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6. Slavery, Power and Cultural Identity in the Irish Sea Region, 1066–1171

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Chapter Summary

Slavery was an ancient institution of some cultural significance for the societies bordering the Irish Sea Region in the early medieval period. Gender identity and power were intimately linked in the medieval societies of the Irish Sea region. Indeed, the twelfth-century proliferation of 'Celtic' slave raiding activities, which the author highlights, appears to have been symptomatic of an equally powerful cultural antipathy evident within the more traditional elements of Welsh, Irish and Scottish society. This antipathy was directed against the increasingly invasive cultural and political influences exerted by the English elite within these communities. Yet, twelfth-century 'Celtic' slave raiding campaigns should not necessarily be regarded as expressions of nascent nationalism. Rather, they were a defiant gesture of adherence to traditional warrior values in the face of an increasing infiltration of the external cultural norms of chivalry and reform.

Keywords: Celtic slave; English elite; gender identity; Irish Sea Region; Scottish society; slavery; Welsh



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