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Statutes of Praemunire

(Lat. praemunir, “to protect, to secure”). The first words of the writ (praemunire facias) used by Edward III in 1353 to protect the rights of the English crown against encroachments by the papacy give the basis for the title. This statute was revised in 1365 and followed in 1393 by the famous Statute of Praemunire, which was primarily aimed against Pope Boniface IX. The expression “praemunire” is now used to describe the statute, the offense against it, or the punishment under it. In essence the three statutes required that clergy were not to take to Rome matters that should be settled in England, and that papal bulls and excommunications were not to be promoted in England. As a result, appeals to the Vatican were diminished. The statute of 1393 was variously used in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by English monarchs to deal with Roman Catholics (e.g., by Henry VIII against Wolsey*). The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 is the last Act which subjects anyone to the penalties of praemunire.

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