Copy of a Letter, [ allegedly ] written under the King’s authority, to restrain the Benefices of the Romans within the Realm, AD 1231

In consequence of sundry griefs and oppressions which this realm, as you know, hath sustained by the Romanists, and yet doth as well to the prejudice of the king himself, as also of the nobility of the same, concerning the advowsons of their churches, and about their tithes: who also go about to take from the clerks and spiritual men their benefices, and to bestow them upon their own nation and countrymen, to the spoil and confusion both of us and our realm: we, therefore, by our common consents, have thought good (although very late) now, rather than any longer to suffer their intolerable oppressions and extortions, to resist and withstand the same; and, by the taking from them their benefices through all England, in like manner to cut short and bridle them, as they had thought to have kept under and bridled others; whereby they may desist any longer to molest the realm. Wherefore, we straitly charge and command you, as touching the farming of their churches or else the rents belonging to them, which either you have presently in your hands, or else do owe unto the said Romanists, that, from henceforth, you be no more accountable to them, or pay to them from henceforth the same; but that you have the said your rents and revenues ready by March 3rd, to pay and deliver unto our procurators thereunto by our letters assigned; and that all abbots and priors have the same in readiness at the time appointed, in their own monasteries: and that allother priests, clerks, and laymen, at the churches of the Romanists, be there ready to pay. And further, know ye for certainty, that if ye refuse thus to do, all that you have besides shall be by us burned and spoiled. And besides, look, what danger we purpose shall fall upon them, the same shall light upon your necks, if you refuse thus to do.                                                          Farewell.

Mortmain, Praemunire, Provisor.

Modern definition of Benefice.

A view of benefices in 1374.