Star Chamber Matters

Edited by K. J. Kesselring and Natalie Mears
30 September 2021
245 × 163 mm
232 pp
Formats:
Hardback: 978-1-912702-89-3
PDF: 978-1-912702-90-9

An extraordinary court with late medieval roots in the activities of the king’s council, Star Chamber came into its own over the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, before being abolished in 1641 by members of parliament for what they deemed egregious abuses of royal power. Before its demise, the court heard a wide range of disputes in cases framed as marriage, fraud, libel, riot, and more. In so doing, it produced records of a sort that make its archive invaluable to many researchers today for insights into both the ordinary and extraordinary.

The chapters gathered here explore what we can learn about the history of an age through both the practices of its courts and the disputes of the people who came before them. With Star Chamber, we view a court that came of age in an era of social, legal, religious, and political transformation, and one that left an exceptional wealth of documentation that will repay further study.

1. Introduction: Star Chamber matters
K. J. Kesselring with Natalie Mears

2. The records of the court of Star Chamber at the National Archives and elsewhere
Daniel Gosling

 3. Reading ravishment: gender and ‘will’ power in early Tudor Star Chamber, 1500–50
Deborah Youngs

 4. Sir Edward Coke and the Star Chamber: the prosecution of rapes at Snargate, 1598–1602
Louis A. Knafla

 5. ‘By reason of her sex and widowhood’: an early modern Welsh gentlewoman in the court of Star Chamber
Sadie Jarrett

 6. Consent and coercion, force and fraud: marriages in Star Chamber
K. J. Kesselring

7. Labourers, legal aid and the limits of popular legalism in Star Chamber
Hillary Taylor

 8. Jacobean Star Chamber records and the performance of provincial libel
Clare Egan

 9. A marine insurance fraud in the Star Chamber
Emily Kadens

 10. Star Chamber and the bullion trade, 1618–20
Simon Healy

 11. Contemporary knowledge of the Star Chamber and the court’s abolition
Ian Williams