Stars in their eyes

27 comments

Back in 1642, a Dutch artist by the name of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, now generally known as Rembrandt, completed his painting ‘The Night Watch’. A few years later, he created an etching of a night-time scene called ‘The Star of the Kings’, an etching he created to celebrate Epiphany.

In England, and back in 1641, another ‘Star of the Kings’ ceased to exist, however this was no piece of art. It was part of the Palace of Westminster, a sinister and foreboding court known as the Star Chamber. A court where the accused had to testify against themselves, where there were no juries, no witnesses and no right to appeal. The subjective justice imposed by the Court of the Star Chamber was swift.

The Star Chamber, or Sterred Chambre as it was first referred to in 1398, was built during the reign of King Edward II, so between 7 July 1307 – 25 January 1327, specifically for meetings of the King’s Council. Over time its role changed to become more powerful. In 1632, the Court of the Star Chamber even banned the publication of all new books; a ban that lasted for six years. 

The chamber was so named because of its ceiling. Vivid blue with golden stars painted all across it, apparently for the benefit of the accused who could stand in the chamber, look up the ceiling and ponder their place in the Universe.

The Star Chamber served sixteen monarchs, until an Act of Parliament abolished it in 1641. After its abolition, the chamber remained empty and unused. Eventually, it was demolished in the early Nineteenth Century, but parts of it remain to this day, with a door now hanging at a school in London, and the ceiling itself now hanging proudly in Leasowe Castle, in Wirral, Cheshire. Cheshire, of all places…

In 1889, some 83 years after the Star Chamber was demolished another Dutch artist, who was partly influenced by Rembrandt, completed his painting ‘The Starry Night’. This artist was Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh’s interpretation of the stars above is so different to what we expect to see, yet the painting, like The Night Watch, is so full of movement it really is incredible to see.

I doubt that those waiting to be dealt with in the Star Chamber, if they looked up at the ceiling above them, would have seen movement in those stars. They may have had, however, an epiphany all of their own when they actually realised where they were standing; and the stars above bore witness to their fate. Each and every one…

Sideview’s Weekend Theme this week is ‘Starry Night’, which instantly made me think of the Star Chamber, but during my research for this post I accidentally (or coincidentally!) stumbled across a post written by my blogging friend Kate Shrewsday called Star Chamber early in 2011, fourteen days after my birthday to be exact! Thanks Kate for allowing me to continue with this post, by the way!

27 comments on “Stars in their eyes”

  1. Tom what a wonderful enlightening historical post you have given us here… while I am familiar with the paintings I didnt know the history behind them.. A mind field of Knowledge.. thank you for sharing Tom..
    Sue 🙂

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    1. Hi Sue, I love delving back into the mists of time to see what I can come up with – especially around the early Seventeenth Century, but any time in history really – and, as you say, there really is an abundance of information available!
      I don’t think the paintings are in anyway linked to the Star Chamber; well, they are now through this post! Hope you’ve had a good weekend, Sue!

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  2. fascinating indeed.
    The poor wretches in the star chamber probably did see the stars swim and waver as they mostly realised what their fate was likely to be

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  3. This has a very good edge to it, and the history
    is something that should attract a lot of comments
    on this posting, thank you for adding such a
    wealth of information on this one Tom and do
    have an excellent Tuesday my great friend 🙂 🙂

    Androgoth

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    1. BTW that traffic
      feed has the wrong info…
      Location-wise anyway
      but still it is a nice APP 🙂

      Have fun today Tom 🙂

      Androgoth

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      1. I noticed that Andro!
        I’ve been all over the UK this week according to that app! I’m in Fleet in Hampshire tonight… not bad for not stepping outside of the door!
        I’m trying a few different things on the blog, and I’ll see how they work for a few weeks. I may just keep this one to see if it gets my location right!!!

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        1. I think that these apps add a nice look to your
          Space and at least the traffic feed gets the country of origin correct so that is interesting knowing where everyone is calling from 🙂

          Androgoth

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    2. Thanks, Andro… I’m trying to add one or two of these factual posts a week now. I like looking up the details and trying to get them into a post that is not too long nor too short… I hope you’ve had a grand Tuesday yourself Andro!

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      1. Thank you Tom it’s been a good day 🙂
        I like your idea of factual postings as it
        not only adds a nice touch to your Space
        but it is also very useful for everyone that
        cares to read it 🙂

        Androgoth

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          1. I too started adding factual postings, one was on the subject of armour and medieval weaponry and it seemed to go down rather well, perhaps I should try adding some more of those? 🙂

            Have a fun evening Tom 🙂

            Androgoth

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  4. Related to your post in a completely tortuous and remote sort of way- I had just asked a friend of mine to purchase a set of soft pastels called Rembrandt! It was ridiculously expensive here and made more sense to get it from the UK (where it is made). I echo all comments that have applauded you on your knack of making history tasty!!! 🙂

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