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It is in the middle ages when the current concept of villa begins to consolidate. A villa was a core population larger than a village but smaller than a city. The cataloging of villa provided it the feudal lords as a distinction and it was usually accompanied by a series of privileges (for example, many people in Spain are known as Villafranca because they couldn't enjoy any exemption in the payment of taxes or other benefits).
To differentiate one villa on the other, each of them incorporated another term that described as them in some sense (Villamayor, Villaviciosa, Villamarta Villarreal...). This name is not unique to Spain, but it also exists in Portugal, Italy and Latin America.
In the middle ages the municipalities that had this denomination were removed from urban centres, as was the case in ancient Rome. For this reason, its inhabitants had other customs and from the religious point of view contrary to Catholicism pagan cults practiced. This circumstance made the religious authorities will refer to its inhabitants in a derogatory way and call them villains with a discriminatory tint and not simply in its literal sense, i.e., which live or lives in a villa. Thus, the villain Word is used today as a synonym for offenders, although it is a term little used and almost disused.
The stately villas
A villa is also a type of distinguished House, also known as the Manor villa. They are usually palace-style, i.e. they are not a palace but they have a certain resemblance.
Originally, the stately villas were associated with a medieval institution, the Dominion (a territory that the monarchs donated in heritage to a noble for some reason). This ancestral sense also evolved and the nobles and wealthy people began to build their houses using the word villa with an additional denomination (typically with a woman's name). A distinctive feature of some of them is the incorporation of the coat of arms or family coat of arms in the the entrance portico.
In many Spanish cities, it is common to find a large mansion with the word villa very visible. Most were built before 1940, because as of this date was introduced another term, chalet.
Finally, and opposite of the meaning it was explained so far, somehow pretending to express a play on words, in some countries in Latin America, case of Argentina, used this word to understand a group of humble houses, from informal settlements.
Article contributed by the team of collaborators.