The truly fabulous Bayeux Tapestry is not just a remarkable work of art but also a wonderfully detailed account of the conquest of England in 1066. The tapestry is a monumental work, over 70m long, and 50cm tall. Within that space they tell a remarkable story, not just of the blood and fury of the decisive Battle of Hastings, but a rich human re-telling of civil life at that time, with detailed work in the top and bottom margins, and Latin text emphasising some of the action.
Over 900 years old, this work has been available to view in France at the Bayeux Museum, but now President Macron of France has announced the intention to allow the Bayeux Tapestry to be transported to a museum in England. But don’t rush, they yet need to work out how to package and transport the object, and so it will be around 2020 or even 2022 before the tapestry makes its way across the English channel. And despite its name, it is actually an embroidery, being stitched together rather than woven. But oh what detail, what humour, how evocative that work is, and when you see the teeming human life being recounted in blazing colour and detail it can almost seem touchingly contemporary.
For those who believe understanding our past helps to understand the here and now, the Bayeux Tapestry not only reveals intimate details of the conquest of Britain, but the enormity of trade and warfare during the medieval period. The Normans beat the English who never had an English King again, yet it could well be we defeated ourselves. The Vikings had already invaded England and much later the Vikings invaded France, to get rid of them they were given land well away from Paris, In Normandy. They became Normans who then with William the Conqueror of France invaded England. Historians might quibble that there is no exact evidence of that being true but go and visit this remarkable work, in France or England and see for yourself.