Freedoms of the forest, historical and trendy | Letters

David Carpenter and Ralph Hanna level out that the 1217 Constitution of the Forest wasn’t an amazing emancipation for atypical folks, whereas Kevin Could sings the praises of modern-day Kielder Forest in Northumberland

Felicity Lawrence (For a fairer share of our sources, flip to the 13th century, eight November) states that the 1217 Constitution of the Forest “asserted the rights of atypical folks to entry from ‘the commons’ the means for a livelihood and shelter”. It thus “represented an early constitutional victory for atypical folks over a rich elite”. Alas, this view wants appreciable qualification. The important thing concessions within the constitution have been granted to “free males”, and thus intentionally excluded the unfree, who shaped a big proportion of the inhabitants. Removed from being a victory of the atypical folks over a rich elite, the constitution was, in some methods, precisely the reverse.
David Carpenter
London

• Sure, the 1217 Constitution of the Forest opened forests to make use of of non-aristocrats.  No, this wasn’t wildly emancipatory.

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