Wednesday, 18 March 2015

docket or kangaroo court

Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe until the Enlightenment, it was not uncommon to see animals put on trial, often times provided with a defense counsel, and with due-process served, summarily executed.

Often the allegations levied against these barnyard creatures was for injuring their master, destruction of crops or for being barren—but sometimes the scope of the law was extended to more esoteric miscarriages, with pets charged with being familiars of certain known amici curiae, wolves along with their human avatars tried for being werewolves, and there is documentation of a rooster in Basel being burnt at the stake for the unnatural accomplishment of laying an egg, which hatched and loosed a cockatrice—a bipedal dragon with a chicken head, on the village. At least the domesticated poor beasts had a court-provided advocate in most cases.