Almería Silk and the French Feudal Imaginary

Toward a “Material” History of the Medieval Mediterranean
  • Sharon Kinoshita
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Just after their marriage, Chrétien de Troyes’s protagonists Erec and Enide lead a procession to church, where Erec donates 60 silver marks and a gold crucifix containing a piece of the True Cross once belonging to Emperor Constantine. Enide then approaches the altar, prays for the birth of an heir, and makes her offering:1

Puis a ofert desor l’autel

un paisle vert, nus ne vit tel,

et une grant chasuble ovree;

tote a fin or estoit brosdee,

et ce fu veritez provee

que l’uevre an fist Morgue la fee

el Val Perilleus, ou estoit;

grant antante mise i avoit.

D’or fu de soie d’Aumarie;

la fee fet ne l’avoit mie

a oes chasuble por chanter,

mes son ami la volt doner

por feire riche vestemant,

car a mervoille ert avenant;

Ganievre, par engin molt grant,

la fame Artus le roi puissant,

l’ot par l’empereor Gassa;

une chasuble feite an a,

si l’ot maint jor en sa chapele

por ce que boene estoit et bele;

quant Enide de li torna,

cele chasuble li dona;

qui la verité an diroit,

plus de cent mars d’argent valoit. (2353-76, emphasis added)

[Then she placed on the altar a green paille, the likes of which no one had seen, and a great embroidered chasuble all embroidered in pure gold. It was well known that Morgan la Fay had made it in Val Perilleus. She had taken great care over it. It was of gold Almería silk. The fairy hadn’t at all made it to be a chasuble to sing mass in, but wanted to give it to her lover to make a rich garment out of. Through a clever scheme, Guenevere, wife of the powerful King Arthur, got it through Emperor Gassa. She had a chasuble made from it, and had kept it in her chapel for a long time, for it was good and beautiful. When Enide left her, she gave her this chasuble; in truth, it was worth more than a hundred silver marks.]


Twelfth Century Shared Culture Rock Crystal Arabic Inscription Clever Scheme 
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    This passage occurs in an interpolation unique to BN 794, attributed to the scribe Guiot of Provins. Chrétien de Troyes, Erec et Enide, ed. Mario Roques (Paris: Champion, 1976), p. xlix.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© E. Jane Burns 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon Kinoshita

There are no affiliations available

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