Medieval Term of the Week: Villein

Villein
[vil-uhn]
Middle English vilain, vilein

1) The wealthiest class of peasant. they usually cultivate 20-40 acres of land, often in isolated strips.
   (MEDIEV-L. Medieval Terms)

2) A non-free man, owing heavy labor service to a lord, subject to his manorial court, bound to the land, and subject to certain feudal dues.
   (Gies, Joseph and Francis. Life in a Medieval Castle, 231)

3) The highest class of dependent peasantry, often holding between 30 and 100 acres; above them were “freemen” and “sokemen”.
   (Wood, Michael. Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England, 214)

4) In England, the holder of a villein tenement for which he usually owes agricultural services to his lord. The villein’s rights in his tenement are customary and not enforeceable against his lord by medieval common law. Personally free against all men but his lord, the villein nevertheless does not fully enjoy the rights of a free man. He is a tenant at the will of the lord; he cannont serve on a jury dealing with the rights of a free man; he cannot take ecclesiastical orders with emancipation; he cannot make a will; if he leaves his duties on the lord’s manor, the lord can use all necessary force to bring him back to perform them.
   (Hogue, Arthur R. Origins of the Common Law, 258)

5) A peasant who, by definitions established c. 1200, was unfree to the extent that, although not a chattel of his lord, he could not leave his holding and owed services for it which were limited only by custom and his lord’s court, not by the royal courts.
   (Reynolds, Susan. An Introduction to the History of English Medieval Towns, 200)

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My life has been pretty simple. I grew up in Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor's in Advertising. I have spent about the last ten years in web development. In 1998, a friend of mine and I started a web design company we ran for three or four years before deciding to close it due to the demands of school. Since then, I stayed in the web working with various companies in Alabama. I worked for a brief period with Southern Progress, namely with Southern Living magazine and Health magazine, in their web departments. While there, I also wrote for Southern Living magazine, Health.com., and the company's internal newsletter. I write as much as I can. For the last five years, I have been working on my first novel. I am on the third revision now and hope to be finished with this draft by the end of the year. I also write short fiction, though not as frequently as I used to due to the time I spend on the novel. My goal is to have my novel published in the next three years. Other interests include: History (particularly medieval and ancient civlizations), Reading, Foreign Language (I currently speak Spanish but plan to learn as many as I can), Landscape Photography, the outdoors, sports (especially college football), and Travel.

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