In France, except for the unsuccessful attempt at establishing a knitting manufacture in Rouen in 1610-1611, for half a century only hand knitting was practised. The increased demand for knitted garments, however, resulted in such a enormous imports from England that Colbert's government was faced with the need to place some restrictions according to the principles of mercantile economic policy. Following the tradition of that period, the model of the machine was obtained from England by means of industrial espionage. Supported by the State, machine knitting production flourished in France and by 1785 there were 45,000 machines working in that country. Despite the efforts of the Framework Knitters company, more than 400 knitting machines were illegally taken out of England between the years 1670-1695 mainly to France - to paris, Orléans, Rennes, Caen, Louvain. The influence of the French Huguenots » evident in Ireland..27

Contrary to the organized investigations into the history of English knitting, in France the data is dispersed amongst a few contributor's papers in regional Periodicals. Only the paper of P. M. Bondois deals in a more comprehensive manner with the introduction of machine production of stockings into France. The commerce treaty with England signed on the third of November 1655

allowed unlimited import of knitted goods. The beginnings of French machine knitting however, are, a classic example of the introduction of a new branch of textiles through a manufacture type of production based on imported technical equipment with supplementary financing from the state and its constant support in the form of monopolistic privileges. This history starts with the dispatch of Jean Hindret or Indret to England. English sources claim that the was a master of the haberdashers' guild in Nîmes. He must have had a knowledge of mechanics and of hand knitting since he succeeded in stealing from England the secret of that most complicated textile machine. Or he managed to bring the machine itself, but he would have had to be able not only to work on it but also to repair it. P. M. Pondois unjustly describes him as only a clever adventurer.28 The large demand for knitted products awoke interest in the invention of the machine. In the mid-seventeenth century appears the previously mentioned locksmith from Caen who is suposed to have presented to Colbert silk stockings produced on his machine, but the Parisian knitters destroyed them for fear of competition. The owner or the mechanic of the Fournier manufacture in Lyon must have had some technical knowledge, even if initially he was working with machines imported from England. The complicated machine used to break down easily and required a good service by experienced mechanics.

The beginnings of French machine production are presented in various ways in different papers. In any case, Jean Hindret remains the first instructor of machine production of silk stockings, managing the manufacture in Madrid Castle in the Bois de Boulogne. From a royal deed registered on 13 May 1659 it emerges that Hindret with his associate Leonard Blaise had the monopoly for the establishment of knitting manufactures in Paris and other French towns. He had to produce by machine different types of waistcoats, breeches, stockings and special bas a canon, tight-fitting on the calf, widening under the knee and sometimes turned over the boots. These products could be made of wool, silk and other yarns following the example of foreign articles.29 Colbert's protection against competition was expressed by a customs campaign against products from the British Isles and by the privileged import of raw silk. Particularly enterprises producing bas d'estame, that is thick woollen stockings worn by wide masses of consumers, particularly enjoyed the state support of knitting production.

The privileges granted to Hindret's enterprises hindered the free development of machine knitting. Hindret fights against the manufacture established in Lyon by a merchant James (?) Fournier in 1663. He had 15 machines and promised to widen the production to 25 machines. Colbert induced Louis XIV to concede a great loan to this manufacture. He also supported the development of woollen stockings production which spread due to the initiative of a Parisian merchant Jean Camuset, who before 1665, went at the expense of the French government to London, Bristol and the isles of Jersey and Guernsey, i.e., the centres of British export to France. In London a certain Créssé, son of a Parisian merchant, owner of a silk stockings manufacture, gave a careful consideration to the possibility of returning to his country with 800 workers. This re-emigration did not take place and from then onwards Camuset is interested only in woollen knitting. An attempt to establish a manufacture in Auxerre (at present department de l'Yonne) failed, but he managed to establish one in Reims and other Norman towns, as well as in the neighbourhood of Poitiers. Later, knitting is organized in

Berry, Beauce, in the environs of Orléans, in Picardy, then in Bourges, Issoudun, Ainayteau and Montlucon. It appears that Camuset's initiative appertained to the traditional centres of woollen hand-made knitwear. He would employ, on commission, villagers, inmates of orphanages and hospitals. In Bourges in 1667 there was a kind of office which collected the products made by these commission workers in the putting-out system to the amount of 400 pairs of stockings per month.30

First manufactures producing silk stockings in Paris and Lyon fell into decay. The manufacture in Madrid Castle underwent re-organization under the direction of François Estienne; it became the property of a company with a capital of 300,000 livres and during the years 1669-1771 it received fairly large subsidies. In spite of this, in 1672 it was employing only 79 workers. Constant competition from the Paris guild caused the manufacture to be granted a guild statute in 1672, which came as the result of pressure from the workers who could not be promoted to journeymen and masters. The statute in 34 articles defined the technical and organizational matters of the guild. It determined the quality of the raw material and yarn to be used for every type of knitted article as well as the number of stitches, thus its degree of thickness and fineness. It also standardized the dyeing method and the finishing weight of various kinds of stockings. The most important of the statute's decisions appertained to the training and promotion of the manufacture employees. One hundred of the best skilled workers were to obtain the status of guild master within three years, thus up to 1675. Every master was entitled to train 2 apprentices over 12 years. Desertion from the manufacture rendered professional promotion difficult. It campaigned against untrained botchers establishing their own workshops. Finally, widows and families of masters had the same privileges as in other guild corporations. The regularization of products assortment and professional promotion weakened considerably the competition from the knitters' guild. At the same time, however, Paris did not grow in importance as a centre of French knitting and still in the 1720s it was still only domestic hand knitting organized in the putting-out system which assumed great proportions.31

However knitting machines spread to many French towns. In 1673, 18 centres of machine production were known. Among the putting-out enterprises and manufactures organized by Camuset, Colbert particularly supported his manufacture in Châteauneuf-sur-Cher. Similar enterprises were also established in Villeneuve-le-Roi, Joigny, Charité, Châtre, Vierzon, Saint-Amand, Janville, Reims, Clermont, Moulins, Issodun, Auxerre and others. In 1681 Camuset was employing 1340 knitters in the putting-out system with production in six localities, In 1681 the total number of knitters working on machines in the regions of Beauce and Picardy is estimated at 34,106. Knitting production in Languedoc will be discussed separately.32

Thus during the period 1655-1681, thanks to Colbert's financial and customs support, the production of silk and woollen hosiery developed in different parts of central and northern France both in the form of manufactures and especially of the putting-out system.33 The history of these centres has not been investigated. In any case French knitting production in this period begins to exeed the local market demands, which is proved by the export of these products o Spain. In 1686 France exported to Spain and Latin America a total of 1000 dozen stockings from which only a small part could have been of English production passing in transit through the country. Customs duties )n French knitwear were established in detail in Spain from the early :ighteenth century, which testifies to long-standing and considerable export.34 French hosiery products were initially of poor quality and aimed at a vide market. In the Court of Lorraine during the whole of the seventeenth ;entury imported English and Italian products were being used, and among he stockings of varied colours and types of patterns only a few were of local production.35

After the initial period, machine knitting became concentrated in a few regions of France. The most important of these was Languedoc where surviving irchive material pertaining to knitting production has recently been utilized in a separate study. The paper of M. Sonenscher "is an attempt to explain why the manufacture of hosiery in south-eastern France came to be centred upon Nîmes, rather than Avignon, Marseilles or Montpellier, the other major towns of the area, and how the production of first woollen and then silk hose developed over the course of the eighteenth century".36 Before the publication of this work I examined the diffusion of frame knitting into Lower Languedoc giving particular attention to the biggest centre of Nîmes. M. Sonenscher has added much more details from the archive records. Most of the published information appeared in regional publications and museum catalogues. A mention in the topography of the town on Nîmes informs us about the existence of the first knitting machines in this town already in 1656. These were probably a few imported contraptions without significance to later production. Nevertheless, in the last quarter of the seventeenth century machine production is developing there. This town was one of the 18 centres which according to the resolution of 30 March 1700 were entitled to possess establishments equipped with knitting machines. Other towns developing knitting production in that period were: Paris, Dourdan, Rouen, Caen, Nantes, Olleron, Aix, Toulouse, Usés, Romans, Lyon, Metz, Bourges, Poitiers, Orléans, Amiens and Reims.37 This list shows the dispersed nature of the most important knitting centres in the eighteenth century. Some of them developed considerable machine production, while others were only transitory sites of the first manufactures, which moreover were in any case situated outside these towns.

From 1662 a knitting manufacture existed in Avignon, and from 1667 in Orange. Avignon was situated within the terrain of Papal possessions; therefore crafts, free from guild pressure, developed there early, as did, for example, different branches of silk production. A knitting manufacture was established by a partnership of Jean Baptiste Ponce and Antoine Cotelet together with the Hindret brothers. A few months after the establishment of the Company Jean Hindret ceded his rights to his brother Louis. The manufacture develops in collaboration with English knitters; among them are Henry Brent and William Chapman who figure in notary deeds in 1662. In the following years the number of English skilled workmen steadily increases and the names and places from which they came indicate that a group of Irish emigrants from Corcaigh (Cork) had settled in Avignon. Thus, the seventeenth century religious persecutions in western Europe resulted in the migration of skilled knitters from Ireland to

Catholic France and from France to different Protestant countries. Highly qualified experts were able to change their place of residence particularly easily. To this group belonged both producers of knitwear as well as machine constructors and maintenance men. In those times these were usually cocksmiths and watch-makers who had learned to produce knitting machine parts, assemble them and keep them serviceable. For example, François Coutelier is said to have constructed a special workshop for producing individual parts of the knitting machine: "Tenu à faire les moulinets, les aiguilles, les ondes, les platines et les petits ressorts ni aucune pièce de cuivre, laiton ou étain".38

This list mentions the most important metal parts of the knitting machine, such as needles, blades, copperheads mounted on little rings and springs. These parts had to be from steel and not from copper, brass or tin. Another master mechanic Jérôme Thiolier entered into a contract with the manufacturer managed by Berckley and undertook to produce machine parts, primarily blades, while a blacksmith François Soulier was to assemble the whole mechanism. It must be remembered that the knitting machine consisted of more than 2000 parts, most of them minute pieces of the mobile metal mechanism. This explains why the knowledge of machines production was becoming a professional secret of craftsmen from the metal branch, who were being bribed from one manufacture to another. From 1667 we can observe in Avignon the development of a complete training centre not only for knitting apprentices, but also for machine fitters.

The second knitting manufacture in this region was established in Orange in 1667. The privilege for its establishment was obtained by a high Paris official Louis Boucherat. He was to produce "on English machines caps, waistcoats, gaiters, sock" and, in addition to ordinary stockings, also bas à canons which in the fashion of the period formed a sort of flounce above the calf turned down over the top of the boot. Boucherat ordered two knitting machines from the previously mentioned mechanic Coutelier in Avignon. In 1668, Pierre Guichard de Noyans was engaged for a period of two years. Hd was to produce only 20 pairs of stockings per month.39 This norm tells us something about the work on only these two machines. However, it is worthwhile mentioning this small manufacture because of its connections with the beginnings of large knitting production in Nîmes. Louis Félix, one of the richest Protestant burghers in Orange, gave his daughter in marriage to a sail-cloth merchant Jean Bouzanquet, a citizen of Nîmes. In 1674 the townspeople of Orange and Nages make the sons of Jacques Félix and S. P. Grozot partners in establishing a knitting manufacture in Nîmes. Félix had by then gone through a knitting apprentice ship in Orange, where upon under his direction Thimothée Pastre, a watch-maker from Nîmes, constructs knitting machines, and later even introduces technical improvements. Pastre builds machines not only for his own manufacture, but in 1680 he sells two knitting machines to a master from Barbentane.40

Till now the beginnings of machine kniting in Nîmes has not been properly investigated, although in the eighteenth century this town becomes the most powerful centre of production in France with a major concentration of the machines functioning in that country. According to different sources, during the years 1776-1788 the total number of machines functioning in France was estimated at 20,000 to 68,000, form which more than 4000 were working in Nîmes. Other sources from the same period mention about 4500 machines and 116,850 people engaged in stocking production, these used 2894 quintals of raw textile material to produce 101,966 dozen pairs of stockings. From the machines ascribed to Nîmes over 3400 were working for export. M. Sonens-cher gives a very good table showing the number of stocking frames active in Nîmes and the area of its guild from 1705 to 1783. In 1705 there were 887 frames working in Nîmes, while in 1783 already 3000 and in Jurande 5557 frames.41 Data, which refer to higher production, come from more recent studies making use of additional sources of information, thus they are closer to the truth.

The first manufacture in Nîmes develops rapidly. In 1682 Félix and Grizot have only two qualified workers, while two years later there are 23 and in 1685 - 73. In 1706 in the whole of Nîmes there were 870 machines ensuring the livelihood of 1000 families, in 1711 this number increases to 1110, in 1743 to 3200, while in 1744 there were altogether 5100 machines working in Nîmes and Uzés.42 Thanks to the exceptional abundance of material records of knitting in Nîmes, we can obtain on their bases data pertaining to raw material, organization of production, construction of machines and to marketing of the products. Contrary to the data on sericulture in this region43 during the first sixty years of the seventeenth centruy, in the initial period the production of cheap woollen bas d'estame was predominant. In 1743, 9/10 of 4000 knitting machines in Languedoc are working in woollen yarn, producing two-ply stockings at the rate of three pairs per machine a day. According to other data Languedoc in the same year was producing 166,833 dozen woollen stockings as compared to 80,574 dozen articles from silk, twilled silk and cotton. In any case, production of woollen stockings distrinctly predominates in the first half of the eighteenth century. The situation had changed in the second half of that century. Already in 1765 a predominance of silk stockings production is noticeable; in 1768 it was to comprise of 2/3 of the whole knitting products, while before 1778 it is recorded that 3500 machines process silk yarn, producing 61,966 dozen stockings, 500 machines process filoselle obtaining 1500 dozen from it and only 500 machines process wool producing 2500 dozen per year. Without further archive research it is difficult to verify the accuracy of this numerical data. Thus its, only by the mid-eighteenth century silk begins to dominate over wool. Dyers raw materials were cultivated in Languedoc, particularly woad, madder, dyer's reseda and kermes, although these pigments were being displaced by indigo and dyewood imported from the other hemisphere. M. Sonenscher clearly states:

Unlike the hosiery industry in Nîmes, the industry in the Cévennes and the Vaunage continued to be associated with the production of woollen stockings until well into the eighteenth century. Of the 1868 frames listed outside of Nîmes in 1759, 1543 were working on wol and only 325 on silk. Nearly half of the latter were situated on the town of Ganges, on the southern edge of the Cévennes. The change from wool to silk in the hosiery industry of the countryside occurred as rapidly as the earlier change in Nîmes itself during the 1730s. It marked the second great phase of expansion fo the manufacture of silk hose and took place between the mid-1760s and the late 1770s. An enumeration of the number of stocking frames within the region of 1783, lists a total of 2557 frames distributed among eighteenth major centres in the Cévennes and the Vaunage. Of this total, there were 2055 frames making silk stockings, 383 working on cotton and only 119

making woollen hose. They complimented the 3000 frames producing silk hose for commercial houses in the city in the last decade before the Revolution.44

The most important organizational problem in the initial rise of knitting in Nîmes and other Languedoc towns was the legal status of producers. Proprietors of manufactures were fighting against competition form merchants who were trading not only in ready-made knitwear, but also obtained them through the use of a putting-out system of production. This resembles the situation in Paris, proprietors of centralized or dispersed manufactures accept guild status both as protection against competition and for the sake of socially recognized trade training. The statute confirmed in Toulouse in 1706 did not reconcile the acute disagreements between the different groups of producers. It required 3 years' apprenticeship under a master who could accept a new apprentice only in the third year of the previous one's term. A journeyman was required to work for two years and then assemble a knitting machine in the presence of senior guild members, after payment of 50 francs admission fee. Facilities were given to the sons of widows and to the husbands of masters' daughters. Women could help in production only in the home of the master. Regulations restricting production to a few workers in a guild workshop encountered such sharp opposition from producers that in 1711 the manner of achieving mastership and the restrictions on the number of workers in a workshop were abrogated.45 Restrictions on the volume of production could not be enforced in an industry in which during the eighteenth century thousands of machines were working.

Machine-knitting production did not require long trade training. The only difficulty lay in the assembly of the machine of its parts. According to guild requirements a journeyman establishing his own workshop had to know the structure of the machine. In a manufacture-type division of labour this is not necessary and machine assembly, and even repairs, were taken care of by locksmiths, watchmakers and blacksmiths. The rigid guild division of labour caused sharp disputes between the locksmiths and knitters in Nîmes. According to the mediatory resolutions of 1749, knitters could assemble and repair machines only for use in their own workshops or manufactures. The locksmiths claimed that a knitting journeyman doing assembly work or repairs was entering their sphere of competence. At the same time they were not meeting the local demand for machines because the 8-9 metal-work masters in Nîmes were producing only up to 50 machines per year. However, a special profession of assemblers of knitting machines is only established in this town in 1767. From the times of the watch-maker Thymothée Pastre this large centre of production Was introducing structural improvements to the device of the Reverend Lee. Thus, for example, in 1736 a clergyman Mousson from Uzés was rewarded for structural improvements to the machine. In 1788 the Bureau de Commerce paid 400 francs to a certain Fortenow of Nîmes for inventing a machine capable of producing articles having very fine stitches, thus suitable for producing imitation-lace knit goods. Constantly repeated are the injunctions against the export of knitting machines which nevertheless, were being exported even as far as to Russia.46

A large part of Languedoc production dispersed across the whole economic region was designed for export. In order to show the extent of this production, a table with details relating to 29 localities in 1760 is given below.47


Machines Machines for wool for silk


Machines Machines for wool for silk



















Le Vigan






































































It emerges from these statistics that in this provinces, particularly in the Cévennes mountains, machines for processing wool still predominate during this period. In the small villages of Languedoc there were so many knitting machines working. In other parts of France, and particularly in other countries of central or eastern Europe, such a large number would only exist in large manufactures. The total number of knitting machines in Languedoc, despite the differences in data from different sources is higher than in many European countries in the second half of the eighteenth century. This calculation includes just the smaller towns and villages of this region. We would stress the importance of Toulouse and Uzés, and among the smaller towns Rockecourbe, Marseilles, Montpellier or Toulon play an important role not only in the domain of trade in knitgoods, but also of their own production.48 On the plateau of the Cévennes with the main towns of Le Vigan and Ganges, machine knitting was already being practised by 1684, passing gradually from local wool to locally produced silk and later cotton. In the uplands, form of the putting-out system of production and later cottage-work proved exceptionally persistent, numerous samples of their fabrics and tools being preserved in the Musée Cévenol du Vigan.49

At has already been mentioned, the large Languedoc knitting industry was suited to meet the needs of export to Latin America, Spain, as well as to Italy, Russia and the German markets of Lipsk (Leipzig), Franfurt am Main and Magdeburg. 90 of the exports however, went to Cadiz and from there mainly to Peru. M. Defourneaux has described the production of "bas à la Pérouvien-ne", that is the stockings adapted to the taste of Peruvian customers. These stockings were made of wool and poorer quality silk, twilled silk and filoselle. These were usually colourful products finished with embroidery near the gussets. In Nîmes itself at the end of the eighteenth century there were about 2000 women engaged in stitching up the stockings and embroidering the gussets, while the topography of this town from 1790 already lists up to 2300 seamstresses and stocking embroiderers. In Nîmes itself the peak of the export period about 200.000 dozen stockings were being produced. At the same time, about 1780. the whole of Spanish America was buying 60-70.000 dozen pairs of stockings per year. Thus one third of Nîmes production was going to America, although for the requirements of these countries stockings were also purchased from England, Italy and Switzerland. Data from different sources show considerable deviations in the assessment of the volume of production. In any cases, knitting was of great importance to the economy of this part of France. The mass and inferior production was better suited to the taste of customers than the English or Genoese one. However, where knitgoods were being produced for the local market, as in Ganges for example,they were of better quality. The production in this town in 1788 was in the hands of 36 manufacturers, having 4000 working knitting machines serviced by 12 locksmiths, in addition, there were 30 workers, 4 dyers and 300 embroiderers of gussets.50

The decline of knitting in Languedoc had already begun by the end of the discussed period. It suffered due to import restrictions imposed by the Spanish government. These restrictions were already being imposed already in 1778 as the Spaniards tried to reinforce the Catalan knitting industry. These regulations were less strict after 1783, but even before, they were often evaded by large-scale smuggling. However customs regulations, were tightened again in 1786, as the state of war with England accelerated the decline of Languedoc knitting, Nîmes suffering the most since the coming of export production to Nîmes. During the next 10 years the number of working machines dropped from 4500 to 1912, and the number of workers from 16,830 to 5980. The producers in Nîmes fought for new markets in Italy, Germany, Russia and the Scandinavian countries, at the same time, however, shipments of bas à la Pérouvienne were still smuggled from Nîmes through Barcelona to Peru right up to the early nineteenth century.51

M. Sonenscher has interpreted this problem in another way:

The relationship between the large commercial houses and those engaged in knitting, dyeing, embroidering, pressing and packing silk hose depended upon form of regulation, surveillance and co-operation which, given the technical composition of manufacture, was necessarily more direct and intimate than that associated with the factory [...] The last years of the old regime and the early years of the Revolution were to undermine this delicate relationship. Prohibitions upon the importation of hosiery into Spain in 1779 and. more seriously, in 1787, were only partially offset by smuggling and sales in Switzerland, Germany, Russia and elsewhere. In 1787 tho cocoon harvest failed and the expected recovery the following year was undermined by the political uncertainty produced by the revolutionary crisis. The conflicts to which these circumstances gave rise over the following decade exposed those engaged in the production of silk, woollen or cotton hose to an environment which was considerably different from that in which the hosiery industry had previously existed. It was an environment which saw the eclipse of those dynasties - the Maigre, Chabanel. Ribot and Pretreau which had dominated the hosiery trade of the eighteenth century, and the formation of a mercantile group whose relationship to those engaged in production was tempered by the experiences of the revolutionary decade. The terms upon which this new relationship operated, the form of co-operation which is implied and the ultimate transition to a completely rural hosiery industry which was a result, were the consequences of the still largely unexplored conflicts and compromise of the revolutionary period".52

It seems that all the history of Languedoc knitting in its peak period of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is open to discussion. Any comprehensive history of knitting in France would devote a large part to a study of Languedoc, it might even merit a separate monograph.

Knitting production in Languedoc was based on various sizes of business, here guild privileges had only a formal character and did not restrict the volume of production. The organization of this production takes a different course in the years 1658- 1715 there was a house of forced labour. First hand knitting was used as employment for the inmates, and later, from 1696, knitting machines. Thick linen and woollen stockings were made imitating Italian products from Bergamo. After 1715 the knitting business in Bordeaux became independent of the compulsory workhouse, but in 1734 it was wound up as unprofitable.53 Small knitting production also existed in different localities of Gascony and Provence, production in Marseilles and Toulon having been already mentioned. Finally a knitting manufacture was established in Corsica. All these establishments were of less economic importance than the powerful Languedoc knitting. A small centre of this production existed in le Delphinat, in Grenoble itself and its environs. In 1730 there were 104 workers operating on 53 machines and producing 840 dozen pairs of stockings and caps, while in 1778 this number had increased to more than 2000 workers and 400 working machines.54 The fate of the early manufacture of Fournier in Lyon has not yet been investigated. In 1789 in this town there were 6630 workers involved in different spheres of knitting production which testifies to the existence of a rather large production centre. The project of the knitwear producer Chaix and data from 1777 testify to the great financial stratification between the workshops of this industry and the fall of some establishments. R. Vaultier writes about a certain Benois Caillou, a knitter from Lyon, who in 1779 was patenting of the invention of a machine producing open-work knitwear with non-running stitches. J. Poisat relates the history of hosiery in Roanne and its region but only from 1880 to 1973. The book offers some new information about hand-knitting production of the region from the earliest time.55

In the eighteenth century Overnia has various knitting establishments. The existence of fairly differentiated production is testified not only by data from written sources but also by quite numerous relics in the museums of Clermont-Ferrand. In this region cotton was spun for the needs of the previous-ly-mentioned manufacture in Bordeaux but also for one in Poitiers. Knitting manufacture existed in the house of forced labour in Tulle. Up to 1706 serge was produced there, but later, up to 1742, also woollen stockings from yarn obtained from the work of hospital inmates was being produced. Knitting manufactures also developed in Limousin. After 1765 M. Pigney de Montig-nac was producing, besides fabrics, also caps, stockings and mittens from local lamb wool. The manufacture of M. Teulier and Company was producing, on 17 machines, silk or silk-cotton stockings and silk trousers and waistcoats. Cotton stockings were also produced on 2 knitting machines by a certain Méjean, nicknamed Belle-Olive. Finally in Saint-Junien woollen stockings from local raw material were being produced in a few manufactures.56 In Poitou knitting manufactures existed only in Poitiers and Saint-Maixent in the seventeenth century. In the following century these lost their importance.57 Mention must be made of the guild craftsmen in Rennes in Brittany. In 1755 there were 12 masters registered. Old traditions of guild knitting are also found in Nantes. In 1656 one of the first manufactures in France was established there and .this town has the privilege of developing machine production. The first regulations for Nantes coincide with the Parisian ones and specify the requirements regarding the raw material and technical standard of the first machine-made knit goods. At the same time there was an attempt to reconcile the principles of guild organization in the field of knitters craft training with the wolume of the manufacture production. The manufacture in Nantes existed at least up to 1767 and was producing knit goods of average quality.58

Orléans was also mentioned in the first list of towns gaining the privilege of machine production in 1700 and together with its environs, constituted an important knitting centre. A knitters' guild existed in this town from 1575 but craft traditions did not impede machine production. The machine was known since 1680, but the first manufacture was only established in 1693. Production largely intended for export to Canada developed there in the first half of the eighteenth century. Guilds of hand- and machine-knitters joined together only in 1769. In 1726 32 knitwear trades, 228 masters (façonniers) and 482 machines are listed. In 1736 42 knitwear traders, 356 producers and 819 machines were working in Orléans. The peak comes in 1746 with: 80 traders, 400 producers and about 900 machines. According to other estimates, in the years 1720-1750 there were 1200 machines and about 10,000 workers in Orléans. Rural domestic production organized in the putting-out system was of great importance. In the neighbourhood of Orléans 12,000 workers were annually producing by hand and machine 54,000 dozen stockings, 31,000 pairs of gloves and mittens with one finger and 105,000 pairs of socks. A list of products from 1787 shows a large assortment of knit goods in Orléans and its environs, Beauce, Chartres, Blois and Dourdan. Besides stockings, socks, gloves and mittens the mention is also made of different types of headgear such as elongated night-cap type of sailors' caps, skull-caps and bonnet-Jacques ou façon de Tunis, designed for African customers and sailors. The total yearly production was estimated at 304,106 dozen woollen products, 300 dozen silk ones, 100 dozen linen ones and 100 dozen cotton ones. This important centre of production used mainly the local woollen raw material and its products were being sold both within the country and exported to Canada and North Africa. Large numbers of workers were involved in rural domestic production within the putting-out system, for example in the environs of Beauce and in the town itself there were about 12,000 people working in the eighteenth century.59

Particularly close attention has been paid to knitting in Dourdan and its early craft traditions. This town was mentioned among the centres privileged in the use of the knitting machine, which was known there from 1685; initially it was used for woollen yarn while silk was used for hand knitting. A contract with the enterpreneur Fiacre Mullochon stresses the necessity of training journeymen aged 15 to 22 years and apprentices aged 6 to 12 years. A machine cost at least 300 francs. An apprentice had to work 3 years and produce 4 pairs of stockings per week, which amounted to more that 600 pairs, thus the training covered the cost of the machine without the raw materials and finishing. Only a journeyman brought profit to the enterpreneur. F. Mullochon transferred his establishment to Orléans, but another manufacture with 400 machines was established in Dourdan in 1693. In 1745 there were 8 fullers, 6 dyers and 100 machines listed in Dourdan and it is assumed that the knitting production survived in this town at least till the revolutionary period.60

Knitting in Normandy has also been closely researched. Soon, within the first years following the importation of the machine a few towns had developed a considerable production. In the first place we must mention Rouen where in 1694 machine knitters established a guild which existed up to 1778. After three years of journeying, a candidate for master worker had to produce: patterned woollen or silk stockings with gussets and other particular garments specified by masters. The family of a master enjoyed some privileges as regards the execution of the garments as well as a fee discount. Acceptance of guild restrictions on the volume of production and number of workers weighed heavily on the dimensions of knitting in Rouen. In 1755 there were only 65 masters working in small workshops with only a few machines. After the hand-and machine-knitters' guilds joined together, the number of workshops reached 80. Even after the transition to cotton production, no significant increase was noticed there. The knitters' guild in Caen had similar dimensions and character as the Rouen guild; in 1695 it had 97 masters. Woollen knitwear was also being produced in Bayeux, Verneuil, Évreux, Falaise, Montvilliers, Sées (Gouyer), Cherbourg, Vitrei, Saint-Lô, Carentan and Auvrigny; rural domestic production organised in the putting-out system was also developed there,61 unlimited by guild restrictions.

It is difficult to determine the extent of production in Normandy. Data from 1784 for Reims and 17 localities in the neighbourhood of this town mention 514 manufactures producing on 946 machines 12,854 knitted pieces per year. In Soissons, Châlons, Vitry, Saint-Dizier, in Renwez and other localities in Mézières there existed guild production usually limited to 8-13 masters. As to Roubaix and Tourcoing we have data only from the nineteenth century listing 52 and 37 masters respectively; Lille and Armentiéres are lacking the data referring to the dimensions of production.62

The most important centre of contemporary French knitting production only developed in the last century. Troyes had old craft traditions which became an obstacle in the development of machine knitting production difficult in this town. First machines were set in motion in Arcis in 1733 and in Troyes only in the Trinité hospital around 1746. The manufacturer employing the inmates of the hospital was making use of raw cotton; in 1753 there were 53 machines there, in 1771 over 60. The sudden development of machine knitting in

Champagne only takes place only in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. At that time numerous producers of cheaper woollen, semi-woollen and linen fabrics had switched over to knitting production. In 1787 in Champagne there were about 1500 knitting machines, of which 500 worked in Troyes. During the revolutionary period the production of this centre increased owing to the absence of English competition in Napoleon's time; somewhat later it becomes famous for improvements to the knitting machine. The period of its flourishing, however, surpasses the chronological scope of this book.63 C. Heywood in his papers was interested mainly in the nineteenth century production. "The purpose of this paper is to examine the supply of labour in the rural areas of lower Champagne".64 The output of this centre was discussed only on the basis of the nineteenth century statistics. But the mass production of some mills is not the subject of this book.

Knitting manufacture existed in 1748-1792 in Mareville-la-Venerie in Lorraine near Nancy. Production of this branch existed even earlier in the house of forced labour in Nancy. In Mareville production trials were undertaken on 20 machines. The transfer of Lorraine to France in 1766 contributed to the development of the already well-patronized manufacture. Production, however, did not develop here to any large extent because in 1759 there were only just over 20,000 pairs of stockings registered as the product of the recent years.65 Traces of knitting production exist in the environs of de Fourmies and in the Vosges.66 Little by little the knitting machine penetrates Alsace, the most important hand-knitting centre in that part of Europe. Schmoller believes that the knitting machine was known in Strassburg in 1618, which seems rather unlikely; even if a few machines had been imported there, the strong guild organization would not have allowed their spread. Only in 1735 did Jean Diesberger establish the first stocking manufacture in Colmar, production being based on the work of orphans and inmates of the local hospital.67 The decline of hand knitting was gradual, while the growth of machine knitting in Alsace never attained to the dimensions that the hand knitting had achieved.

Thus we have shown above the meandering paths of the development of English and French knitting. While the English elaborations aim at more comprehensive assessments and verify the old quantitative estimates. French knitting has so far been discussed only in catalogues of provincial museums and scattered articles in regional periodicals. To date no elaboration of a more general character has appeared.68 In this book an attempt has been made to collect this fragmentary information and to characterize the dimension and importance of the most significant centres, such as Languedoc or Normandy. It was, however, impossible to verify data coming from different sources without archival research and to obtain anything more than scattered mentions about knitting production in several towns or regions. Nevertheless, the development of French machine knitting in the late seventeenth and the eighteenth century, which it shown just with this limited data, amazes us with its impetus. Guild restrictions in the dynamic centres could not lessen the growth of production or limit the division of labour in manufactures and rural domestic production in the putting-out system. The growth of local and foreign demand of knitted products brought about the rise of the larger production centres and the transfer of production from one centre to others. In the eighteenth century France competes with English knitting and surpasses it, without significant improvements to the machine, in the production of garments designed for wide masses of consumers looking for cheap but attractive articles which follow the whims of fashion.

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