undertaking. Then I would extend my very warm thanks to the translators themselves, Miss M. G. Beard and Mrs. Nadine Marshall, and to the publisher for the pleasing appearance of the book. To my colleague, Professor Erna Patzelt, I am once again most deeply indebted for the difficult task she has fulfilled in shortening the German edition--a task which demanded not only the greatest familiarity with the subject-matter, but also a sympathetic understanding of the whole conception of the work. Finally particular thanks are due to Miss Richenda Payne, who has performed the arduous work of checking footnotes and seeing the book through the press.