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Serfs

Term used to describe several classes of person who were unfree in the sense that they were bound to the land on which they lived and worked and were therefore unfree to marry and move as they wished. Included domestic serfs or artisans who had no homes of their own and lived with the lord almost as slaves, and others who had holdings, homes and families. An understanding of 'serfdom', which had disappeared by the Tudor period, is helpful when we examine the development of household organisation and social hierarchy in the sixteenth century.