By Sharon Kinoshita
Medieval Fabrications: Dress, Textiles, Clothwork, and Other Cultural Imaginings, edited by E. Jane Burns (Palgrave, 2004)
Introduction: In medieval French epic and romance, Almerian silks – and indeed silks in general – were synonymous with luxury. Both the beautiful Saracen princess Nubie in La Prise de Cordres et de Sebille and the countess of Vermandois in Raoul de Cambrai wear a “mantel d’Aumarie” – the latter gving hers away as a reward to a messenger who brings her good news; “paile d’Aumarie” is used for the banners borne into battle by Guielin (l.1368) and by King Louis of France in Le Siege de Barbastre; and “soies d’Aumarie” festoon the streets of Saint-Quentin to welcome home the countess of Vermandois’s long-lost son. In the scene quoted above, Enide’s pious donation illustrates the historical practice of converting silks “used for secular purposes in the first instance” to liturgical use, even as the chasuble’s fabulous hstory attests to the sense of wonder produced by such soies d’Aumarie.