47. RECORDS OF THE BARONIAL CRISIS (1258-66)
(A) Henry III: Letters Agreeing to Reform (1258)
The king to all, etc. You are to know that, through an oath given on our
behalf by Robert Waleran, we have granted to the nobles and
magnates of our kingdom that, by twelve faithful men of our council already
elected and by twelve other faithful men of ours elected on the part of those
nobles, who are to convene at Oxford one month after the feast of Pentecost
next, the state of our kingdom shall be ordered, rectified, and reformed
according to what they shall think best to enact for the honour of God and our
faith and the good of our kingdom. And if, perchance, any of those elected on
our part are absent, those who are present shall be permitted to
substitutothers in place of the absentees; and the same shall be done [with
regard to those elected] on the part of the aforesaid nobles and faithful men
of ours. And whatever is ordained in this matter by the twenty-four elected by
both sides and sworn to the undertaking, or by the majority of them, we will
inviolably observe, wishing and henceforth straitly enjoining that their
ordinance be inviolably observed by all. And whatever security those men, or
the majority of them, may provide for the observance of this matter we will
fully grant and cause to be granted. We also attest that Edward, our first-born
son, through an oath personally taken, has by his letters granted that he will
faithfully and inviolably observe, and will cause ever to be observed, all that
has been expressed and granted above, so far as in him lies. Furthermore, the
said earls and barons have promised that, on the completion of the business
noted above, they will strive in good faith to see that a common aid is
rendered to us by the community of our kingdom. In testimony whereof, etc....
Given at Westminster, May 2.
(Latin) Stubbs, Select Charters, p. 372.
(B) The Provisions of Oxford (1258)
It has been provided that from each county there shall be elected four
discreet and lawful knights who, on every day that the county [court] is held,
shall assemble to hear all complaints touching any wrongs and injuries
inflicted on any persons by sheriffs, bailiffs, or any other men, and to make
the attachments that pertain to the said complaints [for keeping] until the
first arrival of the chief justiciar in those parts: so that they shall take
from the plaintiff adequate pledges for his prosecution [of the case], and from
the defendant for his coming and standing trial before the said justiciar on
his first arrival; and that the four knights aforesaid shall have all the said
complaints enrolled, together with their attachments, in proper order and
sequence — namely, for each hundred separately and by itself — so
that the said justiciar, on his first arrival, can hear and settle the
aforesaid complaints singly from each hundred. And they shall inform the
sheriff that they are summoning all his hundredmen and bailiffs before the said
justiciar on his next arrival, for a day and a place which he will make known
to them: so that every hundredman shall cause all plaintiffs and defendants of
his bailiwick to come in succession, according to what the aforesaid justiciar
shall bring to trial from the aforesaid hundred; also as many men and such men
— both knights and other free and lawful men — as may be required for
best proving the truth of the matter. [This, however, is to be done] in such a
way that all are not troubled at one and the same time; rather let [only] as
many come as can be [used in cases to be] tried and concluded in one day.
Likewise it is provided that no knight of the aforesaid counties, by
virtue of an assurance that he is not to be placed on juries or assizes, shall
be excused by a charter of the lord king or be exempt from [the obligations of]
this provision thus made for the common good of the whole kingdom.
Elected on the part of the lord king: the lord bishop of London; the
lord bishop elect of Winchester; the lord H[enry], son of the king of Germany;
the lord J[ohn], earl de Warenne; the lord Guy de Lusignan; the lord W[illiam]
de Valence; the lord J[ohn], earl of Warwick; the lord John Mansel; Brother
J[ohn] of Darlington; the abbot of Westminster; the lord H[enry] of
Elected on the part of the earls and barons: the lord bishop of
Worcester; the lord Simon, earl of Leicester; the lord Richard, earl of
Gloucester; the lord Humphrey, earl of Hereford; the lord Roger Marshal; the
lord Roger de Mortimer; the lord J[ohn] Fitz-Geoffrey; the lord Hugh le Bigot;
the lord Richard de Gray; the lord W[illiam] Bardulf; the lord P[eter] de
Montfort; the lord Hugh le Despenser. And if it should happen that of necessity
any one of these cannot be present, the rest of them shall elect whom they
please in place of the absentee, namely, another person needful for carrying on
Thus swore the community of England at Oxford....
This is the oath [administered] to the twenty-four....
Thus swore the chief justice of England....
Thus swore the chancellor of England....
This is the oath taken by the wardens of the castles....
These are the men sworn [to be] of the king's council.
The twelve on the king's side have chosen from the twelve on the side of
the community the earl Roger Marshal and Hugh le Bigot. And the party of the
community has chosen from the twelve who are on the side of the king the earl
of Warwick and John Mansel. And these four have power to elect the council of
the king; and when they have made the election, they shall designate those
[elected] to the twenty-four. And that shall hold on which the majority of
these [four] agree.
These are the twelve who have been elected by the barons, on behalf of
the whole community of the land, to consider common needs along with the king's
council at the three annual parliaments....
These are the twenty-four appointed by the community to consider aid for
the king.... And if any one of these cannot or will not be present, those who
are present shall have power to elect another in his place.
Concerning the state of Holy Church: — It should be remembered that
the state of Holy Church is to be amended by the twenty-four chosen to reform
the state of the kingdom of England — at what time and place they think
best, according to the powers that they hold by writ of the king of
Concerning the chief justice: — [It has been decided] furthermore
that a chief justice — or two [chief justices] — shall be appointed;
also what power he shall have; and that he shall be [in office] for only one
year, so that at the end of the year he shall render account of his term before
the king and the royal council and before the man who is to follow him [in
Concerning the treasurer and the exchequer: — The same [has been
decided] with regard to the treasurer; so that he shall render account at the
end of the year. And according to the ordinance of the said twenty-four, other
good men are to be appointed to the exchequer, whither all the issues of the
land are to come, and not elsewhere. And let that be amended which seems in
need of amendment.
Concerning the chancellor: — The same [has been decided] with
regard to the chancellor; so that he shall render account of his term at the
end of the year, and that merely by the king's will he shall seal nothing out
of course, but shall do so by [the advice of] the council that
surrounds the king.
Concerning the power of the justice and of the bailiffs: — The
chief justice has power to redress the misdeeds of all other justices, of
bailiffs, of earls, of barons, and of all other people, according to the
rightful law of the land. And writs are to be pleaded according to the law of
the land in the proper places. And [it has been decided] that the justices
shall accept nothing unless it is a present of bread and wine and like things:
namely, such meat and drink as have been customarily brought for the day to the
tables of the chief men. And this same regulation shall be understood [to hold]
for all the king's councillors and all his bailiffs. And [it has been ordered]
that no bailiff, by virtue of his office or of some plea, shall take any fee,
either by his own hand or in any manner through another person. And if he is
convicted [of so doing], let him be punished; likewise the man who gives [the
fee]. And the king, if it is suitable, shall give [fees] to his justices and to
his people who serve him, so that they shall have no need of taking anything
Concerning the sheriffs: — As sheriffs there shall be appointed
loyal persons, good men who are landholders; so that in each county there shall
be as sheriff a feudal tenant of the same county, who shall well, loyally, and
justly treat the people of the county. And [it is ordered] that he shall take
no fee; that he shall be sheriff for no more than a year in all; that during
the year he shall render his accounts at the exchequer and be responsible for
his term [of office]; that the king, from the royal income, shall make
[allowance] to him in proportion to his receipts, so that he may rightly keep
the county; and that he shall take no fees, neither he nor his bailiffs. And if
they are convicted [of such wrongdoing], let them be punished. It should be
remembered that, with regard to the Jewry and the wardens of the Jewry, such
reforms are to be established as shall carry out the oath in this respect.
Concerning the escheators: — Good escheators are to be appointed.
And [it is ordered] that they shall take nothing from goods of deceased persons
whose lands ought to be in the king's hands; but that, if a debt is owing to
him, the escheators shall have free administration of the goods until they have
carried out the king's wishes — and this according to the provision in the
charter of liberties. Also [it is ordered] that inquiry shall be
made concerning the misdeeds committed there by escheators, and that redress
shall be made for such [wrongs]. Nor shall tallage or anything else be taken,
except as it should be according to the charter of liberties. The charter of
liberties is to be strictly observed.
Concerning the exchange of London: — It should be remembered to
establish reforms touching the exchange of London; also touching the city of
London and all the other cities of the king, which have been brought to shame
and ruin by tallages and other oppressions.
Concerning the household of the king and queen: — It should be
remembered to reform the household of the king and queen.
Concerning the parliaments, as to how many shall be held annually and in
what manner: — It should be remembered that the twenty-four have ordained
that there are to be three parliaments a year: the first on the octave of St.
Michael, the second on the morrow of Candlemas, and the third on the first day
of June, that is to say, three weeks before [the feast of] St. John. To these
three parliaments the chosen councillors of the king shall come, even if they
are not summoned, in order to examine the state of the kingdom and to consider
the common needs of the kingdom and likewise of the king; and by the king's
command [they shall come] also at other times, whenever it is necessary. So too
it should be remembered that the community is to elect twelve good men, who
shall come to the three parliaments and at other times, when there is need and
when the king and his council summon them to consider the affairs of the king
and the kingdom. And [it has been decided] that the community shall hold as
established whatever these twelve shall do — and this is to reduce the
cost to the community. Fifteen are to be named by these four men — that is
to say, by the earl Marshal, the earl of Warwick, Hugh le Bigot, and John
Mansel — who have been elected by the twenty-four to name the aforesaid
fifteen, who are to form the king's council. And they are to be confirmed by
the aforesaid twenty-four, or by the majority of those men. And they shall have
the power of advising the king in good faith concerning the government of the
kingdom and concerning all matters that pertain to the king or the kingdom; and
of amending and redressing everything that they shall consider in need of
amendment or redress. And [they shall have authority] over the chief justice
and over all other people. And if they cannot all be present, that shall be
firm and established which the majority of them shall enact.
These are the names of the principal castles of the king, and of those
who have charge of them....
(Latin and French) Ibid., pp. 378 f.
(C) The Provisions of Westminster (1259)
In the year 1259 from the Incarnation of the Lord, the forty-third of
the reign of King Henry, son of King John, at a meeting of the lord king and
his magnates at Westminster on Michaelmas fortnight, the provisions hereinunder
written, by the common counsel and consent of the said king and his magnates,
were enacted and published by the same king and his magnates in this form:
1. With regard to the performance of suit to the courts of the magnates
and of other lords who have such courts, it is provided and established by
general agreement that no one who is enfeoffed by charter shall henceforth be
distrained to perform suit to his lord's court, unless he is specifically
obliged by the tenor of his charter to perform the suit; with the sole
exception of those whose ancestors were accustomed to perform suit of this
kind, or who themselves [were accustomed so to do], before the first crossing
of the said lord king into Brittany — after the time of which crossing
twenty-nine and a half years had elapsed down to the time that this
constitution was made. And likewise no one enfeoffed without charter since the
time of the Conquest, or by other ancient enfeoffment, shall be distrained to
perform suit of this kind, unless he or his ancestors were accustomed to
perform it before the first crossing of the lord king into Brittany....
4. With regard to the sheriff's tourn, it is provided that,
unless their presence is specially demanded, archbishops, bishops, abbots,
priors, earls, and barons, or other men of religion, or women, shall not of
necessity come thither.... And the tourns shall be held according to the form
of the king's Great Charter, and as they were customarily held in the time of
the kings John and Richard.
5. It is also provided that neither on the eyres of the justices nor in
the [courts of the] counties nor in the courts of barons shall fines henceforth
be taken from anybody for miskenning, or for avoidance of trouble
on that score....
8. Moreover, with regard to charters of exemption and liberty, [to the
effect] that those securing them are not to be put on assizes, juries, or
recognitions, it is provided that, if their oath is so essential that without
it justice cannot be administered ... , they shall be forced to swear, saving
to them their aforesaid liberty and exemption in other respects....
11. Henceforth no one except the lord king and his ministers shall be
permitted, for any cause whatsoever, to levy distraints outside his fief, or on
a royal or a common highway....
16. Hereafter no one but the king shall hold in his court a plea
concerning false judgment rendered in a court of his tenant; for pleas of this
sort especially pertain to the crown and dignity of the king....
18. Without the king's writ, no one may henceforth distrain his free
tenants to respond concerning their free tenements or anything that pertains to
their free tenements. Nor may he cause his free tenants against their will to
take oaths; so that no one may do this without the king's precept....
21. Hereafter itinerant justices shall not amerce vills on their eyres
because particular twelve-year-old persons do not come before sheriffs and
coroners for inquests concerning a man's death or other matters pertaining to
the crown; so long as, nevertheless, enough men come from those vills for
satisfactorily carrying out such inquests.
22. No judgment of murder shall henceforth be rendered
before the justices in a case that is adjudged merely one of accident; but [a
judgment of] murder shall be proper in the case of a man feloniously slain, and
(Latin) Ibid., pp. 390 f.
(D) The Decision of Louis IX (1264)
... In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. By our
[present] decision or ordinance we quash and annul all the aforesaid
provisions, ordinances, statutes, and obligations, however called,
and whatever has followed from them or by occasion of them, especially since it
appears that the supreme pontiff by his letters has proclaimed them quashed and
annulled; ordaining that as well the said king as all the barons and others who
have consented to the present arbitration, and who in any way have bound
themselves to observe the aforesaid [provisions], shall be utterly quit and
absolved of the same. We likewise add that, by virtue or force of the aforesaid
provisions or obligations or ordinances, or of any authority already granted by
the king on that account, no one shall make new statutes or hold or observe
those already made; nor ought any one, through non-observance of the aforesaid
[provisions], to be held the enemy, either principal or otherwise, of any one
else, or for that reason incur any penalty.... We also decree and ordain that
the aforesaid king at his own volition may freely appoint, dismiss, and remove
the chief justice, chancellor, treasurer, counsellors, lesser justices,
sheriffs, and any other officials and ministers of his kingdom and his
household, as he was used and able to do before the time of the provisions
aforesaid. Furthermore, we repeal and quash the statute made to the effect that
the kingdom of England should henceforth be governed by natives and that all
aliens should leave the kingdom, never to return, except those whose residence
the faithful men of the kingdom commonly agreed to, ordaining by our decision
that aliens may safely remain in the said kingdom, and that the king may safely
call to his counsel such aliens and natives as shall seem to him useful and
loyal, just as he was able to do before the time aforesaid. Likewise we declare
and ordain that the said king shall have full power and unrestricted rule
within his kingdom and its appurtenances, and shall in all things and in every
way enjoy such status and such full power as he enjoyed before the time
aforesaid. By the present ordinance, however, we do not wish or intend in any
way to derogate from royal privileges, charters, liberties, establishments, and
praiseworthy customs of the kingdom of England existing before the time of the
Now this our ordinance or decision we have promulgated at Amiens on the
morrow of the blessed Vincent the Martyr, a.d. 1263, in the month of January.
In testimony whereof we have caused our seal to be attached to the present
(Latin) Ibid., pp. 396 f.
(E) The Dictum of Kenilworth (1266)
... I. We declare and provide that the most serene lord prince Henry,
illustrious king of England, shall have, fully receive, and freely exercise his
dominion, authority, and royal power without impediment or contradiction of any
one, whereby, contrary to the approved rights and laws and the long established
customs of the kingdom, the regal dignity might be offended; and that to the
same lord king and to his lawful mandates and precepts full obedience and
humble attention shall be given by all and singular the men of the same
kingdom, both greater and lesser. And all and singular shall through writs seek
justice in the court of the lord king and shall [there] be answerable for
justice, as was accustomed to be done up to the time of the recent
2. Furthermore, we ask the same lord king and reverently urge his piety
that, for doing and rendering justice, he will nominate such men as, seeking
not their own [interests] but those of God and the right, shall justly settle
the affairs of subjects according to the praiseworthy laws and customs of the
kingdom, and shall thereby strengthen with justice and restore the throne of
3. We likewise ask and urge the same lord king fully to guard and
observe the liberties of the Church and the charters of liberties and of the
forest, to keep and hold which he is expressly bound by his own oath.
4. Also the lord king shall provide that grants which up to the present
he has made of his free will, and not under compulsion, shall be observed; and
that he will firmly establish other necessary [measures] determined by his men
and at his own pleasure. And furthermore the English Church shall be fully
restored to its liberties and customs, which it had and rightly held before the
time of such disorders, and shall be permitted to enjoy them
37. All henceforth shall maintain firm peace, and none shall commit
homicide, arson, robbery, or other transgression against the peace. And if any
one does so and is convicted, let him have judgment and law according to the
custom of the kingdom.
38. Likewise all interested persons shall swear on the Holy Gospels
that, on account of the disorders, no one will take private revenge, nor will
he procure or consent or tolerate that private revenge should be taken. And if
any one takes private revenge, let him be punished by the court of the lord
king, and let those who have injured the Church make satisfaction to it.
39. Also, if any one is unwilling to observe this decision, or to
undergo judgment by his peers in the court of the lord king, such persons as
thus declare themselves, and are accordingly disinherited, shall have no right
of recovering their lands. And if any one holding lands of disinherited men
rebels against the decision, he is to have no just claim, by the gift of the
lord king, either to the land or to what is paid for redeeming it. Moreover, if
any person does not consent to this decision, he is to be a public enemy of the
lord king and of his sons and of the community; the people and clergy, in so
far as is permitted by canon law, shall prosecute him as an enemy to the peace
of the Church and of the kingdom....
Given and published in the castle of Kenilworth on the day before the
Kalends of November in the year of grace 1266, the fifty-first year of the
reign of the lord Henry, king of England.
(Latin) Ibid., pp. 407 f.
 In animam nostram; kings very commonly named proxies
to swear for them.
Le commun — a phrase which is shown by the
context to have meant parliament or the baronial party. The oaths, which are
here omitted, add nothing to the information given in the following
 Fifteen men, of whom eleven were of the twenty-four named
 No. 47A, preceding.
 That is to say, nothing but routine documents.
 Art. 26 of Magna Carta, above, p. 119.
 See above, p. 123, n. 45.
 See above, p. 62, no. 10.
 Cf. nos. 40B, 54D.
 The Provisions of Oxford, concerning which the French king
had been called upon to arbitrate the quarrel between Henry III and the
opposing party of the baronage.
 The final settlement of the Barons' War, dictated by a
commission of four bishops, two earls, and six other barons appointed for that
 The omitted articles take up in detail the restoration of
lawful rights, the cancellation of Simon de Montfort's acts, and the
rehabilitation, on various conditions, of those who had been disinherited.