The twelfth-century scholar saw himself as a dwarf sitting on the back of a giant, and this volume rests uneasily on the shoulders of a vast mass of previous scholarship. There is no way of adequately expressing my debt to the writings and conversation of others, except through the inadequate medium of the bibliography, which provides some introduction to the wealth of discussion made available by modern research.
I owe debts of gratitude to the Leverhulme Trustees and the British Academy for generous research grants, to Pembroke and Wolfson Colleges at Oxford for their very kind hospitality during periods of research. It is impossible to detail the archivists and librarians from whom I have received help, but I must mention in particular the Bodleian Library, which has provided a pleasant setting for work and access to magnificent collections of material. I am grateful, too, to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge for permission to quote from my previous book, The Discovery of the Individual.
From my own University of Southampton I have received much help, including a grant for research which enabled me to have for a time the valuable help of two research assistants, Alison Bideleux and Joan Wardrop. The Library staff have dealt with innumerable obscure bibliographical inquiries with great efficiency and good humour, and Mark Farley, of the Department of Education gave indispensable help in putting the material into machine-readable form suitable for transmission to the Press. My thanks are also due to Jean Colson, and to my pupil Claire Burch, for assistance in preparing the index. I am very specially indebted to two colleagues, Dr Ernest Blake and Dr Brian Golding, who have been an unfailing source of ideas and comments and whose reading of the manuscript has saved me from many errors and misinterpretations. Finally, my thanks are due to the History Department at Southampton for providing such a congenial and stimulating academic setting during the years in which this book was under preparation.