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Medieval Sourcebook:
King John of England:
Privileges of the German Merchants, 1214-1215

In A.D. 1213 King John confirmed the privileges of the men of the Emperor, and in 1214 he was at war with France as an ally of Otto IV. In these two writs John took steps to protect the shipping of friendly monarchs while holding that of his enemies. If there was any doubt about these proceedings it was subsequently made clear by clause 41 of Magna Carta. By 1214 it may be said that the King of England felt constrained to heed the protests of the German merchants.

1214. The bailiffs of the port of Southampton are commanded to set at liberty all ships belonging to merchants from the land of the Emperor as well as those of the King of Scotland, and to let them go freely from the port when they have given sufficient security. They are not to change their course so that they go to another place outside their own lands, and they are to take no one with them who does not belong to their company, and who is not in fealty to their lord King; and they are to take no goods except their own. And, just as they were previously commanded, let the bailiffs detain the goods of the men of Flanders until further orders.

1215. The King to William de Wrotham, Archdeacon of Taunton, etc.

We command you to say to Stephen Crabbe who is in custody in your bailiwick, that he must return the chattels he took from merchants of the land of the lord Emperor, our nephew, and from the merchants of Dokkum. And if he is unwilling to return them, then have him put back in our prison where he formerly was, without delay.

Witness, myself at Oxford, on the seventh day of April, by the hand of Pierre des Roches, Bishop of Winchester.


From: J. M. Lappenberg, ed., Urkundliche Geschichte des Hansischen Stahlhofes zu London, (Hamburg, 1851), Part II, p. 9; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), p. 225.

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, October 1998