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This new edition of the second volume of The Cambridge Economic History of Europe is substantially as it was planned, and as much of its contents had been approved before his death, by the late Sir Michael Postan. His principal object was to fill gaps in the first edition, published in 1952, that were attributable to the circumstances of the war and post-war years during which it was written. The most important gaps were the absence of studies of Eastern European trade, of the Asian and African dimensions of European trade and, among ‘background’ topics, of the money and currencies of medieval Europe. These vacant spaces have now been filled. In only one particular has Sir Michael Postan's plan for the volume not been realised. It had been his intention that it should also include a Chapter dealing with medieval land transport and shipping, a Chapter which he had hoped to write himself. In the event this task was still uncompleted at the time of his death and it did not prove possible to arrange for its completion by another hand within a period that would avoid still further delaying the appearance of a volume which had already been long in preparation. It seemed best, therefore, to abandon this part of the plan for it, the more particularly because much of the evidence for trade routes and transport is reviewed, often in considerable detail, in the Chapters on the main trading regions.
The second volume of The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, first published in 1952, was a survey by an international group of specialist scholars covering trade and industry in pre-Roman, Roman and Byzantine Europe, the medieval trade of northern and southern Europe, and the histories of medieval woollen manufacture, mining and metallurgy, and building in stone. This second edition, in addition to revising most chapters and the bibliographies appended to them, also fills gaps which arose from the wartime and post-war circumstances in which the first edition was written. New chapters provide accounts of the trade and industry of eastern Europe, of medieval Europe's trade with Asia and Africa, and of medieval coinage and currency. Taken with volumes I and III of the series, this volume is designed to complete a comprehensive review of the economic history of medieval Europe as a whole. It was planned by the late Sir Michael Postan, and was largely completed under his editorship.