In July 1991, thirty-five scholars met at the fourteenth-century Certosa of Pontignano in Siena for a three-day colloquium (jointly sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique and the Università degli Studi di Siena) on the topic of relationships between cadets et aînés, or younger and elder siblings. The geographical interests of the participants ranged from the frontier of the North American continent to the whole of the European, while their collective temporal expertise extended from biblical times to the present. The structure of the thematic sessions and the specific issues addressed in the course of the colloquium had been set out in countless early meetings of a ‘scientific committee’, comprising Georges Ravis-Giordani, Pier Giorgio Solinas, Martine Segalen, Lloyd Bonfield and Richard Wall. In large measure, the membership of that committee with respect to discipline and the scholarly agenda that it produced resembled the articulated goals of Continuity and Change. It therefore seemed appropriate that a selection of papers read at the meeting, and subsequently revised in light of the lively dialogue that followed the formal presentations, should provide the basis for the fifth special issue to grace the pages of this journal.