ABSTRACT

The Liber Manifesti records a large group of so-called 'laboratores'; this term, usually rendered in Catalan as 'hortolans', was used to refer to agricultural labourers who worked partly for themselves and partly for wages in the fields in and around the city. All in all, the portrait of the laboratores which emerges is that of a group of householders who were possessed of enough land to barely feed a family, but who would periodically supplement their family's income with wages. Despite the fact that 'casual' wage labour was undoubtedly needed in the city, it is a vexed question precisely how much was actually done, and how large these casual, extra-guild labour forces might have been. In the urban history literature, the laboratores are a relatively neglected group, in no small part because they did what is ostensibly rural work while occupying urban living space.