Illustration of the Hotel Dieu, France. From wikipedia.org
In the twelfth century, half the householders of Paris kept pigs which roamed the streets in search of provender. As unofficial refuse collectors, they were invaluable, tut they tended to trip up pedestrians and tangle up traffic. After the heir to the throne had fractured his skull when a pig ran between his horse´s legs, an edict was issued that there should be no more pig-rearing in towns. Little attention seems to have been paid, however -or perhaps the custom waned and then increased again- for in the time of Francois I, four centuries later, the executioner was empowered to capture all the stray pigs he could find and take them to the Hotel Dieu for slaughter. London suffered from the same nuisance, and in 1292 four men were sworn in as ¨killers of swine¨ with the task of capturing and slaughtering ¨such swine as should be found wandering in the King´s highway, to whomsoever they might belong, within the walls of the City and the suburbs thereof¨. In such cities as Frankfurt and Nuremberg, it was the custom to keep not only pigs, but sheep, cows and fowls as well. There, curiously enough, it was the pigsties rather than the pigs which were regarded as anuisance, and in 1481 the Rath of Frankfurt was compelled to rule that pigsties should no longer be located in front of houses on the public street.
Hotel Dieu. From aspergillus.org.uk
Excerpt from The Fine Art of Food, by Reay Tannahill. Pages 58/59. Great Britain, 1970