Hunting and Hunters in Medieval Aragonese Legislation

Hunting and Hunters in Medieval Aragonese Legislation

By María-Luz Rodrigo-Estevan

Hunting Food – Drinking Wine, ed. Armin Prinz (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2006)

Introduction: The nutritional, economic and politícal importance of hunting in medieval Aragón is revealed by the development of a legal framework to legislate this activity and its survival until the middle of the 20th century. Our research on hunting in the kingdom of Aragón in the 12th-15th centuries is based on the information provided by two groups of legal texts: those for local or regional areas (local charters, town letters, royal privileges, municipal statutes) and those that were applied to all the kingdom after the 13th century (general charters passed in the Courts). Comparative studies and the information provided by iconography, archaeology, notarial documentation and literature have permitted us to contrast, clarify and complete the development of our analysis, based on various points: 1) hunting as a natural resource whose exploitation is regulated and controlled by local and state powers; 2) hunting as an activity done from very different perspectives and with plural purposes, methods and valuations, closely related to the position of each person in the hierarchised medieval society; 3) hunting as a method of social control for sorne and of rebelliousness against the established order for poachers; and 4) the supplying and consumption of game as an indicator of diverse food cultures and systems that coexist in the same chronological and spatial framework.

Research on hunting in medieval Spain was increased and intensified after 1980. In that year there were various contributions of peninsular researchers to the international congress in Nice La chasse au Moyen Age and Miguel Ángel Ladero published bis work on hunting in the Spanish municipal legislation at the same time. After this the interest in researching and publishing cynegetic treaties as well as the exploitation of other literary, archival, iconographic and archaeological sources has permitted more in-depth research into the economic, social, legal, technical and mental aspect as well as aspects of the history of the countryside. The interest has grown in recent years with specific seminars and congresses being held, such as the seminar sponsored by the University of Valladolid, which led to the publishing of a set of interdisciplinary studies in 2002 that are included in the volume La caza en la Edad Media, or the meeting that gave place to the publication of the collective work La chasse au Moyen Age. Sociétés, traités, symboles two years previously. Other more multidisciplinary meetings or gatherings related to the environment and eco-history have provided contributions related to hunting in medieval centuries.

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