(A) Confirmation of the Charters (1297)

Edward, by the grace of God king of England, lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine, to all who may see or hear these present letters, greeting. Know that, for the honour of God and of Holy Church and for the benefit of our entire kingdom, we have granted for ourself and for our heirs that the Great Charter of Liberties and the Charter of the Forest, which were drawn up by the common assent of the whole kingdom in the time of King Henry, our father, are to be observed without impairment in all their particulars. And we will that those same charters shall be sent under our seal to our justices — those of the forest as well as the others — to all sheriffs of counties, and to all our other ministers, as well as to all cities throughout the land, together with our writs providing that the aforesaid charters are to be published and announcement is to be made to the people that we have granted these [charters] to be observed in all their particulars; and that our justices, sheriffs, mayors, and other ministers, whose duty it is to administer the law of the land under us and through our agency, shall cause the same charters in all particulars to be admitted in pleas and judgments before them — that is to say, the Great Charter of Liberties as common law and the Charter of the Forest according to the assize of the forest, for the relief of our people. And we will that, if any judgment is henceforth rendered contrary to the particulars of the charters aforesaid by our justices, or by our other ministers before whom pleas are held contrary to the particulars of the charters, it shall be null and void. And we will that these same charters shall be sent under our seal to the cathedral churches throughout the kingdom and shall there remain; and twice a year they shall be read to the people. And [we will] that the archbishops and bishops shall pronounce sentences of greater excommunication against all those who, by deed or aid or counsel, shall violate the aforesaid charters, infringing them in any particular or violating them in any way; and the aforesaid prelates shall pronounce and publish these sentences twice a year. And if the same prelates — the bishops or any of them — prove negligent in making the aforesaid denunciation, by the archbishops of Canterbury and York who at the time hold office, they shall be reproved in a suitable manner and compelled to make this same denunciation in the form aforesaid.

And whereas some people of our kingdom are fearful that the aids and taxes (mises), which by their liberality and good will they have heretofore paid to us for the sake of our wars and other needs, shall, despite the nature of the grants, be turned into a servile obligation for them and their heirs because these [payments] may at a future time be found in the rolls, and likewise the prises that in our name have been taken throughout the kingdom by our ministers: [therefore] we have granted, for us and our heirs, that, on account of anything that has been done or that can be found from a roll or in some other way, we will not make into a precedent for the future any such aids, taxes, or prises. And for us and our heirs we have also granted to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, and other folk of Holy Church, and to the earls and barons and the whole community of the land, that on no account will we henceforth take from our kingdom such aids, taxes, and prises, except by the common assent of the whole kingdom and for the common benefit of the same kingdom, saving the ancient aids and prises due and accustomed.[1]

And whereas the greater part of the community all feel themselves gravely oppressed by the maltote on wool — that is to say, 40s. from each sack of wool — and have besought us to relieve them [of the charge], at their prayer we have fully relieved them, granting that henceforth we will take neither this nor any other [custom] without their common assent and good will, saving to us and our heirs the custom on wool, wool-fells, and hides previously granted by the community of the kingdom aforesaid.[2]

In testimony whereof we have caused to be written these our letters patent. Given at Ghent, November 5, in the twenty-fifth year of our reign.

(French) Stubbs, Select Charters, pp. 490 f.

(B) Parliamentary Bill of 1301

Bill of the prelates and nobles delivered to the lord king on behalf of the whole community in the parliament of Lincoln in the year aforesaid:[3]

... Thus the said community is of the opinion that, if it please our lord the king, the two charters, of liberties and of the forest, shall henceforth be entirely observed in all particulars. [Response:] It expressly pleases the king.

And statutes contrary to the said charters shall be annulled and voided. [Response:] It expressly pleases.

And the power of the justices assigned to keep the charters in the counties shall be defined by the counsel of the prelates, earls, and barons. [Response:] It tacitly pleases.

And the perambulation that has already been made and ridden[4 ]by view of good men according to the form of the said charter of the forest shall stand and at the same time shall be carried out through prompt disafforestment according to the bounds determined by the perambulators, so that the community may at once be seised of them. [Response:] It expressly pleases.

And offences and trespasses committed by the king's ministers against the tenor of the said charters and prises extortionately taken without consent or payment, against the form of the lord king's statute made at Westminster during Lent just past, shall henceforth cease. [Response:] It expressly pleases.

And any offence by a minister shall be paid for in proportion to the trespass, according to [the judgment of] auditors who are not suspected on account of their past deeds and who are assigned for such purpose by the prelates, earls, and barons of the land, and this matter shall be undertaken at once. [Response:] The lord king wishes to provide another remedy in this connection, rather than through such auditors.

And henceforth sheriffs shall be answerable for their revenues according to the customary practice in the time of his father — which revenues have been and are now to the great impoverishment of the people. And sheriffs shall not be placed under increased charges. [Response:] It pleases the lord king that in this respect a fit remedy shall be provided by common counsel as quickly as is well possible.

And wherever the perambulation has in part been made, but has not been ridden, it shall be done between now and Michaelmas next. [Response:] It expressly pleases.

On condition that the aforesaid matters are carried out and firmly established and accomplished, the people of the realm grant him a fifteenth in place of the twentieth recently granted — yet so that all the matters aforesaid are carried out between now and Michaelmas next; otherwise nothing is to be taken. [Response:] It expressly pleases....

(French and Latin) Palgrave, Parliamentary Writs, I, 104 f.

(C) Maltote of 1303[5]

The king to the sheriff of Lincoln, greeting. Whereas we have learned that divers merchants of our kingdom, in order that they may be quit of our prises[6] and may use and enjoy the various liberties granted by us to foreign and alien merchants, are willing to give us from their goods and merchandise certain new payments and customs, which the said foreign and alien merchants give us from their merchandise within our kingdom and dominions: we [therefore], wishing to have a discussion and conference regarding these matters with the merchants of the said kingdom, command you to summon to our exchequer at York two or three citizens from each city, and two or three burgesses from each borough within your bailiwick, so that they shall be there on the morrow of St. John the Baptist next, with full power on behalf of the communities of the cities and boroughs aforesaid, to accept and to do what shall then be ordered in the foregoing connection by the counsel and assent of us and of them and of the merchants of the said kingdom. And you are then and there to have this writ. By witness of the king, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, May 7.

Similar letters addressed to each of the sheriffs throughout England.

... And the aforesaid Walter, John, and Henry[7] appear for the city of London and ... for Lincoln. For Winchester ...; for Salisbury ...; for Exeter ...; for Northampton ...; for Oxford ...; for Leicester ...; for Bristol ...; for Huntingdon ...; for Hertford ...; for Shrewsbury ...; for Stafford ...; for Lichfield ...; for Coventry ...; for Warwick ...; for Worcester ...; for St. Albans ...; for Plympton ...; for Bodmin ...; for Weymouth ...; for Canterbury ...; for Dunhaved ...; for Liskeard ...; for Dorchester ...; for Yarmouth ...; for Norwich ...; for Dunwich ...; for Lynn ...; for Colchester ...; for Cambridge ...; for Melcombe ...; for Chichester ...; for Grimsby ...; for Rochester ...; for the city of York ...; for Scarborough ...; for Nottingham ...; for Kingston-upon Hull ...; for Newcastle-upon-Tyne ...; for Whitby ...; for Richmond.... All of whom, by virtue of the summons in the aforesaid writ, appeared on June 25 before the council of the lord king at York, and said that by their unanimous opinion and will, on behalf both of themselves and of the communities of the cities and boroughs aforesaid, they would by no means agree to an increased maltote or to the customs mentioned in the aforesaid writ as having been granted to the lord king by foreign and alien merchants, but only to the customs anciently due and used.

(Latin) Ibid., I, 134-35.

(D) Memorandum of Parliament (1306)

Memorandum that, after the lord king had recently ordered that Edward, his first-born son, should be decorated with the belt of knighthood at the feast of Pentecost in the thirty-fourth year of his reign, mandates were issued for the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, and other magnates to come before the lord king and his council at Westminster on the morrow of Holy Trinity next following, in order to deliberate and ordain with regard to giving the king an aid for the knighting aforesaid and in order to consent to those matters which should further be ordained in that connection, or for them then and there to send procurators or attorneys with sufficient instructions to carry out the aforesaid matters in their place; also each of the sheriffs of England was commanded to cause two knights from his county to come to the said place at the said time, and from each city of his bailiwick two citizens and from each borough of the same bailiwick two burgesses or one, etc., in order to deliberate, ordain, and consent as aforesaid. [Accordingly] there came in person before the king and his council at Westminster on that day[8] ... ; also through procurators and attorneys[9] ... ; and there came likewise two knights from each county of the same kingdom, two citizens from each city, and two burgesses from each borough, elected by the communities of the same counties, cities, and boroughs in the place of the same communities, to deliberate, ordain, and consent as aforesaid. And when all the aforesaid persons had assembled before the aforesaid council of the king, and it had been explained to them by the same council on behalf of the king that by right of the royal crown aid should be given the lord king on the occasion aforesaid, and besides that the lord king had incurred multifarious expenses and many other obligations toward suppressing the rebellion and malice of Robert Bruce, traitor to the same lord king, and of his adherents in the parts of Scotland, who were then presuming to make war against the king in those parts; the same prelates, earls, barons, and other magnates, as well as the knights of the shires, having discussed the matter with deliberation, and considering that aid was owed as aforesaid and that the king had incurred many obligations on account of the aforesaid war, at length unanimously granted to the lord king on behalf of themselves and the whole community of the land a thirtieth of all their movable temporal goods which they should happen to possess on Michaelmas next following, to be taken as a competent aid to the lord king for the knighting of his aforesaid son and also as an aid toward the expenditures that should be made in connection with the aforesaid war. This grant, however, [was made] on condition that it should in no way be held to their own prejudice or to that of their successors or heirs in future times, and that it should never be taken as a precedent in a case of this kind; also that in assessing the aforesaid goods all should be excepted which had been excepted in assessing the fifteenth granted by the community of the kingdom to the lord king in the eighteenth year of his reign for exiling the Jews. Moreover, the citizens and burgesses of the cities and boroughs aforesaid and others of the king's demesnes, being assembled and holding a discussion on the said matters, in consideration of the obligations incurred by the lord king as aforesaid, unanimously granted the lord king for the reasons aforesaid the twentieth of their movable goods, to be taken as aforesaid.

(Latin) Pasquet, Origins of the House of Commons, pp. 234 f.

[1] Cf. the first article in what used to be called the Statute De Tallagio non Concedendo, but which seems rather to have been a petition drawn up by the parliamentary opposition during the crisis of 1297: "No tallage or aid shall henceforth be imposed or levied by us or by our heirs in our kingdom except by the will and common assent of the archbishops, bishops, and other prelates, and of the earls, barons, knights, burgesses, and other freemen in our kingdom." On this subject see especially Pasquet, Origins of the House of Commons, pp. 109, 237 f. See below, p. 166, n. 6; and cf. no. 56, art. 10.

[2] See no. 49B.

[3] January, 1301. The king had first presented a bill to parliament, asking the latter to assume all responsibility that the new delimitation of the royal forest would not violate his coronation oath, and to provide means whereby the proposed disafforestment could be amended. This parliament bluntly refused to do, sending to the king instead the following articles. On this whole subject see Petit-Dutaillis and Lefebvre, pp. 217 f.; Pasquet, Origins of the House of Commons, p. 115.

[4] There were two steps in the procedure: juries first determined the theoretic extent of the forest; then commissioners fixed the bounds by riding along them

[5] See above, p. 121, n. 38.

[6] The exactions of wine and other merchandise to which the king was en titled by ancient custom.

[7] Commissioned by the mayor and community of London in a preceding writ. Similar groups of deputies are named from each of the other boroughs.

[8] Twenty persons, including the warden of the Cinque Ports "together with certain barons of the same ports."

[9] Twenty-seven named persons "and many other prelates, magnates, and nobles of the realm."