Town Life in the Fifteenth Century, Volume 1 (of 2)

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Produced by Giovanni Fini, MWS and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries) TOWN LIFE IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY VOL. I TOWN LIFE IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY BY MRS. J. R GREEN IN TWO VOLUMES VOL. I London MACMILLAN AND CO. AND NEW YORK 1894 The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BUNGAY. IN MEMORY OF JOHN RICHARD GREEN MARCH, 1894 PREFACE IN the twenty years which have passed since Mr. Green drew his brilliant sketch of the early life of English towns, and of their influence on the history of English liberty, the study of the subject in this country has advanced but little; and it is not, I think, too much to say that the pages of his History still present the most vivid and suggestive picture which we possess of the mediæval boroughs—a picture inspired by ardent sympathy and emotion. In this rapid and original survey the true proportions of civic history in our national life are boldly drawn; and the burghers and shopkeepers of the towns, long neglected and despised, take their place in the distinguished ranks of those by whom our freedom has been won by their sturdy battle against oppression, leading the way in the growth and elevation of the English people, and carrying across the ages of tyranny the full tradition of liberty. But the history of this great civic revolution, which in Mr. Green’s day cannot be said to have existed at all, has since then remained strangely neglected among us. While in foreign countries the study of the origin and growth of municipal institutions has been recognized as of overwhelming importance, and has already employed the erudition and tried the ingenuity of a long succession of scholars, English historians have stood aloof. No English name figures in the contests of the schools; nor is any English authority called to witness when a learned theory is advanced to solve the riddle; and if from time to time foreign scholars attempt to draw English towns within the range of their generalizations, the lack of sufficient or trustworthy materials at their disposal makes the result vain and unfruitful. No country indeed has been so backward as our

Alice Stopford Green

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