Henry I: Charter of Liberties

(1100)

The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, was issued by King Henry I in 1100, shortly after his ascension to the throne of England. The Charter of Liberties was important because it bound the king to laws regarding how nobles and church officials were to be treated. In particular, it specified a number of rights: the right of the church to be exempt from certain forms of taxation; the right of heirs to assume possession of property left to them, without having to pay excessive “relief”; and the right of widows to retain land and their dowries.


Henry I was one of the sons of William the Conqueror—the Norman French king who seized the throne of England after winning the Battle of Hastings in 1066 in what is termed the Norman Conquest. Henry assumed the throne under somewhat shaky circumstances: his predecessor and elder brother, William II, was killed in a hunting accident, but the heir apparent to the throne, Robert, duke of Normandy (another brother),...