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Synopsis

Myths and misunderstandings about medieval hunting are dispelled, including the persistent view that it was exclusively an aristocratic and male pursuit Hunting was a major economic and leisure activity throughout the European Middle Ages, and while aristocratic practices have featured in studies of romantic and narrative literature, hunting in its wider sense, across the social spectrum with attendant male and female roles, has largely been ignored by modern medieval historians. This study brings vividly to life the universality and centrality of hunting to medieval societies, both as an economic necessity and as an expression of medieval humanity’s almost atavistic sense of oneness with nature. Using a wide variety of contemporary textual and art historical evidence, this study demonstrates convincingly that hunting, including fishing and all manner of poaching, was enjoyed by all classes, and by women as well as men. It provides a detailed and captivating picture of a pre-urban world from which the modern age has much to learn in terms of land use and conservation.

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