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|Subject:||Charter granted by Henry II to Nottingham|
|Original source:||Copy in Nottinghamshire Archives|
|Transcription in:||W.H. Stevenson, ed. Records of the Borough of Nottingham, (London and Nottingham, 1882), vol.1, 2-4.|
Henry, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, officers and all loyal subjects throughout England, French and English, greetings. Know that I have granted, and by this charter confirm, to the burgesses of Nottingham all those free customs which they had in the time of my grandfather, King Henry. Which is to say: tol and theam; infangenetheof; and the collection of tolls as fully as in the borough of Nottingham from Thrumpton as far as Newark, including on all [goods] crossing the Trent, and on the other side of the watercourse beyond Rempston as far as the water of Retford in the north. Moreover, the men of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire ought to come to the borough of Nottingham each Friday and Saturday, with their wagons and packhorses; nor should anyone manufacture dyed cloth within a radius of 10 leagues of Nottingham, except in the borough of Nottingham. If anyone, from whatever place he originates, lives in the borough of Nottingham for a year and a day during a time of peace, without [anyone laying] claim [to him], no-one shall have any lordship over him afterwards except the king. If any burgess buys land in his neighbourhood and has possession of it for an entire year and a day, without claim [to it] by the kin of the vendor (if they are in England), his ownership of it may not afterwards be challenged. Nor shall any burgess be answerable to a charge made by the reeve of the borough of Nottingham, unless there is a plaintiff in the case. Whoever resides in the borough, no matter what fee he is in, ought to contribute with the burgesses to tallages and to making up borough defaults. Also, all those who come to Nottingham marketplace between Friday evening and Saturday evening shall not be subject to distraint, unless for [payment towards] the king's farm. And the right of passage along the Trent should be free to navigation to the width of one perch on either side of midstream. It is my will and firm command that the burgesses shall have and hold the aforesaid customs properly, peacefully, freely, quietly, honorably, fully, and wholly, as they had them in the time of King Henry my grandfather. Witnesses: Richard de Humes constable, William de Braosio, William de Caisneto, William de Lanvallei, Ralph sheriff of Nottingham. [Given] at York.
Henry II was cautious in the amount of liberty he granted to English boroughs, wishing to avoid anything similar to the "revolutionary" communes that had caused political strife on mainland Europe. He did little more than continue a policy begun by Henry I. He was prepared to confirm privileges which some towns claimed to have received from his grandfather, or to grant the same types of privileges to other towns, on condition of an annual payment (farm), but ensured that this was a strictly revocable arrangement. It was not in Henry II's nature to surrender his powers to others. Nonetheless, his reign did see a large number of charters to towns, furthering their ambitions at least a little. When, at the very end of his reign, Henry gave Nottingham into the lordship of his son, John, the latter confirmed the terms of his father's charter, and added new privileges: right to a merchant gild, exemption from toll, fee farm and the associated right to elect a reeve.
A comparison of this document to the contemporary grant to Oxford is useful in indicating how certain liberties were common features of charters, while others were specific to local needs.
"tol and theam"
"men of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire"
"subject to distraint"
|Created: August 18, 2001. Last update: November 15, 2002||© Stephen Alsford, 2001-2003|