The Magna Carta Project

Original Latin


Nullum scutagium vel auxilium ponatur in regno nostro nisi per commune consilium regni nostri, nisi ad corpus nostrum redimendum, et primogenitum filium nostrum militem faciendum, et ad filiam nostram primogenitam semel maritandam, at ad haec non fiat nisi rationabile auxilium; simili modo fiat de auxiliis de civitate Londoniarum.


No scutage or aid is to be imposed in our kingdom except by the common counsel of our kingdom, unless for the ransoming of our person, and knighting of our first-born son, and for marrying, once, our first-born daughter, and for these only a reasonable aid is to be taken. Aids from the city of London are to be treated in like manner.

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Commentary for general audience

Clause 12 represented a determined attempt by the barons to establish control over two of the most important of King John’s methods of taxation, by insisting that they were only to be taken with their own consent, since they claimed the right to speak for the kingdom at large.  It is arguable that the two levies were too different to be satisfactorily dealt with together.  Aids constituted one form of the assistance which lords were entitled on occasion to demand from their tenants and men, and except in certain circumstances (increasingly limited to those defined in Clause 12) it was increasingly accepted that they should be taken only with the consent of the people concerned.  Scutage, on the other hand, was traditionally taken in commutation of military service as and when the king decided, and was subject to no such constraints.  But John himself failed to make clear distinctions between the taxes he imposed, thereby justifying the barons in doing the same.  Moreover developments in political thinking in the years around 1200, which led to the king placing greater stress on the public good as justification for his demanding a tax, could similarly be used by the barons as grounds for resisting one.  In the end it seems to have been decided that aids and scutage could not be appropriately treated as effectively synonymous, and reissues of Magna Carta from 1217 onwards dealt only with scutage, but the basic principle of Clause 12, that taxation was not to be imposed without consent, survived intact.

Referenced in

The Leges Edwardi Confessoris (Features of the Month)

Magna Carta 1215
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