What is the Bayeux Tapestry and what story does it tell?


William’s half brother Odo is shown cheering his troops forward

From History Extra by David Musgrove:

The Bayeux Tapestry tells one of the most famous stories in British history – that of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, particularly the battle of Hastings, which took place on 14 October 1066.

The Bayeux Tapestry is not a tapestry at all, but rather an embroidery. A tapestry is something that’s woven on a loom, whereas an embroidery is thread stitched onto a cloth background. The tapestry is some 68m long and is composed of several panels that were produced separately and then eventually sewn together to form one long whole. In one case the joining of the panels is inexpertly done, as the marginal lines don’t match up precisely.

The tapestry tells the story of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The action actually starts a couple of years before the set-piece battle of Hastings, with a discussion between England’s King Edward, the Confessor, and his leading noble (who was also his brother-in-law), Harold Godwinson. The upshot of that conversation is that Harold sets off on a ship to France. He is shipwrecked and captured by a local nobleman there, and then is transferred into the hands of the powerful Duke William of Normandy. Curiously, they then head off together on a military adventure in Brittany, which Harold seems to enthusiastically take part in.

Read the rest of the article at History Extra


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