The Coronation Oath of Edward II, 1308

The Coronation Oath of King Edward II, 1308

The Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Winchelsea was still in France, since he was ill and had been in dispute with Edward I and the Pope. So the oath was administered by the Bishop of Winchester, assisted by the Bishops of Chichester and Salisbury.

By and large the oath is pretty standard – preserving the laws and customs, the church and administering justice. The rather radical thing was the phrase in bold below – ‘the just laws and customs that the community of your realm shall determine’. Now that’s very new, and sounds like something of a hostage to fortune.

The phrase derives from the Boulogne Declaration by a group of magnates and church leaders that they were loyal to the crown as much as the monarch – itself a new idea. Essentially, the barons wanted no repeat of Edward I’s reign where the king broke promises he had made to reform; and there were already signs that Edward II was not to be trusted.


Sire, will you grant and keep and by your oath confirm to the people of England the laws and customs given to them by the previous just and god-fearing kings, your ancestors, and especially the laws, customs, and liberties granted to the clergy and people by the glorious king, the sainted Edward, your predecessor?

I grant and promise them.

Sire, will you in all your judgments, so far as in you lies, preserve to God and Holy Church, and to the people and clergy, entire peace and concord before God ?”

I will preserve them.

Sire, will you, so far as in you lies, cause justice to be rendered rightly, impartially, and wisely, in compassion and in truth?

I will do so.

Sire, do you grant to be held and observed the just laws and customs that the community of your realm shall determine, and will you, so far as in you lies, defend and strengthen them to the honour of God?

I grant and promise them.

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