Etymology and HistoryThe name is derived from French serge, itself from Latin serica, from Greek σηρικος (serikos), meaning "silken". The early association of silk serge, Greek, and France is shown by the discovery in Charlemagne's tomb of a piece of silk serge dyed with Byzantine motifs, evidently a gift from the Byzantine Imperial Court in the 8th or 9th century AD.
From early Saxon times, most English wool ("staples") was exported. In the early sixteenth century it went mainly to a Royal monopoly at Calais (then an English possession) and was woven into cloth in France or the Low Countries. However, with the capture of Calais by the French on 7 January 1558, England began expanding own weaving industry. This was greatly enhanced by the European Wars of Religion (Eighty Years' War, French Wars of Religion); in 1567 Calvinist refugees from the Low Countries included many skilled serge weavers, while Huguenot refugees in the early eighteenth century included many silk and linen weavers.