Damien Kempf: “The Hanged Sow: Animal Trials in the Middle Ages”

3:30pm - 5:00pm / Wednesday 5th February 2020 / Venue: Seminar Room 10, Rendall Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
  • Add this event to my calendar

    When you click on "Add this event to my calendar" your browser will download an ics file.

    Microsoft Outlook: Download the file, then you may be able to click on "Save & Close" to save it to your calendar. If that doesn't work go into Outlook, click on the File tab, then on Open, then Import. Select "Import an iCalendar (.ic or vCalendar file (.vcs)" then click on Next. Find the .ics file and click on OK.

    Google Calendar: download the file, then go into your calendar. On the right where it says "Other calendars" click on the arrow icon and then click on Import calendar. Click on Browse and select the .ics file, then click on Import.

    Apple Calendar: download the file, then you can either drag it to Calendar or import the file by going to File > Import > Import and choosing the .ics file.

In December 1457, in the French town of Savigny, a sow and her six piglets killed an infant. The seven pigs were caught in the act, imprisoned and brought to trial. If the owner of the pig was accused only of negligence, the sow, on the other hand, faced the death sentence. After hearing testimony, the judge sentenced the animal to hanging by her hind legs, in accordance with the custom in Burgundy. The six piglets escaped death since no one could prove they participated in the crime. We have about two hundred records of animal trials across Europe in the late medieval and early modern period. This paper will address the significance of animal trials, particularly in relation to the role and symbolism of animals in medieval society.