Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 March 2008
These listings attempt to supply basic information which might be used to estimate the relative size and wealth of English medieval towns over this long time span. They should always be used with care and more than a touch of cynicism. None of the documentary sources was created to serve the ends which historians have imposed upon it. Early administrations were inefficient and surviving records subject to damage and omissions of which we are unaware. Political influence allowed towns to escape their full tax burden and other factors of which we are usually ignorant led to inexplicable increases or reductions in their recorded financial obligations. Urban statistical assessments are bedevilled by the problem of defining the area which the town may legitimately be said to have covered: in the lists below some attempt has been made to include immunities and suburbs, and to exclude rural populations beyond the town limits, but this is frequently impossible to achieve, and some of the smaller towns may well have inflated values for this reason.