This first volume of a projected four-volume set details the impressive record of eight hundred years of English (later British) imperial rule. The editors have assembled the earliest documentary evidence necessary for a fundamental understanding of the priorities, devices, and frustrations in the British imperial experience. The documents balance the ideas, policies, and actions emanating from England with those evolving in the various colonies. This juxtaposition emphasizes the similarity of the problems experienced by the individual colonies. The documents also illustrate the relationship between constitutional developments and ideas in Britain, in individual colonies, and in the empire as a whole.