Bayeux tapestry: The oldest surviving medieval example of narrative needlework.

The Bayeux tapestry (c. 1066 1082 CE) is an embroidered linen nearly 70 meters long and 50 cm wide. Although, it is conventionally referred to as tapestry, this work is actually an embroidery. The Bayeux Tapestry was not unique at the time it was created, since they have been found tapestry fragments from that period and written evidence about other narrative wall-hangings. Wall hangings, including embroideries and tapestries, were necessary features in castles and palaces. These elaborate textiles could be rolled up and transported from residence to residence and from town to town. However, the Bayeux tapestry is the only surviving example of Middle Age's narrative needlework. 
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Duke Harold returned to Engslish land/ "BayeuxTapestryScene24" by Image on web site of Ulrich Harsh - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

What the tapestry depicts: The tapestry recounts the history of the Norman Conquest of England culminating in the battle of Hastings, on October 14, 1066. The central figures of the actions are William (the duke of Normandy) and Harold (the earl of Wessex and later king of England). William after a hard day of fighting, became William the Conqueror, king of England. It is important to mention that the Bayeux Tapestry depicts the story from the Norman viewpoint. 

Narrating a story through embroidery: The designer of the tapestry was certainly a skillful storyteller that instead of words used a staggering number of images to narrate the chronicles, as if he has truly eye witnessed the events. 

The origins: French legend says that the tapestry was commissioned and created by Queen Matilda, William's wife and her ladies-in-waitingHowever, scholarly analysis in the 20th century concluded that the tapestry was probably commissioned by William's half-brother, Bishop Odo, who after the conquest became Earl of Kent and when William was absent, regent of England. 

Where can you see the tapestry: The tapestry is exhibited at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy, France.

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"Bayeux tapestry laid work detail." by This file is lacking author information. - Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - Link

Materials: Colored woollen yarns on linen fabric. The wool yarns were dyed in eight colors.

Stitches and technique: The Bayeux tapestry is embroidered in crewel (wool yarn) on a linen ground. Two methods of stitching were used: A) Outline or stem stitch for lettering and the outlines of figures and B) couching and laid work for fillings in figures. Stem stitch was often used in this period as outlining stitch although it could also be used as filling stitch. In laid and couched work the stitch is created by laying a set of long, parallel covering threads, that work from one side of the pattern to the other and another set of threads at regular intervals in the opposite direction. These cross threads are finally held down by a series of tiny couching stitches. The technique of laid and couching allows for large areas of pattern to be covered very quickly. Some of the laid-and-couched work was done in contrasting colors to achieve particular effects, for example, some horses have legs in four different colors. Skin and other light-toned areas are represented by the bare linen cloth. 

This long textile, consists of nine linen panels, between 14 and 3 meters in length, that were sewn together after each panel was embroidered. The joins were disguised with subsequent embroidery. It seams that the technique of joining the panels together was improved as the work moved on, because the borders of the first two panels do not line up properly while the later joins are practically invisible. The main action is depicted in a broad, central zone while on top and bottom there is a narrow decorative border. The events take place in a long series of scenes which are generally separated by highly stylised trees. The borders are mostly purely decorative and only sometimes does the decoration complement the action in the central zone. The images in this long band may have been designed by a Norman designer, since there is a clear Norman bias in the telling of the story, but style suggests that it may have been Anglo-Saxon women who did the actual needlework. 
A harrow, a newly invented implement, is depicted in scene 10 and this is the earliest known depiction"BayeuxTapestryScene10a" by Image on web site of Ulrich Harsh - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - Source
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The picture of Halley Comet appears in this scene and it is the first known picture of the comet. The Anglo-Saxons, seeing the comet as a potent of disaster/ "BayeuxTapestryScene32" by Image on web site of Ulrich Harsh - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -
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Harold foresees what is to come: Below his feet is his vision of a ghostly fleet of Norman ships coming to England/ "BayeuxTapestryScene33" by Image on web site of Ulrich Harsh - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -


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