Tuesday, November 20, 2007

what trees are commonly found in english churchyards

Herouxville states its case
Jeff Heinrich, The Gazette
TROIS-RIVIERES- The Herouxville brief today began with a bemused observation.

"We have been called names," the spokesmen of the tiny Mauricie village stated.

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AAAAFont: "Morons, liars, xenophobes, fascists, selfish, obscurantists, dictators, nationalists, secularists, Nazis, racists, bizarre, idiots, anti-everything, hollow, a nuisance for regional development, mentally deficient, intolerant, stupid, retarded, one-step-behind, an isolated case, and a shame for Quebec abroad,"-- the list was long.

No matter, the authors of the brief to the Bouchard-Taylor commission said, forging ahead this morning with what they consider the solution to the problem of accommodating religious groups and their demands for special treatment.

That solution: amend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ban all kinds of religious accommodations, and if that doesn't work, then separate Quebec from the federation to allow it to amend its own human rights code.

A drastic measure, perhaps, but it's better than "turning in circles" over the question forever, said Herouxville councillor Andre Drouin.

He presented the brief to commission co-chairman Gerard Bouchard and Charles Taylor with colleague Bernard Thompson, Herouxville's webmaster and author of a book on the village's experience.

In January, the tiny municipality (pop. 1,300) made international headlines by adopting a "code of life" that set out ground-rules for immigrants who might want to settle there. Targeting fundamentalist Muslims in particular, those rules included no public stonings or burnings, and no female circumcision.

This morning, Thompson and Drouin got 38 minutes to make their pitch - more than double the 15 minutes usually allotted to people presenting briefs, and more time than anyone else has been granted so far in the commission's 17-city road show that began in early September.

Watching from the back of the hotel conference room were women in hijabs from the Montreal group Presence musulmane, who later told journalists that Herouxville's "Islamophobia" doesn't represent the views of most Quebecers.

The Herouxville brief was exhaustive. Translated from French into five languages - English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German - it's posted on the village's website, www.municipalite.herouxville.qc.ca.

In it are a number of colorful and controversial points of view on what lifestyle the village fathers think immigrants should expect to lead in Quebec.

"The norms and standards described herein are samples," the brief states in its conclusion. "We wish that newcomers may read them in order to enlighten their choice when deciding to join us on the territory of Quebec. We are convinced as citizens of Quebec that we will be able to give newcomers the assurance that the living conditions they fled from in their countries will not be reproduced here, and that the peace of mind and social peace we are so determined to preserve will last forever."

The "norms" touch a variety of subjects:

* Equality of the sexes: "We consider that men and women share the same status of equality. To this effect, a woman can amongst other things, drive a car, vote freely, sign checks, decide for herself, speak her peace, dress as she sees fit while respecting common decency, walk alone in public places, study, have a job, personally own things and be able to dispose of them as she pleases. This constitutes our living standards and our way of life.
Consequently, we consider as undesirable and prohibit any action or gesture that would be contrary to the above statement such as: killing women by lapidation or burning them alive in public places, burning them with acid, excising them, infibulating them or treating them as slaves. Out of respect for women and in order to ease the application of civil laws on divorce, polygamy is prohibited in Quebec. Also, a marriage or a divorce only becomes legal if it was carried out in accordance with the Quebec laws in force.

* Festivities: "We listen to music and we drink beverages, alcoholized or not. We feast, dance, and towards the end of our calendar year, we individually or collectively decorate a fir or a spruce tree with ornamental balls and lights. This is what we commonly call 'Christmas decorations' or 'Christmas trees' which recalls our notions of patrimonial rejoicing but does not necessarily confer to this practice a religious character."

* Health care: "For many years, future fathers have assisted their wives during childbirth. Pre-natal classes
are given in many institutions; men and women attend these classes together.

* Sports: "Since time immemorial, boys and girls have practised sports, and often, together. Boys and girls even swim together in the same pool. That was not the case fifty years ago, but our society has since evolved. Thus, you will see men and women, skiing together on the same slopes simultaneously. You will frequently meet men and women who are part of the same or different hockey teams play on the ice with or against each other at the same time. In public pools, we have male and female lifeguards who supervise males and females swimming together or amusing themselves in the pool. Many sports require wearing appropriate security headgear in order to practise them, from cycling and motorcycling right up to combat sports."

* Transportation: "Taxi drivers must accept passengers accompanied by dogs or carrying alcoholic beverages."

* Kosher or halal food: "No other organization (but government) can certify a food product and pass on certification costs to consumers."

* Prisons: "When incarcerated for not respecting the established state laws, criminals are considered as having disobeyed their own religious laws. Consequently, civil and religious liberties are abrogated inside prison walls. Being funded by taxpayers, atheists or believers, prisons serve the same meals to everyone at normal hours, with certain exceptions allowed for medical considerations. The objectives here are to control costs, simplify detention procedures, and provide efficient services. In addition, there are no areas allocated for prayer."

* Religious freedom: "People are free to accept or not multiple professed religious teachings, and to adhere to a
group whose beliefs are linked to the same dictates. Regardless of these groups being linked to astrology, horoscopes, numerology, fan clubs, political parties, religions or any other form of beliefs, the liberty to quit these groups must be equal to the liberty of joining them. Therefore, any form of hindrance aiming to prevent a believer from stopping to believe must not be planned by groups or religious associations. A group that would incite by its speech any form of violence or would suggest the suppression of people who think differently is considered illicit; state laws related to hate literature or the preaching of hatred recommend such an approach. Groups should have the mission of preaching in favour of the advent of worldly peace and advocate equality

* What Quebecers eat: "Regardless of the shape of the animal or its hooves, regardless of the shape of the fish be it covered by scales or a shell, we will enjoy eating its flesh if it is prepared properly and presented tastefully. Food nourishes the body, the soul is nourished differently."

* About religious accommodations: "Our recent history clearly demonstrates that it is possible to be accommodated by God in order to be able to subscribe to modern society. Fifty years ago, when employers asked us to work on Sunday, the Lord's day, the Catholic God permitted that we break our obligations to assure the welfare of our families. This enabled us to avoid asking our employers to build churches on our working premises. Recently, the (Quebec) National Assembly allowed the opening of retail stores on Sunday. This same God accommodated us once again, sparing Hell to the faithful. After many years of observance of God's order to fast during Lent, we had to give up this religious practise to have sufficient energy to work and study hard. Then again, by the grace of God and his sense of accommodations, we were able to avoid the promise of roasting in Hell after death."

What is liberal theology? Is the determining factor of what is liberal theology whether or not atheists, liberals, and agnostics agree with it? Of course not! Even liberals, yea even the wicked, can have genuine respect for certain theological truths about God without necessarily loving or embracing God on His terms. For example, many among the wicked can truly respect justice that is executed without cruelty. This does not make such justice wrong because they respect it.

Whether or not something is liberal theology, be it a minor doctrine or a major doctrine, must be judged from the light of the Christian Scriptures rightly divided. Any theological doctrine, whether it be held by a minority or the majority, even if it is has been a traditional doctrine for centuries, is liberal theology (biblically speaking) if it strays from the teaching of God's Word (the Holy Christian Scriptures) rightly divided, that is God's Word interpreted in the light of the entire context of Scripture on any particular doctrine and by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Sometimes, also, history may shed light in understanding some portions of God's Word. This does not mean that history trumps God's Word!

A theological doctrine can be traditional and yet be liberal! Something can be conservative according to tradition yet not be conservative theologically. And then, of course, a doctrine may be both, conservative theologically and conservative by tradition.

The Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders in the time of Jesus, had many traditional theological doctrines but many (albeit not all) of these doctrines were man made and, thus, were actually theologically liberal (widely off the mark) as far as the Word of God is concerned. Jesus had to rebuke many times the traditional theological doctrines of the Pharisees as being unbiblical!

The doctrine of eternal torment which is embraced by the vast majority in Christendom is certainly traditional but it is not biblical or Christian in the light of the Scriptures rightly divided. Where's my proof? My article (below) gives you the proof.

Read the article entirely and completely (every word and sentence to the very end) because you will be held accountable to God for either accepting it or rejecting it and for doing so based on rightly dividing God's infallible Word - The Holy Bible.

As a graduate of the world's largest fundamental Christian university, Bob Jones University (Class of '82), graduating with a major in Bible as well as a minor in Biology, I am not ignorant of any passage about hell in the Scriptures. I know them all. So, again, please carefully and thoroughly read my article below. Your questions and arguments will most likely be answered somewhere in the article!


Although I am a conservative Christian (Baptist), I no longer believe that the Bible teaches or supports the traditional view of hell with its doctrine of eternal torment or suffering.

The Bible does teach eternal punishment, but that eternal punishment ultimately is not eternal suffering.

Few in society realize just how much ancient Greek philosophy influenced early Christian thought on hell.

The ancient Greeks believed and taught that the human soul is immortal and indestructible. When early Christianity adopted this belief then it became only logical to believe that those who go to hell must suffer eternal torment.

More than anyone else, the early Church bishop Augustine influenced early Christianity's adoption of this ancient Greek belief about the nature of the soul. Augustine was a great admirer and follower of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato even after converting to Christianity. It was Plato who systematically formulated ancient Greek belief and thought concerning the nature of the human soul.

The Bible, however, teaches that man by nature is completely mortal and that immortality is a gift of God to be realized only on Resurrection Day for those who have put their faith and trust in God's Son Jesus Christ for salvation because Christ's death on the Cross fully paid for our sins and His resurrection from the grave is the guarantee of future immortality for all who believe in Him.

Although the wicked in hell, for a period, will suffer consciously for their individual sins, the ultimate penalty for sin itself will be the eternal death of soul and body and the eternal loss to immortality. That is what the Bible means by eternal punishment - the eternal loss to immortality and life. Interestingly, even Adam and Eve were not created as immortal from the beginning. That is why there was placed the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis 2:17 God told Adam not to eat the fruit of a certain tree (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) and God also told Adam that if he did eat of it he would die on that very day. Specifically, God said to Adam, "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." But the Biblical record shows that Adam did not physically die on the very day he disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit. Because Adam did not physically die on the very day that he disobeyed God most Christians believe that God was referring to spiritual death and not physical death.

However, in the original Hebrew, in which the Old Testament was written, the grammatical tense of the word "die" in Genesis 2:17 is in the imperfect mood. The imperfect mood denotes a process. Thus, what God was actually saying to Adam is that he would start dying on the day he ate the forbidden fruit. The literal translation from the Hebrew of what God said to Adam is: "Dying you will die." God was not, therefore, referring to spiritual death but to physical death. The fact that God later prevented Adam and Eve from having access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24) so that they would not live eternally proves that God was referring to physical death and not spiritual death.

The penalty for sin, then, is the death of both soul and body so that man will not live forever in sin. Not only is God not cruel in His eternal justice, but a holy God will not allow His moral creatures to exist eternally in sin. God will not immortalize sin and evil by making the wicked in hell immortal! All of this contradicts the traditional doctrine and teaching, taught in most churches, about the wicked having an immortal soul and body in hell.

What about "eternal fire", "unquenchable fire", "weeping and gnashing of teeth forever and ever", the account by Jesus about the Rich Man and Lazarus, and other similar passages in the Bible that seem to teach eternal torment? The key, in many cases, is in understanding the context in which these and other similar phrases are used in various parts of Scripture.

For example, figures of speech such as "unquenchable fire" are used in the Bible to mean that the process of destruction is unstoppable or irreversible. We see an example of this in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel 20:47-48 where God says that when His judgment comes on the land even every green tree will burn and that the fire "will not be quenched". Obviously, those trees are not still burning. It is important to understand just why God uses such terms in Scripture as "unquenchable fire".

In the Bible, there were some judgments of God in which His wrath was quenched or stopped such as in the case when Moses interceded and pleaded before God for the rebellious Israelites in the desert. When Moses did this God stopped or quenched His wrath against the rebellious Israelites. Thus, when God says, in Scripture, that the wicked in the end will be destroyed with unquenchable fire what He simply means is that nothing can intervene to prevent Him from carrying out His wrath fully through to its completion. Over and over in the Scriptures God is described in judgment as being a consuming fire. God's righteous wrath in judgment is not an end in itself but a means to an end.

Unlike the burning bush in Exodus that Moses observed was not consumed by the fire but was preserved by God, the Scriptures teach that God, in the end, will not preserve the wicked in the fire of hell but instead will completely consume and destroy them!

Contrary to popular belief and interpretation, the phrase in Scripture "where their worm dieth not" is not a reference to the undying human soul or conscience. We have already seen statements in Scripture that God will destroy, not preserve or keep alive, the bodies and souls of the wicked in the Day of Judgment. The worm and fire were figures that people in Jesus' time could readily identify and understand because in that time the dead bodies of those who suffered dishonor in society were all commonly thrown into a certain valley where fire and worms devoured these bodies. Jesus simply seeks to convey, in figurative language, that in hell (gehenna) neither the fire nor the worm will cease until the wicked are totally consumed or destroyed!

The word "forever" is another example. In Scripture the word "forever" does not always mean endless or eternal duration. For example, in Exodus 21:6 (KJV Version) we read that certain people were to be servants "forever". Obviously this cannot mean eternity. The word "forever" or "everlasting", in the original Hebrew and Greek languages of Scripture, simply means the entire length or duration of something. If that something is immortal then the word "forever" must mean eternity. But, if that something is mortal or temporary in nature then, obviously, the word "forever" cannot mean eternity.

Scripture says in Jude 7 that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by eternal fire. These cities are no longer still burning. How, then, can the fire be called "eternal"? Because the result that the fire produced is eternal - these cities have never existed again, nor will they.

When the Bible talks about eternal judgment, or eternal damnation, or eternal destruction, it is in reference to the result and not the process! It is not the punishing that is eternal but rather the punishment! It is not the destroying that is eternal but rather the destruction! Just as eternal redemption in the Bible does not mean that the process of redeeming is eternal but rather its result (no one would be saved if the process of redeeming were eternal) so too the eternal judgment of the wicked refers to the result of their judgment being eternal and not the process.

The context of Holy Scripture teaches that the eternal punishment of the wicked is ultimately their eternal annihilation and not eternal torment or suffering as the traditional doctrine of hell teaches. As one preacher has put it: "Eternal punishment is the eternal loss of life not an eternal life of loss".

Eternal life in Scripture has the same meaning as immortality (i.e. Romans 2:7) which Christians will possess only in the future on Resurrection Day. Various Scripture passages teach immortality and eternal life to be a future possession for Christians. Why then did Jesus use the present tense when saying those who believe in Him have eternal life? The answer is that sometimes in the Bible the present tense is used to describe future events for the purpose of demonstrating their certainty. Scripture says God "calleth those things which be not as though they were" (Romans 4:17).

The Bible says Jesus Christ "hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10). The opposite of eternal life (or immortality) is eternal death (the eternal and literal death of soul and body) - not eternally living in torment and suffering! "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting (eternal) life" (John 3:16). The issue is not what we think eternal punishment ought to be. The issues are God's character, God's definition of ultimate justice, and God's eternal purposes.

Some have argued that because man was created in the image of God then all humans must possess an immortal soul. However, being created in the image of God doesn't necessarily mean that we must possess every attribute or even possible attribute that God possess. For example, God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent - but we are not. The Bible is clear that immortality is an attribute that will be given only on Resurrection Day for those who have put their trust in Christ for salvation.

We must base our views of hell and the after life on what the Bible teaches, not on tradition or mere human philosophies and opinions. We must not impose our philosophy of what God ought to be upon Holy Scripture! Not many people realize the fact that in the New Testament there are different Greek words for the word "hell." But unfortunately the English Bible translates these different words for hell as one word, and this has been a cause of much confusion for those who wish to study the subject. The New Testament Greek words for hell are "hades" and "gehenna" and they both have different meanings. Hades means the unseen world of the dead and is only a temporary abode. It has nothing to do with punishment or reward. It is equivalent to the Hebrew word "sheol" in the Old Testament in its meaning. Gehenna, on the other hand, is the abode of eternal punishment of the wicked.

The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16 has often been used by many Christians, especially preachers, as a depiction of the punishment that the wicked will suffer in hell. But this is not the case. In the first place when Jesus refers to the Rich Man being in torment in the flame of hell the Greek word for "hell" in the passage is not "gehenna" (the place of final and eternal punishment), but rather it is the Greek word "hades" (which in Scripture is the temporary abode of the dead). The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, like the other series of parables before it, was used of the Lord to illustrate or depict the end of the rule of the pharisees and to depict the end of the Jewish Era and dispensation (as represented by the Rich Man being in torment) and it was also used of the Lord to depict or illustrate the elevation of Gentile Christendom (as represented by Lazarus). Actually, Lazarus represented the poor Jews of Jesus' time who were ignored by the self-righteous religious leaders of Israel and he also represented the gentiles who, although rejected by the Jewish leaders, would nevertheless be accepted into the bosom of Abraham through their new found faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The religious leaders of Israel had lived only for themselves and ignored the spiritual needs of the spiritually sick and starving people around them.

The concept that hades was a place divided into two compartments, one of suffering for the wicked and the other of bliss for the rigtheous, was a Jewish belief that had developed during the intertestamental period, the period of time in between when the Old and New Testaments were written. Thus, this particular view of hades was not canonical, that is it was not something that God Himself had revealed to the Jews through Scripture. There is no evidence in Scripture that hades is a place where the wicked suffer while awaiting their final and permanent judgment in gehenna. Such a concept of hades developed as a result of ancient Greek influences on Jewish thinking about the nature of the soul. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus was simply borrowing this popular Jewish folklore of hades to use as an illustration to make a point to the pharisees and religious leaders of His day, but He was not necessarily endorsing the folklore as being doctrinally valid or correct. There are various passages in the Old Testament, such as in Psalms, that tell us that there is no consciousness in sheol (the Hebrew equivalent of hades in the Old Testament).

Some argue that the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is not a parable because Jesus did not formally introduce it as a parable. But, Jesus did not always formally introduce His stories as parables, and there are various examples of that in the Gospels. Now, it is true that in His parables Jesus used things that actually existed to fill in for illustrations and figures, but in the particular case of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus the Lord used a popular existing Jewish myth about hades for the purposes of constructing a story. Jesus simply used the pharisees' own superstitous belief about hades against them!

Why didn't Jesus rebuke the pharisees' belief about hades as being wrong? Jesus didn't go around always rebuking every wrong doctrine. For example, in Jesus' time it was a common Jewish belief (from the influence of Greek philosophy) that souls could commit individual sins before birth. That is why we read in John 9:1-3 that Jesus' disciples believed a certain man was born blind because he may have committed some great sin before his physical conception in the womb. Jesus didn't respond by telling His disciples that such a belief is doctrinally wrong but instead healed the blind man.

By no means is all of this new teaching. A minority of Christians, of various denominations, have held to this view of hell throughout the centuries. Even some very prominent Christians of the past have held to this view and there are a number (albeit a minority) of Christian theologians and scholars in the present who hold to this view. However, this view on hell, unfortunately, is known so little outside the Christian community and even inside the Christian community for that matter.

Many of the early Protestant Reformers, including Martin Luther, held to the view that man, by nature, is entirely mortal (including the soul), but the great Reformer John Calvin opposed this view and specifically wrote against it and insisted that all of the Reformers present a united front. An excellent Internet site containing information on all of this is "Champions of Conditional Immortality In The seed cones are highly modified, each cone containing a single seed 4-7 mm long partly surrounded by a modified scale which develops into a soft, bright red berry-like structure called an aril, 8-15 mm long and wide and open at the end. The arils are mature 6-9 months after pollination, and with the seed contained are eaten by thrushes, waxwings and other birds, which disperse the hard seeds undamaged in their droppings; maturation of the arils is spread over 2-3 months, increasing the chances of successful seed dispersal. The seed itself is extremely poisonous and bitter. The aril is not poisonous, and is gelatinous and very sweet tasting. The The male cones are globose, 3-6 mm diameter, and shed their pollen in early spring. It is mostly dioecious, but occasional individuals can be variably monoecious, or change sex with time.[1][2][3]

It is relatively slow growing, but can be very long-lived, with the maximum recorded trunk diameter of 4 m probably only being reached in about 2,000 years. The potential age of yews is impossible to determine accurately and is subject to much dispute. There is rarely any wood as old as the entire tree, while the boughs themselves often hollow with age, making ring counts impossible. There are unconfirmed claims as high as 5,000-9,500 years,[4] but other evidence based on growth rates and archaeological work of surrounding structures suggests the oldest trees (such as the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland) are more likely to be in the range of 2,000 years.[5][6] Even with this lower estimate, Taxus baccata is the longest living plant in Europe.

All parts of the tree are toxic, except the bright red aril surrounding the seed, enabling ingestion and dispersal by birds. The major toxin is the alkaloid taxine. The foliage remains toxic even when wilted or dried. Horses have the lowest tolerance, with a lethal dose of 200–400 mg/kg body weight, but cattle, pigs, and other livestock are only slightly less vulnerable.[7] Symptoms include staggering gait, muscle tremors, convulsions, collapse, difficulty breathing, and eventually heart failure. However, death occurs so rapidly that many times the symptoms are missed. The tree should be fenced off or removed from pasture land to prevent grazing animals from consuming it.

[edit] Etymology
The word yew is from Proto-Germanic *īwa-, possibly originally a loanword from Gaulish ivos, compare Irish ēo, Welsh ywen, French if; see Eihwaz for a discussion). Baccata is Latin for bearing berries.

[edit] Uses and traditions
In the ancient Celtic world, the yew tree (*eburos) had extraordinary importance; a passage by Caesar narrates that Catuvolcus, chief of the Eburones, literally "farmers of the yew", poisoned himself with yew rather than submit to Rome (Gallic Wars 6: 31). Similarly, Florus notes that when the Cantabrians were under siege by the legate Gaius Furnius in 22 BC, most of them took their lives either by the sword or by fire or by a poison extracted ex arboribus taxeis, that is, from the yew tree (2: 33, 50-51). In a similar way, Orosius notes that when the Gallaecians were besieged at Mons Medullius, they preferred to die by their own swords or by the yew tree poison rather than surrender (6, 21, 1.).

An Irish Yew (Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata') planted at Kenilworth Castle
The yew is often found in churchyards from England and Ireland to Galicia; some of these trees are exceptionally large (over 3 m diameter) and may be up to 2,000 years old, though few if any predate the churches they are beside.[5][6] Many believe that the enormous sacred evergreen at the Temple at Uppsala was a yew[citation needed]. The Christian church commonly found it expedient to take over these existing sacred sites for churches. It is sometimes suggested that these were planted as a symbol of long life or trees of death. An explanation that the yews were planted to discourage farmers and drovers from letting their animals wander into the burial grounds, with the poisonous foliage being the disincentive, may be intentionally prosaic.

Yew is also associated with Wales and England because of the longbow, an early weapon of war developed in northern Europe, and as the English longbow the basis for a mediaeval tactical system. Yew is the wood of choice for longbow making; the bows are constructed so that the heartwood of yew is on the inside of the bow while the sapwood is on the outside. This takes advantage of the natural properties of yew wood since the heartwood is able to withstand compression while the sapwood is elastic and allows the bow to stretch. Both tend to return to their original straightness when the arrow is released. Much yew is knotty and twisted, so unsuitable for bowmaking; most trunks do not give good staves and even in a good trunk much wood has to be discarded.

The trade of yew wood to England for longbows was such that it depleted the stocks of good-quality, mature yew over a huge area. The first documented import of yew bowstaves to England was in 1294. In 1350 there was a serious shortage, and Henry IV of England ordered his royal bowyer to enter private land and cut yew and other woods. In 1470 compulsory archery practice was renewed, and hazel, ash, and laburnum were specifically allowed for practice bows. Supplies still proved insufficient, until by the Statute of Westminster in 1472, every ship coming to an English port had to bring four bowstaves for every tun. Richard III of England increased this to ten for every tun. This stimulated a vast network of extraction and supply, which formed part of royal monopolies in southern Germany and Austria. In 1483, the price of bowstaves rose from two to eight pounds per hundred, and in 1510 the Venetians would only sell a hundred for sixteen pounds. In 1507 the Holy Roman Emperor asked the Duke of Bavaria to stop cutting yew, but the trade was profitable, and in 1532 the royal monopoly was granted for the usual quantity "if there are that many". In 1562, the Bavarian government sent a long plea to the Holy Roman Emperor asking him to stop the cutting of yew, and outlining the damage done to the forests by its selective extraction, which broke the canopy and allowed wind to destroy neighbouring trees. In 1568, despite a request from Saxony, no royal monopoly was granted because there was no yew to cut, and the next year Bavaria and Austria similarly failed to produce enough yew to justify a royal monopoly. Forestry records in this area in the 1600s do not mention yew, and it seems that no mature trees were to be had. The English tried to obtain supplies from the Baltic, but at this period bows were being replaced by guns in any case.[8].

Foliage of Irish Yew; note the leaves spreading all round the erect shoots
Yews are widely used in landscaping and ornamental horticulture. Well over 200 cultivars of Taxus baccata have been named. The most popular of these are the "Irish Yew" (Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata'), a fastigiate cultivar of the European Yew selected from two trees found growing in Ireland, and the several cultivars with yellow leaves, collectively known as "Golden Yew". A special use of the yew is for topiary garden sculpture, a use not uncommon for many of the more elaborate gardens of England and Scotland.[2][3]

The precursors of chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel can be derived from the leaves of European Yew, which is a more renewable source than the bark of the endangered Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia). This ended a point of conflict in the early 1990s; many environmentalists, including Al Gore, had opposed the harvesting of paclitaxel for cancer treatments. Docetaxel (another taxane) can then be obtained by semi-synthetic conversion from the precursors.

[edit] Literary References
The yew tree is an iconic reference in the poetry of Sylvia Plath, particularly in several poems from her collection of poetry Ariel. (See "The Moon and the Yew Tree", "Little Fugue", and "Daddy".)
In Shakesphere's Titus Andronicus, Act 2 Scene 3, Tamora the Goth queen exclaims: "No sooner had they told this hellish tale\ But straight they told me they would bind me here\ Unto the body of a dismal yew"
In the Irish myth "The Love of Chu Chulainn and Fand", the warrior and the goddess meet beneath a yew tree's head at every quarter moon.
John Keats refers to the yew in his "Ode on Melancholy", writing, "Make not your rosary of yew-berries, / Nor let the beetle, nor the death moth be / Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl / A partner in your sorrow's mysteries..." (lines 5-8).
In Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "In Memoriam: A.H.H." the yew above Arthur Hallam's grave is addressed: "Old yew, which graspest at the stones/ That name the underlying dead,/ Thy fibres net the dreamless head,/ Thy roots are wrapped about the bones" (II, ln. 1-4).
A Yew tree is featured prominently in William Wordsworth's poems "Lines Left Upon a Seat in a Yew Tree" and "Yew-trees".
In Alexandre Dumas's novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantès is imprisoned in the Château d'If, which literally translates to "Castle of the Yew" (If is a small island in France, and the name may or may not derive from the word which means yew).
George Bernard Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession uses a yew tree in the yard of Reverend Samuel Gardner.
In Section V of Little Gidding from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets (the last section of the poem), Eliot claims: "The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree/ Are of equal duration". In his poem, "Ash-Wednesday", he mentions the yew five times: "The silent sister veiled in white and blue/ Between the yews, behind the garden god, / Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but/ spoke no word" (IV); "Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew" (IV); "Will the veiled sister between the slender/ Yew trees pray for those who offend her" (V); "But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away/ Let the other yew be shaken and reply" (VI).
In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Beleg Strongbow uses a bow made of yew. In The Hobbit, the eagle king complains of the men of Wilderland using bows made of yew to shoot at his people.
The murderer in Agatha Christie's mystery A Pocket Full of Rye uses taxine (taxol), a poison derived from yew, to kill the victim. The victim lives at Yewtree Lodge.
In Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea series, both the wizard Ged and the Master Summoner carry staves of yew.
In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Voldemort uses a wand made of yew.
The Yew is the subject of Swedish author Gunnar D Hansson's "lyrical monography" Idegransöarna (The Yew-tree Islands, 1994, untranslated to English). Hansson explores the yew in its uses (medicinal, lyrical, in place-names, etc) and its historical meaning. He speculates about the yew, and weaves a tale of prose poems, essays and lyrics, about the yew; the book takes the reader close to the yew in its relation to Hittites, Vikings, medicine, Robin Hood, Christmas, heathendom, etymology and mythology.
The Great Chain of Being, which proposes a strict, hierarchical order for the beings (divine entities, animals, and plants) in the universe, designates the yew as the lowest form of tree among plants.

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