During the Elizabethan era it was
viewed more as a sport. Both men and women engaged in
hunting. A variety of animals found living wild in England
were hunted. There were different types of hunts which were
therefore more suited to either men or women.
Elizabethan Hunting - Different
Types of Hunts
Hunting was divided into
two different types of hunts:
The 'At Force' Hunt
The 'Bow and Stable' Hunt
Elizabethan Hunting - 'At
At Force Hunts were
the most strenuous forms of hunting. The 'At Force' hunts
were designed for fit, young and very active men. As the name suggests there were many
huntsmen involved in this type of hunt who arranged themselves into
teams. Dogs often accompanied the huntsmen on the At Force hunts. The
Wild Boar was an extremely dangerous animal and would be the main choice
of prey for this type of hunt. The teams would chase the prey to near
exhaustion or would corner the animal just before the 'kill'.
Elizabethan Hunting - 'Bow and
The Bow and Stable Hunts were
the less strenuous forms of hunting. The 'Bow and Stable' hunts were
designed for women or less active, or infirm, men active men. As the
name suggests this type of hunt was conducted on horseback using a bow
as the main weapon. Dogs also accompanied the hunt on the 'Bow and
Stable' hunts and would drive the prey into an enclosed space where the
huntsmen and huntswomen could kill the animal at close range. The docile
deer would normally be the main choice of prey for this type of hunt.
The Boke of St
The 'Boke of St Albans' is an old English text, which is the earliest
example of color printing in England, was printed in the town of St
Albans in 1486. It's author is unknown. The book is interesting as it
details the subjects of:
Elizabethan Hunting -
The Animals which
were the prey
The 'Boke of St Albans'
provides a list of the animals hunted in England as follows:
The Stag - Usually
hunted with aid of dogs and bows and arrows, in order to stay out of
range of the horns. Suitable as the prey for 'Bow and Stable'
The Deer, Hart or
Roebuck - Usually hunted with aid of dogs and bows and arrows.
Suitable as the prey for 'Bow and Stable' Hunting
Boar - Usually hunted
with the aid of dogs and with very long spears, in order to stay
away from the tusks. Suitable as the prey for 'At Force' Hunting
Foxes - Usually hunted
by chasing them with dogs and letting the dogs tear the fox apart.
Foxes are rarely hunted as food. Suitable as the prey for 'Bow and
Rabbits - Usually hunted
by sending trained dogs or ferrets down the burrow
Otters - Usually hunted
with dogs. Hunted for sport not food
Game birds (geese,
ducks, pheasant, partridge, grouse etc.) - usually hunted with dogs
to chase them into taking off, then with bow and arrow to bring them
down, and dogs (again) to fetch the corpses back. Suitable as the
prey for 'Bow and Stable' Hunting
Sumptuary laws (the Forest Law)
related to gaming and hunting. The Forests of England were normally
owned by the reigning monarch. In Elizabethan times there were an
estimated sixty nine royal forests. Only the monarch or his servants
hunted in the forests. Permission to hunt in forests could also be
gained by the granting of a royal licence. The animals subject to the
forest law were the Red deer, Fallow Deer, Roe Deer and the wild Boar.
The commoners had the right to hunt any beast over common land unless
such right had been restricted by some special royal grant.
breaking Elizabethan Hunting Laws
The strict Forest Laws reserved
rights of hunting to the ruling class were hated and resented by the
lower classes. Peasants accused of poaching were liable to hanging,
castration, blinding or being sewn into a deerskin and then hunted down
by ferocious dogs.