The Bayeux Tapestry

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An ailing King Edward, an Anglo-Saxon king,  has no heirs.  He tells his brother-in-law Harold to go tell William of Normandy that William is his choice for heir to the kingdom. Harold, with the mustache and falcon, leaves Edward and prepares to for his journey to inform William. Harold boards a ship for Normandy, a part of modern-day France across the English Channel. Harolds ships travel along the water, but high winds and rough sea blow him off course.  He lands not in Normandy... ...but on the property of Count Guy (on the horse), a rival of William. Harold is taken prisoner by Guy (on the hrone) and the two speak. Williams hears of Harold's capture and two of his messengers confront Guy (standing w/ battle axe) At the end of this section, William (seated) is updated of the situation by his messengers. Here, Guy decides to take Harold back to William. Guy (on black horse) and William (in a maroon cloak on golden horse) meet face-to-face. At William's insistance... ...Harold and William head back to his castle. There, Harold describes to William what happened to him. A bond of friendship develops, and William and Harold agree to go lay seige to a castle captured by another rival, Conan. As they travel, they pass Mont St. Michel, William slips into some quicksand.  Harold rescues him. They attack, but Conan slips away. Attacking again, they pummel the fortress with spears and missles. In honor of his bravery, William places a Norman helmet on top of the head of Harold.  Following the battle, Harold stands between two shrines and swears to aid William's quest for the throne in any way possible. Harold then boards his ship to return to England. He lands, and returns to report to Edward, the ailing king. But the inevitable has happened.  Edward is dead.  His body is laid to rest.   William is to be king, right? But, look who is on the throne! His men here are pointing into the sky (look on the border of the tapestry).  It is a sign. William is informed of Harold's  betrayal. William begins to prepare take back what he feels is his. The ships are dragged to the shore Preparations continue. They're off. Their journey across the English Channel continues. Men and horses disembark. Advance soldiers ride to the first town they encounter, Hastings, to secure supplies. No, these men are not clubbing one another.  They are combing their hair. William, sitting above, hears news of Harold from one of his messengers. Soldiers mount their horses and prepare to leave. At the end of this section, William, on the golden horse and his left hand raised slightly, asked a knight if has seen Harold's army. Here, Harold, facing left on the black horse, is told of William's advance. That crooked tree marks a change in scene. William, at the  end of the last section, points forward, urging his men forward with all speed. About 150-ft. from the battle line, archers let loose their arrows. The two sides meet as arrows fly. Harold men present a great challenge to William's cavalry. The hand-to-hand chaos continues. Harold's men try to keep their advantage.  On the right, it appears as if William, on the gold horse, is hit. But, he's safe.  Directly above, William's brother, Otto, points to William, who lifts his mask to prove to his men he it still alive. Death continues to reign. At last, victory.  Harold, standing just left of the slouched man on the horse, his right hand raised in agony, is killed. The tapesty ends with Harold's men fleeing.  Two missing panels of the tapestry are thought to contain images of William, now the Conqueror, atop the throne.

This digital reproduction is intended for student use only.