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British history

Bayeux Tapestry

Duke William of Normandy (centre) with Odo (left)Duke William of Normandy (centre) with Odo (left)The Bayeux Tapestry, which is housed at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy, France, depicts the sequence of events leading up to and including the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It shows William the Conqueror, then Duke of Normandy, crossing the English Channel with his army to seize the English crown from King Harold. It tells the story from the point of view of the conquering Normans. The "tapestry" is actually an embroidered cloth measuring nearly 70 metres (230 feet) long and 50 centimetres (20 inches) tall.  

Detail of stitching on the Bayeux TapestryDetail of stitching on the Bayeux Tapestry

The story of the Tapestry

Scholars think the Bayeux Tapestry was made in the 1070s, shortly after the Battle of Hastings. It was probably commissioned by William the Conqueror's half-brother, Bishop Odo (who, after the Conquest, became Earl of Kent), for display in Bayeux Cathedral, which was also built by Odo around the same time. Many historians believe that the Tapestry was designed and constructed English artists. The work of stitching was most likely undertaken in Kent by female needleworkers; at the time, the quality of their work was famous across Europe.  

The designs on the Bayeux Tapestry are embroidered rather than woven, so strictly speaking it is not a tapestry but an embroidery.

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