The Provisions of Oxford are presented to King Henry III by Simon de Montfort and his fellow barons in 1258.
The Provisions of Oxford are often regarded as England's first written constitution (although the Magna Carta and earlier law codes such as that of King Ethelbert of Kent are also significant).
Installed in 1258 by a group of barons led by Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, the provisions forced King Henry III of England to accept a new form of government in which power was placed in the hands of a council of twenty-four members, twelve selected by the crown, twelve by the barons. The twenty-four members selected were to pick two more men to oversee all decisions. The selected men were to supervise ministerial appointments, local administration and the custody of royal castles. Parliament, meanwhile, which was to meet three times a year, would monitor the performance of this council.
A written confirmation of the agreement was sent to the sheriffs of all the counties of England in Latin, French and, significantly, in Middle English. The use of the English language was symbolic of the Anglicisation of the government of England and an antidote to the Francization which had taken place in the decades immediately before. The Provisions were the first government documents to be published in English since the Norman Conquest two hundred years before.
from The Battle of Cheesterfield 1266 by Rupert Matthews
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