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CHARTERS OF FREEDOM,
EXTORTED BY THE BARONS FROM KING JOHN.
There are two copies of this celebrated charter in the Cotton Library, as old as the time of Jorn. One has still the broad seal, although some of the wax was melted by the flames which consumed, on the 23d October, 1731, part of that valuable collection, and rendered a few letters of the charter illegible. Both charters appear to have been written by the same hand. That which is without a seal has two slits at the bottom, from which, doubtless, two seals were suspended.
Runnrnnoe, or Runsmens; that is, the Mran of Council, (so called from being the place where treaties concerning the peace of the kingdom had from early times been negociated,) is situated between Staines and Windsor. There both parties met on the 5th of June, and pitched their tents asunder in the meadow. On the King's side appeared the Arcnrisrofr of Canterbury and Dublin, with the Bisnofs of London, Winchester, Lincoln, Bath, Worcester, Coventry, and Rochester; Pandulph, the Pope's Legate, and dimeric, Master of the Knights Templars in England; William Mareschall, Earl of Pembroke, the Earls of Salishury, Warren, and Arundell; with the Barons Alan de Galoway, William Fits-Gerald, Peter and Matthew Fits-Herbert. Thomas and Alan Basset, Hugh de Nevil, Hubert de Burgh, Seneschal of Poictou, Robert de Roppeley, John Marescall, and Philip de Albini. Upon the Baronial side there were so many as scarcely to be numbered. The chief was Robert Fits-Walter, their General.
%* The paragraphs inserted between marks, thus [ ], are such clauses as were omitted in the Magna Charta of Henry IIL, and all the Charters that followed.
3Jo[ln, 65 tfce ffirace of (Eoo, IKing of IEnglano, Horo of JrelanD, Suite of itformanon arto ftqnitafnr, anU 3aarl of &njou: To the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justiciaries, Foresters, Sheriffs, Governors, Officers, and to all Bailiffs and others, his faithful subjects, greeting. Know ye that we, in the presence of God, and for the health of our soul, and the souls of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, and the exaltation of holy church, and amendment of our kingdom, by the advice of our venerable fathers, Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Cardinal of the holy Roman Church; Henry, Archbishop of Dublin: William, Bishop of London; Peter of Winchester, Jocelin of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh of Lincoln, Walter of Worcester, William of Coventry, Benedict of Rochester, Bishops; and Master Pandulph, the Pope's Sub-Deacon and Servant, Brother Alymeric, Master of the Temple; and the noble persons, William Marescall, Earl of Pembroke; William, Earl of Salisbury; William, Earl of War
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ren; William, Earl of Arundel; Alan de Galoway, Constable of Scotland; William Fitz-Gerald, Peter Fitz-Herbert, and Hubert de Burgh, Seneschal of Poictou, Hugo de Neville, Matthew Fitz-Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip de Albiney, Robert de Roppele, John Marescall, John Fitz-Hugh, and others, our liegemen, have, in the first place, granted to God, and by this our present charter confirmed for us and our heirs for ever:
I. That the Church of England shall be free,* and enjoy her whole rights and liberties inviolable. [And we will have them so to be observed, which appears from hence, that the freedom of elections, which is reckoned most necessary for the Church of England, of our own free will and pleasure we have granted and confirmed by our charter, and obtained the confirmation thereof from Pope Innocent the Third before the discord between us and our barons, which charter we shall observe, and do will it to be faithfully observed by our heirs for ever.}
II. We have also granted to all the freemen of our kingdom, for us and our heirs for ever, all the underwritten liberties, to have and to hold, them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:
III. If any of our earls or barons, or others who hold of us, in chief by militarv service, shall die, and at the same time of his death his heir is of full age, and owes a relief, he shall have his inheritance by the ancient relief, that is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl, for a whole earl's barony, by a hundred pounds; the heir or heirs of a baron, for a whole barony, by an hundred marks; the heir or heirs of a knight, for a whole knight's fee, by an hundred shillings at the most; and he that oweth less shall give less, according to the ancient customs of fees.
IV. But if the heir of any such be under age, and shall be in ward when he comes of age, he shall have his inheritance without relief, or without fine.
V. The warden of the land of such heir who shall be under age, shall take of the land of such heir, on reasonable issues, reasonable customs and reasonable services.f and that without destruction and waste of the men or things; and if we commit the guardianship of those lands to the sheriff or any other who is answerable to us for the issues of the land, and he make destruction and waste upon the ward-lands, we will compel him to give satisfaction, and the land shall be committed to two lawful and discreet tenants of that fee, who shall be answerable for the issues to us, or him to whom we shall assign. And if we give or sell the wardship of any such lands to any one, and he make destruction or waste upon them, he shall lose the wardship, which shall be committed to two lawful and discreet tenants of that fee, who shall, in like manner, be answerable to us, as hath been said.
VI. But the warden, so long as he hath the wardship of the land, shall keep up and maintain the houses, parks, warrens, ponds and mills, and other things pertaining to the land, out of the issues of the same land, and shall restore to the heir, when he comes of full age, his whole land stocked with ploughs and carriages, according as the time of wainagej shall require, and the issues of the land can reasonably bear.
VII. Heirs shall be married without disparagement^ (so as that, before
• Free—Freed from all unjust exactions and oppressions, t Ittues— Rents and profits issuing out of the lands or tenements of the ward. Custom*—Things due by custom or prescription, and appendant to the lands or tenements in ward; as advowsons, commons, stray, dec.: as also fines of tenants by copy of court roll. Services— The drudgery and labour due from copyholders to their lords. t Wainage— Implements of husbandry, f Disparagement—According to their rank.
marriage is contracted, those who are nearest to the heir in blood be made acquainted with it).
VIII. A widow, after the death of her husband, shall forthwith, and without any difficulty, have her marriage* and inheritance; nor shall she give any thing for her marriage, or her dower, or her inheritance, which her husband and she held at the day of his death; and she may remain in the capital messuage or mansionhouse of her husband forty days after his death, within which term her dower shall be assigned.
IX. No widow shall be distrained^ to marry herself, so long as she has a mind to live without a husband; but yet she shall give security that she will not marry without our assent, if she holds of us; or without the consent of the
X. Neither we nor our bailiffs! shall seize any land§ or rent for any debt, so long as there are chattels or debtors upon the premises sufficient to pay the debt. Nor shall the sureties of the debtor be distrained, so long as the principal debtor is sufficient for the payment of the debt.
XI. And if the principal debtor fail in the payment of the debt, having wherewithal to discharge it, then the sureties shall answer the debt; and if they will, they shall have the lands and rents of the debtor until they be satisfied for the debts which they have paid for him, unless the principal debtor can shew himself acquitted thereof against the said sureties.
XII. [If any one have borrowed any thing of the Jews, more or less, and dies before the debt be satisfied, there shall be no interest paid for that debt, so long as the heir be under age, of whomsoever he may hold; and if the debt falls into our hands, we shall take only the chattel mentioned in the charter or instruments.]
XIII. [And if any one die indebted to the Jews, his wife shall have her dower, and pay nothing of that debt; and if the deceased left children under age, they shall have necessaries provided for them according to the tenement (or real estate) of the deceased, and of the residue the debt shall be paid, saving, however, the service of the lords. In like manner let it be to other persons than Jews.]
XIV. No scutage or aid shall be imposed in our kingdom, unless by the common council of our kingdom, except to redeem our person, and to make our eldest son a knight, and once to marry our eldest daughter; and for this there shall only be paid a reasonable aid.
XV. [In like manner it shall be, concerning the aids of the city of London; and] the city of London shall have all her ancient liberties and free customs; as well by land as by water.
XVI. Furthermore, we will and grant, that all other cities, and boroughs, and towns, and ports, shall have all their liberties and free customs; and shall have the common council of the kingdom concerning the assessment of their aids, || except in the three cases aforesaid.
XVII. [And for the assessing of scutages, we shall cause to be summoned, the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and great barons of the realm, singly, by our letters.]
XVIII. [And furthermore, we will cause to be summoned, in general, by our
• Marriage—Liberty to marry where she wilL
§ By the common law, the king for his debt, had execution of the body, lands and goods of the debtor;
I This is according to Dr. Brady's explanation, May 'hall tend their representatives or commueimere to the common council of the kingdom.
sheriffs and bailiffs, all others -who hold of us in chief, at a certain day, that is to say, forty days before their meeting, at least to a certain place, and in all letters of such summons, we will declare the cause of the summons.]
XIX. [And summons being thus made, the business shall proceed on the day appointed, according to the advice of such as are present, although all that were summoned come not.]
XX. We will not for the future grant to any one, that he may take the aid of his own free-tenants, unless to redeem his body, and to make his only son a knight, and once to marry his eldest daughter, and for this there shall be only paid a reasonable aid.
XXL No man shall be distrained to perform more service for a knight's fee or other free tenements, than is due from thence.
XXIL Common pleass shall not follow our court, but be holden in some certain place. Trials upon the writs of Nouel Desseiain, and of Mori cTAncester, and of Durreine Presentment,^ shall be taken in their proper counties and after this manner. We, (or if we are out of the realm,) our chief justiciary shall send two justiciaries through every county, four times a year: who with the four knights chosen out of every shire, by the people, shall hold the said assizes in the county, on the day, and at the place appointed.
XXIIL And if any matters cannot be determined, on the day appointed to hold the assizes in each county, so many of the knights and freeholders, as have been at the assizes aforesaid, shall be appointed to decide them as is necessary, according as there is more or less business.
XXIV. A freeman]; shall not be amerced for a small fault, but according to the degree of the fault; and for a great crime, in proportion to the heinousness of it: saving to him his contenement ;§ and after the same manner, a merchant, saving him his merchandise.
XXV. And a villain shall be amerced after the same manner, saving to him his wainage,|| if he falls under our mercy; and none of the aforesaid amerciamentsU shall be assessed, but by the oath of honest men of the neighbourhood.
XXVL Earls and barons shall not be amerced but by their peers,»* and according to the quality of their offence.
• The king's court or palace was anciently the great or principal seat of judicature; but towards the close of King Jorn's reign, the jurisdiction of that court came to be divided, and common pleas referred to another court then erected. This new seat of justice was called the Bank, from being jiscc! at West, minster, where the justiciars were to sit, and not to follow the king's court.
t A writ of dssize of Novel Disseisin lies, wherea tenant for ever, or for life, is put out or disseised of his lands or tenements, rents, common of pasture, common way, or of an office, toll, &c, that be may recover his right. A writ of Mort a,dncestor, Is that which lies, where any of a man's near relations die seised of lands, rents, or tenements, and after their deaths, a stranger seises upon them. A writ of Darreine Presentment, lies, where a man and his ancestors have presented to a church, and after it is become void, a stranger presents thereto, whereby the person having right is disturbed. This article tended greatly to the ease of the jurors, and to the saving of charges to the parties concerned; for, before this statute, the writs of dssize of Novel Disseisin, &c, were returnable either before the king, or in the Court of Common Pleas, and to be taken there.
t By Freemen here, and in most places, must be understood frecholders, that is, those that held their lands of the king, or some other lord, by a stipulated relief.
§ Contenementum is to be understood of the means of a man's livelihood, as the arms of a soldier, the ploughs and carts of a hushandman, &c.
I Wainage—Carts, implements of hushandry, etc.
*I dmerciament is derived from the French word merei, and signifies the pecuniary punishment of an offender against the king, or other lord, in his court, who is found to have offended, and to be at the mercy of the king or his lord.
Peers— There are two orders of subjects, Peers and Commoners. The nobles have for their peers, all the peers of the reahn; and the commoners are all deemed peers of each other.
XXVIL No ecclesiastical person shall be amerced for his lay tenement, but according to the proportion aforesaid, and not according to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.
XXVIIL Neither a town nor any person, shall be distrained to make bridges over rivers, unless that anciently and of right they are bound to do it.
XXIX. No sheriff, constable,s coroners, or others, our bailiffs, shall hold pleas of the crown.
XXX. [All counties and heralds, wapentakes and trethings, shall stand at the old ferm, without any increase, except in our demesne lands.]
XXXL If any one that holds of us a lay fee, dies, and the sheriff or our bailiff shew our letters patent of summons concerning the debt, due to us from the deceased; it shall be lawful for the sheriff or our bailiff, to attach and register the chattels of the deceased, found upon his lay fee, to the value of the debt, by the view of lawful men, so as nothing be removed until our whole debt be paid, and the rest shall be left to the executors, to fulfil the will of the deceased; and if there be nothing due from him to us, all the chattels shall remain to the deceased, saving to his wife and children their reasonable share.
XXXIL [If any freeman die intestate, his chattels shall be distributed by the hands of his nearest relations and friends, by view of the church, saving to every one his debts which the deceased owed.]
XXXIIL No constable or bailiff of ours, shall take corn or other chattels of any man, unless he presently give him money for it, or hath respite of payment from the seller.
XXXIV. No constable shall distrain any knight to give money for castleguard, if he himself will do it in his own person, or by any other able man, in case he is hindered by any reasonable cause.
XXXV. And if we lead him or send him into the army, he shall be free from castle-guard, for the time he shall be in the army—by our command.
XXXVL No sheriff or bailiff of ours or any other, shall take horses or carts of any, for carriage.
XXXVIL Neither we nor our officers or others, shall take any man's timber, for our castles or other uses unless by the consent of the owner of the timber.
XXXVIIL We will retain the lands of those convicted of felony, but one year and a day, and then they shall be delivered to the lords of the fee.
XXXIX. All wears for the time to come, shall be destroyed in the rivers of Thames and Medway, and throughout all England, except upon the sea coast.
XL. The writ which is called Preecipe.f for the future shall not be granted to any one of any tenement, whereby a freeman may lose his cause.
XLL There shall be one measure of wine, and one of ale, through our whole realm, and one measure of corn j that is to say, the London quarter, and one breadth of dyed cloth, and russett, and haberjects;% that is to say, two ells within the list; and the weights shall be as measures.
• Constable is here taken for constable of a castle. They were men in ancient times of influence and authority; and for pleas of the crown, had the same power within their precincts, as the sheriff had within his bailiwick, before this act; and they commonly sealed with their portraiture on horseback. The territories of a castle regularly comprised a manor, so that every constable of a castle was constable of a manor.
t The writ called Pracife quod reddat, from the first words in it, had several uses. It signified in general, an order from the king, or some court of justice, to put into possession one that complains of having been unjustly ousted. Apparently there were several abuses of this instrument.
t liussets and Haberjects—Species of coarse cloth.