Pig and human history timeline
1501 to 1750 AD

1502 (- 1504)
In a small irony, after transporting the first 8 domestic pigs to come to the new world on his 2nd voyage (1493-1496), Christopher Columbus discovers peccaries (Tayassu tajacu), North America’s native relatives of the pig, in Jamaica during his 4th voyage.
c. 1520
Flemish artist Joachim Patinir, often called “the first landscape painter” completes Rest During the Flight into Egypt in which a placid Madonna nurses her child before a panoramic landscape of fantasy and reality, dotted with strange architecture, the tiny figures of peasants cutting their wheat and a sow suckling her piglets.
Truffles are popularized by Catherine de’ Medici, queen of Henry II of France, whose passion for the fungi starts the French digging enthusiastically for truffles, and even training pigs and dogs to sniff them out.
c. 1534
Henry VIII orders new notepaper for himself with a watermark depicting the continence of a pig wearing a tiara and intended to be a satirical attack on the Roman Catholic Pope, Clement VII, through its emblematical depiction of a brutish creature in a bejeweled crown. The Pope had refused to grant the divorce of Henry from Catherine of Aragon, which led to Henry’s break with the Roman Catholic Church by the Act of Supremacy and Henry’s claim that the king was to be the head of the of the new Church of England.
A “pig of the ocean” is seen in the German Ocean [North Sea] and is reported by Swedish historian Olaus Magnus as a fierce and “monstrous hog” with a hogs head, numerous eyes including one in its naval and a forked tail like that of a fish.
Hernando de Soto, discoverer of the Mississippi River, introduced hogs to North America when he lands at Tampa Bay with more than 600 men, 200 horses, and 13 to 15 hogs. Some hogs escape and become the ancestors to “razorbacks.” The rest grow to a heard of 700 at de Soto’s death three years later.
Spanish explorer Coronado, in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola, arrives in the American southwest with the first horses, hogs, cattle, sheep, and mules ever seen in the region.
French poet Clément Marot eats pork during Lent. He is condemned to be burned alive, but pardoned.
In Toledo, Spain, Elvira del Campo, the wife of a scrivener, is tortured by the Inquisition for the crime of refusing to eat pork.
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, favorite of Elizabeth I, rival of Sir Walter Raleigh and supporter of Francis Bacon kills the last wild boar in the English county of Essex.
c. 1601
Philip II of Spain becomes ill after gorging himself on bacon in an attempt to prove the extent of his Christian faith during the Inquisition, when any obvious distaste for pork is viewed as heretical because both Jewish and Muslim faiths forbade its consumption. He recovers and eight years later expels all the Moriscos — Moors who have converted to Christianity — from Spain for both religious and political grounds.
Carib Indians [Arawakan or Taino] of Hispaniola teach Spanish Buccaneers to cook pigs on a frame made of green wood which they call a “barboca” and thus the barbecue is born.
French speaking pirates refer to barbecue as “de barbe et queue” from beard to tail praising the versatile pig for its being edible and delicious from head to tail.
c. 1617
James I (1566-1625), King of England, son of Mary Queen of Scots, first Stuart king of England and sponsor of the King James Bible kills the last wild boar in the royal park at Windsor.
A “Pig-Faced Woman” named Tannakin Skinker, is allegedly born in Wirkham, England. For the next two centuries in the popular press of England, there will be baseless rumors of such creatures “looking to hire female attendants” or “seeking husbands.” The woman is usually said to be Irish.
Peter Evertsen Hulft, a director of the Dutch West Indies Company, imports the first heard of swine to Manhattan.
Speculation in tulip bulbs reaches new heights in the Netherlands, where one collector pays: eight pigs, 12 sheep, 1,000 pounds of cheese, four oxen, a bed, and a suit of clothes for a single bulb of the Viceroy tulip.
A creature known as a “sea hog” is described by John Swan in his book Speculum Mundi. It is described as a hogs head and the tusks of a boar, but a fishy body and tail and dragon’s feet.
“Smithfield” hams are shipped to England from the Virginia colony to be sold at London’s Smithfield Market which is taken over by the city after 516 years and is reorganized as a market for hogs and cattle.
c. 1641
Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland (1625-1649), tries to reintroduce wild boars to England by importing a breeding pair from Germany. Set loose in New Forest, the pair bred successfully but they and their progeny are quickly hunted to extinction by a zealous nobility.
Dutch genre painter, Adriaen van Ostade, paints The Slaughtered Pig. His favorite themes were depictions of village and peasant life.
During the English Civil War (1642-1648), the city of Gloucester, in Southwest-central England on the Severn River is under siege by a 30,000 man Royalist army loyal to Charles I and encamped in Tredworth Field. The townsfolk, out of ammunition and food, unfold a desperate plan where the city’s last remaining pig is walked around the city and repeatedly prodded with a pointed spike and made to squeal. Royalist spies, convinced by the squealing that the city has hundreds of pigs, report that the city could still hold out for months. The Royalists’ army broke camp and marched off on September 5th… Sadly, the pig, though praised, did not survive the ordeal.
Bandit rebels topple the Ming dynasty enabling the Manchus to seize power in China. Their Ch’ing (Qing) dynasty that will rule China until 1911, imposing on the people the shaven head with a pigtail or queue.
Spanish painter Diego Velázquez completes the painting King Philip IV on a Boar Hunt. Philip was a patron of the arts and, thanks to Velázquez, was perhaps the most frequently painted king in history.
A palisade called “The Wall” is erected at the northern edge of the city of New Amsterdam on southern Long Island. Although The Wall also served to keep out indians, it was marauding pigs — descendants of the Hulft heard who escaped into the forest — who were the primary foe the wall was intended to deter. The pigs sought to returned to the city to root up gardens and rummage trash piles. The street that paralleled the inside of this wall became the present day site of Wall Street in lower Manhatten.
By city ordinance, all hogs in Manhatten must henceforth have rings in their noses.
First recorded use of the English word buccaneer in its earlier sense from the French word boucanier, which referred to a person on the islands of Hispaniola and Tortuga who hunted wild boars and smoked the meat on a wood frame known in French as a boucan, from the indigenous barboca. Thus, the term buccaneer corresponds to the word barbecuer.
St. Anthony’s hospital is destroyed by the Great Fire of London.
New England’s Pilgrim colonists claim the Wampanoag Indians are stealing their pigs. The indians can’t understand the “owning” of an animal. King Philip’s War is fought and the Indians are exterminated. Pilgrims and pigs thrive.
c. 1680s
The last Dodo birds are seen on Mauritius and neighboring islands of the Mascarene group in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. Probably the most influential agent in the demise of the birds were pigs. Not native to the islands, pigs were left on there after 1599 by early Dutch sailors. They hoped the pigs would multiply and provide a tastier source of fresh meat on later visits than the dodos, which they called Walgvogel or “nauseating bird” because of the taste of its meat. The pigs most likely feasted on Dodo eggs, easily acquired from the flightless bird’s ground nests. Modern naturalists consider pigs were the single most effective agent in bringing about the Dodo’s extinction.
Oldest recorded use of the phrase “pigs and whistles” according to The Oxford English Dictionary where it is defined as “to be ruined.” Many British pubs have used the name PIG and WHISTLE, possibly since a person who frequents inns or pubs may also be considered by some to be going to ruin.
c. 1683
Wild boars become extinct in Britain.
The town of Bath, England erects a statue commemorating Prince Baldred who founded the city in 863 BC on the site of a miraculously healing hot spring and pig mud wallow which he discovered when he suffered from leprosy and was a social outcast and swineherd. The pigs, who first identified the healing power of the hot springs to Baldred, remain uncommemorated even unto present times.
Alchemists in Dresden, Germany, discover the secret of manufacturing “hard” porcelain of the type the Chinese have made for a thousand years. The word porcelain itself has a curious history. The substance itself received its European name from its tactile similarity to a seashell — the cowrie. The French call this shell porcelaine, after the Latin porcellana, from porcus. In each case, the shell is so called for its remarkable resemblance to the female organ of generation — for which, in turn, porca (i.e., “little pig”) was the Latin slang term.
The hairstyle of pigtails is introduced into the Prussian Army.
London’s pork, beef, lamb, and mutton for the next century and more will come largely from animals raised in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, landed by ship at Holyhead, driven across the Isle of Anglesey, made to swim half a mile across the Menai Straits to the Welsh mainland, and then driven 200 miles to Barnet, a village on the outskirts of London, to be fattened for the Smithfield Market. The meat will be generally tough and costly.
Botulism makes its first recorded appearance in one of the German states. An outbreak of the deadly food poisoning is traced to some pork sausages.
William Hogarth, English painter, satirist, and art theorist, completes his masterpiece, the series Marriage á la Mode, in which he depicts the meaningless and hedonistic existence of a fashionable couple and which includes a detail showing a hound seizing a pigs head from their dining table.

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.