statute of York

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated


Anenglish lawenacted in 1318 that required the consent of Parliament in all legislative matters.

The Statute of York was an important step toward the development of a constitutional monarchy in England. The law was enacted in the city of York in 1318, at a time when King Edward II was attempting to reassert his control over the kingdom.

Historians generally regard Edward II as an unqualified failure as king. Seven years before the Statute of York, the nobility had forced him to accept the Ordinances of 1311, which required baronial consent for foreign war, restricted the Crown's power to interfere with the judicial system, and required the king to obtain the advice and consent of the barons in Parliament for a long list of officials he wished to appoint.

Edward II regained political strength in 1318 and managed to have the Ordinances repealed. The Statute of York, however, specified that the "consent of the prelates, earls, and barons, and of the community of the realm" was required for legislation. Though some historians believe the statute restored baronial control over English government, many historians see the phrase "community of the realm" as signifying a shift of power to those outside the noble class. In addition, the powers of the king were constrained.

further readings

Haskins, George Lee. 1935. The Statute of York and the Interest of the Commons. Reprint, 1977. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

views updated

York, statute of, 1322. Immediately after the execution of Thomas of Lancaster, Edward II summoned a parliament at York and by this statute (16 Edw. II stat. 1) repealed the Ordinances of 1311 which had limited his authority. It added that matters concerning the king, the realm, and the people should be debated in Parliament with the assent of magnates and the community of the realm. Stubbs argued that this was a powerful affirmation that the Commons must be present at Parliaments, that Edward was using the Commons to balance the power of the magnates, and that the statute ‘embodied in a very remarkable way the spirit of the constitution’. Later historians have been more cautious, pointing out that the statute declared what had been the custom, not a novelty, that ‘the community of the realm’ did not necessarily mean the Commons, and warning against seeing the statute as a great leap forward in parliamentary influence.

J. A. Cannon