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also vil·lain  (vĭl′ən, -ān′, vĭ-lān′)
One of a class of feudal serfs who held the legal status of freemen in their dealings with all people except their lord.

[Middle English vilein; see villain.]


(ˈvɪlən) or


(Historical Terms) (in medieval Europe) a peasant personally bound to his lord, to whom he paid dues and services, sometimes commuted to rents, in return for his land
[C14: from Old French vilein serf; see villain]


(ˈvɪl ən, -eɪn, vɪˈleɪn)

(in the feudal system) a member of a class of persons who were serfs with respect to their lord but had the rights of freemen with respect to others.
[1275–1325; see villain]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.villein - (Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lordvillein - (Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord
Europe - the 2nd smallest continent (actually a vast peninsula of Eurasia); the British use `Europe' to refer to all of the continent except the British Isles
cottier, cotter - a medieval English villein
thrall - someone held in bondage
Dark Ages, Middle Ages - the period of history between classical antiquity and the Italian Renaissance


[ˈvɪlɪn] N (Hist) → villano/a m/f


n (Hist) → Leibeigene(r) mf
References in classic literature ?
The four on this side are all workers, three of them in the service of the bailiff of Sir Baldwin Redvers, and the other, he with the sheepskin, is, as I hear, a villein from the midlands who hath run from his master.
For that matter, the professional men and the artists are at this present moment villeins in everything but name, while the politicians are henchmen.
I spoke of the professional men and the artists as villeins.
To call Iago a slave is to represent his behavior as slavish; that is to say, his machinations expose him as villainous both in the sense that he is of a lower class--a villein or villain--and in the sense that he is evil.
Participants providing the crucially important perspective of regulatory bodies will include Carlos Andres RebellEn VillEin, Executive Director, Colombian Communications Regulation Commission; Hessa Sultan Al-Jaber, Secretary-General, ictQATAR; Eugene Juwah, CEO, Nigerian Communication Commission; Abdullah Al-Darrab, Governor, Communication and Information Technology Commission,Saudi Arabia; and Alan Horne, Telecommunications Regulator,Vanuatu.
Institutions for monitoring and adjudicating rights existed, though in practice the abbey, lord, or knight could deploy those institutions more to their advantage than could the villein
Thus, for example, in 1551 thirteen gentlemen of Mantua sent the Lord of Mantua a letter of complaint against a sumptuary law which did not give sufficient weight to social differences, arguing their case as follows: "If we must observe rank, we fail to see why (be it said without ambition) the merchant should not be at least distinguished from the gentleman and the villein from the nobleman.
Quite to the contrary, Chesterton was an unrepentant enthusiast for modernity's chief accomplishment--the French Revolution and its democratic deliverance of the common man from his old feudal estate as serf and villein, elevating him to a social and political sufficiency heretofore unknown.
Pollente's villein, "with scull all raw," rushes out to collect the levy, "To whom [Artegall] aunswerd wroth, loe there thy hire; / And with that word him strooke, that streight he did expire" (5.
All these diverse ideas were tied together in the later medieval definition of Jewish status as "servitudo camerae" sometimes "servi camerae," "serfs of the chamber [treasury]," somewhat akin to the position of the villein in feudal structure, that is, having security through custom, subject however to his ruler's will.
These two immortal principles take care of many of the apparent inconsistencies of the article: for example: eight, heinous, feign, reign, villein, inveigled, surveillance, beige, veins, deign, et al.
The government's efforts became the main focus of the Nunan Judgement of 1903 that castigated "the growing tendency to treat the native, whether he is old or new settler, and whether any rights were secured to him under the 'certificates of claim' or not, as a tenant at will or even as an unfree villein or scriptus glebae.