Court of High Commission

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Act of Supremacy

John Whitgift (c. 1530—1604) archbishop of Canterbury

William Laud (1573—1645) archbishop of Canterbury


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Known as such from c.1570, it emanated from earlier ecclesiastical commissions (after 1547), was given statutory authority (1559), reconstructed (1583), and exercised the ecclesiastical appellate and original jurisdiction of the crown as supreme governor. Extensively used by Whitgift, Bancroft, and Laud, its inquisitorial methods, swift and secret in action, were more efficient than diocesan courts. Feared and detested universally, its abolition with Star Chamber (1641) was not revoked (1661), though James II revived it briefly in modified form as the Ecclesiastical Commission (1686–8).

Subjects: Regional and National History — Christianity.

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