chapter  6
2 Pages

Ultimate Slaves

ByCarl I. Hammer

Engilpoto belonged to that group which Patterson calls 'ultimate slaves', slaves or freedmen elevated to important administrative and military positions precisely because of their dependent status and their social alienation which ensured their unwavering loyalty to their masters. People like Engilpoto eventually coalesced into a distinctive, unfree social class within medieval Bavaria and elsewhere in Germany, the so-called 'ministerials' or 'serf-knights' Early examples can be found in Carolingian Bavaria, and there is no doubt that some unfree persons managed to improve their condition through service and enterprise. A similar, perhaps the same, group were the servi dominici or 'lord's slaves' who occur along with Duke Odilo and his son, Duke Tassilo, in the eighth century as benefactors of the monastery of Niederaltaich. Presumably, these freedmen were analogous to the 'familia Caesaris', the Roman emperors' household slaves who performed a variety of important administrative functions. A similar group may have existed under the Agilolfing dukes in the eighth century.