The Bayeux Tapestry
primary source for the battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror, Harold II and the Norman conquest

Harold Godwinson is crowned as king Harold II

Stitched on linen, twenty inches wide and 231 feet long, in eight colors of worsted yarn: the Bayeux Tapestry is a fabulous piece of medieval art: created (or at least begun) as early as 1067. Unparalleled as a primary source for the story of William the Conqueror, Harold II and the Norman invasion - climaxing with the battle of Hastings - this century closes in on it's 1,000-year anniversary.

The Tapestry is very "busy" and detailed, containing the depictions of: 24 identifiable dogs (my opinion: the canines can easily be confused with wolves and foxes: I take the majority of those in the borders to be wild animals and not hounds), 32 structures (churches, castles and so forth: it's rather ambiguous because some might count a larger connected structure as more than one), 41 ships, 51 weird looking trees and other flora (I only counted those obviously depicted as such: there are many more ornate "floral" designs throughout the borders; but some might argue for a design being a plant or visa versa), 194 equines (mostly stallions but including 8 mares, a couple of ponies and a few mules/asses: the discrepency with "202" listed elsewhere includes obvious riders without horses: I list only horses that show at least a nose or tail), 553 other fauna (birds, predators, a few other domesticated animals and including some 64 mythical creatures), 626 humans (or pieces-parts: in the battle there are three severed heads without bodies) including a few boys and seven women, but only three women are in the main frieze; and c. 353 Latin words ("2,000 words" given elsewhere - and here previously - is an oft-repeated number referring to - I suspect - total letters, no doubt misquoted along the way for total "words" and taken verbatim by those who followed trustingly: I counted everything using the frieze book, one page at a time: if you want something done right, do it yourself).

Bayeux Tapestry: Harold journeys oversea

Bayeux Tapestry: Count Guy takes Harold captive

Bayeux Tapestry: Duke William demands Harold's release

Bayeux Tapestry: Guy releases Harold into Duke William's custody

Bayeux Tapestry: William and Harold campaign in Brittany

Bayeux Tapestry: Harold is knighted and swears oaths of fealty to William

Bayeux Tapestry: Harold returns to England - king Edward's death

Bayeux Tapestry: Harold is crowned as king Harold II - William decides to wage war

Bayeux Tapestry: Preparations for the Norman conquest: ships are built: arms collected etc.

Bayeux Tapestry: The fleet sails and lands at Hastings

Bayeux Tapestry: Scenes of the Norman camp and foraging

Bayeux Tapestry: A castle is built - William musters his army for battle

Bayeux Tapestry: The armies of Harold II and William the Conqueror spot each other

Bayeux Tapestry: The battle of Hastings begins

Bayeux Tapestry: Harold's brothers Gyrth and Leofwin are killed - carnage on both sides

Bayeux Tapestry: The battle rages - the Normans begin to get the upper hand

Bayeux Tapestry: Harold II is killed - his housecarles fight to the last - the English rustics flee

Links to other places:

  • My Battle of Hastings site
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth battles as miniature war-games
  • Michael A. Linton's Bayeux Tapestry as a steel mosaic!
  • Companions of William the Conqueror
  • Bayeux Tapestry screensaver for free - the whole thing!
  • The entire Bayeux Tapestry in high res, available from Scholarly Digital Editions
  • Cute animated Bayeux Tapestry, on Youtube
  • My novel, Jackals In Iron, is now available as a second edition Kindle e-book:
    read Jackals In Iron

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