The Bayeux Tapestry, is some serious piece of embroidery, consisting of 50 scenes, with 632 people, 202 horses, 55 dogs, 505 creatures, 37 buildings, 41 ships and 49 trees. It measures seventy metres in length, along with Latin captions in the upper and lower margins.
It tells the story of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England and the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
The early stage of the Bayeux Tapestry tells of Harold’s journey to France, and Harold swearing an oath of allegiance to William, promising to support William’s claim to the English throne.
Edward dies, and Harold is crowned King of England, the oath he had made to William meant nothing, for he just disregarded it, to be King.
In February of 1066 a comet was observed in the sky… This was a sign of change, the downfall of the current regime.
Duke William prepared his fleet for the seventy mile crossing to the Sussex coast, in dragon-headed ships, a reminder of Norman – Viking ancestry.
These Norman’s built castles at Pevensey and Hastings and ravaged the countryside. Harold’s family came from Sussex, so William was challenging him on his own ground.
The tapestry depicted the Battle of Hastings, as the English held the ridge, many on foot with their axes and shields.
The first attack by the Norman’s saw the English protect the ridge. Some English followed Norman’s down, at the word William had been killed… he removes his helmet and cries out, “I am alive.” His men rally to his side and kill the English who had come off the ridge.
The Norman’s lured the English into a more vulnerable position, and the Norman Calvary cut them down. Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, half-brother of William the Conqueror, is depicted with a huge club. As a Bishop, he could not shed blood, but he could breal a few arms, legs and heads.
The decisive moment of the battle comes, when King Harold was killed as an arrow pierced his eye.
The English fled, at the news of their King’s death, pursued by Normans.
William marches off to London the very next day, and on Christmas Day he is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.
One story tells of William’s wife Queen Matilda, and her ladies creating this tapestry… This piece of embroidery for her victorious husband.
If we look back in history, other 11th century queens, have produced embroidered pieces for churches. However a seventy metre linen, embroidered in wool is something quite different, but one never knows.