De Facto Act

(1495)
   Passed by PARLIAMENT in October 1495, the De Facto Act sought to heal the lingering divisions of the WARS OF THE ROSES by encouraging former adherents of RICHARD III and the house of YORK to support HENRY VII against any current and future Yorkist attempts to retake the throne. The act was designed to reassure those fighting for the king against his rivals that they would suffer no loss of property as a result of their military service. Entitled “An Act that No Person Going with the King to the Wars Shall be Attainted of Treason,” the statute declared that it would be unreasonable and illegal to deprive any subject of his property for serving the person who was “for the time being” king of England. Although service to Richard III had been treated as treason since the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD in 1485—Henry had even dated his reign from the day before Bosworth to more clearly extend the penalties of treason to those who had fought for Richard—the De Facto Act reassured former Yorkists that they would not henceforth suffer forfeiture or ATTAINDER for treason for their past allegiance. The act prohibited loyal military servants of the king from losing life, lands, income, or possessions on account of such service. It did not absolve anyone from providing military service to Henry VII, since he was, “for the time being,” king. However, it did safeguard anyone who served Henry in any of his wars, foreign and domestic, from being convicted of treason should Henry himself be overthrown by a Yorkist pretender, such as Perkin WARBECK, who was threatening the security of the house of TUDOR in 1495. Although the act sought to invalidate any future statutes that might punish a subject for military service to the king, it was generally understood that no Parliament could limit the actions of a future Parliament. The De Facto Act was thus not a proclamation of constitutional principle, but a practical expedient designed to pacify any remaining hostility from the late civil wars and to unite the country around the king who had emerged from those wars.
   See also Yorkist Heirs (after 1485)
   Further Reading: Chrimes, S. B., Henry VII (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1999).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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