Et civitas Londoniarum habeat omnes antiquas libertates et liberas consuetudines suas, tam per terras, quam per aquas. Praeterea volumus et concedimus quod omnes aliae civitates, et burgi, et villae, et portus, habeant omnes libertates et liberas consuetudines suas.
And the city of London is to have all its ancient liberties and free customs, both on land and water. Moreover we wish and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns and ports are to have all their liberties and free customs.
Clause 60 (The 1215 Magna Carta)
Please note: commentaries are presently available only for clauses marked with *; more commentary to be added in due course.
Magna Carta would not have been granted withoutLondon’s intervention; it was the city’s rejection of King John and its opening of its gates to the rebellious barons which put the latter in a position to impose conditions on the king. Clause 13 was the most important of the concessions whichLondonreceived in return. Although it had been granted charters by Richard I and John, conceding self-government under its mayor, the city often found the rule of the three Angevin kings oppressive, as they exploited its wealth but did their best to restrict its freedom, despite their grants of charters. John’s exactions ultimately drove the Londoners into the arms of his enemies. All overEnglandcities and towns grew in size and prosperity during the twelfth century, a development regarded with suspicion by the crown and the ruling order generally. Clause 13, which was unspecific in what it gave toLondonand other towns, was as important in its acknowledgement that they now constituted a significant factor within the body politic, as it was for the actual concessions it contained.