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1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry

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Overview

For more than 900 years the Bayeux Tapestry has preserved one of history's greatest dramas: the Norman Conquest of England, culminating in the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Historians have held for centuries that the majestic tapestry trumpets the glory of William the Conqueror and the victorious Normans. But is this true? In 1066, a brilliant piece of historical detective work, Andrew Bridgeford reveals a very different story that reinterprets and ...

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1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry

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Overview

For more than 900 years the Bayeux Tapestry has preserved one of history's greatest dramas: the Norman Conquest of England, culminating in the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Historians have held for centuries that the majestic tapestry trumpets the glory of William the Conqueror and the victorious Normans. But is this true? In 1066, a brilliant piece of historical detective work, Andrew Bridgeford reveals a very different story that reinterprets and recasts the most decisive year in English history.

Reading the tapestry as if it were a written text, Bridgeford discovers a wealth of new information subversively and ingeniously encoded in the threads, which appears to undermine the Norman point of view while presenting a secret tale undetected for centuries-an account of the final years of Anglo-Saxon England quite different from the Norman version.

Bridgeford brings alive the turbulent 11th century in western Europe, a world of ambitious warrior bishops, court dwarfs, ruthless knights, and powerful women. 1066 offers readers a rare surprise-a book that reconsiders a long-accepted masterpiece, and sheds new light on a pivotal chapter of English history.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Definitely not the Norman version. The Battle of Hastings, in 1066, when the last Anglo Saxon king, Harold, was defeated by William the Conqueror, is one of the world's most commented-upon battles, partly because its effects (the fusion of French and Anglo-Saxon into English, for example) ramify to this day-and partly because it was illustrated by the near-contemporary Bayeux Tapestry, a masterpiece of Medieval art. What is there new to add to the library of references? Bridgeford attempts to overturn at least two old verities about the battle. According to the author, "close observation of the Bayeux Tapestry reveals that it is not a work of Norman propaganda that popular myth would have us believe, but a covert, subtle, and substantial record of the English version of events." He makes a very strong case by comparing real Norman propaganda, which is codified in William of Poitier's The Deeds of Duke William (circa 1070), with the Bayeux's scenes. Scene by scene, the Bayeux tapestry deviates significantly in its sympathetic treatment of Harold from the simple-minded vilification to which he was subjected after his death at Hastings. Bridgeford goes to less used sources, such as Eadmar's The History of Recent Events in England (circa 1090), to understand the images. If he's right, then another supposed fact about the tapestry-that it was commissioned by William's half-brother Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux-seems unlikely. Bridgeford believes, instead, that the tapestry was commissioned by William's occasional ally Count Eustace of Boulogne as a peace offering to Odo, with whom Eustace was often in violent conflict. This is solid historical detective work, enlivened with extensive speculationsabout the tapestry's mysteries (Bridgeford, for instance, has a fascinating theory about why a dwarf named Turold holds a special place in the story). On sound empirical ground, Bridgeford's work will no doubt generate much heat and some light among students of English history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802777423
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 4/4/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 354
  • Sales rank: 672,481
  • Product dimensions: 5.66 (w) x 8.17 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Bridgeford is a lawyer and historian. He lives on the Isle of Jersey in the United Kingdom.

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Table of Contents

Map of Northern France and England
Genealogical chart : England
Genealogical chart : Normandy
Genealogical chart : Charlemagne/Boulogne/Jerusalem
Genealogical chart : Ponthieu
1 In search of the Bayeux Tapestry 1
2 A tale of consequence : the impact of conquest 11
3 Sources 19
4 Stitches in time 26
5 The strange journey of Harold Godwinson 48
6 The fox and the crow 66
7 The English decision 98
8 Invasion 118
9 The Battle of Hastings 136
10 English art and embroidery 155
11 A connection with Bishop Odo of Bayeux 162
12 The Bayeux Tapestry and the Babylonian conquest of the Jews 166
13 The tanner's grandsons 173
14 The scion of Charlemagne 181
15 Count Eustace and the death of King Harold 191
16 Eustace and the attack on Dover 200
17 The downfall of Bishop Odo 209
18 Turold the dwarf 225
19 The scandal of Aelfgyva 246
20 Wadard and Vital 272
21 Bayeux Cathedral and the mystery of survival 295
22 The patronage of the Bayeux Tapestry 304
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Norman Conquest from the English view

    A most interesting read. Besides getting a good look at this tapestry, the author provides good commentary on what the tapestry shows and how this has been understood concerning the Norman conquest in 1066. Bridgeford goes to some effort to trace the history of the tapestry itself and how it has been understood with arguments concerning who various figures presented are as well as the people who may have been behind the making of this tapestry. Bridgeford also provides quite a bit of good but perhaps little known history -- and a history from the underside, that of the English. Recommended.

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