How it all started in the past
Date : 14/11/2017
Like a bed time story !
According to a story by Procopius, it was not until 552 CE that the Byzantine emperor Justinian obtained the first silkworm eggs. That's kind of fascinating ! He had sent two Nestorian monks to Central Asia, and they were able to smuggle silkworm eggs to him hidden in rods of bamboo. While under the monks' care, the eggs hatched, though they did not cocoon before arrival. The church manufacture in the Byzantine Empire was thus able to make fabrics for the emperor, with the intention of developing a large silk industry in the Eastern Roman Empire, using techniques learned from the Sassanids. These gynecia had a legal monopoly on the fabric, but the empire continued to import silk from other major urban centres on the Mediterranean. The magnificence of the Byzantine techniques was not a result of the manufacturing process, but instead of the meticulous attention paid to the execution and decorations. The weaving techniques they used were taken from Egypt. The first diagrams of semple looms appeared in the 5th century
Among the Arabs
The Arabs, with their widening conquests, spread sericulture across the shores of the Mediterranean, leading to the development of sericulture in North Africa, Andalusia and Sicily.The interactions among Byzantine and Muslim silk-weaving centers of all levels of quality, with imitations made in Andalusia and Lucca, among other cities, have made the identification and date of rare surviving examples difficult to pinpoint.
Among the chinese
While the Chinese lost their monopoly on silk production, they were able to re-establish themselves as major silk supplier (during the Tang dynasty), and to industrialize their production in a large scale (during the Song dynasty). China continued to export high-quality fabric to Europe and the Near East along the silk road.
After the start of the Crusades, techniques of silk production began to spread across Western Europe. In 1147 while Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos was focusing all his efforts on the Second Crusade, the Norman king Roger II of Sicily attacked Corinth and Thebes, two important centres of Byzantine silk production. They took the crops and silk production infrastructure, and deported all the workers to Palermo, thereby causing the Norman silk industry to flourish. The sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 brought decline to the city and its silk industry, and many artisans left the city in the early 13th century. Italy developed a large domestic silk industry after 2000 skilled weavers came from Constantinople. Many also chose to settle in Avignon to furnish the popes of Avignon.
Among the Europeans
The sudden boom of the silk industry in the Italian state of Lucca, starting in the 11th and 12th centuries was due to much Sicilian, Jewish, and Greek settlement, alongside many other immigrants from neighbouring cities in southern Italy.With the loss of many Italian trading posts in the Orient, the import of Chinese styles drastically declined. Gaining momentum, in order to satisfy the rich and powerful bourgeoisie's demands for luxury fabrics, the cities of Lucca, Genoa, Venice and Florence were soon exporting silk to all of Europe. In 1472 there were 84 workshops and at least 7000 craftsmen in Florence alone.