The Statutes of Westminster The Palace of Westminster 1275
Edward I (1239–1307)
We now use the term statute to refer to an act or, as Black’s Legislation Dictionary defines it, “a law passed by a legislative body.” However, as English historians H. G. Richardson and George Sayles demonstrate, that term was not widely used until the late fourteenth century. Enactments were previously referred to as provisions or établissements.
King Edward I convened his first parliament at Westminster in 1275, shortly after returning from the Ninth Crusade and ascending to the throne, and produced the first Statute of Westminster, with fifty-one clauses in Anglo-Norman (Old French) covering a wide range of substantive legal areas as well as the administration of justice. Because it offered common rights to all and free elections, English historian William Stubbs dubbed the act “nearly a code by itself” in 1877. Law historian George Crabb commended Edward I’s work at the time, naming him “the English Justinian.”