Statutes of Mortmain
The Statutes of Mortmain were two enactments, in 1279 and 1290, by King Edward I of England aimed at preserving the kingdom's revenues by preventing land from passing into the possession of the Church. Possession of property by a corporation such as the church was known as mortmain. Mortmain literally means ""the dead hand."" In Medieval England, feudal estates generated taxes (in the form of incidents) upon the inheritance or granting of the estate. If an estate was owned by a religious corporation that never died, attained majority, or became attainted for treason, these taxes were never paid. The Statutes of Mortmain were meant to re-establish the prohibition against donating land to the Church for purposes of avoiding feudal services which had been hinted at in the Magna Carta in 1215 and specifically defined in the Great Charter of 1217. John of England died shortly after the Magna Carta was signed. Henry III of England, the son of John, did not enforce these proscriptions. He showed great deference to the Church. His son, Edward I of England, was interested in re-establishing the precedent set in the Magna Carta and the Great Charter of 1217. The Statutes of Mortmain provided that no estate should be granted to a corporation without royal assent. The problem of Church lands persisted with the practice of cestui que use. It was finally brought to a close when Henry VIII of England disbanded the monasteries and confiscated Church lands.