Reunited 2008 travel blog

Bayeux, Musee de la Reine Mathilde

Bayeux, Musee de la Reine Mathilde

From the coastline, we dropped down to Bayeux, specifically to see the famous Bayeux Tapestry at the Musee de la Reine Mathilde where it is dramatically displayed. This large embroidery tells the story of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 and this medieval Tapestry [Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde] is probably the world’s most famous embroidery.

The following is quoted from literature provided by the museum. "It is remarkable both as a source of 11th century history and as a work of art. It is an invaluable historical representation of the arms, costumes, manners and ships used by the Normans prior to the invasion of England."

"The Tapestry stretches 231 feet long and is 19.5 inches wide. It was made of a seamless strip of linen, embroidered with eight colors of woolen thread. It is a needlework panorama of 72 individual scenes, and 1512 figures, with identifying Latin inscriptions, of the Norman Conquest. It tells of Harold’s failure to honor the oath, he gave at Bayeux recognizing his cousin William’s right to succeed Edward the Confessor, and the consequences that followed. The borders are decorated with animals and scenes taken from fables. It was probably made in England soon after the conquest. But, it wasn’t displayed in public until about 1476, when it decorated the nave of the Bayeux Cathedral."

"Some believe that the tapestry was the work of William the Conqueror’s wife Matilda of Flanders. However, her involvement with the Tapestry is currently in doubt. Others believe that it was commissioned by Odo, the bishop of Bayeux and a half brother of William the Conqueror. Odo is depicted in some of the later scenes. The work is dated no later than 1092."

To get to this museum, you will have to negotiate a series of one way streets, taking you past the Bayeux Cathedral that towers over the town. Apparently, this town was left largely intact during the D-Day invasions and General De Gaulle, himself, arrived here after returning to France. At any rate, have a good map and be patient when trying to find the museum; however, it is well worth the trip to see this marvelous presentation of the tapestry in a darkened room with hand-held museum guides available in English. If you don't pick one up, you'll never understand what the tapestry means since the guide takes you through each section and the meaning of the scenes. This visit was even appealing to Scott, who is not normally interested in this type of venue. Good gift shop at the end........not your normal junk seen in a lot of touristy areas.

Now on to D'Aromanches for a brief stop and then on to Caen where we will spend the night.

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