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Prison Pets in the French Revolution

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Beasts behind bars - Katharine MacDonogh tells the tale of the animals forced to share their owners' fall from grace after 1789.

It is appropriate that the end of the French Enlightenment should coincide with the publication of the last volume of the Comte de Buffon's hugely popular Histoire Naturelle in 1788. Whereas the philosophes of the eighteenth century had sought to upgrade the beast to the level of Man, the Revolution would degrade Man to the level of beast. Dogs, Buffon believed, learned to be civilised through living with humans; the miniature pedigree dog of the social elite was ipso facto superior to the kennelled working dog.


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