The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages


The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages

By Joyce Salisbury

Second Edition
Routledge, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-415-78095-7

Publisher’s Synopsis: This important book offers a unique exploration of the use of and attitude towards animals from the 4th to the 14th centuries.

The Beast Within explores the varying roles of animals as property, food and sexual objects, and the complex relationship that this created with the people and world around them. Joyce E. Salisbury takes an interdisciplinary approach to the subject, weaving a historical narrative that includes economic, legal, theological, literary and artistic sources. The book shows how by the end of the Middle Ages the lines between humans and animals had blurred completely, making us recognise the beast that lay within us all.

This new edition has been brought right up to date with current scholarship, and includes a brand new chapter on animals on trial and animals as human companions, as well as expanded and updated discussions on fables and saints, and a new section on ‘bestial humans’. This important and provocative book remains a key work on the historical study of animals, as well as in the field of environmental history more generally, and also provides crucial context to ongoing debates on animal rights and the environment.

The second edition  includes a new chapter entitled “Animals as humans”, which explores pets in the Middle Ages and how animals were treated like humans in medieval courts, which included being executed for crimes.

Click here to see the Publisher’s website

Click here to listen to an interview with Joyce Salisbury about The Beast Within on the radio show New Books in History

See also: Animal Trials: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Sharan Newman