From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A servant or domestic worker is someone who works for somebody to help them to run their home. Many servants live in their employers’ homes. A century or more ago all large households in Europe or the United States, as well as other countries, would have had servants. A servant is not the same a slave, because slaves were forced to work for people. A servant is employed by somebody, and therefore servants get paid. They are free to leave their employment if they wish. Many servants are required by their employer to wear a uniform when being in their employer's home.
In large households in Britain there would have been a lot of servants. The butler was the most important one. At meal times he would have been something like a head waiter. Male servants were often called “valets”. A valet (a French word, pronounced with a silent “t”), may have been a personal servant who looked after his master’s clothes and comforts, and possibly looked after money matters as well. Female servants were usually maids who cleaned the house, cooks who prepared the meals and nannies who looked after the children. Gardeners would have done the gardening.
Although servants were not slaves, many of them in history were often treated badly. In the early 20th century new laws were made in Britain to protect servants and give them more rights. In the 18th century even musicians were servants and had to wear livery (uniform). In 1717, when the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach said he wanted to leave his job, the duke he worked for put him in prison.
Today in many parts of the world domestic workers from poorer countries are often employed by people in the richer countries.
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