Some historians have classed as servants only people living with their masters; some have excluded farm servants; some have included married domestics living with their own families. The archive of the Bolognese Confraternity of San Vitale, also known as Università dei Servitori, is analyzed in this article to show how one group of servants defined a “true” servant. Their solution was to exclude from their association people who performed what they deemed “filthy” tasks. They also excluded women, giving us a particular insight in the history of gender and masculinity. In their view, the “true” servants were bourgeois (and locally born) men rather than lower class (migrant) women who are often identified as the stereotypical servants. Moreover, most members of the association were married, they had their own families in Bologna and did not always live with their masters. This makes possible the analysis of married male servants living with their own families, a category of servant that has received less attention than life-cycle servants.
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