in City of beasts
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There was a powerful class dimension to human–animal interactions in the Georgian metropolis: animals benefited propertied Londoners most and plebeian men shared increasingly strenuous daily regimes with their equine co-workers. William Hogarth condemned those who worked with animals for being brutal, and historians often accept this at face value. But evidence of tangible interactions on the streets reveals that urbanisation and industrialisation denied drovers, coachmen and carters the conditions upon which the co-operation of their animals depended, and this put them in a perilous position. Some studies have suggested that eighteenth-century Londoners spearheaded a new compassion for animals in reaction to seeing so many acts of cruelty, but testimonies recorded in a parliamentary report into the Smithfield livestock trade, combined with other evidence of lived experiences, suggest that this is too simplistic. Many of the issues discussed in this book are relevant to debates about twenty-first-century urbanisation, social relations, animal welfare and ecological crisis – the story of a metropolis at the dawn of the modern age, in which animals were ubiquitous and essential, matters more than ever.

City of beasts

How animals shaped Georgian London



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