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Medieval villages consisted of a population comprised of mostly of farmers. Houses, barns sheds, and  animal pens clustered around the center of the village, which was  surrounded by plowed fields and pastures. Medieval society depended on  the village for protection and a majority of people during these  centuries called a village home. Most were born, toiled, married, had  children and later died within the village, rarely venturing beyond its boundaries.

Common enterprise was the key to a  village's survival. Some villages were temporary, and the society would move on if the land proved infertile or weather made life too  difficult. Other villages continued to exist for centuries. Every  village had a lord, even if he didn't make it his permanent residence,  and after the 1100's castles often dominated the village landscape.  Medieval Europeans may have been unclear of their country's boundaries, but they knew every stone, tree, road and stream of their village.  Neighboring villages would parley to set boundaries that would be set  out in village charters.

Medieval peasants were either  classified as  free men or as "villeins," those who owed heavy labor  service to a lord were bound to the land, and subject to feudal dues.  Village life was busy for both classes, and for women as well as men.  Much of this harsh life was lived outdoors, wearing simple dress and  subsisting on a meager diet.

Village life would change from outside  influences with market pressures and new landlords. As the centuries  passed, more and more found themselves drawn to larger cities. Yet  modern Europe owes much to these early medieval villages.

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