The Bayeux Tapestry, a unique document in the world, is a wool embroidery on a linen canvas made in the 11th century. Almost 70 metres long and 50 centimetres high, it relates the conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy. Remarkably preserved, the Bayeux Tapestry is registered in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in order to be protected and listed as a document of universal interest. Many times saved in the course of history, the “Telle du Conquest”, its other name, continues to reveal its secrets…
It is on display at the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, a municipal museum, within the Centre Guillaume le Conquérant, a former major seminary in Bayeux, since 1983. With 400,000 visitors per year, it attracts audiences from all over the world and remains a source of international artistic inspiration. A visit to the museum allows you to discover it in its entirety, to approach it without damaging it and to understand its history and its realization.
What it has been saying for 1000 years
A masterpiece of 11th century Romanesque art, the Bayeux Tapestry was probably commissioned by Bishop Odon, Guillaume’s half-brother, to decorate his new cathedral in 1077. It tells the story of the Duke of Normandy’s conquest of England. The story begins in 1064, when the King of England, Edward the Confessor, asked his brother-in-law, Harold, to go to Normandy to propose to his little cousin, William, the throne of England.
Harold’s ship crossed the English Channel and after many adventures, he carried King Edward’s message to William. Before returning to England with the old king, Harold took an oath of loyalty to William on the relics of Bayeux Cathedral. When Edward died, Harold perjured himself.
On 6 January 1066, he accepted to be crowned King of England in place of the Duke of Normandy. Upon hearing this news, William decided to reclaim his throne and crossed the Channel with his fleet on the night of September 28. On the morning of October 14, 1066, the battle of Hastings was fought between William’s army and Harold’s men. It will be decisive, Harold will die at the end of the day of an arrow in the eye. William was finally crowned King of England in December 1066 at Westminster Abbey.
The Tapestry is not only the narrative of a military epic, it is also a spiritual work that evokes the punishment of perjury.
Some points of reference on the web
The Tapestry has 58 scenes, 25 of which are in France and 33 in England. 10 scenes are dedicated to the Battle of Hastings. 9 pieces of linen canvas are assembled over a length of 68.58 metres. 10 colours of wool yarn are used to represent, with perspective effects, the 626 characters, the 37 buildings including Mont-Saint-Michel, the 41 ships and other 202 horses and mules.