Oath to a Lord Oath by a Lord Trading and Freeing Serfs Escaped Serfs Obligations of a Villein Origins of Serfdom

Those living in the village had various degrees of freedom. There were serfs and free peasants. But even if a peasant was nominally free, he was still bound to his lord in many ways; he held a life tenure on this farm, and could owe his lord labor and goods, so-called tallage.

Many medieval villages would be older than the seigneurial rights that would dominate its life in the Middle Ages; many villages were celtic in origin, or sprang up around a Roman villa (estate). Out of the need for protection in the early Middle Ages, many freedmen hurdled around the local lord, offering labor or goods, in return for protection. The distinction between freedmen and serfs could be very subtle; personal slaves as chattel were no longer current in the Middle Ages, but, conversely, many freedmen were now basically unfree, and legally bound to the ground they rented.
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