BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas


The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison


History of the worsted manufacture in England

by John James

Excerpt:

• Orat34.

CHAPTER II.

HISTORY OF THE MANUFACTURE DURING THE MIDDLE AGES.

Flourishing state of the Manufacture in Constantinople and the East—Its Rise and Progress in Italy.—Greatly promoted hy the Religious Orders.—Florence renowned for the Fabrication of Clothing from Wool, so early as the thirteenth century.—Venice traded with Constantinople for Woollens and Worsteds.— Afterwards a great depot for these Articles.—Mohair made in Italy about the Year 1420.—Early Establishment of the Manufacture in the Netherlands — Principal Mart for Cloths and Worsteds at Bruges.—Decline of the Trade from the Commotions in the Low Countries, and afterwards from the Persecutions of Philip II.—Gaul celebrated under the Roman Emperors for its Manufactures from Wool.—Under Charlemagne.—Low State of Manufactures in France.— Principally supplied by the Flemish.—Spain in the Middle Ages distinguished for its Worsted Fabrics.—The Moors of that Country expert Weavers.—Curious Particulars respecting the Ancient Manufacture in Barcelona.—The Manufacturers of that City very celebrated Makers of Worsteds.—On the Conquest of South America the Clothing Arts declined in Spain.

On the downfall of the Roman Empire, arts and literature were alike swept away from Western Europe by the victorious barbarians; and its clothing arts, especially in a cultivated and decorative form, became nearly extinct. In truth the Romans had never been much celebrated in the ancient world for their skill and taste in these branches of industry, so that during the latter periods of the Empire, and for some centuries after its dismemberment, Constantinople, as the capital of the Eastern portion, became the seat of excellence in every species of woven manufactures. Owing to the happiness of her situation, the industry and ingenuity of her people, the patronage and presence of the Emperors, the constant influx and reflux of foreigners, bringing with them the productions and improved arts of their own countries, Constantinople stood

c

at the head of the civilized world. Dr. Robertson, in his felicitous language, observes, that it "was the greatest as well "as the most beautiful city in Europe, and the only one in "which there remained any image of the ancient elegance "in manners and arts." But what is more to our purpose, he also notes "that manufactures of the most curious fabrics "were carried on in its dominions."*

For several centuries after the sack of Rome, the woollen, worsted, and silk handicrafts were still practised to a large extent throughout the whole of the Eastern Empire; and even long survived its wreck. Here indeed was the original seat of the worsted manufactures, where from the most remote times they had, without intermission, been carried on by artizans, who for manual dexterity and skill were, in all periods, distinguished among the most expert weavers; and who peculiarly excelled in producing worsted articles of great delicacy of structure, and beauty of finish and colour. Throughout the early periods of the Christian Era, the Greeks were notable for the variety and beauty of their manufactures from wool. A distinct account of these so early as the tenth century has been transmitted to us.f While the Saracenic Empire lasted, the clothing arts were, in all their branches, carried to great excellence both in spinning and weaving, as well as in the dyes imparted to their fabrics. The productions of the looms of Bagdad, Damascus, and other of the great oriental manufacturing cities, were eagerly sought for and purchased at great price during the middle ages.

Nearly every vestige of civilization in classic Italy was destroyed by the Goths in the fifth century. After a succession of dark and dreary ages, the deluge of barbarism, which covered the face of society in the West, gradually subsided, and commercial enterprise began to revive. Many free cities arose in Southern Italy. Naples, Amalfi, and other of the maritime cities of Italy became independent states, began


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