Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of the Roman dictator; the change from being a familial name to a title adopted by the Roman Emperors can be dated to about AD 68/69, the so-called "Year of the Four Emperors". For political and personal reasons, Octavian chose to emphasize his relationship with Julius Caesar by styling himself "Imperator Caesar", without any of the other elements of his full name, his successor as emperor, his stepson Tiberius bore the name as a matter of course. The precedent was set: the Emperor designated his successor by adopting him and giving him the name "Caesar"; the fourth Emperor, was the first to assume the name "Caesar" upon accession, without having been adopted by the previous emperor. Claudius in turn adopted his stepson and grand-nephew Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, giving him the name "Caesar" in the traditional way; the first emperor to assume the position and the name without any real claim to either was the usurper Servius Sulpicius Galba, who took the imperial throne under the name "Servius Galba Imperator Caesar" following the death of the last of the Julio-Claudians, Nero, in 68.
Galba helped solidify "Caesar" as the title of the designated heir by giving it to his own adopted heir, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus. Galba's reign did not last long and he was soon deposed by Marcus Otho. Otho did not at first use the title "Caesar" and used the title "Nero" as emperor, but adopted the title "Caesar" as well. Otho was defeated by Aulus Vitellius, who acceded with the name "Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Imperator Augustus". Vitellius did not adopt the cognomen "Caesar" as part of his name and may have intended to replace it with "Germanicus". Caesar had become such an integral part of the imperial dignity that its place was restored by Titus Flavius Vespasianus, whose defeat of Vitellius in 69 put an end to the period of instability and began the Flavian dynasty. Vespasian's son, Titus Flavius Vespasianus became "Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus". By this point the status of "Caesar" had been regularised into that of a title given to the Emperor-designate and retained by him upon accession to the throne.
After some variation among the earliest emperors, the style of the Emperor-designate on coins was Nobilissimus Caesar "Most Noble Caesar", though Caesar on its own was used. The popularity of using the title Caesar to designate heirs-apparent increased throughout the third century. Many of the soldier emperors during the Crisis of the Third Century attempted to strengthen their legitimacy by naming heirs, including Maximinus Thrax, Philip the Arab, Trebonianus Gallus and Gallienus; some of these were promoted to the rank of Augustus within their father's lifetime, for example Philippus II. The same title would be used in the Gallic Empire, which operated autonomously from the rest of the Roman Empire from 260 to 274, with the final Gallic emperor Tetricus I appointing his heir Tetricus II Caesar and his consular colleague for 274. Despite the best efforts of these emperors, the granting of this title does not seem to have made succession in this chaotic period any more stable. All Caesars would be killed before or alongside their fathers, or at best outlive them for a matter of months, as in the case of Hostilian.
The sole Caesar to obtain the rank of Augustus and rule for some time in his own right was Gordian III, he was controlled by his court. On 1 March 293, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus established the Tetrarchy, a system of rule by two senior Emperors and two junior sub-Emperors; the two coequal senior emperors were styled identically to previous Emperors, as Imperator Caesar NN. Pius Felix Invictus Augustus and were called the Augusti, while the two junior sub-Emperors were styled identically to previous Emperors-designate, as Nobilissimus Caesar; the junior sub-Emperors retained the title "Caesar" upon accession to the senior position. The Tetrarchy was abandoned as a system in favour of two equal, territorial emperors, the previous system of Emperors and Emperors-designate was restored, both in the Latin-speaking West and the Greek-speaking East; the title of Caesar remained in use throughout the Constantinian period, with both Constantine I and his co-emperor and rival Licinius utilising it to mark their heirs.
In the case of Constantine, this meant that by the time he died, he had four Caesars: Constantius II, Constantine II, Constans and his nephew Dalmatius, with his eldest son Crispus having been executed in mysterious circumstances earlier in his reign. In the event, Constantine would be su
Julian known as Julian the Apostate, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363, as well as a notable philosopher and author in Greek. A member of the Constantinian dynasty, Julian was orphaned as a child, he was raised by the Gothic slave Mardonius, who had a profound influence on him, providing Julian with an excellent education. Julian became Caesar over the western provinces by order of Constantius II in 355, in this role he campaigned against the Alamanni and Franks. Most notable was his crushing victory over the Alamanni at the Battle of Argentoratum in 357, leading his 13,000 men against a Germanic army three times larger. In 360, Julian was proclaimed Augustus by his soldiers at Lutetia, sparking a civil war with Constantius. However, Constantius died before the two could face each other in battle, named Julian as his successor. In 363, Julian embarked on an ambitious campaign against the Sassanid Empire; the campaign was successful, securing a victory outside Ctesiphon. However, while campaigning into Persian territory, the Persians flooded the area behind him and Julian took a risky decision to withdraw up the valley of the Tigris River.
During the Battle of Samarra, Julian was mortally wounded under mysterious circumstances, leaving his army trapped in Persian territory. Following his death, the Roman forces were obliged to cede territory in order to escape, including the fortress city of Nisibis. Julian was a man of unusually complex character: he was "the military commander, the theosophist, the social reformer, the man of letters", he was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire, he believed that it was necessary to restore the Empire's ancient Roman values and traditions in order to save it from dissolution. He purged the top-heavy state bureaucracy, attempted to revive traditional Roman religious practices at the expense of Christianity, his attempt to build a Third Temple in Jerusalem was intended to harm Christianity rather than please Jews. Julian forbade the Christians from teaching and learning classical texts, his rejection of Christianity, his promotion of Neoplatonic Hellenism in its place, caused him to be remembered as Julian the Apostate by the church.
Flavius Claudius Julianus was born at Constantinople in May or June 332, the son of Julius Constantius, consul in 335, half-brother of the emperor Constantine, by his second wife, Basilina, a woman of Greek origin. Both of his parents were Christians. Julian's paternal grandparents were the emperor Constantius Chlorus and his second wife, Flavia Maximiana Theodora, his maternal grandfather was Julius Julianus, Praetorian Prefect of the East under the emperor Licinius from 315 to 324, consul suffectus in 325. The name of Julian's maternal grandmother is unknown. In the turmoil after the death of Constantine in 337, in order to establish himself and his brothers, Julian's zealous Arian cousin Constantius II appears to have led a massacre of most of Julian's close relatives. Constantius II ordered the murders of many descendants from the second marriage of Constantius Chlorus and Theodora, leaving only Constantius and his brothers Constantine II and Constans I, their cousins and Gallus, as the surviving males related to Emperor Constantine.
Constantius II, Constans I, Constantine II were proclaimed joint emperors, each ruling a portion of Roman territory. Julian and Gallus were excluded from public life, were guarded in their youth, given a Christian education, they were saved by their youth and at the urging of the Empress Eusebia. If Julian's writings are to be believed, Constantius would be tormented with guilt at the massacre of 337. Growing up in Bithynia, raised by his maternal grandmother, at the age of seven Julian was under the guardianship of Eusebius of Nicomedia, the semi-Arian Christian Bishop of Nicomedia, taught by Mardonius, a Gothic eunuch, about whom he wrote warmly. After Eusebius died in 342, both Julian and Gallus were exiled to the imperial estate of Macellum in Cappadocia. Here Julian met the Christian bishop George of Cappadocia, who lent him books from the classical tradition. At the age of 18, the exile was lifted and he dwelt in Constantinople and Nicomedia, he became a lector, a minor office in the Christian church, his writings show a detailed knowledge of the Bible acquired in his early life.
Julian's conversion from Christianity to paganism happened at around the age of 20. Looking back on his life in 362, Julian wrote that he had spent twenty years in the way of Christianity and twelve in the true way, i.e. the way of Helios. Julian began his study of Neoplatonism in Asia Minor in 351, at first under Aedesius, the philosopher, his Aedesius' student Eusebius of Myndus, it was from Eusebius that Julian learned of the teachings of Maximus of Ephesus, whom Eusebius criticized for his more mystical form of Neoplatonic theurgy. Eusebius related his meeting with Maximus, in which the theurgist invited him into the temple of Hecate and, chanting a hymn, caused a statue of the goddess to smile and laugh, her torches to ignite. Eusebius told Julian that he "must not marvel at any of these things as I marvel not, but rather believe that the thing of the highest importance is that purification of the soul, attained by reason." In spite of Eusebius' warnings regarding the "impostures of witchcraft and magic that cheat the senses" and "the works of conjurers who are insane men led astray into the exercise of earthly and material powers", Julian was intrigued, sought out Maximus as his new mentor.
According to the historian Eunapiu
Henry III of England
Henry III known as Henry of Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death. The son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême, Henry assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War. Cardinal Guala declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade and Henry's forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. Henry promised to abide by the Great Charter of 1225, which limited royal power and protected the rights of the major barons, his early rule was dominated first by Hubert de Burgh and Peter des Roches, who re-established royal authority after the war. In 1230, the King attempted to reconquer the provinces of France that had once belonged to his father, but the invasion was a debacle. A revolt led by William Marshal's son, broke out in 1232, ending in a peace settlement negotiated by the Church. Following the revolt, Henry ruled England rather than governing through senior ministers.
He travelled less than previous monarchs, investing in a handful of his favourite palaces and castles. He married Eleanor of Provence, with. Henry was known for his piety, holding lavish religious ceremonies and giving generously to charities, he extracted huge sums of money from the Jews in England crippling their ability to do business, as attitudes towards the Jews hardened, he introduced the Statute of Jewry, attempting to segregate the community. In a fresh attempt to reclaim his family's lands in France, he invaded Poitou in 1242, leading to the disastrous Battle of Taillebourg. After this, Henry relied on diplomacy, cultivating an alliance with Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Henry supported his brother Richard in his bid to become King of the Romans in 1256, but was unable to place his own son Edmund on the throne of Sicily, despite investing large amounts of money, he was prevented from doing so by rebellions in Gascony. By 1258, Henry's rule was unpopular, the result of the failure of his expensive foreign policies and the notoriety of his Poitevin half-brothers, the Lusignans, as well as the role of his local officials in collecting taxes and debts.
A coalition of his barons probably backed by Eleanor, seized power in a coup d'état and expelled the Poitevins from England, reforming the royal government through a process called the Provisions of Oxford. Henry and the baronial government enacted a peace with France in 1259, under which Henry gave up his rights to his other lands in France in return for King Louis IX recognising him as the rightful ruler of Gascony; the baronial regime collapsed but Henry was unable to reform a stable government and instability across England continued. In 1263, one of the more radical barons, Simon de Montfort, seized power, resulting in the Second Barons' War. Henry mobilised an army; the Battle of Lewes occurred in 1264, where Henry was taken prisoner. Henry's eldest son, escaped from captivity to defeat de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham the following year and freed his father. Henry enacted a harsh revenge on the remaining rebels, but was persuaded by the Church to mollify his policies through the Dictum of Kenilworth.
Reconstruction was slow and Henry had to acquiesce to various measures, including further suppression of the Jews, to maintain baronial and popular support. Henry died in 1272, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, which he had rebuilt in the second half of his reign, was moved to his current tomb in 1290. Some miracles were declared after his death. Henry was born in Winchester Castle on 1 October 1207, he was the eldest son of King Isabella of Angoulême. Little is known of Henry's early life, he was looked after by a wet nurse called Ellen in the south of England, away from John's itinerant court, had close ties to his mother. Henry had four legitimate younger brothers and sisters – Richard, Joan and Eleanor – and various older illegitimate siblings. In 1212 his education was entrusted to the Bishop of Winchester. Little is known about Henry's appearance. Henry grew up to show flashes of a fierce temper, but as historian David Carpenter describes, he had an "amiable, easy-going, sympathetic" personality.
He was unaffected and honest, showed his emotions easily being moved to tears by religious sermons. At the start of the 13th century, the Kingdom of England formed part of the Angevin Empire spreading across Western Europe. Henry was named after his grandfather, Henry II, who had built up this vast network of lands stretching from Scotland and Wales, through England, across the English Channel to the territories of Normandy, Brittany and Anjou in north-west France, onto Poitou and Gascony in the south-west. For many years the French Crown was weak, enabling first Henry II, his sons Richard and John, to dominate France. In 1204, John lost Normandy, Brittany and Anjou to Philip II of France, leaving English power on the continent limited to Gascony and Poitou. John raised taxes to pay for military campaigns to regain his lands, but unrest grew among many of the English
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It is a Grade I listed building, its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren, its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the City after the Great Fire of London. The cathedral building destroyed in the Great Fire, now referred to as Old St Paul's Cathedral, was a central focus for medieval and early modern London, including Paul's walk and St. Paul's Churchyard being the site of St. Paul's Cross; the cathedral is one of the most recognisable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, has dominated the skyline for over 300 years. At 365 feet high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967; the dome is among the highest in the world.
St Paul's is the second-largest church building in area in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral. Services held at St Paul's have included the funerals of Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Baroness Thatcher. St Paul's Cathedral is the central subject of much promotional material, as well as of images of the dome surrounded by the smoke and fire of the Blitz; the cathedral is a working church with daily services. The tourist entry fee at the door is £ 20 for adults. A list of the 16 "archbishops" of London was recorded by Jocelyn of Furness in the 12th century, claiming London's Christian community was founded in the 2nd century under the legendary King Lucius and his missionary saints Fagan, Deruvian and Medwin. None of, considered credible by modern historians but, although the surviving text is problematic, either Bishop Restitutus or Adelphius at the 314 Council of Arles seems to have come from Londinium; the location of Londinium's original cathedral is unknown.
Bede records that in AD 604 Augustine of Canterbury consecrated Mellitus as the first bishop to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Saxons and their king, Sæberht. Sæberht's uncle and overlord, Æthelberht, king of Kent, built a church dedicated to St Paul in London, as the seat of the new bishop, it is assumed, although not proved, that this first Anglo-Saxon cathedral stood on the same site as the medieval and the present cathedrals. On the death of Sæberht in about 616, his pagan sons expelled Mellitus from London, the East Saxons reverted to paganism; the fate of the first cathedral building is unknown. Christianity was restored among the East Saxons in the late 7th century and it is presumed that either the Anglo-Saxon cathedral was restored or a new building erected as the seat of bishops such as Cedd and Earconwald, the last of whom was buried in the cathedral in 693; this building, or a successor, was rebuilt in the same year. King Æthelred the Unready was buried in the cathedral on his death in 1016.
The cathedral was burnt, with much of the city, in a fire in 1087, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The present structure of St Peter upon Cornhill was designed by Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of London in 1666, it stands upon the highest point in the area of old Londinium, medieval legends tie it to the city's earliest Christian community. In 1995, however, a large and ornate 5th-century building on Tower Hill was excavated, which might have been the city's cathedral; the Elizabethan antiquarian William Camden argued that a temple to the goddess Diana had stood during Roman times on the site occupied by the medieval St Paul's Cathedral. Wren reported that he had found no trace of any such temple during the works to build the new cathedral after the Great Fire, Camden's hypothesis is no longer accepted by modern archaeologists; the fourth St Paul's referred to as Old St Paul's, was begun by the Normans after the 1087 fire. A further fire in 1136 disrupted the work, the new cathedral was not consecrated until 1240.
During the period of construction, the style of architecture had changed from Romanesque to Gothic and this was reflected in the pointed arches and larger windows of the upper parts and East End of the building. The Gothic ribbed vault was constructed, like that of York Minster, of wood rather than stone, which affected the ultimate fate of the building. An enlargement programme commenced in 1256. This'New Work' was consecrated in 1300 but not complete until 1314. During the Medieval period St Paul's was exceeded in length only by the Abbey Church of Cluny and in the height of its spire only by Lincoln Cathedral and St. Mary's Church, Stralsund. Excavations by Francis Penrose in 1878 showed that it was 100 feet wide; the spire was about 489 feet in height. By the 16th century the building was starting to decay. After the Protestant Reformation under Henry VIII and Edward VI, the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Chantries Acts led to the destruction of interior ornamentation and the cloisters, crypts, shrines and other buildings in St Paul's Churchyard.
Many of these former Catholic
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period. The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history; when a given Roman is described as becoming "emperor" in English, it reflects his taking of the title Augustus or Caesar. Another title used was imperator a military honorific. Early Emperors used the title princeps. Emperors amassed republican titles, notably princeps senatus and pontifex maximus; the legitimacy of an emperor's rule depended on his control of the army and recognition by the Senate. The first emperors reigned alone; the Romans considered the office of emperor to be distinct from that of a king. The first emperor, resolutely refused recognition as a monarch. Although Augustus could claim that his power was authentically republican, his successor, could not convincingly make the same claim. Nonetheless, for the first three hundred years of Roman emperors, from Augustus until Diocletian, efforts were made to portray the emperors as leaders of a republic.
From Diocletian, whose tetrarchic reforms divided the position into one emperor in the West and one in the East, until the end of the Empire, emperors ruled in an monarchic style and did not preserve the nominal principle of a republic, but the contrast with "kings" was maintained: although the imperial succession was hereditary, it was only hereditary if there was a suitable candidate acceptable to the army and the bureaucracy, so the principle of automatic inheritance was not adopted. Elements of the republican institutional framework were preserved after the end of the Western Empire; the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the late 5th century after multiple invasions of imperial territory by Germanic barbarian tribes. Romulus Augustulus is considered to be the last emperor of the West after his forced abdication in 476, although Julius Nepos maintained a claim recognized by the Eastern Empire to the title until his death in 480. Following Nepos' death, the Eastern Emperor Zeno abolished the division of the position and proclaimed himself as the sole Emperor of a reunited Roman Empire.
The Eastern imperial lineage continued to rule from Constantinople. Constantine XI Palaiologos was the last Roman emperor in Constantinople, dying in the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453; the "Byzantine" emperors from Heraclius in 629 and onwards adopted the title of basileus, which had meant king in Greek but became a title reserved for the Roman emperor and the ruler of the Sasanian Empire. Other kings were referred to as rēgas. In addition to their pontifical office, some emperors were given divine status after death. With the eventual hegemony of Christianity, the emperor came to be seen as God's chosen ruler, as well as a special protector and leader of the Christian Church on Earth, although in practice an emperor's authority on Church matters was subject to challenge. Due to the cultural rupture of the Turkish conquest, most western historians treat Constantine XI as the last meaningful claimant to the title Roman Emperor. From 1453, one of the titles used by the Ottoman Sultans was "Caesar of Rome", part of their titles until the Ottoman Empire ended in 1922.
A Byzantine group of claimant Roman emperors existed in the Empire of Trebizond until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1461, though they had used a modified title since 1282. Eastern emperors in Constantinople had been recognized and accepted as Roman emperors both in the East, which they ruled, by the Papacy and Germanic kingdoms of the West until the deposition of Constantine VI and accession of Irene of Athens as Empress regnant in 797. Objecting to a woman ruling the Roman Empire in her own right and issues with the eastern clergy, the Papacy would create a rival lineage of Roman emperors in western Europe, the Holy Roman Emperors, which ruled the Holy Roman Empire for most of the period between 800 and 1806; these Emperors were never recognized as Roman emperors by the court in Constantinople. Modern historians conventionally regard Augustus as the first Emperor whereas Julius Caesar is considered the last dictator of the Roman Republic, a view having its origins in the Roman writers Plutarch and Cassius Dio.
However, the majority of Roman writers, including Josephus, Pliny the Younger and Appian, as well as most of the ordinary people of the Empire, thought of Julius Caesar as the first Emperor. At the end of the Roman Republic no new, no single, title indicated the individual who held supreme power. Insofar as emperor could be seen as the English translation of imperator Julius Caesar had been an emperor, like several Roman generals before him. Instead, by the end of the civil wars in which Julius Caesar had led his armies, it became clear that there was no consensus to return to the old-style monarchy, but that the period when several officials, bestowed with equal power by the senate, would fight one another had come to an end. Julius Caesar, Augustus after him, accumulated offices and titles of the highest importance in the Republic, making the power attached to those offices permanent, preventing anyone with similar aspirations from accumulating or maintaining power for themselves. However, Julius Caesar, unlike those after
A royal forest "Kingswood", is an area of land with different definitions in England and Scotland. The term forest in the ordinary modern understanding refers to an area of wooded land. There are differing and contextual interpretations in Continental Europe derived from the Carolingian and Merovingian legal systems. In Anglo-Saxon England, though the kings were great huntsmen they never set aside areas declared to be "outside" the law of the land. Historians find no evidence of the Anglo-Saxon monarchs creating forests. However, under the Norman kings, by royal prerogative forest law was applied; the law was designed to protect the venison and the vert, the "noble" animals of the chase – notably red and fallow deer, the roe deer, the wild boar – and the greenery that sustained them. Forests were designed as hunting areas reserved for the aristocracy; the concept was introduced by the Normans to England in the 11th century, at the height of this practice in the late 12th and early 13th centuries one-third of the land area of southern England was designated as royal forest.
Afforestation, in particular the creation of the New Forest, figured large in the folk history of the "Norman yoke", which magnified what was a grave social ill: "the picture of prosperous settlements disrupted, houses burned, peasants evicted, all to serve the pleasure of the foreign tyrant, is a familiar element in the English national story.... The extent and intensity of hardship and of depopulation have been exaggerated", H. R. Loyn observed. Forest law prescribed harsh punishment for anyone who committed any of a range of offences within the forests. During the Middle Ages, the practice of reserving areas of land for the sole use of the aristocracy was common throughout Europe. Royal forests included large areas of heath and wetland – anywhere that supported deer and other game. In addition, when an area was designated forest, any villages and fields that lay within it were subject to forest law; this could foster resentment as the local inhabitants were restricted in the use of land they had relied upon for their livelihoods.
The areas that became Royal Forests were relatively wild and sparsely populated, can be related to specific geographic features that made them harder to work as farmland. Prosperous, well-farmed areas were not chosen to be afforested. In the South West, forests extended across the Upper Jurassic Clay Vale. In the Midlands, the clay plain surrounding the River Severn was wooded. Clay soils in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire formed another belt of woodlands. In Hampshire and Surrey, woodlands were established on sandy, gravelly acid soils. Marshlands in Lincolnshire were afforested. Upland moors too were chosen, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor in the South West, the Peak Forest of Derbyshire; the North Yorkshire moors, a sandstone plateau, had a number of Royal forests. William the Conqueror, a great lover of hunting, established the system of forest law; this operated outside the common law, served to protect game animals and their forest habitat from destruction. In the year of his death, 1087, a poem, "The Rime of King William", inserted in the Peterborough Chronicle, expresses English indignation at the forest laws.
Offences in forest law were divided into two categories: trespass against the venison. The five animals of the forest protected by law were given by Manwood as the hart and hind, boar and wolf. Protection was said to be extended to the beasts of chase, the buck and doe, fox and roe deer, the beasts and fowls of warren: the hare, coney and partridge; the rights of chase and of warren were granted to local nobility for a fee, but were a quite separate concept. Trespasses against the vert were rather extensive: they included purpresture, the inclosure of a pasture or erection of a building on forest lands, clearing forest land for agriculture, felling trees or clearing shrubs, among others; these laws applied to any land within the boundary of the forest if it were owned. In addition, inhabitants of the forest were forbidden to bear hunting weapons, dogs were banned from the forest. Disafforested lands on the edge of the forest were known as purlieus; the kings discovered that abridging their rights in the royal forests could provide a useful source of income.
Local nobles could be granted a royal licence to take a certain amount
Charter of the Forest
The Charter of the Forest of 1217 is a charter that re-established for free men rights of access to the royal forest, eroded by William the Conqueror and his heirs. Many of its provisions were in force for centuries afterwards, it was sealed in England by the young King Henry III, acting under the regency of William Marshall, 1st Earl of Pembroke. It was in many ways a companion document to the Magna Carta, redressed some applications of the Anglo-Norman Forest Law, extended and abused by William Rufus. "Forest" to the Normans meant an enclosed area where the monarch had exclusive rights to animals of the chase and the greenery on which they fed. It did not consist only of trees, but included large areas of heathland and wetlands, productive of food and other resources. Lands became more and more restricted as King Richard and King John designated greater and greater areas as royal forest. At its widest extent, royal forest covered about one-third of the land of southern England, thus it became an increasing hardship on the common people to try to farm and otherwise use the land they lived on.
The Charter of the Forest was first issued on 6 November 1217 at St Paul's Cathedral, London as a complementary charter to the Magna Carta from which it had evolved. It was reissued in 1225 with a number of minor changes to wording, was joined with Magna Carta in the Confirmation of Charters in 1297. At a time when royal forests were the most important potential source of fuel for cooking and industries such as charcoal burning, of such hotly defended rights as pannage, agistment, or turbary, this charter was unique in providing a degree of economic protection for free men who used the forest to forage for food and to graze their animals. In contrast to Magna Carta, which dealt with the rights of barons, it restored to the common man some real rights and protections against the abuses of an encroaching aristocracy. For many years it was regarded as a development of great significance in England's constitutional history, with the great seventeenth-century jurist Sir Edward Coke referring to it along with Magna Carta as the Charters of England's Liberties, Sir William Blackstone remarking in the eighteenth century that "There is no transaction in the antient part of our English history more interesting and important, than... the charters of liberties, emphatically stiled THE GREAT CHARTER and CHARTER OF THE FOREST...."
The first chapter of the Charter protected common pasture in the forest for all those "accustomed to it", chapter nine provided for "every man to agist his wood in the forest as he wishes". It added "Henceforth every freeman, in his wood or on his land that he has in the forest, may with impunity make a mill, fish-preserve, marl-pit, ditch, or arable in cultivated land outside coverts, provided that no injury is thereby given to any neighbour.". The Charter restored. Clause 10 repealed the death penalty for capturing deer, though transgressors were still subject to fines or imprisonment. Special Verderers' Courts were set up within the forests to enforce the laws of the Charter. By Tudor times, most of the laws served to protect the timber in royal forests. However, some clauses in the Laws of Forests remained in force until the 1970s, the special courts still exist in the New Forest and the Forest of Dean. In this respect, the Charter was the statute that remained longest in force in England, being superseded by the Wild Creatures and Forest Laws Act 1971.
To mark 800 years of the Charter of the Forest, in 2017 the Woodland Trust and more than 50 other cross-sector organisations joined forces to create and launch a Charter for Trees and People, reflecting the modern relationship with trees and woods in the landscape for people in the UK. Only two copies of the 1217 Charter of the Forest survive, belonging to Durham Cathedral and Lincoln Cathedral; the Lincoln copy is on display in the David P J Ross Magna Carta Vault in Lincoln Castle, together with the Lincoln copy of Magna Carta. A manuscript of the 1225 reissue narrowly escaped destruction in 1865 and is now available in the British Library. English land law Forestry in the United Kingdom R v Hampden 3 Howell State Trials 825, known as the Case of Shipmony, leading to the Ship Money Act 1640 GC Homans, English Villagers of the Thirteenth Century H Rothwell, English Historical Documents 1189-1327 BBC Radio 4 "The Things We Forgot to Remember," Series 2 Episode 4, from 6:15 onwards British Library article The Magna Carta Manifesto Reviewed by Jeffrey Edward Green Page on the Charter from St John's College, Oxford Carolyn Harris' Charter of the Forest, on Magna Carta Canada 2015 The 2017 Charter for Trees and People Lincoln Castle Magna Carta display page