I would like to thank, first and foremost, those who assisted me in an advisory capacity as I developed this plan—John W. Baldwin and Gabrielle M. Spiegel. I have benefited from the suggestions of Stephen G. Nichols, Jerome J. Bylebyl, Monica H. Green, and Ruth Mazo Karras. Others have inspired and encouraged me along the way with excellent comments and lively debates, including Christine Reno, Rebecca Winer, the late Michael Powell, Elaine Beretz, Susan Klepp, Margaret Schaus, Thomas Izbicki, Michael Shaffer, and Julia Holderness. Special thanks go to Natalie Zacek and Laurie Anderson. The staff at the Gutenberg-e project and Columbia University Press deserves particular recognition for their assistance, patience, and technical support.
I gratefully acknowledge the support of the Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Loyola College in Maryland, and the American Historical Association. Portions of chapter one have appeared in Medieval Mothering, edited by John Carmi Parsons and Bonnie Wheeler (Garland Press, New York, 1996).
Lastly, my greatest debt is to my parents, and it is much more than mere filial duty. I would not have developed my love of learning without their support and encouragement. They ingrained in me from an early age the desire to examine the world through history, music, and literature. I deeply regret that my father did not live to see this book published. My parents taught me the importance of intellectual pursuits, so it is, appropriately enough, to them that I dedicate this book.