This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts covered in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book discusses the history of oral culture and was seen as forming together a history of the circulation of texts. Jessica Goethals explores the interplay between oral and written culture with particular reference to one of the most devastating events in the Italian Wars that began in 1494, the Sack of Rome by the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1527. Effective communication is also one of the most striking qualities of the prose writings of Niccolo Machiavelli. Stefano Jossa suggests that Caro's Apologia is not simply a manifesto for orality, but also an example of the use of oral language in a literary work. In 1977, Ruth Finnegan demonstrated that a relationship between the oral and the written is found even in societies in which the extent of literacy is very limited.