The First Written Constitution
“A General Court at Hartford”
Known commonly as “The Connecticut Constitution” or “The Fundamental Orders.”
[IN THE spring of 1638 three Connecticut towns, Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield, chose representatives and held a general court at Hartford. At its opening session the Reverend Thomas Hooker preached a powerful sermon on the text that “the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people.”
On January 14 following, the constitution given here was adopted by the freemen of the three towns assembled at Hartford. Nowhere in this great document is there a reference to “our dread Sovereign” or “our gracious Lord the King,” — nor to any government or power outside of Connecticut itself. It did not even limit the vote to members of Puritan congregations.
In all history this is the first written constitution which created a government, and it is easily seen to be the prototype of our Federal Constitution, adopted exactly one hundred and fifty years later.]
The Connecticut Constitution
FORASMUCH as it has pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the inhabitants and residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connecticut and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjointed to us at any time hereafter, enter into combination and confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also the discipline of the churches, which according to the truth of the said gospel is now practiced among us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such laws, rules, orders and decrees as shall be made, ordered and decreed, as follows:
1. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that there shall be yearly two general assemblies or courts, one the second Thursday in April, the other the second Thursday in September following; the first shall be called the Court of Election, wherein shall be yearly chosen from time to time so many magistrates and other public officers as shall be found requisite: Whereof one to be chosen Governor for the year ensuing and until another be chosen, and no other magistrate to be chosen for more than one year; provided always there be six chosen beside the Governor; which being chosen and sworn according to an oath recorded for that purpose shall have power to administer justice according to the laws here established, and for want thereof according to the rule of the word of God; which choice shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and have taken the oath of fidelity, and do cohabit with in this jurisdiction (having been admitted inhabitants by the major part of the town wherein they live), or the major part of such as shall be then present.
2. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that the election of the aforesaid magistrates shall be in this manner: every person present and qualified for choice shall bring in (to the persons deputed to receive them) one single paper with the name of him written in it whom he desires to have Governor, and he that has the greatest number of papers shall be Governor for that year. And the rest of the magistrates or public officers to be chosen in this manner: The Secretary for the time being shall first read the names of all that are to be put to choice and then shall severally nominate them distinctly, and every one that would have the person nominated to be chosen shall bring in one single paper written upon, and he that would not have him chosen shall bring in a blank: and every one that has more written papers than blanks shall be a magistrate for that year; which papers shall be received and told by one or more that shall be then chosen by the court and sworn to be faithful therein; but in case there should not be six chosen as aforesaid, besides the Governor, out of those which are nominated, then he or they which have the most written papers shall be a magistrate or magistrates for the ensuing year, to make up the foresaid number.
3. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that the Secretary shall not nominate any person, nor shall any person be chosen newly into the Magistracy which was not propounded in some General Court before, to be nominated the next election; and to that end it shall be lawful for each of the towns aforesaid by their deputies to nominate any two whom they conceive fit to be put to election; and the Court may add so many more as they judge requisite.
4. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed that no person be chosen Governor more than once in two years, and that the Governor be always a member of some approved congregation, and formerly of the magistracy within this jurisdiction; and all the magistrates freemen of this Commonwealth: and that no magistrate or other public officer shall execute any part of his or their office before they are severally sworn, which shall be done in the face of the Court if they be present, and in case of absence by some one deputed for that purpose.
5. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that to the aforesaid Court of Election the several towns shall send their deputies, and when the elections are ended they may proceed in any public service as at other courts. Also the other General Court in September shall be for making of laws, and any other public occasion, which concerns the good of the Commonwealth.
6. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that the Governor shall, either by himself or by the Secretary, send out summons to the constables of every town for the calling of these two standing Courts, one month at least before their several times: And also if the Governor and the greatest part of the magistrates see cause upon any special occasion to call a General Court, they may give order to the Secretary so to do within fourteen days warning: and if urgent necessity so require, upon a shorter notice, giving sufficient grounds for it to the deputies when they meet, or else be questioned for the same; and if the Governor and major part of magistrates shall either neglect or refuse to call the two General standing Courts or either of them, as also at other times when the occasions of the Commonwealth require, the freemen thereof, or the major part of them, shall petition to them so to do: if then it be either denied or neglected the said freemen or the major part of them shall have power to give order to the constables of the several towns to do the same, and so may meet together, and choose to themselves a moderator, and may proceed to do any act of power, which any other General Court may.
7. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed that after there are warrants given out for any of the said General Courts, the constable or constables of each town shall forthwith give notice distinctly to the inhabitants of the same, in some public assembly or by going or sending from house to house, that at a place and time by him or them limited and set, they meet and assemble themselves together to elect and choose certain deputies to be at the General Court then following to agitate the affairs of the Commonwealth; which said deputies shall be chosen by all that are admitted inhabitants in the several towns and have taken the oath of fidelity; provided that none be chosen a deputy for any General Court who is not a freeman of this Commonwealth.
The foresaid deputies shall be chosen in manner following: every person that is present and qualified as before expressed, shall bring the names of such, written in several papers, as they desire to have chosen for that employment, and these 3 or 4, more or less, being the number agreed on to be chosen for that time, that have the greatest number of papers written for them shall be deputies for that Court; whose names shall be endorsed on the back side of the warrant and returned into the Court, with the constable or constables’ hand unto the same.
8. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield shall have power, each town, to send four of their freemen as deputies to every General Court; and whatsoever other towns shall be hereafter added to this jurisdiction, they shall send so many deputies as the Court shall judge meet, a reasonable proportion to the number of freemen that are in the said towns being to be attended therein; which deputies shall have the power of the whole town to give their votes and allowance to all such laws and orders as may be for the public good, and unto which the said towns are to be bound.
9. It is ordered and decreed, that the deputies thus chosen shall have power and liberty to appoint a time and a place of meeting together before any General Court to advise and consult of all such things as may concern the good of the public, as also to examine their own elections, whether according to the order, and if they or the greatest part of them find any election to be illegal they may seclude such for present from their meeting, and return the same and their reasons to the Court; and if it prove true, the Court may fine the party or parties so intruding and the town, if they see cause, and give out a warrant to go to a new election in a legal way, either in part or in whole. Also the said deputies shall have power to fine any that shall be disorderly at their meetings, or for not coming in due time or place according to appointment; and they may return the said fines into the Court if it be refused to be paid, and the Treasurer to take notice of it, and to extract or levy the same as he does other fines.
10. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that every General Court, except such as through neglect of the Governor and the greatest part of magistrates the freemen themselves do call, shall consist of the Governor, or some one chosen to moderate the Court, and 4 other Magistrates at least, with the major part of the deputies of the several towns legally chosen; and in case the freemen or major part of them, through neglect or refusal of the Governor and major part of the magistrates, shall call a Court, it shall consist of the major part of freemen that are present or their deputies, with a moderator chosen by them: In which said General Court shall consist the supreme power of the Commonwealth, and they only shall have power to make laws or repeal them, to grant leaves, to admit of freemen, dispose of lands undisposed of, to several towns or persons, and also shall have power to call either Court or magistrate or any other person whatsoever into question for any misdemeanor, and may for just cause displace or deal otherwise according to the nature of the offense; and also may deal in any other matter that concerns the good of this Commonwealth, except the election of magistrates, which shall be done by the whole body of freemen.
In which Court the Governor or moderator shall have power to order the Court to give liberty of speech, and silence unseasonable and disorderly speakings, to put all things to vote, and in case the vote be equal to have the casting voice. But none of these Courts shall be adjourned or dissolved without the consent of the major part of the Court.
11. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed that when any General Court upon the occasions of the Commonwealth have agreed upon any sum or sums of money to be levied upon the several towns within this jurisdiction, that a committee be chosen to set out and appoint what shall be the proportion of every town to pay of the said levy, provided the committees be made up of an equal number out of each town.
14th January, 1638 [1638/9], the 11 orders above-said are voted.
The Mayflower Compact
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN.
We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini 1620.
WILLIAM BREWSTER + 38 more.
November 5, 1297
Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Guian, to all those that these present letters shall here or see, greeting. Know ye that we, to the honour of God and of Holy Church, and to the profit of our realm, have granted for us and our heirs, that the 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. (2) And we will that the same charters shall be sent under our seal, as well to our justices of the foerst, as to others, 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 the which it shall be contained, that they cause the foresaid charters to be published, and to declare to the people that we have confirmed them in all points; (3) and that our justices, sheriffs, mayors, and other ministers, which under us have the laws of our land to guide, shall allow the said charters pleaded before them in judgement in all there points, that is to wit, the Great Charter as the common law[*] and the Charter of the forest, for the wealth of our realm.
2. AND we will, That if any judgement 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, there to remain, and shall be read before the people two times by the year.
4. AND that all archbishops and bishops shall pronounce the sentence of excommunication against all those that by word, deed, or counsel do contrary to the foresaid charters, or that in any point break or undo them. (2) and that the said curses by twice a year denounced and published by the prelates aforesaid. (3) And if the said prelates, or any of them, be remiss in the denunciation of the said sentences, the archbishops of Canterburg and York for the time being shall compel and distrein them to the execution of their duties in form aforesaid.
5. AND for so much as divers people of our realm are in fear that the aids and tasks which they have given to us beforetime towards our wars and other business, of their own granted 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 likewise for the prises taken throughout the realm by our ministers: (2) We have granted for us and our heirs, that we shall not drain such aids, tasks, nor prises into a custom, for any thing that hath been done heretofore, be it by roll or any other precedent that may be founden.
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 communalty of the land, that for no business from henceforth we shall take such manner of aids, tasks, nor prises, but by common assent of 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 communalty of the realm find themselves sore grieved with the maletent of 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 request have yearly released it, and have granted us and our heirs, that we shall not take such things without their common assent and good will, saving to us and our heirs the custom of wools, skins, and leather, granted before by the communalty aforesaid. The witness of which things we have caused these our letters to be made patents. Witness EDWARD our son at London the tenth day of October, the five and twentieth year of our reign.
 25 Edw. i, c. i. danby Pickering (ed.), Statues at Large (Cambridge, 1726-1807), I, 273-75
 Aquitaine, the territory in southwestern France.
 The Charter of the Forest was issued in 1217, early in the reign of Henry III, as a supplement to Magna Carta. It was confirmed by him in 1225. Some of the provisions omitted in the reissues of Magna Carta which relate to forest matters appeared in the Charter of the Forest.
 “Aids,” “tasks,” and “prises” were forms of taxation.
This document (Confirmatio Cartarum) links the Magna Carta to the Common Law. The U.S. Constitution guarantees one’s access to the Common Law and, therefor, the Magna Carta. See the next to last line of the first paragraph.
THE GREAT CHARTER OF ENGLISH LIBERTY,
GRANTED BY KING JOHN AT RUNNYMEDE,
JUNE 15, A. D. 1215
THE GREAT CHARTER OF KING JOHN.
JOHN, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justiciaries, Foresters, Sheriffs, Governors, Officers, and to all Bailiffs, and his faithful subjects, greeting. Know ye, that we, in the presence of God, and for the salvation of our soul, and the souls of all our ancestors and heirs, and unto the honour of God and the advancement of Holy Church, and amendment of our Realm, 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; Jocelin, of bath and Glastonbury; Hugh, of Lincoln; Walter, of Worcester; William, of Coventry; Benedict, of Rochester — Bishops: of Master Pandulph, Sub-Deacon and Familiar of our Lord the Pope; Brother Aymeric, Master of the Knights-Templars in England; and of the noble Persons, 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, and Hubert de Burgh, Seneschal of Poitou; Hugh de Neville, Matthew FitzHerbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip of Albiney, Robert de Roppell, John Mareschal, John FitzHugh, and others, our liegemen, have, in the first place, granted to God, and by this our present Charter confirmed, for us and our heirs for ever: —
1. That the Church of England shall be free, and have her whole rights, and her liberties inviolable; and we will have them so observed, that it may appear thence that the freedom of elections, which is reckoned chief and indispensable to the English Church, and which we granted and confirmed by our Charter, and obtained the confirmation of the same from our Lord the Pope Innocent III, before the discord between us and our barons, was granted of mere free will; which Charter we shall observe, and we do will it to be faithfully observed by our heirs for ever.
2. We also have granted to all the freemen of our kingdom, for us and for our heirs for ever, all the underwritten liberties, to be had and holden by them and their heirs, of us and our heirs for ever: If any of our earls, or barons, or others, who hold of us in chief by military service, shall die, and at the time of his death his heir shall be of full age, and owe a relief, he shall have his inheritance by the ancient relief — that is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl, for a whole earldom, by a hundred pounds; the heir or heirs of a baron, for a whole barony, by a hundred pounds; the heir or heirs of a knight, for a whole knight’s free, by a hundred shillings at most; and whoever oweth less shall give less, according to the ancient custom of fees.
3. But if the heir of any such shall be under age, and shall be in ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without relief and without fine.
4. The keeper of the land of such an heir being under age, shall take of the land of the heir none but reasonable issues, reasonable customs, and reasonable services, and that without destruction and waste of his men and his goods; and if we commit the custody of any such lands to the sheriff, or any other who is answerable to us for the issues of the land, and he shall make destruction and waste of the lands which he hath in custody, we will take of him amends, and the land shall be committed to two lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall answer for the issued to us, or to him to whom we shall assign them; and if we sell or give to any one the custody of any such lands, and he therein make destruction or waste, he shall lose the same custody, which shall be committed to two lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall in like manner answer to us as aforesaid.
5. But the keeper, so long as he shall have the custody of the land, shall keep up the houses, parks, warrens, ponds, mills, and other things pertaining to the land, out of the issues of the same land; and shall deliver to the heir, when he comes of full age, his whole land, stocked with ploughs and carriages, according as the time of wainage shall require, and the issues of the land can reasonably bear.
6. Heirs shall be married with disparagement, and so that before matrimony shall be contracted, those who are near in blood to the heir shall have notice.
7. A widow, after the death of her husband, shall forthwith and without difficulty have her marriage and inheritance; nor shall she give anything for her dower, or her marriage, or her inheritance, which her husband and she held at the day of his death; and she may remain in the mansion house of her husband forty days after his death, within which time her dower shall be assigned.
8. No widow shall be distrained to marry herself, so long as she has a mind to live without a husband; but yet she shall give security that she will not marry without our assent, if she hold of us; or without the consent of the lord of whom she holds, if she hold 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 to pay the debt; nor shall the sureties of the debtor be distrained so long as the principal debtor has sufficient to pay the debt; and if the principal debtor shall fail in the payment of the debt, not having wherewithal to pay it, then the sureties shall answer the debt; and if they will they shall have the lands and rents of the debtor, until they shall be satisfied for the debt which they paid for him, unless the principal debtor can show himself acquitted thereof against the said sureties.
10. If any one have borrowed anything of the Jews, more or less, and die before the debt be satisfied, there shall be no interest paid for that debt, so long as the heir is under ages, of whomsoever he may hold; and if the debt falls into our hands, we will only take the chattel mentioned in the deed.
11. And if any one shall die indebted to the Jews, his wife shall have her dower and pay nothing of that debt; and if the deceased left children under age, they shall have necessaries provided for them, according to the tenement of the deceased; and out of the residue the debt shall be paid, saving, however, the service due to the lords, and in like manner shall it be done touching debts due to other than the Jews.
12. NO SCUTAGE OR AID SHALL BE IMPOSED IN OUR KINGDOM, UNLESS BY THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF OUR KINGDOM; except for ransoming our person, making our eldest son a knight and once for marrying our eldest daughter; and for these there shall be paid no more than a reasonable aid. In like manner it shall be concerning the aids 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 and boroughs, and towns and ports, shall have all their liberties and free customs.
14. AND FOR HOLDING THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE KINGDOM CONCERNING THE ASSESSMENT OF AIDS, EXCEPTS IN THE THREE CASES AFORESAID, AND FOR THE ASSESSING OF SCUTAGES, WE SHALL CAUSE TO BE SUMMONED THE ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS, ABBOTS, EARLS, AND GREATER BARONS OF THE REALM, SINGLY BY OUR LETTERS. AND FURTHERMORE, WE SHALL CAUSE TO BE SUMMONED GENERALLY, BY OUR SHERIFFS AND BAILIFFS, ALL OTHERS WHO HOLD OF US IN CHIEF, FOR A CERTAIN DAY, THAT IS TO SAY, FORTY DAYS BEFORE THEIR MEETING AT LEAST, AND TO A CERTAIN PLACE; AND IN ALL LETTERS OF SUCH SUMMONS WE WILL DECLARE THE CAUSE OF SUCH SUMMONS. AND SUMMONS BEING THUS MADE, THE BUSINESS SHALL PROCEED ON THE DAY APPOINTED, ACCORDING TO THE ADVICE OF SUCH AS SHALL BE PRESENT, ALTHOUGH ALL THAT WERE SUMMONED COME NOT.
15. We will not for the future grant to any one that he may take aid of his own free tenants, unless to ransom his body, and to make his eldest son a knight, and once to marry his eldest daughter; and for this there shall be only paid a reasonable aid.
16. No man shall be distrained to perform more service for a knight’s fee, or other free tenement, than is due from thence.
17. Common pleas shall not follow our court, but shall be holden in some place certain.
18. Trials upon the Writs of Novel Disseisin, and of Mort d’ancestor, and of Darrein Presentment, shall not be taken but in their proper counties, and after this manner: We, or if we should be out of the realm, our chief justiciary, will send two justiciaries through every county four times a year, who, with four knights of each county, chosen by the county, shall hold the said assizes in the county, on the day, and at the place appointed.
19. And if any matters cannot be determined on the day appointed for holding the assizes in each county, so many of the knights and freeholders as have been at the assizes aforesaid shall stay to decide them as is necessary, according as there is more or less business.
20. A freeman shall not be amerced for a small offence, but only according to the degree of the offence; and for a great crime according to the heinousness of it, saving to him his contenement; and after the same manner a merchant, saving to him his merchandise. And a villein shall be amerced after the same manner, saving to him his wainage, if he falls under our mercy; and none of the aforesaid amerciaments shall be assessed but by the oath of honest men in the neighbourhood.
21. Earls and barons shall not be amerced but by their peers, and after the degree of the offence.
22. No ecclesiastical person shall be amerced for his lay tenement, but according to the proportion of the others aforesaid, and not according to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.
23. Neither a town nor any tenant shall be distrained to make bridges or embankments, unless that anciently and of right they are bound to do it.
24. No sheriff, constable, coroner, or other our bailiffs, shall hold “Pleas of the Crown.”
25. All counties, hundreds, wapentakes, and trethings, shall stand at the old rents, without any increase, except in our demesne manors.
26. If nay one holding of us a lay fee die, and the sheriff, or our bailiffs, show our letters patent of summons for debt which the dead man die owe to us, it shall be lawful for the sheriff or our bailiff to attach and register the chattels of the dead, found upon his lay fee, to the amount of the debt, by the view of lawful men, so as nothing be removed until our whole clear debt be paid; and the rest shall be left to the executors to fulfil the testament of the dead; and if there be nothing due from his to us, all the chattels shall go to the use of the dead, saving to his wife and children their reasonable shares.
27. If any freemen shall die intestate, his chattels shall be distributed by the hands of his nearest relations and friends, by view of the Church, saving to every one his debts which the deceased owed to him.
28. No constable or bailiff of ours shall take corn or other chattels of any man unless he presently give him money for it, or hath respite of payment by the good-will of the seller.
29. No constable shall distrain any knight to give money for castle-guard, if he himself will do it in his person, or by another able man, in case he cannot do it through any reasonable cause. And if we have carried or sent him into the army, he shall be free from such guard for the time he shall be in the army by our command.
30. No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or any other, shall take horses or carts of any freeman for carriage, without the assent of the said freeman.
31. Neither shall we nor our bailiffs take any man’s timber for our castles or other uses, unless by the consent of the owner of the timber.
32. We will retain the lands of those convicted of felony only one year and a day, and then they shall be delivered to the lord of the fee.
33. All kydells (wears) for the time to come shall be put down the rivers of Thames and Medway, and throughout all England, except upon the sea-coast.
34. The writ which is called praecipe, for the future, shall not be made out to any one, of any tenement, whereby a freeman may lose his court.
35. There shall be one measure of wine and one of ale through our whole realm; and one measure of corn, that is to say, the London quarter; and one breadth of dyed cloth, and russets, and haberjeets, that is to say, two ells within the lists; and it shall be of weights as it is of measures.
36. NOTHING FROM HENCEFORTH SHALL BE GIVEN OR TAKEN FOR A WRIT OF INQUISTION OF LIFE OR LIMB, BUT IT SHALL BE GRANTED FREELY, AND NOT DENIED.
37. If any do hold of us by fee-farm, or by socage, or by burgage, and he hold also lands of any other by knight’s service, we will not have the custody of the heir of land, which is holden of another man’s fee by reason of the fee-farm, socage, or burgage; neither will we have the custody of the fee-farm, or socage, or burgage, unless a knight’s service was due to us out of the same fee-farm. We will not have the custody of an heir, nor of any land which he holds of another by knight’s service, by reason of any petty serjeanty by which he holds of us, by the service of paying a knife, an arrow, or the like.
38. No bailiff from henceforth shall put any man to his law upon his own bare saying, without credible witnesses to prove it.
39. NO FREEMAN SHALL BE TAKEN OR IMPRISONED, OR DISSEISED, OR OUTLAWED, OR BANISHED, OR ANY WAYS DESTROYED, NOR WILL BE PASS UPON HIM, NOR WILL WE SEND UPON HIM, UNLESS BY THE LAWFUL JUDGMENT OF HIS PEERS, OR BY THE LAW OF THE LAND.
40. WE WILL SELL TO NO MAN, WE WILL NOT DENY TO ANY MAN, EITHER JUSTICE OR RIGHT.
41. All merchants shall have safe and secure conduct, to go out of, and to come into England, and to stay there and to pass as well by land as by water, for buying and selling by the ancient and allowed customs, without any unjust tolls; except in time of war, or when they are of any nation at war with us. And if there be found any such in our land, in the beginning of the war, they shall be attached, without damage to their bodies or goods, until it be known unto us, or our chief justiciary, how our merchants be treated in the nation at war with us; and if ours be safe there, the others shall be safe in our dominions.
42. It shall be lawful, for the time to come, for any one to go out of our kingdom, and return safely and securely by land or by water, saving his allegiance to us; unless in time of war, by some short space, for the common benefit of the realm, except prisoners and outlaws, according to the law of the land, and people in war with us, and merchants who shall be treated as is above mentioned.
43. If any man hold of any escheat, as of the honour of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other escheats which be in our hands, and are baronies, and die, his heir shall give no other relief, and perform no other service to us than he would to the baron, if it were in the baron’s hand; and we will hold it after the same manner as the baron held it.
44. Those men who dwell without the forest from henceforth shall not come before our justiciaries of the forest, upon common summons, but such as are impleaded, or are sureties for any that are attached for something concerning the forest.
45. We will not make any justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs, but of such as know the law of the realm and mean duly to observe it.
46. All barons who have founded abbeys, which they hold by charter from the kings of England, or by ancient tenure, shall have the keeping of them, when vacant, as they ought to have.
47. All forests that have been made forests in our time shall forthwith be disforested; and the same shall be done with the water-banks that have been fenced in by us in our time.
48. All evil customs concerning forests, warrens, foresters, and warreners, sheriffs and their officers, water-banks and their keepers, shall forthwith be inquired into in each county, by twelve sworn knights of the same county, chosen by creditable persons of the same county; and within forty days after the said inquest be utterly abolished, so as never to be restored: so as we are first acquainted therewith, or our justiciary, if we should not be in England.
49. We will immediately give up all hostages and charters delivered unto us by our English subjects, as securities for their keeping the peace, and yielding us faithful service.
50. We will entirely remove from their bailiwicks the relations of Gerard de Atheyes, so that for the future they shall have no bailiwick in England; we will also remove Engelard de Cygony, Andrew, Peter, and Gyon, from the Chancery; Gyon de Cygony, Geoffrey de Martyn, and his brothers; Philip Mark, and his brothers, and his nephew, Geoffrey, and their whole retinue.
51. As soon as peace is restored, we will send out of the kingdom all foreign knights, cross-bowmen, and stipendiaries, who are come with horses and arms to the molestation of our people.
52. If any one has been dispossessed or deprived by us, without the lawful judgment of his peers, of his lands, castles, liberties, or right, we will forthwith restore them to him; and if any dispute arise upon this head, let the matter be decided by the five-and-twenty barons hereafter mentioned, for the preservation of the peace. And for all those things of which any person has, without the lawful judgment of his peers, been dispossessed or deprived, either by our father King Henry, or our brother King Richard, and which we have in our hands, or are possessed by others, and we are bound to warrant and make good, we shall have a respite till the term usually allowed the crusaders; excepting those things about which there is a plea depending, or whereof an inquest hat been made, by our order before we undertook the crusade; but as soon as we return from our expedition, or if perchance we tarry at home and do not make our expedition, we will immediately cause full justice to be administered therein.
53. The same respite we shall have, and in the same manner, about administering justice, disafforesting or letting continue the forests, which Henry our father, and our brother Richard, have afforested; and the same concerning the wardship of the lands which are in another’s fee, but the wardship of which we have hitherto had, by reason of a fee held of us by knight’s service; and for the abbeys founded in any other fee than our own, in which the lord of the fee says he has a right; and when we return from our expedition, or if we tarry at home, and do not make our expedition, we will immediately do full justice to all the complainants in this behalf.
54. No man shall be taken or imprisoned upon the appeal of a woman, for the death of any other than her husband.
55. All unjust and illegal fines made by us, and all amerciaments imposed unjustly and contrary to the law of the land, shall be entirely given up, or else be left to the decision of the five-and-twenty barons hereafter mentioned for the preservation of the peace, or of the major part of them, together with the aforesaid Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and others whom he shall think fit to invite; and if he cannot be present, the business shall notwithstanding go on without him; but so that if one or more of the aforesaid five-and-twenty barons be plaintiffs in the same cause, they shall be set aside as to what concerns this particular affair, and others be chosen in their room, out of the said five-and-twenty, and sworn by the rest to decide the matter.
56. If we have disseised or dispossessed the Welsh of any lands, liberties, or other things, without the legal judgment of their peers, either in England or in Wales, they shall be immediately restored to them; and if any dispute arise upon this head, the matter shall be determined in the Marches by the judgment of their peers; for tenements in Wales according to the law of England, for tenements in Wales according to the law of Wales, for tenements of the Marches according to the law of the Marches: the same shall the Welsh do to us and our subjects.
57. As for all those things of which a Welshman hath, without the lawful judgment of his peers, been disseised or deprived of by King Henry our father, or our brother King Richard, and which we either have in our hands or others are possessed of, and we are obliged to warrant it, we shall have a respite till the time generally allowed the crusaders; excepting those things about which a suit is depending, or whereof an inquest has been made by our order, before we undertook the crusade; but when we return, or if we stay at home without performing our expedition, we will immediately do them full justice, according to the laws of the Welsh and of the parts before mentioned.
58. We will without delay dismiss the son of Llewellin, and all the Welsh hostages, and release them from the engagements they have entered into with us for the preservation of the peace.
59. We will treat with Alexander, King of Scots, concerning the restoring his sisters and hostages, and his right and liberties, in the same form and manner as we shall do the rest of our barons of England; unless by the charters which we have from his father, William, late King of Scots, it ought to be otherwise; and this shall be left to the determination of his peers in our court.
60. All the aforesaid customs and liberties, which we have granted to be holden in our kingdom, as much as it belongs to us, all people of our kingdom, as well clergy as laity, shall observe, as far as they are concerned, towards their dependents.
61. And whereas, for the honour of God and the amendment of our kingdom, and for the better quieting the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, we have granted all these things aforesaid; willing to render them firm and lasting, we do give and grant our subjects the underwritten security, namely that the barons may choose five-and-twenty barons of the kingdom, whom they think convenient; who shall take care, with all their might, to hold and observe, and cause to be observed, the peace and liberties we have granted them, and by this our present Charter confirmed in this manner; that is to say, that if we, our justiciary, our bailiffs, or any of our officers, shall in any circumstance have failed in the performance of them towards any person, or shall have broken through any of theses articles of peace and security, and the offence be notified to four barons chosen out of the five-and-twenty before mentioned, the said four barons shall repair to us, or our justiciary, if we are out of the realm, and, laying open the grievance, shall petition to have it redressed without delay: and if it be not redressed by us, or if we should chance to be out of the realm, if it should not be redressed by our justiciary within forty days, reckoning from the time it has been notified to us, or to our justiciary (if we should be out of the realm), the four barons aforesaid shall lay the cause before the rest of the five-and-twenty barons; and the said five-and-twenty barons, together with the community of the whole kingdom, shall distrain and distress us in all the ways in which they shall be able, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, and in any other manner they can, till the grievance is redressed, according to their pleasure; saving harmless our own persona, and the persons or our Queen and children; and when it is redressed, they shall behave to us as before. And any person whatsoever in the kingdom may swear that he will obey the orders of the five-and-twenty barons aforesaid in the execution of the premises, and will distress us, jointly with them, to the utmost of his power; and we give public and free liberty to any one that shall please to swear to this, and never will hinder any person from taking the same oath.
62. As for all those of our subjects who will not, of their own accord, swear to join the five-and-twenty barons in distraining and distressing us, we will issue orders to make them take the same oath as aforesaid. And if any one of the five-and-twenty barons dies, or goes out of the kingdom, or is hindered any other way from carrying the things aforesaid into execution, the rest of the said five-and-twenty barons may choose another in his room, at their discretion, who shall be sworn in like manner as the rest. In all things that are committed to the execution of these five-and-twenty barons, if, when they are all assembled together, they should happen to disagree about any matter, and some of them, when summoned, will not or cannot come, whatever is agreed upon, or enjoined, by the major part of those that are present shall be reputed as firm and valid as if all the five-and-twenty had given their consent; and the aforesaid five-and-twenty shall swear that all the premises they shall faithfully observe, and cause with all their power to be observed. And we will procure nothing from any one, by ourselves nor by another, whereby any of these concessions and liberties may be revoked or lessened; and if any such thing shall have been obtained, let it be null and void; neither will we ever make use of it either by ourselves of any other. And all the ill-will, indignations, and rancours that have arisen between us and our subjects, of the clergy and laity, from the first breaking out of the dissensions between us, we do fully remit and forgive: moreover, all trespasses occasioned by the said dissensions, from Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign till the restoration of peace and tranquillity, we hereby entirely remit to all, both clergy and laity, and as far as in us lies do fully forgive. We have, moreover, cause to be made for them the letters patent testimonial of Stephen, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, and the bishops aforesaid, as also of Master Pandulph, for the security and concessions aforesaid.
63. Wherefore we will and firmly enjoin, that the Church of England be free, and that all men in our kingdom have and hold all the aforesaid liberties, rights, and concessions, truly and peaceably, freely and quietly, fully and wholly to themselves and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and places, for ever, as is aforesaid. It is also sworn, as well on our part as on the part of the barons, that all the things aforesaid shall be observed in good faith, and without evil subtilty. Given under our hand, in the presence of the witnesses above named, and many others, in the meadow called Runingmede, between Windsor and Staines, the 15th day of June, in the 17th year of our reign.