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As a general rule, European legal systems took “crimes,” committed by animals very seriously. Thorough investigations were conducted. Some of the best legal talent available were assigned to assist animal defendants with their cases. When possible, the court made an effort to determine the character of an individual animal. These trials were such an important part of popular culture, that playwrights from Shakespeare to Racine referred to them in their works. Taylor will help us to make sense of a world that seems incredible and fantastic to contemporary observers.
Jamie K. Taylor, associate professor of English, is an expert on the British legal system and culture of the Middle Ages.