THIS book aims to trace the development of Europe and its civilization, from the decline of the Roman Empire to the opening of the sixteenth century, for the benefit of the college student and the general reader. It is almost needless to say that such a work makes little claim to originality in method and still less in subject-matter, which it has shamelessly borrowed from numerous sources. Indeed, in a book of this sort it is more fitting to apologize for anything new that one says than for following in old and beaten tracks. The author, of course, hopes that without making too radical departures he has introduced some improvement in selection and presentation of material, and that he has made few mistakes of fact and interpretation.
The Table of Contents indicates the general plan of the volume, which is to treat medieval Europe as a whole and to hang the story upon a single thread, rather than to recount as distinct narratives the respective histories of France, England, Germany, Italy, and other countries of modern Europe. French or English history may be studied as such in courses and books so labeled. Moreover, the modern interest in the national state has usually been carried too far in the study of the Middle Ages. Local division, not national unity and central government, is surely the striking feature through most of the medieval centuries.
Nor should one be misled by the influence of the German historical seminar or by Bryce's brilliant essay into making the Holy Roman Empire the central thread of medieval history. Far more important in actual life than the ideal of one Roman Empire were the feudal state and the self-centered town, the diversity and vigor of local law and custom. But it would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the pope and the clergy as unifying forces in medieval civilization. Consequently several chapters are devoted to the