CRIMINAL PROSECUTION & CAPITAL PUNISHMENT OF ANIMALS - 1st 1906 - ANIMAL RIGHTS
Book Details + Condition: William Heinemann (London). First Edition, 1906. Scarce. 384 pages with animal court cases to rear. Hardcover. Blue cloth boards, with gilt-lettered on spine. This pioneering work by E.P. Evans examines the legal history of criminal trials and the consequent prosecution of animals. Evans provides insight into such issues as animal rights, capital punishment, and social and criminal theory, through the examination of court cases with animals ranging from chickens, rats, mice, gnats, pigs, and many others. Such trials took place in Europe from the 13th century through to the 18th century. Animals, including insects, faced the possibility of criminal charges for several centuries across many parts of Europe.
The earliest extant record of an animal trial is the execution of a pig in 1266 at Fontenay-aux-Roses. The author suggests a distinction between trials of specific animals or crimes, and trials for larger catastrophic evens (such as plagues and infestations) - often linking those to witchcraft. Animal defendants appeared before both church and secular courts, and the offences alleged against them ranged from murder to criminal damage. Human witnesses were often heard, and in ecclesiastical courts the animals were routinely provided with lawyers. If convicted, it was usual for an animal to be executed or exiled. A section of the book deals with the trial and prosecution and re-execution of corpses. The belief held that if a human criminal died before he was convicted in a court of law, they would return as restless ghosts, vampires of werewolves.
An overall firm and clean copy of a scarce work, with tight binding; rubbed and lightly bumped corners and edges; fading present to boards and spine (mainly to extremities); chafed spine ends; toned endpapers; bookplate of Catholic priest and book collector to inside front board (ca. 1920s); interior is clean and free of markings.