(Wired) On September 5, 1379, two herds of pigs at a French monastery grew agitated and killed a man named Perrinot Muet. As was custom at the time, the pigs—the actual murderers and those that had simply looked on—were tried for their horrible crime, and sentenced to death. You see, with their “cries and aggressive actions,” the onlookers “showed that they approved of the assault,” and mustn’t be allowed to escape justice.
But the monastery’s prior, Friar Humbert de Poutiers, couldn’t bear to suffer the economic loss of all those pigs. So he wrote to the Duke of Burgundy, pleading for him to pardon the onlookers (the friar would allow the three murderers to suffer their fate—he was no scofflaw, after all). The duke “lent a gracious ear to his supplication and ordered that the punishment should be remitted and the swine released.” Records don’t show just how the three pigs were executed, though it was common for offending animals to be hanged or burned alive for their crimes.