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Star Chamber


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An English court of civil and criminal jurisdiction primarily concerned with offences affecting crown interests, noted for its summary and arbitrary procedure. It was long thought to have had its origin in a statute of 1487; in fact, however, since the reign of Edward IV the court of Star Chamber had been developing from the king's council acting in its judicial capacity into a regular court of law. It owed its name to the fact that it commonly sat in a room in the Palace of Westminster that had a ceiling covered with stars. Its judges specialized in cases involving public order, and particularly allegations of riot. Its association with the royal prerogative, and Charles I's manipulation of legislative powers in the making of decrees during the period of his personal rule, made it unpopular in the 17th century and caused its abolition by the Long Parliament in 1641.

Subjects: History


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