Portrait of John Lackland (King John)

The right to free trade under Magna Carta (1215)

Found in: Magna Carta: A Commentary

The signing of the Greater Charter of Liberties (Magna Carta) between King John and his nobles occurred in June 1215. Among the many liberties guaranteed in that document is no. 40 concerning the free movement of merchants:

Free Trade

All merchants shall have safe and secure exit from England, and entry to England, with the right to tarry there and to move about as well by land as by water, for buying and selling by the ancient and right customs, quit from all evil tolls, except (in time of war) such merchants as are of the land at war with us. And if such are found in our land at the beginning of the war, they shall be detained, without injury to their bodies or goods, until information be received by us, or by our chief justiciar, how the merchants of our land found in the land at war with us are treated; and if our men are safe there, the others shall be safe in our land.