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Earl Mervin Sodomy Case Essay

The case of Earl Mervin involved a nobleman that faced a trial for rape and sodomy and was presided by his peers. Rivers, a master gardener whose apprentice would accuse him of sodomizing in private and public. Captain Edward Rigby was charged with sodomy for soliciting sex toward William Minton. The case of Earl Mervin, Rivers, and Captain Rigby shows how sodomy is never about the act but the implications of the act itself toward societies expectations. Although Protestant England would see male intercourse as taboo, it has an ancient precedent in the Greek age.

The model of love that existed in Greece was pederast relations. For Plato, the love between two male citizens especially one of that is older and the other a prepubescent boy around the age of 15 was perfect since it was a relation between equals. The idea of a pederast relationship being one of equality is based on the idea that it is a relation in which Men would be the considered the humans, meaning that woman was an anomaly. They would regularly be considered occurring monsters but still had the function of procreation.

Therefore, from this doctrine of these ideas, philosophers like Aristotle and by connection St Thomas of Aquinas would keep this hatred toward women but asserting them to be a necessary evil. Christianity in its doctrine of sexuality would only allow coitus between married people and exclusively for the purpose of procreation. Martin Luther would make this especially clear when he helped criminalize prostitution. Earl of Castlehaven presents an old action becoming criminalized in a society that rejects all sex that is not for procreation as a great sin.

The document “The Arraignment and Conviction of Mervin Lord Audley” describes the trial of Lord Mervin Touchet, who was also called Lord Audley in England and was the second Earl of Castlehaven in Ireland. Earl Mervin of Castlehaven infamy comes from his trial in Westminster, London, on Monday, April 25, 1631. From a complaint of his son and the assertion by the Countess, the Earl would be indicted. The Earl was brought as a prisoner in front of the court to face the charges of rape and sodomy. Lord Coventry, for this case would be the Lord High Steward, would preside as the representative of the king.

Earl Mervin was asked whether he was guilty or not and he answer not guilty. The Lord High Steward then talks about the importance of reason and its significance toward justice when thinking about the case. The Master Attorney then talks about how horrible the crime that Earl Mervin and if not punished properly can bring the judgment of God on their kingdom. Then talks about the mercy of the king of setting up a trial, and having the lord’s court, and people cleared from these sins. He ends it by describing the crimes that the Lord is accused of and ends when the examination and deposition starts.

From the trial’s testimony and review, 11 statements, were given which includes Lord Audley himself, his wife, a friar, a man by the name of Walter Briggs and 3 of his servants, which are Giles Broadway, Lawrence Fitzpatrick, and Henry Skipwith. The event gleaned from all the testimonies is that the Lord had sex with Skipwith. Antil, a page of the Lord, was present when the Lord spoke to the Countess lascivious and gave him gifts of money. The two servants that testified to having sex with the Lord, but without penetration would be Fitzpatrick and Broadway.

Fitzpatrick would say he lay with the lord and had him consume his semen but not penetrate. The Earl would allow Broadway to have sex with his wife restraining her even though she resists it. In the case of his daughter, he would have Henry Skipwith have sex with her at multiple times. After these testimonies, the Lord High Steward asks the various questions to judges to answer regarding elements of what is lawful. The Lords convene to make a decision in which all the lords believed he was guilty of rape, but only 15 found him guilty of sodomy.

The Lord High Steward after giving some final remarks to the Earl involving the need to bring justice, the loss of honor of his daughter and feeling sorry for the Earl, then sentences him to death by hanging. The connection between heresy and sodomy involves the idea that they express a sense of indulgence that could be uncontrollable. What offended the nobles of England would not be the act themselves but the type of inevitable descent that they implied.

As the master attorney says, “… I shall be bold to give your grace a reason why he became so ill, he believed not God, then what may not a man run into, but I find things beyond imagination. In this one idea, the master attorney presents the fear that they though sodomy implies. As Randolph Trubach says, “…Sodomy were so extreme a denial of Christian expectation that all sexual acts ought to occur in marriage and have the potential for procreation, that those who indulge in it were likely also to break all other conventions in politics and religion. ” A sodomite was a person who through one act could end up doing anything. This does not follow the orders or categories that Christianity provided.

It is, therefore, no wonder that with the Protestant Reformation bring a more strict discipline of society that sodomy would come to be prosecuted. The expectations that Earl Mervin broke must be explored to see why sodomy could be considered so dangerous. The idea that sodomy was a sin that must be punished severely is connected to the idea of how this action goes against the idea of families in Early Modern Europe. Christianity in Europe would believe in the order of society and what this reveals is the idea of everyone in society knowing their place.

As a noble, Earl Mervin is expected to think about the honor of his household, the future of his children and procreating with his wife. As Cynthia Herrup describes, “The Earl’s alleged profligacy and lewdness made him the enemy rather than the protector of the house and so by implication the enemy of every household. ” This idea of the sins of one individual having an effect on everyone in society presents the dual reason that many states in Europe would try to increase their persecution of people and the social disciplining that Protestantism brought in 1517.

As a father, he was expected to leave his money, lands, and allow his son to inherit his lands and money. It is no wonder that his son would be the one to instigate the court case. As the father’s examination shows, the Earl, “…gave a farme of 100. L’. to Antil that married his daughter and at other times to the value of 7000. ’…” As a lord, he is allowed to do whatever he wants with his money and lands. The peculiarity comes from the amount and the status of the person he gives this money. The bigger transgression to his role of a patriarch is that of allowing another man to lie with his wife.

In the testimony of the countess, she describes both the conventional and perversion of the Earl by saying, “ … told her, her body was his, and that if she loved him, shee must love Antil, and if shee lay with any man with his consent, it was not her fault but his. ” It is therefore seen from the results of the decision that unanimously he was charged with rape specifically toward his wife, and only marginally toward his daughter. A patriarch was expected to do a lot, which the earl fell short of and would be punished for it.

The image provided at the beginning of the arraignment shows the true portrait of Earl Castlehaven. The image displays a man with hair that goes to about his shoulders. The face shows a rather interesting contrast to most of his face being revealed, but the left side of his face shows a bit of a shadow. His clothes are all black and have a white collar that covers his shoulders. This image presents a rather frightening image for those who read this pamphlet or even those who merely looked at the picture.

It shows a rather ordinary noble but as the shadow on the left side of his face shows, he is involved in a very horrible crime against nature. The document written about Thomas Rivers the gardener was recorded by an eye and ear witness who would get all the information from Rivers himself. The story starts with the a master by the name of Thomas River, who was age 27 and lived in South-Hampton in Vine Street while Henry Wells was a boy of 15. Wells would be his apprentice for three months since he would run back to his mother’s home.

Master Rivers would get two warrants to get him back in which after getting him, and putting him in front of a Justice the boy gives the reason for running away was that Master Rivers had at “several time Bugger’s him. ” Rivers would be imprisoned and have a trial in the old Bailey on December 11, 1667. Under oath, Wells says that when his wife was gone, he asked him if he was cold and when he confirmed it, Rivers had done the act. He also says that he took him to his cellar and tied his wrist and abused him and later doing the same outside in a field.

In Rivers trial, the constable and the Beadle support the child’s testimony and say that they saw the master do it. The judge would find rivers guilty and sentence him to be hanged at the Tyburn, the place of execution. A minister, a Protestant clergyman by the name of Mr. Welden, would try to persuade Rivers to confess, but he would assert his innocence. Mr. Welden would then follow Wells and convince him to tell the truth, yet Wells would support his story until December 18, 1667, the day of execution of Rivers.

Wells would confess that he lied in a sob of tears; the Sheriff Officer would go to the King to reverse the execution, which he allowed. Rivers after being taken down from the gallows forgives Wells. In Newgate, when talking with his friends, he thinks about how close he was to death and reflects on a dream he had before the execution that was of a field of wheat and turtledoves staring at him. This document presents a moralizing story, which is short in content but has a rather clear message.

Sodomy in this story is rather light considering that aside from the child’s accusation and story in the trial, the rest of the document only describes the efforts of a minister to get the child to tell the truth. Once Wells admits that his story was false, the person to cancel the execution would be the king. It, therefore, plays as a type of propaganda that shows the strength of the state in not in enforcing laws but pardoning a wrongly convicted person. The divine intervention that this case presents would show that only those who are guilty of the horrible sin of sodomy would be punished.

Similar to the trial of the Earl, the crime for which Rivers is sentenced to be hung is not so much the act itself but the transgression of their relations. As a master and apprentice, these relationships are created in urban areas in which to help prepare youths to become a journeyman and eventually a master. An interesting connection between the events of Rivers and Wells is that with the relations of Renaissance Italy. Although not a perfect comparison, the master and apprentice relation of Rivers and Wells share a similarity with those relationships of Master artist and their apprentices.

As a pederast relation, the master at age 27 and boy of 15 shows the same relations that would be found in both ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy. Italy in its renaissance would transfer many of its ideas to England since through (Connection). The Renaissance was a time of bringing back customs, knowledge, and cultural achievements of Greek and Roman culture. It would be from this wellspring of knowledge that the philosophy of Plato would come to supplant the ideas of Aristotle.

Artist and those in the intellectual circles that would create relationships that were indeed closer to the platonic idea of love. The document about the proceedings against Captain Edward Rigby describes his indictment and ultimate sentence of guilty for the crime of sodomy. Captain Rigby in his trial would plead neither guilty nor not guilty but demurred the decision to the indictment. The event that transpired between the two starts with Captain Rigby encountering William Minton on November 5 of 1698, meeting in St James Park while Fireworks were burning.

Captain Rigby would randomly grab Minton’s hand and then place his genitalia on Minton’s hand. Rigby would kiss Minton, to Minton’s surprise, in which he backed away. Captain Rigby would convince Minton to meet him in George-Tavern and ask for room 4. Minton then meets up with his roommate Charles Coates about what transpired. With his help, he would make a plan to protect himself from Captain Rigby when meeting him in the tavern, which includes Minton stopping on the floor and yelling Westminster as the signal for their help.

At six o’clock, Minton would go to George Tavern and went into Room 4 while the constable and his associates were in a neighboring room. While inside, Rigby would kiss and put the youth’s hand to his (Rigby’s) pants. When Minton talks about how only woman where for this, that Rigby rebukes him by saying, “Dam’em, they are all poxt, I’ll have none of them. ” He would then sit on his lap, kiss him, crudely ask for sex, and mentions how it is no different from their ancestors. He mentions the French king and Tsar as men that also lie with men.

He continually asks Minton for them to copulate, at the point in which Captain Rigby removes Minton’s pants, bends him over and talks lasciviously. Minton then runs toward the door away from Captain Rigby, but Captain draws his sword. Minton tells Rigby that he will pay for his crimes and does the signal, which brings in the constable. In the end, Captain Rigby would give the excuse of being drunk, and since he demurred to the indictment, he would be punished by standing in the pillory in three different location on three different days.

He would also have to pay a fine of 1000 l’ to the king, and stay in prison for one year. The location of the tavern, which was a place where equals would drink with each other, would be a place where men could lodge and have intercourse. Although in this case, Captain Rigby would be captured and punished, he expresses the classification of the Beau or a middle ground between a Fop and a Rake. Rakes were men of the aristocracy that pursued both woman and boys while the Fop is an overdressed man that was effeminate, essentially being the connection of sodomy to men who seek only men.

What these different names for men who do actions that would be closer to what females were expected to do shows an evolution. In the way in which Earl Marvin was sexually dominant toward both men and woman yet kept his gender identity, Captain Rigby would be closer to breaking the boundaries that Early Modern Europe desired to maintain which was men only The idea of a man preferring the relation of a man in the case of Captain Rigby becomes especially important considering both the decline of prostitution in early modern Europe and the plague.

Prostitution by 1698 would be criminalized yet existing in not only England but most of Europe. This would be caused by the Protestant Reformation of 1500 in which Martin Luther. The interesting part, in this case, is the response Captain Rigby gives in which, As he says, “Dam’em, they are all poxt, I’ll have none of them. ” Plagues would sweep over Europe and although at first they would not be associated exclusively with prostitutes, they would over time. It, therefore, explains one reason some men would prefer to have intercourse with other men, which is that they will not get a disease.

A common idea that is shown from all these cases is the significance of what the person indicted for sodomy declares. The severity of the punishment depends on the willingness of the accused to acquiesce to the law than anything else. In the case of Castlehaven, in his trial, he would say he was not guilty and even asserting a plot between his wife and his son. In the case of Thomas Rivers, he would assert his innocence until the very end. In the case of Captain Edward Rigby, he would demure his decision and in the end give alcohol to be the reason for his odd behavior.

Although these three sources all come from England, the crime of sodomy would be persecuted in a very rarely. The decision to execute depends mostly on circumstance since in both cases where the accused was convicted it depended on the transgression such as the allowing his wife to be raped by a servant and the cruelty found in the story of Wells. In both these cases, there was also the implication of penetration, which for Early Modern Europe was utterly unforgivable. Captain Rigby would only attempt to do it, which allows him to be merely shamed and jailed a better result than death. Early modern Europe

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