This book attempts to distil something of what I have learned over many years of reading, writing and teaching about the early modern city. It would be impossible to mention by name all of those friends and colleagues who have contributed over the years to my thinking about this topic. But I do wish to acknowledge the help of four individuals who specifically assisted me in the preparation of this book. In the first place I must thank Robert Tittler for inviting me to write the book, for offering much useful advice along the way, and for reading the manuscript very carefully once it was completed. I am also grateful to my friends John Fudge and Gordon DesBrisay for critically reading drafts of the manuscript. Finally, I am deeply grateful to my wife, Rhoda Lange Friedrichs, for reading each chapter as it was completed and for generous amounts of encouragement and advice. All of these people offered numerous thoughtful comments about the text. I have gratefully adopted many of their suggestions and stoutly resisted some others. The final product is very much my own.
In an indirect way this undertaking also owes much to the inspiration of two great teachers with whom I studied long ago at Princeton University: Lawrence Stone and Theodore K. Rabb. Neither of them is a specialist in urban history, nor would either of them agree with everything that is said in these pages about the nature of early modern society. But most of what I know about how to look at early modern European history goes back to what I learned from these two teachers, and for that I remain very grateful.