This document, ‘The articles in addition to the charters’, includes concessions granted by Edward I to the barons who opposed his attempt to raise taxation to fight a war in France. The king refused to allow them to be added to Magna Carta, knowing that if he did so, the concessions would be almost impossible to revoke without inciting rebellion. Dated 1300 (C 74/1).
Because the points of the great charter of liberties and the charter of the forest, which king Henry, father of the present king, granted to his people for the benefit of his kingdom, have not been held or kept hitherto because up to now no penalty has been established for offenders against the points of the aforesaid charters, our lord the king has granted, renewed and confirmed them afresh; and at the request of the prelates, earls and barons in his Lenten parliament at Westminster in the 28th year of his reign, has ordained and established a definite form and penalty for all those in any way contravening the points of the aforesaid charters or any point of them, in the following form.
(1) Namely that from now on the great charter of liberties of England granted to all the community of England and the charter of the forest in like manner granted be held, kept and maintained in each article and each point as fully as the king has granted, renewed and by his charter confirmed it; and that these charters be given to each sheriff of England under the king’s seal to be read four times a year before the people in full county court: that is at the next county after Michaelmas, the next county after Christmas, the next county after Easter and at the next county after the feast of St John; and firmly to maintain these two charters in every point and in every article of them, where there was up to now no remedy at common law, let there be chosen in each county by the community of that county three men of standing, 1 knights or other upright, 2 wise and prudent men, to be sworn as justices and assigned by letters patent of the king under his great seal to hear and determine, without other writ than their common warrant, the complaints that shall be made of all those who contravene or offend in any of the said points of the aforesaid charters in the counties to which they are assigned, as well within liberties as outside them, as well of the king’s officers in their private capacities as of others; and determine summarily the complaints heard day by day without allowing the delays that are allowed at common law; and that these same knights have power to punish all those convicted of offending against any point of the aforesaid charters, whereas has been said there was previously no remedy at common law, by imprisonment or by fine or by amercement, according to what the offence demands. And by this neither the king nor any of those who were at the making of this ordinance intends that the aforesaid knights should hold any plea in virtue of the power that has been given them in a case where before now a remedy was provided at common law by writ, or that prejudice be done thereby to the common law or to the aforesaid charters in any of their points. And the king wills that if all three are not present or cannot every time attend to the performance of their office in the aforesaid form, that two of the three do it. And it is ordained that the sheriffs and the bailiffs of the king attend to the commands of the aforesaid justices in so far as they concern their office; and, besides these things granted on the points of the aforesaid charters, the king, of his special grace, in alleviation of the burdens that his people have had during the wars that have been and to amend their condition and in order that they may be readier in his service and more willingly helpful when they have the wherewithal to do it, has granted some articles which it is his intention shall hold as great a place in the estimation of his people and be of as great a benefit, or more, as the points afore granted.
(2) In the first place, because it is a great grievance in this kingdom and an incalculable harm that the king and his officers of his following, as well aliens as denizens, make their prises wherever they are as they move about the kingdom, taking people’s goods, clerks’ as well as laymen’s, without payment or for much less than their value, it is ordained that from now on no one take prises in the kingdom except the king’s takers and his purveyors for the king’s household; and that these king’s takers and purveyors for his household take nothing except for the same household; and that they pay for the prises of food and drink and other small necessaries for the household that they take in the districts or come to an agreement with those from whom the things are taken; and that all such king’s takers, purveyors or buyers from now on have with them their warrant under the great seal or the privy seal of the king, reciting their authority and the things that they are to make prise or purveyance of, which warrant they shall show to those from whom they take the prise before they take anything from them. And that these king’s takers, purveyors or buyers take no more than is necessary for the king and his household and his children’s households, and that they take nothing for those that are at wages or for any one else, and that they account fully in the household and in the wardrobe for all their prises, without giving or delivering elsewhere anything taken for the king. And if any taker of the king’s household makes prises or deliveries with the warrant that he has in any other way than is said above, on complaint made to the steward and to the treasurer of the king’s household let the truth be enquired into; and if he be convicted of this let satisfaction be given at once to the plaintiff and let him be removed from the king’s service forever and stay in prison as long as it is the king’s pleasure; and if any one makes a prise without warrant and takes it away against the will of the owner of the goods, let him be immediately arrested by the vill where the prise is made and taken to the nearest gaol; and if he is convicted of this, let him be dealt with as a thief, if the amount of the goods demands it. And as for making prises in fairs and in good towns and ports for the great wardrobe of the king, let the takers have their common warrant by the great seal, and for the things they are to take let them have the authority of the seal of the keeper of the wardrobe, and of the number, quantity and value of the things thus taken by them let there be made an indenture between the takers and the keepers of fairs, mayor or chief bailiffs of towns and ports, by the view of the merchants to whom the goods thus taken belong; and let him not be allowed to take anything beyond what he puts in the indenture; and let this indenture be carried into the wardrobe under the seal of the keeper, mayor or chief bailiff aforesaid, and remain there until the account of the keeper of the king’s wardrobe; and if it be found that any one has taken otherwise than he ought to have done, let him be punished at the account by the keeper of the king’s wardrobe according to his deserts; and if any one take such prises without warrant, and is convicted of this, let him be dealt with like those who take prises for the king’s household without warrant, as is said above. And it is not the intention of the king or his council that, by this statute, anything should lessen the king’s right to the ancient prises due and accustomed, as of wine and other goods, but that it be preserved for him fully in all points.
(3) Concerning the estate of the steward and the marshals and the pleas that they ought to hold and in what manner, it is ordained that henceforth they hold no plea concerning freehold or debt or covenant or contract of people generally but only of offences of the household and other offences committed within the verge, and of contracts and covenants that someone of the king’s household has made with another of the same household and in the same household, not elsewhere; and hold no plea of trespass that is not set in motion by them before the king leaves the verge where the offence was committed and shall hold pleas quickly day by day so that they are heard and determined before the king goes beyond the bounds of the verge where the offence was committed; and if, perchance, they cannot be determined within the bounds of this verge, let these pleas cease before the steward and the plaintiffs be at common law; nor shall the steward henceforth take cognisance of debts or anything else, except of people of the aforementioned household; nor shall they hold any other plea by obligation made at the distress of the steward and the marshals; and, if the steward or the marshals do anything contrary to this ordinance, what they do shall be held for nought. And because up to now many of the felonies committed within the verge have gone unpunished because the coroners of the districts have not concerned themselves to inquire into such manner of felonies within the verge, but [instead] the coroner of the king’s household, who moves about, so that issue has not been made in proper manner, nor the felons put in exigent or outlawed, nor anything of this presented in the eyre, which has been to the great loss of the king and the less good keeping of his peace, it is ordained that henceforth, in case of homicide, in which it is the coroner’s duty to view and hold inquest into the matter, the coroner of the district is to be informed and he together with the coroner of the household is to perform the office appertaining thereto and record it on the roll. And what cannot be determined before the steward because the felons cannot be attached there or for other reason, let it remain at common law, so that the exigents, outlawries and presentments in the eyre be made in this connection by the coroner of the district, as with other felonies committed outside the verge; but let not attachments cease because of this to be made with unabated vigour upon the felonies committed.
(4) In addition let no common plea be held henceforth at the exchequer contrary to the form of the great charter.
(5) In addition the king wills that the chancery and the justices of his bench follow him so that he may always have by him some men experienced in the law who will know how to dispose properly and as needed of matters that come to the court.
(6) Let no writ henceforth issue under the privy seal that concerns the common law.
(7) Let not the constable of Dover castle henceforth hold at the gate of the castle any outside plea of the county that does not concern the keeping of the castle; the said constable shall not distrain the men of the Cinque Ports to plead in any other place or any other manner than they ought according to the form of the royal charters they have of their ancient liberties affirmed by the great charter.
(8) The king has granted to his people that they may if they wish have the choosing of their sheriffs in each county where the shrievalty is not of fee.
(9) The king wills and commands that no sheriff or bailiff put on inquests or on juries more people or other people or in any way other than is ordained by statute, and that they put on such inquests and juries the nearest, the most suitable and the least suspect; and he who does otherwise and is convicted of it, shall pay the plaintiff double his damages, and be grievously in the king’s mercy.
(10) In respect of conspirators, false informers and evil suborners of twelves, inquests, assizes and juries, the king has ordained a remedy for plaintiffs by writ of chancery; and nevertheless wills that his justices of both benches and justices assigned to take assizes, when they come into a district to perform their office in this matter, make their inquests on every man’s complaint without writ and without delay, and dispense justice to those with complaints.
(11) Again, because the king had previously ordained by statute that none of his officers should take any plea by champerty and by this statute people other than officers were not up to now bound by this, the king wills that no officer or any other person, in order to have part of the thing that is in plea, shall undertake matters that are in plea, or that anyone on such an agreement shall surrender his right to another; and if anyone does it and is convicted of it, there shall be lost and forfeited to the king from the goods or the lands of him who undertakes the equivalent in value of what his gain by this undertaking amounts to. And to give effect to this let him who wishes to prosecute for the king be received before the justices before whom the plea has been, and by them let the award be made; but in this case it is not to be understood that a man cannot have help from pleaders and people learned in the law by paying for it, or from his relatives and his neighbours.
(12) Again, the king wills that distresses for debts due to him be not made on beasts of the plough while anything else can be found to make them on, in accordance with what is ordained elsewhere by statute with the penalty etc. And he does not wish too burdensome a distress to be taken for debts due to him, nor for it to be carried too far away; and if the debtor can find sufficient and suitable security until a day before the sheriff’s day within which steps can be taken to obtain a remedy thereof or come to an agreement about the demand, let the distress be released meanwhile; and let him who does otherwise be severely punished.
(13) And because the king has granted those of the counties the choosing of the sheriff, he wills that they choose a sheriff such as will not burden them or put any officer in authority in return for payment or a gift, and such as will not lodge too often in one place or with the poor or with religious.
(14) Again, that bailiwicks and hundreds of the king or of other great lords of the land be not let at farm for too great a sum, whereby the people might be burdened or charged with contributing to such farms.
(15) In summonses and in attachments in a plea concerning land, let the summons and the attachment contain henceforth the term of at least 15 days, in accordance with the common law, if it is not in an attachment connected with holding assizes before the king or pleas before justices in eyre during the eyre.
(16) Let those be dealt with who make false returns to the king’s writ, whereby justice is delayed, as is ordained in the second statute of Westminster, with the penalty.
(17) And because many more evildoers are in the land than ever there were, and innumerable robberies, arsons and homicides are committed, and the peace is less well kept, because the statute which the king caused to be made but lately at Winchester has not been kept, the king wills that this statute be sent again into each county and read and published four times a year, like the two great charters, and firmly kept in every point, on pain of the penalties that are therein laid down; and let the three knights be charged to keep and maintain this statute who are assigned in the counties to correct infringements of the great charters; and for this let them have warrant.
(18) In respect of wastes and acts of destruction committed in wardships of houses, parks, woods and preserves and all other things that escheat into the king’s hand by escheator and sub-escheator, the king wills that he who has suffered the damage shall have a writ of waste in chancery against the escheator for what he has done or the sub-escheator for what he has done, if he has anything from which he can answer for it; and if he has nothing from which he can answer for it, then let his superior answer by such penalty as to damages as was last ordained by the statute on those who commit waste in wardships.
(19) Again, when the escheator or the sheriff seizes in to the king’s hand lands of another when he has no right to seize them and then, when the want of right has been established, the issues meanwhile have in the past been retained and not restored when the king has surrendered the lands, the king wills that from now on when lands have been thus seized and then surrendered because he has no right to seize or to hold them, the issues shall be fully restored to him to whom the land remains and who has suffered the damage.
(20) It is ordained that no goldsmith of England or elsewhere in the lordship of the king from now on work or make any manner of plate or jewels or any other thing of gold or of silver that is not of good and of true alloy, that is, gold of a definite assay and silver of the alloy of sterling or of a better alloy, according to the wishes of him who owns the things that are being wrought. And that no one work worse silver than money, and that no kind of plate of silver leave the hands of the workmen until it is assayed by the wardens of the craft and that it be signed with a leopard’s head; that no one work worse gold than the assay of Paris, and that the wardens of the craft go from shop to shop among the workmen, testing that the gold is the same as the aforesaid assay, and if they find any worse than the assay, that the work be forfeit to the king. That no one make crossed rings or crossed chains, that no one mount a stone in gold if it is not natural; that cutters of rings and of seals give everyone back his weight of silver and of gold, to the extent that they can honestly save it; and jewels of gold that they have in hand of old work they should make haste with as soon as they can; and if they buy this same work hereafter, they should buy it to take to pieces and not to resell it. And in all the good towns of England where there are goldsmiths, let them get themselves the same statutes that those of London have got, and let one from each town come for all to London to find out their fixed assay: and if any goldsmith be convicted of doing otherwise than is ordained above, let him be punished by imprisonment and by fine at the will of the king.
In all the aforesaid things, and each of them, the king wills and intends, he and his council and all those who were at this ordaining, that the right and the lordship of his crown be saved for him absolutely.
This simplified translation includes the introduction, and two important clauses (laws) from the charter. The full text of the document is provided in the full transcript above.
Because the points of the great charter of liberties and the charter of the forest, which king Henry, father of the present king, granted to his people for the benefit of his kingdom, have not been held or kept hitherto, because until now no penalty has been established, our lord the king has granted, renewed and confirmed them again; and at the request of the bishops, earls and barons in parliament, he has ordained and established a definite form and penalty for all those contravening the points of the charters, in the following form.
(1) Let there be chosen in each county by the community of the county, three men of standing, to be sworn as justices, to hear and determine the complaints that shall be made of all those who contravene or offend in any of the said points of the aforesaid charters in the counties to which they are assigned.
(17) And because many more evildoers are in the land than ever there were before, and innumerable robberies, arsons and homicides are committed, and the peace is less well kept, because the statute which the king caused to be made but lately at Winchester has not been kept, the king wills that this statute be sent again into each county and read and published four times a year, like the two great charters, and firmly kept in every point, on pain of the penalties that are therein laid down; and let the three knights be charged to keep and maintain this statute who are assigned in the counties to correct infringements of the great charters.