Auf der Schwelle

Meerestiere, der Strand und die litorale Ökonomie im spätmittelalterlichen England


This article is concerned with whale strandings that appear in royal and manorial administrative sources from late medieval England. Whale strandings were contin­gent, but stranded whales were also involved in the noble feudal economy. The article shows that the beach was a transitional zone of economic activity and legal claims, from which numerous conflicts arose. Because whales had a specific legal status as ‘royal fish’, contending parties connected their local disputes to whale strandings in order to bring these cases before the royal courts. At the same time, this leads to a narrowing of what the sources say about the appropriation and exploitation of whales in the later and late Middle Ages. Approaches to agency in Human–Animal Studies can, the article argues, help to think about and fill these gaps in economic maritime and legal history.


Animal History, Economic History, Human–Animal Studies, Maritime History, Materiality