What was the state of English towns between 1400 and 1640? It was once accepted that they were generally in decline or suffering serious problems of poverty and economic crisis. This generalization has been strongly challenged, and this book guides the reader through the controversy, summarizes the opposing cases, and attempts a reasoned compromise involving new information from the author's own research. An extensive bibliography with notes helps the reader to come to his or her own conclusions. This is a book for both students beginning the study of the subject and for their teachers.