Our world has indulged in weird and astounding practices, beliefs and punishments for ages. If you have brief a look into our history, you’ll discover that the most bizarre trends, that ever existed mostly happened in the middle ages.
You must have heard of human trials and execution but have you ever heard of animal trials? Well, let me brief you on one such trend that started back in middle age, The Animal Trial.
During medieval times not only humans even animals were put to trial if they were caught breaking the law.
Starting from dolphins, cows, pigs, dogs to even insects, all were dragged to court including the full ceremony and were punished if found guilty. Much like human trials of the present day, the animals were provided legal aid in the form of lawyers and defence teams. Witnesses were called and evidence was heard from bothparties. Animals were burned, hanged or executed publicly, depending on the degree of the crime committed.
Among all the animal’s pigs were probably the most unfortunate ones, as they were the most frequent animals to face an animal trial.
The Falaise sow trial
In 1386, in Falaise, a village in France, a sow was accused of devouring a 3-month-old infant, Jean le Maux, who died due to the severe attacks of the sow. The sow was arrested and kept in a pretrial detention cell with other human prisoners. Even a lawyer was appointed to defend her in court. In the end, the lawyer lost the case as the owner of the sow himself testified against her and a guilty verdict was passed. She was sentenced to death by public hanging.
Now comes the most interesting or maybe the strange part of this incident which makes it unique. On the day of hanging, the guilty sow was dressed in a waistcoat, gloves, pair of drawers and a human mask, before hanging. According to the available receipts of this incident, the hangman received a payment of ten sous and ten deniers and a pair of new gloves to drag the sow and perform the hanging in the public. To your surprise my friends, all other local breeders were told to bring their animals or cattle, to attend the hanging, so that they can also see it and this could serve as an example to them.
Another such incident took place in December 1457, when a sow along with her six piglets was convicted for murdering a five-year-old boy. The judge sentenced the sow to death, saying that she should be hanged from a tree by her hind legs. Although the six piglets were arrested as an accomplice, there was no direct evidence against them and by virtue of their innocence, they were let go.
Many other such cases took place in medieval time. As for why such horrific punishments were given, there’s no specific answer to it. Different historians who studied the animal trial, suggest different reasons based on their point of view. Some say that people around that time used to believe that animals were the same as humans, they didn’t know the difference between the rationality of an animal and a human, some historians also say that this also may have been due to a Christian notion.
What’s your point of view on this matter?
Middle age is considered the most strange and infamous age of all ages so far. The horrific animal trials, that dates back to the 13th or 14th century is some of the most bizarre trends from middle age. Among all the most unique was the Falaise sow trial, in which a sow was dressed in human clothes and a human mask and hanged publicly for killing an infant.
The hangman of this incident received payment of ten sous and ten deniers for dragging and hanging the sow and purchasing a new glove. The gloves were to replace the ones to be used in the hanging of the pig as a way to absolve the executioner of his sins. Other local breeders were told to attend the hanging with their animals so that it can serve as an example to all. Many other such trials took place in medieval times where animals were executed publicly, but pigs are said to be the most frequent ones.