I will have to look up some references, but from memory (which may be playing tricks on me)
Maybe not quite right -but along the right tracks, according to an early 19th century book whose information admittedly be have been superceded by further research...
According to "A treatise on the production and manufacture of silk' by John Clarke, 1839 p.69 et al:
The manufacture of silk does not appear to have
been introduced into France earlier than the time of
Louis XI., who in 1480 established, with extensive
privileges, at Tours, the artisans he had obtained from
Genoa, Venice, and Florence. Authors do not ap-
pear to be perfectly" agreed relative to the first intro-
duction of the silk loorm into France. Some refer
that event to the year 1494, or during the campaigns
of Charles VIII., when, it is aifirmed that not only
silk worms, but also a further supply of mulberry
trees were brought from Italy, which gave prospe-
rity to the rich countries that border on the Rhone.
The progress of the manufacture, however, appears
to have been comparatively stationary, until the reign
of Francis I. The artisans obtained in the year 1521
from the dutchy of Milan, then in the possession of
the French, introduced the manufacture into Lyons,
and were encouraged by the patronage of that mo-
narch. According to these authorities, it was from
this time that a more rapid progress ensued, and ma-
nufactories sprung up not only in Lyons, but also in
the southern provinces, adequate first to supply do-
mestic consumption, and soon after to export wrought
silks of a quality to sustain competition in foreign
markets, which to France ultimately became, even
from England only, a source of abundant wealth.
But according to Thuanus, it is to Francis I. that
the French were indebted for the first introduction
of the silk worms; which were successfully reared in
Provence, Avignon, and Lyons. Others refer this
event to the time of Henry IV. The more probable
case is that all previous attempts, whether in the
raising of silk, or in the manufacture of fabrics, com-
pared with those resulting from the more Uberal
patronage of the monarch last mentioned, were not
so extensively successful. Indeed it is acknowledged
that both mulberry trees and silk worms were reared
before in Lyonnois, Dauphinc, Provence, and Lan-
guedoc ; but by Henry, it appears, they were natu-
ralized as far north as Orleans ; who also, according
to Mezeray planted the trees at Paris, and reared the
worms at the Tiiileries. The Parisians were encou-
raged by letters patent, conferring, on certain condi-
tions, even titles of nobility, to introduce manufacto-
ries into the metropolis. But later experience has
shown that the climate north of the Loire is not
suitable to the insect.
M. d'Homergue informs us that Henry " invited
one Michaeli from Italy into his dominions, and gave
him, for the purpose of forming an extensive planta-
tion of mulberry trees, and raising the article of silk,
the castle of the old Marquis de Fournes, situate on
the river Gardon, in the vicinity of Nimes. This inge-
nious foreigner was the first who began the manufac-
tories of silk stutis that now enrich that city. And
tradition informs us that the king expended on those
establishments the immense sum of near one million
and a half of livres; an enormous sum in those days."
Olivier de Serres was highly instrumental in urging
the king in the furtherance of this national benefit,*
who is, indeed, called by the French to this day, the
patriarch of agriculture. The king conscious of the
merits of Olivier, " offered him the highest honours, —
but he asked for one favour only, viz. that all useless
trees might be banished from the royal gardens ; an
example that was soon extensively followed through-
out the kingdom. At Olivier's recommendation
14,000 mulberry trees, and a large quantity of seed
of the same tree were ordered from Italy, to supply
the vacancies intentionally made in the Royal Gar-
dens. In later times he also procured silk worms'
eggs, and persons acquainted Avith their rearing.
The trees, the eggs, and printed instructions, were
distributed gratis to agriculturists."
http://www.archive.org/stream/treatiseo ... r_djvu.txt
Of the trade in Milan:
At his estate in Vigevano (located about 35 kilometers west of Milan), Ludovico expanded on an agricultural endeavor started by Filippo Maria Visconti (1402-1447) in the 1440's (Figure 6.1).
In order to decrease Milan's dependence on imported raw silk, Visconti planted white mulberry trees (morus alba), the leaves of which are the preferred food of the silkworm.5 In January of 1442, Visconti also wooed an expert silk-maker, Pietro di Bartolo, from Florence to teach Milanese weavers his trade. The official decree
outlining the specifics of this arrangement suggested that Filippo Maria went to great lengths to please Bartolo. He offered him a ten-year exemption from all state and personal tax, seventy fiorini a month as a subsidy for the stipends of his workers...
From 1450 to 1462, Francesco Sforza built on the initial investments made by Visconti by granting Milanese citizenship to magistri syrici or magist de panno da seta from cities like Cremona, Florence, Bergamo, and Genoa.10 In 1457, he issued an important incentive to bolster and protect Milan's silk industry, forbidding the sale in Milan of all foreign-made silk textiles. This embargo enabled local manufacturers to establish a monopoly in their territory and forced the Milanese gentry to stop purchasing silk in Venice, Florence and Genoa, cities famous for high-quality fabrics. By ensuring that his own silk workers would have exclusive access to Milan’s most sophisticated clientele, Francesco Sforza established an incentive to improve quality. In a short time, Milan’s silk products became the most sought-after in Italy and in many parts of Europe...
When Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444-1476) became Duke in 1466, he continued to make the business of the silk industry a priority. By 1467, more than 300 silk workers were operating in Milan, according to census records. This number exceeded the number of workers in any other manufacturing industry...
Galeazzo Maria also took steps to make silk-weavers independent by decreasing the need to import raw materials from outside Milan. On March 15, 1470, he issued a decree stating that each landowner was to plant five mulberry trees for every one hundred pertiche of land. Growers who did not comply with this order, would be fined twenty lire imperiali for every unplanted tree...
Thanks to the efficient administration of his predecessors, Ludovico Sforza inherited a lucrative and well-regulated enterprise... Ludovico also encouraged mulberry farming by personal example... When referring to his mulberry tree farm, Ludovico swelled with pride. Vigevano, his birthplace, was one of his favorite places for entertaining visiting dignitaries. He spent as much time as he could there, especially after his marriage to Beatrice d'Este, and he spoke of his enterprise in positive terms to his contemporaries. The following excerpt
comes a letter sent to a certain Bianchino de Palude in 1497:
Blanchino: you know what pleasure we have always had from the mulberries and silk that come from our Sforzescha. Because we are on such good terms, we would like for you to visit the Sforzescha sometime to see what is being done with this silk.
http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/availab ... 006etd.pdf