This book has been some time in the making and would not have been completed but for the financial assistance of the Humanities Research Board (subsequently the Arts and Humanities Research Board) of the British Academy bestowed in 1995 and in 1999. Material assistance was also provided by the Institut Francophone de Paris in 1995, and by the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Marseille, in 1999. I owe these bodies a debt that I am happy to acknowledge here.
Material help of a rather different kind was provided by several individuals as the typescript was being readied for the press. Mr Graham Norrie in the Department of Ancient History and Archeology of Birmingham University applied his photographic skills in order to enhance the quality of the illustrations, and Ms Noelle Plack, also a colleague, took time from her own Ph.D. studies in order to read through and correct the typescript from beginning to end.
Archival research in provincial France is a voyage of discovery punctuated by surprises, occasional setbacks and unanticipated friendships. The debts I have incurred are almost too numerous to mention, but I should like particularly to thank the following individuals and the public services that they head. In the Archives Départementales de la Drôme, Mme Michèle Nathan-Tilloy gave permission for documents to be brought to me while I was immobilised in Valence by transport strikes in November and December 1995. A member of her reading-room team even took me to where I wanted to go in her car. In Versailles M. Arnaud Ramière de Fortanier enlisted the help of the entire staff of the Archives Départementales des Yvelines and others besides (notably M. Philippe de Bagneux) in the search for materials relating to the village of Villepreux. He also entertained me royally in his apartment overlooking the Palace of Versailles. Madame Hélène Duthu, until recently the head of the Archives Départementales de la Lozère, provided commensurate help in respect of the village of Saint-Alban. On my frequent visits to Mende it was especially pleasant