Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER SIXTY. - Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction
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CHAPTER SIXTY. - 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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Omnes autem istas consuetudines predictas et libertates quas nos concessimus in regno nostro tenendas quantum ad nos pertinet erga nostros, omnes de regno nostro, tam clerici quam laici, observent quantum ad se pertinet erga suos.
Moreover, all these aforesaid customs and liberties, the observance of which we have granted in our kingdom as far as pertains to us towards our men, shall be observed by all of our kingdom, as well clergy as laymen, as far as pertains to them towards their men.
It would have been as impolitic as it was obviously unfair for the barons, in their capacity of mesne lords, to inflict upon their own tenants those very exactions which they compelled the King to abjure as against themselves. Accordingly, the benefit of the “customs and liberties” conceded by John to his feudal tenants was—in a somewhat perfunctory manner, it is true—extended to the feudal tenants of all other magnates, whether cleric or lay. Although the reference to “customs and liberties” was quite general in its terms, it seems natural to infer that feudal grievances were chiefly meant, since the view of society indicated is feudal rather than national.1
These considerations suggest that too liberal a view has sometimes been taken of the scope of this chapter. Coke treated it as affecting not merely freeholders, but the whole mass of the people:—“This is the chief felicity of a kingdom, when good laws are reciprocally of prince and people (as is here undertaken) duly observed.”2 In this view, he has had many followers; and the present chapter has received undue emphasis as supporting a democratic interpretation of Magna Carta.3 It has been referred to as “the only clause which affects the whole body of the people.”4 The better view is that its provisions were confined to feudal sub–tenants.
Even authors who interpret the chapter in this restricted application are still prone to exaggerate its importance. (1) The clause is sometimes regarded as springing directly from the barons’ own initiative: Dr. Stubbs, contrasting it with Henry I.’s Charter of Liberties, holds that it was “adopted by the lords themselves.”5 Such praise is unmerited; the barons inserted it because they had need of allies. (2) On the other hand, credit for the clause, equally unwarranted, has been sometimes bestowed on John. Dr. Robert Henry says that “this article, which was highly reasonable, was probably inserted at the desire of the King.”6
The substance of this chapter appears in the reissues of 1217 and 1225; but its force there is possibly somewhat impaired by the addition of a new clause reserving to archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, templars, hospitallers, earls, barons, and all other persons as well ecclesiastical as secular, all the franchises and free customs they previously had1 —a “saving clause” that might be turned to various uses.
[1 ]Harcourt, Steward, 221, treats this chapter as extending to manorial courts the principles regulating the judicium parium and amercements.
[2 ]Second Institute, 77.
[3 ]Cf. supra, p. 113.
[4 ]Thomson, Magna Carta, 269, and authorities there cited.
[5 ]Const. Hist., I. 570. Cf. supra, p. 117.
[6 ]History of Great Britain, VI. 74 (1823). See also Henshall, History of South Britain, cited Thomson, Magna Carta, 268–9.
[1 ]See c. 46 of 1217.