Achilles’ Tent (La Tienda de Aquiles)

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Achilles’ Tent (La Tienda de Aquiles)

Known as ‘Achilles’ Tent’ because of the main scene, this tapestry shows several moments of the Trojan War around three main events: the meeting between Hector and Achilles in the Greek camp, Hector’s preparation for combat, and the fight to death between Greeks and Trojans.

Out of the four pieces in the series, this is the only incomplete one. Approximately one quarter of its left side was lost in a fire, thus diminishing the tapestry’s grandeur, but not its value.

Hector and Achilles

In the left scene the two heroes of the epic, Hector and Achilles, identified with their names, hold talks about the war. There are other characters in this bell tent, including Agamemnon and Menelaus, as shown by their name signs.

Armed confrontation

The talks do not achieve their purpose, so a struggle between both sides follows, involving a number of characters (some of them identified with their name), horses and weapons. A merlon wall separates this scene from the one dealing with Hector’s preparation for combat, which is on the right-hand side. Priam’s favourite son bids farewell to his mother, Hecuba, and his wife, Andromache, who unsuccessfully tries to prevent his departure by displaying their children. Below, Hector disregards his mother’s last begging and rides his horse out of town.


Three captions along the top narrate the events in French, and the same number along the bottom summarize them in Latin. These inscriptions and the names of the main characters make it possible to follow a story which would be otherwise incomprehensible because of the remarkable number of figures which are deployed all around.

An incomplete cloth

At the beginning of the 20th century a fire damaged the left side of the tapestry significantly, and it was cut out. The damaged area was sold in 1907. The cutout represented the episode in which Sagittarius, a centaur fitted with a bow, wreaks havoc among the invaders with his arrows. Fortunately, this scene is kept in other editions such as the one exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (The Cloisters Collection).

Series The Trojan War

Sixth tapestry in the series

Model Coëtivy Master (Henry or Conrard de Vulcop)

Manufacture Tournai workshops, c. 1470

Fabric Wool and silk, 6/7 warps per cm

Size 467 x 690 cm

Location Cathedral of Zamora, Cathedral Museum)

Origin A donation of Count Alba de Aliste, it arrived at the cathedral in 1608

Exhibition It is currently exhibited in the Museum’s facilities next to the cathedral.


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