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Although I have had a lot to say about square and diamond "mail" in the Tapestry, this scene of partially-armed knights makes an argument for soft body armor - the kind worn under mail - for the cavalry who are about to ride light and fast: especially since we see in the same scene our first example of round mail on a knight with no helmet, but only wearing his mail hood for protection. The two rearmost figures are carrying unusually thick lances with pennons. It has been conjectured that these heavier lances are evidence that the couched lance charge was coming into vogue, and that these and others in the Tapestry are meant to depict these heavier lances which are never thrown: the pennons keep the lance heads from penetrating too deeply.

No doubt these first mounted men are being sent not only to "seize food" but to get in touch with the Norman manors of the abbey of Fecamp, whose abbot had worked in with William's plans in order to get his lands, which had been seized by king Harold, returned to the abbey when William came into his kingdom. It has been said that this made William's landing site choice, so that he would have allies near to hand.

Pillaging is widespread and even the villages and manors of the abbey are not spared. Servants have taken the rounded up livestock and are slaughtering it. (And the off-colored legs of the ox, and pony in the next panel, would seem to "slaughter" my earlier conjecture of dyed war-horses.) The little boy with his dog seems to be a local, and he might be tugging on the axeman's tunic to implore him not to slay his family's ox. The houses in the background are representative of the farms and villages the Norman's despoiled: thus far, no permanent damage has been done, only the theft of provender.

The two men shouldering provisions have belted swords. The army's servants were "grunts" who doubled as the foot soldiers. I have puzzled over the object the left-hand soldier is carrying, and since beginning this project have discovered - and had it brought to my attention - that many scholars have argued for this or that: a loaf of bread, a clear vessel of water, a coiled rope, even a boulder (because of a likeness to an allegorical figure of "Labor" who carries a boulder in MS Cotton Cleopatra C viii f.27). But I think we can rule anything out that is not food related, because that is exactly what the Tapestry is talking about in these scenes - not procuring ropes or big rocks, or even "clear" vessels of water (remember all that wine being loaded on the ships a few scenes back). Call it what you want, but the artist at this point was most vague from our modern perspective.


Wadard, as already mentioned, was probably one of bishop Odo's vassals in Kent, along with Turold and Vital. His name is a version of "warder" which would fit exactly with what he appears to be doing here. Note that Wadard's lance is another of the thick ones, but far too short, because a lance for couching only is much longer than the lance/javelin of the Normans in this period; indicating again that we cannot make too close inferences from small details in the Tapestry. His mail is a mess, because of restoration work.

The pack horse is a local pony; William's fleet would never make room for sumpter beasts. Also, the food brought would have only been enough for a few days. The first thing the invaders do as they leave their ships is to forage, and this proves that they did not have a large store of food.

The cooks carry spits of meat to indoor servants. The details of pot, utensils and oven are interesting. The bearded cook is loading up a tray for someone of importance, not a common soldier (who would simply eat from the spit).


The principal buildings of Hastings town were taken over by William and his brothers and the other great lords of the army. They eat at tables, while the common soldiers set up their shields to eat from, or use them to carry food to the tables where the lords are eating. The second servant from the right is either sneaking a guzzle of wine, or announcing "dinner is served" on an ox horn trumpet.

There is one interesting old gentleman at Odo's table I wish could be identified. He looks like a character - seated two down on Odo's right. He is apparently heavy with drink, and perhaps is a local English collaborator: his beard suggests this at least, and he is not young. (The mayor of Hastings town perhaps?)

The similarity of this scene with medieval renditions of the "last supper" of Christ cannot likely be accidental. The favored Norman position with Rome is being emphasized again, this time with the Conqueror's brother in the lime light, which must have pleased Odo's vanity.

To the right, the three brothers hold a war-council. Odo's prominent role in the Tapestry has led scholars to a belief that he, or one or more of his followers, was the moving power behind its creation.

William acquired about 15% of the fiefs in England after the Conquest, whose tennants held direcly from the king. Odo and William's other half-brother Robert count of Mortain were the next two largest land holders; a true case of "all in the family."

The officer facing toward the next scene is wearing an interesting hat, for I don't believe it is a hair style. Compared with the "spiked" hair of my favorite ducal messenger to count Guy, it makes me wonder if we are seeing some head piece that identified William's higher court functionaries.