A little history of Bayeux tapestry

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The tapestry - ©Supercarwaar / CC-BY-SA The tapestry - ©Supercarwaar / CC-BY-SA
Bayeux tapestry Museum William the Conqueror

This Norman city houses a medieval masterpiece, a real treasure, the famous tapestry! For that matter, the exact word is embroidery, not tapestry...

The legend tell us it was completed by William the Conqueror's wife, Matilda. Nowadays we think it's William's brother, Odon, who ordered it in order to decorate his cathedral. We can see Odon's portrait on the tapestry... Completed between 1066 and 1100, our masterpiece was hung in Bayeux cathedral on July 1077.

It was called "Duke William's outfit" or "Conquest' tale" and it deals with the conquest of England by Normans in the 11th century. The artists used 8 colours (red, yellow, orange, black, two blue and two green). We can see 72 scenes with 623 people, 202 horses, 55 dogs, 37 buildings, 41 boats, 46 trees and more than 500 different animals!

The first mention of our tapestry dates back to 1476, in a cathedral's inventory: "a very long hanging with embroidery and writings, representing England's conquest". In 1563, it was mentioned as "embroidery canvas".

Did you know our tapestry nearly disappeared during the Revolution? Soldiers wanted to cut it into pieces in order to pack up their things! Napoleon I sent it to Paris, then it was sent back to Bayeux city: in 1839, they built a special museum to display it.

And also!