Tinkle Facts
Unusual Laws From History
Writer: Aparna Sundaresan
Illustrator: Shivani Pednekar


There have been some truly baffling laws in history that even Tantri will not be implementing when he becomes king of Hujli. Take a look at these ridiculous laws. 

  • In medieval Europe, animals could be charged with crimes. For centuries, pigs, dogs, rats, grasshoppers, mice, locusts and even snails were tried for crimes, such as harming humans or damaging grains. 
  • In 1440, the Bishop of Treguire in France tried to ban la soule, a sport similar to football. He threatened players with banishment and a fine of 100 sol (the then currency), because he was convinced that the sport encouraged hatred and enmity. 
  • A 1651 law in Massachusetts, USA imposed a fine on anyone who wore rich and fancy clothes if they weren’t wealthy enough. Clothing with gold or silver lace or buttons, or silk hoods or scarves could only be worn by very rich people. 
  • In 1696, England imposed a window tax on houses with ten windows, which only increased with the number of windows. To avoid paying, many homeowners bricked up their windows. Living without sufficient light and ventilation led to diseases in people. Despite being very unpopular, the tax was repealed only in 1851. 
  • In 1698, Tsar Peter I of Russia banned beards in his country. He wanted Russia to compete with the rest of Europe and in his experience, not many Europeans had beards. This law was extremely unpopular and Peter realized that he could make more money if he fined beards instead. Thus was born the beard tax. 
  • Until 1976, it was required by law in London, UK for taxi drivers to carry a bale of hay on top of their cabs. That’s because taxis were originally horse-drawn carriages and drivers would carry hay to feed their horses. But horse-drawn carriages were replaced by cars long before 1976. 
  • In Western Australia, the Marketing of Potatoes Act of 1946 forbade anyone from selling, delivering, buying or taking a delivery of 50 kg (or even an amount that looked like 50 kg) or more of potatoes. Only members of the Potato Corporation or someone authorised by that body could do so. 
Joliman Lawyers
Legislation—Westers Australia
Historic UK
Smithsonian Magazine

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