What did the Angles, Saxons and Jutes do to the native English?

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,118
I wrote not "all" but "most were enslaved ". Landed slavery does not mean they were wearing chains. We might point out serfdom, in part, developed from the concept of 'slavery' or 'thralldom'.
Many had the status of ceorls from which we get 'churl'. Not all theows, þeowne, from which we get thrall, worked on the land however and there were many categories: esne; góp; hláfbrytta, a slave in bread store; lytle, a female maid servant; scylcen, a female slave concubine and others with specific tasks such as grinding slaves. Some were born into slavery, some purchased and some penally enslaved. They did many different jobs and the use of 'chains' was epigrammtic and I am sorry if you did not understand that. Anglo saxons could be slaves too. They were not exclusively britons by any means. Serf however, is french, from latin servum, and refers to the lowest class of cultivators of the soil. It enters english well after the anglo saxons and they are not slaves. They had rights over land and property and the lord could not sell them.
 
Last edited:
May 2019
143
Salt Lake City, Utah
Excellent dialogue and discussion. Yes, the term ‘serf’ developed later but adequately describes the lower bonded-to-the-land slaves or thralls. The lord could sell the land with the serfs attached.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2015
1,350
Yorkshire
Many had the status of ceorls from which we get 'churl'. Not all theows, þeowne, from which we get thrall, worked on the land however and there were many categories: esne; góp; hláfbrytta, a slave in bread store; lytle, a female maid servant; scylcen, a female slave concubine and others with specific tasks such as grinding slaves. Some were born into slavery, some purchased and some penally enslaved. They did many different jobs and the use of 'chains' was epigrammtic and I am sorry if you did not understand that. Anglo saxons could be slaves too. They were not exclusively britons by any means. Serf however, is french, from latin servum, and refers to the lowest class of cultivators of the soil. It enters english well after the anglo saxons and they are not slaves. They had rights over land and property and the lord could not sell them.
If times were very bad whole families could and did voluntarily place themselves into slavery. We know this because of various law cases. In one case, a Saxon Lady granted manumission to a family fallen on bad times who had given themselves up to become her slaves.

In the early times war captives were more likely to be Britons and consquently a higher proportion of slaves were British . However over time the balance changed as more and more Saxons fell into slavery either through war, some legal transgression, debt or simply bad luck.

We are conditioned to think of slavery as huge gangs of male agricultural workers on the cotton plantations or the Roman Landifunda. In the subsistence economy of A-S England, this sort of slavery is not much use. Male slaves can and did run away - there were plenty of A-S laws dealing with this. The majority of slaves in such societies are women. The advantages are obvious, less chance of escape and opportunity to breed yet more slaves. In Ireland at this time, female slaves were so ubiquitous that they were a unit of currency, the Cumal, and fetched prices double that of the male. It was surprising how many A-S laws dealt with rape of Slave women. They were not recompensed of course. Part of the fine went to their owner but the majority to Crown (under Alfred's Laws)

In the Laws of Ine, 7th Century ruler of Wessex, Wergild ie worth of all Saxon and Welsh members of his kingdom were given a value (in general terms Welsh lords half that of Saxon etc down the scale) This extended as far as the slave where the maximum lashes permitted for a British slave was double that of Saxon for the same misdemeanour.

There were three main categories in A-S society - the Noble, the free Ceorl and the Unfree Slave. The unfree were never permitted to bear arms, the Coerl was expected to serve his Lord in times of war. If a slave was granted manumission, the ceremony included handing him a a seax, a large dagger, signifying that he was now a free man and an armed man.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,118
If times were very bad whole families could and did voluntarily place themselves into slavery. We know this because of various law cases. In one case, a Saxon Lady granted manumission to a family fallen on bad times who had given themselves up to become her slaves.
Yes, there were reports of people from Yorkshire placing themselves into slavery as far south as Worcestershire after the Harrying of the North. It was their only chance of food.
 
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authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,118
Excellent dialogue and discussion. Yes, the term ‘serf’ developed later but adequately describes the lower bonded-to-the-land slaves or thralls. The lord could sell the land with the serfs attached.
Like a landlord today might sell his house but the new landlord has to take on the tennants. English law meant that a master could not evict the tennants for a period of one year and one day after purchasing the land. This gave the serf much more protection than a slave who was a chattel.
 
Jan 2014
2,465
Westmorland
It's fairly well established amongst experts that the Celts arrived in Britain during the Iron Age.
This is not right. Pretty much the only scholarly consensus about the Celts is that the term 'Celt' is a linguistic and cultural label, not an ethnic one. What scholars argue is that aspects of Celtic culture diffused throughout Britain in the pre-Roman Iron Age. People came too, but there was no Celtic invasion and no replacement of the existing population.
 
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