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Statute of Quia Emptores, 1290


Quia emptores allowed the purchase and sale of land, a practice already well established. In doing so it tacitly admitted that any personal relationship between lord and land holder was no longer basic to land tenure (if it ever had been). Although in recent years Medieval historians had rejected the construct of "feudalism" as the basic organizational structure of society, Quia emptores does mark a turning point. Above all it shows the ever increasing importance of money and the monetization of social transactions.

CONCERNING THE BUYING AND SELLING OF LAND

Forasmuch as purchasers of lands and tenements of the fees of magnates and others, have many times previously entered into their fees to the prejudice of the same (lords), since to them (the purchasers) the free tenants of these same magnates and others have sold their lands and tenements to be held in fee for themselves and their heirs from the subinfeudators and not from the lords in chief of the fees, whereby the same lords in chief have often lost the escheats, marriages and wardships of lands and tenements belonging to their fees, which thing indeed seemed very hard and extreme to the magnates and other lords, and moreover, in this case, manifest disinheritance; the lord king in his parliament at Westminster after Easter in the 18th year of his reign, viz., in the Quinzime of St. John the Baptist, at the instance of his magnates, did grant, provide and decree that henceforth it shall be lawful for any free man to sell at will his lands or tenements or a part of them; in such manner, however, that the infeudated person shall hold that land or tenement from the same lord in chief and by the same services and customs by which his infeudator previously held them. And if he shall have sold to anyone any part of those his lands or tenements, the infeudated person shall hold that (part) directly of the lord in chief, and shall straightway be charged with as much service as pertains or ought to pertain to that lord for that parcel, according to the quantity of the land or tenement sold; and so in this case there shall fall away from the lord in chief that part of the service which is to be performed by the hand of the infeudator, from the time when the infeudated person ought to be attendant and answerable to that same lord in chief, according to the quantity of the land or tenement sold, for that parcel of service thus due. And it must be known that by the said sales or purchases of lands or tenements, or any part of them, those lands or tenements in part or in whole, may not come into mortmain, by art or by wile, contrary to the statute recently issued on this point. And it is to be known that that statute concerning lands sold holds good only for those holding in fee simple, etc. and that it extends to future time; and it shall begin to take effect at the feast of St. Andrew next coming.

From Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), 149-150


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall June 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu