From the tenth to the sixteenth century the cultural and economic ‘distance’ between East Central and Western Europe was considerably reduced. It appears that East Central Europe was being assimilated into Western (Roman Catholic) Christendom, economically as well as culturally and socially. This perspective has been strongly supported by Jerzy Topolski (1981: 375-9), Piotr Wandycz (2001: 36, 18-61), Jeno Szucs (1988: 331), Ivan Berend (1986: 331-2), Mihaly Vajda (1988: 343) and Andrew Janos (1982: 30-1), among others. Adhesion to the Western branch of Christianity, combined with a massive infl ux of German colonists, traders, priests, lawyers and administrators, brought East Central Europe into ever-closer communion with western European cultures. This is often perceived as at least partly offsetting the fact that most of East Central Europe (unlike the Balkans) did not have an indigenous ‘Graeco-Roman heritage’, as only small fractions of East Central Europe had ever been part of the Roman Empire.