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Magna Carta, 1215 - 1689 English Bill of Rights

United Kingdom Constitution

United Kingdom Constitution

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Constitutional Law in United Kingdom

India's constitution was designed to be "similar in principle" to that of the U.K. The highest court in India used to be the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.  until , the indian constitution was set up by constituent assembly  To get a flavour of what is happening in constitutional law in the United Kingdom, consider these:

Magna Carta, 1215 - 1689 English Bill of Rights
1689: The English Bill of Rights
Introduction
This bill was a precursor to the American Bill of Rights, and set out strict limits on the Royal Family's legal prerogatives such as a prohibition against arbitrary suspension of Parliament's laws. More importantly, it limited the right to raise money through taxation to Parliament. 
The English elite had just succeeded in ousting the Catholic King James, who had offended the protestant Church of England by aggressively promoting the Roman Catholic religion, in spite of laws that Parliament had passed. William of Orange and his wife Mary were crowned King and Queen of England (Mary was actually the daughter of the deposed King James II) in Westminster Abbey on April 11, 1689. As part of their oaths, the new King William III and Queen Mary were required to swear that they would obey the laws of Parliament. At this time, the Bill of Rights was read to both William and Mary. "We thankfully accept what you have offered us," William replied, agreeing to be subject to law and to be guided in his actions by the decisions of Parliament. 

The Bill was formally passed through Parliament after the coronation. On December 16, 1689, the King and Queen gave it Royal Assent which represented the end of the concept of divine right of kings. The Bill of Rights was designed to control the power of kings and queens and to make them subject to laws passed by Parliament. This concession by the royal family has been called the "bloodless revolution" or the "glorious revolution." It was certainly an era for a more tolerant royal prerogative. William, for example, did not seek to oppress the supporters of the deposed and Catholic King James II, even as James tried as best he could to rally the Catholic forces within England, Scotland and Ireland against King William III. 

The Bill of Rights was one of three very important laws made at this time. The other two were the 1689 Toleration Act (which promoted religious toleration) and the 1694 Triennial Act, which prevented the King from dissolving Parliament at his will and held that general elections had to be held every three years.


The 1689 Bill of Rights
An Act for declaring the rights and liberties of the subject and settling the succession of the crown. 
WHEREAS THE LORDS SPIRITUAL AND TEMPORAL, AND COMMONS, ASSEMBLED AT WESTMINSTER, LAWFULLY, FULLY, AND FREELY REPRESENTING ALL THE ESTATES OF THE PEOPLE OF THIS REALM, DID UPON THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF FEBRUARY, IN 1689, PRESENT UNTO THEIR MAJESTIES THEN CALLED AND KNOWN BY THE NAMES AND STYLE OF WILLIAM AND MARY, PRINCE AND PRINCESS OF ORANGE, BEING PRESENT IN THEIR PROPER PERSONS, A CERTAIN DECLARATION IN WRITING, MADE BY THE SAID LORDS AND COMMONS, IN THE WORDS FOLLOWING: 

Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil counselors, judges, and ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom. 

By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws, and the execution of laws, without consent of parliament. 
By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates, for humbly petitioning to be excused concurring to the said assumed power. 
By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the great seal for erecting a court called, The court of commissioners for ecclesiastical causes. 
By levying money for and to the use of the crown, by pretence of prerogative, for other time, and in other manner, than the same was granted by parliament. 
By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace, without consent of parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law. 
By causing several good subjects, being protestants, to be disarmed, at the same time when papists were both armed and employed, contrary to law. 
By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in parliament. 
By prosecutions in the court of King's bench, for matters and causes cognizable only in parliament; and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses.

And whereas of late years, partial, corrupt, and unqualified persons have been returned and served on juries in trials and particularly divers jurors in trials for high treason, which were not freeholders. 
And excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in criminal cases, to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the subject.

And excessive fines have been imposed; and illegal and cruel punishments inflicted. 
And several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures, before any conviction or judgment against the persons, upon whom the same were to be levied.

All of which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and statutes, and freedom of this realm.
And whereas the said late King James II having abdicated the government, and the throne being thereby vacant, his highness the Prince of Orange (whom it hath pleased Almighty God to make the glorious instrument of delivering this kingdom from popery and arbitrary power) did (by the advice of the lords spiritual and temporal, and divers principal persons of the commons) cause letters to be written to the lords spiritual and temporal, being protestants; and other letters to the several counties, cities, universities, boroughs, and cinque-ports, for the choosing of such persons to represent them, as were of right to be sent to parliament, to meet and sit at Westminster upon the 22 January, 1689 in order to make such an establishment, as that their religion, laws, and liberties might not again be in danger of being subverted; upon which letters, elections have been accordingly made,

And thereupon the said lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, pursuant to their respective letters and elections, being now assembled in a full and free representative of this nation, taking into their most serious consideration the best means for attaining the ends aforesaid; do in the first place (as their ancestors in like cases have usually done) for the vindicating and asserting their ancient rights and liberties, declare: 

That the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal. 
That the pretended power of dispensing with laws, or the executions of laws, by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal. 
That the commission for erecting the late court of commissioners for ecclesiastical causes, and all other commissions and courts of like nature are illegal and pernicious. 
That levying money for or to the use of the crown, by pretence of prerogative, without grant of parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal. 
That it is the right of the subjects to petition the King, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal. 
That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of parliament, is against law. 
That the subjects which are protestants, may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law. 
That election of members of parliament ought to be free. 
That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament. 
That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed; nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. 
That jurors ought to be duly empanelled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in trials of high treason ought to be freeholders. 
That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction, are illegal and void. 
And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, parliaments ought to be held frequently. 
And they do claim, demand, and insist upon all and singular the premises, as their undoubted rights and liberties; and that no declarations, judgments, doings, or proceedings, to the prejudice of the people in any of the said premises, ought in any wise to be drawn hereafter into consequence or example; to which demand of their rights they are particularly encouraged by the declaration of this highness the prince of Orange, as being the only means for obtaining a full redress and remedy therein.
Having therefore an entire confidence, That his said highness the Prince of Orange will perfect the deliverance so far advanced by him, and will still preserve them from the violation of their rights, which they have here asserted, and from all other attempts upon their religion, rights, and liberties, the said lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, assembled at Westminster, do resolve, That William and Mary prince and princess of Orange, be, and be declared, King and Queen of England, France and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, to hold the crown and royal dignity of the said kingdoms and dominions to them the said prince and princess during their lives, and the life of the survivor of them; and that the sole and full exercise of the regal power be only in, and executed by the said prince of Orange, in the names of the said prince and princess, during their joint lives; and after their deceases, the said crown and royal dignity of the said kingdoms and dominions to be to the heirs of the body of the said princess; and for default of such issue to the princess Anne of Denmark and the heirs of her body; and for default of such issue to the heirs of the said prince of Orange. And the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, do pray the said prince and princess to accept the same accordingly.

And that the oaths hereafter mentioned be taken by all persons of whom the oaths of allegiance and supremacy might be required by law, instead of them; and that the said oaths of allegiance and supremacy may be abrogated.


"I, A.B. do sincerely promise and swear, That I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance, to their Majesties, King William and Queen Mary: So help me God." 
"I, A.B. do swear, That I from my heart abhor, detest, and abjure as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, That princes excommunicated or deprived by the pope, or any authority of the see of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I do declare, That no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate hath, or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm, So help me God."

Upon which their said Majesties did accept the crown and royal dignity of the kingdoms of England, France, and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the resolution and desire of the said lords and commons contained in the said declaration.
And thereupon their Majesties were pleased, that the said lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, being the two houses of parliament, should continue to sit, and with their Majesties royal concurrence make effectual provision for the settlement of the religion, laws and liberties of this kingdom, so that the same for the future might not be in danger again of being subverted; to which the said lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, did agree and proceed to act accordingly.

Now in pursuance of the premises, the said lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in parliament assembled, for the ratifying, confirming and establishing the said declaration, and the articles, clauses, matters, and things therein contained, by the force of a law made in due form by authority of parliament, do pray that it may be declared and enacted; that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and claimed in the said declaration are the true, ancient, and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom, and so shall be esteemed, allowed, adjudged, deemed, and taken to be, and that all and every the particulars aforesaid shall be firmly and strictly holden and observed, as they are expressed in the said declaration; and all the officers and ministers whatsoever shall serve their Majesties and their successors according to the same in all times to come.


{WWLIA note: we have not reproduced two parts here. The first deals with the recognition that William III "did become, were, are, and of right ought to be, by the laws of this realm, our sovereign liege and lady, King and Queen of England; and the subsequent part of the 1689 Bill of Rights which dealt with the descent of the Crown to survivors of King William III and Mary.}
Whereas it hath been found by experience, that it is inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this protestant kingdom, to be governed by a popish prince, or by any King or Queen marrying a papist.
The said lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, do further pray that it may be enacted, that all and every person and persons that is, are or shall be reconciled to, or shall hold communion with, the see or church of Rome, or shall profess the popish religion, or shall marry a papist, shall be excluded, and be for ever incapable to inherit, possess, or enjoy the crown and government of this realm, and Ireland, and the dominions belonging thereunto, or any part of the same, or to have, use, or exercise any regal power, authority, or jurisdiction within the same. In all and every such case or cases the people of these realms shall be, and are hereby absolved of their allegiance. The said crown and government shall from time to time descend to, and be enjoyed by such person or persons, being protestants, as should have inherited and enjoyed the same, in case the said person or persons so reconciled, holding communion, or professing, or marrying as aforesaid, were naturally dead.

Every King and Queen of this realm, who at any time hereafter shall come to and succeed in the imperial crown of this kingdom, shall on the first day of the meeting of the first parliament, next after his or her coming to the crown, sitting his or her throne in the house of peers, in the presence of the lords and commons therein assembled, or at his or her coronation, before such person or persons who shall administer the coronation oath to him or her, at the time of his or her taking the said oath (which shall first happen) make, subscribe, and audibly repeat the declaration mentioned in the statute made in the thirtieth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, instituted, An act for the more effectual preserving the King's person and government, by disabling papists from sitting in either house of parliament. But if it shall happen, that such King or Queen, upon his or her succession to the crown of this realm, shall be under the age of twelve years, then every such King or Queen shall make, subscribe, and audibly repeat the said declaration at his or her coronation, or the first day of the meeting of the first parliament as aforesaid, which shall happen after such King or Queen shall have attained the said age of twelve years.

All which their Majesties are contented and pleased shall be declared, enacted, and established by authority of this present parliament, and shall stand, remain, and be the law of this realm for ever; and the same are by their said Majesties, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, declared, enacted, and established accordingly.

It further declared and enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from and after this present session of parliament, no dispensation by "notwithstanding" of or to any statute, or any part thereof, shall be allowed, but that the same shall be held void and of no effect, except a dispensation be allowed of in such a statute, and except in such cases as shall be specially provided for by one or more bill or bills to be passed during this present session of parliament.

Provided that no charter, or grant, or pardon, granted before the three and twentieth day of October [1689] shall be any ways impeached or invalidated by this act, but that the same shall be and remain of the same force and effect in law, and no other than as if this act had never been made.

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The Magna Carta (1215)
This edition of the Magna Carta is referenced in the UK Legal Information Centre, the History of the Law page and as part of the WWLIA LAW Museum Archives collection. 
At Runneymede, England, on June 15, 1215, King John of England signed the Magna Carta in which he conceded a number of legal rights to his barons and to the people. In order to finance his foreign wars, King John had taxed abusively. His Barons threatened rebellion and coerced the King into committing to rudimentary judicial guarantees such as the freedom of the church, fair taxation, controls over imprisonment (habeas corpus) and the right to all merchants to come and go, freely, except in time of war. The Magna Carta had 61 clauses the most important of which may have been #39: "No freeman shall be captured or imprisoned ... except by lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land". It was the first time a king allowed that even he could be compelled to observe a law or the barons were allowed to "distrain and distress him in every possible way", just short of a legal right to rebellion. Once sworn to the document, letters were sent to all sheriffs ordering them to read the Charter aloud in public. It was a first "bill of rights" which tried to put some kind of controls over the total powers of British Kings. It has been called the "blueprint of English common law" and was even recently pleaded in a English case. Here is the full, unabridged text: 

John, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, greeting. 
Know that before God, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin Fitz Gerald, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert de Roppeley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and other loyal subjects: 


FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD,
and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity. 

TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM
we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs: 

If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a relief, the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of relief. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight l00s. at most for the entire knight's fee, and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of fees. But if the heir of such a person is under age and a ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without 'relief' or fine. 
The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services. He shall do this without destruction or damage to men or property. If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men of the same fee, who shall be answerable to us for the revenues, or to the person to whom we have assigned them. If we have given or sold to anyone the guardianship of such land, and he causes destruction or damage, he shall lose the guardianship of it, and it shall be handed over to two worthy and prudent men of the same fee, who shall be similarly answerable to us. For so long as a guardian has guardianship of such land, he shall maintain the houses, parks, fish preserves, ponds, mills, and everything else pertaining to it, from the revenues of the land itself. When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear. 
Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be made known to the heirs next-of-kin.

At her husbands death, a widow may have her marriage portion and inheritance at once and without trouble. She shall pay nothing for her dower, marriage portion, or any inheritance that she and her husband held jointly on the day of his death. She may remain in her husbands house for forty days after his death, and within this period her dower shall be assigned to her. 
No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband. But she must give security that she will not marry without royal consent, if she holds her lands of the Crown, or without the consent of whatever other lord she may hold them of.

Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtors sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtors lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.

If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.

If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.

No scutage or aid may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes ouly a reasonable aid may be levied. Aids from the city of London are to be treated similarly.

The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs. 
To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an aid - except in the three cases specified above - or a scutage, we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared. 
In future we will allow no one to levy an aid from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable aid may be levied.

No man shall be forced to perform more service for a knights fee, or other free holding of land, than is due from it. 
Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.

Inquests of novel disseisin, mort dancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court. We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place where the court meets. 
If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume of business to be done. 
For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a husbandman the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood. 
Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence. 
A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice. 
No town or person shall be forced to build bridges over rivers except those with an ancient obligation to do so. 
No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices. 
Every county, hundred, wapentake, and tithing shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors. 
If at the death of a man who holds a lay fee of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay fee of the dead man to the value of the debt, as assessed by worthy men. Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man s will. If no debt is due to the Crown, all the movable goods shall be regarded as the property of the dead man, except the reasonable shares of his wife and children. 
If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church. The rights of his debtors are to be preserved. 
No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this. 
No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it. A knight taken or sent on military service shall be excused from castle-guard for the period of this servlce. 
No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent. 
Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner. 
We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the fees concerned. 
All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast. 
The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lords court. 
There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russett, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly. 
In future nothing shall be paid or accepted for the issue of a writ of inquisition of life or limbs. It shall be given gratis, and not refused. 
If a man holds land of the Crown by fee-farm, socage, or burgage, and also holds land of someone else for knights service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other persons fee, by virtue of the fee-farm, socage, or burgage, unless the fee-farm owes knights service. We will not have the guardianship of a mans heir, or of land that he holds of someone else, by reason of any small property that he may hold of the Crown for a service of knives, arrows, or the like. 
In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it. 
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. 
To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice. 
All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too. 
In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision. 
If a man holds lands of any escheat such as the honour of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other escheats in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the relief and service that he would have made to the baron, had the barony been in the barons hand. We will hold the escheat in the same manner as the baron held it. 
People who live outside the forest need not in future appear before the royal justices of the forest in answer to general summonses, unless they are actually involved in proceedings or are sureties for someone who has been seized for a forest offence. 
We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well. 
All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due. 
All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly. 
All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of their enquiry the evil customs are to be abolished completely and irrevocably. But we, or our chief justice if we are not in England, are first to be informed. 
We will at once return all hostages and charters delivered up to us by Englishmen as security for peace or for loyal service. 
We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné, Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers. 
As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms. 
To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgement of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace. In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgement of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full. 
We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first a-orested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in another persons fee, when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a fee held of us for knights service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another persons fee, in which the lord of the fee claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters. 
No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband. 
All fines that have been given to us unjustify and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgement shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five. 
If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of lands, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgement of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them. A dispute on this point shall be determined in the Marches by the judgement of equals. English law shall apply to holdings of land in England, Welsh law to those in Wales, and the law of the Marches to those in the Marches. The Welsh shall treat us and ours in the same way. 
In cases where a Welshman was deprived or dispossessed of anything, without the lawful judgement of his equals, by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. But on our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice according to the laws of Wales and the said regions. 
We will at once return the son of Llywelyn, all Welsh hostages, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace. 
With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of Alexander, king of Scotland, his liberties and his rights, we will treat him in the same way as our other barons of England, unless it appears from the charters that we hold from his father William, formerly king of Scotland, that he should be treated otherwise. This matter shall be resolved by the judgement of his equals in our court. 
All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men. 
SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security: 
The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, 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, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, 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. 
If-one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were. 
In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear. 
The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power. 
We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party. 
We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute. 
We have in addition remitted fully, and for our own part have also pardoned, to all clergy and laymen any offences committed as a result of the said dispute between Easter 1215 AD and the restoration of peace. 

In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf. 

IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fulness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever. 

Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the abovementioned people and many others. 

Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215).

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