Wealth, status and gender
in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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Chapter 7, which is twinned with chapter 6, continues the analysis of the economic function of immigrants to England. It observes and analyses the presence of alien clergy within the kingdom, before going on to assess the evidence for the presence of aliens as established rural farmers. The main focus of the chapter is then on those usually classified in the records as ‘servants’ – a label that can cover a wide variety of functions (and social meanings), but which most often in this context denotes a temporary or permanent employee in the manufacturing, retailing or agricultural economies. The chapter concludes with a sustained discussion of whether alien women can be said to have participated in the so-called ‘golden age of women’ in the later Middle Ages, by enjoying the greater independence and prosperity that were experienced by at least some of their English-born counterparts. The chapter concludes that the position of alien women was a vulnerable one, and that it is highly doubtful that they enjoyed sufficient status or commanded sufficient reward for their labours to make them obvious beneficiaries of the wider redistribution of incomes with which chapter 6 began.

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