The Destruction of Troy (Destrucción de Troya)

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The Destruction of Troy (Destrucción de Troya)

This tapestry, the last one in the series, narrates one of the paramount moments in the Trojan War: the strategy of the horse devised by the Achaeans. The author of the tale appears among the many scenes and characters represented. Several signs help to recognize the most prominent figures.

The horse of Troy

TTired of an unending war, the Greeks devise a plan to defeat the Trojans. The top left side shows them retreating to their ships with Helen, already rescued from their captors (although she had actually run away with Paris willingly), while they leave behind the famous horse conceived by Ulysses. The horse stands out on the left-hand side of the picture. Its size is so enormous that a part of the walls has to be demolished to move it into the city. The Greeks appear around it, coming out from its interior or getting into the city through the opening cut in its defenses. So does Agamemnon and, taking the Trojans by surprise, he and his comrades-in-arms kill whoever comes their way, men and women.

Death and destruction

Pyrrhus ‘Pirus’, son of Achilles, appears in the foreground on his way to the Temple of Apollo, where he kills King Priam. Above the temple, on the left, Hecuba entrusts her daughter Polyxena to Antenor, fearing for her fate. But he turns out to be a traitor and hands her over to Pyrrhus, who beheads her. Hecuba herself and her other daughter, Cassandra, are held by Telamonian Ajax, ’Talamonis aiax’. Destruction is everywhere: it is indicated by many fires, and there is even one character trying to bring Troy's walls down with a pickaxe.

The author of the tale

The scene displayed on the extreme right of the tapestry departs from the Trojan tale and shows a remarkable realism. Framed by a construction topped with a Gothic arch, it shows a bearded character at a desk, representing the author of the tale. He shows the end of the tragedy, as stated in the lines opening the last inscription: ‘Ansi fine li store miserable de la cite digne de grant renom’.


There are five French inscriptions along the top, and the same number of Latin ones along the bottom, providing information on the taking and destruction of Troy by the Achaeans. Four escutcheons of the Count of Tendilla were woven later on, linking the different signs.

Series The Trojan War

Eleventh 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 477 x 942 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 located in the Chapter House of the cathedral, opposite The Rape of Helen


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