We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Mortmain?

Niki Acker
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Mortmain refers to the ownership of land by a corporation. It literally means dead hand in French, because land owned by a corporation keeps its status in perpetuity. Mortmain is a historical term that arose during the Middle Ages in England, when it generally referred to land owned by the Catholic Church or one of its religious communities.

The right of the Church to own land had been recognized since the reign of Constantine in the 3rd century, but the situation became unpopular under the feudal system, as it deprived feudal lords from any revenue from the land in question. Under the feudal system, landowners has to pay incidents or taxes whenever the land changed hands, as upon the death of a landowner.

In addition, the lord became the guardian of any underage landholder and held the right to choose who a female heir would marry. If a landowner lost the land, such as by dying without naming an heir or by committing a felony, the property's ownership reverted to the lord. The English crown was the ultimate owner of all land in the country, and therefore the ultimate lord, with other lords acting as mediates between lesser landowners and the Crown.

While the Church's right to own land had been limited in documents including the Magna Carta of 1215 and the 1259 Provisions of Westminster, King Edward I's Statutes of Mortmain more clearly defined the law. Under these statutes, enacted in 1279 and 1290, property could only come under the control of a corporation if the Crown authorized it. The Statutes of Mortmain are an important part of legal history, but laws against mortmain no longer exist in most countries. The rule against perpetuities in modern trust law, which prevents people from granting property to descendents far in the future, is similar to earlier laws against mortmain.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker , Writer
"In addition to her role as a WiseGeek editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "

Discussion Comments

Niki Acker

Niki Acker


"In addition to her role as a WiseGeek editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.