A House in Gross Disorder

A sex scandal – that too accompanied by charges of sodomy, doesn’t sound theoretically convincing enough to be lauded as the chief antagonist of a book that would elaborate the manners of the early seventeenth century English society.

The heinous nature of the scandal and the noble family it badly marred collectively demanded a thorough and scrupulous historical documentation that would serve as a bold yet honest evidence of the truth in times of secrecy and puritanical approaches. In A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven, Cynthia Herrup takes up a bold task of chronicling an emperor’s debauchery and the subsequent fall from grace.

On the surface, the book vividly records a tale of sodomy, rape, corruption and revenge. But Herrup goes beyond the notions of conventional morality, and excites the readers with an insightful telling of how a man of noble origin was incriminated by a system which was essentially naïve and passive.
Moreover, the case of the 2nd earl of Castlehaven directly implies the latent anxieties involved with the very structure of power, which can be applicable to modern societies as well. Mervin Touchet, the earl of Castlehaven, was charged with serious offenses of actuating the rape of his own wife and of performing sodomy on one of his servants.
This case received so much public attention that researchers have later on found evidential grounds to address to a number of social, religious and ethical issues involving the hindsight of power and authority, tyranny, deviance, legal entailments of suppression, and the inevitable implications of patriarchal domestic setups.
A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven captures the nature of governance that prevailed in the royal court of Castlehaven prior to the grisly events, and how it brought about the condemnation and beheading of the earl in 1631. In a way, the author discusses and explains the situations that led to the debauchery and disorder in the Castlehaven household.
It is to be clearly understood that Cynthia Herrup does not merely tell us a shameful event, but she actively engages our consciousness and awareness about the relevance of such an event in contemporary society by collating key points concerning sex, able governance and the role of a transparent and competent legal system. Hence the main thesis argument Cynthia Herrup tries to propagate in the book is not what happened, but why it happened.
The Touchets settled in the Castlehaven in 1620 and immediately exercised their sovereign power in the locality. There was an underlying wave of nobility and religious leniency about the way the head of the household directed both the internal as well as external affairs.
Despite being an old family dating back to the times of the Norman Conquest in England, the Touchets never really went out to establish a fortunate identity for themselves, partly because of their inheritance and injudicious trends of marriage.
Eventually it was the convicted earl’s father George Touchet who understood that “the surest path to wealth and status was a combination of service, supplication, and judicious marriage.” (p. 10) His expertise as a soldier and good administrator was well circulated, fetching him widespread recognition.
But his son’s escapades, as Herrup wants us to show, are not to be confused with his own status or credibility. Stuck in a perpetual state of dynamics in terms of religion, politics and law, the stage was almost set for the ensuing chain of events that would bring ignominy to the Castlehaven family. An act of sodomy, according to the Christian convictions, was extremely degrading and morally reproachable offense.
Long before the Castlehaven case, the English society was unrelenting in despising such activities. As history has it, the aristocrats in the Elizabethan times were frequently accused with similar charges, the most notable being in the cases of the Earls of Oxford and of Southampton. Due to the passive nature of the mass acceptance of crimes such as rape and sodomy, majority of these cases lay under cover and never really attracted too much attention other than a reviled broadcasting.
Even men hailing from blue-blooded families had the grit to stand up to the charges brought against them – presumably for testifying to their self-confidence and beliefs in a patriarchal supremacy. But according to the prevalent Protestant notions, sodomy was typically an un-English crime usually committed by the Italians and the Turkeys who were believed to have very little sense of self-restraint and moral values.
But Mervin Touchet was neither an Italian nor a Turkey, nor was he supposed to be stripped off the conventional Protestant values. So the logical question remains – why did he engage in such treachery?
Herrup attempts to guide us through the convoluted system of monarchy that somehow isolated many of the young earls in the beginning of their tenures. Lack of traceability in terms of peer connections and the general tenor of mistrust and passivity at the core of the family seemed to generate a deficient measure of ethics for the accused person in contention here.
Five chapters are assigned to this book, making the task of unfolding the events and their interpretations a smooth one. The first chapter recounts the history of the Castlehaven’s ancestry, their land acquisitions, and how the premonitions were about to unveil themselves.
From the perspective of a historian, this chapter is thoroughly required for the sake of critical research. Herrup introduces in this chapter the obvious difference that prevailed in the moral domains of two of the earls of Castlehaven, resulting in the disorderly affairs at Fonthill Gifford.
The second chapter directly goes into the central topic of the book, e. g. the allegations of assistance in rape and sodomy brought against the 2nd earl.
From informative contexts, this chapter abounds in charges that eventually incriminate the earl on the ground of circumstantial as well as concrete pools of evidence. It was Lord Audley who first brought the disturbing charges against the earl, stating that he was purposefully denied of his inheritance as the earl had an unusual propensity to one of his servants Henry Skipwith.
This set the ball in motion as allegations of sexual perversion and provoked acts of sexuality started raining. The Privy Council intervened into the matter and questioned most of the family members, including the accused ones. Finally in 1631, charges against the earl were found legitimate after a prolonged trial and he was convicted of rape and sodomy.
Herrup inducts the evidences to support her arguments in the third chapter. The first thematic construct involves the obligation for men to control their emotive responses for the greater good of their families and loved ones. No doubt it was completely taunted by the Castlehaven to doom his own fate.
The second important argument concerns the faculty of self-respect and honor in dealing with potentially unruly confrontations. This too lacked in the case of the 2nd earl of Castlehaven. The third argument, same as the second one, brings into the forefront of consideration the need to remain firm to sacred religious beliefs.
All the three aforementioned arguments can be exemplified in a nutshell. As the head of a domestic setup infested with “sly servants and unruly women” (p. 74), Touchet engaged in disgraceful activities and supported the same in others (p. 79), and he was alleged to have questionable associations with Roman Catholicism and Ireland (p. 81). Hence the earl was comfortably drawn as debased and therefore, shamefaced for some reason.
For the readers, it is virtually impossible to decipher the extent of his guilt, and that is precisely what the author tries to say in the book. It is basically a trial which is to be closely examined in the contemporary social context of deviance, homosexuality, tyranny and power games. So it may easily be inferred that this book is for a select band of readers – those with idiosyncratic viewpoints and a commanding grasp over the Elizabethan history of England.


Differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate

House of Representatives is actually a name given to any of the many lawmaking bodies in countries around the world and sub national states. In many countries, House of Representatives is also known as the inferior house of a bicameral government and the parallel upper house is usually known as Senate. Apart from this in other countries, House of Representatives is the one and only meeting room of a unicameral parliament. The performance of the House of Representatives usually varies very much for every country, and it also relies on whether a nation works with a presidential or a parliamentary scheme.
People or members of a house of representatives are classically apportioned with respect to the population rather than appointing them geography. House of Representatives is the name given to most of the lower houses of United States state legislatures apart from some, that are known as State Assembly and also by some it is called the House of Delegates. According to apartheid the House of Representatives was the dwelling for South Africa’s varied race colored society during the Tricameral Parliament that ranged from 1984 to 1994.
Apart from this In the Austrian part Cisleithania of Austria Hungary most people know the lower house as the Abgeordnetenhaus which is also generally acknowledged in English as House of Representatives (Boyle and Chinkin, 2007). Most of the developed self governing states with bicameral parliamentary nature are sometimes prepared with a senate for the country frequently illustrious from a usual parallel lower house basically known variously as the House of Representatives.

It is also known by some other names that we would present here House of Commons, Chamber of Deputies, National Assembly, Legislative Assembly, or House of Assembly, by electoral rules. This may comprise of a minimum age necessary for the people and candidate, relative or greater part or plurality structure. Characteristically the senate is also referred to as being the upper house and has a less important association as compared to the lower house.
In many other states senates are also present at the sub national stage. United States of America has all states apart from Nebraska having a state senate. Australia has all its states except for Queensland that have an upper house which is identified as a lawmaking committee. There are a number of Canadian provinces that once had a number of governmental councils but now they are not present as they were abolished the last one to survive was Quebec’s Legislative Council, during 1968.
Senate association can be acknowledged through elections or activities. Taking a simple example, elections are conducted after every three years for the membership of the Australian Senate but only half of the people as compared to the people of the Canadian Senate are hired by Governor General honestly upon the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada. Taking care of the office and performing their operations until they walk out, or are detached from the Senate the last option is of a retirement.
In bigger nations the senate frequently acts as a balancing effect thought providing a bigger share of power to places or groups of people, which would be besieged beneath severely accepted apportionment. To conclude this essay I would like to mention the fact that House of Representatives and Senate are two different entities and carry many different aspects with them. Though they are from the same line of bodies that is law making legislatures but they have a different level in terms of power and importance.


Diagram: House of Representatives – Senate

• 2 yr. term
• must be a 7 yr U.S. citizen

• must live in district/state representing.
• must be 25 yrs. Old
• contains 435 members
• led by Speaker of House
• elected by the people of the state
• Majority elects Speaker and officers
• Has the sole power to impeach
• Debate usually limited to one hour
• Referral of bills hard to challenge
• Power to begin tax bill
• Breaks tie in Electoral College
• 6 yr term
• must be a 9 yr U.S. citizen
• must live in state representing
• must be 30 yrs old
• contains 100 members
• led by Vice-President (Cheney)
• Senators have one vote each
• Senate chooses officers and a President pro tempore
• Has sole power to try impeachments
• Referral of bills easily challenged
• Rules Committee weak
Short answer: There are wide swaths of the federal government that need to be funded each year in order to operate. If Congress can’t agree on how to fund them, they have to close down. And, right now, Congress can’t agree on how to fund them. To get a bit more specific: Each year, the House and Senate
are supposed to agree on 12 appropriations bills to fund the federal agencies and set spending priorities. Congress has become really bad at passing these bills, so in recent years they’ve resorted to stopgap budgets to keep the government funded (known as “continuing resolutions”). The last stopgap passed on March 28, 2013, and ends on Sept. 30. In theory, Congress could pass another stopgap before Tuesday. But the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House are at odds over what that stopgap should look like. The House passed a funding bill over the weekend that delayed Obamacare for one year and repealed a tax on medical devices. The Senate rejected that measure. They voted a few more times and still no agreement. So… we’re getting a shutdown. Does a shutdown mean everyone who works for the federal government has to go home? Not exactly. The laws and regulations governing shutdowns separate federal workers into “essential” and “non-essential.” (Actually, the preferred term nowadays is “excepted” and “non-excepted.” This was tweaked in 1995 because “non-essential” seemed a bit hurtful. But we’ll keep things simple.) The Office of Management and Budget recently ordered managers at all federal agencies to conduct reviews to see which of their employees fall into each of these two categories. If a shutdown hits, the essential workers stick around, albeit without pay. The non-essential workers have to go home after a half-day of preparing to close shop.