villein (vĭl'ən) [O.Fr.,=village dweller] - peasant under the manorial system of medieval Western Europe. The term applies especially to serfs in England, where by the 13th cent. the entire unfree peasant population came to be called villein. The villein was a person who was attached to the manor and who performed the servile work of the lord and in some respects was considered the property of the lord. Various distinctions of villeinage, or serfdom, were sometimes made. In privileged villeinage the services to be rendered to the lord were certain and determined; in pure villeinage the services were unspecified, and the villein was, in effect, subject to the whim of the lord. The villein was theoretically distinguished from the freeholder by the services and duties he owed to the lord; these included week-work (a specified number of days' work on the lord's demesne each week throughout the year) and boon days (work required at busy periods during the seasonal year, as at plowing or harvesting time), payment on the marriage of the villein's daughter, payment of tallage on demand, and the like. In practice, however, distinctions blurred, and all land tenure on the manor tended to approach a common level. The villein in England was protected by law against all except his lord, and some guarantee against the lord's power was gradually extended by the royal courts. In the 14th cent. English villeinage began to disappear.... But in the 21st cent it reappeared...
One in three households across Britain is now dependent on the state for at least half its income, it emerged today. Official government figures showed that more than seven million households are getting more of their income from government handouts.
According to David Green from Civitas, the author of the report, data on the real scale of state dependency have only been collected for the last five years or so. But he estimated that the proportion of households dependent on the state for at least 50 per cent of income had been probably as low as five per cent in the 1960s.
It rose during the 1970s and 1980s, especially because of soaring unemployment under the Thatcher government.
His report in the current issue of Civitas Review makes the wider point that conventional politics is no longer providing the answers to Britain's problems. The Blair years had "tested to destruction" the notion that big spending on health, education and welfare was the answer.