This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book deals with many great events that have played an important part in historical literature. It focuses on the general patterns of the internal development of the European state, building on the tradition of bureaucratic and administrative history as well as ideological and cultural features. The book also focuses on administrative and bureaucratic history than many accounts, including intellectual history, courtly culture and the difference between absolutist and constitutional government. Joseph Strayer himself can hardly be accused of idealizing medieval government but he had a strong sense of government as an alternative to the chaos. Southern was more fascinated by the intellectual and cultural achievements of the Middle Ages but had a similar understanding of the practical aspects of government as Strayer.