Talk:Star Chamber

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"Court of Star Chamber" should not redirect to "Star Chamber"[edit]

The article says that the Star Chamber "had no connection with the later Court of Star Chamber." Well, Wikipedia has created a connection between the two, because "Court of Star Chamber" redirects to "Star Chamber." I don't know how to fix this improper redirect -- could someone please take care of it? If we get rid of the redirect, I think it's likely that someone will create a separate article for "Court of Star Chamber." Novel compound (talk) 14:08, 28 June 2008 (UTC)


The etymology of the term Star Chamber in this article, having been so-named "because the court chamber had a pattern of stars on a dark blue background painted on its ceiling" is pure urban myth. The correct early spelling was Starr Chamber. Here's a quote from Blackstone:

It is well known that, before the banishment of the Jews under Edward I, 
their contracts and obligations were denominated in our ancient records 
starra or starrs, from a corruption of the Hebrew word, shetar, a covenant.  
(Tovey's Angl. Judaic. 32. Selden. tit. of hon. ii. 34. Uxor Ebraic. i. 14.)  
These starrs, by an ordinance of Richard the first, preserved by Hoveden, 
were commanded to be enrolled and deposited in chests under three keys in 
certain places; one, and the most considerable, of which was in the king's 
exchequer at Westminster: and no starr was allowed to be valid, unless it 
were found in some of the said repositories. (Madox hist. exch. c. vii. §. 
4. 5. 6.) The room at the exchequer, where the chests containing these
starrs were kept, was probably called the starr-chamber; and, when the
Jews were expelled from the kingdom, was applied to the use of the king's
council, when sitting in their judicial capacity. To confirm this; the
first time the star-chamber is mentioned in any record, (Rot. clauf.
41 Edw. III. m. 13.) it is said to have been situated near the receipt
of the exchequer: that the king's council, his chancellor, treasurer,
justices, and other sages, were assembled en la chaumbre des esteilles
pres la resceipt al Westminster. For in process of time, when the
meaning of the Jewish starrs was forgotten, the word star-chamber was
naturally rendered in law-french, la chaumbre des esteilles,
and in law-latin, camera stellata; which continued to be the stile
in latin till the dissolution of that court (264).

--QuicksilverT @ 06:16, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Blackstone popularized that theory, although it seems by no means clear that it is correct. Other historians disagree with Blackstone and, frankly, his argument feels rather contorted, similar to what you expect for an urban legend. The OED etymology favors the stars-on-the-ceiling interpretation, while admitting that there is no proof for it. Citing the spelling "starr" in some older documents is hardly conclusive, since spelling at that time was so slipshod in the first place.

It should, in fact, be noted that the line in Blackstone preceding the passage quoted above is: "I shall venture to propose another conjectured etymology, as plausible perhaps as any of them." I don't think he meant to make a strong historical case for this as much as put the possibility out there. To declare the stars-on-the-ceiling origin to be a myth seems rather too strong, in this case.

- JW, 13 July 2006

I agree with JW, the OED explanation certainly seems to have more verisimilitude. In the absence of better evidence either way, I'd suggest perhaps de-emphasizing or at least re-wording the Starr theory. As it is presently worded it still sounds a bit like a 'debunking' of the more simpler and arguably more plausible decoration theory. 18:26, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
I've rewritten the section entirely, and given substantially more credence to the OED, which explicitly rules out Blackstone's theory and calls the decoration one more plausible. Blackstone also mentions a couple of theories he didn't invent, and I've added those in. Shimgray | talk | 20:40, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I just got into this controversy, because I noted that the quote "crimen stellonatus" should be "crimen stellionatus" (see Blackstone). I have corrected this. I happened to trip over it, because "stellonatus" does not exist. "Stellionatus" does exist, but it is not derived from the word for "star" ("stell-a -ae"; this should give "stellatus"), but from the word for "newt" or "lizard" (stelli-o-onis). So, if the name "star(r) chamber" is derived from "crimen stellionatum", which very well may be the case, for all I know, it does not refer to stars, but to newts in some way. "Stellionatus a stellione quod est lacerta genus quo nullum animal homini invidet fraudulentius" (Pliny, libr. 3, cap. 10). I hope this is helpful :-)--Ereunetes (talk) 00:10, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
I am actually writing a thesis on the jurisdiction and bureaucracy of the Court of Star Chamber and consequently have spent much time perusing the archives at the British Library and the UK National Archives relating to the judicial body. The Hargrave MS 216 from the British Library provides extensive information on the origins and proceedings of the Court written by Star Chamber clerks during the Elizabethan period--namely, William Mill. Even in the 1580s, common law attorneys--particularly Grimstone and Hexte ([1])--protested the authority and jurisdiction of the prerogative court, and Mill set about to authenticate its legacy. Before I provide a transcription of part of his treatise, it should be noted that the spelling during the time period was not codified in any way, so the fact that the Court of Star Chamber has been written "Starr-Chamber/Ster-Chamber/Camera Stellata", etc. makes no difference.

"...that the Court was erected but in 3. H. 7 I doe know this to be an opinion ignorantly received by many but approved by non that hath knowledge of the Court. And that Attourney or Clerke whatsoever that taketh benefit of the service of this Courte and can speake no better for it not that will speake for highly against it I hold him not worthy to tarry in it I assure them it pleaseth not mee to heare that the honourable Antiquity thereof should bee soe defaced by the servants of the same Master Lambert hath lately sett forth his minde Concerning this pointe in question whose discourse I will endeavor to inlarge by such additions as my experience can supply. As it cannot be denyed but that it hath ever beene the Councell Chamber of the king in which Councell all matters of state of what inporance [importance] soever have bene ordinarily handled until the tyme of king Edward the sixth or toward the latter end of king Henry the eight soe hath it ever bin a Court for the hearing and deciding of all matters of misdemeanors whatsoever falling out betweene partie and partie. That it was knowne by the name of Lee Chambre des Estoielles pres le Resceipt in the tyme of Edward the third, the Record it selfe maketh playne mencon [mention]..." ([2])Jekelsoe (talk) 17:50, 2 July 2013 (UTC)JK

Religious Bias[edit]

As it presently stands this article shows a strong bias in favor of the Tudors and against the Stuarts. Much of what Henry the VIII did seems to have been completely written out of it. I suggest that it be re-written with a little more balance. El Jigüe 2-9-06

I completely agree with this statement. kelly, 3-25-06

Agree Sapph

Just out of curiosity, why is there a mention of Henry VIII in the Stuart section? It is jarringly out of place in the prose, even if someone wanted to make the point that the Stuart uses resembled the Tudor ones. Should be reworded or removed I think. 18:26, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Henry VII[edit]

I have made an edit regarding the power of the Star Chamber in Henry VII's reign. I can't figure out how to do footnotes, but here is the reference: S.B. Crimes, Henry VII, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972: p. 99.

ok, i tried to add the reference, but something weird is happening. i added ref tags where appropriate and added the {{subst:Footnotes|100%}} thing at the bottom. on preview it only adds one reference as [1], but after i submitted it, that reference turned to [2] and the text in the references section is repeated. i think it has something to do with the external link near the top, but i couldn't figure it out... -02:33, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Fleeting mention[edit]

The fleeting mention of the censorship of newsbooks in the 1630s is deceptively incomplete, and makes it sound as though that's the only bit of relevant newsbook history that ever ocurred pertaining to this matter. I think it's hardly informative anyway, and suggest that it either be fleshed out into its own subject, or at least linked somehow to the History of Journalism article.

Also, the term "newspaper" is anachronistic for this period. I've replaced it with the correct term, newsbook, instead. --Spudstud 21:43, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Agreed, as it is currently written it is still de-contextualized. Mention of it does seem appropriate in the article, but someone needs to read a monograph or two on the event and give it context. How big an impact this had on the newsbooks, political context, etc. A layperson reading the article would think of a modern ruler outlawing the print media - is such an historical analogy intended or accurate? 18:26, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Starr Chamber[edit]

I have a printed bookelt of a speech given by teh Archibishop of Cnterbury against Bastwick, Burton, and Prinn in 1637. The spelling on its title page is "Starr Chamber."

Do you think that spellings of any English words have changed since 1637? No? You're probably right. Go now to the 17th Century Literature page and correct all the mis-spelled titles.

Page moved to Camera Stellata[edit]

This page was unilaterally moved to Camera Stellata two days ago by User:Amovrvs. No explanation was given. I've moved it back. If anyone thinks the move was correct, please discuss it here. -- Zsero (talk) 01:48, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Joseph McCarthy and Star Chamber Methods[edit]

Joseph McCarthy was famously accused of using star chamber methods to interagate his subjects by congressman George H. Bender. This might be a good example to add. JVandezande (talk) 21:36, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

An example of what? How the term has entered the popular culture? -- Zsero (talk) 22:43, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

“Mistakenly thought”?[edit]

“It was mistakenly thought that in 1487 an act was passed which established a special "Court of Star Chamber" to deal with the nobles;” Thought by whom? -Ahruman (talk) 17:12, 22 April 2008 (UTC)


A definition or citation of the code-word "retaining" would be useful to those of us who are not from the British culture. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:51, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

This article is a mess[edit]

The same information is repeated multiple times, slightly altered. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:56, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Tripadvisor photo[edit]

On 27/07/2012 I received the following email from Trip Advisor re: using this ("><img%20alt="Photos%20of%20Leasowe%20Castle,%20Wallasey"%20src=" Photos of Leasowe Castle, Wallasey) photo from their website:

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In order to respect the brand distribution guidelines, please follow the following instructions when integrating pictures from TripAdvisor on your site/offline material:

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Use in Shakespeare[edit]

The star chamber is mentioned in the first scene of Shakespeare's 1602 play, 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'. Master Robert Shallow: "Sir Hugh, persuade me not; I will make a Star- chamber matter of it...". Should this be included in the main article? Theaternearyou (talk) 03:02, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

See also: Diplock courts???[edit]

What is the connection between the medieval Star Court and the modern-day Diplock Courts? This seems like purely political tampering to imply that the Diplock courts are/were arbitrary and unjust. While that argument could be made, it hardly seems appropriate to do so by inserting an irrelevant link on this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Grey-nimrod (talkcontribs) 01:13, 23 March 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ John Guy, "The Cardinal's Court". p. 3
  2. ^ Hargrave MS 216