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Magna Charta. .
Joun, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou; to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciaries, foresters, sheriffs, governors, officers, and to all his bailiffs and liegemen, greeting :
Know ye, that in presence of GOD, and for the health of our soul and the soul of our ancestors and heirs, and to the honor of God and to the exaltation of His Holy Church, and for the amendment of our kingdom; 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, and Benedict of Rochester, bishops; Master Pandulph, our lord the Pope's subdeacon and servant; Brother Aymeric, master of the Temple in England; and the noblemen William Marescall, earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway, constable of Scotland, Warin Fitzgerald, Peter Fitzherbert, Hubert de Burgh, seneschal of Poictou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitzherbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip de Albiney, Robert de Roppelaye, John Marescall, John Fitzhugh, and others our liegemen; we have granted to GOD, and by this our present charter confirmed, for us and our heirs forever :
1. That the English church shall be free and enjoy her whole liberties inviolate. And that we will have them so to be observed, appears from this that of our mere good will we granted, and by our charter confirmed, the freedom of elections which was reckoned most necessary for the English church, and obtained the confirmation thereof from our lord the Pope Innocent the Third, before the discord which has arisen between us and our barons; which charter we will ourselves observe, and will that it be observed in good faith by our heirs forever. We have also for us and our heirs forever granted to all the freemen of our kingdom, all the underwritten liberties to have and to hold to them and their heirs from us and our heirs.
2. If any of our earls or barons, or others holding lands of us in capite by military service shall die, and when he dies his heir shall be of full age and owe a relief, the heir shall have his inheritance by the ancient relief; the heir or heirs of an earl for a whole earl's barony, by one hundred pounds; of a baron for a whole barony, by one hundred pounds (marks); of a knight for a whole knights fee, by one hundred shillings at most; and he who owes a less relief shall pay less according to the ancient custom of his fee.
3. But if the heir shall be under age, and shall be in ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without relief or fine.
4. The warden of the heir under age shall take only reasonable issues, customs, and services; and that without destruction or waste of men or things. And if we shall commit the guardianship of these lands to the sheriff or any other who is answerable to us for their revenues, and he shall make destruction or waste on the ward lands, he shall make satisfaction; and the lands shall be intrusted to two lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall be answerable
Or, if we shall give or sell the wardship of lands to any one, and he shall make destruction or waste, he shall lose his wardship, and the lands shall be intrusted to two discreet men of that fee, who shall be answerable to us as aforesaid.
5. The warden, for as long as he shall hold the land, shall, from the revenues thereof, maintain the houses, parks, warrens, ponds mills, and other things thereto pertaining; and he shall restore to the heir when he comes of age his whole land stocked with ploughs
and carriages according as the time of wainage shall require, and the revenue of the estate will reasonably allow.
6. Heirs shall be married without disparagement of their rank, yet in such wise, that before the marriage is contracted the blood relations of the heir shall be acquainted with it.
7. A widow, after the death of her husband, shall forthwith and without difficulty have her marriage and her inheritance; nor shall she give anything for her dower, marriage, or her inheritance which she and her husband may have held on the day of his decease; and she
may remain in the house of her husband forty days after his death, within which term her dower shall be assigned.
8. No widow shall be distrained to marry herself while she shall desire to live without a husband; but she shall give security not to marry without the king's assent, if she holds of him; or without the consent of the lord of whom she holds, if she holds of another.
9. Neither we nor our bailiffs shall seize any land or rent for any debt, so long as the chattels of the debtor are sufficient for the payment of 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. And if the principal debtor fail in the payment of the debt, not having wherewithal to discharge it, then shall the sureties be answerable for the debt. And, if they will, they shall have the lands and rents of the debtor until they shall be satisfied for the debt they have paid for him ; unless the principal debtor shall show himself acquitted thereof against the said sureties.
10. If any one shall have borrowed any thing from the Jews, more or less, and shall die before that debt be paid, the debt shall pay no interest so long as the heir shall be under age, of whomsoever he may hold; and if that debt shall fall into our hands, we will take nothing but the chattel named in the bond.
11. And if any one shall die indebted to the Jews, his wife shall have her dower and shall pay nothing of that debt; and if children of the deceased shall remain, under age, necessaries shall be provided for them according to the tenement which belonged to the deceased; and out of the residue the debt shall be paid, saving the rights of lords (from whom the lands are held). In like manner let it be done with debts due to others than Jews.
12. No scutage nor aid shall be imposed in our kingdom excepting for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and once to marry our eldest daughter; and for these none but a reasonable aid shall be demanded. So, likewise, let it be concerning the aid of the city of London.
13. And the city of London shall have all its ancient liberties and free customs, as well by land as by water. Furthermore, we will and grant that all other cities, burghs, towns, and ports, have all their liberties and free customs.
14. And for the holding of the common council of the kingdom to assess aids other than in the three aforesaid cases, and for the assessing of scutages, we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by our letters; moreover, we will cause all others in general who hold of us in capite to be summoned by our sheriffs and bailiffs on a certain day, to wit: forty days at least (before the meeting), and to a certain place; and in all letters of summons, we will declare the cause of the summons. And the summons being thus made, the business shall proceed on the day appointed, according to the advice of those who shall be present, although all that shall be summoned may not come.
15. We will not, for the future, give leave to any one to take an aid from his own free tenants, unless to redeem his own body, to make his eldest son a knight, and once to marry his eldest daughter; and for these none but a reasonable aid shall be paid.
16. No man shall be distrained to do more service for a knight's fee or other free tenement, than what is justly due therefrom.
17. Common pleas shall not follow our court, but shall be holden in some certain place.
18. Trials upon the writs of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestre, and darrein presentment, shall be taken only in their proper counties, and after this manner: We, or, if we shall be out of the realm, our chief justiciary, will send through every county, four times in the year, two justiciaries, who, with four knights of the county, elected by the county, shall hold the aforesaid assizes in the county, on the county day, and at the county place.
19. And if the aforesaid assizes cannot be held on the county day, let as many of the knights and freeholders, who have been present at the county court, remain behind, as shall be sufficient to conduct the trials, according as the business shall be, more or less.
20. A freeman shall not be amerced for a slight offence, but in proportion to the degree of the offence; and for a great offence he shall be amerced according to its magnitude, saving to him his contenement; likewise, a merchant shall be amerced, saving to him his merchandise; and a villain in the same way, saving his wainage if he falls under our mercy; and none of the aforesaid amerciaments shall be assessed, but by the oath of honest men of the neighborhood.
21. Earls and barons shall not be amerced but by their peers and according to the degree of their offence.
22. No clerk shall be amerced for his lay tenement but in the manner of the others aforesaid, and not according to the quantity of his ecclesiastical benefice.
23. Neither town nor man shall be distrained to build bridges over rivers, save those who anciently and rightfully are bound to do it.
24. No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other our bailiffs shall hold pleas of our crown.
25. All counties, hundreds, trethings, and wapentakes shall stand at their old rents without increase, except in our demense manors.
26. If any one, holding of us a lay foc, dies, and the sheriff or our bailiff shall show our letters patent of summons concerning a debt due to us froin 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 amount of that debt, by the view of lawful men, so that nothing be removed until our whole debt be paid : and the rest shall be paid to the executors to fulfil the will