- Local justice in this period was exercised by a lord. Franchise is sometimes referred to as a 'liberty', as it allowed a lord some immunity from royal officials, such as the *sheriff. For instance, a writ could only be delivered within a franchise, not executed. (The Latin term for this was *retorna) Within his franchise, a lord was possessed of a part of royal power, which permitted him to judge and punish in his manorial court through *sake and soke and *infangen-theof. A town might also be granted various liberties and privileges, which were called a 'franchise', for which considerable sums of money were given to the king. A further use of the term was involved with the *guilds. A guild member who offended his fellow members could ultimately be disenfranchised and thus lose the freedom to pursue his craft or trade. Also *Magna Carta (1225) offers a defence in these words: 'If anyone has been disseised of or kept out of his lands, castles, franchises or his right by us without the legal judgment of his peers, we [the king] will immediately restore them to him.' The Latin term was franchisa. [< OldFr. franche < Lat. francus = free] -
Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases. Christopher Coredon with Ann Williams.