Eight hundred, two years ago, today, the Charter of the Forest (Carta Foresta) was declared and sealed by young King Henry III (a nine year old boy under the regency of William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke I). Issued at St. Paul’s Cathedral, it evolved out of the Magna Carta and re-examined Forest Law.
William the Conqueror established the system of Norman law, proclaiming forests as ‘preserves’, restricting hunting and use by local inhabitants not of the monarchy or aristocracy. Grasslands and wetlands were included, as well as villages and towns that resided within. His heirs continued to enforce the laws. King Richard I and King John extended the forests, taking larger and larger areas, eventually covering one third of southern England.
This charter re-established free men rights of access, alleviating the hardship on the common people to farm, hunt, forage and generally use, and tend to, the land they lived on. It was reissued in 1225 with wording changes and then joined with the Magna Carta in the Confirmation of Charters (Confirmatio Cartarum) in 1297 by King Edward I.
Storytelling for Kids (cute)