Farm employees and slaves
Thanks to descriptions by Latin authors that have come down to us, we know something about those who worked at the villa. The owner might be represented by a steward, the procurator
, who was in charge of bookkeeping and administrative matters. Daily operations were the responsibility of the vilicus
, who oversaw the familia rustica
. Slaves (servi
) played a major role, either chained together or working in teams under the direction of monitores
. But slaves were not the sole workforce. Non-slave labour could still be found, in the form of seasonal workers and those providing specialised services, the mercenari
; there were also coloni
, tenant-farmers who developed parts of the estate.
Although we have taken to applying the broad outlines of this organisation to villas in Gaul, it is not a simple affair to understand the nature of the relationships within the estate. Upon examining certain layouts, we may tentatively hypothesise the existing of a dwelling for the vilicus
in the vicinity of the main residence and possessing certain comforts. We can be more certain when it comes to housing for labourers: identical small units organised in wings or quarters, and domestic equipment such as hearths. These structures tell us nothing about the status of their occupants. Inscriptions concerning slaves are infrequent in a rural setting, and it is rare to find shackles.