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Magna Carta


Magna CartaJOHN, 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, steward, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

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.

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.

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 the royal court.

Magna Carta DescriptiionNo 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.  There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn throughout the kingdom. Weights are to be standardised similarly.  

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.   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. 

King John avoided a rebellion when he conceded to his barons and signed the first statement of the common law, the Magna Carta (1215). This “Great Charter of English Liberty” gave us a first step toward the election of representatives, fair hearing of complaints, and some limits on the exercise of governmental power.