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What does the Bayeux Tapestry show?

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Quick Answer

The Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events leading up to Battle of Hastings and the defeat of Harold, Earl of Wessex by William the Conqueror in 1066. In all, the tapestry's scenes contain 626 human figures, 506 birds and animals, 190 horses, 33 buildings, 37 trees, 37 ships and 57 inscriptions in Latin. Among the most notable human figures in the tapestry are three kings, including Edward the Confessor, King Harold of England and William of Normandy.

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Full Answer

The tapestry is nearly 230 feet in length and is 20 inches tall. All in all, it contains around 50 scenes embroidered on linen using colored yarn. Historians believe that the tapestry was commissioned by Bishop Odo, who was a half brother of William, and that it was made in England during the 1070s.

The tapestry was hidden for a time and rediscovered in 1729. The tapestry was mentioned in an inventory as far back as 1476, but not mentioned again in history until 1724. It was confiscated during the French Revolution and destined to be used for covering military wagons but was subsequently rescued. As of 2015, it is displayed in Normandy, France, in the Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux.

Notably, because the tapestry's designs are embroidered instead of woven, the piece is technically not a tapestry.

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