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BAYEUX TAPESTRY

Tuesday 22 January 2002

When Edward, king of England, was in his youth, he was exiled and was given refuge by the family of William of Normandy. It is thought that in
gratitude he nominated William as his successor. 
The story of the tapestry starts in 1064 with Edward sending his brother in law to tell William of his décision. Harold sets off and does some hunting on
the way and has a feast with his companions. 
Before embarcation he prays, in the church at Bosham, for a calm sea. However his prayers aren’t answered and his boat is blown off course. He
beaches further north, in the domain of Guy duke of Ponthieu. His group is taken prisoner and when the duke realises how important Harold is he
demands a large ransom. A servant escapes and warns William what has happened. William finally pays the ransom of a castle near the border of the
two lands, and Harold is released. 
You can notice at this part of the tapestry that the english are represented as having moustaches and the Normans as having shaved heads. 
Harold tells William that he is to be successor to Edward, and to avoid possible déception by Harold, William offers him his daughter in marriage. 
At this time the duke of Britanny makes one of his fréquent incursions into Normandy. Harold accompagnies William and his army to repulse the
invaders. 
Harold distinguishes himself in the battle and is show in the tapestry saving two normans from the quicksand round Mont St Michel. 
Returning to Caen the party stop at Bayeux and in the Catherdral Harold swears alliegance to William as King of England. 
Harold returns to England and recounts his adventurs to Edward who is now very ill. Edward died soon after in January 1066. 
It is thought that perhaps as he was dieing Edward offered the crown to Harold. In any event he was popular and was offered the crown and accepted
it. 
The appearance of Halleys comet in the tapestry show that this was 24 avril 1066. 
When william heard what had happened he consulted his half brother the Bishop of Odon, and he advised him to send an army. Men were put to work
immediately to fell trees and build a fleet. The tapestry shows the fleet being prepared and loaded with arms and provisions. Historians of the day
suggested that there were 3000 boats and 50 000 men, but it’s thought nowadays to have been 450 boats and 10 000 men. 
On reaching England at Hastings the army of William is shown eating well. This was the 29 sept It should be noted that at this time Harold and his army
were in York, 250 miles North at Stamford bridge (not the Chelsea football ground), having just fought a battle with another contender for the throne
from Norway. Harold left York on th 2nd October and , with a stop at London, reached the battle round on 13th octobre. Harold had only 7000 men
with him shaving lost many in the previous battle and the forced march. 
Nevertheless, the battle of Hastings raged from day break till dusk and it was not till Harold was killed that his army was finally routed. Legend has it
that Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye, because the tapestry shows a man with an arrow in his eye under the name HAROLD. It is generaly
believed now that Harold is the man being run down by a horse under the inscription " Harold was killed here" 
The lower border of the battle scenes show mutilated bodies and bodies being robbed. The last image is of English peasants fleeing before the Norman
cavalry.

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