The statutes of the Yorkist period, 1461--1485: Their significance and impact on the development of the state

Beverly Ann Dougherty, Fordham University

Abstract

The statutes enacted during the reigns of the Yorkist kings, Edward IV (1461-1483) and Richard III (1483-1485), have had a significant and direct impact on the development of the English state. These laws represent a conscious effort on the part of the king and parliament to deal with their most pressing problems. The statutes state the problems the Yorkists faced and how they proposed to solve them. By these statements, Yorkist society identified its aims, attitudes and long range goals. It is the combination of the three that reveals the impact that the statutes had on the development of the English state. To date, the statutes have received only limited attention and this has left a lacuna in the total historical picture.^ Three main points emerge when the statutes are viewed as a whole body of law. The first point is that the Yorkist statutes were enacted by an established procedure to treat the problems considered significant at that time; most were economic issues. Second, the statutes served an immediate function, that is, to impose order on the economic world and society. The most basic tenet of this order was the concept of quality control: insistence that products be properly produced, labeled, priced and taxed. Quality is the theme that naturally looks to the future as it inherently asks for a stable sales market, regular income for the workers and merchants, and, a regular source of revenue for the king. Another basic tenet was the free use of protectionism to stimulate and assist home industries and workers. The third point is that the statutes strengthened the central government's hand so that administrative and legal abuses received more serious scrutiny. This is another aspect of order but one that requires specialized personnel and methods. All three issues contributed to the development of the English state. ^

Subject Area

Law|Economic history|Medieval history

Recommended Citation

Dougherty, Beverly Ann, "The statutes of the Yorkist period, 1461--1485: Their significance and impact on the development of the state" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9223813.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9223813

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