1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vill

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

VILL, the Anglicized form of the word villa, used in Latin documents to translate the Anglo-Saxon tun, township, “the unit of the constitutional machinery, the simplest form of social organization” (Stubbs, Const. Hist. § 39). The word did not always and at all times have this meaning in Latin-English documents, but “vill” and “township” were ultimately, in English law, treated as convertible terms for describing a village community, and they remained in use in legal nomenclature until the ecclesiastical parishes were converted into areas for civil administration under the Poor Law Acts. This technical sense is derived from the late Latin use of villa for vicus, a village. Thus Fleta (vi. c. 51), writing in the time of Edward I., distinguishes the villa, as a collection of habitations and their appurtenances, from the mansio, a single house, nulli vicina, and the manor, which may embrace one or more villae. In classical Latin villa had meant “country-house,” “farm,” “villa” (see Villa); but the word was probably an abbreviation of vicula, diminutive of vicus, and in the sense of vicus it is used by Apuleius in the 2nd century. Later it even displaced civitas, for city; thus Rutilius Numatianus in his Itinerarium speaks of villae ingentes, oppida parva; whence the French ville (see Du Cange, Glossarium lat. s.v. Villa). In the Frankish empire villa was also used of the royal and imperial palaces or seats with their appurtenances. In the sense of a small collection of habitations the word came into general use in England in the French form “village.” From villa, too, are derived villein and villeinage (q.v.) (see also Village Communities).