In 1522, in the district of Autun, France, a village was incensed to find that rats had eaten its barley crops. The townspeople took the matter to the ecclesiastical court, which duly investigated the “crime” and then delivered a summons to the rats ordering them to stand trial. A court official went to an area of the countryside where the rats were believed to live, and served notice in a loud and solemn declaration.
Berman, Paul Schiff (1994): ”Rats, Pigs, and Statues on Trial: The Creation of Cultural Narratives in the Prosecution of Animals and Inanimate Objects”, New York University Law Review, v.69 p.288