Cold-Blooded Murderers: Birds, Beasts, and Insects on Trial in Medieval Europe and Beyond

Timeline

Timeline of animal trials identified by Émile Agnel in Curiosités judiciaires et historiques du moyen âge. Procès contre les animaux (1858)

Map

Map of animal trials identified by Edward Payson Evans in The criminal prosecution and capital punishment of animals (1906).

Charts

Recorded Instances of Animal Trials by Type of Animal

 

Recorded Instances of Animal Trials by Sex of Animal

Avenues of Inquiry & Further Reading

What can animal trials tell us about how humans conceived of animals in medieval and Renaissance Europe?
Where to start?

Harrison, Peter. “Descartes on Animals.” The Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 167, 1992, pp. 219–227. (DOI: 10.2307/2220217)

Cohen, Esther. “Animals in Medieval Perceptions: The Image of the Ubiquitous Other.” Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives, 1994, pp. 59–80. (Library catalog)

How do animal trials figure into the broader role of ecclesiastical courts in the middle ages?
Where to start?

Pound, Roscoe. “The Legal Profession in the Middle Ages.” Notre Dame Law Review, vol. 19, no. 3, 1944, pp. 229-244. http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndlr/vol19/iss3/2
Full list of additional resources and further reading.

Source Material

Raw Data

A sortable table of data chronicling recorded instances of animal trials, gathered from Evans’ The criminal prosecution and capital punishment of animals (1906). This data underlies the maps and charts presented on this site.