Una mensura vini sit per totum regnum nostrum, et una mensura cervisie, et una mensura bladi, scilicet quarterium Londoniense, et una latitudo pannorum tinctorum et russetorum et halbergettorum, scilicet duae ulnae infra listas; de ponderibus autem sit ut de mensuris.
There is to be one measure of wine throughout our kingdom, and one measure of ale, and one measure of corn, namely the quarter of London, and one breadth of dyed, russet and haberget cloths, that is, two ells within the borders; and let weights be dealt with as with measures.
Successive English kings began trying to impose uniformity of weights and measures in the tenth century, and continued doing so at intervals up to the time of Magna Carta. Henry I decreed that the ell should be the length of his own forearm, Henry II issued ordinances (`assizes’) controlling the sale of corn, wine and bread, Richard I added regulations for the size and sale of cloth, and John attempted to fix the price of wine. Not all these enactments were equally successful – the last two were given up under pressure from merchants who found their terms too restricting – but Clause 35 shows that there was no objection in principle to such enactments. Rather it demonstrates that in some quarters – and especially inLondon, which was probably where a rather vague first draft was reshaped to give it its final form – they were actually welcomed, as likely to make trading less complicated and expensive.
The Copies at Lincoln and Salisbury of the 1215 Magna Carta (Features of the Month)
Please note: commentaries are presently available only for clauses marked with *; more commentary to be added in due course.