"Jure Regalia"

The "jure regalia" refers to a set of prerogatives held by the sovereign.

  On the international scale, some of these rights vested in the Crown in its capacity as owner of the nation's land and resources - of its territorial domain. Some properties, such as the marginal sea, described national borders and were important for maritime defense and international maritime trade. New "properties" could be acquired for the Crown in its sovereign capacity through conquest or discovery. Portions of national territory could be ceded, surrendered or exchanged as part of a treaty between sovereigns.

  On the national level, the feudal Crown had the primary prerogative right to dispose of the nation's land and resources into private use by grant through letters patent or charter. The Crown collected income from grantees through such devises as feudal tenures or quitrents, aids, escheats, forfeitures and royalties. Such titles were "held of" the Crown.

 Originally, wastelands or unoccupied lands (terra nullius) of the nation were often withdrawn from grant and "forested" as private royal game chases. This practice soon extended to "foresting" of occupied and granted areas. Until the barons halted the practice in the Magna Carta and Forest Charter, villages and even entire counties were often included in Royal "foresting."

As the sovereign owner of all lands, the feudal Crown also held primary usufructory rights to all wild animals as an aspect of ownership of the soil (ratione soli or "right of soil.") The Crown asserted a prerogative to sever the right of fishing and hunting from grant of the soil. These rights could then be prohibited to the grantee of the land and retained, or separately granted to a favorite. In this manner, hunting could be strictly regulated.

  On the domestic level, some lands and resources were maintained by the Crown in its capacity as trustee for customary public rights (communi jure;) such as "common piscary" (fishery,) navigable streams as common highways and municipal "commons." Although held in public trust, the right of public fishery associated with navigable rivers was occasionally granted away into private use. For the most part, this practice appears to have ceased with the Magna Carta. [The manorial public grazing "commons" saw its demise through local lords who enclosed common pastures during the hey-day of the wool trade.]

  The Crown also held the prerogative right to grant "public" and "private" privileges through franchise to municipalities, trade groups and individuals.


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