Gender, Space and Place: The Experience of Servants in Rural Households 1550-1750

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Amanda Flather


This article examines the organisation and use of domestic space by servants for eating and sleeping, looking particularly at the seventeenth century and at middling sort households, broadly defined. It relates models of architectural and social change to the ways that individuals described their experience and use of domestic space in court records. It concludes that while there was a trend to separate the work and living spaces of servants from the rest of the family, an early modern house was not one where rigid and static social patterns were mapped upon its spaces. A number of social factors struggled to define the social character of a space, a struggle which largely pivoted around the concepts of control and use rather than separation or segregation according to status or gender. Spatial patterns were ephemeral. Nonetheless, it is possible to illustrate how some aspects of the social relations of the household were reflected in and reinforced by the way that domestic space was organised and used. Moreover, the implications of such use and organisation carry important messages about the nature of the household itself.


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Cómo citar
Flather, A. (2017). Gender, Space and Place: The Experience of Servants in Rural Households 1550-1750. Mundo Agrario, 18(39), e066.
Dossier: El trabajo doméstico y sirviente en la Europa rural (SS. XVI-XIX). Diversidad de modelos regionales y formas de dependencia
Biografía del autor/a

Amanda Flather, University of Essex

I studied history at the University of Essex where I completed my doctorate in 2002. My first book, Gender and Space in Early Modern England, which was published in 2007, is an attempt to explore the influence of gender on the use and organisation of space amongst early modern English men and women below the level of the elite. I was awarded the John Nichols Prize in English Local History by the University of Leicester in 1998, and have published on the organisation of sacred space; the influence of gender on the organisation and use of the market place; gender and religious violence in early modern England; the sexual division of labour, and the experience and use of domestic space by male and female servants.


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