The Bayeux Tapestry

Written by Carola Hicks
Review by Sara Wilson

The Bayeux Tapestry had an exciting history from its beginnings. Created to tell the story of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest, it is steeped in mystery and intrigue. Was it commissioned by Bishop Odo, or perhaps Harold’s sister, Emma? Who stitched it, where and how?

Then there are the missing years when the tapestry disappeared from the written record and its eventual role in the Nazi propaganda machine – Himmler described it as “Important for our glorious and cultured Germanic history”.

With careful appraisal the Bayeux Tapestry can be used as valuable research tool. Although its account of the Conquest can hardly be said to be impartial, the tapestry does give a flavour of the politics of the era, as well as information about events of the actual day of battle and – perhaps most usefully – an insight into the social history and culture of the 11th century. This book is an all-encompassing history of the tapestry and is a great read into the bargain. Full of interesting facts and valuable details, it would be useful for anyone interested in the Saxon and Norman periods.