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Benoît, Lancelot and Stothard versions of the death of Harold

Benoît's original ruled sketch (1729) shows a broken line (where the arrow will appear later), indicating stitch holes without thread, and with no trace of fletching.

Bernard de Montfaucon's published engraving (1730) of Benoît's finished drawing shows a shaft without fletching: the stitch holes have been replaced with a solid weapon that still doesn't look much like an arrow.

Antoine Lancelot's engraving (1733), based on Benoît, shows a broken line that is longer and is held more like a spear overhand, matching the stance of the figure on the other side of the banner bearer. In this sketch it appears as though the three left-facing figures - two spearmen with the banner-bearer in the middle - are a group of king Harold's housecarles. Equally possible: the king is the righthand figure with a raised spear, with another spear held inside his shield, as he would have looked earlier in the battle; while the one going down to the mounted swordsman has discarded his shield and used his spears (broken or lost his sword ?), and is using his axe two-handed when he is killed.

Stothard's much later water-color drawing (published in 1819) shows an arrow with fletching, apparently without any basis from the earlier drawings.

Of further interest is another apparently 19th century corruption, possibly removed later, and based on nothing except the almost united belief that king Harold had died from an arrow in his eye: in none of the early 18th century drawings - nor even Stothard's rendition (cut off in the above picture) - is any indication of stitch holes visible before the face of the falling Harold figure: yet the present Tapestry shows them clearly (even with the marginal viewing of a monitor screen), as if an arrow shaft had once been there piercing Harold's face. Did some well-meaning ass of a reconstructionist take it upon himself to add the arrow shaft to the second "Harold" figure ? And did a more responsible scholar (and overseer of the restoration) order it removed ? A story remains yet to be discovered as fact if this could explain those stitch holes we see today, that Benoît and Stothard failed to see.

While we are here: note also that in all these early versions the chunk of the Tapestry margin beneath the lefthand spearman is missing (cut off here in the Benoît ruled original): yet in the Tapestry today it shows a figure being divested of his mail shirt. Where did those restoring the Tapestry get the authority to do that ?