Saturday, January 17, 2015

Medieval Pigs

From The History Girls:
Salted or smoked pork and bacon were the vital food that enabled peasant families to survive winter in the Middle Ages. It was food for free. In summer pigs, were fed on food scraps, waste from crops and even seaweed, and in autumn they were let loose in forest to fatten on the ‘mast’ which included beechnuts, acorns and roots. When the Normans prevented Saxon pannage by closing the forests to keep them just for hunting, they were condemning many families to starvation. The impression we get from Robin Hood movies is that it was being banned from hunting in the forest that the Saxons resented, but this was minor irritation compared to the life or death issue of the Normans preventing domestic pigs foraging in the forest. Not surprisingly the villagers’ right to pannage was bitterly contested right up to the reign of King John and with good reason.

Even in medieval towns, pigs would roam the streets feeding off the middens and market waste. There were attempts from time to time control this, but, after every crack down, the pigs would end up back on the streets. Officially, the only pigs which were allowed to forage freely in towns were St Antony’s pigs. (Read more.)


Marie-Jacqueline said...

Very appropriate for today, January 17, Elena, since it is the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, patron of pigs and swineherds.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you for telling me. I had no idea St. Anthony of Egypt was the patron saint of swine herds!