History of the weavers

Birth and growth of the Fabrique of Lyon

Louis XI had a dream in 1466 … François I made it come true in 1536!
Silk weaving was officially established in Lyon under the initiative of François I (after Louis II's unsuccessful attempt). The first workshops producing “gold, silver and silk fabrics” borrowed techniques from the Italians, who had been very active in Lyon since the Renaissance. However, the Fabrique Lyonnaise really established itself in 1536 (through the influence of Turquet and Naris).
Lyon was quite a small city in the middle Ages. It’s during the Renaissance (15th and 16th centuries) that it expands (from 30 000 to 100 000 inhabitants), as the weaving of the silk becomes a proper activity: there were 15 000 looms in Lyon. In the two centuries that followed, there was 40% of the population that was working as weavers.
300 to 400 contractors make Lyon a famous city for silk weaving. Thanks to them, Lyon receives orders from all Europe. In addition, the city was lucky to have many inventors, who improve the art of weaving: amongst them, Dangon’s “pulling” work on the looms.
The talent of the designers who followed on from one after another (such as Revel, Pillement and Philippe de Lassalle) made Lyon a capital city of silk in the 18th century.
The French Revolution was a disaster for the city, which suffered from the lack of orders that normally came from the nobility and from the clergy.
A better period arrived with the impetus given by Napoleon who had undertaken to decorate his palaces and dress his court. This new boom was also largely due to the Jacquard mechanics.
The weavers were at this time located in the old part of the city and in the Peninsula, but they lacked of space and light.
From 1812 on, people started building the Croix Rousse area. The Croix Rousse had a lot to offer:

-    The location next to "place des Terreaux", where the fabricants had their offices
-    There were many empty spaces, which could be constructed
-    The air had the reputation to be pure
-    There was no tax

The architecture was created especially for the weavers: apartments with large windows (4m high) and visible beams.