By Cynthia B. Herrup
Intercourse, privilege, corruption, and revenge--these are components that we predict to discover splashed throughout cutting-edge tabloid headlines. yet in seventeenth century England, a intercourse scandal during which the 2d Earl of Castlehaven was once completed 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 disease, Cynthia Herrup provides a strikingly new interpretation either one of the case itself and of the sexual and social anxieties it solid 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 ordinary order of his family through reveling in instead of restraining the intemperate passions of these he was once anticipated to rule and safeguard. Herrup argues that simply because an orderly condominium was once thought of either an instance and endorsement of aristocratic governance, the riotousness presided over by way of Castlehaven used to be the main damning proof opposed to him. Castlehaven himself argued that he was once the sufferer of an impatient son, an unsatisfied spouse, and courtiers grasping for his lands. Eschewing basic conclusions approximately guilt or innocence, Herrup focuses as an alternative 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 illness reconsiders a scandal that also speaks to modern anxieties approximately intercourse, strong governance, and the function of legislation in regulating either.
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Additional resources for A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven
And as Castlehaven’s alleged partners in sodomy discovered, promises of immunity in return for testimony could always be rescinded. Alleged victims willing to bear these burdens faced additional ones. Rape and sodomy were the felonies in which imbalances in credibility between complainant and defendant were likely to be the starkest. 11 Except in cases involving children too young to give consent or where physical evidence was incontrovertible, contemporary common sense made trusting such testimony above the word of an adult male implausible, if not ridiculous.
Rapists and buggers were overconsumers; they lusted after property and luxury as well as men and women. They embodied an immoderation that was as destructive as it was enticing, and it was that excess, not speciﬁc acts, that so endangered society. To prosecute someone successfully for rape or sodomy meant proving not only a particular form of carnal knowledge, but also the insidious infection for which these acts were but a symptom. PREPARATIONS: BUILDING A CASE The legal difﬁculties of the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven began late in October 1630, when Lord Audley complained about his father to the Privy Council.
Stories such as Lucretia’s told audiences that rape was evil, but also that it was a test of an inherently fragile female will. And the view that rape was tyrannical as well as deplorable brought the crime yet again into the public realm, conﬁguring it once more as a problem between men. Lucretia’s story was less about lust or violence than about greed and jealousy, less about her violation than about the ultimate rejection of immoderate power. Rape, it seems, was a crime that everyone deplored, but one that was difﬁcult to recognize.