The Forest of the King
XII. What is the Forest of the King, and what the reason of this name.- from The Dialogue Concerning the Exchequer (c. 1180).
M. The forest of the king is the safe dwelling-place of wild beasts; not of every kind, but of the kinds that live in woods; not in all places, but in fixed ones, and ones suitable for the purpose; whence it is called "forests," the "e" being changed into "o," as if it were "feresta" . i.e., an abiding place for wild beasts.
D. Is there a forest of the king in each county?
M. No; but only in the wooded ones, where the wild beasts can have their lairs and ripe nourishment: nor does it matter to whom the woods belong, whether to the king, or to the nobles of the kingdom, the wild beasts can none the less run around everywhere free and unharmed.