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Ten Things You May Not Have Noticed in the Bayeux Tapestry

Ten Things You May Not Have Noticed in the Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry is one of the most interesting pieces of art from the Middle Ages. Created in the late 11th century to show the events of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, the tapestry has many well-known images. However, the designer of the Bayeux Tapestry also included little details that might be missed by the casual viewer. Here are ten images to take a second look at:

1. Making fun of Guy

Guy, Count of Ponthieu, was one of William the Conqueror’s enemies. He is often depicted in the tapestry in an unfavourable light, such as when he is riding his horse – the animal is noticeably scrawnier than the other horses and has the ears of a donkey!

2. The Worst Job in the TapestryThe two unlucky servants have been harnessed up like horses or oxen to pull this cart carrying wine, lances and helmets.

3. Hair on End

Ten Things You May Not Have Noticed in the Bayeux Tapestry

William’s men are riding so quickly that their hair is blowing in the wind.

4. Turold the Dwarf

The small man holding horses in this scene isn’t a child or just a mistake of proportion by the designer of the tapestry – it is likely this man was a dwarf, as commentators have pointed out that his head is unusually large for his body, a common characteristic for dwarfism. His distinctive clothing also suggests that he may have been a jongluer or jester.

5. The Loud Horn

When one man blasts his horn to call William and Norman leaders to the feast before the Battle of Hastings, the servant next to him seems to be displeased at the noise.

6. Bear Baiting

On the bottom margin we can see a scene where a bear has been tied to a tree, while a man seems ready to attack it.

7. Trying to keep dry

When Harold and his men are boarding a ship to cross the English Channel, they are careful to take off their hose and tuck in their tunics into their belts as they wade into the water.

8. Smiling Horses

Some of the horses the Normans took with them to invade England seem to be enjoying the voyage.

9. You always forget something when you go on a trip

In preparing the feast for William before the Battle of Hastings, the servants need to make use of shields as serving trays.

10. A Loyal Dog

Beneath the scene where King Edward the Confessor is being taken to be buried one can see the image of a lone dog howling – perhaps crying out for his master?

Learn More about the Bayeux Tapestry:

The Garments of Guy in the Bayeux Tapestry

Turold the Dwarf – from History Notes

Designer of the Bayeux Tapestry identified

New research on how the Bayeux Tapestry was made

and more on the Bayeux Tapestry

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