Tree, Isabella - Wilding - The real meaning of ‘forest’
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Isabella Tree – Wilding
The medieval Latin term ‘forestis’ from which we get ‘forest’ first appears in the 7th century as a legal concept in the deeds of donation of Merovingian and Frankish kings.
It relates to uncultivated, uninhabited wilderness and is most likely derived from the Latin ‘foris’ referring to areas outside the civilised domain of settled and tilled fields. It applied to wilderness in general and to wild trees, shrubs, wild animals, water and fish in particular.
Under the ‘uis forestis’ all these ‘wild’ provisions belonged to the king. Land that had not been tilled or scythed had no ownership. The king held prestigious rights over these unowned lands to hunt wild boar, red and roe deer, tarpan, aurochs and bison. He also held the right of ‘bannum’ and could grant hunting rights to his favourites among the nobility and permission to commoners to forage, graze their animals, keep bees and take timber and firewood from the ‘forestis’.
He appointed ‘forestarii’ to regulate these grants, to punish those who exceeded the allocations and to extract payment for these privileges in the form of a quota of the harvest and/or servitude.
This ‘forestis’ was anything but closed canopy woodland.