Summary and Detailed Notes for Magna Carta
The National Archives and Records Administration’s website is http://www.archives.gov. This context outlines several regulations issued by King John in 1215 regarding land custody, maintenance, and inheritance, debt repayment, customs and liberties, court procedures and amercements, bank works, and bailiffs, among other things. It also contains a grant of liberties and customs by King Henry III to various religious and secular figures in his realm.
Regulations issued by King John in 1215
The context outlines guidelines for land custody, maintenance, and inheritance for heirs, widows, and other parties. Destructive custodians will be replaced and heirs must receive their land in proper condition. It outlines various regulations regarding debt repayment, customs and liberties for cities and boroughs, limitations on service requirements, and rules regarding court procedures and amercements. The context also prohibits the seizure of someone’s property without just cause. Additionally, it outlines various laws and rules such as the dismantling of fish weirs, the use of uniform measures for wine, ale, and corn, and restrictions on the powers of bailiffs and monarchs over freemen’s property and heirship. It also ensures safe conduct for merchants during times of war, as well as restrictions on the transfer of land.
Grant of Liberties by King Henry III
This context contains a grant of liberties and customs by King Henry III to various religious and secular figures in his realm, in exchange for a fifteenth part of their movable goods. It includes provisions for scutage and the nullification of gifts of land to religious houses if the giver is convicted. All customs and liberties are to be preserved, and the king and his heirs promise not to infringe upon them. The witness list includes numerous ecclesiastical and secular figures. The king confirms and renews gifts and grants made in a charter, stating that it must be observed perpetually, as witnessed by his son and a witness from the Chancery.
Analysis of the Magna Carta translation
•NARA’s web site is http://www.archives.gov, where the original document of the Magna Carta can be found.
•The Magna Carta was originally written in 1215 by King John of England, and its translation by Professor Nicholas Vincent is copyrighted by Sotheby’s Inc.
•The translation begins with a greeting by King Edward, who inspected the charter of King Henry, his father, concerning the liberties of England.
•King Edward mentions that, for the improvement of his realm and the glory of the Church, he grants certain liberties to the archbishops, bishops, earls, barons, and other freemen of England, and confirms the liberty of the English Church.
•He then outlines the laws concerning the inheritance of earls, barons, and knights, and the custodianship of minors until they reach the age of 21.
Laws regarding custody of land, heirs, and widows
•The keeper of an underage heir’s land may only use reasonable receipts, customs, and services without causing destruction or waste.
•If a person assigned custody of such land commits destruction or waste, recompense will be taken and the land will be assigned to law-worthy and discreet men of that fee.
•The keeper is responsible for maintaining the land and all its related structures while ensuring that the heir receives it back in the same condition when they reach full age.
•Heirs are to be married without disparagement.
•Widows are entitled to their marriage portion and inheritance without any difficulty or cost, and may stay in their husband’s dwelling for forty days after his death, unless it is a castle.
•Widows are assigned the third part of their husband’s lands as dower, unless they were dowered with less at the church door.
•No widow can be forced to marry, provided she gives surety that she will not marry without our consent if she holds of us, or without the assent of her lord if she holds of another.
Magna Carta of 1215
•Neither we nor our bailiffs will seize any land or rent for any debt, as long as the debtor’s belongings can pay the debt, and the debtor is willing to pay. Guarantors won’t be seized as long as the debtor can pay. Guarantors can take the debtor’s lands and rents until the debt they paid is repaid by the debtor.
•The city of London and other cities, boroughs, and vills are granted all their ancient liberties and customs, as well as barons of the Cinque Ports and all ports.
•No one will be compelled to do more service than required from a knight or any other free tenement.
•Common pleas will be held in specific places, not our court.
•Special assizes are only allowed in specific counties according to established procedures, and if not completed, will be referred to the justices of the Bench.
•The Assizes of darrein presentment must be done in the justices of the Bench.
•A freeman or a merchant won’t be punished excessively for an offense, and any villian will be treated according to their necessity.
•Earls and barons can only be punished according to the severity of the case and their peers.
Provisions of the Magna Carta
•No town or free man is obligated to make bridges or bank works, except those who have done so in the past by right.
•Only bank works that were built for defense during King Henry II’s reign may be maintained according to the customary terms.
•The bailiffs of the crown are not allowed to hold pleas.
•When a person holding a lay fee from the king dies, the sheriff or bailiff can enroll his belongings to pay off the deceased’s debts.
•No corn or chattels should be taken by the constable or his bailiff from anyone who is not from the same vill where a castle is built.
•No constable can confiscate the horses or carts of anyone without paying the customarily due amounts.
•No one can take someone else’s timber for their business without the owner’s permission.
Key Points in the Magna Carta
•Land confiscated due to felony conviction to be returned to lord after one year (22)
•All fish weirs on English rivers except sea coast dismantled (23)
•Writ called ‘praecipe’ not to deprive free men of their court (24)
•Use of one standard measure for wine, ale, corn, cloth, weights (25)
•Writs of inquest for life or member to be given freely (26)
•No custody of land or heir held from another by knight service (27)
•Need for reliable witnesses before putting a man on oath (28)
•Protection of freemen’s free tenement and liberties via lawful judgement (29)
Safe Conduct for Merchants and Land Ownership
•Merchants have safe conduct in England to buy and sell, according to ancient customs, except in times of war.
•If a merchant from a country at war with England is found in England at the beginning of the war, they will be attached until their treatment in the opposing country is established.
•The heir of somebody who holds an escheat barony will only need to render the same service to the Crown as the previous baron.
•A free man can only sell or give away land if it is sufficient for the service required by the lord of the fee.
•Patrons of abbeys with charters have the responsibility to manage them when they become vacant.
•Women cannot appeal to imprison anyone except for the death of their husbands.
•County courts and sheriffs’ tourns will only occur twice a year in the customary locations.
•The view of frankpledge is to be taken at Michaelmas, with allowances for liberties previously granted.
Grant of Liberties and Customs by King Henry III
•Giving and receiving land from religious houses is not permitted if it involves the restoration of land to the giver.
•A penalty of losing the land to the lord of the fee will be imposed for such acts.
•Scutage is to be taken as it was in the time of King Henry’s grandfather.
•Archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, Templars, Hospitallers, earls, barons, and other ecclesiastical and secular persons will have their liberties and free customs preserved.
•The customs and liberties granted are to be observed by all in the realm.
•A fifteenth part of all movable goods will be given in return for the grant.
•The liberties and customs protected by the charter will not be infringed upon or damaged by King Henry III or his heirs.
•The charter is witnessed by several lords, justiciars, earls, and other titled persons.
King Edward III’s Charter Renewal and Confirmation
•King Edward III confirms and renews his gifts and grants given to de Baalon and others on the eleventh day of February in the ninth year of his reign.
•He states that the charter is to be firmly and inviably observed in all of its articles, including any articles that haven’t not yet been followed.
•King Edward III’s son, Edward, witnessed the creation of the letters patent on the twelfth day of October in the twenty-fifth year of his reign.
•The document is also witnessed by John of Stowe’s chancery warranty.
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