- Production of cloth was the earliest luxury trade in Brussels and the economy was heavily dependent on it in the Middle Ages. The industry dates from the 11th century and the cloth guild was recognized officially by Duke John I in 1289. English wool was bought by the guild and stored in a warehouse (steen) to be distributed among the patrician members of the guild, who would then forward it to the artisans. Spinners and carders, many of them women and children, prepared the wool, and weavers, fullers, and dyers manufactured the cloth. Many worked at home. Fullers and dyers were concentrated at the porte d'Overmolen near the Senne River while weavers were especially numerous in the Chapelle district.The trade suffered a significant downturn in the late 14th century through a drop in English wool supplies, competition from English cloth, higher prices, and a fall in quality standards through violations of guild regulations. The city appointed inspectors in 1377 to enforce standards. Still, a falloff in production at Leuven helped offset declines and immigrants skilled in the trade arrived from the latter town as well.Brussels cloth was distinguished by a lead seal bearing an effigy of either Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Gudule, or Saint Nicholas, depending on the quality.A cloth market (Halle aux draps, Lakenhalle), was erected at the beginning of the 13th century. Built on wood pilings driven into the marshy soil, it was located on rue au Poivre behind the current Maison du Roi. A new building was constructed on the rue de l'Amigo in 1353. Destroyed during the bombardment of 1695 it was not rebuilt. By then, the cloth trade was in complete decline.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.