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In Spain, numerous servants, males and females, lived and served in religious communities of the regular clergy, against all their institutional rules. This situation was for long tolerated. According to the notion that the Church in general and the religious orders had about treatment of servants, those institutions, whether regular or secular, were considered as families, each with a father or a mother at its head. The condition of servants in the xviiith and early xixth centuries depended not only on their sex, age, fitness for work or training and on the wealth or social status of their employers, but also on their employer's legal status as private individual or institution.
The author considers all those persons who performed domestic service in ecclesiastical institutions, specifically monasteries and convents. The persistence of these institutions over time allows a good approach and we may observe how much these conditions depended on the statute of theses institutions themselves, as it happened in the early 19th century when measures taken against the religious orders had dramatic consequences for their servants.


Ofelia Rey Castelao
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