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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.
REFERENCESKosminskii, 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.)
IU. L. BESSMERTNYI