One of the latest historians of tapestry, George Leland Hunter, heads his Practical Book of Tapestries with the following dedication: (To France, the mother of tapestries). So closely is the craft, created or at any rate re-created in France, connected with French soil that a tapestry is, in English, called an arras, in Italian, arazzo, in German, Gobelin. The names of our two most famous factories have been adopted abroad as generic appellations. France, in fact, on two occasions, raised to its highest Pitch of perfection the technique of the art of tapestry weaving.
In Paris, the solicitude shown by Saint-Louis for the encouragement of handicrafts carried out by humble artisans, the sumptuous tastes and the lavishness of Charles V and of his brothers; at Arras, the intelligent interest displayed by Mahaut, Countess of Artois, and the luxurious opulence of the Dukes of Burgundy called forth an efflorescent wonder of artistic activity and production. Those were the halcyon days of mediæval handicraft, when such masterpieces as the Apocalypse of Angers came to light.
But those efforts were brought to naught by foreign and civil war. Only the patronage afforded by the Dukes of Burgundy enabled the industry to survive in their northern estates, and even so, factories had to be shifted to Tournai, Enghien, Bruges, and Brussels. But for some itinerant workshops, and the looms set up on the banks of the Loire, the craft of tapestry was practically lost to France; it had migrated to Flanders.