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City of Beasts: The Impact of Quadrupeds in Hanoverian London

Almeroth-Williams, Thomas (2010) City of Beasts: The Impact of Quadrupeds in Hanoverian London. MA by research thesis, University of York.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

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In his classic study, Man and the Natural World (1983), Keith Thomas assumed and asserted that by 1800 the inhabitants of English cities, and particularly London, had become largely alienated from animal life. This study challenges this assumption by exploring the scale and impact of quadruped mammalian life in London during the period, 1714–1837. My research represents a deliberate shift in historical enquiry away from debates centred on the rise of kindness and humanitarianism, and towards the integration of animals into wider urban historiographies and a demonstration of how their presence shaped urban existence. My central aim is to highlight the power of animals to make profound and far-reaching changes in society, and specifically in the British metropolis. Much recent historiography has given particular attention to human cruelty to animals. Yet, the tendency to consider human-animal histories solely as narratives of abuse threatens not just to over-simplify complex phenomena but also to seriously underestimate the role of animals in society. I seek to redress this imbalance by re-asserting the significance of animal technologies and by placing animals at the centre of eighteenth-century urban, social and cultural histories. I begin by considering the scale and contribution of cattle and horses to the social and commercial life of the metropolis as well as their impact on the construction and use of the built environment. I then turn to the disruptive influence of animals and the challenge of ‘commanding’ the recalcitrant beast, by examining the problem of the ‘over-drove’ ox and of equine traffic accidents.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Mr Thomas Almeroth-Williams
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2011 12:54
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:45
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1234

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