Definition of villein in English:

villein

noun

  • (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 absolute powerless nature of their position may be summarized: ‘There was no custom, no tradition to which they could refer, as could the villeins or tenants, in the care of an autocratic master.’’
    • ‘If the courts decided that a slave was merely a modern-day villein, or serf, then his master might be legally entitled to transport him to Jamaica.’
    • ‘At the lowest end of the social scale this was self-evidently true of slaves, but it was also true of many other categories of tenant - the English villein, the Scottish neif, the Welsh taeog, and the Irish betagh.’
    • ‘Neither a serf nor a villein (a class of serf attached as a bondsman to a specific lord and/or manor) rightfully owned the land upon which he worked.’
    • ‘The villein, halfslave as he was in some respects, held lands of his own which he tilled on those days of the year when his lord had no claim upon him or his oxen.’
    • ‘It was another victim of the plague: by 1358 permission was given to turn its fields into a park because every villein was dead and the village no longer had any taxpayers.’
    • ‘Typically, villeins were required to work on their lord's lands at harvest time and to carry his produce to the market.’
    • ‘These ideas raised the imagination of the villeins beyond the harshness of their daily lives, fusing their anger with a utopian vision, creating a revolutionary consciousness, one that was about to burst into life.’
    • ‘In 1353 Lynn merchant and jurat Laurence de Reppes negotiated a release from all claim that a Roughton man had on him or his issue as villeins.’
    • ‘All villeins and cottars in the Seven Kingdoms gather to celebrate the successful harvests of the summer seasons and to prepare for the coming winter.’
    • ‘The court customary was the court for unfree tenants or villeins and was presided over by the lord's steward or bailiff.’
    • ‘As villeins or servants of a lord they represented the bottom tier of society.’
    • ‘He and his children were in 1353 released by Alan Reyner of nearby Roughton from any claim of being Alan's villeins.’
    • ‘They lorded it over us: we serfs and villeins got precisely zilch.’
    • ‘Beginning in November the status of foreign burgess was granted to various lords who wished to acquire exemption from toll, for themselves and their villeins, on products grown on their estates and on goods bought for personal use.’
    • ‘The grounds around the manor were permitted for the hunting recreation of the lord and lady alone; no such serf, villein, or peasant could so much as touch a tattered bow and expect to shoot anything with it.’
    • ‘Moving her body through the crowd of reeking villeins and fat noblemen, she looked up at Will, she being half a foot shorter than he.’
    countryman, countrywoman, peasant, daughter of the soil, son of the soil, country bumpkin, bumpkin, yokel, country cousin
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Origin

Middle English: variant of villain.

Pronunciation