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Social Exclusion from Early Medieval Wessex

Riddiford, Martha (2008) Social Exclusion from Early Medieval Wessex. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Over the past twenty years Anglo-Saxonists have become increasingly interested in the mechanisms and processes through which West Saxon society was formed into a cohesive and coherent whole. They have focused on the ways in which kings and other figures of authority used their power in attempts to bring their subjects together by providing them with a sense of shared identity, purpose and ambitions. To date, however, academics have failed to recognise the important role that exclusion played in this process and this thesis serves to redress this balance. By examining the types of individuals that were excluded from full membership ofearly medieval West Saxon society and the reasons for their exclusion, it offers a new way of exploring the processes that made this society self-consciously more coherent. The thesis is structured thematically around five separate categories ofpeople who each in their own way experienced some form of social exclusion from the kingdom of Wessex during the seventh to late-tenth centuries, but focusing most heavily on the ninth and tenth centuries. Chapter one explores the concept of social exclusion as voluntary exile, entailing an investigation into the motivations that prompted Anglo-Saxon missionaries and pilgrims to leave behind their homes and kin. Most importantly, this chapter surveys the networks of support that such travellers exploited in order to help them survive as aliens in foreign territories. The next two chapters investigate types of individuals who were excluded as a result of an action or behaviour that was deemed unacceptable by the rest of their society. Chapter two considers the evidence relating to outlawry and excommunication and chapter three takes a broader view of the idea of deviancy and looks at how Anglo-Saxon criminals were brought to justice and punished for their unlawful behaviour. The final two chapters explore the potential for understanding the concept of social exclusion as 'social disadvantage'. Chapter four examines slavery and, most importantly, draws attention to the privileges and rights from which Anglo-Saxon slaves were excluded on account of their status as the legally 'unfree'. The fifth and final chapter considers in detail Anglo-Saxon attitudes to the body in order fully to appreciate the disadvantages that could be caused by bodily ailments; it questions whether or not impaired and disabled individuals experienced any form ofmarginalisation because of their bodily dysfunctionalities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.489865
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2013 10:25
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:52
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3657

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