Item 262

By definition a true tapestry is a woven picture, whereby the design is woven in, as an integral part of the fabric. The Bayeux Tapestry is hand-stitched onto an off-white linen background using coloured wool. Therefore, by definition, it would rightfully be called an embroidery. An inventory of the 'Treasures of Bayeux Cathedral', compiled by Louis d'Harcourt in 1476, listed the tapestry as item 262 "une tente tres longue et estroicte de telle à broderie" or embroidered cloth hanging.

The Tapestry is approximately 230 foot long, and varies between 18 inches and 21 inches high. The Tapestry is comprised of 8 different length panels which were put together after the tapestry was completed. A misaligment in one of the joins can be seen in the upper border. This misalignment has been slightly corrected in my mosaic. See scene 21.
The linen backing has 54 threads to the inch and the thread used is a two ply wool. The wool was coloured using vegetable dyes before the wool was spun. The tapestry was embroidered using eight different coloured wools. Five main colours of 1. terra-cotta, 2. blue-green, 3. sage-green, 4. buff and 5. blue were used and three secondary colours of 1. dark green 2. yellow and 3. dark blue. Two types of stitches have been used to create the embroidery. A stem stitch is used for outlining and lettering whilst a laid-and-couched stitch, known as Bayeux stitch, is used for the filling in. Major restoration work on the tapestry took place in the 1700s and 1842. See 'The Restorations of the Bayeux Tapestry' by Charles Dawson for details.

According to Simone Bertrand, the Tapestry portrays 626 people, 202 horses or mules, 55 dogs, 505 animals of all sorts, 37 fortresses or buildings and 41 ships or boats.
According to Stenton and Gibbs-Smith, the Tapestry includes 626 human figures, 190 horses or mules, 35 hounds or dogs, 506 other various animals, 37 ships, 33 buildings, 37 trees or groups of trees.
According to my own count, I find 625 people not 626. Perhaps Bertrand and Stenton both included the figure in the bottom border under the third boat. David Wilson in his book 'The Bayeux Tapestry' suggests that the naked figure actually represents a monkey. There are 190 horses or mules, 39 dogs or hounds, 37 boats or ships, 37 buildings, 35 trees and 541 various birds and animals represented.

Various authors over the centuries have put forward differing opinions on the origins of the Tapestry. See 'The Authority of the Tapestry' by Edward Augustus Freeman.

In 1730 Antoine Lancelot claimed that the Tapestry, made between 1066 and 1083, was created by William the Conqueror's queen, Mathilde, and her ladies. He suggested that the unfinished embroidery, was presented to William's half-brother Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, to serve as a decoration for his cathedral in Bayeux.
Lord Lyttelton in 1769, claimed that the embroidery was made at the request of the Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I.
In 1812 Abbe de La Rue, also attributed the Tapestry to the Empress Matilda and concluded that the embroidery was made in England between 1162 and 1167.
In 1786 Sir Joseph Ayloffe made the claim that the Tapestry was made by Queen Mathilde herself, with the assistance of her ladies.
Roujoux in 1835 suggested that the inscriptions were designed by an Anglo-Saxon.
Bolton Corny in 1836 suggested that the Tapestry was produced after the unification of Normandy and France in 1204, on the orders of the Chapter of Bayeux, to decorate the Bayeux cathedral.
Rev. John Collingwood Bruce, in 1856, claimed the Tapestry was a gift to Bayeux Cathedral and designed by an Italian artist.
Du Meril in 1862 claimed that the Tapestry was created by the Anglo-Saxons for the monks of Waltham Abbey.
Rev. Daniel Rock, in 1870 suggested that the Tapestry was commissioned in London by Bishop Odo's under-tenants Turold, Wadard and Vital as a gift for their overlord.
Ella Burton in 1878 claimed that the Tapestry was Flemish in origin.
Drake in 1881 claimed that the patron of the Tapestry was Richard Fitz Turold, an under-tenant of Robert of Mortain.
Emile Travers in 1907 claimed that the Tapestry was made at the orders of Bishop Odo, upon his release from prison in 1088. The work was carried out by Saxon artists in Kent and upon his exile in 1092 he returned to Bayeux with it.
Wilhelm Tavernier in 1911 suggested that the Tapestry was the work of Turold of Enverneu, Odo's successor as Bishop of Bayeux.
Later, in 1914 Tavernier identifies Turold as Turoldus Hostiarius, a vassal of Odo. Tavernier claims that it is Hostiarius's son Turold that is the author of the tapestry. This Turold was the chaplain to William Rufus and author of the Chanson de Roland.
William Richard Lethaby in 1917 made the claim that the Tapestry was produced in the workshops of Winchester for Bishop Odo.
In 1921, Henri Prentout suggested that the Tapestry was commissioned by Odo, and designed by Turold, Abbot of Peterborough.
In 1928 Suzanne Turgis suggested that the Tapestry was sent to Normandy by Henry V.
Richard Drogereit in 1959 dates the Tapestry to the early twelfth century and attributes it to Henry I.
In 1962, Richard Drogereit claimed the Tapestry was an Anglo-Saxon work carried out in Worcester, England between 1105 and 1115 for Henry I.
Chevalier in 1966 made the claim that the Tapestry was made at Canterbury. He suggests it was made for Vital, Wadard and Turold, by order of Bishop Odo.
In 1968, Andre Maurois claimed that the Tapestry was commissioned by Bishop Odo and was produced under the Abbess AElfgyva at Barking Abbey.
In 1977 Shirley Anne Brown suggested that the Tapestry was commissioned between 1082 and 1086 by Bishop Odo as a gift to his brother William. A gift for the consideration of his release from prison.
In 1978 Nicholas Brooks claimed the Tapestry was made for Bishop Odo sometime before 1082. He claims the work was designed by an English artist from St. Augustine's in Canterbury.

The general consensus of opinion today, is that the tapestry was designed by an English artist, possibly a monk, and the work carried out by an embroiderer's guild in or near Canterbury.

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