The Bayeux Tapestry: William the Bastard, Goode King Harold, and the Art Historians…

One of the most important events in the History of the World took place on a damp fall Saturday, October 14, 1066, on a soggy little hillock near the then unremarkable little town of Hastings in England.  I have researched the Battle of Hastings and the Bayeux Tapestry that was commissioned to commemorate it. I own and have read several dozens of Art History and Humanities textbooks, and often amuse myself (and sometimes my students) with textual analysis and comparisons.  Here, we will peruse each of the author’s treatments of the Battle of Hastings and the Bayeux Tapestry.  The reasons for this comparison will I hope become (if only at some great length) obvious.


Laurie Schneider Adams has a PhD, in Art History, teaches at the City University of New York and has authored many books.  In A History of Western Art, Fourth Edition she wrote about the tapestry as can be seen in the following:


The “tapestry” is thought by some scholars to have been created for the cathedral of Bayeux in Normandy, near the Northern near the northern coast of France. It may have been commissioned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, half-brother of William the Conqueror.  The events it depicts unfold from left to right and are accompanied by Latin inscriptions. The detail in figure 12.5 shows William the Conqueror leading a group of Norman nobles, including Odo, on galloping horses against the English. This scene takes place on Saturday morning, October 14, 1066, when William’s army departed Hastings to fight Harold the Saxon king of England (195).


Adams gives us the dimensions of the piece in two parts, first in the text she tells us that it is 230 feet long, in the caption she tells us that it is 20 inches high. She lists the number of objects and figures depicted; she offers that the tapestry is really an embroidery, probably executed in Normandy; and she describes another scene with men in “Viking longboats” (195-196). She fails to tell us why the Normans are fighting with King Harold and his Saxon army.  She does not even tell us who William and Harold were, beyond the facts that William was “the Conqueror” and presumably a Norman; and that Harold was the Saxon King. She does not mention the weather conditions nor the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two armies.  She gives us very few details of the battle itself at all. The book was published in 2005. In 2002, she published Art Across Time, Second Edition. We will look at that text next. Whereas Art History is 574 pages, Art Across time is a whopping 1023 pages, and we might imagine that her account of the battle will be more complete.


With the exception of a single paragraph and few interjected lines, Art Across Time contains substantially the same descriptions of the two images as does Art History; the additional paragraph describes an additional detail (picture) from the piece (400-403). The entire passage is 61 lines; the passage in Art History is 52 lines long. The additional paragraph is seven lines long, thus accounting for all but two lines in the difference between the two passages.


Next, in no particular order—just the way the books are stacked in my study—we will consider Lawrence Cunningham and John Reich’s Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities, Fifth Edition, 2002. Cunningham teaches Theology at Notre Dame, and Reich is described as a “trained classicist, musician and field archeologist” (v).  Reich also teaches, apparently at Syracuse University in Florence, Italy. Their book contains only one rather sideways reference to the Battle of Hastings, and is silent on the Bayeux Tapestry:



In any event by the eleventh century the tale [Le Chanson de Roland] widely known in Europe. Excerpts from the Song of Roland were sung to inspire the Norman army before the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and in 1096 [sic] Pope Urban II cited it in an appeal to French patriotism when he attempted to raise armies for a crusade to free the Holy Land (210).


Frankly, I find the authors’ omission to be shocking.  Without the Norman invasion we would all be speaking the Old English of Beowulf. All of the great works of English Literature would not exist.  If one has heard Beowulf read aloud in the original language, one probably knows that Old English is impossible to pronounce correctly without sounding like one is constantly hacking-up phlegm and without spitting on one’s neighbor at least once or twice.


Stella Pandell Russell is an established artist, and has a PhD in pre-Columbian painting; she taught at the State University of New York for over twenty years.  Her popular textbook Art in the World, Fourth Edition is taught on many college campuses all across the country. The book was first published in 1975. In her book, Russell refers to the neglected linen twice, first on page 65, then again on page 197. The first is a few lines within a paragraph on another topic that read:


Later artists have attempted whole battle scenes, depicting men and animals in violent motion, as in the Bayeux Tapestry (c. 1080), which immortalized the Battle of Hastings [2.45]. In order to portray the correct sequence of events, the artists decorated a very long strip of linen with thousands of carefully embroidered soldiers, horses, and other figures. The features of the major characters are repeated to permit us to follow the action (65).

On page 197 we read:

The Famous Bayeux Tapestry, discussed earlier [2.45], is not a tapestry but a long strip of carefully embroidered linen, intended to go around the walls of a room in Bayeux Castle (197).


The rest of the paragraph discusses the use of embroidered cloths as wall hangings.  Russell’s text too seems lacking regarding both the battle and the tapestry it inspired. Although it is interesting to note that Russell states it was made to hang in a room of Bayeux Castle, Adams suggests it was commissioned for Odo’s church.


In the next book off of the stack, Frames of Reference: Art, History and the World, authors Janet Marquardt and Stephen Eskilson (2005) include a much fuller and richer re-telling of the history and description of the tapestry.  Their account differs from the others, not only by providing more detailed descriptions and the historical backdrop for the Battle of Hastings but substantially as well.  For example, Adams told us the embroidery was probably done in Normandy, Marquardt and Eskilson offer very compelling arguments that it was done in Kent, in England.  They relate that Odo was given Kent, and that the piece was of a style that was called “English work” (84).  They also suggest that Odo commissioned the piece as “a gift to William because he [Odo] had fallen from favor” (84).  Most importantly, they briefly recount the series of events that led to the battle.


Edward the Confessor had made his friend and relative William (whom they also properly identify as the Duke of Normandy); he had sent Harold, then the Earl of Wessex to William to pledge his fealty.  Fealty is a [sacred] oath as they point out, Harold swore on the relics of saints, that he would defend William’s succession to the English throne upon Edward’s death.  When Edward died, [there was a power struggle] and Harold emerged as King, thereby breaking his oath. They also rightly point out that this was a Civil war and not an invasion by a “foreign” army (84).  [The brackets hold my additions that hold information that I know independently from this text, but that will aid my readers in understanding what all the fuss was about.]


Our authors also point-out that the cause of Harold’s death was not known, yet in the tapestry he is shown as being shot in the eye by one of Odo’s vassals (85).  They emphasize and their readers can certainly ascertain from their article, that the Tapestry is a propaganda piece designed to quell political unrest in a hostile environment. It is also one of the very first “politically correct” works of propaganda; none of the Normans are shown gloating over the subdued Saxons. (84-85). There are some interesting facts that are omitted by these authors; perhaps we will find them in our next book.


Our next book, published in 2000, is Art, A Brief History, by Marilyn Stockstad of the University of Kansas. Stockstad does not provide information about the battle but we do learn some new things about the tapestry and that William had at least one other half-brother named Robert of Mortain. [Robert was William’s father’s name as well.] The tapestry “was embroidered in eight colors of wool, on eight lengths of linen” (232) and depicts 50 scenes.  The scenes are described in Latin inscriptions, as has been noted by others, Stockstad gives us the number and size of the letters: 2,000 letters that are one inch high (captions on 233).


Marvin Perry from the City University of New York, J. Wayne Baker and Pamela Pfeiffer Hollinger have combined their efforts to produce the two volume The Humanities in the Western Tradition: Ideas and Aesthetics (2003). In volume one, we find their somewhat scattered approach to the Tapestry.  The authors write that the tapestry was commissioned “by the brother of William the Conqueror…” (282). They add that the tapestry “is a wool embroidery executed on eight bolts of natural linen cloth, employing only two types of stitches” (282). It is at this point that their rendering becomes confusing:


In a tapestry the colored yarns form a design, which completely penetrates the resulting fabric. This is accomplished by interlacing colored weft yarns with those of the warp. It narrates the story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 from the perspective of the Normans, depicting both the triumphs and brutality of war” (282).


Although they have recognized the tapestry is an embroidery, the process they are describing is weaving, not embroidery.  The confusion is continued as they discuss who made the tapestry:


Scholars assume that it was fashioned by the women of Queen Matilda’s court, all of whom would have been skilled embroideresses, for they probably worked on ecclesiastical vestments and other liturgical accoutrements used in the mass” (282).


Despite the use of the problematic “embroideresses”, and despite the fact that this impossibly long sentence is a run-on, the sentence flatly contradicts the weaving process they described earlier.  Our authors further complicate their story by offering that, regarding the Latin “titles”, “…the formation of some of the letters suggests that an Anglo-Saxon embroiderer also worked on the tapestry” (282-283). The net result is that their reader is left wondering if the tapestry was woven or embroidered; who the hell was Queen Matilda? And who worked on the tapestry, the Normans or the Anglo-Saxons or both? Although they do add to out knowledge of the scenes depicted in at least two vignettes, one of a group of triumphant people, and a group of people who are worried about the bad portent represented by a passing comet (283).  They fail to identify either group as Anglo-Saxon; I suppose we might infer that both groups are Anglo-Saxon, because the scene they offer is the Death of Edward and the Coronation of Harold (283).


When conducting this kind of comparative survey, the indexes of the books being compared are the logical place to start. In the next textbook, a virtual institution, William Fleming’s Arts and Ideas, Tenth Edition, (2005) Mary Warner Marien of Syracuse University takes co-author credits for this edition.  An earlier, thinner and lighter edition of Fleming’s book was the first Art History book I ever read.  I do not remember the type being so small in the index; nor do I remember there being so many entries.  In any event a strained look at the index reveals several entries that might prove relevant to our inquiry. There are entries for “Bayeux Tapestry, 99, 170-174 (Figs. 6.18-6.20), 184,185” “Bayeux Cathedral 185” “Battle of Hastings (1066), 171,172,175” (I-1) and “William the Conqueror, 175, 177, 178, 179, 180, 184”. Some of these are mere mentions the most substantial discussion is on pages 170-174.


In those four pages, and for the first time we find the most complete account of both the reasons for the Battle of Hastings, a more complete description of the battle itself and a more complete description of the embroidery on the Tapestry.  Fleming and Marien tell us for example, that the tapestry is 231 feet long, not 230 as reported by others.  The also relate that it was designed to “cover the strip of masonry over the nave arcade of [the Bayeux Cathedral]” (171). The following long quote demonstrates how Fleming and Marien provide us with insights into the battle that were neglected in our other previous sources:


On the English side of the Channel, Harold, an English Duke, claimed the throne on the recommendation of Edward the Confessor and his election by the Saxon barons.  Besieged in the north by the Danes, he had won a complete victory near York less than 3 weeks before he had to face William in the south at Hastings. The long forced march tired his men, but they still fought from dawn to dusk on that fateful day. The Saxons foot soldiers were both outnumbered and outmaneuvered by the swift Norman cavalry.  In the course of the battle, Harold’s two brothers were killed and Harold himself was fatally struck by a chance arrow, leaving the English side leaderless. By nightfall the English had retreated and William had won one of the most momentous battles in History (171).


Here for the first time we have some important historical details about what led up to the Battle of Hastings; the battle itself is described in greater detail.  Although some very interesting details are still missing. Edward probably did not reverse his earlier decision to name William his heir.  It is more likely that Harold’s family, the Godwins made this story up to justify Harold’s usurpation. What is more, the leader of the Danes was named Harald Hrdrata. (The spelling varies.) Harald made several mistakes, first he split his party in two factions, one group he sent ahead, and they were ambushed by the Saxons and slaughtered to a man.  The English then pursued the smaller party that had remained behind on the coast.  These Danes could not escape by sea, because Harald had ordered them to burn all of their ships. So they too succumbed to Saxon blades. The Battle of Hastings began about 9:00 in the morning and should have been won by William’s superior, professional troops by Noon.  We will look for the reasons why the battle was prolonged, in our next source.


In the meantime, it is interesting to note that Fleming and Marien tell us that the tapestry “is divided into seventy-nine panels or scenes” (172). This is considerably more than the fifty scenes referenced above, as given by Stockstad.  In instances like this when two or more scholars disagree, one should present both sides, and all sides of the dispute.


Fleming and Marien also offer other insights about the “sub-text” of the upper and lower panels that contain images of animals from folklore and Aesop’s fables.  They tell us that most of the animals represent violence and deception and are subtle references to Harold’s treachery (172).  They also introduce the idea that some of the panels are parenthetical to the main action of the piece, and are thus presented differently than the rest (173). They describe scenes from the tapestry that give additional information about the battle as well:


When William received word that Harold had been crowned king, he immediately resolved to invade, and the second part of the tapestry (panels 35-53) is concerned with his preparations for his revenge. After all was in readiness, he set sail (173).


This is not entirely true.  William and his men actually had to prepare to sail to England twice.  The first time all was ready, the wind would not blow, so the men were sent home.  A few weeks later, early in October, the wind started to blow and the troops were recalled. The next two passages are more accurate.


After the landing, the grand finale begins with the assembling of the forces for the great battle (panels 54-79).  The Norman side has both archers on foot and knights on horseback, whereas the English infantry fight in close formation with immense battle-axes, small spears and clubs with stone heads (173).


The climax of the battle is reached in a wild scene at a ravine, where men and horses are tumbling about while the English and French fall together in battle.

Shortly after, Harold is killed, and the fighting concludes with English turned in flight. [sic] The lower border in these scenes spares none of the horrors of warfare. Dismembered limbs are strewn about, scavengers strip coats of mail from the bodies of the fallen, and naked corpses are left on the field (173-174).


The italics are the authors’ translations of the Latin captions. These two descriptive passages give us insight into the history of the battle.  And it is very likely that the panels were designed by someone with first-hand knowledge of how the battle was fought, and what the aftermath was like. Armor of the period was leather hardened with melted bees wax. Even if you could afford a chain mail tunic, it offered little protection from a Saxon battle axe. But more about Eleventh Century weapons and tactics later. Now I am anxious to move on to our next text to see if any one else can come as close as Fleming and Marien in portraying both the history of the battle and an accurate description of the Bayeux Tapestry.


The next book on the stack was Volume II of Frederick Hartt’s A History of Painting: Art, Sculpture, Architecture, Fourth Edition.  The time period covering the Battle of Hastings is in Volume one, which is at the bottom of the other stack.  So we will set Hartt aside for now and proceed to the next text Art: the way it is, by John Adkins Richardson, of Southern Illinois University. Unfortunately Richardson is silent on the Battle of Hastings, William and the Bayeux tapestry.  On the bright side we are almost through the first stack. The next book on the pile is Arts and Culture: An Introduction to the Humanities, Combined Edition, Revised First Edition, by Janetta Rebold Benton and Robert DiYanni.


Benton and DiYanni offer some of the same information as the others we have read, but they also add some very important historical details.  First of all they frame their discussion in the context of feudal monarchies, and against a backdrop of the relationship between the Dukes of Normandy and the Capetian Kings of France.  They point out that the Dukes of Normandy were technically vassals of the king, but more rich and powerful and that they became kings “in their own right” (244).  As for the Bayeux Tapestry, they offer a quibble on the size: 19 ½ inches high by 231 feet long (244). Thus far all of our experts have given the height as 20 inches and most gave the length as 230 feet.


The authors of the current text do manage to give us some very important tidbits of information. The first is the date that Edward the Confessor died, January 6, 1066.  They also offer that Harold said Edward changed his mind on his death bed as to who should succeed him. The rest of the account summarizes much of what we have already encountered, however they tell us that William was “crowned king of England, in Westminster Abbey, on Christmas Day, 1066” (244). They also tell us what William did after he became king. Most notably, how he divided the country into fiefs [a word derived from the Old High German word for cow] and distributed these among his barons.  He also, as our authors note, gave a quarter of the land to the Church (244-245). The most important point that Benton and DiYanni make, however occurs at the end of the article:

…the Latin-influenced French language spoken by the Norman invaders gradually began to mix with the native Anglo-Saxon, and the English language as we know it today started to emerge (245).


I made this point earlier, but so far none of the other scholars have.  English is a Germanic language with a lot of modified Latin vocabulary that we inherited from the French. That this happened is important and interesting; how it happened is the subject for another book.  If we ever hope to get out of this chapter, we must take another book off of the pile.


Helen Gardner’s Art Through the Ages is another institution. Her book was first published in 1926 and with that publication she set the standard for everyone else to follow. I have the most recent edition (2006) of Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Concise History, Instructors’ Edition, by Fred S. Kleiner of the University of Virginia and Boston University and Christin J. Mamiya of the University of Nebraska. As I read the caption for the two figures (given a single designation as 6-31) from the tapestry, I note that Kleiner and Mamiya offer yet another interpretation of the size of the piece, they list it as “1’8” high (entire length of fabric 229’ 8”).” (182). So we now have three different length and two different heights.  I am tempted to take my tape measure to France and measure the damn thing myself!


The account in Gardner is not significantly different from those we have read previously.   Our authors present the two controversies we encountered earlier: who embroidered it, the Normans or the women of Kent; and whether or not it was intended to hang in the nave of the Bayeux Cathedral.  We do note a few new items: That Harold was King Edward’s Brother-in-Law!; that in the detail of Edward’s funeral procession, the hand of God points to his final resting place, Westminster Abbey; and that Westminster Abbey was consecrated December 28, 1965, just nine days before Edwards death (181). The conclusion found in Gardner’s is the strongest statement about the tapestry that we have encountered thus far: “…the Bayeux Tapestry is the most Roman-esque of all Romanesque artworks” (181).


The next work offers very little about the tapestry, William or the Battle of Hastings.  The Visual Arts: A History, Seventh Edition, by Hugh Honour and John Fleming does however offer yet another alternative length:  “…a 240 foot-long…strip of linen…” (369). And they clear-up the matter of who Matilda was, the wife of William the Conqueror (369). They also offer a brief description of the piece (369). On the whole they should have written more about such an important artwork.  The first stack is dwindling with only three texts remaining, and I still have not found all of the elements of the story that I like to present to my students when we discuss the Battle of Hastings.


Robert Bersson, the author of Responding to Art: Form, Content, and Context, needs to hire a new group of fact checkers!  When the book is done, I want to send a copy to him at James Madison University. Consider his account:


The embroidered Bayeux Tapestry, only 20 inches in height but over 230 feet long, chronicled the eleventh-century conquest of Saxon England by the Norman king William the Conqueror. Commissioned by Bishop Odo, the king’s half brother, for display at special times in his cathedral and executed by teams of anonymous women (from a nunnery, royal estate, or town workshop), this monumental hand-stitched production is a kind of full-length Norman newsreel.  It includes 50 scenes… (387)


He continues, but I think we have had enough.  William was not the king of Normandy; he was the Duke of Normandy and as such a Vassal of the French Capetian King.  As shown previously, there are 79 scenes not 50 scenes, and Bersson is not properly citing his source, the account that follows the above quoted material is right out of Stockstad’s book. He cites a passage from Adams right after the pilfered statistics he lists. Unbelievable! From Bersson’s 2003-4 book:


It includes 50 scenes, with 623 human figures, 202 horses, 55 dogs, 505 other creatures, 37 buildings, 41 ships and boats, 49 trees, and nearly 2, 000 inch-high letters that describe the action (387).

From a caption in Stokstad’s 2000 book:

The sheer number of images in the Bayeux Tapestry is staggering: there are some 50 surviving scenes containing 623 human figures, 202 horses, 55 dogs, 505 other creatures, 37 buildings, 41 ships and boats, 49 trees, and nearly 2,000 inch-high letters (233).


We find a similar list in Adams, from the Second Edition:


“The Bayeux tapestry is over 230 feet (70 m) and contains 626 human figures, 731 animals, 376 boats, and 70 buildings and trees (202).”


From her Fourth Edition:

“It is nearly 230 feet (70 m) long and contains 626 human figures, 731 animals, 376 boats, and 70 buildings and trees” (400). Some how the damn thing must have shrunk between Adams’ two editions! That the wording of the Stockstad and Bersson lists is so exact, is not remarkable it is shocking!  [I’ll try to calm down.]


Our next author is from Arizona State University.  Robert C. Lamm, in his book The Humanities in Western Culture, Revised Fourth Edition, Brief Version, does little to add to out knowledge of the battle, the combatants or the Bayeux tapestry.  He tells us that the Norman cavalry had stirrups but fails to tell us why stirrups are important to a mounted knight brandishing a lance and shield (231). Stirrups are a part of an offensive weapon system.  Without them, when a Knight struck a solid object like an infantryman or an opponent’s horse with his lance, he would have been thrown-off his mount.  He also writes that the Normans “relentlessly mowed down the enemy” (232).  As we will see later, that is not exactly what happened.


The last book in the first stack is H.W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson’s History of Art, Revised Sixth Edition, Volume I. The Janson’s are a father and son tag team of Art Historians. The younger Janson took over the family franchise when his father died in 1982 (13).  The Jansons’ account mostly discusses formal issues and does not address much of the history.  I was disappointed so I turned to their much larger work History of Art: The Western Tradition, Revised Sixth Edition, in the hope that I might find a more extensive article. Instead, I found the exact same article. Since I just broached the second stack I decided to browse through it as well.  The first two were other editions of Gardner with nearly identical articles; the third is another version of Stockstad’s text, again with a nearly identical text, except she has a side bar on how the embroidery was made, the types of stitches used and other girlie stuff. The next book is the third edition of Adams’ book. Apparently during the time period in which this edition was written the tapestry was still “over 230 feet (70 m) long, and contains 626 human figures…” (192) et cetera.


The next book, Gilbert’s Living with Art, Seventh Edition, by Mark Getlein, includes only a brief reference. Getlein writes that the embroidered tapestry is 20 inches high, 231 feet long and that it has 72 scenes (371).  Frederick Hartt’s account, given in Volume I of his A History of Painting: Art, Sculpture and Architecture, is interesting because he writes that the tapestry was originally somewhat longer and he gives William’s “brother’s” [sic] name as “Odon” instead of “Odo”. In her Landmarks in Humanities, Gloria K. Fiero tells us that there are only four depictions of women; the rest of what she presents repeats much of what we have already read elsewhere (136).


All of these books are written by scholars who are experts in the field of Art History or the Humanities. We must ask ourselves why then their accounts are so different? Surely there is an objective set of facts that attend the actual embroidery. The Bayeux Tapestry is not 240 feet long some days and 230 or 231 feet long on other days. Nor does it sometimes depict 50 scenes and 72 or 79 scenes at other times. As I am fond of telling my students, one cannot always believe what one reads, even in a textbook.  This does not necessarily mean that some of the experts are right and others wrong; there may be ways to interpret the “objective” facts, and thus to prove all of the experts correct in their interpretation.  On the other hand, sometimes the “experts” are just plain wrong.


Most of the accounts in these books discuss the tapestry and give few details about William, Harold and Harald, nor do they give us much information about the battle itself. William was the bastard son of Robert the Duke of Normandy.  Robert died when William was young and he was cared for by his uncles.  He was trained to be a soldier and to lead his father’s army from an early age. Harold was the eldest son of one of the wealthiest families in England, the Godwin’s.  William was related to Edward; Harold was not related by blood but by marriage. Harald had a claim through a line of previous Danish Kings of England. Edward chose William as his heir; Harold swore an oath of fealty to him, but later claimed Edward had changed his mind as he lay dying.  This is unlikely, because Edward knew what nasty little brats Harold and his brothers could be.


We have already discussed Harald’s defeat near York in the north, and Harold’s September march to the south.  We have noted too that William’s attempt to cross the Channel were at first delayed by lack of wind; the wind finally started to blow, the troops were reassembled and they set sail October 13.


The Battle of Hastings began Saturday morning on the fourteenth of October at about 9:00. The Saxon forces were gathered near the top of a series of terrace-like hillocks, the last of which afforded Harold and his guard the ability to survey the entire battle field.  The superior, professional Norman force with its state of the art cavalry and weapons should have easily dispatched the Saxons.  The Saxons were armed with crude clubs, farm implements, a few broad-axes, long bows and even sticks and stones. Ironically, what little armor the Saxons had, was either home-made or purchased from the Normans.


As William led his cavalry in its first charge toward the Saxon phalanx, they discovered that their horses were having difficulties because the hillside was soaked with rain.  The Normans stumbled up the hill, and the Saxons cut them down. The Normans were forced to fall back and regroup. This went on the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon. In the early afternoon a rumor began to spread among William’s men that William had been killed. This panicked the Normans who began to flee the field.  William snatched off his helmet and began to ride among his men to rally them for yet another assault.  Both sides may have felt that they were fighting to a draw, and at around four in the afternoon, both sides, curiously and simultaneously stopped fighting. William must have realized two things: he had to win decisively that day and that the sun was going down.  After about an hour he rallied his men for one last skirmish.  It was in this final attack, that Harold met his death.  No one apparently knows how, but the tradition that survives is that he was shot through the eye with an arrow.  With the death of Harold and his brothers, the English fled the field and disappeared into the wooded country-side.


One of the first actions William took as King was to order that everything in the Kingdom be counted: this was not an ordinary census, but a literal count of every person, every farm, every tool, every animal, every chicken and every egg—everything. The book that contains the results of this accounting is called the “Doomsday Book”. Rather than replace the Anglo-Saxon infrastructure, William set a group of Norman nobles in place to preside over the various fiefdoms he created. This proved to be a very efficient system of levying and collecting taxes.


But as they say, that is another story!


2 thoughts on “The Bayeux Tapestry: William the Bastard, Goode King Harold, and the Art Historians…

  1. 1’8″ is a different notation for 20 inches. You are mistaken in finding 2 different heights in these works.

    1. Yes I know. Go back and consider the context… there are all kinds of heights given for the embroidery–and they are given in different units of measure as well…. I wonder why? Thanks for the comment….

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