No tenant in chief of the king, nor any officer of his household or of his demesne, shall be excommunicated, nor shall the lands of any of them be put under an interdict, unless application shall first have been made to our lord the king, if he be in the kingdom; or, if he be out of the kingdom, to his justiciary; that he may do right concerning such person, and in such manner as that what shall belong to the king's court shall be there determined, and what shall belong to the ecclesiastical court shall be sent thither that it may there be determined.
One reason assigned for this by the authors of those times, is that the king should not ignorantly be exposed to converse with an excommunicated person. But to prevent that, a bare notice given of it to the king would have been sufficient; whereas the constitution itself declares intention to be, that the king may do right concerning such person. And it not only secures the persons of the king's tenants and officers from excommunication, but also their lands from an interdict without application to him. It appears from a passage in one of Becket's own letters, that he himself understood the sense of it to import, not only that notice ought to be given to the king of the excommunication or interdict; but that his leave must be obtained. In truth it was meant as a check upon the power of the spiritual court, and (as appears from Eadmer) was coeval with the establishment of that court in England. Yet the latter part of it shews, that it did not take from thence all power of inflicting the discipline of the church on scandalous sinners because the held of the king, or served him, as his officers; but only prevented the exercise of that jurisdiction over his tenants and officeres, without a reasonable cause, or in cases not properly cognizable there, but belonging ti his courts of civil or criminal justice. The only fault of this law seems to have been the limitaion of it, in making the privilege of one class of the people, which was right due to all.