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Mabel of Bury St. Edmunds (fl. 1230)

Mabel of Bury St. Edmunds (fl. 1230)

English professional embroiderer . Flourished in 1230 in London, England.

Mabel of Bury St. Edmunds was an English embroiderer who flourished around 1230. Her early life is obscure; she moved to London as an adult and her name is found frequently in the royal treasury records of King Henry III (r. 1216–1272). Apparently Mabel was one of the finest artisans of her trade, for she was given several important commissions by the king himself. It is not certain how old she was when her work became so highly recognized, but she was considered an artist and allowed to design as well as embroider veils, banners, and ecclesiastical clothing for Henry and his officers.

Mabel was well paid for her works, some of which took her a year or more to complete. Henry also approved reimbursement for any ornamentation or precious materials she wanted to use in the execution of a piece, such as spun gold thread and pearls, which she used quite liberally. King Henry remembered Mabel even after her retirement to Bury St. Edmunds, giving her gifts of cloth and a fur robe when he visited that town years after she had ceased to work for him.

sources:

LaBarge, Margaret. A Small Sound of the Trumpet: Women in Medieval Life. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1986.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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