R CENT research has brought us to a far better acquaintance with what used to be disparaged as the Dark Ages, and there is a

tendency in some quarters to exalt mediaeval civilization as much as it was at one time the fashion to condemn it. But the more we learn about it the more necessary does it seem to hold a course midway between the one and the other extreme. We are concerned in it with a world of theory and a world of actuality, and have continually to take account at once of their mutual influence and of their divergence. 1

The dissolution of the old order in the west might appear to have given a death-blow to any unitary scheme of civilization. Yet the conception of unity, partly derived from the old Roman imperialism and partly encouraged by the growth of the Catholic faith and Church, retained a strong hold on the minds of men, and it found in time a centre in that anomalous creation, ostensibly a Christianized restoration, the Holy Roman Empire, which brought the notion of the oneness of Christendom, with Emperor and Pope as heads thereof, into the foreground of political and ecclesiastical theory, which it occupied somewhat to the neglect of the developing realities of the age~

The unmodified teaching of the Church, which dominated the world of thought and theory, did not favour either of these developments. It urged the unity of Christendom rather than its division into self-regarding States, and human brotherhood rather than exclusive nationalism. It looked upon the advance of money economy as involving in practice the pursuit of gain without labour, and condemned usury, or the taking of interest, both on Christian principles and on the Aristotelian ground that it was unnatural. 2 But the force of circumstances operated strongly against the preservation of a rigid attitude

towards these movements on the part of ecclesiastical authority. Thus, the Crusades, blest by the Church for their religious purpose, had as one of their main results a great extension of the range of commerce and consequently of the money economy. It has been said that the religious internationalism represented by the Crusades prepared men's thoughts for economic internationalism, and the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are undoubtedly characterized by the appearance of more liberal arrangements for exchange amongst the communities of Europe. 3 But as time went on the ultimate effect was seen in the strengthening and expansion of the ambitions of rulers, aiming at the development of their dominions into unified States, with centralized economies, adequately equipped for rivalry in commerce and otherwise with other politico-economic organizations. So it came about that the canonists, who set forth the rules of the Church in relation to all departments of human conduct, adapted their teaching to the actualities which they saw about them, so as to regulate as far as possible tendencies which could not be suppressed, and in doing so they gradually evolved, by the end of the fifteenth century, a comprehensive and systematic economic doctrine with a real-bearing on concrete conditions. 4 The influence of Church teaching was partly direct and partly indirect, partly intended and partly unintended. Its emphasis on the principle of association arising out of the belief in human brotherhood had doubtless stimulated the development of those local units of gild and municipality which in their economic policy pointed the way for the national

economies that were to imitate and largely supersede them. The stress which the Church laid upon the need to control industry and commercial operations in the interests of community was translated in the town systems to the interests not of brotherhood but merely of the local group as distinguished from other local groups-a version afterwards carried over into the national sphere. Moreover, the change whereby the canonists gave limited allowance to features of money economy which had previously fallen under their condemnation was in fact a step towards that exaltation of money which was characteristic of the fully developed Mercantile System, whilst writers like Nicholas Oresme, 5 who, though not breathing the mercantilist spirit, treated economic questions from the standpoint of the nation rather than of the individual or the municipality, put themselves in the line of the evolution of those national economies in which Mercantilism was to be worked out.