That all law relates either to persons, things or actions.
 1We have spoken above of natural law, the jus gentium, and the civil law, but  since the whole of the law with which we propose to deal relates either to persons  or to things or to actions,2 according to English laws and customs, 3and since  persons, because of whom all rights are established, are of the greater dignity,  therefore let us first look to them and their conditions, which are various and  diverse, and then to the law of persons which is directed to them.4
The first classification of persons.
 5The first and shortest classification of persons is this, that all men are either free  or bond, that is, every man is either free or bond, that the plural number may so  be reduced to the singular. Against this can be cited the ascripticius, so it seems,  for he is truly free though bound to a certain service.6 But to this a brief answer  may be given, for from him who is free a villeinage or villein service detracts in  no way,7 [this] distinction [only] being taken, whether such persons are villeins or8  [free men who] hold in villein socage of the demesne of the lord king, of whom more  will be said below.910Nor is what is said of statuliberi an objection,11 for though  a bondsman is in possession of his freedom he is in truth bond, though against his  lord claiming him as his villein he sometimes can defend himself and his goods by  an exception based upon his privilege.12 Since, then, every man is either free or  bond, 13we must see what freedom and bondage are, and how bondage comes  about.14
What freedom is.
 15Freedom is the natural power of every man to do what he pleases, unless  forbidden by law or force. But if so, it then appears that bondsmen are free, for  they have free power [to act] unless forbidden by force or law. But freedom is  defined by that law by which it is created, by virtue of which they are called free.16  For though bondsmen may be made free, since17 with respect to the jus gentium they  are bond,