This book grew out of a seminar which Francis Zimmermann, Directeur d'Études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), invited me to give at the Laboratoire d'anthropologie of the Collège de France in May 1994. I had by then written various publications on the stem family, and decided to look at the Pyrenean case again. What I thought would be a simple rehash of old ideas ended up turning my earlier theses upside down.
Richard Wall, of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, provided the second main impetus, luring me into publishing a refined version of this seminar in Continuity and Change. He and Lloyd Bonfield, co-editor of Continuity and Change, fed many critical ideas and comments into this initial statement.
On the advice of Richard Grew, editor of Comparative Studies in Society and History, I decided to expand the theoretical aspect of the article, too condensed and esoteric when it appeared in article form, and to apply this theoretical framework to cases other than the Pyrenees. The rest of the story takes place at the Cambridge Group itself, where I opted to spend a sabbatical year in 1997-8. During this time, Richard Smith, Director of the Group, helped enormously with the chapter on medieval England. Peter Laslett and Richard Wall, in particular, gave the manuscript a close look, as did Pier Paolo Viazzo of the Department of Anthropology of the University of Turin, and helped greatly in giving it its final shape. To all of these people, but also to other members of the Cambridge Group who helped in other ways, either by their comments at my seminar or through purely material help (and here, I have particularly in mind Ann Thompson), I offer my most sincere and heartfelt thanks.
Finally, I also wish to address very special thanks to the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the financial support of which made my stay in England possible. I wish to thank most particularly the Commonwealth Awards Division and Mr Terry Illsley, its Director, as well as Mrs Anderson, who so kindly helped me with all the administrative aspects.
Last, but not least, my wife Heather not only co-authored of Chapter 8 of this book, but helped me articulate the whole volume more than anyone else, through the endless discussions which surrounded every chapter. Her help has simply been invaluable.