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[mass noun] The tenure or status of a villein in the feudal system.
- ‘So long as villeinage had importance, the courts reinforced status by requiring some labour services over and above that fixed by custom and practice.’
- ‘In particular, they rejected villeinage - the condition of hereditary unfreedom - which bore down on them in a variety of ways.’
- ‘The villeins had not won their freedom this time but had changed history and themselves forever, and within 50 years villeinage had disappeared from England forever.’
- ‘Rents had been low, too, on peasants' customary holdings; labour services had been commuted, and servile villeinage had virtually disappeared by 1485.’
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