(61) Since we have granted all these things for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to end the disagreement that has arisen between us and our barons, we agree that the barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to watch over and keep the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.
If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man... and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us... to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we... make no redress within forty days... the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.
Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.
Magna Carta June 1215
Test your understanding
How many days does the King have to respond to a grievance or complaint?
Hmmm, not quite right I’m afraid.
Why don’t you listen to the transcript again?
Brilliant — you’ve studied this clause well!
The answer is 40 days.
Will Magna Carta bring peace and freedom?
- Is Magna Carta simply a collection of complaints and grumbles by the barons which will only have benefits for them?
- Is Magna Carta more than this? Is it an important statement of key principles about how the king can rule and will have benefits for everyone in England?
- Will this document be long lasting and bring about peace and freedom, or will King John will find a way out of it?