Forest Greenery, ca. 1325

Here in New England we are surrounded by greenery this time of year, which brings to mind these charming illustrations from an early manuscript compilation of English statutes. The Charter of the Forest, enacted in 1217, was considered a companion to Magna Carta and appears directly after it in this volume. The Charter re-established for free men rights of access to the royal forest that had been eroded by several English kings.

In this volume from the Library’s Historical & Special Collections, an early owner illustrated the theme of the Charter (and its later amendment) by drawing two delightful scenes of forest flora and fauna. The entire volume has been digitized and is freely available online, as are all our medieval and early manuscripts. Enjoy the summer season!

HLS MS 12, Magna Carta and Statutes, ca. 1325, seq. 30 & 33 (detail).

Image description: Close-up view of two illustrated early manuscript pages. Background image shows a fanciful forest illustration in black ink of trees, deer, and a hunter with a bow and arrow in the left margin. To the right of the scene is a column of text written in black ink, with an elaborate blue and red letter “E.” Superimposed on this image is a smaller image featuring a black ink drawing of a boar chasing a horned deer, with a few trees in the background. Above the illustration is a column of black text with an elaborate blue and red letter “E.”

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