Medieval Sourcebook: Confirmation of the Charters, 1297
In 1297, Edward needed money. Pope Boniface VIII had just issued Clericos Laicos, forbidding clergy from paying taxes to a secular ruler, and Edward's English vassals refused to provide assistance in his campaigns in Flanders. To acquire money, Edward laid an impost on English wool, and also forced the nobility to grant an aid. The barons armed themselves against Edward, who consequently confirmed the various charters of his predecessors.
1. Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of
Aquitaine, to all those that these present letters shall hear or see, greeting.
Know ye that we to the honor of God and of holy Church, and to the profit of
all our realm, have granted for us and our heirs, that the Great Charter of
Liberties and the Charter of the Forest, which were made by common assent of
all the realm, in the time of King Henry our father, shall be kept in every
point without breach. And we will that these same charters shall be sent under
our seal to our justices, both to those of the forest and to the rest, and to
all sheriffs of shires, and to all our other officers, and to all our cities
throughout the realm, together with our writs in which it shall be contained,
that they cause the aforesaid charters to be published, and have it declared to
the people that we have granted that they shall be observed in all points, and
that our justices, sheriffs, mayors, and other officials which under us have to
administer the laws of our land, shall allow the said charters in pleas before
them and in judgments in all their points; that is to wit, the Great Charter as
the common law and the Charter of the Forest according to the Assize of the
Forest, for the relief of our people.
2. And we will that if any judgment be given from henceforth, contrary to the
points of the charters aforesaid, by the justices or by any other our ministers
that hold plea before them against the points of the charters, it shall be
undone and holden for naught.
3. And we will that the same charters shall be sent under our seal to
cathedral churches throughout our realm, and there remain, and shall be read
before the people twice in the year.
4. And that archbishops and bishops shall pronounce sentences of greater
excommunication against all those that by word, deed, or counsel shall go
against the foresaid charters, or that in any point break or go against them.
And that the said curses be twice a year denounced and published by the
prelates aforesaid. And if the same prelates or any of them be remiss in the
denunciation of the said sentences, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for
the time being, as is fitting, shall reprove them and constrain them to make
that denunciation in form aforesaid.
5. And for so much as divers people of our realm are in fear that aids and
mises which they have given to us beforetime toward our wars and other
businesses, of their own grant and good-will, howsoever they were made, might
turn to a bondage to them and their heirs, because they might be at another
time found in the rolls, and so likewise the prises taken throughout the realm
by our ministers in our name: we have granted for us and our heirs, that we
shall never draw such aids, mises, nor prises into a custom for anything that
hath been done heretofore or that may be found by roll or in any other
6. Moreover we have granted for us and our heirs, as well to archbishops,
bishops, abbots, priors, and other folk of holy Church, as also to earls,
barons, and to all the community of the land, that for no business from
henceforth will we take such manner of aids, mises, nor prises from our realm,
but by the common assent of all the realm, and for the common profit thereof,
saving the ancient aids and prises due and accustomed.
7. And for so much as the more part of the community of the realm find
themselves sore grieved with the maletote on wools, that is to wit, a toll of
forty shillings for every sack of wool, and have made petition to us to release
the same; we, at their requests, have fully released it, and have granted that
we shall never take this nor any other without their common assent and
good-will; saving to us and our heirs the custom of wools, skins, and leather
granted before by the commonalty aforesaid. In witness of which things we have
caused to be made thes our letters patent. Given at Ghent the fifth day of
November in the twenty-fifth year of our reign.
translated in Albert Beebe White and Wallce Notestein, eds., Source Problems in English History (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1915).
Other works referred to in preparartion:
Elton, Geoffrey, The English (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992).
Maitland, F. W., The Constitutional History of England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965).
Smith, Lacey Baldwin and Jean Reeder Smith, eds., The Past Speaks: Sources and Problems in English History, vol. 1 (Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1993).
Text prepared by Seth Seyfried of the Univiersty of Utah.
This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
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(c)Paul Halsall Feb 1996