Animals and violence

Medieval humanism, ‘medieval brutality’, and the carnivorous vegetarianism of Margery Kempe

Authored by: Karl Steel

The Routledge Companion to Animal–Human History

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138193260
eBook ISBN: 9780429468933
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



The division between humans and nonhuman animals was central to medieval European Christianity’s professional thought. Many of these medieval claims have persisted long into the present, chiefly, that among forms of mortal life, only humans possess language, free will, and moral responsibility. A study of medieval thinking and practices of dividing humans from animals thus offers a chance to rethink contemporary methods of dividing humans from nonhumans, in part because the very uncanniness of medieval articulations of these divisions – belonging at once to the Middle Ages and a present that believes itself to have surpassed the medieval – may render modern humanisms equally unfamiliar.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.