vrijdag 2 mei 2014

Hanging the Monkey

A reflection on the monkey hangers of Hartlepool

While reading the book The Accidental Species by Henry Gee, I came across an interesting story. During the Napoleonic wars, a French ship was wrecked of the coast of Hartlepool. The only survivor was a monkey, supposedly wearing a French uniform as amusement for the crew. The people of Hartlepool captured the monkey and held a trial on the beach. They had never seen a Frenchman or a monkey, and because the monkey was unable to answer any of their questions, he was seen as a French spy. The animal was being found guilty, sentenced to death and hanged on the beach.

Drawing of the Hartlepool Monkey

An alternative theory is that it was not a monkey, but a young boy. In those times the term powder-monkey was used for children on warships that prepared the cannons with gunpowder.

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