The Top 100 Terms to help you Comprehend The Magna Carta (confirmed by Edward I in 1297)

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definitions & notes only words
  1. disafforest
    remove the trees from
    (47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested.
  2. afforest
    establish a forest on previously unforested land
    (53) We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first afforested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in ano
  3. escheat
    a reversion to the state in the absence of legal heirs
    (43) If a man holds lands of any ' escheat' such as the 'honour' of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other 'escheats' in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the 'relief' and service that he would h
  4. socage
    land tenure by agricultural service or payment of rent
    (37) If a man holds land of the Crown by 'fee-farm', ' socage', or 'burgage', and also holds land of someone else for knight's service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other person's 'fee', by virtue of
  5. Crusader
    a warrior who engages in a holy war
    In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgement of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have re
  6. ecclesiastical benefice
    an endowed church office giving income to its holder
    (22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.
  7. distrain
    levy a distress on
    A debtor's sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt.
  8. dispossess
    deprive someone of something, especially property
    (52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgement of his equals, we will at once restore these.
  9. guardianship
    the responsibility of a guardian or keeper
    If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men
  10. holy order
    the sacrament of ordination
    (22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.
  11. Crusade
    any of the more or less continuous military expeditions in the 11th to 13th centuries when Christian powers of Europe tried to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims
    On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.
  12. dispossessed
    physically or spiritually homeless or deprived of security
    (52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgement of his equals, we will at once restore these.
  13. heir
    a person entitled by law to inherit the estate of another
    KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Can
  14. in perpetuity
    for life
    KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury
  15. baron
    a nobleman (in various countries) of varying rank
    JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loya
  16. remit
    send in payment
    (55) All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in
  17. summon
    ask to come
    (14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an 'aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a 'scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by le
  18. freeholder
    the owner of a freehold
    (19) If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume
  19. feudal lord
    a man of rank in the ancient regime
    The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords.
  20. constable
    a law officer with limited authority
    KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury
  21. intestate
    having made no valid will or not disposed of by a legal will
    (27) If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church.
  22. deprive
    take away
    (20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood.
  23. chief justice
    the judge who presides over a supreme court
    We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the
  24. layman
    someone who is not a clergyman or a professional person
    Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.
  25. perpetuity
    the property of being seemingly ceaseless
    KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury
  26. justice
    the quality of being fair, reasonable, or impartial
    JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loya
  27. benefice
    an endowed church office giving income to its holder
    (22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.
  28. husbandry
    the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock
    When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear.
  29. respite
    a pause from doing something
    In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgement of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have
  30. lawsuit
    a comprehensive term for any proceeding in a court of law whereby an individual seeks a legal remedy
    (17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court.
  31. assess
    estimate the nature, quality, ability or significance of
    (22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.
  32. summons
    a request to be present
    To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place.
  33. levy
    impose and collect
    (12) No 'scutage' or 'aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter.
  34. archbishop
    a bishop of highest rank
    JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loya
  35. debt
    the state of owing something, especially money
    (9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt.
  36. transgress
    act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
    If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they sh
  37. presentment
    an accusation of crime made by a grand jury on its own initiative
    (17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court.
  38. revoke
    cancel officially
    We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished.
  39. deprived
    marked by a state of extreme poverty
    (34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.
  40. concession
    the act of yielding
    We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished.
  41. knight
    a person of noble birth trained to arms and chivalry
    That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100s. at most for the entire knight's 'fee', and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of
  42. earl
    a British peer ranking below a marquess and above a viscount
    JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loya
  43. postponement
    the act of delaying something until a future time
    (28) No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this.
  44. gratis
    costing nothing
    It shall be given gratis, and not refused.
  45. inheritance
    hereditary succession to a title or an office or property
    TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

    (2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly
  46. customs
    the government agency that oversees and collects duties on imported goods
    (13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water.
  47. compel
    force somebody to do something
    (8) No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband.
  48. executor
    a person appointed to carry out the terms of the will
    Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man’s will.
  49. bishop
    a senior member of the Christian clergy
    JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loya
  50. discharge
    remove the unbalanced electricity from
    (9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt.
  51. dispute
    the act of coming into conflict
    That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned
  52. felony
    a serious crime, such as murder or arson
    (32) We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the 'fees' concerned.
  53. revenue
    the entire amount of income before any deductions are made
    (4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services.
  54. allay
    lessen the intensity of or calm
    (61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength
  55. feudal
    relating to a system where vassals are protected by lords
    (4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services.
  56. prohibit
    command against
    We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it.
  57. writ
    a legal document issued by a court or judicial officer
    (34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.
  58. mercenary
    a person hired to fight for another country than their own
    (51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms.
  59. realm
    a domain in which something is dominant
    (14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an 'aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a 'scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by le
  60. inquest
    an investigation into the cause of an unexpected death
    (17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court.
  61. impose
    charge and collect payment
    None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.
  62. free will
    power of making choices unconstrained by external agencies
    That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned
  63. King of England
    the sovereign ruler of England
    JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loya
  64. clergy
    the entire class of religious officials
    Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.
  65. exaltation
    the elevation of a person, as to the status of a god
    KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Can
  66. abolish
    do away with
    (48) All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of thei
  67. verdict
    findings of a jury on issues submitted to it for decision
    In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present
  68. reign
    royal authority; the dominion of a monarch
    (47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested.
  69. prudent
    marked by sound judgment
    If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men
  70. procure
    get by special effort
    We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished.
  71. patent
    a document granting an inventor sole rights to an invention
    (26) If at the death of a man who holds a lay 'fee' of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay 'fee' o
  72. kinsman
    a male relative
    (50) We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England.
  73. tenure
    the term during which some position is held
    (46) All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due.
  74. resolve
    find a solution or answer
    In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace.
  75. discord
    lack of agreement or harmony
    (61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength
  76. diminish
    decrease in size, extent, or range
    We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished.
  77. unanimous
    in complete agreement
    In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present
  78. papal
    proceeding from the head of the Roman Catholic Church
    KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury
  79. restoration
    returning something or someone to a satisfactory state
    1215) and the restoration of peace.
  80. allegiance
    the act of binding yourself to a course of action
    (42) In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm.
  81. render
    give or supply
    On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.
  82. diminished
    made to seem smaller or less, especially in worth
    We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished.
  83. steward
    someone who manages property or affairs for someone else
    JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loya
  84. discretion
    power of making choices unconstrained by external agencies
    If one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.
  85. compensation
    the act of making amends for service, loss, or injury
    If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men
  86. proportion
    relation with respect to comparative quantity or magnitude
    (20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood.
  87. ecclesiastical
    of or associated with a church
    (22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.
  88. pardon
    accept an excuse for
    (62) We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute.
  89. undertake
    enter upon an activity or enterprise
    (29) No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it.
  90. guardian
    a person who cares for persons or property
    (4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services.
  91. abroad
    to or in a foreign country
    We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the
  92. majority
    the main part
    (55) All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in
  93. appropriate
    suitable for a particular person, place, or situation
    If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands.
  94. trial
    the act of testing something
    (34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.
  95. Pope
    English poet and satirist (1688-1744)
    That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be
  96. freedom
    the condition of being free
    That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned
  97. cardinal
    a vivid red color
    KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury
  98. resolution
    a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner
    When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.
  99. military
    the armed forces of a nation
    TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

    (2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly
  100. appeal
    earnest or urgent request
    (54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.
Created on November 9, 2011 (updated November 9, 2011)

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