Villeins are opposed to socmen and freemen on one hand, to bordarii, cottagers and slaves on the other.
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.
While the occasional services, even when agricultural, in no way established a presumption of villenage, and many socmen, freemen and holders by serjeanty submitted to them, agricultural week-work was primarily considered as a trait of villenage and must have played an important part in the process of classification of early Norman society.
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