What Are Mortmain Statutes?

For almost all of civilization except for the past century or so, land rather than business ownership was the primary mechanism to acquire economic power (and by extension, the social and political power that can flow from economic power).

In medieval England, the monarchs did not like the idea of people transferring their estates in land to the Catholic Church because such a gift really was a “forever” gift since the lifetime duration of the Catholic Church’s property interest was potentially infinite.

This possibility especially distressed King Edward I, as the baron rebellion that led to the Provisions of Oxford in 1258 meant that he was collecting less income from the noble class and instead began to rely upon death taxes and estate administration to offset this income gap.

In the eyes of King Edward I, the Catholic Church was screwing him over in two grounds. First, it was gaining … Read the rest of this article!