The Magna Carta Project

Original Latin


Nullus constabularius, vel alius ballivus noster, capiat blada vel alia catalla alicujus, nisi statim inde reddat denarios, aut respectum inde habere possit de voluntate venditoris.


No constable or other bailiff of ours is to take anyone’s corn or other chattels, unless he pays cash for them immediately, or obtains respite of payment with the consent of the seller.

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Commentary for general audience

Clause 28 was one of a group of clauses which were principally concerned with the manning and supplying of royal castles, and with the abuses which these processes might entail.  In this instance, the malpractices complained of were associated with purveyance, the procedure whereby the royal household was entitled to maintain itself by taking goods from the neighbourhoods through which it passed, against a promise of future repayment.  Purveyance gave rise to a great deal of corruption, and was profoundly unpopular, the more so as it increasingly came to be extended to the upkeep of castles as well as to that of the king’s mobile court.  His control of a considerable number of castles was fundamental to the regime of King John, who spent a good deal of money on them.  Their garrisons were usually small, but they were not only occupied by soldiers – those in county towns, in particular, also housed the sheriff and his staff, along with prisoners and hostages.  Consequently they generated a steady demand for supplies, while as the danger of civil war grew in the last years of the reign, garrisons were built up, leading to a greater use of purveyance to maintain them; once the fighting began, the rebels stocked their own castles in the same way.  Through its insistence that officials must pay cash down for whatever they took, Clause 28 was intended to remedy a widely felt grievance, and probably also to limit the number of soldiers the king was able to retain.  But by conceding that payment for goods could be deferred with their owner’s consent, it left the way open for abuses to continue.

Referenced in

Clause 30 (The 1215 Magna Carta)

Clause 30 (The 1215 Magna Carta)

Clause 29 (The 1215 Magna Carta)

Magna Carta 1215
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