Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 1 of 1 items for

  • Author: Jennifer Lodine-Chaffey x
  • Refine by Access: All content x
  • Refine by Content Type: All x
Clear All Modify Search
Restricted access

The Queer Death of the Hanged Dog

The 1677 Execution of Mary Higgs’ Mongrel

Jennifer Lodine-Chaffey


Over the last forty years, scholars have interpreted the early modern public execution ritual variously as an affirmation of state power, a chance for victims to fashion a memorable identity on the scaffold, and a site of festivity for those gathered to witness. What, though, do we make of the public execution of a dog? This article considers the 1677 hanging of a dog and its female owner for the crime of bestiality, focusing on early modern English beliefs about animals, human sexuality, and punishment. In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, reasons for killing animals involved in bestiality found their basis in interpretations of biblical texts, anxieties about animal familiars, fears of crossbreeding, and a desire to maintain boundaries between beasts and humans. This dog's execution, which occurred publicly and was memorialized in print, complicates the usual understandings of public execution, effectively queering the ritual by destabilizing its meaning.