… an embroidered cloth nearly 70 metres (230 ft) long and 50 centimetres (20 in) tall, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.Or, more particularly, a fight between Norman and Danish (Anglo-Saxon) aristocrats as to who should take over the English throne.
There are about 50 scenes with brief Latin descriptions running along the the cloth, complemented by a decorative border which includes some interesting vignettes of peasant life:
|Scenes 10a (upper) and 13|
|Scene 43a (with detail)|
|Scenes 52a (upper) and 54|
Subsequently, William would expropriate English property holdings and enrich his Norman followers, as well as constructing Winchester Cathedral, the Tower of London (present day home of the Crown Jewels) and other notable buildings. The English language started to develop as a complex mix of Old English (Germanic) and Old French (Romance) with a marked social divide, as described in this interesting recent post on the OxfordWords blog by Adrastos Omissi.
The Tapestry is now carefully conserved (low light, humidity, temperature) by the Bayeux Museum, with an accompanying exhibition and, of course, a shop. To avoid queuing, go during the sacrosanct French lunch period (13:00 to 14:00). And to answer my question: although obvious, it is definitely worth seeing.
The origins of the Tapestry are argued about by scholars but it is thought likely to have been made in Canterbury on the other side of Le Manche in the 1070s. However, given the modern French obsession with BDs (BD, bande dessinée, comic book), its current location seems quite appropriate.