The story of the Bayeux Tapestry — from its origins and creation to its long and dramatic afterlife.
The vivid scenes on the Bayeux Tapestry depict the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, when William the Conqueror seized the English throne. One of Europe’s greatest treasures, the tapestry tells a magnificent tale — but as Carola Hicks shows, its own story is just as dramatic.
From the start there are mysteries and controversies. Who commissioned the tapestry? Was it Bishop Odo, William’s ruthless half-brother? Or was it King Harold’s sister, Edith, widow of Edward the Confessor? Hicks makes a strong case for Edith, showing us her world and the miracle of the tapestry’s making — talented women plying their needles, the stitches and dyes, the strange details in the margins. The tapestry lay in Bayeux Cathedral, dusty and ignored until its “discovery” in the eighteenth century. During the French Revolution, the townsfolk narrowly saved it from destruction, while Napoleon displayed it in Paris to boost his planned conquest. In the nineteenth-century, to the horror of male historians, women claimed it as “female” history. In the twentieth century, it was swept up in the struggle with the Nazis and since then, its iconic images have inspired films, novels and commercial advertising.
This marvelous book, packed with thrilling stories, shows how we remake history in every age, and how a great work of art has a life of its own.
From the Trade Paperback edition.