John, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of
Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to the archbishop, bishops,
abbots, earls, barons, justiciaries, foresters, sheriffs, stewards,
servants, and to all his bailiffs and liege subjects, greetings. Know that,
having regard to God and for the salvation of our soul, and those of all our
ancestors and heirs, and unto the honor of God and the advancement of his
holy Church and for the rectifying of our realm, we have granted as
underwritten by 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 of London, Peter of Winchester, Jocelyn
of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh of Lincoln, Walter of Worcester, William of
Coventry, Benedict of Rochester, bishops; of Master Pandulf, subdeacon and
member of the household of our lord the Pope, of brother Aymeric (master of
the Knights of the Temple in England), and of the illustrious men William
Marshal, earl of Pembroke, William, earl of Salisbury, William, earl of
Warenne, William, earl of Arundel, Alan of Galloway (constable of Scotland),
Waren Fitz Gerold, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert De Burgh (seneschal of
Poitou), Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset,
Philip d'Aubigny, Robert of Roppesley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and
others, our liegemen.
1. In the first place we have granted to
God, and by this our present charter confirmed for us and our heirs forever
that the English Church shall be free, and shall have her rights entire, and
her liberties inviolate; and we will that it be thus observed; which is
apparent from this that the freedom of elections, which is reckoned most
important and very essential to the English Church, we, of our pure and
unconstrained will, did grant, and did by our charter confirm and did obtain
the ratification of the same from our lord, Pope Innocent III, before the
quarrel arose between us and our barons: and this we will observe, and our
will is that it be observed in good faith by our heirs forever. We have also
granted to all freemen of our kingdom, for us and our heirs forever, all the
underwritten liberties, to be had and held by them and their heirs, of us
and our heirs forever.
2. If any of our earls or barons, or
others holding of us in chief by military service shall have died, and at
the time of his death his heir shall be full of age and owe "relief", he
shall have his inheritance by the old relief, to wit, the heir or heirs of
an earl, for the whole barony of an earl by £100; the heir or heirs of a
baron, £100 for a whole barony; the heir or heirs of a knight, 100s, at
most, and whoever owes less let him give less, according to the ancient
custom of fees.
3. If, however, the heir of any one of the
aforesaid has been under age and in wardship, let him have his inheritance
without relief and without fine when he comes of age.
4. The guardian of the land of an heir who
is thus under age, shall take from the land of the heir nothing but
reasonable produce, reasonable customs, and reasonable services, and that
without destruction or waste of men or goods; and if we have committed the
wardship of the lands of any such minor to the sheriff, or to any other who
is responsible to us for its issues, and he has made destruction or waster
of what he holds in wardship, we will take of him amends, and the land shall
be committed to two lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall be
responsible for the issues to us or to him to whom we shall assign them; and
if we have given or sold the wardship of any such land to anyone and he has
therein made destruction or waste, he shall lose that wardship, and it shall
be transferred to two lawful and discreet men of that fief, who shall be
responsible to us in like manner as aforesaid.
5. The guardian, moreover, so long as he
has the wardship of the land, shall keep up the houses, parks, fishponds,
stanks, mills, and other things pertaining to the land, out of the issues of
the same land; and he shall restore to the heir, when he has come to full
age, all his land, stocked with ploughs and wainage, according as the season
of husbandry shall require, and the issues of the land can reasonable bear.
6. Heirs shall be married without
disparagement, yet so that before the marriage takes place the nearest in
blood to that heir shall have notice.
7. A widow, after the death of her
husband, shall forthwith and without difficulty have her marriage portion
and inheritance; nor shall she give anything for her dower, or for her
marriage portion, or for the inheritance which her husband and she held on
the day of the death of that husband; and she may remain in the house of her
husband for forty days after his death, within which time her dower shall be
assigned to her.
8. No widow shall be compelled to marry,
so long as she prefers to live without a husband; provided always that she
gives security not to marry without our consent, if she holds of us, or
without the consent of the lord of whom she holds, if she holds of another.
9. Neither we nor our bailiffs will seize
any land or rent for any debt, as long as the chattels of the debtor are
sufficient to repay the debt; nor shall the sureties of the debtor be
distrained so long as the principal debtor is able to satisfy the debt; and
if the principal debtor shall fail to pay the debt, having nothing wherewith
to pay it, then the sureties shall answer for the debt; and let them have
the lands and rents of the debtor, if they desire them, until they are
indemnified for the debt which they have paid for him, unless the principal
debtor can show proof that he is discharged thereof as against the said
10. If one who has borrowed from the Jews
any sum, great or small, die before that loan be repaid, the debt shall not
bear interest while the heir is under age, of whomsoever he may hold; and if
the debt fall into our hands, we will not take anything except the principal
sum contained in the bond.
11. And if anyone die indebted to the
Jews, his wife shall have her dower and pay nothing of that debt; and if any
children of the deceased are left under age, necessaries shall be provided
for them in keeping with the holding of the deceased; and out of the residue
the debt shall be paid, reserving, however, service due to feudal lords; in
like manner let it be done touching debts due to others than Jews.
12. No scutage not aid shall be imposed on
our kingdom, unless by common counsel of our kingdom, except for ransoming
our person, for making our eldest son a knight, and for once marrying our
eldest daughter; and for these there shall not be levied more than a
reasonable aid. In like manner it shall be done concerning aids from the
city of London.
13. And the city of London shall have all
it ancient liberties and free customs, as well by land as by water;
furthermore, we decree and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and
ports shall have all their liberties and free customs.
14. And for obtaining the common counsel
of the kingdom anent the assessing of an aid (except in the three cases
aforesaid) or of a scutage, we will cause to be summoned the archbishops,
bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons, severally by our letters; and we
will moveover cause to be summoned generally, through our sheriffs and
bailiffs, and others who hold of us in chief, for a fixed date, namely,
after the expiry of at least forty days, and at a fixed place; and in all
letters of such summons we will specify the reason of the summons. And when
the summons has thus been made, the business shall proceed on the day
appointed, according to the counsel of such as are present, although not all
who were summoned have come.
15. We will not for the future grant to
anyone license to take an aid from his own free tenants, except to ransom
his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and once to marry his eldest
daughter; and on each of these occasions there shall be levied only a
16. No one shall be distrained for
performance of greater service for a knight's fee, or for any other free
tenement, than is due therefrom.
17. Common pleas shall not follow our
court, but shall be held in some fixed place.
18. Inquests of novel disseisin, of mort
d'ancestor, and of darrein presentment shall not be held elsewhere than in
their own county courts, and that in manner following; We, or, if we should
be out of the realm, our chief justiciar, will send two justiciaries through
every county four times a year, who shall alone with four knights of the
county chosen by the county, hold the said assizes in the county court, on
the day and in the place of meeting of that court.
19. And if any of the said assizes cannot
be taken on the day of the county court, let there remain of the knights and
freeholders, who were present at the county court on that day, as many as
may be required for the efficient making of judgments, according as the
business be more or less.
20. A freeman shall not be amerced for a
slight offense, except in accordance with the degree of the offense; and for
a grave offense he shall be amerced in accordance with the gravity of the
offense, yet saving always his "contentment"; and a merchant in the same
way, saving his "merchandise"; and a villein shall be amerced in the same
way, saving his "wainage" if they have fallen into our mercy: and none of
the aforesaid amercements shall be imposed except by the oath of honest men
of the neighborhood.
21. Earls and barons shall not be amerced
except through their peers, and only in accordance with the degree of the
22. A clerk shall not be amerced in
respect of his lay holding except after the manner of the others aforesaid;
further, he shall not be amerced in accordance with the extent of his
23. No village or individual shall be
compelled to make bridges at river banks, except those who from of old were
legally bound to do so.
24. No sheriff, constable, coroners, or
others of our bailiffs, shall hold pleas of our Crown.
25. All counties, hundred, wapentakes, and
trithings (except our demesne manors) shall remain at the old rents, and
without any additional payment.
26. If anyone holding of us a lay fief
shall die, and our sheriff or bailiff shall exhibit our letters patent of
summons for a debt which the deceased owed us, it shall be lawful for our
sheriff or bailiff to attach and enroll the chattels of the deceased, found
upon the lay fief, to the value of that debt, at the sight of law worthy
men, provided always that nothing whatever be thence removed until the debt
which is evident shall be fully paid to us; and the residue shall be left to
the executors to fulfill the will of the deceased; and if there be nothing
due from him to us, all the chattels shall go to the deceased, saving to his
wife and children their reasonable shares.
27. If any freeman shall die intestate,
his chattels shall be distributed by the hands of his nearest kinsfolk and
friends, under supervision of the Church, saving to every one the debts
which the deceased owed to him.
28. No constable or other bailiff of ours
shall take corn or other provisions from anyone without immediately
tendering money therefor, unless he can have postponement thereof by
permission of the seller.
29. No constable shall compel any knight
to give money in lieu of castle-guard, when he is willing to perform it in
his own person, or (if he himself cannot do it from any reasonable cause)
then by another responsible man. Further, if we have led or sent him upon
military service, he shall be relieved from guard in proportion to the time
during which he has been on service because of us.
30. No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or
other person, shall take the horses or carts of any freeman for transport
duty, against the will of the said freeman.
31. Neither we nor our bailiffs shall
take, for our castles or for any other work of ours, wood which is not ours,
against the will of the owner of that wood.
32. We will not retain beyond one year and
one day, the lands those who have been convicted of felony, and the lands
shall thereafter be handed over to the lords of the fiefs.
33. All kydells for the future shall be
removed altogether from Thames and Medway, and throughout all England,
except upon the seashore.
34. The writ which is called praecipe
shall not for the future be issued to anyone, regarding any tenement whereby
a freeman may lose his court.
35. Let there be one measure of wine
throughout our whole realm; and one measure of ale; and one measure of corn,
to wit, "the London quarter"; and one width of cloth (whether dyed, or
russet, or "halberget"), to wit, two ells within the selvedges; of weights
also let it be as of measures.
36. Nothing in future shall be given or
taken for a writ of inquisition of life or limbs, but freely it shall be
granted, and never denied.
37. If anyone holds of us by fee-farm,
either by socage or by burage, or of any other land by knight's service, we
will not (by reason of that fee-farm, socage, or burgage), have the wardship
of the heir, or of such land of his as if of the fief of that other; nor
shall we have wardship of that fee-farm, socage, or burgage, unless such
fee-farm owes knight's service. We will not by reason of any small serjeancy
which anyone may hold of us by the service of rendering to us knives,
arrows, or the like, have wardship of his heir or of the land which he holds
of another lord by knight's service.
38. No bailiff for the future shall, upon
his own unsupported complaint, put anyone to his "law", without credible
witnesses brought for this purposes.
39. No freemen shall be taken or
imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go
upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by
the law of the land.
40. To no one will we sell, to no one will
we refuse or delay, right or justice.
41. All merchants shall have safe and
secure exit from England, and entry to England, with the right to tarry
there and to move about as well by land as by water, for buying and selling
by the ancient and right customs, quit from all evil tolls, except (in time
of war) such merchants as are of the land at war with us. And if such are
found in our land at the beginning of the war, they shall be detained,
without injury to their bodies or goods, until information be received by
us, or by our chief justiciar, how the merchants of our land found in the
land at war with us are treated; and if our men are safe there, the others
shall be safe in our land.
42. It shall be lawful in future for
anyone (excepting always those imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the
law of the kingdom, and natives of any country at war with us, and
merchants, who shall be treated as if above provided) to leave our kingdom
and to return, safe and secure by land and water, except for a short period
in time of war, on grounds of public policy- reserving always the allegiance
due to us.
43. If anyone holding of some escheat
(such as the honor of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of
other escheats which are in our hands and are baronies) shall die, his heir
shall give no other relief, and perform no other service to us than he would
have done to the baron if that barony had been in the baron's hand; and we
shall hold it in the same manner in which the baron held it.
44. Men who dwell without the forest need
not henceforth come before our justiciaries of the forest upon a general
summons, unless they are in plea, or sureties of one or more, who are
attached for the forest.
45. We will appoint as justices,
constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs only such as know the law of the realm and
mean to observe it well.
46. All barons who have founded abbeys,
concerning which they hold charters from the kings of England, or of which
they have long continued possession, shall have the wardship of them, when
vacant, as they ought to have.
47. All forests that have been made such
in our time shall forthwith be disafforsted; and a similar course shall be
followed with regard to river banks that have been placed "in defense" by us
in our time.
48. All evil customs connected with
forests and warrens, foresters and warreners, sheriffs and their officers,
river banks and their wardens, shall immediately by inquired into in each
county by twelve sworn knights of the same county chosen by the honest men
of the same county, and shall, within forty days of the said inquest, be
utterly abolished, so as never to be restored, provided always that we
previously have intimation thereof, or our justiciar, if we should not be in
49. We will immediately restore all
hostages and charters delivered to us by Englishmen, as sureties of the
peace of faithful service.
50. We will entirely remove from their
bailiwicks, the relations of Gerard of Athee (so that in future they shall
have no bailiwick in England); namely, Engelard of Cigogne, Peter, Guy, and
Andrew of Chanceaux, Guy of Cigogne, Geoffrey of Martigny with his brothers,
Philip Mark with his brothers and his nephew Geoffrey, and the whole brood
of the same.
51. As soon as peace is restored, we will
banish from the kingdom all foreign born knights, crossbowmen, serjeants,
and mercenary soldiers who have come with horses and arms to the kingdom's
52. If anyone has been dispossessed or
removed by us, without the legal judgment of his peers, from his lands,
castles, franchises, or from his right, we will immediately restore them to
him; and if a dispute arise over this, then let it be decided by the five
and twenty barons of whom mention is made below in the clause for securing
the peace. Moreover, for all those possessions, from which anyone has,
without the lawful judgment of his peers, been disseised or removed, by our
father, King Henry, or by our brother, King Richard, and which we retain in
our hand (or which as possessed by others, to whom we are bound to warrant
them) we shall have respite until the usual term of crusaders; excepting
those things about which a plea has been raised, or an inquest made by our
order, before our taking of the cross; but as soon as we return from the
expedition, we will immediately grant full justice therein.
53. We shall have, moreover, the same
respite and in the same manner in rendering justice concerning the
disafforestation or retention of those forests which Henry our father and
Richard our broter afforested, and concerning the wardship of lands which
are of the fief of another (namely, such wardships as we have hitherto had
by reason of a fief which anyone held of us by knight's service), and
concerning abbeys founded on other fiefs than our own, in which the lord of
the fee claims to have right; and when we have returned, or if we desist
from our expedition, we will immediately grant full justice to all who
complain of such things.
54. No one shall be arrested or imprisoned
upon the appeal of a woman, for the death of any other than her husband.
55. All fines made with us unjustly and
against the law of the land, and all amercements, imposed unjustly and
against the law of the land, shall be entirely remitted, or else it shall be
done concerning them according to the decision of the five and twenty barons
whom mention is made below in the clause for securing the pease, or
according to the judgment of the majority of the same, along with the
aforesaid Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such
others as he may wish to bring with him for this purpose, and if he cannot
be present the business shall nevertheless proceed without him, provided
always that if any one or more of the aforesaid five and twenty barons are
in a similar suit, they shall be removed as far as concerns this particular
judgment, others being substituted in their places after having been
selected by the rest of the same five and twenty for this purpose only, and
after having been sworn.
56. If we have disseised or removed
Welshmen from lands or liberties, or other things, without the legal
judgment of their peers in England or in Wales, they shall be immediately
restored to them; and if a dispute arise over this, then let it be decided
in the marches by the judgment of their peers; for the tenements in England
according to the law of England, for tenements in Wales according to the law
of Wales, and for tenements in the marches according to the law of the
marches. Welshmen shall do the same to us and ours.
57. Further, for all those possessions
from which any Welshman has, without the lawful judgment of his peers, been
disseised or removed by King Henry our father, or King Richard our brother,
and which we retain in our hand (or which are possessed by others, and which
we ought to warrant), we will have respite until the usual term of
crusaders; excepting those things about which a plea has been raised or an
inquest made by our order before we took the cross; but as soon as we return
(or if perchance we desist from our expedition), we will immediately grant
full justice in accordance with the laws of the Welsh and in relation to the
58. We will immediately give up the son of
Llywelyn and all the hostages of Wales, and the charters delivered to us as
security for the peace.
59. We will do towards Alexander, king of
Scots, concerning the return of his sisters and his hostages, and concerning
his franchises, and his right, in the same manner as we shall do towards our
owher barons of England, unless it ought to be otherwise according to the
charters which we hold from William his father, formerly king of Scots; and
this shall be according to the judgment of his peers in our court.
60. Moreover, all these aforesaid customs
and liberties, the observances of which we have granted in our kingdom as
far as pertains to us towards our men, shall be observed b all of our
kingdom, as well clergy as laymen, as far as pertains to them towards their
61. Since, moveover, for God and the
amendment of our kingdom and for the better allaying of the quarrel that has
arisen between us and our barons, we have granted all these concessions,
desirous that they should enjoy them in complete and firm endurance forever,
we give and grant to them the underwritten security, namely, that the barons
choose five and twenty barons of the kingdom, whomsoever they will, who
shall be bound with all their might, to observe and hold, and cause to be
observed, the peace and liberties we have granted and confirmed to them by
this our present Charter, so that if we, or our justiciar, or our bailiffs
or any one of our officers, shall in anything be at fault towards anyone, or
shall have broken any one of the articles of this peace or of this security,
and the offense be notified to four barons of the foresaid five and twenty,
the said four barons shall repair to us (or our justiciar, if we are out of
the realm) and, laying the transgression before us, petition to have that
transgression redressed without delay. And if we shall not have corrected
the transgression (or, in the event of our being out of the realm, if our
justiciar shall not have corrected it) within forty days, reckoning from the
time it has been intimated to us (or to our justiciar, if we should be out
of the realm), the four barons aforesaid shall refer that matter to the rest
of the five and twenty barons, and those five and twenty barons shall,
together with the community of the whole realm, distrain and distress us in
all possible ways, namely, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, and
in any other way they can, until redress has been obtained as they deem fit,
saving harmless our own person, and the persons of our queen and children;
and when redress has been obtained, they shall resume their old relations
towards us. And let whoever in the country desires it, swear to obey the
orders of the said five and twenty barons for the execution of all the
aforesaid matters, and along with them, to molest us to the utmost of his
power; and we publicly and freely grant leave to everyone who wishes to
swear, and we shall never forbid anyone to swear. All those, moveover, in
the land who of themselves and of their own accord are unwilling to swear to
the twenty five to help them in constraining and molesting us, we shall by
our command compel the same to swear to the effect foresaid. And if any one
of the five and twenty barons shall have died or departed from the land, or
be incapacitated in any other manner which would prevent the foresaid
provisions being carried out, those of the said twenty five barons who are
left shall choose another in his place according to their own judgment, and
he shall be sworn in the same way as the others. Further, in all matters,
the execution of which is entrusted,to these twenty five barons, if
perchance these twenty five are present and disagree about anything, or if
some of them, after being summoned, are unwilling or unable to be present,
that which the majority of those present ordain or command shall be held as
fixed and established, exactly as if the whole twenty five had concurred in
this; and the said twenty five shall swear that they will faithfully observe
all that is aforesaid, and cause it to be observed with all their might. And
we shall procure nothing from anyone, directly or indirectly, whereby any
part of these concessions and liberties might be revoked or diminished; and
if any such things has been procured, let it be void and null, and we shall
never use it personally or by another.
62. And all the will, hatreds, and
bitterness that have arisen between us and our men, clergy and lay, from the
date of the quarrel, we have completely remitted and pardoned to everyone.
Moreover, all trespasses occasioned by the said quarrel, from Easter in the
sixteenth year of our reign till the restoration of peace, we have fully
remitted to all, both clergy and laymen, and completely forgiven, as far as
pertains to us. And on this head, we have caused to be made for them letters
testimonial patent of the lord Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, of the
lord Henry, archbishop of Dublin, of the bishops aforesaid, and of Master
Pandulf as touching this security and the concessions aforesaid.
63. Wherefore we will and firmly order
that the English Church be free, and that the men in our kingdom have and
hold all the aforesaid liberties, rights, and concessions, well and
peaceably, freely and quietly, fully and wholly, for themselves and their
heirs, of us and our heirs, in all respects and in all places forever, as is
aforesaid. An oath, moreover, has been taken, as well on our part as on the
art of the barons, that all these conditions aforesaid shall be kept in good
faith and without evil intent.
Given under our hand - the above named and
many others being witnesses - in the meadow which is called Runnymede,
between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June, in the
seventeenth year of our reign.