Attitude to animals in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages church paid much attention to animals, long "scientific" disputes were discussed about them. One held the op...

In the Middle Ages church paid much attention to animals, long "scientific" disputes were discussed about them. One held the opinion that animals - God's creations that have "immortal soul", others like the Italian cardinal Roberto Ballarmino, didn't believe in their afterlife and therefore regrets for animals who are fated to live only on the earth, the third held the opinion of the French monk Bonzho considering that animals are devils.

Judicial procedures over animals meet in the history of the Middle Ages. Pigs, bulls, cows, mules, horses, cats, dogs and chicken most often appeared in similar criminal procedure. Animals were considered as conscious beings and shall answer to the law for any crime committed by them or the property harm done by them to the person or the country.
The God's court was applied to animals.

Before saying a sentence, following words were sent to defendants: "You are the God's creature, I respect you. You possess the Earth as well as me; I shouldn't wish your death. But you harm and encroach on my heritage, you ruins my vineyards, you devours my harvest. Thus you deprives harvest of my work. Perhaps, I deserve it because I am no more not less as the unfortunate sinner. In any case the right strong is the nefarious right. I will explain you your fault, I will ask about God's mercy, I will specify the place where you will be able to exist, and then you have to leave; if you will persist, then I will damn you".

Also there were judicial procedures against the whole mass of the animals belonging to so-called dirty: mice, rats, moles, caterpillars, snakes. Animals were offered to leave the earth of the defendant (a community, the state) and when they refused they always damned and excommunicated from the church that was considered as the most severe punishment. For example, the bishop of Lausanne in 1120 has acted this way, having excommunicated caterpillars and field mice who didn’t obey to a sentence of court and in the next year he has separated flies who have got into church. The great Vicar in 1584 and 1585 has damned caterpillars which have appeared in dioceses. Oten's bishop publicly declared a rat excommunicated from church.
In medieval judicial books has remained record about how the court has decided to declare to call mice on all villages. However mice didn't appear on court. The lawyer has screened them, having declared that it is difficult for mice to come: they need to travel through the woods and ravines, streams and bogs, besides continually they are trapped by enemies - cats, foxes, owls. At last, he has delivered an ardent speech, proving that it is impossible to accuse all them and it is necessary to ascertain individually guilt of each mouse. And as it was impossible, judicial procedure had to be stopped. However, defend of the clients was not always sucessful. Sometimes rats and mice were sentenced to eviction. But always the court issued them charters of immunity that they were not eaten on the road by cats.

In the 13th century  the pig has been sentenced  to hanging in France for the fact that she has eaten the issue.
In 1268 the pig who has damaged the child has been condemned.
In 1314 the bull has been sentenced  to hanging for hitting people.
In 1389  the horse who has killed the person was executed.
In 1442 in Zurich judged a wolf. It was brought on court in cage and placed intocentral square where the court has taken place. The wolf was accused of murder of two girls. He had hot defenders. Nevertheless he has been condemned and executed.
In the 15th century a stallion was judged because of laziness and irascibility. By a court decision he has been killed with a cudgel.
In 1796 in Germany live bull was buried because of him reduction of scattle began.

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