Serf

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Related to Serfs: feudal system

SERF. During the feudal times certain persons who were bound to perform very onerous duties towards others, were so called. Poth. Des Personnes, p. 1, t. 1, a. 6, s. 4. There is this essential difference between a serf and a slave; the serf was bound simply to labor on the soil where he was born, without any right to go elsewhere without the consent of his lord; but he was free to act as he pleased in his daily action: the slave on the contrary is the property of his master, who may require him to act as he pleases in every respect, and who may sell him as a chattel. Lepage, Science du Droit, c. 3, art. 2, Sec. 2.

References in classic literature ?
That of the serf, or bondsman, was sad and sullen; his aspect was bent on the ground with an appearance of deep dejection, which might be almost construed into apathy, had not the fire which occasionally sparkled in his red eye manifested that there slumbered, under the appearance of sullen despondency, a sense of oppression, and a disposition to resistance.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois.
She was a serf, but had received a European education.
Konstantin Levin broke in with still greater heat; "the emancipation of the serfs was a different matter.
I am well dressed and reckoned not a poor man; the emancipation of the serfs hasn't affected me; my property consists chiefly of forests and water meadows.
Aniska was a dressmaker in the country, one of our former serf girls who had been trained in Moscow, a pretty wench.
He must bring nothing outside; we will go in -- in among the dirt, and possibly other repulsive things, -- and take the food with the household, and after the fashion of the house, and all on equal terms, except the man be of the serf class; and finally, there will be no ewer and no napkin, whether he be serf or free.
Recruited from all ranks of society and from every civilized country of Europe the great horde of Torn numbered in its ten companies serf and noble; Britain, Saxon, Norman, Dane, German, Italian and French, Scot, Pict and Irish.
Here birth caused no distinctions; the escaped serf, with the gall marks of his brass collar still visible about his neck, rode shoulder to shoulder with the outlawed scion of a noble house.
No longer ago than last night at the `Pied Merlin,'" the clerk answered, recognizing the escaped serf who had been so outspoken as to his wrongs.
Primitive communism, chattel slavery, serf slavery, and wage slavery were necessary stepping-stones in the evolution of society.