A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the 2nd Earl of by Cynthia B. Herrup

By Cynthia B. Herrup

Intercourse, privilege, corruption, and revenge--these are components that we predict to discover splashed throughout contemporary tabloid headlines. yet in seventeenth century England, a intercourse scandal during which the second Earl of Castlehaven used to be finished for crimes so terrible that "a Christian guy ought scarce to call them" threatened the very foundations of aristocratic hierarchy. In a home in Gross illness, Cynthia Herrup provides a strikingly new interpretation either one of the case itself and of the sexual and social anxieties it forged into such daring reduction. Castlehaven was once convicted of abetting the rape of his spouse and of committing sodomy together with his servants. greater than that, he stood accused of inverting the typical order of his loved ones by means of reveling in instead of restraining the intemperate passions of these he used to be anticipated to rule and shield. Herrup argues that simply because an orderly condo used to be thought of either an instance and endorsement of aristocratic governance, the riotousness presided over by way of Castlehaven used to be the main damning facts opposed to him. Castlehaven himself argued that he used to be the sufferer of an impatient son, an unsatisfied spouse, and courtiers grasping for his lands. Eschewing basic conclusions approximately guilt or innocence, Herrup focuses in its place at the interesting criminal, social and political dynamics of the case and its next retellings. In prose as riveting because the ethical and felony dramas it depicts, a home in Gross sickness reconsiders a scandal that also speaks to modern anxieties approximately intercourse, reliable governance, and the function of legislations in regulating either.

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Additional info for A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven

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7 Such apparent equivocation about rape and sodomy reflects many things—the limitations of legal categories, the incomplete survival of documents, the invariably skewed fit between crime and prosecution—but it additionally reveals deep incongruities in the early modern conceptions of these behaviors. The contemporary legal definitions of rape and of sodomy seem clear. ” To convict a man of rape, his complainant had to prove sexual intercourse and force; penetration and emission distinguished rape from the lesser crime of assault, and compulsion distinguished it from consensual sexual relations.

She later claimed that from the first week of their marriage, Castlehaven had shunned her in favor of prostitutes and male servants. Though several members of the household (including Lady Audley) believed that she was promiscuous and even murderous, the Countess steadfastly described her marriage as a war over her honor. Castlehaven, she said, humiliated her with lewd words and lewd suggestions, and tried to pair her with various of his favorites. 19 The intimacy of servants with their masters’ families offered exceptional opportunities for both legitimate and illicit alliances, patronage, and frustrations.

In May, Castlehaven’s youngest sister, the A Household Kept unto Itself 23 Protestant prophet Lady Eleanor Touchet Davies Douglas, found herself called before the Privy Council. Lady Eleanor had been a prominent and eventually troublesome presence at Whitehall since the late 1620s. She had established her prophetic authority there by making specific, often eerily accurate predictions, beginning with a premonition of her first husband’s death. She outraged Charles I when she correctly foretold the deaths of, among others, the Duke of Buckingham and an infant prince.

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