Forest Assizes

1184 and 1198. Punishment for taking animals from the king's hunting grounds was fierce: castration and blinding were almost customary, while it was not unknown for the culprit to be executed. Crown lawyers sought to establish ancient custom for the king's prerogatives in the *forest, resorting to forgery in the case of a code said to date from King Cnut's reign. During Henry Il's reign, there were some 69 forests, estimated to cover perhaps one third of England. These were constantly watched over by foresters and agistors, while courts dealt with petty offences every six weeks. Offences involving venison were dealt with by special courts. A great deal of money flowed into the crown's coffers from those who broke forest laws. However, mutilation and the death penalty were abolished in 1217. *Magna Carta, clause 47, stated: 'All forests that have been created in our time shall be disafforested immediately.' -

Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases. .

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