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Christoph Cluse (2005)

Frauen in Sklaverei: Beobachtungen aus genuesischen Notariatsregistern des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts

In: Campana pulsante convocati. Festschrift anläßlich der Emeritierung von Prof. Dr. Alfred Haverkamp, ed. by Frank G. Hirschmann and Gerd Mentgen, pp. 85-123, Kliomedia, Trier.

The article deals with the use made of the female body in the case of slaves employed as wetnurses in Genoa and suggests viewing this form of appropriation of the body, which was fairly common in antiquity, as an escalation in human expropriation as far as medieval northern Italy is concerned. Female slaves employed as wetnurses appear in Genoese sources from around 1370. The necessary preconditions for this include the growing normalcy of “alien” women present in the city's households, a crisis on the market for wetnursing, and the growing financial incentives to rent out slaves as wetnurses. Above all, there had to be a significant number of unfree women who had themselves given birth a child (without the possibility, though, of founding a family). This indicates a trend towards a more frequent sexual exploitation of slaves. This resulted in cases, from the mid-fifteenth century on, when a woman slave was considered “defective” when she did not menstruate. Several medical expertises relating to court suits over the sale of such slaves are published in an appendix.

women wetnursing Genoa 14th century 15th century
by Christoph Cluse last modified 2007-01-17 11:17

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