This year was a great council held at Cloves-hoo, Ęthelbald king of the Mercians presiding, with Cuthbert archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the bishops sitting with them, to examine all necessary points of religion, and of the creed, delivered to us by the ancient institutes of the holy fathers. And they diligently enquired how matters were ordered here in relation to religion, and particularly as to the creed in the infancy of the Church of England, and in what esteem monasteries then were according to equity.
While we were making this enquiry, and reciting ancient privileges, there came to hand that privilege of the churches and ordinance of the glorious King Wihtred concerning the election and authority of [heads of] monasteries, in the kingdom of Kent; how it is ordered to be confirmed by the command and option of the metropolitan of Canterbury. And the said privilege was read at the direction of King Ethelbald, and all that heard it said there never was any such noble and wise decree so agreeable to ecclesiastical discipline; and therefore they enacted that it should be firmly kept by all.
Therefore I Ęthelbald, king of the Mercians, for the health of my soul and the stability of my kingdom, and out of reverence to the venerable archbishop Cuthbert, confirm it by the subscription of my own munificent hand, that the liberty, honour, authority, and security of the Church of Christ be contradicted by no man; but she, and all the lands belonging to her, be free from all secular services, except [military] expedition, and building of a bridge, or a castle. And we charge, that this be irrefragably and immutably observed by all, as the aforesaid King Wihtred ordained, for him and his.
If any of the kings my successors, or of the bishops or princes, attempt to infringe this wholesome decree, let him give account of it to Almighty God at the tremendous day.
If an earl, priest, deacon, clerk, or monk oppose this constitution, let him be deprived of his degree, and separated from the participation of the body and blood of the Lord, and be far from the kingdom of God, unless he first make amends for his insolence, by agreeable satisfaction; for it is written, 'Whatever ye bind on earth,' &c.