In a linen backing cloth was sewn on comparatively crudely and, in around the year , large ink numerals were written on the backing which broadly enumerate each scene and which are still commonly used for reference. In a series of pictures supported by a written commentary the tapestry tells the story of the events of — culminating in the Battle of Hastings.
The two main protagonists are Harold Godwinson , recently crowned King of England, leading the Anglo-Saxon English, and William, Duke of Normandy , leading a mainly Norman army, sometimes called the companions of William the Conqueror. William was the illegitimate son of Robert the Magnificent , Duke of Normandy , and Herleva or Arlette , a tanner 's daughter. William became Duke of Normandy at the age of seven and was in control of Normandy by the age of nineteen. His half-brother was Bishop Odo of Bayeux. King Edward the Confessor , king of England and about sixty years old at the time the tapestry starts its narration, had no children or any clear successor.
Edward's mother, Emma of Normandy , was William's great aunt. At that time succession to the English throne was not by primogeniture but was decided jointly by the king and by an assembly of nobility, the Witenagemot.
Harold Godwinson , Earl of Wessex and the most powerful noble in England, was Edward's brother-in-law. The Norman chronicler William of Poitiers  reported that Edward had previously determined that William would succeed him on the throne, and Harold had sworn to honour this, and yet later that Harold had claimed Edward, on his deathbed, had made him heir over William. However, other sources, such as Eadmer dispute this claim. The tapestry begins with a panel of Edward the Confessor sending Harold to Normandy.
On the way, just outside the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel , the army become mired in quicksand and Harold saves two Norman soldiers. Harold leaves for home and meets again with the old king Edward, who appears to be remonstrating with him. A star with a streaming tail, probably Halley's Comet , then appears. William orders his men to find food, and a meal is cooked. Messengers are sent between the two armies, and William makes a speech to prepare his army for battle.
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The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October less than three weeks after the Battle of Stamford Bridge but the tapestry does not provide this context. The English fight on foot behind a shield wall , whilst the Normans are on horses.
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King Harold is killed. The final remaining scene shows unarmoured English troops fleeing the battlefield. The last part of the tapestry is missing; however, it is thought that the story contained only one additional scene. Tituli are included in many scenes to point out names of people and places or to explain briefly the event being depicted. The first reference to the tapestry is from when it was listed in an inventory of the treasures of Bayeux Cathedral. It survived the sack of Bayeux by the Huguenots in ; and the next certain reference is from He had no idea where or what the original was, although he suggested it could have been a tapestry.
The Benedictine scholar Bernard de Montfaucon made more successful investigations and found that the sketch was of a small portion of a tapestry preserved at Bayeux Cathedral. The tapestry was first briefly noted in English in by William Stukeley , in his Palaeographia Britannica.
During the French Revolution , in , the tapestry was confiscated as public property to be used for covering military wagons. In the Society of Antiquaries of London commissioned its historical draughtsman, Charles Stothard , to visit Bayeux to make an accurate hand-coloured facsimile of the tapestry. His drawings were subsequently engraved by James Basire jr. It required special storage in with the threatened invasion of Normandy in the Franco-Prussian War and again in — by the Ahnenerbe during the German Occupation of France and the Normandy landings. On 27 June the Gestapo took the tapestry to the Louvre and on 18 August, three days before the Wehrmacht withdrew from Paris, Himmler sent a message intercepted by Bletchley Park ordering it to be taken to "a place of safety", thought to be Berlin.
The inventory listing of shows that the tapestry was being hung annually in Bayeux Cathedral for the week of the Feast of St John the Baptist ; and this was still the case in , although by that time the purpose was merely to air the hanging, which was otherwise stored in a chest. In the eighteenth century, the artistry was regarded as crude or even barbarous—red and yellow multi-coloured horses upset some critics. It was thought to be unfinished because the linen was not covered with embroidery. It was because the tapestry was regarded as an antiquity rather than a work of art that in it was returned to Bayeux, wherein one commentator, A.
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The tapestry was becoming a tourist attraction, with Robert Southey complaining of the need to queue to see the work. In the Hand-book for Travellers in France by John Murray III , a visit was included on "Recommended Route 26 Caen to Cherbourg via Bayeux ", and this guidebook led John Ruskin to go there; he would describe the tapestry as "the most interesting thing in its way conceivable".
Charles Dickens , however, was not impressed: "It is certainly the work of amateurs; very feeble amateurs at the beginning and very heedless some of them too. During the Second World War Heinrich Himmler coveted the work, regarding it as "important for our glorious and cultured Germanic history". The Bayeux Tapestry was probably commissioned by the House of Normandy and essentially depicts a Norman viewpoint.
However, Harold is shown as brave, and his soldiers are not belittled.
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Throughout, William is described as dux "duke" , whereas Harold, also called dux up to his coronation, is subsequently called rex "king". It is for this reason that the tapestry is generally seen by modern scholars as an apologia for the Norman Conquest. The tapestry's narration seems to place stress on Harold's oath to William, although its rationale is not made clear.
Contemporary scholarship has not decided the matter, although it is generally thought that Ealdred performed the coronation. Although political propaganda or personal emphasis may have somewhat distorted the historical accuracy of the story, the Bayeux Tapestry constitutes a visual record of medieval arms, apparel, and other objects unlike any other artifact surviving from this period. There is no attempt at continuity between scenes, either in individuals' appearance or clothing. The knights carry shields, but show no system of hereditary coats of arms —the beginnings of modern heraldic structure were in place, but would not become standard until the middle of the 12th century.
American historian Stephen D. White , in a study of the tapestry,  has "cautioned against reading it as an English or Norman story, showing how the animal fables visible in the borders may instead offer a commentary on the dangers of conflict and the futility of pursuing power". Tapestry fragments have been found in Scandinavia dating from the ninth century and it is thought that Norman and Anglo-Saxon embroidery developed from this sort of work. A monastic text from Ely , the Liber Eliensis , mentions a woven narrative wall-hanging commemorating the deeds of Byrhtnoth , killed in Wall-hangings were common by the tenth century with English and Norman texts particularly commending the skill of Anglo-Saxon seamstresses.
Mural paintings imitating draperies still exist in France and Italy and there are twelfth-century mentions of other wall-hangings in Normandy and France. A poem by Baldric of Dol might even describe the Bayeux Tapestry itself. Other modern artists have attempted to complete the work by creating panels depicting subsequent events up to William's coronation, though the actual content of the missing panels is unknown.
In , the embroidery artist Jan Messent completed a reconstruction showing William accepting the surrender of English nobles at Berkhamsted Beorcham , Hertfordshire, and his coronation. Add items to your shopping cart by entering quantities in the column of boxes right-most but one and clicking the Add To Cart button at the bottom of the page.
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The picture above shows examples of the exact same pattern worked in two different yarns. It uses about 70 yards of the white, about 80 of the green. The smaller, coaster-size one 7. It uses 45 yards of the yellow, and 50 of the blue.
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