Provisions of Westminster

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The Provisions of Westminster of 1259 were part of a series of legislative constitutional reforms that arose out of power struggles between Henry III of England and his barons. The King's failed campaigns in France in 1230 and 1242, and his choice of friends and advisers, together with the cost of his failed scheme to make one of his younger sons King of Sicily and help the Pope against the Holy Roman Emperor, led to further disputes with the barons and united opposition in Church and State. Henry's position was not helped by the fact that his lifestyle was extravagant and his tax demands were widely resented. The King's accounts show a list of many charitable donations and payments for building works, including the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey, which began in 1245.

Henry III of England 13th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Henry III, also known as Henry of Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death. The son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême, Henry assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War. Cardinal Guala declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade and Henry's forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. Henry promised to abide by the Great Charter of 1225, which limited royal power and protected the rights of the major barons. His early rule was dominated first by Hubert de Burgh and then Peter des Roches, who re-established royal authority after the war. In 1230, the King attempted to reconquer the provinces of France that had once belonged to his father, but the invasion was a debacle. A revolt led by William Marshal's son, Richard, broke out in 1232, ending in a peace settlement negotiated by the Church.

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Pope leader of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the Bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

The Provisions themselves were an enlarged scheme of governmental reform drawn up by the committee of 24 barons who had been originally appointed under the Provisions of Oxford, which the Provisions of Westminster superseded. The new document largely reinforced many of the provisions of the earlier Provisions of Oxford, but also provided for additional inheritance and taxation reforms, including the first statutory provisions relating to Mortmain.

The Provisions of Oxford were constitutional reforms developed in 1258 to resolve a dispute between the English barons and King Henry III. They asserted the right of the barons to representation in the king's government and, like the earlier Magna Carta, demonstrated the ability of the barons to press their concerns in opposition to the monarchy.

Mortmain is the perpetual, inalienable ownership of real estate by a corporation or legal institution; the term is usually used in the context of its prohibition. Historically, the land owner usually would be the religious office of a church; today, insofar as mortmain prohibitions against perpetual ownership still exist, it refers most often to modern companies and charitable trusts. The term mortmain is derived from Mediaeval Latin mortua manus, literally "dead hand", through Old French morte main..

As a whole the Provisions consisted of a miscellaneous group of administrative and legal measures demanded by the baronial reformers and their allies during the crisis of 1258–1265. The Provisions were also the first English legislation to deliberately alter existing procedures in the King's courts. The measures were also important for expanding the reform movement from the issue of baronial-royal relations to a redefinition of the barons' relations with their tenants and their mutual rights and responsibilities toward one another as enforced in the lords' own courts. In addition, the Provisions of Westminster included proposals for improving the functioning of the royal courts, chiefly new remedies in the civil sphere but also some changes in criminal justice.

Subsequent divisions among the barons themselves enabled Henry to repudiate the Provisions – helped by a papal bull – in 1261. A period of strife begun in 1263, known as the Second Barons' War, ended in a victory for the King in 1267, although the main turning point occurred in 1265 at the Battle of Evesham, where the barons' leader, Simon de Montfort was killed. The clauses of the provisions that limited monarchical authority were then annulled, but the legal clauses of the Provisions of Westminster were reaffirmed in the Statute of Marlborough (1267). The Provisions of Westminster have been described as the most important English legislation since the 1225 reissue of Magna Carta. [1]

Papal bull type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church

A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It is named after the leaden seal (bulla) that was traditionally appended to the end in order to authenticate it.

Second Barons War 1260s civil war in England

The Second Barons' War (1264–1267) was a civil war in England between the forces of a number of barons led by Simon de Montfort against the royalist forces of King Henry III, led initially by the king himself and later by his son, the future King Edward I. The war featured a series of massacres of Jews by Montfort's supporters including his sons Henry and Simon, in attacks aimed at seizing and destroying evidence of Baronial debts. After a rule of just over a year, Montfort was killed by forces loyal to the King in the Battle of Evesham.

The Battle of Evesham was one of the two main battles of 13th century England's Second Barons' War. It marked the defeat of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and the rebellious barons by the future King Edward I, who led the forces of his father, King Henry III. It took place on 4 August 1265, near the town of Evesham, Worcestershire.


  1. Brand, Paul (2006) Kings, barons and justices: the making and enforcement of legislation in thirteenth-century England, Cambridge studies in medieval life and thought: 4th series, 56, Cambridge University Press, ISBN   0-521-02585-0

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