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"Law, Folklore and Animal Lore"
Esther Cohen
Past and Present, 110 (February), 1986, 6-37
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"Given the existent knowledge of past legal and institutional developments and of the evolving relationship between Úlite and popular cultural expressions, it is possible to attempt a long-term interpretation. One such practice, the criminal prosecution and execution of animals, may illustrate the interaction of various legal levels and cultural influences. These trials, documented in European legal history from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century, occupy an intermediate position between popular and Úlite legal culture. On the one hand, they were definitely not judicial folklore: the sentences were passed and executed in properly constituted courts of law by fully qualified magistrates, according to generally accepted laws. On the other hand, there is no question that they were an integral part of customary law and owed their continued existence partially to popular traditions and influences. ... Following the phenomenon through the warp and woof of legal history, from court-house to university and from customals to the gallows across centuries of changing perceptions of nature, law and justice, one might attempt an interpretation of continental European law as practised within its specific cultural context." - Cohen

Language: English

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