Pastrana Tapestries

Detail from the Storming of Asilah

The Pastrana Tapestries (Portuguese: Tapeçarias de Pastrana) are four large tapestries commissioned by king Afonso V of Portugal to celebrate the successful conquest of the Moroccan cities of Asilah and Tangier by the Portuguese in 1471. Each measures about 11 by 4 meters (36 by 12 feet), and are made of wool and silk.[1][2][3][4]

The tapestries depict four episodes regarding the conquest of Asilah and Tangier:[2][1][3]

  • The Landing at Asilah
  • The Siege of Asilah
  • The Storming of Asilah
  • The Capture of Tangier

They feature an impressive array of detailed depictions of Gothic plate armours and weapons such as swords, crossbows, polearms, cannons, and even handcannons, that would have been innovative in the period.[5]

Their manufacture has been attributed to the workshop of Pasquier Grenier in Tournai, modern-day Belgium.[5] The tapestries are remarkable for being one of the few surviving 15th-century works of weaving depicting contemporary rather than biblical or mythological episodes.[5] In this they showed the direction for the next three centuries, as sets of tapestries became the grandest form of military art, for example in the set commissioned some 60 years later by Emperor Charles V showing his Tunis campaign, and the English Armada Tapestries 50 years after that.

The tapestries have been kept at the Colegiada de Pastrana Museum in Pastrana, Spain, since 1664, though it is unknown how exactly they came to Spain.[5][1][2][3][4]


Landing at Asilah Siege of Asilah
Storming of Asilah Takeover of Tangiers


  1. ^ a b c Kennicott, Philip (September 16, 2011). "Art review: The Pastrana Tapestries at the National Gallery". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "PEM: Portuguese 15th Century Pastrana Tapestries – Exhibition". Portuguese American Journal. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b "The Tapestries of Pastrana". European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards. April 7, 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Spring 2012" (PDF). At The Meadows. Meadows Museum. pp. 2–6.