Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The legal status or condition of a villein.
  • n. The legal tenure by which a villein held land.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The state of being a villein.
  • n. A feudal system involving villeins; serfdom.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A tenure of lands and tenements by base—that is, menial—services.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. tenure by which a villein held land
  • n. the legal status or condition of servitude of a villein or feudal serf

Etymologies

villein +‎ -age (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Valiant men, forsooth, shall arise in the beginning of these evil times, but though they shall die as ye shall, yet shall not their deaths be fruitful as yours shall be; because ye, forsooth, are fighting against villeinage which is waning, but they shall fight against usury which is waxing.

    A Dream of John Ball and a King's Lesson

  • As he says, "Bondage to the land was the basis of villeinage in the old regime; bondage to the job will be the basis of villeinage in the new."

    A REVIEW

  • This article explores the obstacles to such litigation, challenging the claim that servile villeinage acted to restrict villagers' choice of court.

    Archive 2008-12-01

  • Indeed, over the centuries Catholic kings and popes gradually abolished the institution of slavery replacing ancient slavery with the Feudal serf and then replacing the serf and the unfree villeins, bordars and cottars with a free, land-owning peasantry and villeinage.

    The State's Obligation to Recognize and Protect the Catholic Church

  • Cruel reaction ensued: Richard and Parliament annulled the charters; terrible repression followed, and a deliberate effort was made to restore villeinage.

    1377-89

  • Most men of these local villages, tied to the soil by villeinage but also by inclination, and likely to marry within a very few miles 'radius, tended to have a close clan resemblance and a strong clan loyalty.

    The Holy Thief

  • Even in villeinage we would have married and been thankful.

    A Rare Benedictine

  • The threat to haul him back to villeinage would be enough to make the lad take to his heels, the faster the better.

    The Hermit of Eyton Forest

  • I'd talked with him only once, but he took me so for a true man he'd hear no wrong of me, nor have me run to earth and dragged back into villeinage.

    The Hermit of Eyton Forest

  • 'I love you all the more,' said Hyacinth, 'for viewing my villeinage as past.

    The Hermit of Eyton Forest

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