A Closer Look at Life at Camelot

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A Closer Look at Life at Camelot


Mounted Knight with the Arms of Jean de Daillon.

Tapestry, southern Netherlands, Tournai, about 1483.

Moutacute House, Yeovil (Somerset); The National Trust.

Today when asked about tapestries, most will imagine glorious wall decorations, with fantastic scenes and vibrant colors hanging on museum walls. In the Middle Ages however, tapestries were not only used as wall hangings, but because of their warm and durable fabric, as covers for beds tables, and furniture.

Although wealthy burghers could afford to purchase several tapestries, the medieval tapestry industry was mostly supported by nobles who owned several houses. Since the interiors of these houses were minimally furnished when the owner was away, there was a need for something quick and easy to transform the barren house into a home when the owner came there. Tapestries provided the perfect solution, since they were easy to move, store and gave any room an instant makeover.

Some tapestries were made to order by requests; the majority, however, were woven after existing designs. The tapestry shown above was ordered from Wuillaume Desreumaulx of Tournai by Jean de Daillon, seigneur de Lude. He, however, never got to see it, because he died in 1481 and the tapestry was delivered to his widow in 1483. This piece is the only one known to have survived from a series of wall hangings it belonged to. In the tapestry a mounted knight can be seen, with arms of Jean de Daillon. The colors are bright and vibrant perhaps symbolizing the knight's strength and victory in battle.

To learn about different aspects of a knight's life, you can click on various parts of the tapestry above.


Knighthood - Although the concept of knighthood existed before the eleventh century, it wasn't until the Norman Conquest, which occurred in 1066, that being a knight become a profession. William the Conqueror organized his cavalry into a group of knights, and as a result a knight's services, majority of which included fighting battles, became an essential part of life in the Middle Ages.
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