23. HENRY I: CORONATION CHARTER (1100)
Henry, king of the English, to Samson, bishop [of Worcester], and to
Urse d'Abetot, and to all his barons and faithful men of
Worcestershire, both French and English, greeting.
I. Know that by the mercy of God, and by the common counsel of the
barons of the whole kingdom of England, I have been crowned king of the same
kingdom. And since the kingdom has been oppressed by unjust exactions, I,
through fear of God and through the love that I have for you all, in the first
place make the Holy Church of God free, so that I will neither sell nor put at
farm nor, on the death of an archbishop, bishop, or abbot, take anything from
the demesne of a church, or from its men, until a successor enters upon
it. And I henceforth remove all the bad customs through which the
kingdom of England has been unjustly oppressed; which bad customs I here in
part set down.
2. If any one of my barons, earls, or other men who hold of me dies, his
heir shall not redeem his land as he did in the time of my brother, but he
shall relieve it by a just and legitimate relief. In the same way, furthermore,
the men of my barons shall relieve their lands from their lords by just and
3. And if any one of my barons or other men wishes to give in marriage
his daughter, sister, niece, or [other] female relative, let him talk with me
about the matter; but I will neither take anything from his property for this
permission nor prohibit him from giving her [in marriage], unless he wishes to
wed her to an enemy of mine. And if, on the death of a baron or other man of
mine, a daughter remains as heiress, I will give her [in marriage], together
with her land, by the counsel of my barons. And if, on the death of a husband,
his wife survives and is without children, she shall have her dowry and
marriage portion, and I will not give her to a husband unless it is
in accord with her own wish.
4. If, moreover, the wife survives with children, she shall yet have her
dowry and marriage portion so long as she keeps her body legitimately, and I
will not give her [in marriage] except in accord with her wish. And the
guardian of the land and the children shall be either the widow or another one
of the relatives who more rightly ought to be [in that position]. And I command
that my barons shall conduct themselves in the same way toward the sons or
daughters or wives of their men.
5. The common monetagium, which has been collected
throughout the cities and counties, and which did not exist in the time of King
Edward, I utterly abolish for the future. If [however] any one, whether a
moneyer or some one else, is taken with false money, let justice be done in the
6. I pardon all pleas and debts that were owed to my brother, except my
lawful farms and except those [payments] which were agreed on for the sake of
others' inheritances or of those things that more rightly affected
others. But if any one has pledged anything for the sake of his own
inheritance, that I pardon, as well as all reliefs that have been agreed on for
the sake of rightful inheritances.
7. And if any one of my barons or men becomes infirm, as he himself may
bestow his chattels or provide [by will] for their bestowal, so, I grant, shall
they be bestowed. But if he, prevented by arms or infirmity, has not bestowed
his chattels or provided [by will] for their bestowal, his widow or his
children or his relatives or his liegemen shall divide them for the good of his
soul as may seem to them best.
8. If any one of my barons or men commits an offence, he shall not [be
declared] in mercy [and required to] give a pledge from his
chattels, as he was in the time of my father and my brother; but he
shall pay compensation according to the measure of the offence, as was done
before the time of my father, in the time of my other predecessors. But if he
is convicted of treason or disgraceful crime, let him make amends
as is just.
9. I also pardon all murders [committed] before that day on
which I was crowned king, and those that have been committed afterwards are to
be paid for by just compensation according to the law of King Edward.
10. By the common counsel of my barons, I have kept in my hands the
forests as they were held by my father.
11. To knights who hold their lands by military service (per
loricas) I grant, of my own gift, the lands of their demesne
ploughs quit of all gelds and of all work; so that, inasmuch as
they are thus relieved of a heavy burden, they may the better provide
themselves with arms and horses, to be fit and ready for my service and the
defence of my kingdom.
12. I establish my firm peace throughout the whole kingdom and command
that it be henceforth maintained.
13. I restore to you the law of King Edward, together with those
amendments by which my father, with the counsel of his barons, amended
14. If any one, since the death of my brother William, has taken
anything from my property or from the property of any one else, let him at once
restore it without penalty; but if any one keeps anything [of that sort], he on
whom it may be found shall pay me heavy compensation.
Witnesses: Maurice, bishop of London; William, bishop elect of
Winchester; Gerard, bishop of Hereford; Henry, earl [of Warwick]; Simon, earl
[of Northampton]; Walter Giffard, Robert de Montfort, Roger Bigot, Odo the
Steward, Robert Fitz-Hamon, Robert Malet. At Westminster, when I was crowned.
(Latin) Liebertnann, Gesetse, I, 521 f.
 Sheriff of Worcester. Other forms of address were of course
used for the other counties.
 For examples of this feudal usage and of many others
abolished or restricted in the Coronation Charter, see Henry's own pipe roll
 The marriage portion (maritagium) was the land
conferred on a woman by her father or other relative; the dowry that given her
by her husband. To the former she had an absolute title if she survived her
husband; in the latter she had only a life estate. Cf. no. 27E, G.
 The monetagium, which is obscurely referred to in
Domesday, was an exaction introduced in England by William I. On the continent
it was usually a tax on sales, paid for a term of years on condition that,
during such time, no change in the coinage would be made.
 Presumably payments made to secure lands and perquisites
that had reverted to the crown through escheat or forfeiture. But the clause
might also refer to a sum paid by one man to advance the claim of another. For
examples see Henry's pipe roll.
 This was a promise to abolish the system of amercement, or
arbitrary fine, introduced by the Conqueror, and to revert to the older system
of bot and wite, but it was not kept; see Pollock and Maitland,
II, 513 f. Many examples of amercement will be found in the following
Perfidiae vel sceleris — offences for which
there was no lawful compensation in money; cf. Alfred, 4 (above, p. 10), and
the subsequent dooms.
 See above, p. 36, n. 2.
 See no. 35 and the references there given.
 Cf. no. 22A. If carried out, the reform would have been
equivalent to a heavy reduction of hidage on all baronial manors.
 Cf. no. 18, art. 7.