Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER FIFTY–TWO. - Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction
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CHAPTER FIFTY–TWO. - 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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Si quis fuerit disseisitus vel elongatus per nos sine legali judicio parium suorum, de terris, castellis, libertatibus, vel jure suo, statim ea ei restituemus; et si contentio super hoc orta fuerit, tunc inde fiat per judicium viginti quinque baronum, de quibus fit mencio inferius in securitate pacis: de omnibus autem illis de quibus aliquis disseisitus fuerit vel elongatus sine legali judicio parium suorum, per Henricum regem patrem nostrum vel per Ricardum regem fratrem nostrum, que in manu nostra habemus, vel que alii tenent que nos oporteat warantizare, respectum habebimus usque ad communem terminum crucesignatorum; exceptis illis de quibus placitum motum fuit vel inquisicio facta per preceptum nostrum, ante suscepcionem crucis nostre: cum autem redierimus de peregrinacione nostra, vel si forte remanserimus a peregrinacione nostra, statim inde plenam justiciam exhibebimus.
If any one has been dispossessed or removed1 by us, without the legal judgment of his peers, from his lands, castles, franchises, or from his right, we will immediately restore them to him; and if a dispute arise over this, then let it be decided by the five–and–twenty barons of whom mention is made below in the clause for securing the peace.2 Moreover, for all those possessions, from which any one has, without the lawful judgment of his peers, been disseised or removed, by our father, King Henry, or by our brother, King Richard, and which we retain in our hand (or which are possessed by others, to whom we are bound to warrant them) we shall have respite until the usual term of crusaders; excepting those things about which a plea has been raised, or an inquest made by our order, before our taking of the cross; but as soon as we return from our expedition (or if perchance we desist from the expedition) we will immediately grant full justice therein.
Chapter 39, in so far as it relates to illegal disseisins, is here supplemented: remedy is provided for everyone dispossessed by the Crown “sine legali judicio parium suorum.” Yet, a distinction is drawn between wrongs inflicted by John himself (where summary methods are to rule) and by his predecessors (where less precipitate procedure must take its course).
The Articles of the Barons had recognized the same distinction, while providing somewhat different treatment. Those disseised by Henry or Richard were to get redress “according to the judgment of their peers in the King’s court”; those disseised by John, “according to the judgment of the twenty–five barons.” Both cases were, in the Articles, qualified by a stipulation which calls for comment. John had taken the crusader’s vow a few months before, and now claimed the usual three years’ “respite” from all legal proceedings. The barons, viewing John’s vow as a notorious perjury, rejected his claim. The Articles referred the question to arbitration. The prelates, whose judicium on this point was declared to be final (“appellatione remota”), and who were bound to give an early decision (“ad certum diem”), might not unreasonably have been suspected of partiality, since “taking the cross” was not a step to be belittled by churchmen. Yet they seem to have acted in a spirit of not unfair compromise, if the clause as it finally appeared in John’s Magna Carta may be taken as giving the substance of their award.
In cases where John himself had been the disseisor, the twenty–five executors might decide forthwith. Respite was allowed, however, in respect of disseisins of Henry and Richard (except where legal proceedings were already pending).1 The Charter says nothing of the procedure at the close of the three years; but there was probably no intention to depart from the terms of the Articles in this respect, namely, “judgment of peers in the King’s court.”
John had good reason to consider as unfair the mode here appointed for deciding disputes as to the other class of disseisins, namely, those effected by him: many delicate points would be referred to the summary decision of a baronial committee, sure to be composed of his most bitter enemies—the very men, perhaps, who claimed to have been dispossessed. If the “judgment of the twenty–five” meant for the barons “the judgment of peers,” it meant for the King the judgment of inferiors and enemies.1
[1 ]The elongatus of the Charter replaces the prolongatus of the Articles.
[2 ]The so–called “executive clause,” the “forma securitatis ad observandum pacem” of the Articles, which became chapter 61.
[1 ]This “benefit of a crusader” was extended to John in three other sets of complaints, specified in c. 53 (q.v.).
[1 ]This chapter embraced not merely estates retained in John’s possession, but also those granted out anew. If the former owner recovered these, the Crown was bound to make good the loss caused by the eviction. The case of Welshmen is specially treated in c. 56 (q.v.).