Learn More About the Bayeux Tapestry


Written by Althea Tan in Crafts
Viewed by 134 readers since 01-22-2009

One of the most famous historical tapestries in the world is the Bayeux Tapestry. Measuring 50 cm by 70 m, it has always been traditionally referred to as a tapestry. However, it is actually an embroidery of Anglo-Saxon origin, created most likely around 1077 or so. Despite the misnomer, the Bayeux Tapestry retains its historical significance as an event record and an example of art tapestry.

Origin of the Bayeux Tapestry

Woven in France, it depicts the events prior to and during the Battle of Hastings. Fought in 1066, this battle was fought between the forces of the Anglo-Saxon English king Harold II against the invading Norman force of William the Conqueror. William eventually won and was subsequently crowned King of England. Although there are stories that say that the tapestry was created by the wife of William, Queen Matilda, with help from her ladies-in-waiting, current theory now holds that it was a commissioned work by William’s half-brother Bishop Odo. It is believed it was completed in time for the dedication of the Bayeux Cathedral, founded by Bishop Odo and where the tapestry was first displayed.

The Battle of Hastings

The tapestry tells the story of how the Battle of Hastings came to be. It starts with how William and Harold meet when the latter is abducted by a Norman duke then released through the former’s intercession. They become companions in a campaign against Conan II, Duke of Brittany. After their success, the tapestry implies that Harold pledges support to William’s claim to the throne of England. However, when Harold returns home, he eventually gains the throne himself from his old benefactor, the previous king, Edward the Confessor. What follows are scenes that depict the invasion of the Norman force of William and the eventual defeat of Harold II.

The Tapestry at Present

The tapestry has endured the ravages of time. Points of repair and patching are visible on the whole length of the cloth. It is also theorized that the tapestry does not really end with the defeat of the Anglo-Saxons at Hastings. Some historians believe that there is a missing part of the tapestry that depicts the coronation of William as King of England. Despite occasions of mishandling and periods of long storage away from public eyes, the tapestry has survived and is now on display, in a special protective case against air and light, in a museum in Bayeux, France.

A Piece of History for Your Home

There are several ways of getting a glimpse of the Bayeux Tapestry aside from seeing online pictures. Actually, you may already have seen it. Images from the tapestry have been used in several films, including the Kevin Costner starrer, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” There is a full-sized replica in the Museum of Reading in Berkshire, England. Best of all, you can actually order smaller tapestries depicting portions of the tapestry for hanging on your own walls. You can have history hanging in your own home. If you’re a history buff, Bayeux tapestries are for you.


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