Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER EIGHT. - Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction
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CHAPTER EIGHT. - Misc (Magna Carta), Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction 
Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction, by William Sharp McKechnie (Glasgow: Maclehose, 1914).
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Nulla vidua distringatur ad se maritandum dum voluerit vivere sine marito; ita tamen quod securitatem faciat quod se non maritabit sine assensu nostro, si de nobis tenuerit, vel sine assensu domini sui de quo tenuerit, si de alio tenuerit.
No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she prefers to live without a husband; provided always that she gives security not to marry without our consent, if she holds of us, or without the consent of the lord of whom she holds, if she holds of another.
Wealthy widows were glad to escape from John’s clutches by agreeing to buy up the Crown’s rights for a lump sum. In the year of Magna Carta, Margaret, widow of Robert fitz Roger, paid £1000;1 and a few years earlier Petronilla, countess of Leicester, had given 4000 marks.2 The Pipe Rolls mention numerous smaller sums; in 1200, Juliana, widow of John of Kilpec, accounts for 50 marks and a palfrey.3 Horses, dogs, and falcons were frequently given in addition to money fines, and testify eloquently to the greed of the King, the anxiety of the victims, and the extortionate nature of the system. In return, formal charters were obtained, a good example of which is that granted to Alice, countess of Warwick, dated 13th January, 1205,4 containing concessions that she should not be forced to marry; that she should be sole guardian of her sons; that she should have one–third part of her late husband’s lands as her reasonable dower; and that she should be quit from attendance at courts of shire and hundred, and from payment of sheriff’s aids during her widowhood. Another charter, of 20th April, 1206, shows what a widow might expect if she failed to make her bargain with the Crown: John granted to Richard Fleming, an alien as his name implies, the wardship of the lands of the deceased Richard Grenvill, with the rights of marriage of the widow and children.1
Magna Carta, in substituting a rule of law for the provisions of these private charters, repeated at greater length the promises made (and never kept) by Henry I. in his coronation charter: no widow was to be constrained to marry against her will. This liberty must not be used, however, to the prejudice of the Crown: the widow could not marry without the King’s consent. Magna Carta provided that she must find security to this effect, an annoying, but not unfair stipulation. The Crown, in later days, compelled the widow, when having her dower assigned to her in Chancery, to swear not to marry without licence under penalty of a fine of one year’s value of her dower.2
[1 ]See Pipe Roll of 16 John, cited Madox, I. 491.
[2 ]See Pipe Roll of 6 John, cited Madox, I. 488.
[3 ]See Pipe Roll of 6 John, cited Madox, I. 488.
[4 ]New Rymer, I. 91.
[1 ]See New Rymer, I. 92.
[2 ]See Coke, Second Institute, 18.