The Bayeux Tapestry : The Life Story of a Masterpiece, Paperback

The Bayeux Tapestry : The Life Story of a Masterpiece Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


The vivid scenes on the Bayeux Tapestry depict the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

It is one of Europe's greatest treasures and its own story is full of drama and surprise.

Who commissioned the tapestry? Was it Bishop Odo, William's ruthless half-brother? Or Harold's dynamic sister Edith, juggling for a place in the new court?

Hicks shows us this world and the miracle of the tapestry's making: the stitches, dyes and strange details in the margins.

For centuries it lay ignored in Bayeux cathedral until its 'discovery' in the eighteenth century.

It became a symbol of power as well as art: townsfolk saved it during the French Revolution; Napoleon displayed it to promote his own conquest; the Nazis strove to make it their own; and its influence endures today.

This marvellous book, packed with thrilling stories, shows how we remake history in every age and how a great work of art has a life of its own.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368 pages, black & white illustrations, colour illustrations
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Byzantine & Medieval art c 500 CE to c 1400
  • ISBN: 9780099450191



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

This book is a series of engaging chronological tableaux that paint the picture of this interesting piece of physical history. Not only is it important because of the moments in history that it documents, but the tapestry has physically overcome many obstacles in its 900-ish years of mysterious existence. This book easily portrays that importance, and the role the tapestry played in the development of "antiquarian" studies. This book is a fairly quick read, I think largely due to its format. I highly recommend it.

Review by

A fascinating look at the history of this amazingly long-lived artifact, which has come near to destruction or loss on several occasion at the hands of French Calvinists, revolutionaries, Napoleon and the SS. The book also explores the many attempts at reproductions of the work, or other works in different media inspired by the original. It explores the origins of the work and is inconclusive on who commissioned it, though the author makes a good case for Edith, widow of Edward the Confessor. Will interest those into Medieval history and art history alike.

Review by

This is an eminently readable book in spite of its 358 pages - in fact the section on the German threat to the Tapestry during World War II was gripping. I was interested to read of General Choltitz who effectively saved the Tapestry from being removed from the Louvre. His role as military governor of Paris is now the subject of a film entitled 'Diplomacy'.Having access to a copy of the Tapestry, albeit a small one on paper bought many years ago, really helped to bring the subject matter of the embroidery alive as I read the book.The author's research seemed to be so comprehensive - is there anything else to be written? I was impressed that she had found cartoon by Minhinnick in the New Zealand Herald which used the Tapestry as a basis, and also included a picture of Michael Linton's steel mosaic which is in Geraldine, New Zealand.

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