Forest Law

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Forest Law

Postby Lonestan » Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:11 pm

I'm trying to find out about Forest Law, particularly about how a 15C commoner might be given permission to hunt a forest. I saw a lttle something about being given royal permission for such a thing, but no more detail than that.
Thanks.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Merlon. » Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:26 pm

a little bit later but you could start with
http://web.mac.com/calhounabode/Manwood/Welcome.html



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Lonestan » Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:20 pm

Thanks for that, Merlon. I'd also seen the Boke of St. Albans, which says much the same, but a few hundred years earlier.
The text says, 'every man may perceive, that it is not therefore sufferable for any other person, to hunt or hawk after any of those wild beasts or fouls aforesaid within the Forest, without the license or privity of the King, or his Justice in Eyre of the Forest, or other lawful authority thereunto.' Which kind of says what I thought I knew already. What I'm interested in now is `how someone gains license to hunt.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Merlon. » Mon Jun 28, 2010 3:11 pm

As the law states you have to get a licence from the King or the Justice in Eyre of the forest.

Some of the Justices in Eyre include:-
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (27 January 1415 – 23 February 1447)
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (apptd. 23 February 1447)
Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset (apptd. 2 July 1453)
William Fitzalan, 16th Earl of Arundel (apptd. 19 December 1459)


I think we can safely assume these individuals and indeed the King were outside of the reach and influence of a commoner.
So the simple answer is a commoner cannot get a licence to hunt in a forest.



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Lonestan » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:06 am

Brilliant! Thanks for that.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Lonestan » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:32 am

So, just to follow up on this a bit: is there any way (bar poaching, although that's not completely out of the question) that a commoner could get hold of a couple of conies? And a follow-up on my follow-up - could permission be given much easier if we were in some kind of war-type situation: might a nobleman give permission for the troops to hunt, say, beasts of the warren (we've gotta feed them somehow, right!)? None of this was very clear from the bits of documentation I've read so far.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Merlon. » Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:11 pm

Where are we heading with this? The implications of civilians poaching, or military provisioning in the 14th century.

Rabbits at this time are not wild, they are domesticated farmed animals. To poach for rabbits or conies you would have to get past the security on the Warren. One of the main purposes of the Warrener and his staff was to prevent trespass and poaching. The fur was just as valuable as the meat, Warren raiding was big league stuff.

The hunting of meat for military consumption is too variable to guarantee consistent supply. Tudor accounts certainly talk of cattle and sheep being requisitioned or bought to meet the needs of the troops. Earlier generations are unlikely to be much different.

The army of Henry VIII in France in 1544, each man has an entitlement to 1-1½ lbs biscuit, 1-1½ gallon of beer and a pound of beef a day. To meet these entitlements requires a bit more organisation than “Just nip over the hedge and get us a couple of rabbits.”



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:26 pm

Slightly later but this is how seriously warrens were defended-miniature castles/lodges for the Warrener's men to live in to prevent theft
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/133/3440 ... 94b06b.jpg


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Ranger Smith » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:53 am

To give you an idea of how valuble Rabbits were - The bishop of ealey sent 20 armed and armored troups to raid a local warren for meat and fur. (Rabbits were not classed as vermin untill the late 1800's and their meat and fur didnt become common place untill the end of the 15C

The only people given licence to hunt in royal forests (all forests belonged to royalty everyone else owned parks) were other nobles, lesser gentry, clergey and other such gentle men. Then they were given quotas of what they could take e.g. 1hind a pricket etc usualy as gifts

Also Forest is an unusual term as it doesnt necaseraly concern woodland (forests could consist of open ground, heathland etc). Forest is more a state of law

To be caught poaching would be a serious crime (as a commoner) and you would be judged at the next Forest court (which may mean you were imprisoned for several months if the court had already sat) usualy heavy fines were issued

Many clergy were caught poaching (the Gloucester court rolls show several linked to poaching (they had hired and paid professional poachers) the clergy and their respective poachers were let off with fines several times)

As a commoner the only things you wold have had access to hunt to suppliment your diet would be Hare, Badger (utill recently Badger Ham was a countryside delacasy), squirrel (red) and small birds as of this list only hare was coverd under the vernery laws (beasts of the hunt) but was common in the wider countryside

Hope this is helpful

but if you are looking for something more specific could you be a bit more specific in what you are trying to evidence as it may be easier for posters to give you direction to information


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Fox » Tue Jul 06, 2010 5:54 am

Ranger Smith wrote:...and their meat and fur didnt become common place untill the end of the 15C

When you say "common place" what do you mean?

Ian Mortimer covers both rabbit fur and rabbit meat in several places in The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England, which is an excellent reference for social history in the 14thC.

[Interestingly, he reiterates the other points that you make.]



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Lonestan » Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:18 pm

Ah, I've seen that book on Amazon, you have just made my mind up about buying it!!
The long and the short is - our group is hoping to have access to a couple of rabbits still in their pyjamas, preparation of which would make for some good living history (including a suggestion of a gunpowder tan of the fur). However, if we'd poached them we'd be unlikely to hang them in camp, as serious questions would be asked by any passing sherriff! So I was trying to discern a way we may have come by them legally, the short answer from posts on this thread seems to be no!!


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Dave B » Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:34 pm

But they were farmed for food, on both a large and a small scale, so you could reasonably have bought them in a market I would have thought? Though I'd imagine that a whole brace of rabbits would have been rather a treat unless you were well to do.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:55 pm

Who are your group and why are you camping wherever you are. Is a Sherrif likley to pass by? Do you serve a knight (in which case, he could own the rabbits that you're preparing for him)? There are lots of details like this that could help.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Phil the Grips » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:14 pm

Could you be a group of Warrener's men "skimming" a bit of the crop as a perk, or making good use of a couple that got nibbled by a fox?

Getting that story across to the MOPs'd be tricky but a useful insight into the fact that rabbits have only been a pest for a century or so and then lead into warren practices.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Fox » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:34 pm

Lonestan wrote:Ah, I've seen that book on Amazon, you have just made my mind up about buying it!!

Yes. It's a shame it's 14th and not 15thC, but it gives you a good feel for social change from the old medieval order to the newer one, and just life in general.

Lonestan wrote:The long and the short is - our group is hoping to have access to a couple of rabbits still in their pyjamas, preparation of which would make for some good living history (including a suggestion of a gunpowder tan of the fur). However, if we'd poached them we'd be unlikely to hang them in camp, as serious questions would be asked by any passing sherriff! So I was trying to discern a way we may have come by them legally, the short answer from posts on this thread seems to be no!!


Dave B wrote:But they were farmed for food, on both a large and a small scale, so you could reasonably have bought them in a market I would have thought? Though I'd imagine that a whole brace of rabbits would have been rather a treat unless you were well to do.


Knowing that you'd been considering this, I'd been looking in to this too.
It seems it's not uncommon for a Lord to gift game from his land to his more important commoners; I've been trying to learn more about the exact circumstances this might happen in.

I'm also trying to find out more about soldiers being fed when an army is on the move, since lots of re-enacments are portraying exactly that. I wondered whether this sort of foraging might occur under those circumstances with less chance of consiquences.

I'll let you know what I find out, but if someone wants to chip in the meantime.....



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Ranger Smith » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:32 am

As Rabbits still only occured in warrens for an army to be having them for provisions would mean raiding a high status persons home would this be likely?

How about pre skinning buying a couple of Hare skins and passing the meat off as Hare? This still allows you to cover some of the living History aspects.

Or you could be preparing the meat and skins as part of your warreners duties if you are doing a living history camp as most retained men would have picked up other duties within their lords home and what better than as a trusted retainer than overseeing the work in the warren no need to risk all by skimming.

Fox a little sketchy but here goes As to the availability of meat and skins the bishop of Ealey raides were 14C also there are some references of rabbits being given as gifts (14C) (possibly implying there rarety value?)

I cant remember the reference but there is one of a Rabbit Fur blanket beng given in a will of a craftsman (of quite high status, I think from memory it was in the will of a Bowyer in London as other gifts were tools etc) C1480's which means he was able to purchase a large quantity of skins where in the past the clergy were willing to use force to aquire the same.

Not seen Ian Mortimers book but I would recomend Medieval Hunting by Richard Almand some good stuff and good illustrations


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Fox » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:50 am

So if I understand you correctly, Ranger Smith, you are saying there are [nearly] no completely wild rabbits in England in the 15thC and that [nearly] all rabbits are in some sort of managed colony. I confess an ignorance in this area.

But to add to the 14th/15thC discussion, I thought I might try and find some evidential data for assessing the value of rabbit in the 14thC.

Obviously there is a limitation to taking primary source evidence without a wider context, but it seems like a starting point.

First, from Sumptuary Laws of 1363, the lowest rank of person allowed to wear fur are Yeomen and their families.
It restricts them to no fur except lamb, rabbit, cat or fox. By my understand that places rabbit in with absolutely the lowest value of furs, even in 1363.

For a reference for food I looked at some victuallers prices in London, again for 1363.
Best rabbit is marked as 4d.
For comparrison, best goose is 6d, best suckling pig is 8d, best capon 6d, a hen 4d, a mallard 5d, a woodcock 3d, a partridge 5d, a pheasant 2d and best carcase of mutton 24d.

The thing that most obviously tells me is what a luxury it was to buy meat.
Other than that, that's quite a confusing picture, but it doesn't seem to place an obviously noticable premium on rabbit when compared to other game, or domesticated livestock. Anyone with a better understanding care to add a different interpretation?



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Fox » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:00 am

Ranger Smith wrote:As Rabbits still only occured in warrens for an army to be having them for provisions would mean raiding a high status persons home would this be likely?


Interestingly Mortimer says, in the aformentioned book that: "Hares are available to trappers, as are coneys (rabbits), these having bred rapidly in the wild since their introduction to England in the twelfth century. Even though these count as game - and are often caught unlawfully - a manorial court will normally impose only a small fine for poaching them."



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Merlon. » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:54 am

For historical cost and prices of virtually anything then James E. Thorold Rogers, is your man.
If you can get access to a copy to:-
A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, vol. IV: 1401 - 1582 (Oxford:1882).

You will find it a goldmine of information. My own interest in military logistics covers the Tudors and Stuarts, but by then they were already getting quite well organised. So the early lessons in organisation must hve happened during WOTR. Will dig through the bibliographies of my books to see if I can find any leads for you.



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Dave B » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:31 am

I seem to remember that there is a bit about feeding the army in christine de Pizan's work 'book of deeds or arms and chivalry' from about 1410, I have it on the shelf somewhere, but I fell asleep fairly early in my attempt to read it.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Phil the Grips » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:20 pm

Fox wrote:But to add to the 14th/15thC discussion, I thought I might try and find some evidential data for assessing the value of rabbit in the 14thC.

A modern analogy'd be grouse shooting (or diamond mines!).

Actually relatively cheap, only legally available from a dealer, perceived by many to be "posh", raised/bred on specially allotted spaces granted by licence, that are well guarded by professionals who recoup their costs by only allowing certain people to hunt them for lots of cash. Nothing to stop the birds from hopping over the fence and becoming "wild" but still a rarity as they'd be far more likely to flourish in captivity and would still generate "questions" from those that held the licence.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Fox » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:06 pm

Phil the Grips wrote:A modern analogy'd be grouse shooting...
Actually relatively cheap, only legally available from a dealer, perceived by many to be "posh", raised/bred on specially allotted spaces granted by licence, that are well guarded by professionals who recoup their costs by only allowing certain people to hunt them for lots of cash. Nothing to stop the birds from hopping over the fence and becoming "wild" but still a rarity as they'd be far more likely to flourish in captivity and would still generate "questions" from those that held the licence.


I get your point, and it's helpful; but it's not a perfect analogue.

I've not seen any evidence to suggest rabbit is "posh" in any way, at all.

Rabbit seems to be the least important meat where listed at feasts.

Prior to the sumptuary laws going into satute in 1337, London has it's own equivelent which states "no common woman should go to market or leave the house with a hood furred with anything other than lambskin or rabbit". Again further indication of it as the lowest of furs, right back into the begining of the 14thC.

Rabbit is not even considered any good for "proper" hunting; the indication being that it's only trapped or netted so it can be used for meat or fur.

It seems to me that guarding warrens is about protecting a commercial farming enterprise, rather than the great value, financial or percieved, of individual rabbits.

But what's missing from this equation, is that there is no land where rabbits, or any other game, are "wild" but not under the licence of the King or his appointed. Common folk simply cannot hunt game anywhere within the law.



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Ranger Smith » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:25 am

Fox- Wow good re search

Completley agree although I would possibly put a slightly different inference on things 4d for a piece of meat which would at best feed only one to two people is still quite exspensive compared to the other meats on offer, other prices I have for Rabbit are;

1270 rabbits on a cambridge estate were priced at 5d each
1395 for the feast at Merton College Oxford rabbits bought at 6d and 8d a couple and transported at 1/2d from bushey

for skins
1275 5 1/2 d per dozen from Lundy
1310, 1312, 1313 1 s 1 1/2 d per dozen from else were
1405 1 s 4 d per dozen (purchased by the countess of Warwick)
1455- and onwards 4 d regularly sold at this price per dozen (syon abbey cellerers accounts)
1540 Price rise from 5 d to 7 3/4 d per couple

It appears that the price of rabbit was also verry localised and variable

IN 1555 the Swis Naturalist Conrad Gesner recorded that "There are few countries wherein coneys do not breed but most plenty of all is in england" (This is the first mention I have of them beeing common in england I would be definatly interested in others.)

I am intregued by the Mortimer quote as the earliest recorded cony garth (warren) I am aware of on mainland england is from guildford 1241 prior to this it appears rabbits were kept on islands (rights of warren and taxes record this information) so there was no competition for food or risk from preditors

Rabbits were definatly farmed and traped rather than hunted (there are a number of great illustrations of people trapping rabbits with purse nets, ferrets, spaniel type dogs, and gas grenades (of which there are some interesting recipies))

rabbits may certanly be the lowest status meat on the menu but only in the context of what else may have been also on offer and the status of these other meats (more highly prized due to how they are taken etc)

Yeoman is still fairly well up on the sumptry law scale (wondering what the percentage of the population Yeoman would have made up as opposed to others)

Unlike other introductions the introduction of rabbit to england was difficult. earlier roman introductions failed-re introduced in the 12C uncommon untill the 16C and not declared a pest untill the late 18C (in 1813 Rabbit as an introduced wild species was still classed as uncommon in mainland england but conciddered as vermin on a number of islands).


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Fox » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:44 am

Ranger Smith wrote:Yeoman is still fairly well up on the sumptry law scale (wondering what the percentage of the population Yeoman would have made up as opposed to others)


Slightly an aside, but Yeoman overlap socially and financially with the poorest of gentlemen, and have some equivelence with a moderately successful merchant.

However, in this context, I was using the suptry laws as a way of comparing the percieved value of different types of fur.
In truth, they were widely ignored and abused, and so are not an absoulte indicator.



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Lonestan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:00 am

Maybe we're overthinking the hunting part a bit then. If the group is in , the archers alone could be making up to 6d per day (a figure I've seen quoted in several places). We maybe could afford to just buy a couple of conies as a special treat!! (as Dave had intimated earlier!)


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Fox » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:13 am

Lonestan wrote:Maybe we're overthinking the hunting part a bit then.


Not at all; understanding the background for farming/hunting/poaching rabbits is important.
If rabbits are part of an LH display then it's important to be able to explain the context to the public.

This discussion certainly makes a start at trying to understand that context, which is good (although I'd like to learn more).

Of course, in addition to where would rabbits come from, and who would have them, we have to add the more general role of meat in the medieval diet and religious observances regarding eating meat.



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Lonestan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:54 am

Sorry, I meant in the context of being able to justify hanging and eating a couple of conies over a weekend - certainly a better understanding of hunting, forest law, etc, is all good (and interesting too!!)


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Brother Ranulf » Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:13 am

Just a few random observations on this one.

Someone pointed out that "forest" doesn't mean woodland - that's quite right. It's straight from Latin foris, outdoors, so it covers all kinds of terrain including fen and open heathland (which is why you can struggle to find a tree in Ashdown forest today). The nobility wanted to be able to chase animals and birds across all kinds of landscape.

Warren doesn't refer specifically to rabbits. In fact there were warrens before there were rabbits in England - it's a variant of garenne, an area set aside for hunting and protected by law, but you find references to "birds of warren" so it's not only about deer, boar and other land animals. My only comfort during my recent spell in hospital was a copy of "Milton Abbey", which refers to right of warren on abbey lands, explained as the right to hunt animals in general.

Rabbits were not called rabbits. That is the name for the young of the species; adults were conies/coneys/connins/connils and many other variants.

Finally, this thread seems to be really about military provisioning and I believe there was direct reference to that in the "History Cold Case" episode discussed on here recently, in a 14th century context - the provisions included large quantities of salt fish and salt meat, which could be kept for long periods and transported fairly easily.


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Re: Forest Law

Postby Fox » Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:24 am

Brother Ranulf wrote:Warren doesn't refer specifically to rabbits. In fact there were warrens before there were rabbits in England - it's a variant of garenne, an area set aside for hunting and protected by law, but you find references to "birds of warren" so it's not only about deer, boar and other land animals. My only comfort during my recent spell in hospital was a copy of "Milton Abbey", which refers to right of warren on abbey lands, explained as the right to hunt animals in general.

Right to warren, one of my books tells me, is not a general right to hunt; it refers to a limit abiltiy hunt foxes, rabbits and some other minor game, but not deer, boar and other major game.

Brother Ranulf wrote:Finally, this thread seems to be really about military provisioning

It's more complex than that.
For most events the "soldiers encampments" are the background setting for providing living history, but the scope of LH displays. which is not usually first person, go beyond that.
So that's an element to look at and understand, but not the limit.



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Re: Forest Law

Postby Kernow Levy » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:39 pm

Forgive me for butting into this really interesting thread...

What laws would have applied to pheasants (or other similar birds)? Were there hunting seasons like there are now and if these regulations were broken what would the punishment be? Someone was showing a brace of pheasants on their LH display and a country-tweed-type challenged this, (quite rudely) declaring they would be out of season thus not allowed/legal and so forth. The response was one would get what was available where possible and having the brace of pheasants demonstrated the type of food eaten, not when it was to be eaten. Could someone clarify how correct Mr. country-tweedy-type was and what indeed the situation would be regarding pheasants? Thanks :)


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