How to use Villeins in a sentence
A portion of the manor, generally about a third, constituted the lord's demesne, which, though sometimes separate, usually consisted of strips intermingled with those of his villeins.
It thus formed part of the common farm and was cultivated by the villeins and their oxen under the superintendence of a bailiff.
Below the villeins in the social scale came the cottiers possessing smaller holdings, sometimes only a garden, and no oxen.
This change led to the gradual disappearance of tenants in villeinage - the villeins and cottiers - and the rise on the one hand of the small independent farmer, on the other of the hired labourer.
At the latter date besides seventy-three villeins, bordars and serfs there were forty cervisarii, a species of unfree tenants who rendered their custom in the form of beer.Advertisement
The enfranchisement of villeins granted by Richard at the Mile End conference was revoked by parliament in 1382, and no permanent results were obtained for the peasants by Wat.
The capitularies of 805 and 821 also contain vague references to sworn unions of some sort, and a capitulary of 884 prohibits villeins from forming associations "vulgarly called gilds" against those who have despoiled them.
English lurked in farms and hovels, amongst villeins and serfs, in the outlying country-districts, in the distant ' See Stevenson, Waring and Skeat, op. cit.
On the other hand, at Messina there were few or none, and we hear of both Saracen and Greek villeins, the latter doubtless abiding as they were in Saracen times.
Both ceorls and geburs disappear as separate classes, and it is clear that the greater part of them must have passed into the rank of villeins.Advertisement
In the terminology of the Domesday Inquest we find the villeins as the most numerous element of the English population.
Out of about 240,000 households enumerated in Domesday ioo,000 are marked as belonging to villeins.
Villeins are opposed to socmen and freemen on one hand, to bordarii, cottagers and slaves on the other.
The protection of the assizes was tendered in civil matters to free tenants and refused to villeins.
The royal courts refused to entertain suits of villeins against their lords, although there was a good deal of vacillation before this position was definitely taken up. Bracton still speaks in his treatise of the possibility for the courts to interfere against intolerable cruelty on the part of the lord involving the destruction of the villein's waynage, that is, of his ploughteam, and in the Notebook of Bracton there are a couple of cases which prove that r3th-century judges occasionally allowed themselves to entertain actions by persons holding in villenage against their lords.Advertisement
Secondly, all independent proprietary rights were denied to the villein as against his lord, and the legal rule " quicquid servo acquiritur domino acquiritur " was extended to villeins.
More especially the police association, organized for the keeping of the peace and the presentation of criminals - the frankpledge groups were formed of all " worthy of were and wite," villeins as well as freemen.
There was one exception to this harsh treatment of villeins, namely, the rustic tenantry in manors of ancient demesne, that is, in estates which had belonged to the crown before the Conquest, had a standing-ground even against their lords as regards the tenure of their plots and the fixity of their services.
A material point for the application of the privilege consists in the fact that ancient demesne has to be proved from the time before the Conquest, and this shows clearly that the theory was partly derived from the recognition of tenant right in villeins of the Anglo-Saxon period who, as we have said above, were mostly ceorls, that is, freeborn men.
Of course, persons born from villein parents in lawful wedlock were villeins, but as to the condition of illegitimate children there was a good deal of hesitation.Advertisement
The customary arrangements of the work of villeins, however, render this contrast rather fictitious.
The obligations of downright villeins became to that degree settled and regular that one of the ordinary designations of the class was custumarii.
This point brings us to consider the matter-of-fact conditions of the villeins during the feudal period, especially in the z 2th, 13th and r4th centuries.
At that time the courts of law begin to do away with the denial of protection to villeins which, as we have seen, constituted the legal basis of villenage.
A powerful aristocracy was constituted, which owned estates and had them cultivated by serfs or villeins.Advertisement
Villeins and serfs in France rise gradually in the social scale, redeem many of the onerous services of feudalism and practically acquire tenant-right on most of the plots occupied by them.
To the French or Norman knight all peasants on his manor seemed to be villeins, and he failed to understand the distinction between freemen who had personally commended themselves to his English predecessor but still owned their land, and the mass of ordinary servile tenants.
Nor is it in the sphere of taxation alone that Williams organization of the realm stands on the old English customs. In the military sphere, though his normal army is the feudal force composed of the tenants-in-chief and the knights whom they have enfeoffed, he retains the power to call out the fyrd, the old national levee en masse, without regard to whether its members are freemen or villeins of some lord.
The landowners found thousands of the crofts on which their villeins had been wont to dwell vacant, and could not fill them with new tenants.
The villeins, as hard hit as their masters, resented the tightening of old duties, which in some cases had already been commuted for small money rents during the prosperous years preceding the plague.Advertisement
Gradually the landowners discovered that the only practical way out of their difficulties was to give up the old custom of working the manorial demesne by the forced labor of their villeins, and to cut it up into farms which were rented out to free tenants, and cultivated by them.
The marrorial system was already doomed, and the rent-paying tenant farmers, who had begun to appear after the Black Death, gradually superseded the villeins as the normal type of peasantry during the two generations that followed the outbreak that is generally known as Wat Tylers rebellion.
As a result of the rebellion of 1173-1174 it was provided that an oath of fealty should be taken by all, to wit, barons, knights, freeholders and even villeins (rustici)", and that any one who refused should be arrested as the king's enemy, and the justices were to see that the castles whose demolition had been ordered were completely razed.
Of the other villeins, 12 had ½ hide each, 20 had one virgate, and the other 40 held ½ virgate each.
Absentee landlords, he thinks, rack-rented the soil (p. 167), while the "inhuman severity" of their treatment of villeins led to a progressive decay of agriculture, destroyed the economic basis of the Latin kingdom, and led the natives to welcome the invasion of Saladin (pp. 327-331) The French writers Rey and Dodu are more kind to the Franks; and the testimony of contemporary Arabic writers, who seem favourably impressed by the treatment of their subjects by the Franks, bears out their view, while the tone of the assizes is admittedly favourable to the Syrians.Advertisement
The distinction between villeins in gross and villeins regardant, of which much is made by modern writers, was suggested by modes of pleading and does not make its appearance in the Year-Books before the r 5th century.
If, however, the two conditions mentioned were forthcoming, villeins, or, as they were technically called, villein socmen of ancient demesne manors, could resist any attempt of their lords to encroach on their rights by depriving them of their holdings or increasing the amount of their customary services.