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

Paperback | January 15, 2001

byCynthia B. Herrup

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Sex, privilege, corruption, and revenge--these are elements that we expect to find splashed across today's tabloid headlines. But 17th century England saw a sex scandal that brought disgrace to the ruling class and ended with the beheading of an earl. In A House in Gross Disorder, Cynthia Herrup presents a strikingly new interpretation of the case of the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven and of the sexual and social anxieties it cast into such bold relief. Castlehaven was convicted of assisting in the rape of his own wife and of committing sodomy with hisservants. But more than that, he stood accused of inverting the natural order of his household by reveling in rather than restraining the intemperate passions of those he was expected to rule and protect. Herrup argues that because an orderly house was considered both an example and endorsement ofaristocratic governance, the riotousness presided over by Castlehaven was the most damning evidence against him. Avoiding simple conclusions about guilt or innocence, Herrup focuses instead on the fascinating legal, social and political dynamics of the case and its subsequent retellings. In rivetingprose, she reconsiders a scandal that still speaks to contemporary anxieties about sex, good governance, and the role of law in regulating both.

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Sex, privilege, corruption, and revenge--these are elements that we expect to find splashed across today's tabloid headlines. But 17th century England saw a sex scandal that brought disgrace to the ruling class and ended with the beheading of an earl. In A House in Gross Disorder, Cynthia Herrup presents a strikingly new interpretati...

Cynthia Herrup is Professor of History and Law, Duke University. She is the former editor of the Journal of British Studies and the author of The Common Peace: Participation and the Criminal Law in 17th Century England. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 5.12 × 7.72 × 0.59 inPublished:January 15, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195139259

ISBN - 13:9780195139259

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsAbbreviations and ConventionsGenealogies of the Touchet and Stanley FamiliesPrefaceIntroduction: Castlehaven Redux1. A Household Kept unto Itself2. A Debauched Son of a Noble Family3. A Verdict, but No Resolution4. A Household Broke Beyond Repair5. Retellings6. ConclusionsAppendix A: The JurorsAppendix B: VersesAppendix C: Genealogy of Manuscripts and PamphletsNotesBibliography of Sources CitedIndex

Editorial Reviews

"In 1631, the 2d Earl of Castlehaven was decapitated for having sex with a male servant and participating in the rape of his own wife. The accusations, depositions and trial that brought the earl to the headsman's block form the basis of Cynthia Herrup's engrossing study of social values in17th century England."--National Law Journal