The Royal Forests of Medieval England

The Royal Forests of Medieval England

The Royal Forests of Medieval England

The Royal Forests of Medieval England

Excerpt

Many people know something about the royal forests of medieval England and that they were somehow important, but even most medieval historians would be hard put to direct an inquiring reader to a good book on the subject. Although the number of extant forest records is large, few of these have been published, and the subject has not attracted the scholarly attention warranted by its importance. This book is an attempt to provide a general history of the royal forests in England from their beginning (in the technical sense of the word) after the Norman Conquest to their decline in the later Middle Ages. The emphasis is placed upon the thirteenth century when the royal forest as an institution was at its height in development and significance. As indicated by the chapter divisions, the aim is to consider various aspects--political and economic as well as legal and administrative--that contributed to making the royal forest an important medieval institution. How these large areas known as royal forests (estimated at one-fourth the land of England in the thirteenth century) influenced life at the time has been a consistent interest that relieved what might otherwise have been the tedium of working out the details of administrative history and gives meaning even to those sections of the book where this interest is not made explicit. It is from this perspective that the history of the royal forests throws light upon a dimension of medieval life that was unique to the period.

Although much work in original records remained to be done, my task was lightened by several publications with information that could . . .

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