Medieval Hunting History - Hunting Laws
One of the Sumptuary laws was the Forest Law which related to gaming and hunting. The Forests of England were normally owned by the reigning monarch. In Medieval times there were an estimated sixty nine royal forests. Only the monarch or his servants hunted in the forests. Permission to hunt in forests could also be gained by the granting of a royal licence. The animals subject to the forest law were the Red deer, Fallow Deer, Roe Deer and the wild Boar. Medieval peasant only had the right to hunt any beast over common land, unless such right had been restricted by some special royal grant.
Medieval Hunting History - Punishments for breaking Medieval Hunting Laws
The strict Medieval Forest Laws reserved the rights of hunting to the ruling class and were hated and resented by the lower classes. Punishments for breaking Medieval Hunting Laws were severe. Peasants accused of poaching were liable to hanging, castration, blinding or being sewn into a deerskin and then hunted down by ferocious dogs.
Medieval Hunting History - Types of Hunts - At Force Hunting
Medieval Hunting was divided into two different types of hunts: The 'At Force' Hunt and the 'Bow and Stable' Hunt. 'At Force' Hunting and hunts were the most strenuous forms of Medieval hunting. The 'At Force' hunts were designed for fit, young and very active men. As the name suggests there were many huntsmen involved in this type of hunt who arranged themselves into teams. Dogs often accompanied the huntsmen on the At Force hunts. The Wild Boar was an extremely dangerous animal and would be the main choice of prey for this type of hunt. The teams would chase the prey to near exhaustion or would corner the animal just before the 'kill'
Medieval Hunting History - Types of Hunts - 'Bow and Stable' Hunting
The Bow and Stable Hunts were the less strenuous forms of hunting. The 'Bow and Stable' hunts were designed for less active, or infirm, men . As the name suggests this type of hunt was conducted on horseback using a bow as the main weapon. Dogs also accompanied the hunt on the 'Bow and Stable' hunts and would drive the prey into an enclosed space where the huntsmen could kill the animal at close range. The docile deer would normally be the main choice of prey for this type of hunt.
Medieval Hunting History - The Boke of St Albans
The 'Boke of St Albans' is an old English text, which is the earliest example of color printing in England, was printed in the town of St Albans in 1486. It's author is unknown. The Boke of St Albans book is interesting as it details Medieval Hunting, Heraldry and Hawking.
Medieval Hunting History - The Prey
The 'Boke of St Albans' book provides a list of the animals hunted in Medieval England as follows:
- The Stag - The stag was usually hunted with aid of dogs and bows and arrows, in order to stay out of range of the horns. Suitable as the prey for 'Bow and Stable' Hunting
- The Deer, Hart or Roebuck - Usually hunted with aid of dogs and bows and arrows. Suitable as the prey for 'Bow and Stable' Hunting
- Boar - Usually hunted with the aid of dogs and with very long spears, in order to stay away from the tusks. Suitable as the prey for 'At Force' Hunting
- Foxes - Usually hunted by chasing them with dogs and letting the dogs tear the fox apart. Foxes are rarely hunted as food. Suitable as the prey for 'Bow and Stable' Hunting
- Rabbits - Usually hunted by sending trained dogs or ferrets down the burrow
- Otters - Usually hunted with dogs. Hunted for sport not food
- Game birds (geese, ducks, pheasant, partridge, grouse etc.) - usually hunted with dogs to chase them into taking off, then with bow and arrow to bring them down, and dogs (again) to fetch the corpses back. Suitable as the prey for 'Bow and Stable' Hunting
Medieval Hunting History - The Hunting Dogs
Hunting dogs were bred primarily to work with people to hunt animals, fish and birds. Sighthounds specialised in hunting their quarry by sight rather than scent. Scent Hounds specialised in following the scent or the smell of its quarry. Hunting Dogs which relied strongly on the sense of smell to follow the trail of a prey, such as the Bloodhound, quite literally follow their noses.
- Fox hunting dogs - Foxhounds
- Deer Hunting dogs - Irish Wolfhound
- Badger Hunting Dogs - Hounds
- Bird Hunting Dogs - Spaniel
- Rat Hunting dogs - Terrier
- Bear Hunting dogs - Mastiff
- Rabbit and Hare Hunting dogs - Beagle