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Slaves and Warriors in Medieval Britain and Ireland, 800 -1200

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Modern sensibilities have clouded historical views of slavery, perhaps more so than any other medieval social institution. Anachronistic economic rationales and notions about the progression of European civilisation have immeasurably distorted our view of slavery in the medieval context. As a result historians have focussed their efforts upon explaining the disappearance of this medieval institution rather than seeking to understand it. This book highlights the extreme cultural/social significance of slavery for ...

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Overview

Modern sensibilities have clouded historical views of slavery, perhaps more so than any other medieval social institution. Anachronistic economic rationales and notions about the progression of European civilisation have immeasurably distorted our view of slavery in the medieval context. As a result historians have focussed their efforts upon explaining the disappearance of this medieval institution rather than seeking to understand it. This book highlights the extreme cultural/social significance of slavery for the societies of medieval Britain and Ireland c. 800-1200.

Concentrating upon the lifestyle, attitudes and motivations of the slave-holders and slave-raiders, it explores the violent activities and behavioural codes of Britain and Ireland's warrior-centred societies, illustrating the extreme significance of the institution of slavery for constructions of power, ethnic identity and gender.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...David Wyatt is to be praised for focusing on, and giving us plenty of arguments for, the significant cultural aspect of medieval slavery...This work should be on the bookshelf of every student interested in early slavery in Europe...""
Stefan Brink, Early Medieval Europe, August 2011
“David Wyatt has produced the first comprehensive account of slavery in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and England across the central four centuries of the Middle Ages. He is also sensitive to the Scandinavian influences and ancient Roman as well as Christian traditions that shaped a distinctive northern slavery along the shores of the North and Irish Seas... Vivid and compelling arguments and opinions make clear where Wyatt stands in the vast historiography on slavery... Wyatt has read widely in the sources and scholarly literature, and knows enough languages to recast the entire debate about slavery in northwestern Europe...”
Stephen Epstein, American Historical Review, June 2010, Vol. 115, No. 3: pp. 876-877
"Wyatt successfully presents an analysis of medieval slavery in cultural terms and offers a riposte to traditional interpretations warped by the lens of anachronistic economic principles...Whilst the book will be controversial amongst established medievalists, it offers a new and exciting exploration of how societies worked in Britain and Ireland during the early Middle Ages. As such, it is an essential read for anyone with serious aspirations to scholarship in that field." Richard Marsden, The Kelvingrove review, 5
"David Wyatt seeks to strip away our modern sensibilities to address the issues in the social political context of the time, in this case AD 800-1200...This is a detailed and scholarly book (shot full with footnotes and source references), fluently written, drawing on many and varied literary illustrations, with an impressive bibliography."
Caitlin McCall, Current Archaeology, September 2009, 234, pp. 46-7.
“truly a study of weighty historical scholarship underpinned by extensive research, utilising studies in many different modern languages, as well as employing archaeological evidence whenever needed. Wyatt seems equally at home with the very complex Irish and Welsh sources alongside the more widely known sources, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. If you wish to understand early medieval society you could do no better than read this all-embracing study of slavery in our islands.”
Terry Barry History Scotland. Vol. 11, No.3, May/June 2011
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789004175334
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/24/2009
  • Series: Northern World Series , #45
  • Pages: 460
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Wyatt, Ph.D. (2003) in History, Cardiff University, is the Co-ordinating Lecturer in History at Cardiff University's Centre for Lifelong Learning.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

List of Illustrations xi

Abbreviations xiii

I Slavery and Historiography 1

Medieval Slavery, Modern Sensibilities 1

Explaining Away Medieval Slavery 10

Approaching Slavery: A Case Study 23

Defining Slavery 36

Approaching the Sources 52

Slavery and Progress: A Self-Reflexive Perspective 54

II Slaves and Warriors 61

Warfare, Warriors and Slavery 61

Anthropological Approaches to the Youthful Warrior 62

Warfare and Masculinity in Medieval Ireland: The Fían 68

The Mursi: An Anthropological Parallel 82

Warfare and Masculinity: The Scottish Context 85

Warfare and Masculinity: The Welsh Ynfydyon 89

Warfare and Masculinity: The Old Norse and Old English Evidence 94

Abduction, Honour and Virilization 110

Slave Raiding and Virilization: The 'Rape' of a Territory 123

Slavery and Patriarchy 130

Ingroup-Outgroup: Slaves and the Warrior Fraternity 163

Conclusions 166

III Slavery, Power and Gender 173

Power, Honour and Gender 173

Powerlessness, Shame and Gender 206

Slavery and Gender 229

IV Slavery and Sin 243

Sex, Sin and Slavery 246

Reform Ideals vs. Warrior Norms 261

Challenging Warrior Norms in Anglo-Saxon Society: A Case Study 276

Reforming the English: The Impact of the Norman Conquest 296

Reconfiguring Norms of Power/Gender in Post-Conquest English Society 323

V Slavery and Cultural Antipathy 337

The Dynamics of Cultural Antipathy 342

Acculturation, Antipathy and the Welsh Warrior 356

Acculturation and Antipathy in Twelfth-Century Scotland 367

A Clash of Cultures? The Battle of the Standard, 1138 372

Invasion, Antipathy and Slavery in Twelfth-Century Ireland 385

Conclusion. The Enduring Legacy of Medieval Slavery 395

Epilogue 403

Appendix 1 407

Appendix 2 409

Bibliography 413

Primary Sources 413

Secondary Sources 420

Index 441

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