From Servitude to Freedom

From Servitude to Freedom
Manumission in the Sénonais in the Thirteenth Century

William Chester Jordan

160 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 2 illus.
Cloth 1986 | ISBN 9780812280067 | $79.95 | €69.95 | Buy from De Gruyter
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512805314 | $79.95 | €69.95 | Buy from De Gruyter
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

"An admirably concise and integrated study. . . . This is a convincing and realistic analysis of the problem of manumission which neatly sets the issues in context."—History

"From Servitude to Freedom deals with a subject of global importance to medieval society, yet in vivid detail and mindful of all the complexity of the historical scene. It is written with a clearly defined focus and with admirable economy. It will not only inform the scholar, for whom it was first written, but it will also capture the imagination of the undergraduate and general reader."—John W. Baldwin

During the thirteenth century, many great French nobles and churchmen who possessed serfs decided to grant freedom to them or at least to remove some of their disabilities. Manumission—that granting of freedom­-was of major significance to medieval French society. William Chester Jordan studies the causes and consequences of the movement toward manumission by looking at the region around Sens in northern France. He supplements this regional approach with an intensive case study of the freeing of a group of serfs by the abbey of Saint-Pierre-le-Vif of Sens.

Using various scholarly methods for investigating regional communities, Jordan examines the numerous and complex reasons for the granting of freedom and, insofar as possible, the attitudes and hopes of those freed. He discusses in detail the sociological aspects of the manumission process and the profound uncertainties associated with it, and he explores the effects of manumission­-particularly the economic effects. His conclusions are based not only on the evidence gathered from Sens, but also on extensive comparisons with other regions in northern France and in England.

From Servitude to Freedom makes a significant contribution to the history of the European peasantry in the thirteenth century. It will be of value to scholars interested in medieval history, French history, and social history.

William Chester Jordan is Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University.

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