Like so many before it, this book has been a long time in coming. In an age when the completion of a PhD usually means the start of a long succession of research assistantships in the faint hope of eventually gaining a ‘proper’ academic position, I too was distracted from finalising this text by digitisation and other useful but time-consuming projects. These have also resulted in publications and feelings of accomplishment, but none that can match the sense of achievement of finishing this, my very own project, created, conducted and completed by myself alone, without outside interference or management.
However, this book would never have seen the light of day without the guidance and support of many who I am now finally able to thank in the traditional way. This book is based on the PhD thesis which I completed at the University of Aberdeen in 2004. I am very grateful for the funding I received from the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences at that institution in the first three years of my studies and from the International Max Planck Research School in Frankfurt am Main for the remaining eighteen months, as well as for the support and stimulation received from staff and students in both institutions, especially from my PhD supervisors Professor Angelo Forte and Dr Frederik Pedersen and from Professor Albrecht Cordes in Frankfurt. I would also like to thank the Northern European Historical Research Network, and especially Professor Allan Macinnes, for allowing me to spend two six-month periods abroad in Kiel and Groningen, where I was looked after by Professors Thomas Riis and Dick E. H. de Boer respectively. The latter has also since then provided me with muchappreciated guidance and advice. Thanks are also due to Professor Götz Landwehr from Hamburg, who kindly answered some of my questions on our mutual field of interest. I am grateful for the help I received from staff in the archives of four of the five towns researched in this study: the City Archives in Aberdeen, the Gemeentearchief in Kampen, the Archiv der Hansestadt Lübeck and the Archiwum Państwowe Gdańsk, as well as from Juhan Kreem at the Tallinna Linnaarhiiv, who sent me microfilms of all the relevant material. Similarly appreciated assistance was provided at the National Library of Scotland, the British Library, the Cambridge University Library and the Lambeth Palace Library.
I have also benefited from comments received from the external examiners of my PhD thesis, Mr David Sellar and Dr Carsten Jahnke, the latter of whom has since then kindly agreed to disagree with me on certain