The Bayeux Tapestry was most likely commissioned in the 1070s by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William the Conqueror's half-brother. It's nearly 70 meters long, and while it's termed a tapestry, it's actually an embroidery sewn in woollen yarns on linen rather than woven. However, it does show all the elements of a traditional tapestry: illustrative scenes, detailed embroidery, and coloration.
In fact, "tapestry" is just another word for "embroidery" that comes from the Latin tapetum meaning "woven wall cloth". But although the Bayeux Tapestry was originally intended to be used as wall hangings, it has also been used extensively as a form of outdoor sculpture due to its durable nature. There are even plans to install light bulbs inside the threads of the fabric!
The story told by the Tapestry is based on real events. In 1066, Norman rebels led by Robert de Normandy overthrew the ruling family of England, who at the time were considered usurpers by many native English people. The rebellion was successful, and William the Conqueror was appointed ruler of both England and France. However, several years later, he returned to claim his throne, this time with an army funded by the two countries' kings.
Tapestry Facts for Kids: Embroidery with Tapestry The Bayeux Tapestry is not a tapestry. A 900-Year-Old Survivor. The tapestry measures 230 feet in length. Political Propaganda Through Art The tapestry was commissioned a few years after the Norman French defeated the English Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. A Men's Record, Stitched by Women The tapestry is embroidered by women - some say as many as 500 workers may have been involved. World's Oldest Surviving Medieval Textile The tapestry includes an inscription on one side that reads "Done in Normandy by Englishmen for the benefit of Englishmen."
In addition to being proud owners of one of the most extensive collections of medieval art, Americans can take pride in how this country has helped preserve it through actions such as saving the Bayeux Tapestry from destruction during World War II.
Now you know the facts!
The Bayeux Tapestry is a masterwork of 11th century Romanesque art that was most likely commissioned in 1077 by Bishop Odo, William the Conqueror's half-brother, to decorate his newly-built church at Bayeux. The Tapestry depicts the events surrounding the Duke of Normandy's invasion of England. It tells the story of William's victory over the English at each stage of the campaign, including the Battle of Hastings.
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. He was married to the daughter of the Duke of Normandy and they had two children who survived into adulthood: a son who became Edward the Confessor and a daughter who was named Ethelreda and who died in childbirth. When Harold died at the battle of Hastings he was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son Edward the Confessor who was crowned the next day. Although historians used to think that he were dead when the tapestry was made, recent research has shown that he probably lived in exile in Scandinavia after being forced out of England by William the Conqueror.
In January 1066, the year before the invasion took place, Harold married the daughter of the Duke of Normandy, which meant that he had become a vassal of William I. According to some historians, this marriage helped cause tensions between the two countries. Others say that it was merely an economic alliance designed to avoid hostilities while both countries developed their economies independently of each other.
The Bayeux tapestry is 68.38 metres long and 0.5 metres wide (224.3 ft x 1.6 ft) and is stitched in crewel (wool yarn) on a tabby-woven linen ground employing two types of stitching: outline or stem stitch for text and the outlines of figures, and couching or lay work for filling in figures. The colors are bright and lively. Red, blue, white, yellow, green, tan, and ochre are the main colors used.
Red: Eosin (derives from Greek έφανος, meaning "skin") The Bayer tapestry uses red almost exclusively. It appears in all but one of its eight scenes. The exception is scene 7, where it is replaced with blue.
Blue: Celery (derived from French céleri, probably based on Latin caelebs - "he who lives near the sky" or "sky-born") The color blue is widely used in the Bayeux tapestry. The only exception is scene 7, where it is replaced with red.
White: Millet (from Latin mille, meaning "thousand") White is the background color for most of the scenes. It is also used to indicate snow-covered fields and sometimes hair or cloth. The only other color used in large quantities is yellow. This is used mainly to indicate flowers or fruits.
What prompted the creation of the Bayeux tapestry? Odo (the Bishop of Bayeux), William's half-brother, ordered a tapestry to commemorate William's victory in the Battle of Hastings. The bishop hoped that displaying the tapestry in his cathedral would encourage others to offer gifts and praise God for the victory.
The tapestry shows events from the battle up to its conclusion when William is crowned king. It also includes scenes showing other important people in William's life, such as Harold his brother, Edgar the Ætheling (William's cousin), and Mabel (Harold's wife). The tapestry ends with images of saints who supported or participated in battles. Some historians believe that there are similarities between characters on the tapestry and people who lived at the time of William I. These include resemblances between Harold and another man named Harold and between Mabel and Emma, the wife of Edward the Confessor.
The tapestry was completed around 1077. It must have taken many months to complete since it shows scenes from several periods before and after the battle date. The tapestry has been preserved and is on display in the Cathedral of Bayeux. It is about 52 feet long and 15 feet high.