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Encyclopedia > Star Chamber

The Star Chamber (Latin Camera stellata) was an English court of law at the royal Palace of Westminster that sat between 1487 and 1641, when the court itself was abolished. Its primary purpose was to hear political libel and treason cases. Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Unified  -  by Athelstan 967 AD  Area  -  Total 130,395 km²  50,346 sq mi  Population  -  2007 estimate... This article is about courts of law. ... “Houses of Parliament” redirects here. ... Events Richard Fox becomes Bishop of Exeter. ... Events The Long Parliament passes a series of legislation designed to contain Charles Is absolutist tendencies. ... The 16th and 17th century criminal statutes protecting nobility from criticism in England eventually evolved into various categories of political libel (see slander and libel for the modern incarnation of this law). ... Traitor redirects here. ...

In modern usage, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called, metaphorically or poetically, star chambers. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings. The inherent lack of objectivity of any politically motivated charges has led to substantial reforms in English law in most jurisdictions since that time.


Name origins

The court took its name from the "Star Chamber" or "Starred Chamber" which was built in the reign of King Edward II specifically for the meetings of the King's Council, though the origins of the name of the room itself are unclear. Edward II, (25 April 1284 – 21 September? 1327), of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until deposed in January, 1327. ...

The first reference to the chamber[1] is in 1398, as the Sterred chambre; the more common form of the name appears in 1422 as le Sterne-chamere. Both forms recur throughout the fifteenth century, with Sterred Chambre last attested as appearing in the Supremacy of the Crown Act 1534. No clear etymology can be found for the name of the chamber; the most common explanation, dating to the later sixteenth century, is "because at the first all the roofe thereof was decked with images of starres gilted". Whilst there is no documentary evidence that the room was decorated in this manner, it is regarded as the most likely explanation by the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary.[2] The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is generally regarded as the most comprehensive and scholarly dictionary of the English language. ...

An alternative theory, first proposed by Blackstone in 1769, was that it was derived from the English "starr", a term for a contract made between Jews and Christians, and that the chamber was originally used for the deposition of copies of such contracts.[3] The Oxford English Dictionary, however, gives this etymology "no claim to consideration".[2] Other etymological theories mentioned by Blackstone as extant at the time of writing were as a derivation of steoran, "steer", in the sense of "to govern"; from its originally serving as a court to punish the crimen stellonatus (cosenage); or because the room in which it originally sat was full of windows.[3] William Blackstone as illustrated in his Commentaries on the Laws of England. ...


The Court evolved from meetings of the King's Council, with its roots going back to the medieval period. Despite popular belief, the so-called "Star Chamber Act" of King Henry VII's second Parliament (1487) did not actually empower the Star Chamber, but rather created a separate tribunal distinct from the King's general Council.[4] A monarch (see sovereignty) is a type of ruler or head of state. ... Henry VII (January 28, 1457 – April 21, 1509), King of England, Lord of Ireland (August 22, 1485 – April 21, 1509), was the founder and first patriarch of the Tudor dynasty. ...

Initially well regarded because of its speed and flexibility, it was made up of Privy Counsellors, as well as common-law judges, and supplemented the activities of the common-law and equity courts in both civil and criminal matters. In a sense, the court was a supervisory body, overseeing the operations of lower courts, though its members could hear cases by direct appeal as well. The court was set up to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against prominent people, those so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict them of their crimes. Her Majestys Most Honourable Privy Council is a body of advisors to the British Sovereign. ...

Star Chamber sessions were closed to the public. King Henry VII used the power of Star Chamber to break the power of the landed gentry which had been such a cause of problems in the Wars of the Roses. When local courts were often clogged or mismanaged, the Court of Star Chamber became a site of remittance for common people against the excesses of the nobility. Henry VII (January 28, 1457 – April 21, 1509), King of England, Lord of Ireland (August 22, 1485 – April 21, 1509), was the founder and first patriarch of the Tudor dynasty. ... Lancaster York For other uses, see Wars of the Roses (disambiguation). ...

Under the leadership of Cardinal Wolsey (the Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor) and Thomas Cranmer (the Archbishop of Canterbury) (1515-1529), the Court of Star Chamber became a political weapon for bringing actions against opponents to the policies of King Henry VIII, his Ministers and his Parliament. Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, (c. ... Arms of the Archbishop of York The Archbishop of York, Primate of England, is the metropolitan bishop of the Province of York, and is the junior of the two archbishops of the Church of England, after the Archbishop of Canterbury. ... The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor and prior to the Union the Chancellor of England and the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom, and its predecessor states. ... Thomas Cranmer (July 2, 1489 – March 21, 1556) was the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of the English kings Henry VIII and Edward VI. He is credited with writing and compiling the first two Books of Common Prayer which established the basic structure of Anglican liturgy for centuries and... The Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader and senior clergyman of the Church of England, recognized by convention as the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. ... 1515 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Events April 22 - Treaty of Saragossa divides the eastern hemisphere between Spain and Portugal, stipulating that the dividing line should lie 297. ... Henry VIII (28 June 1491 - 28 January 1547) was King of England and Lord of Ireland, later King of Ireland, from 22 April 1509 until his death. ... A minister or a secretary is a politician who heads a government ministry or department (e. ... English parliament in front of the king c. ...

Although it was initially a court of appeal, King Henry, Wolsey and Cranmer encouraged plaintiffs to bring their cases directly to the Star Chamber, bypassing the lower courts entirely. A plaintiff, also known as a claimant or complainer, is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court. ...

The Court was used extensively to control Wales, after the Acts of Union of 1538-43. The Tudor era gentry in Wales turned to the Chamber to evict Welsh landowners and protect themselves, and in general protect the English advantages of the Acts of Union. This article is about the country. ...

Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. Evidence was presented in writing.

Under the Stuarts

The power of the Court of Star Chamber grew considerably under the House of Stuart, and by the time of King Charles I, it had become synonymous with misuse and abuse of power by the King and his circle. King James I and his son Charles used the court to examine cases of sedition, which meant that the court could be used to suppress opposition to royal policies. It came to be used to try nobles too powerful to be brought to trial in the lower court, including the actions of King Henry VIII. This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. ... James Stuart (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scots as James VI, and King of England and King of Ireland as James I. He ruled in Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567, when he was only one year old. ...

King Charles I used the Court of Star Chamber as Parliamentary substitute during the eleven years of Personal Rule, when he ruled without a Parliament. King Charles made extensive use of the Court of Star Chamber to prosecute dissenters, including the Puritans who fled to New England. The Personal Rule refers to the period from 1629 to 1640, when King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland ruled without recourse to Parliament. ... The Puritans were members of a group of radical Protestants which developed in England after the Reformation. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ...

On 17 October 1632, the Court of Star Chamber banned all "news books" because of complaints from Spanish and Austrian diplomats that coverage of the Thirty Years' War in England was unfair. As a result, newsbooks pertaining to this matter were often printed in Amsterdam and then smuggled into the country, until the ban was lifted six years later. October 17 is the 290th day of the year (291st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... See also: 1632 (novel) Events February 22 - Galileos Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is published July 23 - 300 colonists for New France depart Dieppe November 8 - Wladyslaw IV Waza elected king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after Zygmunt III Waza death November 16 - Battle of Lützen... This page is about negotiations; for the board game, see Diplomacy (game). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Nickname: Motto: Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig (Valiant, Determined, Compassionate) Location of Amsterdam Coordinates: Country Netherlands Province North Holland Government  - Mayor Job Cohen (PvdA)  - Aldermen Lodewijk Asscher Hennah Buyne Carolien Gehrels Tjeerd Herrema Maarten van Poelgeest Marijke Vos  - Secretary Erik Gerritsen Area [1][2]  - City 219 km²  (84. ...

Abolition and aftermath

In 1641, the Long Parliament, led by John Pym and inflamed by the severe treatment of John Lilburne, as well as that of other religious dissenters such as William Prynne, Alexander Leighton, John Bastwick and Henry Burton, abolished the Star Chamber with an Act of Parliament. The Chamber itself stood until demolished in 1806, when its materials were salvaged. The door now hangs in the nearby Westminster School. Events The Long Parliament passes a series of legislation designed to contain Charles Is absolutist tendencies. ... The Long Parliament is the name of the English Parliament called by Charles I, in 1640, following the Bishops Wars. ... John Pym (1584 – December 8, 1643) was an English parliamentarian, leader of the Long Parliament and a prominent critic of James I and then Charles I. Pym was born in Brymore, Somerset, into minor nobility. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... William Prynne (1600 - October 24, 1669) was a Puritan opponent of the church policy of Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud. ... Alexander Leighton (born 1587 Scotland, died either 1644 or 1649) was a Scottish medical doctor and puritan preacher and pamphleteer, who is best known for his 1630 pamphlet that attacked the Anglican church, and led to his torture by King Charles I. // Leighton was born in 1587. ... John Bastwick was born in Essex in 1593. ... The Habeas Corpus Act 1640 is an Act of the Parliament of England (16 Cha I. c. ... The Royal College of large men at Westminster (almost always known as Westminster School) is one of Britains top boys independent schools and one of the nine British public schools, as set out in the Public Schools Act 1868. ...

The excesses of the Star Chamber under King Charles I, including the case of John Lilburne, constituted one of the rallying cries for those who eventually executed King Charles.

In the early 1900s, American poet, biographer and dramatist Edgar Lee Masters, 1868-1950, commented: // Public flight demonstration of an airplane by Alberto Santos-Dumont in Paris, November 12, 1906. ... The poor poet A poet is a person who writes poetry. ... A dramatist is an author of dramatic compositions, usually plays. ... Edgar Lee Masters (August 23, 1868 - March 5, 1950) was an American poet, biographer and dramatist. ... 1868 (MDCCCLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a leap year starting on Friday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... Year 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

"In the Star Chamber the council could inflict any punishment short of death, and frequently sentenced objects of its wrath to the pillory, to whipping and to the cutting off of ears. ... With each embarrassment to arbitrary power the Star Chamber became emboldened to undertake further usurpation. ... The Star Chamber finally summoned juries before it for verdicts disagreeable to the government, and fined and imprisoned them. It spread terrorism among those who were called to do constitutional acts. It imposed ruinous fines. It became the chief defense of Charles against assaults upon those usurpations which cost him his life. . . ."

It has been suggested that Pranger be merged into this article or section. ... The term whipping has multiple meanings. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Disfigurement. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Terrorist redirects here. ...

Star Chamber in Popular Culture

In Neal Stephenson's historical novel Quicksilver one of the book's chief figures--debatedly a protagonist--Puritan Daniel Waterhouse appears before a reconstituted Star Chamber tribunal. Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson is the first volume of his series The Baroque Cycle. ...

In the 1983 movie, The Star Chamber, Michael Douglas, playing an idealistic judge of the L.A. Superior Court who is frustrated about having to free criminals because the police bent the law a bit to get the evidence, learns from his mentor about a secret cabal of judges–a Star Chamber–that metes out its own brand of justice against those it feels have wrongly been set free. The Star Chamber is a 1983 crime drama film written by Roderick Taylor and directed by Peter Hyams. ...


  1. ^ Or, rather, the first reference in the OED. Blackstone mentions a reference in a document of 41 Edw. III - 1367 - but does not quote it
  2. ^ a b "Star-chamber, starred chamber"; Oxford English Dictionary, second edition. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  3. ^ a b Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book Four, Chapter Nineteen. Online text
  4. ^ S.B. Crimes, Henry VII, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972: p. 99.

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Star Chamber - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (780 words)
The Star Chamber was an English court of law at the royal Palace of Westminster that began sessions in 1487 and ended them in 1641 when the court itself was abolished.
The power of the Court of Star Chamber grew considerably under the House of Stuart, and by the time of Charles I of England it had become synonomous with misuse and abuse of power by the king and his circle.
The Star Chamber was finally abolished in 1641 by the Long Parliament inflamed by the severe treatment of John Lilburne.
AllRefer.com - Star Chamber (British And Irish History) - Encyclopedia (385 words)
Star Chamber, ancient meeting place of the king of England's councilors in the palace of Westminster in London, so called because of stars painted on the ceiling.
The court of the Star Chamber developed from the judicial proceedings traditionally carried out by the king and his council, and was entirely separate from the common-law courts of the day.
The court remained active through the reigns of James I and Charles I. The traditional hostility between equity and common law was aggravated by the use made of the Star Chamber by the Stuarts as a vehicle for exercising the royal prerogative, particularly over church matters, in defiance of Parliament.
  More results at FactBites »



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