This section is from the book "Tapestries; Their Origin, History And Renaissance", by George Leland Hunter. Also available from Amazon: Tapestries; Their Origin, History, And Renaissance.
Plate no. 209. One of two Story of Clovis tapestries at the Cathredal of Reims, picturing the Coronation of Clovis and the Battle of Soissons. Originally there were six used to decorate one of the halls on the occasion of the marriage of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, to his third wife Margaret of York in 1468. Through Charles' daughter Mary of Burgundy, they descended to her grandson the Emperor Charles V, in whose baggage they were found after the raising of the Siege of Metz. They were presented to the Cathedral by Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine. By 1840 three had disappeared, and one since then.
Besides Heroes, there were also Heroines. In an inventory of the Count of Savoy, each of the Heroes has a lady companion, evidently a Heroine. In the Inventory of Charles VI of France appear a number of Heroines glorified in tapestry, most of them Amazons and all belonging to antiquity, chief among them Penthesilea, of whom the Cathedral of Angers possesses a curious picture in tapestry that was formerly identified as Joan of Arc.
One proof of the immense popularity of the Nine Heroes in the Middle Ages is the fact that the four kings in playing-cards - hearts, diamonds, spades, ,clubs - Charles, Caesar, David, Alexander - are simply four of the Medieval Preux, Hector having become the Jack of Diamonds, and the other four having been dropped.
Immensely popular with Gothic tapestry-weavers was the Story of the Trojan War. Typical examples are the three Chevalier Bayard fragments and the seven Aulhac fragments illustrated in colour in Jubinal Tapisseries. The former were purchased in 1807 from the owner of the Château de Bayard by the painter M. Richard of Lyons, who thirty years later presented them to M. Jubinal (See plate no. 59). The latter formerly belonged to the Besse family of Aulhac, from whom they were taken at the time of the French Revolution and placed in the Courthouse of Issoire where they now are. By a rare piece of good fortune the original colour sketches survive and are now in the Louvre. They formerly belonged to Herr Adolf Gutbier of Dresden, and while in his possession were illustrated and described in Schumann Trojan. Of these sketches there are eight, 15 by 22 inches, all in good condition except the second from which a vertical section of the middle is missing. The sketches were drawn with the pen and coloured red, blue, and yellow with water-colours. The subjects are:
(1) Antenor's Mission to Greece (two scenes). The Judgment of Paris. (2) Arrival of the Greeks and the First Battle of Troy. (3) Fourth Battle, King Thoas Captured, In the Chamber of Beauty. (4) Death of Palamedes, the Refusal of Achilles, Hector's Farewell to Andromache. (5) Eighth Battle, Death of Achilles, Twentieth Battle. (6) Arrival of Penthesilea, Battle of the Amazons, the Army of Pyrrhus, Pyrrhus in Battle. (7) Death of Penthesilea, Antenor's Treachery. (8) The Wooden Horse, the deaths of Priam and Polyxena.
The Bayard fragments correspond to the left 3/4 of sketch no. 6. At the bottom of each of the Bayard fragments is a Latin caption in two lines. The first reads:
Vergunt Trojam cum Panthasilea. Bellatrices mille federatae.
Ut Hectorem vindicent galeam. Hiis Priamus favit ordinate.
From the Aulhac fragments the captions are missing, but they as well as the Bayard fragments have some of the personages and buildings designated by name.
Especially interesting are the seventeen eight-line stanzas of French verse written on the back of the eight colour sketches (petits patrons). Schumann prints them entire. They are based not upon the Iliad, but upon other poetical versions of the Story of Troy.
One of the Aulhac fragments copies the first scene of sketch no. 1, and a fragment at the Cathedral of Zamora copies no. 8.
A subject that appealed particularly to the weavers of the XVI century was the Story of Scipio Africanus, glorious with battles and triumphs (See Astier Scipio). The designs were nearly or quite all Italian, and largely inspired by Petrarch's epic poem Africa that treats exclusively of the Second Punic war. One of the most ancient sets was the one known as the Grand Scipion purchased by François 1 for the Château of Madrid and burned in 1797 (See chapter
Plate no. 303. Two Scenes from the Story of Achilles, Brussels XVII century tapestries picturing the Plunging of Achilles in the waters of the Styx by his mother Thetis in order to render him immortal, and the Instruction of Achilles in the Art of Riding by the centaur Chiron. The Styx scene is particularly full of interesting details such as Chiron and his boat load of passengers, and the three-headed dog Cerberus. Pleasing details of the second scene are the basket swing, and the dogs.
I), for the gold and silver that it contained. The tapestries were woven by Marc Crétif, who was the first Brussels owner of the original petits patrons (small colour sketches), fifteen of which have been discovered in the Louvre by Colonel d'Astier and M. Jean Guiffrey. Of these petits patrons, the Triumphs were by Giulio Romano, the Deeds (Gestes) by his associate Francesco Penni (il Fattore). Of the 22 scenes, the first 13 are Deeds, the others Triumphs:
(1) Victory points out to Scipio the way to glory. (2) Scipio saves his father at the battle of the Ticinus. (3) Scipio forces the palisaded camp of Hasdrubal. (4) The assault on Carthagena. (5) The crown given to Loelius. (6) The Continence of Scipio. (7) The Duel of Corbis and Orsua.
(8) Mandonius and Indibiles unite against the Romans.
(9) Generosity of Scipio towards Spanish prisoners. (10) Scipio and Hasdrubal dine with Syphax. (11) Banquet given in Sicily by Scipio to the tribunes. (12) Conference between Scipio and Hannibal before the battle of Zama. (13) Battle of Zama. (14) The procession of victories. (15) Crossing the Bridge. (16) At Monte Cavallo. (17) The Grand Stand. (18) The Circus. (19) The Portico. (20) The Prisoner Syphax. (21) The Triumphal Car. (22) Scipio arrives at the Capital.