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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
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.
The serf was about to reply, when the clear ringing call of a bugle burst from the wood close behind them, and Alleyne caught sight for an instant of the dun side and white breast of a lordly stag glancing swiftly betwixt the distant tree trunks.
Alleyne doffed hat and bowed head at the sight of him, but the serf folded his hands and leaned them upon his cudgel, looking with little love at the knot of nobles and knights-in-waiting who rode behind the king.
One only lingered, the black-browed Baron Brocas, who, making a gambade which brought him within arm-sweep of the serf, slashed him across the face with his riding-whip.
I would rather wed a branded serf from my father's fields.
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.
The old man of Torn attended to the training of serf and squire in the art of war, for it was ever necessary to fill the gaps made in the companies, due to their constant encounters upon the highroad and their battles at the taking of some feudal castle; in which they did not always come off unscathed, though usually victorious.
At the head of their respective companies rode the five captains: Red Shandy; John Flory; Edwild the Serf; Emilio, Count de Gropello of Italy; and Sieur Ralph de la Campnee, of France.
Gorshkov emphasizes serfs' entrepreneurial activities and mobility, traveling between their owners' estates and the towns where they worked in mills or engaged in trades, but most of that activity was, in fact, reflective of the last decades of serfdom.
On June 6, 1959, 302 serfs in the village, clad in rags, elected the preparatory committee for the first association of peasants in Tibet.
Here Russian serfs are rebelling and a Czar has escaped house arrest, on a mission to set up a new government apart from the old.