The Bayeux Tapestry

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.

I will not dwell upon the main facts re the Bayeux Tapestry other than summarise them if you are not familiar with it, 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 sealed at 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 time in those days of hand-to-mouth existence?

The Bayeux Tapestry  - Archbishop StigantI experienced a rather remarkable connection with the Bayeux Tapestry here on Vancouver Island 15 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, shown above,  served six succesive English kings and was excommunicated by five popes; clearly an interesting man.

A favourite scene now available has to be the one known as The Battle. Click on the image below to see details of the two sizes of this French tapestry we sell.
The Battle - Bayeux TapestryUnfortunately the other two scenes which particularly intrigue me are not reproduced as tapestries today. Firstly, we see the appearance of Halley’s Comet that fateful year. It only appears every 75 years so was naturally seen as an omen.
Bayeux Tapestry - Halley's Come

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 realise that his arrow caused one of the turning points in English history.
Bayeux Tapestry - Death of HaroldPlease do browse through our selection of Bayeux tapestries – there are many scenes to enjoy.

This entry was posted in Medieval tapestries and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.