Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/501

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institution of the Court of the Star Chamber-a Court of evil repute in later times, but of great value in that day for the correction of irregularities in the administration of justice, caused by the excessive power of local magnates, partial sheriffs, and corrupt juries. The name of this Court was derived from the chamber in which the Privy Council had been accustomed to sit at Westminster, and the Act only delegated to a Committee of that Council powers which had been always exercised, when thought fit, by the Council as a whole. An Act was also passed to make murderers always amenable to prosecution by the Crown, without waiting, as had been usual, a year and a day during which the next of kin might prosecute. The responsibility of coroners and townships was also increased in all cases of slaughter. The King, moreover, with the Pope's assent, imposed some restrictions on the privileges of sanctuaries, especially in cases of treason, and on those of the clergy when convicted of crime.

But faction at home was unhappily reinforced by movements outside the country; for foreign princes joined continually in the game, and Ireland afforded, especially at the commencement of Henry's reign, a basis of operations against England of which these princes were not slow to take advantage. For Ireland had been a stronghold of the Yorkist party, where in past days Richard, Duke of York, proscribed in England, had ruled as the King's lieutenant in defiance of the very authority he professed to represent. It was not a country which a Lancastrian King could hope to reduce very speedily to obedience; and yet we shall see that, notwithstanding the most unpromising commencement, Henry's success in this matter was far beyond expectation.

The first rumour of disturbances after his accession arose out of the escape of Viscount Lovel and the two brothers Stafford from sanctuary at Colchester in the spring of 1486. The leaders, however, still lay hid, and it was not till the beginning of 1487 that some far-reaching plots developed themselves. Lovel fled to Flanders-a hotbed of conspiracy against Henry-and a boy named Lambert Simnel was set up in Ireland, first as a son of Edward IV (the murder of the two young princes in the Tower being held doubtful by some), afterwards as the Earl of Warwick, son of the ill-fated Duke of Clarence, whom Henry, just after his accession, had lodged in the Tower to prevent any rising in his favour. Then John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, who had attended a meeting of the Privy Council at Sheen on February 2, escaped to Flanders also. He was probably the originator of the whole conspiracy; for he was the eldest son of the Duke of Suffolk by Elizabeth, sister of Edward IV, and had been nominated by Richard III as his successor on the throne. His hopes had thus been blighted by Henry's accession; and, having prepared a fleet, he now took counsel in Flanders with his aunt, Margaret, Duchess Dowager of Burgundy (another sister of Edward IV), how to dis-