Council Learned in the Law

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The Council Learned in the Law was a highly controversial tribunal of Henry VII of England's reign.

The brainchild of Sir Reginald Bray, the Council Learned was introduced in 1495 to defend Henry’s position as a feudal landlord.[1] It dealt with the king's fiscal matters and enforced payments of debts. It proved to be much more efficient than the Exchequer. The council was a secondary department to the Star Chamber.

By the end of Henry VII's reign, the Council Learned had become very unpopular, and after his death in 1509, it was abolished. Its most prominent councilors, Edmund Dudley and Sir Richard Empson were imprisoned. They were convicted of treason, even though evidence was scarce, attainted and executed in 1510.

There is much controversy about the Council Learned in the Law because most existing sources date after 1509 when it had been officially condemned. In the Tower, Dudley confessed to having issued harsher penalties than lawful in several cases, a statement which has given the Council a strongly negative connotation.


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