Why was a pig executed in France in 1386?

(he was also provided human clothing for the trial)

There is a receipt for January 9, 1386, in which an executioner of Falaise, France acknowledges payment of ten sous and ten deniers for an execution. Normally it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, however, this was a special type of execution. The receipt reads:

for his efforts and salary for having dragged and then hanged at the [place of] Justice in Falaise a sow of approximately three years of age who had eaten the face of the child of Jonnet le Macon, who was in his crib & who was approximately three months old, in such a way that the said infant died from [the injuries], and [an additional] ten s. tournoise for a new glove when the Hangman performed the said execution: this receipt is given to Regnaud Rigaut, Vicomte de Falaise; the Hangman declares that he is well satisfied with this sum and that he makes no further claims on the King our Sire and the said Vicomte.

This is the only surviving piece of evidence that has grown up around the “Sow of Falaise”. It’s been alleged that the condemned pig was dressed up as a person for execution. And, it was supposed to be made an example for other animals, so other pigs were made to attend. The incident became so famous it has a depiction in a church fresco.

The fresco was painted in 1820, and the image with the pig was later added based on input from eyewitnesses. This is documented on the book, “The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals.

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