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1. Law a burden attaching to an estate for the benefit of an adjoining estate or of some definite person
2. short for penal servitude



a special kind of real right, namely, the right with respect to a thing by virtue of which the thing is subject to use by another person within prescribed limits or by virtue of which its owner is subject to prescribed limitations.

Servitudes originated in Roman law, in the need for legal regulation of private property owners’ conflicting interests. Land easement, or praedial servitude—for example, the right to transport water across a neighbor’s land—antedated other servitudes. Roman jurisprudence also recognized personal servitudes, such as usufruct, the right of lifelong use of another’s possession.

In the epoch of feudalism, various kinds of servitudes were recognized in countries that had adopted Roman law. Bourgeois law also retained and systematized servitudes; in the 20th century the law in several bourgeois countries incorporated several servitudes, those pertaining to the industrial use of land, for example, for the laying of pipelines or the construction of power lines.

In diplomatic practice and international law, the term “servitude” refers to specific limitations on the territorial rights of one state with respect to use by another state. Examples of international servitudes are settlements possessing extraterritorial rights, military bases on foreign soil, and the right of transit through canals.

References in classic literature ?
Remember, Watson that though we have so homely a thing as a goose at one end of this chain, we have at the other a man who will certainly get seven years' penal servitude unless we can establish his innocence.
In the third place are liberatores, or salvatores, such as compound the long miseries of civil wars, or deliver their countries from servitude of strangers or tyrants; as Augustus Caesar, Vespasianus, Aurelianus, Theodoricus, King Henry the Seventh of England, King Henry the Fourth of France.
I managed to save Michael from the worst, but we had to send that perfectly innocent man to penal servitude for a crime we know he never committed, and it was only afterward that we could connive in a sneakish way at his escape.
This person appears to have been none other that Beddington, the famous forger and cracksman, who, with his brother, had only recently emerged from a five years' spell of penal servitude.
Our servitude to particulars betrays into a hundred foolish expectations.
The American, Abe Slaney, was condemned to death at the winter assizes at Norwich, but his penalty was changed to penal servitude in consideration of mitigating circumstances, and the certainty that Hilton Cubitt had fired the first shot.
He was in a morbidly nervous state by this time, and he pictured the trial, and his trying to explain the circumstances to the jury, and nobody believing him, and his being sentenced to twenty years' penal servitude, and his mother dying of a broken heart.
Once I was a monarch of the forest, as my antlers fully prove; but now, in my present upholstered condition of servitude, I am compelled to fly through the air -- my legs being of no use to me whatever.
Love's sweet servitude was a thing of which he had no comprehension.
00" began to smoulder under his lids again, and he returned himself to servitude.
Kwaque possessed a jews' harp, and, whenever the world of the Makambo and the servitude to the steward grew wearisome, he could transport himself to King William Island by thrusting the primitive instrument between his jaws and fanning weird rhythms from it with his hand, and when he thus crossed space and time, Michael sang-- or howled, rather, though his howl possessed the same soft mellowness as Jerry's.
These particulars I gleaned during one long month of servitude and imprisonment in the fatal red-brick house.