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
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
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
- 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.