St. Bartholomew-the-Great: Charter of Henry I, 1133

Mr. William Barnard's translation taken from Webb's Records, v I, pg. 60ff. My comments in [], and following the text.

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I am by no means familiar with Anglo-Saxon and Norman legal terms, so it's quite possible that I've gotten some of the definitions and interpretations in this discussion completely wrong. Please email me with comments or corrections or questions, and I'll do my best to get things sorted out!

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In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, Henry, King of the English to W(illiam) Archbishop of Canterbury, and to G(ilbert) Bishop of London and to all Bishops and Abbots and Earls and Barons and Sheriffs and to all his faithful French and English subjects and to his Citizens of London sends greeting:

(1) Know ye that for the love of God, and for ransom from my sins, and for the salvation of the souls of my father and mother and my kindred, I most steadfastly affirm and grant and ordain, and by my royal power I confirm that the church of Saint Bartholomew London, which is the demesne chapel that Rahere my faithful clerk has founded for the use of Regular Canons; and my canons therein serving God shall be free from every subjection and earthly service and power so that as any church in the whole of England is amply free this church also shall be free as my demesne chapel and all lands to the same church belonging which the prior or canons of that place now hold or which they shall reasonably be able to acquire whether by purchase or by gift.

(2) And all their goods and their men shall be quit throughout my whole land as regards all things which they buy and sell in markets and fairs and in all passing of roads or bridges, from toll, from temy toll and travelling toll, from pontage and pavage, from wharfage, lastage and stallage, from providing straw and from pannage and from every custom on land and in sea ports, from shire courts and hundred courts, from suits of shires, from paying scot and from wapentake courts, from paying monies for forfeitures and robberies, from taxes and danegelds, from paying scutage and hidage, from woodland tax and assizes, from wastes and forest imposts, from all forest pleas, from pursuing murderers, from working on castles, walls, moats, bridges and causeways, from pounds or impounding any goods, from making fishponds, from cart tax or packhorse tax, or for conveying any goods by land or by water, from giving aid to sheriffs and their servants, from ward and wardpenny, from haverpenny and from hundred-penny, from guildpenny, from hengwite and ferdwite, from bloodwite and fietwite, from leergwite, from mudbriche and miskenning, from scewinge and fridsocken and weregeltheof, from wardenwite and childwite, from utlepe and forfang and witfange, from horseservice and drillings, from taxes for going to war, or in the repairing of bridges or forts, or in the taking of thieves, from keeping watches and from every secular service, and from servile exaction and labour; from all secular pleas and plaints and customs and molestations, and from all other earthly service.

And they shall have soc and sac and thol and theam and infangtheof and outfangtheof and flemenfred and the cognisance of hamesucken and gridbriche and of breach of the peace, and fighting done within the house, and breaking into house or court, and of the shedding of blood and all assaults and obstructions, and of all forfeitures made within their own jurisdiction, on the highway and off, in the city and without, in the feast and not at the feast, and of all laws and customs in wood, and in plain, in meadows and pastures, in waters and mills, in roads and in paths, in pools and fishponds, in marshes and fisheries, in granges and plantations, in all the lands and places which belong to the said church or ever hereafter shall belong.

And of all forfeitures of their own men or of others which shall happen in their lands and fees, all the pleas and fines shall belong to my said canons in like manner as they would have been mine if I were holding the same land and fees in my own hands.

Now this church with all things belonging to it, know ye that I have taken into my own hand, protection and defence against all men, as being my demesne chapel; and that I will it to be free from every earthly authority and service, like my crown. [Webb notes: The Anglo-Saxon kings made grants in similar terms. King Alfred and Guthred granted that the lands of Durham should be held with the same sovereign power as that by which the demesne of the crown was held.] I grant also to be released to the lands which have been given to the same church, or which any person shall hereafter reasonably give, all customs and demands of royal and episcopal officers; and all things which unto the same place belong shall be entirely free, their cells, churches, burying-grounds, lands, pastures, woods, warrens, waters, fisheries, with due rents and services, from offerings, lights, tithes, tax, morthilds, laws, customs, debatings of causes and of customs, corrections whether ecclesiastical or secular, so that none shall presume by any molestation to make reduction of diminishing of these.

And to conclude the whole matter, let none of the kings to come after me, either by force or by prescription, demand provisions out of their possessions, but they shall have for ever every kind of franchise. I forbid, moreover, by my royal authority that any man or officer of mine or any other in all my land be troublesome to the aforesaid church of St. Bartholomew in any matters that belong thereto; or intrude upon its goods or possessions without the consent of the prior and canons. I confirm, moreover, all the privileges and gifts, and the charters which the church now has or which it shall obtain from kings, from popes or from any of the faithful. And whatsoever can be remembered or proved by writings, or by the witness of good men, to have been duly granted to the same church or acquired by it, no man may presume to diminish or nullify by any molestation, false charge, judgment or strong hand.

I grant also my assured peace to persons coming to the fair which is wont at the feast of St. Bartholomew to be held in that place, and to persons thence returning. And I ordain that none of the royal or bishop's officers shall implead them, or without the consent of the prior and canons, in that space of three days, to wit on the eve of the feast, on the day itself, and on the following day, shall exact dues from those coming thither either without the city or within, in the passing over ways or bridges; but all things which flow from the right to fairs shall belong to the said church and the canons.

After the death of the prior of that place let another who is worthy be elected out of the same community, but no person from elsewhere unless one cannot be found there worthy to occupy so great an office. But if that shall happen, which God forbid, let them have uncontrolled power to elect from some other well-known and kindred place a fit person as prior. Of the clerks or lay-brothers of that place let none presume to usurp the lordship, or interfere with their lands, men or chattels except by the will of the whole convent.

The possessions also which have been given, or shall be given to the same church, let it be lawful to no person alien to the said church to give to outsiders, or to sell or to reduce to ordinary tenure without the consent of the chapter. But under the guardianship of kings let the place be defended and protected, together with all things that belong thereto. And let the prior himself, being servant to the king alone, abundantly foster the flock committed to him with spiritual and temporal provision. But if any shall in any wise presume contrary to this my royal privilege, or shall attach the prior or the canons, the clerks or the laymen of the place, he and all of his and all that he has shall be amenable to our royal right.

Now I have granted all these things to the said church of St. Bartholomew, and to Rahere my faithful clerk, and to his successors for ever, for the love of God and the salvation of me and my heirs and for the souls of my father and my mother and of William the King my brother and of all my ancestors. I adjure therefore all my heirs and successors in the name of the Holy Trinity that they maintain and defend this church with all things belonging to it with their royal power, and grant and confirm the franchises granted to it.

And the Witnesses of this my grant are:

Henry Bishop of Winchester

Henry of Blois, younger brother of King Stephen [nephew and successor of Henry I, in place of Henry's preferred heir, his daughter the Empress Matilda]

Roger Bishop of Salisbury

Called Roger the Great, chancellor to King Henry. He gave St. Sepulchre's to Rahere.

Bernard Bishop of St. David's

The queen's chancellor and chaplain.

Geoffrey the Chancellor

The king's chancellor [simultaneously with Roger? Webb is unclear]

Stephen Earl of Mortaigne

Two years later King Stephen.

William de Albini the Breton

Justiciary, ob 1156

Alberic de Vere

Aubrey the son of Albericus, founder of the family of de Vere, Earls of Oxford. He was Great Chamberlain to the king; ob 1141.

Richard de Basset     

Justiciary of all England under Henry I; ob. circa 1144

Milo of Gloucester

Miles, Earl of Hereford; ob 1143

Peganus [or Pain] FitzJohn

Judge; ob 1137 - The name Peganus or Pain is related to the root word for Pagan. The name survives in the modern English village of Painswick.

Robert de Curcy

Founded a convent of Benedictine nuns at Canyngton, Somerset.

Hugh Bigod

First Earl of Norfolk; ob 1176 or 1177

And many other Barons of my Realm.

Now I have ordered this my Charter to be made and confirmed and to be certified by my Seal of my Royal majesty at Westminster in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord the 1133rd and of my Reign the 33rd.

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