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Related to Villeins: Serfs, Villains



various categories of the feudal dependent peasantry in the countries of Western Europe in the Middle Ages.

In France, Germany, and Italy the villeins had a relatively better legal and property status than other categories of the peasantry. Villenage in these countries was characterized by the absence of hereditary personal obligations (that is, obligations attached to the person rather than to the peasant’s land allotment and paid from generation to generation to the same seignior), as well as by greater freedom in the alienation of holdings and wider opportunities to resettle on another es-tate, in a city, or on free land. The categories of villenage were formed in these countries in the ninth and tenth centuries. During the 13th and 14th centuries (the so-called period of liberation) many serfs became villeins. During the 13th-15th centuries the term “villeins” was used as a collective designation for the whole peasantry.

In England villeins were a category of the peasantry that endured the harshest forms of feudal dependency. English villenage was characterized by arbitrary obligations (at the will of the lord), onerous labor services, and strict limitation of the right to leave the land allotments. Moreover, a villein was subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of his lord. Villenage achieved its final legal form in England by the mid-12th century. Because of the presence of a strong royal power in England at that time, villenage was characterized by a more or less unified status throughout the country. In the 15th and 16th centuries, as the villein holdings became copyholds, villenage as a legal category disappeared in England.


Kosminskii, E. A. Issledovaniia po agrarnoi istorii Anglii XIII v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Barg, M. A. Issledovaniia po istorii angliiskogo feodalizma v XIXIII vv. Moscow, 1962.
Skazkin, S. D. Ocherkipo istorii zapadnoevropeiskogo krest’ianstva v srednie veka. Moscow, 1968.
Bloch, M. Kharakternye cherty frantsuzskoi agrarnoi istorii. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from French.)


References in periodicals archive ?
The medieval English villein was not in the same condition as a slave, says Skinner, for "it is only his property, not his person, which is sub potestate domini" (309-10).
All these diverse ideas were tied together in the later medieval definition of Jewish status as "servitudo camerae" sometimes "servi camerae," "serfs of the chamber [treasury]," somewhat akin to the position of the villein in feudal structure, that is, having security through custom, subject however to his ruler's will.
That land was available to the villeins to pasture the cow, to cut the wood, and to dig the turf.
These early Coventrians lived off the land, either as free men or as villeins, serfs and bordars belonging to the lord.
84) Howell asserts that customary land was `family land' or `hereditary land': see her `Peasant Inheritance Customs in the Midlands', 113-14; also her Land, Family and Inheritance, 244; for the flight of villeins from the manor (ibid.
9) When Venice acquired possession of the island, it also acquired the lands and the servile population known in Latin as villeins.
35) Homosexuals, he writes, are a "geographically concentrated and politically powerful minority" with "high disposable income" who have successfully aligned themselves with an elite "lawyer class," the "knights rather than the villeins," "Templars" who have betrayed the more "plebeian attitudes" of true citizens.
58) The gentry tended to use the somewhat less rigid "strict settlement" rather than entailment,(59) but the legal uniqueness of land continued to be a key element of the social system,(60) and although tenant farmers obtained rights greater than feudal villeins,(61) enforcement of the prerogatives of the landowning classes remained a central element of the English legal system.
In the eleventh-century tale of Manawydan soa of Llyr, when the saddlers of Hereford threaten to kill Manawydan and his companioas, Pryderi urges that they should stand their ground and llad y tayogeu racco ~slay those villeins yonder'.
And, as you'll also know if you're up on your medieval history, vilains are to Gaul what villeins are to Britain i.
The final act The Villeins are a five-piece Indie band from Newcastle who have been together for just over two years.
The bookies have aired no similar concerns about the betting public's appetite for an average Saturday's jump racing, so might it not be the case that the public's disenchantment has something to do with their feeling that they are treated as junior partners in the sport by jumping's leading lights and as a bunch of serfs and villeins during the summer?