PREFACE - OUR aim in writing this book has been to prepare on broad lines an introductory survey of the medieval period, rather than to present yet another stereotyped text-book of medieval history. We have treated the period in its characteristic institutions as well as in its political developments, in the hope that the volume may prove useful to the general reader who approaches the Middle Ages with interest but without much background of knowledge as well as to the examination candidite. The devotion of so much mace to the consideration of social and institutional questions has necessitated the relegation of the history of the Eastern Roman Empire to a purely secondary position but we feel that our smmary treatment of this aspect of the Middle Ages is justifed by the fact that, despite the tremendous influence she exerted upon the political and cultural development of the West, Brzantium was never an integral part of the system which we know as medieval. We have tried within the necessarily limited scope of the series to add vividness and reality to our descriptions by quotation from contemporary sources.... Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are now republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.