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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 1041: Animals and Criminality

Wednesday 5 July 2023, 09.00-10.30

Sponsor:MAD (Medieval Animal Data Network), Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest/Wien
Organiser:Gerhard Jaritz, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Moderator/Chair:Alice Choyke, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Paper 1041-aAnimals in Statutory Provisions and Criminality of Medieval Dubrovnik
(Language: English)
Gordan Ravančić, Croatian Institute of History, Zagreb
Index terms: Daily Life, Law
Paper 1041-bMisbehaving Beasts and Humans: Animal Crimes and Animals as Symbol
(Language: English)
Andrea Vanina Neyra, Instituto Multidisciplinario de Historia y Ciencias Humanas, Universidad de Buenos Aires / Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina
Index terms: Daily Life, Law
Paper 1041-cThe Praxis of Animal Thefts
(Language: English)
Gerhard Jaritz, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Index terms: Daily Life, Social History

The session will deal with the variety of connections and contexts of medieval criminality with animals, in their passive or active involvement. The analysed source material will mainly concentrate on any kind of norms, on literature, and on court records.

Paper -a:
Although Eastern Adriatic medieval communes largely based their economy on crafts and trade, primary agrarian activities and animal husbandry were never eliminated from their economic flows and systems. In fact, in these systems, livestock farming and trade in animals and animal products were crucial for some of these communes. Accordingly, animals and their use are mentioned in town statutes of Dalmatian communes.
On the other hand, usage and exploitation of animals in everyday life sometimes led towards destruction of someone's private property. Such cases often resulted in criminal charges against animals and their owners. Moreover, in the life of the medieval town, animals also had some less conspicuous roles, which will also be described herein even though available written sources contain relatively scarce evidence on the matter.

Paper -b:
Animals, real or symbolic, inhabit chronicles and hagiographic texts from Central Europe in the 10th and 11th centuries. They perform 'crimes' - sometimes instigated by human beings-, they attack churches or ecclesiastics in acts which are usually interpreted as a symbol of obstacles, signs of misfortune or even miraculously resulting events.
This paper aims to explore such occasions, in particular when the animals involved are an expression of adversities which need to be surpassed by ecclesiastics whose authority or influence is questioned by other lords or needs to be established/secured. The documentary corpus includes texts such as the Vita Burchardi, Thietmar's Chronicle and Brun of Querfurt's Life of the Five Brethren. The question behind this research is to what extent such stories contribute to build or reinforce the ecclesiastics' authority or impact in specific (mostly troubled) contexts.

Paper -c:
The paper will not deal with normative sources but concentrate on the analysis of cases out of court material, etc. that will offer information on the praxis and performance of animal theft, mainly in late medieval Central Europe.