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Statute of Mortmain

The king to his justices of the bench, greeting. Whereas it was formerly enacted that men of religion should not enter upon the fiefs of any persons without the consent and licence of the principal lords from whom those fiefs were immediately held; and whereas since then men of religion have nevertheless entered upon the fiefs of others as well as their own by appropriating them, buying them, and sometimes by receiving them through gifts of other men whereby the services which are owed from fiefs of this sort, and which were originally established for the defence of the kingdom, are wrongfully withheld and the principal lords [are caused to] lose their escheats: [therefore] we, seeking in this connection to provide a suitable remedy for the good of the kingdom, by the counsel of the prelates, earls, and other faithful men of our kingdom who are members of our council, have enacted, established, and ordained that no man of religion or any other whatsoever shall buy or sell lands or tenements, or under colour of donation, lease, or other title of any sort shall receive them from any one, or presume artfully and craftily to appropriate them in any way whatsoever, whereby land and tenements of this sort may somehow come into mortmain under pain of forfeiting the same [lands or tenements].... And so we command you to have the aforesaid statute read in your presence and henceforth strictly held and observed.

By witness of the king, at Westminster, November 25, in the seventh year of our reign.

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