The Charter of the Forest was the first environmental charter forced on any government. It was the first to assert the rights of the property-less, of the commoners, and of the commons. It also made a modest advance for feminism, as it coincided with recognition of the rights of widows to have access to means of subsistence and to refuse to be remarried.
The commons, an historical concept, has become an object of interest for the modern social sciences and the general public like few before it.
As a Republican Alaska governor Walter Hickel said, “If you steal $10 from a man’s wallet, you’re likely to get into a fight, but if you steal billions from the commons, co-owned by him and his descendants, he may not even notice.” In the beginning, the commons was everywhere. Humans roamed through it, hunting and gathering to meet their needs. Like other species, we had territories but these were communal to the tribe, not private to the person.