photo above is courtesy of wikimedia commons | click here to view the full Bayeux Tapestry image
Just a few kilometers inland from the English Channel is a petite French village that safeguards a rather grand piece of history. Bayeux (pronounced buy-yuh) is located in the Normandy Region of northwestern France, and its claim to fame is the centuries-old Bayeux Tapestry on display at a museum in the center of town. As its title implies, one would think that the ancient artifact should, in fact, be a tapestry and that it originated from this town. Read on to learn some interesting facts about a remarkable wall hanging which has a past as complicated as the legend it depicts.
- The Bayeux Tapestry is actually an embroidered cloth wall hanging. Its images and words have been stitched onto a fabric surface. To be considered a true tapestry, the illustrations would have to be woven into and be a part of the material.
- It may not have been crafted in Bayeux. Some stories tell of the tapestry* being commissioned by the Earl of Kent in England, others say it being created by Queen Matilda and her ladies in waiting, and the list of theories about where it originated goes on. *Since Bayeux Tapestry has been referred to as a tapestry for hundreds of years, calling the relic anything else in this blog doesn’t seem suitable.
- The Bayeux Tapestry is about seventy meters long, which is about the length of one and a half Olympic size swimming pools.
- It has been described in modern times as an example of the first British comic strip. Click here to recreate the Bayeux Tapestry story online with this fun, interactive historic tale construction kit. While the initial version no longer exists, this site offers a similar likeness to the very first Meme generator on the internet.
- Muted yellow, red and green earth tones were used to embroider scenes that portray the circumstances leading up to Norman Conquest of England through to the Battle of Hastings. Click here to view an excellent Wikipedia table, which shows the tapestry’s images frame by frame and gives the Latin to English translations.
- Never forget that the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066 when you watch the YouTube video below. A group of history teachers produced a music video by adapting a well known Justin Timberlake song to retell the historic event.
- The tapestry is missing two panels at the end. Many resources explain that everyone knows the conclusion to the story, so the absent segments are pretty easy to imagine and supposedly would have pictured William’s coronation. It does make you wonder about who the person was that took off with part of the tapestry and about what their intentions may have been.
What better way to learn about the Bayeux Tapestry is there than being able to check it out on display at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux? Rent a car in Bayeux and gain a full appreciation of French history and culture by experiencing it first hand.