Page:The Normans in European History.djvu/90

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NORMANS IN EUROPEAN HISTORY

Few battles of the Middle Ages were of importance equal to that of Hastings, and few are better known. Besides the prose accounts of the Latin chroniclers, we have the contemporary elegiacs of Guy of Amiens and Baudri of Bourgueil, the spirited verse of the Roman de Rou of Master Wace, the most detailed narrative but written, unfortunately, a century after the event, and the unique and vivid portrayal of the Bayeux Tapestry. This remarkable monument, which is accessible to all in a variety of editions, consists of a roll of cloth two hundred and thirty feet long and twenty inches in breadth, embroidered in colors with a series of seventy-nine scenes which narrate the history of the Conquest from the departure of Harold on the ill-fated journey which led him to William's court down to the final discomfiture of the English army on the field of Hastings. The episodes, which are designated by brief titles, are well chosen and are executed with a realism of detail which is of the greatest importance for the life and culture of the age. Preserved in the cathedral and later in the municipal Museum of Bayeux—save for a notable interval in 1804, when Napoleon had it exhibited in Paris to arouse enthusiasm for a new French conquest of England,—the tapestry appears from internal evidence to have been originally executed as an ornament for this cathedral by English workmen at the command of Bishop Odo, half-brother of the Conqueror. There is no basis for the common be-