(1) At their worst, these would have put the life of a poor labourer and his family on a par with or perhaps below that of an American slave or a Russian serf .(2) Those once obliged to be content with the role of feudal serf could now demand high wages and withdraw their labour if they didn't get the freedom and social mobility they requested.(3) Under serfdom , agricultural productivity was low, and only 2 or 3 per cent of the total population could be kept under arms, which meant about 700,000 at the front line.(4) The Village Assemblies, too, have become worse than they were in the days of serfage .(5) As I've already noted, at the lowest levels what we see is a slow but steady change from a countryside populated by slaves to one populated by peasants and serfs .(6) Throughout the long history of medieval serfdom , the serf was required to perform labor services for his lord.(7) In feudal times, slaves, serfs , and peasants were forced to work through different mechanisms, but the coercion and social control they experienced was external to work.(8) The idea that serfs and lords belonged to the same society would have been incomprehensible to people in the feudal era, when elites were not only physically segregated from peasants, but also spoke a different language.(9) Because many landlords had lost their serfs , the lords relaxed ancient obligations and duties.(10) When the Emancipation question was raised there was a considerable diversity of opinion as to the effect which the abolition of serfage would have on the material interests of the two classes directly concerned.(11) This was a tax paid each year by the serfs to the lord of the manor(12) Feudal serfs worked at back-breaking labor, dawn to dusk.(13) The prosperity of Syracuse and other cities depended on the exploitation of Sicels, who worked the land as serfs , and allowed the emergence of a wealthy agricultural class, sometimes with political results.(14) In feudal times the serfs had to rely on the beneficence of the lord of the manor.(15) In the east, in Prussia, Poland, Russia, and the eastern provinces of the Habsburg Monarchy, most of the rural population was bound to the soil and their lords as serfs .(16) The system broke down in the 12th and 13th centuries as towns and individuals achieved independence from their lords, though serfdom survived in some countries for much longer.