Provisions of Westminster



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 The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, 'father'), also known as supreme pontiff ( or ), Roman pontiff () or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome (or historically the patriarch of Rome), head of the worldwide Catho ...
against the
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator Romanorum, german: Kaiser der Römer) during the Middle Ages, and also known as the Roman-German Emperor since the early modern period ( la, Imperato ...
, 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. 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 The Provisions of Oxford were constitutional reforms developed during the Oxford Parliament of 1258 to resolve a dispute between King Henry III of England and his barons. The reforms were designed to ensure the king adhered to the rule of law an ...
, which the Provisions of Westminster superseded.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 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 ...
. 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 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 fu ...
, ended in a victory for the King in 1267, although the main turning point occurred in 1265 at the
Battle of Evesham The Battle of Evesham (4 August 1265) 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 th ...
, 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 (Medieval Latin for "Great Charter of Freedoms"), commonly called (also ''Magna Charta''; "Great Charter"), is a royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215. First drafted by th ...
.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,


External links

*England Calling
The Provisions of Oxford (1258) and Westminster (1259)
, (much of) these texts translated into modern English {{Documents of the English Baronial Reform Movement, 1258–1267 1250s in law 1259 in England Barons' Wars Constitutional laws of England Political history of medieval England Henry III of England