Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Value of a Cat...according to Medieval Welsh law.

You may have twigged by now that I'm a bit of a cat fanatic. I love them for their independance, their honesty and sheer cute furryiness. But centuries ago, when times were tough a pet was expected to earn their keep, and as such had a value. In Medieval times cats were valued as catchers of mice and even had a price according to their skill, as laid down in the 10th century Welsh ‘Law of Hywel Dda.’
This states:

‘The value of a kitten from the night it is born until it opens its eyes, one legal penny;
And from then until it kills mice, two legal pence;
And after it kills mice, four legal pence,
And at that it remains for ever.
Her properties are to see and hear and kill mice.’

Although Old English Law stated cats and dogs were:
‘Not property, being base by nature,’
the medieval Welsh Dimetian Code laid down that if a husband and wife separatede and their chattels needed to be divided;

‘The husband takes the cat if there were only one, it there were others then they are taken by the wife.’

No comment is made about what happens to the children of the marriage!

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