" Villeins," instead of free-holders, formed the most numerous class of the population.
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.