The Centre of East Anglian Studies at the University of East Anglia is grounded on three principles. First, that although the Centre is now a constituent part of the School of History, it should be committed to an interdisciplinary approach to the region's past, with due attention being paid to archaeology, art history and literary studies. Secondly, regional and local history should not descend into parochial antiquarianism, but rather should be set in the widest context of England and western Europe. This is particularly important for the medieval period, when East Anglia was one of the most prosperous regions of Latin Christendom. Thirdly, there should be vigorous interaction between the staff and students of the Centre and that wider community of archaeologists and historians, amateurs in the best sense of that word, who have over many years done so much to enhance our knowledge and understanding.
The papers printed in this volume represent the bulk of the proceedings of a conference held at CEAS from 8 to 12 September 2003. The majority of the lectures were given by members of UEA, but we are particularly indebted to those scholars from other universities, in Australia and the USA as well as Britain, who responded to our invitation to speak. Among these were Dr Benjamin Thompson and Dr Mark Bailey, whose valuable contributions were not available for publication, although Dr Bailey's paper will constitute the core of a chapter in his forthcoming book on the social and economic history of late medieval Suffolk. Many valuable comments and questions came from an enthusiastic audience which included many associate members of CEAS. Several of our distinguished visitors commented on the value of such a meeting which bridged the artificial gulf between university departments and the flourishing historical communities of the two counties.
I am grateful to the Dean of the School of History, Professor John Charmley, both for his enthusiastic support for the conference and for authorising the subvention of publication costs from Miss Ann Ashard Webb's Bequest. I received much cheerful support, moral and practical, from the secretary of CEAS, Mrs Jenni Tanimoto. I would also like to thank Dr Lucy Marten for preparing the index. As so often, I am grateful to the publishers, and particularly to Caroline Palmer, for undertaking publication and efficiently executing the task.