MEDIEVAL CITY CHARTERS. The idea of creating charters giving cities freedom from heavy regulation goes back to medieval times. I looked back at 1215: THE YEAR OF MAGNA CARTA by Danny Danziger and John Gillingham. They quote from the language of King John’s charter which founded Liverpool in 1207, including: “Know that we have granted to all who take up burgages [plots of land] at Liverpool that they shall have all the liberties and free customs in the town of Liverpool as enjoyed by any other free borough on the seacoast of our land.” Among the liberties of burgesses of a free borough like Liverpool were the freedom to sell or transfer their burgages, the freedom from having to perform labor services and the freedom from having toll at the borough’s weekly market or at other markets owned by the same lord. Between 1180 and 1230 there were 57 new towns founded in England, including Leeds, Portsmouth and Salisbury. ( I posted here on Chris Weisfelder’s description of the celebration in Halmstad, Sweden of the 700th anniversary of the Danish king’s grant to it of the rights of a city).

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