Dyrene for retten: Et historieprojekt om retsforfølgelse af dyr i middelalderen og tidlig moderne tid

Victor Emil Kuhlman Pedersen, Andreas Søndergaard Petersen, Christoffer Schyth Kjær & Andreas Holm Hansen

Studenteropgave: Kandidatprojekt


This paper examines, why trials against animals has occurred throughout time from medieval to early modern period, and how is it an expression of ritualization. The project is based around the thesis: “How can ritual theory be used to understand the social order at stake in trials against animals in medieval Europe and early modern times?”. The modern historiography of trials against animals began in earnest in 1906, when Professor Edmund Payson Evans published his work The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals. In the work Evans collected 193 different examples, ranging from the year 824 to 1906, where everything from livestock such as dogs and pigs to pests such as rats and grasshoppers were prosecuted by humans. One of the cases that Evans found, took place in Denmark in the city of Als. It is the focal point of this paper, as it is the only known Danish source on trials against animals before 1750. The case concerns a group of voles that caused damage to the local citizens' fields. Since the pioneering work of Evans, quite few historians have dealt with the subject and no one has included theory of ritualization in explaining the phenomenon. By incorporating Catherine Bell's ritual theory and her concepts of the group-forming factor of ritualization and the six ritual categories, of which rites of affliction is the most useful, this paper explains the social order that was present in trials against animals. The trials therefore provide an understanding of the social order that prevailed among the persons who participated in them, because the litigation on a subconscious level in the population has helped creating and maintaining societies in the social hierarchies that have existed. This is based on the experience that each individual has gained from being part of the trials.

UddannelserHistorie, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) KandidatJournalistik, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato17 dec. 2019
Antal sider57
VejledereEmil Lauge Christensen


  • dyreretssager
  • ritualisering
  • Catherine Bell
  • Edmund Evans
  • ritualteori