A Side Trip to Bayeux

“Historians are gossips who tease the dead.” — Voltaire

The town of Bayeux in Normandy is a charmer. Established two thousand years ago, it is the only town in the region to escape the ravages of World War II bombings.  Four miles from the Normandy coast, the town is bisected by the River Aure, so stone bridges and water wheels laden with flowers add to the cute factor.

imageThe Bayeux Tapestry is the town’s biggest attraction. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I remembered that the Battle of Hastings occurred in 1066, but  was fuzzy on the events. Today my memory of the topic was refreshed as we viewed the Tapestry. The linen embroidery, thirty feet longer than an NHL rink, depicts the play-by-play of the battle over the Crown.

King Edward, with no heirs,  was getting old,  so he picked his cousin William the Bastard, illegitimate son of Robert the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy, to be the next king.  Ed  sent his brother-in-law Harold to go to France and give Will the glad tidings. Harold completed the mission, and even promised his loyalty to William. Soon after Harold’s return to England, Edward died, and Harold saw an opportunity. “The hell with William! I’m in!” he thought, and took the throne.

” Not so fast!” said William. He rallied his troops, built ships, loaded up his men and his horses, and set sail. The French guys, led by William, showed more finesse than the Brits, and when Harold was shot in the eye with an arrow and killed, it was a done deal. William the Bastard not only gained the throne, he was able to ditch that horrible nickname in favor of a better one … “the Conquerer.”

The whole story is beautifully depicted in embroidered scenes, rolling out like a film reel.  My guess is that  holy women were the ones who pushed the needles through the linen, all for the honor and glory of their menfolk, and it definitely has a French slant. There’s debate on where the tapestry was made and by whom, but no matter who created the piece,  William comes across looking like Superman. Still. If you win a battle in one day and get the royal crown, you clearly have bragging rights.

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A note to my readers…. Typing on the wordpress site using my iPad has presented a bit of a challenge, mostly when it comes to italicizing. The iPad won’t let me italicize within the text, or, on occasion, it randomly italicizes words. So while I’ll own up to most typos and grammar errors, some are beyond my control. Also, adding a photo is awkward, too, so please bear with their sometimes-goofy placement. I’ve fiddled with today’s pic about a zillion times, and the pic won’t go where I want it to go.

 

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