The Star Chamber was a court controlled by the monarch (it was named after the room in which it originally met, a room in the royal palace of Westminster that had stars painted on the ceiling--a mundane enough source for what became an ominous and terror-inducing name). The court was created by Henry VIII in 1487, when Henry forced the Parliament to pass an act declaring the ancient right of the king's council to hear petitions of redress. In addition to the councillors, two judges of the royal courts were appointed to serve on this court. It exercised wide civil and criminal jurisdiction and was able to try nobles too powerful to be tried in other courts. The court had the power to order defendants tortured to extort their confessions, and its punitive powers included the imposition of fines, prison sentences, and mutilation of guilty (or simply inconvenient) people (the "cropping" of ears was a form of mutilation-as-punishment that the Star Chamber often inflicted on its victims); it could not, however, impose the death penalty.  During Milton's life the Stuart sovereigns James I and Charles I attempted to use the court to suppress any opposition to their authority. The court met in secret and dealt out excessive and cruel punishment. The Star Chamber was finally abolished by the Long Parliament in 1641.