Skip to main content
Select Source:

villein

villein (vĬl´ən) [O.Fr.,=village dweller], peasant under the manorial system of medieval Western Europe. The term applies especially to serfs in England, where by the 13th cent. the entire unfree peasant population came to be called villein. The localism of medieval economy has made a general definition of villein status exceedingly difficult. The villein was a person who was attached to the manor and who performed the servile work of the lord and in some respects was considered the property of the lord. Various distinctions of villeinage, or serfdom, were sometimes made. In privileged villeinage the services to be rendered to the lord were certain and determined; in pure villeinage the services were unspecified, and the villein was, in effect, subject to the whim of the lord. The villein was theoretically distinguished from the freeholder by the services and duties he owed to the lord; these included week-work (a specified number of days' work on the lord's demesne each week throughout the year) and boon days (work required at busy periods during the seasonal year, as at plowing or harvesting time), payment on the marriage of the villein's daughter, payment of tallage on demand, and the like. In practice, however, distinctions blurred, and all land tenure on the manor tended to approach a common level. The villein in England was protected by law against all except his lord, and some guarantee against the lord's power was gradually extended by the royal courts. In the 14th cent. English villeinage began to disappear. A contributing factor in its decline was the increasing substitution of money payments for manual services; rents replaced labor dues. The Black Death of 1349 (see plague), by greatly reducing the population and thus making labor scarce, made the demands of villeins more difficult to refuse and thus hastened the decline. The growth of towns also influenced the breakdown of the older class distinctions and the building up of new.

For bibliography, see manorial system; feudalism.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"villein." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"villein." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/villein

"villein." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/villein

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

villein

villein was the term used to describe a peasant in a state of serfdom—i.e. subject to a lord and under obligation to perform labour services. The term ‘villanus’ was used in Domesday Book without any derogatory flavour to indicate persons who lived in ‘vills’—and therefore formed the largest social class. Though not free men, they were above the bordars and cottars who held less land, and well above the slaves, who had been numerous in Saxon England. But the term is not precise and status and duties varied from manor to manor, region to region, and over time. There was very little villeinage in Kent, in the old Danelaw, most of the north, and parts of the west. Villeins on crown estates were likely to have more privileges. As royal justice developed, the status of villeins sank, since they had no access to royal courts and could not serve as jurors. There were several ways in which they could escape from villeinage—by purchasing freedom from the lord (commutation); by escaping to a town for one year and one day; by taking holy orders (with the lord's permission). By the end of the 14th cent. villeinage was clearly disintegrating, villeins changing their status to that of copyholders.

J. A. Cannon

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"villein." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"villein." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/villein

"villein." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/villein

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

villein

villein in medieval England, a feudal tenant entirely subject to a lord or manor to whom he paid dues and services in return for land. The word is recorded from Middle English, and is a variant of villain.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"villein." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"villein." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/villein

"villein." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/villein

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

villein

vil·lein / ˈvilən; -ˌān/ • n. (in medieval England) a feudal tenant entirely subject to a lord or manor to whom he paid dues and services in return for land.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"villein." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"villein." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/villein-1

"villein." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/villein-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

villein

villein (hist.) see VILLAIN.
So villeinage XIV. — AN., OF. vilenage, medL. villenagium.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"villein." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"villein." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/villein-2

"villein." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/villein-2

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

villein

villeinAlun, Malin, Tallinn •Jacklin • franklin •chaplain, Chaplin •ratline •Carlin, marlin, marline, Stalin •Helen, Llewelyn •Mechlin •Emlyn, gremlin, Kremlin •Galen • capelin • kylin • Evelyn •Enniskillen, penicillin, villein •Hamelin • Marilyn • discipline •Colin, Dolin •goblin, hobgoblin •Loughlin •Joplin, poplin •compline • tarpaulin •Magdalen, maudlin •bowline, pangolin •Ventolin • moulin • Lublin • Brooklyn •masculine • insulin • globulin •mullein • Dublin • dunlin • muslin •kaolin • chamberlain • Michelin •madeleine • Mary Magdalene •Gwendolen • francolin • mescaline •formalin • lanolin •adrenalin, noradrenalin •crinoline • zeppelin • cipolin •Carolyn • Jocelyn • porcelain • Ritalin •Ottoline •javelin, ravelin •Rosalyn •merlin, purlin •Dunfermline • purslane

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"villein." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"villein." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/villein-0

"villein." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/villein-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.