The Art of Conquest - The Bayeux Tapestry - Essay Sample

Published: 2024-01-28
The Art of Conquest - The Bayeux Tapestry - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Culture Art
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1397 words
12 min read


The Bayeux Tapestry is a Romanesque masterpiece of art created in the 11th century under the commissioning of Bishop Odo. The Bishop had the intention to provide an embellishment of the newly-built cathedral, which was in Bayeux in 1077. Generally, Tapestry is a narration of the unfolding of the events revolving around the England conquest. The images provide historical evidence of the Norman. The below essay encompasses three scenes from the Bayeux Tapestry, describing the pictures' strategies and highlighting why the artist chooses this form of narration.

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The 1066 England Invasion

Harold's ship headed to the coastal area of Normandy in 1064. He faces many challenges, but fortunately, he manages to send a message to William Duke from Normandy. The message was from the king of England, who wanted to appoint the heir to his throne. The king chose to pass the throne to William Duke, his cousin (Straton 238). Eventually, the old king dies, and Harold crowns himself as king of England instead of William Duke, whom the king had as the heir to the throne. Later on, William gets the news of Harold crowning himself king, yet he was the next king and decided to go to England to claim his throne.

William Duke's sailing journey took place on one night in September 1066. He sailed with hundreds of ships, and in them were seven thousand men soldiers and two thousand horses. One of the boats he has is the ducal ship, which he got from the Matilda of the duchess. The Mora has a lantern, which the pope blessed. At dawn, the fleet makes a massive arrival at the Pevensey Port in Sussex. The Normans move towards Hastings and take up positions ready for war.

The Norman and Anglo-Saxon troops' war begins on 14th October 1066wherby the archers set off first. In a long cavalcade, the Norman cavalry joined the war and swoop the English infantry, which had protection from shield walls. The war was intense, and many soldiers died fighting. Many horses died during the war, and the deaths are represented in the Tapestry over the lower frieze. The Tapestry also severely hurt the soldiers' limbs due to the war (Norton 61). Harold, who had crowned himself king, also dies as a result of the war. He gets hit by an arrow in the eye and dies. The England troops retreated trout as a sign of complete defeat and lost the battle to the Norman troops led by William Duke.

From the above scene, the Tapestry presents military and narration and a spiritual influence. The military story is the war between the England and Norman troops, which clash. The cause of the military war was Harold's selfish action to crown himself king instead of William, the right heir to the throne. From the narration, William claims what rightfully belongs to him by engaging Harold in a war. The spiritual influence in the scene is in the defeat and death of Harold. That was as a punishment for the perjury action due to selfishness (Bulger 1). The Tapestry illustrates the punishment of evil as a must in whatever way. Harold paid for his evil by a massive defeat and later death.

The Cavalry Scene

In the cavalry scene, the tactical use of the Calvary technique is evident. The technique encompasses a quick advance and easy retreating, which scatters the opponent's defense. That move gives room for invasion by the infantry, and the tactic was compelling and intimidating(Lewis 228). The cavalry commands the invasion despite there being foot soldiers. That scene presents the Normans as naturally an army dominant in the usage of the cavalry technique. That is as the Tapestry presents in the specific scene.

The scene depicts the Norman war technique and portrays the battle gear as used in the 11th century. That comprises of the Calvary men dressed in steel helmets which are conical in shape. The helmets have nose plates that protect the specific soldier and mail shirts. The Calvary men carry spears and shields, which was their arsenal. The foot soldiers, on the other hand, equip themselves with spears and axes. However, as the soldiers are equipped and protected, the horses they use are not protected.

In the Calvary scene, the Tapestry presents the war culture of the Normans through the pictures. That is by an illustration of their fighting technique, armor, and protective gear. The pictures also present the army organization, which comprises of Calvary man and foot soldiers. In the scene, the pictures also show that being wounded is a normal thing in a war, so wounded soldiers and their horses are in the lower part.

First Meal Scene

In this scene, the Tapestry presents dining practices, and the illustration is on the England shores. Servants are preparing food over fire and baking bread. Bishop Odo blesses the food served by the servants, and they have a meal. After having dinner, William and his cousins, Odo and Robert, converge for war preparations.

The pictures in this scene portray the religious aspect of the Normans. That is through Bishop Odo blessing the food. The pictures also show the wealthy and influential nature of the William family (Newell 271). That is because of the presence of servants who prepare food and then serve it. Having servants was a sign of wealth and power. Also, in the scene, there is a historical presentation of the ammunition of that time. That is through the presentation of images of shields, battle horns, and arrows.

Why the Choice to Present the Story in a Tapestry

Tapestry usage to present the story is under the influence of many factors. One of the factors is that it is essential for historic preservation. That is because it is not prone to destruction and distortion. The presentation could last for a very long duration and act as a useful tool for the presentation of the Norman ancient culture, war life, and religious aspects (Cavell 407). Another reason for the narrator to use Tapestry is because of the wealthy status and therefore had to make a presentation matching the social class. Still, the use of the technique, availability of the materials, and skillful people to do embroidery led to the technique's use.


The different scenes depicted in the Art of Conquest - The Bayeux Tapestry portray the Norman people's adverse characteristics. The scene on the 1066 invasion in England depicts a military organization and spiritual influence. That is through the organization of William's military and defeated Harold. Spiritual influence illustrates the punishment of evil through the death of Harold. In the Calvary scene, the pictorial presentation outlines Norman's army as Calvary. There is also a presentation of their fighting technique, armor, and protective gear in the scene. In the third scene of dining, there is a presentation of Norman's religious stance. That is through Bishop Odo blessing the food. In the scene, the Tapestry also presents the social class of William and his family. The primary reason for the use of Tapestry to present the story is for preservation. The Tapestry is durable as it is not prone to destruction, and the information is not prone to distortion.

Works Cited

Bulger, Sarah. "It's Elementary: The Bayeux Tapestry as a Medieval Educational Tool." (2020).

Cavell, Megan. "Textiles, Text, Intertext: Essays in Honour of Gale R. Owen-Crocker." (2018): 406-409.

Diener, Laura. "Textiles, Text and Intertext: Essays in Honour of Gale R. Owen-Crocker." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality. Vol. 53. No. 2. Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, 2018.

Lewis, Michael. "chapter 12 THE BAYEUX TAPESTRY: WINDOW TO A WORLD OF CONTINUITY AND CHANGE." The Archaeology of the 11th Century: Continuities and Transformations 38 (2017): 228.

Newell, Aimee E. "Masonic Pageantry: The Inspiration for Scottish Rite Costumes, 1867–1920." Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism 6.2 (2018): 266-278.

Norton, Christopher. "Viewing the Bayeux Tapestry, Now and Then." Journal of the British Archaeological Association 172.1 (2019): 52-89.

Stratton, Jon. "The language of leaving: Brexit, the second world war and cultural trauma." Journal for Cultural Research 23.3 (2019): 225-251.

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