Acts Of Early English Gov't

The supporters of King John’s son, led by William Marshal (as protector of the nine year old King Henry III, and as regent of the kingdom) went on to achieve victory over the rebel barons the following year. Both before and after the peace of 1217, he reissued Magna Carta, in which he is a signatory as one of the witnessing barons. Without his prestige, the Angevin dynasty might not have survived the tumultuous reign of John; whereas the French and the rebels would not trust the English king's word, they did trust William’s.

The Pipe Rolls of Henry III show that a considerable amount of building work was done during the 1230s to improve and extend the Castle’s living quarters. After Henry married Eleanor of Provence in 1236, a completely new suite of rooms was added to the Castle to accommodate her and her household. Having reached his majority, Henry III spent much of his reign fighting the barons over the terms of the Magna Carta and the extent of royal rights. He was eventually forced to allow Simon de Montfort to summon the first ever elected "parliament" on 14th December 1264. It first met on 20th January 1265, was dissolved on 15th February 1265 and it established a precedent which monarchs have found impossible to ignore ever since.

Despite defeating and killing de Montfort in August 1265 at the battle of Evesham, Henry III held another Parliament at Marlborough in November 1267, when the Statute of Marlborough was enacted. The Chronicle of Walter of Hemingburgh puts it thus: “And the King held his parliament in the octave of St Martin at Marlborough, where on the advice of discreet persons and by the unanimous voice of his great men he made many statutes for the betterment of his realm and the manifestation of common justice, which are called the Statutes of Marlborough.”

The statute gave rights and privileges to small land-owners and limited the right of the King to take possession of land. This seven-hundred-year-old law states that no-one shall seize his neighbour's goods for alleged wrong without permission of the law courts. The operative law requires that farmers and landowners may not deliberately neglect to upkeep the facilities on their land to the detriment of tenants and workers.  It also requires that attempts to secure recompense for damages may only be legally obtained through the courts: “Also Fermors, during their Terms, shall not make Waste, Sale, nor Exile of House, Woods, Men, nor of any Thing belonging to the Tenements that they have to ferm, without special Licence had by Writing of Covenant, making mention that they may do it; which thing if they do, and thereof be convict, they shall yield full Damage, and shall be punished by Amerciament grievously.”

The statute also confirmed that the king promised to uphold Magna Carta and some of the Provisions of Westminster. The full text of the original document can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/Hen3c23/52/23/paragraph/1   Apart from surviving charters, it is the oldest statute in English law which has not yet been repealed. It still forms the basis of property law in English-speaking countries across the world from New Zealand to Canada and is considered by many people to be more significant in legal and historical terms than Magna Carta.