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Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux tapestry (French: Tapisserie de Bayeux) is not actually a tapestry (that is, a weaving), but is embroidery. It is currently to be found in a special museum in the town of Bayeux in Normandy. It was made in England, probably in Kent, after the Norman conquest of 1066, and commemorates the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings.

The tapestry is 70 metres long and 0.5 metres wide. It has 58 scenes, which portray in detail the progress of William I of England to the throne. It is sometimes said to have been made by William's queen, Matilda of Flanders, and her ladies. Indeed, in France it is known as "La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde" (Tapestry of Queen Mathilda). However, it was probably made in a workshop on the orders of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who was William's half-brother.

The misidentification of Harold II of England in the tapestry has led to the widespread but incorrect idea that Harold was killed by an arrow striking his eye. The tapestry also contains a representation of a comet which is likely to be Halley's Comet. While political propaganda or personal emphasis may have somewhat distorted the historic accuracy of the story, the Bayeux tapestry presents a unique visual document of medieval arms, apparel, and other objects. However, it has been noted that the warriors are depicted fighting with bare hands, while other sources indicate the general use of gloves in battle and hunt.

The embroiderers used wool which had been tinted with vegetable dyes. The colours of muted brick, rust, mustard yellow, olive-green, dark brown and off-white can be found in cloth traditionally woven in the region.

The tapestry is a landmark in graphic art and its serial storytelling is considered an ancestor of the comic strip.

It has been parodied in later embroidery and artwork, particularly those involving invasions.

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"The Bayeux Tapestry and the Battle of Hastings 1066" by Modens Rud, Christian Eilers Publishers, Copenhagen 1992 contains full colour photographs and explanatory text

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