Magna Carta of England

Magna Carta means the Great Charter. It was signed by King John of England in 1215 promising the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown. And the Charter was to be implemented through a council of 25 barons. Originally the Charter was prepared by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a compromise between Barons and the King. But the deal did not last long leading to war between King and barons till 1217.. In the meantime Pope the Innocent III annulled the Charter agreement. And King John died in 1216.

And it is very important to note that the King of England was not an English man. He was a French. And the Magna Carta was written in Latin and translated into French language first. And it is also to be noted that till 15 century Courts in England were conducted in French language. And present day English contain 60% of its words from French Language.

Some relevant clauses are placed here under for ready reference.

13. And the city of London is to have all its ancient liberties and free customs, both on land and water. Moreover, we wish and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns and ports are to have all their liberties and free customs.

20. A free man is not to be amerced for a small offence except in proportion to the nature of the offence, and for a great offence he is to be amerced in accordance with its magnitude, saving to him his livelihood, and a merchant in the same manner, saving to him his stock in trade, and a villein is to be amerced in the same manner, saving to him his growing crops, if they fall into our mercy. And none of the aforesaid amercements is to be imposed except by the oath of trustworthy men of the vicinity.

22. No cleric is to be amerced in respect of his free lay tenement, except in the same way as the others aforesaid, and without regard to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.

23. Neither township nor man is to be distrained to make bridges over rivers, except those who should of old and rightfully do so.

24. No sheriff[s], constable[s], coroners or other of our bailiffs are to hold the pleas of our crown.

28. No constable or other bailiff of ours is to take anyone’s corn or other chattels, unless he pays cash for them immediately, or obtains respite of payment with the consent of the seller.

29. No constable is to distrain any knight to give money instead of performing castle-guard, if he is willing to perform that guard in person, or, if he is unable to do it for a satisfactory reason, through another reliable man. And if we have led or sent him in the army, he is to be quit of castle-guard in proportion to the time he is in the army at our behest.

30. No sheriff, or bailiff of ours, or anyone else is to take any free man’s horses or carts for transporting things, except with the free man’s consent.

31. Neither we nor our bailiffs are to take another man’s wood to a castle, or on other business of ours, except with the consent of the person whose wood it is.

38. No bailiff is in future to put anyone to law by his accusation alone, without trustworthy witnesses being brought in for this.

Watch my Videos on YouTube channel


39. No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any other way ruined, nor will we go against him or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

40. We will not sell, or deny, or delay right or justice to anyone.

49. We will immediately surrender all hostages and charters which have been handed over to us by Englishmen as security for peace or loyal service.

51. And immediately after the restoration of peace we will remove from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, serjeants and mercenaries, who have come with horses and arms to the detriment of the kingdom.


54. No man is to be arrested or imprisoned on account of a woman’s appeal for the death of anyone other than her own husband.

55. All fines which have been made with us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all amercements made unjustly and against the law of the land, are to be completely remitted, or dealt with by judgment of the twenty-five barons named below in the security for peace, or by judgment of the greater part of them, together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can attend, and others whom he may wish to convoke to act with him in this. And if he cannot attend, let the business nonetheless proceed without him. On condition, however, that if one or some of the aforesaid twenty-five barons are involved in such a plea, they are to be removed in respect of this judgment, and others chosen and sworn by the rest of the twenty-five to act in their place in this case only.

59. We will deal with Alexander, king of Scots, concerning the return of his sisters and hostages, and his liberties and right, in the same manner in which we deal with our other barons of England, unless it should be otherwise under the charters which we have from his father William, former king of Scots. And this will be by judgment of his peers in our court.

…., that the barons are to choose twenty-five barons of the kingdom, whoever they wish, who should with all their strength observe, hold and cause to be observed the peace and liberties which we have granted them, and by this our present charter confirmed, so that if we, or our justiciar, or our bailiffs, or any of our officers shall in any way offend against anyone, or transgress against any of the articles of peace or security, and the offence has been shown to four of the……. And the aforesaid twenty-five will swear that they will faithfully comply with all the aforesaid, and cause it to be upheld to the best of their ability. And we will seek to obtain nothing from anyone, in our own person or through someone else, whereby any of these grants or liberties may be revoked or diminished, and if any such thing be obtained, let it be void and invalid, and we will never make use of it, in our own person or through someone else.

Wherefore we wish and firmly command that the English church be free, and that the men in our kingdom have and hold all the liberties, rights and grants aforesaid, well and in peace, freely and quietly, for themselves and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and places, in perpetuity, as aforesaid. This has been sworn to both on our behalf and on that of the barons, that all these things named above will be observed in good faith and without evil intent. Witnesses as aforesaid, with many others. Given by our hand in the meadow called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign.

HOWEVER, Only three clauses of Magna Carta still remain on statute in England and Wales.[22] These clauses concern 1) the freedom of the English Church, 2) the “ancient liberties” of the City of London ( clause 9 in the 1297 statute), and 3) a right to due legal process ( clause 29 in the 1297 statute).[22] In detail, these clauses (using the numbering system from the 1297 statute) state that:

I. FIRST, We have granted to God, and by this our present Charter have confirmed, for Us and our Heirs for ever, that the Church of England shall be free, and shall have all her whole Rights and Liberties inviolable. We have granted also, and given to all the Freemen of our Realm, for Us and our Heirs for ever, these Liberties under-written, to have and to hold to them and their Heirs, of Us and our Heirs for ever.

9. THE City of London shall have all the old Liberties and Customs which it hath been used to have. Moreover We will and grant, that all other Cities, Boroughs, Towns, and the Barons of the Five Ports, as with all other Ports, shall have all their Liberties and free Customs.

29. NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.[242][342]