Although this book is about the beginnings of impersonal exchange in the modern market economy, the history of its research and writing testifies to the persistence in our own age of more venerable traditions of generosity, friendship, and support. I am especially grateful for the financial aid that has made this book possible. Early in my training I received assistance from a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship and from Harvard University. Later a Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship from Harvard funded my first research trip to British archives. Additional research was furthered in part by other generous grants from Harvard, from the American Philosophical Society, and from the Folger Shakespeare Library. In recent years, Reed College has also helped with summer grants which have made possible the purchase of important research materials.
I also want to thank the staffs of the many libraries and collections that I visited in the course of writing this book. Throughout the project, my labors were immeasurably lightened by the kindness, skill, and knowledge of the archivists of the City of Bristol, especially Elizabeth Ralph and her successor Mary E. Williams. They have made the Bristol Record Office one of the best depositories in Britain in which to pursue local history. I am also indebted to the Treasurer of the Society of Merchant Venturers of the City of Bristol and to the Vicar of St. Mary, Redcliffe, Bristol, for permission to consult and quote from papers in their care and for courtesies extended to me during my visits. Grateful thanks are due as well to the staffs of the Bristol Central Library, the Bristol City Museum, the University of Bristol Library, the Bodleian Library, the Cambridge University Library, the Friends’ House Library, the Library of the Institute of Historical Research, the British Library, and the Public Record Office in Britain; the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, the Houghton Library, the Harvard-Andover Library, the Law School Library, and the Kress Library of Business and Economics at Harvard University; the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; the Huntington Library in San Marino, California; the Newberry Library in Chicago; the New York Public Library; the University of Wisconsin libraries in Milwaukee and Madison; the library of the University of Massachusetts–Boston; and the Reed College Library.
I am also pleased to acknowledge the permissions I have received to use portions of my earlier work in the present volume. Chapter 4 employs material from “The Demise of the Martyrs: The Feasts of St. Clement and St. Katherine in Bristol, 1400–1600,” which was published originally in Social History 11, 2 (May 1986): 141–69. Chapter 5 depends in part on my essay “Celebrating Authority in Bristol, 1475–1640,” which appeared in Urban Life in the Renaissance, pp. 187–223, edited by Susan Zimmerman and Ronald F. E. Weissmann and published in 1989 by the University of Delaware Press for the University of Maryland’s Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies. Portions of the Introduction, Chapters 6 and 7, and the Conclusion draw on and reproduce material from my article “The Corporate Town and the English State: Bristol’s ‘Little Businesses,’ 1625–1641,” which first appeared in Past and Present: A Journal of Historical Studies, no. 110 (February 1986): 69–105 (World Copyright: The Past and Present Society, Oxford). Several illustrations also are included in this book with the generous consent of those who hold the originals. Figure 1 is from Sloane MS 2596, f. 77 and appears by permission of the British Library. Figures 4 and 5 come from Robert Ricart’s The Maire of Bristowe Is Kalendar, Bristol Record Office, MS 04270 (1), ff. 5v and 152v respectively, and appear by permission of the City of Bristol Record Office.
My deepest thanks are owed to the many teachers, colleagues, friends, and family who have stood by and guided me as I worked and reworked the ideas and arguments put forward in this book. As an undergraduate I had the benefit of studying with an extraordinary group of teachers at Brooklyn College, who together taught me what it meant to analyze, argue, think, and learn. I especially want to mention the late Raymond de Roover, who gave me my first training in late medieval and early modern economic history, and Madeline Robinton, who introduced me to the study of British history. I am forever grateful to them. In many respects this book is the product of their teaching. At Harvard I was equally blessed. This book first took form under the tutelage of W. K. Jordan, from whose wide learning, sympathetic encouragement, and kindly supervision I benefited during the early stages of my career. After Professor Jordan’s retirement and death, my work was directed by Wallace MacCaffrey, who saw my dissertation through all of its stages. His probing questions, careful attention to detail, and generous criticism not only saved me from many errors but led my researches in a number of new directions which have occupied me since I completed my doctoral degree. I am very pleased that we have remained in close touch over the years, and I want to thank him here for his continued wise advice, warm friendship, and generous support. Only those of us who have worked closely as students with Wallace can truly know the breadth of his learning and the depth of his judgment. He has always seemed to me the perfect exemplar of a gentleman and scholar. A third figure among my teachers at Harvard also played an important role in shaping my understanding: the late Elliott Perkins, with whom I did not study in a formal sense, nonetheless taught me immensely important lessons about the close relationship of teaching to scholarship and about the larger ethical purposes of an academic career. I shall always cherish the friendship and moral support he gave me while I was a graduate student and for many years afterwards. I am not alone in remembering the warmth, hospitality, and human decency he and his wife Mary always managed to show when they were most needed.
I benefited over the years from the interest Bernard Bailyn has taken in my work and from the late John Clive’s friendly regard for my progress. I am also grateful for the thoughtful questions, warm encouragement, and wise advice of John Brewer and Simon Schama. I must thank Carole Shammas and Jonathan Barry as well. At crucial stages in my work, each of them stepped in to help me obtain otherwise inaccessible source materials. My former colleagues and students in History and Literature at Harvard and my present ones in History at Reed College also deserve acknowledgment. They provided the first sounding board for many of my ideas, and their encouraging responses gave me the impetus to go forward. In addition, I want to thank the scholars who attended my presentations of portions of my work at conferences and other occasions, including meetings of the Social Science History Association, the North American Conference on British Studies, the Cambridge Seminar on Early Modern History, and the Harvard History and Literature Staff Seminar. Their comments and questions helped sharpen the focus and extend the perspective of the present work.
Numerous friends and colleagues have read my work in whole or in part, and their advice, judgment, and criticism have been of great assistance to me. Along with those already mentioned, I especially want to thank Harold J. Cook, Natalie Zemon Davis, Sigmund Diamond, Stephen Diamond, Stephen Greenblatt, Harold J. Hanham, Clive Holmes, the late Roger Howell, Richard Marius, J. G. A. Pocock, Lawrence Stone, and Stephen White. In this connection, the readers for the University of California Press deserve special mention. Paul Seaver’s and A. J. Slavin’s reader’s reports were models of insightful criticism, as was the written commentary I received from Buchanan Sharp, who read the manuscript as a member of the Press’s editorial committee. Their remarks and suggestions for revision have without a doubt helped make this a better book. I also want to thank the editors at the University of California Press itself for the care they have taken with my manuscript and for easing my burdens as I have seen the book through its last stages. Stephen Greenblatt and Doris Kretschmer had faith in this project from the time they first encountered it, and I am certain it would not have appeared in its present form without their patience and confidence. Once the final version was submitted, Jane-Ellen Long stepped in as copy editor. I especially thank her for the numerous improvements she has made in the manuscript. Rose Vekony gave the book the benefit of her expert skills in seeing it through the press.
Finally I must say a few words about my greatest debts of all. My dissertation, out of which this present volume has grown, was dedicated to my mother and the memory of my father. That dedication inadequately acknowledges the care and love my parents always gave to me and that I still receive. I hope that this book answers in some small measure their aspirations for me. The present dedication is to my wife, Eleanor, and it too cannot fully acknowledge all she has contributed. Nor can it fully express my gratitude to her. Suffice it to say that without her love and faith, The Widening Gate would never have been completed. I must also note that she has commented on every one of its many drafts and that much of the statistical work presented here would have been impossible without her assistance. Throughout this book’s long gestation she has been its most faithful friend and helpful critic. Her sharp eye for detail has saved me from innumerable errors of omission and commission, and her excellent ear for the English language has helped remove many infelicities and inconsistencies in my prose. This book is not just for Eleanor; it is Eleanor’s as well as mine.
David Harris Sacks January 1991