BAYEUX TAPESTRY, a celebrated piece of medieval embroidery of sewed work orig inally found in the cathedral of Bayeux, in the library of which town it is still preserved. The fact that such a tapestry existed was brought to light by M. Lancelot, who communi cated a description of an illuminated drawing of a portion of it to the Academy of Inscrip tions and Belles-lettres in 1724. This led to the discovery of the tapestry itself in 1728, where upon various speculations arose as to its date, its origin and its purport. According to tra dition it is a contemporary representation of the invasion and conquest of England by the Normans, and the discussions upon it have proved that tradition is right. It is thus not only valuable as a relic of the art of the Middle Ages, hut it has also great historical value, inasmuch as it supplies several details of the great event which it portrays which are not found in the chroniclers, and also gives us an exact picture of Norman costumes and man ners. It contains 1,512 figures with inscriptions in Latin giving the names and subjects. It was at one time supposed to have been worked by the needle of Matilda, Queen of William the Conqueror, assisted by Queen attendants, and tohave been presented by Odo, bishop of Bayeux, the half-brother of William, to the church in which it was found. But later researches have
led to the belief that the tapestry was made to the order of Bishop Odo; of the actual makers — certainly women — nothing is known. Whether this he so or not, it is regarded as certain that the tapestry is not later than the 1 lth century. During the French Revolution the tapestry was in great danger of being destroyed. In 1803 it was removed to Pans by order of Napoleon, and when he was meditat ing the invasion of Britain he caused it to be carried from town to town and exhibited be tween the acts in the theatres. It was brought back to Bayeux in 1804, when it was placed in the hotel de ville, instead of the cathedral, its former resting-place. The length of the tapestry is 230 feet, and its height 20 inches. It is in an excellent state of preservation.
There are good representations of it produced photographically. In his 'Norman Conquest' the late Professor Freeman calls it a contem porary work. Consult J. C. Bruce's 'Bayeux Tapestry) (1885) and Marignan's (Tapisserie de Bayeux' (Paris 1902). See TAPESTRY.