Anti-cruelty, violence and the law. Animal protection in early 19th-century England

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


In 1822 the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed The Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act, which today is considered to be an important forerunner to modern animal protection and anti-cruelty legislation. However, the new Enlightenment attitudes to animals stemmed from an overly anthropocentric perception of the natural world and the place of the human animal in it. At the heart of the movement against the mistreatment of animals was a growing fear of the moral decay of society.
What follows is an account of the parliamentary debates prior to the adoption of the 1822 act. The article explores significant aspects of the perceptions and responses to animal violence as viewed through the lens of anti-cruelty. By examining the key perspectives of these debates, the article aims to explore the relationship between anti-cruelty, violence and the law.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGewalt gegen Tiere
EditorsDaniel Lau
ISBN (Print)978-3-948157-07-4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameArgos – Historical & Archaeological Animal Studies/ Argos – historische & archäologische Tierstudien

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Law and Society


  • Animal protection
  • Violence against animals
  • The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • The Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act
  • Enlightenment sensibility and animal ethics


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