‘Can You Steal a Peacock? Animals in Early Modern Law’

Can you steal a peacock? Jurists once debated this question and, for a time at least, said ‘no’. As animals meant for pleasure rather than for profit, peacocks were not ‘larcenable’. Our treatment of animals today is generally premised on seeing them only in relation to ourselves, rather than as entities with lives and rights of their own. Much the same can be said of animals’ appearances in early modern laws, though with a few unexpected twists that throw some of our own ideas into contrast and that do show some change over time …” (more)

[Krista J Kesselring, Legal History Miscellany, 22 April]

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