A form of serfdom under the feudal system, whereby peasants were free, but restricted in their movements and options by their lord, to whom they owed labour and services. In theory, the lord in return was meant to look after the wellbeing of the villein.
Fact of the Day
In 1506 the Principal of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, was accused of baptising a cat as part of a conjuring ritual to find buried treasure. He later became Bishop of London and a notorious heretic hunter, and was mockingly known as 'Bloody Bishop Christen-cat'.