Forestry operation history


Hunt use

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Illus­tra­tion of a hunt in the Mid­dle Ages (14th century)

The hunt is one of the old­est for­est uses and at the begin­ning it only served for ali­ment sup­ply and vital secu­ri­ty. The skins were used to man­u­fac­ture clothes and the bones for tools and weapons. The meat rep­re­sent­ed an essen­tial basis of nutrition.

At the begin­ning of the Mid­dle Ages time, every farmer, mem­ber of the Mark com­pan­ion­ship (a group of farm­ers using togeth­er the for­est and the pas­tures) was allowed to hunt. Lat­er on, the sov­er­eigns ban­ished the woods and hunt­ing became a priv­i­lege of the nobil­i­ty. As a con­se­quence of the ban­ish­ing process, the right to shoot an ani­mal was lim­it­ed and only the sov­er­eigns were enabled to use the forests.

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Dur­ing the High Mid­dle Ages, the hunt with the fal­con was very com­mon in Cen­tral Europe. For the gen­try it was rather a kind of sport than a sup­ply in veni­son. Fal­con­ry was first a social event where even women could par­tic­i­pate in.

In the Char­ta of Free­dom, issued by the count­ess of Lux­em­bourg Ermesinde II (1186–1247) in 1244 a part of the Grünewald had also been ban­ished. In this sec­tion nobody had the right to hunt with dogs, nets or sacks but only with fal­cons or oth­er birds. In case of non respect a fine of 5 Soli­di was imposed.

The fol­low­ing reg­u­la­tions were meant to pro­tect the for­est but served most­ly to guar­an­tee an undis­turbed hunt­ing. The unbri­dled taste for hunt­ing of some sov­er­eigns caused high dam­age to pas­tures and fields. The destruc­tion of the sow­ing and the har­vest made the local farm­ers suf­fer from hunger. It is no sur­prise that the hunt, the dam­age caused by game ani­mals and the ser­vices the bond-slaved had to give were the main rea­sons that let to the peas­ants’ revolts in the 14th and the 15th century.

Honey collecting

The pro­fes­sion of the “Zei­dler” ( a kind of api­arist) has its ori­gins in the ear­ly Mid­dle Ages and was meant for busi­ness, all by col­lect­ing the hon­ey of domes­ti­cat­ed or wild bees. He worked for the sov­er­eigns or the cler­gy. But unlike the nor­mal api­arist, he did not use a self-made bee­hive. The strong tree species like lime tree, sal­low, pine and oak did not only sup­ply with nec­tar, but served also as a nat­ur­al hive, once they had been hol­lowed by the beekeeper.

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Peas­ants col­lect­ing hon­ey – cop­per engrav­ing (16th century)

The regions cov­ered with conifers and mixed light woods were a nec­es­sary con­di­tion for nat­ur­al hon­ey col­lect­ing. The hon­ey pick­ers had their own cor­po­ra­tions with their own defined reg­u­la­tions and jurisdiction.

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His­toric rep­re­sen­ta­tion of hon­ey collecting

Until the 10th cen­tu­ry most of the col­lect­ed hon­ey came from wild for­est bee and rep­re­sent­ed the only sup­ply in sweet­en­ers. It was only when the wax con­sump­tion increased con­sid­er­ably, as cas­tles, church­es and monas­ter­ies and towns need­ed to get light­ened, that domes­tic api­cul­ture became more impor­tant. More wax was pro­duced and the mead pro­duc­tion decreased.

The slow down­fall of the hon­ey col­lect­ing pro­fes­sion swept over Europe from West to East and with the intro­duc­tion of sug­ar cane in the 17th cen­tu­ry the hon­ey col­lect­ing era was def­i­nite­ly gone. How­ev­er only the rich gen­try could afford sug­ar cane and this sit­u­a­tion only changed after that the pro­duc­tion of sug­ar beets had been started