About this book
My first thanks must go to the Electors to Ford's Lectureship in English History in the University of Oxford, who honoured me with the invitation to discharge that formidable responsibility in 1969, generously interpreting the statute so as to allow me to deal with a subject which contained nearly as much Netherlands as it did English history. To Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford, and his fellow Electors, I am grateful for much encouragement, guidance and hospitality. The colleagues and pupils upon whom I have from time to time inflicted discussion of problems arising from my subject are far too numerous to be thanked individually. Two must nevertheless be singled out. Vivian Fisher of Jesus College, Cambridge, very kindly read the completed manuscript, and I have benefited by a number of characteristically penetrating comments and suggestions which he made. Geoffrey Parker, Fellow of Christ's College, generously allowed me to make use of his unique knowledge of the Spanish, French and Italian archives to check and supplement my own information. I am deeply grateful to both. Finally, it will be evident that quite apart from my own researches these lectures owe a heavy debt to many scholars, Dutch, Belgian, American and British especially, who have worked in this or related fields of inquiry. I am not less indebted to those from whose interpretations I have ventured to differ than to those with whom I have found myself in agreement.
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