An exploration of life in the early medieval West, using pigs as a lens to investigate agriculture, ecology, economy, and philosophy
In the early medieval West, from North Africa to the British Isles, pigs were a crucial part of agriculture and culture. In this fascinating book, Jamie Kreiner examines how this ubiquitous species was integrated into early medieval ecologies and transformed the way that people thought about the world around them. In this world, even the smallest things could have far‑reaching consequences.
Kreiner tracks the interlocking relationships between pigs and humans by drawing on textual and visual evidence, bioarchaeology and settlement archaeology, and mammal biology. She shows how early medieval communities bent their own lives in order to accommodate these tricky animals—and how in the process they reconfigured their agrarian regimes, their fiscal policies, and their very identities. In the end, even the pig’s own identity was transformed: at the close of the early Middle Ages, it had become a riveting metaphor for Christianity itself.
About the Author
Jamie Kreiner is an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia whose research focuses on the early Middle Ages. She is the author of The Social Life of Hagiography in the Merovingian Kingdom.
Winner of the George Perkins Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History
“Legions of Pigs is one of the best accounts of the early Middle Ages I have read.”—Paul Freedman, author of Ten Restaurants That Changed America and Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination
“One of the most original books I’ve read in a long time. Written with great verve, its exploration of porcine/human interactions is an interdisciplinary tour de force.”—Julia Smith, Chichele Professor of Medieval History, University of Oxford
“Jamie Kreiner’s book has a stunning range, from Iceland to the Islamic lands, showing how we cannot understand the medieval world at all unless we understand pigs. This was one of the most insightful and satisfying reads I have had for ages.”—Chris Wickham, author of The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages, 400-1000
“What a wonderful story, intermingling humans, animals, and plants in a unique world. Politics, economics, philosophy, and even society appear as never before, reaffirming the fact that we are not, and never have been, alone on Earth.”—Massimo Montanari, Bologna University
“Legions of Pigs is an engaging and refreshing investigation of how pigs factored within early medieval cultural and ecological settings. Resonating with current cultural and environmental preoccupations, it will no doubt have wide appeal.”—Michael MacKinnon, University of Winnipeg