09 October 2005

Walter Woodburn Hyde on Porcine Justice

One of the most amusing cases of the trial of a domestic animal was that of a sow together with her six pigs at Savigny-sur-Etang, in Bourgogne, France, in January, 1457. The charge against her was murdering and partly devouring an infant. The sow was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, though her offspring, partly because of their youth and innocence and the fact that their mother had set them a bad example, but chiefly because proof of their complicity was not forthcoming, were pardoned.

(Walter Woodburn Hyde, “The Prosecution and Punishment of Animals and Lifeless Things in the Middle Ages and Modern Times,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 64 [1916]: 696-730, at 707 [footnote omitted])

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