The story of the Bayeux Tapestry - from its origins and creation to its long and dramatic afterlife.
The vivid scenes on the Bayeux Tapestry depict the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, when William the Conqueror seized the English throne. One of Europe's greatest treasures, the tapestry tells a magnificent tale - but as Carola Hicks shows, its own story is just as dramatic.
From the start there are mysteries and controversies. Who commissioned the tapestry? Was it Bishop Odo, William's ruthless half-brother? Or was it King Harold's sister, Edith, widow of Edward the Confessor? Hicks makes a strong case for Edith, showing us her world and the miracle of the tapestry's making - talented women plying their needles, the stitches and dyes, the strange details in the margins. The tapestry lay in Bayeux Cathedral, dusty and ignored until its "discovery" in the eighteenth century. During the French Revolution, the townsfolk narrowly saved it from destruction, while Napoleon displayed it in Paris to boost his planned conquest. In the nineteenth-century, to the horror of male historians, women claimed it as "female" history. In the twentieth century, it was swept up in the struggle with the Nazis and since then, its iconic images have inspired films, novels and commercial advertising.
This marvelous 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.
"Hick's enchantment with the tapestry is compelling, and her style confident and writerly" -- Kate Colquhoun * Daily Telegraph * "Hicks tells her fascinating tale with the deftest of touches" -- Helen Castor * Guardian * "I was bowled over... it is a book full of page-turning vignettes" -- Simon Young * Sunday Telegraph * "A fittingly meticulous tribute to the world's fiddliest masterpiece" -- Ned Denny * Daily Mail * "Well written, well documented, quite often serious but not too grave, allergic to over -imaginative fantasy but not immune to romantic pull of those colourful worsted threads on plain linen. Carola Hicks's book weaves its own spell" -- Peter Mandler * Times Literary Supplement *