The Normans - Bayeux Tapestry

Last Updated: 08/04/2014 - 07:32

The Bayeux Tapestry is a piece of embroidery measuring approximately 231 feet by 20 inches. Worked in coloured wool on bleached linen, it tells of William of Normandy's rightful claim to the English throne and his subsequent invasion and conquest of England in 1066. The style of the stitching indicates that the Tapestry was made in England.

History has recorded that the Bayeux Tapestry, was probably commissioned of the Embroiderer's Guild by William the Conqueror's brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux, to celebrate the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

More recently, embroidery students have argued that the Bayeux Tapestry is an amateur piece of work that was in fact stitched by the ladies of the Norman court.

Read the evidence below and decide for yourself.

The Embroiderer's Guild made the Bayeux Tapestry

  • The size of the piece and the speed at which it was made suggests that it could only have been made by professionals.
  • Bishop Odo became Earl of Kent after the Conquest.
  • Canterbury, Kent was home to Europe's leading school of embroiderers.
  • Odo of Bayeux is shown in many of the scenes both as a clergyman and as a soldier.

Bayeux tapestry showing Odo of Bayeux

Odo of Bayeux (left) is shown with his brothers. William (centre) and Robert (right) 

For more detailed analysis visit 1066.com

The Ladies of the Court made the Bayeux Tapestry

  • In France the Bayeux Tapestry is known as Queen Matilda's Tapestry. Matilda was William's wife.
  • It is worked in a very quick and simple stitch called 'laid work' that was not used by the Guilds of the day.
  • Patches of unpicking and re-working are clearly visible. The Guilds would have taken care to cover any sign of re-working.
  • The figures shown are very simply drawn.

Bayeux tapestry stich detail

Detail from the Bayeux Tapestry showing how blocks of wool have been laid onto the linen and stitched in place.