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The Battle of Hastings and the Bayeux Tapestry

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At Heirloom Tapestries, we are delighted to provide a variety of wall tapestries with historical significance. History buffs will be pleased to learn that we carry many reproductions of the Bayeux Tapestry, one of the most well-known tapestries in history that depicts the events leading up to and the Battle of Hastings. This year marks the 950th anniversary of this epic battle.

The Battle of Hastings took place on October 14, 1066 between an army under King Harold II of England and the Norman forces of William the Conqueror. At the end of the extremely bloody battle, King Harold was dead and his forces defeated. This battle changed the course of history because the Normans were established as the rulers of England, bringing with them a dramatic change in the cultural environment of the country.

William the Conqueror

William was the illegitimate son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy, and Herleva, a tanner’s daughter and his mistress. Robert never had any other sons, so William was designated as his heir and took over as duke upon Robert’s death in 1035. Fun fact: after the Normans took over England following the Battle of Hastings, William became an extremely popular name, even becoming the most common name for English men in the 13th century.

Though he grew up in Normandy and spoke French, William was descended from the Scandinavian Vikings. One of his relatives was Rollo, one of the Vikings who pillaged northern France in the 10th century and was eventually given his own territory, Normandy, as a way to establish peace.

The Conflict

Two weeks before the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror invaded England to claim the throne. In 1051, William visited England to meet with his cousin, Edward the Confessor, who was the king and had no children. Allegedly, Edward promised William the throne. However, on his deathbed, Edward gave the kingdom to Harold Godwinson, who was the head of a noble English family and had a lot of power. King Edward died in January 1066, and Harold became King Harold II, despite William’s protests.

On September 28, 1066, William brought thousands of troops to the southeast coast of England. He seized Pevensey and then marched to Hastings and paused to organize his forces. On October 13, Harold and his army arrived near Hastings, and on October 14, they met in battle. After an all-day battle, William was decisively victorious. Harold was killed, and his forces destroyed.

The Aftermath

After winning the Battle of Hastings, William marched on London, receiving the submission of the people. He was crowned the first Norman king of England on Christmas Day, 1066, ending the Anglo-Saxon phase of English history. William spoke no English and never mastered it, so French became the language of the court, blending the two languages, the results of which can still be seen in English today with the prominence of French-inspired words. William I has gone down in history as a successful king, and upon his death, his son, William II, ascended the throne as the second Norman king of England.

The Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry depicts this famous battle. While the origins have been disputed, the earliest written record of the tapestry is from a 1476 inventory of the Bayeux Cathedral. According to French legend, the Queen Matilda, William’s wife, commissioned the tapestry to be made. It is even commonly referred to as the Tapestry of Queen Matilda in France. However, scholarly research seems to indicate that it was more likely commissioned by William’s half-brother and the Earl of Kent, Bishop Odo. This is because it was found in the Bayeux Cathedral, built by Odo, and three of his followers are featured on the tapestry. Regardless of who commissioned it, it seems to be pretty clearly from a Norman viewpoint. However, Harold and his soldiers are depicted as brave and the image does not mock them at all. Despite the fact that the bias of this wall tapestry may impede its historical accuracy slightly, it is fascinating to see the various medieval artifacts depicted. The distinctive artistic style of the Bayeux Tapestry is widely recognized and has an ongoing appeal to successive generations.

At Heirloom Tapestries, we offer a plethora of recreations of the Bayeux Tapestry that are unparalleled in quality. Shop our wide selection of wall tapestries here today!

Meta: At Heirloom Tapestries, we offer Bayeux tapestries depicting the Battle of Hastings that occurred 150 years ago this year! Shop our Bayeux tapestries here.

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