In modern times, animals who harm or kill humans are typically euthanized immediately. Although somewhat controversial, it’s an understandable solution to many as it prevents the animal from doing the same thing again. Animals were killed the same way in medieval times, but unlike today, they were put to trial before execution — much like what would be done if the culprit was a human being.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, there were several accounts of pigs being put to trial and executed for their crimes. Such was the case in the late 1400s when a pig was arrested for killing an infant. Jehan Lenfant was a farm owner in Clermont, France, and on a particularly busy day, he left his infant in his cradle to guard cattle. His wife, Gillon, was out in the village for the day, per Medievalists. The couple’s baby was left unattended when a pig entered the home and brutally attacked the infant. According to witness accounts of the incident, the pig “disfigured and ate the face and neck of the said child, which, consequence of the bites and defacements inflicted by the said pig, departed this life.”
Trial, conviction, and execution
The pig was caught and arrested. It was treated just like a criminal and imprisoned in an abbey while awaiting trial. The pig was eventually tried in front of the villagers, and after hearing testimonies and witnesses, the judge read his ruling on the incident. He said that an example must be made and justice must be maintained, therefore he sentenced the “porker” to execution via hanging in the gallows, according to Medievalists.
As strange as it sounds, there are several accounts of pigs being tried for their crimes, particularly in France. Most of the cases involved pigs attacking and mutilating children, and like the pig in the Lenfant baby’s case, they were brought to trial and executed thereafter either by hanging or burning, as reported by Medium. The last recorded incident of a pig being convicted was in 1864 in Slavonia. In that particular case, a pig was found guilty and executed for biting an infant girl’s ears off.
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