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Provisions of Oxford

Provisions of Oxford, 1258, a scheme of governmental reform forced upon Henry III of England by his barons. In 1258 a group of barons, angered by the king's Sicilian adventure and the expenditures it entailed, compelled Henry to accept the appointment of a committee of 24 nobles, half of whom were to be chosen by the king, for the purpose of drafting a scheme of constitutional reform. Under the leadership of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, the plan was drawn up at Oxford in June, 1258. It provided for a council of 15 members to advise the king and to meet three times a year to consult with representatives of the realm. Committees were chosen by an involved electoral system to keep check upon the various branches of the government. Local administrative reforms were instituted and an effort made to limit the taxing power of the king. The committee of 24 completed their work the following year by drawing up an enlarged version of the Provisions of Oxford known as the Provisions of Westminster. The new document provided for additional inheritance and taxation reforms. Divisions among the barons themselves enabled Henry to repudiate the provisions, with papal sanction, in 1261. There followed a period of strife known as the Barons' War (1263–67), which terminated in a victory for the king. The clauses of the provisions that limited monarchical authority were then annulled, but the legal clauses of the Provisions of Westminster were reaffirmed in the Statute of Marlborough (1267).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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