NOT ONLY WERE INSECTS, reptiles and small mammals, such as rats and mice, legally prosecuted and formally excommunicated, but judicial penalties, including capital punishment, were also inflicted upon larger quadrupeds.
|... Numerous extracts from the original records of such proceedings are given, and also a list of the kinds of animals thus tried and condemned, extending from the beginning of the 12th to the middle of the 18th century, and comprising in all 93 cases.||The culprits consist chiefly of flies, snails, worms, rats, pigs, cows, dogs, mules ...|
The culprits are a miscellaneous crew, consisting chiefly of caterpillars, flies, locusts, leeches, snails, slugs, worms, weevils, rats, mice, moles, turtle-doves, pigs, bulls, cows, cocks, dogs, asses, mules, mares and goats. Only those cases are reported in which the accused were found guilty.
... It is well known that during some of the darkest periods of the Middle ages and even in later times the registers of the courts were very imperfectly kept, and in many instances the archives have been entirely destroyed.
It is highly probable, therefore, that the cases of capital prosecution and conviction of animals, which have been collected and printed by Berriat-Saint-Prix and others, however thorough their investigations may have been, constitute only a very small percentage of those which actually took place.
BEASTS WERE OFTEN CONDEMNED to be burned alive; and strangely enough, it was in the latter half of the 17th century, an age of comparative enlightenment, that this cruel penalty seems to have been most frequently inflicted.
|A merciful judge granted the culprit be slightly singed then strangled before being committed to the flames.||Occasionally a merciful judge adhered to the letter of the law and curbed its barbarous spirit by sentencing the culprit to be slightly singed and then to be strangled before being committed to the flames.|
|having buried in the earth two pigs, which had torn and eaten with their teeth a little child in the faubourg of Amiens, who for this cause passed from life to death.|
In 1557, on the 6th of December, a pig in the Commune of Saint-Quentin was condemned to be "buried all alive ... for having devoured a little child in l'hostel de la Couronne." Again, a century earlier, in 1456, two pigs were subjected to this punishment, "on the vigil of the Holy Virgin," at Oppenheim on the Rhine, for having killed a child.
More than three centuries later the same means were employed for curing murrain [pestilence], which in the summer of 1796 had broken out at Beutelsbach in Würtemherg and carried off many head of cattle. By the advice of a French veterinary doctor, who was quartered there with the army of General Moreau, the town bull was buried alive at the crossroads in the presence of several hundred persons.
We are not informed whether this sacrifice proved to be a sufficiently "powerful medicine" to stay the epizoötic plague; the noteworthy fact is that the superstitious rite was prescribed and performed, not by an lndian magician or an African sorcerer, but by an official of the French republic.
ANIMALS ... HAVE BEEN EVEN PUT TO THE RACK in order to extort confession. It is not to be supposed that, in such cases, the judge had the slightest expectation that any confession would be made; he wished merely to observe all forms prescribed by the law, and to set in motion the whole machinery of justice before pronouncing judgment.
|The statement of a French writer, Arthur Mangin (L'Homme et la Bête. Paris, 1872), that "the cries which they uttered under torture were received as confessions of guilt," is absurd. No such notion was ever entertained by their tormentor.||The use of the rack might be ... a merciful means of escaping the gallows.|
The use of the rack might be, therefore, a merciful means of escaping the gallows. Appeals were sometimes made to higher tribunals and the judgments of the lower courts annulled or modified. In one instance a sow and a she-ass were condemned to be hanged; on appeal, and after a new trial, they were sentenced to be simply knocked on the head.
Occasionally an appeal led to the acquittal of the accused.
IN 1266, AT FONTENAY-AUX ROSES, near Paris, a pig convicted of having eaten a child was publicly burned by order of the monks of Sainte Genevieve. In 1386, the tribunal of Falaise sentenced a sow to be mangled and maimed in the head and forelegs, and then to be hanged, for having torn the face and arms of a child and thus caused its death.
Here we have a strict application of the lex talionis, the primitive retributive principle of taking an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
|The sow was dressed in man's clothes and executed on the public square.||As if to make the travesty of justice complete, the sow was dressed in man's clothes and executed on the public square near the city-hall at an expense to the state of 10 sous and 10 deniers, besides a pair of gloves to the hangman.|
He was no common pig-killer, but a public functionary, a "master of high works," as he was officially styled.
BRUTES AND HUMAN CRIMINALS were confined in the same prison and subjected to the same treatment. Thus
|Toustain Pincheon, keeper of the prisons of our lord the king in the town of Pont de Larche, [acknowledges the receipt,] through the hand of the honourable and wise man, Jehan Monnet, sheriff of the said town, of 19 sous 6 deniers tournois for having found the king's bread for the prisoners detained, by reason of crime, in the said prison.|
The jailer gives the names of the persons in custody, and concludes the list with
|Item, one pig, conducted into the said prison and kept there from the 24th of June, 1408, inclusive, till the 17th of the folowing July [when it was hanged] for the crime of having murdered and killed a little child.|
For the pig's board the jailer charged two deniers tournois a day, the same as for boarding a man, thus placing the porker, even in respect to its maintenance, on a footing of perfect equality with the human prisoners. The correctness of the charges is certified to by "Jean Gaulvant, sworn tabellion of our lord the king in the viscounty of Pont de Larche."
BUGGERY WAS UNIFORMLY PUNISHED by putting to death both parties implicated, and usually by burning them alive. The beast, too, is punished and both are burned, says Guillielmus Benedictinus, a writer on law, who lived about the end of the fourteenth century.
|Thus, in 1546, a man and a cow were hanged and then burned by order of the parliament of Paris, the supreme court of France.||The beast, too, is punished and both are burned.|
On the 12th of September, 1606, the mayor of Loens de Chartres, on complaint of the dean, canons, and chapter of the cathedral of Chartres, condemned a man named Guillaume Guyart to be
|hanged and strangled on a gibbet in reparation and punishment of sodomy, whereof the said Guyart is declared accused, attainted and convicted.|
A bitch, his accomplice, was sentenced to be knocked on the head by the executioner of high justice and "the dead bodies of both to be burned and reduced to ashes."
|Killed before his eyes were a cow, two heifers, three sheep and two sows, all partners in his brutalities.||It is furthermore added that if the said Guyart, who seems to have contumaciously given leg-bail, cannot be seized and apprehended in person, the sentence shall, in his case, be executed in effigy by attaching his likeness in painting to the gibbet.|
This disgusting crime appears to have been very common; at least Ayrault in his Ordre Judiciaire, published in 1606, states that he has many times seen brute beasts put to death for this cause.
In his Magnalia Christi Americana (London, 1702) Cotton Mather records that
|on June 6, 1662, at New Haven, there was a most unparalleled wretch, one Potter by name, about sixty years of age, executed for damnable Bestialities.|
He had been a member of the Church for twenty years and was noted for his piety,
|devout in worship, gifted in prayer, forward in edifying discourse among the religious, and zealous in reforming the sins of other people.|
Yet this monster, who is described as possessed by an unclean devil,
|lived in most infandous Buggeries for no less than fifty years together, and now at the gallows there were killed before his eyes a cow, two heifers, three sheep and two sows, with all of which he had committed his brutalities. His wife had seen him confounding himself with a bitch ten years before; and he then excused himself as well as he could, but conjured her to keep it secret.|
He afterwards hanged the bitch, probably as a sort of vicarious atonement. According to this account he must have begun to practice sodomy when he was ten years of age, a vicious precocity which the author would doubtless explain on the theory of diabolical possession.
In 1681, a habitual sodomite, who had been wont to defile himself with greyhounds, cows, swine, sheep and all manner of beasts, was brought to trial together with a mare, at Wünschelburg in Silesia, where both were burned alive.
In 1684, on the 3rd of May, a bugger was beheaded at Ottendorf, and the mare, his partner in crime, knocked on the head; it was expressly enjoined that in burning the bodies the man's should lie underneath that of the beast.
In the following year, 14 days before Christmas, a journeyman tailor, "who had committed the unnatural deed of carnal lewdness with a mare," was burned at Striga together with the mare.
... IN THE CASE OF JACQUES FERRON, who was taken in the act of coition with a she-ass at Vanvres in 1750, and after due process of law, sentenced to death, the animal was acquitted on the ground that she was the victim of violence and had not participated in her master's crime of her own free-will.
|The animal was acquitted on the ground that she was the victim.||The prior of the convent, who also performed the duties of parish priest, and the principal inhabitants of the commune of Vanvres signed a certificate stating that they had known the said she-ass for four years, and that she had always shown|
|herself to be virtuous and well-behaved both at home and abroad and had never given occasion of scandal to any one, and that therefore|
|they were willing to bear witness that she is in word and deed and in all her habits of life a most honest creature.|
This document, given at Vanvres on Sept. 19, 1750, and signed by "Pintuel Prieur Cure " and the other attestors, was produced during the trial and exerted a decisive influence upon the judgment of the court. As a piece of exculpatory evidence it may be regarded as unique in the annals of criminal prosecutions.
... IT IS RATHER ODD that Christian law-givers should have adopted a Jewish code against sexual intercourse with beasts and then enlarged it so as to include the Jews themselves. The question was gravely discussed by jurists, whether cohabitation of a Christian with a Jewess or vice versa constitutes sodomy.
Damhouder is of the opinion that it does, and Nicolaus Boer cites the case of a certain Johannes Alardus or Jean Alard, who kept a Jewess in his house in Paris and had several children by her; he was convicted of sodomy on account of this relation and burned, together with his paramour
|since coition with a Jewess is precisely the same as if a man should copulate with a dog.|
Damhouder, in the work just cited, includes Turks and Saracens in the same category
|inasmuch as such persons in the eye of the law and our holy faith differ in no wise from beasts.|
Evans, unfortunately, chooses not to elaborate on this last subject, instead returning to his focus, the criminal prosecution, excommunication and capital punishment of animals (and even prosecution of inanimate objects), but not of humans as animals. That's food for another hundred essays.