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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 419



would be impossible. I will, however, take the principal measures in the order of time. It is not necessary to recur to the acts of attainder and restoration, which occupy so large a part of the pages of the statute book, further than to remark that, although it was doubtless a piece of legal pettifogging to antedate the beginning of the reign by a day in order to include Richard's supporters at Bosworth under the title of rebels, it can scarcely be said to have been an unreasonable proceeding in the new Conqueror to treat them as such. The large number of forfeitures, and the large sums exacted as fines on restoration, show that scarcely any amount of political guilt was beyond forgiveness, if the repentance were accompanied by a handsome sum down. On the whole, where society was just recovering from a condition in which nothing was certain for two days together, and nearly every household was divided against itself, anything like settled peace was worth paying for, and the people generally justified by acquiescence in fact, however much and rightly they might in words complain of the mercenary policy of the court. Parliament itself acquiesced without complaint. Leaving then these acts out of sight, I \yill mention the most important laws of permanent interest. In the session of 1485 were passed the act of succession, establishing the king's title, an act which allowed the bishops to imprison incontinent clergy without applying to the sheriffs to arrest them, and an act against unlawful hunting. In 1487 the act which foundedthe Court of Star Chamber was passed, as a remedy for the evils of maintenance, the misconduct of sheriffs, and riots and unlawful assemblies/ The court so founded was to consist of the chancellor, treasurer and privy seal, taking to themselves a bishop, a lord temporal, and the two chief justices. This tribunal, which took its name from the Camera Stellata, the chamber in which the council generally sat, subsequently developed into a judicial meeting of councillors and peers


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