A Merovingian tomb from the 5 century contained a wool twill pall quilted with Egyptian cotton (Rogers).Although the pall was obviously a luxury item, and almost certainly imported, it suggests that quilting was established enough in the Mediterranean to be traded to the less civilized north.The central motifs (primarily animals, with abstract spirals on the borders) are worked in the backstitch, while the background is diamond quilted in a coarse running stitch.
The trio is worked in the same technique as the Siberian rug of 1200 years earlier: backstitched linen on linen around the decorative motifs, cotton stuffing in the trapunto sections, and running stitch quilting in the backgrounds.
A similar quilt, possibly of silk, is shown in the Flemish Bartolomeo Bermejos 1450 painting The Death of the Virgin, placing quilting in the Netherlands by the 15 century (Lidz), while a German painting of 1500 shows a quilted, pieced tunic in what may well be the first accurate depiction of pieced clothing in western art (Gwinner).
These early quilts and quilted objects, and virtually all surviving quilting until the 17 century, were of linen stuffed with raw cotton; if wool flocking was ever used for anything besides perhaps armor, it was far too attractive to moths to survive (Colby).
That quilting was not confined to Italy and Germany is evident from two 15 century French references.
Quilting does not appear to have been done in Europe much before the 12 century, and is usually thought to have been brought back from the Middle East by the returning Crusaders (Colby 1971).
However, a recent discovery from Germany indicates that quilted objects may have been known during the Dark Ages.
Two, one in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the other in the Bargello in Florence, are believed to have been made for a wedding in the 1390's (Young), while the remains of a third, in a private collection as late as World War II, may have been made for the royal house of Anjou (Loomis).
All three show scenes from the Tristan legend, with the Anjou quilt including a border of the Seven Deadly Sins!
The next evidence of quilting in Europe appears in a French poem of the 12 century German Parvizal also mentions a quilt on a bed in the Grail castle (Eschenbach), suggesting that bed quilts were fairly common in aristocratic circles in at least two countries.