A villa is a population center . It was the Romans of antiquity who used this word to originally refer to a rural-type settlement intended for agricultural exploitation. In these places the farm workers lived and were mostly slaves. With the passage of time another modality was introduced, the urban village, where the owners lived.
It is in the Middle Ages when the current concept of villa begins to consolidate. A village was a population center larger than a village but smaller than a city. The cataloging of the villa was provided by the feudal lords as a distinction and was usually accompanied by a series of privileges (for example, many towns in Spain are known as Villafranca because they could enjoy some exemption in the payment of taxes or other benefits ).
To differentiate one villa from another, each of them incorporated another term that qualified them in some sense (Villamayor, Villaviciosa, Villamarta, Villarreal ...). This denomination is not exclusive to Spain, but also exists in Portugal, Italy and throughout Latin America.
In the Middle Ages the municipalities that had this denomination were far from the urban centers, as was the case in ancient Rome. For this reason, its inhabitants had other customs and from the religious point of view they practiced pagan cults contrary to Catholicism . This circumstance caused the religious authorities to refer to their inhabitants in a derogatory manner and call them villains with a discriminatory nuance and not simply in their literal sense, that is, the one who lives or lives in a village. Thus, the word villain is currently used as a synonym for criminal, although it is a term little used and almost in disuse.
The stately villas
A villa is also a distinguished type of house, also known as a stately villa. They are generally palatial in style, that is, they are not a palace but have a certain resemblance.
Originally, the stately villas were associated with a medieval institution , the manor (a territory that the monarchs donated in inheritance to a nobleman for some reason). This ancestral sense also evolved and the noble and wealthy people began to build their houses using the word villa and with a complementary denomination (usually with a woman's name). A distinctive element of some of them is the incorporation of the coat of arms or the family shield in the entrance porch.
In many Spanish cities it is common to find a large mansion with the word villa very visible. They were mostly built before 1940, as from this date another term, villa, was introduced.
Finally, already contrary to the meaning that has been explained so far, somehow pretending to express a pun, in some Latin American countries, in the case of Argentina, this word is used to understand a group of humble homes, based on settlements informal.