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Medieval people

Medieval people

by Eileen Power

, 1999

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Folio society edition


Preface to the Tenth Edition

For years after the first edition of Medieval People had come out, Eileen Power collected notes and made plans for several essays to be included in an enlarged edition of the book. Of these essays only one, The Precursors, had been written out in full before she died; and it has now been added to the present edition, In its published form it is not in every respect identical with the author's original text.

The essay was takıng shape as Munich came and went and as the war itself was drawing near. No historian writing at that time about Rome menaced by the barbarians - and least of all a historian as sensitive to the extramural world as Eileen Power was could have helped noting the similarities between the Roman Empire in the fifth or sixth centuries and Europe in the 1930s. In the end, having finished the essay, she decided to withhold it from publication for the time being and to present it instead to a friendly audience as a tract for the times. This she did at a meeting of the Cambridge History Club in the winter of 1938: and for that occasion she replaced the opening and concluding pages of the origınal essay with passages, or rather notes for passages, more suited to the purpose.

I am sure she never intended these passages to be perpetuated in her Medieval People and I have therefore done what I could to replace them with a reconstructed version of her first draft. The reconstruction had to be done from somewhat disjointed notes and cannot therefore be word-faithful. The reader must therefore bear in mind that the first two pages and the last page ot the essay are mere approximations to what Eileen Power in fact wrote.


Peterhouse, Cambridge

April 1963


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