The Bayeux Tapestry is a late eleventh-century embroidery, 68.5 metres/224 feet long, visualizing events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the subsequent Norman Conquest of England. In the past 300 years, since its rediscovery in Bayeux Cathedral, it has provided fertile ground for the musings, opinions, and investigations of antiquarians, scholars, novelists, journalists, and other interested parties. This volume reconstructs the often turbulent history of this remarkable work of art, and offers a critical analysis and annotated bibliography of the more than 1000 publications which have attempted to answer the many questions it has provoked. Discussions have focused on the origin of the Tapestry – workshop location, patronage, artistic sources, dating, and purpose. The narrative has been interpreted as Norman propaganda by some, as English propaganda by others. Its legitimacy as an historical document has been evaluated, often with contradictory conclusions, and attention has been drawn to its value as a reflection of contemporary life and customs. The Latin inscriptions have been analysed and shown to exhibit both English and French characteristics. Links have been proposed with English and French epic poetry, while recent scholarship has brought literary and communication theories into discussions. Its numerous reproductions, facsimiles, and “spinoffs” attest efforts to make it known to a greater audience, while emphasizing its relevance for modern viewers. It has become the world’s most famous textile.
Shirley Ann Brown is Professor Emerita of Art History at York University, Toronto. She has published bibliographies and numerous studies of the Bayeux Tapestry, both in the context of medieval art and culture and concerning its appropriation as nationalistic propaganda in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is also Founding Director of the Registry of Stained Glass Windows in Canada (RSGC).