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Slaves And Warriors

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Chapter Summary

In the Western European cultures of the early medieval period the enslavement of both men and women was a powerfully symbolic activity that was closely associated with warfare, sexual rapine and female abduction. A great deal of research has more recently been undertaken on the significance of warfare in relation to cultural constructions of both gender and ethno-centric identities. This chapter reveals how ritualised violence and conceptions of patriarchal power contributed towards the configuration of both gender identities and social hierarchy within the societies of medieval Britain. It analyzes the institution of the warrior fraternity within the societies of medieval Britain. Then, the chapter examines the close association between the warrior fraternity, violent rapine and female abduction. It discusses the significance of traditional patriarchal systems. It also examines how the institution of slavery provided the foundation upon which this traditional patriarchal order was built.

Keywords: early medieval period; gender identities; medieval Britain; slavery; social hierarchy; warrior fraternity



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