in The life–cycle in Western Europe, c.1300-c.1500


Writing a book on this subject has inevitably made me conscious of the broad range of life’s experiences that have formed its content. Academically, the book has its genesis in a module I taught when I was first employed at the University of Wales, Swansea. I would like to extend my thanks to the students who took the module and to my colleagues for their interest and support over the last six years. In particular, Ralph Griffiths, who read and commented on part of the text, has been a constant source of information and inspiration. I am grateful to both Nicholas Orme and Joel Rosenthal for their helpful remarks on early drafts of chapters, and I have greatly benefited from the help of Alex Clarke, Leighton James and Ifor Rowlands. Needless to say, all errors still remaining in the text are my own.

The material on the life cycle has grown thick and fast since I began writing this book with conferences in 2005 likely to produce many more publications. My regular requests for interlibrary loans grew even while the book-writing was supposedly coming to an end. There is still much to be read and said, but life is short and a line has to be drawn somewhere. On that note, I am thankful to Manchester University Press for allowing me the extra time to consider some of the latest research. My family, who have seen far less of me recently than they would have liked, will be relieved that I wasn’t given any more. My dedication to them is a ‘thank you’ for tolerating my absences and for providing welcome distractions. Friends and fellow runners were equally adept at highlighting that there was life outside the book. 3M Gorseinon Road Runners, especially Louise, have shown me that intellectual frustration can be balanced with the physical pain and exhaustion of cross-country running!

Finally, I have been fortunate in having the support of two people whose faith in my work has never faltered. Alex Marsh has been a source of strength for nearly half my life. I have greatly appreciated both his patience and his critical eye. James Thomas deserves the last word (for once) because his invaluable friendship, encouragement and advice have steered me through many a low point. I hope they will think this book worth all their effort.

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