History GCSE: Star Chamber and the Rack

Lawyer Harry Potter describes the origins of the Star Chamber under Henry VII as a means of bringing to justice powerful nobles without them being able to bribe judges and intimidate juries.

Charles I and his misuse of the Star Chamber to raise taxes and clamp down on political and religious opposition is outlined.

The rack was used to gain confessions.

Bridget Clifford of the Royal Armouries describes how and why the rack was used.

Charles was forced to sign the Star Chamber out of existence in 1641 after he was forced to recall Parliament.

This short film is from the BBC series, The Strange Case of the Law.

Teacher Notes

Students could identify key words while watching this short film.

Why was the Star Chamber a good idea when it was first introduced?

Does the abuse of the Star Chamber under Charles I show why the judiciary should be independent of government?

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching GCSE history and social studies. This topic appears in OCR, AQA, Edexcel, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

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