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THE pressure felt by two teachers of English history for a comprehensive volume of documents bearing on the development of the English constitution has led to the compilation of this volume. No source book for the illustration of English history yet published has met the needs of the student of constitutional history. The excellent selections made by the late Bishop of Oxford, Mr. G. W. Prothero, Mr. S. R. Gardiner, and Messrs. Gee and Hardy only cover limited periods, or deal with one aspect of the subject. Excellent as those selections are, they are too advanced or too partial to be used in a college undergraduate course covering a single year.
The University of Pennsylvania Reprints and the Old South Leaflets contain too little material to illustrate a full course of English constitutional history. The editors have been guided in the present selection by their practical experience in undergraduate work, and it is hoped that it may meet the demands of similar courses of study in other colleges, and also of courses pursued in some secondary and in many law schools.
Every teacher of history has his own ideas of the relative importance of documents, and this compilation cannot expect to escape criticism either for its selections or for its omissions. There was no difficulty in deciding upon the insertion of the most famous documents, such as Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights, but the selection of documents of lesser importance to form illustrations of the growth of constitutional customs and traditions was of greater difficulty. The editors have kept in mind in making the selection that they were dealing with constitutional and legal, and not with political, economic, and social questions, and under this ruling many important documents, like the Grand