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Reading between the lines: tracking slaves and slavery in the early middle ages

Wyatt, David ORCID: 2020. Reading between the lines: tracking slaves and slavery in the early middle ages. Gruszczyński, Jacek, Jankowiak, Marek and Shepard, Jonathan, eds. Viking-Age Trade : Silver, Slaves and Gotland, Routledge Archaeologies of the Viking World, London: Taylor and Francis, pp. 17-39. (10.4324/9781315231808-2)

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Society in medieval northern Europe was inherently violent. Wealth, status and identity were reinforced through ties of dependence, kinship, gift-giving and codes of honour – all functioning in apposition to slavery. The highly lucrative and opportunistic slave trade linked individuals, dynasties and communities across the region. The stigmas and stereotypes of the enslaved had widespread social and cultural currency, since concepts of slavery were enmeshed with those of shame and wider expressions of honour, security and belonging. Paradoxically, the enslaved were important to their communities precisely because they were so beyond the pale. Yet despite their marginality, the enslaved can be glimpsed by reading between the lines of our written sources.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
ISBN: 9781138293946
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 10:23

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