Time table to the technological development of textile production in Europe


(Link to the correspondent period in Introduction)

 Early period of mankind to Bronze Age (~ 35,000 – ~ 500 BC)
 Antiquity (500 BC to 600 AD)
 Middle Ages (600 – 1492/Columbus)
 The New Age (1492-1783 Independence of America)
 The 19th Century (from 1783 to 1914)
 Modern Times (from 1915 until today)
Important historic facts  
  Textile related developments
Early period of mankind to Bronze Age (~ 35,000 – ~ 500 BC)
Start of Early Palaeolithic  35.000 BC
The last Neandertal men are dying out  28.000 BC
Cromagnon people in today's South of France  25.000 BC
~  32,000 BC In 2007, fibres of flax and wool were found in the Dzudzuana cave in Georgia/Caucasus, among them even twisted and colored fibres of wool. Source: Textile Forum magazine 1/10, pp. 42-43
~  25,000 BC Twined weavings made of bast fibres found at the foot of the Pavlov hill, 35 km south of Brno, Czech Republic (comparable finds in the Ukraine, Moldova and Central France from 15,000 BC; textile fragments from Asia, North America, South America and the Near East are dated between 11,000 and 8,000 BC). Source: Textile Forum magazine 2/96, pp. 14-15
~  18,000 BC Bone-needle with eye
~  8,000 BC Beginning of the Neolithic revolution: Domestication of the sheep; first weavings depicted on clay tablets from the Near East; first handlooms
~ 7,000 BC Woven and intertwined textiles made of flax fibres (linen) from Anatolian sites
~ 6,500 BC Woven rug findings in Çatal Hüyük (Anatolia); wool processing
~ 6.000 BC Warp-weighted looms presumed in Çatal Hüyük
Start of the Neolithic 5.000 BC
Building of the first towns in Mesopotamia; first megalithic graves in West-Europe 4.300 BC
Sumerian town states, first appearance of writing; agriculture all through Europe 3.400 BC
~ 5,000 BC Spreading of sheep breeding throughout the Mediterranean area, from the Black Sea along the valleys of Danube and Rhine up to present Belgium
Egyptian mummies are draped in linen
~ 4,200 BC Textiles made of hemp are recorded in the Chinese Yang-Shao culture
~ 4,000 BC Spreading sheep breeding up to Western Europe and the British isles; comparable time of spreading for flax/linen and hemp culture; use of spindle and spinning wharve
wool processing in Egypt – horizontal loom with heald
Babylonians wore woven wool garments
4th millennium Wool and linen weaving in Mesopotamia
~ 3,500 BC Ships on the Nile have linen sail-cloth
~ 3,000 BC Findings of woven cotton in the Indus Valley, Pakistan
In Britain woollen garments are worn
~ 2,800 BC Start of the cultivation of silkworms in China (according to Chinese sources)
Egyptian linen fabrics of very fine quality (60 warp ends per cm)
until 2,500 BC Linen culture is predominant over wool production north of the Alps
Start of the Bronze Age in Europe 2,000 BC
Flowering of Minoan culture on Crete 1.600 BC
Appearance of the Phoenician alphabet 1.100 BC
Rise of the Kingdom of Israel 1.000 BC
Celtic fortifications in West Europe  
Greek colonies; Etruscans in Italy; Carthage; Iron/Hallstatt culture; democracies in Athens and Rome 800 – 509
~ 2,000 BC Phoenicians are using linen sail-cloth for their sailing ships on the Mediterranean Sea
~ 1,100 BC Findings of cotton clothing in Ninive, Mesopotania
Introduction of knitting presumed
~ 1,000 BC Babylon has a trade monopoly on Indian cotton fabrics
First silk findings in an Egyptian cemetery on the Assuan dam
Arising of a world economy at the threshold from Stone Age to Bronze Age: East-West transocean trade routes to Europe by the sea and overland across the Asian plains (early Silk Roads)
~ 700 BC Cotton plantations in Assyria, Mesopotania
Antiquity (500 BC to 600 AD)
Beginning of Antiquity 500 BC
Celts in North Italy, decline of the Etruscan culture 400 BC
Alexander conquers the Persian empire, North-West India and Egypt; 334-325
Punic wars (Carthage–Rome) 264-146
January 44 Caesar life-time dictator, murdered March 15, 44 44 BC
Augustus emperor of Rome 27 BC
450 BC Herodotus mentions reports on the cotton plant seen in India.
4th century BC Aristotle in his History of Animals was the first Western writer to describe the silkworm seen in Khotan, Central Asia.
~ 200 BC Introduction of the treadled loom and the draw loom in China
63 BC The Roman general Pompeius returns from the Near East, taking along with him from there silk fabrics made in Seres (China); during this era silk became the leading cloth of the Roman Empire.
58-51 BC Caesar's troops are confronted with high-level linen production in Flanders (according to Plinius and Virgil)
Birth of Christ ± 0
Greatest expansion of the Roman Empire 116 AD
Emperor Constantine legitimates christianity 313 AD
The West-Goths under Alarich conquer Rome 410 AD
The Angles and Saxons are settling in Britannia 450 AD
Greatest expansion of the Sassanide Empire 531-579 AD
Birth of Mohammed 570 AD
± 0 In the province Tarraconensis (northeastern Spain) the Romans crossed the Tarrentine sheep with the Laodicean sheep of Asia Minor to produce the ancestor of today's merino sheep
1st century AD Cotton plantation in upper Egypt (according to Plinius)
2nd century AD Revolving warp beam/harness loom, probably arriving in Europe from China via India
5th century ADTwo centres of damask weaving are established in Damascus and Constantinopel
~ 500 AD Hand-spinning wheel used in Asia
6th century AD Knitted clothing in upper Egypt
550 AD The knowledge on silkworm breeding arrives in Byzantium (Emperor Justinian 552-565)
565 AD Finding of a very refined hemp weaving from the burial place of Merovingian Queen Adelgunde, buried in Paris
Middle Ages (600 – 1492/Columbus)
Start of the Islamic chronology 622
Arabs conquer Palestine, Egypt, Sassanide Empire, Spain and Sicily 636-778
Charlemagne crowned emperor 800
712 AD The first known mention of sheep in England
768 AD Charlemagne establishes textile centres in Lyon and Rouen; a few years later he institutes cloth fairs throughout western Europe.
around 800 Law by Charlemagne issuing rules for the plantation of hemp
9th century  
Vikings under Rurik in Novgorod 862
Cyrillic, oldest Slavic alphabet 863
Magyars are settling in today's Hungary 895
9th century Arabs conquer the Southern part of the Mediterranean area, including Sicily and Spain. They bring along high-level textile culture from Egypt and the Near East, among other things improved sheep breeding, cotton plantation, silk production and the knitting technique from Upper Egypt.
Start of the medieval industrial revolution in Europe
10th century  
Flowering time of Byzantium, and of the Holy Roman Empire under the Ottonians 1,000
10th century In the early tenth century cotton raising and cotton weaving are brought by the Arabs to Spain; they also foster cotton culture in Sicily, Andalusia, is developing to become Europe's most important silk region
925 AD Wool dyers' guilds are established in Germany; the rise of the guild system is instrumental in the growth of the textile industry in Flanders, Brabant, France, Italy and Germany
961 AD Indoor cloth halls are established in Flanders, in Bruges, Ghent and Ypres
~ 1,000 Venice dominates the textile raw material and finished products market; it is the centre of Asiatic and European trade.
Horizontal treadle loom, worked on in sitting position: start of shaft weaving in Europe. Weaving is done by male weavers (monks in monasteries)
11th century  
Normans (Vikings) are conquering Britannia, Southern Italy/Sicily 1,000-1072
11th century Beginning of long-distance trade with wool due to the spreading of agriculture on fertile soils; England is becoming the raw wool supplier for the early-capitalistic wool processing centres in Flanders (Ypern, Ghent, Brugge, Arras, Saint-Omer and Douai) and Florence.
mid-11th century Development of northern Italy as a cotton processing region with raw cotton coming from Alexandria via Genua.
During the Christian regain of Spain, the silk production in Catalonia, Aragon, Murcia, Valencia, Toledo and Malaga is gaining importance
1086 First water-driven fulling-mill for woollen fabrics at the western part of Normandy
12th century  
Frederick I (Barbarossa) crowned emperor 1155
12th century The Cistercian order is improving sheep breeding by cross-breeding
Beginning of the bloom of Spanish and Florentine knitting art
The northern-Italian cotton processing industry is having a boom, exporting yarns to Ulm and Augsburg, Germany
Start of silk weaving in France, in Reims, Poitiers and Troyes
1147 The first white mulberry trees from Syria for sericulture are planted in France.
until 1200 Arab silk weaving in Palermo, Sicily
13th century  
Start of the Carthar Wars 1209 (-1229)
France becomes leading power in Europe 1214
13th century In Brabant, Flanders and Florence the home-industry system is consolidated uncompromisingly; a proletariat of textile workers is coming up.
In Lucca first silk-weaving mills are set up.
In Barcelona the Guild of Cotton Manufacturers is established.
Introduction of the flax scutcher
Introduction of buttons (1204)
1245 First recorded strike by textile workers in Douai
1250 Nettle fibres are recorded as "Swedish hemp", spreading up till the 19th century to England, Germany, France (Picardie) and Italy (Tuscany)
1268 The "Hindustan Wheel", a hand-spinning wheel for cotton (presumably from India) is presented in Paris and further adapted for wool, doubling the output.
1272 The "filatoio", a silk reeling, twisting and winding device, is recorded in written form for the first time in Italy.
1290 Woad begins to be extensively raised in Germany, especially in Thuringia (the only blue dye-stuff known at that time)
1296 Edward I from England imposes an export embargo for raw wool in favour of the English wool industry. England becomes the leading export country for woollen cloth.
14th century  
Start of the Renaissance in Italy ~ 1300
Outbreak of the 100 years war between England and France (until 1453) 1337
Hanse agreement under the leadership of Lübeck 1356
Start of the "Great Occidental Schism" 1378
14th century Venice to become the leading trading place for cotton from Islamic-Arab dominated areas, and Milan to become the yarn supplier for all Europe.
Large-scale cultivation of woad in Languedoc, France (until the 16th century); exports to Flanders, Italy, England and Spain
1313 With Lucca as point of departure silk weaving is spreading to Florence, Bologna, Venice and Milan.
1340 Florence is becoming the most powerful city-state in Europe; the Medici family being patrons of textiles, merchandising, and also of the textile-banking business.
1370 Needle-making as a profession
1380 Introduction of the treadle spinning wheel
15th century  
End of Mongolian rule over East Europe 1480
Columbus lands in Central America 1492
15th century Beginning of Venice's blooming period as metropolis of velvet and silk production.
Cotton processing is spreading from the south of Germany to Austria, Silesia, Slovakia and to the region around Frankfurt and Cologne.
1450 Lyon is granted the trade monopoly for silk fabrics by the French king.
1480 Discovery of the continuous-producing flyer spinning wheel.
1490 In his "Codex Atlanticus", Leonardo da Vinci is publishing sketches of spinning machines, automatic yarn dividers, yarn winding machines and warping machines; around 1497 he develops a flyer spinning wheel with yarn divider.
The New Age (1492-1783 Independence of America)
16th century  
Start of the Spanish and Portuguese conquests in today's Latin America 1508/1521
Start of the Reformation in Germany 1517
The Turks lay siege to Vienna (1st attack) 1529
Start of Russian conquests in Siberia 1552/1556
16th Century Flanders starts becoming the most important centre of flax/linen industry in Europe.
At the beginning of the century a culture of needle lace is emerging in Venice and, from the second part of the century, a bobbin lace culture in Flanders.
from 1520 to 1530 The "Saxony Wheel" is developed in northern Germany (Brunswick), a spinning wheel with flyer and treadle; Saxony is developing into a centre of linen production.
1589 "Knitting Frame" by William Lee, a knitting device for wool and silk production in Nottingham
17th century  
British East-Indian Company 1600
Dutch East-Indian Company 1602
Sweden to become an influential power in Europe 1611
Start of the 30-years war (until 1648) 1618
Louis XIV becomes king of France 1648
English parliament establishes democracy 1649
Turks beleagering Vienna are beaten off 1683
17th century France is becoming the leading silk producer in Europe; in Italy, Bologna takes over from Venice as the leading silk fabric producer.
1607 In Italy, the "filatoio da acqua", a water-driven silk reeling, twisting and winding device is recorded in the book "Nova Teatro di Macchina et Edificii" by Vittorio Zonga (construction system presumably from China and India); the machine shows up in France from 1670 on and also in England from 1718 on.
from 1631 Indigo becomes the competitor of woad as source of blue dye-stuff.
1685 Edict of Nantes: Expulsion of protestants from France, exodus of craft workers, a. o. weavers, dyers, textile printers to Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and England
At the end of the century start of silk industry in Prussia with raw silk from Italy Textile printing industry in Switzerland.
1689 The first calico printworks are established in Augsburg.
18th century  
Spanish Succession War 1701-1714
Russia becomes a European power 1709
Frederick II (the Great) king of Prussia 1740
The Seven Years War in Europe (strengthening England's colonial power) 1756-1763
First division of Poland (between Austria, Prussia, Russia) 1772
Independence of the United States of America 1783
around 1700 The age of water-powered engines
England has 6 million inhabitants and – thanks to the colonies – the highest standard of living in Europe.
18th century Cotton from India is more and more becoming a competitor of domestic wool.
The chemical knowledge of dyeing and mordanting operations is progressing
The region around Valencia (to a lesser extent also Murcia) is developing to become a leading silk centre.
1728 M. Falcon invents a chain of cards for working the draw loom to give figure fabric.
1738 Patent on the invention of the flying shuttle for the hand weaving loom by John Kay; weaving production is improved by about 50 %, also width fabrics are now possible.
Patent for a drawing rollers spinning machine by Lewis Paul, planned for cotton but adapted for wool processing.
1745 The first completely automated loom by French engineer Jacques de Vaucanson, drawing on the work of Basile Bouchon and Jean Falcon in Lyon.
1753 For the first time cotton is traded at the London stock exchange.
1755 An English patent for a forerunner of the sewing machine by Charles Frederic Weisenthal
1760-1764 The age of factory work is starting!
(patent) Development of the "Spinning Jenny" by James Hargreaves rings in the machine age: the shortness of yarn in the weaving mills has disappeared; compared to the flyer spinning wheel the spinning process is 3-6 times quicker; weaver and spinner are now producing at the same efficiency.
1769 "Waterframe Spinning Machine" by Richard Arkwright is being patented.
1770/71 R. Arkwright is mechanizing the whole cotton spinning process in a newly erected factory; he has cotton spun, coming from India, North Africa and Brasil (between 1771 and 1790 English raw cotton import is increasing from 4 to 31 million £ per year)
1770-1781 (patent) Development of the "Mule" spinning machine by improving the principles of the "Jenny" by Samuel Crompton; beginning of the fine count spinning process (with up to 1,000 spindles per machine later on)
The 19th Century (from 1783-1914)
Start of the French Revolution 1789
France to become a Republic 1792
1785 Patent on the invention of a "Power Loom", a steam-powered mechanical loom by Edmund Cartwright, used from 1787 in weaving mills with steam engines.
Invention of printing from wooden rollers by Scotsman Thomas Bell; the working production of the textile printer is 20 times quicker now.
1791 Improved knitting frame by William Dawson
Patent on a circular knitting frame by Decroix from France
1793/94 Patent on the "Cotton Gin" machine to separate the cotton fibres from the seeds by Eli Whitney
1800 Warp Knitting Frame with continuous work-advancing-motion by Balthasar Krembs
19th century  
Napoleon Bonaparte crowned emperor Continental System; 1804
Embargo of trade with Great Britain by Napoleon (until 1815) 1806
Greece independent of the Ottoman Empire 1828
Polish revolt against Russian rulership 1830/31
Abolition of slavery in the British empire 1833
Civil revolution movements all over Europe 1848
Abolition of serfdom in Russia; 1861
German-French war; Wilhelm I, king of Prussia, to become German emperor; 1870/71
Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania independent of the Ottoman empire 1878
19th Century Age of the steam-powered machines (1769-1784) developments by Watt and Newcomen, patents are expiring in the year 1800
1801 "Dressing Frame", mechanical warping device by Radcliff
1805 Patent on pattern weaving machine with punched cards by Joseph-Marie Charles Jacquard
1807-1817 Development of special machines for spinning, weaving, knitting and sewing a. o. the wet spinning method by Philippe de Girard in France for jute and flax
1820 By decision of the government, Lodz/Poland is being destined to become an industrial location, from 1830-50 Lodz is developing to become a dominant production site for cotton.
1823 Development of the flat-stitch embroidery machine by Konrad Altherr in Teufen, Switzerland, gaining great importance in the Swiss embroidery industry ten years later.
1825-1830 "Selfactor", automatic spinning machine, improved principle of the Mule spinning machine by Richard Roberts, England
1826 Winning of anilin by dry distillation of Indigo
1828-1838 Development of improved respectively special spinning and knitting machine in the USA and England, a. o. 1830 in the USA the ring-spinning machine by John Thorpe (from 1850 on used in England, from 1900 on predominantly used world-wide)
1839 Winning of cellulose from wood by A. Payen, France
1842 Production of glass threads using spinning nozzles, glass fiber weaving by Louis Schwabe, first shown in Manchester
Clarification of the composition of anilin by August Wilhelm von Hofmann, Germany
1845 "Guncotton" (cellulose nitrate), discovery of nitrocellulose by Christian Friedrich Schönbein, Basel
Patent for cotton mercerisation by John Mercer.
1846 Patent for the sewing machine made by Elias Howe, USA
1850 First patent for a cotton picking machine
Invention of the jeans by Levi Strauss
1851 Sewing machine with improved work-advancing-motion by Isaak Merrit Singer, USA
1855 Patent for the forerunner of nitrocellulose silk by George Philippe Audemars, Switzerland
First aniline dye-stuff "Mauvein" by William Henry Perkin, England
1857 Discovery of the forerunner of cuprammonium rayon by Eduard Schweizer, Germany
1858 Development of azo dye-stuff by Johann Peter Griess, Germany
1883/84 "Artificial silk", threads made of nitrocellulose for electric bulbs by Joseph Wilson; German patent
Artificial silk made from dinitrocellulose by Hilaire Bernigaud Count of Chardonnet de Grange
1889 Count of Chardonnet is showing nitro silk at the World Expo in Paris
1891 Start of the nitro silk production in Besançon
1892 Patent for spinnable viscose, produced by Charles Federick Cross, England
1895 Start of cuprammonium rayon production by Max Fremery and Johann Urban, Germany
1897 Loom with electric engine by Werner von Siemens, Germany
1899 Discovery of the automatic bobbin-changing loom by Northrop, a US American
20th century  
Balcan wars (pushing back the Ottoman Turks) 1912/13
Start of the 1st World War (until 1918) 1914
1905 Cellulose acetate yarn in dry-spinning process by Eickengrün and Beckert, Germany
Viscose factory of Courtauld Ltd. in Coventry
Modern Times (from 1915 until today)
Russian revolution and civil war 1917-1921
Mussolini's march to Rome 1922
Josef Stalin on power in the USSR 1925
Adolf Hitler to become German Chancellor of the Reich 1933
Spanish civil war 1936 - 1939
Conference of Munich: Great Britain and France are accepting the annexation of the Czech territory by Nazi Germany 1938
Start of the 2nd World War (until 1945) 1939
Wannsee Conference on the "Endlösung der Judenfrage" 1942
Setting up the Council of Europe 1949
Hungary revolt 1956
Setting up of the E.E.C. (European Economic Community) and start of "Sputnik I" 1957
Building of the Berlin wall 1961
Student revolts and "Prague Spring" 1968/69
Michail Gorbatschov on power in the USSR from 1985
1918 Spinning machine with electric engine by J.P. Laertsch in Winterthur, Switzerland
1920 Investigation of the macro-molecule structure by Hermann Staudinger; the polymerisation is used for spinnable fibers.
The company DuPont, USA, is the first to produce artificial silk.
1928 Weaving machine with gripper shuttle by R. Rossmann, Germany; later put to perfection by the Swiss company Sulzer
from 1930 Spinning and weaving mills are equipped with dust vacuum and ventilation devices.
1935 Casein fibre discovered by Antonio Feretti in Italy and produced under the name "Lanital".
A polyamid made up of adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine, developed by Carothers, is patented in 1937 and comes on the market in 1938 under the name of "nylon"; in 1940 the first nylon stockings are sold.
1938 Paul Schlack has succeeded in the polymerisation of caprolactam, the result is callled "perlon" and has been spun for the first time in 1939 by IG Farben, but only arrives on the market in 1950.
1939 The companies Bayer and Kurz are making acrylonitrile from acetylene and hydrocyanic acid, the point of departure for polyacrylic fibers produced for the first time in 1942 in Germany by Herbert Rein and at the same time by DuPont in the USA.
1941 The polyester fibre is developed in England by John Rex Whinfield and James Tennan Dickson (patent)
1950 The mechanisation of cotton picking - developed since 1928 (John Rust, patent for a cotton picking machine) – comes to an end.
V. Scaty is developing air-jet weaving looms.
from 1952 After Perlon (1950), Nylon (1952), Dralon and Diolen, Trevira (1955), Lycra (1959 in the USA), aramid-, carbon- and silicate fibres are on the market in Euope.
1953 Scaty, Mohelniky and Zahradnik are developing the water jet loom.
1958/59 Non-iron and soil-release cotton clothing are entering the market.
around 1965 In the Czech Republic the rotor spinning machine is developed.
The German Götzfried is building the whirl-air jet spinning machine.
1980 Between 1900 and 1980 the world population increased from 1.5 to 4.6 billion. The world fibre production increased from 3.5 to 31 billion tons per year, which means that fibre usage per head of the population tripled within this period:
53 % natural fibres/hair (cotton, wool, linen etc.)
35 % fully synthetic fibres (polyester, polyamide, polyacrylic etc.)
12 % cellulose fibres (viscose)