Omnes mercatores habeant salvum et securum exire de Anglia, et venire in Angliam, et morari et ire per Angliam, tam per terram quam per aquam, ad emendum et vendendum sine omnibus malis toltis, per antiquas et rectas consuetudines, praeterquam in tempore gwerrae, et si sint de terra contra nos gwerrina; et si tales inveniantur in terra nostra in principio gwerrae, attachientur sine dampno corporum et rerum, donec sciatur a nobis vel capitali justiciario nostro quomodo mercatores terrae nostrae tractentur, qui tunc invenientur in terra contra nos gwerrina; et si nostri salvi sint ibi, alii salvi sint in terra nostra.
All merchants are to be safe and secure in departing from and coming to England, and in their residing and movements in England, by both land and water, for buying and selling, without any evil exactions but only paying the ancient and rightful customs, except in time of war and if they come from the land against us in war. And if the latter are found in our land at the outbreak of war, they are to be attached without harm to their bodies and goods, until we or our chief justiciar know how merchants of our own land, who are then found in the land against us in war; are being treated, and if ours are safe there, the others are to be safe in our land.
Clause 41 was a large part of the price demanded by the city ofLondonfor supporting the barons against King John. Since the mid-1190s England’s foreign trade had been exploited by the crown as a source of revenue, through the imposition of a series of new customs duties, which raised a good deal of money, on top of the relatively light duties which were traditionally paid. The movements of foreign merchants, too, had been subjected to constant restriction and interference, dictated by the policy of Richard I, and then John, with regard to their countries of origin. When thecountyofFlanders, for instance, changed sides from being an ally ofEnglandagainst the king ofFranceto supporting the French against the English, its merchants were often discriminated against in English ports. London’s position at the centre of English trade made such policies highly unpopular with its leading citizens, and in 1215 they were able to demand, and obtain, a ban on new customs duties, and permission for merchants from overseas to trade freely withEngland. It was accepted that that freedom might have to be curtailed in wartime, but the action taken against foreign traders inEnglandwould depend on the way English merchants were treated in the countries with whichEnglandwas at war. The clause remained in force after 1215, and no new customs duties of any significance were imposed for another sixty years.
Clause 60 (The 1215 Magna Carta)
The regency government of Peter des Roches (The Itinerary of King John)
Please note: commentaries are presently available only for clauses marked with *; more commentary to be added in due course.