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Medieval Sourcebook: Confirmation of the Charters, 1297

In 1297, Edward needed money. Pope Boniface VIII had just issued Clericos Laicos, forbidding clergy from paying taxes to a secular ruler, and Edward's English vassals refused to provide assistance in his campaigns in Flanders. To acquire money, Edward laid an impost on English wool, and also forced the nobility to grant an aid. The barons armed themselves against Edward, who consequently confirmed the various charters of his predecessors.

1. Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine, to all those that these present letters shall hear or see, greeting. Know ye that we to the honor of God and of holy Church, and to the profit of all our realm, have granted for us and our heirs, that the Great Charter of Liberties and the Charter of the Forest, which were made by common assent of all the realm, in the time of King Henry our father, shall be kept in every point without breach. And we will that these same charters shall be sent under our seal to our justices, both to those of the forest and to the rest, and to all sheriffs of shires, and to all our other officers, and to all our cities throughout the realm, together with our writs in which it shall be contained, that they cause the aforesaid charters to be published, and have it declared to the people that we have granted that they shall be observed in all points, and that our justices, sheriffs, mayors, and other officials which under us have to administer the laws of our land, shall allow the said charters in pleas before them and in judgments in all their points; that is to wit, the Great Charter as the common law and the Charter of the Forest according to the Assize of the Forest, for the relief of our people.

2. And we will that if any judgment be given from henceforth, contrary to the points of the charters aforesaid, by the justices or by any other our ministers that hold plea before them against the points of the charters, it shall be undone and holden for naught.

3. And we will that the same charters shall be sent under our seal to cathedral churches throughout our realm, and there remain, and shall be read before the people twice in the year.

4. And that archbishops and bishops shall pronounce sentences of greater excommunication against all those that by word, deed, or counsel shall go against the foresaid charters, or that in any point break or go against them. And that the said curses be twice a year denounced and published by the prelates aforesaid. And if the same prelates or any of them be remiss in the denunciation of the said sentences, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for the time being, as is fitting, shall reprove them and constrain them to make that denunciation in form aforesaid.

5. And for so much as divers people of our realm are in fear that aids and mises which they have given to us beforetime toward our wars and other businesses, of their own grant and good-will, howsoever they were made, might turn to a bondage to them and their heirs, because they might be at another time found in the rolls, and so likewise the prises taken throughout the realm by our ministers in our name: we have granted for us and our heirs, that we shall never draw such aids, mises, nor prises into a custom for anything that hath been done heretofore or that may be found by roll or in any other manner.

6. Moreover we have granted for us and our heirs, as well to archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, and other folk of holy Church, as also to earls, barons, and to all the community of the land, that for no business from henceforth will we take such manner of aids, mises, nor prises from our realm, but by the common assent of all the realm, and for the common profit thereof, saving the ancient aids and prises due and accustomed.

7. And for so much as the more part of the community of the realm find themselves sore grieved with the maletote on wools, that is to wit, a toll of forty shillings for every sack of wool, and have made petition to us to release the same; we, at their requests, have fully released it, and have granted that we shall never take this nor any other without their common assent and good-will; saving to us and our heirs the custom of wools, skins, and leather granted before by the commonalty aforesaid. In witness of which things we have caused to be made thes our letters patent. Given at Ghent the fifth day of November in the twenty-fifth year of our reign.


translated in Albert Beebe White and Wallce Notestein, eds., Source Problems in English History (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1915).

Other works referred to in preparartion:

Elton, Geoffrey, The English (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992).

Maitland, F. W., The Constitutional History of England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965).

Smith, Lacey Baldwin and Jean Reeder Smith, eds., The Past Speaks: Sources and Problems in English History, vol. 1 (Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1993).

Text prepared by Seth Seyfried of the Univiersty of Utah.

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.

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.

(c)Paul Halsall Feb 1996
[email protected]


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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 6 October 2023 [CV]