This book would not have been possible without the contributions of an incredible array of scholars, librarians, archivists, administrators, editors, family, and friends. The foundations for this book came from my time at the University of Minnesota. I would like to thank first and foremost Michael Lower, for his tireless work in helping me learn the skills of the professional historian and educator. I am also indebted to Giancarlo Casale, Oliver Nicholson, Kay Reyerson, and Daniel Schroeter for their careful reading of my work and insightful suggestions for how to improve it. My research in Sicily, southern Italy, and Tunisia was made possible through fellowships and grants from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Early Modern History, Center for Medieval Studies, Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World, and Department of History. The vibrant intellectual community developed at these institutions (comprising faculty, graduate students, community members, visiting scholars, and staff) was indispensable to my work, and I am grateful to have been a part of it. I would like to especially thank the many staff members who worked to ensure that I could undertake my research trips and provided me with logistical support as I planned them. I am also grateful to the librarians at the University of Minnesota who processed my interlibrary loan requests and were gracious enough to forgive many of the fines on my overdue library books.
The University of South Florida has likewise provided me with a wealth of resources to complete this book. I am thankful to the Humanities Institute and Research & Innovation for their grants that allowed me to conduct research in Malta, Italy, and the United Kingdom during the summer of 2019. My colleagues in the Department of History have likewise been invaluable resources for helping me navigate the process of writing my book and submitting a book proposal. Our conversations about history, whether medieval or modern, have also been foundational for helping me evaluate the larger historiographical implications of my research. I would also like to thank the administrators in the Department of History and the librarians at USF for ensuring that I have not neglected any necessary reimbursement forms and for helping me assemble the materials necessary to write this book (respectively). Although COVID-19 made it difficult to obtain some sources for the revisions made to this book, the ILL team at USF (especially Sandra Law) did an incredible job of helping me locate rare resources. I apologize to those scholars whose works I should have consulted for this book but was unable to do so.
I am grateful to the archivists at La Trinità della Cava, the Malta National Archives, the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, and the British Museum for helping me locate texts, coins, and artifacts relating to Zirid–Norman history. If it were not for the summer paleography workshop hosted by Columba Stewart and the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, I would not have had the tools necessary to read the texts and inscriptions in these archives. My advisers and professors as an undergraduate at the University of Washington—Bob Stacey, Robin Stacey, Charity Urbanski, Joel Walker, and Alain Gowing—were also instrumental in cultivating my love of history and providing me with the tools to critically study it. I am also indebted to a number of scholars whose advice, feedback, conversation, and participation on conference panels has helped me assemble this book throughout its years of preparation: John Aspinwall, Joshua Birk, Sarah Davis-Secord, Hussein Fancy, Allen Fromherz, Laura Gathagan, Dawn Marie Hayes, Theresa Jäckh, Jeremy Johns, Alex Metcalfe, Robin Reich, Ramzi Rouighi, Tim Smit, Chuck Stanton, and Kali Yamboliev. I apologize profusely to anyone I neglected to include who should have been on this list.
The editorial team at Cornell University Press has been nothing short of phenomenal. I am thankful to acquiring editor Mahinder Kingra for meeting with me at Kalamazoo to discuss my book project and for encouraging me to submit a manuscript to CUP. Bethany Wasik has likewise been an indispensable editor for helping collate and organize all of the logistics surrounding the publication of this book. The series editors of Medieval Societies, Religions, and Cultures—M. Cecilia Gaposchkin and Anne E. Lester—have graciously provided comments across multiple drafts of my manuscript and discussed their suggestions with me in multiple meetings. I am forever thankful for their intellectual engagement with my work. I would also like to show my gratitude to the reviewers of this text, Paul Cobb and Annliese Nef, for providing feedback about my work and allowing me to contact them with questions I had about their editorial suggestions. Finally, I wish to thank the team at Westchester Publishing Services for their incredible work in copyediting and standardizing my manuscript. All errors in this book are my own.
My family and friends have provided much-needed emotional support throughout the many years in which this book was researched and written. There are too many of you to list here, but know that I am forever indebted to you for your support and compassion.