The Magna Carta (Significant Provisions)
Chapter 13


No scutage or aid shall be imposed in our kingdom, unless by the common council of our kingdom, except to redeem our person, and to make our eldest son a knight, and once to marry our eldest daughter; and for this there shall only be paid a reasonable aid.

And the city or 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, and shall have the common council of the kingdom concerning the assessment of their aids, except in the three cases aforesaid.

And for the assessing of scutages we shall cause to be summoned the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and great barons of the realm, singly by our letters.

And furthermore, we shall cause to be summoned in general by our sheriffs and bailiffs. all others who hold of us in chief, at a certain day, that is to say, forty days (before their meeting) at least, to a certain place; and in all letters of such summons, we will declare the cause of the summons.

And summons bring 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.

We will not for the future grant to any one, that he may take aid of his own free-tenants, unless to redeem his body; and to make his eldest son a knight, and once to marry his eldest daughter; and for this there shall only be paid a reasonable aid.

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A free man shall not be amerced for a small fault, but according to the degree of the fault; and for a great crime, in proportion to the heinousness of it, saving to him his contenement, and after the same manner a merchant, saving to him his merchandise.

And a villain 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 of the neighbourhood.

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No constable or bailiff of ours shall take corn or other chattels of any man, unless he presently gives him money for it, or hath respite of payment from the seller.

No constables shall distrein any knight to give money for castle-guard. if he himself shall do it in his own person. or by another able man. in case he shall be hindered by any reasonable cause.

And if we shall lead him. or if we shall send him into the army, he shall be free from castleguard, for the time he shall be in the army, by our command.

No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or any other, shall take horses or carts of any for carriage.

Neither shall We or our officers or others, take any man's timber for our castles, or other uses, unless by the consent of the owner of the timber.

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No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disscis'd, or outlaw'd, or banished, or any ways destroyed; nor will we pass upon him, or commit him to prison, unless by the legal judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.

We will sell to no man, we will deny no man, nor defer right or justice.

All merchants shall have safe and secure conduct to go out of, and come into England; and to stay there, and to pass, as well by land as by water, to buy and sell by the ancient and allowed customs, without any evil tolls, except in time of war, or when they shall be of any nation in war with us.

And if there shall be found any such in our land in the beginning of a war, they shall be attached, without damage to their bodies or goods, until it may 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, they shall be safe in our land.

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If any one hath been dispossessed, or deprived by us without the legal judgment of his peers, of his lands, castles, liberties or right, we will forthwith restore them to him; and if any dispute arises upon this head, let the matter be decided by the five and twenty barons hereafter mentioned, for the preservation of the peace.

As for those things, of which any person has, without the legal judgment of his peers, been dispossessed or deprived, either by King Henry our father, 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 croises; excepting those things about which there is a suit depending, or whereof an inquest hath been made by our order, before we undertook the crusade. But when we return from our pilgrimage, or if we do not perform it, we will immediately cause full justice to be administered therein.

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And whereas, for the honour of God, and the amendment of our kingdom, and for quieting the discord that has arisen between Us and our barons, we have granted all the things aforesaid; willing to render them firm and lasting, we do given and grant our subjects the following 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 . . . .

From Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights; with the Petition of Right . . . , edited by John Fairburn.

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W.W. Norton
RESOURCE: World Civilizations
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