Bayeux tapestry

/bay yooh", bah-/; Fr. /bann yue"/
a strip of embroidered linen 231 ft. (70 m) long and 20 in. (50 cm) wide, depicting the Norman conquest of England and dating from c1100.
[after Bayeux, France, the town in which it was made]

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Medieval embroidered tapestry depicting the Norman Conquest.

Woven in woolen threads of eight colours on coarse linen, it is about 231 ft (70 m) long by about 20 in. (50 cm) wide. It consists of 79 consecutive scenes, with Latin inscriptions and decorative borders. Stylistically it resembles English illuminated manuscripts. It was probably woven с 1066, within a few years of the conquest, and was possibly commissioned by Odo, bishop of Bayeux, brother of William I (the Conqueror). The most famous of all pieces of needlework, it hung for centuries in the cathedral in Bayeux (Normandy) and now hangs in the tapestry museum there.

English axman in combat with Norman cavalry during the Battle of Hastings, detail from the ...

Giraudon
Art Resource

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▪ medieval embroidery
 medieval embroidery depicting the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, remarkable as a work of art and important as a source for 11th-century history.

  The tapestry is a band of linen 231 feet (70 metres) long and 19.5 inches (49.5 cm) wide, now light brown with age, on which are embroidered, in worsteds of eight colours, more than 70 scenes representing the Norman Conquest. The story begins with a prelude to Harold (Harold II)'s visit to Bosham on his way to Normandy (1064?) and ends with the flight of Harold's English forces from Hastings (October 1066); originally, the story may have been taken further, but the end of the strip has perished. Along the top and the bottom run decorative borders with figures of animals, scenes from the fables of Aesop and Phaedrus, scenes from husbandry and the chase, and occasionally scenes related to the main pictorial narrative. It has been restored more than once, and in some details the restorations are of doubtful authority.

      When first referred to (1476), the tapestry was used once a year to decorate the nave of the cathedral in Bayeux, France. There it was “discovered” by the French antiquarian and scholar Bernard de Montfaucon (Montfaucon, Bernard de), who published the earliest complete reproduction of it in 1730. Having twice narrowly escaped destruction during the French Revolution, it was exhibited in Paris at Napoleon's wish in 1803–04 and thereafter was in civil custody at Bayeux, except in 1871 (during the Franco-German War) and from September 1939 to March 1945 (during World War II).

      Montfaucon found at Bayeux a tradition, possibly not more than a century old, that assigned the tapestry to Matilda (Matilda Of Flanders), wife of William I (the Conqueror), but there is nothing else to connect the work with her. It may have been commissioned by William's half brother Odo, bishop of Bayeux (Odo Of Bayeux); Odo is prominent in the later scenes, and three of the very few named figures on the tapestry have names borne by obscure men known to have been associated with him. This conjecture would date the work not later than about 1092, an approximate time now generally accepted. The tapestry has affinities with other English works of the 11th century, and, though its origin in England is not proved, there is a circumstantial case for such an origin.

      The tapestry is of greater interest as a work of art. It is also important evidence for the history of the Norman Conquest, especially for Harold's relation to William before 1066; its story of events seems straightforward and convincing, despite some obscurities. The decorative borders have value for the study of medieval fables. The tapestry's contribution to knowledge of everyday life about 1100 is of little importance, except for military equipment and tactics.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bayeux tapestry — Ba yeux tap es*try A piece of linen about 1 ft. 8 in. wide by 213 ft. long, covered with embroidery representing the incidents of William the Conqueror s expedition to England, preserved in the town museum of Bayeux in Normandy. It is probably of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bayeux Tapestry — [bā yo͞o′; ] Fr [ bȧ yö′] n. an embroidered length of linen, 231 feet (70 m) long and 191/ 2 inches (51 cm) wide, probably of the 11th cent., in the museum of Bayeux, in NW France, picturing incidents of the Norman conquest and events leading up… …   English World dictionary

  • Bayeux Tapestry — The Bayeux Tapestry ( fr. Tapisserie de Bayeux) is a 50 cm by 70 m (20 in by 230 ft) long embroidered cloth which explains the events leading up to the 1066 Norman invasion of England as well as the events of the invasion itself. The Tapestry is… …   Wikipedia

  • Bayeux Tapestry — This remarkable work depicts events in England following a journey to France by Earl Harold with instructions by King Edward. In a sequence of scenes we see Harold in Normandy, and the infamous oath swearing, the death of Edward, Harold s… …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • Bayeux Tapestry —    This 70 meter (231 feet) foot long by 49.5 centimeter (19.5 inch) wide strip of embroidered linen records the invasion and conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror. This is a very valuable document because of the weapons, clothes… …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology

  • BAYEUX TAPESTRY —    representations in tapestry of events connected with the Norman invasion of England, commencing with Harold s visit to the Norman court, and ending with his death at the battle of Hastings; still preserved in the public library of Bayeux; is… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Bayeux Tapestry — Bay|eux Tap|es|try, the a ↑tapestry (=large piece of heavy woven cloth) made in Bayeux, northern France, in the 11th or 12th century, whose pictures tell the story of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Bayeux tapestry — /beɪjɜ ˈtæpəstri/ (say bayyer tapuhstree) noun a strip of embroidered linen 70.4 m long and 50.8 cm wide, dating from the 12th century, preserved in Bayeux, a town in north western France; depicts events leading to the Norman conquest of England …   Australian English dictionary

  • Bayeux tapestry — /bay yooh , bah /; Fr. /bann yue / a strip of embroidered linen 231 ft. (70 m) long and 20 in. (50 cm) wide, depicting the Norman conquest of England and dating from c1100. [after Bayeux, France, the town in which it was made] …   Useful english dictionary

  • (the) Bayeux Tapestry — the Bayeux Tapestry [the Bayeux Tapestry] a finely decorated cloth wall covering made in the 11th century. It shows the events that led to the Battle of ↑Hastings (1066) between the ↑Normans under ↑William the Conqueror and the English under King …   Useful english dictionary

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