Selections from Magna Carta
Selections from Magna Carta
John, by the grace of God king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciars, foresters, sheriffs, reeves, ministers, and all his bailiffs and faithful men, greeting. Know that, through the inspiration of God, for the health of our soul and [the souls] of all our ancestors and heirs, for the honour of God and the exaltation of Holy Church, and for the betterment of our realm, by the counsel of our venerable fathers ..., of our nobles ..., and of our other faithful men —
1. We have in the first place granted to God and by this our present charter have confirmed, for us and our heirs forever, that the English Church shall be free and shall have its rights entire and its liberties inviolate. And how we wish [that freedom] to be observed appears from this, that of our own pure and free will, before the conflict that arose between us and our barons, we granted and by our charter confirmed the liberty of election that is considered of prime importance and necessity for the English Church, and we obtained confirmation of it from the lord pope Innocent III — which [charter] we will observe ourself and we wish to 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 liberties hereinunder written, to be had and held by them and their heirs of us and our heirs.
2. If any one of our earls or barons or other men holding of us in chief dies, and if when he dies his heir is of full age and owes relief, [that heir] shall have his inheritance for the ancient relief: namely, the heir or heirs of an earl £100 for the whole barony of an earl; the heir or heirs of a baron £100 for a whole barony; the heir or heirs of a knight 100s, at most for a whole knight's fee. And let whoever owes less give less, according to the ancient custom of fiefs.
3. If, however, the heir of any such person is under age and is in wardship, he shall, when he comes of age, have his inheritance without relief and without fine.
4. The guardian of the land of such an heir who is under age shall not take from the land of the heir more than reasonable issues and reasonable customs and reasonable services, and this without destruction and waste of men or things. And if we entrust the wardship of any such land to a sheriff or to any one else who is to answer to us for its issues, and if he causes destruction or waste of [what is under] wardship, we will exact compensation from him; and the land shall be entrusted to two discreet and lawful men of that fief, who shall answer for the issues to us or the man to whom we may assign them. And if we give or sell the wardship of any such land to any one, and if he causes destruction or waste of it, he shall forfeit that wardship and it shall be given to two discreet and lawful men of that fief, who likewise shall answer to us as aforesaid.
5. Moreover, the guardian, so long as he has wardship of the land, shall from the issues of that same land keep up the houses, parks, preserves, fish-ponds, mills, and other things belonging to that land. And to the heir, when he comes of full age, [the guardian] shall give all his land, stocked with ploughs and produce, according to what crops may be seasonable and to what the issues of the land can reasonably permit.
8. No widow shall be forced to marry so long as she wishes to live without a husband; yet so that she shall give security against marrying without our consent if she holds of us, or without the consent of her lord if she holds of another.
10. If any one has taken anything, whether much or little, by way of loan from Jews, and if he dies before that debt is paid, the debt shall not carry usury so long as the heir is under age, from whomsoever he may hold. And if that debt falls into our hands, we will take only the principal contained in the note.
Source: http://faculty.history.wisc.edu/ sommerville/123/123%20week4.htm