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Jonathan YardleyThoughtful, scrupulously researched.... A clearheaded and instructive book.
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 his servants. 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 of aristocratic 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 riveting prose, she reconsiders a scandal that still speaks to contemporary anxieties about sex, good governance, and the role of law in regulating both.
About the Author:
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.
"Makes us rethink most everything we thought we knew about the notorious 1631 'sodomy' trial of Mervin Touchet, the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven. Beautifully written and meticulously crafted, Herrup's study unfolds like a good detective story."--Jean Howard, Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender
Abbreviations and Conventions
Genealogies of the Touchet and Stanley Families
Introduction: Castlehaven Redux
1. A Household Kept unto Itself
2. A Debauched Son of a Noble Family
3. A Verdict, but No Resolution
4. A Household Broke Beyond Repair
Appendix A: The Jurors
Appendix B: Verses
Appendix C: Genealogy of Manuscripts and Pamphlets
Bibliography of Sources Cited