Slavery in the early medieval West remains an understudied topic, especially in regards to the relationships that formed between the free and unfree. Interactions within domestic space, and the management of enslaved people by the heads of household, created dynamic mechanisms for regulating, changing, or stabilising society and its hierarchies during a period of wider transformation.
Sixth-century Gaul offers a uniquely rich evidence base from which to investigate the question of slavery and society in the post-Roman world. The Histories of Gregory of Tours, the sermons of Caesarius of Arles, the acts of Church Councils, numerous hagiographies, inscriptions, and other materials mention slaves, slaveholding, enslavement, and manumission in sufficient detail to enable an in-depth study of the topic.
This doctoral project will utilise the presence of enslaved people in Gallic society, and their visibility in the historical record, as an opportunity to better understand social relationships within the transformative period represented by the sixth century, as the old Roman order began to be replaced by its medieval heir.
This research will be conducted as part of a much larger project, involving a team of scholars investigating the question of Domestic Slavery and Sexual Exploitation in the Household of Europe, North Africa, and the Near East, from Constantine to AD 900 / AH 287 (DoSSEproject.com), funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. As part of a team of scholars, you will collaborate and share your findings with your fellow researchers, as the team collectively seeks to investigate this greater theme. Your completion of your PhD, and your career success, will be prioritised as one of the project’s outcomes.