Changes to the legal system made by Wolsey and Cromwell

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  • Changes to the Legal System by Wolsey and Cromwell
    • Tudor Legal System
      • The Tudor legal system was comprised of a series if national and local courts of law where most cases were heard.
        • There were also 'special' courts of equity, which were used to try cases where there was no legal precedent or where circumstances surrounding the case made it difficult to get a fair hearing in one of the main courts.
          • Examples of these courts were the Star Chamber, Chancery and the King's Council.
            • Under Elizabeth's reign the Star Chamber was used as a convenient court for trying cases of riot and abuses of the judicial system.
          • They had the advantage of being much more flexible than the common law courts.
    • Changes by Wolsey
      • Under Wolsey the role of the Star Chamber expanded considerably.
        • In comparison with the reign of Henry VII where on average 12 cases per year were heard in Star Chamber, under Wolsey this grew to 120 per cases per year.
        • Wolsey used the Star Chamber to prosecute over-powerful members of the nobility and to pursue his campaign against illegal enclosure, but he faced considerable opposition from parliament and the use of the Star Chamber did not outlast his fall.
    • Changes by Cromwell
      • Further changes to the legal system were carried out by Cromwell in the 1530s.
        • 1536- An Act of Parliament abolished franchises
          • These permanent changes helped to enhance royal power because they meant that the monarch now had more control over the more remote areas of England and Wales.
            • This meant that there were fewer opportunities for the nobility to build up power bases where they could rival the Crown.
        • 1536- Parliament passed an Act that brought Wales into line with the English judicial system.
          • These permanent changes helped to enhance royal power because they meant that the monarch now had more control over the more remote areas of England and Wales.
            • This meant that there were fewer opportunities for the nobility to build up power bases where they could rival the Crown.
      • Coupled with the changes to the Marcher Councils, these developments meant that the local and legal power of the Tudor monarchy was more extensive by 1588.

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