Thursday, October 7, 2010

Animals in Court

I was doing random searches trying to find possible bibliographical data for my paper and came across a couple of webpages dealing with the trial and/or execution of animals for a variety of offenses against humans as well as witnesses and character references! Punishment for guilty animals included exile, excommunication, execution, and damnation and consideration was taken by the court regarding age, sex and infirmity, just as if the animal was human. If animals don't have the rational soul with gives them free will, intellect, and memory, how can they be held accountable for their actions in a court of law? By thier very actions, they are fulfilling the existence that God created them for, so how can that be considered a crime? I'm very curious as to the logic of this since - from what i can tell - this was not an extremely rare occurence. Yet it seems to clash with the whole system of logic that was in place during this time period regarding the place of animals in the medieval world.


PS: I've already decided on a topic for my paper and since I'm a MAPSS student, i am keeping it semi focused on my larger thesis. Therefore, i can't use this idea but it would make for such an entertaining paper i can't resist putting the idea out there for someone else to use (if you are having difficulties coming up with a paper topic).

1 comment:

  1. Oooh! Very cool. Maybe, as they are clearly NOT fulfilling their intended role (presumably God doesn't want them to kill people), medieval people felt these animals needed to be ostracized or killed either to prevent the contamination of other animals or provoking the anger of God?