Henry I, King of England:
Grant of Tax Liberties to London, 1133
At the time of Henry 1, when London was first emerging as a free city, it obtained
the right to collect and pay its own ferm, thus dispensing with the exactions of the royal
sheriff who had previously enjoyed this right and had profited by it. Sweeping exemptions
were granted both from those taxes which were national in character and those which were
Henry, by the grace of God, King of the English, to the Archbishop of Canterbury,
bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciars, sherids, and all his faithful, French and
English of all England, greeting.
Know ye that I have granted to my citizens of London, i.e., to them and their
heirs from me and my heirs that they shall hold Middlesex at ferm for ,300, so that those citizens may choose any sheriff
they wish from themselves and any judge they wish from themselves to take care of pleas of
my crown and to decide them; and let no other judge be over these men of London. And the
citizens shall not plead outside the walls of the city for any plea; and let them be quit
of scot, of danegeld, and of murdrum; and none of them shall accept trial by battle. And
if any of the citizens be impleaded concerning pleas of the crown, let him prove himself a
man of London by the oath which has been decreed in the city. And let no one take lodging
within the walls of the city, nor shall my vassals or those of another take hospitality by
force. And let all men of London and all their goods both throughout England, and in
harbors, be quit and free of thelony, passage, lastage, and all other customs. And the
churches and barons and citizens shall have and hold well and peacefully their sokes with
all customs so that guests who are lodged in their sokes will give their customs to no one
except to him whose soke it is or to his officer whom he put there. And a man of London
shall not be subject to forfeiture except in his wer, viz., 100 shillings, i.e.,
in the case of a plea which refers to money. And further, let there be no miskenninga in borough court nor in folkmoot, nor in other courts within the city. And the borough
court shall sit once a week, namely on Monday. And I will cause my citizens to have their
lands and pledges and debts within and without the city. And concerning the lands about
which they make claim to me I shall do right to them by the law of the city. And if any
one take thelony or custom from the citizens of London, let the citizens of London
take in their city from that town or manor where thelony or custom was taken, as much as
the man of London gave for thelony, and thus he will have been recompensed for the harm.
And all debtors who owe debts to the citizens shall pay them or prove in London that they
do not owe them. But if they be unwilling to pay and do not come to vindicate themselves,
then the citizens to whom they owe their debts shall distrain within the city goods from
the town, manor, or county in which he who owes the debt dwells. And the citizens shall
have their rights of coursing, just as well and fully as their ancestors held them, namely
in Chiltern, and Middlesex, and Surrey.
Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, (London: Eyre
& Spottiswoode, 1840), p. 497; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A
Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936;
reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 366-368.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
This text is part of the Internet
Medieval Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and
copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright.
Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational
purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No
permission is granted for commercial use.
© Paul Halsall, October 1998