Mortmain, Statute of

15 November 1279. This statute determined that no more land could be given to the Church without royal agreement. Donating land had the effect of reducing royal tax revenues and also revenues to the baronage, since ecclesiastical land - held in perpetuity, the Church being an immortal institution - paid no reliefs. The phrase used in the statute was 'the services which are due of such fees . . . are unduly withdrawn'. It was a measure which the king, Edward I, and the barons both agreed upon. The mortmain (dead hand) of the statute's title referred to the Church, which being immortal could not relinquish what it possessed. Indeed, a duty of archbishops and bishops was to preserve and protect the "temporalities of their dioceses. -

Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases. .

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