Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux Tapestry – The Folio Society – Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux, France)

United Kingdom — Ca. 1070–1079

One of the best known and most important works of art of the entire Middle Ages: a 68 meter long embroidery depicting the invasion of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror

  1. The Bayeux Tapestry one of the most famous and important artworks of the entire Middle Ages

  2. It is a 230 foot embroidery retelling the events of the years 1064–66 and was made only a few years later

  3. It is believed to be the commission of Bishop Odo (d. 1097), half-brother of William the Conqueror (ca. 1028–87)

Bayeux Tapestry

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Bayeux Tapestry

After the Battle of Hastings in October 1066, the history of the Kingdom of England and the whole of Europe changed completely. This momentous event, marked by the death of the last Anglo-Saxon king and the dawn of Norman rule in England, is recorded in the pictorial chronicle of the Bayeux Tapestry. Thanks to the excellent craftsmanship of the work and its careful preservation in Bayeux Cathedral, where it has survived the centuries, the Romanesque work of art has remained virtually undamaged for some 950 years. The extensive embroidery, made in the years immediately following the Battle of Hastings, depicts the events of the years 1064 to 1066 with impressive narrative clarity and dynamism over a length of almost 70 meters and in 58 individual scenes. The tapestry is not only of unique historical importance, but is also considered to be one of the most important artistic creations of the Norman Romanesque period.

Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry is the most famous wall-hanging in the world and depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, which culminates in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. These events, which changed the course of history, unfold across 230 feet (70 meters). However, it is technically an embroidery because its design was not woven into the cloth, as is the case with a tapestry. Originating from a few years after the battle, it depicts events from the perspective of the Normans, although it was likely made in England by Anglo-Saxon artists. Stored today in Bayeux, France, it is regarded as a highlight of Norman Romanesque art and its survival to the present in such good condition is nothing less than a miracle. Although it was originally believed to have been created by Queen Matilda (ca. 1031–83) the wife of William the Conqueror (ca. 1028–87), more recent scholarship has identified the patron as Bishop Odo (d. 1097), the King’s half-brother and founder of Bayeux Cathedral, where the tapestry was stored until the 19th century. Nonetheless, this is one of the most famous and important artworks of the entire Middle Ages.

An 11th Century Witness

The image cycle of the Bayeux Tapestry begins with a depiction of King Edward the Confessor (ca. 1003–66) sending Harold Godwinson (ca. 1022–66) to Normandy and ends with a scene of Anglo-Saxon warriors fleeing the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings, but a final additional scene is believed to be missing, which will vex historians for all time. The events are related in ca. 70 scenes, which are sometimes but not always separated with stylized trees, with Latin tituli or captions and are remarkable for their harmony, fresh color palette, exquisite workmanship, and narrative clarity. Some of the more action-packed scenes exceed their borders for dramatic effect. These borders are filled with birds, beasts, fish, and scenes from fables, agriculture, and hunting, which are only rarely directly associated with the primary imagery. The Bayeux Tapestry also depicts Halley’s Comet for the first time in history, adding to its importance. The work is first referenced in 1476 in the inventory of the treasures of Bayeux Cathedral and survived a sack of Bayeux by Huguenots in 1562. In 1792, it was ignobly seized and used to cover military wagons by revolutionaries, but was saved from any further damage by a local lawyer. A hand-colored facsimile was created in 1816 by Charles Stothard (1786–1821), the images of which present the tapestry before it was restored later in the 19th century. Its high artistic quality, clear narrative, and resemblance to a modern comic strip all contribute to its continuing popularity and presence in popular culture.


Alternative Titles
Bayeux Embroidery
Tapisserie de Bayeux
Wandteppich von Bayeux
Teppich von Bayeux
Ca. 1070–1079
The conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 50 scenes
Bishop Odo

Available facsimile editions:
Bayeux Tapestry – The Folio Society – Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux, France)
The Folio Society – London, 2016
Limited Edition: 480 copies
Detail Picture

Bayeux Tapestry


The events leading to the Battle of Hastings are rooted in the 24-year reign of King Edward the Confessor, one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England. He is famous for building Westminster Abbey, but his lack of living heirs upon his death created a succession crisis that invited invasions by both Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, and Duke William of Normandy. Historians still debate Edward’s intensions regarding the succession, some arguing he wanted it to be William’s throne all along.

Bayeux Tapestry – The Folio Society – Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux, France)
Single Page

Bayeux Tapestry

William’s Army Loads the Ships

His fleet now built, Duke William of Normandy’s army begins loading the ships with supplies for the invasion of England. The Latin caption reads: “These men carry arms to the ships and here they drag a cart (laden) with wine and arms”. Wine was important to a medieval army because of the unreliability of drinking water while on campaign and for soothing the warriors’ nerves.

Aside from the large barrel of wine, the cart being pulled by two men has helmets and racks of spears. Men are walking behind it in pairs, holding the ends of poles with coats of chainmail hanging from them with one hand and bundles of swords with the other. Various predacious cats and birds of prey in the marginalia further highlight this scene of military might.

Bayeux Tapestry – The Folio Society – Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux, France)
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Bayeux Tapestry

The Folio Society – London, 2016
Bayeux Tapestry – The Folio Society – Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux, France)
Bayeux Tapestry – The Folio Society – Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux, France) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: The Folio Society – London, 2016
Limited Edition: 480 copies
Binding: The facsimile comes in a customized scroll box that can be operated manually via handles on the front of the box. The facsimile can be viewed through lead-free, shatterproof glass.
Commentary: 1 volume by Carola Hick and Sylvette Lemagnen
Language: Latin
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (format, colors). Only the format is reduced by 40% compared to the original.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
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