chapter  4
2.4 Descent into civil war 1259–64
Pages 7

A unique aspect of the Provisions of Oxford, and the actions taken under them, was that they were not solely the product of self-interest, but reflected the interests of the broader free populace. A resolution by the Council of 24 in February 1259, confirmed by a royal proclamation on 28 March, represented an unequivocal assertion by the barons of their duty to the free populace. Existing liberties, embodied in Magna Carta, were to be maintained and existing procedures were to be followed in law suits, but the barons themselves were required to submit to the new processes created by the Provisions. The Provisions of Westminster issued on 13 October 1259 extended the existing common law to cover abuses by the servants of the magnates as well as royal servants,4 and limited the powers of the seignorial courts that still dealt with the majority of civil cases. This marked a further step in the gradual replacement of the various overlapping systems of law by a unified system of royal justice.5