Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
redhen

Criminal prosecution of animals

4 posts in this topic

Hello UM'ers. I recently discovered that the Internet Archive doesn't just cache webpages anymore. They are scanning books and making them available to read online or download as pdf, kindle and other formats. So far they have 250,000 books online with more coming. These books are old enough that they don't fall under copyright protection.

I started perusing through the Cornell Law library when I came across this gem;

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals This volume is a history of bizarre legal practices and theory from medieval times to the 19th century. Apparently it was not uncommon for courts to indict animals and convict them. Naturally the Church would also anathematize them.

Defense attorneys were also present sometimes. One lawyer argued successfully for his clients (um, rats). Other unfortunate creatures were tortured on the rack in order to exact a confession.

Um yeah, fun times. I feel fortunate to have been born in age and nation that has somewhat reasonable laws.

Anyways, I thought this book scanning project would be a good reference library for UM'ers who love to amble through library stacks, enjoy.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello UM'ers. I recently discovered that the Internet Archive doesn't just cache webpages anymore. They are scanning books and making them available to read online or download as pdf, kindle and other formats. So far they have 250,000 books online with more coming. These books are old enough that they don't fall under copyright protection.

I started perusing through the Cornell Law library when I came across this gem;

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals This volume is a history of bizarre legal practices and theory from medieval times to the 19th century. Apparently it was not uncommon for courts to indict animals and convict them. Naturally the Church would also anathematize them.

Defense attorneys were also present sometimes. One lawyer argued successfully for his clients (um, rats). Other unfortunate creatures were tortured on the rack in order to exact a confession.

Um yeah, fun times. I feel fortunate to have been born in age and nation that has somewhat reasonable laws.

Anyways, I thought this book scanning project would be a good reference library for UM'ers who love to amble through library stacks, enjoy.

Animals are judged by authorities on whether or not they'll be exterminated every day. We're just a lot more efficient and a lot less formal at going about doing it today than they were hundreds of years ago. There wasn't an animal control industry in centuries past, so it seems reasonable that someone's animal(s), domesticated or otherwise, would wreak havoc on his neighbor's property and the animal(s) would wind up the one being killed for the offense. The odd cases of torture or anathema would support the seeming strangeness of the title but I don't see it as being that odd on balance. Just very different than what we're used to today; even more respectable in a sense that they were using the same facilities and resources that we use ourselves in the criminal justice system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's odd on several levels. It's odd that a couple hundred years ago non-human animals were hauled up into court, had defense lawyers in some cases, yet PETA and other organizations can't even get amicus status in courts these days. I always thought that historical Western philosophy and theology held that man was the only rational, moral species. Legally, a natural person (unlike a corporation).

Of course it's also absurd to try to torture animals to exact a confession?!

Unfortunately, I think the RC Church can be blamed for stoking these superstitions and credulity. I think the most common types of animal litigation was the local parish priest warding off swarms of flies and locusts.

Well, they must have played fast and loose with the laws back then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.