My book Cosmopolitan Islanders derives from the Inaugural Lecture I delivered in 2008 as Regius Professor of Modern History in Cambridge. The brief of such a lecture is a tricky one – you have to say something about yourself, something about your field, and something about the discipline of History, and you have to appeal both to colleagues and to the wider world. In addition, in both Oxford and Cambridge, the only two universities with Regius Chairs of History, there have been many famous Inaugurals, by historians as varied as J. B. Bury, Hugh Trevor-Roper and, most famous of all, Lord Acton. In some universities, where professors are all-powerful, the Inaugural has served as a means of laying down the law about how the subject should be taught and researched. But in recent times this has been rare, and it has never really been true in Oxford or Cambridge; the one time that an Oxford Regius, the seventeenth-century specialist Sir Charles Firth, tried this, he ran into a huge amount of trouble and was more or less ostracised in the Faculty for the rest of his career.