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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.
court noted Coke's maxim that a villein freed for an hour is free
It is doubtful that there was any real public' to speak of at the time, given that the main differentiation in personal status was whether one was an unfree villein bound to the land, or a freeman.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a villein as "a feudal tenant entirely subject to a lord or manor to whom he paid dues and services in return for land.
and a villein [an unfree man] is to be amerced in the same manner, saving to him his growing crops"--thus protecting even serfs.
From this position, Bailey reviews evidence for the decline in personal serfdom in the century and a half after the Black Death, seeking to provide a more satisfactory understanding of the link between medieval villein tenure and early modern copyhold.
Everyone lies, from villein to tsar, passing through the priest, in a civil disorder, aspiring to the "Grace universe" and makes the people believe themselves "one with the gods".
He aims to reassess the decline of serfdom, address lacunae in the record, address unresolved questions, and explore how different types of leaseholds and copyholds emerged out of villein tenure and shaped EnglandAEs subsequent agrarian development.
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.
Al respecto, y para valorar esta propuesta desde una perspectiva mas amplia, es pertinente recordar que las restricciones a la movilidad informan en la Inglaterra bajomedieval la persistencia de un grado extremo de dominio politico sobre la persona del villein, cuyos origenes Hobsbawm llamaba a investigar.