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 Issues | The Church | Statutes of Provisors

Statutes of Provisors 1351, 1353, 1365, 1389


The Statues of Provisors were various laws passed in England in the 14th Century in order limit in part the power of the Papacy. They were part of a process over several centuries by which England sought to free itself from the political rule of the Popes, a process which was brought to full fruition in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I.

The title refers to the ability of the Papacy to make ‘provision’ for vacant benefices and thereby over-riding the rights of the lawful patron.

The 1351 Statute of Provisors stated that ‘the King and other lords shall present unto Benefices of their own, and no the Bishop of Rome’.

The 1353 Statute of Provisors concerned praemunire and made it unlawful to appeal to the Pope in disputes over patronage.

The 1365 Statute of Provisors confirmed the 1353 Statute.

The 1389 (or 1390) Statute of Provisors required that any benefice accepted in contravention of the earlier statutes should be forfeited. Moreover legal action could be taken against anyone, including Bishops and the Papacy, who attempted by other means (such as threatening excommunication) to circumvent the earlier statutes.

These laws did not in fact eradicate the practice of Papal provision which continued until the English Reformation and was revived openly for a time during the reign of Mary.

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