|A Medieval Forest|
(Gaston III, Count of Foix, Livre de Chasse (1387))
In mid-2015, an interesting exchange took place in the United Kingdom House of Lords. On June 4, Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer put this question to the government:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will mark the 800th anniversary in 2017 of the granting of the Charter of the Forest in a similar way to that in which the Magna Carta is being marked this year.And on June 18, Lord Faulks answered:
The Charter of the Forest was an important document in its own right when it was issued by Henry III in 1217 at the same time as a re-issue of Magna Carta. The Charter re-established rights of access to the forest for free men that had been eroded over the time. However, although the provisions of the Charter of the Forest remained in force for a number of centuries, it has not enjoyed the same lasting and worldwide recognition as Magna Carta, which has had an enduring significance on the development of the concept of the rule of law. Consequently, while the Government is actively supporting the celebration of the 800 anniversary of Magna Carta this year, it has no plans to mark and celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest.At one time, the “Charter of the Forest” or the “Forest Charter” enjoyed a status equal to its indispensable partner, Magna Carta. Indeed one could not be understood without the other and the failure to remember this fact, either now or in 2017, leaves impoverished our understanding of Magna Carta’s legacy. Why?