Provisors, Statute of

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This statute of 1351 was directed against the practice of "papal provisions," i.e., the appointment of clerics to offices in the English church by the pope. Such appointments, which began to be made on a large scale in the 13th century, were always unpopular since the papal appointees were often absentee foreigners and a petition against them was presented at the Parliament of Carlisle in 1307. Subsequently the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War at a time when a line of French popes was established at Avignon increased English resentment against alien provisors and in the 1340s there were several more parliamentary petitions on the subject. The statute eventually enacted declared that ecclesiastical electors and ecclesiastical patrons in England were to exercise freely their right to elect or to present to church offices. If the Roman Curia attempted to make any provision "in disturbance of the free elections, collations or presentations aforementioned," the right of collation was to fall for that occasion to the king. Any provisor who attempted to disturb the nominee of the king or of an ecclesiastical patron was to be imprisoned until he paid a fine to be fixed at the king's discretion and undertook not to defend his claim by a suit before the Roman Curia. The statute was never systematically enforced. So far as royal rights of presentation were concerned, the development of case law by mid-14th century had provided the king with ample means of enforcing his will without recourse to the statute.

Bibliography: h. gee and w. j. hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History (New York 1896) 112121, statutes of 1351 and 1390. g. barraclough, Papal Provisions (Oxford 1935). f. cheyette, "Kings, Courts, Cures, and Sinecures: The Statute of Provisors and the Common Law," Traditio 19 (1963) 295349.

[b. tierney]