Part 1 in a 10-part series on depictions of war in art.
The Bayeux Tapestry is a beautiful piece of art. Produced sometime in the 1070’s by the victorious Norman’s following their conquest of England, the tapestry depicts the build up and conquest by William, Duke of Normandy, in 1066. The Battle of Hastings, where King Harold Godwinson of England was slain, is the climax. The death of Harold is the scene I’ve chosen as the featured image, as it was, historically speaking, the critical event.
The tapestry serves as both artwork and propaganda. While it clearly tells the story from a Norman point of view, it still portrays King Harold and his soldiers in a valiant light. It also serves to justify the invasion, claiming that Harold broke an oath. The tapestry serves as one of the few sources on the battle, and warfare in general during the period. There are no sources from King Harold’s side and the Norman version is widely believed. As the quote states “history is written by the victors”, or in this case woven.
The tapestry is on display in Bayeux, France. Be sure to click on the top link below to see the work in its entirety. It’s worth a look.
To view other entries into the War Paint Series, follow the link.
- The Bayeux Tapestry in its Entirety (precinemahistory.net)
- Designer of the Bayeux Tapestry Identified (medievalists.net)
- A Momentous Year: 1066 and the Battle of Hastings (deadliestblogpage)