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Medieval Sourcebook:
John, King of England:
Charter of Privileges Granted to Men of Dunwich, 1200

Grants of charters made by King John of England were very common, although the privileges contained therein were not equally wide. The citizens of Dunwich appear to have acquired a very good charter but they did not get the right to trade in the French ports belonging to England. The charter makes reference to a merchant gild already in existence, conceding to it its customary privileges.

John, by the grace of God, etc. Know that we have conceded, and confirmed by this charter, to our citizens of Dunwich, that the borough of Dunwich be our free borough, and have soc and sac and toll and team and infangentheof, and that they be quit of thelony and lestage and passage and pontage and stallage and of leve and of Danegeld and of ewage, of wreck and lagan, and of all other customs throughout all our land, saving the liberties of our citizens of London, and that they pay the lawful and customary ferm at our exchequer by their own hand; and that they make no plea before the shire court or the hundred court except in the presence of our justices; and when they are summoned into the presence of our justices let them send twelve lawful men from their borough to answer for all of them; and if, by chance, they ought to be amerced, let them be amerced by six honest men of their own borough and six honest men from outside their borough.

We have also conceded to them that they may marry their sons and daughters freely wherever they wish throughout our whole land, and widows likewise on the advice of their friends, and that they may give or sell or do as they wish with their possessions in lands and buildings, and whenever they wish. We have also conceded to them a hanse and gild merchant just as they have been accustomed to have. Therefore we wish and firmly command that our said burgesses may have and hold the said liberties and free customs freely, peacefully, and wholly, without hindrance.

Witnesses, etc.


From: William Stubbs & H. W. C. Davis, eds., Select Charters of English Constitutional History, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), p. 308, 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. 208-209.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, September 1998