400 – 1300
Medieval Era

Bayeux Tapestry

Animation by David Newton, Sound Design by Marc Sylvan
Copyright Potion Pictures Limited, used with permission

The title "Bayeux Tapestry" is a bit of a misnomer—the textile is embroidered wool on linen, and not actually a woven tapestry. The wool was dyed using the plants Woad, Madder, and Rocket. The linen canvas measures 20 inches in height by 130 feet  in length (50 cm x 70 m), and supports the narrative embroidery that tells of the Norman invasion of England—though very much from the Norman perspective.

The tapestry depicts Duke William of Normandy's conquest of Harold Godwinson—England's new and ill-fated King. The conquest is portrayed as fully justified, and Harold is represented as an opportunist who broke his oaths to Edward the Confessor, former King of England, and to William himself.

Although first known as William the "Bastard" (he was the illegitimate son of Robert the Magnificent and Herleva of Falaise), a name change accompanied his military success: he became known as William the “Conqueror." The Norman conquest is a key turning point in Western history, and the English language still reflects this dominance of French over Saxon culture.

Your Comments (3)

Previous Comments

Stacy wrote on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wonderful job! I'm teaching this time in history and this is a fabulous tool for me. Thank you for your creativity!

Neo wrote on Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank You So Much! I love the Bayeux Tapestry and can't wait to learn more about it in class :D

Fran Altvater wrote on Saturday, September 03, 2011

While the video is fine--it's clearly engaging and fun and gets the gist across--it misses the first half of the tapestry in which Edward the Confessor sends Harold to Normandy and some of the scenes (the house being burned to make room for the Normans, for instance) are taken from that earlier sequence and plopped down out of order. This matters in that the premise of the Tapestry is that Harold, rescued by William and having sworn fealty to Wiliam on reliquaries and received armor from him, USURPS William's right to the kingship. The Norman propaganda is missing from this animation.

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