Praemunire, Statute of

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A statute of 1353 that forbadeon pain of outlawry, confiscation of goods, and imprisonment at the king's pleasureall appeals to authorities outside England in cases cognizable before the royal courts. Ever since the 12th century, both secular and ecclesiastical judges in England had claimed jurisdiction over cases involving advowsons; and although the Statute of Praemunire did not specifically mention the papal Curia, its purpose was to prevent appeals to Rome in cases concerning English benefices. It was thus closely related to the preceding Statute of provisors. Subsequent statutes of 1365 and 1393 explicitly forbade appeals to Rome, but none of these 14th-century acts was regularly enforced. They became of great importance in the 16th century when henry viii invoked the medieval legislation, first to bring about the downfall of Thomas wolsey in 1529, and then to coerce the whole English clergy in 1531. Subsequent legislation extended the penalties of Praemunire to a wide variety of offenses, mostly political ones. The last such statute was the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.

Bibliography: Sources. h. gee and w. j. hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History (New York 1896) 103104 (1353 statute), 122125 (1393 statute). Literature. j. t. ellis, Anti-Papal Legislation in Medieval England, 10661377 (Washington 1930). e. b. graves, "The Legal Significance of the Statute of Praemunire of 1353," Anniversary Essays in Mediaeval History, by Students of Charles Homer Haskins (Boston 1929) 5780.

[b. tierney]