“In Dominio Sunt III Carrucae Et Vi Serui Et III Ancillae”: understanding female slaves in Early Medieval England through Domesday Book
Pekşen, Meryem Tuğba
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The aim of this thesis is to provide an insight into the place and role of female slaves in eleventh-century England by examining the records of six counties in Domesday Book. In a general sense, medieval women are portrayed, if they are, as either wives or daughters; otherwise, they are invisible. However, Domesday Book reveals the presence of female slaves in Early Medieval England. They do not seem to be linked to any father or husband, and more interestingly, only female slaves are enumerated with a constant and regular pattern, and separately from the male members of peasantry with a few exceptions of widows. The records of the counties Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire are selected and examined due to the fact that they have a greater number of female slaves than the other counties and they are geographically close to each other. Domesday Book offers statistical data of female slaves; however, their position, their duties and potential working areas remain a puzzle to be solved. Therefore, this thesis explores the possible places where slaves, especially female slaves may have been put to work, based on the number and clues of possible occupations obtained from Domesday Book. In this respect, it manifests that female slaves were active members of Early Medieval English society even though their class and gender may have restricted their life.