The Bayeux Tapestry must be considered to be one of the most significant pieces of early medieval art. My wife and I were in Normandy several years ago and it seems strange on reflection that we decided not to view this masterpiece. We had visited many chateaux and museums so we probably felt “over-full” of art. Instead we visited Monet’s home at Giverny and loved his lake, toured pretty towns like the charming port of Honfleurs, and enjoyed cider and crepes. But we will return to see the Tapestry and to enjoy the cuisine again.
I will not dwell upon the main facts re the Bayeux Tapestry, but will focus on some personal responses to it: you can see all the Bayeux Tapestry scenes in Wikipedia. The “tapestry” is actually an embroidery which was completed by 1077 for the dedication of the new Bayeux Cathedral. Measuring 230 feet long it shows about 50 scenes of the events of the conquest of England by the Normans following the Battle of Hastings in 1066. I suspect that its remarkable creation was through the labour of nuns, for who else would have had the available time in those days of hand-to-mouth existence?
I experienced a rather remarkable connection with the Bayeux Tapestry here on Vancouver Island about 20 years ago. In a framing shop I met Ernie Stigant who is a descendant of Archbishop Stigant. Can you imagine having an ancestor who is shown, and named, on the Bayeux Tapestry? His ancestor served six succesive English kings and was excommunicated by five popes; clearly an interesting man. However, our favourite scene has to be the one known as The Battle. Click on the image below to see details of the two sizes of this Belgian tapestry.
Unfortunately the other two scenes which particularly intrigue me are not reproduced as tapestries today. There is an illustration in the Bayeux Tapestry of the appearance of Halley’s Comet that fateful year. It only appears every 75 years so was naturally seen as an omen. Consequently the death of Saxon King Harold, killed by an arrow in an eye, must have added to the fear present. Little did the archer responsible realize that his arrow caused one of the turning points in English history. Please do browse through our selection of Bayeux tapestries – there are many scenes to enjoy.