Excerpt from Report on Silk and Silk Manufactures Notwithstanding the antiquity of the use of silk, its nature was for a long time unknown, and its importation into the west was of recent date compared to its high antiquity in Asia.
The history of the introduction of the first eggs of the silk-worm into Constantinople during the reign of the Emperor Justinian is well known.
The Chinese, determined to retain the monopoly of the silk industry, forbade the exportation of the eggs under penalty of death. They were, nevertheless, obtained A. D. 552, by two Persian monks, who had lived a long time in China as missionaries, and were acquainted with the rear ing of silk-worms. Stimulated by the gifts and promises of the Emperor Justinian, they succeeded in conveying a large number of eggs concealed in hollow canes to Constantinople, where they watched their hatching and the development of the butterflies. The breeding of silk-worms spread, however, very slowly in Europe. The Moors imported them into Cordova about the year 910. Greece and Italy undertook it in the twelfth century; thence this branch of industry passed to Marseilles. At the commencement of the 14th century Pope Clement V introduced it into Avignon. Under Henry IV, Sully established a silk-worm nursery in the garden of the Tuileries. Louis XIV continued to encourage this enterprise in France, though with but slight success, so far as relates to the production of cocoons and the spinning of silk.
The weaving of silk goods with foreign thread had, on the contrary, already made marked progress in France, and had a great development, which it preserved even up to the revocation of the edict of Nantes, after which period the weaving as well as the spinning of silk lost ground considerably.
The emigrants carried this beautiful industry into England, Germany, and Switzerland, and raised the most active competition against France, where manufact-inies of silk remained in a languishing condition up to the close of the great revolution at the end of the last century, and until shortly before the return of peace to Europe.
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