Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 7
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    McGerr, Rosemarie 2006. A Statute Book and Lancastrian Mirror for Princes: The Yale Law School Manuscript of theNova statuta Angliae. Textual Cultures: Text, Contexts, Interpretation, Vol. 1, Issue. 2, p. 6.

    Olson, Trisha 2006. The Medieval Blood Sanction and the Divine Beneficence of Pain: 1100-1450. Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 22, Issue. 01, p. 63.

    KESSELRING, K. J. 2005. Mercy and Liberality: The Aftermath of the 1569 Northern Rebellion. History, Vol. 90, Issue. 298, p. 213.

    Meyer-Lee, Robert J. 2004. Laureates and Beggars in Fifteenth-Century English Poetry: The Case of George Ashby. Speculum, Vol. 79, Issue. 3, p. 688.

    Kay Harris, E. 1995. Evidence Against Lancelot and Guinevere in Malory's Morte Darthur: Treason by Imagination. Exemplaria, Vol. 7, Issue. 1, p. 179.

    Cameron, A. 1974. The giving of livery and retaining in Henry VII's reign. Renaissance and Modern Studies, Vol. 18, Issue. 1, p. 17.

    DAVIES, C. S. L. 1969. A NEW LIFE OF HENRY VIII. History, Vol. 54, Issue. 180, p. 31.


I. Attainder and Forfeiture, 1453 To 15091

  • J. R. Lander (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2009

Attainder was the most solemn penalty known to the common law. Attainder for treason was followed not only by the most savage and brutal corporal penalties and the forfeiture of all possessions, but in addition the corruption of blood passing to all direct descendants, in other words, by the legal death of the family. Before proceeding to an examination of the effects of parliamentary acts of attainder in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries it is necessary first of all to define the scope of forfeiture for treason as it affected landed property. Bracton's classic definition of forfeiture had involved for the traitor ‘the loss of all his goods and the perpetual disinheritance of his heirs, so that they may be admitted neither to the paternal nor to the maternal inheritance’. Feudal opinion had always been very much opposed to the stringency of this conception and the Edwardian statute De Donis Conditionalibus, confirmed implicitly by the treason statute of 1352, had protected entailed estates from the scope of forfeiture, thus leaving only the fee simple and the widow's dower within the scope of the law. The wife's own inheritance or any jointure which had been made for her, because they ante-dated her husband's treason, as distinct from her right to dower which did not, were not liable to ultimate forfeiture—though a married woman could claim them only when ‘her time came according to the common law’, that is after the death of her husband when she ceased to be ‘femme couvert’. This equitable principle was confirmed by a statute of the Merciless Parliament of 1388 which, however, included for the first time the rule that lands held to the use of a traitor were also included in the scope of forfeiture. Thus, by 1388, of the lands held by a traitor (as distinct from the wife's inheritance and jointure), only those held in fee tail fell outside the scope of the treason laws. This loophole was closed by Richard II in 1398 when Parliament declared forfeit entailed estates as well as lands held in fee simple and to the use of a traitor, thus reverting with one exception to Bracton's view of forfeiture.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C. D. Ross , ‘ Forfeiture for Treason in the Reign of Richard II’, E.H.R. lxxi (1956), 560–75.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *