Bibliophilia: Autun, France V. A Bunch of Rats

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals
The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals

One of my great joys in life is reading about famous animals. There is something so absurd about how their biographies are written that I just can’t resist them. Most Wikipedia pages on famous animals will even include sections sincerely titled Personal Life and Retirement. As an example here is a brief excerpt from the biography of famous military goat, William Windsor. The excerpt comes under the heading of Temporary Demotion:

Billy was charged with “unacceptable behaviour”, “lack of decorum” and “disobeying a direct order”, and had to appear before his commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Huw James. Following a disciplinary hearing, he was demoted to fusilier.The change meant that other fusiliers in the regiment no longer had to stand to attention when Billy walked past, as they had to when he was a lance corporal.

What make’s William Windsor’s “lack of decorum” even funnier is that his behavior took place at a parade that was supposed to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday. So, basically the hi-jinks of any fraternity movie come to life. Had only the Queen bitten her pearls in dismay while his commanding officer shouted “WINDOSR,” it could have been perfect. Yet, as near perfect as William Windsor’s shenanigans and demotion might have been, his trial is only one of hundreds worth reading about. And when reading about animals on trial no page is better turned than that of E. P. Evans’ The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals.

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