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Definition of Villein

Babylon English

serf, indentured servant, vassal, servant who is bound to a feudal lord and can be transferred with the estate; (Law) type of slave during the feudal era
Villein Definition from Language, Idioms & Slang Dictionaries & Glossaries
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
See Villain, 1.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913), edited by Noah Porter. About
hEnglish - advanced version

\vil"lein\ (?), n. (feudal law) see villain, 1.
n : (medieval europe) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord [syn: serf, helot]

WordNet 2.0

1. (Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord
(synonym) serf, helot
(hypernym) thrall
(hyponym) cotter, cottier
(classification) Middle Ages, Dark Ages
(classification) Europe
Villein Definition from Social Science Dictionaries & Glossaries
The Knighthood, Chivalry & Tournaments Arms and Armour Glossary
A bondsman, a man bonded to the land that he worked. Villeins lived in villages, attached to a lord ’s holdings, all but a slave. A lord who owned the land to which a villein was attached could do anything with him he pleased, save mutilation or killing him. Villeins had few rights, and only in rare circumstances were released from their bondage. Under Henry I, this ceremony had to be conducted in a public place such as in a church or marketplace, that many gained knowledge of the release and the villein, now a freeman, was not considered to have fled his feudal contract. A man was a villein if his father was a villein; only by the release of the lord could be ever be free.
Villeins held few rights, unable to fish in the lord’s rivers, to hunt or draw firewood from his forests, marry his daughter off without permission (and a fee, generally), or commit his son to Holy Orders.
Villein Definition from Law Dictionaries & Glossaries
The 'Lectric Law Library
In France: a rural or urban non-noble. A rural free-man in England: a peasant with enough land to support his family.

Engl. law. A species of slave during the feudal times.'

The feudal villein of the lowest order was unprotected as to property, and subjected to the post ignoble services; but his circumstances were very different from the slave of the southern states, for no person was, in the eye of the law, a villein, except as to his master; in relation to all other persons he was a freeman.

This entry contains material from Bouvier's Legal Dictionary, a work published in the 1850's.
Courtesy of the 'Lectric Law Library.