The Romans raised rabbits as livestock in Spain in the 2nd century BC and later brought them to Britain. French monks are believed to have domesticated them in the 5th century AD for their meat and fur. According to the Wikipedia article Medieval Cuisine,
Rabbits remained a rare and highly prized commodity. In Britain, they were deliberately introduced by the 13th century and their colonies were carefully protected. Further south, domesticated rabbits were commonly raised and bred both for their meat and fur.
By ‘further south’, the article presumably means France and Spain (among others). This History of Rabbits article, on the other hand, says:
Rabbits were introduced to Britain during the 12th Century, and during the Middle Ages, the breeding and farming of rabbits for meat and fur became widespread throughout Europe.
Also, The Daily Telegraph, in an article which cites Christopher Lever’s The Naturalized Animals of the British Isles, says rabbits were “established” in the wild by the late 12th century. Given that “experts tend to agree that one pair of rabbits can be responsible for up to 1000 new rabbits within a 12 month period.” and that, these days at least,
Raising rabbits is simple and economical. Two does and one buck should produce 180 pounds of meat per year.
it would seem that breeding rabbits would be ideal for the poor (though getting hold of wild ones to get started may have been made difficult by Forest Laws). However, I can find little mention of this until (I think - the time reference isn't clear) the Early Modern period:
Rabbits were typically kept as part of the household livestock by peasants and villagers throughout Europe. Husbandry of the rabbits, including collecting weeds and grasses for fodder, typically fell to the children of the household or farmstead.
Was the consumption of rabbit meat largely restricted to monks and the aristocracy in Medieval and Early Modern Britain?
If so, why didn't the poor - who could not afford much meat in their diet - take advantage of the fact that rabbits are easy to breed, feed and maintain? Are some the sources above misleading, or perhaps the ones on breeding / raising rabbits not applicable to earlier times?