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The Entire Bayeux Tapestry
The Bayeux Tapestry has preserved the glory of the Norman Conquest of England, and the drama of Harold of Wessex and Duke William of Normandy for over 900 years. Usually attributed to William's wife Matilda, the Bayeux Tapestry in fact was more likely commisioned by William's half-brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux (also Earl of Kent), for display in the Bayeux Cathedral, which was consecrated just eleven years after Hastings. The 231-foot-long tapestry is a Norman document, but the style of the figures sewn in colored wools leads some scholars to believe that Englishmen from Canterbury actually stitched the Bayeux Tapestry.
The Bayeux Tapestry was first mentioned in a 1476 inventory of the Bayeux Cathedral. In 1792, French revolutionaries used this historical tapestry as a wagon cover until it was rescued by a local lawyer. Scholars believe two missing panels at the end may have portrayed William on the throne of England.
Following is the complete Bayeux Tapestry including the literal latin translation, and a description of the events depicted in each of the 48 web-sized panels.
Uncertainty haunts the English throne; King Edward has no offspring. According to Norman chroniclers, he promises the kingdom to his cousin, Duke William of Normandy. Now the king beckons to his side Harold Godwinson, his brother-in-law and England's most powerful earl.
The monarch orders: Go to Normandy! Confirm the pledge! With falcon and hounds signifying that he goes in peace, Harold leads the way to the port of Bosham, where he prays for a safe voyage. Master, your ship awaits, gestures a servant, as Harold quaffs a beaker of wine.
The barefoot English, tunics tucked about their waists, and carrying hawks and hounds, wade the shallows to their ships. A sailor steps the mast, another weighs anchor, and oarsmen stroke out to sea. The slender longship skims over the water towing its tender.
A fresh wind billows the sail as crewmen ship the oars. Overlapping shields hang along the gunwale. A lookout shinnies up the mast. What perils of the sea lie ahead? Tempestuous Channel winds blow Harold ashore near St. Valéry, where he falls into the hands of Count Guy, a vassal of Duke William.
Harold might well have thought his capture "a greater misfortune even than shipwreck," wrote William of Pointiers, chaplain to the Duke of Normandy," since among many peoples of the Gauls there was an abominable custom utterly contrary to Christian charity, whereby when the powerful and rich were captured, they were thrown ignominiously into prison..."
Harold, wearing a cloak, rides to Beaurain, where Count Guy harangues him from his throne, demanding ransom. The English earl holds his sword, possibly returned as a token of trust.
View the Entire Bayeux Tapestry
Note: PC users - If the literal Latin
translations don't fall more-or-less under the Latin text
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