The Bayeux Tapestry and Its Contexts: A Reassessment 1843839415, 9781843839415

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The Bayeux Tapestry and Its Contexts: A Reassessment
 1843839415, 9781843839415

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THE BAYEUX TAPESTRY AND ITS CONTEXTS A REAS S E S S M E N T

E L I Z A B E T H C A R S O N PA S TA N and S T E P H E N D. W H I T E with K AT E G I L B E RT

The Bayeux Tapestry and Its Contexts

The Bayeux Tapestry and Its Contexts A Reassessment

Elizabeth Carson Pastan and Stephen D. White with Kate Gilbert

THE BOYDELL PRESS

© Elizabeth Carson Pastan and Stephen D. White 2014 All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner The right of Elizabeth Carson Pastan and Stephen D. White to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 First published 2014 The Boydell Press, Woodbridge ISBN 978 1 84383 941 5 The Boydell Press is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mount Hope Ave, Rochester, NY 14620-2731, USA website: www.boydellandbrewer.com A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. This publication is printed on acid-free paper

For John and Elizabeth Hill Carson For Morton White and In Memory of Lucia Perry White

Table of Contents List of Illustrations

ix

Preface and Acknowledgements

xvii

Abbreviations

xxi

Introduction

1

1.

The Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery: Manufacture, Display, and Literary References (Pastan)

9

2.

Is the Bayeux Embroidery a Record of Events? (White)

33

3.

Imagined Patronage (Pastan)

59

4.

The Prosopography of the Bayeux Embroidery and the Community of St Augustine’s, Canterbury (White)

82

5.

Locating Harold’s Oath and Tracing His Itinerary (White)

105

6.

Bishop Odo at the Banquet (Pastan)

126

7.

The Fables in the Borders (White)

154

8.

Representing Architecture (Pastan)

183

9.

Legal Ceremonies and the Question of Legitimacy (White)

210

10. The Fall of the English (White)

237

11. Quid faciat … Scollandus? The Abbey Church of St Augustine’s, c. 1073–1100 (Pastan)

260

Conclusion

288

Select Bibliography

293

Illustrations

331

Index

401

Illustrations Maps 1. Map of places named on the Bayeux Embroidery. 2. Map of England and Northern France. 3. Plan of Canterbury, showing St Augustine’s Abbey.

Plates

xxiv xxv xxvi

plates are placed at the end of the volume

Details of the Bayeux Embroidery – 11th century, Centre Guillaume le Conquérant, With Special Permission from the City of Bayeux, Plates I–XXII: I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X.

Bayeux Embroidery: Harold and an unidentified man meet with King Edward; styled as Duke Harold, he sets off (Det. of Fig. 1). Bayeux Embroidery: The church and a feasting hall in Bosham, with the fable of Fox and Crow in the lower border at right (Det. of Fig. 2). Bayeux Embroidery: Harold sails the sea, with the first four fables depicted in the lower border: Fox and Crow I; Wolf and Lamb; Bitch and Puppies I; and Wolf and Crane I (Det. of Fig. 2). Bayeux Embroidery: The messengers of Duke William come to Guy, and Turold holds the reins of their horses. The fable of Farmer and Birds spans the lower border (Det. of Fig. 6). Bayeux Embroidery: William’s messengers gallop past a small pavilion. A scene of bear baiting is in the lower border at lower right (Det. of Fig. 6). Bayeux Embroidery: A messenger comes to Duke William, who is seated near an impressive stone building. The fable of Stag at Spring spans the lower border (Det. of Fig. 7). Bayeux Embroidery: Duke William comes to his palace with Harold, where Harold speaks to him. The fable of Jackdaw and Peacocks is shown in the upper border above the palace (Det. of Fig. 8). Bayeux Embroidery: William and his army come to Michael’s Mount [the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel] and they cross the river Couesnon, where there is quicksand (Det. of Fig. 10). Bayeux Embroidery: William and his army come to Dol and Conan flees (Det. of Fig. 10). Bayeux Embroidery: William comes to Bayeux [Bagias]; Harold takes an oath to Duke William (Det. of Fig. 13).

x XI.

The Bayeux Tapestry and its Contexts

Bayeux Embroidery: The body of King Edward is carried to the church of St Peter [Westminster Abbey] (Det. of Fig. 15). XII. Bayeux Embroidery: Above in a two-tiered structure, King Edward, on his bed, speaks to the faithful, while below King Edward is dead; they give Harold a king’s crown (Det. of Figs 15 and 16). XIII. Bayeux Embroidery: Harold, King of the English, sits on the throne, and next to him at right is Archbishop Stigand (Det. of Fig. 16). XIV. Bayeux Embroidery: Wadard oversees the rendering up of animals for slaughter (Det. of Figs 22 and 23). XV. Bayeux Embroidery: Here they make a meal; and Bishop [Odo] blesses food and drink. William takes counsel with Odo and their brother Robert (Det. of Fig. 24). XVI. Bayeux Embroidery: William receives his charger, which is held by a groom, outside the gates of Hastings [Hestenga] (Det. of Fig. 26). XVII. Bayeux Embroidery: They come to battle against King Harold. Upper border: Widow and Soldier Lover; Young Man and Prostitute; Old Man and Donkey I; and Wolf and Lame Donkey I. Lower border: Eagle, Hare, and Dung-beetle or Eagle, Hare, and Sparrow (Det. of Figs. 26 and 27). XVIII. Bayeux Embroidery: A scout reports to Harold about the army of Duke William; Duke William delivers an allocutio (Det. of Figs 28 and 29). XIX. Bayeux Embroidery: Horsemen kill Leofwine and Gyrth, brothers of King Harold (Det. of Fig. 32). XX. Bayeux Embroidery: French and English kill and fall in battle at the same time (Det. of Fig. 33). XXI. Bayeux Embroidery: They kill those who are with Harold (Det. of Fig. 35). XXII. Bayeux Embroidery: Harold is killed (Det. of Figs 35 and 36). XXIII. Durham Cathedral: Detail of Peter the Deacon from the gold-threaded Maniple commissioned by Queen Ælflæd for Bishop Frithestan of Winchester (c. 909–16), now preserved in the cathedral treasury (Durham Cathedral). XXIV. Bernaert van Orley: Detail of “The Invasion of the French Camp and the Flight of the Women and Civilians,” from the Battle of Pavia tapestry set, c. 1531, now in Naples, Museo e Gallerie Nazionale di Capodimonte (I.G.M.N. 144486). Courtesy of the Fototeca della Soprintendenza per P.S.A.E. and the Polo Museale della Città di Napoli. XXV. Detail of Bear Baiting from the initial for St Leogardus in the Passional of St Augustine’s (London, BL, Arundel MS 91, fol. 47). © The British Library. XXVI. The Lowering of the Israelite Spies from the Walls of Jericho, from the Old English Hexateuch (London, BL, Cotton MS Claudius B. iv, fol. 141v). © The British Library. XXVII. The Calendar scene for the month of January, the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, early 15th century (Chantilly, Bibliothèque et archives du château, MS 65, fol. 1v). XXVIII. The Passion of Christ, from the Gospels of St Augustine’s (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 286, fol. 125r).

Illustrations

xi

XXIX.

Scenes from the Life of St Caesarius from the initial T from the Passional of St Augustine’s (London, BL, Arundel MS 91, fol. 188). © The British Library. XXX. Saint Alexis bestowing his sword-belt and ring on his wife, from the St Albans Psalter (Hildesheim, Dombibliothek, MS St. God. 1, fol. 57). XXXI. Thomas of Elmham, View of the choir of St Augustine’s from his Speculum Augustinianum (Cambridge, The Master and Fellows of Trinity Hall, Trinity Hall MS 1, fol. 77r), c. 1414. XXXII. Aerial view of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury from the south, showing the cloister to the north, and the exposed traces of the nave and choir, which include the surviving northwest elevation to the left (Webbaviation). XXXIII. View of the surviving eleventh-century northwestern aisle elevation of the nave of St Augustine’s with sixteenth-century brick infill, taken from the southeast (English Heritage).

Figures Figs 1–36. Details of the Bayeux Embroidery – 11th century, Centre Guillaume le Conquérant, With Special Permission from the City of Bayeux Note: The Bayeux Embroidery images are grouped into longer sequences in Figs 1–36 to allow the reader to appreciate the full unfolding of scenes in the textile: these are complemented by images (Plates I–XXII) that offer focused details of particular episodes. For a transcript of the inscriptions with English translation, see Wilson, BT, 172–3. Wilson’s plate numbers are cited below as W, followed by Arabic numerals. For ease in identifying the fables in the black-and-white figures, they are referred to according to the border segment in which they appear, numbered from left to right. Fig. 1.

Harold and an unidentified man meet with King Edward. Harold, Duke of the English, rides with his soldiers to Bosham; he and an unidentified man come to Bosham church (W1–3). Fig. 2. Harold and an unidentified man come to Bosham church. After drinking and feasting with his men, Harold embarks with them and sails out to sea (W3–5). Lower border: Fox and Crow I (3); Wolf and Lamb (4); Bitch and Puppies I (5); Wolf and Crane I (6). Fig. 3. Harold sails with his men; he comes to the land of Count Guy [Wido]. Harold disembarks. Guy captures him (W5–7). Lower border: Wolf and Crane I (1); Lion King (2); Mouse, Frog, and Kite (3); Goat Who Sang I (begins in 4). Fig. 4. Harold disembarks. Guy captures him and conducts him to Beaurain and holds him there (W6–8). Lower border: Goat Who Sang I (1); Lion’s Share (2); Old Lion (3). Fig. 5. Guy conducts Harold to Beaurain and holds him there. Harold and Guy speak together in Guy’s hall (W8–10). Fig. 6. Messengers of Duke William’s come to Guy. Turold holds the reins of their horses (W10–12). Lower border: Farmer and Birds (1).

331

332

333 334 335 336

xii Fig. 7. Fig. 8.

Fig. 9.

Fig. 10.

Fig. 11. Fig. 12. Fig. 13. Fig. 14. Fig. 15.

Fig. 16.

Fig. 17. Fig. 18. Fig. 19. Fig. 20. Fig. 21. Fig. 22. Fig. 23.

The Bayeux Tapestry and its Contexts Two of Duke William’s men escort a messenger to William. Guy conducts Harold to William (W12–15). Lower border: Stag at Spring (1, 2, 3); Man and His Daughter (4). Duke William comes to his palace with Harold, where Harold addresses him. A cleric and Ælfgyva (W15–17). Upper border: Jackdaw and Peacocks (4); Wolf and Sheep Who Kissed (5). Lower border: Axe and Trees (8); Wife, Husband, and Boy Outside (9). A cleric and Ælfgyva. Duke William and his army come to Michael’s Mount [Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel] (W17–19). Upper Border: Wolf and Sheep Who Kissed (1). Lower border: Wife, Husband, and Boy Outside (1); Fox and Crow II (4). Duke William and his army come to Michael’s Mount [Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel] and cross the river Couesnon. Duke Harold drags men from the quicksand. They come to Dol and Conan flees (W19–21). Lower border: Fox and Crow II (2). Conan flees. Duke William’s soldiers ride by Rennes and fight against the men of Dinan (W21–3). Duke William’s soldiers fight against the men of Dinan; and Conan hands over the keys to the fortress. William gives arms to Harold. William comes to Bayeux (W22–5). William comes to Bayeux. Harold takes an oath to Duke William. Duke Harold embarks (W24–7). Duke Harold returns to England and comes to King Edward (W26–8). Upper border: Wolf and Crane II (4); Fox and Crow III (5, 6). Harold comes to King Edward. The body of King Edward is carried to the church of St Peter the Apostle [Westminster Abbey]. Above: King Edward speaks to the faithful from his bed. Below: King Edward is dead (W28–30). Above: King Edward speaks to the faithful from his bed. Below: King Edward is dead. Two men give Harold a king’s crown. Harold, King of the English, sits on the throne. Archbishop Stigand stands next to him. People acclaim King Harold. People marvel at the star (W30–2). People marvel at the star. A messenger comes to Harold, who is on a throne, while the lower border shows five unmanned ships. An English ship comes to the land of Duke William (W32–4). William orders that ships be built. Men chop down trees and build ships (W34–6). Men drag ships to the sea. Men carry arms to the ships. Men haul meat, along with wine and arms (W36–9). Duke William embarks and crosses the sea with many ships (W39–42). Duke William crosses the sea and comes to Pevensey. Horses come off the ships (W41–4). Horses come off the ships. Soldiers hasten to Hastings to seize food (W43-5). Upper border: Lion, Wolf, and Fox (3, 4, 5, 6); Lion, Donkey, and Rooster (6, 7). Wadard oversees the rendering up of animals for slaughter. Meat is cooked. Servers serve. They make a meal (W45–8).

337

338

339

340 341 342 343 344

345

346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353

Illustrations Fig. 24. Meat is cooked. Servers serve. They make a meal. The bishop [Odo] blesses food and drink. William sits with [his brothers] Odo and Robert. A man orders that a fortress be built at Hastings (46–9). Fig. 25. William sits with [his brothers] Odo and Robert. A man orders that a fortress be built at Hastings. News of Harold is brought to William. A house is burned; a woman and a child leave it (W48–51). Fig. 26. Soldiers go out from Hastings (W50–3). Upper border: Widow and Soldier Lover (7); Young Man and Prostitute (10). Fig. 27. The soldiers come to battle against King Harold. Duke William asks Vital if he has seen Harold’s army (W53–5). Upper border: Old Man and Donkey I (1); Wolf and Lame Donkey I (1, 2). Lower border: Eagle, Hare, and Dung-beetle (4); Eagle, Hare, and Sparrow (4); Old Man and Donkey II (11). Fig. 28. Vital looks for Harold’s army. A scout reports to King Harold about Duke William’s army (W55–7). Lower border: Old Man and Donkey II (1); Wolf and Lame Donkey II (1, 2). Fig. 29. Duke William sends his horsemen into battle (W57–9). Lower border: Bitch and Puppies II (4). Fig. 30. Duke William’s horsemen and archers go to battle (W59–61). Upper border: Goat Who Sang II (2). Lower border: Leopard and Partridge (1); Fox and Rooster (2). Fig. 31. Duke William’s horsemen and archers attack English foot soldiers from left and right (W60–3). Fig. 32. Attacking from left and right, horsemen kill King Harold’s brothers, Leofwine and Gyrth (W63–5). Fig. 33. French horsemen and English foot soldiers kill and fall in battle at the same time (W65–7). Fig. 34. Bishop Odo, holding a staff, encourages the young men. Duke William lifts his helmet to show his face. A man holding a banner with one hand points to William with the other. French horsemen fight (W67–9). Fig 35. French horsemen, attacking from left and right, kill those who are with Harold. One horseman has dismounted to decapitate an unarmed man (W69–71). Upper border: Lion, Wolf, Fox, and Fawn (5); Lion and Fawn (5). Fig. 36. King Harold is killed; pursued by French horsemen, the English turn to flight (W71–3). Fig. 37. Opening page of the Inventory of Bayeux Cathedral, c. 1476 (Caen, Archives départementales du Calvados, série G, Bibliothèque du chapitre cathédrale de Bayeux, MS 199), fol. 77. Fig. 38. Entry for the Bayeux Embroidery from the Inventory of Bayeux Cathedral, c. 1476 (Caen, Archives départementales du Calvados, série G, Bibliothèque du chapitre cathédrale de Bayeux, MS 199), fol. 95. Fig. 39. Drawing of the Bayeux Cathedral Armoire that held relics and inventories, from Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français (Paris, 1868).

xiii

354 355 356

357 358 359 360 361 362 363

364

365 366 367 368 369

xiv

The Bayeux Tapestry and its Contexts

Fig. 40. Images after the Bayeux Embroidery found in the collection of Nicholas-Joseph Foucault, c. 1724, published by Montfaucon in Les Monumens de la Monarchie Françoise, vol. 1 (Paris, 1729). Fig. 41. Detail of the opening scene of the Bayeux Embroidery (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1) from the Foucault papers, c. 1724. Fig. 42. Detail of the scene of William’s Messengers in the Bayeux Embroidery (W12; Fig. 6) from the Foucault papers, c. 1724. Fig. 43. View of the last scenes of the Bayeux Embroidery (W72–3; Fig. 36) by Antoine Benoît, c. 1729, published by Montfaucon in Les Monumens de la Monarchie Françoise, vol. 2 (Paris, 1730). Fig. 44. Harold’s ship journeying to the Continent, detail of image after the Bayeux Embroidery (W6; Fig. 3) found in the collection of NicholasJoseph Foucault, c. 1724. Fig. 45. Debarkation of the Horses after the Norman landing in England, detail of image after the Bayeux Embroidery (W43; Fig. 22) by Antoine Benoît, c. 1729. Fig. 46. Figures 16 and 17 accompanying Francis Wormald, “Style and Design,” in Sir Frank Stenton, ed., The Bayeux Tapestry: A Comprehensive Survey (London: Phaidon Press, 1957) comparing the bird slingers in the Old English Hexateuch from St Augustine’s and the Bayeux Embroidery (W10–11; Plate IV; Fig. 6). Fig. 47. The Beheading of St Edmund, from the Miscellany on the Life of St Edmund, Bury St Edmunds, c. 1130 (New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.736, fol. 14v. Purchased by J. P. Morgan Jr. [1867–1943] in 1927). Fig. 48. Detail of scene of feasting from the computistical page of the Tiberius Psalter (London, BL, Cotton MS Tiberius C. vi, fol. 5v). © The British Library. Fig. 49. The Last Supper (Maundy Thursday) with the Indication of Judas from the Mont-Saint-Michel Sacramentary (New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.641, fol. 52v. Purchased by J. P. Morgan Jr. [1867–1943] in 1919). Fig. 50. Ivory episcopal comb with Christological imagery, including a Last Supper with the Indication of Judas at center (London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Accession no. A. 27–1977). Fig. 51. Detail of the Banquet of Potiphar and his Wife from the Old English Hexateuch (London, BL, Cotton MS Claudius B. iv, fol. 57v). © The British Library. Fig. 52. Damascus, from Hartmann Schedel, Registrum huius operis Libri cronicarum cu[m] figuris et ijmagibus ab inicio mu[n]di [known as the Nuremberg Chronicle], Nuremberg 1493, fol. XXIIIv. Fig. 53. Naples, from Hartmann Schedel, Registrum huius operis Libri cronicarum cu[m] figuris et ijmagibus ab inicio mu[n]di [known as the Nuremberg Chronicle], Nuremberg 1493, fol. XLIIr. Fig. 54. Nuremberg, from Hartmann Schedel, Registrum huius operis Libri cronicarum cu[m] figuris et ijmagibus ab inicio mu[n]di [known as the Nuremberg Chronicle], Nuremberg 1493, fols XCIXv. and C.

370 371 372 373 374 375

376

377 378

379 380 381 382 383 384

Illustrations Fig. 55. God appearing to Abraham, from the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch (BL Cotton MS Claudius B. iv, fol. 37r). © The British Library. Fig. 56. Psalm 134, from the Utrecht Psalter (Utrecht, University Library, MS 32, fol. 75v). Fig. 57. Detail of the blessed man from Psalm 1, the Utrecht Psalter (Utrecht, University Library, MS 32, fol. 1v). Fig. 58. A king making a gift to Mont-Saint-Michel with a glove, from the Cartulary of Mont-Saint-Michel (Avranches, Bibliothèque Municipal, MS 210, fol. 25v). Fig. 59. Frontispiece of King Edgar giving a book to Christ, New Minster Charter, Winchester, 966 (London, British Library, Cotton MS Vespasian A. viii, 2v). © The British Library. Fig. 60. Benefactors of Crowland Abbey making gifts with charters in the Guthlac Roll (London, British Library, Harley Roll Y.6, no. 16). © The British Library. Fig. 61. Image of Charlemagne giving banner to Roland, from Konrad of Regensberg, Rolandslied, 12th century (Heidelberg, University Library, MS. Palat. germ. 112). Fig. 62. Psalm 2 from the Harley Psalter (London, British Library MS Harley 603, Psalm 2, fol. 2r). © The British Library. Fig. 63. Normans in a Ship, from the Life of St Aubin (Paris, BN, MS Nouv. acq. lat.1390, fol. 7r). Fig. 64. The Miracle of the Sun Standing Still, from the Joshua Roll (Rome, Vatican City, the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana MS palat. gr. 431). Fig. 65. Plan of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury (Courtesy of the Journal of the British Archaeological Association, published by Tim Tatton-Brown in vol. 144 [1991]). Fig. 66. Reconstruction of St Augustine’s Abbey in the early twelfth century, shown in a view from the southeast (English Heritage: J. A. Bowen with R. Gem). Fig. 67. Reconstruction of St Augustine’s Abbey in the mid-eleventh century, showing Wulfric’s rotunda (English Heritage: W. T. Ball with R. Gem). Fig. 68. Plan of the choir of St Augustine’s, showing the location of the high altar in Thomas Elmham’s view (Courtesy of Oxford University Press, published by W. Urry in Local Maps and Plans from Medieval England, ed. R. A. Skelton and P. D. A. Harvey [1986]). Fig. 69. Plan of the choir of St Augustine’s made by W. St John Hope during excavations in 1915 before the removal of elements from Scolland’s choir and later (Courtesy of Cambridge University Press, published by William St John Hope, “Quire Screens in English Churches,” Archaeologia 68 [1917]).

xv 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397

398

399

Preface and Acknowledgements In an article entitled “Problematizing Patronage: Odo of Bayeux and the Bayeux Tapestry” published in 2009, the authors anticipated several of the main arguments of the present book by proposing that the monks of the abbey of St Augustine in Canterbury created the so-called Bayeux Tapestry for their own purposes, and without either supervision or direct support by any external patron. This hypothesis, we suggested, could offer an alternative explanation for those features of the work often cited as evidence that the monks of this abbey were commissioned to make the textile by Odo of Conteville, half-brother to William the Conqueror, Bishop of Bayeux (1049/50–1097), and Earl of Kent (1067–1082/83). At the same time, it would enable us to provide a more plausible interpretation of its complex, multi-layered pictorial narrative than the ones proposed by previous scholars, who read it as a politically partisan, yet historically reliable story of the Norman Conquest of the English from the perspective of the conquerors, the conquered, or both. Indeed, as this book will demonstrate, every feature of the textile that has been cited as evidence that Odo of Bayeux commissioned it can be better explained by accepting that it was made at the initiative of the monks of St Augustine’s to tell their own story of the conquest and to serve their own purposes, when displayed at the abbey itself. After the conquest, the members of this monastic community made strenuous efforts to promote its power and prestige, most spectacularly manifested in its 1091 translation of the early saints buried there, including the relics of St Augustine himself, whose mission of 597 was credited with bringing Christianity to the English. With their well-earned reputation for outstanding artistic achievements in the late Anglo-Saxon period and notable successes after 1066 in new artistic undertakings, the monks of this house, we argue, were fully capable of initiating, supporting, and executing a lengthy embroidered pictorial narrative. In short, by proposing that the plan to create the textile was formulated by the monks of this major Kentish abbey, we saw the possibility of answering questions about the work that have never been satisfactorily resolved. In the present book we each develop these arguments and pursue them in new directions by looking critically at the assumptions and interpretive practices that have been central to previous studies, considering the textile as a material object, and developing a new perspective on its display and audience. More specifically, we reject the notion that the hanging was commissioned by an external patron and deny that it should be “read” as a text, a legal justification for régime change in England, or a reliable historical record of events. While according particular importance to elements of the composition traditionally viewed as part of its decorative vocabulary, notably the depiction of architectural structures throughout its main frieze and the images of Aesopian fables in the borders,

xviii

The Bayeux Tapestry and its Contexts

we also propose new ways of interpreting both much-debated and lesser-known scenes throughout the pictorial narrative. Because our view of the textile is informed by the different disciplinary perspectives of the two authors, one an art historian and the other a historian, we develop our arguments in a series of individually authored chapters, each grounded on specialized research that one or the other of us has undertaken. The materials on which this research is based include the late medieval inventory containing the earliest historical documentation of the embroidery; charters and other documents from St Augustine’s and the abbey’s early twelfth-century Martyrology; illuminated manuscripts produced at the abbey’s scriptorium; ancient and medieval fable collections; reports of the excavations undertaken at the site of St Augustine’s in the early twentieth century; textual accounts of its rebuilding under Abbot Scolland in the late eleventh century; images of architectural structures, feasts, soldiers, and gift-giving and other legal ceremonies, all of which are closely compared with scenes on the textile; and late eleventh- and twelfth-century textual accounts of the conquest from England, Normandy, and elsewhere on the continent. As the titles of this book and of our initial publication on “Problematizing Patronage” acknowledge, the work under investigation is generally called the “Bayeux Tapestry.” This form of reference has merit, both because it is the traditional one and because it links the textile to its current location in the Norman town of Bayeux. Throughout this study, however, the textile will be referred to as the Bayeux Embroidery, a form of nomenclature that we favor both because it is an accurate description of the nature of the textile and because it avoids the confusion inherent in the embroidery’s mis-identification as a tapestry.1 In organizing our book we have constructed each individually authored chapter as a self-contained study. While this practice has led to the recurrence of certain examples and arguments and to longer citations in the footnotes, it allows readers to consult particular chapters of the book without needing to refer to other chapters that include related arguments, documentation, and bibliographical references. As will be immediately apparent, the Bayeux Embroidery is the subject of a voluminous literature on a wide variety of issues ranging from the condition and restoration of individual scenes to the “ideology” that the embroidery was allegedly intended to propagate. However, limitations of space require us to treat it selectively as we formulate our new approach to old questions. The book’s illustrations offer complete coverage of the textile, including several overlapping scenes that are shown in order to allow a particular episode, inscription, or image in the border to be seen in its entirety. Each image is referenced by the page number of its color image in the facsimile edition of David M. Wilson, The Bayeux Tapestry: The Complete Tapestry in Colour (London: Thames and Hudson, 1985), which we designate W1–W73. We then give the number of its color plate and/or the figure 1

An embroidered image is hand sewn on and through the fabric, not woven on a loom into a dense, continuous surface, as in the case of a tapestry. See Nicole de Reyniès, “Bayeux Tapestry, or Bayeux Embroidery? Questions of Terminology,” in Bouet, BT, 69–76; and Chapters 1 and 3 of the present volume. To be sure, the term “Bayeux Tapestry” takes no account of the book’s argument that the embroidery was made by and for the monks of St Augustine’s in Canterbury and that its association with Bayeux is largely circumstantial. However, for obvious reasons an attempt to substitute “St Augustine’s, Canterbury” for “Bayeux” in the textile’s designation would be entirely counterproductive.

Preface and Acknowledgements

xix

number in the present volume, so that the image of the opening scene from the Bayeux Embroidery, for example, is designated as: (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1). Since our project originated in the classroom, where both authors regularly used the Bayeux Embroidery as a case study in a graduate seminar on “Approaches to Medieval Studies” at Emory University, we thank, first and foremost, our students – above all, Tracey Billado, Richard Busby, Karen Bosnos Houghton, Cynthia Johnson, Ashley Laverock, Jennifer Lee, Jennifer Lyons, Kate McGrath, Jehangir Malegam, and Meghan Tierney. We are indebted to our home institution, Emory University, for providing financial support in the form of grants from the University Research Committee and the Institute for Comparative and International Studies Grant (2006), and a year-long grant in 2008 for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, for which we give special thanks to Drs Claire Sterk and David Pacini. We also express our gratitude for the award of a Fellowship for Collaborative Research in the Humanities by the American Council of Learned Societies (2009–10) and give special thanks to the ACLS Fellowship Director, Dr Nicole A. Stahlmann, and to Deans Robert Paul and Chris Levenduski for institutional encouragement and accommodation within Emory. In addition Pastan thanks the Index of Christian Art at Princeton University, and its Director, Dr Colum Hourihane, for sponsoring a conference on Medieval Patronage that allowed her to present her work; Dr Julie Deslondes and François Holvas of the Archives de Calvados in Caen for their assistance with her research on the inventory of Bayeux Cathedral housed there; Dr Philippe Rouillard of the Cabinet des estampes of the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris for help in viewing the Montfaucon materials; and Julian Harrison and the staff of the British Library, London for permission to consult the Old English Hexateuch. White acknowledges the support of the Department of Mediaeval History in the School of History at the University of St Andrews, where he did research for the book in 2008 and 2009–10; and of the Staff at the National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, where he was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2012–13. Our work on the embroidery could not have proceeded without the help of many other institutions, directors, librarians, and editors in France, England, and the United States. First among these we thank the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux at the Centre Guillaume le Conquérant in Bayeux, with particular thanks to its director, Sylvette Lemagnen, as well as to Evelyne Spahn and Brigitte LeCourt; and the Bibliothèques Municipales, Rouen. We also acknowledge the following people and institutions in England: Cressida Williams, Archivist at Canterbury Cathedral; Julian Harrison and the staff of the British Library, London; the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University; the Bodleian Library, Oxford University; and Paul Williamson at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Within the United States we acknowledge the assistance of Marie Hansen, head of Interlibrary Loan, and David Faulds and the staff of the Manuscript and Rare Book Library collection (MARBL), both at the Woodruff Library of Emory University; the J. Pierpont Morgan Library, New York; Mildred Budny of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence in Princeton, New Jersey; William North, editor of the Haskins Society Journal; and Chris Lewis and David Bates, successive editors of Anglo-Norman Studies. We also thank the organizers of the following conferences, at which we both presented work on the Bayeux Embroidery: the BT @ the BM conference on the Bayeux Tapestry

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at the British Museum (2008); the annual meeting of the Charles Homer Haskins Society (2008); the Broder et raconteur: Embroidery and Storytelling conference at the Université de Rouen (2009); the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies (2010); and the Sewanee Medieval Colloquium (2011). For other invitations to speak, Pastan extends thanks to Dr Paula Gerson and the Department of Art History at the University of Florida, Tallahasee (2012); Dr Nancy Thompson of St Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota (2010); Dr Corine Schlief, who oversaw the Art History sessions of the meeting of the Medieval Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona (2011); and Dr Janet Marquardt, who arranged sessions both at the meeting of the Medieval Academy in Chicago, Illinois (2009) and at the Middle Ages in the Modern World conference at St Andrews University, Scotland (2013). For invitations to deliver lectures on the Bayeux Embroidery in 2009, 2012, and 2013, respectively, White thanks Professor Julia H. Smith, Chair of the Department of Medieval History, Glasgow University; Drs Per Andersen, Helle Vogt, and Kirsi Salonen and Ms Helle I. M. Sigh, organizers of the Ninth Annual Carlsberg Academy Conference on Medieval Legal History, Copenhagen; and Professor Valeria Finucci, Chair of the Committee on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Duke University. Finally, we express our gratitude to the following friends and colleagues: Frances Andrews, Sylvie Balcon, Robert Bartlett, Richard Barton, Dominique Barthélemy, David Bates, Shirley Anne Brown, Caroline Walker Bynum, Madeline Caviness, Jen Cresswell, Peter Fergusson, Robin Fleming, Martin Foys, John Gillingham, Eleanor Goodman, Laura Hollengreen, Nathan Howell, Phil Huckabee, John Hudson, Alyce Jordan, Katherine Keats-Rohan, Herbert Kessler, Michael J. Lewis, Charles D. Little, Jennifer Lyons, Walter Melion, Richard Mortimer, Gale R. Owen-Crocker, David Roffe, Mary Shepard, Ellen Shortell, Charles S. Spornick, Carol Newman de Vegvar, and Ann Williams. We are especially appreciative of work by: Ashley Laverock, whose able assistance and good cheer with image permissions, scanning of copies and sundry minor emergencies were vital to this project; Belle Tuten and Julie Fann, who brought polish and professionalism to the final preparation of the text; Jody Gilbert, who provided expert assistance with the bibliography and formatting; Cath D’Alton, who produced the maps with great skill and care; and Cynthia Col, who completed the index with remarkable speed and precision. We know that the book would not have appeared as quickly or seamlessly without the help of Caroline Palmer, the Editorial Director for Medieval Studies, and of Rohais Haughton, the Visual Production Editor, our conscientious and hardworking advocates at Boydell. Lastly, the fact that Kate Gilbert appears on the title page already speaks volumes about her contributions. She has served as a valued friend, editor, and conscience for this study, and her own intellectual contributions to it were substantial. The book is better for the many kinds of assistance she offered. The authors are grateful for the assistance offered by these institutions, agencies, friends, and colleagues but fully acknowledge that none of them bears any responsibility for the errors of fact or interpretation in this book, for which the authors alone are responsible.

Abbreviations ANS

Anglo-Norman Studies: Proceedings of the Battle Conference. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1978–. Volumes cited by publication date. ASC The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition. Edited by David Dumville and Simon Keynes. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1986–2000. ASC A ASC, vol. 3, MS A. Edited by Janet M. Bately. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1986. ASC D ASC, vol. 6, MS D. Edited by G. P. Cubbin. Cambridge: D. S, Brewer, 1996. ASC E ASC, vol. 7, MS E. Edited by Susan Irvine. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2004. ASC F ASC, vol. 8, MS F. Edited by Peter S. Baker. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000. ASC Swanton The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Edited and translated by Michael Swanton. New ed. London: Phoenix Press, 2000. Barlow, Edward Barlow, Frank. Edward the Confessor. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1970. Bernstein, Mystery Bernstein, David J. The Mystery of the Bayeux Tapestry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Bouet, BT Bouet, Pierre, Brian Levy, and François Neveux, eds. The Bayeux Tapestry: Embroidering the Facts of History. Proceedings of the Cerisy Colloquium, 1999. Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 2004. Brevis Relatio The Brevis relatio de Guillelmo nobilissimo comite Normannorum. Edited and translated by Elizabeth M. C. van Houts in eadem, History and Family Traditions in England and the Continent, 1000–1200, 1–48. Variorum Collected Studies Series. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999. Brown, Bibliography Brown, Shirley Ann. The Bayeux Tapestry: History and Bibliography. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1988. Charters St A Charters of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury and Minster-in-Thanet. Edited by S. E. Kelly. Anglo-Saxon Charters 4. Oxford: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1995. DB Kent Domesday Book: Kent. Edited and translated by John Morris. Phillimore Domesday Book, vol. 1. Chichester: Phillimore Press, 1992.

xxii Dodwell, A-S Art

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Dodwell, C. R. Anglo-Saxon Art: A New Perspective. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982. Eadmer, HN Eadmer of Canterbury. Historia novorum in Anglia. In Eadmeri Historia novorum in Anglia, et opuscula duo, edited by Martin Rule. Rolls Series 81. London: Longman, 1884. Eadmer, HRE Eadmer of Canterbury. Eadmer’s History of Recent Events in England: Historia novorum in Anglia. Translated by Geoffrey Bosanquet. London: Cresset Press, 1964. Eales and Sharpe, Eales, Richard, and Richard Sharpe, eds. Canterbury and the Canterbury Norman Conquest: Churches, Saints and Scholars, 1066–1109. London: Hambledon Press, 1995. EHD, 2 Douglas, David C. and George W. Greenaway, eds. English Historical Documents, vol. 2, 1042–1189. Edited by David C. Douglas and George W. Greenaway. 2nd ed. London: Eyre Methuen, 1981. Foys, BT Foys, Martin K., Karen Eileen Overbey, and Dan Terkla, eds. The Bayeux Tapestry: New Interpretations. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2009. Freeman, NC Freeman, Edward A. The History of the Norman Conquest of England: Its Causes and its Results. Revised American Edition. 6 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press for Macmillan, New York, 1873–9. Gameson, Study Gameson, Richard, ed. The Study of the Bayeux Tapestry. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1997. Gem, St A Gem, Richard, ed. St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, English Heritage Series. London: B. T. Batsford, 1997. Goscelin, Historia Goscelin of Saint-Bertin. “Historia translationis S. Augustini.” In Acta Sanctorum, Maii vi, pp. 411–43. Edited by Daniel Papebroch. Antwerp: Michael Cnobarus, 1688. Goscelin, Miraculis Goscelin of Saint-Bertin. “De miraculis Sancti Augustini,” from Mabillon’s edition. In Acta Sanctorum, Maii vi, pp. 397–411. Edited by Daniel Papebroch. Antwerp: Michael Cnobarus, 1688. Grape, BT Grape, Wolfgang. The Bayeux Tapestry: A Monument to a Norman Triumph. Translated by David Britt. Munich: Prestel, 1994. Guy, Carmen Guy of Amiens. The “Carmen de Hastingae Proelio” of Guy, Bishop of Amiens. Edited and translated by Frank Barlow. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999. Henry, HA Henry of Huntingdon. Historia Anglorum: The History of the English People. Edited and translated by Diana Greenway. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. Hermann, Miracula Hermann of Bury St. Edmunds. “Heremanni archidiaconi ‘Miraculi Sancti Eadmundi’.” In Ungedruckte Anglo-Normannische Geschichtsquellen, edited F[elix] Liebermann, 203–81. Strasbourg: Trübner, 1879. Hervieux, Fabulistes Les fabulistes latins depuis le siècle d’Auguste jusqu’à la fin du moyen âge. Edited by Léopold Hervieux. 5 volumes. Paris: 1893–99. JW, CJW John of Worcester. The Chronicle of John of Worcester, vol. 2, The Annals from 450 to 1066. Edited by R. R. Darlington and P. McGurk, and translated by J. Bray and P. McGurk. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

Abbreviations M. Lewis, BT

xxiii

Lewis, Michael John, Gale R. Owen-Crocker, and Dan Terkla, eds. The Bayeux Tapestry. New Approaches: The Proceedings of a Conference at the British Museum. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2011. S. Lewis, Rhetoric Lewis, Suzanne. The Rhetoric of Power in the Bayeux Tapestry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Mortimer, Edward Mortimer, Richard, ed. Edward the Confessor: The Man and the Legend. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2009. Orderic, EH Orderic Vitalis. The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis. Edited and translated by Marjorie Chibnall. 6 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969–80. Orderic, GND In The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni. Edited and translated by Elisabeth M. C. van Houts. 2 vols. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992–95. Owen-Crocker, Owen-Crocker, Gale R., ed. King Harold II and the Bayeux Harold II Tapestry. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005. Pastan and White, Pastan, Elizabeth Carson, and Stephen D. White, “Problematizing “Problematizing” Patronage: Odo of Bayeux and the Bayeux Tapestry.” In The Bayeux Tapestry: New Interpretations, edited by Martin K. Foys, Eileen Overbey and Dan Terkla. (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2009), 1–24. PL Patrologia Cursus Completus, Series Latina. Edited by J.-P. Migne. 221 vols. Paris, 1844–91. Regesta Regesta regum Anglo-Normannorum: The Acta of William I (1066– 1087). Edited by David Bates. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. Stenton, BT Stenton, Frank M., ed. The Bayeux Tapestry: A Comprehensive Survey. Revised 2nd ed. London: Phaidon Press, 1965. TRHS Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. Vita Ædwardi Vita Ædwardi Regis: The Life of King Edward Who Rests at Westminster. Edited and translated by Frank Barlow. 2nd ed. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992. Wace, Rou Wace: The Roman de Rou. Translated by Glyn S. Burgess. With original text edited by A. J. Holden. Saint Helier: Société Jersiaise, 2002. Wilson, BT Wilson, David M. The Bayeux Tapestry: The Complete Tapestry in Colour. London: Thames and Hudson, 1985, and see note about references to his colorplates, W1–W73, which correspond to his Commentary, pp. 174–95. WJ, GND In The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni, 2 vols. Edited and translated by Elisabeth M. C. van Houts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992–95. WM, GR William of Malmesbury. Gesta regum Anglorum: The History of the English Kings. Edited and translated by R. A. B. Mynors and completed by R. M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom. 2 vols. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998–99. WP, GG William of Poitiers. The “Gesta Guillelmi” of William of Poitiers. Edited and translated by R. H. C. Davis and Marjorie Chibnall. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998.

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Map 1

Map of places named on the Bayeux Embroidery.

xxv

Map 2

Map of England and Northern France.

Map 3

Plan of Canterbury, showing St Augustine’s Abbey.

xxvi

Introduction Elizabeth Carson Pastan and Stephen D. White The subject of this book is the embroidered textile, 68.38 meters or a little over 224 feet in length, that has long been known as “The Bayeux Tapestry.”1 It is room-encompassing in size, implying a large number of viewers and underscoring the work’s essential public nature (Figs 1–36).2 The full extent of the hanging may also be appreciated through the statistics that have been compiled about it: the work comprises 627 human figures, 190 horses or mules, 35 dogs, 32 ships, 33 buildings, and 37 trees, all hand-stitched in colored woolen thread on a plain linen ground.3 The surface decoration of the Bayeux Embroidery is organized into slender upper and lower borders, with a larger central frieze. In height, the work ranges between 45.7 and 53.6 centimeters or 18–21 inches, a variation that reflects the process of hand embroidering which has lightly stretched its rectangular shape. This narrow field has the advantage of being about the maximum extent for embroiderers to work on comfortably.4 In addition, the ribbon-like proportions make it easier to hang a textile of this length. An inescapable left-to-right momentum is established by the 378-word Latin inscription in the central frieze, as well as by the figures whose sometimes-extravagant poses and vivid gestures keep the story moving.5 Not infrequently a figure will look in one 1

2 3

4 5

For the dimensions referred to here, see Derek Renn, “How Big is It – and Was It?” in M. Lewis, BT, 52–8 at 56–7. While the textile now ends in fragments, it is estimated to have continued for several more feet. On this point, see Martin K. Foys, “Hypertextile: Closure and the Missing End of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in idem, Virtually Anglo-Saxon: Old Media, New Media, and Early Medieval Studies in the Late Age of Print (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2007), 79–109. Grape, BT, 80. Michael John Lewis, The Archaeological Authority of the Bayeux Tapestry, BAR British Series 404 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd., 2005), xv for his statistics; and see his plates following p. 267, where he has numbered each of the elements in the embroidery – figures, buildings, ships, animals, vegetation and trees. Also see the similar statistics in George Wingfield Digby, “Technique and Production,” in Stenton, BT, 42, and in Simone Bertrand, La Tapisserie de Bayeux et la manière de vivre au onzième siècle (La Pierre-qui-Vire: Zodiaque, 1966), 32. Carola Hicks, The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece (London: Chatto & Windus, 2006), 41. On the inscriptions, see the full text and translation in Wilson, BT, 172–3; Richard Gameson, “The Origin, Art, and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 157–211 at 181–91; and Elizabeth Coatsworth, “Inscriptions on Textiles Associated with Anglo-Saxon England,” in Writing and Texts in Anglo-Saxon England, ed. A. R. Rumble (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2006), 71–95 at 91–5.

2

The Bayeux Tapestry and its Contexts

direction while pointing in the other, a posture that serves to link one episode to the next and impel the action forward (e.g. Plates II, VII, X and XII). These aspects of the embroidery’s design, as well as compositions that echo one another and make artful quotations of other works of art, suggest that the pictorial narrative was very carefully composed. Most scholars concur that the Bayeux Embroidery was made sometime in the last third of the eleventh century, whether in the months immediately after the Battle of Hastings of 1066, or in the decades following it.6 As to when work on the textile began, we concur with those who date it to William I’s reign (1066–1087); but we reject the more recent hypothesis, that it was initiated and quickly completed immediately after 1066, and the conventional one, that its dating must be somehow correlated with the imprisonment of Bishop Odo of Bayeux between 1082 and 1087.7 Instead we see the process of its creation as taking place during the abbacy of Scolland, who came to England from Mont-Saint-Michel in 1070 to become abbot of St Augustine’s and died in 1087 within a few days of William I’s death.8 While there is strong scholarly consensus on the textile’s origin at the monastery of St Augustine’s in Canterbury, a position fully endorsed and amplified in this volume, there is no contemporary documentation of the textile’s origin or any clear reference to it in the first four centuries following its creation.9 These missing centuries have given rise to various hypotheses about what happened to the embroidery during this period, but all remain conjectural.10 In its central frieze, the embroidery presents a pictorial narrative of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, which does not consistently resemble written accounts of it or follow any simple story line. Several sections of the main narrative are supplemented by images of Aesopian beast fables in the upper and lower border. An outline of the

6

7

8

9

10

On dating generally, see Brown, Bibliography, 28–31. On dating the embroidery to the reign of William I (1066–1087) by reference to the biography of the textile’s putative patron, Odo of Bayeux, see Pastan and White, “Problematizing.” According to Pierre Bouet, “Is the Bayeux Tapestry Pro-English?,” in Bouet, BT, 197–215 at 214–15, the work must be dated to 1066–68, because its “pro-English” message promoted the “policy of openness” and reconciliation that Odo’s half-brother, William I, pursued in these years but quickly abandoned. For the case that the textile should be dated to c. 1082–87, following Odo’s arrest by William, see, e.g., O. K. Werckmeister, “The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Studi Medievali, 3rd ser., 17 (1976): 535–95 at 579–89, and Shirley Ann Brown, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Why Eustace, Odo and William?,” ANS 12 (1990): 7–28. On estimates of the time it would take to make the Bayeux Embroidery, see Chapter 1. See, especially, Chapters 5 and 11. Brown, Bibliography, 1–2. On the lost centuries, following the suggestion of Henri Prentout, “Les sources de la conquête de l’Angleterre,” Bulletin annuel de la Société Jersiaise 10 (1923): 27–31 at 28, Andrew Bridgeford, in 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry (New York: Walker & Company, 2006), 301–3, suggested that the embroidery was placed in a crypt within Bayeux Cathedral that became inaccessible and was only rediscovered on 3 April 1412, when the tomb of Bishop Jean de Boissay was being dug. The fifteenth-century discovery of this hidden crypt is alluded to in Michel Béziers, Mémoires pour servir à l’état historique et géographique du diocèse de Bayeux, 3 vols (Paris: A. Picard, 1896), I: 307; Jean Vallery-Radot, La Cathédrale de Bayeux, Petites Monographies des Grands Edifices de la France (Paris: Henri Laurens, 1915), 69–70; and Jocelyn Perkins, The Cathedrals of Normandy (London: Methuen & Co., 1935), 91–2. Hicks, Masterpiece, 63–8 reviews and critiques these theories.

Introduction

3

main actions it depicts and sometimes explains briefly in cryptic Latin inscriptions runs as follows: After showing Duke Harold and another man meeting privately with King Edward, the first main section (W1–28; Figs 1–14) depicts a journey by Harold from England to the continent and back, at the beginning of which he encounters Guy, Count of Ponthieu and then meets with William, Duke of the Normans, in an unspecified palace. Harold then rides with William and the ducal army past the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel and on to Brittany, where the army fights successfully against a lord called Conan. Following Conan’s surrender, William gives arms to Harold and rides on to the fortress of Bayeux. Harold takes an oath to the duke and sails back to England, where he meets King Edward for a second time. The very brief second section of the embroidery (W29–33; Figs 15–17) consists of a puzzling series of scenes showing the death and burial of King Edward (in reverse order); King Edward lying on his bed in a chamber where figures identified as Harold, Queen Edith, Archbishop Stigand, and Robert Fitz Wimarch are also present; Harold being given a king’s crown; Harold enthroned as king of the English, with Stigand standing next to him and the people acclaiming him; the sighting of a comet; and Harold (no longer designated as rex) sitting awkwardly on a tilting throne. The third and final section of the narrative (W34–73; Figs 18–36) begins with Duke William learning of recent events in England and immediately ordering that ships be built for a sea invasion, which is then launched. The duke and his army of Frankish horsemen (Franci) and archers land at Pevensey, hold a feast where William’s half-brother Odo, the bishop of Bayeux, blesses the food and drink and then sits in council with William and a third brother, Robert of Mortain. Later, the duke’s horsemen ride out from a fortress they have built at Hastings and advance with support from William’s archers to attack King Harold II’s English footsoldiers, whom they easily overcome. They kill Harold’s brothers, Gyrth and Leofwine, early in the battle; then, with encouragement from William and his brothers, Odo and Robert, the horsemen, again supported by archers, kill members of Harold’s bodyguard and then Harold himself. Before breaking off abruptly, the hanging shows the flight of the English, pursued by William’s horsemen. In the eleven chapters that follow, five by Pastan and six by White, we arrive at new answers to old, much-debated questions about the textile, which – for reasons already noted in the Preface and fully explained in subsequent chapters – is referred to throughout the book as the Bayeux Embroidery. Who initiated the project of creating it and when? How long would such a labor-intensive endeavor have taken? Why was the medium of embroidery chosen, and what does this choice reveal about the nature of the work? Is the textile a reliable record of events leading up to the Norman invasion of England and Duke William’s victory over King Harold II at Hastings? From what perspective does it tell its story? Why does the first section of the narrative include scenes showing the southern English town of Bosham, the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, and the Breton fortresses of Dol, Rennes, and Dinan? Why does the third section include images of two obscure men called Wadard and Vital? What do elements often described as part of its decorative program, including the buildings that seem to divide different scenes in its continuous narrative, contribute to the narrative? How are the fables depicted in the borders of the first and third sections of the embroidery related to the action in the main frieze? Is the battle portrayed as the evenly fought engagement described in Norman textual accounts? Where was the embroidery intended for display

4

The Bayeux Tapestry and its Contexts

and to what kind of audience? What kind of story was it intended to tell, what intended meanings can plausibly be imputed to its creators, and how may they have been received and understood by contemporary viewers? In Chapter 1, “The Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery: Manufacture, Display and Literary References,” Pastan begins with the physical object, considering its manufacture and analyzing the results of its most recent technical examination (1982–83). She focuses on the earliest historical documentation of the embroidery at Bayeux Cathedral, an entry in the cathedral’s inventory (1476), and examines the circumstances of its modern discovery in Bayeux and its first publication by Bernard de Montfaucon in the early eighteenth century (1729). In addition, she analyzes the references to textiles traditionally compared to the embroidery, including the literary allusion by Baudri of Bourgueil to a work that resembles it in some respects (c. 1100), and the donation of a textile by the family of the warrior Byrhtnoth (d. 991) listed in the Book of Ely (Liber Eliensis) from the mid-twelfth century. The earliest documentation about the embroidery is particularly enlightening, since some of the later scholarly speculations about the “secular” contexts imagined for it actually fly in the face of this evidence. In Chapter 2, “Is the Bayeux Embroidery a Record of Events?” White reassesses the relationship between the textile’s depiction of how the conquest of the English came about and late eleventh- and early twelfth-century textual accounts of the conquest by contesting two well-established assumptions: first, that the embroidery can be read as a record of events and, indeed, as a reliable source of historical evidence about the Norman conquest of the English; and, second, that it depicts either a version of the so-called Norman Story constructed to legitimate Duke William of Normandy’s claim to be King Edward the Confessor’s legitimate successor (as traditional readings would have it), or (as revisionist interpreters have maintained) a version of this Norman Story combined with an “English Story” designed to justify King Harold II’s claim to the same status. After showing that previous scholars have been able to read the textile as an account of “events” and establish its reliability as a historical “source” only by ignoring its many gaps, silences, and ambiguities and then aligning it with whichever textual accounts they believed to be truthful, White argues that like several early twelfth-century accounts, the pictorial narrative was deliberately designed to create or reinforce doubt and uncertainty about how the conquest came about and whether either William or Harold was Edward’s legitimate successor. He concludes that in order to determine what the embroidery was intended to convey to its informed and visually sophisticated viewers in the monastic community of St Augustine’s, one should interpret it, not in the light of the Norman or English Stories, but by reference to accounts of the conquest by those early twelfthcentury monastic historians who expressed skepticism at best about the Norman Story and total disbelief in the English one. In Chapter 3, “Imagined Patronage,” Pastan analyzes the methods by which scholars have traditionally sought to understand the textile and provide a context for it. Examination of key works in the art historical literature on the Bayeux Embroidery demonstrates that while inquiry into the patronage of this textile initially may have given rise to fruitful speculations, its identification with a particular patron subsequently became a limitation to be accommodated and served to close off further inquiry. In addition, consideration of the liturgical associations of medieval embroideries and re-examination of the way in which the fifteenth-century inventory from Bayeux Cathedral refers to the hanging’s incorporation into the liturgy there suggest different models for thinking about how and

Introduction

5

why the hanging came to be. The Bayeux Embroidery is often characterized singly or in some combination of attributes as a Norman triumphal narrative, a tapestry, and a secular work. None of these is true, as this chapter demonstrates, and all of them arguably depend on assumptions that stem from a certain conception of the embroidery’s patronage. A more persuasive model for understanding the textile must first recognize the strength of the artistic traditions at St Augustine’s and then proceed by dispensing with the notion that an external patron is necessary. Pastan adopts a model of “internal patronage” to refer to the collaborative undertaking of works made by and for the monastic community. The best account of the evidence suggests that the Bayeux Embroidery was created at the initiative of the monks of St Augustine’s, Canterbury for their abbey, where its first and most competent beholders would have been the monks themselves. In Chapter 4, “The Prosopography of the Bayeux Embroidery and the Community of St Augustine’s, Canterbury,” White argues that the embroidery’s images of two obscure figures called Wadard and Vital should not be treated as evidence that Bishop Odo commissioned it and, instead, provide further support for the new hypothesis that it was created at the initiative of the monks of St Augustine’s. By showing that most of the named figures depicted on the textile, both English and Norman, were benefactors of the abbey and beneficiaries of the monks’ prayers, he concludes that it was designed to show how the abbey’s English fratres – many of whom died at the Battle of Hastings – were succeeded by Normans who became fratres of the community as well. When displayed at the abbey, the hanging would therefore have had a kind of significance that it would not have had anywhere else, as the monks of this community were obliged to remember so many of the figures depicted on it in their prayers. In Chapter 5, “Locating Harold’s Oath and Tracing His Itinerary,” White first contests the received view that the textile represents Harold as swearing his famous oath to Duke William of Normandy on the relics of Bayeux Cathedral and does so in order to glorify Odo of Bayeux. He also argues that the concentration in northeast Brittany of named places from Harold’s itinerary on the continent (See Map 1) can best be explained by the assumption that the embroidery was created at St Augustine’s during the abbacy of Scolland (1070–87), who had previously been a monk and scribe at Mont-Saint-Michel. At the same time, White argues that the textile represents the so-called Breton campaign in such a way as to show how the Norman dukes replaced the Breton counts of Rennes as this abbey’s dominant patrons, just as later scenes of the Battle of Hastings show how they succeeded the English as the patrons of St Augustine’s. In Chapter 6, “Bishop Odo at the Banquet,” Pastan argues that just as the search for textual “sources” has ultimately served to promote the idea that Odo micro-managed the embroidery’s narrative to his own benefit, so the appeal to pictorial “sources” to reveal more about how a work of art came into being has also had dubious consequences. A “motif-intensive” approach, which isolates certain scenes from the narrative, inevitably emphasizes artistic transcription over creative engagement. In analyzing the depiction of the Norman banquet presided over by Bishop Odo before the Battle of Hastings, Pastan examines the way it both echoes and contrasts with the feast of the English in Bosham, rather than using it to support a thesis of Odo’s involvement. She also draws attention to the inadequacy of the three identified iconographic “sources” for the banqueting scene to explain why the image looks the way it does and what it means in the narrative as a whole. By turning to the inscriptions, the erudite humor and punning with which the scene was conceived and its complete integration of visual materials available at St Augustine’s,

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Pastan generates a new conception of what the image may have meant in the monastic milieu where the embroidery was designed. In Chapter 7, “The Fables in the Borders,” White proposes new ways of understanding how the fables selected for depiction in the borders, including more than a dozen that have hitherto been misidentified or gone all but unnoticed, were related to the pictorial narrative in the main frieze. Challenging the idea that they were intended to reinforce either the Norman Story (which the embroidery, according to traditionalists, conveyed to Norman viewers) or the English story (which revisionists believe it carried to English viewers), he argues that when viewed at St Augustine’s by highly educated, visually sophisticated monks, the fables would have provided ironic, satirical, and sometimes bitingly humorous commentary on the story told in the main frieze and on the political world of kings, great lords, milites, and clerici in which that story was set. In Chapter 8, “Representing Architecture,” Pastan focuses on the thirty-three buildings that serve to organize and frame the pictorial narrative. The comparanda for all three traditional categories of structures – actual buildings, prior pictorial images, and fantasy architecture – highlight the way that images were creatively appropriated in the service of the story. That bell towers, gatehouses, and halls are the portions of residences most frequently shown on the Bayeux Embroidery both suggests their iconographic currency for contemporary beholders and reveals the designers’ keen eye for excerpting a significant and telling feature from each building. The built environment enhances the narrative, not just in providing suitable accommodation for the main characters, but also in offering deft editorializing about the status of the inhabitants and about the public or private nature of the conversations taking place. Moreover, the sites chosen to be named on the embroidery diverge entirely from the places named in the early Norman narratives of the conquest, thus disclosing the different frame of reference of their Canterbury designers. Finally, whereas the architecture that is regularly found through the first two-thirds of the hanging establishes a pace for the story through familiar kinds of buildings, the absence in the final third of the textile of any structures, and indeed of architectonic elements such as trees, serves to further emphasize the horror of the final battle. In Chapter 9, “Legal Ceremonies and the Question of Legitimacy,” White argues that since the embroidery represents none of the legal ceremonies that knowledgeable viewers would have expected it to show in order to demonstrate that Duke William of Normandy or Earl Harold Godwineson was King Edward’s legitimate, designated successor, it could not have been intended to convey either the Norman Story or the English Story of the conquest. Instead, by indicating that as soon as Harold was crowned, enthroned, and acclaimed as king of the English, God sent a sign (in the form of a comet) portending a change of rule in England, it implies that God judged Harold a perjurer and brought about his downfall. At the same time, the embroidery gives no hint that Duke William of Normandy had any right to the English crown when he launched his invasion of England. In this way, White identifies noteworthy analogies between the textile’s narrative of the conquest and certain early twelfth-century accounts of it. In Chapter 10, “The Fall of the English,” White radically reinterprets the embroidery’s battle sequence. While challenging the received view that it depicts an evenly fought battle whose outcome was in doubt until God finally tipped the balance in the Normans’ favor, he demonstrates that the textile depicts a terrible mismatch in which the English were doomed to defeat. In contrast to the battle described by William of Poitiers, moreover, the rout depicted on the embroidery is not a means of determining

Introduction

7

whether God supported William’s or Harold’s right to succeed Edward as king of the English, since, as Chapter 9 argues, the first half of the textile fails to show that William had any claim to the English throne or that Harold’s claim was more than tenuous. The real subject, therefore, is not the Norman conquest of England, much less the triumph of Duke William, but the fall of the English, which is the just punishment meted out to them by God as the consequence of their sins and Harold’s perjury. In Chapter 11, “Quid faciat … Scollandus? The Abbey Church of St Augustine’s, c. 1073–1100,” Pastan examines the evidence for the display of the Bayeux Embroidery at St Augustine’s. Because the church of St Augustine’s was demolished in the sixteenth century, in order to understand the physical setting one must resort to the combined evidence of the contemporaneous texts of its resident monk Goscelin of St Bertin and the Acta Lanfranci produced at Christ Church in Canterbury; a few extant remains on site (Plates XXXII and XXXIII); later medieval images such as the view of the church’s interior created by the monk Thomas of Elmham c. 1414 (Plate XXXI); indications from excavations undertaken in the modern era; and documented gifts such as the large silver cross for a choir screen given to the abbey by Archbishop Stigand. Together, these varied indications help to suggest how the abbey would have looked at the time of its creation in the late eleventh century. By the close of the eleventh century, the monks of St Augustine’s had completely rebuilt their new abbey church and translated their saints into it; had successfully negotiated at least one potentially disruptive change in abbots; and had begun new narratives in which Goscelin recuperated material from the AngloSaxon past and rewrote it into saints’ lives, miracle stories, and a translation narrative that celebrated St Augustine’s new post-Conquest undertaking. Based on this evidence, Pastan concludes that the new abbey church had both the grandeur of conception and the physical amplitude for hanging the Bayeux Embroidery. In the conclusion, Pastan and White join to summarize their reassessment of the Bayeux Embroidery. Their separate paths through its complex historiography are once again drawn together to portray their mutually forged conception of the work as a monastic pictorial narrative of the abbey of St Augustine’s in Canterbury.

Chapter 1 The Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery: Manufacture, Display, and Literary References Elizabeth Carson Pastan “The Bayeux Tapestry is in some deep sense a celebration of the textile arts.”1

Textiles are depicted throughout the Bayeux Embroidery, beginning with the very first scene (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1) and its plush hangings covering the vaulted ceiling, seat cushion decorated in a lattice-work brocade, and the king’s garment trimmed with distinctive gold-threaded embroidery. The renderings of textiles, including curtains, bed coverings, clothing, sails, and shrouds, constitute some of the most beautiful passages on the hanging. In these representations, the Bayeux Embroidery thematizes its own materiality.2 The artistry of the stitching also instills awareness that the Bayeux Embroidery is a handcrafted artifact and a physical survivor of the once-extensive medieval textile tradition.3 1 2

3

R. Howard Bloch, A Needle in the Right Hand of God: The Norman Conquest of 1066 and the Making and Meaning of the Bayeux Tapestry (New York: Random House, 2006), 81. Scholars working on medieval devotional art have drawn attention to the ways that materials contribute to religious objects. See the recent work by Caroline Walker Bynum, Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe (New York: Zone Books, 2011); eadem, “Notes from the Field: Materiality,” The Art Bulletin 95 (2013): 11–37 at 12–13; and Aden Kumler and Christopher R. Lakey, “Res et significatio: The Material Sense of Things in the Middle Ages,” Gesta 51 (2012): 1–17. On medieval textiles, with emphasis on embroideries, see Betty Kurth, Deutschen Bildteppiche des Mittelalters (Vienna: Anton Schroll & Co., 1926); A. G. I. Christie, English Medieval Embroidery: A Brief Survey of English Embroidery Dating from the Beginning of the Tenth Century Until the End of the Fourteenth (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1938); George Wingfield Digby, “Technique and Production” in Stenton, BT, 37–55; Dodwell, A-S Art, esp. 129–69; idem, The Pictorial Arts of the West, 800–1200 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993), 11–31, for a nicely integrated discussion of the literary evidence and extant examples; Elizabeth Coatsworth and Gale R. Owen-Crocker, Medieval Textiles of the British Isles, AD 450–1100: An Annotated Bibliography (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2007); and Sylvette Lemagnen, “La Tapisserie de Bayeux et sa parenté avec les tentures historiées scandinaves du Moyen Age,” in La Tapisserie de Bayeux: Une chronique des temps Vikings?, ed. Sylvette Lemagnen, Actes du colloque international de Bayeux (Bonsecours: Editions Point de Vues, 2009), 116–29. For the early medieval period, see John Osborne, “Textiles and their Painted Imitation in Early Medieval Rome,” Papers of the British School at Rome 60 (1992): 309–51, where, following Kurth, he uses notices of gifts of

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In presenting the Bayeux Embroidery as a material artifact, this chapter has three interrelated objectives. The first is to discuss the textile’s materials and manufacture, a discussion based primarily on its most recent scientific examination in 1982–83 and continuing in a more speculative vein by considering the question of how long it would have taken to make. The second is to examine the embroidery’s two earliest incontrovertible appearances in the historical record, the fifteenth-century notice of it in the inventory of Bayeux Cathedral, and the modern discovery (or rediscovery) of the hanging there in the early eighteenth century. Finally, in the absence of any surviving medieval works on the scale of the Bayeux Embroidery, textual references to textiles often discussed in relation to it, such as the ekphrastic poem of Baudri of Bourgueil (c. 1100) describing a hanging with the story of the Norman Conquest and the gift of a textile by the family of the warrior Byrhtnoth (c. 991) recorded in the mid-twelfth-century Book of Ely, carry additional weight and will be analyzed carefully. These disparate lines of inquiry – materials and manufacture, the documentation of the physical location of the hanging, and textual references – help us to think about the Bayeux Embroidery as a material entity and thus serve to defamiliarize the work frequently referred to as a “text” and as an “historical document,” while providing a stronger foundation for further inquiry.

Materials and Manufacture In order to conjure up the raw materials involved in the Bayeux Embroidery’s manufacture, Howard Bloch turned to the extended scene of plowing, scattering seed, harrowing, and shooting at birds with a sling shown in one of the many fables depicted in its lower border (W10–11; Plate IV; Fig. 6). Bloch identified the agricultural scene as the fable of “The Swallow and the Linseed,” a story told from the perspective of the swallow, who recognizes that the linseed the farmer sows will grow into flax plants that, when harvested, will be turned into man-made goods (such as linen cloth), including the nets that snare birds.4 Bloch used this scene and the later depiction of livestock (W45; Plate XIV; Figs 22–23), whose fleece was used for the colored woolen threads stitched on the linen ground, to discuss the raw materials used in making the textile.5 The results of the technical analysis and cleaning of the textile undertaken in 1982–83 extend Bloch’s invocation of the materials used in the creation of the Bayeux

4

5

textiles recorded in the Liber Pontificalis along with painted representations of textiles to get an idea of the materials, locations, and subject matter of the curtains, hangings, and altar cloths in Rome by the early ninth century. Good coverage of Eastern European examples, though with less in-depth analysis and documentation is provided in Herbert Schutz, Romanesque Art and Craftsmanship in Central Europe, 900–1300: Artistic Aspects of the Style (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011), 37–50. For the most authoritative reference on tapestries, which as our Preface articulates, need to be distinguished from embroideries, see Fabienne Joubert, La tapisserie, Typologie des Sources du Moyen Age Occidental 67 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1993). Bloch, Needle, 75–8. See Chapter 7 for an extended discussion of the fables on the embroidery, where this fable is identified as Farmer and Birds, the story of the farmer who was unable to shoot the birds that were eating the seed he sowed because the birds flew away as soon as they heard him ask the boy working with him for a “sling.” Ibid., 81.

Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery

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Embroidery.6 In the brief three-month interval when the work was taken down from display in the Hotel de Ville of Bayeux and re-installed in its current location in Bayeux’s Centre Guillaume le Conquérant, a team of French scientists and other experts examined the work.7 The analysis revealed the presence of micro-organisms, candle wax, and rust stains, as well as 680 holes or tears in the fabric and 518 cloth fragments used to repair it, all indicative of the hanging’s use over time.8 Among other findings, this study established that the textile is composed of materials consistent with medieval manufacture, including fine-bleached linen of regular weave and two-ply woolen yarn in an S-twist. Observations under a microscope and other analyses disclosed that the wool was dyed at the fleece stage, before it was spun and twisted, in ten different colors derived from plant extracts. Remarkably, the colors on the front – in vivid but earthy tones comprising two shades of red; a mustard yellow and a beige; three hues of blue, the darkest of them a navy that is almost black; and three greens – are without significant fading, although the blue tonalities have turned a greener hue on the front than they appear on the back.9 Under close inspection, modern restorations of the woolen threads stand out because of the reddish under-drawing guiding them, and the different color and composition of the threads.10 Indications that the embroidery had been washed at least twice suggest why there are no surviving traces of medieval drawing that might have guided the stitching.11 The scientific examination also uncovered new evidence about how the work was made. The “base cloth” on which the scenes are embroidered consists of nine separate lengths of linen, sewn together into a single long strip with panels of decreasing length.12 The longest of these – the second panel – is 13.90 meters (45.5 feet) in length, and the shortest and last, which ends in fragments, is 2.43 meters, or nearly eight feet. Care was 6

7

8

9

10

11 12

Isabelle Bédat and Béatrice Girault-Kurtzeman, “The Technical Study of the Bayeux Embroidery,” in Bouet, BT, 83–109, which is the most important examination of the embroidery. For very readable descriptions of the process of creating the embroidery see Simone Bertrand, “A Study of the Bayeux Tapestry” (originally published as “Étude sur la Tapisserie de Bayeux,” Annales de Normandie 10 [1960]: 197–206), rpt. and trans. in Gameson, Study, 31–8; Bloch, Needle, 75–94; Hicks, Masterpiece, 40–60; and the visualization of its creation in Jan Messent, The Bayeux Tapestry Embroiderers’ Story (Thirsk: Madeira Threads Ltd, 1999). For a discussion of Bédat’s and Girault-Kurtzeman’s findings, see Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Behind the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Foys, BT, 119–29. On the embroidery’s reinstallation, see Marie-Hélène Didier, “The Bayeux Tapestry: An Example of Textile Embroidery, A Report on the Setting up of the 1982–1983 Research Project and Scientific Analysis,” in Bouet, BT, 77–82, esp. 80–2; Hicks, Masterpiece, 298-306; and Sylvette Lemagnen, “The Hidden Face of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in M. Lewis, BT, 37–43. Bédat and Girault-Kurtzeman, “Technical Study,” 103. Ibid., 91, where they identify the colors against the Methuen Handbook shade-card and establish that the colors were obtained through three basic dyes: madder, woad, and indigotin; and Lemagnen, “Hidden Face,” 37–43 at 40. Bertrand, “Study,” at 37; also noted in Digby, “Technique and Production,” 55 n. 38a. Brigitte Oger, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Results of the Scientific Tests (1982–1983),” in Bouet, BT, 117–23 at 121 estimates the date of the modern restoration of threads to be after 1860 on the basis of the synthetic colorants used. Simone Bertrand, La Tapisserie de Bayeux et la manière de vivre au onzième siècle (La Pierrequi-Vire: Zodiaque, 1966), 38. The ninth seam was first discovered in 1982, as reported in Bédat and Girault-Kurtzeman, “Technical Study,” 84 and diagram 1, p. 86.

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The Bayeux Tapestry and its Contexts

taken – especially beyond the first, less-felicitous joint (W15; Fig. 8, at the left), where the horizontal line that defines the upper border fails to match up between the first length of linen and the next – to conceal the joints by embroidering over the seams.13 Different kinds of stitching used in the joining of the lengths of linen confirm the presence of several hands at work to coordinate the completion of the textile.14 On the back, there are passages where threads pass from the central field to the border and inscriptions, and these led the French team to conclude that “the entire embroidered strip (upper and lower borders, inscriptions, and central scenes) was embroidered in a single operation,” although their conclusion has been contested since.15 The investigators working in 1982–83 examined the additional layers of cloth that serve as backing for the embroidered base cloth, an examination that yielded information about how the textile was hung.16 The oldest of the backing layers is a numbered strip, estimated to date to the sixteenth century, which is attached to the upper part of the textile (Pl. XIX). The numbers 1–58, corresponding to the embroidered scenes, were added later in ink, but the strip’s most important role was to provide a means for hanging the embroidery.17 Paired loops of ribbon set at regular intervals provide the channel for a cord from which the embroidery could be suspended. Both torn loops and numerous added ones indicate that hanging the textile exerted strain on this means of support. A coarser linen lining was subsequently attached to the embroidered base cloth in the seventeenth

13

14 15

16

17

Ibid., 86–7, 97 and p. 90, plates 12 and 13, showing obverse and reverse. Also see the useful commentary in Messent, Embroiderers’ Story, 42–3, 62–3, 97–8, 105–6, although she was unaware of the ninth join. Bédat and Girault-Kurtzeman, “Technical Study,” 87. Ibid., 97. In a personal communication of 9 January 2014, Gale R. Owen-Crocker has indicated to me that she doubts that the borders were embroidered in a single operation with the main scenes and inscriptions. She has a doctoral student at the University of Manchester, Alexandra Lester-Makin, currently studying the problem; see discussion of Makin’s work at: http://www. medievalists.net/2012/11/15/new-research-on-how-the-bayeux-tapestry-was-made/ (accessed 15 August 2014). Images from the back of the embroidery, which is otherwise unavailable for public viewing, are now available online by searching for “verso broderie de Bayeux” at www.photo. rmn.fr (accessed 15 August 2014). As Owen-Crocker elaborated, “Thread does not regularly pass from [the border to the main figural frieze] as it does in the image where the thread embroiders an eye then goes back to the border as in [Bernstein, Mystery], p. 80, fig. 44. That is a one-off as far as I can see. [Bédat and Girault-Kurtzeman, “Technical Study,”] p. 99, Plate 23 shows one case where the text was certainly embroidered first, but I would not be certain that this was always so. Different methods may have been used for different chunks of work.” See Bédat and Girault-Kurtzeman, “Technical Study,” diagram 6, p. 102, indicating the “stratigraphy” of the various additions (numbered strip, lining, and patches) to the embroidery over time. Ibid., pp. 87–8, and diagram 3, p. 87, and pl. 9, p. 89. On this numbered strip, also see Gabriel Vial, “The Bayeux Embroidery and its Backing Strip,” in Bouet, BT, 111–16, where he analyzes the blue elements woven into the weft of the linen, and on p. 115 estimates the date of the numbered strip as “XVIth c.” Also David Hill and John McSween, “The Storage Chest and the Repairs and Changes in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in M. Lewis, BT, 44–51, esp. 48, where it is noted that if the embroidery had indeed been stored in the hand-carved cedar chest in the treasury of Bayeux Cathedral, this would explain why it is not moth-eaten. As they also observe, however, the chest would not have been large enough to contain the backing material.

Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery

13

or eighteenth century,18 with additional provisions for hanging reflected in the form of ring-shaped impressions placed at greater intervals on the cloth.19 The analysis of the Bayeux Embroidery undertaken in 1982–83 established its relatively good state of preservation for a medieval textile, and remains the basis of all subsequent discussions. In particular, the minimal fading of its colored threads points to interior usage, but not extensive exposure. The embroidery revealed evidence of collaborative work in the suturing together of the different lengths of linen, as might be expected from a textile of this length. There was also evident concern for its display, as the backing layers that were attached in the sixteenth century and later attest.

Design and Embroidering The process of making a large embroidered hanging involved multiple personnel. Almost any account of the creation of the Bayeux Embroidery would have monastic artists at St Augustine’s, who were practiced in the creation of extensive pictorial narratives, overseeing the choice and ordering of the material to be presented, preparing the visual design, or cartoon, for the narrative, and drawing up the text of its inscription. But there are undeniably gray areas in the scholarship having to do with the extent of “outsourcing” the monks may have used, particularly for the embroidering itself. Textile experts will undoubtedly continue to elucidate this process, but it is highly likely that the making of the cloth and the stitching were undertaken by female religious, coordinating closely with the monks.20 As David Herlihy has persuasively shown, the making of fabric was preeminently women’s work in the Middle Ages,21 and nuns primarily undertook the embroidering of clerical vestments.22 The establishment of a cartoon would be necessary in order to maintain consistency throughout the embroidered hanging. The subtle balance of colors and motifs across the embroidery’s long surface, the way scenes foreshadow and echo one another, and the complex adaptation of motifs from other contexts all reflect a highly developed pictorial design.23 A detailed cartoon would be especially important if, as has sometimes been 18 19

20

21

22

23

Bédat and Girault-Kurtzeman, “Technical Study,” 99 report on carbon-14 testing on the lining and the thread attaching it that points to c. 1600–1680. Ibid., 101 and pl. 24, p. 100. Discussed in Messent, Embroiderer’s Story, 7 and 81–2. While identifying those who did the embroidery is beyond the scope of this study, it is worth noting that if, as has been suggested, the embroidery work was performed at an English community of female religious, a particularly plausible candidate would be the large, affluent, and influential abbey of Barking. Situated relatively close to Canterbury, it is the only community of nuns to be listed at the end of the Martyrology of St Augustine’s as exchanging prayers with the monks of this abbey and obits for its abbesses are included in the Martyrology itself. See Chapter 4, n. 78. David Herlihy, Opera Muliebria, Women and Work in Medieval Europe, New Perspectives on European History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990), esp. Chapter 4 “Spinners, Weavers, Dyers,” 75–102. Herlihy, Opera Muliebra, 38–9, 61–6. He also notes, 64–5, that female religious were consistently prevented from undertaking commercial ventures and correlates this to fears of sexual promiscuity, but the net effect was to have the women more available for tasks, such as embroidery, that served the male houses. To this point, see Rozsika Parker, The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine (New York: Routledge, 1989), 40–59. See Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Telling a Tale: Narrative Techniques in the Bayeux Tapestry and

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argued, different lengths of linen were handed out simultaneously to different groups of embroiderers for stitching, although current work suggests that the same group worked on the entire textile.24 As one example of the kind of coordination involved, Ian Short pointed out that the breaks for the lengths of linen never disrupt words, which suggested to him that the inscription had to be carefully blocked out in advance.25 Discussing the Aesopian fable of the man with a sling scaring away birds (W10–11; Plate IV; Fig. 6) referred to above from a different perspective, Gale R. Owen-Crocker pointed out that the very similar scene of Abraham safeguarding seed in the Old English Hexateuch produced at St Augustine’s by the mid-eleventh century (Fig. 46) provides only a small portion of the elements used in the presentation of the fable on the embroidery. In order to depict the full sequence of agricultural activities – not just the protecting of seed by scaring away birds, which is what the Hexateuch’s scene of Abraham shows, but the ploughing, sowing, and harrowing also shown in the embroidery – she surmised that the monastic artists turned to scenes from Anglo-Saxon calendars depicting these labors, which correspond to the characteristic activities associated with different months.

24

25

the Old English Epic Beowulf,” in Medieval Art: Recent Perspectives, A Memorial Tribute to C. R. Dodwell, ed. eadem and Timothy Graham (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), 40–59, where she articulates the notion of internal patterning and repeating motifs. On quotations of other works of art, see Michael John Lewis, The Archaeological Authority of the Bayeux Tapestry, BAR British Series 404 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd., 2005). On the consistency of execution, see N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34 and 191–9 at 2–3; Grape, BT, 24–5; Gale. R. Owen-Crocker, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Invisible Seams and Visible Boundaries,” Anglo-Saxon England 31 (2002): 257–73 at 260–4; Messent, Embroiderers’ Story, 61 and 105; and Michael J. Lewis, The Real World of the Bayeux Tapestry (Stroud: The History Press, 2008), 178–82. While Owen-Crocker and Messent speculate that that lengths of linen along with detailed cartoons may have been simultaneously given out to different teams of embroiderers in order to complete the work quickly, Lewis, Real World, 181, noting the appearance of small motifs that would be hard to standardize, envisages a single team that gradually simplified the design in order to “save time, money or both.” Work in progress by Owen-Crocker’s doctoral student, Alexandra Lester-Makin, now indicates that “the same group of people were likely to have worked on the 70-metre-long masterpiece under the same manager or managers.” See above, n. 15. Ian Short, “The Language of the Bayeux Tapestry Inscription,” ANS 23 (2001): 267–80 at 268. In part this discussion hinges on the question of whether all the different aspects of the embroidered frieze – main field, borders, and inscriptions – were undertaken in a single operation, which is discussed above, in note 15. While Short agrees with the findings for a single operation presented by Bédat and Girault-Kurtzeman, “Technical Study,” 97 and cites the inscriptions as a case in point, other scholars argue that the inscriptions were undertaken separately: Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Brothers, Rivals and the Geometry of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 109–23 at 112, speculates that the inscriptions were created first; eadem, “Reading the Bayeux Tapestry through Canterbury Eyes,” in Anglo-Saxons: Studies Presented to Cyril Roy Hart, ed. S. Keynes and A. P. Smyth (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006), 243–65 at 264, distinguishes between the artist of the main register and the artist(s) of the borders, whom she proposes were sub-contracted; Messent, Embroiderers’ Story, 56, 103, discusses the possibility that the inscription was added later, since “no particular space was allocated to it,” and since some letters appear squashed and abbreviated. Most recently, Lemagnen, “Hidden Face,” 41 has suggested that the inscriptions were added later; and Christopher Brooke, review of Edward the Confessor, ed. Richard Mortimer in Speculum 85 (2010): 441–43 at 443 suggests a disparity between the visual designer and the author of the inscription.

Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery

15

This kind of “composite borrowing” and adaptation seems to have been the norm at St Augustine’s, as Chapter 6 will develop for a later scene, and Chapter 7 will show for the content of the fables themselves. Inferences about the Bayeux Embroidery’s production can be extended with reference to later documented examples.26 A mid-fifteenth-century set of instructions by the chronicler Pierre Desrey (c. 1450–1514) for artists executing tapestries depicting the legends of St Urban and St Cecilia for the church of Saint-Urbain in Troyes gives a good sense of the kind of visual and iconographic detail contributed by an iconographer: Item, to begin the representation … a domestic tabernacle shaped like a noble palace will be portrayed in which glorious St. Urban will be depicted, dressed as a young schoolboy, hands joined, eyes looking up to heaven, kneeling humbly before an altar.27

However, while Desrey is very specific about some details, he is vague or silent about others, and leaves a fair amount “à la discrécion du peintre.”28 An account book from the neighboring church of the Madeleine in Troyes from the years 1425–30 supplies additional practical details about the kinds of personnel involved in making tapestries of Mary Magdalene. The cleric Didier, Desrey’s equivalent in the Madeleine accounts, provided the written “istoire” of the Magdalene, and his work was complemented by the labors of several others: the painter Jacquet and Symon the illuminator, who translate the story into visual form by preparing preliminary sketches on paper and cartoons on bed sheets; the weaver Thibaut Climent, who creates the set of five tapestry panels on his loom; the seamstress Poinsète, who lines the completed tapestries with bed sheets; and the cabinet maker Jehan Odot, who installs wooden bars and iron pegs for hanging the completed panels.29 Although different materials, means of manufacture and associations are involved in making tapestries, the initial stages of the design process attested to in the Troyes documents would be similar for embroideries, as George Wingfield Digby, who first introduced the fifteenth-century documents from Troyes into the consideration of the Bayeux Embroidery, noted.30 In later medieval artistic workshops such as the ones in Troyes, information was committed to writing in order to provide documentation, navigate between different professional and social contexts, confer responsibility, and record payments. However, in earlier monastic settings, where the resident monks were capable of serving as both the authors and the artists responsible for the visual design, and where the monks’ labor was directed to the embellishment of their own devotional setting, it is not difficult to imagine that the situation would be considerably more fluid. The exegetical writings 26

27

28

29

30

The materials about the preparations for these fifteenth-century tapestries were first published by Pierre-Philippe Guignard, “Mémoires fournis aux peintres chargés d’exécuter les cartons d’une tapisserie destinée à la collégiale Saint-Urbain de Troyes, représentant les legendes de St Urbain et de Ste Cécile,” Mémoires de la Société d’agriculture, sciences et arts du departement de l’Aube 15 (1849–50): 421–534; and discussed in Wingfield Digby, “Production and Design,” 43–4. They have now been translated into English: see Tina Kane, The Troyes Mémoire: The Making of a Medieval Tapestry, with excerpts from the Account Books of the Church of Sainte-Madeleine (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2010). Kane, Troyes Mémoire, 70–1. Ibid., 33. Ibid., 177–9. Wingfield Digby, “Technique and Production,” 43.

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focused on Psalm 25[26]: 8, “Domine dilexi decorum domus tuae” (“I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house”), reflect deep-seated engagement with the question of the appropriate decoration of the church,31 and was quoted in multiple contexts by twelfthcentury Benedictine monks including Theophilus Presbyter, Abbot Suger, and William of Malmesbury.32 Within a monastic community, as Theophilus and Rupert of Deutz recognized, it was important that each member offered his God-given artistic talents in the service of the Lord.33 It follows that in such an environment, monastic artists would collaborate frequently, drawing from a common and well-established repertoire and making use of the kinds of “composite borrowings” alluded to above (Figs 6 and 46), without need for the kinds of documentation provided in the Troyes materials. Finally, there is the needlework itself, in colorful and consistent stitches. The embroidering primarily involved two types of stitches, a couched stitch used for covering large areas efficiently, and the stem stitch, which establishes the contour lines. By laying the wool yarn in closely packed parallel rows on the surface of the textile and anchoring the rows of yarn with little “couching” stitches at right angles to the main direction of the wool, the couched stitch – or couch-and-laid stitch as it is sometimes called – minimized wasted thread on the back of the textile. In contrast, there is the stem stitch, “in which the needle comes out of the cloth each time, overlapping slightly the previous stitch in order to form a straight line or a curved line … and can be observed in its simplest state in the Latin inscriptions.”34 In the Bayeux Embroidery, stem stitches were also used within contour lines – and not merely to define them – in order to convey textures such as feathers, fur, skin, and fiber.35 By means of this inventive stitchwork, as well as in their color choices, the embroiderers avoided repetitive patterns and formulae.36 We can observe how the couched work and the stem stitch are combined to render 31

32

33

34

35

36

This and all biblical citations are taken from the Douay-Rheims edition. See the foundational study by Joseph Braun, Domine dilexi decorem domus tuae Ps. 25.8: Vorlagen für Paramentenstickereien (Freiburg im Brisgau: Herder, 1904), and the useful article by Ellert Dahl, “Dilexi decorem domus Dei: Building to the Glory of God in the Middle Ages,” Acta ad archaeologiam et artium historiam pertinentia 1 (1981): 157–90. See Theophilus Presbyter, The Various Arts (De diversis artibus), ed. and trans. C. R. Dodwell (London: T. Nelson, 1961), p. 61; and John van Engen, “Theophilus Presbyter and Rupert of Deutz: Manual Arts and Benedictine Theology in the Twelfth Century,” Viator 11 (1980): 147–63 at 157, esp. n. 59 noting how different Theophilus’ emphasis on material adornment in this passage differs from spiritual interpretations of the verse. Suger’s famous anagogical passage begins with words based on this psalm, “Unde, cum ex dilectione decoris domus.” See Erwin Panofsky, Abbot Suger: On the Abbey Church of St.-Denis and its Art Treasures, second ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946; 1979), 62–3. Suger, Oeuvres, 2 vols., ed. Françoise Gasparri (Paris: Belles Lettres, 1996), 1: 134–5. On the different interpretation of this verse by the Cistercians see Conrad Rudolph, The “Things of Greater Importance”: Bernard of Clairvaux’s “Apologia” and the Medieval Attitude Toward Art (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), with new translation of Apologia 28–9, pp. 104–6, and commentary p. 331, where Rudolph refers to this passage as “the most cited justification for excessive art.” In William of Malmesbury, the phrase is uttered by Bishop Roger of Salisbury (WM, GR, v. 408.1, pp. 738–9). Van Engen, “Theophilus,” 154–5. Bloch, Needle, 91. Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Fur, Feathers, Skin, Fibre, Wood: Representational Techniques in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in eadem, The Bayeux Tapestry: Collected Papers, Variorum Collected Studies Series (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012), Chapter 3. Ibid., 5–6.

Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery

17

the impressive architectural structure shown when Duke William of Normandy is first introduced (W13; Plate VI; Fig. 7). In order to convey the colorful stonework of its façade, red stem stitches outline the courses of masonry, into which are set squares of couched work that appear ocher and dark navy. Where couched work alone might have enabled the needle worker to cover the linen surface and complete the depiction of the duke’s turreted building more quickly, the stitching here breaks up the surface in a more intricate design that highlights local texture, color, and pattern. These labor-intensive squares of couched work have the effect of enlisting the linen surface, which elsewhere provides the neutral ground for the colored stitching, to become the grout that cements the blocks of stone in the embroidered building’s surface. Further, as will be discussed in Chapter 8, the decision to frame the duke’s first appearance with a striking stone building like this is also an interesting narratological choice, and begins to suggest how difficult it is to separate out the various aspects of design, embroidering, and storytelling that contribute to the effect of the Bayeux Embroidery’s pictorial narrative. The process briefly sketched out here for designing an embroidery on this scale only begins to suggest how many different aspects of the manufacture of the Bayeux Embroidery had to be coordinated – including those which were, as seems likely, outsourced – to bring about an embroidery of this length and consistency. With a view to the probable scenarios outlined above, we may conclude that the monks of St Augustine’s designed and coordinated the manufacture of the textile, but that female religious likely made the cloth and embroidered it.

How Long did it Take? Another way of addressing the processes involved in the creation of the Bayeux Embroidery is to turn to the available evidence on the question of how much time it took to make a hanging of this scale. Arguments will be put forth based on analogy to known examples, but because there is no existing work quite like the Bayeux Embroidery, they can offer only a general guide. One estimate of the time it took to design a lengthy battle narrative may be found in the discussion of the cartoons of the later tapestry designer Bernaert van Orley (1488–1541) for the set of seven panels of the Battle of Pavia given as a gift to Emperor Charles V in March 1531.37 His work has been called “the largest exercise in verisimilitude that had ever been attempted north of the Alps,” which is an assessment that the tapestry panels amply confirm (Plate XXIV).38 Bernaert’s complex tableaux have no inscriptions, but involve portraits of the major protagonists and a compositional formula based on depicting multiple scenes of battle around one central focus.39 Although the scale of each of the sixteenth-century tapestry panels (44 × 81.8 m or 14 ft 5.5 in. × 26 ft 10 in.) greatly surpasses that of the Bayeux Embroidery, Van Orley worked within a highly subspecialized production system that in some ways compensated 37

38

39

See the entry by Iain Buchanan in Thomas J. Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence, exhib. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002), cat. no. 36, pp. 321–8. Also, idem, “The ‘Battle of Pavia’ and the Tapestry Collection of Don Carlos: New Documentation,” The Burlington Magazine 144 (2002): 345–51. Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance, 297. Ibid., 296.

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for the increase in size: he headed a sizable atelier staffed by apprentices, journeymen, and subcontractors, made skillful reuse of cartoons in his studio, and had his cartoons woven by the workshop of Willem and Jan Dermoyen in Brussels.40 Yet scholars have had no difficulty assigning large blocks of time for the production of the Battle of Pavia tapestry series, estimating at least twelve months to prepare the cartoons, and assigning another eighteen months for the weaving on a loom by a professional workshop.41 In the absence of other data about the time it took to create an embroidery, these generous estimates of the amount of time involved in the creation of the tapestries, which notably involved a year to compose the cartoons alone, must inform our estimate of the time involved in creating the Bayeux Embroidery. However, weaving on a loom, which produces the characteristic dense and continuous surfaces of tapestries, is a markedly different than embroidered images that are hand sewn.42 For an estimate of the sewing time for embroideries we must turn to other case studies. There are examples of the modern re-creation of an eighth-century gold-threaded Anglo-Saxon embroidery on the one hand, and the nineteenth-century creation of a facsimile of the Bayeux Embroidery on the other, both involving female embroiderers, that together allow us to offer a gauge of the time required for the actual stitching. Again the process of estimation by analogy is not ideal, but it is informative nonetheless. The first example is provided by Helen M. Stevens, a professional hand-embroiderer, who replicated one of the more complete elements of gold-threaded eighth-century Anglo-Saxon embroidery in Maaseik, Belgium (see the related gold-embroidered detail of a figural panel now in Durham Cathedral, Plate XXIII).43 The eighth-century sample strip she chose measures 63 × 10 cm, or a little over 2 feet in length and a bit under 4 inches wide, which is roughly the equivalent of a narrow vertical slice of the Bayeux Embroidery.44 In making her copy, Stevens began by transferring the ornamental composition to the linen at a 1:1 ratio in order to establish the scale of the design and plan for the stitching. Colors had to be worked one at a time and applied in sequence to ensure that the fabric was not pulled out of shape. Preset lengths of thread helped to reduce waste – especially important with the gold-wrapped thread that was applied last – but this also aided the consistency of tension in pulling the thread through the cloth.45 40

41

42

43

44 45

John David Farmer, “How One Workshop Worked: Bernard van Orley’s Atelier,” in A Tribute to Robert A. Koch: Studies in the Northern Renaissance (Princeton, NJ: Department of Art and Archaeology, 1994), 21–52. Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance, 297. See Fabienne Joubert, “Définition du genre et problèmes de vocabulaire,” in eadem, La tapisserie, Typologie des Sources du Moyen Age Occidental 67 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1993), 24–8; and Thomas P. Campbell, Henry VIII and the Art of Majesty: Tapestries at the Tudor Court (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007), xv–xviiii and idem, Tapestry in the Renaissance, 3–11, both illustrated with helpful images. See Helen M. Stevens, “Maaseik Reconstructed: A Practical Investigation and Interpretation of Eighth-Century Embroidery Techniques,” Textiles in Northern Archaeology: North European Symposium on Archaeological Textiles (NESAT) III, Textile Symposium in York, 6–9 May 1987, ed. P. Walton and J. P. Wild, European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles Monograph Series 3 (London: Archetype Publications, 1990), 57–60. Give or take a few inches: the Bayeux Embroidery ranges in height between 45.7 and 53.6 cm (18–21 in.), while the 63-cm length of the Maaseik example is nearly two feet. Hicks, Masterpiece, 51 notes that the couched-and-laid technique is believed to have been devised by needlewomen seeking to make the most of the expensive gold thread.

Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery

19

Stevens also discovered that in order to maintain high standards of execution, she could only undertake such close embroidery work for 4.5 to 5 hours per day.46 It took her 257 total hours, or approximately 51 days, to execute her copy of the Maaseik strip, which is the equivalent of 1/684th of the Bayeux Embroidery. Where the Maaseik re-creation differs, of course, is in the use of gold-wrapped thread, and in the fact that unlike the unadorned linen ground of the Bayeux Embroidery, the field of the Anglo-Saxon example is completely embroidered over in a dense covering of threadwork. Nonetheless the necessity of establishing a detailed cartoon, the importance of consistent working methods in the use of color and the length of thread, and the amount of time that a skilled hand-embroiderer could reasonably expect to work while maintaining quality are all helpful in thinking about why the Bayeux Embroidery looks the way it does. At this rate, a gold-threaded embroidery of its length would have taken a single hand-embroiderer some 95 years to complete. Another kind of valuation of the time involved is offered by the Leek Society, a group of nearly forty women organized by Elizabeth Wardle from the Leek School of Art-Embroidery in the spring of 1885 with the sole task of making a replica of the Bayeux Embroidery, which they unveiled on 14 June 1886.47 The eighteen months or so it took the group to complete the replica involved a different set of circumstances from those that obtained for the Bayeux Embroidery. Among other conveniences, the embroiderers had the benefit of hand-colored photographs (in which the naked figures in the lower border had been effectively neutered) from the Victoria & Albert Museum that were transposed onto the work surface for ease of reference before the work began. Wardle’s husband Thomas, a silk and textile manufacturer and expert dyer, provided all materials. Moreover, Wardle chose to dole out equal lengths of fabric to each of the ladies in the society, so the facsimile did not duplicate the unequal lengths of fabric on which the Bayeux Embroidery was originally sewn. These differences notwithstanding, the modern re-creation by the Leek Society demonstrates that it took almost two years for a relatively large community of skilled craftswomen to embroider a work intended to duplicate the Bayeux Embroidery. Since this bottom line of two years for the sewing alone does not take into account the design of the pictorial narrative and the transfer of the cartoon, let alone the preparation of the materials, it suggests that any theory that would have the Bayeux Embroidery completed within less than two years is ill-founded. Such a calculation simply would not allow sufficient time for creating the physical object, which may reasonably be set at the conservative estimate of a minimum of three to four years, allowing at least one year for the design and preparation of the materials and two for the embroidering.

The Earliest Documentation of the Textile, 1476 We turn now from the process of creating the textile to what can be established about the history of the Bayeux Embroidery’s movements over time. Here our goal is not only to establish the physical location of the medieval embroidery through the two extant 46

47

Kay Staniland, Medieval Craftsmen: Embroiderers (London: British Museum Press, 1991), 13 cites the regulations of the Paris Guild of Embroiderers of 1303 banning anyone from working by candlelight in order to maintain high standards of stitching. See discussion in Hicks, Masterpiece, 52–3. This discussion is indebted to Hicks, Masterpiece, 180–95.

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instances when it is documented, but also to ascertain what information can be gleaned about the context in which the textile was displayed. As the first universally agreed upon textual reference to the Bayeux Embroidery in the first four centuries of its existence, the Bayeux Cathedral inventory of 1476 is particularly important (Figs 37 and 38), and we will examine it in some detail.48 The introduction to the Bayeux Cathedral inventory takes pains to establish that each of the 355 objects listed in it was seen and examined by a select group of witnesses deputized for the task, which was completed over several days in the month of September 1476.49 Moreover, the inventory retains the notarized signatures of the examiners, suggesting that it is the original.50 The physical characteristics of the inventory – including the careful preparation of the vellum, the spacing of the text, and its decorative repertory, with larger titles introducing each of the six chapters and elaborated initials introducing each entry – show finesse and suggest that it was conceived with care (Fig. 37). Blank folios at the end of each section provide room for further additions and demonstrate that the inventory made provision for the future. These findings reinforce the importance of the inventory’s contents. The inventory was compiled in French with the explanation that this “vulgaire langaige” offered clearer and more familiar designations of the holdings of the cathedral than Latin.51 This may refer to earlier partial inventories made for the cathedral, including a compilation of its jewels, relics, and reliquaries from 1369 that no longer survives (described as “un aultre inventaire des joyaulx, reliques et reliquaries de l’église,” which will here be referred to for convenience as Joyaulx),52 and an inventory of its manuscripts made in 1436, which survives and is in Latin.53 Association with the objects and traditions in the Joyaulx in particular formed an important underpinning of the inventory of 1476,

48

49 50 51

52 53

Caen, Archives départementales du Calvados, série G, Bibliothèque du chapitre cathédrale de Bayeux, MS 199, published by E. Deslandes, “Le Trésor de l’église Notre-Dame de Bayeux d’après les inventaires manuscrits de 1476, 1480, et 1498 conservés à la bibliothèque du chapitre de Bayeux,” Bulletin archéologique du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques (1896): 340–450 at 360–402. MS 199 with the inventory has two forms of pagination: sixteenth-century page numbers in Roman numerals at the center of each page, and later Arabic numbers added in red ink in the upper right. The Arabic numbers are the most visible, and the inventory is pp. 77–99 according to them; but Deslandes gives the sixteenth-century pagination, in which case the inventory falls on fols 71bis–93v. Deslandes’s publication supersedes the partial publication of the inventory the previous year in Michel Béziers, Mémoires pour servir à l’état historique et géographique du diocèse de Bayeux, 3 vols. (Paris: A. Picard, 1896), II: 12–32. I am particularly grateful to Sylvette Lemagnen for her continuing aid and graciousness in facilitating study of the embroidery, and to Dr. Julie Deslondes and Jean-François Holvas at the Archives départmentales de Calvados for their assistance in examining the inventory of 1476. Deslandes, “Trésor,” 360. Ibid., 341. “Et icy est rédigé en françois et vulgaire langaige, pour plus claire et familière designation desdictz joyaulx, ornemens et aultres biens et de leurs circonstances, que elle n’eust peu estre faicte en termes de latinité.” Ibid., 360. Ibid., no. 10, p. 364. The 1436 inventory of the cathedral’s manuscripts, Nova libraria Ecclesie Baoicensis, still survives, and is bound with the inventory of 1476 (fols 71bis–93v) in Caen, Archives départementales du Calvados, série G, Bibliothèque du chapitre cathédrale de Bayeux, MS 199, at fols 34–49.

Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery

21

which insists on its continuity with the earlier partial inventory, while noting that its own references are the most complete and up-to-date.54 The importance of this now-lost Joyaulx inventory of 1369 is reflected in details about it provided in the inventory of 1476. According to entry no. 10, the Joyaulx was kept in a painted wooden “tabernacle,” an armoire that held reliquaries, and was located behind the main altar. The quasi-liturgical status of the Joyaulx is reflected in the fact that it was stored in the armoire along with the relics and a Gospel book covered in gilt silver that listed the oaths the canons and chaplains made upon being received into the church.55 The armoire, which dates to the later thirteenth century and still preserves some painted decoration depicting the translation of a saint on its left front, survives in the upper sacristy, and was among the first illustrations in Viollet-le-Duc’s Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français (Fig. 39).56 There is every reason to suppose that the inventory of 1476 was placed in the armoire and enjoyed a similar regard as the Joyaulx. The inventory of 1476 was made at the request of Louis d’Harcourt II (1424–79), the former archbishop of Narbonne, patriarch of Jerusalem, and, from 1459, bishop of Bayeux.57 Bishop d’Harcourt is also known as the prelate who in 1477 undertook the construction of the crossing tower of Bayeux Cathedral at his own expense, a cost that amounted to nearly 4093 livres.58 Louis d’Harcourt’s gifts comprise the first items catalogued in the inventory, and are emphasized throughout.59 There is considerably less information about donors earlier than the fifteenth century than there is for the donors of later gifts to the cathedral. Duke William of Normandy (c. 1028–87) is named in relation to three works: item 110, a gilded brass helmet, and items 128 and 129, the mantles the duke and duchess wore at their wedding.60 By tradition, the helmet and mantles were given to the cathedral by Duke William at the time of its dedication on 14 July 1077 and 54 55

56

57

58 59

60

Deslandes, “Trésor,” 364–5. Ibid., 364–5. Ibid., 364 n. 3 states that the large chest is 5 meters 23 centimeters across (or about 17 feet across). See discussion in E.-E. Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de l’époque Carolingienne à la Renaissance (Paris: A. Morel, 1868), 6–8. The Bayeux armoire remains poorly published and no photographs are allowed, as a precaution against theft. For one of the few published photographs, see J. W. Clark, The Care of Books, an Essay on the Development of Libraries and their Fittings, from the earliest times to the end of the Eighteenth century (Cambridge: University Press, 1901), pp. 94–5 and fig. 26, facing p. 94. François Neveux, “Les reliques de la cathédrale de Bayeux,” in Les saints dans la Normandie médiévale, ed. Pierre Bouet and François Neveux, Colloque de Cerisy-la-Salle, 26-29 September 1996 (Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 2000), 109–33 at 118, argues that this armoire was made for the upper chamber of the sacristy, where it currently resides. Deslandes, “Trésor,” 340. On Louis d’Harcourt, see George Martin, Histoire et généalogie de la Maison d’Harcourt (La Ricamarie: Imprimerie Mathias, 1994), 55–6; and the biographical notice in Béziers, Mémoires, I: 71–6. Béziers, Mémoires, I: 289, quoting a receipt with the sum of “4092 liv. 12 s. 6 den.”; Vallery-Radot, Cathédrale, 18; and Perkins, Cathedrals of Normandy, 106. For d’Harcourt’s gifts, see Deslandes, “Trésor,” 341–4, 355, and 361–2. Ibid., no. 110, p. 378, and nos. 128 and 129, pp. 380–1, respectively. See L. Le Mâle, “Extraits des Déliberations du Chapitre de Bayeux (XIVe–XVIIIe siècles),” Bulletin de la Société des antiquaires de Normandie 43 (1935): 82–239 no. 623, p. 168 for notices from 21 May and 6 June, 1588 stating that these mantles were no longer usable and would be burned in order to retrieve the gold from them.

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were symbolic of further endowments he would bestow, although none of the entries mentions this context.61 Also noteworthy is the fact that objects associated with Bishop Odo of Bayeux (c. early 1030s–1097) in other sources are not credited to him in the inventory.62 These include some of the outstanding devotional works from the cathedral: a gilt and gem-encrusted reliquary that may have taken the form of Bayeux Cathedral, which held the remains of Saints Ravennus and Rasyphus, two local fifth-century martyrs (no. 6);63 an ivory coffer with the chasuble of St Regnobert, reputed to be the second bishop of Bayeux (no. 39);64 and an immense circular candle wheel referred to as the “couronne” (no. 94) that was hung in the nave.65 The inventory of 1476 must have had the goal of taking stock of the cathedral’s holdings after over a century of turbulence. From 1346 onward, Normandy had been a central arena in the Hundred Years War.66 Partly for this reason and partly because of plague, on 27 October 1348 the chapter of Bayeux issued a decree allowing its canons to 61

62

63

64 65

66

Deslandes, “Trésor,” 378, n. 4 states that the helmet listed as no. 110 was the one that the duke placed on the altar on the day of dedication in token of further donations, but the entry itself does not make this claim. Neveux, “Les Reliques,” 115, n. 38 also attributes the gift of animal horns listed as items 111 and 112 to Duke William. On the practice in general, see Stephen D. White, Custom, Kinship, and Gifts to Saints: The “Laudatio Parentum” in Western France, 1050–1150 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 31–7, esp. n. 101, with further bibliography and examples of staffs, knives, hammers, and books that could physically represent gifts. Another gift that Duke William is documented as making at this time, witnessed by Bishop Odo, is the reseisement of the borough of Fordwich to St Augustine’s and Abbot Scolland: Regesta, no. 83, pp. 348–9. Also see R. C. Van Caenegem, Royal Writs in England from the Conquest to Glanvill: Studies in the Early History of the Common Law, Publications of the Selden Society 77 (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1959), no. 26, p. 425; reissued in 1087, no. 62, pp. 444–5; and Charters St A, cx–cxii. Discussed in Chapter 11 in relation to the building campaign of St Augustine’s. A point emphasized in Deslandes, “Trésor,” 345–6 and 351. Neveux, “Les Reliques,” 115, 126–7, 129 also attributes to Odo the gift of the relic of St-Aubert from Mont-Saint-Michel. In addition, Guibert de Nogent relays the story of Odo’s attempt to acquire relics of St-Exupèry for Bayeux Cathedral; see Guibert of Nogent, Monodies and On the Relics of Saints: The Autobiography and A Manifesto of a French Monk from the Time of the Crusades, trans. Joseph McAlhany and Jay Rubenstein (London: Penguin Books, 2011), 212–13. Deslandes, “Trésor,” 344–5 and no. 6, p. 363. See further discussion in Chapter 3. Deslandes, “Trésor,” no. 39, p. 346, and p. 369. Ibid., 351–3 with further bibliography, and no. 94, p. 375. Also see idem, Étude sur l’église de Bayeux: Antiquité de son cérémonial, Son chapitre, dispositions du choeur de la cathédrale (Caen: E. Domin, 1917), 464–75. On the ways that the different kinds of texts (inventory, ordinary, customary) produced by Bayeux Cathedral offered complementary kinds of details about the church’s holdings, see Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Item, une tente très-longue: The Inventory of Bayeux Cathedral and its Implications,” in Making Sense of the Bayeux Tapestry: Readings and Reworkings, ed. Anna Henderson and Gale R. Owen-Crocker (Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming). Marie Casset, Les évêques aux champs: Châteaux et manoirs des évêques normands au moyen âge (XIe–XVe siècles), Bibliothèque du Pôle universitaire (Pôle universitaire normand; Mont-SaintAignan: Publications des universités de Rouen et du Havre;  Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 2007), 167–205, esp. 168–9 with Bishop Nicolas du Bosc’s 1379 letter to the pope describing the siege of the town in apocalyptic terms. Also see the useful overview in Perkins, Cathedrals of Normandy, 91–133, esp. 104–6 on the Hundred Years’ War and the episcopacy of Louis d’Harcourt.

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live outside of the city for their own protection.67 Moreover, numerous Norman prelates stayed away from their churches during the English occupation so that they would not be forced to swear an oath of allegiance to the English king for their temporal benefices.68 The situation worsened in the last months of the English occupation in 1449–50, when the English captain Matthew Goth had forcibly “borrowed” over 300 livres from the chapter of Bayeux Cathedral.69 The commission by Bishop Louis d’Harcourt soon after the English occupation, its explicit references to the Joyaulx and maintaining continuity with the past, and the anticipation of future gifts provisioned for in the preparation of the manuscript, all reflect the immediate context for the fifteenth-century inventory in which the medieval embroidery is first mentioned. The reference to the Bayeux Embroidery occurs in the fifth chapter listing the 55 large textiles in the possession of the cathedral, which were kept in the vestiary. The chapter begins with item 226, two embroidered satin parements, or cloths for the front face of the altar, given by Bishop Nicolas du Bosc (1374–1408).70 It thus accords no pride of place to the Bayeux Embroidery, item no. 262, which does not appear for another 30 entries into the large textile chapter.71 In describing the textile’s length and height, subject matter and use of inscriptions, the notice makes succinct, but unmistakable reference to the medieval hanging, wholly in keeping with other descriptions in the inventory (Fig. 38, third entry from the top, where a later reader has marked a cross in the right margin).72 The unexceptional nature of its citation in the inventory of 1476 implies that the Bayeux Embroidery had been at Bayeux Cathedral for some time, a conclusion corroborated by the fact that its donor and the circumstances of its arrival are not mentioned, as was the case for more recent items. The entry for the Bayeux Embroidery concludes with an indication of capital importance in referring to the hanging’s display in the nave during the Feast of Relics (1 July).73 As has frequently been observed, the textile’s display during the early July feast would also allow it to remain up for the 14 July celebration of the dedication of the cathedral.74 The portability of the textile makes sense within this liturgical context: its relatively 67

68

69 70 71

72 73

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François Neveux, “Pour une histoire sociale du clergé dans une ville épiscopale: l’exemple de Bayeux aux XIVe et XVe siècles,” in Histoire religieuse de la Normandie (Chambray: Editions C.L.D, 1981), 89–104 at 92. However, as Neveux observed, many of the clergy discovered that they were actually better protected from the English assaults by staying within the city walls. Casset, Les évêques, 178 where she establishes that this was the case when an earlier member of the d’Harcourt family, also named Louis (1382–1422) served as archbishop of Rouen in 1409–22, but did not enter his see until 1415. For Archbishop Louis d’Harcourt, see Martin, Histoire et généalogie, 53–4. Neveux, “Histoire sociale,” 100. See Le Mâle, “Extraits des Déliberations,” no. 484, p. 152 where the notices of 15 September 1449 and 20 April 1450 record the compulsory loans to captain “Go.” Béziers, Mémoires, I: 69 for his biographical notice. Deslandes, “Trésor,” no. 262, p. 394; in MS 199 this is found on fol. 95 (Arabic), or 89 (Roman). Deslandes, “Trésor,” 394. The entry is quoted in full and discussed further in Chapter 3. Ordinaire et coutumier de l’église cathédrale de Bayeux (XIIIe siècle), ed. Ulysse Chevalier (Paris: Alphonse Picard et fils, 1902), 475–7 for the Proper of Saints of Bayeux Cathedral; and Pierre Bouet, “Bibliographie des sources relatives aux saints normands,” in Les saints dans la Normandie médiévale, ed. Pierre Bouet and François Neveux, Colloque de Cerisy-la-Salle, 26–29 September 1996 (Caen: Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2000), 305–23. Most recently, Trevor Rowley, The Man Behind the Bayeux Tapestry: Odo, William the Conqueror’s Half-Brother (Stroud: The History Press, 2013), 85.

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unadorned appearance as a work of colored embroidery on a plain linen ground makes it lighter and easier to hoist on an annual basis than a more elaborately worked textile would be. Finally, the embroidery’s relatively restricted use in the cathedral liturgy from at least the fifteenth century provides a reasonable explanation for its preservation. The Bayeux Embroidery cannot be documented any further back in time than the fifteenth century. Yet attention to what its earliest documentation tells us about the embroidery is enlightening. As established above, because the scale, materials, and portability of the Bayeux Embroidery functioned well in an ecclesiastical setting for over three centuries, a church context for its display is entirely feasible.

Modern Discovery, 1724–29 Indications of the modern history of the Bayeux Embroidery began in 1724, when the scholar Antoine Lancelot found drawings corresponding to about thirty feet, less than one-seventh of the Bayeux Embroidery (Fig. 40), in the papers of Nicolas-Joseph Foucault, an administrator in Normandy with a deep commitment to the history of the region, who died in 1721.75 Lancelot’s serendipitous discovery of drawings from the Bayeux Embroidery and the ensuing difficulties of locating the source of the drawings provide a plausible account of what happened to the medieval embroidery: it was hidden in plain sight in Bayeux Cathedral, where it was not often on display because of its role in a specific liturgical celebration. Lancelot presented the drawings from the Foucault papers to the Académie royale des inscriptions et belles-lettres in Paris in 1724 when he first found them, but he failed to locate the actual work of art to which these images corresponded.76 It is amusing to observe that, although the Foucault drawings faithfully follow the form of distinctive scenes on the embroidery (compare Plate V and Fig. 42), the stylistic rendering is so different that the time period and medium of the work of art that lay behind the Foucault drawings remained elusive. Lancelot guessed that they might correspond to a tomb relief, a fresco cycle, or stained glass, in addition to mentioning a tapestry.77 The Foucault drawings were published by the Maurist scholar Bernard de Montfaucon (1655–1741),78 in the first volume of his work on the history of the French monarchy, 75

76

77

78

Antoine Lancelot, “Explication d’un monument de Guillaume le Conquérant,” Mémoires de Littérature 6 (1729): 739–55. For further context, background and bibliography see Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Montfaucon as Reader of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Medieval Art and Architecture after the Middle Ages, ed. Janet T. Marquardt and Alyce A. Jordan (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), 89–110 and discussion in Chapter 3. Note that Lancelot’s publication of 1729 discusses only the images of the portion of the embroidery of which he was aware (up through Harold’s landing on the Continent). He expanded his analyses in his later publication, “(Suite de) l’explication d’un monument de Guillaume le Conquérant,” Mémoires de Littérature 8 (1733): 602–68, by which time Montfaucon had become a source for him. See further discussion in Brown, Bibliography, 3–8; and Francis Haskell, History and its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 137–42. Lancelot, “Explication,” 739. On Montfaucon, see Louis Bréhier, “Bernard de Montfaucon,” The Catholic Encyclopedia 10 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911), online at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10539b.htm (accessed 8 January 2013); André Rostand, “La documentation iconographique des Monumens de la Monarchie françoise de Bernard de Montfaucon,” Bulletin de la société de l’histoire de l’art français (1932): 104–49; James Westfall Thompson, “The Age of Mabillon and Montfaucon,” The American Historical Review 47 (1942): 237–340; and Haskell, History and its Images, 131–63.

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Les Monumens de la Monarchie françoise, qui comprennent l’Histoire de France (1729).79 Montfaucon was subsequently able to track down the actual textile that lay behind the incomplete drawings through his Benedictine colleagues in Normandy.80 He then sent an artist who worked for him, Antoine Benoît, to copy the rest of the medieval embroidery for reproduction in the second volume of his Monumens de la Monarchie françoise (1730).81 Montfaucon charged Benoît with recording the style of the medieval work in Bayeux Cathedral faithfully, however “vulgar and barbarous” it might appear (Fig. 43).82 Even in scenes with similar compositions, the disparity between the classicizing style of drawings from the first part of the textile in Foucault’s files and the “vulgar” copy of the rest of the embroidery made by Benoît is such that one would not suspect that they were made after the very same work of art (Figs 44 and 45). The modern discovery of the Bayeux Embroidery also yielded additional information about the textile’s condition and context. Both the Foucault and Benoît drawings of the embroidery plainly show that the ends of the embroidery – which would be the areas most exposed when the hanging was folded or rolled up when not on display – were already in poor condition when Montfaucon published them in 1729–30. In the drawing of the opening scene from Foucault’s files (Fig. 41), even the classicizing language with its tendency towards idealization cannot conceal the fact that the vertical border that forms the left edge of the textile is joined to the rest of the decoration awkwardly; the depiction of the lower left corner is particularly ambiguous. Moreover, disruption is signaled to the right of the word “Rex” in the inscription by the strange appearance of the tower near it and by a diagonal mending seam that corresponds to the illegible letters in the rest of the inscription. Further evidence of mishap is the fact that only the hindquarters of a horse in the next scene are shown. More recent analysis of the back of the embroidery, where less effort was expended to conceal restorations or additions, has confirmed the mediocre state of preservation of the first scene, particularly the borders and left vertical edge, and shows that the Foucault drawing recorded the opening episodes at a time when a portion of the second scene of the textile had been folded over and tacked down to conceal a large tear in the fabric (see Plate I).83 79

80

81

82

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Les Monumens de la Monarchie françoise, qui comprennent l’Histoire de France: avec les figures de chaque regne, que l’injure des tems a épargnées, 5 vols (Paris: Julien-Michel Gandouin and PierreFrançois Giffart, 1729–1733). Besides the volumes themselves, available at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris and elsewhere, scholars now have several resources for the consultation of Montfaucon. The Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris (INHA) has made available a complete electronic version on its website. I thank Robert Maxwell and Karine Boulanger for their gracious assistance in accessing this resource. In addition, images are available in Martin K. Foys, The Bayeux Tapestry: Digital Edition (Leicester: Scholarly Digital Editions, 2003), under “Facsimiles: Montfaucon.” Georges Huard, “Quelques Lettres de bénédictins normands à Dom Bernard de Montfaucon pour la documentation des Monumens de la Monarchie françoise,” Société des antiquaires de Normandie 28 (1913): 343–75, esp. 359–61 with the text of Father Mathurin Larcher, the prior of Saint-Vigor of Bayeux, stating that he had personally seen the medieval textile hung in the nave of Bayeux Cathedral “from the feast of Saint John the Baptist through the end of July.” Montfaucon, Monumens, 2: 1–32 with images interspersed. Ibid., 2:2. For useful background on the context of Montfaucon’s decision to record the appearance of the embroidery as he found it, see Peter Burke, “Images as Evidence in Seventeenth-Century Europe,” Journal of the History of Ideas 64 (2003): 273–96. Lemagnen, “Hidden Face,” p. 39, fig. 14 confirms that, among other minor alterations, the left

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Yet the two opening scenes appear positively cohesive in comparison to Benoît’s drawing of the end of the textile (Fig. 43), which shows that the narrative cuts off abruptly in the middle of the action. There is no defined outer edge to the textile, which implies that it was once longer than its current dimensions.84 Rectangular patches or gaps of varying dimensions in the lower border attest to the tattered condition of this last section of fabric (W72–3; Fig. 36). In particular, the penultimate scene of the English fleeing the Battle of Hastings is in a very poor state of preservation. Of the central group of five horsemen who gallop to the right in pursuit of the English, Benoît rendered three faintly, as well as most of the pictorial elements continuing rightwards to the end of the textile, signaling their poor condition. Benoît did not even show the inscription, “et fuga verterunt Angli” (“and the English have turned to flight”), which a later beholder, Charles Stothard would subsequently record, and this must have been because of its compromised state.85 Stothard, who painstakingly prepared a handmade facsimile nearly a century later in 1816–18, made a practice of indicating needle holes where he claimed he could still observe remnants of colored wool.86 The condition of the fabric has led some to imagine that episodes were added to the beginning, or that the embroidery was never completed.87 However, these kinds of speculations are unnecessary, given that there is a reasonable practical explanation for the condition of the opening and closing scenes in the greater exposure the ends of a long textile would naturally receive, as documented by the images that Montfaucon reproduced in 1729 and 1730, at the time of the work’s modern discovery (Figs 41 and 43). The English antiquarian Andrew Ducarel, who visited Bayeux only a few decades after Benoît in 1752, provided further details about the textile.88 Initially, the clerics whom

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85 86 87

88

vertical edge, lower border, and left half of the inscription with “Edward” all contain significant restoration. Hill and McSween, “Storage Chest,” 49, fig. 31 document the three earliest pictorial records of the beginning scenes by Montfaucon, Stothard, and Dosseter, showing that Montfaucon reproduced the opening scenes when the fabric was folded over. The condition of the first scenes was remarked on by Charles Stothard, “Some Observations on the Bayeux Tapestry,” (1821) rpt. in Gameson, Study, 1–6 at 1–2. Martin K. Foys, “Hypertextile: Closure and the Missing End of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Virtually Anglo-Saxon: Old Media, New Media, and Early Medieval Studies in the Late Age of Print (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007), 79–109 at 92. Hill and McSween, “Storage Chest,” 48 note that the lettering was “dotted in” by Stothard, suggesting that the current inscription may follow earlier indications. On his practice of recording the traces of the holes where the embroidery needle passed through in order to “restore” the original design, see Stothard, “Some Observations,” 1. See the recent proposal of seven additional scenes from William’s “fraught youth” added to the beginning of the textile in Derek Renn, “How Big is It – and Was It?” in M. Lewis, BT, 52–8 at 56–7. Similar concerns were also expressed in Bertrand, “Study,” 38. While the beginning of the embroidery is poorly preserved, the fact that most textual narrative accounts begin a new narrative unit with Harold’s journey suggests that this would be both a logical and familiar place to begin. See for example, William of Jumièges’s account in WJ, GND, 68–9. In addition, Owen-Crocker, “Brothers, Rivals,” 118, n. 46 remarks that the identification of Harold by full title (as “Dux Anglorum”) in the second scene of the embroidery suggests that he has only recently been introduced. Andrew Coltee Ducarel, Anglo-Norman Antiquities Considered, in a Tour through Part of Normandy, by Doctor Ducarel (London: T. Spilsbury, 1767), 79–80 and Appendix I (by Smart Lethieullier), 1–28. Available through the Eighteenth Century Collections online. Discussed in Brown, Bibliography, 8, 48; and Hicks, Masterpiece, 85–6.

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Ducarel consulted at Bayeux Cathedral failed to recognize the hanging with the story of the Norman Conquest of England that he described. It was only when he referred to its annual display in connection with the Feast of St John (24 June), which had been mentioned in the correspondence directing Montfaucon to the cathedral, that the hanging was produced, “locked up in a strong wainscot press” in the chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket in the south transept of the cathedral.89 Ducarel’s eyewitness testimony thus enables us to envision how and where the embroidery was stored in the cathedral in the mid-eighteenth century, a location that may have helped it to escape notice and thus avoid the damage inflicted on other treasury items. In addition, Ducarel provides evidence for the embroidery’s continued incorporation into the liturgy, since his allusion to the Feast of St John is what prompted the clergy he consulted to recognize it.90 The textile was subsequently removed from the cathedral in 1794 when members of the Fine Arts Commission, which had been set up to protect artistic treasures in the wake of the French Revolution, took possession of the textile in the cathedral sacristy.91 Beginning in 1804, the embroidery found a more permanent installation in the Hôtel de Ville, where visitors learned to ask for the textile by the name “Toile St-Jean,” a reference to its previous liturgical display within the cathedral, even though the embroidery did not return to Bayeux Cathedral, and indeed the municipality turned down a request made by the cathedral chapter in 1816 for its return.92 Since 6 February 1983, the Bayeux Embroidery has been displayed in an environmentally controlled, secure, and shatterproof unit in the Centre Guillaume le Conquérant, a seventeenth-century seminary in Bayeux, which was adapted to house the textile and accommodate visitors.93 In summary, the physical documentation of the textile comprising the reference to it in the Bayeux Cathedral inventory of 1476 and its rediscovery by Montfaucon there in 1729 demonstrate the continuity of its liturgical display going back to the late Middle Ages. For nearly three centuries and possibly longer, the hanging functioned smoothly in an ecclesiastical setting, thus demonstrating the feasibility of its use in a church. This is not an argument for the textile’s original placement in Bayeux Cathedral, which few scholars now advocate, but rather an attempt to glean more information about the textile from this overlooked evidence.94 Inquiry into the period before this date requires a shift 89

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See Béziers, Mémoires, II: 3–11 where the chapel of St-Thomas is among the list of 32 chapels listed “d’un vieil mémoire.” The Feast of St John is given in the Proper of Bayeux Cathedral, in Ordinaire et Coutumier, ed. Chevalier, 476. Simone Bertrand, “The History of the Tapestry,” in Stenton, BT, 88–97 at 93–4 refers to another kind of evidence, Herbert Jankuhn’s observation of vertical marks on the fabric that corresponded exactly to the 6-meter spacing of the piers of the nave. On Jankuhn’s investigations, which were part of the Nazis’ Ahnenerbe research project into the textile, now see Shirley Ann Brown, “Decoding Operation Matilda: The Nazis and German Pan-Nationalism,” in M. Lewis, BT, 17–25. For the later history of the textile, see Bertrand, “History of the Tapestry”; Brown, Bibiliography, 8–22, and Hicks, Masterpiece. Bertrand, “History of the Tapestry,” 93–4. On the embroidery’s reinstallation, see Marie-Hélène Didier, “The Bayeux Tapestry: An Example of Textile Embroidery, A Report on the Setting up of the 1982–1983 Research Project and Scientific Analysis,” in Bouet, BT, 77–82, esp. 80–2; Hicks, Masterpiece, 298–306; and Lemagnen, “Hidden Face.” See Chapter 3 for a consideration of the evidence suggesting that it was not made to hang in Bayeux Cathedral.

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from this comparatively specific documentation to the more elusive evidence offered by literary allusions and references to related textiles.

Literary Allusions: Baudri of Bourgueil and Byrhtnoth Given the substantial losses of early medieval art – particularly textiles – in England, C. R. Dodwell undertook an investigation of Anglo-Saxon art from a literary perspective, adroitly pulling together the sometimes “spasmodic” references to works of art that attest to cultural tastes and prejudices.95 The range of literary references to textiles surveyed by Dodwell has the effect of naturalizing the Bayeux Embroidery within English tastes and artistic output. As Dodwell has emphasized, writers of backgrounds and interests as diverse as William of Poitiers, Goscelin of Saint-Bertin, and Eadmer of Canterbury all praised English women for their skill in gold embroidery.96 The active role Edward the Confessor’s wife Queen Edith (c. 1024–75) is said to have taken in making, overseeing, and giving textiles is widely attested, suggesting that whether or not she actually ever took up a needle herself, the tradition of needlework as a worthy and appropriate endeavor for aristocratic women in Anglo-Saxon England, in and out of the convent, was well established.97 Dodwell’s literary analyses complement the fragmentary archeological evidence for Anglo-Saxon textiles, which was compiled by Elizabeth Coatsworth and Gale R. Owen-Crocker.98 Scholars have also sought other means for contextualizing the Bayeux Embroidery. Maren Clegg Hyer adopted the strategy of observing how frequently surviving Anglo-Saxon embroideries, including very narrow gold-embroidered strips from the borders of garments of the kind shown on the king’s garment in the first scene of the embroidery (Plate I), as well as those portrayed in literature and inventories, appear to have been recycled, suggesting their high cultural value.99 David Park noted intriguing associations between the Bayeux Embroidery and English wall paintings.100 Francis Wormald made comparisons to the far better preserved English manuscript illuminations of the eleventh century, a foundational study that is still the basis for attributing the embroidery to Canterbury manufacture, as will be discussed further in Chapter 3.101 Dodwell, A-S Art, esp. 57, 70–2, 129–69, 183. Ibid., 45 and 183. 97 Ibid., 70, 182. Also see Richard Gameson, The Role of Art in the Late Anglo-Saxon Church (Oxford, 1995), 252–3; and Hicks, Masterpiece, 22–39, arguing for Queen Edith’s patronage of the Bayeux Embroidery, and eadem, “The Patronage of Queen Edith,” in M. Lewis, Bayeux Tapestry, 5–9. 98 Coatsworth and Owen-Crocker, Medieval Textiles. Also see the discussion in Mildred Budny, “The Anglo-Saxon Embroideries at Maaseik: Their Historical and Art-Historical Context,” in Academiae Analecta, ed. Bernard Huys, Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België 45, no. 2 (Brussels: AWLSK, 1984): 55–133, esp. 58–70; and eadem and Dominic Tweddle, “The Maaseik Embroideries,” Anglo-Saxon England 13 (1984): 65–96. 99 Maren Clegg Hyer, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Imagined and Reimagined Textiles in AngloSaxon England,” Medieval Clothing and Textiles 8 (2011): 49–62. 100 David Park, “The ‘Lewes Group’ of Wall Paintings in Sussex,” ANS 6 (1984): 200–37. Dodwell, Pictorial Arts, 233–6 observed that the frescoes in the barrel vault of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, which are shown as narrow friezes, resemble the Bayeux Embroidery. 101 Francis Wormald, “Style and Design,” in Stenton, BT, 25–36. 95

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Richard Gameson has argued that the Bayeux Embroidery’s ambitious pictorial narrative is paralleled only in manuscripts produced at St Augustine’s in Canterbury.102 If there is thus a well-founded consensus that the Bayeux Embroidery’s creation was overseen at the abbey of St Augustine’s in Canterbury, less clear – other than the standard suppositions of gift or theft – is how and when the textile arrived on the continent.103 In c. 1100, Baudri of Bourgueil wrote verses about a textile that resembles the Bayeux Embroidery in his poem dedicated to Adela, Countess of Blois (d. 1147) and the daughter of William the Conqueror. His poem has been construed as evidence that the Bayeux Embroidery must have arrived on the continent by the early twelfth century, in order it to be available for his close consultation.104 Because of its potential significance for understanding more about the Bayeux Embroidery, it is important to examine Baudri’s verses in detail. The poem is cast as a remembered vision, with emphasis on Baudri’s own agency in recollecting the imagery in the countess’s bedchamber. This is a literary strategy that frequently blurs the line between fiction and reality, as encapsulated in one of Baudri’s concluding verses where he slyly states, “I have painted in verse a beautiful chamber for you” (v. 1344).105 Artifacts such as the other items described in Adela’s imagined chamber are known to have existed elsewhere: the mosaic floor with a medieval map of the world, a ceiling painted with the zodiac and constellations, carved ivory bedposts with allegories of philosophy and the seven liberal arts, and other textiles with stories from the Old Testament and Greek mythology.106 Baudri implies that his descriptions are based on real things when he engages in a kind of mock protest about the trustworthiness of his verses: “Baudri has merely adjusted the beauties and splendours … all that he’s written is right” (vv. 571–72).107 Richard Gameson, “Origin, Art, and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 157–211 at 165–6. 103 See Dodwell, A-S Art, 216–34 for a useful overview of relocations of art in his chapter entitled “Anglo-Saxon Art and the Norman Conquest.” 104 On Baudri of Bourgueil, see Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400–1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 213–20, with further bibliography; and Gerald S. Bond, The Loving Subject: Desire, Eloquence and Power in Romanesque France (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), 42–69. For the poem, see the Latin edition, Baldricus Burgulianus, Carmina, ed. Karlheinz Hilbert (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1979); the partial translation relating to the tapestry by Michael W. Herren in Brown, Bibliography, Appendix III, pp. 167–77; and the complete translation by Monika Otter, “Baudri of Bourgueil, ‘To Countess Adela,’” Journal of Medieval Latin 11 (2001): 60–141. On the poem’s relation to the Bayeux Embroidery, see Werckmeister, “Political Ideology,” 554–63, and Shirley Ann Brown and Michael W. Herren, “The Adelae Comitissae of Baudri of Bourgueil and the Bayeux Tapestry,” (1994), rpt. in Gameson, Study, 139–55. 105 Otter, “Baudri,” 98. 106 Carruthers, Craft of Memory, 214; also Brown and Herren, “Adelae Comitissae,” 154. The dense and comprehensive nature of this imagery supports Mary Carruthers’s conclusion, 213, that Baudri’s work was “a picturing poem closely associated with monastic orthopraxis.” For one of the few extant medieval embroideries that contains a number of the iconographic elements mentioned by Baudri, see Barbara Baert, “New Observations on the Genesis of Girona (1050–1100): The Iconography of the Legend of the True Cross,” Gesta 38 (1999): 115–27, and Pedro de Palol, El tapís de la creació de la catedral de Girona (Barcelona: Edicions Proa, 1986). 107 Otter, “Baudri,” 80. 102

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Turning to other verses within the poem, one can see why it is always discussed in relation to the Bayeux Embroidery. Baudri describes a textile with “new and true stories” of the Norman Conquest accompanied by inscriptions (vv. 233–34 and 565–66), including the portentous appearance of Halley’s Comet (vv. 243 and 554), the building of the Norman fleet for the invasion of England (vv. 335–52), the horses stowed on the Norman ships (v. 354), the attack on the English shield-wall (v. 403), the burning of houses by the Normans (v. 536) and the death of Harold (v. 463).108 However, there are also significant differences between Baudri’s literary evocation and the actual hanging. Since it is contained within Adela’s bedchamber (v. 208), the velum Baudri evokes must be comparatively small.109 He portrays it as a hanging resplendent in gold, silver, and silk threads (vv. 211–14) and adorned with gems and pearls (vv. 229–30), characteristics that patently do not fit the Bayeux Embroidery.110 While thus not literally describing the Bayeux Embroidery, Baudri’s poem gains interest from mirroring a recognizable kind of artistic endeavor. Weighing the evidence carefully, Shirley Ann Brown and Michael Herren have noted a certain disciplinary myopia regarding the poem. Literary scholars who focus on the poem’s ironic technique regard Baudri’s assertions with skepticism, while art historians are more likely to mine it for evidence about the Bayeux Embroidery.111 Brown and Herren offered a middle ground by positing that by the early twelfth century, Baudri must have encountered the Bayeux Embroidery in close proximity in order to make use of it, albeit in poetic fashion, and they note that Bourgueil is not far from Bayeux.112 Whether or not their hypothesis of the textile’s early relocation to the continent is accepted, their careful study is helpful for thinking about the poem. But ultimately, Baudri’s allusions to a somewhat similar hanging in a poem for the Conqueror’s daughter are not conclusive. Among other difficulties with their hypothesis is the fact Bayeux Embroidery was not the only pictorial narrative of the Norman Conquest.113 See Brown and Herren, “Adelae Comitissae,” 143–50 for a comprehensive account of similarities between Baudri’s poem and the embroidery. On the death of Harold now see Martin K. Foys, “Pulling the Arrow Out: The Legend of Harold’s Death and the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Foys, BT, 158–75. 109 Brown and Herren, “Adelae Comitissae,” 142. 110 Ibid., 151. 111 Ibid., 141–2. 112 Ibid., 152–4. See Grape, BT, 44–54, 61, and the critique of his argument in Gameson, “Origin,” in Gameson, Study, 162–74. Also George Beech, Was the Bayeux Tapestry Made in France? The Case for Saint-Florent de Saumur (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 3–4, 89–90, 96, 102; and Shirley Ann Brown’s review in H-France Review 6 (2006), No. 142: 1–6. 113 In the inventory of the dukes of Burgundy compiled in 1420, there is an entry for a tapestry portraying the conquest, described as having been made “without gold.” See Francisque Michel,  Recherches sur le commerce, la fabrication et l’usage des étoffes de soie, d’or et d’argent, et autres tissues précieux en Occident, principalement en France, pendant le moyen âge, 2 vols (Paris: Impr. de Crapelet, 1852–54), II: 77, referring to “Ung grant tapiz de hault lice, sans or, de l’istoire du duc Guillaume de Normandie, comment il conquist engleterre.” The reference is frequently cited and has sometimes even been identified with the Bayeux Embroidery, but as the textile is not only described as a “tapiz” but also mentioned in connection with the haute lisse loom first mentioned in the fourteenth century, it cannot be the embroidery. Whereas Wingfield Digby, “Technique and Production,” 38, sets aside the reference on these grounds, Hicks, Masterpiece, 66, argues that it is a reference to the embroidery itself. For tapestry terminology including “haute lisse,” 108

Material Context of the Bayeux Embroidery

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Another textual allusion often cited as evidence that there was a well-established tradition of celebrating recent battles in textiles is the work associated with Byrhtnoth, the alderman of Essex and hero of the Battle of Maldon (991).114 Byrhtnoth, whose deeds were the subject of a contemporaneous Anglo-Saxon poem, was slain fighting against the Danes in a brave if foolhardy stand at the Battle of Maldon.115 His followers fled the field, leaving his corpse in the hands of the Danes, who decapitated it. The monks of the monastery of Ely, where Byrhtnoth was already an established benefactor, retrieved his body and gave it an honorable burial.116 Byrhtnoth’s burial in the abbey church of Ely was part of an anticipated bequest documented in Ely’s cartulary, the Liber Eliensis of c. 1154–77.117 Subsequently, his widow Ælfflæd donated a textile and other gifts in her husband’s honor to the monastery. Mildred Budny pointed out that the ready adoption of the Byrhtnoth example as a precursor of the Bayeux Embroidery has led to the temptation to read more into the later Book of Ely’s reference than the evidence will yield.118 As Budny argues, the wording of Ælfflæd’s bequest, “cortinam gestis viri sui intertextam atque depictam” (“a hanging embroidered [or woven] and figured [or painted or embroidered] with the deeds of her husband”), does not allow for any firm conclusions about the materials of the textile she gave (assuming that the terms were even used consistently), the date of manufacture relative to the date of the gift, the content of its imagery, or who made the work. The circumstances of donation may suggest that the textile was already in existence when Ælfflæd gave it in her husband’s honor, in which case it could not have depicted the battle where he died, and thus would not provide a precedent for the commemoration

114

115 116

117

118

see Joubert, Tapisserie, 24–5, with further bibliography. For evidence of cartoons corresponding to tapestries at the Burgundian court, see Anne Hagopian Van Buren, “The Model Roll of the Golden Fleece,” The Art Bulletin 6 (1979): 359–76 at 365–7. See Liber Eliensis, ed. E. O. Blake, Camden 3rd Series 92 (London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1962), no. 63, p. 136; and Liber Eliensis: A History of the Isle of Ely, trans. Janet Fairweather (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005), 163. Among the many works discussing the Byrhtnoth example, see Freeman, NC, vol. 1, 179–87; Dorothy Whitelock, ed. and trans., AngloSaxon Wills, Cambridge Studies in England Legal History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930), no. 15, pp. 38–42, and notes pp. 141–6; and Dodwell, A-S Art, 134–6. Hans Erik Andersen, The Battle of Maldon: The Meaning, Dating and Historicity of an Old English Poem (Copenhagen: Department of English, University of Copenhagen, 1991). See the reference in Blake, Liber Eliensis, no. 62, pp. 133–6 at p. 136; in Fairweather, History of Ely, 160–3 at 162–3; in Ælfflæd’s will of c. 1002 in Whitelock, Anglo-Saxon Wills, no. 15 at 40–1, and p. 144, note to line 6; Freeman, NC, vol. 1, 183–6. The arrangement for burial, along with further gifts of estates, silver, two gold crosses, glove, and two borders of his cloak, woven with gold and gems, are discussed in Blake, Liber Eliensis, II, no. 62, p. 135, and Fairweather, History of Ely, 162. Blake, Liber Eliensis, xlvi–xlix dates Book II, in which the Byrhtnoth entries of the Liber Eliensis are found, to “after 1154”; Fairweather, History of Ely, xxii–xxiii suggests “by 1173–77.” The donation by Byrthtnoth is discussed by Hyer, “Reduce,” 51–2. Mildred Budny, “The Byrhtnoth Tapestry or Embroidery,” in The Battle of Maldon, AD 991, ed. Donald Scragg (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), 263–78 at 264. The example is frequently alluded to; see for example: Stenton, BT, 29, 44, 48; Lucien Musset, The Bayeux Tapestry, trans. Richard Rex (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005), 19; Wilson, BT, 201, 203; Gameson, “Origin,” 163–4, 174; and Lewis, Real World, 12.

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of a recent battle.119 In addition, Byrhtnoth’s widow Ælfflæd may have made the hanging herself as is sometimes implied,120 or she may have simply given it.121 The case of the textile associated with Byrhtnoth and its donation to the church at Ely by his widow raises another issue worthy of consideration, and that is the false dichotomy set up when works of medieval art for which we do not have sufficient context are labeled “secular,” a term often used in the description of both the Byrhtnoth hanging and the Bayeux Embroidery.122 Clearly, the Byrhtnoth textile was part of a complex and socially significant process of exchange that reinforced ties between the family and the monastic community.123 This exchange involved on the one hand, gifts from Byrhtnoth’s family that included estates, money, and jewelry as well as the textile on which we have focused, and on the other, hospitality, burial, prayers, and commemoration from the monastery of Ely. Would the textile at the center of such an exchange be appropriately designated as sacred or secular, or is the point not that it honored the relationship established between the two realms? Likewise the Bayeux Embroidery cannot have been regarded as having a straightforward “secular” history when it was hung in Bayeux Cathedral during the Feast of Relics, if indeed it ever was regarded in this light. The attempt to force parallels between the Bayeux Embroidery and the Byrhtnoth donation demonstrates the futility of trying to distinguish between the perception of sacred and secular in the Middle Ages. The evidence reviewed in this chapter has allowed us to think about the Bayeux Embroidery in concrete physical terms. By outlining the stages involved in the embroidery’s manufacture, it is easier to appreciate the time and artistry involved in its creation, a complex and collaborative process that required at least three years and probably longer to complete. Its earliest secure historical reference, found in the 1476 Bayeux Cathedral inventory, not only places the Bayeux Embroidery in an ecclesiastical setting, but also establishes the hanging’s full incorporation into the liturgy – a practice still in use at the time of its modern rediscovery there in 1729 and observed as late as 1752.

119

120 121

122 123

Whitelock, Anglo-Saxon Wills, 144, note to line 11; Dodwell, A-S Art, 135–6. Freeman, NC, vol. 1, 186. Dodwell, A-S Art, 70–2 notes that since medieval patrons are often portrayed as “making” a work of art, it is possible that Anglo-Saxon noblewomen primarily supervised others. Gameson, “Origin,” 174. In some cases it is possible to follow the process of donation to churches further, as when a work from one context is made to function anew in the sacred sphere. See Philippe Buc, “Conversion of Objects: Suger of Saint-Denis and Meinwerk of Paderborn,” Viator 28 (1997): 99–143; and George T. Beech, “The Eleanor of Aquitaine Vase, William IX of Aquitaine, and Muslim Spain,” Gesta 32 (1993): 3–10. Such was also the case with the cloak that King Edgar gave to Ely, which was then used as a chasuble; see Blake, Liber Eliensis, II, no. 50, p. 117; Fairweather, History of Ely, 140–1; discussed in Budny, “Byrhtnoth,” 273.

Chapter 2 Is the Bayeux Embroidery a Record of Events? Stephen D. White

The Bayeux Embroidery as a Historical “Source” The Bayeux Embroidery is an important subject of inquiry in the field of art history as a rare and unusually large surviving example of a medieval tradition of embroidered pictorial narratives.1 Scholarship on the embroidery, however, has long been dominated by political historians using its pictorial narrative, along with textual narratives supposedly resembling it, as a record of historical events and even as a reliable source of evidence about how the Norman conquest of England came about.2 By aligning selected scenes on it with decontextualized passages from the written sources they trust and ignoring many other scenes in the main frieze, most of the border imagery, and numerous alternative textual accounts, historians of national politics have constructed in several different ways what is known in this genre of scholarship as the “the chain of events” that supposedly led to Duke William of Normandy’s invasion of England and his victory in the Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066) over the army of King Harold II, who was killed in the battle. By doing so, these historians have also resolved, at least to their own satisfaction, the centuries-old controversy about who was the legitimate successor of King Edward (later known as the Confessor), who died on 5 January 1066. Was it the dead king’s brotherin-law, Earl Harold Godwineson, who took the throne the next day and became king of the English? Or was it Duke William of Normandy – the late King Edward’s mother’s brother’s son’s bastard son – who invaded in late September of 1066 and, after defeating Harold II’s army at Hastings, was crowned and consecrated in London as king of the English on Christmas Day, 1066? Instead of trying to solve what appears to be an insoluble problem by seeking to establish the true story of how the conquest came about, modern historians have always had the option of acknowledging, as William of Malmesbury did in the early twelfth century, that “the truth of the facts is in suspense and uncertain” and that in all probability, neither William I nor Harold II had much of a claim to be King Edward’s legitimate 1

2

See Chapter 1. For indispensable bibliography on the embroidery, see Brown, Bibliography; eadem, “The Bayeux Tapestry; A Critical Analysis of Publications, 1988–1999,” in Bouet, BT, 27–47.

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successor.3 Had modern historians adopted this view of the conquest and the succession crisis that somehow led to it, writers on the embroidery could have directly addressed such questions as how the embroidery told its story and what pictorial strategies it used to do so, how that story compares with others presented in written form, what purposes it served by doing so, who its intended viewers were, and what meanings these viewers could have found in it. Instead, by pursuing their overriding objective of reading the pictorial narrative as a source of information about historical events, they have interpreted it in such different ways as to reveal how much their own readings depend on the particular assumptions they have made about when, where, and why it was made and at whose initiative; about where it was intended for display; and to what kind of audience. Just as important in determining these scholars’ readings have been their own presuppositions about which written narratives are essentially truthful and which ones the embroidery most closely resembles, and their underlying belief that it can be read as though it were a documentary record of events. When one views the embroidery’s narrative on its own terms, to the extent that any such viewing is possible, its failures to present a causally connected and clearly motivated narrative of historical events are so numerous and so glaring as to undermine the claims often made for it as a reliable source for determining how the Norman Conquest came about or who was King Edward’s legitimate successor. Although the first main section (W1–28; Figs 1–14) depicts a journey by Harold from England to the Continent and back that historians generally date to 1065, the journey’s intended destination and purpose are unclear, as is the significance of the three scenes showing Harold together with Duke William (W17, 24, 26; Figs 8, 12, 13; see also Plates VII, X) and his three meetings with King Edward (W1, 28, 30; Figs 1, 14, 15; see also Plates I, XII).4 In the opening scene, Harold, along with another man, meets privately with the king (Plate I) and then rides with his milites to Bosham, where he, along with another man, enters a church and then feasts with his men before setting out to sea with them for an undesignated destination (W1–4; Figs 1–2; see also Plates I, II, III). After sailing across the sea, Harold and his men disembark in the land of a lord called Guy (W7: “Wido”; Fig. 3), who immediately has them captured and taken to Beaurain. There, Guy speaks commandingly if not threateningly to Harold (W5–10; Figs 3–5); but after prolonged negotiations involving two messengers of Duke William of Normandy’s, Guy releases Harold to the duke (W11–15; Figs 6–7). William brings Harold to an unidentified palace, where Harold petitions an enthroned William for an unspecified purpose (W16–17; Figs 7–8). After depicting a very courtly cleric reaching out for reasons unknown to touch the face of a woman called “Ælfgyva” who has never been convincingly identified (W17: “Ubi unus clericus et Ælfgyva”;5 Figs 8, 9), the embroidery shows William and his army riding off and arriving at the monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel (Plate VIII) and then crossing the river Couesnon into Britanny, 3

4 5

WM, GR, vol. 1, 354–5. On this author’s views about the origins of the conquest of England and the respective claims of William I and Harold II to be King Edward’s legitimate successor, see below and Chapters 9 and 10. Stephen Baxter, “Edward the Confessor and the Succession Question,” in Mortimer, Edward, 77–118 at 77, concurs with William of Malmesbury’s assessment of the impossibility of determining “the truth with any confidence.” For the places named in inscriptions to this part of the pictorial narrative, see Map 1. A noteworthy feature of the embroidery’s inscriptions is the variety of verb tenses used, sometimes, as here, within a single sentence and occasionally (as in “Willelm venit Bagias,” W25) to ambiguous effect.

A Record of Events?

35

where Harold is seen dragging two of William’s men from the quicksand (W18–20; Figs 9–10). After William’s men come to Dol, from which a lord called Conan is seen fleeing (W20–1; Plate IX; Figs 10, 11), they ride past the fortress of Rennes (W22: “Rednes”; Fig. 12) to fight against the men of Dinan, the keys to whose fortress Conan surrenders to an unidentified miles, whom modern commentators sometimes take for William (W22–4; Figs 11–12). After William gives arms to Harold and then comes to the fortress of Bayeux, back in Normandy (W25: “Bagias”; Figs 12–13), Harold takes an oath to him on two large reliquaries before witnesses (W24–6; Figs 12–13; see also Plate X); he then sails back to England (W26–7), and meets with Edward once again on a subject unknown, this time in a spacious public hall (W26–8; Figs 13–14). At this point, the upper border presents the last in a series of images of Aesopian fables to be shown in the first part of the embroidery (W27–8; Fig. 14). First appearing in the lower border as the main frieze depicts Harold and his men embarking from Bosham (W4), the fable-images continue to appear with few interruptions in the lower border, until the central zone shows Harold being released to William (W4–8, 10–14; Figs 2–4, 6–7). They are then shown in the upper and lower borders while Harold and William meet in the latter’s palace (W17–18; Figs 8–9). Although the embroidery never specifies the relationship of the fables to the narrative in the main frieze, some of the fable-images are so neatly co-ordinated with certain scenes that viewers seem to be encouraged to seek such relationships. Although the second main section of the embroidery (W29–32; Figs 15–17) represents what may be considered to be several identifiable historical events, notably King Edward’s death (W30; Plate XII; Fig. 16), his burial at the church of St Peter the Apostle (W29–30: “Ecclesiam Sancti Petri Apostoli”; Fig. 15; see also Plate XI) – later known as Westminster Abbey – and Harold’s accession to the throne as king of the English (W31–2; Plate XIII; Fig. 16), it is not much more committal than the first section in explaining the true meaning of several pivotal scenes. These include one in which a man assumed to be Harold is shown with King Edward as the dying king speaks eloquently from his bed to unidentified fideles, one with two unidentified men who give Harold a royal crown after Edward’s death, and one with Archbishop Stigand, who stands next to the figure of Harold crowned, enthroned, and being acclaimed by the people (W30–2; Fig. 16; see also Plates XII, XIII). In the next scene, the people marvel at a star with a fiery tail, which moves toward Harold – who is still crowned, but is no longer identified as “king” in the accompanying inscription. Harold does not rest squarely on his tottering throne but tilts on it with his neck twisted around, while five unmanned ships are shown in the border below him (W32–3; Fig. 17). Next, while the upper border shows an image of a kneeling figure, an English ship sails to “the land of Duke William” (W33–4; Fig. 17). Since, from here on, the embroidery is largely devoted to depicting such straightforward actions as building ships, sailing, riding, plundering, feasting, burning, fortress-building, fighting, and killing, and not human interactions involving wordless speech and ambiguous gestures, it is much easier to read as presenting a causally interconnected sequence of events than is the first half. The third main section shows the preparations for the invasion of England and the attack on the English (W34–73; Figs 17–36). It begins as William receives a message from the man who came to him on the English ship and then orders that ships be built for the sea-invasion presaged by the five unmanned ships already mentioned (W34–5; Figs 17–18). The next scenes show the Normans cutting down trees, building ships and dragging them to the sea, and provisioning them with arms and wine (W36–9; Figs 18–20). In the following scenes William boards ship and the great

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fleet crosses the sea and comes to Pevensey (W40–3; Figs 20–2). There, horses come off the ships and horsemen ride off to Hastings to seize food (W42–5; Fig. 22). Here the upper border shows images evoking two different fables about the lion king hunting (W43–4; Fig. 22).6 Under the oversight of a miles called “Wadard,” animals are rendered up to be cooked and served (W45–7; Fig. 23) at a feast where William’s half-brother Odo, the bishop of Bayeux, blesses the food and drink and then sits in council with William and a third brother, Robert (W48; Plate XIV; Fig. 24). An order is given to build a “castellum” at Hastings (W49: “Iste iussit ut foderetur castellum at Hestengaceastra”; Fig. 25); and after news is brought to William about Harold, a house is burned by the duke’s men; and the soldiers leave Hastings and go to battle against King Harold (W50–4; Figs 25–7). After Duke William asks a soldier called Vital whether he has seen Harold’s army, a messenger tells King Harold about Duke William’s army (W54–6; Figs 27–8). Next, Duke William exhorts his soldiers to prepare themselves for battle against the English army (W57–61; Figs 28–30). From the point where the duke delivers an allocutio to his soldiers until they attack the English army, additional fable-images appear intermittently in the borders (W52–60; Figs 28–31).7 Soon after the last of these fable-images is represented in the lower border, the battle sequence begins and takes up the remainder of the embroidery in its surviving form (W60–73; Figs 30–6) William’s horsemen and archers advance against English footsoldiers and attack them from the left. Next, other horsemen of the duke’s attack a second group of English footsoldiers from the right (W61–2; Fig. 31). Meanwhile, the lower border begins to fill up with dead bodies of English footsoldiers. Next, William’s horsemen close in on Harold’s brothers, Gyrth and Leofwine, from both sides and kill them (W63–4: “Hic ceciderunt Lewine et Gyrth fratres Haroldi regis”; Plate XIX; Fig. 32). There follows a scene of slaughter with an ambiguous inscription that (because of the double meaning of “ceciderunt” and the placement of “simul”) could be read as “Here the English together with the Franks at the same time fell and killed in battle” (W65–6: “Hic ceciderunt simul Angli et Franci in prelio”; Plate XX; Fig. 33).8 Next, while Frankish horsemen ride from the right to attack the English, Bishop Odo, riding left and holding a staff, encourages the lads (W67: “pueros”; Figs 33, 34), while William lifts the visor of his helmet to show his face to his men and a figure evidently identified by name in a fragmentary inscription (W67–8; Fig. 34). This figure was long taken to be Eustace, count of Boulogne, but has recently been identified as Robert of Mortain, who appears in a previous scene with the duke and Bishop Odo.9 Holding a banner, Robert points to William, as the French horseman “fight and have killed those who were with Harold” (W68–70; Plate XXI; Figs 34–5). King Harold is killed (W71; Plate XXII; Figs 35–6). In a heavily restored scene, “the English have turned to flight”, while the French horsemen pursue them (W72-3; Fig. 36). Here the embroidery abruptly breaks off.

6 7

8 9

On these fables see Chapter 7. On the fables see Chapter 7. For a more standard translation of the inscription, see Wilson, BT, 173: “Here at the same time English and French fell in battle.” See David S. Spear, “Robert of Mortain and the Bayeux Tapestry,” in M. Lewis, BT, 75–80.

A Record of Events?

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Three Readings of the Bayeux Embroidery as an Historical Source The first historian to use the embroidery systematically as a source of historical evidence about the Norman Conquest was Edward A. Freeman (1823–1892), whose multi-volume History of the Norman Conquest of England, the first edition of which was published between 1867 and 1879, addressed many questions about the embroidery that are still debated today and who used methods of investigation and interpretation very similar to the ones that later scholars have employed.10 Although Freeman exploited the pioneering work that Bernard de Montfaucon had done in France in the early eighteenth century, he rejected the traditional view embraced by the French Benedictine scholar that the textile was commissioned by Queen Matilda, the wife of William the Conqueror, and was presumably made in Normandy.11 On the question of where the hanging was made, Freeman thought it “quite possible that the work was done in England,” because its inscriptions included the Old English word “ceastra” (W49–50; Fig. 25).12 Freeman noted that the embroidery gave “prominence” to Odo de Conteville, bishop of Bayeux (1048/49–1097), the uterine half-brother of King William I, and earl of Kent (c. 1067–c. 1088). He further observed that it depicted three “obscure” men whom previous scholars had identified in Domesday Book as holding land from Odo. These Freeman dubbed the bishop’s “favourite retainers.” On the basis of his observations, Freeman reasoned that “the work was a contemporary one” and was “probably designed … as an ornament for [Odo’s] newly rebuilt cathedral church of Bayeux.”13 He also concluded from closely studying the pictorial narrative and comparing it with many different written narratives of the conquest dating mainly from the late eleventh and twelfth centuries that it was “essentially a Norman account” presented from “the Norman point of view” and that “One main object of the work is plainly to set forth the right of William to the English Crown.”14 On these grounds alone, Freeman might well have dismissed the hanging as an untrustworthy historical source, since he himself denied that William had any right to the English throne. Moreover, he regarded Harold as “a King as lawful as any King … that ever reigned over England” and designed his entire History to “undo [the] great

10

11

12 13 14

Edward A. Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England, its causes and its results, 6 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1867–79). The revised edition cited here (for which see Bibliography) quickly followed. Freeman, NC, vol. 3 discusses “The Authority of the Bayeux Tapestry” in Appendix, Note A (563–75). On Freeman as an historian, see J. W. Burrow, A Liberal Descent: Victorian Historians and the English Past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981). See Chapters 1 and 3; and Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Montfaucon as Reader of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Medieval Art and Architecture after the Middle Ages, ed. Janet T. Marquardt and Alyce Jordan (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), 89–110. Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 382. On English provenance and St Augustine’s, Canterbury as the place where the embroidery was made, see Chapters 1 and 3. Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 381–2. On the so-called vassals of Odo of Bayeux, see Chapter 4; on images of Odo, see Chapter 6. Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 382. In contrast to later commentators on the embroidery’s story, Freeman compared it not only with early accounts of the conquest written in Normandy and England, but also with twelfth- and, occasionally, thirteenth-century texts in Anglo-French and even Old Norse, as well as Latin.

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wrong” done to him by “ceaseless calumny … from his own time to ours.”15 Even so, Freeman wrote, “I accept the witness of the Bayeux Tapestry as one of my highest authorities.”16 It was “a work traced out by one who had himself seen the scenes which he thus handed down to the ages,” presenting his story in “stitch-work,” which “must tell its tale simply and straightforwardly [and] cannot lose itself in … rhetoric,” as written narratives often did. For Freeman, the embroidery held “the first place among the authorities on the Norman side,” because it “perverts the story less than any other Norman account” did and “with hardly any of the inventions, exaggerations, and insinuations” that were used by William of Poitiers in his Gesta Guillelmi and by William of Jumièges in his Gesta Normannorum Ducum to pass off William of Normandy as King Edward’s legitimate heir.17 Better yet, from Freeman’s point of view, the textile came very close to telling what he regarded as “the genuine English story,” which was told tersely in the E-version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and more fully in the Chronicle of John of Worcester.18 According to what is referred to here and below as the English Story of the conquest, Harold, not William, was Edward’s legitimate successor, having been granted the kingdom by the king and then duly elected and consecrated after his death.19 Freeman therefore rejected what I refer to in this chapter and in subsequent ones as the “traditional” interpretation of the embroidery, which had previously been endorsed by Montfaucon and was later restated by Sir Frank Stenton and others in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s and which held that by telling the same story of the conquest as did William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers, the pictorial narrative justified Duke William of Normandy’s claim to be King Edward’s legitimate heir and successor and branded Harold as a perjurer and usurper. Freeman repeatedly cited the embroidery in the footnotes to his minutely detailed narrative of the conquest and in his appended notes on how the pictorial narrative and a large number of textual ones treated such key episodes in the story of the conquest as Edward’s promise of his kingdom to William, Harold’s oath to the duke, Edward’s bequest of the crown to Harold, and Harold’s election and coronation.20 In recounting 15

16 17

18

19

20

Ibid., vol. 3, 386. Ibid., vol. 3, 377. Notes in this chapter refer to modern editions of the texts that Freeman cited. For the two earliest versions of the Norman Story, starting with King Edward sending Harold to Normandy and ending with the English defeat at the Battle of Hastings, see: WJ, GND, vol. 2, 158–63, 164–7, 170–3, where the text and translation of this text are in Roman type, while the text and translation of additions by Orderic Vitalis and Robert of Torigni are in italics; WP, GG, 68–79 100–43 and, for earlier stages of the story, 18–21. For narratives of the conquest in the texts that can be classified as “Norman,” see also: Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 135–45, 169–79; Guy, Carmen; and Baudri de Bourgueil, Baldricus Burgulianus Carmina, ed. Karlheinz Hilbert (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1979), no. 134 (pp. 154–64); trans. in Monika Otter, “Baudri of Bourgueil, ‘To Countess Adela’,” Journal of Medieval Latin 11 (2001): 60–141. ASC Swanton, sub 1066; ASC A, D, E, sub 1066; JW, CJW, 2, 598–601 – which Freeman knew as the Chronicle of Florence of Worcester, for which see Florentii Wigorniensis monachi Chronicon ex chronicis, ed. Benjamin Thorpe, 2 vols (London: Sumptibus Societatis, 1848–9). Ibid., 377, 383. In this chapter and elsewhere, I designate as the English Story only the brief narratives in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’s E-version and John of Worcester’s Chronicle asserting that Harold was granted the kingdom, chosen for it, and consecrated. For Freeman’s narrative in chronological order, see NC, vol. 3, 144–70, 1–49, 171–349; the notes in the appendix to this volume are at 377–519. For his account of King Edward’s reign, see NC, vol. 2, 333–43.

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Harold’s visit to Normandy and his participation in the Breton War, Freeman called the embroidery a “contemporary record,” which “plainly shows an interview between Eadward and Harold before Harold sets sail from Bosham, and another interview after Harold’s return.”21 Although the study of the two scenes led Freeman to conclude that the embroidery failed to depict what he considered the true story – which was told by William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, and Snorri Sturluson – that Harold visited Normandy unintentionally,22 he also pointed out that it conflicted as well with the Norman Story, as told in William of Jumièges’ Gesta Normannorum Ducum and the Gesta Guillelmi by William of Poitiers, that Edward sent Harold to confirm his previous bequest of the kingdom to the duke.23 Instead, Freeman regarded the two meeting scenes as a perfect fit with two episodes in Eadmer of Canterbury’s Historia Novorum, the first of which indicated, as he read it, that Harold went to Normandy on his own initiative and against Edward’s wishes to ransom two kinsmen of his whom Duke William was holding as hostages (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1).24 Upon reaching the duke’s court, according to Freeman’s reading of Eadmer’s account, Harold was forced to swear an oath to William to support the duke’s claim to the English throne, and, upon returning to England, was reproved by Edward for having done so.25 More importantly, Freeman noted, the embroidery failed to corroborate what he regarded as the absurd claim by William of Poitiers that when William visited England in 1051, Edward had made the duke his heir with the approval of his magnates.26 However, Freeman found the textile’s narrative consistent with his own belief that the king had made to William only “a promise of succession, or at least a promise of a royal recommendation to the Witan,” neither of which could have had any “legal force.”27 Furthermore, since the scene showing that Harold swore an oath to William failed to specify its substance (W26; Plate X; Fig. 13), it was compatible with Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 149, 455. To gauge how extensively Freeman used the embroidery as a source for Harold’s visit and the Breton War, see pp. 149, notes 1 and 5; p. 151, note 1; p. 153, note 2; p. 154 note 1; p. 157, notes 3–4; p. 160, notes 2–3; p. 161, notes 1, 2, 5; and 455–6. 22 Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 456–7. WM, GR, vol. 1, 416–19; Henry, HA, 380–1; Snorri Sturluson, King Harald’s Saga: Harald Hardradi of Norway: From Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla, trans. Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Pálsson (New York: Penguin, 2005), 134. See “Harald’s Saga Sigurðarsonar,” in Snorri Sturluson, Heimskringla, vol. 3, ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, Íslenzk fornrit 28 (Reykjavík: Hið Íslenzka Fornritafélag, 1979), 68–202 at 170–1. On the passage in WM, GR that Freeman and many others have misread as representing William of Malmesbury’s true opinion that Harold was on a fishing expedition when a storm blew his ship across the sea to the land of Guy, see Chapter 9. 23 WJ, GND, vol. 2, 158–61; WP, GG, 68–71. 24 For Eadmer’s account of the conquest, see Eadmer, HN, 5–9; Eadmer, HRE, 5–9. Whereas many writers on the conquest and on the embroidery assume, as noted below, that Eadmer’s account simply presented an “English” perspective on events narrated in earlier sources, I follow George C. Garnett, The Norman Conquest: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 9, in maintaining that Eadmer constructed the story as a parody of the story of William of Poitiers. 25 Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 455–6. See Eadmer, HN, 6–8; Eadmer, HRE, 6–8. 26 Thomas Amyot, “Observations on a Historical Fact Supposed to Be Established by the Bayeux Tapestry,” Archaeologia 19 (1821): 88–95 had previously argued that the opening scene failed to confirm that King Edward made Duke William his heir but could easily be aligned with Eadmer’s story about Harold meeting with Edward. 27 Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 146, 460–1; see also ibid., vol. 2, 198–201. 21

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Freeman’s view that Harold had sworn “to marry William’s daughter”; and that when he did so or when William knighted him in the scene in which he was shown giving Harold arms, Harold also did homage to the duke (W24; Fig. 12).28 Ultimately, all that could be said with certainty, according to Freeman, was that “Harold made some engagement or other which was capable of being construed as an admission of William’s claim to the Crown, and which made his own later acceptance of the Crown capable of being represented as an act of perjury.”29 Even so, Freeman plausibly insisted, “Let Harold’s perjury have been of the blackest kind, it could not give [William] any right to the Crown which [he] would not have had if Harold had not sworn at all.”30 In any case, Freeman maintained, the embroidery’s second main section and written versions of “the genuine English story” together provided “the strongest ground that history can give us for believing that Harold … was in every way a lawful King of the English, a King chosen, crowned, and anointed, according to the ancient use of this Church and Realm.”31 Freeman proved to his own satisfaction that Edward had granted Harold his kingdom, by citing the E-version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Chronicle of John of Worcester.32 He also claimed to have demonstrated that the king had made this grant on his deathbed, by comparing the embroidery’s so-called deathbed scene (W30–1; Plate XII; Figs 14, 15) with a passage from the Vita Ædwardi, a life of King Edward whose anonymous author probably began it before the king died and completed it soon after 1066.33 This text, Freeman assured his readers, was based on “information [received] directly from persons who were present by Eadward’s death-bed”;34 and it “meant to imply that Eadward made a death-bed recommendation in favour of Harold,” as he stretched forth his hand to him. The very same action, he wrote, was not only “recorded” in the Vita, but “wrought in stitch-work” on the embroidery.35 Although Freeman acknowledged that the next scene showed only that “the Crown is offered to Harold by two persons,” it answered “all the vague Norman talk about Harold seizing the Crown by fraud or force” and clearly implied that the offer was “the result of the election” mentioned in the Chronicle’s E-Version and John of Worcester’s Chronicle.36 Moreover, 28

29

30 31

32 33

34 35

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Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 466; see also 166. For references to a marriage agreement that was made or said to have been made during Harold’s visit to Normandy see, e.g.: Orderic, GND, vol. 2, 160–1, which states that “after Harold had sworn fealty to [William] about the kingdom with many oaths, he [i.e. William] promised him [i.e. Harold] that he [i.e. William] would give him his daughter Adeliza with half the kingdom of England.” Henry, HA, 380–1, states that “Harold swore to William, on many precious relics of the saints, that he would marry his daughter and after Edward’s death would preserve England for William’s benefit.” WM, GR, vol. 1, 418–19, states that Harold “voluntarily confirmed to [Duke William] at that time the castle of Dover, which was in his fief, and after Edward’s death the kingdom of England. For this he was given the hand of the duke’s daughter, who was not yet of age, and the whole of her inheritance, and was reckoned one of his intimates.” Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 147; see also 165. Ibid., vol. 3, 386. Ibid., vol. 3, 417. ASC, Swanton, sub 1066; JW, CJW, 598–601. Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 389, 390, 391; Vita Ædwardi, 122–5. On the dating of this work, see Frank Barlow, “Introduction,” in ibid., xvii–lxxxi at xxix–xxxiii. Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 391; see also 9, note 1. Ibid., vol. 3, 389, 390, 391. Ibid., vol. 3, 401, 402; see also 14. For references to Harold’s election, see ASCE, sub 1066; and JW, CJW, 600–1.

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the embroidery’s depiction of what Freeman called “an ecclesiastical consecration” (W32; Plate XII; Fig. 16) corroborated some of these same authorities in showing that Harold was “duly consecrated with the usual ecclesiastical rites,” though it implied, he said, that the officiating prelate was Archbishop Stigand, just as William of Poitiers said he was.37 When British historians led by Sir Frank Stenton totally rewrote the history of the Norman Conquest during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, they continued Freeman’s practice of treating the Bayeux Embroidery as a particularly reliable historical source, but interpreted it as conveying a totally different story from the one he had seen on it.38 In doing so, Stenton may well have been influenced by Frank Rede Fowke’s reading of the embroidery in The Bayeux Tapestry: A History and Description, which was published with 79 black-and-white plates of the textile in 1875 and later reprinted in 1913.39 There, Fowke implicitly rejected Freeman’s view that the textile presented Eadmer’s story of Harold’s visit to Normandy and argued, instead, that the opening scene made it clear that its designer accepted “the theory” that “Harold was commissioned to assure William of his nomination as Eadward’s successor to the English throne, which tended to strengthen the Norman claim [to the throne], and to show forth in darker colors the perfidy of Harold.”40 At the same time, Fowke explicitly rejected Freeman’s view that the deathbed scene showed King Edward committing his kingdom to Harold.41 Calling the textile “an attempt to represent a piece of history, drawn from the recent past, by means of a series of pictures,” Stenton concurred with Freeman’s judgment that it was “one of the principal authorities for the history of the Norman Conquest” and that it was composed in England within a generation of 1066.42 Like Freeman, Stenton maintained that it was made “at the direction of bishop Odo of Bayeux for display in his new cathedral, dedicated in 1077.”43 However, instead of following Freeman in assuming that as patron, Odo’s role was limited to insuring that the embroidery gave prominence to himself, his favorite retainers, and the relics of his cathedral church at Bayeux, Stenton took it for granted the bishop had exercised a controlling influence on the entire pictorial narrative and made sure that its designer told a version of the Norman Story. “Even had he so wished,” Stenton wrote, this unidentified artist “could do no other than follow the tale most acceptable to his patron.”44 Moreover, by positing that the embroidery was intended for “public exhibition at a time when a number of the minor actors in the story were still alive,” he could further assume that “[i]t is therefore unlikely to portray any

37 38 39 40 41

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Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 411–12. On Freeman’s use of the embroidery in constructing a narrative of the Battle of Hastings, see Chapter 10. On Freeman’s history of the conquest and attacks made on it, see the lucid discussion in Baxter, “Edward the Confessor,” 78–82. Frank Rede Fowke, The Bayeux Tapestry: A History and Description (1875: London: G. Bell and Sons, 1913). Ibid., 26. Ibid., 81. Sir Frank Stenton, “The Historical Background,” in Stenton, BT, 9–24 at 11, stating that the embroidery’s designer probably came from “the school of Canterbury,” on the basis of the arguments in Francis Wormald, “Style and Design,” in ibid., 25–36, discussed in Chapter 3. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 9, 11. Ibid., 9; on Odo’s alleged influence on the depiction of Harold’s oath to William, see ibid., 9, 11, 15; and below, Chapter 5.

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incidents which are entirely fictitious.”45 Stenton played down the embroidery’s failures to tell precisely the same story as William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers, the Norman historians whom he considered the most reliable textual sources. He explained these lapses partly by citing the limitations of its pictorial medium, and partly by suggesting that the designer, not Odo, was responsible for “the magnanimity with which Harold is always treated,” taking artistic license in representing Harold favorably in order to show that “The greater the hero who has foresworn himself, the more impressive becomes the vengeance that has brought him to ruin.” In writing about the embroidery’s narrative, Stenton’s underlying premise, in direct contradiction to Freeman, was that William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers were correct in stating that King Edward had given William an irrevocable claim to the English kingdom by making him his heir, probably in 1051. Stenton then took up the question of how Harold’s visit to the Continent was represented by these two authors and by the designer of the Bayeux Embroidery. In his view, “The simplest and, on the whole, the most probable version of the story [of Harold’s visit to Normandy] is the outline drawn … by the Bayeux Tapestry.” It showed that “Harold was sent on a mission to the continent by King Edward”; and although it gave “no information about the reasons for Harold’s journey,” it failed to do so, according to Stenton, because “a piece of stitchwork can only deal with superficialities” and not “with the motives behind actions.”46 In any case, because William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers agreed on why Harold went on his mission, Stenton considered it “probable” that the textile showed that he was sent by Edward to Normandy to confirm the king’s previous appointment of William as his heir (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1).47 Moreover, the textile’s later inscription stating that “William ‘gave arms to Harold’ was undoubtedly intended to imply that Harold had acknowledged himself to be William’s man” (W24; Fig. 12). To be sure, Stenton acknowledged, the oath-scene said nothing about “the nature of [Harold’s] engagement with the duke,” but this failure, too, he attributed to the limitations of stitchwork; and, in any case, he counted the textile as “good evidence, not only that Harold became William’s man, but that he took a very solemn oath to observe the duke’s interests”48 (W26; Plate XII; Fig. 13). Besides, Stenton reasoned, since after Harold “had already committed himself formally to William’s cause by becoming William’s man, … there was no need for the duke to exact more from him in the ceremony at Bayeux than a solemn pledge to do all in his power to further William’s interests in England so that he might be accepted as king when the time came.”49 In interpreting the scenes showing Harold’s accession as king of the English, Stenton simply ignored the similarities noted by Freeman between Vita Ædwardi’s statement that Edward commended the kingdom to Harold as he stretched out his hand to him and the scene on the embroidery that he simply described as showing “the commendation of the English kingdom to earl Harold by the dying king.”50 Moreover, Stenton diminished 45

46 47

48

49 50

Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd ed., 578, where the text is unchanged from the first edition. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 13–14. Ibid., 13–14. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd ed., 577–8. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 16. Reviewing Hilaire Belloc, The Book of the Bayeux Tapestry (London: Chatto and Windus, 1914) in EHR 30 (1915): 109–11 at 110, J. H. Round attributed Freeman’s statement that the embroidery plainly showed Edward’s “bequest” to Harold “to his own bias” and maintained that this interpretation of the deathbed scene was “opposed to the whole stand-point of the stitchwork.”

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the scene’s importance by feigning puzzlement about “why an artist so sensitive to points of logical order should have relegated so momentous an episode to what is virtually a parenthesis, and displayed it on a smaller scale than he allotted to many scenes of no outstanding interest.” (W31; Plate XII; Fig. 16). The answer that he ironically suggested was that “the problem of dealing fairly with the bestowal of a kingdom by a man generally regarded as a royal saint on a man regarded by the artist’s patron as a perjurer would have taxed the ingenuity of any draughtsman working to order in any period.”51 Stenton totally departed from Freeman in discussing the following scene, in which, he wrote, Harold is faced by “two men, one of them also grasping an axe and the other holding out to Harold a small crown” (W31; Fig. 16). Whereas Freemen had maintained that the scene showed two representatives of the Witan, which had just elected Harold as King, Stenton considered it “a private scene between Harold and two of his household men,” which “takes no account of the formalities of election which were the normal preliminaries for the coronation of a king”52 (W32; Plate XII; Fig. 16). Stenton disagreed even more sharply from Freeman’s reading of the next scene, which, he wrote, “makes no attempt to show the actual coronation of Harold, or the previous anointing by which kings were set apart from other men.” Instead, after showing only that “Harold has now taken his official seat as king,” with Archbishop Stigand standing beside him, it “passes at once to the acclamation of the newly crowned king by the people.”53 According to Stenton, “The Tapestry … proves that it was Stigand who called on the assembled people who acclaimed the newly crowned king, but it tells nothing about the person who had previously anointed him.”54 So eager was Stenton to show that the embroidery did not represent Harold as a lawful king of England that he deviated from his usual method of reading it as a reliable record of events in order explicate the two scenes immediately following the crownwearing scene, which Freeman had virtually ignored (W32; Figs 16–17). “In the dramatic scheme which underlies the Tapestry,” Stenton wrote, the acclamation which marks the climax of Harold’s glory is followed at once by an intimation that his fall will not be long delayed. In the next scene, which is introduced without any warning that three months have passed, the portentous comet of April, 1066 is moving away from an excited group of watchers towards a building in which Harold, still in royal dignity, is receiving the news of its appearance. Five ships in outline on the lower margin of the scene seem to hint at the destiny coming upon him. On this sinister note Harold vanishes for a time from the Tapestry, and is not seen again until he is learning of the advance of William’s army, immediately before the battle of Hastings.55

Meanwhile, Stenton explained, “the action of the drama is diverted to Normandy by the arrival of a solitary English ship, which moves the duke to order the preparations necessary for an invasion of England.” These preparations and the sea invasion itself proceed so briskly, Stenton observed, that the embroidery “makes the Norman army descend on England like inevitable fate.”56 In discussing the depiction of preparations 51

52 53

54 55

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Stenton, “Historical Background,” 16–17. Ibid., 17. Ibid., 17. Ibid., 18. Ibid., 18–19. Ibid., 19.

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for the battle and the battle sequence itself – which will be fully discussed in Chapter 10 – Stenton stated that it was “clearly following a story parallel to that of William of Poitiers” by indicating “that the issue of the fighting was long uncertain”; and he described it as a “brilliant commemoration” of the Norman victory.57 “As a record of events,” Stenton wrote, its scope was limited by the necessity of satisfying a formidable patron … But there is no point at which it can be proved to have misrepresented facts.”58 The general method of reading the embroidery used by Stenton and those who followed him was virtually identical to Freeman’s, to the extent that all of them aligned its pictorial narrative with whichever historical sources they considered reliable, supplemented its scenes as necessary to compensate for the limitations of the pictorial medium, and distanced the textile’s story as much as possible from the textual ones they distrusted. As a result, these scholars interpreted the embroidery as telling the Norman Story that Freeman had dismissed as unreliable but that they considered to be truthful, and denied that it told the English Story that he had considered genuine but they considered to be mendacious. Despite the occasional dissent from scholars who still accepted elements of Freeman’s reading of the textile’s story,59 Stenton forged a consensus among historians and art historians alike that it so closely resembled the ones told by William of Poitiers and William of Jumièges that all three accounts must have been versions of a single Norman Story told at the ducal court. These scholars also read the embroidery as undercutting Harold’s legitimacy, just as written versions of the Norman Story did, and as propagandistically celebrating the Norman Conquest.60 Although V. H. Galbraith called it “the new credulity” to believe in the truth of the Norman Story, which provided, he maintained, only a “sham façade of legality … to justify the Norman Conquest,”61 the reading of the embroidery that depended on this belief gained support among historians of the conquest and commentators on the 57

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Ibid., 20, 21, 22. Ibid., 23. For readings of the embroidery’s narrative that differed from Stenton’s on key points, see Charles H. Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” in Stenton, BT, 174–88; and Charles H. GibbsSmith, The Bayeux Tapestry (London: Phaidon, 1973). For the development of this argument, see F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (1943); Raymonde Foreville, “Introduction,” in William of Poitiers, Histoire de Guillaume le Conquérant, ed. and trans. Raymonde Foreville, Les Classiques de l’Histoire de France au Moyen Âge (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1952), vii–lxvi at xxv; Stenton, “Historical Background”, 9–24; David C. Douglas, “Edward the Confessor, Duke William of Normandy, and the English Succession,” EHR 68 (1953): 526–45; T. J. Oleson, “Edward the Confessor’s Promise to Duke William of Normandy,” EHR 72 (1957): 221–8; David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), 75–7; Eric John, “Edward the Confessor and the Norman Succession,” EHR 94 (1979): 241–67; R. Allen Brown, The Normans and the Norman Conquest, 2nd ed. (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1982), 94–121; Eric John, “The End of Anglo-Saxon England,” in James Campbell, Eric John and Patrick Wormald, The Anglo-Saxons (London: Penguin, 1982), 214–39 at 221–39; Elisabeth M. C. van Houts, “Introduction,” in WJ, GND, vol. 1, xix–cxxxiii at xlvii. See also Baxter, “Edward the Confessor and the Succession Question,” 78–82 and the literature cited in p. 79 n. 11. V. H. Galbraith, Domesday Book: Its Place in Administrative History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 175, 179. According to ibid., 176, “This travesty of history depicted in the Bayeux tapestry is a striking proof of the lengths to which Norman clerical propaganda would go to justify the accomplished fact of [William I’s] conquest.”

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textile, who found multiple ways of reinforcing it and have continued to do so down to the present day.62 Historians, in particular, emphasized its reliability as an historical source. Citing Stenton’s statement that the embroidery would not have portrayed any purely “fictitious” events, David Douglas asserted that it was “frequently and properly cited as good evidence for [various] events in these years,” and “substantially confirmed” the story of Harold’s visit to Normandy by William of Jumièges.63 R. Allen Brown not only invoked Stenton’s endorsement of the embroidery as a reliable source for historical events, but expanded on it by stating that “Being … made for public display soon after the events it portrays and during the lifetime of most of the participants, it is most unlikely to contain palpable falsehoods, and its story confirms that of William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers.”64 However, as Elizabeth Carson Pastan and I explained in “Problematizing Patronage,” a crisis developed in the study of the embroidery from the 1970s onwards, as a growing number of writers on the embroidery’s pictorial narrative realized, on the one hand, that that it did not clearly and emphatically tell the Norman Story that Odo of Bayeux would surely have expected it to tell, according to Stenton and others, and maintained, on the other, that it hinted, at least, at the English Story which legitimated Harold II’s claim to be King Edward’s legitimate successor. To explain the narrative perspective of the embroidery, we wrote, scholars have proposed alternative patrons and production sites, imputed elaborate narratological strategies to its designer, discovered sub-texts undercutting its main message, found different messages in it for Norman and English views, and pushed its date back to within a year or two of 1066, when the Norman perspective on the Conquest supposedly different from what it later became. Though varying in approach, these new studies all reflect a deeper concern that previous scholarship cannot explain why the Tapestry unfolds as it does.65 62

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For studies of the embroidery that reinforced the traditional reading of its narrative, see, e.g. C. R. Dodwell, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the French Secular Epic,” Burlington Magazine, 108 (1966): 549–60, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 47–61; R. Drögereit, “Bemerkungen zum BayeuxTeppich,” Mitteilungen des österreichischen Instituts für Geschichtsforschung 70 (1962): 261–76; O. K. Werckmeister, “The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Studi Medievali, 3rd ser. 17 (1976): 535–95; J. Bard McNulty, The Narrative Art of the Bayeux Tapestry Master (New York: AMS Press, 1989); idem, Visual Meaning in the Bayeux Tapestry: Problems and Solutions in Picturing History (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003); Grape, BT. David Douglas, “Edward the Confessor,” 543–4 and p. 543 n. 11. Douglas’s summary of the embroidery’s story of Harold’s visit to Normandy in ibid., 543, implicitly challenged Freeman’s reading by claiming that the opening scene showed Harold in “a formal interview with the Confessor before setting out” on his journey. Brown, The Normans, p. 110, n. 99. Elsewhere, Brown wrote that the embroidery provides “accurate illustrations of many… events” (ibid., 20). Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 2. For alternative patrons, see Andrew Bridgeford, 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry (New York: Walker & Co., 2006), who proposes Eustace II of Boulogne as patron; and Carola Hicks, The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece (London: Chatto & Windus, 2006), esp. 22–39, who argues for Edith, widow of King Edward and sister of Harold II, as uniquely well positioned to view the conquest evenhandedly. On production sites, Grape, BT, argues for Normandy as the site of production, while George Beech, Was the Bayeux Tapestry Made in France? The Case for Saint-Florent of Saumur (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) proposes the abbey of Saint-Florent in

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The most influential of these new methods of explicating the embroidery’s narrative was to adopt what I refer to here and in subsequent chapters as a “revisionist” interpretation of the embroidery’s story. This argument claims, on the one hand, that the embroidery’s designer found ways of satisfying his patron, Odo, and Odo’s intended audience of Normans by depicting a weak, but still adequate version of the Norman Story; and on the other, that the designer also used various pictorial devices to hint at a version of the English Story that English viewers would have noticed, but that Norman ones would have ignored.66 According to certain revisionists, the designer even found oblique ways of subverting the Norman Story that would have been evident only to English viewers, but not to Odo of Bayeux and his intended audience of Normans.67 Virtually all revisionists reinforced their view that the textile carried an “English” message by building on the view of Stenton that it consistently depicted Harold favorably.

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addition to identifying William I, a friend of this community’s abbot, as the patron. Pierre Bouet, “Is the Bayeux Tapestry Pro-English?,” in Bouet, BT, 197–215 at 214 proposes no site of production but believes that both insular and continental artists designed the “programme of iconography.” On narratology, S. Lewis, Rhetoric, identifies the designer’s strategy as that of initially withholding from the viewer the work’s propagandistic significance; and Laura Ashe, Fiction and History in England, 1066–1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 44 maintains that the Embroidery “presents itself, inevitably disingenuously, as the historia, the actual signification of events.” Those arguing that an “English” subtext subverts or supplements the Embroidery’s overtly pro-Norman message include: Christopher N. L. Brooke, “Historical Writing in England between 850 and 1150,” in La storiographia altomedievale, 2 vols, Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull’alto Medioevo 17 (Spoleto, 1970), 223–47; N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 63–92; Bernstein, Mystery; Bernard S. Bachrach, “Some Observations On the Bayeux Tapestry,” Cithara 27 (1987): 5–28; Richard Wissolik, “The Saxon Statement: Code in the Bayeux Tapestry,” Annuale Mediaevale 19 (1979): 69–97; idem, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Its English Connection and Peripheral Narrative,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Duquesne University, 1988, 95–134; idem, “Duke William’s Messengers: An ‘Insoluble, ReverseOrder’ Scene of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Medium Ævum 51 (1982): 102–7; Emily Albu, The Normans in their Histories: Propaganda, Myth and Subversion (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2001), 88–105; Gail Ivy Berlin, “The Fables of the Bayeux Tapestry: An Anglo-Saxon Perspective,” in Unlocking the Wordhord: Anglo-Saxon Studies in Memory of Edward B. Irving, Jr., ed. Mark C. Amodio and Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003), 191–216; and Meredith Clermont-Ferrand, Anglo-Saxon Propaganda in the Bayeux Tapestry (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2004). The revisionist view takes a different form in Pierre Bouet, “Is the Bayeux Tapestry Pro-English?,” in Bouet, BT 197–215; Pierre Bouet and François Neveux, “Edward the Confessor’s Succession According to the Bayeux Tapestry,” in M. Lewis, BT, 59–65. Like Freeman, revisionists saw similarities between the embroidery’s way of depicting Harold’s journey to Normandy and the story told in Eadmer, HN, 5–8; Eadmer, HRE, 5–8. See, in addition to Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 455–6; Brooke, “Historical Writing,” 223–47 at 241; Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 1–34, 191–9 at 72, 73-4; Richard D. Wissolik, “The Monk Eadmer as Historian of the Norman Succession: Korner and Freeman Examined,” American Benedictine Review 30 (1979): 32–43 at 35, 42; idem, “Duke William’s Messengers: An ‘Insoluble, ReverseOrder’ Scene of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Medium Ævum 51 (1982): 102–7; Bernstein, Mystery, 117; Wilson, BT, 197; and Stephen Baxter, “Edward the Confessor and the Succession Question,” in Mortimer, Edward, 77–118 at 108. According to Bernstein, Mystery, 117, both the embroidery’s narrative and Eadmer’s “place doubt on whether Edward sent Harold [to Duke William to confirm the king’s previous appointment of the duke as his heir] and whether [Harold’s] oath [to William] was taken voluntarily.”

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So much ingenuity went into explaining why the textile conveyed two different stories and different messages, each to a different audience, that longstanding claims for it as a reliable source of historical events were lost in the shuffle. However, the apparent conflict between reading the embroidery à la Stenton as a version of the truthful Norman Story that legitimated William I’s claim to be Edward’s successor and reading it à la Freeman as a version of the genuine English Story that assigned the same role to Harold was resolved in Pierre Bouet’s revisionist interpretation, which was published in a volume significantly entitled Embroidering the Facts of History. There, Bouet not only argued that the embroidery conveyed the Norman Story and Norman message to Norman viewers and the English Story and English message to its English audience; he also maintained that it was both an important and reliable source of evidence about the origins of the Norman Conquest.68 According to Bouet, the embroidery was deliberately designed for two purposes. First, it was intended “to assert Norman legitimacy and to acknowledge English dignity” by advancing “the Norman claims to the English throne” in a way that was “highly discreet” but clear to all Norman viewers.69 Second, the embroidery was also designed to portray Harold very favorably and make the “essential point that [he] should be considered as a perfectly legitimate king.”70 To explain why the embroidery should have conveyed these two stories and messages to Norman and English viewers, respectively, Bouet rejected the view of earlier revisionists that its designer was working at cross-purposes with his patron, Odo of Bayeux, and argued, instead, that the bishop deliberately had the pictorial narrative made by a team of English and Norman artists to be both pro-English and pro-Norman.71 To support this argument, Bouet further maintained that the embroidery could have been created “only … at that precise moment when William and his close counselors had decided to take all necessary steps to rally English opinion behind them.”72 According to Bouet’s timetable, the hanging would have been conceived of immediately after the battle, designed in early 1067, and completed by the end of that year.73 To show that the embroidery carried a double message, one to its Norman viewers and another to its English ones, Bouet proposed a double reading of the section depicting Harold’s journey to the Continent and back. He acknowledged that first section of the embroidery makes none of the points necessary to sustain William’s claim to be King Edward’s heir – that he had been promised the English crown by Edward, who had made him his heir and sent Harold to Normandy to confirm the appointment; that “Harold [swore] his oath on relics … to uphold the Duke’s rights to the English throne” and became William’s man by doing homage to him.74 However, because the embroidery does nothing to contradict the Norman Story, Bouet maintained that the opening scene was open to the traditional interpretation by Norman viewers that it showed, just as the Norman Story did, that “Harold is being sent into Normandy to confirm 68

69 70 71 72 73

74

Pierre Bouet, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 197–215. Ibid., 208. Ibid., 208, 209, and 213, where Bouet adds that like the embroidery, WP, GG showed that Harold was considered “a perfectly legitimate king.” According to Bouet, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 214, Anglo-Norman and English elements in inscriptions point to “combined activity of Norman and English scribes.” Ibid., 210. Ibid., 213–14. Ibid., 206.

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[William’s] designation as the King of England’s heir” (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1). At the same time, according to Bouet, English viewers might have interpreted the scene in the light of other stories they may have known by seeing, for example, Harold “being sent into Normandy to conclude a marriage pact with one of the duke’s daughters, with Edward’s approval”; going “on an envoy’s mission to Normandy to establish a defensive alliance between the two countries, as a response to the Norwegian threat posed by Harold Hardrada”; or going on “a mission to Flanders to negotiate an alliance with Count Baldwin V, in response to the Hardrada menace.”75 For English viewers, Bouet adds, such interpretations of the opening scene would change how they understood the embroidery’s depiction of the rest of Harold’s journey. Since the embroidery shows Harold dragging two of William’s men from the quicksand near Mont-Saint-Michel (W20; Fig. 10) and then joining in “the mounted attack on the castle of Rennes,” Bouet argues that in the arming scene, William is “thanking Harold for his active part in the Brittany expedition,” not making a gift intended to put Harold under an obligation to reciprocate to the duke or making him a knight (W24; Fig. 12).76 Moreover, adopting the interpretations of the opening scene just mentioned would “change the whole nature of the Bayeux oath, since nothing in the inscription [of the oath-scene] tells us that [the oath] concerned the succession to the throne”77 (W26; Fig. 13) Even though Bouet insists that “Harold did swear an oath to help William duke of Normandy succeed to the English crown” and that the oath-scene shows that Harold “becomes obligated to William,” the scene’s failure to convey anything about the purpose of the oath, much less to show that Harold swore “to uphold the Duke’s rights to the English throne,” leaves the scene open to different interpretations by Norman and English viewers.78 For Normans, the scene showed Harold swearing “a solemn and sacred oath, the breaking of which would amount to perjury”; for the English, the oath need not have been fully binding, since it placed Harold under an obligation to support “a decision which King Edward had taken [to make William his heir] but which he revoked just before his death.”79 The scenes showing how Harold became king (W31–2; Figs 15–16) could have been read by English viewers, Bouet argues, as establishing his legitimacy, particularly since those familiar with the passage in the Vita Ædwardi already mentioned could have interpreted the deathbed scene as showing King Edward “naming his brother-in-law Harold as his successor.”80 Moreover, “Such an act of designation, performed in articulo mortis and in the presence of the queen and a churchman, would free Harold from any obligation entered into with the Duke of Normandy, since that was based upon an earlier act by Edward.”81 Nevertheless, “A Norman looking at this scene could quite easily assume that the king, on his deathbed, is urging Harold to honour his obligations towards his Norman heir and to respect his oath sworn on relics. Besides, since the name ‘Harold’ does not feature in the inscription, our Norman might consider this scene to be a simple intimate picture of the king dying in the bosom of his family.”82 In addition, Bouet maintains, a Norman 75

76 77

78

79

80 81

82

Ibid., 213. Ibid., 199. Ibid., 213. Ibid., 200, 206. Ibid., 210. Ibid., 209; see also 212. Ibid., 212. Ibid., 212.

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who knew that Edward had made a deathbed bequest of the kingdom to Harold “would remain certain that the designation would in no way relieve him of his previous promises [to Duke William].”83 Further confirming Harold’s legitimacy, in the eyes of English viewers, were the two scenes following the one in which they would have seen King Edward designating Harold as his successor (W30–2; Plates XII–XIII; Fig. 16). The one indicating that “they” gave (dederunt) Harold the crown of a king shows that he had it “not through his own initiative, but through the good offices of certain members of the Witanegemot who were supporters of his candidacy for the kingship.”84 Then, the scene confirms Harold’s legitimacy, since it shows him “seated on his throne with all the attributes of authority” and flanked by Archbishop Stigand “with no indication in the inscription of the archbishop’s humiliation or of his excommunication at the hands of Popes Nicholas III and Alexander II.” All we hear of the next two scenes, showing the people wondering at the comet and a messenger bringing news of it to Harold (W32–3; Figs 16–17) is that they “convey some idea of the threats hanging over [him].”85 “The story of Harold, as recounted in the Tapestry, is still a story of failure, even if it is difficult to establish all the various causes of this failure.”86

Interpreting the Embroidery’s Pictorial Narrative As one can see from this review of readings of the embroidery’s pictorial narrative by Freeman, Stenton and Bouet, historians over the last 150 years have read the Bayeux Embroidery as telling either (A) a version of the Norman Story establishing William I’s legitimacy as King Edward’s chosen heir and treating Harold as a perjurer and usurper, or (B) a version of the English Story showing that Harold II was the king’s designated successor and William I a foreign invader, or (C) a version combining both of these stories so as to show to Norman viewers that William I was King Edward’s legitimate successor and to English viewers and conceivably to Norman viewers as well that Harold II was Edward’s legitimate successor too. To complicate matters further, each of these three readings of the textile presupposes that its story – or the stories that its viewers saw on it – is, in some sense, a factually reliable account of how the conquest of England came about. However, since the embroidery’s pictorial narrative falls far short of representing the Norman Story and demonstrating William’s claim to be Edward’s legitimate successor, as both Freeman and Bouet demonstrated, and since it fails, as Stenton showed, to depict the English Story that treated Harold as a fully legitimate king, it should be clear that none of these readings of the embroidery’s story can be justified without making an interlocking set of contestable assumptions about its patron, designer, display, and audience. Though Freeman never explained or justified his own way of reading the embroidery, neither Stenton nor Bouet could have argued for theirs without imagining a patron who would have commissioned the embroidery to tell the story or stories that they saw it as telling; a designer who would either have facilitated or subverted the process of telling the 83

84 85

86

Ibid., 213. Ibid., 202. Ibid., 203. Ibid., 205.

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story that the patron would surely have desired; a place or places where the embroidery could have been displayed to achieve its desired effect; and viewers who would have understood only the story and political message that the textile was intended to convey to them. In “Problematizing Patronage,” Elizabeth Carson Pastan and I argued that previous commentators on the embroidery had failed either to look critically at the model of patronage that was implicit in their readings of the embroidery or to note that every feature of the embroidery that had been cited as evidence that Odo of Bayeux commissioned the monks of St Augustine’s, Canterbury could be better explained by assuming that the embroidery was made at the initiative of the monks of this abbey to serve their own purposes.87 In addition to reinforcing both of these positions by arguing in Chapters 3, 4, and 6 that the embroidery had no “patron” in the sense in which this term has been used in previous embroidery scholarship, though it presumably had “internal patrons” at the abbey of St Augustine’s, these and other chapters in the present volume provide several grounds for maintaining that the embroidery was intended for display at the monastery itself (see, esp., Chapter 11), where its primary viewers would have been monks of St Augustine’s.88 To take this position is to undercut previous views about where the embroidery was displayed and who made up its audience, views which ultimately depended on the hypothesis that Odo of Bayeux first commissioned it and then appropriated it for his own use. When proponents of this hypothesis abandoned the position of commentators as different as Freeman and Stenton that it was made for display at the bishop’s cathedral church of Bayeux at the time of its consecration in 1077, a consensus gradually formed around the idea that Odo intended for it to be shown in a secular space or spaces and, more specifically, in baronial halls in England. To be sure, H. E. J. Cowdrey thought “it was intended to be taken round ecclesiastical buildings in England and perhaps in Normandy for brief periods of public display,”89 while Bouet suggested that it was “intended to be transported from church to palace and from palace to church, both in England and in Normandy.”90 However, the view that the embroidery was meant to be displayed in a secular space prevailed after C. R. Dodwell argued that the textile was unsuitable for display in a church and proposed that bishop Odo wanted it “to decorate one of [his] great palaces.”91 After David J. Bernstein and Shirley Ann Brown augmented Dodwell’s argument by suggesting that the textile was probably intended for display in one or more of the baronial halls that Odo of Bayeux possessed in southeastern England,92 Richard Brilliant wrote a ground-breaking article on how the textile might have been arranged in this kind of space and how its audience would have grasped its story and message.93 The new theory about the kind of space in which the textile was intended for display not only provided an explanation for the decision to use a transportable medium for the 87

88

89 90 91

92 93

Pastan and White, “Problematizing.” See Chapters 6, 7, 11. H. E. J. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 10 (1988): 49–65, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 93–110 at 110. Bouet, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 214. Dodwell, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 49. Bernstein, Mystery 107; Brown, Bibliography, 34–5. Richard Brilliant, “The Bayeux Tapestry: A Stripped Narrative for their Eyes and Ears,” Word & Image 7 (1991): 98–126; rpt. in Gameson, Study, 111–37 at 111–19.

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pictorial narrative; it also enabled its proponents to provide the embroidery with the audience (or audiences) they needed in order to explain the embroidery’s reception. As long as writers on the embroidery followed Stenton in assuming that the embroidery served the purposes of its “formidable patron,” Odo of Bayeux, by telling a version of the Norman Story, they could further assume that it told that story to Norman viewers, who knew the story and regarded it as truthful, and thus would reflexively have “received” both the story and its message. Though both Cowdrey and Richard Brilliant acknowledged that some of the embroidery’s viewers might have had difficulty in understanding its pictorial narrative, particularly if they were illiterate, each of them suggested a way in which the story could have been conveyed to its entire audience. According to Cowdrey, when the embroidery was displayed, “It may have been accompanied by guides and interpreters to offer an approved commentary, perhaps in the vernacular, upon its by no means self-evident detail.”94 In Brilliant’s view, “‘seeing and reading’ by a mixed audience would have needed at least one literate, well-spoken interlocutor who could have bridged the gap between the literate and the illiterate, between those who already knew and those who wanted to know the story, between the brief Latin keys to a complicated history and the presentation of an extended narrative in the vernacular language that seemed most appropriate for the occasion.”95 According to Cowdrey, It seems to have had in view a mixed and secular audience of fighting men – no doubt Normans first but English as well, pedites as well as milites; it is designed to raise morale and promote loyalty among, as well as simply to entertain, a broad spectrum of Anglo-Saxon society. Much of it depicts its members’ life-style and the warfare that was their business and delight. Its message that knights should fight viriliter et sapienter, its preparedness to show up Norman lapses and to acknowledge English valour, and its frankness about the military effectiveness of knights and archers at the Battle of Hastings, suggest an audience largely drawn from military households and establishments in England where French and English rubbed shoulders.96

Although the question of how the embroidery’s story would have been received by its audience became more complicated as commentators found signs that it did not emphatically present the Norman Story and at least hinted at an English story as well, revisionists resolved this issue by maintaining that Norman viewers for whom Odo of Bayeux had mainly intended it were supplemented by “English” viewers who not only felt enduring loyalty to the memory of King Harold II, but knew an English story of the conquest that made him out to be King Edward’s designated successor and a fully legitimate king.97 Bouet proposed that the purpose of transporting the hanging for viewings at multiple venues was to make sure that “a large audience might experience its drama and emotion.

94

95

96 97

Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” 110. Such commentary would have been necessary, Cowdrey explained, because “it cannot be assumed that the Tapestry’s audience was all that ‘sophisticated’ or ‘knowledgeable’” (ibid., p. 110, n. 58). Ibid., 130–1. Ibid., 108–9. Discussions of the embroidery’s pictorial narrative in Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 72, 73; Bernstein, Mystery, 114–35; Bouet, “Bayeux Tapestry” state or imply that it had an “English” audience.

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The English would gaze upon their unfortunate hero, while the Normans would gaze upon their own champion, fortunate and victorious.”98 There are obvious objections to positing the existence of an audience for the embroidery so neatly divided between a totally homogeneous group of politically likeminded Normans, who docilely accepted the truthfulness of the Norman Story of the conquest (though without expecting the story to be forcefully represented), and a totally homogeneous group of politically like-minded English, who were not only devoted to the lost cause of King Harold but believed implicitly in his legitimacy as King Edward’s designated successor. But these speculative assumptions about the embroidery’s viewers in this or that baronial hall, castle, or the occasional church are moot in any case, if the textile was not only designed and created at St Augustine’s, Canterbury but displayed on an annual basis to members of the abbey’s community, including the monks of this house. If so, then the choice of a transportable medium for the pictorial narrative and, in particular, a lengthy embroidery without gold or silver thread could be explained, not by assuming that a peripatetic patron wanted to take it with him as he moved from one residence to another, but rather by positing that it had to be put up and then taken down and stored on a regular basis.99 If the embroidery was indeed displayed at the abbey of St Augustine’s on a regular basis, there is no need to imagine its audience as consisting of Norman and English viewers who would have understood it in different ways. Instead, it is plausible to think of its audience as being divided into “two broad groups” of viewers, a division based not on their political allegiance but on the depth of their education and knowledge and the degree to which they were familiar with the textile. Richard Gameson has characterized the two groups in this way: On the one hand, there was “the comparatively uninformed beholder, the person who may not have had a refined iconographic vocabulary; and who may only have seen the work on a couple of occasions for a short period of time. On the other hand, there was the better informed, visually sophisticated beholder; and the person who may have had the opportunity to see the work repeatedly and to scrutinise every detail.”100 Although Gameson is surely correct in assuming that the embroidery “will have in some sense catered for both [groups],” the meanings that it was intended to show and its reception by its most competent interpreters cannot be fully understood without focusing primary attention on the group of beholders who were “better informed, visually sophisticated” and who, in all likelihood, were monks of the abbey itself.101 Our understanding of the textile’s reception and of the meanings it was intended to convey will change radically if we abandon the view that it was displayed in a baronial hall to the kind of audience that Cowdrey imagined for it and proceed on the assumption that it was displayed at St Augustine’s – very possibly on a feast day, when its audience would have included both the monks of the abbey, who would have previously had opportunities to view it closely, and other members of the community who may well have been illiterate. As beholders of the embroidery, the monks of St Augustine’s would have constituted a radically different audience from lay beholders. They would have been literate, deeply knowledgeable about the Latin fables depicted on the embroidery’s borders (see Chapter Bouet, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 214. See Chapter 1. 100 Gameson, “Origin,” 160. 101 Ibid., 160. 98

99

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7), and, in some cases at least, familiar with the various stories of the conquest – including anecdotes – that the embroidery’s designer must have known in order to create the pictorial narrative. They would also have had the literary and visual sophistication to read textual and visual narratives on multiple levels, to understand both kinds of narratives in the light of biblical history, to be particularly attentive to the question of God’s role in history, and to engage in the kinds of analogical reasoning that were essential to monastic religious culture. There are other important differences between the monastic viewers who would have constituted the embroidery’s core audience at St Augustine’s and the lay people commonly supposed to have viewed it in one of the baronial halls of Odo of Bayeux. Not only did the monastic viewers at this abbey belong to an order of society whose lifestyle differed markedly from that of the great magnates, lords, and soldiers whom previous writers have generally identified as the textile’s beholders; they claimed, by virtue of their monastic professions and their regular lives, to be separate from, and superior to, the secular world in which their benefactors lived and in which the embroidery’s pictorial narrative was set. Moreover, as members of an undying community which had been founded almost 500 years before and whose monks had an obligation to pray in perpetuity for all members of their community, they would have had, as later chapters will show, particular associations with people and places shown on the embroidery. Because whatever identities they may have had by virtue of kinship, language, “nationality,” or “ethnicity” were, for certain purposes, subordinated to their common identity as monks of St Augustine’s, there is no reason to assume that they identified themselves as “partisans” of Harold II or William or, indeed, any secular ruler. Instead, the monks could easily have viewed the great from the position of ironic distance that is suggested by the fables in the borders and that was a defining characteristic of monastic histories. For these viewers, it would have come easily to look with skepticism on all stories about how the conquest came about, including one depicted on the embroidery, to contemplate it in relation to biblical history, to seek to understand God’s role in the story, and to give particular attention to the dead. If the embroidery’s pictorial narrative was seen in this particular setting by an audience including monks, there are strong reasons for doubting that it would have been understood either as presenting the fully coherent and motivated story that previous writers have seen on it or as a vehicle for legitimating either William I’s or Harold II’s claims to be King Edward’s legitimate successor. Although no commentator on the Bayeux Embroidery has ever translated the entire pictorial narrative into a fully coherent, clearly motivated story about the Norman Conquest of the sort that William of Poitiers came closer than any other writer to telling, the possibility of doing so is assumed whenever reference is made to the textile’s recounting or recording events or, better yet, recounting events leading to the conquest. Indeed, the same possibility is explicitly assumed by Brilliant when he argues that the embroidery’s “iconic language would have to be translated into common speech in order to make it comprehensible”; and that this translation would have consisted of “an extended narrative in the vernacular language.”102 Although Suzanne Lewis imagines the embroidery’s individual viewers – and not any interlocutor – as being actively engaged in the process of constructing the embroidery’s meaning, she, too, assumes that the end-product of this engagement would have been “a story” of 102

Brilliant, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 130–1.

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the conquest that certain “spectators” would see as the Norman Story and others as the English Story.103 Although the hypothesis that the Bayeux Embroidery is a reliable story of historical events and thus a reliable source of information about them can be traced back to Freeman and even to Montfaucon, it has only recently been substantiated systematically by Richard Gameson, who offers a full justification for his assertion that the textile is “self-evidently an historical document” and “offers a reasonable rendering of what happened.”104 What distinguishes it from reliable written accounts, he continues, is that being a visual rather than a textual account, it does not merely state what came to pass, it also depicts the events in question. The Tapestry by its very nature includes a mass of descriptive pictorial detail: that is how it tells its story. The beholder, in consequence, not only learns what happened, but simultaneously how it happened and what it looked like.105

In depicting historical events, Gameson writes, the embroidery relies on “the sensitive deployment of gesture to convey what the characters are doing and how they are interacting”106 and sometimes on Latin inscriptions, which “invariably tell the literate beholder what he needs to know in order to understand the depicted events.”107 The brevity of these inscriptions keeps the story moving;108 and they “[lead] effectively from one to the next in both visual and causal terms.”109 To be sure, Gameson acknowledges, “it is sometimes unclear what exactly is depicted” on the embroidery, with the result that “the exact content and implication of key scenes” must have been a matter of interpretation, even for contemporary viewers. Nevertheless, these viewers could have grasped the full meaning of those scenes, Gameson implies, on the basis of what he calls their own “supposition or external information” about what had actually happened and thus what event the scene must have depicted.110 Since the relevant “information,” if not the contemporary viewer’s suppositions, can often be recovered by modern scholars from written versions of the Norman Story, that story can now be used to gloss the scenes considered by Gameson to be very rare in which the characters’ gestures (and in some cases a narrative inscription) do not explain what they are doing and therefore what event the scene represents, or how the event is causally connected to the ones preceding and following it in the same narrative sequence.111 To enable audience members unfamiliar with the Norman Story to understand the pictorial narrative, their viewings of it might have been supplemented by the verbal commentary S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 34. Gameson, “Origin,” 199, 201–2. 105 Ibid., 200; my italics. 106 Ibid., 191. By contrast, Otto Pächt, The Rise of Pictorial Narrative in Twelfth-Century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 10 states that the embroidery uses gestures “as signposts guiding the beholder and helping him grasp the significance of the story [and] are never the organic result of the action in which the figures are involved.” 107 Gameson, “Origin,” 189; my italics. 108 Ibid.,189. 109 Ibid., 193. 110 Ibid., 199; see also 200, which states that “the eleventh-century viewer was, doubtless, influenced what he knew personally or by a human guide.” 111 Ibid., 199. 103

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of an interlocutor or “human guide,” whom Brilliant has identified as the jongleur, thereby reinforcing his widely accepted hypothesis that the embroidery was displayed as secular entertainment in a baronial hall, probably in England, to a predominantly secular, Frenchspeaking audience.112 In the very rare instances where a scene’s imagery, inscription (if present), and supplementary information from a written version of the Norman Story are insufficient to enable modern viewers to identify the event that the scene depicted, “we can safely assume,” Gameson writes, “that this was because we lack information that was held to be common knowledge in the later eleventh century.”113 In other words, the difficulties that modern viewers have had in understanding certain scenes on the embroidery can be explained by postulating that contemporary viewers could readily have understood them by reference to the information they had (but modern interpreters lack) or the assumptions they made (but modern interpreters don’t always know how to make) about the events that the scenes in question were intended to depict. Thus, belief in the Norman Story and in the embroidery’s accuracy as a record of events is essential to constructing a way of understanding the embroidery’s reception that enables modern interpreters to displace their own interpretation of problematic scenes onto the audience they imagined for the textile. After all, if the embroidery, like other versions of the Norman Story, was a relatively reliable account of events resulting in William’s victory over Harold at Hastings, contemporary viewers with independent knowledge of these events and/or the Norman Story’s account of them could have readily understood even the scenes that modern scholars find difficult, if not impossible to interpret.114 Nevertheless, even if one were to accept the consensus view that the embroidery was intended for display at a baronial hall to a predominantly lay audience of Normans, supplemented by English viewers, there would still be three main grounds for objecting to Gameson’s characterization of the embroidery’s pictorial narrative as a reasonably reliable historical document. These objections are more numerous and more telling if one assumes that the textile’s core audience consisted of monks of St Augustine’s who viewed it at the abbey. To begin with, there is the question of whether the textile can be said to be a narrative of historical events. To be sure, the idea of characterizing it in this way or imagining its translation by an interlocutor into an oral narrative sounds plausible when one considers the sections of the pictorial narrative (found mainly in the second half ) that show causally connected sequences of simple human actions, such as cutting down trees to build ships, then building the ships, then provisioning them and dragging them to the shore, loading the ships, sailing them across the sea and landing at Pevensey. However, it should be clear from the preceding discussion of the radically different readings of the embroidery by Freeman, Stenton, and Bouet that there are grounds for questioning whether it can always be understood as a record of events. For one thing, it includes many more scenes whose content and implication is unclear than Gameson acknowledges. They include the ones showing Harold’s first and second meetings with Edward, Harold petitioning Duke William, William giving arms to 112 113

114

Brilliant, “Bayeux Tapestry.” Gameson, “Origin,” 189 (my italics), citing as examples the scenes showing Ælfgyva and the clericus and the death of Harold. On the embroidery as an historical source, see, most recently, François Neveux, “The Bayeux Tapestry as Original Source,” in Bouet, BT, 171–95.

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Harold, the oath-scene, the deathbed scene, the crown-giving scene, and the crownwearing scene, not to mention the scene depicting the clericus and Ælfgyva. One should also add to this list a later scene of a woman fleeing a burning building.115 Moreover, to assume that contemporary viewers (or the interlocutor, for that matter) could have established the meaning of these scenes and identified the events that they were intended to represent by relying on their own suppositions about what event the scene showed, on outside information about events to which they had access, or on a knowledge of either the Norman Story or the English Story is also questionable. For example no viewers had – or could have had or could have thought that they had – anything worthy of being called “information” about “what happened” in the embroidery’s first scene (Fig. 1), represented as a private, even secret meeting between Harold and King Edward. The two key participants – Edward and Harold – were both dead; and the scene’s imagery implies that that the third man in it is participating in the meeting; unlike several figures in the oath-swearing scene, the man is certainly not acting as a formal witness to what happened at this meeting, if indeed it ever took place at all. Moreover, even uninformed lay viewers need not have placed their trust in any of the stories they had heard about this supposed meeting, particularly since George Garnett has convincingly argued that the Norman Story of the conquest is essentially a myth or “fabricated history.”116 Although viewers might well have had their own presuppositions about what happened, their overriding presupposition might well have been that their knowledge was uncertain. As we have already seen, the usual way of determining what event was represented in the opening scene has been to posit that the embroidery’s viewers would have known a single story about this meeting and believed in it so firmly that depending on which they story they knew, they would have seen the opening scene as representing either King Edward commissioning Harold to confirm the king’s previous appointment of Duke William as his heir or as Harold proposing to go to Normandy, over Edward’s objections, to ransom the two kinsmen of his whom Duke William was holding as hostages. But this is to assume that viewers knew only one story, believed implicitly in its truthfulness, remained steadfastly loyal to William I or Harold II, and reflexively projected their politically partisan views onto the embroidery’s narrative. But what if the embroidery’s viewers at St Augustine’s knew both of these stories and other stories besides, including the ones that Bouet has proposed as possible interpretations of the textile’s opening sequence? In that case, viewers would have seen the embroidery, not as telling a single story about events leading up to the conquest of England, but as hinting at multiple stories, including ones in which no one could place any credence. If so, the designer’s decision to construct a pictorial narrative that is so full of silences and ambiguities and so often fails to establish motivation, intention, or causality need not be explained by positing that doing so either allowed “[t]he spectator [to] choose either a Norman or English version” of the story that the embroidery told, as revisionist intepreters have argued, or else “required” them to make this choice, as Suzanne Lewis would have it.117 Instead, we may propose provisionally that the embroidery was intended to hint at different and conflicting stories about what led to the invasion of 115

116 117

I thank Gale Owen-Crocker for this point. Garnett, Norman Conquest, 37. S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 31, 34.

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England by Duke William of Normandy and his victory over Harold II at the Battle of Hastings, while conveying doubt and uncertainty about the truthfulness of any of them.118 A further reason for doubting that the embroidery presents a record of events or even tells a coherent story is that it repeatedly fails to use visual language and/or inscriptions in such a way as to indicate the intentions or motives of the characters or to indicate causality. As Chapters 8 and 9 explain, the opening scene fails to use conventionalized imagery to show that King Edward is delegating Harold to make or confirm a gift; nor does it mark any clear, causal connection between Harold’s initial meeting with the king and his riding to Bosham with his men. As a result, the textile neither explains why Harold sailed from Bosham, specifies his intended destination, nor makes any causal connection between his meeting with Edward and his subsequent travels. Because of the embroidery’s periodic failures to present a clearly motivated, causally connected narrative, there are also good grounds for doubting that the embroidery told the same kind of story about the origins of the conquest as did the Norman and English Stories that have sometimes been taken to be its “sources” and that modern historians, depending on which story they believe in, have used as reliable sources of historical evidence. Moreover, if the embroidery did not tell this kind of story, then it could not have served to legitimate the claims of either William I or Harold II to be King Edward’s legitimate successor. Finally, to treat the embroidery as presenting a record of events or telling a coherent story is implausible, because doing so fails to take account of the features of the embroidery that enable its most informed viewers to adopt a distanced, ironic perspective on narrative that the embroidery presents. The embroidery does not achieve this effect simply by presenting a narrative that is entirely lacking in what Laura Ashe calls “nationalistic moral colouring.”119 It also uses visual devices in the main frieze and images of fables in particular sections of the borders to put virtually all of its characters in a deeply unfavorable light. As Madeline Caviness has shown, for example, when images of Harold in the first section of the embroidery are viewed in relation to the images of nudes in the borders, it becomes evident that the designer has deliberately cast him in an unfavorable light.120 Furthermore, as Chapter 7 argues, the fables depicted in the embroidery’s borders must have been deliberately selected to provide ironic, satirical commentary on certain episodes in the main frieze and on the secular world of kings, magnates, soldiers, and clerics in which the textile’s story is set. Finally, the designer’s depiction of the comet portending a change of rule and the ships indicating that that change would be accomplished by a sea-invasion – both of which presage King Harold II’s doom – make clear the designer’s interest in simultaneously depicting human actions that somehow led to the fall of Harold and of the English and signaling the role that God played in bringing it about.

118

For the view that the embroidery was deliberately made to be open to different, contradictory readings: Thierry Lesieur, “Lisible et visible dans la Tapisserie de Bayeux ou la stratégie de l’ambiguïté,” La Licorne 23 (1992): 173–82. Online at http://licorne.edel.univ-poitiers.fr/

119

Ashe, Fiction and History, 38. Madeline H. Caviness, “Anglo-Saxon Women, Norman Knights and a ‘Third Sex’ in the Bayeux Embroidery,” in Foys, BT, 85–118 at 99–107.

120

document.php?id=334 (accessed 15 August 2014).

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Conclusion: Dissident Readings of the Embroidery If there are any narratives of the conquest that one might think of as textual analogues of the Bayeux Embroidery, they are not to be found among the early Norman or English Stories that were obviously written to justify the claims of William I or Harold II to be King Edward’s successor, but that historians, as we have seen, rely on because they present coherent, clearly motivated stories about how the conquest came about. Instead, we can find the best analogues in what George Garnett has called “dissident” accounts of the conquest, which as I interpret them, include the ones written a generation or two after 1066 by Hermann of Bury St Edmunds, Eadmer of Canterbury, William of Malmesbury, Orderic Vitalis, and Henry of Huntingdon.121 Because these accounts were written too late for it to be conceivable that they directly influenced the Bayeux Embroidery’s narrative and because they all draw on earlier textual accounts, they have never figured prominently in previous scholarship on the textile. Nevertheless, they are our best available guides to the near-contemporary reception of the official Norman and English Stories by monks able to read them critically in the light of their own independent knowledge of the English and Norman past, and they show how a conquest-narrative could include elements of the Norman and English Stories without telling either of them or fully justifying William’s or Harold’s claims to the English throne or explaining precisely how the conquest came about and why. Thus, the study of them, as presented below in Chapters 9 and 10, provides an excellent vantage-point from which to assess previous interpretations of the textile’s narrative, to address questions that they leave unresolved about its story and message and status as an historical document, and, finally, to develop a new approach to the story that the embroidery’s creators at St Augustine’s Canterbury intended it to tell about the conquest of England, when it was displayed at the abbey to an audience that included monks with the knowledge necessary to interpret it in all its complexity.

121

Hermann, Miracula, 245–6; Hermannus the Archdeacon, “The Miraculis Sancti Eadmundi,” in Memorials of St. Edmund’s Abbey, ed. Thomas Arnold, Rolls Series 96 (London: Longmans, 1890), pp. 26–92, at c.22 (pp. 57–8); Eadmer, HN, 5–8; Eadmer, HRE, 5–8; Orderic, EH, 135–45, 169–79; WM, GR; Henry, HA; JW, CJW.

Chapter 3 Imagined Patronage1 Elizabeth Carson Pastan “Patronage abhors a vacuum.”2

Despite scholarly engagements drawing attention to its complexity as a narrative,3 the Bayeux Embroidery is still routinely framed as a triumphal monument attesting to its putative patron’s greatness.4 Scholars who seek to come up with alternative explanations for its meaning and purpose are challenged not just by the weight of tradition surrounding it, but also by the fact that it is quite literally a work of art that is without a context. There are few extant medieval textiles with which to compare it – and certainly none on this scale – and no incontrovertible references to the embroidery from the first four centuries of its existence, leaving us without any contemporaneous evidence for its medieval setting and reception. This chapter will analyze the methods by which scholars have traditionally sought to understand the textile and provide a context for it. Accordingly, several key works in the art history of the Bayeux Embroidery will be examined. As we shall see, while inquiry into the patronage of the Bayeux Embroidery may initially have given rise to fruitful speculations, the identification with a particular patron has since become a limitation to be accommodated. This reappraisal of the literature, along with the re-examination of the earliest extant evidence for the textile’s use in the fifteenth-century inventory from Bayeux Cathedral and attention to use of medieval textiles in ecclesiastical settings, suggests different models for thinking about how and why the hanging came about. 1

2 3

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An earlier version of this chapter appeared as “Imagined Patronage: the Bayeux Embroidery and its Interpretive History,” in Medieval Patronage: Power & Agency in Medieval Art, ed. Colum Hourihane, The Index of Christian Art, Princeton University, Occasional Papers 15 (Princeton: The Index of Christian Art, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, in association with Penn State University Press, 2013), 54–75. Paul Binski, Westminster Abbey and the Plantagenets: Kingship and the Representation of Power, 1200–1400 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), 175. Among others, see Richard Brilliant, “The Bayeux Tapestry: A Stripped Narrative for Their Eyes and Ears,” Word & Image 7 (1991): 98–126; S. Lewis, Rhetoric; and articles in the following recent anthologies: Bouet, BT; Owen-Crocker, Harold II; and Foys, BT. Brilliant, “Bayeux Tapestry,” was reprinted in Gameson, Study, 111–37, but all references in this chapter are to the original publication. See S. Lewis, Rhetoric, in which the author seeks to reconcile the complexity of its narrative structure, which she portrays as fragmented and disjunct, with its traditional characterization as a propagandistic victor’s monument.

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Montfaucon and the First Publication of the Bayeux Embroidery The modern history of the Bayeux Embroidery began with its discovery in Bayeux Cathedral by Bernard de Montfaucon, who, in his Monumens de la Monarchie françoise of 1729, was the first to publish the textile (Fig. 40).5 Montfaucon thoroughly reviewed the history of the Norman Conquest of England, primarily using the textual accounts of Norman authors.6 Montfaucon’s view that the Bayeux Embroidery was a Norman victory monument was shored up by his comparison of it to Roman triumphal columns, a now-standard analogy that Montfaucon, who had previously published a popular multivolume work on the monuments of antiquity, was the first to make.7 To the extent that Montfaucon considered issues of patronage, it was to repeat without apology the local legend that William the Conqueror’s wife Matilda oversaw the hanging’s production, thereby reinforcing his implicit assumption that it was a Norman undertaking.8 However, within his detailed discussion Montfaucon repeatedly pointed to incidents where he found the textile’s pictorial narrative frustrating in comparison to the Norman textual accounts that were his chief frame of reference. In fact, as I will demonstrate, Montfaucon’s analyses in the Bayeux Embroidery’s first publication go far beyond what the words of the textile’s inscription say or what its images show in order to speculate about what he thinks is likely to have occurred, and to fill in the context of stories not explicitly evoked by the images in reference to other narratives of the conquest. Although Montfaucon’s interpolations bring his knowledge of the textual accounts of the Norman Conquest to bear on the Bayeux Embroidery, they often do so at the expense of understanding the story the embroidery recounts. Ultimately however, Montfaucon’s analyses contrasting Norman textual accounts to the pictorial narrative of the Bayeux Embroidery end up demonstrating the weakness of his hypothesis of Norman patronage. For example, Montfaucon frequently seeks to “round out” the story of the Norman Conquest by discussing the characters’ motivations. A characteristic instance is his portrayal of the Norman army’s fear upon landing in England. His description of the 5

6

7

8

Bernard de Montfaucon, Les Monumens de la Monarchie françoise, qui comprennent l’Histoire de France: avec les figures de chaque regne, que l’injure des tems a épargnées, 5 vols (Paris, 1729–33), 1: 371–9, with images interspersed. The Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris (INHA) has an electronic version on its website: http://www.purl.org/yoolib/inha/7731 (accessed 15 November 2012). Also see discussion in Chapter 1. Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Montfaucon as Reader of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Medieval Art and Architecture after the Middle Ages, ed. Janet T. Marquardt and Alyce A. Jordan (NewcastleUpon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), 89–110. Bernard de Montfaucon, L’Antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures, 10 vols. (Paris, 1719). For Montfaucon’s references to Trajan’s column, see idem, Monumens, 1: 375.and 2: 8. Discussed in O. K. Werckmeister, “The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Studi Medievali 3rd ser., 17 (1976): 535–95 at 536–48. Also see Stephen Orgel, “Textual Icons: Reading Early Modern Illustrations,” in The Renaissance Computer: Knowledge Technology in the First Age of Print, ed. Neil Rhodes and Jonathan Sawday (London: Routledge, 2000), 59–94 where the author foregrounds instances of images that serve a different purpose from the end which we have assumed they fill. Montfaucon, Monumens, 2: 2. Also referred to in Georges Huard, “Quelques lettres de bénédictins normands à Dom Bernard de Montfaucon pour la documentation des Monumens de la Monarchie Françoise,” Société des antiquaires de Normandie 28 (1913): 359–61, where Huard reproduces the letter of 22 September 1728 from the prior of Saint-Vigor of Bayeux that first reported that the embroidery was hung in the nave of Bayeux and says that it had been sewn by Queen Matilda.

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emotions of the troops in the face of “the valor of Harold, the large numbers of his army, and the gold and silver they saw in abundance,” drawing from William of Poitiers’ nearcontemporary account, serves to build dramatic tension and impel the narrative forward.9 The problem, as Montfaucon wryly observes, is that the textile does not actually portray the landing of the army, but features instead the debarkation of the horses, along with the terse accompanying inscription, “Here the horses come out of the boats” (W43; Fig. 22 in the embroidery, and see Fig. 45 for the image in Montfaucon’s text), thereby missing a narrative opportunity.10 In this instance, Montfaucon becomes an engaging interlocutor, determined to tell a good story with or without prompting from the embroidery itself, despite the fact that he insists that he is strictly adhering to what the embroidery shows and says, “We must stick to our pictorial account and to the inscription.”11 Among the background stories to which Montfaucon alludes is the invasion of the north of England by a dangerous combination of King Harold II’s own embittered brother Tostig, Norwegians led by Harald Hardrada, and Flemish mercenaries, to which Harold responded in the month before the Battle of Hastings, culminating in his decisive victory at Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066 (see Map 2).12 Montfaucon enlivens his narrative of this event by paraphrasing Henry of Huntingdon (c. 1088–c. 1157), who recounts the tale of a brave Norwegian soldier who alone held off the English on the bridge, killing forty of them single-handedly with his axe, before he was himself slain.13 However, there are no scenes in the embroidery that refer directly to this invasion and thus invite this account. True, some images in the embroidery might hint obliquely at this history, such as the empty ships shown in the border beneath the scene of King Harold enthroned as Halley’s Comet passes above (W32–3; Fig. 17).14 But as Montfaucon confirms, there is no explicit allusion to the Battle of Stamford Bridge: “L’inscription n’a que ce mot HAROLD” (“the inscription has nothing but this word HAROLD”).15 His scrupulous references to the inscription in fact serve to remind the reader of what a laconic account it provides.16 In discussing the battle of Stamford Bridge, Montfaucon expands upon William of Poitiers’ account that managed to cast Harold’s success there 9

10

11

12 13 14

15

16

Montfaucon, Monumens, 2: 18. See WP, GG, ii. 4–5, 107–9. “Hic exeunt caballi de navibus.” Montfaucon, Monumens, 2: 18. For Bernard Bachrach, “Some Observations on the Bayeux Tapestry,” Cithara 27 (1987): 5–28 at 11–12 the debarkation of the horses serves as one of his examples of the way the English artists undercut William the Conqueror’s sophisticated military technology for transporting horses. “Il faut s’en tenir à notre peintre et à l’inscription”: Montfaucon, Monumens, 2: 15, and repeated, 2: 28, after Montfaucon’s observation that Orderic Vitalis said Harold’s brothers were killed after him, which is not what is shown in the embroidery. Ibid., 2: 15–16, 21. Stenton, “Historical Background,” in Stenton, BT, 9–24 at 19–20 also notes the omission of the Battle of Stamford Bridge from the embroidery. Montfaucon, Monumens, 2.21, where Henry of Huntingdon is credited only in the Latin text at the bottom of the page. See Henry, HA, vi, 27, 386–9. Lucien Musset, The Bayeux Tapestry, trans. Richard Rex (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005), 176–80 thought these so-called ghost ships could allude to Stamford Bridge. However, Bernstein, Mystery, 21 and most other commentators view the ships as Duke William’s fleet, which foreshadows his invasion of England. Montfaucon, Monumens, 2: 15. A point also made in Brilliant, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 102–14 as part of his case that the textile had to be explicated by an informed interlocutor, or jongleur.

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in the worst light possible, referring to it as “Harold’s fight against his brother Tostig.”17 While the battle might reasonably be seen as an important victory on Harold’s part, William of Poitiers used the occasion to heap scorn on Harold for killing his own brother, characterizing him as “soiled with lasciviousness, a cruel murderer, resplendent with plundered riches, and an enemy of the good and the just.”18 Montfaucon’s interventions in the Bayeux Embroidery’s narrative are most evident when he discusses scenes of far-reaching political significance such as the episodes that relay the death of King Edward the Confessor, whose demise without biological heir in 1066 set in motion the succession crisis in England that lay behind the Norman Conquest (W29–30; Plates XI and XII; Fig. 15).19 Montfaucon construed the presentation of the scene in the embroidery as acknowledging the politically freighted notion that King Edward overturned his previous appointment of his cousin Duke William of Normandy as his heir in favor of a last-minute deathbed bequest to his brother-in-law, Earl Harold Godwineson of England. This went against Montfaucon’s every instinct about the Norman Conquest, beginning with the fact that the death of the king is not a focus of any of the early Norman histories. In William of Poitiers’ account, for example, King Edward’s death occurs offstage and is mentioned cursorily: “the English land had lost its king and Harold was wearing its crown.”20 Further, William makes only a later passing reference to the bequest, putting it in the mouth of one of Harold’s envoys, in a defensive and justificatory speech made on the eve of the battle.21 Yet the presentation of Edward’s death on the embroidery compels attention because of its extended composition, including the “double-decker” framing architectural structure (Plate XII; Fig. 16),22 the scenes within it that appear to address the beholder directly through their tipped-up perspective and the prominent gestures of the participants.23 The importance of the scene is further flagged by the two comparatively lengthy accompanying inscriptions, which both invoke the demonstrative “hic” (“here”): one in the border above the scene that is usually translated as “Here King Edward in bed talks to his faithful followers,” and another above the shrouding in the lower tier, “and here he is dead.”24 17

18

19

20 21

22 23

24

WP, GG, ii, 8, 112–13. Ibid., ii, 8, 114–15. And William of Poitiers does not stop there; see Ibid., ii, 25, 140–1, where after his account of Harold’s death, he refers once more to Harold as someone “stained with [his own] brother’s blood,” who “reaped the reward he deserved.” The importance of the episode is underscored by Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 385–400; N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34, and 191–9 at 11–12; and Bernstein, Mystery, 114–23. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” was reprinted in Gameson, Study, 63–92, but because the reprinted version omits the visual comparanda, all references in this chapter are to the original publication. “Anglicam terram rege Edward orbatam esse et eius corona Heraldum ornatum.” WP, GG, ii, 1, 100–1. Ibid., ii, 12, 118–19, where William of Poitiers refers to a deathbed bequest but downplays its importance by bringing it up out of chronological sequence, in a speech made by Harold’s envoy just before the battle. See discussion in Pastan, “Montfaucon as Reader,” 99–102. See remarks in Richard Gameson, “The Origin, Art, and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 157–211 at 187–8, 194–5, 200–1. See Otto Pächt, The Rise of Pictorial Narrative in Twelfth-century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 9–11 and related discussion 29–32 for an insightful visual analysis; and Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 164–6. For a discussion of the deathbed scene that advocates an alternative translation of the longer inscription, quite distinct from Montfaucon’s reading at issue here, see Chapter 9. The

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For this reason, in presenting this scene Montfaucon departed from his usual dispassionate comparative textual analyses in order to personally decry what he termed Harold’s “unsubstantiated claim.”25 The earliest text that elaborates on the death of King Edward is in fact not a Norman one, but the biography of the king known as the Vita Ædwardi (c. 1065–67), which was probably made in Canterbury for Edward’s widow, Queen Edith.26 The Vita offers several striking similarities to the embroidery’s pictorial narrative, among them the focus on the king’s last moments and the description of the four fideles present at the bedside. It is by no means an easy text to interpret, as the dying king is portrayed as offering up a mixture of astute-sounding prophecies and feverish ramblings, culminating in Edward’s ambiguous commendation of the kingdom and Queen Edith to Harold.27 The Vita’s account may be reflected in the central reach of Edward and Harold towards one another as the fingertips of their right hands touch,28 as well as in the presence of the queen at the left of those gathered at the king’s bed, a telling detail since she is one of only six women out of the 627 figures depicted on the hanging as a whole.29 But the pictorial imagery on the embroidery does not take a clear stand on any commendation of Edward to Harold. As H. E. J. Cowdrey summarized: “It must be conceded that the death bed scene … will bear either interpretation – either that Edward gave the kingdom to Harold … or that Edward charged Harold to protect the kingdom … and to bring about William’s succession.”30 At the very least, it must be acknowledged that the designer of the embroidery was not obliged to render the death of the king as a two-tiered event with a separate upper scene that could be seen as massaging the issue of a countermanding royal bequest; and certain viewers would have been only too happy to read it as such, as

25

26

27

28 29

30

embroidery’s inscriptions are transcribed and translated in Wilson, BT, 172–3; now see Elizabeth Coatsworth, “Inscriptions on Textiles Associated with Anglo-Saxon England,” in Writing and Texts in Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Alexander R. Rumble (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2006), 71–95 at 91–5. Montfaucon, Monumens, 2: 14 on the “prétendue déclaration.” Vita Ædwardi, xxix–xxxiii for Barlow’s discussion of dating. A connection between the embroidery and the Vita Ædwardi was first recognized by Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 391–2. For the argument that the Vita Ædwardi originated in Canterbury, see Chapter 8. Vita Ædwardi, II.11, p. 24. For very different analyses of the complexities of the king’s “commending” of the kingdom to Harold, see David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact on England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), 252; Barlow, Edward, 151–3; Thierry Lesieur, “Lisible et visible dans la tapisserie de Bayeux ou la stratégie de l’ambiguïté,” La Licorne 23 (1992): 173–82, online at http://licorne.edel.univ-poitiers.fr/ document.php?id=334 (accessed 15 August 2014); H. E. J. Cowdrey, “King Harold II and the Bayeux Tapestry: A Critical Introduction,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 1–15 at 7–8; George Garnett, Conquered England: Kingship, Succession, and Tenure, 1066–1166 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 7–9; Laura Ashe, Fiction and History in England, 1066–1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 35–47; and Jennifer N. Brown, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the Vitae of Edward the Confessor in Dialogue,” Peregrinations 2 (2009), 166–82, online at http://peregrinations.kenyon.edu/vol2_3_and_4.pdf (accessed 14 November 2012). See Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 11–12; and Pierre Bouet, “Is the Bayeux Embroidery Pro-English?” in Bouet, BT, 197–215 at 209–13. Catherine E. Karkov, “Gendering the Battle? Male and Female in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 139–47, esp. 140 and 145, for her nuanced remarks, which draw attention to the similarities between the text and the embroidery while refraining from suggesting that the Vita determined the images. Cowdrey, “Harold II,” 8; a point also made in Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 166.

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Montfaucon’s outraged response to any reading that would endorse such an interpretation of the king’s “unsubstantiated” bequest to Harold demonstrates. The net effect of the embroidery’s depiction is to visualize the possibility that a gift of the kingdom to Earl Harold of England could have taken place, a nuance that surely was not a requisite for the Norman triumphal monument Montfaucon sought to portray. In Montfaucon, the Bayeux Embroidery had a scholar engaged by the question of what had happened during the Norman Conquest of England, an interest that he largely satisfied through reading “the best historians of Normandy” as a basis for judgment.31 When faced with divergent medieval textual accounts of key scenes, Montfaucon tends to judge as the best historian the one who is most detailed, and for this reason, he generally prefers William of Poitiers.32 One might also suspect that Norman authors were more compatible with the French historical focus of his book, although he does cite later English authors such as Henry of Huntingdon when they offer a more fulsome or colorful account. Nonetheless, Montfaucon’s importance is undeniable, and not just because he discovered the hanging and was the first to publish it; he also raised problems of interpretation by closely observing the differences between the Norman textual accounts and the way the embroidery represented events, and by underscoring the fact that the brunt of the story was borne by the pictorial narrative and not the inscription.33 As we have seen, Montfaucon’s handling of patronage was not so much focused on any particular person, despite his brief reference to Queen Matilda, as it was on the Norman victors’ version of events, but in repeatedly demonstrating that the Bayeux Embroidery’s rendition departed in key ways from Norman authors’ narratives, he called into question his own supposition that it was a Norman work of art.

Odo as Patron The designation of a particular Norman patron for the Bayeux Embroidery was one of the chief contributions of the volume edited by Sir Frank Stenton in 1957.34 The anthology synthesized specialized scholarship from the previous century on a variety of topics, including Anglo-Saxon influence on the orthography of its Latin inscriptions, the depiction of Aesopian fables in the borders, the English tradition of needleworking, and the archaeology of the buildings.35 However, the contributions largely coalesced around a single issue: the embroidery’s supposed patronage by William the Conqueror’s half31 32

33

34

35

Montfaucon, Monumens, 1: 373 specifically discussing the reasons for Harold’s journey to the Continent. Montfaucon, Monumens 2: 15, describes William of Poitiers as “le plus exact des historiens de la vie et des action du Roi Guillaume.” Also see Francis Haskell, History and its Images and the Interpretation of the Past (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993), 137–42, and Pastan, “Montfaucon as Reader.” Pastan, “Montfaucon as Reader,” 103. Frank Stenton, ed., The Bayeux Tapestry: A Comprehensive Survey (London: Phaidon Press, 1957), and see the review of it by David Douglas in The English Historical Review 73 (1958): 282–6 for an appreciation of the book at the time it appeared, including remarks on the quality of the photographic reproductions. The first edition of Stenton, cited above, did not include R. Allen Brown’s chapter, “The Architecture,” 76–87, which is only in the revised second edition, as cited here throughout as Stenton, BT.

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brother Odo of Conteville (W48 and W75; Figs 24 and 34), the bishop of Bayeux and after the Norman Conquest, the earl of Kent.36 In the anthology, the issue of the embroidery’s problematic and “underwhelming” Norman perspective to which Montfaucon had accidentally drawn attention was dealt with only in passing, with Stenton allowing that the Normans’ grace in victory was reflected in the embroidery’s “magnanimous” treatment of Harold.37 That Stenton’s concession to the embroidery’s treatment of the defeated enemy did not begin to handle the issue of the textile’s complex editorial perspective, however, was evidenced in Charles Gibbs-Smith’s pointed disagreement with his fellow authors in the volume, when he observed that the opening scene (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1) – routinely interpreted in the light of Norman texts as the king sending Harold to Normandy to confirm Edward’s alleged promise that William should succeed him on the English throne – could in fact be interpreted entirely differently in relation to the observations of later authors, including Eadmer of Canterbury and William of Malmesbury, as Harold’s own initiative or a fishing trip gone awry.38 Nonetheless, as Stenton opined, the scope of the embroidery’s story was determined “by the necessity of satisfying [this] formidable patron [Odo],” further emphasizing that “the designer … could not do other than follow the tale most acceptable to his patron.”39 A named patron, even an imagined one, offered the work a new sense of purpose by encompassing its English and Norman affinities in a single personalized embodiment, since it was suggested that Odo ordered the embroidery from within his English earldom for his Norman bishopric, for the 14 July 1077 consecration of Bayeux Cathedral. Without a doubt, the most lasting contribution of the Stenton volume was Francis Wormald’s nuanced demonstration that the hanging was made in Canterbury, a case that has remained the basis of all subsequent discussions.40 In an exemplary art historical analysis, Wormald traced the embroidery’s colorful linear technique to the Utrecht Psalter and its English descendants (Figs 56, 57, and 62), noting that the tall, lithe figures with their “remarkable sense of bustle,” complemented by energetic gestures and meaningful glances, 36

37

38

39

40

On the various authors’ discussions of a patron in Stenton, BT, see Stenton, “Historical Background,” 9, 11, and 23; Francis Wormald, “Style and Design,” 33–4; Wingfield Digby, “Technique and Production,” 52; and Charles Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” 174. Arguments for Bishop Odo as the patron of the embroidery were first offered by Thomas Amyot, “A Defence of the Early Antiquity of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Archaeologia 19 (1821): 192–208 and most comprehensively, Honoré François Delauney, Origine de la Tapisserie de Bayeux prouvée par elle-même (Caen: Mancel, 1824). See the useful overview in Brown, Bibliography, 23–33, and now Pastan and White, “Problematizing.” Stenton, “Historical Background,” 15 and 23. Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” 174–5. Contrast the characterization of the trip in Norman authors William of Poitiers and William of Jumièges (WP, GG, i, 41, 69, and WJ, GND, 158–61) to that in Eadmer, HRE, 7–8, and William of Malmesbury, WM, GR, ii, 228, 3, 416–17. Montfaucon’s contemporary, Antoine Lancelot, “Explication d’un monument de Guillaume le Conquérant,” Mémoires de Littérature 6 (1729): 739–55 at 740–2 was the first to note the difficulty of using the scene on the embroidery to determine what happened, although he did observe that the shields on the vessel that took Harold to the Continent suggested a more official trip than the fishing expedition William of Malmesbury whimsically proposed. Also see Montfaucon, Monumens, 1: 373. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 23 and 9, respectively. Wormald, “Style and Design,” 25–36.

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compare closely.41 Yet he conceded that the determination of an English provenance based on style alone was inconclusive because of the relatively poor survival of Norman illuminated manuscripts.42 Nonetheless Wormald argued for the textile’s English origin based on factors other than style, particularly the appearance in the embroidery of several motifs traceable to Canterbury manuscripts, which he dubbed “so close … that those in the Tapestry look like modifications of the [manuscript] models.”43 This point may be illustrated with one of Wormald’s examples, the unusual scene of bear-baiting in the Passional of St Augustine’s and the related motif in the border of the embroidery (W12; Plate V in the embroidery, and compare to image from the Passional in Plate XXV).44 Since all six of the English manuscripts on which Wormald based his case are from Canterbury, his argument for the English origin of the Bayeux Embroidery was really a case for its origin in Canterbury.45 For subsequent scholars, given the nature and extent of the influences of manuscripts from the scriptorium of the abbey of St Augustine’s in Canterbury on the embroidery, this was tantamount to a case for the textile’s creation there.46 In particular the highly original biblical pictorial narratives of the abbey’s Old English Hexateuch have been seen as a “thesaurus of imagery” for the 41

42 43

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46

Ibid., 29–32; and see William Noel, “The Utrecht Psalter’s Legacy in England: Continuity and Experiment,” in The Utrecht Psalter in Medieval Art: Picturing the Psalms of David, ed. Koert van der Horst, William Noel, and Wilhelmina C. M. Wüstefeld (Tuurdijk: HES Publishers, 1996), 121–65, with further bibliography. Wormald, “Style and Design,” 30, 32. On Norman illuminations, see J. J. G. Alexander, Norman Illumination at Mont St Michel, 966–1100 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970). Wormald, “Style and Design,” 32, and his figures 16 and 17 (reproduced here in Fig. 46). For the Passional (London, British Library MS Arundel 91, fol. 147v), see C. M. Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts, 1066–1190, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 3 (London: Harvey Miller, 1975), cat. no. 17, p. 61 with further bibliography. Other than the Passional, these are: the Caedmon Genesis (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 11), Prudentius’s Psychomachia (BL, Cotton MS Cleopatra C. viii), an Anglo-Saxon copy of the Utrecht Psalter (BL, Harley 603), a Miscellany with the Wonders of Creation (BL, Cotton MS Tiberius B. v), and the Old English Hexateuch (London, British Library MS Cotton Claudius B. iv). For more on these works, see Elżbieta Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, 900–1066, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 2 (London: Harvey Miller, 1976), cat nos. 49, 63, 87, and 86, respectively; Cyril Hart, “The Bayeux Tapestry and Schools of Illumination at Canterbury,” ANS 22 (2000): 117–67; and Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Reading the Bayeux Tapestry through Canterbury Eyes,” in Anglo-Saxons: Studies Presented to Cyril Roy Hart, ed. S. Keynes and A. P. Smyth (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006), 243–65. See the summary of the case for St Augustine’s in Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 9–18; and the more recent assessments of the evidence by Gameson, “Origin,” 169–73; and Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 20–4. Among those scholars who argue that the Bayeux Embroidery was designed at St Augustine’s are: C. R. Dodwell and Peter Clemoes, The Old English Illustrated Hexateuch, British Museum Cotton Claudius B. IV (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1974), 71–3; Bernstein, Mystery, 37–81; Cyril R. Hart, “The Canterbury Contribution to the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Art and Symbolism in Medieval Europe: Papers of the “Medieval Europe Brugge 1997” Conference V, ed. Guy de Boe and Frans Verhaeghe (Zellik: I. A. P. Rapporten, 1997), 7–15; Maylis Baylé, “The Bayeux Tapestry and Decoration in North-Western Europe: Style and Composition,” in Bouet, BT, 307–10; Hart, “The Bayeux Tapestry and Schools of Illumination,” 117; Owen-Crocker, “Canterbury Eyes,” 243–44; and Maylis Baylé, “Vikings, normandes, anglaises ou carolingiennes? Les sources artistiques de la Tapisserie de Bayeux,” in La Tapisserie de Bayeux: Une chronique des temps Vikings?, ed. Sylvette Lemagnen, Actes du colloque international de Bayeux, 29–30 March 2007 (Bonsecours: Editions Point de Vues, 2009), 102–115, 114.

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embroidery,47 as shown by Wormald’s own comparison of the scenes with bird slingers (W10–11; Plate IV; Fig. 6; and see Fig. 46), discussed in Chapter 1 from different perspectives. Characteristically, the affinities between the Hexateuch from St Augustine’s of the mid-eleventh century and the embroidery from the latter third of the eleventh century are not stylistic in nature, nor are the images identical. Rather the scenes in the embroidery show the adaptation in a completely new context of some distinctive element found in the Canterbury manuscripts, suggesting that the motifs were not slavishly copied, but part of the artistic repertoire of the monastic designer. In the Hexateuch, for example, a scene of escape involving a cross-legged man fleeing down a slip rope (Plate XXVI) appears in an illustration of the book of Joshua (2:7–21) in which Israelite spies are being lowered from the walls of Jericho; in the embroidery the scene is part of the visual imagining of Duke William’s Breton campaign when the wily Conan of Dol manages to literally “give William the slip” (W20–1; Plate IX; Figs 10 and 11).48 If Wormald persuasively established the foundation of the case for the embroidery’s design at St Augustine’s in Canterbury, the argument for Odo as its patron advanced collectively in the Stenton anthology nonetheless remained conjectural. One example will suffice to illustrate the problematical nature of the case for Odo’s patronage: the embroidery’s putative connection with the 14 July 1077 consecration of Bayeux Cathedral, Odo’s seat in Normandy.49 Although the authors in the Stenton volume were generally careful to articulate the case in the conditional, as reflected in Wormald’s statement, “If [the embroidery] was made at Odo’s command then it is equally likely that it was made in connexion with the dedication of his cathedral,”50 the repetition of this notion by several different authors across different chapters served to reify it. In support of the Bayeux Embroidery’s connection to the cathedral’s consecration, particularly given the absence of any internal documentation in Bayeux, one would expect that the cathedral and its relics would be highlighted on the textile. However, Bayeux Cathedral is not shown, while ecclesiastical sites of more importance in an English context, such as the church at the inlet harbor of Bosham in West Sussex, are depicted (W2–3; Plate II; Fig. 2).51 The place-name “Bayeux” appears in an inscription near an architectural structure that depicts either the town gates or the entrance portal of Duke William’s castle there (W25; Plate X; Fig. 13), but the connection between this structure 47

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Bernstein, Mystery, 40–1. The Hexateuch is discussed further in Chapter 6. For the Hexateuch, see Dodwell and Clemoes, Hexateuch, 40; for textual accounts of the Breton expedition, see George Beech, Was the Bayeux Tapestry Made in France? The Case for SaintFlorent of Saumur (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 61–90; and R. H. C. Davis, “William of Poitiers and his History of William the Conqueror,” in The Writing of History in the Middle Ages: Essays presented to Richard William Southern, ed. R. H. C. Davis and J. M. Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 71–100, esp. 81–2. This scene and the notion of “pictorial sources” is further discussed in Chapter 6. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 9, 11; Wormald, “Style and Design,” 23, 33–4; Wingfield Digby, “Technique and Production,” 52; and Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” 174. The date traditionally cited for the consecration of Bayeux Cathedral comes from Orderic Vitalis; see OV, EH, 3: V. ii. 305, 10–11. Now see Jean-Michel Bouvris, “La dédicace de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux (14 juillet 1077),” Société des sciences, arts et belles-lettres de Bayeux 28 (1982): 3–16. Wormald, “Style and Design,” 33. On Bosham, see Chapter 8.

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and Harold’s oath to William in the accompanying scene is ambiguous. Referring to the depiction of the swearing of Harold’s oath on relics, which occurs somewhere past the structure Duke William is approaching, one scholar concluded, “The most that can be deduced from what we see in the tapestry is that the oath … took place on open ground either at or near Bayeux.”52 Moreover, the hybrid form “Bagias” in the embroidery’s inscription (Plate X; Fig. 13), an anglicized version of the Latin “Baiocensis” or “Baiocas” in the accusative case for Bayeux, does not suggest that the textile was commissioned to hang in the Norman town.53 Indeed the cathedral’s relics, such as those of its most prominent saints, Ravennus and Rasyphus, do not receive any explicit endorsement in the swearing of the oath, nor does the single gold- and gem-encrusted reliquary Odo gave to the cathedral to house the remains of both saints.54 Odo’s reliquary, described by a sixteenth-century antiquarian as “a miniature version of Bayeux Cathedral that was taller than a ten-year-old girl,” would seem to offer a great subject for representation, but it is not shown.55 Expressively, the depiction of Harold’s oath to Duke William on two small separate shrines contributes to the effect of Harold appearing “crucified” by his oath,56 but were Odo the formidable and micromanaging patron identified by Stenton, his gift of the saints’ reliquary surely would have been emphasized. Because Bayeux Cathedral, the relics of its most important saints, and the lavish reliquary Odo gave to it, are not shown, and even the name given for the Norman town is an English hybridized form, there is no rationale for connecting the Bayeux Embroidery with the 1077 consecration of the cathedral.57 Indeed, most scholars who now regard Odo as the patron of the textile have dropped the tie-in to the 52 53

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Bridgeford, 1066, 297. Réné Lepelley, “Contribution à l’étude des descriptions de la Tapisserie de Bayeux.” Annales de Normandie 14 (1964), 313-21. Translated as “A Contribution to the Study of the Inscriptions in the Bayeux Tapestry: Bagias and Wilgelm” (1964), rpt. and trans. in Gameson, Study, 40–3; and Ian Short, “The Language of the Bayeux Tapestry Inscription,” ANS 23 (2001): p. 271, n. 8. See the assessment of their different approaches in Coatsworth, “Inscriptions on Textiles,” 86–9. For the relics of Bayeux Cathedral, with further bibliography, see François Neveux, “Les reliques de la cathédrale de Bayeux,” in Les Saints dans la Normandie médiévale, ed. Pierre Bouet and François Neveux, Colloque de Cerisy-la-Salle, 26–29 September 1996 (Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 2000), 109–33; and Karen Eileen Overbey, “Taking Place: Reliquaries and Territorial Authority in the Bayeux Embroidery,” in Foys, BT, 36–50. See E. Deslandes, “Le trésor de l’église Notre-Dame de Bayeux, d’après les inventaires manuscripts de 1476, 1480 et 1498,” in Bulletin archéologique du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques (1896): 340–450 at 345 citing Charles de Bougerville, also known as Charles de Bras, Les Recherches et antiquitez de la province de Neustrie, présent Duché de Normandie, comme des villes remarquables d’icelle: Mais plus spécialement de la Ville & de l’université de Caen (1588; reprint, Caen, 1833), 264. As observed by J.-L. Chassel, “Le Serment de Harold dans la tapisserie de Bayeux et dans les sources pro-Normandes des XIe et XIIe siècles,” in Le serment: Actes du colloque international CNRS, Paris X Nanterre, 25–25 May 1989, ed. R. Verdier, 2 vols. (Paris: Editions du CNRS, 1991), I: 45. The only other concrete connection between the embroidery’s imagery and Bayeux Cathedral was made by Lepelley, “Contribution to the Study of the Inscriptions,” 39, who sought to interpret the affronted birds below the structure near the inscription naming “Bagias” as “the prototype of what was subsequently to become the arms of the Chapter of Bayeux,” but he is the only one to do so.

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consecration of Bayeux Cathedral put forth in the Stenton volume, and instead prefer a secular context.58

Cleric in Name Only Nonetheless, the case for Odo’s patronage continued to deepen in the scholarly literature published in the decades after the Stenton volume, not because of new evidence, but because views of the bishop of Bayeux developed in different directions. Odo was increasingly described as a cleric “in name only,” who was “much in evidence in the service of Mars, but never in the service of God.”59 The embroidery was called “a memorial to Odo’s private ostentation,” in which he had had himself represented “unabashedly.”60 The following selection from David Bernstein’s study published in 1986 shows the kind of case proposed, along with a new theory as to where the embroidery was displayed: Since Odo was apparently the kind of ecclesiastic who would have been more comfortable listening to the Song of Roland than to a debate on transubstantiation … the Tapestry may not have been made for his Cathedral at all, but for private display in a great hall …. [W]e might imagine Odo commissioning this great embroidery to adorn the walls of one of his palaces.61

As Bernstein’s statements reflect, the secular setting now espoused by scholars is not a provenance with any new factual grounding, but a supposition based on a certain conception of its patron. As Richard Gameson summarized crisply, “As we have no evidence concerning how the Tapestry was hung in the eleventh century – be it in cathedral, hall, or both – specific comment on its arrangement is of little value.”62 The problem is that leaving the issue of its display without further comment allows the prevalent explanation for the embroidery’s setting – in this case its “unabashed” glorification of Odo in one of his many palaces – to linger and to limit the range of possibilities with which the work is contemplated. Historically, scholars seeking to contextualize the Bayeux Embroidery have employed plausible strategies in turning to textual accounts of the Norman Conquest (Montfaucon); and in arguing for a patron who could explain who, where, when, and why the work was undertaken (the authors contributing to the Stenton volume). On the basis of the key works from the literature reviewed here, however, it is also clear that many of these same authors have also preferred to emphasize textual accounts of the conquest by its 58

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See the discussion of settings for the embroidery in Bernstein, Mystery, 105–7; Brown, Bibliography, 34–5, and Wilson, BT, 201–3; and Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Brothers, Rivals, and the Geometry of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in conjunction with Chris Henige, “Putting the Tapestry in its Place,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 109–23 and 125–37, respectively. C. R. Dodwell, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the French Secular Epic,” Burlington Magazine 108 (1966): 549–60 at 549. Ibid., 549 and 550, respectively. However, see David R. Bates, “The Character and Career of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux (1049/50–1097),” Speculum 50 (1975): 1–20, who argues that by accepting Orderic Vitalis’s “dramatic vilifications” of Odo at face value, modern scholars have not made a fair assessment of the evidence. Bernstein, Mystery, 104. Gameson, “Origin,” 175.

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Norman victors over the embroidery’s own complex pictorial narrative; they have sought a personalized explanation in the form of a directive patron despite the ample indications of monastic engagement in its design adduced by Wormald; and finally, they have arbitrarily determined first a sacred and then a secular context for the textile based on their understanding of that patron.

Patron in Name Only While most scholars now recognize that the textile was produced at St Augustine’s in Canterbury, they would nonetheless have the Bayeux Embroidery made at the behest of a wealthy “patron.” But Bishop Odo of Bayeux’s role as an artistic patron has been so qualified and subverted, and further cast in doubt by frequent proposals of new and apparently better candidates to serve in this ill-defined capacity, that even for those who still regard Odo as its “patron,” the Bayeux Embroidery seems less the product of his agency than something that happened to be produced by the abbey to which he extended his largesse during his lifetime. Bernard Bachrach’s study pointing out the many ways that the Norman patron’s lack of supervision led to willful errors, distortions, and ridicule by the English monastic artists is a case in point.63 The subversive monastic artists of Bachrach’s scenario sound so much more interesting than any supposed distant Norman patron! Among the different patrons who have been proposed – Eustace of Boulogne, Queen Edith, and most recently, Archbishop Stigand – it is interesting to observe that all of them are individuals who have reputations for compromise and accommodation. These new proposals accept the premise that a patron’s chief role is authorial agency, and they thus seek to supply new patron-candidates who might better explain the complex nature of the pictorial narrative’s view of the Norman Conquest, in essence conceding that Bishop Odo is unsatisfactory in this regard.64 In proposing new putative patrons, however, scholars persist in taking the unnecessary step of turning to someone outside of the monastery, as though the monks of St Augustine’s could not have come up with the plan themselves. A more persuasive model for understanding the embroidery must therefore first recognize the strength of the artistic and intellectual traditions at St Augustine’s and 63 64

Bachrach, “Observations,” 7–16. Also see Bernstein, Mystery, 112, who concedes that Odo “got more than he bargained for.” Andrew Bridgeford, 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry (New York: Walker & Company, 2006); idem, “Was Count Eustace II of Boulogne the Patron of the Bayeux Tapestry?” Journal of Medieval History 25 (1999): 155–85. Carola Hicks, The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece (London: Chatto & Windus, 2006), 22–39; and eadem, “The Patronage of Queen Edith,” in M. Lewis, BT, 5–9 argues that Queen Edith, widow of King Edward and sister of Harold II, was uniquely well positioned to view the Norman Conquest evenhandedly. And now see K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, “Through the Eye of the Needle: Stigand, the Bayeux Tapestry and the Beginnings of the Historia Anglorum,” in The English and their Legacy, 900–1200: Essays in Honour of Ann Williams, ed. David Roffe (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2012), 159–74 advocating Archbishop Stigand. Note that Beech, Was the Bayeux Tapestry Made in France?, proposed the abbey of Saint-Florent in the Loire valley for production, in addition to identifying William I, a friend of this community’s abbot, as the patron but nonetheless on pp. 96–9 conceded a “profound” Canterbury influence in the design. In an unusual twist, Howard B. Clarke, “The Identity of the Designer of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 35 (2013): 120–39 has identified Scolland as the “designer” of the embroidery, while retaining Odo as its “patron.”

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proceed by dispensing with the notion that an external patron is somehow necessary for the creation of the textile. An analogous scenario was presented by Herbert Kessler, who argued that the eponymous patron of the Vivian Bible was little involved in its iconographic program, and would be more accurately viewed as its dedicatee.65 Kessler could persuasively demonstrate that, despite the appearance of Count Vivian in both a dedication miniature and poem, the count – a military hero who was made lay abbot in compensation for his services – left the complexities of its iconographic program to the far better qualified monks of Saint-Martin of Tours. Indeed, the variety of circumstances involved in the commission, determination of content, design, and production that medieval scholars like Kessler continue to uncover for the creation of a work of medieval art casts the utility of any monolithic notion of patronage into doubt.66 The diverse medieval scenarios adduced in fact contrast markedly with the so-called Renaissance model of the wealthy client, defined by Michael Baxandall as “an active, determining and not necessarily benevolent agent in the transaction of which [the work of art] is the result,” who aimed to control the artist as he allotted funds in ways that affected the character of the painting, withholding them if he was not satisfied.67 Yet Baxandall’s model of the patron-client is what many scholars of the Bayeux Embroidery have knowingly or unknowingly adopted in describing Odo. Significantly, Baxandall himself set the term “patron” aside in favor of “client,” because “patron” did not allow him the scope to describe the fifteenth-century Florentine commissions that were his focus, arguing that it “carried too many overtones from other situations.”68 The difficulty of portraying the circumstances that led to the creation of medieval works of art, which are often based on inference or generic and dated models, points toward a different model of how the Bayeux Embroidery came about. Rather than trying to locate a new and better patron, it makes more sense to turn instead to the very monastic artists universally recognized as creating the visual narrative of the Bayeux Embroidery and grant them authorial status; call it “internal patronage,” adopting the concept that Julian Luxford formulated for later Benedictine abbeys in England, which emphasizes the monks’ own agency in works made for the embellishment of their monasteries.69 Subsequent chapters will further develop this model for St Augustine’s 65

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Herbert L. Kessler, “A Lay Abbot as Patron: Count Vivian and the First Bible of Charles the Bald,” in Committenti e Produzione Artistico-Letteraria nell’Alto Medioevo Occidentale (4–10 April 1991), Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo 39 (Spoleto, 1992), 647–79. Michel Pastoureau, “La broderie de Bayeux: Un programme introuvable?” In Le Programme: Une notion pertinente en histoire de l’art medieval, ed. Jean-Marie Guillouët and Claudia Rabel (Paris: Le Léopard d’Or, 2011), 95–134 at 103–9, though ultimately pronouncing in favor of Odo, p. 120. Also see Jill Caskey, “Whodunit? Patronage, the Canon and the Problematics of Agency in Romanesque and Gothic Art, ” in A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe, ed. Conrad Rudolph, Blackwell Companions to Art History (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 193–212; Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 3–7; and Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Foreword,” in Medieval Patronage, ed. Hourihane, forthcoming. Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), 1. Ibid. Although he is focused on a later period and St Augustine’s is not among his chief examples, see the stimulating formulation of “internal monastic patronage” in Julian M. Luxford, The Art and Architecture of English Benedictine Monasteries, 1300–1540: A Patronage History (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005), xxi, and 29–82; and idem, “The Construction of English Monastic

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by showing that everything Odo’s patronage has been used to explain can be understood as well or better with reference to the community of St Augustine’s (Chapters 4–6); by examining scenes that reflect specific monastic contributions (Chapters 7–10); and by investigating the programmatic thinking involved in the new building campaign of St Augustine’s, which was undertaken in the very period the textile was created (Chapter 11). Accordingly, in the rest of this chapter we will focus in the importance of textiles in sacred topography, in order to counter the false claim that the Bayeux Embroidery must be seen as a “secular” work of art. First, however, it will be helpful to revisit the inventory of Bayeux Cathedral of 1476, for evidence of how the embroidery was used at the time of its earliest documented display.

The Earliest Display of the Bayeux Embroidery As demonstrated in Chapter 1, the Bayeux Cathedral inventory (Figs 37 and 38), which is the earliest extant historical record of the embroidery, bears witness to the role of the works of art it lists in the celebration of the liturgy of the cathedral.70 The organization of the inventory provides a vivid picture of a smoothly functioning later medieval ecclesiastical environment: reliquaries, which receive pride of place in the first two chapters of the inventory, were prominently stored near the main altar in the choir;71 mantles and chasubles were found “to the right side of the pulpit beneath the crucifix;”72 books which were not in the library but needed for the office were “in the choir and in chapels around the choir”;73 while the large textiles that were “used to prepare the church for its feasts” were kept in the vestiary.74 As this phrase quoted from the inventory reflects, what drew all the entries in the inventory together was their performance in the liturgy, the ultimate celebration of the material and spiritual endowments of the cathedral.75 Indeed, textiles served an important role in the medieval church generally, where they were reserved for the celebration of feasts, and their hanging was an important aspect of liturgical practice in preparing the church for special devotions. The later thirteenth-century medieval liturgist William Durand (c. 1230–96) alluded to the visual distinction textiles provided, and likened their hanging to cloaking the church with virtue:

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Patronage,” in Medieval Patronage: Power & Agency in Medieval Art, ed. Colum Hourihane, The Index of Christian Art, Princeton, Occasional Papers, XV, 31–53. (Princeton, NJ: The Index of Christian Art, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, in association with the Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013), 31–53, esp. 32–3. Caen, Archives départementales du Calvados, série G, Bibliothèque du chapitre cathédrale de Bayeux, MS 199. Deslandes, “Trésor,” 360–402. Deslandes numbered the entries listed in the inventory for this publication; although the fifteenth-century manuscript does not have them, I have retained Deslandes’ numbers for ease of reference. Ibid., 361. Ibid., 380. Ibid., 396, and see 403–33 for the library inventory of 1480. Ibid., 391. See Éric Palazzo, “Le livre dans les trésors du Moyen Age: Contribution à l’histoire de la Memoria médiévale,” Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 52 (1997): 93–118; and Cynthia Hahn, “Relics and Reliquaries: The Construction of Imperial Memory and Meaning, with Particular Attention to Treasuries at Conques, Aachen and Quedlinburg,” in Representing History, 900–1300: Art, Music, History, ed. Robert A. Maxwell (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010), 133–47.

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On feast days the curtains are spread out in church to decorate them, so that through visible ornaments, we will be moved to the invisible ones…the diversity of their colors denotes that man, who is the temple of God, ought to be decorated with a diversity of virtues.76

Within the chapter devoted to large textiles, the short description of no. 262 (Fig. 38, the second full entry from the top of the page, which a later reader marked with a cross) leaves no doubt that it refers to the Bayeux Embroidery: it mentions the hanging’s distinctive proportions, embroidered narrative, and inscriptions that relay the story of the Norman Conquest, and concludes by mentioning the work’s display for the Feast of Relics ( July 1): Item, une tente très-longue et estroicte de telle à broderie de ymages et escripteaulx, faisans representation du conquest d’Angleterre, laquelle est tendue environ la nef de l’église le jour et par les octaves des Reliques.77 Item, a very long and narrow textile that is embroidered with images and inscriptions that show the conquest of England, which is hung around the nave of the church the day and octave of the Feast of Relics.

Other entries on the same page attest to the medieval textile’s complete visual and devotional assimilation into the cathedral’s holdings. Also used in the celebration of the Feast of Relics were the hangings portrayed in the longer entry, no. 261, listed just above it (Fig. 38, the first full entry on the page): two embroidered silk textiles given by Bishop Louis d’Harcourt that served as decorative coverings for the relics on the altar (“servans des costés audict ciel”), and brought out only on the day of the feast itself.78 Together the entries allow us to visualize the contrast between the medieval embroidery on linen that was hung around the nave and the newer and more sumptuous materials that surrounded the relics themselves.79 Although the Bayeux Embroidery’s size may seem exceptional, the next entry on the very same page of the inventory, no. 263, suggests the customary nature of these proportions, in referring to “another long and narrow textile that covered the images of the [choir screen] at Lent.”80 The form of both textiles must have allowed them to function 76

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William Durand, Guillelmi Duranti Rationale divinorum officiorum, ed. A. Davril and T. M. Thibodeau (Turnhout, Brepols, 1995), 1.III.39, pp. 47–8; and The Rationale divinorum officiorum of William Durand of Mende: A New Translation of the Prologue and Book One, trans. Timothy M. Thibodeau (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 44. Deslandes, “Trésor,” 394. Ibid. For an effort to reconstruct the appearance of fifteenth-century embroidered textiles, see Colin Eisler, “Two Early Franco-Flemish Embroideries – Suggestions for Their Settings,” The Burlington Magazine 109 (1967): 571–81. Deslandes, “Trésor,” 394. On Lenten cloths, with further bibliography, see Joseph Braun, Der christliche Altar in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung, 2 vols. (Munich: Alte Meister Guenther Koch & Co., 1924), 2: 148–54; Molly Teasdale Smith, “The Use of Grisaille as a Lenten Observance,” Marsyas 8 (1959): 43–54; Ulrich Schiessl, Stefan Wülfert, and Renate Kühnen, “Technical Observations on the So-Called Grosses Zittauer Fastentuch: A Lenten Veil Dating from 1472,” in The Fabric of Images: European Paintings on Textile Supports in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, ed. Caroline Villers (London: Archetype Publications, 2000),

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well within an ecclesiastical context, as they could cover large areas within the church, and be raised and lowered with relative ease. The performative potential of medieval textiles is most evident in yet another entry further down the page, no. 264 (Fig. 38, just above the book mark of the cathedral chapter), which describes the textile hung at Lent between the main altar and the choir. The cathedral archivist Father Eucher Deslandes connected this entry to the directions in the Ordinary of Bayeux Cathedral, compiled c. 1228–70. The Ordinary states that at the Easter reading of the mortal death of Jesus (Luke 23:44–7),81 the cord from which the hanging was suspended was to be cut at the words, “And behold the veil of the old temple was torn asunder.”82 This instance of scriptural re-enactment, uniting prophecy, biblical reading, and the dropping of the actual liturgical hanging in a single theatrical moment, again reinforces the central role that medieval textiles once played in ecclesiastical settings.83

Textiles in the Service of the Church As the Ordinary of Bayeux Cathedral suggests, there are strong scriptural precedents for the use of textiles in an ecclesiastical context. The practice of using richly decorated hangings to adorn sanctuaries as well as to define liturgical spaces within them is shown in the instructions God gave to Moses for the preparation of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1 and 31): “Thou shalt make ten curtains of fine twisted linen, and violet and purple, and scarlet twice dyed, diversified with embroidery,” and again, “Thou shalt make also a veil of violet and purple, and scarlet twice dyed, and fine twisted linen, wrought with embroidered work and goodly variety.”84 The numerous notices of papal gifts of textiles to churches in Rome recorded in the Liber Pontificalis demonstrate their importance in

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99–108; Susie Nash, “The Parement de Narbonne: Content and Technique,” in ibid., 77–98; and Laura Weigert, “Velum Templi: Painted Cloths of the Passion and the Making of Lenten Ritual in Reims,” Studies in Iconography 24 (2003): 199–229. Also in Matthew 27:51 and Mark 15:38. Deslandes, “Trésor,” 394, n. 2. For the Ordinary (Caen, Archives départementales du Calvados, série G, Bibliothèque du chapitre cathédrale de Bayeux, MS 121), see the transcription in Ordinaire et Coutumier, ed. Chevalier, pp. 1–284 at 121, Feria IIIIa: “dum diaconus in legendo dixerit Velum templi scissum est medium, statim succindatur a parte chori dextera cora illa per quam cortina sustenatur, quia ante eumdem locum passionis non retrahitur cortina die ista.” On the ways that the different kinds of texts (inventory, ordinary, customary) produced by Bayeux Cathedral offer complementary kinds of details about the church’s holdings, see Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Item, une tente très-longue: The Inventory of Bayeux Cathedral and its Implications,” in Making Sense of the Bayeux Tapestry: Readings and Reworkings, ed. Anna Henderson and Gale R. Owen-Crocker (Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming). See Johannes H. Emminghaus, “Fastentuch,” in Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte, ed. Karl-August Wirth (Munich: Bech, 1981), vol. 7: 826–48 at 830–2. Quoted from the Douay-Rheims edition. Also see the portrayal of the Jewish Temple (3 Kings 6), and the elaboration of its veil in Josephus, The Jewish War, V (4), trans. H. St J. Thackery, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1930), 3: 265; and Daniel M. Gurtner, “The Veil of the Temple in History and Legend,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49 (2006): 97–114. Throughout the Bible linen is portrayed in positive terms, as the garment of priests (1 Samuel 2:18), the fabric of saints (Rev. 19: 8), and the material of the Lord’s shroud (Mark 15:46).

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the early Middle Ages; Pope Hadrian I (772–95) alone is named as the donor of some 1,343 textiles.85 For the period when the Bayeux Embroidery was undertaken, C. R. Dodwell worked persuasively from literary references and textiles preserved in such sites as Augsburg, Durham, Gerona, and Quedlinburg to show how widespread had been the practice of hanging medieval textiles, and especially embroideries, in an ecclesiastical setting.86 Scenes of the saints’ lives, such as the textile with scenes of the East Anglian martyr St Edmund that was hung near his shrine in the abbey church of Bury, often took the form of a painted or embroidered hanging.87 The surviving reference to the textile of St Edmund is tantalizingly vague (“in quadam cortina”), but the preservation of inscriptions corresponding to eleven figural scenes that emphasized the saint’s heroic actions,88 such as the verse corresponding to Edmund’s own martyrdom by decapitation, “Hic decollatur martyr qui non superatur” (“Here the martyr [Edmund] is beheaded but not conquered”), offers an interesting parallel to the Bayeux Embroidery.89 The word “hic” used here emphasizes that the hanging’s verses were meant to serve as captions for the images, analogous to the way the inscriptions and pictorial narrative work together in the Bayeux Embroidery. Conceivably, the Bury hanging’s imagery is reflected in the illuminated libellus of St Edmund produced for the shrine of the saint, c. 1125–30, and now in the Morgan Library (Fig. 47).90 Reviewing the extant textual references to hangings in medieval churches, it is evident that large textiles were such an accustomed aspect of the ecclesiastical environment that only special circumstances led to them being described in any detail.91 The monk 85 86 87

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John Osborne, “Textiles and their Painted Imitations in Early Medieval Rome,” Papers of the British School at Rome 60 (1992): 309–51 at 317. C. R. Dodwell, The Pictorial Arts of the West, 800–1200 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993), 11–31. Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts, cat. no. 34, pp. 72–4 at 74. Although the Bayeux Embroidery is unique among extant textiles, there are a number of rotuli with saint’s lives that were brought out on feast days. See Robert Branner, “The Saint-Quentin Rotulus,” Scriptorium 21 (1967): 252–60, esp. 257 where the roll is compared to the Guthlac, Vercelli, Velletri, and St Eloi parchment scrolls, as well as the Lenten curtain formerly at Augsburg and the Bayeux Embroidery. Montague Rhodes James, On the Abbey of S. Edmund at Bury, Publication of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society (Cambridge: J. and C. F. Clay at the University Press, 1895), 187 listing inscriptions in London, College of Arms MS Arundel 30, fol. 2, and James’s description of the shrine of St Edmund within the choir, 136–7. Also see Antonia Gransden, A History of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, 1182–1256: Samson of Tottington to Edmund of Walpole (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2007), 109–11, 125. According to Grandsen’s calculations, p. 110, the hanging “could well have been in place by the twelfth century.” Quoted in James, Abbey of S. Edmund, 187. Life of St. Edmund, New York, J. Pierpont Morgan Library MS M. 736, fol. 15v. Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts, cat. no. 34, pp. 72–4. Also see Cynthia Hahn, “Peregrinatio et Natio: The Illustrated Life of Edmund, King and Martyr,” Gesta 30 (1991): 119–39; Barbara Abou-El-Haj, “Bury St Edmunds Abbey between 1070 and 1124: A History of Property, Privilege, and Monastic Art Production,” Art History 6 (1983): 3–29; and also the Morgan Library’s Corsair website, for full color documentation:http://utu.morganlibrary.org/medren/ Manuscript_images.cfm?ACC_NO=M.736&StartRow=1 (Accessed 8 January 2013). See Ordinaire et Coutumier de l’église cathédrale de Bayeux (XIIIe siècle), ed. Ulysse Chevalier (Paris: Alphonse Picard et Fils, 1902), pp. 285–452 for the Customary of Bayeux Cathedral (Caen, Archives départementales du Calvados, série G, Bibliothèque du chapitre cathédrale

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Goscelin of Saint-Bertin, whose account of the 1091 translation at St Augustine’s in Canterbury will be a focus of consideration in Chapter 11, provides an instructive example. When he is describing the experience of finally excavating and uncovering the body of Saint Augustine, he says, “totum monasterium adornatur tamquam Paschali dignitate” (“the entire monastery was decorated as if for the celebration of Easter”).92 Although he never mentions textiles, what he is surely referring to, using a kind of monastic shorthand, is the lighting of candles and wearing of special vestments, and above all, the hanging of textiles that were, as we have seen, used to prepare the church for special occasions. Other circumstances such as instruction, disaster, or some unusual feature within a hanging might lead to the occasional preservation of more detailed descriptions of medieval textiles. The eleventh-century work once known as the Farfa Customary, the earliest liturgical document of this length to survive from a western monastery, offers one such opportunity because it was compiled to be adapted by Cluny’s sister houses.93 Its instructions for the preparations for Easter Sunday state that the monks were to adorn the church “Ualde namque mane adornetur tota aeclessia cortinis lineis atque laneis et palleis per parietes undique” (“with linen hangings, woolen draperies, and curtains over the walls throughout …”), and an embroidery was to be positioned over the doors of the exterior façade: “Frontispiciis extrinsecus super ianuas uelamen ponant egliphynantum ex picturis uariis” (“Outside, above the doors of the main façade, they [the monks] should position a hanging embroidered in raised work with various representations”).94 In Gregory of Catino’s portrayal of Farfa’s profligate Abbot Oddo, who served only from 25 March to 19 May 1099, he cites as one of the examples of Abbot Oddo’s abuses the pact of protection the abbot forged with local landowners, which he sealed by bestowing on them ornaments from the church, including most egregiously the cloth from the high altar dedicated to Mary. This altar cloth was charged with meaning, as it was on this textile that the monks of the community laid hands as they swore at the deathbed of Abbot Berard I (1047–89) to reach accord in the confirmation of the dying abbot’s successor.95 In Gregory’s telling, the Virgin Mary appeared on three successive nights to admonish the heedless Oddo for giving away the altar cloth, striking him in the face with three very pointed rods.96 The Virgin’s punishment was further amplified

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de Bayeux, MS 122), compiled by Raoul Langevin c. 1269, describing the preparations for feasts in very general terms, on p. 402: “XLV. De modo parandi ecclesiam et altare.” See L. Le Mâle, “Extraits des déliberations du chapitre de Bayeux (XIVe–XVIIIe siècles),” Bulletin de la Société des antiquaries de Normandie 43 (1935): 82–239 at 86 on the ongoing use of Langevin’s Customary, still cited simply as “Langevin,” in chapter deliberations of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Goscelin, Historia, col. 414 C. See the discussion of this work in Susan Boynton, Shaping A Monastic Identity: Liturgy & History at the Imperial Abbey of Farfa, 1000–1125 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), 106–43. Full Latin text in Liber tramitis aevi Odilonis Abbatis, ed. Peter Dinter, Corpus Consuetudinum Monasticarum 10 (Siegburg: Schmitt, 1980), 83. Also see Victor Mortet and Paul Deschamps, Recueil de textes relatifs à l’histoire de l’architecture et à la condition des architectes en France, au Moyen-Âge, XIe–XIIIe siècles, 2 vols. (Paris: A. Picard, 1911 and 1929); rpt. in one volume (Paris: Editions du Comité des Travaux historiques et scientifiques, 1995), vol. 1, 139–40; and Dodwell, Pictorial Arts, 15, n. 36. Dodwell’s English translation is quoted here. For more on altar cloths, which were often made of linen, see Braun, Christliche Altar, 2: 142–3. Boynton, Shaping A Monastic Identity, pp. 28–31.

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in the Collectio Canonum, which threatened excommunication to any who “have consciously taken for their own use ecclesiastical ornaments, altar cloths or any other furnishings.”97 Other extant medieval references to hangings in the service of the church are not always specific about the use of materials, although generally speaking, one would expect to encounter embroideries or painted hangings and not tapestries before the fourteenth century.98 Guibert de Nogent (c. 1055–1124) referred to a set of textiles in Laon Cathedral so large that they could only be hoisted by several men using pulleys. These textiles eventually perished in a fire at the cathedral because the thieves seeking to take advantage of the disaster could not muster enough men quickly enough to make away with them.99 Herman de Lerbeke, the chronicler of the bishops of Minden, referred to a hanging from 1158 “surpassing in size all the hangings I have seen,” which depicted the epistles of Paul elaborated by many axioms and proverbs and was inscribed with the names of its makers, Rederich and Cunegund.100 Similarly, it was the length of the inscriptions recorded by Wilhelm Wittwer in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century that he saw on twelfthcentury hangings for the monastery of Saints Udalrich and Afra in Augsburg that suggest how huge the textiles there must have been.101 On the basis of the scriptural precedents, contemporaneous comparanda, and the Bayeux Embroidery’s later use in the fifteenth-century liturgy discussed here, one could not argue that the textile can only have been meant for an ecclesiastical setting – that evidence will develop over subsequent chapters – but the consideration of the general medieval context of textiles in the service of the church does foreground the possibility, as does a consideration of its materials.

Ibid., 32, n. 52 citing Concilii Bracarensis III, cap. II, in Collectio canonum Regesto Farfensi inserta, ed. Theo Kolzer, Monumenta Iuris Canonici, ser. B, Corpus Collectionum vol. 5 (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1982), 146. 98 Fabienne Joubert, La Tapisserie, Typologie des Sources du Moyen Age Occidental 67 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1993), 29–32 establishes a mid-fourteenth-century origin for tapestries, and includes extensive bibliography. Among other scholars tackling this question: Dodwell, Pictorial Arts, 12–14 is confusing on the origin of tapestries because he conflates them with embroideries; Thomas P. Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence, exhib. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002), 13–17 offers a very useful contextual discussion of the flourishing of Northern European tapestry “1380–1500,” but the origin of tapestry is not his theme; Pierre Verlet, “Gothic Tapestry,” in Great Tapestries: The Web of History from the 12th to the 20th Century, ed. Joseph Jobé, trans. Peggy Rowell Oberson (Lausanne: Edita S.A., 1965), 9–76, at 29–34, allows for the origin of tapestry in the late twelfth century, but his actual examples only begin in the later fourteenth century. 99 Mortet and Deschamps, Recueil de textes, I: 319; Dodwell, Pictorial Arts, 16, n. 38; and now see Guibert of Nogent, Monodies and On the Relics of Saints: The Autobiography and A Manifesto of a French Monk from the Time of the Crusades, trans. Joseph McAlhany and Jay Rubenstein (New York: Penguin Books, 2011), 137. 100 Otto Lehmann-Brockhaus, Schriftquellen zur Kunstgeschichte des 11. und 12. Jahrhunderts für Deutschland, Lothringen und Italien. (Berlin: Deutscher Verein für Kunstwissenschaft, 1938; rpt. New York: Burt Franklin, 1971), no. 2605, p. 610; and Dodwell, Pictorial Arts, p. 16, n. 50. 101 Lehmann-Brockhaus, Schriftquellen zur Kunstgeschichte, nos. 2575–2607, pp. 597–607; and Dodwell, Pictorial Arts, p. 16, n. 55. 97

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Materials and Meaning Scholars from a range of disciplines and perspectives, including Madeline Caviness, David Herlihy, Robin Fleming, and Laura Weigert, have contributed fruitfully to thinking about textiles.102 Their work concerns not only the physical characteristics of textiles, but related issues of who made them, how they were used, what their social currency was, and the ways that a material may convey meaning in itself. The traditional terminology, which refers to the work as a tapestry, connects the Bayeux Embroidery with the large tapestries that were hung in baronial halls such as the one pictured in the fifteenth-century calendar page for January from Jean de Berry’s Très Riches Heures (Plate XXVII), a setting well suited to the secularized Odo scenario.103 While the hangings shown in the back left corner of the Duc de Berry’s feasting hall with their scenes of battle and prominent inscriptions along the top edge of the fabric resemble the Bayeux Embroidery superficially, they differ in size, technique, and function. Tapestries, like those pictured in the Duc de Berry’s hall, were woven on large rectangular looms that approximated the dimensions of the walls they would cover, whereas the narrow proportions of the Bayeux Embroidery are approximately the maximum width on which embroiderers can work comfortably.104 With their thick and densely structured weave, tapestries offer interior insulation, and thereby serve a practical function in addition to their decorative one, while a narrow embroidery on linen is made to adorn or to tell a story.105 Whether or not scholars referring to the Bayeux Embroidery as a tapestry consciously mean to invoke this kind of secular setting, these are overwhelmingly the connotations of the term.106 The intrinsic associations of medieval embroidery with linens and vestments for the divine office, and its status as the quintessential opus muliebre, are lost when the work is inaccurately referred to as a tapestry.107 There is yet another distinctive aspect of the Bayeux Embroidery that has not been sufficiently examined. Many Anglo-Saxon textiles, such as the vestments commissioned by Queen Ælflæd for Bishop Frithestan of Winchester (909–16) and now preserved in M. H. Caviness, Reframing Medieval Art: Difference, Margins, Boundaries, e-book, 2001, http://dca.lib.tufts.edu/Caviness/chapter2.html (accessed 17 November 2012), 2, reprinted in revised form as eadem, “Anglo-Saxon Women, Norman Knights and a ‘Third Sex’ in the Bayeux Embroidery,” in Foys, BT, 85–118; David Herlihy, Opera Muliebria, Women and Work in Medieval Europe, New Perspectives on European History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990); Robin Fleming, “The New Wealth, the New Rich and the New Political Style in Late AngloSaxon England,” ANS 23 (2001): 1–22; and Laura Weigert, Weaving Sacred Stories: French Choir Tapestries and the Performance of Clerical Identity (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004), esp. 2–6. 103 Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 65, fol. 1v. For more on this page, see Brigitte Buettner, “Past Presents: New Year’s Gifts at the Valois Courts, ca. 1400,” The Art Bulletin 83 (2001): 598–625 at 612–13. 104 Hicks, Masterpiece, 41. 105 See Thomas P. Campbell, Henry VIII and the Art of Majesty: Tapestries at the Tudor Court (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), xv–xviiii. 106 On terminology referring to the textile, see Desirée Koslin, “Turning Time in the Bayeux Embroidery,” Textile & Text 13 (1990): 28–45 at 28–9; Nicole de Reyniès, “Bayeux Tapestry, or Bayeux Embroidery? Questions of Terminology,” in Bouet, BT, 69–76; and Caviness, “AngloSaxon Women,” 86–7. 107 Herlihy, Opera Muliebria, 5. 102

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the treasury of Durham Cathedral (Plate XXIII), were sewn in gold-wrapped thread and adorned with semi-precious gems.108 This technique, estimated to have involved 20–26 stitches per centimeter,109 covered the background of a textile so completely that the cloth was transformed into “a solid mass of the precious metal.”110 The absence of metallic threads on the Bayeux Embroidery has led to suppositions about its unfinished state and secular setting.111 On the basis of the textual allusions to the Anglo-Saxon textiles he studied, C. R. Dodwell, for example, concluded: The Bayeux Tapestry would have been considered quite ordinary by the Anglo-Saxons, for it lacks the preciousness of gold thread which was one of their own hallmarks of excellence. … although this famous embroidery would not have been highly prized by the Anglo-Saxons themselves, it yet remains a supreme irony that this, the only surviving example of their long tradition of heroic hangings, should show them at the absolute nadir of their fortunes.112

However, leaving aside aesthetic and devotional considerations, it is important to recognize that if an embroidery of this length had a background of gold-wrapped threads, it would be impossible to lift.113 An amusing reference to a lavish gold-embroidered chasuble in Mainz, a garment that is quite small in comparison to the Bayeux Embroidery, referred to the fact that that “que tanti erat ponderis propter aurum... et in ipsa vix aliquis poterat nisi valde robusta divina misteria celebrare ….” (“because of the gold, it was so heavy that … scarcely anyone could wear it to celebrate the Divine Mysteries unless he were very strong”).114 The unadorned linen ground of the Bayeux Embroidery makes it more manageable to hoist, although additional rings and channels for ropes on backing sheets added from the sixteenth century and later suggest that the strain of hanging the textile within the cathedral was an ongoing concern.115 In addition, the expense of using gold thread on a hanging the length of the Bayeux Embroidery would have been considerable: entries in the treasurer’s accounts at Canterbury Cathedral from the end of the fourteenth century record that one cope and two chasubles of AngloSee contributions by Elizabeth Plenderleith, “The Technique,” Christopher Hohler, “The Iconography,” and R. Freyhan, “The Place of the Stole and Maniples in Anglo-Saxon Art of the Tenth Century,” in The Relics of Saint Cuthbert, ed. C. F. Battiscombe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956), 375–96 (Plenderleith); 396–408 (Hohler); and 409–32 (Freyhan). 109 Plenderleith, “Technique,” 394–6 gives the figure 23–32 stitches per quarter inch. And see the discussion in Chapter 1 of the study by Helen M. Stevens, “Maaseik Reconstructed: A Practical Investigation and Interpretation of Eighth-Century Embroidery Techniques,” Textiles in Northern Archaeology: North European Symposium on Archaeological Textiles (NESAT) III, Textile Symposium in York, 6–9 May 1987, ed. P. Walton and J. P. Wild, European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles Monograph Series 3 (London: Archetype Publications, 1990), 57–60. 110 Dodwell, Pictorial Arts, 26. 111 Montfaucon, Monumens, 2: 2 assumed it was unfinished; Brown, Bibliography, 35 stated that one expects gold and silver in church vestments, and that the exclusive use of wool and linen would be more acceptable in a secular context. 112 Dodwell, A-S Art, 139. 113 J. M. Crafton, The Political Artistry of the Bayeux Tapestry, A Visual Epic of Norman Imperial Ambitions (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2007), 12, n. 11. 114 Lehmann-Brockhaus, Schriftquellen zur Kunstgeschichte, no. 2643, 623–4; and Dodwell, Pictorial Arts, 25–6, n. 112. 115 Discussed in Chapter 1, citing Bédat and Girault-Kurtzeman, “Technical Study,” 87–9. 108

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Saxon workmanship were incinerated to recover their gold, netting more than 250 pounds sterling.116 In 1588, the mantles worn by William and Mathilda at their marriage and listed in the Bayeux Cathedral inventory were likewise incinerated to recoup their gold, although no specific financial yield is mentioned.117 Admittedly, there were tapestries commissioned to commemorate real battles and hung in celebration of them, and these share some similarities with the Bayeux Embroidery.118 The Battle of Pavia tapestries designed by Bernaert van Orley, the most important artist working in Brussels in the early sixteenth century (Plate XXIV), for example, portrays the imperial army’s defeat of France, which effectively put an end to French expansionist policies in Italy.119 Anecdotes about the textile confirm the contemporary understanding of it as a victory monument. When the States General presented the large, seven-piece tapestry set to the Emperor Charles V in March 1531, they expressed the hope that their subject would be more pleasing to the emperor than those of previous gifts of theirs that he had given away.120 In addition, when the Battle of Pavia tapestries were later hung in the “grande salle” of the Brussels Royal Palace for the signing of the treaty of Vaucelles in 1556, the French envoy objected that the humiliating defeat of an earlier French sovereign was an inappropriate choice of decoration for the occasion.121 In essence, many aspects of the sixteenth-century commission for the Battle of Pavia have been read back into Bayeux Embroidery, among them the separation of its designer from its producer, its victory context, the construction of a narrative designed to please a particular recipient, and its secular display. It is also noteworthy that the Battle of Pavia tapestries are routinely alluded to as such; no one has ever denied the implications of their materials by referring to them as “the tapestry traditionally known as the Embroidery of the Battle of Pavia.” The Bayeux Embroidery is a work we may feel familiar with because of its prominence in most discussions of medieval art. Yet its most enduring description as a Norman triumphal secular narrative arguably stems from a debatable conception of its patronage. Were one to imagine the history of the Bayeux Embroidery differently, it might look something like this: the community of St Augustine’s, Canterbury determines to remember the Norman Conquest with a monumental embroidery to be hung 116

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J. Wickham Legg and W. H. St John Hope, Inventories of Christchurch Canterbury (Westminster: A. Constable, 1902), 13; Dodwell, A-S Art, 181; see also Mary Frances Smith, Robin Fleming, and Patricia Halpin, “Court and Piety in Late Anglo-Saxon England,” The Catholic Historical Review 87 (2001): 569–602 at 586. Deslandes, “Trésor,” nos. 128 and 129, pp. 380–1. See Le Mâle, “Extraits,” no. 623, p. 168 for notices from 21 May and 6 June, 1588 about the burning of these garments. Also in this lineage are the “Battle of Roosebeke” commissioned by Philip the Bold in the 1380s; the “Battle of Liège” commissioned by John the Fearless in the early fifteenth century; and the “Battle of Formigny,” c. 1475, works that are no longer extant. See Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance, 16–17, 20, 29–30, and 297, respectively. For more on a popular battle theme frequently found in tapestries, see Scot McKendrick, “The Great History of Troy: A Reassessment of the Development of a Secular Theme in Late Medieval Art,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 54 (1991): 43–82. See the entry by Iain Buchanan in Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance, cat. no. 36, 321–8. Also idem, “The ‘Battle of Pavia’ and the Tapestry Collection of Don Carlos: New Documentation,” The Burlington Magazine 144 (2002): 345–51. Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance, 323. Ibid., 326.

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in their new church, initiated under Abbot Scolland (c. 1070–87).122 Based on their rich artistic traditions, the monks of St Augustine’s conceive, design, and produce the textile, depicting several Norman benefactors who belonged to their confraternity and were to be prayed for on the anniversaries of their deaths, including their chief benefactors, King William and Bishop Odo.123 They also allude to the origin of Scolland, who had served as a scribe and treasurer at Mont-Saint-Michel before being named as abbot of St Augustine’s (W19; Plate VIII; Fig. 10).124 Part penitential and part commemorative, the embroidery acknowledges the war and its dead, but lays blame on neither the monastery’s traditional English constituents nor its new Norman benefactors, on whose continued support the monastery depends. Its story reflects the circumspect stance on the conquest which enabled the monastery to thrive after 1066, a circumspection evident in works such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Vita Ædwardi, both of which have a strong claim to having been written in Canterbury and which also articulate the view that the Norman Conquest was God’s punishment for the sins of the English people.125 In concluding with this imagined patronage scenario, I draw upon studies going back to Wormald’s that have long pointed to the monastery of St Augustine’s in Canterbury for motifs and production without embracing the possibility of monastic agency in authoring its narrative. Casting Bishop Odo in the role of a patron-author and basing the purpose, dating, and display of the embroidery on his supposed commission ignores the highly original and inflected account of the Norman Conquest it relays, as Montfaucon recognized, and the strong evidence of original artistic productions generated by St Augustine’s, as Wormald demonstrated. If the precise context for the Bayeux Embroidery has remained elusive, surely its incorporation into the liturgical life of Bayeux Cathedral for over three centuries deserves more consideration in demonstrating its use in a church setting. Finally, I submit that the enterprise of thinking of it as collaborative, monastic, created for display at St Augustine’s, and tied to the aspirations of the post-conquest monastery of St Augustine’s is less far-fetched and has more to recommend it than many of the scenarios that have been offered to date.

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See Chapter 11. For the abbey church of St Augustine’s see Richard Gem, “The Anglo-Saxon and Norman Churches,” in St Augustine’s Abbey, ed. idem, St A, 90–122, with bibliography, 170–1; idem, “The Significance of the 11th-century Rebuilding of Christ Church and St Augustine’s, Canterbury in the Development of Romanesque Architecture,” in Medieval Art and Architecture at Canterbury before 1200, The British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions for the year 1979, V (Leeds: W. S. Maney and Son, 1982), 1–19; Tim Tatton-Brown, “The Buildings and Topography of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury,” Journal of the British Archaeological Association 146 (1991): 61–91; and Richard Sharpe, “The Setting of St Augustine’s Translation, 1091,” in Eales and Sharpe, Canterbury, 1–13. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 16–17; and see Chapter 4. Gameson, “Origin,” 171–2. Gameson, “Origin,” 210–11; ASC Swanton, sub D-version for 1066, 199; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. Whitelock, 143; and the Vita Ædwardi, 106–11, 116–19.

Chapter 4 The Prosopography of the Bayeux Embroidery and the Community of St Augustine’s, Canterbury Stephen D. White Three Obscure Figures on the Bayeux Embroidery Since the early nineteenth century, writers on the Bayeux Embroidery have used the widely separated images of three men identified by inscription as Turold, Wadard, and Vital to facilitate the process of dating the hanging, characterizing its audience, identifying the place or places where it was made and intended for display, and, above all, determining who had it made and why. Although the argument was originally formulated and documented by historians, it was eventually taken up as well by art historians, who found various ways of further developing it. Turold is depicted in a scene where two messengers from William, duke of the Normans, have come to free Harold, duke of the English, from a lord called Guy, while to the messengers’ right a small bearded male figure holds the reins of their horses (W11; Plate IV; Fig. 6).1 Since the name “Turold” is inscribed between the second messenger and the small bearded figure, it might conceivably apply to the former. However, the inscription’s unusually low positioning in the main frieze suggests that Turold should be identified as the latter. Wadard appears on the embroidery many scenes later, shortly after Duke William’s invading army has landed at Pevensey (W43) and four of his milites have hurried to Hastings to seize food (W44: “Et hic milites festinaverunt hestinga ut cibum raperentur”). On horseback, clad in a hauberk and armed with a shield and spear, Wadard (W46: “Hic Est Wadard”; Plate XIV; Fig. 23) oversees the rendering up of animals that are to be slaughtered by the axe-wielding figure behind him (W45; Fig. 22).2 Considerably later on the embroidery, 1 2

On the basis of textual narratives of Harold’s journey from England and back, Guy can be identified as Guy, count of Ponthieu. On the figure with the coil around his neck, see Francis Wormald, “Style and Design,” in Stenton, Bayeux Tapestry, 25–36 at 32, which notes the figure’s resemblance to a figure standing for “Labour” in an eleventh-century English manuscript of the “Psychomachia” of Prudentius (London, British Library MS Cotton Cleopatra C. viii, fol. 27r). According to Gale Owen-Crocker, “Brothers, Rivals and the Geometry of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 109–23 at 120, citing Prudentius, “Psychomachia,” lines 629–30 in Prudentius, ed. and trans. H. J. Thompson, 2 vols, Loeb Classical Library (London and Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1949), vol. 1, p. 322, this figure – who is a companion of Greed (Avaritia) – is “transformed into a man labouring … The association would have revealed the Normans as

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Vital is shown, just after the embroidery presents Duke William at the head of a long line of horsemen, who, according to the accompanying inscription, “came to battle against Harold the king” (W52–4: “venerunt ad prelium contra Haroldum rege[m]”). Vital is shown as he rides back from the right toward the duke, who “asks if Vital had seen the army of Harold” (W55: “interrogat si vidisset Vital exercitum Haroldi”; Fig. 27).3 There is no reason to doubt the identification of the textile’s Wadard and Vital with the men of the same names in Domesday Book for Kent. But although the embroidery’s Turold has sometimes been identified with one Turold of Rochester, described in Domesday Book as “father of Ralph son of Turold,” so many men bore this name in late eleventhcentury Normandy and England that Sir Frank Stenton doubted the identification, while Lucien Musset virtually ruled out the possibility of identifying the Turold on the embroidery with any specific person of this name.4 Nevertheless, since other scholars have so frequently made the identification that previous scholarship on Wadard and Vital is largely incomprehensible without considering Turold as well, this chapter makes reference to the images of all three men, and for the sake of argument identifies the embroidery’s Turold with Domesday’s Turold of Rochester unless otherwise noted. Because Turold, Wadard, and Vital, along with Ælfgyva (W17; Fig. 8) are the embroidery’s only named figures not to appear in any textual account of events leading up to the conquest, they have attracted the attention of many scholars, who, as Richard Gameson notes in a recent review of embroidery scholarship, have repeatedly asked, “Who are they, what are they doing there, and what do they tell us about the work in general?”5 However, in contrast to commentators on Ælfgyva – who have proposed many different ways of identifying her and acknowledged the difficulty of explaining her image’s significance – writers on Turold, Wadard, and Vital have recycled essentially the same answers to these questions ever since the early nineteenth century.6 In 1821, Thomas Amyot first noted Domesday Book entries suggesting that each of the three men held – or, in the case of Turold, had held – land in Kent from King William I’s half-brother Odo, bishop of Bayeux from 1049/1050 until his death in 1097, earl of Kent from c. 1067 until his exile in 1088, and the greatest landholder in England after the king.7 By interpreting

3 4

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greedy pillagers to anyone familiar with the illustration and its accompanying text.” The same association would have been made by viewers familiar with the fables depicted in the borders of this section of the narrative, in which Duke William’s men disembark with their horses, seize food that is consumed at a banquet (on which see Chapter 6), and then attack and slaughter the outnumbered English (see Chapter 10). Under a different interpretation of the scene, Vital is shown only once and reports to William on what other scouts have seen. According to Stenton, “Historical Background,” p. 24, n. 2, Turold can be identified with the father of Ralph son of Turold, but “Thorald was so common in pre-Conquest Normandy that [the identification] should not be considered certain.” Richard Gameson, “Studying the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, ix–xiii at xi. David Hill, “The Bayeux Tapestry and Its Commentators: The Case of Scene 15,” Medieval Life 11 (1999): 24–6 lists eighteen “identifications” of Ælfgyva. See also the list in Catherine E. Karkov, “Gendering the Battle? Male and Female in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 139–47 in p. 142, note 13. According to Thomas Amyot, “A Defence of the Early Antiquity of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Archaeologia 19 (1821): 192–208 at 202–4, because, according to Domesday Book, Wadard was Odo’s “follower” and Vital and Turold held land of Odo as well, and because Odo himself was depicted several times on the embroidery, the embroidery must have been “executed with

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these references as evidence for identifying Turold, Wadard, and Vital as Bishop Odo’s “vassals,” scholars have been able to use their images on the embroidery to support the hypothesis that Odo was the textile’s patron, dictated its story, determined its political message about the Norman conquest of England, and influenced the content of at least seven scenes in it.8 According to the proponents of the hypothesis – which has been widely accepted since the nineteenth century – these scenes include at least four representing the bishop himself (W35, 48 [bis], 67; Figs 24, 25, 33, 34);9 one that is commonly interpreted as showing Harold, duke of the English (“Dux Anglorum”), swearing an oath to William on the relics of Odo’s cathedral of Bayeux (W25–6; Plate X; Fig. 13); and the three depicting his three vassals, Wadard, Vital, and Turold.10 True, the embroidery uses “clear, declamatory language and imagery to identify Odo by name in [just] two … inscriptions and [only] three … scenes set in England.”11 It has long been conventional, however, to assume that he is also the tonsured figure in a scene where Duke William, according to the inscription, “ordered ships to be built.”12 In a similar interpretative leap, although the embroidery does not clearly show that Bayeux was the place where Harold swore an oath to William, much less identify the relics on which he swears as those of Bayeux Cathedral, this way of interpreting the scene is deeply embedded in embroidery scholarship, as we shall see in Chapter 5.13 Because, as Chapter 6 explains, the embroidery’s multiple images of Odo are said to assign him a much more prominent role in the conquest than textual accounts accord to him14 and because the embroidery’s story supposedly differs from all of these accounts by locating Harold’s oath at Bayeux rather than at Bonneville – where William of Poitiers’ Gesta Guillelmi says he swore it – the claim that the hanging represents three of Bishop

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[Odo’s] knowledge, and even under his superintendence” and made to be displayed at the dedication of his new cathedral church at Bayeux in 1077. On Vital and his lands in Kent, see Hirokazu Tsurushima, “Hic Est Miles: Some Images of Three Knights: Turold, Wadard and Vital,” in M. Lewis, BT, 81–91 at 87–9; see also W. Urry, “The Normans in Canterbury,” Annales de Normandie 8 (1958): 119–38. For the hypothesis that Odo was the embroidery’s patron, see N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34, 191–9, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 63–92 at 68–70; see also Stenton, “Historical Background,” 9; Wormald, “Style and Design,” 33; Bernstein, Mystery, 28–36; H. E. J. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Anglo-Norman Studies 10 (1988): 49–65. Reprinted in Gameson, Study, 93–110. 94–5; McNulty, Narrative Art, 62–4; Grape, Bayeux Tapestry, 54; S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 5, 116–31; Gameson, “Origin,” 171; Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 3–4, 127-9; idem, The Real World of the Bayeux Tapestry (Stroud, 2008), 9–10; T. A. Heslop, “Regarding the Spectators of the Bayeux Tapestry: Bishop Odo and His Circle,” Art History 32 (2009): 223–49 at 229–32. On Odo of Bayeux see David Bates, “Odo, Earl of Kent (d. 1097), Bishop of Bayeux and Magnate,” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004–11); and idem, “The Character and Career of Bishop Odo of Bayeux, 1049/50–1097,” Speculum 50 (1975): 1–20. On these four scenes, see Heslop, “Spectators,” 225–8. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” p. 68, n. 72 and Tsurishima, “Hic Est Miles,” 81–5, make the best cases for identifying the embroidery’s Turold with Turold of Rochester, father of Ralph son of Turold. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 9–10. Ibid., 7, 33. On the location of the oath, see Chapter 5. See, e.g., Gameson, “Origin,” 176–7, 187, 188, 202.

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Odo’s “vassals” has been crucial to the case that he commissioned it both to justify his half-brother’s conquest of the English and to celebrate his own glorious role in that conquest. Although this claim presupposes that like the vassals in textbook models of so-called classical feudalism15 Turold, Wadard, and Vital all held their lands in Kent from Odo alone in return for homage, fidelity, and service, including military service, and were thus intimately and exclusively tied to him for life, previous writers on the embroidery have never verified this assumption. Indeed, they have sometimes contradicted it without acknowledging the implications of their doing so for the argument that these men owed their places on the embroidery to Odo. Instead, they have integrated the assumption into the hypothesis just mentioned about the bishop’s patronage of the embroidery by arguing that he personally had the three men’s images inserted into the embroidery’s narrative, either because they were his “favourite followers”;16 or because they surpassed his other Kentish vassals in increasing the value of the estates he had given them; or because they had all been closely associated with him in Normandy before 1066 and had then fought under his leadership in Duke William’s invasion of England.17 It has even been proposed that the bishop had his three vassals represented on the embroidery in order to prove that he had fulfilled his feudal obligation to William by bringing them to fight for the duke in the Norman invasion of England;18 and that they acted as Odo’s surrogates in commissioning the embroidery after he was imprisoned in Normandy by his half-brother.19 Moreover, because the images of Turold, Wadard, and Vital could not have served any of these purposes of the bishop had the embroidery’s viewers been unable to identify them as his vassals, a necessary corollary of the argument that Odo insisted that they be represented on the embroidery is that he intended the hanging to be displayed at a location where they and their association with him were well known, and at a date when all of them were still remembered. Initially, the obvious candidate for this location was considered to be Odo’s cathedral at Bayeux, not only because the embroidery was discovered there in the early eighteenth century and because the cathedral’s inventory of 1476 includes the earliest known reference to the textile, but because Turold, Wadard, and Vital were presumed to be Normans from the vicinity of Bayeux.20 However, once 15 16 17

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For a textbook model of this type, see F. L. Ganshof, Feudalism, trans. Philip Grierson, 3rd English ed. (London: Longman, 1964). Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 382. Charles Prentout, “Essai d’identification des personnages inconnus de la Tapisserie de Bayeux,” Revue historique 176 (1935): 14–23; trans. as “An Attempt to Identify Some Unknown Characters in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 21–30 at 26–30. See also David C. Douglas, “Companions of the Conqueror,” Journal of History 28 (1943): 125–47 at 147; see also idem, “Introduction,” in Domesday Monachorum of Christ Church Canterbury, ed. idem (London: Office of the Royal Historical Society, 1944), 1–73 at 27–36 and 54–7, on the probable Norman connections of Odo’s Kentish tenants such as Wadard and Vital. O. K. Werckmeister, “The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Studi Medievali 17 (1976): 535–95 at 580–3; see also Shirley Ann Brown, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Why Eustace, Odo and William?,” ANS 12 (1990): 7–28 at 26. According to T. A. Heslop, “Spectators,” 232, Odo included images of Wadard, Vital, and Turold of Rochester because he “wished to celebrate success, not simply military and not his own, but that of his entrepreneurial men, too. They succeeded because they deserved to, because of their talents and because of divine favour.” On the Bayeux Cathedral Inventory of 1476 and the theory that the embroidery was made for display there, see Chapters 1 and 6.

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the monastery of St Augustine’s, Canterbury was identified as the most likely site of the embroidery’s creation, a growing consensus emerged that the hanging must originally have been intended for display in the great hall of one or more of Odo’s residences in Kent – where, it was further assumed, Turold, Wadard, and Vital could easily have been recognized on the hanging as his men, or where they might even have been present.21 In one way or another, the claim that Turold, Wadard, and Vital were vassals of Odo of Bayeux has thus been essential to supporting the consensus view of the bishop’s patronage of the embroidery, his reasons for commissioning it, its date, the place where he intended to display it, and the composition of its intended audience. However, one of the main arguments for this hypothesis has been under attack for more than forty years, while the others are equally contestable.22 From 1970 onwards, many writers on the embroidery have noted that key scenes fail to justify the Norman Conquest in the way that William I’s half-brother would surely have expected; and these remarkable lapses have never been satisfactorily reconciled with the hypothesis that Odo commissioned it.23 The same hypothesis depends as well on exaggerating the number of scenes that actually represent Odo, the importance of the roles he plays in them, and his prominence on a textile where he is named only three times and both Harold and William more than twenty.24 Furthermore, as Chapter 5 explains in detail, to insist that the scene supposedly representing Harold swearing his oath to William on the relics of Bayeux Cathedral was purposefully designed to honor Bishop Odo is to overlook two important points: first, that the scene fails to identify these relics as being those of Bayeux or to represent Bayeux unambiguously as the site of his oath; and, second, that the embroidery’s pictorial narrative resembles the overwhelming majority of textual accounts of Harold’s journey to the continent in representing him taking an oath to William on unspecified relics at a location that is not clearly identified, just before William sends him back to England.25 If the embroidery’s images of Odo of Bayeux and its depiction of Harold’s oath are discounted as unimpeachable evidence for identifying the bishop as the embroidery’s patron, the only remaining argument for doing so is that only he had reason to insist that the embroidery include images of Wadard, Vital, and Turold. However, this argument too has already been partially undermined;26 and it falls apart completely when one considers the deficiencies of the evidence from texts cited to support it, the implausible scenarios that have been constructed to justify it, and the new evidence presented below about the association of Wadard, Turold, and many others depicted on the embroidery with the 21

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On Odo’s connections with St Augustine’s, see Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 76–7; and Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 16–17. On the art-historical grounds for identifying the abbey as the site of the embroidery’s creation, see Wormald, “Style and Design,” 31–3; Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 75–6 and the literature cited in nn. 49–53. See also Chapters 3, 4, 6. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 1–25. See also Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Benefactor or Designer? Bishop Odo’s Role in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Lewis, BT, 148; Stephen D. White, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the ‘Fratres’ of St Augustine’s, Canterbury,” in ibid., 148–9; and Chapters 3, 6. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 10–15. On “revisionist” interpretations of the embroidery’s story, see Chapters 2, 7, 9. See also Chapters 3 and 6; Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 7–10; Pastan, “Benefactor or Designer?” For further arguments on this point, see above, Chapter 3, and below, Chapter 5. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 17–19 notes several weaknesses in the argument.

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monastic community of St Augustine’s, Canterbury, where the embroidery, many scholars agree, was almost certainly created. Although scholars are virtually unanimous in interpreting the images of Wadard, Vital, and possibly Turold as interpolations into the pictorial narrative that promoted the interests of its patron, this view of them not only presupposes that Odo of Bayeux commissioned it partly to achieve his own glorification; it also depends on three further assumptions that have received even less critical scrutiny: first, that the three men were so closely and exclusively associated with Odo that he alone would have benefited by the inclusion of their images on the textile; second, that these images necessarily redounded only to the bishop’s credit and to theirs; and, third, that no one besides Odo could possibly have wanted them to be added to a pictorial narrative often described as depicting the origins of the Norman Conquest. By challenging all three assumptions and showing instead that Wadard and Vital were both associated with the monastery of St Augustine’s, Canterbury as fratres of the monks, the present chapter argues that the members of this monastic community had sufficient reasons of their own without any need for prompting by Odo of Bayeux for depicting both men on the embroidery, which was probably made during the abbacy of Scolland (c. 1087), the former head scribe and treasurer at Mont-Saint-Michel; and moreover, that it was intended to be displayed at the abbey of St Augustine’s itself. As with the hypothesis that Odo commissioned the embroidery and had Wadard and Vital displayed on it, there is obviously no way of proving that the two men owed their places on the textile to their status as members of the monks’ confraternity. Nevertheless, it can be argued that most of the important named figures depicted – including Edward, Harold, William, Odo, Stigand, Eustace of Boulogne, and quite possibly Gyrth and Leofwine – held the same status at St Augustine’s as did Wadard and Vital and that at least some of the unnamed English dead on the embroidery may have been fratres of the monks as well.27 In conclusion, this chapter argues that of all the places where the embroidery might have been displayed, the one where the largest number of figures depicted on it would certainly have been recognized was the abbey itself, since its monks were obliged to pray for even the most obscure of them by name in perpetuity. If so, then the Bayeux Embroidery’s pictorial narrative would have been understood by its audience as proceeding on multiple levels. Not only did it tell the story of the fall of the English and the advent of the Normans, hint at God’s role in the conquest, and comment satirically on it by depicting images of fables in the borders; it also demonstrated that this seemingly cataclysmic break in the history of the English had not undermined the position that the monks of St Augustine’s claimed with increasing vehemence to have held since the time when, in their view, the Apostle to the English had brought Christianity to England, founded the community with papal support, and established it as the burial place of some of England’s earliest saints, including early kings of the English.28 Under this hypothesis, the Bayeux Embroidery would have held for at least some of its viewers the kind of local 27

28

Chapter 5 considers the possibility that the embroidery’s images of Edward, William, William’s half-brothers Odo and Robert of Mortain, and Conan II, Count of Rennes and Duke of Brittany take on added significance by virtue of their associations with the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, which is itself pictured on the embroidery. See Fiona Gameson, “Goscelin’s Life of St Augustine of Canterbury,” in St Augustine and the Conversion of England, ed. Richard Gameson (Stroud: Sutton, 1999), 391–409.

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significance for the community of St Augustine’s, Canterbury that Professor Southern represented as characteristic of the monastic projects to recover the past -- projects that he saw as constituting an historical revival in early twelfth-century England.29 In that case, this chapter would confirm the view of many previous commentators that study of the individuals chosen for depiction on the textile can facilitate the formulation of plausible hypotheses about when, where, and why the hanging was made and displayed, about who made up its audience, and the multiple meanings it would have held for its contemporary viewers.30

Favorite “Vassals” of Odo of Bayeux? One reason for doubting that Turold, Wadard, and Vital were depicted on the textile for the sake of honoring Bishop Odo of Bayeux is that their images are so widely separated from each other’s and from his that no viewer would have associated any of them with him without previously knowing of their connection. Even if contemporary viewers could have recognized these men as Odo’s vassals, it is difficult to explain why, if the designer’s purpose was to honor his patron, he failed to designate them as such. After all, the embroidery represents Vital as Duke William’s scout, not Odo’s (W55; Fig. 27), and associates Wadard – who is shown prior to the bishop’s first appearance – only with the soldiers in William’s army who ride off to Hastings to seize food (W46; Plate XIV; Fig. 23). Moreover, if the two men were depicted in order to show that they had enabled Odo to fulfill his feudal obligations to Duke William, they would surely have been represented in battle, instead of being shown in one case as a scout and in another as overseeing the slaughter of animals. As for the embroidery’s Turold, it is highly doubtful that he is even the same man as the Kentish tenant of Odo’s called Turold of Rochester, whose son Ralph appears in Domesday Book as the bishop’s tenant in Kent and who is associated with Odo in an early twelfth-century Christ Church account of the trial of Penenden Heath.31 Whether the embroidery’s ambiguously placed label of “Turold” is applied to one of the two messengers sent by Duke William of Normandy to Guy or to the small, bearded adjacent figure holding the reins of their horses, there are serious obstacles to identifying either man as Turold of Rochester (W11; Plate IV; Fig. 6).32 On the one hand, if “Turold” is the small bearded figure, then the identification is particularly problematic, since he is usually identified as either a dwarf, lame, a hunchback, a low-born hostler, or the author of the Oxford version of the Song of Roland. As such, he is a totally improbable candidate to join either Duke William’s invading army or 29 30 31

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R. W. Southern, “Presidential Address: Aspects of the European Tradition of Historical Writing: 4. The Sense of the Past,” TRHS, 5th ser. 23 (1973): 243–63. On the embroidery’s narrative see below, Chapters 9 and 10; on the fables, see Chapter 7. For Turold of Rochester, see Tsurushima, “Hic Est Miles,” 81–5. Lucien Musset, The Bayeux Tapestry, trans. Richard Rex, new ed. (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005), 112 considers both possibilities. R. Lejeune, “Turold dans la Tapisserie de Bayeux,” in Mélanges offerts à René Crozet, ed. P. Gallais and Y. J. Riou (Poitiers: Société d’études médiévales, 1966), vol. 1, 419–25 opts for the messenger, as did Frank Rede Fowke, The Bayeux Tapestry: A History and Description (1875: London: G. Bell, 1913), 40–3. P. E. Bennett, “Encore Turold dans la tapisserie de Bayeux,” Annuale de Normandie 30 (1980): 3–13, chooses the smaller figure, as does Wilson, Bayeux Tapestry, 176. On the debate about Turold’s identity, see also Gameson, “Origin,” p. 186, n. 152.

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Odo’s band of Norman supporters in Kent and an equally unlikely figure to be included for the purpose of honoring the bishop of Bayeux.33 On the other hand, if the inscription’s “Turold” is the name of the hulking messenger, who certainly looks the part of a companion of the Conqueror, as well as a Kentish vassal of Odo’s, there is no plausible way of explaining why he is shown near Beaurain, long before the invasion of England is even launched, and not, as both Wadard and Vital are, in England as a member of William’s invading force.34 Finally, as we have already seen, there are good grounds for thinking that the embroidery’s Turold – whichever figure he is – can never be identified.35 If we therefore abandon the effort to locate Turold’s historical counterpart and discuss his image only because of the importance that the embroidery literature has often attributed to it, we can find good grounds for rejecting the various arguments sometimes advanced as proven facts since the nineteenth century to explain simultaneously why these men appear on the embroidery and why their images count as convincing evidence that Odo of Bayeux commissioned it for the purpose of glorifying himself. Far-fetched as some of these arguments are, they are all worth examining in order to show how far commentators on the embroidery for well over a century have been prepared to go, in order to preserve the conventional view that Odo of Bayeux commissioned the embroidery and served as its micro-managing patron. To begin with, the Domesday Book entries commonly cited as evidence that Wadard and Vital were his favorite vassals scarcely support this conclusion. Edward A. Freeman was the first to characterize them in this way in his History of the Norman Conquest of England, where, following Amyot, he maintained that the images of Wadard, Vital, and Turold proved that the Bayeux Embroidery was a “contemporary” work, created for Odo of Bayeux and his cathedral of Bayeux.36 However, Freeman’s arguments about the three men are unconvincing for several reasons. He first noted incorrectly that aside from Duke William, Odo of Bayeux, Robert of Mortain, and Eustace of Boulogne, “these three obscure retainers of Bishop Odo” are “the only persons on the Norman side who appear by name in the representation of the landing and of the battle,” though Turold, of course, appears much earlier and not necessarily on “the Norman side.” When Freeman wrote that Vital, Wadard, and Ralph, son of Turold “are all to be found on twelve pages of Domesday Book,” where, “in every case [the three men’s] land is held of Bishop Odo,” he not only assumed that the embroidery’s Turold was Domesday Book’s Turold of Rochester, without even specifying 33

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For the wildly implausible argument that the embroidery’s creators represented Turold of Rochester in this way either because they wished to insult him or because they confused him with another Kentish tenant of Odo’s called Ralph Crooked-spine, see Bernard Bachrach, “Some Observations on the Bayeux Tapestry,”Cithara 27 (1988): 5–28; Richard D. Wissolik, “The Saxon Statement: Code in the Bayeux Tapestry,” Annuale Mediaevale 19 (1979): 69–97; idem, “Duke William’s Messengers: An ‘Insoluble, Reverse-Order’ Scene on the Bayeux Tapestry,” Medium Ævum 51 (1982): 102–7. I owe this point to Elizabeth Carson Pastan in a private communication. Fowke, Bayeux Tapestry, 42 solves this problem, at least, by identifying the embroidery’s Turold as the constable of Bayeux. Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 112; Sir Frank Stenton, “The Historical Background,” in Stenton, BT, 9–24 at p. 24, n. 2. On the fourteen different men called Turold in Domesday Book, see K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, Domesday People: A Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents, 1066–1166, vol. 1, Domesday Book (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999), 430–2. Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 381–2. See Chapter 2.

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the figure to which the name “Turold” was applied; he also implied that none of the three men was a tenant of any other lord, though, as we shall see, Vital held land from Archbishop Lanfranc and from Haimo, the sheriff of Kent, while both he and Wadard held land from St Augustine’s. Finally, Freeman had no evidence at all for his conclusion that “in the mind of the designer . . . the Bishop of Bayeux and his favourite followers came next after Duke William himself.” Neither Wadard nor Vital (nor Turold, for that matter) is any more prominent than is Robert of Mortain or the figure long identified as Eustace of Boulogne and now considered to be Robert, each of whom is shown in a scene with both Duke William and Bishop Odo; and, as we have already seen, the embroidery does not associate Wadard or Vital with Odo in any way. In addition, the study of references in Domesday Book to Kentish lands held from Odo by Wadard and Vital does not support Freeman’s belief that the two men were favorites of the bishop’s. Wadard, to be sure, is once designated as the “man” of Odo (“homo episcopi”), who is himself identified once as Wadard’s “warrantor”; Wadard also holds numerous estates from Odo in Dorset, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire. In Kent, however, he is only a middling tenant of the bishop, from whom he holds only five estates, whereas Odo gave between six and eighteen to fourteen other men. Vital – sometimes known as Vital of Canterbury – is even less likely to have been a favorite vassal of Odo, from whom he is recorded as holding just three estates, whereas twenty-five others hold more.37 Nevertheless, the obstacles to accepting Freeman’s argument that Turold, Wadard, and Vital were given places on the Bayeux Embroidery in order to reward their faithful service to Bishop Odo are easier to surmount than the ones we encounter if we closely scrutinize the evidence that Charles Prentout used in 1935 to argue that the three men were all “connected” with Odo of Bayeux in Normandy before 1066; that “they were subsequently rewarded for their services by grants of land in the east of England, where the Bishop of Bayeux, the Earl of Kent, was a great landowner; and [that] they were also rewarded by their inclusion in the Tapestry, a monument raised to the glory of Bishop Odo and of William the Bastard his brother.”38 Although Prentout’s article has long been a fixture in embroidery literature and has recently been anthologized in an English translation, his argument is not particularly persuasive even in the form in which he presented it; and it falls apart the moment we examine the charters from the cartularies of Bayeux cathedral and the Benedictine abbey of St Peter of Préaux in Normandy on which he based it. Prentout’s claim that the embroidery’s Vital held houses in Caen from Odo before 1066, which was based on unspecified charters in the first of these cartularies, hardly bears scrutiny.39 Although three charters in the Black Book of Bayeux mention houses 37

38

39

Because Turold of Rochester (assuming that his holdings from Odo were identical to those of Ralph son of Turold) held nine estates with a total value of £40, he can certainly be reckoned an important Kentish tenant of the bishop’s, though he was less favored than men such as Ralph de Courbepine, Hugh de Port, and Ansfrid de Rots. On the Kentish lands held from Odo as well as other lords by Wadard, Vital, and Turold of Rochester, see Hirokazu Tsurushima, “Hic Est Miles,” pp. 82–5 and Chart 2 (Turold); pp. 85–6, Chart 3 and Map 43 (Wadard); pp. 87–9 and Charts 4–6 (Vital). Prentout, “Unknown Characters,” 30. Ibid., p. 28, n. 35; Antiquus cartularius ecclesiae Baiocensis (Livre Noir) [hereafter cited as Livre Noir], ed. V. Bourrienne, 2 vols (Rouen: Lestringant, 1902–1903).

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in Caen held by a man called “Vital,” this man cannot plausibly be identified with the embroidery’s Vital, not only because the name is a relatively common one in late eleventhcentury Normandy and England but for other reasons as well. First, whereas a man called “Vital” is identified in various charters in the cartulary as the son of Rater, the brother of Ebremarius, Erengarius and Osbertus,40 the kinsman (cognatus) of Master Unfridus, and by the early 1090s, a member of the chapter of Bayeux as well, there appears to be no way of linking the embroidery’s Vital with any of these identities. Moreover, Prentout’s assertion that the Bayeux cartulary’s Vital – whoever he may have been – held houses in Caen from Odo of Bayeux before 1066 is inconsistent with evidence from a charter in the cartulary indicating that they were not conveyed to the cathedral until 1089.41 Moreover, the connections that Prentout claimed to have discovered between Bishop Odo, on the one hand, and men called Turold, Wadard, and Vital in the Préaux cartulary, on the other, were indirect to say the least. Far from discovering evidence that Odo was directly connected to the three men in Normandy before 1066, Prentout merely showed that the latter were associated with the abbey of Préaux, to which Odo’s father, mother, and brother had made gifts of land and which was situated close to the monastery of Grestain, which Odo’s father and mother had founded.42 Even Prentout’s characterization of Wadard and Vital as “tenants” or “vassals” of Préaux is suspect, since he based this assertion on the finding that each of them witnessed two gifts to the monastery and was identified in one case as doing so “ex parte abbatis.”43 Finally, Prentout failed to establish that the men called Turold, Vital, and Wadard in three charters of Préaux are the men of the same names depicted on the Bayeux Embroidery. In an effort to demonstrate that the embroidery’s “Turold” had previously been a monk at Préaux, Prentout argued that because the cartulary’s Turold was the son of a nobleman, whose family had offered him to the abbey as a child oblate, he might well have been a “cripple,” just as the embroidery’s Turold was, though how and why a crippled child oblate at Préaux had first turned up somewhere near Beaurain (as shown on the embroidery) and then as a vassal of Odo of Bayeux in Kent (as Domesday Book supposedly confirmed), Prentout failed to explain. As the recently published edition of the Préaux cartulary makes clear, moreover, Prentout was also mistaken in dating the three gifts to Préaux he examined in manuscript to 1035 x 1066, since the cartulary’s editor dates the gift witnessed by Vital and Wadard to 1078 x 1094; the gift witnessed by Wadard and his sons Martinus and Seimundus to 1078 x 1087; and the gift of Turold as a child oblate that Vital witnessed to 1094–1101. 40 41

42

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Livre Noir, no. 4 (1089): “et quicquid a me habebant fratres Ebremarii, Erengarius et alii, Osbertus et Vitalis.” In Livre Noir, no. 4 (1089), Duke Robert of Normandy gives to the church of St Mary of Bayeux “apud Cadomum [Caen] domum Theodorici presbiteri et domos Raterii filii.” In Livre Noir, no. 154 (1144), a bull of Lucius II confirming lands of the cathedral refers to “quicquid ab eodem duce [Robert] habebant fratres Ebremarii, Erengarius, et alii, Hosbertus et Vitalis; … et, apud Cadum, domum Theolderic, presbiteri, et domos Vitalis, Ratteri filii” and the duke’s customs in those dwelling in them. Livre Noir, no. 155 (1145), a bull of Pope Eugenius III, contains a passage virtually identical to the one just quoted. On Grestain and its relation with Odo’s father and mother and their kin, see David Bates and Véronique Gazeau, “L’abbaye de Grestain et la famille d’Herluin de Conteville,” Annales de Normandie 40 (1990): 5–30. Prentout, “Unknown Characters,” 28–9.

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David C. Douglas was no more successful than was Prentout in showing that Odo of Bayeux was linked to Vital in Normandy before 1066. In a discussion of Vital based largely on the Domesday Monachorum of Christ Church, Canterbury, Douglas did not count him among Odo’s most important tenants in Kent; nor did he explicitly argue that Vital was among the bishop’s Kentish tenants who had also been vassals of his in Calvados.44 Moreover, since Douglas noted that Vital was a miles of Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury as well as a tenant of Bishop Odo, and wrote that the archbishop and the bishop were in “continuous conflict” with each other during William I’s reign and its immediate aftermath, he was in a good position to ask whether Vital could be meaningfully identified as a “vassal” of Odo’s, much less a favorite retainer.45 Nevertheless, after listing the Kentish lands that Vital held from both Lanfranc and Odo at the time of the Domesday survey, Douglas confidently asserted that His close connexion with Odo and the fact that it was in the entourage of the bishop that he came to England led … to the special commemoration of his prowess in the great tapestry of Bayeux, which, as now seems certain, was made either at the command or under the patronage of the bishop. Vitalis in the tapestry is dramatically portrayed. Mounted and armed, he announces to William the approach of the host of Harold. Both he and his horse are vivid with movement. He must have lost much of his youthful vigour by the time that the Canterbury list of knights [in the Domesday Monachorum] was compiled; but the authenticity of his portrait admits of little question. It invites special contemplation; for the conjunction of the Canterbury texts with the Bayeux Tapestry here provides the opportunity of studying the appearance of a particular knight known to have been enfeoffed in England before the eleventh century had closed.46

Even if we leave aside the question of whether depicting Vital as Duke William’s scout was the best way of commemorating his prowess on the Bayeux Embroidery or showing that he was a “vassal” of William’s half-brother Odo, Douglas’s view that Vital was a member of Bishop Odo’s entourage at Hastings and owed his place on the embroidery to his connection with him was pure conjecture, while his belief that this man had been associated with the bishop in Normandy before 1066 was no more than a relatively plausible inference. Finally, Douglas’s assumption that Vital’s primary identity was as a “knight” and thus as a fighter on horseback must now be revised, as we shall see, in the light of Hiro Tsurishima’s finding that he was an administrator, a master of seamen, and a merchant who married his daughter into the mercantile élite of Canterbury.47 Although Douglas and Prentout, like Freeman, failed to substantiate any of their hypotheses about how the embroidery’s Wadard, Vital, and Turold were related to Odo; why the bishop would have wanted them represented on the embroidery; and how the embroidery’s images of them could have been to their credit and his, these hypotheses fitted so neatly into the prevailing view that Odo not only commissioned the hanging 44 45

46

47

See David C. Douglas, “Introduction,” Domesday Monachorum, ed. Douglas, 28, 29. Ibid., 32, 36, 57. Ibid., 57, citing in note 15 Freeman’s discussion of Odo as the embroidery’s patron (vol. 3, Appendix A) and in note 17 noting that Wadard, Vital, and Turold were “the men of Odo specially commemorated in the tapestry.” See Tsurishima, “Hic Est Miles,” 87–8.

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but micro-managed its design that they were hard-wired into the embroidery literature, where it became an article of faith that one, two, or possibly all three men were “vassals” of Odo’s in Normandy before 1066, members of his retinue at Hastings, and ultimately vassals and favorite retainers of his in Kent. Without attempting to verify any of these hypotheses, the art historian O. K. Werckmeister used them as the basis for a wildly speculative theory about why Odo would have insisted that the Bayeux Embroidery represent Wadard and Vital as milites in Duke William’s army of invasion.48 Because both men, Werckmeister assumed, were the bishop’s vassals in Normandy before 1066, they must therefore have owed him knight service there, in the same way that Odo himself was obliged as a vassal of William’s in Normandy to bring a specific number of knights to fight for Duke William in England. Werckmeister further theorized that during the early 1080s, when Odo knew that his half-brother suspected him of treason, the bishop wanted to include images of Wadard and Vital fighting for Duke William in a pictorial narrative to serve as “explicit assertions that [at Hastings,] Odo [had] fulfilled his feudal duty of committing his men to William’s service in exemplary fashion.” In other words, the images of the two men constituted proof of the bishop’s “strict compliance with the obligation to have his vassals ready for the service of his overlord,” and evidence that “Odo’s Kentish vassals [were] instrumental in bringing Harold into William’s reach.”49 Finally, because Werckmeister, like Freeman and Prentout before him, took the images of Wadard and Vital as evidence that these men were intimate favorites of Odo’s and because he believed, for whatever reason, that Odo was imprisoned in Normandy by King William before he could commission the embroidery himself, he took it for granted that the bishop’s “Kentish vassals who are presented by name on the Tapestry in order to demonstrate his loyalty, were also the initiators of the demonstration, and therefore depicted as the ‘patrons’ responsible for making the Tapestry.”50 Shirley Ann Brown later reinforced this argument by identifying Wadard and Vital as the “trusted English vassals” of Odo who brought about “the Tapestry’s production through them,” and by arguing that their “sponsorship” of the embroidery was the reason why it included their named images.51 Even when T. A. Heslop implicitly acknowledged in 2009 that previous scholars had failed to explain why Odo of Bayeux would have wanted the textile to include images of Wadard, Vital, and Turold, he simply proposed an alternative explanation, instead of re-opening the whole question of why their images appeared on the embroidery at all. According to Heslop, what distinguished Wadard and Vital – and Turold of Rochester as well – from the bishop’s other Kentish tenants was not the number and value of the estates they – or, in the case of Turold, his son Ralph – held from Odo at the time of the Domesday Survey, but rather the very high rates at which their estates had appreciated in value between the time when Odo had given the lands to them and 1086, the year of the survey. After calculating these rates in percentage terms for the lands held from Odo by Turold, Wadard, and Vital and the lands held from him by all his other tenants in Kent, Heslop concluded that the three men had outperformed all of their fellow tenants. Wadard’s lands increased in value by 70 percent “under his management”; and Turold, 48

49 50 51

Douglas, “Introduction,” 57. Werckmeister, “Political Ideology,” 580–2, 583. Ibid., 586. Brown, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 28.

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too, was “a good farmer.” Vital was “equally enterprising” not only in exploiting properties he held from Odo and from Archbishop Lanfranc as well, but in acting as a “negotiator and contractor” in the cross-channel trade. It was therefore clear why Turold, Wadard, and Vital were all depicted on the embroidery that Odo of Bayeux commissioned the monks of St Augustine’s, Canterbury to make and that he intended to display, at least initially, at one of his residences in Kent: Odo wished to celebrate success, not simply military, and not just his own, but that of his entrepreneurial men, too. They succeeded because they deserved to, because of their talents and because of divine favour. When Turold visited his lord’s [i.e. Odo’s] hall, he could have seen himself represented as part of the great enterprise that was the Norman takeover of England…. Should any of Turold’s men from these estates, the thirty-six villagers and six small holders of Domesday Book, have accompanied him to Odo’s court, they could have seen both their former and the current master in the account of those great events and have drawn their own conclusions about the will of God as realized as history.52

Even if we set aside obvious questions that Heslop’s argument raises about whether the embroidery’s Turold was Turold of Rochester (who was dead by the time of the Domesday survey) and, if so, whether he lived to see it displayed and whether his villagers would have been allowed into Bishop Odo’s great hall and then learned the lessons that Heslop believes to be encoded in the hanging, other questions demand attention. How plausible is it, even if we assume that Odo of Bayeux commissioned the textile and micromanaged its design, to posit that he selected Turold, Wadard, and Vital for inclusion on it only after using a meticulous quantitative analysis to determine that of all his tenants in Kent, they were the ablest entrepreneurs? Even if we assume that the bishop (or his bailiffs) did such an analysis, can we assume that he could easily have distinguished the entrepreneurial successes of these three men from those of other Kentish tenants of his, such as Adam son of Hubert, Ansfrid, Ansgot of Rochester, Ansketel of Rots, Arnulf of Hesdin, Osbern son of Ledhard, Rannulf of Colombières and Robert Latimer? The estates of all these men seem to have appreciated considerably in value as well, according to Domesday Book, though as R. Welldon Finn pointed out, an “apparent increase in value [of an estate, according to the survey,] is often really the charging of a higher rent for a tenant or farmer than that which had previously obtained.”53 Even if we assume that the estates of Wadard, Vital and Turold had increased in value at a higher rate than those of any other tenants of bishop Odo, we must make further assumptions about Odo’s ability to get access to the necessary information, depending on whether he made his calculations before 1082, when he was imprisoned in Normandy; after his incarceration but before the Domesday commission in 1086; or after the commissioners had completed their work in Kent and put their findings into a form that he could use to rank his tenants there as entrepreneurs. The last of these scenarios would further have to explain how Odo could have analyzed the figures, depending on whether he did so before his release in 1087 or whether he did so afterwards, in which case there is the additional problem of whether he completed the work while participating in Duke Robert’s rebellion against William II or after he went into exile. 52 53

Heslop, “Spectators,” 249. R. Welldon Finn, An Introduction to Domesday Book (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1963), 224.

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Fratres of St Augustine’s As the previous section of this chapter has shown, to assume that both Wadard and Vital were so closely and exclusively tied to the bishop of Bayeux that only he could have had an interest in having them depicted on the Bayeux Embroidery is to exaggerate the importance of their ties to the bishop in Kent and sometimes requires the invention of ties with Odo that the two men did not actually have. Moreover, the same assumption either ignores or minimizes their ties to other lords in Kent – notably Scolland, the abbot of St Augustine’s, Canterbury – and to the other members of this monastic community. As Tsurushima has shown, Odo of Bayeux was not Vital’s principal lord in Kent. On the contrary, Vital held only about a quarter of his lands from the bishop. He was a tenant for well over half of them from Archbishop Lanfranc and was identified as one of Lanfranc’s milites in the Domesday Monachorum of Christ Church, which indicates that he owed Lanfranc the service of three knights.54 Vital also held lands in Essex from the sheriff of Kent and from Ranulf Peverel. Tsurushima believes that Vital probably did homage to Lanfranc and the sheriff, but says nothing about his doing homage to the bishop. As Tsurushima explains, moreover, Vital was not only “a knight” but also “a leader of seamen, an active administrator and merchant [who] married his daughter, Mathilda, to William Cauvel, who was a great merchant and the first Norman port-reeve of Canterbury.”55 At the same time, Vital’s association with the abbey of St Augustine’s, Canterbury went beyond holding land at Preston from the fief of Abbot Scolland.56 He also became a frater of the monks, as his son Haimo later did, and used his skills as a merchant/administrator to help Abbot Scolland procure building stone from a well-known quarry at Caen for the new abbey church. Vital appears in both capacities in one of Goscelin of SaintBertin’s stories about the miracles of St Augustine’s, which not only mentions Vital’s services to St Augustine’s and the grant of confraternity with the monks he received in return from Scolland, but articulates a model of the “saintly patronage” that all fratres of the abbey could gain through the mediation of the monks.57 Setting the scene for his story about “how one ship, in the service of … father Augustine, [thanks to Vital,] was snatched to safety when all others sank,” Goscelin explained that [after] men from England, on business with fifteen ships [had] completed their trading [at Caen], they were preparing to return, conveying stone to the king’s palace of Westminister – for they were under contract to the Royal superintendant. [He was] an upright man named Vitalis who, having been received into fraternity by the Lord Abbot Scolland, was proving himself most effective in conveying stone for the monastic building work of St Augustine’s. Thus Vitalis, very faithfully persuaded one of the masters of the fifteen ships already mentioned to give himself to the sacred service of 54 55

56

57

Tsurushima, “Hic Est Miles,” 87–9 and Chart 4. Ibid., 87–8. See “An Eleventh-Century Inquisition of St. Augustine’s, Canterbury’ [hereafter cited as Excerpta], ed. Adolphus Ballard, in The British Academy Records of the Social and Economic History of England and Wales, vol. 4 (1920; Munich: Kraus Reprints, 1981), II, 1–33 at 24; for other references to Vital, see 10, 13, 18. On the Excerpta, see P. H. Sawyer, “The ‘Original Returns’ and Domesday Book,” EHR 70 (1955): 191–7; and Sally Harvey, “Domesday Book and its Predecessors,” EHR 86 (1971): 753–73, esp. 766. On the miracles, see London, British Library MS Cotton Vespasian B. xx. I thank Kate Gilbert for transcribing and translating a number of the miracle stories.

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The Bayeux Tapestry and its Contexts St Augustine (constantly a recompense in the presence of God), so that a reward, both present and perpetual, might accrue to him. When the man spontaneously complied, Vitalis gave him sealed letters of agreement, addressed to Abbot Scoland, for the ship and stone …

After relating how “all fifteen ships were put out to the judgment of the sea” and encountered a terrible storm, Goscelin continued: “Of the fifteen ships that had set out, fourteen in short time were sunk, with their men and the stones and all the cargo sunk – the storm not sparing even the royal building works….” Alone there remained the fifteenth ship, the one with Augustine as helmsman that was carrying stones for bases, for columns, for capitals and for imposts in [the new abbey church of St Augustine’s,] the great sanctuary of God.” And when “some of the men were preparing to throw out the stones [in their cargo] and lighten the load,” then “the faithful and prudent helmsman said to them reproachfully: “Why are you madmen throwing away our support? [H]aven’t you considered that unless we were borne up by these materials for the temple of God and his agent, Augustine, we might have been among the first or subsequent ones to have perished?… By throwing out the stones we might perhaps be able to escape, but even so let us remain unwilling to do this lest we should seek the uncertain reward of continued life through injuries to the church. Now, faithful hearts, in our common danger let us with a common purpose cry out unceasingly to him whose servants we above all are, to our most holy patron and apostle.”

The men’s prayers to St Augustine were answered. Through “the wonderful providence of God and the care of his saint,” they landed at the English port of Bramber, where they learned “how they had a faithful helmsman from heaven, who wished to test them through danger and not punish them …. For, as yet a plainer miracle attributable to the prayers of Augustine, no sooner had all the crew disembarked than the vessel split from one end to the other and broke apart into two equal pieces. [As a result,] all the stones which the vessel had brought undamaged it deposited in the lap of those sands.” The master bought another ship, loaded the stones into it, and sailed with his friends to Canterbury, “where he produced to Abbot Scolland the letters of agreement he had received earlier [from Vital]” and explained “how he miraculously got away through their intercessor, Augustine.” After “thank-offerings to God were made … for the miracle of so great a father shown in such a remedy for the desperate,” Scolland, “sympathizing and rejoicing with them very deeply, gave more than the price of the stones agreed in the letters, and also added on top a few shillings as a token of thanks.” The shipmaster gave up his entire share to God, however, “giving thanks enough to the most eminent saint who had intervened, and praying and asking tearfully the prayers of the faithful for the eternal rest of his drowned friends.”58 Whereas Vital’s services to St Augustine’s were memoralized in Goscelin of SaintBertin’s dramatic story about a miracle at sea, Wadard’s were briefly noted in a cartulary 58

Tsurushima, “Hic Est Miles,” 88, quoted from Richard Gem, “Canterbury and the Cushion Capital: A Commentary on Passages from Goscelin’s De Miraculis Sancti Augustini,” in Romanesque and Gothic Essays for George Zarnecki, ed. N. Stratford (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1987), vol. 1, 83–102 at 83–5, translating from London, British Library MS Cotton Vespasian B. xx, fols 61r–70v.

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copy of a St Augustine’s charter from the time of Abbot Scolland; and although there was nothing particularly remarkable about these services, he, like Vital, received in return for them the benefits of confraternity with the monks of the abbey. One aspect of Wadard’s relationship to St Augustine’s is clearly explained by Ann Williams, who notes that he “was given lands at Ripple and Langdon, belonging to [the manor of ] Northbourne, by Abbot Scolland, and also held of the Abbey at Mongeham.”59 In giving him lands pertaining to Northbourne, she suggests, Scolland “was presumably providing for St Augustine’s military quota, for in the Abbey’s [early twelfth-century] Noticia Terrarum, the Northbourne tenancies are headed “‘lands of the knights’ (terre militum) and several were held for military service in the twelfth century and later.”60 Wadard’s connections to the abbey are further documented in Domesday Book and in the early twelfth-century text known as the Excerpta of St Augustine’s, both of which show that he held land in Kent from Abbot Scolland and the monks, to whom he paid rent and rendered tithes.61 Moreover, the Noticia Terrarum indicates that Wadard was posthumously identified as the holder of a feudum in the honour of St Augustine’s.62 His position as a tenant of the abbey was also noted by William Thorne, a thirteenth-century historian of St Augustine’s, in a passage very similar to one found in an early thirteenth-century cartulary of the abbey’s.63 In 1079, according to Thorne, “Abbot Scotland assigned to Wadard, a knight, land of five sulungs around the village of Northbourne to the end of his life, on condition that the knight himself should pay 30 shillings every year on the feast of Pentecost to St. Augustine and give the tithe of all his belongings, and after the death of Wadard it should return to the demesne of St. Augustine forever.”64 However, there was more to the transaction between Wadard and St Augustine’s than this. A previously unknown charter from another unpublished cartulary of St Augustine’s65 provides significant new evidence about the nature and extent of Wadard’s 59

60 61

62

63

64

65

Ann Williams, “The Anglo-Norman Abbey,” in Gem, St Augustine’s, 50–66 at 60. Ibid., 59; see also 172. DB, Kent, 7.19–20 [fol. 12c]; Excerpta, 21, 22. Noticia Terrarum, London, National Archives (PRO), E 164/27, fols 14r–14v: “milites feofati in suprascripta terra & in honore sancti Augustini”; see also fol. 12v for a reference to “terra Wadardi.” London, National Archives (PRO), E 164/27, fol. 2r: “Abbas tradidit Wadardo milite suo terra .v. solingorum circa Northburnum villam pro solidi annuatim solvendo in festo pentecosten & dabit decimam omnium bonorum post cuius obitum liceat toto illam terram sancti augustini in dominium tradidit.” H. Tsurushima, “Feudum in Kent, c. 1066–1215,” Journal of Medieval History 21 (1995): 97–115 at 106, translating William Thorne, De rebus gestis Abbatum Sancti Augustini Cantuariae, in Historiae Anglicanae Scriptores X, ed. Roger Twysden (London, 1652), col. 1789: “Abbas Scotlandus tradidit Wadardo militi terram quinque solidorum circa villam de Norborne ad terminum vitae ipsius, hac interposita conditione, ut ipse miles redderet singulis annis in festo Pentecosto sancto Augustino xxx solidos et daret decimas omnium rerum suarum quae de illis potuerunt pervenire, et post obitum Wadardi ad dominicum sancti Augustini pro imperpetuo [sic] rediret.” London, British Library MS Cotton Julius D. ii, on which see S. E. Kelly, “Introduction,” in Charters of St Augustine’s, xiii–cxv at xlii–xlvii. For the other two unpublished cartularies of St Augustine’s – London, British Library MS Cotton Claudius D. x (“The Red Book of St Augustine’s”) and London, National Archives (PRO) E 164/27 (“The White Book of St Augustine’s”) – see Kelly, “Introduction,” xlvii–li and li–liv, respectively. For all three cartularies, see also Gem, St Augustine’s Abbey, 172.

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association with the abbot and monks and with St Augustine as well. Like Thorne’s summary, the charter mentions tithes due from land at Northbourne and a rent for the land of 30 solidi payable at Pentecost; it, too, stipulates that the land should return to the monastery’s demesne after Wadard’s death. However, it treats other aspects of Wadard’s relationship with St Augustine’s that Thorne’s summary omitted.66 The charter is important for revealing that Wadard’s relations with Abbot Scolland and the monks of the abbey involved more than William Thorne had indicated and than writers on the Bayeux Embroidery have hitherto realized. In return for rendering tithes and rent to Scolland and the monks of St Augustine’s and, moreover, serving them faithfully as their miles and possibly swearing an oath of fidelity to Scolland,67 Wadard was to be buried in the monks’ cemetery – a privilege accorded only to lay benefactors who were granted confraternity at a monastery and became the beneficiaries of the monks’ prayers.68 Further evidence of Wadard’s association with Abbot Scolland and the monks of St Augustine’s can be found in another charter from the same cartulary, which names him as a witness to an agreement between the monks and a man called Herbert son of Ivo, who entered the abbey as a monk.69 Obviously, there is no way of proving that Wadard or Vital owed his place on the Bayeux Embroidery to his association with St Augustine’s. But the hypothesis is certainly more plausible than the one repeatedly reformulated for well over a century that the two men appeared on the textile because Odo of Bayeux demanded it. Moreover, the first hypothesis seems all the more plausible given how many other figures depicted on the embroidery were linked in perpetuity to the abbey as both benefactors and beneficiaries of the monks’ prayers and thus as fratres belonging to their confraternity.70 In most cases, the death of each of these fratres is noted on the date on which it occurred in a so-called obit 66

67 68

69 70

“Conventio inter Scollandum abbatem & monachos Sancti Augustini cum Wadardo milite. Accepit ipse Wadardus terram .v. solingiorum circa norburiam villam ea condicione quod dabit ipse per singulos annos .xxx. solidos inpentecosten [sic] abbati. & dabit decimam omnium rerum suarum quae in eadem terra fuerint. scilicet mellium. ovium. lane. porcorum. animalium. caseorum & ceterorum quae ipse in domo habuerit. francigene quicumque de terra illa quicquam ab eo tenuerint. Angli vero ibidem degentes consuetam annonam cedent usque dum legitime ab omnibus angligenis decima reddatur & ipsi eam tunc daturi. terram vero istam debet ipse Wadardus bene vestire & domibus & animalibus. & bene agricolari . & si contigerit sibi obitus habeat totam terram cum vestitura in dominium sanctus augustinus in cuius cimiterio delegit sibi sepulturam & omnium propriarum rerum donationem. Ipse autem serviet abbati & fratribus fideliter sicut miles eorum. Consuetudines tunc quas actenus reddidit terra illa regi in operibus castellorum vel quod dicunt scot vel aliarum rerum reddet.” London, British Library MS Cotton Julius D. ii, fol. 107v [no. 295]. According to Tsurushima, “Hic Est Miles,” p. 90, nn. 1–2, the term “miles” was applied to men of varying social statuses, doing different kinds of service. On grants of confraternity in England, see Hirokazu Tsurushima, “The Fraternity of Rochester Cathedral Priory About 1100,” ANS 14 (1992): 313–37; and the literature cited in Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” p. 17, n. 74. On exchanges of lands for spiritual benefits, including burial rights, between lay people and monastic communities, see Stephen D. White, Custom, Kinship and Gifts to Saints: The “Laudatio Parentum” in Western France (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 19–39. London, British Library MS Cotton Julius, D. ii, fols 107v–108r [no. 297]. Women, including female religious, who were formally associated with the community were designated as “sorores.”

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in the early twelfth-century Martyrology of St Augustine’s, which, among other things, served as a record of the individuals for whom the monks were obligated to pray by name on the anniversaries of their deaths.71 Included in the Martyrology are obits for not only Vital,72 but King Edward;73 King William;74 King Harold;75 Odo, bishop of Bayeux;76 Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury and Eustace of Boulogne.77 Finally, because the Martyrology’s obit for Harold, king of the English, on the day of the Battle of Hastings (14 October) also refers to the deaths of “very many brothers of ours” (quamplurimi fratres nostri), it is highly likely that the monks may well have prayed for some of the nameless dead on the embroidery as well.78 In fact, some of the unnamed English dead on the embroidery may have been memorialized, at least within the community of St Augustine’s.79 From passages in Wace’s account of the battle in the Roman de Rou, W. Urry concluded that “The slaughter of the men of Kent at the Battle of Hastings must have been enormous …. There can hardly have been many of the Kentish contingent alive at the end of the day.”80 Although Elisabeth Van Houts has commented on how odd it is that the English dead at Hastings were never memorialized, it is conceivable that some of them were remembered by virtue of their depiction on the Bayeux Embroidery and in the prayers of the monks of St Augustine’s on 14 October.81 71

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76 77

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London, British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius c. xii. There appears to be no obit for Wadard in the Martyrology, which has gaps in the calendar for July and November. There is, however, an obit (fol. 129r) for “Ansfridus frater noster” – who can probably be identified with the Ansfridus Mauclerc mentioned in the charter immediately following the one documenting Wadard’s own agreement with Scolland as making a similar conventio with the abbot. According to Domesday Book, 9.32 and Excerpta, 5, Ansfridus Mauclerc held land from Abbot Scolland. For the obit of Vital’s son Haimo, see Martyrology, fol. 132r. Martyrology, fol. 114v. For the obit of “Willelmus rex Anglorum” and “Mathildis regina Anglorum,” see Martyrology, fol. 140v. For Harold’s obit, see Martyrology, fol. 145v; for that of his father, “Godvinus dux,” fol. 125r. Martyrology, fol. 114v. Martyrology, fol. 120v: “Stigandus archiepiscopus.” Eustace of Boulogne, who was long identified as the figure identified by a fragmentary inscription in the battle is also identified in the same text. For “Eustachius frater noster,” see Martyrology, fol. 118r; for “Eustachius monachus ad succurrendum,” fol. 122. The Martyrology also documents the formalized relationship between the monks of St Augustine’s and the nuns of Barking Abbey by indicating that the former exchanged prayers with the latter (see fol. 155) and by including obits for nuns of Barking (see, e.g., fol. 120) and for abbesses such as Adeliza (fol. 117), Agnes (fol. 124), and Ælfgyva (fol. 128v), who is one of at least four Ælfgyvas identified as “sorores” of the monks of St Augustine’s in the Martyrology (see fols 115v, 123v, 141). Also in the martyrology are obits for King Edward’s mother, Queen Emma; Harold II’s father, Earl Godwine; King William I’s wife, Queen Matilda; Vital’s son, Haimo; and possibly Vital’s wife. In fact, some of the unnamed dead could have been seen as fratres of the monks of St Augustine’s. W. Urry, “The Normans in Canterbury,” Annales du Normandie 8 (1958): 119–38 at 120. On the men of Kent at the battle of Hastings, see Wace, Le roman de Rou de Wace, ed. A. J. Holden, Société des anciens textes français, 3 vols (Paris: Picard, 1973), vol. 2, lines 7819–21 (pp. 178–9), lines 8748–52 (p. 189). See Elisabeth van Houts, “The Memory of 1066 in Written and Oral Traditions,” ANS 19 (1997): 167–79.

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In return for their intercessory prayers for some of the figures represented on the Bayeux Embroidery and for other benefits such as burial, the monks received tangible benefits, as we can see from charters recording gifts to the abbey by Wadard, Odo of Bayeux, King Edward, and King William. As previously noted, Wadard not only rendered tithes and an annual rent from his estate in Northbourne to the abbey, but undertook to serve the abbot and monks as their miles and to render customs such as scot that the land he held owed to the king.82 The contributions of Odo of Bayeux to St Augustine’s were, not surprisingly, much greater. As Emma Cownie explains: It is evident that behind Scotland’s [sic] efforts for the recovery of the abbey’s properties and the acquisition of religious patronage, there lurks the figure of Odo, bishop of Bayeux. Many of St Augustine’s named tenants were also Odo’s men. The community of St Augustine’s turned to him for advice on the translation of a set of the abbey’s relics. Furthermore the bishop continued to enjoy a good reputation at St Augustine’s despite his fall from grace with William the Conqueror and imprisonment during the years 1082-7. Having inherited Plumstead as one of the Godwin family’s encroachments, Odo returned his manor and, in addition, made other benefactions to the abbey. These included his houses in Fordwich, a third of the borough of Fordwich, land adjacent to Plumstead called Smedetune, the tithes which Æ´thelwold the Chamberlain had held of Odo at Knowlton, Tickenhurst and Ringleton, at that date held by Turstin Tinel, the tithe of his tenant Osbern fitz Letard’s land at Buckland and Betteshanger and the tithe of Osbern Paisforier’s land at Buckland.”83

In considering King Edward’s and King William’s gifts to St Augustine’s, one should keep in mind that from the monks’ perspective, at least, they continued a tradition going back to the seventh century, when six kings of Kent, starting with Æthelberht, made gifts to what was then known as the church of St Peter and St Paul. They were followed as donors by seven eighth-century kings of Kent, Mercia, and Wessex and, later on, by five kings of the English from Athelstan to Æthelred, plus Cnut.84 According to one charter 82

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Under the above-mentioned agreement with Scolland that was witnessed by Wadard, Herbert fitz Ivo granted the abbot and monks the tithes of five holdings of his in Kent. See Emma Cownie, Religious Patronage in Anglo-Norman England, 1066–1135, Royal Historical Society Studies in History (Woodbridge: Royal Historical Society/The Boydell Press, 1998), p. 102 and note 37, citing London, British Library MS Cotton Julius D. ii, fol. 108r. Cownie, Religious Patronage, 102. See Regesta, no. 86. On Odo as the monks’ primary benefactor after 1066, see Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 16–17 and the literature cited in p. 16, note 66. For Odo’s gifts and quitclaims to the abbey, see Regesta, nos 84 (1082–1093), 85 (1070 x 1082/83), 87 (1070 x 1082/83). The seventh-century kings identified in Charters St Augustine’s are: Æthelberht, Eadbald, Hlothere, Eadric, Oswine, Wihtred; the late eighth-century kings, Æthelberht II of Kent (nos. 11–13), Offa of Mercia (no. 14), Coenwulf of Mercia and Cuthred of Kent (no. 16), Ecgberht of Wessex (no. 18), Æthelwulf of Wessex and Kent (nos. 19–21), Æthelberht of Wessex and Kent (no. 22); and the tenth- and eleventh-century kings of England, Athelstan (no. 26), Edmund (no. 27), Eadred (no. 28), Edgar (no. 29), Æthelred (no. 30), Cnut (nos. 32–3), and Edward (nos. 34–6, 39). Royal benefactors of Minster-in-Thanet included: Suebhardus, king of the men of Kent (no. 40), Suabertus (no. 41), Oswine of Kent (nos. 42–3), Wihtred (nos. 44–6), Æthelberht son of Wihtred (no. 47), Eadberht I of Kent (no. 48), Æthelbald of Mercia (nos. 49–51), Offa of Mercia (no. 52), Eadberht II of Kent (no. 53). On St Augustine’s and the early kings of Kent, see Charters St Augustine’s, “Appendix 3” (pp. 195–203).

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dated 1042 x 1051, King Edward gave the monks various privileges; according to another, Edward confirmed a gift of land in Fordwich sometime between 1053 and 1066.85 From all appearances, King William I’s gifts to St Augustine’s were more substantial.86 He became a benefactor of St Augustine’s sometime between 1066 and 1070, when he renewed grants of the power to take fines from the abbey’s men that King Edward and earlier kings had made to the abbey.87 In 1070, William gave the monks churches and tithes in Faversham and Milton, along with all the rents he received from these manors.88 At around the same time (1070 x 1072), the king also granted and confirmed to the monks the valuable estate of Plumstead, which according to the charter had been taken from the monks by Earl Godwine, restored to them by King Edward, and then challenged by Bishop Odo, who now renounced his claim on the estate.89 In 1077, King William commanded that St Augustine and Abbot Scolland be reseised of the burg of Fordwich and of all the other lands that a previous abbot of the monastery had given away or allowed to be alienated.90 Sometime between 1070 and 1082/3, the king also confirmed two of the gifts, already mentioned, that Odo and his men made to St Augustine’s.91

The Bayeux Embroidery at St Augustine’s, Canterbury The Bayeux Embroidery’s inclusion of so many images of the monastery’s English and Norman fratres demonstrates that the members of this religious community “consistently played a more directive role in determining [the embroidery’s] meaning than previous scholarship has allowed for.”92 In fact, it shows that in all likelihood, the members of the community created the embroidery for their own purposes, on their own initiative, and without any reference to the wishes of any external patron about how to construct a pictorial narrative of the conquest or what people to include in it. In that case, the prosopographical evidence examined in this chapter points to the provisional conclusion that the process of designing the embroidery could not have begun before 1072, the latest date for Scolland’s consecration as abbot, and was unlikely to have been completed before c. 1080, by which time the monks were connected with all of their new Norman fratres. Moreover, with the bishop out of the picture as the Bayeux Embroidery’s patron, one can also dispense with the unsubstantiated theory that though made at St Augustine’s, it was intended for display at an unspecified baronial hall or halls to lay audiences consisting 85

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For charters recording Edward’s gifts to St Augustine’s, see Charters St Augustine’s, no. 35 [1042 x 1050], made “pro redemption anime mee”; and no. 39 [1053–1066], made “for minre saule.” Charters St Augustine’s, no. 34 is a fabrication, according to the editor. On gifts to the abbey probably made by King Edward’s mother, Queen Emma/Ælfgyva, see ibid., xx, 186. For William I’s gifts and confirmations to St Augustine’s, see Regesta, nos 80 (1066–1087; probably 1066 x c. 1070); 81 (1070 before Whitsun); 82 (1070 x 1075); 83 (14 July, 1077); 84 (1082– 1093); 87 (1070 x 1087). Regesta, no. 80. Regesta, no. 81. Regesta, no. 82. Regesta, no. 83 Regesta, nos. 84, 86. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 20. On the importance of the associations between several figures on the embroidery and the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel for interpreting the embroidery, see Chapter 5.

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largely if not exclusively of Normans.93 The obvious alternative is that the monks made the hanging for display at their own house, probably at a church feast and perhaps even on the Feast of the Relics and the week following, the point in the liturgical calendar at which the embroidery was later displayed at Bayeux Cathedral, according to the first documented reference to it in the cathedral’s 1476 inventory.94 At the abbey of St Augustine’s, in the presence of members of the community, which included the fratres as well as the monks, even now-obscure figures on the embroidery such as Vital and Wadard would have been recognized after their deaths, since the monks of St Augustine’s were obliged to pray for them by name in perpetuity. Although the finding that these figures were fratres of St Augustine’s and benefactors of the abbey may help us to understand why none of them was directly vilified – as Harold clearly was, for example, in the Norman Story and in other textual accounts of the conquest as well – it should not lead us to conclude that any of them was meant to be represented simply as an honored benefactor of the abbey or would have been perceived as such by the embroidery’s monastic audience. For one thing, the association of fratres with the monks was formally predicated on the assumption that the former were sinners in need of the latter’s intercessory prayers to protect their souls and secure remission of their sins, as we can see clearly in charters recording gifts to the abbey by King Edward, King William, and Odo of Bayeux. Edward confirmed the gift of land in Fordwich “for minre saule” to Christ and St Augustine.95 The previously mentioned confirmation of the abbey’s privileges by King William was made “to God and St Augustine for the redemption of my soul,” thereby following the new practice of identifying Augustine as the abbey’s patron saint and omitting all reference to Saint Peter and Saint Paul.”96 A charter of 1070 also identifies God and St Augustine as the recipients of a grant of churches and tithes to the abbey that King William I made in perpetuity for the redemption of his soul, “just as Edward my blood kinsman and the kings who were his ancestors had granted them.”97 William notified Lanfranc and others that Odo had given what he had at Fordwich “for the love of God and for the salus of my soul and his.”98 Odo’s gifts to the monastery were made “to God and the blessed apostles Peter and Paul 93

94 95

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The theory is most clearly developed in Richard Brilliant, “The Bayeux Tapestry: A Stripped Narrative for their Eyes and Ears,” Word & Image 7 (1991): 98–126; rpt. in Gameson, Study, 111–37. Heslop, “Spectators,” 232, imagines Turold of Rochester and his Kentish tenants visiting his lord’s hall near Canterbury to view the Bayeux Embroidery, on which the latter “could have seen both their former and current masters in the account of those great events and could have drawn their own conclusions about the will of God as realized in history.” See Chapters 1 and 3. Charters St Augustine’s, no. 39 [1053–1066]. In ibid., no. 35 [1042 x 1050] – a Latin version of the preceding Old English charter – King Edward makes his gift to God, St Augustine and the abbey’s fratres “pro redemptio anime mee.” “Deo et sancto Augustino, mee anime ad redemptionem” (Regesta, no. 80: 1066–1087; probably 1066 x c. 1070). William grants rights to God and St Augustine “mee anime ad redemptionem, sicut Ædwardus meus consanguineus et sui antecessors reges fecerunt.” (Regesta, no. 81: 1070, before Whitsun). See also ibid., no. 82, where William grants to St Augustine and abbot and monks, that they may hold churches and tithes in perpetuum. Regesta, no. 85: 1070 x 1082/83; Regesta, 84: 1070 x 1082/93). Odo’s own charter uses similar language, indicating that he made his gifts “for my soul and for the soul of my lord, William King of the English.”

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and to the most blessed Augustine … not only for the safety of my lord king but for the redemption of my own soul.”99 Although the conventionalized references in these charters to the donor’s hope that the monks’ prayers would secure the protection and redemption of his soul did not necessarily imply that he was weighed down by the most grievous of sins, subsequent chapters of this volume will suggest that when the Bayeux Embroidery was displayed at St Augustine’s, its viewers were intended to see many figures in the main frieze as sinners and as recipients of the monks’ intercessory prayers. In discussing the fables depicted on the textile’s borders, Chapter 7 argues that in providing satirical commentary on its main narrative, these stories repeatedly drew attention to the insatiable appetites of the powerful for plunder and different forms of predation in which they engaged. In surveying different textual accounts of the conquest in Chapter 2, the point is also made that many of the accounts written in England represented it as fulfillment of God’s longstanding plan to punish the English for their sins and, in particular, for the corruption and depravity of their lay rulers.100 At the same time, writers on the conquest in England and in Normandy were virtually unanimous in viewing Harold’s death in the Battle of Hastings as God’s punishment of him for the sin of perjury.101 Finally, because the embroidery, as argued in Chapter 9, never shows that Duke William of Normandy had a legitimate claim to be Edward’s heir and successor, Chapter 10 suggests that all of the conquerors of the English were open to condemnation as sinners, if not for slaughtering the English, then for coveting their goods and plundering them.102 If the Bayeux Embroidery told the story of the conquest of the English and the advent of the Normans, deployed images of fables to comment ironically on the narrative, and hinted at God’s role in it, and if the embroidery’s main frieze also memorialized greater 99

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Regesta, no. 86: 1072 x 1083/3). For the view of the second generation of writers on the conquest that “the defeat of the English by the Normans [was] God’s punishment for English sins,” see Van Houts, “Memory of 1066,” 171. See also Monika Otter, “1066: The Moment of Transition in Two Narratives of the Norman Conquest,” Speculum 74 (1999): 565–86. For monks viewing the embroidery, seemingly favorable representations of Harold might make him particularly suspect, as one can see from the following passage in Orderic, HE, vol. 2, 136–7. See also Van Houts, “Memory of 1066,” 176. As noted in Chapter 10, Norman authors not only justified the violence of the conquest but actively glorified it; but the embroidery did not do so and never shows the named participants on Duke William’s side – Wadard, Vital, Odo of Bayeux, Robert of Mortain, Eustace of Boulogne, and William himself – engaging in plundering or killing. However, as the same chapter shows, the invasion and conquest of England was obliquely represented as a great act of rapine and plunder. These were acts for which soldiers who had fought for William at Hastings were required to do penance, according to the penitential ordinance enforced in c. 1070 under papal authority by Bishop Ermenfrid of Sion. Moreover, those who fought and were motivated only by gain (premio) owed penance as for homicide. For the Latin text, see Councils and Synods with Other Documents Relating to the English Church, Pt I, A.D. 871–1204, ed. Dorothy Whitelock, Martin Brett, and C. N. L. Brooke, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), vol. 2, 583–4. For a translation, see R. Allen Brown, The Norman Conquest, Documents of Medieval History 5 (London: Edward Arnold, 1984), 156–7. On the penitential see H. E. J. Cowdrey, “Bishop Ermenfrid of Sion and the Penitential Ordinance following the Battle of Hastings,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 20 (1969): 225–42, with an edition of the text at 241–2; and Catherine Morton, “Pope Alexander and the Norman Conquest,” Latomus 34 (1975): 362–82, with an edition of the text at 381–2.

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and lesser figures associated with St Augustine’s, Canterbury, we may think of the entire textile as sharing important characteristics with the early twelfth-century histories that Sir Richard Southern associated with “the historical revival” taking place in this period at several other old Benedictine monastic houses.103 Because no major history of England was ever written at St Augustine’s, there is obviously no place for this monastic community in Southern’s discussion of how “a sense of the past” began to be cultivated in England some twenty-five years after 1066 at Worcester, Durham, Malmesbury, and Christ Church, Canterbury. Even so, the writing of a full-scale history of England is virtually the only sign of this historical revival that cannot be seen at St Augustine’s, Canterbury, which – in common with, and in some cases earlier than the houses just mentioned – energetically participated in other activities that Southern saw as characterizing the revival. The process of collecting pre-conquest charters and sometimes forging them, for example, was underway at St Augustine’s during the abbacy of Scolland; it served, just as it did at other abbeys, “to resist attack” against the monastery’s properties and was supplemented, sooner or later, by the compilation of the survey of the abbey’s lands in the so-called Excerpta of St Augustine’s.104 During Scolland’s abbacy, one can also see at this monastery, as at Christ Church, clear evidence of a “corporate interest” in preserving a “great collection of saints’ bodies,” in writing the saints’ biographies and producing stories of their miracles, and maintaining their feasts, all of which Southern characterizes as “primary tasks of historical effort” at this monastery’s rival in Canterbury.105 At St Augustine’s, as at Glastonbury, monks showed particular interest in the oldest phase of their collective history, which was associated not only with early Kentish kings, some of them royal saints, but with sainted churchmen such as Augustine and Hadrian.106 To the extent that the historical revival that began at St Augustine’s in Scolland’s time and continued into the early twelfth century involved the preservation of the abbey’s English past, it had much in common with the early twelfth-century revival that Southern evoked so brilliantly. However, if it involved, for certain purposes, “reanimating the pre-Conquest past and showing that the Conquest was no more than a tremor in a long development,”107 it also involved the recycling of the monks’ English past into a present that was also embodied by a new abbey church and shaped actively by their new Norman benefactors and beneficiaries of their prayers – including William I, Odo of Bayeux, Wadard, and Vital – and by Abbot Scolland from Mont-Saint-Michel and by the Flemish hagiographer Goscelin of Saint-Bertin. For the community of St Augustine’s, therefore, the story of the conquest was played out at several different levels as a story of discontinuity and continuity.

Southern, “Sense of the Past.” On the general “threat to monastic lands,” see ibid., 247. 105 Ibid., 252. 106 On Glastonbury, see ibid., 252–3. 107 Ibid., 249. 103

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Chapter 5 Locating Harold’s Oath and Tracing His Itinerary Stephen D. White Locating Harold’s Oath and Narrating Harold’s Journey The scene on the Bayeux Embroidery showing Harold, duke of the English, taking an oath to William, duke of the Normans after William and his followers arrive in Bayeux (W26; Plate X; Fig. 13) is the high point of the first part of the pictorial narrative, which depicts a journey that Harold made, according to the Norman Story but not the English one, from England to the Continent and back at an unspecified date usually identifed by modern historians as 1064 or 1065.1 Although there has been much debate about what the textile’s pictorial narrative of this journey was intended to convey about it to contemporary viewers, most scholars agree that it shows Harold swearing an oath to William at Bayeux on the relics of Bayeux Cathedral.2 Many also believe that the decision to set the oath-swearing scene at Bayeux and not at Bonneville, where William of Poitiers situates it in his Gesta Guillelmi, marks a rare deviation from the Norman story of the conquest, which the embroidery usually tells; and further, that this deviation confirms the hypothesis examined from several different perspectives in this volume that Odo of Bayeux commissioned the monks of St Augustine’s, Canterbury to create a pictorial narrative that would glorify his own role in the Norman Conquest in addition to justifying the conquest itself.3 This hypothesis has long provided part of the rationale for arguing that when considered together with several other scenes discussed in Chapter 6, the scene depicting Harold’s oath emphasizes and even exaggerates the bishop’s role in events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, on the grounds that none of these scenes has any parallel in written accounts of the conquest, including versions of the Norman Story taken to be the source or sources that the embroidery’s designer followed.4 Recent commentators have therefore interpreted the oath-swearing scene as, for example, emphasizing “[Odo’s] right to be actively involved in Harold’s come-uppance, [by] championing and upholding the relics of his foundation”; “[pulling him] into the ranks of the earl’s victims, lending further weight to [his] role in the Conquest”; demonstrating 1

2 3 4

W25–6: “Ubi Harold sacramentum fecit Willelmo duci”; W24–5: “Hi[c] Willelm venit Bagias.” See, e.g., François Neveux, “The Bayeux Tapestry as Original Source,” in Bouet, BT, 171–95 at 175–7. For the oath at Bonneville (Bonamvillam), see WP, GG, 70–1. On Odo’s patronage, see Pastan and White, “Problematizing.” See Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 7–10.

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“the efficacy of [those] relics”; and giving them a “starring” role in the conquest. The scene has even been taken to signal “an attempt by Odo … to muscle in on the act” – that is, his brother William’s act of conquering England.5 However, all such interpretations of the oath-swearing scene presuppose that other images on the embroidery demonstrate that Odo commissioned the embroidery partly for the purpose of self-glorification. If the self-glorification hypothesis is taken as a given, it can then be invoked without engaging in circular argumentation to confirm that the textile depicts Bayeux as the place where Harold took an oath to William and the relics of Bayeux Cathedral as the ones on which he swore it; to explain why it did so; and to confirm that the scene would have been understood by the embroidery’s intended audience as yet another image which honors the bishop.6 However, since the portrayal of Odo, Wadard, and Vital can be readily explained, as argued in Chapter 4, by hypothesizing that the monks created the embroidery at their own initiative and for their own purposes and intended for it to be displayed at their own abbey, we need to re-examine the oath-swearing scene without presupposing that it was expressly designed to honor Odo of Bayeux. Such an analysis reveals several reasons, in addition to the ones considered in Chapter 3, for doubting that the scene was intended to show Harold swearing an oath to William at Bayeux or to highlight the relics of its cathedral, much less to glorify Odo by deviating from the true or traditional story about where Harold swore the oath. First, even if the embroidery does show the oath being taken at Bayeux, it gives far less emphasis to locating it there or to identifying the relics on which it was sworn than would have been necessary to convey either the strong, self-aggrandizing messages about Odo’s role in the conquest or the power of his cathedral’s relics that modern interpreters have found in it. Moreover, because most late eleventh- and twelfth-century accounts of Harold’s oath do not name the place where he swore it, but, like the embroidery itself, represent him as swearing it just before sailing back to England, there is no reason to think that – for the sake of pleasing his patron or for any other reason – the embroidery’s designer deliberately suppressed William of Poitiers’ story about Harold swearing the oath at Bonneville in order to hype the relics of Bayeux Cathedral and its bishop’s role in his half-brother’s conquest of England. For the purpose of explaining why the embroidery named Bayeux at all, it is probably significant that like other figures who are depicted on the textile, its bishop, as noted in Chapters 3, 4, and 6 was a benefactor of St Augustine’s, Canterbury.7 But the close association established between this abbey and Mont-Saint-Michel in c. 1070, when a monastic scribe at the latter named Scolland became abbot of the former, provides the basis for a fuller and more satisfactory explanation for how the embroidery represents Harold’s itinerary on the Continent and, more specifically, for why, aside from Beaurain, the embroidery’s pictorial narrative of Harold’s journey on the Continent names only places in Brittany and Lower Normandy (including Bayeux) and none in Upper 5

6 7

Gameson, “The Origin, Art and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 157–211 at 181; S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 125; Sir Frank Stenton, “The Historical Background,” in Stenton, BT, 9–24 at p. 23; N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 63–92 at 69; see also Bernstein, Mystery, 30; Gale Owen-Crocker, “Brothers, Rivals and the Geometry of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 109–23. On these images, see, e.g., Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 68; Grape, BT, 54. On Odo’s appearances, see Chapters 3, 4, and 6.

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Normandy, the region privileged in the early Norman accounts of Harold’s journey by William of Poitiers and William of Jumièges and in Orderic Vitalis’s story about it in his Ecclesiastical History.8 Since the embroidery’s representation of Harold’s journey differs so markedly in these and other respects from the written versions of the Norman Story, the study of it provides a further reason for contesting the conventional view discussed in Chapter 2 that the textile told a slightly modified version of this story to Norman viewers who were already predisposed to see the story on the hanging and to believe firmly in its truthfulness.9 The study of the embroidery’s depiction of Harold’s itinerary also supports the arguments presented in Chapters 4, 6, 7, and 11 that the significance of the entire pictorial narrative would have been best understood when the textile was displayed at the abbey of St Augustine’s to a core audience of monks with both the knowledge and the opportunity to study it closely. An examination of how the embroidery situates the oath-scene in relation to other scenes and how, in this respect, it compares with written accounts of Harold’s oath not only provides another occasion for questioning the traditional view that it tells a version of the Norman Story and for explaining what story it actually tells. It also helps us to see how the embroidery has often been interpreted on the basis of highly debatable assumptions about its supposed relationships to what are taken to be its written or pictorial “sources.” On the one hand, similarities to alleged sources are taken as signs of an intention to follow them and to convey the same meanings as they do. On the other hand, discrepancies with alleged sources that are otherwise followed are construed as deliberate deviations, which are explained by reference to still other assumptions about patronage, audience, or intended “message.” In addition, interpretation of the embroidery’s pictorial narrative of the conquest and of its relationship to written accounts has been complicated in ways already considered in Chapter 2 by the longstanding belief that it generally presented such a reliable account of historical “events” leading to the Norman Conquest, in the sense of explaining how it came about, that it should be regarded as a reliable historical source and, indeed, as an historical “document.”

Locating the Oath at Bayeux Although Sir Frank Stenton referred to “[t]he insistence of the Tapestry upon Bayeux as the place where earl Harold entered into his solemn engagement with duke William,” its designer did not emphasize this point clearly and forcefully enough to associate the oath closely with the town of Bayeux, to dramatize the power of its cathedral’s relics, or to demonstrate that Bishop Odo had any special stake in overthrowing Harold for swearing falsely on them.10 (W25–6; Plate X; Fig. 13) As Michel Parisse and H. E. J. Cowdrey have both explained, the embroidery may not identify Bayeux as the site of Harold’s oath at all.11 To be sure, the word “ubi” in the scene’s inscription, “Ubi Harold sacramentum 8 9 10 11

On the central position of Rouen in Norman historiography, see Emily Albu, The Normans in their Histories: Propaganda, Myth and Subversion (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2001), 47–50. For references to writings by scholars who adopt this view of the embroidery’s narrative, see note 58 in Chapter 2. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 9. Michel Parisse, The Bayeux Tapestry, trans. William Courtney (Vitry-sur-Seine: Denoël, 1983), 50–1; H. E. J. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry (1988),” ANS 10 (1988), 49–65, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 93–110 at p. 94 and n. 4.

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fecit Willelmo duci” (“Where Harold made an oath to Duke William”), can be taken as a locative-connective – as it probably is in one other inscription (see W9; Fig. 6). If so, “where” would refer to Bayeux (Bagias) in the previous inscription, “Hi[c] Willelm venit Bagias” (“Here William came/comes to Bayeux”).12 However, if “ubi” is simply a locative, as it is elsewhere on the embroidery (see W9: Fig. 6), then it would refer indirectly to an unspecified location where Harold swore an oath to William just before boarding a ship to sail back to England.13 The second reading of “ubi” is perfectly reasonable, partly because the image of the fortress of Bayeux separates the word “Bagias” from “ubi” and from the space that William and Harold occupy and partly because in the oath-scene, Harold is situated at least as closely to the shore as he is to landlocked Bayeux.14 Moreover, the embroidery does not even show that the two men necessarily occupy the same space. Harold, as Cowdrey points out, “stands on a cobbled surface indicating an outdoor event that could have happened anywhere,” and the scene’s “closely integrated sequence of William sitting apparently indoors and Harold swearing outdoors and then embarking for England implies a rapid transit from inland Bayeux to the sea.”15 Furthermore, David J. Bernstein emphasizes how closely the embroidery links Harold’s oath to his embarking on a ship and sailing back to England. Far from being two separate incidents, first the oath and then the departure, the two episodes are joined by the disposition of figures and the position of the inscription. While one soldier on the right is fully engaged in observing Harold swear his oath, the other is clearly meant to be read as a “visual conjunction” by the way he moves towards the ship while looking back towards the oath ceremony, one foot on dry land, the other at the water’s edge.16

The scene’s way of locating Harold’s oath, to be sure, is open to a different construction, as Richard Gameson and others have shown.17 However, if it was intended to convince viewers that Harold swore the oath to William at Bayeux and not elsewhere, there is no way of explaining why the designer left any doubt about where, precisely, the two men were actually located. Moreover, how could viewers of the embroidery have been sure that the relics shown in the oath-scene were those of Bayeux cathedral without an inscription to tell them so? Although previous commentators on the oath-scene often take it for granted that the relics of the bishop’s cathedral were shown in it, they have reached no consensus on how to identify them or even on how to approach this question. As a result, they have never satisfactorily explained why the reliquary on the left is represented as portable, if it was intended to depict a reliquary housed at the cathedral in which or near which Harold 12 13

14 15

16 17

Since the verb “venit” can be in either the present or the perfect tense, this is one of the places in the inscriptions where the verbs are ambiguous. See Chapter 10. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” 94, citing “Ubi Harold dux anglorum” (W1) and “Ubi unus clericus et Ælfgyva” (W17), though Richard David Wissolick, “The Saxon Statement,” Annuale Mediaevale 19 (1979): 69–97 at 85 claims (implausibly) that “In all … instances, ubi is both locative and connective. It is always linked to a place mentioned.” On “Bagias” for Bayeux, see Chapter 3. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” p. 94, n. 4, suggests that on the embroidery, “Bonneville would be a plausible place for the oath-taking.” Bernstein, Mystery, 117. Gameson, “Origin,” p. 181 and n. 122.

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swore the oath.18 According to Bernstein, the reliquary’s resemblance to images of the Ark of the Covenant suggests that it was “meant to evoke the Ark, perhaps as an archetypal portable shrine.” His observation enables us to go on to consider the apparent incongruity involved in showing Harold swearing an oath on a portable altar that need not have been carried more than a very short distance to the site of the oath, assuming that the altar was housed at Bayeux cathedral.19 The hypothesis advanced by Charles H. Gibbs-Smith that it was a portable altar that William “carried … on his campaigns” seems fanciful;20 but this theory nevertheless suggests the possibility that showing a reliquary in a portable altar was a way of indicating that it had been carried from one location to a different location, the one where the oath-scene is set. As for the reliquary on the right, there is no consensus on whether it was intended to represent the very one on which Harold, wherever he was, swore the oath, according to several written accounts, or the one on which he would almost certainly have taken it, if he had he actually done so on relics of Bayeux cathedral. The Brevis Relatio, the Hyde Chronicle, and Wace’s Roman de Rou – which are the only accounts of Harold’s oath to give any information about the relics on which he swore it – say that among them was a reliquary called the “ox eye” or the “bull’s eye,” which Bernstein suggests that the reliquary on the right was intended to represent, particularly since “the mushroom shaped object on top of [this] reliquary . . . appears to be a single stone which by its design evokes an eye.”21 The Hyde Chronicle states that William “ordered a great number of holy relics (“Infinitam namque sanctarum multitudinem reliquiarum”) to be brought out, of which the most important was the phylactery of St Pancras, which they call the ‘ox eye’ because its middle part contains a huge and beautiful gem.”22 The Brevis Relatio by a monk of Battle Abbey refers to three oaths (sacramenta) that Harold took “on the reliquary that they called the ox eye” (“super filacterium quod vocabant oculum bovis”).23 The poet Wace – a canon of Bayeux who is sometimes credited with having seen the embroidery there24 – wrote that after convening a council at Bayeux, Duke William ordered that all the holy relics be assembled in one place, having an entire tub filled with them; then he ordered them covered with a silk cloth so that Harold neither knew about them nor saw them, nor was it pointed out to him. On top of it he placed a reliquary, the finest he could choose and the most precious he could find; I have heard it called “ox-eye.”25 18 19 20 21

22

23

24

25

For a description of the actual reliquary, see Chapter 6. The portable reliquary is sometimes described as a portable altar. Bernstein, Mystery, 169, citing, on surviving portable altars, Peter Lasko, Ars Sacra, 800–1200 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), plates 9, 10, 51–4, 89–91, 98, 99, 136, 150–1, 160–1, 163. Charles H. Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” in Stenton, BT, 174–88, at p. 179, n. 29, suggests that the portable altar was “probably carried by William on his campaigns.” Bernstein, Mystery, 196–7. “Chronica Monasterii de Hida Juxta Wintoniam, Ab anno 1035 ad annum 1121,” in Liber de Monasterii de Hyda, ed. Edward Edwards, Rolls Series 45 (London: Longmans, 1866), 283–321 at 290. Brevis Relatio, 28a–28. According to Neveux, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 176: “As a canon of Bayeux, [Wace] certainly knew the Tapestry well, and without any doubt drew inspiration from it.” On Wace and the embroidery, see also Chapter 1. Wace, Rou, 223.

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However, if the designer’s purpose had not been to represent relics on which, according to a tradition he knew, Harold swore the oath, but to depict the relics on which Harold could and would have taken an oath at Bayeux, then the embroidery could not have been intended to depict the “ox eye,” since the cult of St Pancras was unknown at Bayeux or anywhere else in Normandy. The reliquary on the right has therefore been identified by others as the new shrine of Saints Rasyphus and Ravennus, which Odo of Bayeux had commissioned in c. 1050, during a period when their cult was so popular that their relics, supposedly, would have been the ones on which Harold, a decade and a half later, would almost certainly have sworn the oath, if he had actually sworn it at Bayeux – as, of course, he supposedly did not, in the opinion of those who believe that the embroidery deviated from the true story told by William of Poitiers about where the oath was sworn.26 However, if the designer’s purpose was to show that Harold swore the oath on the relics of these two saints, as well as on the portable altar, then why did he not identify the reliquary on the right with an inscription, depict the cathedral in which it was ordinarily housed, or even designate Bayeux clearly as the site of the ceremony? Moreover, if the designer intended to emphasize Bishop Odo’s stake in avenging Harold’s treachery in swearing a false oath on his cathedral’s relics, why did he not include the bishop in the oath-scene itself – perhaps standing next to the enthroned Duke William – or at least in the previous scene showing the duke enthroned in his own palace (W16-17; Plate VII; Fig. 8)? Instead, the designer deferred Odo’s first named appearance until much later in the narrative, shortly before the Battle of Hastings, where the bishop and the duke are finally named in the same scene (W48; Plate XV; Fig. 24).27 The only explanation on offer for his doing so seems to be that although Odo required the embroidery’s designer to locate the oath-swearing scene at Bayeux and to cast him in other roles that he did not play during the run-up to the conquest, the bishop did not want to go too far in upstaging his brother by intruding himself into the solemn ceremony of the oath-swearing ceremony. Just as one can always find ways of explaining how the Bayeux Embroidery promoted the interests of Odo of Bayeux, provided that one assumes that he micromanaged its design in order to achieve this purpose, one can always find reasons for its supposed failures to do so, such as the bishop’s alleged interest in not being promoted too blatantly at William’s expense.28 However, the circularity of both kinds of arguments becomes painfully obvious when they have to be used simultaneously to interpret a scene that is composed in such a way as to emphasize a point that did not directly serve Odo’s interests, but not the points that would have supposedly done so. In the oath-scene, the designer deployed specific pictorial devices to emphasize that Harold did indeed swear the oath to Duke William, but he failed to use others that were clearly available to draw attention to the identity of the place where he took it, the identity of the relics on which he swore it, or the bishop of the cathedral whose relics they were. According to Otto Pächt, the embroidery’s designer took great pains to insure that 26

27

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Karen Eileen Overbey, “Taking Place: Reliquaries and Territorial Authority in the Bayeux Embroidery,” in Foys, BT, 36–50 at 37. For previous identifications of this shrine as the one depicted on the embroidery, see Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” no. 29, p. 179; Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 150–2; Neveux, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 176 and, for bibliography on saints and their cult, nn. 28–9. On the late introduction of Odo and proposed explanations for it, see Chapter 6. See Bernstein, Mystery, 136; and Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 7–10.

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the significance of [the oath-swearing] ceremony is not lost on the beholder. As if shouting in chorus Nota bene, Duke William and everybody else in the picture point to Harold and his taking of the solemn oath …, partly to the act itself and partly to the explanatory inscription “Ubi Harold sacramentum fecit Willelmo Duci” above the heads of the figures.29

The point is clear: These people saw and heard Harold swearing the oath. They were true witnesses. As Richard Gameson explains, “these gestures address, not a depicted character, but the beholder: they are designed to direct his attention. Many gestures like these, have no narrative import and their raison d’être is to direct the eye.”30 Why, then, is the beholder’s eye not directed to “Bagias” as the place where the oath was taken or to an inscription identifying the relics as those of Bayeux cathedral? Since the embroidery’s designer obviously used a variety of pictorial devices as well as an unusually precise inscription to dramatize the fact that Harold did swear an oath to William, his failure to fix the attention of viewers on Bayeux as the place where Harold took the oath or on relics specifically associated with Bayeux cathedral suggests that he had no need to do so and did not. In other words, he designed the oath-scene, not to satisfy Odo of Bayeux or accord him a role in his half-brother’s campaign against Harold, but rather to give extraordinary emphasis to the fact that Harold publicly swore the oath to William.

Re-Locating Harold’s Oath to Bayeux Whether the designer located the oath-ceremony in this way or placed it unambiguously at Bayeux, there is no reason to assume that doing so entailed deliberately fictionalizing its location or suppressing the story – which need not have been the true or even the traditional story – that Harold had sworn the oath at Bonneville. This seemed to be the view of Stenton, who wrote that by insisting on Bayeux as the site of Harold’s oath, the textile “conceals the fact that there are other places which claimed this distinction.”31 Similarly, C. R. Dodwell wrote that the scene showing Harold’s oath is “transferred from the Rouen, or Bonneville, of the Norman chroniclers to Bayeux.”32 The usual way of arguing that the designer deliberately changed the location of the oath-ceremony runs as follows. First, since the embroidery is alone among early Norman accounts of the conquest in treating Bayeux as the site of Harold’s oath, whereas William of Poitiers, the earliest source for where it was taken and supposedly the most reliable, identified Bonneville in this connection and Orderic Vitalis’s Ecclesiastical History named Rouen, one should assume that Harold did swear the oath at Bonneville – or was generally 29

30 31

32

Otto Pächt, The Rise of Pictorial Narrative in Twelfth-Century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 10; see also Jean-Luc Chassel, “Le serment de Harold dans la tapisserie de Bayeux et dans les sources pro-Normand des XIe et XIIe siècles,” in Le serment (actes du colloque international du CNRS – université Paris X-Nanterre, mai 1989), ed. Raymond Verdier, 2 vols (Paris, Éditions du CNRS, 1991) vol. 1, Signes et fonctions, pp. 43–53. Richard Gameson, The Role of Art in the Late Anglo-Saxon Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 147. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 9; my italics. C. R. Dodwell, The Pictorial Arts of the West, 800–1200 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 14; my italics.

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reputed to have done so – and not at Bayeux or Rouen.33 If so, then Harold probably swore the oath before going with William on a campaign in Brittany, as William of Poitiers stated, not afterwards, as the embroidery indicates. As David Douglas put it, “either at Rouen, or perhaps at Bayeux, but more probably in the presence of an assembly of magnates held at Bonneville-sur-Touques, Earl Harold was brought to swear his famous oath of fealty to the Norman duke.”34 Second, according to the argument, since it is assumed that propagating the fiction that Harold swore the oath at Bayeux on the relics of the cathedral could have served no one’s interests but Odo’s, the embroidery’s designer must have done so at the bishop’s behest by deliberately deviating in this instance from the version of the Norman Story of the conquest that he generally followed – a version closely resembling the one in the Gesta Guillelmi. However, no such elaborate, speculative scenario is necessary to explain why the embroidery shows that Harold swore an oath to William after coming with him to Bayeux and before sailing back to England. Although it is doubtful that the designer felt constrained by considerations of historical accuracy about where, exactly, the oathceremony – or oath-ceremonies – took place, he presumably had an interest in not locating the oath at a place that would have seemed totally improbable. To begin with, the fact that William of Poitiers, Orderic Vitalis, and the embroidery all indicate that Harold swore an oath to William at only one place does not rule out the possibility – assuming that he took an oath to William at all – that he did so at several or was widely thought to have done so. He could have sworn at all three places, as has recently been pointed out.35 Moreover, there was nothing improbable about Harold swearing at Bayeux, where several historians of the conquest believe he might well have done so.36 The town was close to Caen, which the duke had established as his main power-center from the 1050s onwards, building a large fortified residence there and founding two important abbeys with his wife Matilda.37 That he and Harold would have passed through nearby Bayeux in 1064 or 1065 is hardly improbable, given that the whole area was the one from which he recruited much of his support for the invasion in 106638 and which he visited in that 33

34

35 36 37

38

WP, GG, 102–7; Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 134–7. See C. R. Dodwell, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the French Secular Epic,” Burlington Magazine 108 (1966): 549–60; rpt. in Gameson, Study, 47–62 at 47. Bayeux is the site of Harold’s oath in Wace, Rou, line 5683 (p. 222). On how the embroidery and written sources locate Harold’s oath, see Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 69; Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” p. 94, n. 5; O. K. Werckmeister, “The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Studi Medievali ser. 3, 17 (1976): 535–95 at 564–5. David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact on England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), 176. According to Antonia Gransden, Historical Writing in England, c. 550 to c.1307 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), 102, William of Poitiers “may well be right” in placing Harold’s oath at Bonneville-sur-Touques. Neveux, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 174–7, citing M. de Boüard, Guillaume le Conquérant (Paris: Fayard, 1984), 269–70. See, e.g., Douglas, William the Conqueror, 177; and R. Allen Brown, The Normans and the Norman Conquest, 2nd ed. (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1994), 111. David Bates, William the Conqueror (London: George Philip, 1989), 54. Ian Short, Manual of Anglo-Norman, Anglo-Norman Text Society, Occasional Publications Series 7 (London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 2006), 18–19, which maintains, moreover, that “it must have been the variety of French used by duke William himself and his immediate court and entourage of magnates (and clerics) from the Lower Normandy area around Caen that formed the basis upon which Insular French was to build and develop.”

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year, going to his palaces at both Caen and Bayeux, where he had a specially designated chamber (“camera ducis Guillelmi”) in the cathedral.39 Although there are various ways of explaining Wace’s later identification of Bayeux as the place where Harold swore the oath in Le roman de Rou (early 1170s), it is certainly possible that as a canon of Bayeux, he did not simply invent a tradition to this effect.40 Finally, there would have been nothing improbable about the embroidery’s images of Harold swearing an oath to William somewhere in Bayeux’s vicinity and then boarding a ship bound for England, because of Bayeux’s proximity to the port of Caen – a location well known at St Augustine’s because, as noted in Chapters 3, 4 and 11, stone from a famous quarry there was brought to the abbey for the building of a new cathedral during the abbacy of Scolland.41 Since it was certainly thinkable, for all these reasons, that Harold had sworn an oath to William in the vicinity of Bayeux, the designer’s decision to show him doing so could have been a matter of singling out one of the places where he did swear – or might have sworn – an oath to William, not of deliberately changing the site of the ceremony to please Odo of Bayeux. Moreover, even if Harold swore – or was thought to have sworn – only a single oath to William at a single location, one need not regard either Bonneville or Rouen as a more plausible place for him to have done so than Bayeux, since considerations of historical accuracy alone were unlikely to have led William of Poitiers to name Bonneville or Orderic, Rouen. Not only was Bonneville the site of one of Duke William’s palaces; the palace there was the one closest to Préaux, where William of Poitiers had a been a monk, and to his home diocese of Lisieux, whose bishop he praised so lavishly in the Gesta Guillelmi.42 That considerations of this kind led William of Poitiers to locate Harold’s oath at Bonneville is no less plausible than the argument that the embroidery’s designer had to satisfy Odo the patron by putting it at Bayeux. The same point can be made about the statement in Orderic Vitalis’s Ecclesiastical History that Harold swore the oath to William at Rouen, which is closer than Bonneville or Bayeux to Orderic’s monastery of Saint Évroul and which he treated as the main center of ducal power in Normandy.43 Indeed, whether William of Poitiers was correct in locating the oath-ceremony at Bonneville, the fact that only one other writer did so, namely Benoît de Saint-Maur in his Chronique des 39

40

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Bates, William the Conqueror, 64, citing charters and Orderic, EH and noting that Eustace of Boulogne was with William at Bayeux. Recueil des actes des ducs de Normandie de 911 à 1066, ed. Marie Fauroux, Mémoires de la Société des antiquaires de Normandie 36 (Caen: Caron, 1961), no. 227 records a gift that Duke William made to the abbey of Beaumont-les-Tours between 1049 and 1066 and probably in 1066, according to the editor, and that was recorded in a charter drafted by an archdeacon “apud Bajocas, in camera Guillelmi ducis.” On the sources of Wace’s account of Harold’s journey to Normandy, see Wace, Le roman de Rou de Wace, ed. A. J. Holden, Société des anciens textes Français, 3 vols (Paris: Picard, 1973), vol. 3, “Introduction,” 148–9. Richard Gem, “Canterbury and the Cushion Capital: A Commentary on Passages from Goscelin’s De Miraculis Sancti Augustini,” in Romanesque and Gothic: Essays for George Zarnecki, 2 vols (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1987), vol. 1, 83–101. In WP, GG, 92–5, the author gave so much praise to his bishop, Hugh of Lisieux, that the bishop might well have been the real patron of this text. R. H. C. Davis, “William of Poitiers and his History of William the Conqueror,” in The Writing of History in the Middle Ages: Essays Presented to Richard William Southern, ed. R. H. C. Davis and J. M. Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 71–100 at 82, points out that Bonneville was the site of the ducal palace nearest to William of Poitiers, who “was an archdeacon of Lisieux and a native of Préaux.” Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 134–5.

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ducs de Normandie, which was written in the 1170s, indicates that the tradition of locating it there was certainly no stronger than the one associating it with Bayeux, where Wace’s Roman de Rou (early 1170s) said Harold swore the oath.44 In fact, there is arguably less authority – if one wants to think in those terms – for identifying Bonneville as the site of Harold’s oath than there is for Rouen, where the oath is located both in “Quedam Exceptiones,” an early twelfth-century epitome of William of Jumièges, and in the early thirteenth-century Vita Haroldi, as well as in Orderic’s Ecclesiastical History.45 44

45

Benoît de Sainte-Maure, Chronique des ducs de Normandie par Benoît, ed. Carin Fahlin, 2 vols (Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksells, 1951–54), vol. 2, p. 480, lines 38,828–32: “Quant cil afaires fu feniz [i.e. the Breton campaign], // Si josta li dus son concile, // Ce sui lisant, a Buenne Vile. // La fu li seremenz jurez // Qu’Heraut meesme a devisez …” However, this text still differed significantly from WP, GG’s account of the oath, because, like WJ, GND and the embroidery as well, it represented Harold’s oath as his last act before returning to England, while adding that he agreed to marry William’s daughter Aeliz and left his handsome young brother Wulfnoth with William as a hostage (lines 38,833–84). On the account of Harold’s journey and, in particular, his oath in this text, see David Rollo, Historical Fabrication, Ethnic Fable and French Romance in Twelfth-Century England, The Edward C. Armstrong Monographs on Medieval Literature, ed. Karl D. Uitti (Lexington, KY: French Forum Publishers, 1998), 223–47. After a passage in Orderic, EH which, according to Chibnall, “consistently follows the main lines of William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers” (vol. 2, 134–5: p. 135 n. 4) by relating how, after King Edward’s death, Harold “had usurped the kingdom of England [sic: for “the English”]” (“regnum Anglorum usurpauerat”) and how Edward had previously made a grant of the kingdom, with the English approving, to his kinsman Duke William, first, through archbishop Robert and, later, by Harold, Orderic writes: “Moreover, Harold himself had taken an oath of fealty to Duke William at Rouen in the presence of the Norman nobles, and after becoming his man had sworn on the most sacred relics to carry out all that was required of him.” (“Denique ipse Heraldus apud Rotomagum Willelmo duci coram optimatibus Normanniae sacramentum fecerat; et homo eius factus omnia quae ab illo requisita fuerant super sanctissimas reliquias iurauerat.”) Although Pierre Bouet, “Orderic Vital lecteur critique de Guillaume de Poitiers,” in Mediaevalia Christiana, XIe–XIIIe siècles: Hommages à Raymonde Foreville, ed. Coloman Étienne Viola (Paris: Éditions Universitaires, 1989), 25–50 at 25, shows that radical differences between Orderic’s and William of Poitiers’ perspectives on history led the former to significantly modify the latter’s account of the Norman conquest of England, Bouet also points out that Orderic took little from other accounts at his disposal, “ayant trouvé dans les Gesta Guillelmi … de Guillaume de Poitiers un source sûre et un modèle qu’il a préferé de suivre fidèlement.” On Orderic’s reshaping of William of Poitiers’ account, see also R. D. Ray, “Orderic Vitalis and William of Poitiers: A Monastic Reinterpretation of William the Conqueror,” Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire 50 (1072): 1116–27. According to Chibnall in Orderic, EH, vol. 2, p. 135 n. 5, “Orderic is the only early writer to say that [the oath] was taken at Rouen; but this may have resulted from a misreading of William of Poitiers, who had described Harold’s reception at Rouen in the paragraph immediately preceding the taking of the oath. William of Poitiers indicates that the oath was taken at Bonneville before the campaign against Conan of Britanny; the Bayeux Tapestry places it at Bayeux after the campaign.” See Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 448–56; David C. Douglas, “Edward the Confessor: Duke William of Normandy, and the English Succession,” EHR 68 (1953): 526–45. However, the more likely explanation, particularly given Orderic’s previous failure to add a reference to Bonneville to William of Jumièges’s brief statement about the oath in the GND, is that he simply ignored William of Poitiers’ reference to Bonneville as the site of Harold’s oath, which Orderic situated at Rouen instead. “Quedam Exceptiones de Historia Normannorum et Anglorum,” in WJ, GND, vol. 2, 290–304, at 301, “Quem [Harold] postea aliquandiu secum magno cum honore morari fecit ac deinde facta fidelitate de regno Anglie Rotomagi super sacrosanctas reliquias [sic to indicate deviation from text of William of Jumièges] cum muneribus

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Furthermore, the implausibility of assuming that William of Poitiers either followed or established a tradition that Bonneville was the true site of Harold’s oath is further confirmed by two additional findings: first, that no more than two manuscripts of the Gesta Guillelmi are known to have existed; and, second, that the overwhelming majority of medieval writers who mentioned the oath did not name the place where he swore it. This is true even of writings by authors who knew the Gesta Guillelmi, as did Orderic Vitalis in his version of William of Jumièges’ Gesta Normannorum Ducum,46 William of Malmesbury,47 Baudri de Bourgueil,48 and possibly Ralph of Diceto.49 Among the other authors who mentioned Harold’s oath but did not say where he swore it were William of Jumièges himself, whose version of the Gesta circulated widely in many different manuscripts;50 Guy of Amiens in the Carmen de Hastingae Proelio;51 Eadmer of Canterbury in his Historia Novorum;52 Simeon of Durham in his History of the Kings of Britain;53 the anonymous author of the Brevis Relatio;54 Henry of Huntingdon in his History of the English;55 the Battle Abbey chronicler;56 Aelred of Rievaulx in his Genealogy of the Kings of England;57 and Robert of Torigni in his continuation of the universal chronicle of Sigebert of Gembloux.58

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sacrosanetas remisit in Angliam.” According to its editor, this text (London, British Library MS Cotton Vespasian A. 18, fols 157r–162v) is “an interpolated abbreviation of the Gesta Normannorum Ducum in the C redaction written by William of Jumièges,” and can be dated it to 1101 x 1103 (p. 290), and describes the passage in question as one of several points of resemblance between this text and Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 134. The oath is also situated at Rouen in Vita Haroldi: The Romance of the Life of Harold, King of England, ed. Walter de Gray Birch (London: Elliot Stock, 1885), 50–2. Orderic, GND, vol. 2, 160–1, according to which Harold swore the oath after William had taken him on an expedition against the Bretons. WM, GR, vol. 1, 418–19. Baudri de Bourgueil, Baldricus Burgulianus Carmina, ed. Karlheinz Hilbert (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1979), no. 134 (pp. 154–64); trans. in Monika Otter, “Baudri of Bourgueil, ‘To Countess Adela’,” Journal of Medieval Latin 11 (2001): 60–141. On the poem, see Shirley Ann Brown, “The Adelae Comitissae of Baudri de Bourgueil and the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 16 (1994): 55–73, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 139–56. In around 1200, Ralph of Dis or a copyist reproduced what Stubbs considered to be modified fragments of WP, GG; but Ralph’s own account of Harold’s sojourn on the Continent summarizes WJ, GND and says nothing about where Harold swore an oath to William. See Ralph de Diceto, Radulfi de Diceto decani Lundoniensis opera historica. The Historical Works of Master Ralph de Diceto, Dean of London, ed. William Stubbs, Rolls Series 68, 2 vols (London: Longmans, 1876), vol. 2, 241–71. On manuscript versions of this text, see Elisabeth M. C. Van Houts, “Introduction,” in WJ, GND, vol. 1, xix–cxxxiii at xcv–cxxviii. Guy, Carmen. Eadmer, HN, 7–8; Eadmer, HRE, 7–8. See also the section of Eadmer’s text that was reproduced in “Bury St Edmunds Interpolations for 1066” in JW, CJW, vol. 2, 648–53. Simeon of Durham, “Historia Regum,” in Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia, ed. Thomas Arnold, 2 vols (London, 1885), vol. 1, 1–283 at 184. Brevis Relatio, 28a–28. Henry, HA, 384–7. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey, ed. and trans. Eleanor Searle, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), 33. Aelred of Rievaulx, “The Genealogy of the Kings of the English,” in idem, Aelred of Rievaulx: The Historical Works, trans. Jane Patricia Freeland and ed. Marsha L. Dutton (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 2003), 39–122 at 116. According to Robert of Torigni’s continuation of the universal chronicle of Sigebert of Gembloux, Chronique de Robert de Torigni, ed. Léopold Delisle, 2 vols (Rouen: A Le Brument,

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Finally, since the embroidery shows that Harold swore the oath to William after accompanying him and his men on a military expedition to Brittany and just before sailing back to England, whereas William of Poitiers’ narrative places Harold’s oath at Bonneville before the Breton campaign, it is important to note that aside from Orderic Vitalis’s Ecclesiastical History, every other text referring to the oath represented it – just as the embroidery does – as his last act before sailing back to England. This is true both of the texts naming Bonneville, Rouen, or Bayeux as the site of Harold’s oath and of those never indicating where he did so, including William of Jumièges’s Gesta Normannorum Ducum, the earliest to mention Harold’s oath or tell the Norman Story, and the one most widely circulated and copied. The whole notion that the embroidery’s designer deliberately deviated from what William of Poitiers wrote about the location of the oath-ceremony should be considered in the light of the fact that his text did not circulate at all widely and that only two manuscripts of it, both of them now lost, are known to have existed.59

Locating the Oath Reconsidered In showing that Harold swore the oath to William after returning from the expedition in Brittany and coming to Bayeux before sailing back to England, the embroidery differed greatly from William of Poitiers’ Gesta Guillelmi and from Orderic’s Historia Ecclesiastica – which, as we have seen, located Harold’s oath at Bonneville and Rouen, respectively. The textile’s narrative also differed significantly from the majority of texts mentioning Harold’s oath, which treated it as his final act before sailing back to England but made no reference to his even passing by Bayeux or, with the solitary exception of William of Malmesbury’s Gesta Regum, to the Norman expedition to Brittany. However, to treat the embroidery’s reference to Bayeux as the only feature of its depiction of Harold’s journey that differentiates it from written accounts of it and then to explain it by hypothesizing that Odo of Bayeux was the textile’s patron is to overlook other distinctive features of the textile’s representation of Harold’s itinerary that merit equally close attention, but that cannot be explained, in the conventional way, by assuming that the bishop commissioned the embroidery. Although William of Poitiers presented an extended account of Duke William’s expedition to Brittany, the embroidery is unique in the way it narrates Harold’s journey from the point where William and his army leave the duke’s unnamed palace to Harold’s return to England (W18–27; Figs 9–14).60 In scenes that do not correspond with episodes in any written narrative, they travel past Mont-Saint-Michel and cross the river Couesnon, where Harold saves two men from quicksand (W19–20; Plate VIII; Figs 9–10). In successive scenes, unnamed horsemen of William’s ride to attack Dol, from which Conan escapes (W20-1; Plate IX; Figs 10, 11); then to besiege Rennes, which is shown to be unoccupied (W21–2; Fig. 11); and, finally, to Dinan, where Conan surrenders

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1872), vol. 1, sub 1063 [sic], “Haraldus autem juravit Willelrmo super reliquias sanctorum multas et electissimas se filiam ejus deducturum, et Angliam post mortem? Edwardi Regis ad opus ejus servaturum. Summo igitur honore susceptus et muneribus amplis ditatis, cum reversus esset in Angliam, perjurii crimen elegit.” On the text, see Davis and Chibnall, “Introduction,” in WP, GG, xv–xlvii at xliii–xlv. On its lack of influence, see Albu, Normans, 87–8. According to WP, GG, 70–1, Duke William gave Harold and Harold’s men horses and arms before he took them on the expedition to Brittany.

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(W22–4; Fig. 12). In the next scene, William gives Harold arms at an unnamed location with no witnesses present (W24; Fig. 12). Then the duke comes to Bayeux, along with his men and Harold, who swears an oath to William and then sails back to England (W24–7; Plate X; Fig. 13).61 For the purpose of explaining why Bayeux was among the places depicted and named in this section of the textile, it is surely significant that its bishop appears three times on the final third of it (W48, 67; Figs 24, 28) and was associated in various ways with its creators at St Augustine’s.62 For contemporary viewers in England and particularly in Canterbury, “Bagias” might well have evoked Bishop Odo, whose own connection with Bayeux was repeatedly confirmed by references to him as episcopus Baiocensis in postConquest English texts, including Domesday Book, royal charters, and his obit in the Martyrology of St Augustine’s.63 However, it is also significant that William I, as previously noted, frequented Bayeux before and after 1066; that the town was close to places from which Harold could have sailed back to England; and that a stop there fits neatly into the embroidery’s unique sequencing of events in the last part of Harold’s journey. None of these factors can explain why, out of a total of nine places named or alluded to on the entire embroidery, three are located in northeastern Brittany (Dol, Rennes, Dinan) and two (Mont-Saint-Michel and the river Couesnon) on the Breton–Norman border (W18–23; Figs 10–12)64 (see Map 1). Nor can these factors account for the upper border’s image of Mont-Saint-Michel with an unnamed figure on a throne next to it. Wolfgang Grape explains this image by resorting to the familiar strategy of invoking the influence of Odo of Bayeux, so that he can interpret it as “an indirect reference to the patron who commissioned the Tapestry” on the grounds that Odo appointed a monk of Mont-SaintMichel called Robert de Tombelaine to set up Saint-Vigor, the monastery that the bishop had founded in Bayeux.65 However, this way of accounting for the abbey’s image not only depends on the contestable assumption that Odo commissioned the embroidery and strongly influenced its content; it also takes for granted that the differences between the textile’s depiction of the Breton expedition and William of Poitiers’ description of it can be explained by simply positing that the former was mistaken. Others have taken it on faith that William of Poitiers told the story of the Breton campaign correctly, whereas the embroidery’s designer misunderstood it or failed to render it correctly.66 The only writer who has systematically addressed the question of how the embroidery represents the Breton campaign, instead of simply assuming that it is mistaken, is George Beech, who concludes that the embroidery’s designer “exhibits an unusual personal knowledge of, and familiarity with, the region in which the [Breton] campaign took place,” partly by naming so many places there, relative to the number named elsewhere 61 62 63

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Whereas the embroidery does not name the place where William and his army embarked for England, it is identified as Saint-Valéry in William of Poitiers, etc. On images of Odo and his connections with St Augustine’s, see Chapter 6. See, e.g., DB Kent, 2b, 6a; London, British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius c. xii, fol. 114v. See also Regesta, no. 85 (1070 x 1082/3): “Baiocensis episcopus et Cantie comes.” On how Odo was identified, see also Chapter 6. The question is well formulated in George Beech, Was the Bayeux Tapestry Made in France? The Case for Saint-Florent of Saumur (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Grape, BT, 58. See, e.g., Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 65–6, 78, 79.

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on the embroidery, and partly by taking particular care to represent buildings accurately.67 To explain the textile’s “exceptional emphasis” on this part of Brittany, Beech proposes that the designer knew it better than any other region the textile depicts68 and identifies him, for this and other reasons, as William fitz Rivallon, who was the abbot of SaintFlorent in Saumur (1070–1118) and whose father, Rivallon, was lord of Dol at the time when the events shown on the embroidery took place. Beech hypothesizes that Abbot William, having been commissioned by William I to produce the embroidery at SaintFlorent, designed the section representing the Breton campaign from his own perspective as the son of Rivallon, lord of Dol.69 If this is true, however, it is hard to understand why a pictorial narrative of the Breton campaign from Abbot William’s perspective would not have included an image of his father, Rivallon, or clearly depicted and named Duke William himself; or why the section of the embroidery was preceded by scenes of the duke, his men, and Harold crossing the river Couesnon in the vicinity of Mont-Saint-Michel. It has recently been proposed by François Neveux that the embroidery’s designer included these scenes in order to demonstrate that “the monastery belonged to Normandy at a time when it was being taken in hand by [Rannulf ] a Norman abbot” whom William had installed in 1060 and who ruled the abbey until 1085. Since the Couesnon was the recognized border between Normandy and Brittany, to show the Norman duke and his soldiers crossing it, Neveux argues, clearly signaled that they were entering “foreign territory,”70 while William’s dominance over a Breton lord who had rebelled against him is signaled by images of William’s horseman attacking Dol, riding by Conan II’s family seat at Rennes, and then closing in from both sides on Dinan, where Conan surrenders his keys to an unnamed horseman sometimes identified as Duke William.71 This argument has the merit of offering an explanation for both the embroidery’s depiction of the Breton campaign as a Norman victory and its inclusion of the preceding scenes at Mont-Saint-Michel as well. But because it presupposes that this whole section and, indeed, the entire embroidery are presented from a Norman perspective, it cannot explain the designer’s decision to place much more emphasis on northeastern Brittany than on Normandy itself, where, aside from Bayeux, not a single place is named. At the same time, to treat Conan II only as a rebel against Duke William is to ignore the important role of his ancestors in the history of Mont-Saint-Michel, where the counts of Rennes had once been more prominent than the dukes of Normandy. From the time of its refoundation in the late tenth century and through much of the eleventh century, the abbey seems to have been more closely affiliated with northeastern Brittany and Maine than with the centers of Norman ducal power in Rouen. In 990, Conan II’s great-grandfather, Conan I, had made gifts to Mont-Saint-Michel and was buried there two years later.72 When Conan I’s son Geoffrey I died in 1008, he, like his father, was 67 68

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Beech, Bayeux Tapestry, 81; see also idem, “The Breton Campaign and the Possibility that the Bayeux Tapestry was Produced in the Loire Valley (St Florent of Saumur),” in M. Lewis, BT, 10–16. Beech, Bayeux Tapestry, 80. Ibid., 85; see also 60, 101. For Beech’s reasons for believing that the embroidery was made at this abbey under William I’s patronage, rather than at St Augustine’s under Odo’s patronage, see ibid., 96–102. Neveux, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 173. Ibid., 173–4. For Conan I’s gifts, see The Cartulary of the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, ed. K. S. B. KeatsRohan (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2006), App. II, no. 1 (990). For Conan I’s burial at the abbey,

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buried at the abbey, which has been described as a family mausoleum for the lords of Rennes.73 In 1023, Geoffrey I’s son Alan III confirmed to the abbey a gift by one of his father’s associates and at Easter in 1030, he made gifts to the abbey for his own soul and the souls of his father, mother, and brother Eudo.74 Two years later, Alan III restored to the abbey lands his father Geoffrey I had previously given the monks but that had been lost.75 Gradually, however, the decline of this family’s power in the region and the growing influence of the Norman ducal house at Mont-Saint-Michel proceeded to the point where the monks of Duke William’s time, including Scolland, had an interest in retrospectively representing the Breton campaign as the turning point when Bretons were supplanted as their primary patrons by the Norman dukes in the person of William – who, it is important to remember, was officially responsible for making Scolland the abbot of St Augustine’s. The embroidery’s focus on this point in the history of Mont-Saint-Michel makes all the more sense when one considers that King Edward76 and Robert of Mortain (“Rotbert,” W48; Fig. 24)77 as well as King William I had associations with the abbey; that the king had made it a practice of appointing monks from Mont-Saint-Michel, including Scolland, to hold important ecclesiastical positions in England; and that Scolland himself

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see Véronique Gazeau, Normannia monastica: Prosopographie des abbés béndictins (XIe–XIIe siècle), 2 vols (Caen: Publications du CRAHM, Université de Caen Basse-Normandie, 2007), vol. 2, 199; A. Chédeville and H. Guillotel, La Bretagne des saints et des rois, Ve–Xe siècles (Rennes: Ouest-France, 1984), 336–7. Gazeau, Normannia monastica, vol. 2, p. 199, citing, for Geoffrey’s burial, H. Guillotel, in Chédeville and Guillotel, La Bretagne, pp. 336–7. Cartulary of Mont-Saint-Michel, nos 24 (1023–1027), 17 (1030). Ibid., no. 23 (1032). Before Edward the Confessor became king and was living as an exile in Normandy, he gave Michael’s Mount and other lands in Cornwall to the abbey. Since the charter recording his gift identifies him as “Eduuardus, Dei gratia rex Anglorum,” the transaction apparently provided an occasion for Edward to declare himself king of the English while Cnut was reigning in England (Fauroux, no. 76 [1033 x 1034]; see p. 217). Later, after William had succeeded his father, Robert the Magnificent, as duke of the Normans, “King” Edward’s name was added as a signatory to a charter recording an earlier gift by Robert to Mont-Saint-Michel (Fauroux, 73 [1027 x 1035]; for the addition of Edward as a signatory, see p. 214, n. 5.) Edward was again styled as “rex” as witness to a grant of William “comes Normannorum, filius Rotberti comitis” to Mont-SaintMichel of the islands of Serc (Sark) and Aurigny (Fauroux, no. 111 [1035x1048]): “Haduaiardus rex”; see also Cartulary of Mont-Saint-Michel, no. 7 (1035–1042): “Hatuuardus rex.” On Edward’s designation as rex in Norman ducal charters, see Fauroux, pp. 217 and 224. According to the Inventio et miracula Sancti Vulfranni, (ed. Dom Jean Laporte, Mélanges publiés par la Société de L’histoire de Normandie, 14th ser. [Rouen, 1938], 29–31; trans. in Van Houts, Normans in Europe, pp. 112–13), Edward, “with the blessing of his father [Æthelræd II] and the approval of the people of the realm, was anointed and consecrated as king,” before Cnut invaded England and Edward and his brother Alfred “fled across the sea to their uncle, Richard.” Between 1070 and 1085, Robert count of Mortain, who had carried the banner of St Michael in battle, gave to the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall for his own “salus” and that of his wife and “pro salute, prosperitate, incolumnitate” of the glorious king William. Regesta, no. 213 (1070 x 1085), versions I, II, and III, at Pevensey. Among the signatories were William I, Queen Matilda, and their sons Robert and William Rufus and the boy Henry; Robert of Mortain, his wife, Mathilda, and their son William; William fitz Osbern; Roger de Montgomery.

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seems to have enjoyed particularly high status in England after his appointment as abbot of St Augustine’s in 1072.78 In view of the importance that Conan’s ancestors had once had as benefactors of the monks of Mont-Saint-Michel and as beneficiaries of their prayers and other spiritual services, and in view of the great status that the Norman ducal house was acquiring there, the embroidery’s depiction of Duke William and his men passing Mont-SaintMichel, crossing the Couesnon, and pursuing Conan from Dol to Rennes to Dinan, where he finally surrendered, shows not only the extension of Duke William’s power over Mont-Saint-Michel and places in northeastern Brittany where the abbey itself held property, but the overthrow of the abbey’s main Breton benefactors. Finally, if we think of this section of the embroidery as showing simultaneously how Duke William exerted his dominance over Brittany and over a treacherous claimant to power there and how he and his line supplanted the house of Rennes as the principal patrons of Mont-SaintMichel, we can see how it foreshadows the depiction of the duke’s invasion of England, the overthrow of Harold in the second half of the embroidery, and the replacement of the English by the Normans as benefactors of St Augustine’s. If we compare the textile’s depiction of images of William’s campaign against Conan with the series of images of his later campaign against Harold (on which see Chapter 10), certain similarities between the two expeditions become clear, though the first is obviously on a much smaller scale than the second. They both begin with Duke William and his men crossing water that constitutes a boundary between two principalities. Moreover, the fighting in the Breton campaign is represented so as to make it foreshadow the Battle of Hastings, since in the case of both expeditions, William’s horsemen close in from both sides to attack their enemies. Third, in each campaign, Duke William’s horsemen defeat their adversaries, who are fighting on foot in both cases, and humiliate their enemies’ leader. Finally, just as the earlier battle sequence shows Mont-SaintMichel’s Breton patrons overthrown by its new Norman ones, the later sequence shows the English benefactors of St Augustine’s being cast down by men who became the abbey’s new patrons. Although the two battle sequences are constructed so as to show that the Breton campaign carries the same local significance for Mont-Saint-Michel as the Battle of Hastings does for St Augustine’s, the differences between the two sequences are so striking that they overshadow the similarities. Whereas Duke William and his small band of horsemen struggle to cross a small river, where two of them might have been sucked down into quicksand had it not been for help from Harold, the long channelcrossing of the duke’s huge fleet proceeds speedily and without impediment. Although in both campaigns, the duke’s horsemen face enemy footsoldiers, the embroidery makes the Breton campaign look like much less of a mismatch than the Battle of Hastings. In the former, the horseman are shown fighting an uphill battle against footsoldiers who occupy a fortified position and can cast missiles down on their attackers. In the latter, the horsemen, now accompanied by archers, fight on level ground against footsoldiers who look overmatched. As one would expect, victory and defeat in the earlier encounter are very different from what they are in the later one. Though it is conceivable that the duke’s men are about to burn down Conan’s fortress at Dinan and kill everyone inside, 78

On Scolland’s position in England, see Paul Hayward, “Gregory the Great as ‘Apostle of the English’ in Post-Conquest Canterbury,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 55 (2004): 19–57 at 31.

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it looks as though Conan has saved himself and all his men by surrendering just in time. At Hastings, however, Duke William’s horsemen and archers not only kill many English footsoldiers, including King Harold II and his two brothers Gyrth and Leofwine, but mutilate their corpses by beheading and dismembering them and sometimes stripping them of their armor.

Scolland: From Mont-Saint-Michel to St Augustine’s, Canterbury Since it is clear that instead of presenting the Breton campaign from a purely Norman perspective, the embroidery emphasizes its significance for Mont-Saint-Michel and regions of northeastern Britanny that had long been closely associated with it, the most plausible way of explaining this section of the textile’s narrative, as Richard Gameson has already implied, is that it was made at St Augustine’s during the abbacy of Scolland (c. 1072–1087), who had come there from Mont-Saint-Michel.79 Though there is no real basis for arguing that Abbot Scolland was himself the designer of the Bayeux Embroidery, the case for his having initiated this artistic project and then influenced the textile’s design is far more convincing than is the case for assigning these roles to Odo of Bayeux.80 According to Orderic Vitalis, Scolland “was born of renowned stock in Normandy” (“ex nominato stemmate in Normannia natus”),81 and it has been suggested that he came from Pontécoulant (Pons Scollandi), a village in western Brittany mentioned in a charter recording William I’s gifts to Bayeux Cathedral.82 His unusual Breton name is also attached to an estate near Dinan – the honor Scollant – and to “Scolland’s Hall” in the castle of Richmond, built by Alan Rufus (d. 1093).83 “[B]rought up to the monastic life in Mont-Saint-Michel in peril of the sea,”84 Scolland was treasurer as well as head scribe there and collaborated with five other scribes to produce a manuscript of St Gregory’s Dialogues that includes a reference to “Collandus” as outstanding in all Christian teaching (“prefulgens dogmate cuncto”).85 Following the Battle of Hastings, Abbot Rannulf sent Scolland to England, where William I made him abbot of St Augustine’s. Though “promoted” to this position, Orderic wrote, “to restore the customs of Canterbury”86 – thereby arousing hostility among the monks there, according to later medieval histories of the abbey – Scolland is credited with many contributions to the abbey, including the expansion of the library and manuscript production, as one might have expected from a

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According to Richard Gameson, “Origin,” 157–211 at 172, Scolland’s presence at St Augustine’s helps to explain the embroidery’s depiction of Mont-Saint-Michel. See Howard Clarke, “The Identity of the Designer of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 35 (2013): 120–39. Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 248–9. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 248 and n. 1. For the charter referring to Pons Scollandi, see Regesta, no. 27 (1074). For the honor Scollant, see CMS, no. 90 (p. 166) and the editor’s note on this charter at p. 252 On Alan Rufus, see K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, “Alan Rufus (d. 1093), magnate,” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004–13), s.v. Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 248–9. Avranches MS 103. See J. J. G. Alexander, Norman Illumination at Mont St Michel, 966–1100 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 17–18. Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 248–9.

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former scribe at “what was arguably the Norman religious community with the strongest artistic traditions of its own.”87 Although there is some uncertainty about the date of Scolland’s appointment and consecration as abbot of St Augustine’s, he was certainly installed in this office by 1072, following Lanfranc’s appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury.88 According to Paul Anthony Hayward, the fact that Scolland was at the head of the lists of abbots attesting the decrees of the 1072 Council of London, the 1075 Council of London, and a royal charter of 1071 to Bury St Edmunds indicates that he had secured recognition of his abbey’s “primacy” by virtue of the claim that St Augustine of Canterbury was an apostolic saint.89 As one can see from the references to him in Domesday Book, the Excerpta of St Augustine’s, and charters of the abbey, he was also closely involved in recovering previously lost lands of the abbey and expanding or at least maintaining its holdings by securing the donations and quitclaims – that is, acts surrendering legal claims – from William I, Odo of Bayeux, and other Normans mentioned in Chapter 4. At the same time, Scolland planned, as Chapter 11 explains, to rebuild the abbey and to translate into it the relics of its many saints, including not only the remains of St Augustine of Canterbury, but those of Saints Hadrian, Mellitus, Justus, and Deusdedit. He was also involved in the translation of the relics of St Mildreth, which were supposedly moved to St Augustine’s from Thanet in secret and later became the subject of a dispute with the Priory of St Gregory in Canterbury, which Archbishop Lanfranc had founded.90 Both the church and the translation were still unfinished at the time of Scolland’s death in September of 1087, one day after William I’s, but the completion of them both a few years later was credited to Scolland’s initiatives, as one can see from the account of the translation written in the early twelfth century by Goscelin of Saint-Bertin and the miracle stories he wrote for St Augustine’s.91 Scolland was also important in defending and promoting the interests of St Augustine’s during the early stages of the abbey’s lengthy disputes with Christ Church. That Scolland was seen as a commanding figure and formidable adversary of Christ Church is clear from a miracle story told in two different versions by Osbern and Eadmer respectively about how the abbot and two of his nephews were humbled by St Dunstan after they had caused him injury. In the lengthier version by Eadmer, two knights of Archbishop Lanfranc burst through a crowd at Christ Church, fell to the ground before Dunstan’s bier, and “asked by [the saint’s] merits to be given mercy and to receive indulgence from [Scolland] in the matter of the death of his nephew, whom they had recently killed.” However, “the abbot refused, as did the dead man’s brothers, who were standing alongside him. Others added their petitions to the prayers of the knights, but in vain. For neither reverence for the saint nor the beseeching multitude was able to bend them to have mercy.” Scolland remained “inflexible and obstinate” until the following night, when, “with his nephews gathered around him he saw a certain venerable priest … ordering 87

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Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 21. See the literature cited in ibid., p. 21, note 95. Hayward, “Gregory the Great,” p. 31 and notes 62, 64, 65; on “the project” of St Augustine’s in this period and its resistance to Lanfranc, see 36–57. Because the priory was newly founded in Canterbury by Lanfranc, the dispute over St Mildrith’s relics was another of the many battles between the monks of St Augustine’s and the canons of Christ Church. See Chapter 4.

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some most foul-looking men, who were stoking up a fire arranged beneath a cauldron of wondrous size in the midst of the room in which they were lying, to bind them and … throw them all into the glowing cauldron so that they might be incinerated.” When Scolland and his nephews asked “why they ought to be subjected to such a cruel penalty, [the priest] responded: ‘Because you were inflamed with the fire of your fury and refused to pardon the death of your brother [vestri germani] for the sake of love and respect for your master Dunstan.’” Only after they were “dragged to the fire” did Scolland and his nephews agree to compensate the saint for the injuries they had done him, on condition that “by his grace he might free them from the misery confronting them.” The priest agreed; and the “hellish servants” were terrified and disappeared. Early the next morning, Scolland and his kin came to Dunstan’s tomb, and asked the monks of Christ Church for assistance. “And then the soldiers charged with the slaying of the dead men were forgiven.”92 Although Eadmer and Osbern both told the story in order to demonstrate St Dunstan’s power to protect those who invoked him by threatening those who injured them and him with the direst of punishments, the story could not have had its desired rhetorical effect for a Canterbury audience unless Abbot Scolland either had, or was likely to have had, nephews who were soldiers living in or near the city, and unless his soldiers and Lanfranc’s either fought each other or were considered likely to have done so. Equally important for the effectiveness of the story was Scolland’s obstinate refusal to surrender all claim to take vengeance on the soldiers of Lanfranc’s who had killed the abbot’s own kinsman and, by implication, his ability to call on other kinsmen to avenge the killing, rather than showing mercy to the slayers and possibly accepting compensation from them. In order for this story to be credible, in other words, Scolland had to have been the high-born figure that Orderic Vitalis took him to be and to have acted as a lord of fighting men and the head of a kin group, as well as being an abbot. In stories about the miracles of saints the translation of whose relics had been planned by Scolland, the abbot was presented more favorably, of course, but in ways that made him appear no less formidable. The hypothesis that Scolland and quite possibly other monks who came to St Augustine’s from Mont-Saint-Michel played a role in shaping the embroidery’s pictorial narrative is clearly more conjectural; but it certainly merits strong consideration in view of the way in which the textile constructs Harold’s itinerary on the content and its focus on Mont-Saint-Michel and places in northeastern Brittany that were closely associated with it. It is also possible that he and the other monks of Mont-Saint-Michel who came to St Augustine’s further enhanced the status of the abbey in particular and Canterbury in general as centers for the study of history. According to J. J. A. Alexander, “Manuscripts from St Augustine’s decorated with Mont St Michel style initials show either that [Scolland] brought gifts with him or that other Mont St Michel monks accompanied him”93 there and produced three manuscripts that have “very similar initials and script 92

93

Eadmer, “Miracula S. Dunstani,” c. 17, in Eadmer of Canterbury, Lives and Miracles of Saints Oda, Dunstan, and Oswald, ed. and trans. Andrew J. Turner and Bernard J. Muir (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001), 160–211 at 178–81. For Osbern’s version, see “Liber miraculorum [Sancti Dunstani] auctore Osberno,” c. 17, in Memorials of Saint Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, ed. William Stubbs, Rolls Series 63 (London: Longman, 1874). Alexander, Norman Illumination, 17–18.

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to those of the Mont St Michel late manuscripts.”94 One of the manuscripts included a version of Mont-Saint-Michel’s annals with a statement of privileges supposedly granted to the abbey in 965 by Pope John and Lothar, king of the Franks.95 Scolland and the other monks who came with him to St Augustine’s from Mont-Saint-Michel are credited with playing a role in blending the two abbeys’ styles in several late eleventh-century St Augustine’s manuscripts.96 They also brought from their old abbey to their new one manuscripts including other historical writings, which, along with historical manuscripts already at St Augustine’s or produced there soon afterwards, may bear some relationship to the subjects of the embroidery’s pictorial narrative. In the late eleventh century, the list of historical manuscripts at St Augustine’s included a manuscript of Dudo of St Quentin97 and a manuscript of the Encomium Emmae.98 In addition, David Dumville has established the importance of the roles played by St Augustine’s, Canterbury as well as Christ Church, Canterbury in chronicle-writing during the period of the embroidery’s production.99 In addition, although the earliest manuscript of the Gesta Normannorum Ducum by William of Jumièges, which was dated to the late eleventh century, is said to have been copied at the Norman monastery of Leyre, it somehow reached Canterbury and quite possibly St Augustine’s, though at what date is unknown.100 Finally, the production of saints’ lives and miracle stories by Goscelin of Saint-Bertin suggests that

Ibid., 40; see also p. 28, n. 2. The manuscripts are London, British Library MS Royal 13.A.22; London British Library Royal 13.A.23; and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 276. See also Richard Gameson, “English Manuscript Art in the Late Eleventh Century,” in Eales and Sharpe, Canterbury, 95–144 at 106, 110, 117–18. 95 London, British Library MS Royal 13.A.23, fols 96–96v. For a transcription and discussion of this text, see Marjorie Chibnall, “Charter and Chronicle: The Use of Archive Sources by Norman Historians,” in Church and Government in the Middle Ages: Essays Presented to C.R. Cheney, ed. C. N. L. Brooke et al. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 1–18 at p. 8 and n. 44. On the manuscript and for references to other discussions of it, see: St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, ed. B. C. Barker-Benfield, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues 13, 3 vols. (London: British Library/British Academy, 2008), vol. 2, The Catalogue, Second Part, BA 1.912 (pp. 946–7). For the charter of Lothar related to this text, see Recueil des actes de Lothaire et de Louis V, rois de France (954–987), ed. Louis Halphen and Ferdinand Lot (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1908), no. 24 (966). 96 See, e.g., St Augustine’s Abbey, ed. Barker-Benfield, vol. 1, Introduction; The Catalogue, First Part, BA 1.205 (pp. 447–8), BA 1.357 (pp. 526–7); vol. 2, The Catalogue, Second Part, BA 1.892 (pp. 924–5). 97 Gerda C. Huisman, “Notes on the Manuscript Tradition of Dudo of St Quentin’s Gesta Normannorum,” ANS 6 (1984): 122–35. The manuscript in question is Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 276. 98 Encomium Emmae Reginae, ed. Alistair Campbell with an introduction by Simon Keynes, Camden Classic Reprints 4 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). The manuscript is London, British Library, Add. MS 33241. 99 David Dumville, “Some Aspects of Annalistic Writing at Canterbury in the Eleventh and Early Twelfth Centuries,” Peritia 2 (1983): 23–57. 100 On the manuscript, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 517, fols 1r–32v (Normandy?, origin unknown, s. xi/xii), see Elisabeth van Houts, “Introduction,” in The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert de Torigni, vol. 1, xix–cxxxiii at c, which states that it is “very likely” this manuscript came from either St Augustine’s, Canterbury or Christ Church, Canterbury. 94

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at St Augustine’s, the collection or invention of local traditions was an active enterprise, as were other activities, that Sir Richard Southern associated with an “historical revival.”

The Embroidery’s Story of Harold’s Journey If we think of the embroidery’s narrative of Harold’s journey along with the rest of its story as having been created by the monastic community of St Augustine’s, under the influence of Scolland, other monks from Mont-Saint-Michel, and other monks of St Augustine’s itself, we can more easily perceive that it does not simply deviate here and there from the Norman Story. It is an entirely different narrative. One particularly clear sign of its originality is its manner of presenting Harold’s itinerary on the continent, which differs from what one finds in any written account of his journey. After showing Harold at Guy’s fortress in Beaurain, the embroidery depicts him in Duke William’s company without locating their enounters in Rouen or in any other named place in Upper Normandy. Subsequently, his route includes only one named Norman town, namely Bayeux. It is only as the textile shows Harold, along with William and his men, passing Mont-Saint-Michel and crossing the Couesnon and depicts William’s army at the fortresses of Dol, Rennes, and Dinan that the action is securely localized and that its significance is at least relatively clear. By contrast, the embroidery’s failure to set the scenes showing Harold petitioning Duke William, receiving arms from him, and swearing an oath to him is indicative of a greater failure to explain anything that he does on his journey, except for taking an oath on relics to William before sailing back to England. Even Harold’s reasons for taking the oath – which the Norman Story makes totally transparent – are opaque in the embroidery’s narrative, since, as Chapters 2 and 8 explain, it does not employ the visual language that it could have used to explain why Harold, after meeting with King Edward, sailed from Bosham with his men and where he intended to go. As Chapter 2 also demonstrates, the finding that neither the opening scene, the petitioning scene, the arms-giving scene, or the oath-scene depicts a clearly identifiable legal ceremony performed in the presence of witnesses not only establishes conclusively that the embroidery did not tell the Norman Story. It also indicates that the textile never hints that Duke William of Normandy had grounds for claiming that he was King Edward’s designated heir and legitimate successor.

Chapter 6 Bishop Odo at the Banquet 1 Elizabeth Carson Pastan “Here the meat is cooked and here the servants have served it. Here they made a banquet, and here the bishop blesses the food and drink.”2

If there is one scene in the Bayeux Embroidery always mentioned in support of the twin hypotheses of the embroidery’s manufacture at St Augustine’s in Canterbury and Bishop Odo’s patronage of it, it is the scene of Odo officiating at a banquet held after the Normans had landed in England and before the battle (W48; Plate XV; Fig. 24). In 1927 – decades before Francis Wormald drew attention to the wide-ranging similarities between motifs in the embroidery and illuminated manuscripts from Canterbury – Laura Hibbard Loomis located what is widely believed to be the pictorial “source” of the scene of Odo at the banquet, the scene of the Last Supper from the sixth-century Gospels of Saint Augustine now in Cambridge (Plate XXVIII).3 Nicholas Brooks and H. E. Walker referred to this scene as one “where distinctive errors seem to point very clearly to St Augustine’s models.”4 Among the errors to which they refer is the “bungled” table, 1

2

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An earlier version of this chapter was originally published as “A Feast for the Eyes: Representing Odo in the Bayeux Embroidery,” in The Haskins Society Journal: Studies in Medieval History 22 (2012): 83–121. Inscription from episodes 46–8 in the Bayeux Embroidery. See Elizabeth Coatsworth, “Inscriptions on Textiles Associated with Anglo-Saxon England,” in Writing and Texts in AngloSaxon England, ed. A. R. Rumble (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2006), 71–95 at 94. Corpus Christi College, MS 286, fol. 125r. Laura Hibbard Loomis, “The Table of the Last Supper in Religious and Secular Iconography,” Art Studies 5 (1927): 70–88. For the Gospels of St Augustine, see Francis Wormald, The Miniatures of the Gospels in St. Augustine, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 286 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953), rpt. in idem, Collected Writings I: Studies in Medieval Art from the Sixth to the Twelfth Centuries (London: Harvey Miller, 1984), 13–35. Also see Eduard Dobbert, “Das Abendmahl Christi in der bildenden Kunst bis gegen des Schluss des 14. Jahrhunderts,” Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 18 (1895): 336–79 at 339, fig. 53; and now Mildred Budny, Insular, Anglo-Saxon, and Early Anglo-Norman Manuscript Art at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: An Illustrated Catalogue (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1997), cat. no. 1, 18–19. N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34 and 191–9, at 13–18. This article was reprinted in Gameson, BT, but because the reprinted version omits the visual comparanda, all subsequent references will be to the original publication.

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the “irregular semi-circle that defies gravity and perspective” based on the sigma-shaped form in the Byzantine iconographic tradition that is found in textile and manuscript alike.5 If distinctive motifs such as this one have contributed to the consensus that the embroidery’s creation at St Augustine’s is now “established fact,”6 less clear is Bishop Odo’s role in the endeavor. This chapter begins by investigating the iconography of the scene and the hypothesis of Odo’s involvement in it, and continues by suggesting ways of opening up the patron-directed process traditionally employed. At the end of this discussion, I consider how the model of internal monastic patronage proposed in Chapter 3 can assist in understanding how the image came about. This scene has already received a certain amount of scholarly attention. Its pictorial sources, its representation of food and utensils, and the social significance of this kind of communal meal have all been discussed.7 But its status as the first appearance in the embroidery in which Odo is identified by inscription has overshadowed all other attention. Not only have scholars detected evidence of his efforts at self-aggrandizement in this and other episodes of the embroidery, but they have also assumed that his perspective on the Norman Conquest somehow influenced the pictorial narrative as a whole.8 The feast has been described as both “propaganda by visual association”9 and –since Odo is supposedly represented in the guise of Jesus in the Last Supper – as “iconographic hyperbole that … borders on blasphemy.”10 Clearly, Odo’s role in this scene needs to be assessed carefully, and the ways its pictorial sources and design at St Augustine’s are portrayed in relation to him must also be scrutinized.11 The expanded framework in which the banquet is presented signals its importance (W46–8, Figs 23 and 24). It occupies the center of a series of three contiguous episodes that are linked through gesture, juxtaposition, and inscription. These representational techniques encourage a protracted viewing and offer one of the last pauses before the 5

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Ibid., 15. Cyril Hart, “The Canterbury Contribution to the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Art and Symbolism in Medieval Europe: Papers of the ‘Medieval Europe Brugge 1997’ Conference V, ed. Guy de Boe and Frans Verhaeghe (Zellik: I. A. P Rapporten, 1997), 7–15 at 7; idem, “The Bayeux Tapestry and Schools of Illumination at Canterbury,” ANS 22 (2000): 117–67 at 117. The literature focusing on this scene, with further bibliography, includes: Loomis, “Table”; Martha Rampton, “The Significance of the Banquet Scene in the Bayeux Tapestry,” Medievalia et Humanistica 21 (1994): 33–53; Rouben Cholakian, “Eating and Drinking in the Bayeux Tapestry,” Acta 21 (1995): 99–125; Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Brothers, Rivals and the Geometry of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 109–23; Alban Gautier, Le Festin dans l’Angleterre anglo-saxonne, Ve–XIe siècle (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2006), esp. 83–112; and Carol Neuman de Vegvar, “Dining with Distinction: Drinking Vessels and Difference in the Bayeux Tapestry Feast Scenes,” in M. Lewis, BT, 112-20. In particular, see Bernstein, Mystery, 136–43; J. Bard McNulty, The Narrative Art of the Bayeux Tapestry Master (New York: AMS Press, 1989), 64–72; and Shirley Ann Brown, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Why Eustace, Odo and William?” ANS 12 (1990): 7–28. Bernstein, Mystery, 140. Grape, BT, 54. On medieval patronage, see Chapter 3 and useful discussions in Jill Caskey, “Whodunit? Patronage, the Canon and the Problematics of Agency in Romanesque and Gothic Art,” in A Companion to Medieval Art, ed. Conrad Rudolph (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 193–212; and Pastan and White, “Problematizing.”

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Battle of Hastings, which occupies the final portion of the textile. To the left (W46–7; Fig. 24), skewered and spitted fowl are handed over from cooking fires in the direction of two clearly differentiated and contrasting tables. At the first of these, a trestle table with two upturned shields serving as a tabletop, three standing figures clasp skewer and bowl, covered dish, and upraised oliphant,12 respectively; meanwhile a fourth moves between this table and the next one, which is the focus of this study. Here, in contrast to the makeshift trestle arrangement, is a prominent semi-circular table set with cups, plates, knives, and fish (Plate XV). A central officiating cleric raises one hand in blessing over a cup, while five other seated diners help themselves to food and drink, and a servant kneeling within the arc of the table carries a basin and serving cloth. The inscription over this banquet table, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, states that a bishop blesses the food and drink: “et hic episcopus cibu[m] et potu[m] benedicit.” The bishop’s frontal pose stands out among the profile and three-quarter views of those who surround him, his importance underscored by the almost audible syllables of the inscription, “be-ne-dic-it,” that weave around him and his fellow diners. If one views these scenes as a sequence (Fig. 24), it becomes clear that the bishop identified at the banquet table must be Odo himself, because in the scene commonly referred to as the council of war that immediately follows to the right, the inscription names Bishop Odo (“Odo eps,” an abbreviated reference to Odo episcopus). He is the tonsured figure gesticulating on the left within the classicizing structure, evidently deep in conference with his two brothers. Any doubt that the bishop presiding at the banquet is the same as the one named in this council of war scene is cleared up by the sweeping gesture of the figure seated to the right of the bishop at the banquet table towards the inscription naming Bishop Odo.13 These scenes then, of the cooks and servers, of Odo offering benediction at the banquet and of the adjacent council of war, constitute the core of images in which Odo is first introduced on the embroidery. It is a curious series of episodes in several respects. Visually, the three scenes are aligned without interruption and connect through specific linking devices. Since the embroidery’s main frieze usually alternates between scenes of motion and stasis, this sequence of three relatively static scenes commands attention.14 Moreover, while a communal meal has all kinds of associations in historical, literary, and visual traditions, this banquet’s position before a battle is without precedent.15 One scholar has gone so far as to characterize the banquet as “irrelevant” to the embroidery’s ostensible message, calling it a genre scene that interrupts the main story.16 Finally, there is the meta-narrative involving Odo; no matter how many appearances of the bishop may 12

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Lucien Musset, The Bayeux Tapestry, trans. Richard Rex (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005), 210, argues persuasively that this is more likely an oliphant or trumpet than a drinking vessel, given the way the figure holds the vessel. O. K. Werckmeister, “The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Studi Medievali ser. 3, 17 (1976): 535–95 at 579 n. 237; Bernstein, Mystery, 140–1; Richard Gameson, “The Origin, Art, and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 157–211 at 176–7; and Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “The Interpretation of Gesture in the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 29 (2007): 145–78. Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Stylistic Variation and Roman Influence in the Bayeux Tapestry,” Peregrinations 2 (2009): 51–96 at 51, 80. This article is also available online at http:// peregrinations.kenyon.edu/vol2_3/current.html (accessed 16 August 2014). Rampton, “Significance of the Banquet,” 38. Cholakian, “Eating and Drinking,” 99.

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be discovered in the embroidery by scholars who look for them, this is the first group of scenes where he is conclusively identified by inscription.

Odo, Careerist Cleric Richard Gameson has characterized Odo as “the most famous early medieval careerist cleric.”17 Although only the broad outlines of Odo’s biography are known, scholars have extrapolated freely from his life and character in an attempt to clear up unresolved issues for the Bayeux Embroidery. Brooks and Walker’s assessment is typical of the scholarship: Odo, an ambitious, acquisitive and arrogant baron-prelate whom William had in the end to crush, plays a part in the Tapestry far greater than any other account credits him with. He even appears to suggest the plan for the invasion of England, and at the crucial moment in the battle … it is Odo carrying a mace who is shown rallying the lads [Fig. 34].18

Here, Odo is confidently described in unflattering personal terms (“ambitious,” “acquisitive,” “arrogant”), and as someone who deserved his imprisonment, carried out at the command of his half-brother William in 1082. In alluding to his depiction on the Bayeux Embroidery, these scholars also hint at his immoderate influence on the iconography. Similarly, David Bernstein’s study of 1986 analyzed the artist’s dilemma of “how to depict Odo in ways that would flatter his enormous ego, while not giving offence to the sensibilities of [his] royal brother.”19 For J. Bard McNulty writing in 1989, the embroidery is a “vehicle for the magnification of this powerful and troublesome man,”20 and in her monograph of the same year, Suzanne Lewis decried the “rewriting of the bishop’s role at Hastings in terms that flaunt his power with a blatant kind of arrogance.”21 In short, scholars have transformed a plausible case that Odo may have been somehow implicated in the Bayeux Embroidery’s creation into a highly debatable hypothesis that he controlled its production in inappropriate and egotistical ways, what Stephen D. White and I have characterized elsewhere as the supposition of his “micro-managing patronage.”22 Since succeeding generations of scholars have referred to him in ever more intimate and knowing terms, one might imagine that Odo himself had somehow been revealed through the discovery of new primary texts, but in fact the scholarly literature recycles the same material, much of it drawn from later clerical writers. In contrast, in 1975 David Bates undertook a revision of the character and career of Odo based on a meticulous comparative reading of the extant medieval texts. He did not so much seek to rehabilitate Odo, as attempt a critical reading of materials that others, including writers on the Bayeux Embroidery, had taken at face value. As Bates observed: “The essential problem of Odo’s English career is to penetrate the literary sources in order to arrive at a balance 17

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Gameson, “Origin,” 177. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 8. Bernstein, Mystery, 136. McNulty, Narrative Art, 66. S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 125. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 7–10; also see Jan Messent, The Bayeux Tapestry Embroiderers’ Story (Thirsk: Madeira Threads Ltd., 1999), 54 and 102 for an imagined dialogue between Odo and the Designer.

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between haughty or over-zealous exploitation and the innate demands of his position as the Conqueror’s close associate.”23 Indeed, Bates doubted that Odo’s behavior as Earl of Kent was at all exceptional, “either in relation to other Norman lords or to conditions in the aftermath of the Conquest.”24 Bates also re-examined early twelfth-century materials from Christ Church, Canterbury relating to the Penenden Heath trial of 1072, which modern scholars had uncritically accepted as evidence that Odo usurped lands from Christ Church. Bates showed that the Penenden Heath materials misrepresented Odo’s conduct, since the disputed lands held by the bishop, which Archbishop Lanfranc then recovered from him at the trial, were “in the main inherited from the encroachments of earl Godwine and his sons.”25 He also drew attention to the encouragement Odo gave to promising younger clerics, educating some at his own expense.26 But most significant was Bates’s demonstration of the blatant inaccuracies in the influential passages on Odo penned later by the monk Orderic Vitalis in his Historia Ecclesiastica, composed during the second decade of the twelfth century.27 Bates accepted as borne out by the evidence Orderic’s famous passage about Odo: “in this man, it seems to me, vices were mingled with virtues, but he was more given to worldly affairs than to spiritual contemplation.”28 But he could expose numerous other instances of Orderic’s “dramatic vilifications” of Odo and “demonstrable error,” concluding succinctly that “Orderic’s extravagant portrait [of Odo] must be discarded.”29 In fact, it is difficult to reconcile the measured profile of Bishop Odo that emerges from Bates’s close analyses of the medieval textual evidence with the work of scholars who unproblematically read megalomania into the ways they believe that Odo had himself depicted on the embroidery.30 Admittedly, there is a certain amount of ambiguity in the scholarly literature about Odo’s role vis-à-vis the narrative’s presumed visual designer, who is sometimes credited with a readiness to flatter Odo without being asked. Of the banqueting scene, for example, Bernstein posits: “If Odo was aware that the Tapestry artist had selected an image of Christ at the Last Supper as his model … the allusion would no doubt have been … flattering to the bishop of Bayeux.”31 But by repeatedly laying emphasis on 23 24

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David R. Bates, “The Character and Career of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux (1049/50–1097),” Speculum 50 (1975): 1–20 at 11. Bates, “Character and Career of Odo,” 9. A similar point was made in a different way by Ann Williams, “Land and Power in the Eleventh Century: The Estates of Harold Godwineson,” ANS 3 (1981): 171–87 at 182, where she states, “the difference between a pious benefactor and a ruthless spoliator is not necessarily that between one man and another, but between one ecclesiastical commentator and another. One monk’s benefactor is another monk’s despoiler.” Bates, “Character and Career of Odo,” 9. Also see idem, “The Land Pleas of William I’s Reign: Penenden Heath Revisited,” Historical Research 51 (1978): 1–19 at 14–18; and Alan Cooper, “Extraordinary Privilege: The Trial of Penenden Heath and the Domesday Inquest,” English Historical Review 116 (2001): 1167–92. Bates, “Character and Career of Odo,” 9. Marjorie Chibnall in Orderic, EH, vol. 2: xiv–xv dates the work to c. 1114/15–c. 1125. Bates, “Character and Career of Odo,” 3; Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 266–7. Bates, “Character and Career of Odo,” 20. “Dramatic vilifications,” 3; “demonstrable error” and “deceptive depth,” 4, and “exaggerations,” 12. Also see 15, where Orderic’s account of Odo’s arrest in 1082 is characterized as “improbable” as well as “inflated and dramatic.” Including Bates himself. See ibid., 11-12. Bernstein, Mystery, 140.

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Odo’s “enormous ego,”32 Bernstein keeps Odo’s character and his agency in dictating the embroidery’s narrative foremost in the mind of his reader. Moreover, since Bernstein’s analysis of Odo’s portrayal in the Bayeux Embroidery presents him as “the mastermind” behind the Norman Conquest, he leaves little doubt that on some level Odo was also the mastermind behind the pictorial narrative.33 One of the oddest features of identifying the Bayeux Embroidery with Odo’s directives is that its pictorial narrative is not a straightforward account of the Norman Conquest. Key episodes discussed in previous chapters that would establish the Norman justification for war – including the reason for Harold’s journey to the Continent, the nature of the oath Harold swore to William, and King Edward’s deathbed bequest, when he may or may not have named a new successor – are handled in an manner that could give rise to differing interpretations.34 It is difficult to believe that Odo would highlight his personal involvement in the conquest without spelling out the rationale by which he and his fellow Normans claimed the crown of England for William. Brooks and Walker, among others, have remarked on how “remarkable” it is that the embroidery’s pictorial narrative departs from emphasizing the Norman version of these pivotal events.35 Indeed, scholars have emphasized Odo’s role in ever more intricate ways.36 Pierre Bouet imagines that the ideological program of the embroidery, reflecting a brief “policy of openness” towards the English that he espouses, “could only have come from the close entourage of William the Conqueror,” and as he puts it, “who better than Odo?”37 In Bouet’s version, Odo’s agency would thus be reflected in the “benevolence” of the political message. On the other hand, other scholars have viewed Odo in a more martial role, in keeping with the notion that he was the “mastermind” of the Norman Conquest. Gale R. Owen-Crocker offered a middle ground, in suggesting a disparity between the inscriptions, which she views as reflecting a “William-centered orthodoxy,” and the imagery, which she believes gives Odo a featuring role. “It seems probable,” she writes, “that Odo was able to influence the illustration in his own favor, or perhaps the artist(s) chose to flatter him.”38 Either way, the assertion of Odo’s intimate involvement in the message of the embroidery is loud and clear. This brief overview of the treatment of Odo in the scholarly literature yields three observations: first, that later monastic writers such as Orderic Vitalis have been used uncritically as evidence for Odo’s intentions; second, that the pictorial narrative of the Bayeux Embroidery is strangely ambiguous on key points of the Norman case for war, the very 32 33

34 35

36

37

38

Ibid., 29–30, 35–6, 112, 136, 143, 164, and 193. Ibid., 143. See Chapters 3 and 5. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 13. On the Norman Story, see discussion in Chapter 2. Most recently, T. A. Heslop, “Regarding the Spectators of the Bayeux Tapestry: Bishop Odo and his Circle,” Art History 32 (2009): 223–49; also Michael J. Lewis, The Real World of the Bayeux Tapestry (Stroud: History Press, 2008), 174–8; and idem, The Archaeological Authority of the Bayeux Tapestry, BAR British Series 404 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd., 2005), esp. 128–9, where he considers the patron-designer dynamic through his investigations into the objects from the real world depicted on the Bayeux Embroidery, noting that the “[ecclesiastical] artefacts give little indication that the putative patron was involved in the details of the design” (Real World, 174). Pierre Bouet, “Is the Bayeux Tapestry Pro-English?” in Bouet, BT, 197–215 at 215. Owen-Crocker, “Brothers,” 112.

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war for which Odo, paradoxically, is said to have served either as “mastermind,” or as the mouthpiece for a proposed short-lived Norman “policy of reconciliation”; and finally, that the visual designer of the embroidery and Odo have been conflated in problematic ways. While the first point calls into question what we think we know about Odo, the second and third points query the authorship of the Bayeux Embroidery. Taken together, these observations suggest that it is time to re-evaluate the role Odo plays in the embroidery.

Positioning Odo For such an apparently engaged patron, Odo’s first inscribed appearance occurs relatively late in the textile,39 at the banquet in the forty-eighth scene out of the seventy-three scenes depicted (W48; Plate XV; Fig. 24). As we have seen, this is followed in rapid succession by Odo’s second inscribed appearance, in the council of war scene, and finally by a third image of Odo in battle (W67; Fig. 34).40 Although scholars have come up with various means of justifying Odo’s delayed occurrence in the embroidery in order to salvage the claim that he is pivotal to the events portrayed, these are unconvincing. When considered in relation to the 627 figures represented in total on the textile, let alone the sixteen appearances of Duke William, Odo’s three relatively late appearances pale by comparison.41 Of the approaches that seek to magnify Odo’s role, two may be highlighted. The first is the notion that the banqueting scene is in fact not Odo’s first appearance, although it is undeniably his first inscribed appearance. As I have argued elsewhere, many scholars have been so eager to locate Odo that they have not just inferred, but assumed his presence in the considerably earlier scene in which Duke William orders the construction of ships for the invasion of England (W34–5; Fig. 18).42 No inscription names the tonsured cleric seated next to William as he issues the command to build ships, and since Odo has not been introduced into the narrative at this juncture, the figure cannot be claimed with any certainty to be the bishop.43 But the net effect of such an interpretation associating an unnamed earlier figure with Odo is considerable. If Odo is identified as the cleric in the shipbuilding scene, then he comes onstage much earlier and is present for a larger portion of the narrative than if he first appears in the banquet scene. Some scholars take a further leap and go from detecting Odo in this scene to having him assume charge of the Norman Conquest – as is evident in Brooks and Walker’s passage quoted above, where on the basis of this scene Odo is described as “suggesting the plan for the invasion of England.”44 39

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The late appearance of Odo is noted in Lewis, Archeological Authority, p. 4, n. 30. Wilson, BT, 194. Simone Bertrand, La Tapisserie de Bayeux et la manière de vivre au onzième siècle (La Pierrequi-Vire [France]: Zodiaque, 1966), 51–8. A representative list of scholars identifying Odo in this scene includes: Wilson, Bayeux Tapestry, 184; Bernstein, Mystery, 136–37; H. E. J. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 10 (1988): 49–65, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 93–110 at 94; Grape, BT, 54; Gameson, “Origin,” 176; Rouben C. Cholakian, The Bayeux Tapestry and the Ethos of War (Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1998), 51; S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 117–19; Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 182; François Neveux, “The Bayeux Tapestry as Original Source,” in Bouet, BT, 171–95 at 180–1; Owen-Crocker, “Brothers,” 112; Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 4; and Heslop, “Regarding the Spectators,” 225–9. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 7–10. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 8, quoted above at n. 18.

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The second way in which Odo’s belated appearance has been explained is to turn his delayed “reveal” into a power play. For McNulty, the story of the embroidery falls into two halves, the Predicament and the Resolution, and he builds his case around Harold’s figuring ten times in the Predicament and Odo in essence replacing him by his four appearances in the Resolution (counting the shipbuilding scene as Odo’s first appearance). In McNulty’s view, “the Conquest is displayed in the Tapestry, not primarily for its own sake, but as a glorious foil for the exploits of the narrator’s patron – Odo.”45 Although Suzanne Lewis’s analyses differ in tone, her strategy is similar: she draws attention to the purposeful “gaps and inadequacies that draw the viewer into active transactions within the narrative” in the first two-thirds of the embroidery.46 By the time Odo appears as the “external center that binds together the loose ends of the episodic narrative structure by giving it a more precisely defined political and ideological direction,”47 the viewer/participant is now actively complicit in Odo’s glory. For both these scholars the very lateness of Odo’s appearances only serves to emphasize his centrality. It is also noteworthy that the analyses of both McNulty and Lewis are predicated on a highly sophisticated viewer, a point to which we shall return. The overwhelming number of images in Bayeux Embroidery, including those in the first two-thirds of the textile, do not explicitly involve Odo.48 The bishop’s three inscribed appearances, though they present him favorably, are not very substantial in a hanging of this length. Moreover, all of the activities that are identified with Odo can be described as normative ones for the bishop. Although no textual account specifically mentions the three scenarios depicted, William of Poitiers (c. 1070–11) states that Odo was among the clerics and monks who “prepared for the combat with prayers,” and he also writes that: “[Bishop Odo] helped in war by his most practical counsels as far as his religion allowed [and that he] was singularly and most steadfastly loyal to [his brother William], whom he cherished with so great a love that he would not willingly be separated from him even on the battlefield.”49 These passages suggest that the kinds of activities he is shown engaged in – offering prayer, giving counsel, and joining William on the battlefield – were things that Odo’s contemporaries described him doing. Therefore, only when the three scenes on the embroidery are joined with other interpretative strategies including the identification of Odo where there is no inscription or context that specifically argues for his presence,50 and the association with him of other people and places identified in the embroidery,51 can scholars argue for his “special prominence.”52 45

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McNulty, Narrative Art, 65. S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 31. Ibid., 116–17. Werckmeister, “Political Ideology,” 563. WP, GG, vol. 2, 124–5, and 166–7, respectively. Noted in Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 9. Other Odo “sightings” include the following: witnessing Harold rescue Normans from quicksand (scenes W19–20): Owen-Crocker, “Brothers,” 113; and accompanying William when he interrogates Vital (scene W55): Werckmeister, “Political Ideology,” p. 579, n. 237. Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Invisible Seams and Visible Boundaries,” Anglo-Saxon England 31 (2002): 257–73 at 272–3 suggests that Odo would in all likelihood have reappeared at the end of the textile. Bernstein, Mystery, 142 dubs the Oath at Bayeux (W25–6; Plate X; Fig. 13) a virtual “fifth” appearance of Odo; likewise Neveux, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 180. On Odo’s “tenants” who make inscribed appearances in the embroidery, see Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 15–20 and Chapter 4. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 8.

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In short, scholars have put a disproportionate degree of emphasis on the three representations of Odo, who, as the Conqueror’s brother might be expected to play a role in the Norman Conquest in any case,53 and who, as a benefactor of the monastery that oversaw the creation of the Bayeux Embroidery, one might anticipate would be depicted. If Odo’s familial, financial, and ecclesiastical connections are thus able to explain his not improbable appearances, and given that he was portrayed by contemporaries such as William of Poitiers in analogous terms, why then does the secondary literature accord him such a prominent and micro-managing role? Provisionally, we can posit that Odo’s benediction at the banquet has served interpretive strategies that overemphasize the bishop’s directive role for two reasons: first, because scholars can find no contemporary textual source to explain the occurrence of a feast at this point in conquest narratives, this silence then becomes a reason to suppose that Odo compelled the inclusion of the scene. Second, building on this reasoning, scholars have gone on to assume that Odo caused a specific pictorial source to be imported in order to glorify himself. As we will see, neither aspect of this interpretation holds up to scrutiny.

Co-Hosts: Harold’s and Odo’s Dinner Parties The celebratory banquet of the Normans upon landing at Pevensey is not a vital or necessary aspect of narratives of the conquest.54 Indeed, although William of Poitiers describes a feast that Duke William held on his ship while waiting for the other vessels in his fleet to catch up with him as they journeyed to invade England, he mentions none that takes place after the army has landed.55 Yet this absence of textual evidence for the banquet is less revealing of Odo’s motives when we realize that there is also no prior textual source for the banquet that occurs within the first several feet of the beginning of the textile, when Harold and his men dine in Bosham before departing on their journey that will end up on the Continent (W3–4; Plate II; Fig. 2).56 The distribution of similar types of scenes throughout the textile, which has been described as creating “a web of prolepsis and echo, parallel and antithesis,” in fact works effectively to guide the beholder of the work through the very long pictorial narrative.57 A number of clues suggest that the English feast at Bosham was meant to offer a deliberate contrast to the Norman banquet. The earlier English gathering differs in setting, diners, foodstuffs, and implements, and brings out distinctive features of the banquet that is our focus (compare Figs 2 and 24; Plates II and XV). The banquet at Bosham 53

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Wilson, BT, 202. Grape, BT, 69–70; Rampton, “Significance of the Banquet,” p. 38, n. 43 surveys other conquest narratives around this question. To her list may be added the later French verse history, the Roman de Rou by Wace, which alone features a feast scene when the Normans land. WP, GG, ii, 112–13. Wilson, BT, 174. See Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Telling a Tale: Narrative Techniques in the Bayeux Tapestry and the Old English Epic Beowulf,” in Medieval Art: Recent Perspectives, A Memorial Tribute to C. R. Dodwell, ed. eadem and Timothy Graham (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), 40–59, where she first articulates the notion of internal patterning and repeating motifs, esp. 52–3, and her figures 21 and 22 comparing the two banquets.

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takes place in what appears to be the upper-story loggia of a luxurious manor.58 Even a viewer who did not associate Bosham with Godwinist intrigues might wonder if greed and gluttony were not the implications of the bird with the peacock’s crest devouring a fish in the upper border, and the wolves licking their paws in the lower border.59 Because the straight-edged table is seen from below and only its front edge is visible, the various elements of the feast at Bosham, like its five seated participants, are visible at a steep angle of elevation and largely in profile. The figural groupings indicate a convivial gathering, but the increasingly insistent gestures pointing to the right in the direction of waiting ships made by the two of the seated figures and by a companion poised on the stairs convey urgency and imply that the party has gone on too long. Noteworthy among the accoutrements are the two drinking horns, held in contrasting ways by revelers at either end of the table. Carol Neuman de Vegvar has established that by the time of the embroidery, such drinking horns were often shown in the hands of morally weak or evil characters and had become symbols of vanity and sin, and she therefore argues that the horns at the feast of Bosham serve as visual markers of the Anglo-Saxons’ moral lassitude.60 In contrast, the Norman banquet takes place in an indeterminate space, but the impressive semi-circular table implies a grand setting (Plate XV). By curving downwards and tipping forward, the table allows for a full view of the dinner itself. At the table’s center is Bishop Odo, who gazes directly out at the beholder as he offers benediction over the cup he holds. The central focus Odo provides, underscored by the serving boy kneeling at the table’s center in front of him, is without counterpart in the English feast. At the same time, the bearded drinker propping himself up on his elbow second from the left, whose head abuts the abbreviated Latin word for drink (potu[m]) in the inscription, might be more at home at the banquet in Bosham; here he appears to offer a gloss on the dangers of drink.61 The view over the table allows us to surmise that the Normans are enjoying a meal that competes with the latest trends in “thegnly” dining. Of the elegant dining practices of the landowning elite, Robin Fleming observed, “Sauces, spicing, white bread, a choice of dishes at every meal, cooks, even serving boys were all part of English aristocratic dining on the eve of the Norman Conquest.”62 These Norman diners are clearly “keeping up with the Godwinesons.”63 Moreover, although roasted meat 58 59

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R. Allen Brown, “The Architecture,” in Stenton, BT, 76–87 at 79 considers the possibility that Harold’s banquet is a view of the interior seen in a cutaway view. See Chapter 8. Neuman de Vegvar, “Dining with Distinction,” 112, 118. Carol Neuman de Vegvar, “A Feast to the Lord: Drinking Horns, the Church, and the Liturgy,” in Objects, Images, and the Word: Art in the Service of the Liturgy, ed. Colum Hourihane, Index of Christian Art Occasional Papers 6 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 241–50; and Neuman de Vegvar, “Dining with Distinction,” 116-18. On the English penchant for literal word illustration, see Robert Deshman, “Another Look at the Disappearing Christ: Corporeal and Spiritual Vision in Early Medieval Images,” Art Bulletin 79 (1997): 518–546 at 533. Frank Rede Fowke, The Bayeux Tapestry: A History and Description (London: 1875; London: G. Bell and Sons, 1913), 106 identifies this figure as Roger, Earl of Beaumont, mentioned third in the battle-roll and known as “à la barbe.” He also notes interpretations identifying this figure with Nestor, and with the person who assisted the Normans in landing their ships. Robin Fleming, “The New Wealth, the New Rich and the New Political Style in Late AngloSaxon England,” ANS 23 (2001): 1–22 at 7. With apologies to Christine Senecal, “Keeping Up with the Godwinesons: In Pursuit of Aristocratic Status in Late Anglo-Saxon England,” ANS 23 (2001): 251–65.

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is being prepared to the left of the Norman banquet, at this table only fish and bread are evident, thereby subtly augmenting its sacramental and monastic undertones.64 This complements the benediction offered by Odo in suggesting that the Normans “dine with the metaphoric presence of Christ.”65 Yet because the bishop alone appears engaged in the blessing, and his companions are rambunctious, if not downright rude, it is possible to conclude that this banquet at Hastings is no more flattering to the Normans than the one at Bosham is to the English. As Owen-Crocker observes: “While the placing of Bishop Odo in the position occupied by Christ in illustrations of the Gospels might appear a compliment to the bishop, his disorderly table companions make the scene a parody rather than a pious imitation of the Last Supper.”66 Or, as Rouben Cholakian put it, “At best, Odo’s benediction ignores the rampant gluttony all around him; at worst, it condones it and its war-mongering participants.”67 Dinner table episodes occur frequently in hagiographic literature and art, where they serve as effective narrative devices.68 A communal meal is often the setting for public declarations and encounters.69 Such a social context establishes group identity and conveys a sense of unified purpose before the events that will change fortunes unfold. Likewise, relaxed gatherings such as the banquets at Bosham and Hastings can create narrative pauses that allow the story to build momentum towards a more climatic kind of scene. Finally, dining scenes project authority; as Lévi-Strauss among others has emphasized, food represents status, and cooked foods in particular are emblems of a higher form of civilization.70 While contemporaneous textual accounts of the conquest do not feature either banquet, the later verse history known as the Roman de Rou (c. 1160–74) by the AngloNorman poet Wace includes a banquet when the Normans land in England.71 A canon at Bayeux, Wace conceivably could have seen the embroidery, which might account for congruencies between his verses and the pictorial narrative, such as the Norman banquet.72 Later on in his narrative, Wace also offers the following evocative passage, contrasting the behavior of the English and the Normans before battle: When the battle was to be engaged, the night before, I have heard tell, the English were very happy and there was much laughter and merriment. They ate and drank all 64 65

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Cholakian, “Eating and Drinking,” 119; Owen-Crocker, “Stylistic Variation,” 69. Neuman de Vegvar, “Dining with Distinction,” 119. Owen-Crocker, “Stylistic Variation,” 81. Cholakian, Ethos of War, 51. Rampton, “Significance of the Banquet,” 33–8. Leslie Ross, Text, Image, Message: Saints in Medieval Manuscript Illustrations (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), 161–2. Cholakian, “Eating and Drinking,” 121; Gautier, Festin, 86–8 on the role of the hlaford (lord) as “guardian of the bread”; Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked, trans. John and Doreen Weightman (New York: 1969; rpt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983). Wace, The History of the Norman People: Wace’s “Roman de Rou,” ed. and trans. Glyn S. Burgess (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2004), book 3, 164. See also Matthew Bennett, “Poetry As History? The ‘Roman de Rou’ of Wace as a Source for the Norman Conquest,” ANS 5 (1983): 21–39 at 23 for the Norman authors on whom Wace drew, including William of Malmesbury, although Bennett also emphasizes Wace’s use of oral sources, references to Angevin politics, and traditions not found in other sources.

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night long and that night they never went to bed … “Be happy,” they cried, “and let us drink together. Let the cup keep coming and let us drink….” This is the way the English behaved. The Normans spent their night in prayer and in acts of contrition. They confessed their sins and avowed them to the priests; those who had no priest near them confessed to their neighbors. Because it was Saturday on which the battle was to take place, the Normans promised and vowed, as the cleric had advised them, that if they lived they would never eat meat or fat on that day.73

In this passage, Wace discloses other details that parallel scenes in the embroidery, including the English who were reluctant to end their festivities and the Normans who abstain from meat. There are other interesting congruencies, but it is not necessary for Wace to have seen the embroidery for his verses to offer a surprisingly apt synopsis of the differences between the hard-partying English and the sanctimonious Normans, especially since he is not specifically contrasting their banquets but describing their behaviors more generally. Despite the fact that Odo completely dominates the literature on the Norman banquet, this comparison of the two feasts on the Bayeux Embroidery has mentioned him infrequently because there is a lot more to engage the viewer than just the bishop, and he is not as essential to understanding the banquet as he is often made out to be. As Martha Rampton put it, “Odo is brought to the service of the feast … rather than the feast having been created for Odo.”74 Indeed the very juxtaposition of the two embroidered banquets is significant, as Wace’s later verses appear to underscore. There thus appears to be ample justification for including the two banquets, which are after all familiar kinds of episodes from the hagiographic literature, without recourse to an external textual “source,” let alone a self-aggrandizing patron’s dictate. Just as the search for a textual source that would explain the occurrence of the Norman banquet has ultimately served to promote the idea of Odo’s managerial interventions, the use of a pictorial “source” to reveal more about how a work of art came into being has also had dubious consequences. For although the identification of a pictorial source is really only a proposal that is based on surveying extant works of art for an image that may have inspired the artist, this form of analysis has become one of the means by which scholars attempt to understand artists’ working methods and patrons’ intentions. This method and logic are open to question, however. The claim that the embroidery’s creators appropriated Last Supper imagery for the representation of Odo has an undeniable shock value, because it leads to the conclusion that the bishop used the scene to fashion himself as Christ.

Dining Out The identification of visually similar material such as the Gospels of St Augustine (Plate XXVIII) provides a semblance of context that makes the embroidery, which has few comparanda among surviving textiles, seem more knowable.75 And it is certainly true 73

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Wace’s “Roman de Rou,” ed. Burgess, iii, 172–3. Note that William of Malmesbury, GR, vol. 1, book 3, 452–5, who was one of Wace’s sources, also compares the English and Norman behavior the night before the battle in similar terms. Rampton, “Significance of the Banquet,” 41. See the discussion of medieval textiles in Chapters 1 and 3.

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that the best comparative evidence is offered by manuscript illuminations, which survive more fully than other media from pre-conquest England. Yet there are inherent dangers in relying too heavily on images from books, because comparisons to book imagery have the effect of causing one to view the embroidery as a series of discrete episodes, which in turn inhibits understanding the narrative as a whole. In addition, such a “motif intensive” approach emphasizes transcription over creative engagement.76 Of course, designating the Gospels of St Augustine as a pictorial source for the Bayeux Embroidery would help to confirm the site where the embroidery was designed, since the Gospels are known to have been in England by the end of the seventh century, when corrections in Anglo-Saxon script were made to the text, and at St Augustine’s in Canterbury by the beginning of the tenth century, when Old English documents relating to the abbey were copied on blank pages within the Gospels and on added end leaves.77 Undoubtedly, the Gospels held great prestige in Canterbury, as they were illuminated in Italy in the sixth century and then brought to England in connection with the mission of St Augustine initiated by Pope Gregory the Great.78 An early fifteenth-century depiction of the choir at St Augustine’s (Plate XXXI), preserved in Thomas of Elmham’s history of the abbey, shows six books near the main altar in the choir, and the Gospels is thought to be among these.79 An inscription just above the books reads, “libri missi a Gregorio ad Augustinum” (“books sent by Gregory to Augustine”), leading scholars to conclude that the Gospels of St Augustine “may well” have been among the books placed in this prominent location.80 The visual correspondences between the sixth-century Gospels and the Bayeux Embroidery’s banquet appear unmistakable (Plates XV and XXVIII).81 As Loomis 76

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Barbara Raw, “What Do We Mean by the Source of a Picture?” in England in the Eleventh Century, Proceedings of the 1990 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. Carola Hicks (Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1992), 285–300, where she focuses on devotional images but raises very pertinent questions about artistic “copying”; and Maylis Baylé, “The Bayeux Tapestry and Decoration in North-Western Europe: Style and Composition,” in Bouet, BT, 307–10, on scholars who minimize the design’s originality by citing pictorial models. Also see the helpful comments in Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Reading the Bayeux Tapestry through Canterbury Eyes,” in Anglo-Saxons: Studies Presented to Cyril Roy Hart, ed. Simon Keynes and Alfred P. Smyth (Dublin: Four Courts, Press, 2006), 243–65 at 245–8 where she distinguishes between “specific copying of a significant image” and “general resemblances between products of a similar environment.” N. R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957), no. 55, 95; Budny, Manuscript Art, 4–5; and Richard Marsden, “The Gospels of St Augustine,” in St Augustine and the Conversion of England, ed. Richard Gameson (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999), 285-312 at 288; also Mildred Budny, “The Biblia Gregoriana,” in ibid., 237–84 at 252. Richard Gameson, “The Earliest Books of Christian Kent,” in St Augustine and the Conversion of England, 313–73 at 318 offers iconographic analyses associating the book with Rome. See full discussion of Elmham’s image in Chapter 11. Wormald, “Miniatures,” 13; and see Gem, St A, color plate 1 for an excellent reproduction of the page from Thomas of Elmham’s history (Cambridge, Trinity Hall MS 1, fol. 77r). Budny, Manuscript Art, cat. no. 1, 1–50 at 18–19, and eadem, “Biblia Gregoriana,” 251–2 identifies the “Textus Sancte Mildrede” that Elmham refers to with MS 286. Also see St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, 3 vols, ed. B. C. Barker-Benfield, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues 13 (London: British Library, 2008), 3: 1643–66, esp. 1653 for a different interpretation. Michael John Lewis, “Identity and Status in the Bayeux Tapestry: The Iconographic and Artefactual Evidence,” ANS 29 (2007): 100–20 at 116–17 points out that Bayeux Embroidery designer borrowed more readily from artistic models in depicting figures of high status.

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stated, “The likeness [between illumination and the embroidery] is so close that it would almost seem a case of imitation, not of general influence.”82 In each case a tall central figure, the nimbed Christ in the case of the illumination and the bishop in the embroidery, presides over a schematized table. In contrast to the central figure, others at each table are shown in profile or three-quarter view and reach towards food on the table before them. Yet there are also numerous aspects of the portrayal in the embroidery that are not present in the illumination, which suggests that the claim that the former was “borrowed” from the latter should be modified.83 The illuminated Last Supper after all is just one of twelve scenes of the Passion of Christ illustrated in a grid-like composition on a page only 25 × 19 cm (10 × 7½ inches) in total (Plate XXVIII).84 In contrast, the Bayeux Embroidery varies between 45.7 and 53.6 cm in height (18 and 21 inches), allowing considerably more scope for representation. A number of features in the Bayeux Embroidery not present in the Gospels of St Augustine concern the linkage of the banquet with the scenes that surround it (see Figs 23 and 24), and clearly belong to the working method of the embroidery design as a whole. Among these elements are the inscription that weaves among the diners, the lionesses in the border who appear to mimic the action in the main field by nibbling at their tails,85 and the playful “upstairs-downstairs” dialogue between the makeshift trestle table to the left and the high table over which Odo presides.86 While the artist may have drawn on standard types of religious imagery and works known to him for certain scenes, in a textile of this length the pictorial borrowings cannot be allowed to make us forget the overall design. Much as the Norman banquet mirrors the English gathering at Bosham, the ways the images relate to one another along with other recurrent features such as the dialogue between inscriptions and the imagery, and the visual analogies between the figures in the main field and the creatures in the borders, have to be credited to those responsible for the design as a whole. As George Henderson observed, “it is in the easy economic depiction of consecutive events that the artistry of the designer is shown.”87 Scholarly emphasis on the shape of the tables and the similarities between their presiding figures has had the effect of drawing attention away from significant differences between the meals themselves. Some of the greater pictorial latitude of the textile can be observed at Odo’s table (Plate XV), where the dining implements as well as the dinner, including two helpings of fish, are much more particularized than their counterparts in the Gospels. The presence of the drunken diner second from the left on the embroidery,

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Curiously, however, for a book with such a pedigree, a second impressive image from the Gospels, an author portrait of the evangelist Luke, appears to have had little discernible influence on English illumination. On the image of St Luke, see Wormald, “Miniatures,” 19; Sandy Heslop and John Mitchell, “The Arts and Learning,” Gem, St A, 69; and Budny, Manuscript Art, 6–10. Loomis, “Table,” 77. As noted in Bernstein, Mystery, 140; and Owen-Crocker, “Stylistic Variation,” 83–4. There is a good color reproduction in Kurt Weitzmann, Late Antique and Early Christian Book Illumination (New York: George Braziller, 1977), plate 41. McNulty, “Analogy and other Narrative Devices,” in idem, Narrative Art, 24–58. Cholakian, “Eating and Drinking,” 121–2 discusses the socio-economic implications of the juxtaposition. George Henderson, Early Medieval Art, Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching 29 (Harmondsworth: 1972; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 171.

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alluded to earlier, highlights the fact there is no drinking at the illuminated Last Supper table and no knives or vessels in evidence other than the chalice that sits prominently in the center. The table setting in the Gospels is austere in the extreme (Plate XXVIII); there is no attentive servant, let alone carousing. At the very core of the manuscript’s table, in the circular field within the table, is a faintly visible area, alternately read as a paschal Lamb or the damaged remnants of a fish.88 The disposition of this dish, lined up on the central axis with Christ and the chalice, emphasizes the solemn and ceremonial character of the event, identified simply by a later inscription as “cena d[omi]ni” [the supper of the Lord].89 While most of the scholarly attention devoted to the gesturing figure on Odo’s right has focused the way in which he indicates Odo’s name in the next inscription, this gesture has also received other interpretations. For Charles Gibbs-Smith it is part of the rambunctious nature of the revelers, “an inappropriate gesture to make in the middle of grace.”90 The gesture has also been described as an attempt at “one of the oldest tricks in the world,” wherein other guests at the table attempt to distract Duke William (who is presumably seated to the left of Odo) in order to steal his food.91 The duke, however, ignores the various signals of the other diners, as well as the elbow jab of the drinker, and with one hand resolutely steadies the dish before him. It does not seem far-fetched to read into this humorously mimed food game a reference to Duke William’s steadfastness in maintaining his grasp on his inheritance.92 Whether or not it was intended as an expression of high spirits or as part of a trick to steal William’s plate, the pointing diner’s exaggerated gesture undoubtedly adds levity and energy to the scene, as well as serving to indicate Odo’s name in the adjacent inscription. Particularly when seen in the light of this gesture, the Last Supper imagery from the Gospels of St Augustine seems to be less a template from which to copy than a starting point for creative adaptation. The visual interest and design complexity of the banqueting scene may also be demonstrated by a consideration of its other possible sources of inspiration. For example, the serving figure in the arc of the table has been compared to that of more recent religious imagery than the sixth-century Gospels.93 In practical terms, the servant assists the diners, who feast without forks or spoons, in cleaning up.94 Iconographically speaking, however, the servant is likely inspired by other Last Supper compositions that are much closer to the image in the Bayeux Embroidery than the Gospels of St Augustine. From the ninth century on, many western images of the Last Supper were no longer based on the relatively laconic account in Matthew emphasizing the “Institution of the Sacrament,” which is what these Gospels show, but instead draw upon the more dramatic account in John (13: 88

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Budny, Manuscript Art, 19. Ibid., 5 dates these inscriptions to the “early stage of its English use,” probably the second quarter of the eighth century. Charles H. Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” in The Bayeux Tapestry, ed. Stenton 174–88 at 183. On the “rampant rudeness” also see Cholakian, “Eating and Drinking,” 119–20. Messent, Embroiderers’ Story, 7, and 82. In contrast, Rampton, “Significance of the Banquet,” 42 sought to connect the Normans’ feast with William of Poitiers’ report that Duke William took communion and hung around his neck the relics on which Harold had sworn his oath before the battle. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 16. Cholakian, “Eating and Drinking,” 115.

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21–6), which emphasizes the “Indication of Judas.”95 In such images, the traitorous Judas, isolated on one side of the table, provides a clear analogy for the placement of the servant in the embroidery (see, for example, Fig. 49).96 Surely a medieval image of the Last Supper that included the Indication of Judas would provide the strongest visual parallel for the composition that includes a prominent server in the Bayeux Embroidery. Apparently, however, no pre-conquest images of the Last Supper survive in England other than the sixth-century Gospels of St Augustine (Plate XXVIII).97 By looking solely at the extant evidence, scholars have created an artistic context that makes the direct impact of the Gospels on the Bayeux Embroidery banquet a foregone conclusion.98 Accordingly, since the sigma-shaped table differs conspicuously from the simpler and more practical straight trestle table of ordinary usage (such as the one directly to the left), scholars argue that there must be “something else at play,”99 namely the prestige of the Gospels of St Augustine within Canterbury and the putative patron’s instructions to copy a well-known work for his own glorification. As we have seen, however, any Last Supper composition used as a direct source of inspiration for the textile would not be the Institution of the Sacrament in the Gospels but would include the later Indication of Judas iconography. Moreover it is highly unlikely that the Gospels of St Augustine was the only pictorial source for a sigma-shaped table in England. Wolfgang Grape, for example, has pointed to an analogous table composition in a monumental sculptural relief of the Wedding 95

96

97

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Eduard Dobbert, “Das Abendmahl Christi,” Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 14 (1891): 175–203 at 193–95; Emile Mâle, Religious Art in France, The Twelfth Century: A Study of the Origins of Medieval Iconography, ed. Harry Bober, trans. Marthiel Mathews (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 112–25, esp. 116–19; and Gertrude Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, trans. Janet Seligman, 2 vols (Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1971–72), 2: 32–4. Loomis, “Table,” 76 and fig. 1 refers to the mid-twelfth-century work she calls the “Limoges Gospels” (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS M.44); also reproduced in Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” p. 14, plate 10. For other Last Supper comparanda, realized in a series of line drawings, see the studies by Dobbert, “Das Abendmahl Christi,” in Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 13 (1890): 281–92, 363–81, 423–42; 14 (1891), 175–203, 451–62; 15 (1892), 357–84, 506–27; and 18 (1895), 336–79. Also see Otto Pächt, C. R. Dodwell, and Francis Wormald, The St. Albans Psalter (Albani Psalter) (London: Warburg Institute, University of London, 1960), 58–9, plates 110b and 111; J. J. G. Alexander, Norman Illumination at Mont St Michel, 966–1100 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), plate 35; Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, figs 66–99; and Grape, BT, 30–2, figs 8–12. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 16. Iconographic studies have analyzed various elements of a Last Supper composition and attempted to pinpoint their origin: the sigma table is said to be Byzantine (Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 15); the central Christ, continental (Grape, BT, 30); the isolation of Judas, Ottonian (Pächt, St. Albans Psalter, 58); and the straight-edged table, Romanesque (Loomis, “Table,” 75). Alexander, Norman Illumination, 143–4, 172, considers the combination of a straight-edged table with an isolated Judas, to which he also adds the central placement of Christ, to be Ottonian innovations, with implications for dating. Also see the discussion in Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, 2: 24–41, esp. 32–6, where the variety of table arrangements found in the West is portrayed as more fluid. Laura Hibbard Loomis, “The Round Table Again,” Modern Language Notes 44 (1929): 511–19 at 512. For A. A. Barb, “Mensa Sacra: The Round Table and the Holy Grail,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 19 (1956): 40–67, the image refers to the Holy Grail, which he identifies as the round table of the Last Supper.

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at Cana on the continent.100 One could imagine other scenes from sacred iconography including the Feeding with Manna and Quail, the Feast of Herod, the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, as well as the Supper at Emmaus that could also inspire this table configuration drawn ultimately from antique types.101 Francis Wormald drew attention to the scene of feasting from the computistical page of the Tiberius Psalter (Fig. 48),102 probably from Winchester, from the mid-eleventh century.103 Because the computistical table tracks the Signs of the Zodiac throughout the year, the feasting scene at the top of the page is likely based on the related Labors of the Month imagery for the traditional January feast.104 Although the page has been damaged, this feast with a rounded table, dynamic symmetry among the diners, and a central tonsured figure, who is blessing and holding a goblet, bears a certain resemblance to the scene in the Bayeux Embroidery. The feast table is fully provisioned with dishes, bread, spoon, and knife, like the banquet in the textile. In addition, the convivial gestural language and specific activities of what appears to be the setting up of candlesticks and the reaching back of the figure at the right of center to bring a fish to the table recall the liveliness and busyness of the Bayeux Embroidery banquet. The Tiberius Psalter image may not have served as a “source,” but it does suggest that the possible images that served as inspiration should not be limited to variants of Last Supper compositions, however much a Last Supper with the Indication of Judas appears to be the chief kind of image that was adapted in the embroidery. Indeed, just as the image of the Last Supper in the Gospels of St Augustine traveled from Italy to the British Isles, it is highly likely that others did as well. The image 100 101

102 103

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Grape, BT, p. 32, fig. 12, where he illustrates the tympanum from Saint-Fortunat at Charlieu. Loomis, “Table,” 78; Mark Hagger, “Lordship and Lunch: Interpretations of Eating and Food in the Anglo-Norman World, 1050-1200, with Reference to the Bayeux Tapestry,” in The English and their Legacy, 900–1200: Essays in Honour of Ann Williams, ed. David Roffe (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2012), 229–44 at 241–3. Loomis also draws attention, 80, to numerous instances of rounded tables in the Utrecht Psalter, which is known to have influenced Anglo-Saxon illumination. On this latter point, see The Utrecht Psalter in Medieval Art: Picturing the Psalms of David, ed. Koert van der Horst, William Noel, and Wilhelmina C. M. Wüstefeld (Tuurdijk, The Netherlands: HES Publishers, 1996), esp. “The Utrecht Psalter’s Legacy in England,” with further bibliography. Gale R. Owen-Crocker, personal communication, drew my attention to the semicircular table shown in the Hexateuch, when the Israelites worship the golden calf; see illustration in C. R. Dodwell and Peter Clemoes, The Old English Illustrated Hexateuch, British Museum Cotton Claudius B. IV, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile 18 (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1974), fol. 102. London, British Library MS Cotton Tiberius C. vi, fol. 5v. Francis Wormald, “An English Eleventh-Century Psalter with Pictures, British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius C. VI,” Walpole Society 38 (1962) rpt. in Wormald, Collected Writings, I: Studies in Medieval Art from the Sixth to the Twelfth Centuries (London: Harvey Miller, 1984), 126 and 130–1, fig. 124. Also see Elżbieta Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, 900–1066, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 2 (London: Harvey Miller, 1976), cat. no. 98, 115–17, with further bibliography. There is a particularly good reproduction in Dodwell, Anglo-Saxon Art, 143, fig. 34. On the Labors of the Month imagery in general, see J. Carson Webster, The Labors of Months in Antique and Mediaeval Art to the End of the Twelfth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1938); and on early English cycles, see An Eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon Illustrated Miscellany: British Library Cotton Tiberius B.V, ed. Patrick McGurk, D. M. Dumville, M. R. Godden, and Ann Knock, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile 21 (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1983), 40–3.

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illustrating Maundy Thursday from the Mont-Saint-Michel Sacramentary105 (Fig. 49) of the mid-eleventh century, for example, is the very kind of work that the Bayeux Embroidery designer might have known,106 particularly in light of the associations between St Augustine’s and Mont-Saint-Michel through Abbot Scolland in this period.107 While hardly identical to the banquet in the Bayeux Embroidery, the Mont-Saint-Michel illumination has several elements in common with it, including a central and focal frontal figure and a clearly indicated kneeling figure on the opposite side of the table. In addition, a carved ivory episcopal comb (Fig. 50), associated with St Albans in the first quarter of the twelfth century, exemplifies the kind of small portable luxury item that traveled easily. At only 8.5 cm tall x 11.5 cm wide (3⅓ by 4 1/12 inches), its carved surface packed with Christological imagery, it could be the very kind of high-level gift that served as a means to transmit new themes, including the composition of the Last Supper staged as an Indication of Judas, visible on its bridge.108 Finally, documentary sources suggest several wall-painting cycles with Passion iconography likely to have included Last Suppers, and at least one of them, the chapel of St Denis described by Goscelin at Wilton Abbey, may be pre-conquest.109 Large-scale monumental imagery like wall paintings would not only serve as yet another possible means of transmission but would also have increased the general currency of the subject and contributed to the recognition of the imagery at play in the Bayeux Embroidery. In short, the Mont-SaintMichel Sacramentary, the St Albans episcopal comb, and documentary references to English wall paintings call into question whether a reliable account of the iconography can ever be based solely on surviving materials. These works suggest that it is not only conceivable that a Last Supper showing the Indication of Judas was available and served as a reference for the Bayeux Embroidery designer’s deft adaptation, but probable. To account for other features of the banqueting scene on the embroidery not present in the sixth-century Gospels, scholars have identified what they see as yet another pictorial source. Dodwell and Clemoes noted the resemblance between the servant on the Bayeux Embroidery and Joseph serving Potiphar and his wife in an illumination from the Old English Hexateuch (Fig. 51),110 made at St Augustine’s, Canterbury and already discussed in several different chapters.111 Both waiters carry the distinctive two-cornered serving cloth New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS M.641, fol. 52v. Alexander, Norman Illumination, 143–5, 238, 240–2. I am grateful to the staff of the Reading Room of The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York for allowing me to consult MS M.641 in the original. 107 Alexander, Norman Illumination, 17–18, 40, 84, 227 and Gameson, “Origin,” 172. See discussion in Chapter 5. 108 Paul Williamson, The Medieval Treasury: The Art of the Middle Ages in the Victoria & Albert Museum (London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1986), Liturgical Comb, A. 27-1977, pp. 110–11. 109 Richard Gem, “Documentary References to Anglo-Saxon Painted Architecture,” in Early Medieval Wall Painting and Painted Sculpture in England, ed. Sharon Cather, David Park, and Paul Williamson (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 1990), 1–16 at 6–9. David Park, “The ‘Lewes Group’ of Wall Painting in Sussex,” ANS 6 (1984): 200–37, identified several examples of Passion cycles in the Lewes group of wall paintings, which would likely include Last Suppers, as suggested (p. 211) by the extant example at St Botoph’s, Hardham (c. 1080–1120) in Sussex. 110 London, British Library MS Cotton Claudius B. iv, fol. 57v. 111 Dodwell and Clemoes, Hexateuch, 72, plate XIII c and d. For its provenance at St Augustine’s, see ibid., 13–16. See also Benjamin C. Withers, The Illustrated Old English Hexateuch, Cotton 105

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in one hand and support a basin in the palm of the other, and these and similarities to details in other scenes on the Bayeux Embroidery led Dodwell and Clemoes to suggest that the Hexateuch and the embroidery both offer “an authentic picture of the social life of the eleventh century.”112 The similarity between the servers would seem to be merely visual, however, since unlike the server Joseph in the Hexateuch, who is a foundational figure in the genealogy of the Hebrew Bible, the servant in the embroidery has no ongoing part in the narrative.113 Arguably, the viewers likely to make such a specific and learned connection between the Hexateuch and the Bayeux Embroidery would be the monks of St Augustine’s. We have traveled some distance from the notion of the Gospels of St Augustine as the single pictorial “source” for the Bayeux Embroidery’s banquet scene, especially since the literature identifies two other pictorial sources in addition. In accounting for the table and central officiant, the position of the servant and the way the servant holds the cloth and bowl, scholars writing on this scene leave little to the imagination! In fact so many and so diverse are the images said to serve as sources, that the possibility of “borrowing” conscientiously from each of them becomes an impossibility. It is clear that the Gospels of St Augustine did not alone determine the image of Odo banqueting; it is also evident that by focusing on sources and copying, scholars have emphasized the patron’s directive process at the expense of the artists’ creative one. Once one dispenses with the overly narrow context imposed by an excessive reliance on the Gospels as the template for the embroidery’s banquet scene, one can also dispense with fruitless psychologizing to explain what Odo is doing there. How then might the celebratory banquet where Odo offers benediction be explained differently? One strategy is to return to the image itself (W48; Plate XV; Fig. 24), where the syllabic presentation of “benedicit” in the inscription uttered by the bishop and the interplay of the drunken diner with the Latin word for drink point to a highly literate designer who cleverly integrated text and image.114 To consider this question further, we will now turn to the inscription over the banqueting scene referring to the bishop.

112

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Claudius B.iv: The Frontier of Seeing and Reading in Anglo-Saxon England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), which has a CD with color images of the entire manuscript. I acknowledge with gratitude the kindness of Julian Harrison, Curator of Manuscripts at the British Library, for allowing me to consult the Hexateuch in the original and to Michael J. Lewis for helping to make this possible. Also discussed from different perspectives in Chapters 3 and 8. Dodwell and Clemoes, Hexateuch, 71. Also see C. R. Dodwell, “L’originalité iconographique de plusieurs illustrations anglo-saxonnes de l’Ancien Testament,” Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale 14 (1971): 319–328 at 325–8, where Dodwell underscores that, in the Hexateuch as well as the Bayeux Embroidery, the artists’ new forms and inventions were inspired by the contemporary world. Note especially p. 327, where he rejects the idea of “une simple copie de quelque iconographie morte et lointaine.” However, see Owen-Crocker, “Brothers,” 121, who suggests that the literate beholder of the scene in the Hexateuch would know that Potiphar’s wife would soon falsely accuse her servant Joseph, and would know that “the implication of the borrowing is that English who wait on Normans can expect no favors or justice.” Gameson, Role of Art, 70–104, on the interaction of image and inscriptions that contextualize the Bayeux Embroidery, esp. 80–1 and 90–3.

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Framing Odo Richard Brilliant noticed that the “agglutination” of letters in some of the inscriptions of the Bayeux Embroidery endow certain scenes with greater importance, because the inscriptions force a longer visual and mental engagement, “a full, reflective stop.” 115 T. A. Heslop also drew attention to this inscription (Plate XV), observing that the letters “break into polychrome” at just this point in the embroidery.116 The two tiers of text over the banquet appear all the more weighted because they have an aural dimension, since their syllabic presentation resembles a chant. Further, the text is accompanied by the fully frontal figure of Odo, whose position diverges from the majority of figures that are angled at three-quarter views.117 Focus on how the inscription makes certain claims on the beholder recalls Meyer Schapiro’s work on the semiotics of visual language. Schapiro observed that a certain kind of scene derives enhanced status by depiction in a composition that involves stasis, frontality, symmetry, and isolation. He calls such scenes “themes of state,” as opposed to action scenes.118 The frontal and dynamically symmetrical theme-of-state composition used for the banquet serves to slow the pace of narrative, enhancing the “full-stop” that Brilliant drew attention to in the inscription. In the overall composition of the Bayeux Embroidery, as observed above, the designer has taken care to alternate and vary scenes of state and scenes of action to create a visually compelling narrative; as the central element in the triptych of three such scenes of state (Fig. 24), the banquet is thus framed in a manner that sets forth its importance. In the three inscriptions on the Bayeux Embroidery that refer to Odo, he is identified once as episcopus and twice as “Odo episcopus” (Figs 24 and 34).119 On the most basic level, the title “bishop” is simply the most common form of reference to Odo in written sources from the period. This is the title used in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle120 and Domesday Book.121 It is also the way Odo is referred to in charters,122 as well as in the Martyrology from St Augustine’s.123 Additional titles could be and occasionally were used: in several 115

116 117

118 119 120

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Richard Brilliant, “The Bayeux Tapestry: A Stripped Narrative for their Eyes and Ears,” Word & Image 7 (1991): 98–126 at 108. Brilliant, “Bayeux Tapestry,” was reprinted in Gameson, Study, 111–37, but all references in this chapter are to the original publication. Heslop, “Spectators of the Bayeux Tapestry,” 228. The only equivalent scene in terms of textual and frontal presentation is the acclamation of King Harold (W31; Plate XIII; Fig. 16). Meyer Schapiro, Words and Pictures: On the Literal and the Symbolic in the Illustration of a Text, ed. Thomas A. Sebeok, Approaches to Semiotics 11 (The Hague: Mouton, 1973), esp. 26, 33, 37–8. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” 95 notes that Odo alone is given a title in the council of war scene. ASC, Swanton, sub D-version entry for 1066, p. 200; sub E-version entry for 1082, p. 214; and sub E-version entry for 1087, pp. 222–4; The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Revised Translation, ed. and trans. Dorothy Whitelock with David Douglas and Susie L. Tucker (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1961), 145, 160, 166–8 [1088], respectively. Domesday Book: A Complete Translation, ed. Ann Williams and G. H. Martin, Alecto Historical Editions (London: Penguin Books, 1992), 1–36, corresponding to fols 1–15v, esp. 14–28 (fols 6–12), where the entries for Kent contain numerous references to the Bishop of Bayeux. Regesta, no. 69–87, 315–55. Also see the useful overview by Julia Barrow, “What Happened to Ecclesiastical Charters in England 1066–c. 1100?” in Myth, Rulership, Church and Charters: Essays in Honour of Nicholas Brooks, ed. eadem and Andrew Wareham (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 229–48. London, British Library MS Cotton Vitellius C. xii, fol. 140v.

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extant charters confirming gifts from Odo to St Augustine’s he is called “Baiocensis episcopus atque Cantie comes” (“the Bishop of Bayeux and Earl of Kent”),124 and Orderic Vitalis, in keeping with the derogatory and worldly tone he generally adopts in speaking about the bishop, sometimes styled him “consul palatinus.”125 Granted its ubiquity in written sources, it is nevertheless worth considering whether Odo’s designation as “bishop” carries particular significance in the context of the Bayeux Embroidery, especially in light of the fact that the titles “king” and “duke” are sometimes omitted from the names to which they might be attached. His presence as bishop and the reference in the inscription to the benediction he offers, for example, rescue the banquet in Hastings from the frivolity of the English gathering at Bosham, even though, as already noted, Odo’s fellow Normans are not so well-behaved themselves. The repetition of Odo’s title emphasizing his ecclesiastical status and the unambiguous way he is shown offering benediction at the banquet undercut Dodwell’s observation that Odo was “much in evidence in the service of Mars but never seen in the service of God.”126 Dodwell here makes a clever adaptation of one of Orderic Vitalis’s later “vilifications,” but it is patently not an accurate description of the way Odo is referred to in the three inscriptions on the Bayeux Embroidery or of his appearance in the banquet scene. For the monastery of St Augustine’s, Canterbury, which he served as a protector and benefactor, the reiteration of this sacerdotal title, and never simply his name, may have served as a way of invoking Odo’s ecclesiastical authority and underlining the religious identity of a man who is shortly to be shown in the midst of a military campaign. Like many earlier churchmen, Odo served a dual role that his later twelfth-century critics, including Orderic, found distasteful.127 Noting the centrality of the title episcopus in the embroidery, Valerie Flint characterized Odo as the quintessential bishop of the “pre-Gregorian world,” wherein an ecclesiastic “complete with his sacramental right to say Mass and to bless, is here central to the happy outcome of a great military cause.”128 Flint here joins other scholars who view the banqueting scene in terms of its larger role within the embroidery, not simply in relation to the copying of pictorial sources or to a public relations campaign on behalf of the bishop. In this analysis of the banqueting scene (Plate XV), I have examined multiple aspects of the feast, including the way it both echoes and contrasts to the earlier gathering of the English in Bosham (Plate II); its complete integration of diverse works of art that may have loosely served as inspiration within the overall aesthetic of the embroidery (Plate XXVIII and Figs 48–51); and the humor with which the scene is realized. Yet a celebratory banquet of the Normans upon landing in England is not sufficient pretext 124 125

126 127

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Regesta, nos. 71, 73, and 85–6, pp. 328, 330–1 and 351–3. Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 264–5. Noted in Bates, “Character and Career of Odo,” p. 7, n. 34; also see Bates, “The Origins of the Justiciarship,” ANS 4 (1982): 1–12 and 167–71 at 9–10. C. R. Dodwell, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the French Secular Epic,” Burlington Magazine 108 (1966): 549–60, at 549. A later anecdote of Odo’s arrest in 1082 as the earl of Kent, and not as the bishop of Bayeux, repeated by Orderic Vitalis (Orderic, EH, vol. 4, 42–3); William of Malmesbury (GR, vol. 1, books ii, 507 and iv, 545); and the Hyde Abbey Chronicle (Liber monasterii de Hyda …, ed. Edward Edwards [London: 1866], 296–7) adds a potential political dimension to the reiteration of Odo’s episcopal title in the embroidery. Valerie J. Flint, “The Bayeux Tapestry, the Bishop and the Laity,” in Bouet, BT, 217–233 at 226. Also Gameson, “Origin,” 178–80.

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for its exalted presentation as the central episode in a triptych of three frontal scenes, and with such a prominent inscription. All these different characteristics, along with the consistent underscoring of Odo’s title of bishop in the inscriptions, lead to the question of the milieu where the embroidery’s design was conceived and where such connections were meaningful. At the monastery of St Augustine’s in Canterbury, we may find an explanation for the importance of the banquet scene.

St Augustine’s and the Monastic Contribution Focus on monastic patronage not only allows us to dispense with a micro-managing patron whose perspective on the Norman Conquest is ill-represented by the pictorial narrative of the embroidery, it also lets us view the artistic endeavor as creative and engaged, rather than one based on transcribing a needy patron’s dictates.129 We will work outwards from the textile to envision how a monastic setting allows us to fully appreciate the embroidery’s design, production, and audience. Mindful of a monastic context, we can entertain more fully the possibility that the banquet’s associations with the Last Supper are meaningful in their own right. Monasteries largely oversaw artistic production in Anglo-Saxon England.130 It is not just that the monasteries trained disciplined and literate craftsmen, for whom visual expression was a form of devotion; it is also that specific arts such as calligraphy were routine pursuits for the monks.131 The monasteries in general and St Augustine’s in particular continued to offer experienced craftsmen and organizational resources in the period when the Bayeux Embroidery was undertaken, as attested by the relative continuity of manuscripts produced there in the decades after the conquest.132 Instructive in this regard is Jonathan Alexander’s beautifully nuanced study of the model-copy relationship in monastic scriptoria. As he readily acknowledges, “There is a good deal of evidence that in this period [650 to about 1100] … the scribe was also the illuminator and since the task of the scribe is to faithfully transcribe the text before him, it might be expected that the same view might be taken of the illuminator’s task.”133 Alexander demonstrates, however, that “facsimile copies” of text and images are in fact exceptional, and that there is considerably more evidence of free variations after the 129

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131 132

133

Scholars have been mindful of the dynamic tension between empowering either the patron or the medieval artist. See Caskey, “Whodunit?,” esp. 197–8; and Walter Cahn, “The Artist as Outlaw and Apparatchik: Freedom and Constraint in the Interpretation of Medieval Art,” in The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century, ed. Stephen K. Scher (Providence: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1969), 1–14. Dodwell, A-S Art, 44–83, esp. 48–61; Barbara Raw, Anglo-Saxon Crucifixion Iconography and the Art of the Monastic Revival, Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 4–66; and Gameson, Role of Art, 247–60. Dodwell, A-S Art, 56. Also see Michael Gullick, “Professional Scribes in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century England,” English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700 7 (1998): 1–25. Francis Wormald, “The Development of English Illumination in the Twelfth Century,” Journal of the British Archaeological Association 7 (1943): 31–49; and Richard Gameson, “English Manuscript Art in the Late Eleventh Century: Canterbury and its Context,” in Eales and Sharpe, Canterbury, 95–144. Jonathan J. G. Alexander, Medieval Illuminators and their Methods of Work (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992), 72.

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original. While most medieval copies “express some form of admiration or emulation” for the exemplar, and copying was certainly regarded as a “positive act,” the result is actually “a complex story of transmission and alteration.”134 Particularly relevant for thinking about the kinds of images required of the embroidery designers are his comments about pictorial cycles of saints’ lives which, though drawing on common recurring episodes (such as feasting, preaching, baptism, healing, and martyrdom), also required the artist to invent new images. As Alexander states, “whether the artist worked with mental or visual moduli, the [hagiographic] cycle had to be newly put together.”135 Surely it is not coincidental that the closest parallel for one of the most remarkable images in the Bayeux Embroidery, the image of the horse falling in battle that tumbles headlong to the ground with hooves in the air (W66; Plate XX; Fig. 33), is found in the Passional of St Augustine’s (Plate XXIX),136 a multi-volume compilation of narrative sources about the saints produced in the aftermath of the conquest, probably about 1100–20.137 The extant volume in the British Library contains readings for October and November, suggesting that there were at least five other volumes, and as many as seven or eight volumes in total.138 The full extent of the enterprise is demonstrated by the fact that in the surviving exemplar, historiated initials of varying degrees of complexity introduce thirteen of the forty-four saints’ lives; Cyril Hart estimates that the complete series “may have comprised as many as 100 historiated initals.”139 For Gameson, the Passional epitomizes the continuing high quality of post-conquest manuscript production at St Augustine’s, which he views as influenced by manuscript illumination from Mont-Saint134 135

136

137

138

139

Ibid., 77 and 82. Ibid., 89. London, British Library MS Arundel 91. Good detail of this initial (fol. 188) and discussion in Bernstein, Mystery, 51–3, figure 22; and see the excellent color enlargement in Maylis Baylé, “Vikings, normandes,” 110, fig. 13. In addition, the connection between the Bayeux Embroidery’s baited bear and the Passional was noted in Wormald, “Style and Design,” in Stenton, BT, 25–36 at 32, and his figures 18 and 19, as discussed in Chapter 3 and illustrated here in Plate XXV. Now see with further bibliography Shirley Ann Brown, “Cognate Imagery: The Bear, Harold and the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 155–60. The manuscript as a whole remains unpublished, but see the substantial discussion in Gameson, “English Manuscript Art,” 128–41 drawing attention to the ambition of the project, its high standards of production, and contrasting it to the contemporaneous Passional from Christ Church: Canterbury, Cathedral Library MS Lit. E. 42. On the Christ Church Passional, now see Richard Gameson, The Earliest Books of Canterbury Cathedral: Manuscripts and Fragments to c. 1200 (London: The Bibliographical Society and The British Library, 2008), Introduction, 4, and cat. no. 22, pp. 227–47. I thank Cressida Williams, Cathedral Archivist at Canterbury, for allowing me to view MS Lit. E. 42 in the original. For more on the St Augustine’s Passional, see Margaret Rickert, Painting in Britain: The Middle Ages (London and Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1965), 50, who first noted a “kinship” with the Bayeux Embroidery; C. M. Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts, 1066–1190, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 3 (London: Harvey Miller, 1975), cat. no. 17, p. 61, who identifies the subjects of the historiated initials and has further bibliography; and Hart, “Bayeux Tapestry,” no. 9, p. 125, and 154–5. Hart, “The Bayeux Tapestry,” 125 mentions seven or eight volumes in the series; Gameson, “English Manuscript Art,” 128 cites a “presumed original seven volumes.” Gameson also draws attention to the other extant volume from the St Augustine’s Passional, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Fell 2, and contrasts the St Augustine’s exemplar to the contemporaneous Passional from Christ Church (Canterbury, Cathedral Library MS Lit. E. 42). Hart, “The Bayeux Tapestry and Schools of Illumination,” 125.

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Michel during the abbacy of Scolland.140 The fitting in of narrative scenes on the Passional letter’s “T” from the life of St Caesarius is so ingenious that, although a similar modulus for the tumbling horses that appear on the embroidery and here may have been used, its creative application here is entirely original (compare Plates XX and XXIX).141 Into the panels and terminal arms of the large initial is an expanded episode of St Caesarius witnessing the human sacrifice of a rider hurling himself from the summit of a mountain in honor of Apollo, with the rider’s horse falling down the vertical of the letter T in the dramatic upended position familiar from the Bayeux Embroidery.142 The kind of collaboration evident among the designers of the manuscript and of the embroidery recalls the studies scholars have undertaken of the paleography of monastic manuscripts undertaken by several hands. For example, addressing the decoration of a manuscript from the monastery of Cluny executed in the second half of the eleventh century by as many as nine different scribes, Jean Leclercq observed From the style of the drawings and the details of embellishment of the manuscript we can form some idea of the psychology of the team of monks working in the scriptorium. We get the impression that “all was carried out as if X … had gradually imposed his style on a director of works anxious to maintain a unity of appearance” of the whole. There is in fact a real harmony in work that resulted from so much joint effort.143

If a monastic setting offers the ideal infrastructure for coordinating the production of the Bayeux Embroidery, St Augustine’s itself offers precedents for this kind of ambitious artistic undertaking. The Old English Hexateuch, referred to earlier in this chapter and frequently in discussing of pre-conquest England (see Fig. 51), was made at St Augustine’s by the mid-eleventh century. This vernacular version of the first six books of the Hebrew Bible was lavishly illustrated by 394 images.144 According to Dodwell, the artists set about the unprecedented task of illustrating the work by reading the Anglo-Saxon text before them and responding to it directly. While not discounting general influences from Roman and Carolingian artistic traditions, Dodwell conclusively established that the artists followed scribal deviations in the Old English text at hand including the “harps” with which the Israelite women rejoice after crossing the Red Sea,145 the “jaw-bone of an ass” Cain uses to slay Abel,146 and the representation of Moses as “horned” when he came down from Mount Sinai, and in doing so created an original iconography.147 140 141

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Gameson, “English Manuscript Art,” 137. Similarities between the Bayeux Embroidery and the Passional extend beyond this motif and include, besides a general sense of inventiveness, the baited bear mentioned above (fol. 47v; Plates V and XXV); nudes (fols 28v, 86, 156, 190, 222); figures wielding swords (fols 107, 161v, 179); winged dragons (fols 26v, 55); two-tiered compositions (fols 47v, 107); bishops (fols 14, 33, 86); a bird “caught” in the letter (fol. 85); references to Mont Saint-Michel (fols 26v–28v); and the designations “Angli” (fol. 126) and “Franci” (148v). The St Caesarius initial in fol. 188 is singled out by Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts, 61. Jean Leclercq, “Otium monasticum as a Context for Artistic Creativity,” in Monasticism and the Arts, ed. Timothy Gregory Verdon (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1984), 63–80 at 72. Dodwell and Clemoes, Hexateuch, esp. 65–73. Dodwell and Clemoes, Hexateuch, 34 and 70. Ibid., 19, 65, and 73; and Meyer Schapiro, “Cain’s Jaw-Bone that Did the First Murder,” Art Bulletin 24 (1942): 205–12; rpt. in Schapiro, Late Antique, Early Christian and Mediaeval Art. Selected Papers 3 (New York: George Brazillier, 1979), 249–65 at 256. Dodwell and Clemoes, Hexateuch, 73, and see n. 2, where they cite Ruth Mellinkoff, The Horned

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It is tempting to associate this kind of literate visual engagement with the text to the metathetic punning Sarah Larratt Keefer found in the Bayeux Embroidery. She connects the embroidered inscription, which states that the soldiers set out from Hastings (W51; Plate XVI; Fig. 26), “de hestenga,” with the Anglo-Saxon word for stallion, or “hengest,” and the accompanying scene in which Duke William is presented with “the most extreme priapic stallion in the Tapestry.”148 Such learned and witty connections complement the reading offered here of the drunken diner playing off the Latin word potum in the inscription, among others.149 Indeed, the associations between the Bayeux Embroidery and images in the Hexateuch made by Dodwell and Clemoes and Owen-Crocker already place the embroidery’s design process in the kind of erudite and multi-lingual milieu readily identifiable with a monastery, where these word associations would be meaningful.150 Positing a monastic environment for the embroidery’s creation leads one to think differently about the process of copying specific models that has been ascribed to the Bayeux Embroidery’s designer. This artist has been confidently portrayed as “sketching” from illuminated manuscripts in Canterbury.151 Yet the notion of the monastic designers of the embroidery earnestly copying one manuscript image and then another goes against what we see, which is the skillful adaptation and creative layering of a Last Supper type of image – or composite borrowing – and against discussions of the way memory was fostered in monastic settings. Is it not likely that skilled monastic craftsmen had an analogous visual repertoire on which to draw, the better to adapt traditional images into the very long pictorial narrative? As Mary Carruthers challenged her modern readers, So I must ask of my readers a considerable effort of imagination … to conceive of memory not only as “rote,” the ability to reproduce something … but as the matrix of a reminiscing cogitation, shuffling and collating “things” stored in a random-access memory scheme or set of schemes – a memory architecture and a library built up during one’s lifetime with the express intention that it be used inventively.152

148 149

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Moses in Medieval Art and Thought (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970), but dispute her conclusions regarding the impact of liturgical drama. See Mellinkoff, Horned Moses, esp. 1–36. Wilson, BT, W 51–2 and p. 188. Sarah Larratt Keefer, “Body Language: A Graphic Commentary by the Horses of the Bayeux Tapestry” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 93–108 at 101. Also see Martin K. Foys, Virtually Anglo-Saxon: Old Media, New Media, and Early Medieval Studies in the Late Age of Print, 79-109 (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2007), 86–8 for a discussion of false endings with which the narrative teases the beholder, citing the scene where Harold returns to England from the continent, where the inscription says “reversus est” (W27; Fig. 14). As Foys points out, the inscription could be seen as not merely descriptive, but an ironic comment on how Harold’s fortunes, which were previously on the ascent, decline irreversibly from this point on. Keefer, “Body Language,” 104 would also have the image of William’s impressive stallion derive from the representation of Esau’s horse (not so impressive) in the Hexateuch, in order to underscore that William, like Esau, had his inheritance stolen from him. Lewis, “Identity and Status,” 116, and Messent, Embroiderers’ Story, 23 and 89. Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400–1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 4. And see her analysis, 213–20, of Baudri of Bourgueil’s poem for Adela of Blois, which she views as “a type of picturing poem closely associated with monastic orthopraxis,” and not a description of the Bayeux Embroidery that it loosely recalls. See the discussion of Baudri’s poem in Chapter 1.

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Likewise a monastic context brings the image showing Harold enthroned while a remarkable star passes overhead (W32–3; Fig. 17), which appears on the cover of the book, into clearer focus. While universally interpreted as foreshadowing the conquest of the English, its various components, including border motifs, inscriptions, and architectural setting can be best understood in relation to the literate monks, who were both its creators and its first and primary viewers. The “stella” depicted in the upper border, visible between 14 April and 8 June of the year 1066, was known to them as the star “comet” (cometa), and commented upon in monastic chronicles.153 Positing a monastic audience at St Augustine’s for the embroidery also allows one to interpret the “star” and the figure of the tilting, twisting Harold as foreshadowing his later punishment by God for the sin of perjury and the calamity of the Battle of Hastings, in which William was merely God’s instrument, and to situate them both in relation to the prophesies of England’s doom in the Vita Ædwardi. Moreover, the architecture in which the scene of Harold is set, sometimes used as evidence to determine what the palace of Westminster looked like in this era, can be appreciated for its role in the story, where it serves to isolate King Harold, and shows him with only a steward for company. It is also noteworthy that sightings of the comet also feature in the Eadwine Psalter, a later manuscript produced in Canterbury, suggesting that it was a particular local preoccupation.154 Finally, this broad picture of the monastic share in the production of the Bayeux Embroidery compels one to ask whether the scene of a banquet with a prominent inscription offering benediction on the eve of a bloody battle might allude to something more (W48; Plate XV; Fig. 24). The literature on the banquet, not unlike the scholarship on the embroidery as a whole, veers between an emphasis on either the feast’s joyful exuberance or its Eucharistic connotations. While for Dodwell it is “a great feast portrayed with the affectionate detail of any chanson [de geste]” in keeping with his thesis of the textile as a secular work of art, Rampton views it as a “sacred ritual intended to persuade its viewers of the cosmic legitimacy of the invasion of 1066.”155 Why can it not be both? What has traditionally been described as a celebratory banquet of the Normans upon landing in England, a reading that is rewarded by the humor and merriment with which the scene is depicted, can also been seen as its reverse: a last meal together before the terrible battle.156 The Last Supper, after all, is the moment when Christ foretold his death, the final communal meal before his arrest and the violence that followed. And indeed, from this point in the embroidery the scenes lead relentlessly to the Battle of Hastings with the dead bodies, many dismembered, spilling over into the borders. This reading, emphasizing the banquet as the last moment of tranquility before the battle, takes into account the extended transition that the feasting scenes provide between the preparations for war and the battle itself. A focus on the visual and psychological 153

154 155 156

ASC D, sub 1066. Simon Keynes, “The Comet in the Eadwine Psalter,” in The Eadwine Psalter: Text, Image and Monastic Culture in Twelfth-Century Canterbury, ed. Margaret Gibson, T. A. Heslop, and Richard W. Pfaff (London: The Modern Humanities Research Association in conjunction with Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), 157–64. Ibid. Another sighting of Halley’s comet, possibly from 1145, is pictured in the Eadwine Psalter (Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R. 17.1, fol. 10r), from Canterbury. Dodwell, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the French Secular Epic,” 57; and Rampton, “Significance of the Banquet,” 42, respectively. Raw, Anglo-Saxon Crucifixion, 162–78 on the idea of reversal in Anglo-Saxon redemption theology, in which Christ’s death is treated simultaneously as a new creation.

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pause provided by the banquet, which draws inspiration from the use of feasting scenes to build dramatic momentum in the hagiographic literature, is also encouraged visually by the full-stop inscription and theme-of-state presentation of the scene. Moreover, the understanding of the banquet as a key transitional moment is strengthened by the fact that, as residents of the setting in which the Bayeux Embroidery was designed, the monks of the community of St Augustine’s were undoubtedly the first viewers of the textile.157 The monks played an important role in burying the dead and remembering them in their prayers,158 as is poignantly recalled by the entry in the Martyrology of St Augustine’s for October 14, the day of the Battle of Hastings, noting the deaths of “quamplurimi fratres nostri” [so many of our brothers].159 Taking its monastic designers and beholders into account allows us to recognize in the banquet not only a celebration but also a last commemorative pause before the battle, which accounts for its distinctive presentation and its larger role in the narrative. One might object that the collaborative monastic patronage argued here simply replaces one patron – Odo – with an anonymous monastic designer. But this is not the case; monasteries like St Augustine’s in Canterbury offered large numbers of literate personnel capable of conceiving of the narrative of the Bayeux Embroidery, contributing to its complexity, and subsequently appreciating it. Moreover, the scriptorium of St Augustine’s oversaw ambitious team-driven works such as the Old English Hexateuch before the Norman Conquest and the multi-volume Passional after it. There may have been a chief designer for the textile, but he would have been supported by programmatic thinking about the meaning of the Norman Conquest within the monastic community that led to its creation, by skilled artists, literate beholders, and by well-trained artisans and embroiderers, who were accustomed to coordinating with one another. The artistic result is the harmony that comes from so much joint effort, as Leclercq emphasized; it is the shared “memory architecture” evoked by Carruthers.160 Surely the collaborative artistic environment and internal patronage offered by the monastery of St Augustine’s offers a better explanation for why the Bayeux Embroidery unfolds the way it does and looks the way it does than a singular patron-client who dictates self-glorifying story twists based on pictorial models he himself selects, and yet who ultimately fails to champion the Norman cause for which he was a leading proponent in its narrative. Unquestionably the banquet in the Bayeux Embroidery accords an important role to Odo (Plate XV). The feast offers the first of the three representations of Odo, all favorable (Figs 24 and 34); he is the only Norman bishop identified by name; and he appears in a quasi-sacramental pose.161 But this does not allow us to leap to the conclusions prevalent in the secondary literature that at Odo’s instigation, the Bayeux Embroidery showed the bishop planning the invasion of England, offering benediction as Christ, and singleSee the argument that the embroidery was hung in the choir of St Augustine’s in Chapter 11. The Liber Vitae of the New Minster and Hyde Abbey, Winchester: BL Stowe 944, ed. Simon Keynes, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile 26 (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1966), 49–64, including mention of St Augustine’s, 60. 159 London: British Library MS Cotton Vitellius C. xii, fol. 145v. See Chapter 4. 160 Leclercq, “Otium monasticum,” 72. 161 William of Poitiers (WP, GG, vol. 2, 124–5) mentions that two Norman bishops, Odo of Bayeux and Geoffrey of Coutances, accompanied the expedition from Normandy and “prepared for combat with prayers”; and (ibid., 150–1) states that Geoffrey addressed the Normans before Duke William’s coronation. 157

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handedly winning the Battle of Hastings. In fact, all of the aspects of this image used to identify Odo as its patron can be explained with reference to St Augustine’s. Bishop Odo’s appearance at the banquet in fact serves the larger purposes of this post-conquest monastic community to acknowledge a transformative event of the recent past, to honor a distinguished benefactor, and to combine creatively both traditional sources and contemporary insight in an engaging as well as poignant pictorial narrative. Once the images are investigated on their own terms, and dated models of patronage and pictorial sources are discarded, the active role of the monastic community in which, by whom, and for whom the embroidery was conceived and designed can begin to be properly acknowledged.

Chapter 7 The Fables in the Borders Stephen D. White Conflicting Interpretations of Eight Fables Just as the central frieze of the Bayeux Embroidery depicts Harold dux Anglorum and his “milites” leaving a second-story banquet hall at Bosham, boarding ship, and sailing out to sea, the lower border shows the first in an uninterrupted series of Aesopian fables, the last of which appears just as the English reach land and are captured by a lord called Guy (W4-8; Figs 2–4).1 Previous writers on the embroidery are generally agreed that the 1

References to written versions of fables are to the following editions, preceded by the abbreviations used for them below: Avianus: “The Fables of Avianus,” ed. and trans. J. Wright Duff and Arnold M. Duff, in eidem, Minor Latin Poets, Loeb Classics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1934), 667–749; Ademar: Ademaro di Chabannes, Favole, ed. and Italian trans. Ferruccio Bertini and Paolo Gatti, in Favolisti Latini medievali e humanistici, ed. Ferrucio Bertini, vol. 3, Università de Genova, Facoltà di lettere, Publicazioni del Dipartimento di Archeologia, Filologia Classica e loro Traditioni, Nuova serie, 118 (Genoa: Università di Genova, 1988); Ademar T: Der illustrierte lateinische Aesop in der Handschrift des Ademar, ed. Georg Thiele (Leiden: A. W. Sijthoff, 1905); Babrius: “Aesopic Fables of Babrius in Iambic Verse,” in Babrius and Phaedrus, ed. and trans. Ben Edwin Perry, Loeb Classics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), 2–187; Chambry: Ésope, Fables [unattributed Greek fables], ed. and trans. Émile Chambry, 2nd ed. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1927); Marie B: Marie de France, Les fables, ed. and French trans. Charles Brucker (Louvain: Peeters, 1991); Marie S: Marie de France, Fables, ed. and English trans. Harriet Spiegel (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1987); Odo: Odo of Cheriton, “Fabulae,” in Hervieux, Fabulistes, vol. 4, 173–248; Phaedrus: “The Aesopic Fables of Phaedrus the Freedman of Augustus,” in Babrius and Phaedrus, 190–369; Zander: Phaedrus solutus vel Phaedri fabulae novae XXX [reconstructions of thirty fables by Phaedrus], ed. Carolus Zander (Lund: C.W. K. Gleerup, 1921); Phaedrus Appendix: “Perrotti’s Appendix,” in Babrius and Phaedrus, ed. Perry, 372–417; Romulus Mon: “Monachi Romulae et Extravagantes Fabulae, etc.,” ed. Hervieux, Fabulistes, vol. 2, 262–90; Romulus Nilantii [RN]: “Romuli Nilantii Fabulae,” in Hervieux, Fabulistes, vol. 2, 513–48; Romulus Vulgaris [RV]: “Romuli Vulgaris fabularum libri quatuor,” in Hervieux, Fabulistes, vol. 2, 195–233; Romulus Anglicus [RA]: “Romuli Anglici Cunctis Exortae Fabulae, etc.,” in Hervieux, Fabulistes, vol. 2, 564–652; Romulus Vulgaris T [RVT]: Der lateinische Äsop des Romulus und die ProsaFassungen des Phädrus, ed. Georg Thiele (Heidelberg: C. Winter’s Universitätsbuchhandlung, 1910); Hexametrical Romulus [HR]: “Ex Romulus Nilantii Ortae,” in Hervieux, Fabulistes, vol. 2, 653–713. Abbreviated references to two standard indices of fables are as follows: Adrados: Francisco Rodríguez Adrados, History of the Graeco-Latin Fable, vol. 3, Inventory and Documentation of the Graeco-Latin Fable, Mnemosyne Supplements 236 (Leiden: Brill, 2003); Perry: Ben Edwin Perry,

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series includes eight fables, referred to here as the “canonical” eight to distinguish them from other fables also represented but rarely if ever noticed.2 They can be summarized

2

“Appendix: An Analytical Survey of Greek and Latin Fables in the Aesopic Tradition,” in Babrius and Phaedrus, ed. Perry, 419–610. English translations of Latin or Greek versions of the fables noted in this chapter can be found in Aesop: Aesop’s Fables, trans. Laura Gibbs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) and, with identical numbering of fables, at Laura Gibbs’s invaluable searchable online site, http://mythfolklore.net/aesopica/index.htm (accessed 16 August 2014), which also includes cross-references to Perry’s “Appendix” (see above), and the original-language versions of most the fable collections cited above. Both Adrados and Gibbs’s site provide references to written versions to fables in addition to the ones cited here. Since no uniform system of naming fables exists, I have devised one that identifies all or most of each fable’s characters. For identifications of the fables: Jeanne Abraham and A[uguste] Letienne, “Les bordures de la Tapisserie-Broderie de Bayeux,” Normannia 2 (1929): 483–518 at 504 with references to older work on fables at 511–12; Hélène Chefneux, “Les fables dans la tapisserie de Bayeux,” Romania 60 (1934): 1–35, 153–94 at 5–22; Léon Hermann, “Apologues et anecdotes dans la tapisserie de Bayeux,” Romania 65 (1939): 371–82; Jean Adhémar, Influences antiques dans l’art du moyen âge français: Recherches sur les sources et les thèmes d’inspiration, Studies of the Warburg Institute 7 (London: Warburg Institute, 1939), 229–30; Adolph Goldschmidt, An Early Manuscript of the Aesop Fables of Avianus and Related Manuscripts (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1947), 48; Simone Bertrand, “Étude sur les bordures de la Tapisserie de Bayeux,” Bulletin de la Société des sciences, arts et belles-lettres de Bayeux 24 (1961): 115–24; Francis Wormald, “Style and Design,” in Stenton, BT, 25–36 at 28; Charles H. Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” in Stenton, BT, 174–88 at 176; Léon Herrmann, Les fables antiques de la broderie de Bayeux, Collection Latomus 69 (Bruxelles: Berchem, 1964); C. R. Dodwell, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the French Secular Epic,” Burlington Magazine 108 (1966): 549–60; rpt. in Gameson, Study, 47–62; H. E. J. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 10 (1988): 49–65; rpt. in Gameson, Study, 93–110 at 100; Richard David Wissolik, “The Saxon Statement: Code in the Bayeux Tapestry,” Annuale Medievale 19 (1979): 69–97; idem, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Its English Connection and Peripheral Narrative,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Duquesne University 1988, 95–134; Bernstein, Mystery, 128–35; W. Brundson Yapp, “Animals in Medieval Art: The Bayeux Tapestry as an Example,” Journal of Medieval History 13 (1987): 15–73, esp. 33–40; J. Bard McNulty, The Narrative Art of the Bayeux Tapestry Master (New York: AMS Press, 1989), 27–34; idem, Visual Meaning in the Bayeux Tapestry: Problems and Solutions in Picturing History, Studies in French Civilization 28 (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003), 30–53; Carola Hicks, “The Borders of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in England in the Eleventh Century: Proceedings of the 1990 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. eadem (Stamford: Paul Watkins Publishing, 1992), 251–65; eadem, Animals in Early Medieval Art (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993), 251–70; Daniel Terkla, “Cut on the Norman Bias: Fabulous Borders and Visual Glosses on the Bayeux Tapestry,” Word & Image 11 (1995): 264–90; Suzanne Lewis, The Rhetoric of Power in the Bayeux Tapestry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 59–73; Francisco Rodríguez Adrados, History of the Graeco-Latin Fable, 3 vols, Mnemosyne Supplements 201, 207, 236 (Leiden: Brill, 1999–2003), vol. 1: Introduction and From the Origins to the Hellenistic Age, 1999, trans. Leslie A. Ray, updated by the author and Gert-Jan van Dijk, 120–32; vol. 2, The Fable during the Roman Empire and in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2000), trans. Leslie A. Ray, updated by the author and Gert-Jan van Dijk, 655–6; Emily Albu, The Normans in their Histories: Propaganda, Myth and Subversion (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2001), 90–105; Michael Lapidge and Jill Mann, “Reconstructing the Anglo-Latin Aesop: The Literary Tradition of the ‘Hexametrical Romulus,’” in Latin Culture in the Eleventh Century: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Medieval Latin Studies, ed. Michael W. Herren, C. J. McDonough, and Ross G. Arthur, 2 vols (Turnhout: Brepols, 2002), vol. 2, 1–35 at 18–20; Gail Ivy Berlin, “The Fables of the Bayeux Tapestry: An Anglo-Saxon Perspective,” in Unlocking the Wordhord: Anglo-Saxon Studies in Memory of Edward B. Irving, Jr., ed. Mark C. Amodio and Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2003), 191–216;

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as follows. In Fox and Crow – which reappears first in the lower border, after Harold meets with William, duke of the Normans (W18; Fig. 9), and then in the upper one, as he returns to England (W27–8; Fig. 14) – the crow found a piece of cheese, but the fox tricked him into dropping it and ate it himself (W4; Plate III; Fig. 2).3 The wolf in Wolf and Lamb met the lamb drinking from a stream and made false charges against him, which the lamb rebutted. But the wolf ate him anyway (W4; Plate III; Fig. 2).4 Bitch and Puppies – which the lower border shows again, shortly before the Battle of Hastings (W59–60; Fig. 29) – tells how one bitch loaned her lair to another who was pregnant and later allowed her to keep it until her puppies were older. When she returned a second time, the other bitch drove her away (W4–5; Plate III; Fig. 2).5 In Wolf and Crane – which is repeated in the upper border, as Harold returns to England (W27; Fig. 14) – the wolf promised a reward to the crane for extracting a bone from his throat. After she removed the bone and claimed her reward, however, he denied her (W5; Plate III; Fig. 2).6 In Lion King, the lion swore not to eat meat, but later devoured his subjects one by one (W5–6; Fig. 3).7 In Frog, Mouse, and Kite, the frog agreed to help the mouse cross a river – and then drowned him by tying one of his legs to one of hers and dragging him down to the river bottom. When the dead mouse floated to the surface, a kite swooped down to grab his corpse, picked up the live frog as well, and ate both.8 (W6; Fig. 3) In Goat Who Sang – presented in three consecutive images, of which the first reappears in the upper border before the Battle of Hastings (W59–60; Fig. 30) – the wolf captured the goat and gave her permission to pray for them both before eating her. But the goat sang out for help, and hunters who heard her tracked down the wolf with their dogs and killed him (W6–7; Fig. 4).9 Finally, in Lion’s Share a lion, a cow, a she-goat, and a sheep made an agreement to hunt together and share the spoils equally. After they killed a stag, however, the lion claimed and seized all four quarters of it (W7–8; Fig. 4).10

3 4 5 6 7

8 9

10

Joaquin Rubio Tovar, “Las fábulas del Tapiz de Bayeux,” Revista de poética medieval 11 (2003): 93–125; George Beech, Was the Bayeux Embroidery Made in France?: The Case for Saint-Florentof-Saumur (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 49–59; Michael John Lewis, The Archaeological Authority of the Bayeux Tapestry, BAR British Series 404 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd., 2005), 96–7 and note 630. Fox and Crow: Phaedrus l.13; RV l.14; RN 1.14; HR 12; Ademar 15; Marie 13; Adrados H 126, M 138; Perry 124; Gibbs 104. Wolf and Lamb: Phaedrus 1.1; RV 1.2; RN 1.2; HR 2; Ademar 3; Marie 2; Adrados H 160, M 247; Perry 155; Gibbs 130. Bitch and Puppies: Phaedrus 1.19; RV 1.9; RN 1.10; HR 8; Ademar 54; Marie 8; Adrados H 94, M 83; Perry 480; Gibbs 116. Wolf and Crane: Phaedrus 1.8; RV 1.8; RN 1.9; HR 7; Ademar 64; Adrados H 161, M 254; Perry 156; Gibbs 46. Lion King and Wolf King: Phaedrus 4.14 (lion); RV 3.20 (lion); RN 2.20 (lion); HR 34 (wolf ); Ademar 49; Marie 29 (wolf ); Adrados not-H 180, M 217; Perry 514; Gibbs 16. Chefneux, “Fables,” 9, identifies Wolf King. Yapp, “Animals,” 38 identifies the beast as a lion, but believes the image stands for Wolf King, in which the lion king summons his subjects, who then accept the wolf as their king on condition that he swear to give up eating meat. Frog, Mouse, Kite: Zander 1; RV 1.3; RN 1.3; HR 3; Ademar 4; Marie 3; Adrados H 302, M 312; Perry 384; Gibbs 139. Goat Who Sang: Marie 94; RA 72; Adrados M 104; Perry 680. Lion’s Share: Phaedrus 1.5; RV 1.6; RN 1.7; Ademar 9; Marie 11. See also Adrados, M 464; Perry 339; Gibbs 14.

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Although the identification of these eight fables is relatively uncontroversial, their interpretation has been the subject of a three-sided debate about their relationship to the pictorial narrative in the central zone of the embroidery, which, the participants all agree, was commissioned by Odo, bishop of Bayeux (1048/1049–1097) and earl of Kent (c. 1067–1088) to celebrate his half-brother William I’s conquest of England.11 In 1957, Francis Wormald spoke for many others when he insisted that the canonical eight fables have no connection of any kind to this narrative and, instead, “serve a purely decorative purpose and cannot be related to the main scenes.”12 In 1966, however, C. R. Dodwell argued that the fables must have been intended to reinforce what he construed as the embroidery’s pro-Norman narrative, because they are about “animals who, like Harold, break their word and their faith, animals who, like Harold, seek what does not belong to them, animals who, like Harold at Hastings, will ultimately offer brute resistance.”13 In the same year, a different purpose was imputed to the fables by an anonymous correspondent to The Times of London, who argued that because almost all of them reflected badly on William and the Normans and not Harold and the English, the embroidery’s creators – whom the writer took to be English – must have added them to undercut what was essentially a pro-Norman narrative and to give “secret indications of what the conquered thought and felt” about their tragic defeat, hint at the Normans’ “flattery, treachery and tyranny,” and suggest that Harold took his oath to William “under duress.”14 Since 1966, Dodwell’s pro-Norman interpretation of the fables has been reformulated several times with greater subtlety, but always with the assumption that the embroidery celebrated the conquest of England by telling a story about its origins that resembled the early written narratives of the Norman authors William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers, who represented the Norman duke as favorably as possible, his claim to the English kingdom as unimpeachably legitimate, and Harold as a traitor, usurper, and tyrant.15 Although the embroidery, most commentators believe, depicted Harold more favorably than Norman writers did,16 it told essentially the same story: that Harold was sent by King 11

12

13

14 15

16

For recent work on the embroidery’s fables, see Shirley Ann Brown, “The Bayeux Tapestry; A Critical Analysis of Publications, 1988–1999,” in Bouet, BT, 27–47 at 40–1; for earlier literature, see eadem, The Bayeux Tapestry: History and Bibliography (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1988), Subject Index s.v. fables (184). For the argument that Odo of Bayeux was the Bayeux Embroidery’s patron and for critiques of that argument, see Chapter 3 and also Chapter 4 and the literature cited in note 8 Wormald, “Style and Design,” 27. See also Goldschmidt, Early Manuscript, 48; Yapp, “Animals,” 34–40; Hicks, “Borders of the Bayeux Tapestry,” 254–7; Grape, BT, 42; and Lapidge and Mann, “Anglo-Latin Aesop,” 18 and n. 47. Laura Ashe, Fiction and History in England, 1066–1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 47 considers the fables “the spectre of what cannot be symbolized, reasoned and explained … on the margins of the real.” Dodwell, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 60–1. “Looking for Secrets in the Bayeux Tapestry,” The Times of London, 15 April 1966, 14. Terkla, “Norman Bias”; McNulty, Narrative Art, 27–34; idem, Visual Meaning, 30–6; Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation” of the Bayeux Tapestry, ANS 10 (1988), 49–65, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 93–110 at 99–100; S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 59–73. For these versions of the so-called Norman story, see WJ, GND, vol. 2, 158–69; and WP, GG, 68–79, 100–43. For modern works stating that the embroidery told this story, see Chapter 2, notes 58 and 60. See, e.g., Stenton, “Historical Background,” 17; Dodwell, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 55–6; Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” 64; Wilson, BT, 16; S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 131; and, above all, Pierre Bouet, “Is the Bayeux Tapestry Pro-English?” in Bouet, BT, 197–216. McNulty, Visual Meaning, 64–6 denies that Harold is shown favorably.

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Edward to Normandy to confirm the king’s previous appointment of Duke William as his heir; that Harold did so by taking an oath to the duke; and that when he took the throne after Edward’s death in early January, 1066, he was usurping it and violating his oath.17 Meanwhile, the English interpretation of the fables sketched out by the Times correspondent was developed by others into an elaborate theory to explain why an embroidery created to celebrate the Norman conquest of England included fables providing an “English” perspective on it.18 The theory is grounded in part on the well-substantiated assumption endorsed in this book that the embroidery was created at the monastery of St Augustine’s, Canterbury. In addition, however, it depends on the totally conjectural claim that its designer was not only English but hostile to Norman rule, doubtful of William I’s legitimacy and certain of Harold II’s, and determined to insinuate his “pro-English” political outlook – an outlook that supposedly entailed support for Harold as well – into the embroidery while still satisfying his Norman patron Odo’s demand that it carry a Norman message about the conquest to Norman viewers predisposed to receive it. To achieve this goal, the first step was supposedly to deviate surreptitiously from the Norman narrative the embroidery presented overtly by hinting in several scenes at an alternative narrative. This story, according to the proponents of this interpretation, would have been known to the Canterbury-based designer because part of it was explicitly presented in the Historia Novorum by Eadmer of Canterbury, who undercut William’s claim to the English throne,19 while the rest of it was supposedly articulated in the Vita Ædwardi, which could be interpreted as showing that while on his deathbed, King Edward granted the kingdom to Harold,20 and stated more precisely in the E-version of the Anglo-Saxon 17

18

19

20

For St Augustine’s, see Wormald, “Style and Design”; N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34 and 191–9, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 63–92 at 74–8; Richard Gameson, “The Origin, Art, and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study 162–74; Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 15–24 and works cited at p. 20, n. 92; and above, Chapter 3. Bernstein, Mystery, 128–35; Richard D. Wissolik, “The Saxon Statement,” 69–97; idem, “Duke William’s Messengers: An ‘Insoluble, Reverse-Order’ Scene of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Medium Ævum 51 (1979): 102–7; Bernard S. Bachrach, “Some Observations on the Bayeux Tapestry,” Cithara 27 (1987): 5–28 at 6–7; Berlin, “Fables”; Albu, Normans, 91–9. Eadmer, HN, 5–8; Eadmer, HRE, 5–9. On resemblances between this passage and the embroidery’s pictorial narrative of Harold’s journey, see Freeman, NC, 3, 455–6; Christopher N. L. Brooke, “Historical Writing in England between 850 and 1150,” in La storiographia altomedievale, 2 vols, Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull’alto Medioevo, vol. 17 (Spoleto, 1970), 223–47 at 241; Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 72, 73–4; Richard D. Wissolik, “The Monk Eadmer as Historian of the Norman Succession: Körner and Freeman Examined,” American Benedictine Review 30 (1979): 32–43 at 35, 42; idem, “Duke William’s Messengers”; and Bernstein, Mystery, 117, which argues that both narratives “place doubt on whether Edward sent Harold [to duke William to confirm the king’s previous appointment of the duke as his heir] and whether [Harold’s] oath [to William] was taken voluntarily.” See also Stephen Baxter, “Edward the Confessor and the Succession Question,” in Mortimer, Edward, 77–118 at 108. According to George Garnett, The Norman Conquest: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 9, Eadmer’s account “satirized [William’s claim], by reinterpreting many familiar details and blending them into an account which was even more improbable than the official story.” Baxter, “Edward the Confessor,” 106–9 argues that the account of why Harold went to Normandy presented by Eadmer and pictured, supposedly, on the the embroidery is the most plausible. Vita Ædwardi, 122–5, which, along with the embroidery’s deathbed scene, is interpreted differently in Ashe, Fiction and History, 44–5.

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Chronicle, according to which “Harold succeeded to the kingdom of England, just as the king granted it him – and also men chose him for it – and was blessed as king on Twelfth Night.”21 In the same scenario, the designer’s next step would have been to add the canonical fables, most if not all of which could be read as favorable to Harold and unfavorable to William. As formulated by David J. Bernstein, this method of interpreting the fables took account of their “variety and ambiguity” and the possibility that several of them provided “an elusive ironic commentary on the main narrative,” though always from a Norman and/or English perspective.22 Bernstein’s nuanced approach to the fables, however, gave way to a simpler argument: that the designer’s inclusion of them “produced a covert Anglo-Saxon commentary on the events leading to [the] subjugation [of the embroidery’s producers].”23 As Bernstein and others convincingly showed, the case that the fables reinforced either the embroidery’s overt Norman message or its covert English one is far more plausible than the case for dismissing their images as purely decorative and essentially meaningless.24 Nevertheless, both interpretations not only depend on the contestable assumption that the embroidery presented at least one politically partisan narrative, which conveyed a politically partisan message to an audience made up of like-minded viewers eager to receive it; they also oversimplify the problem of understanding the fables and relating them to the main narrative by treating them as mere accessories to it. As a result, by projecting onto the fables the moral polarization supposedly found in the main frieze between the treacherous Harold and the righteous William or between the deceitful William and the honorable Harold, both the Norman and English interpretations reduce the fables to simple, moralizing stories about bad beasts betraying or otherwise mistreating good ones. However, since Laura Ashe has now made a strong case that the embroidery’s narrative is “purposefully lacking in overt political bias” or “nationalistic moral colouring,”25 and there are also good grounds for interpreting it as intriguingly noncommittal even about what led to the Norman takeover, the argument that it carried a Norman message now rests entirely on the widely held but highly speculative hypothesis already mentioned about the alleged political motives of its putative Norman patron, Odo of Bayeux. The alternative view that the embroidery carried a Norman message overtly and an English one surreptitiously depends not only on the same contestable hypothesis about the identity of 21

22 23

24

25

ASC Swanton, E 1066, 197. On the resemblances between these passages and scenes on the embroidery, see Bernstein, Mystery, 117-21. According to Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 73, the embroidery’s scene of Edward on his deathbed (W30) “is illustrating the same scene that the [author of the Vita Ædwardi] describes.” On the interpretation of this scene, see also Chapters 2, 3, and 9. Bernstein, Mystery, 135. S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 67, calls the fables “an ideological battleground” between pro-Norman and pro-English interpretations of the narrative. Berlin, “Fables,” 191. The claim that the fables are purely decorative is convincingly rebutted in Bernstein, Mystery, 128–35; McNulty, Narrative Art, 2, 3, 27–51; idem, Visual Meaning, 23–36, all of which convincingly identify significant connections between other border imagery and the main narrative, as do Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “The Bayeux ‘Tapestry: Invisible Seams and Visible Boundaries,” Anglo-Saxon England 31 (2002): 257–73; eadem, “The Bayeux Tapestry: The Voice from the Border,” in Space, Text and Margin in Medieval Manuscripts, ed. Sarah Larratt Keefer and Rolf H. Bremmer (Paris: Peeters, 2007), 235–58; and eadem, “Squawk Talk: Commentary by Birds in the Bayeux Tapestry?” Anglo-Saxon England 34 (2005): 237–54. Ashe, Fiction and History, 38.

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its patron and his reasons for, in essence, hiring the monks of St Augustine’s to produce it, but also on the purely speculative presupposition that this monastic community was a clandestine hotbed of resistance to Norman rule and a center of support for Harold II’s lost cause. Such a notion is questionable at best. In this period, St Augustine’s, led by an abbot from Mont-Saint-Michel, was actively recruiting Norman monks and benefactors, recovering lost revenues, planning the building of a new abbey church and the translation of the community’s relics into it, carrying on disputes with Christ Church, Canterbury, promoting St Augustine’s status as the apostle to the English and, overall, reinventing itself in ways that ensured its survival as a major religious institution into the post-conquest era.26 Lying behind all of these views about the embroidery’s narrative or narratives and its hypostasized message or messages is the presupposition that no one could or would have created a pictorial narrative of the Norman conquest that was not simply non-partisan, but critical, at least obliquely, of all the people involved in it and of the secular world they inhabited. By setting aside conventional views about the embroidery’s patronage, design, narrative, and message, this chapter reconsiders the relationship between the fables in the borders and the main narrative. It starts from the assumption that the monks of St Augustine’s created the embroidery for their own purposes and at their own initiative during the abbacy of Scolland (c. 1070–1087), when the abbey’s political outlook was defined by its own practical interests and its status as an ancient community of monks, who were obligated to provide intercessory prayers for both English people and Normans while separating themselves sharply from the secular world.27 Far from reinforcing any politically partisan message about the conquest by celebrating one side and disparaging the other, the fable-images provided additional layers of meaning to the narrative by providing ironic, satirical, and sometimes bitingly humorous commentary on all participants in the action in the main frieze and, more generally, on the political world of kings, lords, milites, and clerici in which the main narrative was set. Initially considering the relationship between the embroidery’s fable-images and their written counterparts in collections of fables, the present chapter argues that they should be understood not as illustrations of specific written fables, but as “emblems” designed to evoke the active knowledge of many different fables that the embroidery’s educated monastic viewers would have had. With this background knowledge, these viewers would have recognized not only the canonical eight fables, but over a dozen more which have been largely ignored in embroidery scholarship. Given the importance of fables in medieval education and their status as what Jan Ziolkowski calls “common property” among the educated, the embroidery’s audience at St Augustine’s would certainly have included many who had the knowledge necessary to interpret the fable-images flexibly and in multiple ways, based in part on how they were constructed and situated in the embroidery’s borders and in relation to the action in the main frieze.28 In certain cases, these viewers may well have drawn one-to-one parallels between the beasts in individual fables and characters in the 26 27 28

Ann Williams, “The Anglo-Norman Abbey,” in Gem, St A, 50–66; Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 15–24 and the literature cited at p. 21, n. 95. For documentation on the monks’ prayers for characters in the embroidery’s narrative, see Chapter 4. Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750–1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 22.

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main narrative. A close reading of written versions of the fables selected for inclusion on the embroidery suggests that they would also have identified the beasts with the main social types represented in the central zone – namely kings, magnates, and milites – and the action of the fables with recurrent practices of people playing these roles, such as making and breaking agreements, offering specious legal justifications for self-interested actions, and, above all, engaging in many different forms of predation. If so, then when the embroidery’s fable-images were interpreted from the perspective of monks standing apart from the political affairs depicted on the main frieze, they would have been vehicles for sharply satirizing the secular world in which the story on the main frieze is set.

Fable-Images as Emblems In considering the relationship between the fables depicted in the embroidery’s borders and their written counterparts, one should note that by initially presenting all eight canonical fables as a series, and by depicting them in conjunction with the section of the main frieze in which Harold and his men sail from Bosham to an unknown destination, the designer made them easily visible and also signaled their importance. The borders have shown nothing like them previously, and the simplicity of the action in the main frieze makes them hard to miss, particularly since the first fable in the series, Fox and Crow, is so neatly aligned with an important point of transition above, as Harold and his men leave a banqueting hall and board ship. The last two, Goat Who Sang and Lion’s Share, are clearly positioned in relation to another major transition point, as Harold and his men reach land and are apprehended by Guy and his men. Moreover, two repetitions of canonical fables – the third appearance of Fox and Crow and second of Wolf and Crane – round out the narrative of Harold’s travels, situated as they are in association with Harold’s landing in England and his riding to meet King Edward. Except for Goat Who Sang, all the canonical fables have been traced back to ones written between 43 and 70 C.E. by a Roman author calling himself Phaedrus, whose five books of short narrative poems were based in part upon what he identified as “material” from Aesop and were accompanied in the earliest manuscript by morals in the promythium or the epimythium or by a concluding endomythium in which a character in the fable articulated the moral.29 Although Greek fables by Babrius (probably second century C.E.) were known in medieval Europe, and Latin ones by Avianus (fourth to fifth century C.E.) were very widely read, it was Phaedrus’ fables that “laid the foundations of the medieval beast fable tradition.”30 These are not known to have been copied after the ninth century.31 By then, however, prose versions of many of them, along with additional fables of different origins, had already been circulating for an indeterminate 29

30 31

Edward Champlin, “Phaedrus the Fabulous,” Journal of Roman Studies 95 (2005): 97–123, re-evaluates his identity, redates his fables, and demonstrates their satirical purpose. On manuscripts of Phaedrus’ fables, see Adrados, History, vol. 1, 120–32 and vol. 2, 121–74; John Henderson, “Phaedrus’ ‘Fables’: The Original Corpus,” Mnemosyne 4th ser. 52 (1999): 308–29; Jill Mann, From Aesop to Reynard: Beast Literature in Medieval Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 2–8. Mann, From Aesop, 4. On the most important of these manuscripts, the ninth-century Codex Pithoeanus, now New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library MS M. 906, see Chauncey E. Finch, “The Morgan Manuscript of Phaedrus,” American Journal of Philology 92 (1971): 301–7.

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period in manuscripts of a collection that modern scholars identify as “Romulus Vulgaris.”32 Prose versions of Phaedrus’ fables also survive in a ninth/tenth-century manuscript from Fleury, and in an illustrated fable collection by Ademar of Chabannes (d. 1034), a monk of Saint-Cybard of Angoulême.33 References to manuscripts of “Esopus” (i.e., Romulus) in ninth- and tenth-century library catalogues indicate that versions of Romulus Vulgaris and possibly a similar fable collection were widely dispersed in continental monasteries at this time.34 Related to Romulus Vulgaris is another collection of prose fables called “Romulus Nilantii.” Manuscripts of this work provided the basis for certain collections of fables in Latin verse such the one that Michael Lapidge and Jill Mann call the Hexametrical Romulus, the manuscript of which was written in late-eleventh-century England;35 and for the Isopet that Marie de France wrote in “romance” at the end of the twelfth century, also in England.36 It is easy to say that the Bayeux Embroidery represented fables found in written form in the fable collections just mentioned, but far more difficult to specify the sense in which it did so or to explain how, precisely, the images were related to their written counterparts. When in 1935, Hélène Chefneux tried to identify the collection that the embroidery’s designer had used by determining which extant manuscript included all the fables he depicted, she tacitly assumed that he had illustrated specific written versions from a single manuscript.37 Following her discovery that all eight canonical fables (plus a ninth that she arguably misidentified as Swallow and Birds) could be found only in Marie de France’s collection, which Marie claimed to have translated from an English version that “King Alfred” had translated from Aesop’s Greek, it was widely assumed that as Wormald put it, “the collection used by the makers of the Tapestry must have been similar to [this] English collection,” though whether it contained English or Latin fables or whether there were two collections, one English and one Latin, has been disputed.38 But Chefneux’s conclusion that all but one of the fables were derived from a single manuscript collection took no account of the twin possibilities that the embroidery depicted additional fables not found in Marie’s collection and that its designer’s knowledge of fables did not come from only a single fable collection or entirely from reading written fables.39 The hypothesis that the designer’s main source 32 33

34

35

36 37

38

39

On Romulus Vulgaris see Mann, From Aesop, 7–8; Georg Thiele, “Einleitung,” in RV T, x-ccxxviii-cxcix. Ademar, Ademar T. For plates of the full set of illustrations, see Ademar T (Leyden, University Library MS Vossianus Latinus, Oct. 15.II, fols 35f–43r ); for commentary see Danielle GaboritChopin, “Les dessins d’Adémar de Chabannes,” Bulletin archéologique du Comité de travaux historiques et scientifiques n.s. 3 (1967): 163–255 at 178–86 ; Goldschmidt, Early Manuscript, 35–43. See Max Manitius, Handschriften antiker Autoren in mittelalterlichn Bibliothekskatalogen, ed. Karl Manitius, Zentral-blatt für Bibliothekswesen 67 (Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1935), s.v. Avianus, Esopus, Phedrus. On the Hexametrical Romulus and its possible relationship to the embroidery’s fables, see Lapidge and Mann, “Anglo-Latin Aesop”; Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” 99 and n. 23; Berlin, “Fables,” 195–6. See Marie B and Marie S. Chefneux, “Fables,” 22–35, 153–91. Wormald, “Style and Design,” 27. On the likelihood that the designer knew a lost Middle English fable collection possibly resembling the Hexametrical Romulus, see Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” 99; Lapidge and Mann, “Anglo-Latin Aesop,” 18–25. In ibid., 23, Lapidge and Mann write that “a common source [stood] between the Romulus

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and possibly his only one was an English fable collection remains generally accepted, however, partly because it tallies with the well-founded view that he worked at St Augustine’s, which, according to Lapidge and Mann, probably possessed “an illustrated manuscript of beast fables,”40 and partly because the hypothesis squares with both the conjectural claim that he was English and knew no non-insular fable collections and the general presumption that medieval images had specific textual sources. If this hypothesis is correct, then the embroidery’s fable-images were essentially signs for these sources or “remembered texts,” as one writer calls them, and could even have evoked particular details uniquely described in these particular texts without depicting them.41 Since the designer’s hypostasized source collection is assumed to have been lost, the embroidery’s fables have been interpreted essentially as illustrations of their textual counterparts in one or the other of the two fable collections identified at one time or another as closest to the designer’s true source, namely Marie de France’s fables and the Hexametrical Romulus, both of which, as already noted, may have been derived from an Anglo-Latin version of Romulus Nilantii.42 However, the study of the initial images of the eight canonical fables and the repeated images of four of them reveals several obstacles to interpreting them as illustrations of specific “remembered texts.”43 To begin with, none of them is connected with any particular written version of the fable it represents. Usually, they show scenes that any version of the fable could have inspired. Since all versions of Fox and Crow tell how the crow dropped the cheese and the fox grabbed it, there is nothing distinctive about showing it in mid-air (W4; Plate III; Fig. 2). Wolf and Lamb always begins with the wolf coming to a stream where the lamb is drinking and then drinking upstream from him; the embroidery shows the two beasts in precisely this position (W4; Plate III; Fig. 2). In Wolf and Crane, the main action is the crane extracting a bone stuck in the wolf ’s throat, which is what the first image of this fable shows (W5; Plate III; Fig. 2). Mouse, Frog, and Kite concludes with the kite swooping down to the river to grab and devour the dead mouse, one of whose feet is tied to a foot of the frog. The embroidery shows a bird flying almost straight down to water, with wings extended to seize the mouse, and depicts the frog nearby (W6; Fig. 3). Each of the three component images of Goat Who Sang corresponds to an essential element of the fable-narrative, as the embroidery shows: (1) the wolf and goat facing each other (2) the goat singing out for help and (3) two hunters and four dogs chasing the wolf (W6–7; Fig. 4). In addition, the designer’s obvious preference for dynamic fable-images over static ones of the sort that often accompany written fables in Ademar’s illustrated fable collection sometimes led him to represent fables with scenes that written versions

40 41

42

43

Nilantii and the later derivatives (the Hexametrical Romulus, the Tapestry, Marie).” Adrados, History, vol. 2, 655–6 identifies an “Anglo-Latin Romulus” as “the fundamental source” of the embroidery’s fables but considers RV and Ademar as additional sources. However, Ziolkowski, Talking Animals, 30, provides a starting-point for re-thinking the question of “sources” by pointing out that “fables passed readily back and forth between oral and written circulation.” Lapidge and Mann, “Anglo-Latin Aesop,” 19. See Berlin, “Fables,” 199. The canonical fables are interpreted by reference to Marie’s written versions in Dodwell, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 60–1 and Terkla, “Norman Bias,” 269–75. Berlin, “Fables” reads the canonical fables in the light of written versions in HR. Berlin, “Fables,” 194.

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suggest, but do not specifically describe.44 In contrast to the image of Wolf and Crane in Ademar’s manuscript, where the crane holds in her beak the bone she has just extracted from the wolf ’s throat, the embroidery’s first image of the fable shows her with her beak in the wolf ’s mouth (W5; Plate III; Figs 2, 3).45 Whereas the image of Lion’s Share in the manuscript clearly illustrates its final scene by showing the lion, his three hunting companions, and a quartered stag’s body between them, the embroidery’s image of the fable is unique in showing all four animals pursuing the stag (W7–8; Fig. 4).46 In at least one case, moreover, the embroidery’s representation of a fable suggests that the designer knew it in two different variants and intentionally alluded to both simultaneously. Giving the lion in Lion King a lion’s tail but not a lion’s mane was a way of representing this fable and also its variant, Wolf King (W7–8; Fig. 3).47 Furthermore, at least three images showing a canonical fable or part of one simultaneously represent a different fable entirely. Since a monkey, who figures prominently in Lion King and Wolf King, is also a central character in Lion, Fox, and Monkey, the image can be identified with this fable as well. What is sometimes interpreted as an image of the lion of the Lion’s Share capturing the stag that he and his companions pursue in the previous image can also stand for Old Lion, who just before dying was mauled by a boar, gored by a bull, and kicked in the head by a donkey. This is because the animal grappling with the lion doesn’t look like a stag and may well be overcoming the lion.48 The same image can also be taken for Lion, Fox, and Stag, in which an old lion ate almost all of a stag induced to come to his lair by the fox, who took for himself the stag’s brains – his lord’s favorite part.49 (W8; Fig. 4) Similarly, since several fables tell of a wolf and either a goat or a kid, the first scene of Goat Who Sang has been interpreted as: (1) a variant of Lion and Goat on a Cliff, in which the lion could not persuade a goat to descend so that he could eat her;50 (2) Goat at the Spring, where the goat chose to descend to drink at a spring, where her own reflection so captivated her that the wolf caught and devoured her;51 and (3) Wolf and Kid, whom the wolf failed to trick by disguising his voice because the kid’s mother had already warned the kid about him (W6–7; Fig. 4).52 Another fable-image shows a scene that its written counterparts do not describe. Whereas written versions of Bitch and Puppies end with the original occupant of the lair being driven away by the 44

45

46 47

48 49 50 51

52

On the compositional structure of the fable-images in Ademar’s collection, see Goldschmidt, Early Manuscript, 38–9. On standard forms of variation in fables, see G.-J. Van Dijk, “Transmission and Reception of the Classical Fable Tradition,” in Favolisti latini medievali et humanistici, general ed. Ferrucio Bertini, Pubblicazioni del Departimento di archeologia, filologia classica e loro traditioni 13 (Genoa: Università di Genova, 2005), 9–31 at 22. Ademar T, fol. 203v, plate 18. Ibid., fol. 196r, Plate III. Since the beast can be identified as a wolf (Chefneux, “Fables,” 9–13) or a lion (Yapp, “Animals,” 38), the entire image can stand for Lion King or for Wolf King, in which the wolf succeeded the lion as king on condition that he swear to give up eating meat. Old Lion: Phaedrus 1.21; Ademar 16; Marie B 14, Marie S 14; Adrados not-H 201, M 217; Perry 481; Gibbs 422. Lion, Fox, and Stag: Babrius 95; Adrados not-H 95; Perry 336; Gibbs 600. Goat on Cliff: Avianus 26 (lion for wolf ); Adrados H 162, M 219; Perry 157; Gibbs 100. Goat at the Spring: Romulus Mon 32; Adrados M 190; Perry 695; Gibbs 266. Wolf and Kid: Ademar 61; Marie B 89, Marie S 90; Adrados not-H 121, M 184; Perry 572; Gibbs 301.

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one currently there with her puppies, the fable’s first occurrence on the embroidery shows only the puppies facing her with bared teeth (W4–5; Plate III; Fig. 2). Later images on the embroidery of Fox and Crow, Bitch and Puppies, Wolf and Crane, and Goat Who Sang differ from the initial ones in ways suggesting that each fable might have an alternative ending to the one suggested by written versions. The first image of Fox and Crow shows the cheese in mid-air, about to drop into the fox’s open mouth (W4; Plate III; Fig. 2); and in the second, the fox has it in his mouth (W18; Fig. 9). However, the third, where the positions of fox and crow are reversed, shows the crow holding the cheese in his beak, while the fox looks at it with his mouth open, too far away to catch it if the crow were to drop it (W27–8; Fig. 14). In the second image of Wolf and Crane, the wolf is no longer lying passively and submitting to the extraction of the bone but standing up and pulling with his jaws on the beak of the crane, who is opening one wing and evidently trying to fly away (W27; Fig. 14). The second image of Bitch and Puppies arguably makes the puppies look less aggressive than the first by showing them backed into the lair with their mouths closed, rather than stretching their necks forward and jamming themselves together to form a phalanx kind of puppy-wall; and it represents the bitch facing them as more threatening by making her larger, relative to the puppies, than she is in the first image (W4–5, W57–8; Figs 2, 29). That these images were deliberately designed to hint at alternative outcomes of the fables they represented is all the more probable because neither they nor any other fable-images on the embroidery were accompanied by morals, as virtually all fables in manuscript collections were. Moreover, if, as Mann has written, “It is only when the narrative is complete that the final shape of the story can be seen to yield a meaning that can be transferred to the human sphere,” then doubt about the fable’s outcome would have rendered its meaning uncertain as well.53 Whether or not attaching a specific moral to a written version of a fable necessarily imposed a single interpretation of it on readers, certainly an image of a fable without an accompanying moral presented to viewers of the embroidery an interpretive challenge that readers of written versions of fables did not face, as well as more freedom to construe the fable in ways that would have been significantly shaped by how the images were constructed and where they were positioned in the borders.54 The designer’s practice of representing a fable with an image of a scene that written versions never described and his use of a single fable-image or a pair of them to suggest two or more entirely different fables posed different but comparably difficult challenges to viewers, while giving them more room for interpretation than they would have had when viewing illustrations of “remembered texts” of fables accompanied by morals.

Fables as “Common Property” The embroidery’s use of such subtle, ambiguous, and original imagery to represent the canonical eight fables and the others already mentioned not only suggests that its designer and at least some of its viewers had a broad and deep knowledge of fables and 53

54

Mann, From Aesop, 34–5. According to Edward Wheatley, Mastering Aesop: Medieval Education, Chaucer and his Followers (Gainesville, FL; University Press of Florida, 2000), 5, “Function is determined partly by external circumstances: texts brought to bear upon the fable, political situations in which it was recounted, and the degree to which it communicated morality within a particular context.”

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a strong sense of their importance; it also confirms that the embroidery was made for “close viewing” by an audience that included what Richard Gameson has called “the informed, visually sophisticated beholder who may have had opportunities to see the work repeatedly and to scrutinise every detail.”55 Indeed, if the embroidery was displayed, as argued in Chapters 1, 3, 6 and 11, at the abbey of St Augustine’s, Canterbury, there would surely have been informed, visually sophisticated beholders of the embroidery who could have studied it closely. In this context, the fable-images are best understood as “emblems” of fables, analogous to the emblems of biblical stories analyzed by Meyer Schapiro. In the latter – which Schapiro also calls “tokens” to distinguish them from mere illustrations – “one or two figures and some attribute or accessory object, seen together, will evoke for the instructed viewer the whole chain of actions [in the story] linked … with the few pictured elements.” By evoking this sequence of actions and thus the story it constitutes, the emblem also evokes the story’s “fuller meaning,” which is sometimes so “rich in connotations and symbolized values” that recovering it requires not simply reading the story to which the emblem corresponds, but also studying multiple traditions of telling and interpreting it.56 If the embroidery’s fable-images emblemized fables, rather than illustrating specific written versions of them, we can not only account for their ambiguities and the subtlety and sophistication of their construction; we can also understand why any given fable-image might well have been open to multiple interpretations by viewers knowledgeable about fables and aware of their importance. To impute such knowledge to the embroidery’s educated viewers as well as to its designer is entirely plausible, since St Augustine’s was precisely the kind of community where a thorough knowledge of fables must have flourished. By the time of the embroidery’s creation in the late eleventh century, prose summaries of fables in Romulus Vulgaris had long been part of the school curriculum on the continent; and Romulus Nilantii had almost certainly served the same function in England.57 Evidently, fables still served the educational purposes alluded to by Quintilian in a famous passage from his treatise on the education of the orator: Let pupils learn … to paraphrase Aesopic fables … in plain and unexcessive language; and thereafter, to achieve the same simplicity of style in writing. [Let them learn] to resolve metrical verses [into prose], next, to convey its meaning, while changing the words, and then to reshape it more freely in a paraphrase. In this, it is permitted both to abridge and elaborate so long as the poet’s meaning remains intact. This task is difficult, even for the best-trained teachers [consummatis professoribus]; and the person who handles it well will be qualified to learn anything.58 55

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Gameson, “Origin,” 160. On “the Canterbury ecclesiastical and related community” as an audience for the embroidery, see Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Reading the Bayeux Tapestry through Canterbury Eyes,” in Anglo-Saxons: Studies Presented to Cyril Roy Hart, ed. Simon Keynes and Alfred P. Smyth (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006), 243–65 at 237; and Chapter 6. Meyer Schapiro, “Words and Pictures: On the Literal and the Symbolic in the Illustration of a Text,” in idem, Words, Script, and Pictures: The Semiotics of Visual Language (New York: George Braziller, 1996), 13. On fables in the school curriculum, see: Ziolkowski, Talking Animals, 21–32; Lapidge and Mann, “Anglo-Latin Aesop,” 1; Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, 34–8, 52–96; Mann, From Aesop, 5–14. Institutio oratoria, ed. M. Winterbottom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), 1.9.2–3; trans. in Ziolokowski, Talking Animals, 21.

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The educational value of writing and rewriting fables was also emphasized in Priscian’s Praeexercitamina, a fifth-century Latin translation of Hermogenes’ Greek treatise on grammar that became an important text for medieval education.59 According to Aaron Wright, moreover, “Alcuin in the eighth century and Remigius in the ninth are both thought to have prepared fable books for their pupils’ use.”60 In the eleventh century, the continuing importance of fables in medieval schools is clear in the Ars Lectoria of Aimericus, which cites passages from the fables of “Aesop” – that is, Romulus – and Avianus,61 and in Egbert of Liège’s “Fecunda Ratis,” which shows, Mann writes, “the possibilities for adapting traditional fable material, and even adding new fables to the Aesopic corpus, while remaining true to the fundamental principles of the form.”62 There is a twelfth-century example of writing and rewriting the same fable in Alexander Neckham’s thirty-two-line, ten-line, and four-line versions of Eagle and Tortoise.63 From this evidence, Ziolkowski concludes that the practice of retelling fables as a school exercise would have taught pupils to produce “occasional variations or innovations upon old ones and encouraged everyone who received an education to view fable as common property.”64 At the same time, the experience of doing so, as Edward Wheatley points out, would have enabled individual pupils to make fables their own.65 Educated monastic viewers of the embroidery would therefore have had the necessary knowledge, not just to recognize and interpret the images of the canonical eight fables and the extra fables about the lion and wolf already mentioned, but to perceive additional fable-images that embroidery scholarship has rarely if ever noted.66 Some of these images are difficult to identify, both because the fables evoked are relatively obscure and because the designer used the same techniques in constructing them as he did in representing earlier fables: creating a single image or pair of images to represent more than one fable; including only one or two of the characters in the image; and substituting different beasts and birds for the ones usually included in written fables. Inferring from a given image the designer’s intent to represent a particular fable – or any fable at all – depends partly on 59

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Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, 34–7; Aaron E. Wright, “Introduction,” in The Fables of ‘Walter of England’, ed. idem, Toronto Medieval Latin Texts 25 (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1997), 1–13 at 1; Priscian, Praeexercitamina Prisciani grammatica ex Hermogene versa, ed. K. Halm, in Rhetores Latini minores (Leipzig: Teubner, 1863), 551–60, trans. in Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, 35–6. Wright, “Introduction,” 1 and the literature cited in note 2. On Aesop and Avianus, see Aimericus, Ars Lectoria (3) (finis), ed. Harry F. Reijnders, Vivarium 10 (1972): 124–76 at 170; and Conrad of Hirsau, “Dialogus super auctores,” in Accessus ad Auctores, Bernard d’Utrecht, Conrad d’Hirsau, Dialogus Super Auctores, rev. ed. R. B. C. Huygens (Leiden: Brill, 1970), 71–131 at 84–8. According to Mann, From Aesop, 9, citing Egbert of Liège, Egberts von Lüttich Fecunda Ratis, ed. Ernst Voigt (Halle: Saale, 1889). The fables presented in this text “clearly belong to the Phaedran-Romulan tradition, but Egbert often makes his own variations on the traditional theme.” Hervieux, Les Fabulistes, vol. 3, 463–4, on which see Ziolkowski, Talking Animals, 22; Mann, From Aesop, 11. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals, 22; see also Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, 17. Ibid., 6. Several of the fables noted below are also identified in Hermann, “Apologues”; idem, Fables; and Wissolik, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 84–133; Adrados, History, vol. 3, Index Locorum sub Bayeux Tapestry, at p. 1101.

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knowing the fable in question and attributing knowledge of it to him and to at least some of the embroidery’s audience, and partly on assuming that as with emblems of biblical stories, there were well-understood conventions about representing fables with ambiguous and/or fragmentary images. Thus, there is no way of proving that the embroidery was intended to show the fables noted below, particularly to those who dismiss the embroidery’s fables as unimportant. Nevertheless, the case for identifying these fables is strengthened by the fact that they all share certain themes and motifs with the canonical ones, even though they usually play them out in different ways. Like those fables, almost all of the ones depicted in the lower and upper borders during the remainder of Harold’s journey and after William’s army lands at Pevensey are about powerful beasts preying on weaker ones. But contrary to what most of their images suggest, these fables are about predators who either fail to catch their prey or else suffer some other kind of reversal.67 From the point in the main frieze where Duke William’s messengers meet with Guy to the one where Harold returns to England, the borders depict at least four fables for the first time. The extended scene showing a man shooting birds with a sling (W10–11; Plate IV; Fig. 6) clearly stands for Farmer and Birds, in which the farmer – who had previously failed to shoot birds preparing to eat the seed he was sowing because they flew away as soon as they heard him ask the boy accompanying him for a “sling” – later succeeded in doing so by instructing the boy to give him the sling when he asked for “bread.”68 Next, the lower border depicts Stag at the Spring, a fable in which a stag drinking at a spring was so entranced with his antlers’ reflection that hunting dogs almost caught him unawares. Although he outran them, he was later captured and killed after his antlers got caught in some tree branches (W11–12; Plate VI; Fig. 7).69 In the next panel, the image of a naked man with an erection moving with open arms toward a woman covering her face with one hand and her nakedness with the other evokes the fable of Man and his Daughter, in which a man raped his own daughter, who charged him with this terrible crime and said she would rather have given herself to a hundred men than to him (W13; Fig. 7).70 Later, as Harold addresses an enthroned William in his palace, the upper border shows Jackdaw and Peacocks (W17; Plate VII; Fig. 8), in which a jackdaw dressed in peacock feathers and tried to join the peacocks, who tore the feathers off. When he went back to the jackdaws, they expelled him.71 Next, Wolf and Sheep Who Kissed tells of a 67

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Fables identified by others with some plausibility include: Dog, Hare, and Goatherd: W41 (Perry 331; Gibbs 396; Hermann, Fables, no. 29); Donkey and Mule: W59 (Perry 263; Gibbs 64; Hermann, Fables, 39), which could also stand for Donkey, Horse, and War (Perry 357; Gibbs 410). Farmer and Birds: Babrius 47; Adrados not-H 69; Perry 298; Gibbs 295; Ademar T, “Einleitung,” 36; Goldschmidt, An Early Manuscript, 48; Wissolik, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 102–3; Terkla, “Norman Bias,” 275–6. Wormald, “Style and Design,” 28 called the image a “genre scene,” while Chefneux, “Fables,” 18–21; Hermann, “Apologues,” no. 9 and others identified it as Swallow and Birds, for which see Ademar 20; HR 16; Marie B 83, Marie S 84; Adrados M 61; Perry 39; Gibbs 487; Hermann, “Apologues,” no. 9; Id., Fables, 12; Lapidge and Mann, “Anglo-Latin Aesop,” 20–1. Stag at Spring: Phaedrus 1.12; RV 2.7; Ademar 41; HR 28; Marie 84; Adrados H 76, M 112; Perry 75; Gibbs 459; Hermann, Fables, 14. Man and Daughter: Adrados H 304; Perry 379; Gibbs 136. Jackdaw and Peacocks: Phaedrus 1.3; RV 2.16; Ademar 26; Marie 68; Adrados not-H 77, M 180; Perry 472; Gibbs 326; Hermann, ”Apologues,” no. 12; idem, Fables, no. 16. Whereas Ademar T, 26, fol. 198v, plate 8, shows the jackdaw surrounded by peacocks, the embroidery’s image of what appear to be two peacocks neatly parallels the scene in the main frieze where William

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wolf who hoped to eat a wary sheep, cited a royal decree that beasts should kiss when they met, and then lay on his back and closed his eyes in order to persuade her to kiss him. The sheep almost fell for the trick, but escaped at the last minute (W17; Fig. 8).72 The image of a man with an axe in the lower border can stand for Axe and Trees, in which a man who had made an axe-head asked the trees for wood to make a handle. When they gave him a fine piece of wood, he fitted it to the axe-head and cut many of them down (W17; Plate VII; Fig. 8).73 Other fables appear for the first time at another major transition point in the narrative, as Duke William’s army lands at Pevensey and several of his milites hurry to Hastings to seize food.74 Here, the upper border shows, from left to right, a wolf; a heavily restored figure of what is probably a ram; a stag; and a lion recoiling from a rooster, who can also be identified as a goose (W43–4; Fig. 22). The last two creatures evoke Lion, Rooster, and Donkey, in which a rooster (a bird proverbially feared by lions) scared away a lion stalking a donkey, who, inspired by the rooster’s example, chased the lion, who then turned around and ate him.75 The four beasts and one bird can also evoke a variant of Lion’s Share called Lion, Wolf, and Fox.76 In this version, after the wolf caught a ram, the fox a stag, and the lion a goose, the lion asked the wolf to propose a division of the spoils. When the wolf declared that each of them should eat what he caught, the lion savaged him and called for a new division by the fox, who announced that the lion should eat whatever he wanted (W43–4; Fig. 22). Later, the upper border’s image of a nude man holding a Danish axe and another, unidentified object, while beckoning a nude woman (W52; Plate XVII; Fig. 26) can be identified with two fables dealing with illicit sex, the first of which, Widow and Her Soldier Lover, was particularly well-known, since it was based on a story from the Satyricon of Petronius and re-told as a fable by Marie de France and Lafontaine, among others. In the fable, a widow who would not leave the grave of her dead husband took up with a soldier who was stationed at the cemetery to prevent bodies of crucified criminals from being taken away by their relatives. When one of the bodies disappeared, the widow gave the soldier her husband’s corpse to be nailed up in its place, so that he would not be punished for allowing it to be taken.77 The next image in the upper border,

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and Harold confront each other, as Owen-Crocker, “Squawk Talk,” 248–9 explains without identifying the border image as a fable. Wolf and Sheep Kissing: Adrados M 261; Perry 636. The embroidery’s designer adroitly changed the story by showing the wolf and the sheep with the former using his paw to touch the sheep’s hoof. Axe and Trees: Babrius 142; Ademar 41; HR 31; Perry 302; Gibbs 41; Hermann, “Apologues,” no. 15; idem, Fables, no. 17. By considering the nude man in the lower border together with the figures of Ælfgyva and the clericus in the main frieze (W17), the trio can be interpreted as Man, his Wife, and the Boy Outside, in which the man found his wife outside with a boy and invited him inside so that he could join them in a threesome. See Babrius 116; Gibbs 574; Perry 350. On the significance of these fables in relation to the main frieze’s depiction of the Battle of Hastings and preparations for it, see Chapter 10. Lion, Rooster, Donkey: Chambry 269; Adrados H 203; Perry 82; Gibbs 235. Lion, Wolf, and Fox: Odo 20; Gibbs 15; Perry 149. Widow and Her Soldier Lover: Phaedrus Appendix 15; RN 2.13; Marie 25; Adrados H 299, M 478; Perry 543; Gibbs 577; Hermann, “Apologues,” no. 23; idem, Fables, no. 31; Wissolik, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 123–4. For the story, see Robert E. Colton, “The Story of the Widow of Ephesus in Petronius and La Fontaine,” The Classical Journal 71 (1975): 35–52 and the literature cited in p. 35, note 1.

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of a nude man with a moustache about to embrace a nude woman, evokes Young Man and Prostitute, in which a prostitute mendaciously told a young man that she loved him above all others, to which he replied that her words pleased him, though he didn’t believe them (W53; Plate XVII; Fig. 26).78 Immediately afterwards, the image of a grazing donkey (W53; Plate XVII; Fig. 27; for a similar image, see W55; Fig. 28) can be identified with Old Man and Donkey, in which the man heard an invading army approach and urged his donkey to flee. But after the man told him that the conquerors were unlikely to increase the weight of the pack he carried, the donkey resumed his grazing.79 When the donkey is considered together with the wolf stalking him in the next panel, the image can be identified with two different fables (W53; Plate XVII; Fig. 27; see also W55; Fig. 28). In Wolf and Lame Donkey, the donkey persuaded the wolf who was stalking him to extract a thorn from his hoof before eating him, but once the wolf had removed it, the donkey kicked him in the head and escaped.80 In Wolf and Donkey on Trial, the wolf encountered the donkey and proposed that they should hold a trial in order to determine whether his own sins were worse than the donkey’s, in which case he would let him go free, or whether the donkey’s were worse, in which case he would eat him. After the wolf confessed to many horrible crimes and the donkey to a trivial sin for which he had already been severely punished, the wolf denounced the donkey for having committed the vilest of crimes and devoured him.81 Next, the lower border shows Eagle, Hare, and Sparrow (W54; Plate XVII; Fig. 27), in which a hare, captured by an eagle, was about to be devoured when a passing sparrow began taunting the hare so vehemently that she failed to notice a hawk swooping down to catch her. Though the hare lamented his own death, he was overjoyed that the sparrow’s would be just as horrible.82 The same image can stand for Eagle, Hare, and Dung Beetle, in which the hare took refuge with the dung beetle, whose hospitality the eagle violated by devouring his guest. The dung beetle then took his revenge on the eagle.83 Later, the lower border’s image of a predator identified as a fox with a bird in his mouth (W59; Fig. 30) stands for Leopard and Partridge – a variant of Fox and Partridge – in which the leopard caught the partridge by tricking her into closing her eyes so that she would be even more beautiful, but then lost her when she tricked him into opening his mouth and releasing her.84 The very next image represents Fox and Rooster, in which the fox tried to 78

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Young Man and Prostitute: Phaedrus Appendix 29; Adrados not-H 217, M 284; Perry 255; Gibbs 254; Hermann, “Apologues,” no. 24; idem, Fables, no. 32. On the way in which this fable, along with Widow and Soldier, provides satirical commentary on the debauchery and weakness of the English, see Chapter 10. Donkey and Old Man: Phaedrus 1.15; Adrados not-H 50; Perry 476; Gibbs 11; Hermann, Fables, no. 35. Wolf and Lame Donkey: Babrius 122; HR 25; Adrados H 198, M 221; Perry 187; Gibbs 312; Hermann, Fables, no. 33. Wolf and Donkey on Trial: Perry 452; Wissolik, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 124–5. Sparrow and Hare: Phaedrus 1.9; Ademar 57; Adrados not-H 258, M 239; Perry 473; Gibbs 142; Hermann, “Apologues,” 25. On this image as an example of how the borders show “pursuit and flight” once Duke William “decides to go after Harold,” see McNulty, Narrative Art, 27. Eagle and Dung Beetle: Adrados H 3; Perry 3; Gibbs 153; “Looking for Secrets,” (as in n. 14 above). Fox and Partridge: Ademar 30; Adrados not-H 260, M 348; Perry 562; Gibbs 148. Owen-Crocker, “Squawk Talk,” 247 identifies the predator as a fox. This fable-image and the next one have also been identified as Cats, Rooster, and Fox (Phaedrus Appendix 18; Perry 546; Gibbs 489), in

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trick the rooster into coming down from a tree so that he could catch him, whereupon the rooster tricked the fox so that he was caught by a dog who devoured him (W59; Fig. 30).85 This is the last fable shown in the lower border, which is thereafter filled, aside from some French archers, with corpses, severed heads, and limbs falling from the main frieze, along with weapons and several dead horses (W61–73). In the final upper one, the image of a fawn – who is threatened on either side by birds of prey and from below by an axe, while William’s men kill Harold’s bodyguards in the main frieze (W70; Plate XXI; Fig. 35) – can stand for Fawn and Lion and for Lion, Bear, Fox, and Fawn. In the first fable, a fawn saw a lion in a fury and feared the worst for all the other beasts, since his conduct had been intolerable even before he lost his senses.86 In the second, after the lion and the bear wore each other out by fighting over which of them would eat the fawn, the fox carried her off and devoured her.87

The Fables and the Main Narrative If the embroidery had included only a small, diverse assortment of fable-images scattered randomly through the borders, there might be a case for interpreting them as ‘purely decorative’ and having no bearing on the main frieze. But since it presents a thematically integrated set of over two dozen fables in the borders, within only two clearly demarcated sections – one showing Harold’s journey from England and back and the other William’s preparations to fight him in England – the case for dismissing the fables as meaningless collapses. Certain fable-images were clearly constructed to resonate with the main narrative, and as the preceding summaries show, virtually all the fables depicted – like the main narrative itself – deal with predation, which is their unifying theme.88 Moreover, because fables were universally known as fictions about beasts that taught truths about humans by suggesting parallels between the two, the most plausible way of explaining the embroidery’s depiction of fables so similar in terms of theme to its main narrative is that viewers were intended to draw parallels between the former and the latter.89

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which the rooster used cats as his litter-bearers, despite the warnings of the fox, who predicted correctly that they would betray him and treat him as plunder. The same image has also been identified with Cat and Rooster (Chambry 12; Perry 16; Gibbs 129), in which the cat captured the rooster, charged him with wrongs that the rooster was able to justify, and ate him anyway. Fox and Rooster: Marie 60; Gibbs 149; Perry 252. See Donald Yates, “Chanticleer’s Latin Ancestors,” Chaucer Review 18 (1983): 116–26. Fawn and Lion: Babrius 90; Adrados not-H. 184; Gibbs 13; Perry 341. Lion, Bear, Fox, and Fawn: Adrados H 152; Perry 147; Gibbs 62. Given the fawn’s position between two birds of prey, one might also see this trio as standing for an undocumented fable in which the two birds exhausted themselves in fighting over the fawn, who escaped them both. On the predatory theme in several fables and other border imagery, see Bernstein, Mystery, 124–5; McNulty, Narrative Art, 26, 27; S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 68; Owen-Crocker, “Squawk Talk,” 247. Perry, “Introduction,” xix–xx, citing the definition of the first century C.E. rhetorician Aelius Theon in his Progymnastica, ch. 3. For modern definitions, see, e.g., Perry, “Introduction,” xix– xii; Ziolkowski, Talking Animals, 17–19; and Mann, From Aesop, 28. On early eleventh-century paintings of thirteen fables accompanied by morals in the refectory of the abbey of Fleury, see André de Fleury, Vie de Gauzlin, abbé de Fleury: Vita Gauzlini abbatis Floriacensis monasterii, ed. and trans. Robert-Henri Bautier and Gillette Labory (Paris : Les Belles Lettres, 1969), 128–33 and, for provisional identifications of the fables, p. 128, n. 3 and in the literature cited therein.

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The only question is what kinds of parallels they were intended to find. Starting from the assumption that the embroidery’s main narrative concerns Harold’s betrayal of William by usurping his rightful inheritance, the pro-Norman interpretation treats the fables as reinforcing this narrative by first reading each of them as the story of a bad beast betraying or otherwise mistreating a good one and then identifying, wherever possible, the bad beast with Harold and the bad beast’s victim with William.90 The pro-English interpretation, too, treats the fables as reinforcing the main narrative but does so by first reinterpreting it as the story of how William treacherously deprived Harold of his kingdom and then identifying, wherever possible, the bad beasts in the same fables with William and their victims with Harold.91 Since the two interpretations of the fables are structurally identical, they are both vulnerable to the same critique. If it were true that the Bayeux Embroidery was intended to present a politically partisan narrative carrying a politically partisan message about the conquest to viewers so partisan-minded that they were sure to receive it, we could be reasonably certain that the same viewers were intended to understand the canonical eight fables as reinforcing the same message. However, if the embroidery was intended to narrate the conquest without “nationalistic moral colouring” to an audience including educated viewers whose perspective on it was neither “Norman,” nor “English,” nor “Anglo-Norman,” it would have had no partisan or bipartisan message for the fables to reinforce and no viewers primed to interpret them as reinforcing it. In that case, the obvious way to determine how viewers were intended to relate the fables to the embroidery’s story is to examine, whenever possible, written versions in the early medieval fable collections that they, as well as the designer, would demonstrably have known. Such an examination reveals how ill-suited these fables were to propaganda, because contrary to what both the Norman and the English interpretations imply, they did not teach the satisfyingly simple truths that bad men betrayed or otherwise victimized good ones and that good ones should beware of their doing so. Instead, they brought out complex, darkly humorous truths about human society by telling stories about beasts who were bad, rapacious, conniving, hypocritical, foolish, weak, pathetically naïve, or downright stupid. Because well-drawn parallels between these unsavory beasts and the characters in the embroidery’s main narrative could only have been derogatory to the latter, the fables could not have been “pro-Norman” or “pro-English”; or exclusively “anti-Norman” or “anti-English” either. On the other hand, they were perfect vehicles for ironizing the story of the conquest and satirizing the secular world of kings, magnates, and soldiers in which that story was set. To be sure, attributing such purposes to the depiction of fables on a late eleventh-century textile runs counter to the prevailing scholarly view that prior to the late twelfth century, fabulists “preferred general ethical considerations to specific social satire.”92 But this theory about the development of “the fable” as a literary genre not only reifies fables to the point of obscuring how they were used in specific cases by 90 91

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Terkla, “Norman Bias,” 270; and on analogies between fables and the main narrative, 265, 269; McNulty, Narrative Art, 27. Berlin, “Fables,” 191; see also Albu, Normans, 91; “Looking for Secrets” (as in n. 14 above). Arnold Clayton Henderson, “Medieval Beasts and Modern Cages: The Making of Meaning in Fables and Bestiaries,” Publications of the Modern Language Association 97 (1982): 40–9 at 41; idem, “‘Of Heigh or Lough Estat’: Medieval Fabulists as Social Critics,” Viator 9 (1978): 265–90 at 265–6. According to Ziolkowski, Talking Animals, 25, “[medieval] fables … served moral or religious ends” before the twelfth century and then “became a vehicle for … social criticism.”

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authors writing in other literary genres or by artists working in various media;93 it also conflicts with statements about the purposes of fables by Phaedrus himself, some of which were incorporated into the prefaces of early medieval collections. According to Phaedrus, his fables “move[d] to laughter and by wise counsels guide[d] the conduct of life”; corrected “the errors of men” and sharpened their wits; and depicted the “life and the ways of men.”94 Moreover, given the satirical force that Edward Champlin has detected in Phaedrus’ fables, there is every reason to take seriously Phaedrus’ position that fables could be a medium for expressing sentiments that one would not dare to speak openly.95 As Champlin points out, moreover, the generality of the morals is best interpreted as a strategy to “avoid offence,” particularly since the morals usually articulated only some of the truths that could be drawn from the fables with which they were associated.96 Finally and most importantly, like Phaedrus’ fables, the vocabulary of medieval written versions of those represented on the embroidery would have enabled educated viewers to understand them as ironic commentary on the story and, as we shall see in Chapters 9 and 10, as social, political, and legal satire as well.97 Because most of them were about powerful animals preying or trying to prey on weaker ones,98 while a few others dealt with men who hunted beasts (Goat Who Sang; Stag at the Spring), killed birds (Farmer and Birds), or preyed on women (Man and his Daughter), who sometimes preyed on men (Young Man and Prostitute), the fables must have been selected mainly to reveal truths about predation, predators, and their prey. Since Christian writings about the secular world throughout the medieval period associated plundering and rapine with the powerful and, more specifically, with kings and other lords, the obvious parallels for educated viewers to draw when relating the fables to the main narrative were between the powerful predators in the fables and the kings and lords and their underlings in the main frieze. The same viewers could also have found analogies between the fable-beasts who are preyed upon and anyone in the main frieze subjected to lordly power – a group that included rival lords and subordinate ones. Indeed, hunting – which was both a favorite, though much criticized, pastime of lords and an all-purpose metaphor for predation – is so clearly thematized in the main frieze (e.g. W2, W9, W14) as well as the lower and upper borders that it was the main way of linking together these different zones of the embroidery.99 Moreover, because the lion king is a central character in so many of the fables, as are his

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Mann, From Aesop, 45, writes that “fable is shorn of narrative detail, of the concrete specificities of time and place.” See Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, 5; and Jean-Marie Schaeffer, “Aesopus auctor inventus: Naissance d’un genre: la fable ésopique,” Poétique 63 (1985): 345–64. RV, “Liber fabularum Aesopi primus incipit” (Hervieux, Fabulistes, 2, 195); RN, “Incipit prologus in tres libros fabularum esopi atteniensis” (ibid., 2, 513). Phaedrus, I.Prologue, lines 3–4; II.Prologue, lines 3–4; III.Prologue, lines 33–7, 49–50. Champlin, “Phaedrus,” 106. For legal, political, and social satire in Phaedrus’ fables, see Champlin, “Phaedrus,” 111–17, 120–2, 123. Examples include: Wolf and Lamb; Lion King; Wolf King; Mouse, Frog and Kite; Goat Who Sang; Wolf and Kid; Goat on the Cliff; Lion, Cow, She-Goat and Sheep; Lion, Fox and Stag; Lion, Wolf and Fox; Lion, Rooster and Donkey; Eagle, Hare and Swallow; Eagle, Hare and Dung-Beetle; Wolf and Donkey; Leopard and Partridge; Fox and Rooster; Lion, Bear and Fawn. For criticism of hunting, see Philippe Buc, L’ambiguïté du livre: Prince, pouvoir, et peuple dans les commentaires de la Bible au moyen âge (Paris: Beauchesne, 1994), 112–22, 225–31; and Marcelle Thiébaux, “The Mediaeval Chase,” Speculum 42 (1967): 260–74 at 263–4.

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sometime companions the wolf and the fox, viewers were clearly intended to imagine the lion’s kingdom as the setting for other fables in which it is not specified.100 As viewers familiar with written versions of these fables would have known, the lion’s realm closely resembled kingdoms and principalities of their own day. The lion had a court and counselors to advise him (Lion King, Wolf King), held feasts for his subjects (Lion, Vixen, and Monkey), worried about his reputation (Lion King, Wolf King) and provided for the royal succession (Wolf King), swore oaths to his subjects (Lion King, Wolf King), threatened them with his anger and enmity (Lion’s Share; Lion, Wolf, and Fox; Lion and Fawn), had friends and enemies among his companions (Old Lion), and was devoted to hunting (Lion’s Share; Lion, Wolf, and Fox; Lion, Rooster, and Donkey; Lion, Bear, and Fawn). Moreover, the legal institutions observed by the lion and his subjects resembled the ones used in contemporary kingdoms.101 The lion and his subjects swear oaths (Wolf and Crane, Lion King, Wolf King), form partnerships (Lion’s Share), make leases (Bitch and Puppies), plead law cases (Wolf and Lamb) and legally apportion the spoils of war (Lion’s Share; Lion, Wolf, and Fox). They invoke royal decrees (Wolf and Sheep), condemn beasts to death (Wolf and Lamb, Lion King, Wolf King), exile them ( Jackdaw and Peacocks) and avenge their deaths, as well as their own injuries (Mouse, Frog, and Kite; Old Lion; Eagle, Hare, and Dung-Beetle). Finally, whatever the precise relationship of Man and his Daughter, Young Man and Prostitute and Widow and Her Soldier Lover with the main narrative, they establish illicit sex as a subtext to the story of the conquest and to the life of secular kingdoms generally in ways that are to the discredit of both females and males.102 To realize the fables’ full potential for the ironic, satirical commentary that the designer evidently intended for them to provide, viewers needed not just the deep familiarity with fables already discussed, but familiarity with different and conflicting narratives of the conquest that has often been imputed to the designer in addition to the highly developed skill that he, like all monks trained in biblical exegesis, obviously had for drawing analogies between seemingly unrelated stories.103 Closely associated with this kind of analogical thinking about historical narratives was a view of human history as taking place at multiple levels, so that it could be understood as unique events involving specific individuals, as re-enactments of other stories by the same human types, and as the fulfillment of prophesies and God’s will.104 Finally, the people best equipped to realize 100

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For the lion king, see Lion King; Lion, Cow, She-Goat and Sheep; Old Lion; Lion, Fox and Stag; Lion, Wolf and Fox; Lion, Rooster, and Donkey; Lion and Fawn; Lion, Bear and Fawn. For the wolf, see Wolf and Lamb; Wolf and Crane [twice]; Wolf King; Goat Who Sang; Wolf and Kid; Wolf and Goat [twice]; Wolf and Sheep; Lion, Wolf and Fox; Wolf and Donkey [twice]. For the fox, see Fox and Crow; Lion, Vixen, and Monkey; Lion, Fox, and Stag; Lion, Wolf, and Fox; the variant of Fox and Partridge; Fox and Rooster. Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 101 notes that the borders show at least sixty-six lions. On Phaedrus’ legal vocabulary, see Champlin, “Phaedrus,” 111–15, 120–2. See Madeline H. Caviness, “Anglo-Saxon Women, Norman Knights and a ‘Third Sex’ in the Bayeux Embroidery,” in Foys, BT, 85–118. See also Catherine E. Karkov, “Gendering the Battle? Male and Female in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 139–47, esp. 141–2. For an analogy between David’s decision not to kill Saul and earl Godwine’s not to take vengeance on King Edward for exiling him, see the Vita Ædwardi, 44–5; for parallels between the hatred between Harold and Tostig and that between Oedipus’ sons, Eteocles and Polynices, ibid., 58–61. On analogy and the interpretation of the embroidery, see McNulty, Narrative Art, 24–44. On telling the story of the conquest on multiple levels, see Monika Otter, “1066: The Moment of Transition in Two Narratives of the Norman Conquest,” Speculum 74 (1999): 565–86.

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the fables’ potential for satire were those who viewed the embroidery with the highly cultivated sense of their separation from the secular world, superiority to it, and power to judge it that was essential to the role that monks played as mediators between human and God and to the writing of monastic histories. In the case of the monks of St Augustine’s, this perspective on the conquest could only have been reinforced by their obligation to pray for many characters depicted on the embroidery.105 Since, from the perspective of St Augustine’s, all of these men were sinners whose souls were in need of the protection that the monks’ prayers could give them, it easy to see how the embroidery would have represented the conquest from the position of ironic distance assumed by monastic historians, whose writings about the conquest articulated an ironic and essentially unfavorable view of the Normans, the English, and the secular world. For the purpose of presenting the conquest in this way on the embroidery, the fables were essential to the pictorial narrative and not mere accessories to it.

Irony and Satire in the Fables As ironic commentary on the main narrative and satire on plundering by kings and other lords in general, the fables can be related to the embroidery at various levels. In terms of placement, imagery, and theme, several fables are so closely connected to specific scenes that they comment on them directly. Others lend themselves more readily to satire by implicitly castigating all lords for using trickery to prey on others and concocting spurious, legal-sounding justifications for doing so, while heaping scorn on their victims for being so foolish, greedy, and trusting in legal authority that they merit blame for their own victimization. Still other fables ridicule predators for being stupidly ineffectual and unlucky, so that their schemes to capture their prey misfire and they consequently suffer grievous humiliation and even, in one case, an act of revenge. By positioning Stag at the Spring (W12–13; Plate VI; Fig. 7) in the borders midway between scenes showing Harold’s capture by Guy and his release to William (W7–16; Figs 3–7), the designer invites viewers to draw a parallel between the stag, who blames his own death on his pride in his beautiful antlers, and Harold, whose hawk and hunting dogs, long hair and fine dress, and feasting (W2–7, 9, 14, 16; Figs 1–4, 5, 7, 8) are plausibly construed by Caviness as signs of the gluttony, luxury, vanity, pride, and possibly effeminacy for which God, according to certain accounts of the conquest, punished all the English by subjecting them to Norman rule.106 The fable-image thus mocks Harold for being captured without a fight and possibly for his ultimate downfall – but not for the sake of celebrating William, particularly since the entrance to William’s fortress, positioned just above the stag, can be seen as the lion’s den in a variant of Stag at the Spring called Stag and Lion. In this fable, the stag escapes from the hunting dogs by entering a cave, where the lion immediately devours him. In other words, Harold’s release to William from captivity by Guy was not a true release, but another kind of captivity that ultimately led to Harold’s destruction.107 Similarly, the positioning of Axe and Trees, 105

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Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 16–20. Caviness, “Anglo-Saxon Women,” 99–107; Bernstein, Mystery, 124–5 and McNulty, Visual Narrative, 40 associate the image of the stag’s capture as well as others in the lower border with the story of Harold’s capture by Guy. Stag and Lion: Adrados H 78; Perry 76; Gibbs 459; Wissolik, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 98, 101–2.

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Wolf and Sheep, and Jackdaw and Peacocks in very close proximity to a scene showing Harold petitioning William in the duke’s palace (W16–17; Plate VII; Fig. 8) makes it irresistible to find analogies between each of the three fables and the interaction between the two dukes in the main frieze, particularly since the fables are concerned with one of the characters trying to trick the other, in two cases unsuccessfully. Like the five fables just mentioned, most of the canonical ones can be aligned with particular episodes and themes in the main frieze, but are better understood as satirizing specific predatory practices of kings and other lords and the folly and naïveté of their victims.108 If one identifies the crow in Fox and Crow as the rightful owner of the cheese and simply blames the fox for his losing it, a parallel can be drawn between the fable and either Harold or William deviously tricking the other out of the English kingdom.109 But a closer look at Fox and Crow in its three different renderings (W4, 18, 27; Plate III; Figs 2, 9, 14) reveals that on one level, it ironizes the dispute over the English crown by presenting both claimants unfavorably and, on another, brings out the absurdity of all claims to property rights.110 In contrast to the pro-Norman and pro-English interpretations of Fox and Crow, which depend on reading the crow as an innocent victim, the fable’s traditional moral blames the crow’s loss of the cheese on his own vanity. This the fox exploits in order to seize the cheese by telling the crow that he will rank as king of all the birds if he has a beautiful singing voice to match his physical beauty. Because the fable depicts the crow as too vain to question the fox’s motives for praising him so extravagantly and too stupid to realize that he will drop the cheese if he opens his beak to sing, even obliquely comparing William or Harold or Edward or all three to the crow was to ridicule them. Drawing a parallel between Harold or William and the fox was insulting as well, since the fox’s acquisition of the cheese by playing on the crow’s vanity marks him unmistakably as a despicable flatterer. Worse yet, because the crow has seized the cheese from a farmhouse window-ledge and the fox later seizes it for himself, it is not the rightful possession of either but simply an item of plunder. If the cheese is assumed to stand for the kingdom of the English, then by extension the kingdom is simply plunder, a position similar to that taken by Orderic Vitalis in a striking passage about William’s conquest of England.111 At another level, the fable-image obliquely mocks any lord who simply appropriates goods, as the crow tried to do, or who, like the fox, seizes goods from another by trickery. If so, arguing about who had right to the cheese – or the kingdom – was pointless, since no claimant could have a legitimate claim to it. Finally, by positioning this fable in three different forms in three different locations, the designer enables viewers to understand it in relation to multiple forms of competition among predatory lords for plunder, status, and honor. In five of the other canonical fables, as well as Lion, Wolf, and Fox, powerful beasts gain at the expense of weaker ones in ways that go beyond exploiting their stupidity, justifying plundering them with specious legal arguments, and relying on their naïve 108

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Bernstein, Mystery, 125. For the Norman interpretation, see Dodwell, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 61; McNulty, Visual Meaning, 32; and Terkla, “Norman Bias,” 269; for the English one, Berlin, “Fables,”196; Albu, Normans, 94. See RV 1.14, in which the crow “seized” (rapuisse) the cheese, the fox planned to seize (eriperit) it from him, and later “seized” (rapuit) it; RN 1.14, where the crow “seized” (raperet) the cheese and the fox “seized” (rapuit) it. See below at note 129.

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faith in legal authority. Since on the simplest reading, for example, Bitch and Puppies (W4–5, 59–60; Plate III; Figs 2, 29) teaches that a good person who helps a bad one will lose his property by doing so, the fable has been interpreted as reinforcing a partisan message about the conquest.112 But closer study of the fable reveals complexities that this reading obscures. To begin with, the bitch with the lair is foolish to lease it to a pregnant bitch, whose growing puppies will give her more and more powerful support the longer she holds it. Moreover, by foolishly allowing her tenant to extend the tenancy until her puppies are older, the first bitch loses her only chance to eject her by force, if necessary. When she returns once more to reclaim it, her tenant is in a strong enough position to represent herself as the lair’s rightful possessor, accuse the first bitch of disturbing her possession of it, and declare that she will not restore it unless the former occupant defeats her in what would amount to a judicial duel on unequal terms with her and her puppies. Because in written versions Bitch and Puppies shows how a bad predator used trickery, the threat of force, and spurious but plausible legal arguments to seize the land of another predator too foolish and trusting to foresee either eventuality, it could not have reinforced Norman or English propaganda but surely served as a vehicle for satirizing property disputes among the powerful.113 Wolf and Crane (W5, 27; Plate III; Figs 2, 14) is usually read as a moralizing commentary on the ingratitude of either Harold or William, because the wolf refuses to honor his oath to the crane to reward her after she has removed a bone from his throat.114 However, since the bad lord who fails to reward his men for their service was a stock figure in political narratives and was routinely contrasted with the good lord who distributed largesse to them, the wolf can instead be identified with all lords depicted on the embroidery and all lords generally.115 Nor is ingratitude the fable’s only target. According to its traditional moral, those who expect a reward for serving bad men – a type of person with which many figures in the main frieze could be identified – err both in helping the undeserving and in making a deal from which they cannot escape unharmed.116 That both of the fable’s protagonists are blameworthy is also suggested by its ending, in which the wolf does not flatly refuse the crane’s request for a reward but 112 113

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McNulty, Visual Meaning, 31; Terkla, “Norman Bias,” 271; Albu, Normans, 95–6; Berlin, “Fables,” 198–9. RV 1.9, in which the first bitch “granted entry” (ingressum concessit) to the second one, who later charged her with “injuriously disturbing” her (turbes cum iniuria) and said that she would only “restore” (reddam) the lair if the first bitch could overcome her and her puppies. RN 1.10 uses identical terms: concessit ingressum, deturbas me iniuriose, tibi non reddemus. Terkla, “Norman Bias,” 272; Albu, Normans, 96–8; Berlin, “Fables,” 199–200. On the stingy, avaricious lord who fails to reward his men, see See Stephen D. White, “Fiefs for Service or Service for Fiefs,” in Negotiating the Gift: Pre-Modern Figures of Exchange, ed. Gadi Algazi, Valentin Groebner, and Berhard Jussen, Veröffentlichungen des Max Planck Instituts für Geschichte 188 (Göttingen: Vandenhoek and Ruprecht, 2003), 63–98, rpt. in Stephen D. White, Re-thinking Kinship and Feudalism in Early Medieval Europe, Variorum Collected Studies Series (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), Chapter 12; idem, “Giving Fiefs and Honor: Largesse, Avarice, and the Problem of ‘Feudalism’ in Alexander’s Testament,” in Donald Maddox and Sara SturmMaddox, eds., The Medieval French Alexander (Binghamton, NY: SUNY Press, 2002), 127–41, rpt. in White, Re-thinking Kinship, Chapter 11; idem, “The Politics of Exchange. Or, Feudalism Revisited,” in Medieval Transformations: Texts, Power, and Gifts in Context, ed. Esther Cohen and Mayke de Jong (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 169–88, rpt. in White, Re-thinking Kinship, Chapter 10. Phaedrus 1.8, 1–3.

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replies angrily that he has already rewarded her by not eating her. This, he implies, he could easily have done – and indeed has tried to do, according to the second image of the fable already discussed. Not only does the wolf ’s argument testify to the obsession of the powerful with justifying the unjustifiable; it also points up the crane’s stupidity. Since the wolf has sworn to reward the crane, but not in any particular way, his transparently specious (though clever) claim that not doing evil to her is tantamount to doing well by her, and his feigned outrage at being asked for what he construes as a second reward, show how determined he is to add insult to the injury he has done to someone totally under his power. On the other hand, the crane is made to look foolish for having relied on the wolf ’s oath, which she is powerless to enforce.117 Whether or not any parallels can be drawn between this complicated fable and one or more of the negotiations depicted on the main frieze, at the very least it comments ironically on the conventionalized practice of misrepresenting purely instrumental associations between lords and their underlings as amicable exchanges of services for rewards and rewards for services.118 Since the moral to Wolf and Lamb (W4; Plate III; Fig. 2) is that bad men oppress the innocent by bringing false charges against them, the pro-Norman interpretation identifies the wolf with Harold and the lamb with William, while the pro-English one reverses these identifications.119 In actuality, however, both of these analogies break down, because of the enormous disparity in power between the predator and his victim. The truth or falsity of the wolf ’s accusations is totally irrelevant to the fable’s outcome, which is already a foregone conclusion from the moment he sees his prey. They merely provide an obviously bogus justification for what the wolf could have done anyway. At the same time, the lamb’s skillful defense can have no bearing on the outcome of the case he is pleading, although – as in all adversarial proceedings between the powerful and the powerless – it gives a veneer of legitimacy to his fake trial.120 Any interpretation that reduces the embroidery’s image of the Lion’s Share to just another fable about a bad beast betraying a good one ignores both the fable’s generalized moral about the folly of forming partnerships with people more powerful than they and the absurdity of this particular partnership.121 The lion’s three partners cannot eat meat. Nor can they hunt, as the embroidery shows clearly by picturing them galumphing along behind the speedy lion (W8; Fig. 4).122 Also crucial for appreciating the fable’s satirical force are the lion’s gratuitous legal claims to each of the four parts of the stag, which he could simply have eaten. By citing his superior strength as his claim to the first quarter, he shows why he is able to enforce all four of his claims, but not why he can do so lawfully. 117

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RV 1.8 refers to “magno pretio [sic for premio]” and “promissa premia,” and “mercedem,” and describes the wolf as charging the crane with causing injury to his honor (injuriam meis virtutibus). RN, 1.9 refers to the “magno premio,” the wolf ’s request that the crane give him aid (adjutorium), the crane’s request that the wolf render to her the promised reward (promissa sibi redere premia rogabat), and the wolf ’s charging her with ingratitude and with demanding a reward (mercedem) when he had already rendered her one (mercedem tibi reddam). In Ademar BG, the wolf swears an oath (iureiurando). See White, “Fiefs for Service.” For the wolf as Harold, see McNulty, Visual Meaning, 35; Dodwell, 61; Terkla, “Norman Bias,” 270–1; and as William, Albu, Normans, 95; and Berlin, “Fables,” 197. The wolf “seized” the lamb in RV 1.2 (eripuit); RN 1.2 (arripuit); HR 2 (rapiat). Berlin, “Fables,” 206–7. Champlin, “Phaedrus,” 113–14.

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He then claims the second quarter by invoking the agreement he is in the process of violating. By citing his superior speed as grounds for claiming the third quarter, the lion explains why he is a superior hunter, but not why he has a right to it. Finally, in justifying his right to the fourth part of the stag by declaring as his enemy anyone who challenges him for it, he invokes the arbitrary judgment he would make on a hypothetical claim, were his mismatched partners foolish or stupid enough to make one. In the end, the lion alone takes all the spoils (totam predam) wrongfully (improbitate).123 The variant of Lion’s Share shown later in the upper border, Lion, Wolf, and Fox, has a very different dynamic (W43-4; Fig. 22). In this fable the lion hunts with two associates who are powerful, meat-eating predators and who are more successful in the hunt than he, and asks each of them in succession to advise him on how to divide the spoils. Nevertheless, the fable has the same outcome as Lion’s Share: the lion eats everything he wants – that is to say, everything. By asking the wolf ’s advice on dividing the spoils (predam), the lion poses a question amounting to a command that he be awarded all of them. When the wolf answers by disobeying the command, he is duly punished by the lion, whose violent attack on him signals to the fox what advice he must give the lion. Although the fable can certainly be read as an ironic commentary on how William divided the spoils of the conquest, it also satirizes the norm that lords should take counsel with their men by showing how they can get the advice they want from men eager to tell them what they want to hear.124 The hypocrisy and absurdity of legal discourse and practice are also pilloried in Lion King, which mocks rulers not so much for violating their oaths, but for blatantly circumventing them (W5–6; Fig. 3). It also provides bitterly comical commentary on royal courts where courtiers submit to unjust legal proceedings that will surely find them guilty while the king’s advisors encourage him to destroy their fellows.125 Since the lion swears off eating meat only to gain a good reputation (bona fama), it is hardly surprising that he cannot change his nature and honor the oath he swears (sanctam et incorruptam iuravit). But rather than openly perjure himself by hunting beasts in the countryside (as he does in other fables), the lion devises a foolproof method for justifiably killing and eating his subjects. Summoning them one by one to private audiences, he enquires of each whether they think his breath stinks. If they say “yes,” he charges them with insulting him, so that he can lawfully kill and eat them. If they say “no,” he accuses them of lying, so that he has legal grounds for killing and eating them anyway. The scheme works perfectly until the monkey responds to the question by declaring that the king’s breath smells as sweet as cinnamon. Although the lion knows the monkey is lying, he is so charmed by this flattery that he is reluctant to eat him. However, his doctors advise him to do so for the sake of his health because, after all, kings are permitted to do anything. The fable concludes with the lion devouring the monkey without fear of committing perjury, since, while acting exactly as he wishes, he is following the advice of his counselors.126 123 124 125

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RV 1.6. RN 1.7 is similar, concluding with the bad (improbus) lion taking all the spoils (totam predam abstulit). Odo 20. For the lion (or wolf ) as Harold, see Dodwell, 61; McNulty, Visual Meaning, 30; Terkla, “Norman Bias,” 273, and as William, Berlin, “Fables,” 199–204; and Albu, Normans, 98–9. RV 3.20. See also RN 2.20, in which the wolf is designated as the lion king’s successor on condition that he swear the same oath as the lion swears in Lion King.

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In the fables just considered, almost all of which appear soon after Harold sails from Bosham, the powerful predators all gain at the expense of other beasts and can claim to do so lawfully. Nevertheless, as the embroidery proceeds the predators are repeatedly thwarted, as the beasts they expect to prey upon resist them through subterfuge, trickery, escape, or some sort of vengeance. Impossible to construe as either pro-Norman or pro-English, these fables reduce the great battle in the main frieze to the squabbles of beasts. The frog drowns the mouse, but is devoured by the kite, who unknowingly avenges the frog’s victim. Instead of devouring the goat after she prays for him, the wolf is killed by hunters while the goat escapes. Thanks to the trickery of the fox, the aged lion devours all of the stag he craves except for his favorite part, the brains, which the fox keeps for himself while convincing the half-blind lion that the dim-witted stag didn’t have any. The old, moribund lion grows so weak that three of his old companions can’t pass up the chance of injuring and humiliating him just before he expires. The Farmer outsmarts the birds who are preying on his crop. The jackdaw’s ridiculous efforts to pass himself off as a peacock leave him worse off than he was originally, since he is both expelled by the peacocks and exiled by his fellow jackdaws. The wolf can’t eat the sheep he tricked into lying down with him, since she catches on to his scheme and escapes. The animal predators on the embroidery fare no better once William’s army lands in England. The dung-beetle avenges the killing of the hare by the eagle and the violation of his own hospitality by destroying the eagle’s offspring in the shell, threatening her entire lineage with extinction, vomiting dung all over Zeus, and forcing him to change the eagle’s mating season. In another fable evoked by the same image, the hare is devoured by the eagle, but not before consoling himself with the thought of how horribly the sparrow will die as the hawk devours her. The wolf who had hoped to eat the donkey gets kicked in the head instead. Both the leopard and the fox think they have captured birds by trickery, but the birds trick them back and escape. The lion and bear are so busy fighting to see which of them will eat the fawn that the fox carries her off instead. All of these fables ridicule powerful lords as comically inept predators, but one of them comments on the conquest of England directly, appearing in the border just as the main frieze shows William’s army advancing to fight against Harold’s. In Old Man and Donkey, the sound of an invading army induces the man to tell his donkey to flee. But when the donkey is assured that the conquerors will not compel him to carry a heavier pack than the one he now bears, he stolidly resumes his grazing. The fable stands out from all the other fables on the embroidery, because the donkey lives not in the lion’s kingdom, but in the one that William is about to conquer. The prospect of the conquest frightens the old man, but it makes no difference to his donkey, whose own perspective is neatly captured by the fable’s moral: “For the poor, a change of régime changes nothing but their master.”127

Fables, Satire, and Censorship If one sets aside the hypothesis that the Bayeux Embroidery was intended to represent the story of the conquest from a partisan political perspective to a politically partisan audience, the main obstacle to arguing that the designer included the fables to provide 127

Phaedrus 1.15, 1–2: “In principatu commutando civium nil praeter dominum, non res mutant pauperes.”

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ironic commentary on the conquest and satire on lordly plundering in medieval kingdoms is that this sort of commentary was unthinkable – or, at least, unsayable and unshowable – until the early twelfth century, when monks such as Eadmer of Canterbury and William of Malmesbury questioned both William I’s and Harold II’s claims to be king.128 But why should it have taken so long for monks to develop an ironic and cynical take on the conquest, when both claims rested, at best, on fourth- or fifth-hand accounts of unreliable witnesses about actions, speeches, oaths, and private intentions of dead men?129 And why should the plundering of kings and great lords not have been satirized on the embroidery, when the conquest itself was so easy to understand as an act of plunder preceded by slaughter? Since this is precisely how it was represented in several of the late eleventhcentury continental accounts studied by Elisabeth van Houts, there is no reason to rule out the possibility that it was viewed in the same way by monks in certain monastic communities during William I’s reign, in which case their view of it need not have been radically different from the one that Orderic Vitalis presented in extreme form in the speech he invented for a monk called Guitmund, who judged “all England the spoils of a great act of plundering” (“totam Angliam quasi amplissimam praedam”).130 But was such commentary permissible in William I’s reign, when the embroidery was probably created? Scholars have long assumed that its creators were somehow prevented from saying the unsayable in inscriptions and showing the unshowable in images. Even if such censorship – or self-censorship – existed, however, the satirical force of the fableimages could easily have escaped scrutiny. Even in written form, fables were notoriously allusive, elusive, and oblique vehicles for satire. Because their characters were beasts, not men, and their morals were cast in general terms, it was easy to disavow any intent to satirize individuals, as did Phaedrus: If anyone hereafter shall be deceived by his own suspicions, and, by rashly seizing for himself the moral that belongs to all alike, shall expose his own bad conscience, nonetheless I hope that he will pardon me. For in fact it is not my intention to brand individuals, but to display life itself and the ways of men [mores hominum].131

When presented pictorially and without accompanying morals, a fable’s satirical import and even its superficial meaning would have been even harder to pin down, since they could be fully understood by only a limited number of educated beholders. 128

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William ironically distanced himself from the story that King Edward sent Harold to confirm the appointment of Duke William as the king’s heir in WM, GR, 1, 416–17. He also expressed doubts about the story of the English that Edward had appointed Harold as his heir in ibid., 418–21 and took a deeply ironic view of William’s claim to be king in William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum, 46–7: “Willelmus comes Normanniae, Angliam veniens, armis provintiam perdomuit, cum et Dei permissio suffrageretur et nonnullae causae suppeterent quas non infirmas ipse arbitraretur.” On the Norman claim as a total fabrication, see Garnett, Norman Conquest, 35, 37. Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 272 (my translation), which Marjorie Chibnall (ibid., vol. 2, p. 272 note 1) regards as part of an “episode … coloured by views that were more likely to have been held in Normandy in 1125 than in the reign of William I.” For continental accounts of the conquest emphasizing the plundering of England by the Normans, see Elisabeth van Houts, “The Norman Conquest through Continental Eyes,” EHR 110 (1995): 832–53. Phaedrus 3, Prologue, 45–8; trans. in Champlin, “Phaedrus,” 100. According to Ziolkowski, Talking Animals, 7, “To caricature enemies or oppressors as animals is a relatively safe form of satire.”

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From the standpoint of monks contemplating the hanging at St Augustine’s, moreover, there could have been nothing shocking about the embroidery’s satire on secular kingdoms, not only because the fables used as a vehicle for satirical commentary came from standard educational texts, but because its treatment of plundering by kings and lords was perfectly consistent with what the other St Augustine had said on the same subject in a famous passage from The City of God, which makes a suitable epilogue for this chapter: And so, with justice left out, what are kingdoms [regna] except great robber bands [magna latrocinia]? What are robber bands except little kingdoms? The band also is a group of men governed by the orders of a leader [imperio principis], bound by a social compact, and its booty [praeda] is divided by a law agreed upon. If by repeatedly admitting desperate abandoned men, this plague grows to the point where it holds territory and establishes a fixed seat, seizes cites and subdues people, then it more conspicuously assumes the name of kingdom, and this name is now openly granted to it, not for any subtraction of cupidity, but by the addition of impunity.132

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Saint Augustine, The City of God against the Pagans, trans. William M. Green, vol. 2, Books IV– VII, 16–17. According to Michael Lapidge, The Anglo-Saxon Library (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 127, Augustine’s De civitate dei was one of the texts that “the typical Anglo-Saxon library housed.”

Chapter 8 Representing Architecture1 Elizabeth Carson Pastan The form of a representation cannot be divorced from its purpose and the requirements of the society in which the given visual language gains currency.2

By drawing attention to the scholarly preoccupation with “real” buildings at the expense of understanding medieval representational strategies on their own terms, the case of the Nuremberg Chronicle’s cityscapes helpfully frames this study of the representations of architecture in the Bayeux Embroidery. Like the Bayeux Embroidery of the later eleventh century, this incunabulum of 1493 has been the subject of many claims about its utility as a document of contemporary architectural practices.3 On the one hand, there is the publisher Anton Koberger’s grandiose assertion that the 101 different sites it depicts will lead you to think that you are seeing these places “with your own eyes.”4 On the other hand, Koberger’s statement has to be qualified by the numerous instances of image recycling within the Chronicle.5 The very same image of a cityscape was used interchangeably for both Damascus (Fig. 52) and Naples (Fig. 53) as well as for eight 1 2 3

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An earlier version of this chapter was originally published as “Building Stories: The Representation of Architecture in the Bayeux Embroidery,” ANS 33 (2011): 150–85. E. H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972), 90. Hartmann Schedel, Registrum huius operi libri cronicarum cu[m] figuris et iimagibus ab inicio mu[n]di (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1493). I am grateful to David Faulds and the staff of the MARBL rare-book collection at Emory University for making this first edition available to me and providing digital images from the original. Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Nuremberg: A Renaissance City, 1500–1618 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1983), cat. no. 3, p. 94, quoting Schedel’s own Latin edition of the chronicle, Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek MS Clm. 187, fol. 2. See Elisabeth Rücker, Die Schedelsche Weltchronik: Das grösste Buchunternehman der Dürer-Zeit, Bibliothek des Germanischen Nationalmuseums Nürnberg zur deutschen Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte 33 (Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1973), 85–134 for a catalogue of all the architectural vistas. There is also evidence that several of the cityscapes adapted existing pictorial images: see Adrian Wilson, The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle (Amsterdam: Nico Israel, 1976), 138–9. For more on the influence of Bernard von Breydenbach’s Opusculum sanctarum peregrinationum ad sepulcrum Christi of 1486, see F. Thomas Noonan, The Road to Jerusalem: Pilgrimage and Travel in the Age of Discovery (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 31–45.

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other places, including the entire country of Spain,6 a fact that led Ernst Gombrich to refer to the Chronicle’s “indifference to truthful captions,” and Stephen Orgel to observe that “the imagined generic looks very much like the particular.”7 Nonetheless the thirtytwo unique representations of towns presented within the Chronicle number among the first panoramic vistas ever made, as exemplified most spectacularly by the depiction of Nuremberg that extends over two folios (Fig. 54).8 Perhaps it is our own expectations of setting and place that make the apparent deception of the Nuremberg Chronicle’s repeating images so disappointing.9 Yet it is also possible to imagine how even the homographs might serve the broader purposes of the Chronicle in providing a visual organizational armature, in making the volume more beautiful, and in offering imaginative prompts for far-away places.10 The investigation into whether the designers of the Bayeux Embroidery “had actual buildings in mind” is a worthy endeavor,11 even if the paucity of remaining medieval structures in general, and not one of the buildings identified on the textile, make it a challenging enterprise. In addition, the difficulty of interpreting the archaeological evidence, especially the timber structures thought to lie behind a number of the images, and the routine adaptation of older pictorial images within the embroidery further circumscribe the results.12  But as this chapter will demonstrate, the analysis of the architectural representations on the embroidery cannot be approached solely with the expectation that it will provide empirical documentation of the buildings: the structures must be considered in relation to the pictorial narrative as a whole. The goal of this chapter is to examine how the architecture works in the story relayed in the Bayeux Embroidery, an endeavor that, surprisingly enough, has not 6

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The Nuremberg Chronicle has ten instances where this image appears: Damascus, fol. XXIIIv; Naples, fol. XLIIr; Perugia, fol. XLVIIIv; Verona, fol. LXVIIIr; Siena, fol. LXXXr; Mantua, fol. LXXXIIIIr; Ferrara, fol. CLIXr; Macedonia, fol. CCLXXVr; Hispania, fol. CCLXXVIIIIv; and Hesse (“Hassia Germaniqe puincia”), fol. CCLXXXIIIIv. Also see Rücker, Schedelsche Weltchronik, cat. no. 53, p. 134. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 68; and Stephen Orgel, “Textual Icons: Reading Early Modern Illustrations,” in The Renaissance Computer: Knowledge Technology in the First Age of Print, ed. Neil Rhodes and Jonathan Sawday (London: Routledge, 2000), 59–94 at 63. The Nuremberg Chronicle, fols XCIXv–Cr. See Gothic and Renaissance Art in Nuremberg, 1300–1550, exhib. cat., New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Nuremberg: Germanisches Nationalmuseum (Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1986), cat. no. 87, 233–5; and the hand-tinted color view of the image, fig. 111. Henry Lewis Bullen, The Nuremberg Chronicle (San Francisco: J. H. Nash, 1930), p. XX points out that each of the twenty-two different ecumenical councils is also shown with the same recycled image, and calculates that the chronicle as a whole contains 1,809 prints taken from 645 woodcuts, leaving a total of 1,164 repetitions in the book. Overwhelmingly, however, it is the recycled cityscapes that have garnered the most attention. Orgel, “Textual Icons,” 63–4 offers comments that parallel mine. The contention of Urban T. Holmes, Jr, “The Houses of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Speculum 34 (1959): 179–83 at 179. See Derek Renn, “Burhgeat and Gonfanon: Two Sidelights from the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 16 (1994): 177–97 at 178–86, where the author analyses the structure pictured on the English shore when Harold returns from the Continent (W27; Fig. 14) by asking, “Where was [this] fourstorey tower?” and admirably probes the possibilities yielded by the archaeological evidence. Also see discussion in Chapter 6, n. 149 about how this passage in the pictorial narrative emphasizes Harold’s reversal of fortunes, complementing the inscription, “reversus est.”

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been undertaken until now.13 Even Sir Frank Stenton, whose anthology of 1957 did so much to inspire further scholarship, dismissed the Bayeux Embroidery’s architecture, stating that “the representation of buildings … is so conventional that their character is frequently obscure.”14 It was not until Stenton’s second edition of 1965 that R. Allen Brown contributed a chapter on the architecture, in which he mined the embroidery for evidence of different medieval building types while making allowance “for possible ignorance, for artistic license, and for the inevitable lack of perspective and proportion.”15 In focusing instead on the buildings’ role in the narrative, I will be addressing more than their physical structures.16 At issue are the choices that were made as to which places to depict, and when to amplify the architectural representations with inscriptions or additional topographic details that further declare the significance of a particular site. These are choices that reflect the values and point of view of the embroidery’s designers, and, it will be argued, ultimately point to Canterbury manufacture. Scholars have long suspected that the Bayeux Embroidery was made in Canterbury, on the basis of stylistic connections and motifs shared with manuscripts that can be identified with that town, and more recent scholarship has further strengthened the embroidery’s links with Canterbury.17 As Francis Wormald established, six earlier medieval manuscripts either made in Canterbury scriptoria or imported there have elements in common with the embroidery.18 One particularly important manuscript is the Old English Hexateuch, a 13

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The studies that come closest to analyzing architecture’s role within the narrative are George Beech, Was the Bayeux Tapestry Made in France? The Case for Saint-Florent of Saumur (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 61–90, focusing exclusively on episodes of the Breton expedition; and J. Bard McNulty, The Narrative Art of the Bayeux Tapestry Master (New York: AMS Press, 1989), with a wide-ranging approach that includes some pointed references to the buildings, but unfortunately is not documented with footnotes. Discussions focusing on architecture in the Bayeux Embroidery include the following: Holmes, “Houses”; R. Allen Brown, “The Architecture,” in Stenton, BT, 76–87; Hermann Hinz, “Zu zwei Darstellungen auf dem Teppich von Bayeux,” Château Gaillard 6 (1973): 107–19; Vivian Mann, “Architectural Conventions on the Bayeux Tapestry,” Marsyas 17 (1974–75): 59–65; Michel Parisse, The Bayeux Tapestry: An XIth century Document (Vitry-sur-Seine: Denoël, 1983), 113–18; Wilson, BT, 213–18; Arnold Taylor, “Belrem,” ANS 14 (1992): 1–23; Renn, “Burhgeat and Gonfanon”; Wolfgang Grape, BT, 27, 49–50; Maylis Baylé, “Architecture et enluminure dans le monde normand,” in Manuscrits et enluminures dans le monde normand (Xe–XVe siècles): Colloque de Cerisy-la-Salle (octobre 1995): Actes (Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 1999), 51–68; Michael John Lewis, The Archaeological Authority of the Bayeux Tapestry, BAR British Series 404 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd, 2005), 21–40; and Lucien Musset, The Bayeux Tapestry, trans. Richard Rex (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005), 67–71. Frank Stenton, “The Historical Background,” in Stenton, BT, 9–24 at 18. Brown, “Architecture,” 76. For an expanded discussion of narrative and its implications, with further bibliography, see Suzanne Lewis, “Narrative,” in A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe, ed. Conrad Rudolph (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 86–105. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 20–4. And see Chapters 3 and 6, with further discussion and bibliography documenting the scholarly consensus that Bayeux Embroidery was made at St Augustine’s, Canterbury. Francis Wormald, “Style and Design,” in Stenton, BT, 25–36. See especially N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34 and 191–9 at 29–30; Cyril Hart, “The Bayeux Tapestry and Schools of Illumination at Canterbury,” ANS 22 (2000): 117–67 at 119–24; Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Reading the Bayeux Tapestry through Canterbury Eyes,” in Anglo-Saxons: Studies Presented to Cyril Roy Hart, ed. Simon Keynes and

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lavishly illustrated biblical manuscript from the second quarter of the eleventh century made at the monastery of St Augustine’s in Canterbury (Plate XXVI; Figs 51 and 55), that is replete with architecture.19 Another is the Utrecht Psalter, an extensively illustrated Carolingian work, which was in England by the year 1000 and served as a source of inspiration for illuminations made within Canterbury (see Figs 56 and 57).20 Quotations of views of buildings attributable to Canterbury manuscripts such as these add further interest to the depiction of architecture in the embroidery, but are by no means the only interest of these structures. The narrative of the Norman Conquest laid out in the Bayeux Embroidery has generally been understood, in Stenton’s memorable phrase, as “a story shaped by a purpose.”21 For Stenton that purpose was the demonstration of the many forms of obligation that bound Earl Harold of England to Duke William of Normandy, and the concomitant display of William’s power and reputation.22 Stenton therefore concluded that the embroidery’s narrative largely resembled Norman textual accounts of the conquest.23 If Stenton represents a traditional strand of Bayeux scholarship that emphasizes its triumphal Norman message, other scholars have viewed the work as a more ambivalent or even English-inflected treatment of the conquest. For example, Nicholas Brooks and H. E. Walker shifted their emphasis to identifying the ways in which the

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Alfred P. Smyth (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006), 243–65 at 243–5, and 247–8. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” was reprinted in Gameson, Study, 63–92, but because the reprinted version omits the visual comparanda, all references in this chapter are to the original publication. London, British Library MS Cotton Claudius B. iv. Montagu Rhodes James, The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1903), p. lxxxiv, no. 955, established that the Hexateuch appears in a fourteenth-century catalogue of the holdings of St Augustine’s. Building on its late medieval provenance there, see C. R. Dodwell and Peter Clemoes, The Old English Illustrated Hexateuch, British Museum Cotton Claudius B.IV, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile 18 (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1974), 13–16; the convenient catalogue entry in Elżbieta Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, 900–1066, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 2 (London: Harvey Miller, 1976), cat. no. 86, pp. 102–4; Benjamin C. Withers, The Illustrated Old English Hexateuch, Cotton Claudius B.iv: The Frontier of Seeing and Reading in Anglo-Saxon England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), 53–85; and Owen-Crocker, “Canterbury Eyes.” For the relevance of the Hexateuch to the feasting scene that precedes the Battle of Hastings, see above, Chapter 6. Utrecht, University Library MS 32. See William Noel, “The Utrecht Psalter’s Legacy in England: Continuity and Experiment,” in The Utrecht Psalter in Medieval Art: Picturing the Psalms of David, ed. Koert van der Horst, William Noel, and Wilhelmina C. M. Wüstefeld (Tuurdijk: HES Publishers, 1996), 121–65, with further bibliography. A digitized version of the Psalter is online at http://bc.library.uu.nl/node/599 (accessed 17 August 2014). Also for the earliest English copy, the so-called Harley Psalter made at Christ Church (London, British Library MS Harley 603): see Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, cat. no. 64, pp. 81–3. Note that both Hart, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 117, and Richard Gameson, “English Manuscript Art in the Late Eleventh Century: Canterbury and its Context,” in Eales and Sharpe, Canterbury, 95–144 at 133 emphasize the “interdependence” of the two Canterbury scriptoria of Christ Church and St Augustine’s. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 9. Also see the useful overview of different trends in the literature in Brown, Bibliography, 23–41. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 9, 15. Ibid., 11, although Stenton also conceded that the embroidery’s “generous” treatment of Harold linked its story to English accounts as well.

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embroidery “abandons the Norman version and appears to be following traditions that are found in some of the English sources.”24 They cited two particular episodes in which a non-Norman perspective is evident. The first of these is the opening scene (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1), which gives no hint, “as it could easily have done,”25 that (as Norman authors assert) Harold traveled to the Continent because he was sent by Edward to confirm the king’s earlier promise that Duke William would succeed him on the English throne. The second is the unusual presentation of Edward’s deathbed (W29–30; Plate XII; Fig. 15), which parallels the English Vita Ædwardi with its apparent depiction of the king commending the kingdom and Queen Edith to Harold’s protection.26 The way in which the story is unfolded in the embroidery has given rise to radically different interpretations; it can be construed as a narrative that colludes in the Norman glorification of William, as Stenton would have it; or the less straightforward tale envisioned by Brooks and Walker, whose emphasis not only omits key aspects of the Norman case but also suggests an English perspective; or, as proposed in Chapter 2, it can be interpreted in another way entirely. As we shall see, questions about the nature of the story told in the textile may be fruitfully addressed through examining the architecture depicted on it. There are thirty-three depictions of architectural structures in the Bayeux Embroidery.27 Like other recurring motifs on the textile, the buildings serve as a unifying presence that helps to guide the viewer through the more than 224 feet of imagery that has survived. Yet unlike the images in the Nuremberg Chronicle, none of the constructions is precisely the same, and this diversity is underscored by the inscriptions that name four different types of buildings:28 ecclesia (W13; Plate II; Figs 1 and 2; and W30; Plate XI; Fig. 15), caestra (W49–50; Fig. 25), palatium (W16; Plate VII; Fig. 8), and domus (W50–1; Fig. 25). Because the structures sometimes seem merely to organize the figures, they have been described as possessing “more of a compositional than a representational function,” as may be demonstrated by the scenes following Harold’s coronation, where assorted components of buildings are linked improbably in order to subdivide the picture area and focus the action (W31–2; Cover; Fig. 16).29 In these examples, the architecture serves to frame the narrative in familiar and authoritative terms, recognizable from manuscripts produced in Canterbury, even if the buildings themselves have a rather “deconstructed” appearance.30 24

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Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 10; and see their discussion, 10–13, 18. As they note, Edward Freeman emphasized the embroidery’s use of English sources, particularly Eadmer and the Vita Ædwardi; see Freeman, NC, vol. 3: 146–9, 389–99, 448–57. Also see Bernstein, Mystery, 114–23; and Wilson, BT, 197. See discussion of Freeman in Chapter 2. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 10. Ibid., 13. That the king’s “commendation” is open to multiple interpretations and stops short of explicitly designating Harold as Edward’s successor only proves Brooks and Walker’s point that the embroidery’s narrative is “studiously non-committal.” See further discussion of this scene in Chapters 3 and 9. See discussion corresponding to numbered images of the buildings in Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 21–4. Lewis has also discussed the architecture in two other publications: idem, “The Tapestry and Eleventh-Century Material Culture,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 179–94 at 187–91; and idem, The Real World of the Bayeux Tapestry (Stroud: History Press, 2008), 102–13. On the types of buildings depicted, see Holmes, “Houses.” Grape, BT, 49. Mann, “Architectural Conventions,” 62 usefully compared these scenes to the Hexateuch’s depiction of Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers, where in each case pediments connected by lintels serve to co-ordinate the complex figural groupings of the narrative.

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Nonetheless, in the instances that will concern us, such as the extended view of the church now known as Westminster Abbey (W29; Plate XI; Fig. 15), the architecture is so central that it performs much like an actor in its own right and at times even seems to introduce new characters. This is certainly the case for Duke William, who appears for the first time seated before an impressive but unnamed edifice (W13; Plate VI; Fig. 7), presumably one of his fortified residences in Normandy.31 Whereas previous studies have focused on identifying this structure, I will be concerned with how it works within the narrative. What do the images and inscriptions of the built environment on the Bayeux Embroidery communicate? I will first consider medieval pictorial strategies for representing architecture in general, in order to understand how the visual language works. This analysis will then be applied to the design choices made within the embroidery for rendering structures, including how and when certain buildings are given prominence through composition, inscriptions, and/or topography. Above all, it will be instructive to observe how the structures work within and support the narrative. As alluded to above, another interesting issue to track is whether the selection of buildings and sites is congruent with the emphases of Norman textual accounts of the conquest. Finally, I will address the placement of the buildings on the textile as a whole, before turning to an assessment of the architecture and its role in the narrative.

Medieval Architectural Representation Anyone analyzing medieval pictorial images of architecture must first come to terms with the fact that the representation of buildings was governed partly by convention.32 Richard Krautheimer’s foundational study of architectural copies of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem demonstrated that a medieval copy did not have to resemble its prototype visually.33 On the contrary, the evocation of some vital aspect of the building such as its polygonal shape, the number of columnar supports, or the dedication name could suffice for a given building to be described by a medieval beholder as a copy of the original in Jerusalem. Because the reference is clear and specific, it is a genuine evocation of the prototype – just not in the terms a modern viewer might expect. Krautheimer’s work thus persuasively established that within medieval architectural iconography it is not a simple 31

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See discussion of how this building was sewn in Chapter 1. See the insightful examination of textual descriptions of architecture, though for a somewhat later period, in Lindy Grant, “Naming of Parts: Describing Architecture in the High Middle Ages,” in Architecture and Language: Constructing Identity in European Architecture, c. 1000–c. 1650, ed. Georgia Clarke and Paul Crossley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 46–57, 78–81; and the thoughtful cautions about literary descriptions in T. A. Heslop, “Late TwelfthCentury Writing about Art, and Aesthetic Relativity,” in Medieval Art, ed. Owen-Crocker and Graham, 128–41. Richard Krautheimer, “Introduction to an ‘Iconography of Medieval Architecture,’” first published in 1942 and reprinted with postscript in idem, Studies in Early Christian, Medieval, and Renaissance Art (New York: New York University Press, 1969), 115–50. Also see the related study by Carol Heitz, “The Iconography of Architectural Form,” in The Anglo-Saxon Church: Papers on History, Architecture, and Archaeology in Honour of Dr. H. M. Taylor, ed. L. A. S. Butler and R. K. Morris, CBA Research Report 60 (London: Council for British Archaeology, 1986), 90–100.

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matter of achieving “likeness” versus following “convention,” although many persist in regarding this as the sole choice facing medieval artists.34 Like Krautheimer, Paul Lampl sought to understand the internal logic behind medieval architectural representations, but with an explicit focus on how structures are rendered pictorially.35 Using a range of examples from throughout medieval art, Lampl emphasized the tendency to show simultaneous views of a single building,36 as may be demonstrated here by the scene of God appearing to Abraham in the Old English Hexateuch from Canterbury (Fig. 55).37 The building Abraham stands next to is portrayed with its triangular front pediment shown straight on, the side elevation in what appears to be a three-quarters view of its horizontal courses, and a profile view of the curved termination of the structure. An effective, if impossible view! This proclivity for showing different views of a building simultaneously also includes another strategy to which Lampl called attention, namely dividing a building down its longitudinal axis and moving the side walls to the front plane. We can see this technique at play in the image accompanying Psalm 134 from the Utrecht Psalter (Fig. 56), another manuscript with Canterbury connections. Here, as in the dressing of a fish, the roof has been split in half and the two sides have been pulled forward on either side of the dome at center.38 Significantly, Lampl did not view these techniques of rendering architecture as naïve or inept, but rather as stemming from the medieval artists’ sense of what is most important. As Lampl emphasized, in medieval architectural depiction “only the quintessential elements matter, in their most typical function and disposition; actual size, visual appearance, and spatial relation are irrelevant and incidental.”39 Although this definition of medieval representational techniques has sometimes been used to strip architectural representations of any possible evidentiary significance,40 this approach holds good only in the limited sense that such representations cannot be relied upon as veristic reproductions of specific buildings. Yet as Lampl himself pointed out, the representations’ significance lies not in the accuracy of their reproductions but in the fact that they emphasize what their beholders understood to be the structures’ most important elements.41 34 35

36 37

38 39

40 41

See comments expressing frustration with the status quo in both Baylé, “Architecture et enluminure,” 62–3; and Taylor, “Belrem,” 2–3 and 19–22. Paul Lampl, “Schemes of Architectural Representation in Early Medieval Art,” Marsyas 9 (1961): 6–13. Also see Karl M. Swoboda, “The Problem of the Iconography of Late Antique and Early Mediaeval Palaces,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 20 (1961): 78–89; Noël Duval, “La représentation des palais dans l’art du Bas Empire et du haut Moyen Age d’aprés le psautier d’Utrecht,” Cahiers Archéologiques 15 (1965): 207–54; Nikolaus Gussone, “Zur Problematik zeitgenössischer Darstellungen Mittelalterlicher Pfalzen,” Francia 4 (1976–7): 107–19, with a summary outline of Lampl’s findings at 108. Lampl, “Schemes,” 8–9. London, British Library MS Cotton Claudius B.iv, fol. 37r. For this episode see Dodwell and Clemoes, Hexateuch, 25. For the Hexateuch as a whole, now see Withers, Frontier of Seeing and Reading, which has a CD-ROM with color images of the entire manuscript. Lampl, “Schemes,” 9, fig. 22; Duval, “Représentation du palais,” 208–11, fig. 1; Gussone, “Zur Problematik,” 109–10, Abb. 1. Lampl, “Schemes,” 7. See for example, Mann, “Architectural Conventions,” 60. Lampl, “Schemes,” 9-10.

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Buildings in the Embroidery These analyses can now be brought to bear on the representations of buildings in the embroidery. This discussion will be organized around the three categories of buildings most commonly used in the secondary literature for analyzing the structures: the medieval buildings that are supposedly the most “authentic”; the ones said to be copied from prior pictorial images; and those whose rendering is said to be so improbable that they amount to mere “fantasy architecture.”42 The use of these categories is a mere organizational convenience; in fact, the architectural imagery in the embroidery combines numerous kinds of approaches to representation, depending on the particular site and its role in the story, and no one of them needs dominate scholarly discourse. Nonetheless, each of these categories of architectural representation – actual buildings, pictorial copies, and fantasy structures – serves as a useful starting point for exploring the question of how the built environment serves the embroidery’s narrative.

Actual buildings The depiction of the structure known as Westminster Abbey (W29; Plate XI; Fig. 15), identified in the inscription by its dedication to the apostle Peter, is arguably the most famous on the entire textile, in part because it appears to be one of the more “authentic” medieval buildings.43 Edward’s large stone building, which is said to have replaced the previous structure completely, must have been a new and impressive sight in England in the mid-eleventh century.44 The present church dates largely to the mid-thirteenthcentury rebuilding by Henry III, so the embroidery’s depiction can be assessed only indirectly, through texts and archaeological findings.45 This passage from Book I of the Vita Ædwardi, composed c. 1065–66,46 conveys something of the character of Edward’s foundation: 42 43 44

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Grape, BT, 27. Rücker, Schedelsche Weltchronik, 85–125 likewise distinguishes between “authentischen Ansichten” and “Phantasieansichten” in the Nuremberg Chronicle. Grape, BT, 27. Also see L. E. Tanner and A. W. Clapham, “Recent Discoveries in the Nave of Westminster Abbey,” Archaeologia 83 (1933): 227–36; Brown, “Architecture,” 76–8. Joseph Armitage Robinson, “The Church of Edward the Confessor at Westminster,” Archaeologia 62 (1910): 81–100 at 85; Howard M. Colvin, “The King’s Works before the Norman Conquest,” in The History of the King’s Works, vol. I: The Middle Ages (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1963), 1–19 at 14–17; Richard Gem, “The Romanesque Rebuilding of Westminster Abbey,” ANS 3 (1981): 33–60 at 44–55; idem, “L’Architecture pré-romane et romane en Angleterre: problèmes d’origine et de chronologie,” Bulletin Monumental 142 (1984): 233–72 at 252–4; Eric Fernie, “Reconstructing Edward’s Abbey at Westminster,” in Romanesque and Gothic: Essays for George Zarnecki, ed. Neil Stratford, 2 vols (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1987), I: 63–7 at 65–6, emphasizing the planned length of the nave. Also useful are Emma Mason, Westminster Abbey and its People, c. 1050–c. 1216 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1996), 13–18; Eric Fernie, “Edward the Confessor’s Westminster Abbey,” in Mortimer, Edward,139–50; Richard Gem, “Craftsmen and Administrators in the Building of the Confessor’s Abbey,” in ibid., 168–72. See Christopher Wilson, Pamela Tudor-Craig, John Physick, and Richard Gem, Westminster Abbey, The New Bell’s Cathedral Guides (London: Bell & Hyman, 1986); Paul Binksi, Westminster Abbey and the Plantagenets: Kingship and the Representation of Power, 1200–1400 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), with further bibliography. In Vita Ædwardi, pp. xxix–xxxiii, Frank Barlow advocates dates of c. 1065–66 for book I and 1067 for book II. On the Vita, see Eleanor K. Heningham, “The Genuineness of the Vita Æduuardi

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And so at the king’s command the building, nobly begun, was made ready, and there was no weighing of the cost, past or future, as long as it proved worthy of, and acceptable to, God and St Peter. The house of the principal altar, raised up with most lofty vaulting, is surrounded by dressed stone, evenly joined…. Next is the crossing of the church, which is to hold in its midst the choir of God’s choristers, and, with its twin abutments from either side, support the high apex of the central tower. It rises simply at first with a low and sturdy vault, swells with many a stair spiraling up in artistic profusion…. Moreover, the whole complex of this enormous building is set at a sufficient distance from the east end of the old church to allow not only the brethren dwelling there to continue with their service to Christ but also some part of the nave, which is to lie in between, to advance a good way.47

The author lingers on the large proportions of the new structure built far to the east of the older one, its ashlar masonry, and the tall crossing tower. These concrete physical descriptions contribute to the impression that the Vita Ædwardi is “a detailed description based on personal observation.”48 The striking representation of the building in the Bayeux Embroidery (Plate XI), in turn, has led some scholars to view the embroidered image as “exactly what the bearers would have seen on that winter’s day when they brought the body of the Confessor [who died 5 January 1066] to be laid before the High Altar of the great church.”49 The longitudinal view shown in the textile, corresponding to the building’s northern exterior elevation, emphasizes the structure’s impressive size and delineates its two eastern bays at left (represented by the two windows), the crossing tower abutted by stair turrets, and the nave extending to the right. As one might expect, however, the presentation in the embroidery also draws on medieval pictorial conventions, including the design of the interior nave arcades of the structure shown simultaneously along with the predominately northern exterior view.50 In addition, Michael Lewis has pointed out that the crossing tower is shown with an unusual domed roof, a covering that follows pictorial conventions, rather than the “pointed” tower that contemporaneous buildings would lead us to expect.51 Above all, the parallel to the description in the Vita Ædwardi

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Regis,” Speculum 21 (1946): 419–56; J. L. Grassi, “The Vita Ædwardi Regis: The Hagiographer as Insider,” ANS 26 (2004): 87–102; Monika Otter, “1066: The Moment of Transition in Two Narratives of the Norman Conquest,” Speculum 74 (1999): 565–86 at p. 580, n. 55, with a useful overview of the literature. Also see the discussion in Barlow, Edward, 229–32, where he makes the point that the Westminster monk Sulcard in the late eleventh century must have found the Vita’s description acceptable, since he merely abbreviated and adapted it as his own. See Bernhard W. Scholz, “Sulcard of Westminster: ‘Prologus de Constructione Westmonasterii,’” Traditio 20 (1964): 59–91, esp. p. 91, n. 5. Vita Ædwardi, 68–71. Gem, “Romanesque Rebuilding,” 33–9 provides a partial translation of the passage, with emphasis on the architectural terminology, which updates the translation and discussion in Robinson, “Church of Edward,” 82–5. R. Allen Brown, “William of Malmesbury as an Architectural Historian,” in Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire médiévales en l’honneur du Doyen Michel de Boüard (Geneva: Librarie Droz, 1982), 9–16 at 10. Tanner and Clapham, “Recent Discoveries,” 231. Similar views can be found in the work of Brown, “Architecture,” 77, and Grape, BT, 27. Lampl, “Schemes,” 12. Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 30–1 and image 18 (although note that the image of Westminster Abbey from the embroidery is reproduced backwards).

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reinforces the quotient of realism that scholars have attributed to the portrayal on the embroidery, helping to convince them that the actual building is shown in the textile. The congruencies between the Vita and the embroidery representations warrant further consideration. Neither offers any information about the western façade towers of the structure, which would be to the right of the embroidered depiction and spring more or less from the point where there is a curling foliate element, approached by the mourners carrying the king’s bier (Plate XI).52 These omissions complement archaeological evidence indicating that the west façade towers were completed in a later, twelfth-century phase of construction.53 Other similarities between the Vita and the embroidery, particularly their handling of the scene at King Edward’s deathbed, may signal a more intimate connection between the two works.54 Frank Barlow advanced the idea that the Vita, like the embroidery, was composed in Canterbury, noting that “Only Canterbury seems to receive an attention greater than the purpose of the story [in the Vita] warrants,” and observing that the only surviving manuscript of the work (c. 1100) was written there.55 His view of the Vita’s place of origin was seconded by J. L. Grassi, who remarked on the work’s unique “insider’s” account of the events within Canterbury.56 If both the Vita and the embroidery were composed there, then their similarities may actually point to the mutually reinforcing representations of Edward’s burial church created in Canterbury. The king’s abbey may have been of particular interest locally, since ambitious new stone churches like Westminster were under way in Canterbury at both Christ Church and St Augustine’s in the 1070s.57 If so, then the depiction of Westminster Abbey on the embroidery cannot be regarded as an unmediated image of the actual building, as has been claimed. It is also telling that Richard Gem, who has evaluated the documentary and archaeological evidence as well as the architectural comparanda for Edward’s structure, has rather circumspectly stated that the depiction on the embroidery possesses “general representational value,” rather than the “authenticity” often attributed to it.58 How does Westminster Abbey figure within the larger narrative? As Lucien Musset noted, the abbey appears within the one episode on the embroidery that “is described in 52

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Gem, “Romanesque Rebuilding,” 40–4. Although see Lampl, “Schemes,” 12, where he reads the building as a simultaneous depiction of different parts of the structure that includes the western façade towers. Tim Tatton-Brown, “Westminster Abbey: Archaeological Recording at the West End of the Church,” Antiquaries Journal 75 (1995): 171–88 at 174, where he finds evidence of early twelfthcentury stonework underneath later medieval refacing in the western towers up through the triforium level. I am very grateful to Richard Mortimer for discussing the archeology of Westminster Abbey with me. First noted by Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 391–2, and elaborated by Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 12, 18. See discussion in Chapter 3. Vita Ædwardi, xlv–xlvi. Grassi, “Vita Ædwardi,” 90–1. See Chapter 11. Also, Richard Gem, “The Significance of the 11th-Century Rebuilding of Christ Church and St Augustine’s, Canterbury in the Development of Romanesque Architecture,” in Medieval Art and Architecture at Canterbury before 1220, British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 5 (Leeds: W. S. Manley and Son Limited, 1982), 1–19; and Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 21–2. Gem, “Romanesque Rebuilding,” 36. Similar views can be found in the work of Wilson, BT, 213, 217–18; Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 162–4; and Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 29–31.

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greater detail than anything except the Battle of Hastings – marking it out as of crucial importance.”59 Once the question of the veracity of the depiction of Westminster Abbey is set aside, we can pay attention to how it works within the textile’s narrative and further understand its visual presentation. The building is clearly shown to be a remarkable undertaking. Its scale and dynamic profile, for example, visibly eclipse the smaller and probably more characteristic church in Bosham (contrast Plates II and XI).60 The abbey church also becomes a particular focus because it is relatively isolated in comparison to the more densely packed scenes on either side of it (particularly apparent in the longer view, Fig. 15).61 Moreover, the four scenes treating Edward’s death are presented in reverse sequence, suggesting that they were very carefully planned in order to underscore certain linkages and causal relationships.62 These adjustments demonstrate that the presentation of the abbey’s architecture cannot have been dictated solely by empirical concerns. Arguably, the focus on Edward’s burial church serves to draw attention to the death of the childless king and becomes metonymic for the crisis created by the sovereign’s death. In this way the striking representation of the abbey reinforces the overriding theme of the narrative. The abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel (W19; Plate VIII; Fig. 10) is another building shown on the embroidery that modern scholars describe as referencing the actual structure.63 J. Bard McNulty has noted that, in order to show the mount itself intact, the visual designer built up the supports on the slope to create a platform for the abbey, leaving the building looking “as if it were on a trapeze”: a feat not far removed from the circumstances of construction.64 Then too, the depiction of the triple portal of the Norman abbey has been compared to the original disposition of the western elevation of La Trinité in Caen.65 The argument is that in the embroidered depiction of Mont-Saint-Michel the lateral arcades from the northern and southern elevations, folded forward according to medieval strategies we have identified, join the three arcades of the western elevation in order to offer the most complete view of the structure. However, because both Mont-Saint-Michel and La Trinité underwent substantial changes beginning in the early twelfth century, assessment of the fairly simplified embroidered image must depend on the interpretation 59

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Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 162. The abbey’s presentation also may acknowledge the innovative appearance of the building, consonant with later writers such as William of Malmesbury who identified it as the beginning of a new style of building in England; see WM, GR, vol. 1, book ii. 228.7, pp. 418–19; Brown, “William of Malmesbury,” 13; Eric Fernie, “Saxons, Normans and their Buildings,” ANS 21 (1999): 1–9 at 1–2. Also see Richard Gameson, “The Origin, Art, and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 157–211 at 192–3 and Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 162, who refer, respectively, to the “hotting up” and “packing” of certain scenes. On these reversals in sequence and the implications of the causal relationships they set up, see Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 21; Bernstein, Mystery, 118–23 and figs 67–88; McNulty, Narrative Art, 16–20; and Gameson, “Origin,” 194–5. Also see discussion in Chapter 11. Yves-Marie Froidevaux, “La Terrasse de l’ouest du Mont-Saint-Michel,” Congrès archéologique (Contentin et Avranchin) 124 (1966): 446–57 at 457; Grape, BT, 27; Baylé, “Architecture et enluminure,” 52–4. For a different perspective see Brown, “Architecture,” 78–9; Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 28–9. McNulty, Narrative Art, 42. L’Architecture normande au Moyen Age, ed. Maylis Baylé, 2 vols (Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 2001), vol. 2, 50–1.

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of excavations and documentary indications.66 To date the most convincing interpretation is that the presentation of Mont-Saint-Michel was loosely inspired by the vaulted construction that made its dramatic hilltop setting possible.67 Whether or not the embroidery’s rendering of Mont-Saint-Michel is architecturally correct, however, given the naming of it in the inscription, the unusual hilltop location, the presentation of its distinctive arcades, and references to the river Couesnon and its quicksand, the structure registers sufficient information to provide context for the episode. As the lengthy inscription indicates (Fig. 10), the scene shows that Harold dragged Duke William’s men from the treacherous quicksand of the marshes near the abbey. Even if the depiction of the abbey’s architecture is not “authentic,” the totality of its presentation is effective in forwarding the aims of the narrative. Indeed all of the episodes set in this region comprising the Norman-Breton border and northeastern Brittany demonstrate an unusual familiarity with their locales.68 As George Beech pointed out, the Couesnon is the only river named in the entire embroidery. Mont-Saint-Michel and its setting are portrayed with the kind of broad topographic details that could be given in a verbal description provided by someone who knew the area. In this, they bear some resemblance to maps such as the itineraries created by Matthew Paris at the monastery of St Albans in the mid-thirteenth century. No one would claim that Matthew’s images offer an accurate topographical or architectural guide for the sites depicted, or that he had even seen the majority of the sites he portrayed.69 Nevertheless, his architectural vistas serve as a testament to the sites he deemed important and to that end offer sporadic accompanying details gleaned from travellers, such as travel times and size,70 that serve his peregrinatio in stabilitate.71 The depiction of Mont-Saint-Michel on the Bayeux Embroidery (Plate VIII), not unlike Matthew Paris’s images, combines an abbreviated and conceptually driven presentation with occasional startlingly specific details such as the quicksand of the Cousenon in a manner that serves the aims of the narrative.72 One possible source for this kind of detail on the embroidery, as Richard Gameson recognized, is Scolland, the abbot of St Augustine’s, Canterbury (1070–87), during the 66

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Maylis Baylé, La Trinité de Caen: Sa place dans l’histoire de l’architecture et du décor romans, Société française d’archéologie 10 (Geneva: Droz, 1979), 40–41, 49–58, with further bibliography; and Le Mont-Saint-Michel: Histoire & imaginaire, ed. eadem and Pierre Bouet (Paris: Editions du Patrimoine, 1998), 31, 112. J. J. G. Alexander, Norman Illumination at Mont St Michel, 966–1100 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 14–17. Beech, Was the Bayeux Tapestry Made in France?, 79–83. Also see K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, “Testimonies of the Living Dead: The Martyrology-Necrology and the Necrology in the Chapter-Book of Mont-Saint-Michel (Avranches, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 214),” in The Durham Liber Vitae and its Context, ed. David Rollason, A. J. Piper, Margaret Harvey, and Lynda Rollason (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2004), 165–90 at 179–81, which draws attention to the strong ties between Mont-Saint-Michel and Brittany. The point is also discussed in Chapter 5. Daniel K. Connolly, “Imagined Pilgrimage in the Itinerary Maps of Matthew Paris,” The Art Bulletin 81 (1999): 598–622 at 607. Ibid., 606–12. Ibid., 598. See Abigail Wheatley, The Idea of the Castle in Medieval England (York: York Medieval Press, 2004), 64–71 for a related discussion of Matthew Paris’s use of architectural images.

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years when work on the textile was undertaken there.73 Abbot Scolland, characterized in the colophon of a late eleventh-century manuscript from Mont-Saint-Michel as “sacro prefulgens dogmate cuncto,” or pre-eminent in all aspects of holy learning, was a monk, treasurer, and scribe at the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel before his appointment in Canterbury.74 In light of the strong connection between these abbeys, Scolland as well as other close associates of his from Mont-Saint-Michel who moved from there to Canterbury, are probable sources for the architectural and topographical detail in this section of the embroidery. This connection may also explain the additional emphasis given to the Norman abbey by the figure on the embroidery (Plate VIII), who sits to the right of the church and points to it.75 Of greatest interest are those instances on the Bayeux Embroidery when a building and the site are both named. Such is the case at Bosham (W3–4; Plate II; Fig. 2), where two distinctive buildings are portrayed.76 The church at Bosham is a fetchingly ornamented trapezoid, compared by Cyril Hart to a medieval house-shaped reliquary.77 Next to it is a two-story structure with steps leading directly to the sea.78 The unique 73

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Gameson, “Origin,” 171–2. Alexander, Norman Illumination, 222 transcribing the colophon from the manuscript of Gregory the Great’s sermons made at Mont-Saint-Michel and now at Avranches, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 103, fol. 220v. In addition, see the “De abbatibus” section of the Chronicle of Mont-Saint-Michel, PL 202, col. 1326B, 1060, where Scolland is referred to as treasurer, augmenting the usual description of him as scribe. This figure, which I read as adding emphasis to the site of Mont-Saint-Michel, has been variously identified by authors including Simone Bertrand, “Le Mont-Saint-Michel et la Tapisserie de Bayeux,” in La Normandie bénédictine au temps de Guillaume le Conquérant (XIe siècle) (Lille: Facultés Catholiques de Lille, 1967), 137–40, who sees the figure as Abbot Ranulphe; and McNulty, Narrative Art, 42, who describes the figure as Duke Richard II. Following Gameson, “Origin,” 171–2, Howard B. Clarke, “The Identity of the Designer of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 35 (2013): 120-39 identified the figure as Scolland, in addition to identifying him as the visual designer of the pictorial narrative. On the wishful identification of unnamed figures in the embroidery, see Brown, Bibliography, 41. Ann Williams generously shared an early version of her study of religious houses connected with the Godwine family, where she suggests that the two structures in the embroidery may reflect the division of Bosham’s revenues, still reflected in Domesday Book: GDB 16a2, 17a2, 27a1 (Suss. 1/1; 6/1–5; 12/33). I have also benefited from David G. J. Raraty, “Earl Godwine of Wessex: The Origins of his Power and his Political Loyalties,” History 74 (1989): 3–19; and Stephen Baxter, The Earls of Mercia: Lordship and Power in Late Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 134–8. Hart, “Bayeux Tapestry,” 129–33 and figs 5–6. For the literature on the church at Bosham, see the clear and even-handed assessment by Richard Gem, “Holy Trinity Church, Bosham,” presented as part of the Proceedings of the Summer Meeting of the Royal Archaeological Institute at Chichester in 1985 in Archaeological Journal 142 (1985): 32–6. Also see K. H. MacDermott, Bosham Church: Its History and Antiquities (Chichester: J. W. Moore, 1911); Victoria County History: Sussex, IV, 185–7; H. M. Taylor and Joan Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), vol. 1, 81–4; John Pollock, Bosham Ecclesia as Shown in the Bayeux Tapestry: A Speculative Guide to Bosham Church c. 1066, 3rd ed. (Bosham: Penny Royal Publications, 1999). Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 92–7; Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 27–8, 37–8 and n. 238. On this structure, which is sometimes termed a manor but more recently described as a chamber block, see Holmes, “Houses,” 181; A. Hamilton Thompson, “The English House,” in Social Life in Early England, ed. Geoffrey Barraclough (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960), 139–77 at 142–3;

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juxtaposition of these buildings itself calls attention to the site. We will pass over the extensive literature claiming or denying the archaeological underpinnings of the representation of these buildings on the embroidery; the latter position, most often endorsed by scholars, was bluntly summed up by David M. Wilson, who stated that “any relationship between the surviving Anglo-Saxon parts of Bosham church and its representation in the Tapestry is purely coincidental.”79 In any case the proximity of the buildings to the water – like the river and quicksands near Mont-Saint-Michel – represents an identifiable topographical feature, namely Bosham’s enviable siting on the shore of a tidal estuary.80 The Bosham structures are highly differentiated from one another and from others on the embroidery. As opposed to the other sites that are indicated by a single structure, it is the combination of these two buildings, together with the naming of the site and distinctive harbor setting that designate Bosham as a place to notice.81 The naming of Bosham is especially intriguing because none of the early Norman narratives alludes to the port from which Harold sailed away, as a brief inventory of the sites named in textual accounts of Harold’s journey to the Continent reveals (Map 1).82 William of Poitiers mentions four sites: Ponthieu, where Harold landed; Rouen, where Duke William extended hospitality; Bonneville, where Harold swore fealty; and Dol, which is the only place he identifies in recounting the Breton expedition.83 For his part, William of Jumièges designates Ponthieu as Harold’s landing place.84 The only site Orderic Vitalis names in his Ecclesiastical History is Rouen, where he

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Brown, “Architecture,” 79 and n. 15, where he considers the possibility that Harold’s banquet is staged on a raised dais in order to conform to the notion that, unlike their Continental counterparts, the English had only ground-floor halls before the conquest. On that issue, see Ann Williams, “A Bell-house and a Burh-geat: Lordly Residences in England before the Norman Conquest,” in Medieval Knighthood IV: Papers from the Fifth Strawberry Hill Conference 1990, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill and Ruth Harvey (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1992), 221–40 at 230–31; John Blair, “Hall and Chamber: English Domestic Planning, 1000–1250,” in Manorial Domestic Buildings in England and Northern France, ed. Gwyn Meirion-Jones and Michael Jones, Occasional Papers 15 (London: Society of Antiquaries, 1993), 1–21 at 4; Anthony Quiney, “Hall or Chamber? That Is the Question: The Use of Rooms in Post-Conquest Houses,” Architectural History 42 (1999): 24–46 at 24–9; Anne-Marie Flambard Héricher, “Archaeology and the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Bouet, BT, 261–87 at 269–73. Hinz, “Zwei Darstellungen,” 110–12 and fig. 14, makes an interesting visual connection to a Byzantine Skylitzes manuscript with an image of a palace, but concludes that the depiction more likely derives from “konkrete Wirklichkeit.” I thank Robin Fleming for calling my attention to excavations carried out between 1989 and 1991 on a fascinating early timber structure that bears a certain resemblance to the Bosham manor in Damian Goodburn, “Fragments of a 10th-Century Timber Arcade from Vintner’s Place on the London Waterfront,” Medieval Archaeology 37 (1999): 78–92 and fig. 5, with further bibliography. The structure amplifies the evidence of timber construction most frequently cited in the excavations at Abinger. Wilson, BT, 217. I thank Kate Gilbert for underscoring the topographic issues at Bosham. The following discussion parallels aspects of the analyses in McNulty, Narrative Art, 68–70. Noted in Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 92. Of these four places cited by William of Poitiers, only Dol is depicted and named by inscription on the embroidery, see WP, GG, book i. 41-2, pp. 68–71; and for Dol, i. 45, pp. 74-5. WJ, GND, vol. 2, book vii. 13(31), pp. 158–61.

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locates Harold’s oath to William.85 The Carmen de Hastingae Proelio alone states that the Normans sailed for England from Saint-Valery, near the port of Vimeu on the river Somme.86 The English monk Eadmer names Ponthieu, but also provides new interpretations of the journey, stating that King Edward told Harold that in going to the Continent against his advice, Harold would bring “dishonour on the kingdom and discredit to himself.”87 The first author to refer to Bosham is William of Malmesbury, who like Eadmer offers his own explanation of how Harold ended up on the Continent, and whimsically envisions Harold’s boarding a fishing vessel “by way of pastime” from his estate at Bosham.88 The later Norman poet Wace (c. 110-after 1174) also mentions that Harold set sail at Bosham and, tellingly, refers to “books with different explanations” for Harold’s journey.89 In short, the naming of Bosham emerges only later in twelfth-century narratives that problematize Harold’s journey to the Continent. Were the Bayeux Embroidery following early Norman textual accounts, it would surely have designated the county of Ponthieu, which is alluded to by six of the eight authors surveyed and is a key location in their narratives, or Rouen, which both William of Poitiers and Orderic name. Moreover, whereas the Norman accounts are quite explicit about why Harold went to the continent yet offer no detail on his journey before he reached Ponthieu, the textile provides no insights as to why Harold undertook the voyage, but memorably depicts his port of departure at Bosham. The choice to represent Bosham is yet another strong indication that the embroidery has an independent perspective.90 Why this emphasis on Bosham? If, as Krautheimer contends, dedications and names form important connections for medieval beholders, then we ought to take these references seriously.91 As a place of embarkation Bosham is certainly plausible, with its harbor, sheltered anchorage, access to the Channel, and location near an old Roman road that ran directly to London.92 Furthermore, Bosham is a probable place from which Harold would sail, as his family’s estate there figures centrally among the Godwine family’s holdings in the region.93 Thus a first answer would be simply that the depiction of the port at 85 86 87

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Orderic, EH, vol. 2, book ii. 117, pp. 134–7. Orderic is one of the few authors not to mention Ponthieu. Guy, Carmen, lines 48–52, pp. 4–7. He does not mention Ponthieu. Eadmer, HN, 8; Eadmer, HRE, 6–8. WM, GR, vol. 1, book ii. 228, pp. 416–17, who also mentions Ponthieu. Wace, The History of the Norman People: Wace’s Roman de Rou, trans. Glyn S. Burgess (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2004), 154, mentions both Bosham and Ponthieu. Hereafter, referred to as Wace, History. Charles H. Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” in Stenton, BT, 174–88 at 175. Krautheimer, “Iconography of Medieval Architecture,” 126–8. Victoria County History: Sussex, IV, 182–8; The Domesday Geography of South-East England, ed. H. C. Darby and Eila M. J. Campbell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962), 425, 429, 440–1, 461–2, 464–5. On Roman roads: Robin Fleming, “Domesday Estates of the King and the Godwines: A Study in Late Saxon Politics,” Speculum 58 (1983): 987–1007 at 999–1006; Ivan D. Margary, Roman Roads in Britain (London: John Baker, 1967), 64–8 (the north–south road 15 between Chichester and London), and 92–3 (the east–west road 421 between Chichester and Bitterne, both keyed to his map 11). It is frequently described as Earl Godwine’s chief seat: Victoria County History: Sussex IV, 182. But see Baxter, Earls of Mercia, 62–3, where, although conceding Bosham’s importance to the house of Godwine, he points out that none of the Anglo-Saxon earls is known to have had

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Bosham would make sense to its English makers since it was where the Godwinesons kept their fleet.94 However, since the designers of the Bayeux Embroidery do not routinely name or offer details about the sites and settings that they show, it is worth inquiring further into the representation of Bosham.95 Contemporaneous textual references add context.96 The E-version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which according to David Dumville was being written at St Augustine’s, Canterbury until 1063 and may have been taken up at nearby Christ Church afterwards,97 names Bosham twice, and both times in conjunction with Godwine and his family. In 1049, it reported that Godwine’s son Swein murdered his cousin Beorn in boats anchored off Bosham’s harbor;98 and in 1051 it named Bosham as the place from which Godwine departed for Flanders when Edward forced the family into exile.99 Bosham is also mentioned as the Godwines’ port of departure in the Vita Ædwardi’s account of the family’s expulsion.100 The naming of Bosham in the embroidery a permanent administrative center. As Hirokazu Tsurushima has helpfully suggested to me, Bosham’s importance is underscored by the fact that the Godwines kept their fleet there. Also see Mark Gardiner, “Shipping and Trade between England and the Continent during the Eleventh Century,” ANS 22 (2000): 71–93 at 84, where Bosham is portrayed as a “landing place” rather than a site of commercial activity. I am extremely grateful to David Roffe for discussing Domesday issues with me and for referring me to Gardiner’s study. 94 Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “‘… Velis vento plenis…’ Sea Crossings in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in The Maritime World of the Anglo-Saxons, ed. William Schipper, Stacy S. Klein, and Shannon Lewis-Simpson, Essays in Anglo-Saxon Studies 5, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, forthcoming), 131–56, draws attention to the fact that Bosham is directly opposite the port at Caen, which is the closest port in Normandy to Bayeux. 95 Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 21, points out that only nine of the thirty-three sites depicted are named in the inscriptions on the embroidery. 96 A later tale relayed by Walter Map tells of how Godwine acquired Bosham from the Archbishop of Canterbury by a verbal trick, although Map is considered unreliable on details: Walter Map, De nugis curialium: Courtiers’ Trifles, ed. and trans. M. R. James, revised C. N. L. Brooke and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 418–19 and n. 5, where the editors state that Walter was probably conflating this story with Godwine’s quarrel with Robert of Jumièges, Archbishop of Canterbury. Also see Vita Ædwardi, 30–3, referring to disputes between Archbishop Robert and Earl Godwine over “certain lands,” which Barlow (ibid., p. 32, n. 68) suggests is Folkestone. MacDermott, Bosham Church, 8, tells the story with Godwine’s trick hinging on the similarity in sound between “Bosham” (which is pronounced “Bozzum”) and a “buss” or kiss. Also see Frank Barlow, The Godwins: The Rise and Fall of a Noble Dynasty (Harlow: Longman, 2002), 23. 97 See David N. Dumville, “Some Aspects of Annalistic Writing at Canterbury in the Eleventh and Early Twelfth Centuries,” Peritia 2 (1983): 23–57 at 24–32, including his suggestion at 31–2 that ASC E may have been transferred in 1063 to Christ Church. 98 ASC Swanton, sub 1049, pp. 168-71. Also see Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, rev. trans. and ed. Dorothy Whitelock (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1961), sub 1049 C, pp. 112–14. Hereafter, Whitelock’s convenient translation will be referred to as Whitelock, Chronicle. 99 ASC Swanton, sub 1051, pp. 74–6 for the E-version. As Barlow points out (Vita Ædwardi, 36 n. 80), other accounts such as ASC D and Florence of Worcester allude to the same general area in stating that Godwine left from Thorney, an island off the coast near Bosham. However, they do not mention Bosham by name. These events are also discussed in Raraty, “Earl Godwine,” 8–10; Barlow, Godwins, 34–44; and Grassi, “Vita Ædwardi,” 90–3. 100 Vita Ædwardi, 37.

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could therefore be in keeping with a Canterbury tradition, since Bosham figures explicitly in both of these texts that were also likely composed there.101 Moreover, since these textual references attest to Bosham’s connection with the Godwine family in the context of at least two infamous events – the murder and the family’s explusion from England – it does not stretch the evidence unduly to infer that the naming and depiction of Bosham in the embroidery is also meant as ironic editorial commentary, which “casts Harold in the shadow of its dark history.”102 Such editorializing also links up with the depictions of Aesop’s fables that first appear in the border below Bosham manor, where the story of the fox tricking the crow out of the cheese appears at the bottom right, beneath the manor’s stairs leading to the sea (Plate II).103 The fact that Bosham appears in the main field at the head of this series of fables suggests that the emphasis on this site is meant to be portentous. Thus, analysis of the three instances of architecture in the Bayeux Embroidery said to have been inspired by actual buildings yields mixed results. The depiction of these buildings offers at the very least, a “truthiness” about each of the sites: the structures are individualized, and specific information such as dedications or identifying waterways is conveyed about the settings in each case. Yet none of the claims for the verisimilitude thought to lie behind the architectural imagery truly holds up. However detailed the image of Westminster Abbey (Plate XI), or compelling the presentation of the setting at Mont-Saint-Michel (Plate VIII), or intriguing the two structures at Bosham harbor may be (Plate II), the buildings cannot be fully explained as resulting from empirical observation. Instead, it is the combination of the inscriptions naming the sites, along with certain specific aspects of the architecture or the setting, which together create an impression of authenticity appropriate to the story. Equally important, not one of these buildings is alluded to in any textual account of the Norman Conquest earlier than William of Malmesbury’s Gesta Regum Anglorum of c. 1120, which is the first to name Bosham, suggesting that the embroidery’s story was not dictated by Norman sources. Indeed, the sites named on the textile do not match up well at all with the early Norman textual narratives of the conquest. Although in leaving Beaurain (see Map 1) – which is the furthest point east indicated on the textile – to get to the named site of Mont-Saint-Michel, Harold and his captors would have to pass by Rouen, a place featured in the accounts of both William of Poitiers and Orderic Vitalis accounts, Rouen is never named. Furthermore, the concentration of sites in the region of Lower Normandy and northern Brittany, namely Mont-SaintMichel, Dol, Dinan, and Rennes is without textual precedent. The appearance of the named sites of Westminster, Mont-Saint-Michel, and Bosham is yet another indication, as Edward A. Freeman long ago surmised, that the Bayeux Embroidery is telling its own story.104 Interestingly, all three sites have documented ties to Canterbury. The portrayal of Westminster Abbey closely parallels the textual description in the Vita Ædwardi; Mont-Saint-Michel highlights the place where Scolland served before becoming the 101

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See Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 10–13, 18. McNulty, Narrative Art, 73. In a fitting stroke of irony, Bosham emerged in 1996 as a site to challenge Waltham in claiming to possess the bones of Harold; see Barlow, Godwins, 113. The fables are discussed in Chapter 7. See Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 383–4.

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abbot of St Augustine’s; and Bosham is specifically named in association with Harold Godwineson’s family in the E-version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. On the basis of these sites, one would have to conclude that the choice of place-names complements the stylistic evidence in pointing to Canterbury manufacture.

Prior pictorial images Just as the hypothesis of empirical observation does not fully account for the embroidery’s depiction of sites identified as deriving from actual buildings, those structures said to be copied from artistic prototypes that we turn to now are never wholly explained by the process of transmission. For example, the freestanding triple-arched structure that Duke William’s messengers gallop past on their way to retrieve Harold from Count Guy has been regarded as a key example of the borrowing of a prior pictorial motif (W11–12; Plate V; Fig. 6). This building, characterized as “one of the more elaborate dividing devices between the scenes,”105 or as “best left unidentified,”106 has only ever been discussed as an example of a pictorial borrowing.107 In fact, the structure closely resembles buildings depicted in the Utrecht Psalter (Fig. 57),108 which, as noted above, was well known in Canterbury and copied several times there in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Correspondences between the manuscript and the embroidered image are readily apparent in the classicizing pavilion silhouette and details of the structures, including acroteria, roof tiles, and column capitals (compare Plate V and Fig. 57).109 Once it was revealed to be a pictorial borrowing, however, the embroidered structure largely ceased to be of further interest to scholars. But when viewed in relation to Count Guy’s capitulation to Duke William, which is the story in play here, it is interesting to observe how the architecture supports the narrative. On mere architectonic evidence, the building suggests that Count Guy cannot hold his own against Duke William. If this pretty tempietto is part of Guy’s estate (W9–12; Figs 5–6),110 it does not begin to announce the dignity of the occupant in the way that the imposing structure shown with Duke William does (W13; Plate VI; Fig. 7); and if not part of Guy’s residence, but used simply to punctuate the distance traversed by William’s messengers, then Guy’s estate is portrayed without any kind of gatehouse that would emphasize his status.111 In short, while this pavilion certainly appears to be a copy or pay homage to an older building Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” no. 131, p. 77. Brown, “Architecture,” 84. 107 Mann, “Architectural Conventions,” 63, where she refers to it as both a “tempietto” and a “pavilion,” and figs 14–15. 108 Utrecht, University Library MS 32, Psalm 1, fol. 1v. 109 Mann, “Architectural Conventions,” 63. Also see the comparison in Bernstein, Mystery, 43, figs 11–12, between the tempietto (which he dubs a “pavilion”) and the copy after the Utrecht Psalter made in Canterbury c. 1000, known as the Harley Psalter (London, British Library MS Harley 603, fol. 1v.). 110 Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 25 suggests that it might be a different view of Guy’s hall shown in the previous scene. 111 Philip Dixon, “Design in Castle-Building: The Controlling of Access to the Lord,” Château Gaillard 18 (1998): 47–56, raises related issues. I thank Kim Kilmartin for bringing this reference to my attention. 105

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type, why allow this to decontextualize the structure from the story to which it belongs? The way the building is used in fact underscores Count Guy’s powerlessness before Duke William, which is an astute enhancement of the narrative. Another example in which prior pictorial images have been implicated is the depiction of Conan’s escape from the fortified tower at Dol (W20–1; Plate IX; Figs 10 and 11).112 David Bernstein noted the similarity between images of the episode at Dol and the lowering of the Israelite spies from the walls of Jericho in the Hexateuch produced at St Augustine’s (Plate XXVI),113 and suggested a direct model/copy relationship by drawing attention to the “evident fascination with patterned façades in both works,” as well as to the fleeing men’s legs crossed “in the same balletic manner.”114 Admittedly, the rope-ladder escape is an amusing shared feature, but as R. H. C. Davis suggested, this was probably a medieval narrative trope.115 It is also found in Orderic Vitalis’s description of the Turkish invasion of the Christian stronghold at Antioch, where he alludes to the fearful Christian warriors who escaped clandestinely at night by letting themselves down the walls with ropes.116 The fact that Orderic even coined a term for these fleeing warriors – furtivi funambuli, or “clandestine rope dancers” in Marjorie Chibnall’s apt translation – supports the notion that this kind of flight must have become a standard motif. Apart from the funambuli, how similar are the embroidery’s depiction of Conan’s escape from the tower of Dol and the earlier illuminated image? Analysis reveals essential differences between the two structures (Plates IX and XXVI). Not only does the embroidery emphasize the motte on which the tower sits, by means of its tri-colored contour and the affronted birds that encompass the height of the mound; it also includes other specific select details such as the wooden footbridge with horizontal ridges for ease in traversing, and a distinctive triangular form on the perimeter at right corresponding to the counterscarp, the exterior slope of the complex. In addition, while the embroidery’s simple colorful structure might derive from the practice of affixing animal hides to the timber framework to protect it from fire and missiles, the Hexateuch’s image with its arched opening and earth-toned rectangular blocks appears to be a more substantial stone 112

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On Dol, see Robert Higham and Philip Barker, Timber Castles (London: B. T. Batsford, 1992), 147–56 at 151–2; Brown, “Architecture,” 81–3; Flambard Héricher, “Archaeology and the Bayeux Tapestry,” 261–68; Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 31–36. For textual accounts of the Breton expedition, of which the siege of Dol is a part, see Beech, Was the Bayeux Tapestry Made in France?, 61–88; K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, “William I and the Breton Contingent in the Non-Norman Conquest, 1060–1087,” ANS 13 (1991): 157–72 at 161–70; and Michael Jones, “The Defence of Medieval Brittany: A Survey of the Establishment of Fortified Towns, Castles and Frontiers from the Gallo-Roman Period to the End of the Middle Ages,” Archaeological Journal 138 (1981): 149–204. Also see The Cartulary of the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, ed. K. S. B. KeatsRohan (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2006), viii for a map of the sites mentioned in the cartulary (which she dates c. 1149–50), including all three sites in Brittany – Dol, Rennes, and Dinan – depicted in the embroidery. London, British Library MS Cotton Claudius B. iv, fol. 141v. See Chapter 6. Bernstein, Mystery, 40–1, figs 5–6. R. H. C. Davis, “William of Poitiers and his History of William the Conqueror,” in The Writing of History in the Middle Ages: Essays Presented to Richard William Southern, ed. R. H. C. Davis and J. M. Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 71–100. Orderic, EH, vol. 5, 98–9. Davis, “William of Poitiers and his History,” 82.

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structure.117 In fact, what this comparison really points to is the creative transformation of the funambulist motif and the independent specificity of the image at Dol. The unnamed structure shown at the first appearance of Duke William (W13; Plate VI; Fig. 7) has also been attributed to prior pictorial images found in the Hexateuch.118 It is a building for which many potential “sources” have been cited, including literary references and disparate archaeological finds. For example, a reading of William of Poitiers, who states that Duke William received Harold at Rouen, would lead us to expect that this is the ducal palace there,119 which did indeed have a famous stone-built donjon that survived into the thirteenth century.120 However, as noted above, Rouen is never named on the embroidery. Arnold Taylor proposed instead that the structure is Duke William’s residence in Beaurain, based on his reading of the sequence of embroidered images that begin with Count Guy’s reception of Harold in Beaurain (“Belrem”), which is named (W8; Figs 4 and 5), and also on the basis of a motte that has survived there (even if little else has).121 There is an interesting methodological question at issue here. When a particular setting or structure is not named in the embroidery, why should we strain for identification? The structure shown with Duke William is an impressive and recognizable kind of building (Plate VI), and as such, it is a type likely to be reflected in a variety of sites and references.122 However, the embroidery gives us no basis for determining if this building is located in Rouen, Beaurain, or Caen for that matter.123 Scholars have been so busy seeking its “source” – in prior pictorial images, textual allusions, or actual buildings – that 117

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Holmes, “Houses,” 181; Jones, “Defence,” 158 cites earlier scholars who argue that the fortification at Dol was made of stone, but finds no conclusive evidence; likewise Higham and Barker, Timber Castles, 151–2. Glazed wall tiles in the cloister of Westminster also recall the exterior adornment of this structure: see Warwick Rodwell, “New Glimpses of Edward the Confessor’s Abbey at Westminster,” in Mortimer, Edward 151–67, fig. 7.3; and Gem, “Romanesque Rebuilding,” 59–60, fig. 10. See discussion of how this building was stitched in Chapter 1. Mann, “Architectural Conventions,” 63, figs 16 and 17, compared the embroidery’s structure to the lowering of the Israelite spies from the walls of Jericho, from the Hexateuch (Fig. 90); Bernstein, Mystery, 76–8, figs 41 and 42 compared the building to the Hexateuch’s Tower of Babel (London, British Library MS Cotton Claudius B. iv, fol. 19r.). WP, GG, book i. 43, pp. 70–1. Pierre Héliot, “Sur les residences princières bâties en France du Xe au XIIe siècle,” Le Moyen Age 61 (1955): 27–61 at 46–7; Brown, “Architecture,” 81; Hinz, “Zu zwei Darstellungen,” 107–19; Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 118–19; Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 38. On topography within Rouen, see Bernard Gauthiez, “Hypothèses sur la fortification de Rouen au onzième siècle: le donjon, la tour de Richard II et l’enceinte de Guillaume,” ANS 14 (1992): 62–76. Taylor, “Belrem,” 10. A capital at Saint-Etienne in Caen has a related configuration of tower and parapet: ibid., 14, fig. 5. In addition, see the similar Westminster Hall capital cited in Brian Hope-Taylor, “The Norman Motte at Abinger, Surrey and its Wooden Castle,” in Recent Archaeological Excavations in Britain, ed. R. L. S. Bruce-Mitford (New York: Macmillan, 1956), 223–49 at 242 and plate XLIIIb; R. Allen Brown, English Castles (London: B. T. Batsford, 1954), 37, fig. 13; and idem, “Architecture,” 82 and fig. 39. On architectural motifs that sometimes appear on seals of cities from the late twelfth century, see Brigitte Bedos-Rezak, “Towns and Seals: Representation and Signification in Medieval France,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 72 (1990): 35–48. Now see Joseph Decaëns and Adrien Dubois, Caen Castle: A Ten Centuries Old Fortress within the Town, trans. Christine-Anne Smith and Nicola Coulthard (Caen: Publications du CRAHM, 2010).

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they miss the most important point, which is that it serves as a substantial backdrop for William of Normandy, a kind of predicate nominative for the duke who is first introduced seated next to it. The structure undeniably adds impact to his image as a powerful ruler. At first glance, William’s structure (Plate VI) does not appear to bear any relationship to the fortified tower at Dol (Plate IX) or to any of the four others with which it is often grouped at Rennes (W21–2), Dinan (W23), Bayeux (W25), and Hastings (W49–50), all of which have prominent mottes and an evident portion of timber construction (see Figs 10–13 and 25).124 Because William’s edifice, in contrast, sits on relatively level ground and its arched opening and squared courses correspond more plausibly to a masonry structure, it differs considerably from these five other structures.125 There are practical reasons why the motte towers, unlike the structure shown with William, would be made predominantly of wood. Ella Armitage noted that in the damp climates of Brittany and England, it would take at least ten years for the soil to settle sufficiently on a man-made mound in order to support a fully stone building;126 and Wace referred to the pierced and trimmed wood the Norman carpenters brought with them in special barrels on their ships so that they could put together a ready-made fort within the first day of their arrival in England.127 Taylor suggested that this structure shown with Duke William portrays a stone-built gatehouse with parapet in the foreground and a motte with tower at center (Plate VI), seen at some distance across the bailey.128 The prominence here of stone – a building material which is more expensive, more permanent, easier to defend, and more difficult to transport and work than wood – not only is appropriate to this more complete view of the architectural complex, but also serves to reinforce the image of William as a ruler with great resources at his command. The five other images on the embroidery merely excerpt the portion of the complex that figures in the narrative, namely the fortification towers on mottes used defensively.129 Again, it is the story that leads to the most sensible reading of how the buildings are presented. Close examination of the pictorial “sources” of the buildings in the Bayeux Embroidery, then, whether for the classical-looking pavilion that no one has much to say about, or for the so-called motte and bailey castles for which there is a vast literature,130 leads to the 124

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See Ella S. Armitage, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray, 1912), 88–9, comparing the embroidery’s motte structures with the early twelfth-century account of the castle of Merchem. Also see the excavation of a wooden motte fortification that appears to confirm many of the features of the embroidery structures, particularly Dinan, in Hope-Taylor, “Norman Castles,” Scientific American 198 (1958): 42–8; idem, “Norman Motte at Abinger.” Brown, “Architecture,” 81–2 and likewise Wilson, BT, 216, distinguish the structure shown with Duke William from the others on the basis of its materials. Armitage, Early Norman Castles, p. 82, n. 2. Wace, History, 163–4. Taylor, “Belrem,” 10, 22 n. 20, responding to the charge that mottes never existed at Dinan, Dol, or Rennes. Brown, English Castles, 35 on the use of an “artistic short-hand.” See the particularly useful recent overviews with extensive bibliography in Luc Bourgeois, “Les residences des élites et les fortifications du Haut Moyen Age en France et en Belgique dans leur cadre européen: Aperçu historiographique (1955–2005),” in Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale 49 (2006): 113–41, which I thank Sylvie Balcon for mentioning; The Seigneurial Residence in Western Europe, AD c. 800–1600, ed. Gwyn Meirion-Jones, Edward Impey, and Michael Jones, BAR International Series 1088 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2002); Charles Coulson, “The State of Research: Cultural Realities and Reappraisals in English Castle-Study,” Journal of Medieval

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conclusion that inherited pictorial images were not determinative in how the architecture was shown in the embroidery. The comparanda, far from showing the artistic indebtedness of the embroidery, actually highlight the way that images were appropriated and adapted in the service of the narrative.

Fantasy architecture We turn now to the depictions of palace interiors, which are the structures scholars most often point to when they dismiss the images of buildings on the embroidery as mere “fantasy architecture.”131 Although, as we have seen, there is no reason to exalt the actual structures that lie behind some of the images on the Bayeux Embroidery, let alone focus exclusively on the process of copying prior pictorial images, there is also no basis for rejecting these architectural interiors as mere fantasy. Consider, for example, the case of Westminster Palace.132 The palace is never named on the embroidery, but is understood to be there, as evidenced by William Lethaby’s comment, citing the image of the figure perched on the palace at left and placing a weathervane on the east end of the abbey, that the palace of Westminster is “figured in its proper position to the east of the abbey” (W28–9; Plate XI; Fig. 15).133 Unfortunately, this kind of empirical association is subverted by the two-dimensional world of the textile, where east is only occasionally and inconsistently referenced. Moreover, the six different views of episodes that might conceivably take place at Westminster Palace do not cohere.134 In order of appearance, the sites often said to be located in the palace include the private chamber in the opening scene (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1), the tower from which Harold is sighted upon his return from the continent (W27; Fig. 14),135 the audience hall in which King Edward receives Harold when he returns (W28; Figs 14–15), the upperstory bower where Edward dies (W30; Plate XII; Fig. 15), the location where the newly crowned Harold is acclaimed (W31; Plate XIII; Fig. 16), and the structure shown beneath the inauspicious comet sighting (W32–3; Cover; Fig. 17). Again, the embroidery never names these settings, and the views shown are so selective that the palace as a whole – if it is indeed a single complex – remains frustratingly elusive. The fact that a number of these scenes could plausibly have taken place in other locations, such as Westminster

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History 22 (1996): 171–208; Richard Eales, “Royal Power and Castles in Norman England,” in The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood, III: Papers from the Fourth Strawberry Hill Conference, 1988, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill and Ruth Harvey (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1990), 49–78. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 18; Grape, BT, 27; Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 37. See the discussion in Holmes, “Houses,” 180–1; the reconstruction of the abbey and palace by W. T. Ball in Gem, “Romanesque Rebuilding,” 48–9, fig. 5; and now see Blair, “Hall and Chamber,” 5–9. W. R. Lethaby, “The Palace of Westminster in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries,” Archaeologia 60 (1906): 131–48 at 132. Brown, “Architecture,” 77 pursues a similar tack in stating that the abbey is “correctly shown immediately to the west of the palace.” For more on the siting of the abbey, see Chapter 11. For the intriguing thirteenth-century decoration of the palace, which is often compared to the Bayeux Embroidery, see Paul Binski, The Painted Chamber at Westminster (London: Society of Antiquaries, 1986). A point underscored by Mann, “Architectural Conventions,” 60. Renn, “Burhgeat and Gonfanon.”

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Abbey or the royal palaces at Winchester or Gloucester, underscores the point that the embroidery does not provide specific details.136 As Wilson complained, every English palace has simply been presumed to be Westminster.137 Rather than viewing these structures as merely fantastical, however, these unnamed interior settings can also be shown to evoke familiar associations. Based on her close reading of Anglo-Saxon texts, Ann Williams noted how frequently sites are referred to by a single significant feature such as the bell tower or gatehouse, features which point beyond themselves to stand for the status of the inhabitants.138 For example, drawing on a reference from Bury St Edmunds that mentions a wooden tower of up to 140 feet in height, she suggests that a residence with a bell tower reads as secure, defended, and important. Just such a tower accompanies the structure, identified by inscription as a palace, where Duke William first meets Harold (W16; Plate VII; Fig. 8).139 Likewise, a gatehouse, such as the foremost part of the structure shown when the duke is first introduced (W13; Plate VI; Fig. 7), carries these same implications.140 In addition, Williams points to the fact that Domesday Book most consistently refers to manors by their halls, and she submits that this is the most important part of an estate for the purposes of Domesday’s inventory because the hall is where public business was transacted and seigneurial dues were collected.141 That bell towers, gatehouses, and halls are the portions of residences most frequently shown on the Bayeux Embroidery suggests their iconographic currency for contemporary beholders. Besides alluding to structures synecdochally by a significant feature, these architectural “selections” on the embroidery also make astute distinctions between public and private spaces. Scholars have identified ten different halls in the Bayeux Embroidery 136

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Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 88 states that the first episode takes place at Winchester, although he is one of the few to do so; among others, Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 21 locates Harold’s acclamation in Westminster Abbey. Also see M. Biddle, “Seasonal Festivals and Residence: Winchester, Westminster and Gloucester in the Tenth to Twelfth Centuries,” ANS 8 (1986): 51–63. Wilson, BT, 216. Williams, “Bell-house,” 227. The Anglo-Saxon law compilation “Of People’s Ranks and Laws,” a fragment from the circle of Wulfstan II, Archbishop of York 1002–23, provides the textual basis upon which Williams and others speak about residences. See discussion with further bibliography in F. M. Stenton, “The Thriving of the Anglo-Saxon Ceorl,” a lecture delivered in 1958 and printed in expanded version in rpt. Preparatory to Anglo-Saxon England: Being the Collected Papers of Frank Merry Stenton, ed. Doris Mary Stenton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 381–93; R. Allen Brown, “An Historian’s Approach to the Origins of the Castle in England,” Archaeological Journal 126 (1979): 131–48 at 141–3; Renn, “Burhgeat and Gonfanon,” 182–3 and n. 28. Note that Lampl, “Schemes,” 7 also identified the synecdochal process identified by Williams (though not characterized by her in those terms) as one of the “intentional and meaningful ways by which medieval buildings are depicted.” Williams, “Bell-house,” 226, where the manor house of the Cockfield family in Bury St Edmunds provides the example. Renn, “Burhgeat and Gonfanon,” 178–86 argues that two other examples of gatehouses are shown in the embroidery: the four-story portside tower in the episode of Harold’s return to England (W27; Fig. 14), and the structure from which William leaves Hastings to be presented with his mount (W51; Plate XVI; Fig. 26). Williams, “Bell-house,” 228, where she emphasizes that the presence of a hall is one of the criteria used to identify a manor. Note that Blair, “Hall and Chamber,” contends that a number of buildings that scholars now designate as halls are actually chamber blocks.

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as a whole,142 but they have failed to distinguish between the five large public spaces and the five intimate settings depicted, despite the very different implications of each for the narrative. Public halls on the embroidery include Duke William’s palace on the continent, the scene of the first encounter of William and Harold (W16–17; Plate VII; Fig. 8), shown in a broad horizontal view with blind arcading that underscores the breadth of the interior, and King Edward’s hall, which is the large reception space where the king receives Harold on his return from the Continent (W28; Figs 14 and 15).143 The embroidery offers a marked contrast between these aulae, where widely recognized public events are presented in expansive settings, and small chambers or camerae, which admit only a small number of close associates and where conversations were known to a chosen few.144 The opening episode (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1) is set in such a restricted room. The exterior at left establishes the importance of the setting through multiple towers, arches, and wall embellishments, and thus emphasizes Edward’s royal dignity. At right, in keeping with the medieval pictorial strategies previously noted, a simultaneous view of the interior provides a glimpse of a private meeting within.145 The exchange of gestures between King Edward and the figure identified in the next scene as Harold appears to suggest that something significant has transpired between them. However, neither we nor anyone else in the building, including the bodyguard in the background, knows for sure precisely what was said, a fact underscored by the intimacy of the setting. There is a disparity between what commentators relying on Norman authors have seen in the depiction of this meeting,146 and what the embroidery actually shows (Plate I).147 As discussed earlier, a key theme for Norman authors was that Harold journeyed to the continent on the king’s commission, in order to confirm Edward’s earlier promise to his cousin William of Normandy that the duke would succeed him on the English throne. This version of the story has led many to interpret the first episode of the embroidery as the moment when the king entrusts Harold with the mission of promising the succession to William. However, this way of interpreting the scene is contestable for several reasons. First, if we interpret the scene in the light of modern historians’ views about what probably took place at this meeting, then it is important to 142 143

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On the ten halls: Brown, “Architecture,” 79; Lewis, Archaeological Authority, 37–8. The full list of public halls on the Bayeux Embroidery includes Harold’s hall at Bosham (W3–4; Plate II; Fig. 2), Guy’s hall (W9–10; Fig. 5), William’s hall (W16–17; Plate VII; Fig. 8), Edward’s hall (W28; Fig. 15), and the Norman “hall” in Hastings (W47–8; Plate XV; Fig. 24). See Blair, “Hall and Chamber,” 2–5, with further bibliography; and Quiney, “Hall or Chamber?,” 30–1. Also see George Duby’s insightful comments in A History of Private Life, vol. 2, Revelations of the Medieval World, ed. idem and trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1988), 3–32; and Robin Fleming, “The New Wealth, the New Rich and the New Political Style in Late Anglo-Saxon England,” ANS 23 (2001): 1–22 at 11–12. Holmes, “Houses,” 180; Lampl, “Schemes,” 11. For the Norman authors, see WP, GG, book i. 41, pp. 68–9; WJ, GND, vol. 2, book vii. 13(31), pp. 158–61; Orderic, EH, vol. 2, book III. ii. 116, pp. 134–37. Twelfth-century authors in fact expressed uncertainty about why Harold went, and identified different purposes for his trip. Eadmer, HRE, 6, states that Harold went to Normandy to free his brother and nephew who were held hostage. WM, GR, vol. 1, book ii. 228.3, pp. 416–17, suggests that Harold may have been on a fishing trip and blown off course. See the assessment of the evidence in Stephen Baxter, “Edward the Confessor and the Succession Question,” in Mortimer, Edward, 77–118 at 108 and further discussion in Chapter 2.

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note that although some have accepted the Norman narrative as historically accurate, others have questioned it. In the latter camp is Stephen Baxter, according to whom “The idea that Edward sent Harold to confirm his earlier promise of the succession to William is one of the least credible of all of the claims made by Norman sources, for it runs contrary to everything that is known about the relative power of Edward and his earls at this date.”148 Moreover, by omitting the handing over of objects that would signify a pledge – such as the ring and sword that Guy of Amiens says King Edward sent to Duke William through Harold – the image does not make use of the pictorial language available for underscoring the promise referred to in the Norman accounts.149 Commentators on the embroidery sometimes refer to the impoverishment of visual language to convey complex ideas,150 and contend that it is in the nature of pictorial narrative to be ambiguous. However, the visual symbolism of promise tokens, as those pictured in contemporaneous images, such as the sword-belt and ring that St Alexis bestows on his wife in the image from the St Albans Psalter from the early twelfth century (Plate XXX), demonstrate that there was a visual language that was part of the repertoire on which the designer could have drawn if he had sought to emphasize that Edward renewed his promise to William through Harold’s mediation.151 But the Bayeux Embroidery eschews such specificity. The place where they meet is not named; King Edward gives Harold no token or gift to convey to William; and their conversation is set, not in a public hall, but in a small private chamber. Another example of a private setting is the gathering around King Edward’s deathbed in an upper-story bower (W30; Plate XII; Fig. 15). Here again, a key episode in the Bayeux Embroidery narrative is deliberately handled in a manner that could give rise to different interpretations.152 The reverse order sequence and “double-decker” presentation of the scene attract attention;153 and this close setting in turn leads the viewer to ponder what might have happened and who knew about the event, let alone what the dying 148

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Baxter, “Edward the Confessor,” 106. Also see Baxter’s very useful historiography of the pre-conquest aristocracy in idem, Earls of Mercia, 4–8. Baxter’s point was raised by Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 450; and Gibbs-Smith, “Notes on the Plates,” 175. Guy, Carmen, 18–19 and n. 2. Stenton, “Historical Background,” 14–15, 22; J. Bard McNulty, Visual Meaning in the Bayeux Tapestry: Problems and Solutions in Picturing History (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003), 3, 11–21. Hildesheim, Dombibliothek MS St Godehard 1, fol. 57. The promise tokens that the saint gives his wife are mentioned in both the colored captions over the central turret and the verses that follow. For the image, see: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/stalbanspsalter/english/commentary/ page057.shtml; and for the text: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/stalbanspsalter/english/translation/ trans057.shtml (both accessed 20 October 2010). Also see Jane Geddes, The St Albans Psalter: A Book for Christina of Markyate (London: The British Library, 2005), p. 67 and color plate 56. Moreover, in the Hexateuch made at St Augustine’s by the mid-eleventh century it is just such identifying tokens of Judah’s staff, bracelet, and ring that serve to identify Tamar with the king and save her from death; see Dodwell and Clemoes, Hexateuch, 28 and fols 56r and 57r. Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 13; Bernstein, Mystery, 114–23; Thierry Lesieur, “Lisible et visible dans la tapisserie de Bayeux, ou la stratégie de l’ambiguïté,” La Licorne 23 (1992): 173–82, online at http://licorne.edel.univpoitiers.fr/document.php?id=334 (accessed 20 October 2010); Mason, House of Godwine, 114–15. And see further discussion of this scene in Chapters 3, 9 and 11. Gameson, “Origin,” 194–5.

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king intended.154 For this reason, the king’s bower, like other private settings, is not mere fantasy architecture but a site whose specific, plausible, and intimate architectural setting is used to leave open the interpretation of the event.

The Placement of Architecture on the Embroidery Until this point, the importance of the architecture in leading the beholder through the long pictorial frieze, in enhancing the themes of the narrative, and in making distinctions between public and private spaces where key but disputed events leading up to the conquest took place has been emphasized. However, a final point about the buildings in the embroidery concerns their strategic absence in the last third of the textile. In contradistinction to the earlier battles fought in Brittany, which are punctuated by the motte fortification towers (W21–3; Figs 10–12), no buildings are depicted when the Battle of Hastings takes place.155 The last built structure depicted in the hanging occurs in scene 51 of the 73 extant episodes (W51; Plate XVI; Fig. 26), when a groom brings William’s charger for battle. Admittedly the site of the Battle of Hastings, with its steep dominating precipice, was never known for building until the erection of Battle Abbey in the late eleventh century, a fact underscored by the Chronicle of Battle Abbey’s repeated references to the “unsuitability” of the site and by Eleanor Searle’s uninviting characterization of the setting as “a desert surrounded by swampy valleys.”156 The fact that the site for the battle is depicted as open land rather than a built environment is significant. As John Gillingham and others have pointed out, it was unusual for a medieval conflict to be fought on an open battlefield; the more limited siege warfare conducted in the Breton expedition, which consisted of cutting off the enemy’s stronghold from food and supplies, was far more customary.157 The striking absence of buildings in the final third of the embroidery thus serves to emphasize the final battle’s importance and anomalous nature by contrasting it with previous skirmishes that take place in the more usual kind of setting. Beyond this, it is remarkable how much the terrain of the battlefield has been minimized in the embroidery, and this is also true with respect to the architectonic definition offered by representations of trees. The last of the thirty-nine trees depicted on the embroidery appears in the scene when Duke William exhorts his men to fight bravely (W57: Plate XVIII; Fig. 28).158 The absence of architecture, and indeed of detailed topog154

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See the careful parsing of the scene in the embroidery and the story in the Vita Ædwardi often used to interpret it in H. E. J. Cowdrey, “King Harold II and the Bayeux Tapestry: A Critical Introduction,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 1–15 at 7–8. Discussed in Chapters 3 and 9. On the importance of the battle, see Gameson, “Origin,” 207–11; and Chapter 10. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey, ed. and trans. Eleanor Searle (Oxford: Clarendon, 1980), 42–5; eadem, Lordship and Community: Battle Abbey and its Banlieu, 1066–1538 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1974), 22. Also see Domesday Geography of South-East England, ed. Darby and Campbell, 417–19, 471, 478, and fig. 123; J. N. Hare, “The Buildings of Battle Abbey,” ANS 3 (1981): 78–94 at 80–4. I thank Shirley Ann Brown for our many helpful discussions, including those on Battle Abbey topography. John Gillingham, “William the Bastard at War,” in Studies in Medieval History Presented to R. Allen Brown, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill, Christopher J. Holdsworth, and Janet L. Nelson (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1989), 141–58. Musset, Bayeux Tapestry, 71. A small stump is visible in the episode known as the “Malfosse

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raphy in the presentation of the battlefield, functions dramatically as a way of focusing attention on the carnage that is taking place, and is all the more striking because the structures that have anchored the narrative until this point disappear. Scenes such as the one in which Harold’s brothers are killed (W63–4; Plate XIX; Fig. 32) appear especially brutal because of the starkness of the setting. Adding to the horror are the decapitated and dismembered English corpses that begin to overwhelm the lower borders, which until the battle have maintained their own regular geometries. The absence of any structures in the final third of the textile also reinforces how important the regular cadence of the buildings has been in establishing the pace of the first two thirds of the narrative. Clearly, the architecture functions as more than a mere decorative scene-divider or organizational device. Its role is not limited to referencing real buildings or prior pictorial imagery, nor does it stem from wholly fantastical projections. First and foremost, the built environment enhances the narrative, not just in providing suitable accommodation for the main characters but also in offering deft editorializing about the status of the inhabitants, and about the public or private nature of the conversations taking place. Moreover, the choice of sites named and elaborated upon reflects a sensibility wholly divergent from the early Norman narratives traditionally cited as sources for the embroidery. Finally the absence of architecture, and indeed the architectonic rhythms of the composition as a whole, work to offset the full horror of the final battle. Stepping back from examination of the architecture itself, what do the buildings suggest about the perspective of the embroidery’s designers? In the course of this investigation, it became apparent that all three of the named sites at Westminster, Mont-Saint-Michel, and Bosham have strong ties to Canterbury, particularly with the abbey of St Augustine’s, because of Abbot Scolland’s personal ties to Mont-SaintMichel. Moreover, the embroidery’s failure explicitly to endorse a Norman perspective on the purpose of Harold’s trip to the Continent finds echoes in the work of the Christ Church monk Eadmer, who first questioned why Harold went to the Continent and identified different reasons for his trip. Finally, the horror of battle and the depiction of all the dead to be buried highlighted on the embroidery mirror the emphasis of the Martyrology of St Augustine’s, which records the deaths of Harold, king of the English, and “so many of our brothers.”159 Inevitably, even as the Nuremberg Chronicle, with which we began, cannot help but underscore the eponymous city in Bavaria where it was made, so the sites named and articulated architecturally on the Bayeux Embroidery betray the choices of their makers. Arguably, it is a Canterbury tale.

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incident,” (W66–7; Fig. 33) for which see Wilson, BT, 192–3, but it does not take away from Musset’s point. On trees in the embroidery, see Grape, “Trees as Participants,” in idem, BT, 68–9. London, British Library MS Cotton Vitellius B. xii, fol. 145v.

Chapter 9 Legal Ceremonies and the Question of Legitimacy Stephen D. White How Land Should be Given When King William I gave land in England as “a perpetual inheritance” to the Norman abbey of La Trinité du Mont in 1069, he made the gift by means of a knife, which he jokingly gave to the abbot as if he were going to stab him in the palm, saying, “This is the way land should be given.”1 This was not the usual way to give land, of course. But the story presupposed that there was a customary legal ceremony for doing so, which William would ordinarily have performed by placing the knife – which symbolized his gift – in the abbot’s hand. In any case, the king’s act was still represented by the scribe who recorded it in a charter as a clear sign that with many “nobiles” standing beside him as witnesses, he had given land to La Trinité.2 Using a staff rather than a knife, John Burnet performed a different version of the same ceremony sometime during the 1070s, when he made a deathbed gift to the Norman abbey of Saint-Martin de Sées. After the abbot came to his house and granted him the society and benefit of the abbey by handing him a staff, John and his brother Herbert first held the staff in their own hands and then gave a tithe to the abbey by handing the same staff back to the abbot, with many men of good judgment present to witness the ceremony.3 It was also customary for donors of land to monasteries to make their gifts ceremonially by placing a knife, a charter, a book, or a glove on the patron saint’s altar. Here, at 1

2 3

A. Deville, “Cartulaire de l’abbaye de la Sainte-Trinité du Mont de Rouen,” in M. Guérard, Cartulaire de l’abbaye de Saint-Bertin, Collection des Cartulaires de France, vol. 3 (Paris: s.l., 1840), pp. 403–87, no. 67 (1069) (p. 455): “Haec donatio facta est per unum cultellum, quem prefatus rex joculariter dans abbati quasi ejus palmae minatus infigere: ‘Ita, inquit, terra dari debet.’ Hoc ergo evidenti signo multorumque nobilium qui regio lateri astabant testimonio facta est haec donatio.” Trans. in Emily Tabuteau, Transfers of Property in Eleventh-Century Norman Law (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 122. On making gifts in the hand of abbots or others representing a monastic donee, see Tabuteau, Transfers of Property, 120–2. Ibid., 121 and p. 339, n. 52, citing the Livre Blanc of Saint-Martin de Sée, microfilm of the original, Archives départementales de l’Orne, H 938, fol. 28v: “Deinde autem ipse abbas per baculum suum … dedit illi scilicet Johanni ac Herberto fratri eius, totum beneficium et societatem loci Sancti Martini Sagii. Ipsi autem utrique Johannes videlicet et Herbertus eundem baculum insimul manibus tenentes dederunt Sancto Martino et abbati manu predictum baculum propria accipienti decimam de Fontanis.”

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the right of the lower register of the illustration from the late twelfth-century cartulary of Mont-Saint-Michel (Fig. 58), a king gives land to the abbey by placing a glove on the altar of St-Michel, while witnesses stand behind him.4 Above, the king, now clad in the garb of a penitent, requests the society and benefit of the abbey, which, the image shows, he will receive from the saint through the abbot’s mediation. In Figure 59, which shows an image accompanying a charter, King Edgar is about to hand to Christ a book symbolizing the gift of land that the king made to the New Minster at Winchester in 966.5 On the last roundel of the early thirteenth-century Guthlac Roll are depicted benefactors of Crowland Abbey, coming to confirm their gifts of land by placing their charters on the altar of St Guthlac (Fig. 60).6 Ceremonies for giving land to laymen are much less well documented, but they evidently resembled the ones used for giving land to churches. The donor would place a knife, a glove, a wand, a staff, or some other token of the gift in the donee’s hand, or hand him a banner – as in a late twelfth-century image of Charlemagne giving land to Roland (Fig. 61).7 Besides making the gift of land symbolically, the donor had to identify himself and his donee, describe the land, specify the terms on which he gave it, secure approval from others with an interest in it, use the appropriate words of gift, such as “I give and grant” (dono et concedo), and go through the entire ceremony publicly.8 Even when all these ceremonial acts were performed in the customary way before specially designated witnesses, who saw them and heard them, the gift could still be challenged on various grounds, such as that the donor had no right to make it, or that the donee had no right 4

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Avranches, Bibliothèque municipal MS 210, fol. 25v, in The Cartulary of the Abbey of Mont-SaintMichel, ed. K. S. B. Keats-Rohan (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2006), xi. On the image, see eadem, “Introduction,” in ibid., 1–51 at 23–4 and the literature cited at pp. 23, n. 70 and 24, n 72; Tabuteau, Transfers of Property, 120–1. London, British Library MS Cotton Vespasian A. viii, fol. 2v: frontispiece illumination. For the charter, see Charters of the New Minster, Winchester, ed. Sean Miller, Anglo-Saxon Charters 9 (Oxford: Published for The British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2001), no. 23 (95–104). London, British Library MS Harley Roll Y. 6. See George F. Warner, The Guthlac Roll: Scenes from the Life of St. Guthlac of Crowland by a Twelfth-century Artist: Reproduced from Harley Roll Y. 6 in the British Museum (London: The Roxburghe Club, 1928). This way of representing gifts of land to saints and their monastic representatives at particular abbeys can be profitably understood as one form of what Cynthia Hahn, “Peregrinatio et Natio: The Illustrated Life of Edmund, King and Martyr,” Gesta 30 (1991): 119–39 at 122 calls “the donation topos” and illustrates by discussing “a visual hagiographic topos of charity” in the “Illustrated Life of St Edmund” (c. 1130), in New York, Morgan Library, M. 736. It is also important to keep in mind that the same or, at least, similar imagery of objects standing for gifts being handed by donors to donees was used in secular contexts to represent transfers of property and power. Konrad of Regensberg, Rolandslied, twelfth century. Heidelberg, Heidelberg University Library MS Palat. germ. 112. Reproduced in Marc Bloch, Feudal Society, trans. L. A. Manyon (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 173. For an image of “a king seated on his throne [who] invests a bishop and an abbess with a sceptre and three laymen by handing each of them a standard,” see Heidelberg, Heidelberg University MS., Cod. Pal. Germ. 164, Sachsenspiegel (early fourteenth century), reproduced in F. L. Ganshof, Feudalism, trans. Philip Grierson, 3rd English ed. (London: Longman, 1964), 126. On livery of seisin, see Samuel Edmund Thorne, “Livery of Seisin,” Law Quarterly Review 52 (1936): rpt. in idem, Essays in English Legal History (London: Hambledon Press, 1985), 31–44. Thorne, “Livery of Seisin,” 37. As Hahn, “Peregrinatio et Natio,” 121 also makes clear, similar imagery was used in pictorial representations of power or powers being conveyed to rulers.

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to receive it because he was legally barred from holding it. Nevertheless, the donee’s first step in responding to such a challenge was to prove that the donor had made the gift of land to him in the customary way; and he did so by producing witnesses who had seen and heard the performance of this legal ceremony. How legal ceremonies for giving land were customarily performed, described, recorded, and represented pictorially during the central Middle Ages is a good starting point for re-considering two important scenes on the Bayeux Embroidery and then addressing the broader question of how – or whether – the textile treats what O. K. Werckmeister once called “the legal pre-history” of the Norman conquest of England.9 One of the two scenes is often interpreted as showing or even proving that King Edward confirmed a previous bequest of the English kingdom that he had previously made to Duke William of Normandy (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1). The other is generally understood as showing that King Edward later bequeathed the same kingdom to Harold (W30; Plate XII; Figs 15, 16).10 However, since neither scene represents the ceremony customarily used for giving land, there are further reasons beyond the ones considered in previous chapters for re-opening the question of what kind of story the Bayeux Embroidery tells, from what perspective, for what purposes, and for what kinds of viewers.11 If, as argued in Chapter 2, it did not tell either the Norman Story, as traditional interpretations hold, or the English Story, as revisionists have claimed, what story could it possibly have told? If it legitimated neither William I’s nor Harold II’s claim to be King Edward’s successor by showing that he had bequeathed the English kingdom to the Duke of Normandy, as the Norman Story stated, or to Harold, as the English one held, how did it explain the conflict over which of them had right to the kingdom of the English?12 By reading the embroidery as though it illustrated a particular story of the conquest that they already knew to be true or by having such a story told to them by a knowledgeable interlocutor, an untold number of the embroidery’s contemporary viewers might well have understood it as telling the story that traditionalist or revisionist interpreters 9 10

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O. K. Werckmeister, “The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Studi Medievali ser. 3, 17 (1976): 535–95 at 557. The present argument builds on the discussion of the two scenes in Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 11–13; see also Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Benefactor or Designer? Bishop Odo’s Role in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in M. Lewis BT, 148. For the traditional argument that the embroidery “consistently [operated] to legitimize William of Normandy’s claim to the English throne,” see Grape, BT, 55. See also: F. M. Stenton, “The Historical Background,” in Stenton, BT, 9–24; Francis Wormald, “Style and Design,” in Stenton, BT, 25–36; C. R. Dodwell, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the French Secular Epic,” Burlington Magazine 108 (1966): 549–60; rpt. in Gameson, Study, 47–62; H. E. J. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 10 (1988): 49–65; rpt. in Gameson, Study, 93–110; J. Bard McNulty, The Narrative Art of the Bayeux Tapestry Master (New York: AMS Press, 1989); idem, Visual Meaning in the Bayeux Tapestry: Problems and Solutions in Picturing History, Studies in French Civilization 28 (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003); Richard Gameson, “The Origin, Art and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 157–211. As Chapter 2 shows, elements of the revisionist view can be traced back to Freeman, NC, vol. 3, 455–6. But it took on its developed form a century later in works cited in Chapter 2, note 64 by Brooke, Brooks and Walker, Bernstein, Wissolik, Bachrach, Clermont-Ferrand, Berlin, and Albu and also in writings by Bouet, Bouet and Neveux, and Neveux. On the scene of Harold’s return, see Laura Ashe, Fiction and History in England, 1066–1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 41.

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have found on it. However, the embroidery’s failure to show any of the legal ceremonies considered essential to establishing William or Harold as King Edward’s legitimate, designated successor is, perhaps, the clearest sign that the textile was intended to be open to multiple interpretations, which its best-educated and most visually sophisticated viewers would have been able to generate, and to be understood, as human history was in monastic cultures, at multiple levels. Another such indication is that the pictorial narrative is constructed in a way that presupposes that its designer at St Augustine’s knew different stories, traditions and anecdotes about how the conquest came about, including the Norman Stories of William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers; the English Stories told in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; a tradition about King Edward’s last moments that is presented in the Vita Ædwardi; and alternative stories about Harold’s journey to the Continent, such as the one told in Eadmer’s Historia Novorum. If all of these stories and anecdotes were known to the embroidery’s creators, then why should the monks who viewed it at the abbey, at least, not have known them as well? Yet another reason for thinking that the embroidery was not intended to be read as a simple, clearly motivated narrative of causally interrelated events is that as Suzanne Lewis has shown, it includes numerous “striking silences” and “semantic gaps” and creates “contexts of utterances without disclosing their content.”13 Extending Lewis’s point, Laura Ashe noted that the textile includes “no element of purely speculative or affective interchange [or] any speech which would be interpretive, rather than descriptive of or active in the situation.”14 If this is true, then the interpretation of the entire embroidery must have required the active participation of the audience whose existence was posited in the previous chapter on fables – that is, educated viewers who had extended opportunities to study it closely and contemplate its multiple meanings.15 For these reasons, viewers need not have understood its most puzzling scenes as depicting historical events at all, including legal ceremonies in which, for example, legal rights were conveyed, powers conferred, and obligations assumed. Instead, if they understood each of these scenes as hinting simultaneously at different events that were mentioned in different stories and that may not have taken place at all, they would have understood the pictorial narrative as being radically different from the Norman and English stories that modern scholars have seen on it but as resembling the narratives of the conquest written by William of Malmesbury, who told different and conflicting stories about such episodes as Harold’s visit to Normandy without endorsing any one of them as true and who repeatedly used irony and other rhetorical devices to distance himself and his readers from his own narrative. Furthermore, as we saw in Chapter 7, the depiction in the embroidery’s borders of fables that comment ironically and satirically on the action in the main frieze and on the secular political world in which it takes place is yet another sign that contemporary viewers were not intended to read the embroidery as a mere text or as a mere documentary record of human events. This hypothesis about how the embroidery’s pictorial narrative was intended to be understood, moreover, is 13

14 15

S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 31, 32. Ashe, Fiction and History, 43. According to Michael Swanton, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Epic Narrative, not Stichic but Stitched,” in The Formation of Culture in Medieval Britain: Celtic, Latin, and Norman Influences on English Music, Literature, History, and Art, ed. Françoise H. M. Le Saux (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995), 149–69 at 168; cited in Ashe, Fiction and History, 37.

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consistent with the depiction of fables showing how kings and great lords plundered the weak – and each other – and manipulated legal agreements and pseudo-legal arguments to give a veneer of legitimacy to whatever they desired to do and could have done without resorting to this kind of legal foreplay. Finally, whereas the representation of the due performance of legal ceremonies was the primary method of showing that a king truly reigned by God’s grace, while the representation of “bad” legal ceremonies (to adapt a phrase of Philippe Buc’s) was used to show the contrary, the embroidery – by showing neither kind of representation– did not endorse the claims of either ruler but simply showed that God had willed the outcome of the Battle of Hastings.16

The Opening Scene According to the traditional view that the embroidery conveyed a so-called Norman message about the conquest, the opening scene shows Edward sending Harold to Normandy to confirm by oath the king’s previous appointment of Duke William as his heir (W1; Plate I; Fig. 1), thus partially corroborating the versions of the Norman Story written during the 1070s by William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers and the one incorporated through flashbacks into the Latin poem on the Battle of Hastings by Bishop Guy of Amiens.17 As explained in Chapter 2, the Norman Story justified William’s claim to be king of England and his overthrow of Harold II by asserting: first, that King Edward had instituted his kinsman William as heir;18 second, that Edward had later commissioned Harold to confirm this appointment on the king’s behalf and, on his own, to swear to uphold William’s claim after Edward’s death;19 third, that Harold had fulfilled both commissions by swearing an oath to William concerning the crown – that is, the kingdom – of England;20 and fourth, that Harold, by taking the English throne, became both a perjurer and a usurper.21 However, the traditional interpretation of the opening scene has never been easy to square with the fact that the scene simply shows an enthroned King Edward – who wears a crown and holds a scepter and is identified by a restored inscription – meeting privately, even secretly and without any formally designated witnesses – in a very small chamber with a very large unidentified man on the left – who is never named – and a 16 17

18

19

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On “bad rituals,” see Philippe Buc, The Dangers of Ritual: Between Early Medieval Texts and Social Scientific Theory (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). WJ, GND, 2, 158-61; WP, GG, 18-21, 68-79, 118-21: Guy, Carmen, which presents many elements of the Norman Story, but out of chronological order. On dating the Carmen, see John Gillingham, “‘Holding to the Rules of War (Bellica Iura Tenentes): Right Conduct before, during, and after Battle in North-Western Europe in the Eleventh Century,” ANS 29 (2007): 1–16 at 2–4, which, like the present study, treats the poem as being roughly contemporaneous with the verions of the Norman Story by William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers. WJ, GND, 2, 158-9; WP, GG, 20–1, 68–9, 118–19, 120–1; Guy, Carmen, lines 291–3. On the so-called Norman claim, see George Garnett, Conquered England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); and idem, The Norman Conquest: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 26–38. WJ, GND, 2, 160–1; WP, GG, 68–9, 118–19, 120–1; and Guy, Carmen, lines 293–5, according to which Harold approved Edward’s initial appointment of William as the king’s heir and then gave the duke a ring and a sword sent to William as witnesses to it. WJ, GND, 2, 160–1; WP, GG, 70–1, 120–1; Guy, Carmen, lines 297–300. On Harold’s perjury, see WJ, GND, 2, 160–1; WP, GG, 76–9, 100–1; Guy, Carmen, line 261.

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very small, unnamed man sandwiched in the middle.22 The small man in the middle, who is dominated by the larger figures on either side of him, is named only in the next scene’s inscription as Harold, Duke of the English (W2; Plate I; Fig. 1).23 Moreover, as Elizabeth Carson Pastan has pointed out, “Not even Edward and Harold’s gesture – touching their right index fingers – clinches the significance of what is taking place. Instead, the scene in general and this gesture in particular tease us with a specificity on which they fail to deliver.”24 Furthermore, the designer’s decision to show that the meeting took place privately, even secretly in a cramped chamber with no witnesses belies David C. Douglas’s assertion that the embroidery shows that Harold “has a formal interview with the Confessor.”25 As we have already seen in previous chapters, revisionist interpreters of the opening scene therefore argue that it was deliberately designed to be ambiguous, so that it would represent two different events, each to a different audience. To contemporary English viewers, revisionists claim, the scene would have shown a meeting described by Eadmer of Canterbury in his Historia Novorum, where Harold ignored Edward’s warnings – conveyed by the king’s gesture of touching Harold’s forefinger with his own – against going to Normandy to ransom a brother and nephew of his whom William had been holding as hostages.26 On the other hand, revisionists argue, contemporary Norman viewers would have seen a meeting presupposed by the three versions of the Norman Story already mentioned, where Harold received Edward’s instructions – conveyed by the king’s gesture of touching Harold’s forefinger with his own – to go to Normandy to confirm Edward’s previous bequest of the kingdom to Duke William.27 After all, the revisionists argue, nothing in the scene’s ambiguous imagery or noncommittal inscription contradicts either of these two readings.28 However, nothing in the scene rules out contradicts such additional readings as that Edward and Harold were discussing a possible marriage alliance with Duke William, that the subject of their meeting could never be known, or that each of them was trying to trick each other by misrepresenting his true motives and intentions in whatever he was saying to the other. The plausibility of the last of these readings becomes clear when the lower border depicts the fables discussed in Chapter 7. Morever, to argue that any contemporary viewer would have interpreted the opening scene in particular or the embroidery in general as confirming or even depicting the Norman Story is to overlook the fact that 22 23

24 25

26 27

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On the private chamber, see Chapter 8. According to Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “The Interpretation of Gesture in the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 29 (2007): 145–78 at 154–5 and p. 155, n. 7, Harold and possibly his companion are talking, though it is also possible that “Edward is giving the orders.” Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 12. D. C. Douglas, “Duke William of Normandy, and the English Succession,” EHR 68 (1953): 526–45 at 543. Eadmer, HN, 5–8; Eadmer, HRE, 5–9. On resemblances between Eadmer’s and the embroidery’s narratives of Harold’s journey, see the literature cited in Chapter 2, note 64. None of these authors describes such a meeting, but all three of their narratives presuppose it. On the king’s gesture as indicating that he was instructing Harold, see N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Anglo-Norman Studies 1 (1979): 1–34 and 191–9, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 63–92 at 72; and Wilson, BT, 197. According to Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Interpretation of Gesture,” 152, the same gesture can be read as signifying “a touch of farewell, or an endowing of Harold with some plenipotentiary power.”

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the designer never represented any of the legal ceremonies that written versions of the Norman Story treated as essential to establishing that Duke William of Normandy was King Edward’s designated heir and legitimate successor. In contrast to Guy of Amiens’ story of the conquest and William of Poitiers’ as well, the embroidery does not directly represent, or even hint at, King Edward’s performing a legal ceremony that contemporary viewers would have recognized as the customary – and necessary – process for making or confirming a gift of land, which, as George Garnett has explained, is essentially what Edward’s act of bequeathing the kingdom of the English to Duke William amounted to.29 William of Poitiers wrote that Edward had initially instituted William as his heir at an unspecified time after becoming king with the duke’s support in 1042 and did so on the advice of Archbishop Stigand and three earls, including Harold’s father, Earl Godwine, all of whom swore to support William’s claim after Edward’s death.30 The same men also approved the king’s decision to confirm the appointment immediately by sending Robert of Jumièges – who was archbishop of Canterbury from 1051 to c. 1052 – to take a son and grandson of Godwine’s to Duke William as hostages for it.31 William of Poitiers also wrote that at another unspecified time (which modern historians usually date to 1065), Edward confirmed the appointment of Duke William as his heir once more, this time by means of a “pledge” (pignus), which, like the objects given to monastic donees in the examples cited above, was to be given to William as a token of the gift made to him.32 Guy of Amiens was even more specific in describing Edward’s commission to Harold to confirm the king’s previous gift of the kingdom, since he mentioned two objects that Harold brought to William, at Edward’s behest, as “witnesses” of the king’s appointment of the duke as his heir. After describing how Edward had made his initial appointment of William before many witnesses and with his people’s assent, his nobles’ approval, and Harold’s support, Guy went on to explain that the king confirmed the appointment by giving Harold a ring and a sword that Harold then gave to William.33 By calling the two objects “witnesses” to the gift of the kingdom – just as several late eleventh-century Norman charters did when referring to the objects used to make gifts of land to monasteries – Guy of Amiens alluded obliquely to the well-documented practice whereby a 29

30 31

32

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See Garnett, Conquered England, chap. 1, “The Justification of the Conquest.” WP, GG, 120–1; for Edward’s institution of William as his heir, see also 20–1. Ibid., 20–1; see also 120–1. Ibid., 68: “Edwardus rex Anglorum suo iam statuto haeredi Guillelmo, quem loco germane aut prolis adamabat, graviore quam fuerit cautum pignore cavit.” Since the duke, the author explains, had previously accepted Harold’s brother (frater) and nephew (fratruelis) as hostages for the succession (“obsides … de succession eadem”), the “stronger pledge” with which Edward protected or warranted his bequest of the kingdom to William might refer to Harold himself, to Harold’s confirmation of Edward’s bequest at the king’s command, or to an object that Harold was to give to William as part of the process of confirming Edward’s bequest. When William of Poitiers, in ibid., 120–1, later represented Harold as referring to “the surety” for the succession that he had given to William while in Normandy (ipse in Normannia de hac successione securitatem tibi firmaverit), “the surety” was presumably Harold’s oath to William, just as it probably was in William’s message to Harold, stating that he, Harold, “gave himself to me by [giving me?] his hands, and with his hand gave me “surety for the English kingdom” (securitatem …. de regno Anglico) – which is my own translation. Guy, Carmen, lines 292–6: “Assensu populi, consilio procerum, // Etguardus quod rex ut ei succederet heres // Annuit et fecit, teque fauente sibi. // Anulus est illi testis concessus et ensis, // Que per te nosti missa fuisse sibi.”

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donee kept the object that a donor had handed over as part of the ceremony of making the gift, so that he could later produce it to prove that the customary legal ceremony for giving land had been duly performed.34 Finally, as we can see from the scene in the St Albans Psalter (early twelfth-century) where St Alexis sends a ring and sword belt to his wife (Plate XXX), the image of a figure sending tokens similar to the ones mentioned by Guy of Amiens was part of the visual repertoire on which the embroidery’s designer could have drawn in the opening scene if he had intended to show Edward commissioning Harold to confirm the king’s previous bequest of the kingdom to William.35 However, by first depicting the king touching Harold’s right forefinger with his own and then representing Harold riding with his milites to Bosham, boarding ship, and sailing away, the embroidery shows only that after he and another man met secretly with Edward on a subject unknown, Harold went on a sea-journey for reasons unknown and to an undisclosed destination.36 Although the embroidery’s opening sequence and the ones immediately following it are not incompatible with the Norman Story that Edward sent Harold to Normandy or with Eadmer’s story that Harold went to Normandy to ransom the two kinsmen of his whom William was holding as hostages, neither are they inconsistent with the stories of William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, and Snorri Sturluson that Harold never intended to go to Normandy at all.37 Even if there were contemporary viewers who knew only the Norman Story, believed (for whatever reason) in its truthfulness, and interpreted the opening scene as showing the episode from it already mentioned, they could hardly have interpreted it as serving the purpose served by this episode in the Norman Story, which was to demonstrate that Duke William had already been formally and publicly instituted as King Edward’s heir; that the appointment had immediately been confirmed by sending hostages; and that the king intended to confirm this appointment further by sending William a pledge of it through the mediation of Harold and by commissioning Harold to swear an oath himself.38 On the other hand, even if there were other contemporary viewers who knew only Eadmer’s story about Harold’s journey to Normandy, believed in its truthfulness, and therefore interpreted the opening scene as depicting a meeting in which Harold announced his intention of going to 34

35

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37

38

On the ring and sword as tokens of the bequest and on their role in the coronation ritual, see Barlow, Edward, 221; and idem, “Introduction,” in Guy, Carmen, p. 19 n. 2. On keeping the objects used to make gifts and confirmations as witnesses to these transactions, see Tabuteau, Transfers of Property, 128–30, 129 and p. 342, n. 102, citing a charter from Cartulaire du prieuré de Longpont, no. 331, p. 261 (1061 x 1066), stating that “in pignore cultellum super altare obtulit, qui ad notificandam supradictam traditionem tam presentibus quam futuris in testimonium ab ipsius monasterii fratribus posset reservari.” Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 13; Pastan, “Benefactor or Designer?,” 148. Even if the opening scene had shown Edward giving a ring, a sword, or another kind of pledge to Harold, it would not have corroborated Duke William’s claim to be Edward’s heir, which depended on showing that the king had previously appointed the duke to this position in a way that made the latter’s claim to the kingdom superior to that of any other claimant. See Freeman, NC, 3, 456–7. To see the difference between legally confirming that a gift had been made legally and showing that it might have been made, one should imagine an abbot of La Trinité du Mont de Rouen trying to prove at a placitum held after William I’s death that the king had made that gift as a perpetual inheritance to the abbey by reporting a rumor that the late king had privately instructed one of his magnates to confirm to a previous abbot of La Trinité the gift of the land that the king had allegedly made to the abbot at some unspecified time.

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Normandy to ransom hostages from William and Edward tried unsuccessfully to dissuade him from doing so, they might also have interpreted the scene as serving the same function it had in Eadmer’s narrative, showing that by ignoring the king’s advice, Harold brought “misfortune on the whole kingdom and discredit on [himself ],” as the king predicted, and ultimately brought about the fulfillment of St Dunstan’s prophesies that England would be “worn again and again by bloody devastations.”39 However, contemporary viewers who knew both stories and others besides might well have concluded from the opening scene and the ones immediately following that although no one but God knew why Harold sailed away from England and later met with Duke William, God had a purpose in sending Harold there that the rest of the embroidery would reveal.

A Deathbed Bequest? If the opening scene’s failure to show Edward making or confirming a lawful bequest of the English kingdom to Duke William of Normandy is incompatible with the view of traditionalists and revisionists alike that Norman viewers, at least, would have understood the embroidery as legitimating the duke’s claim to the English throne, the deathbed scene’s failure to show the same king bequeathing the same kingdom to Harold cannot be reconciled with the revisionists’ view that the embroidery represents Harold as a perfectly legitimate king, at least to English viewers.40 Like the opening scene, the deathbed scene has been interpreted in the light of several texts that supposedly explain the action that it was intended to represent – and would have represented to English viewers – by depicting characters making hand gestures whose meaning is not immediately clear, at least to modern viewers. The texts used to explicate the deathbed scene are the same ones that Edward A. Freeman had used a century before, namely the E-version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, along with the C- and D-versions; John of Worcester’s Chronicle; William of Poitiers’ Gesta Guillelmi; and, in particular, the Vita Ædwardi.41 Because the Vita tells how Edward, shortly before his death, stretched out his hand to Harold, as Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury and King Edward’s steward Robert Fitz Wimarch stood by and Queen Edith (who was the king’s wife and Harold’s sister), sat on the floor, warming Edward’s feet in her lap, it has long been assumed to evoke the same tradition as does the deathbed scene. Here, Edward, wearing a crown, lies in bed, surrounded by three unnamed figures generally identified as Edith, Stigand, and Robert FitzWimarch, and extends his right hand toward the extended right hand of another unnamed man often taken to be Harold.42 The analysis of the deathbed scene 39

40

41 42

Eadmer, HRE, 4, 6; idem, HN, 4, 6. According to Bouet, “Is the Bayeux Tapestry Pro-English?,” in Bouet, BT, 197–215 at 209, the hanging shows that “Harold should be considered as a perfectly legitimate king.” See also Bouet and Neveux, “Edward the Confessor’s Succession,” 65; Barbara English, “The Coronation of Harold in the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Bouet, BT, 347–81. According to H. E. J. Cowdrey, “King Harold II and the Bayeux Tapestry: A Critical Introduction,” in Owen-Crocker, Harold II, 1–15 at 8, “Edward charged Harold to protect the kingdom . . . and to bring about William’s succession.” The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, trans. M. J. Swanton (New York: Routledge, 1996), sub 1066; John, Chronicle, 2 601; WP, GG, 118–23, 140–1; Vita Ædwardi, 122–3. See Freeman, NC, 2, 333–43; 3, 385–400. More recently, the relationship between the deathbed scene and the scene in the Vita has been discussed in Barlow, Edward, 247–53; Brooks and

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has therefore focused almost exclusively on the meaning of the king’s gesture. Although the inscription to the scene indicates only that King Edward is speaking to unspecified “fideles” (“Hic Eadwardus rex in lecto alloquit[ur] fideles”), his gesture has often been glossed by the Vita Ædwardi’s statement that “stretching forth his hand to his governor [Harold], her [i.e. Edith’s] brother, he said, ‘I commend this woman and all the kingdom to your protection.’”43 If the king’s gesture is decoded in this particular way, the deathbed scene can then be interpreted as “depicting the moment when Edward reached forth his hand to consign the kingdom to the protection of Harold” and as “illustrating the same scene that the [Vita] describes.”44 Despite the ambiguity of Edward’s words, as the Vita represents them, the case that the embroidery represents Harold as a legitimate king has been supported by arguing that this text and the embroidery’s deathbed scene jointly confirm that “Edward the Confessor designated Harold as his successor,” just as the E-version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and John of Worcester’s Chronicle said he did and as William of Poitiers’ Gesta Guillelmi, under one interpretation, implied that he did as well.45 After King Edward’s death and burial, according to the Chronicle’s E-version, “Earl Harold succeeded to the kingdom of England just as the king granted it him – and also men chose him for it – and was blessed as king on Twelfth Night.”46 John of Worcester’s early twelfth-century narrative – which he evidently based on versions of the Chronicle – states that “When [Edward] was entombed, the underking, Harold, son of Earl Godwin, whom the king had chosen before his demise as successor to the kingdom, was elected by all the primates of all England to the dignity of kingship, and was consecrated king with due ceremony by Ealdred, archbishop of York, on the same day.”47 Further evidence that Edward granted the kingdom to Harold has been found in the Gesta Guillelmi of William of Poitiers, who, according to Stephen Baxter, “disputes the legitimacy but not the fact of Edward’s deathbed bequest to Harold.”48 By themselves, however, these readings of texts fall short of making a compelling case either that the king made a deathbed bequest of the kingdom to Harold – since no one,

43 44

45 46 47

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Walker, “Authority,” 73; Bernstein, Mystery, 117–21; Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation,” 101–2; idem, “Death-bed Testaments,” in Fälschungen im Mittelalter. Schriften des MGH, vols 33/34 (1988): 703–24; idem, “King Harold II and the Bayeux Tapestry: A Critical Introduction,” in Owen-Crocker, King Harold II, 1–15 at 8, according to which “the deathbed scene in the Tapestry will bear either interpretation – either that Edward gave the kingdom to Harold … or that Edward charged Harold to protect the kingdom as his father had done, and to bring about William’s succession.” Vita Ædwardi, 122–3; see also Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 73; Bouet and Neveux, “Edward the Confessor’s Succession,” 62; Baxter, “Edward the Confessor,” 111. Bernstein, Mystery, 120; Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 73. For Freeman’s and Stenton’s views of the scene, see Chapter 2. According to Wilson, BT, 183, “The death scene is reminiscent of that described in the Vita Ædwardi in which Edward places the care of the kingdom and his wife in Harold’s hands.” In ibid., 198, Wilson writes: “we see the king stretching out his hand towards Harold, as though appointing him his successor. It may well be that the Vita and the Tapestry were using the same source.” Bouet and Neveux, “Edward the Confessor’s Succession,” 61. According to Brooks and Walker, “Authority,” 73, “The parallel between the Life and the Tapestry … cannot be a coincidence.” ASC E, sub 1066 (p. 197). John, Chronicle. 2, 601 Baxter, “Edward the Confessor,” 113, citing WP, GG, 118–19, 140–2.

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then or now, could be certain that he did so – or that the embroidery was intended to establish Harold’s claim to the English throne by showing that on his deathbed Edward did in fact bequeath it to him. That the deathbed scene would have been interpreted by contemporary viewers as establishing this claim is even more doubtful if the viewers in question were monks of St Augustine’s, familiar with multiple stories of the conquest, as the designer clearly was.49 Still, it is also important to ask how contemporaries viewing the embroidery – or its designer, for that matter – could have had or thought they had certain knowledge of what had happened in King Edward’s bedchamber just before he died or even clear suppositions about it, particularly since different and conflicting stories about the king’s last moments were circulating in England, Normandy, and elsewhere. The only early text to represent Edward as specifically granting the kingdom to Harold, rather than somehow entrusting it to him, is the E-version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, whose account of Harold’s accession as king is so remarkably cryptic, perfunctory, and lacking in corroborating detail that its author could hardly have intended for it to be read as authoritative. And since John of Worcester’s early twelfth-century account of Harold’s accession as king simply embroiders on the account of King Edward’s “grant” in the Chronicle, it, too, is an unreliable guide to what contemporary English beholders of the embroidery knew, thought they knew, or supposed to be true about Edward’s last moments. As we have already seen, the Vita Ædwardi did not say that Edward gave the English kingdom to Harold – as the E-version of the Chronicle said Edward had done and as Harold later claimed that Edward had done, according to William of Poitiers. Because it refers only to Edward’s commendation of his wife Edith, his kingdom, and his foreign retainers to Harold’s protection, it cannot be said to corroborate the E-version’s statement that Edward granted the kingdom to Harold. The passage in question also has little in common with William of Poitiers’ statement that Harold claimed the kingdom was his by right on the grounds that it had been granted (concessum) to him by the gift (dono) of the lord king in his last moments. Nor does this statement in the Vita that King Edward commended the kingdom to Harold accord well with a further, ironic observation of William of Poitiers to the effect that God had rejected Harold’s claim to the kingdom as his by Edward’s gift (donum ipsius) by granting victory over Harold to William.50 Instead, the Vita’s author – who presumably knew of Harold’s claim – indicates only that the king somehow “entrusted,” rather than granted, the kingdom to him. The C- and D-versions of the Chronicle indicated the same by using the Old English word “befaestan,” which, as Stephen Baxter points out, was sometimes glossed by the Latin word “commendo,” the verb used by the author of the Vita Ædwardi.51 It must have been common knowledge that Harold had claimed the right to the kingdom by saying that Edward had bequeathed it to him on his deathbed, since he had no other way of demonstrating his right to the English throne. However, the question of whether he would be represented as having had any basis for this claim turned on what posthumous assessment was made of him. If, as will be argued below, the embroidery presented Harold less favorably than previous scholars have assumed, it is less plausible to see the scene as showing King Edward 49 50 51

On a contemporary viewer’s interpretation of the embroidery on the basis of his own “suppositions” and “external information,” see Gameson, “Origin,” 199. For the first passage, see WP, GG, 118–19; for the second, 140–2. Baxter, “Edward the Confessor.”

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making a deathbed bequest of the kingdom to Harold than it is to interpret it in the light of the following passage from Snorri Sturlasson’s King Harald’s Saga, which is not inconsistent with what the scene shows: It is said that as the king’s death was drawing near, Harold was beside him, and only a few other people were present. Harold is supposed to have bent down over the king, and then said, “I name you all as witnesses that the king has just given me the crown and the whole kingdom of England.” Then the king was lifted dead from his bed.52

To interpret the embroidery’s deathbed scene and two scenes that follow it in the light of Snorri’s story that Harold claimed the English throne on false pretences seems perfectly plausible, particularly if we think of the legalistic tricks and con games that the Lion King and other great predatory beasts play in the fables discussed in Chapter 7. Because textual references to King Edward granting, commending, or entrusting his kingdom to Harold have only limited value in helping modern interpreters to determine what the deathbed scene was meant to show or how certain contemporary viewers would have interpreted it, it is worth reconsidering the question of what can be learned from the entire scene’s imagery and inscription. To begin with, Edward’s hand gesture is open to multiple interpretations. This is clear from the discussion by Cowdrey, who construes the gesture as a sign of Edward either commending his kingdom to Harold or instructing him to observe the king’s bequest of the English kingdom to Duke William.53 Moreover, from previous remarks about how ceremonies of giving land were customarily performed, recorded, and represented pictorially and how Guy of Amiens and William of Poitiers represented King Edward’s appointment of William as his heir, it should be clear that the deathbed scene does not show what contemporary viewers would have expected to see in a pictorial representation of a gift or bequest of land. Edward does not hand an object symbolizing his bequest to the unnamed figure at his bedside, as donees were expected to do in legal ceremonies at which gifts of land were made. Nor does the king act in the presence of named people acting formally in the capacity of witnesses. Instead, in the presence of three figures who are not represented as seeing and hearing a legal transaction, the king just reaches out empty-handedly to touch with his index finger the index finger of a fourth figure, an unnamed man who is presumably to be identified as Harold. Like the hand gestures of the king and Harold in the opening scene, these ones hint at “a specificity on which they fail to deliver,” but could have delivered if the king had been shown handing an object to Harold.54 Although it is entirely possible that certain contemporary viewers would have interpreted the scene as showing King Edward making a deathbed bequest of his kingdom to the future King Harold II, it is also highly unlikely 52

53

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Snorri Sturluson, King Harald’s Saga: Harald Hardradi of Norway: From Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla, trans. Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Pálsson (New York: Penguin, 2005), 134, which continues: “That same day a meeting of the witan was held to consider the succession to the throne. Harold called upon his witnesses to testify that King Edward on his dying day had given him the kingdom. The outcome of the meeting was that Harold was made king, and was crowned and consecrated in St Paul’s Cathedral on the sixth of January. All the chieftains and all the people paid him their homage.” See “Haralds Saga Sigurðarsonar,” in Snorri Sturluson, Heimskringla, vol. 3, ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, Íslenzk Fornrit 28 (Reykjavík: Hið Íslenzka Fornritafélag, 1979), 68–202 at 170–1. Cowdrey, “King Harold II,” 8. Pastan and White, “Problematizing,” 12.

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that a designer intending to depict the only legal act on which the new king could have based his claim to be the old one’s legitimate successor would have failed – just as he did in the opening scene – to use the conventional imagery for showing it. Another reason for doubting that the scene was intended to show Edward making a deathbed gift of the kingdom to Harold, or would have been readily interpreted as such by the best educated contemporary viewers, has to do with its inscription (“Hic Eadwardus rex in lecto alloquit[ur] fideles”) which does not indicate either that King Edward made any such gift or that he spoke to “fideles” about doing so. The verb “alloquitur” – like “loquitur” – is not commonly used for ordinary speech, as one can see from a later inscription on the embroidery indicating that prior to the Battle of Hastings, Duke William delivered to his milites a so-called allocutio – the traditional speech given by a Roman imperator to his troops before battle (W57; Plate XVIII; Figs 29–30).55 In other contexts, the same verb “alloquor” and also “loquor” are used for other kinds of elevated speech. In the deathbed scene’s inscription, alloquitur could be translated as “he consoles” and/or as “he speaks eloquently,” particularly since the Vita refers to Edward consoling Edith and drawing on his “store of eloquence” (copia loquendi) to recount his prophetic dream about the destruction of England by devils.56 Furthermore, “fideles” is an odd word to use without irony for a group including Harold and Stigand, particularly if the scene is read in the light of the Vita’s extended account of Edward’s last hours, in which Harold and Stigand would appear to be among the people denounced by a Norman monk in a dream that the dying king relates to the two men and others in his bedchamber. However, if the deathbed scene’s inscription alludes to King Edward consoling “the faithful” (fideles) or speaking eloquently to them, not as telling the four individuals in his bedchamber about his bequest of the kingdom to Harold, we can think of the scene as conveying much more than is usually seen it by evoking the entire passage from the Vita Ædwardi. Upon awakening, the king recounted a dream in which two monks he had known in Normandy brought him a message from God, the first part of which runs as follows: “Since,” they said, “those who have climbed to the highest offices in the kingdom of England, the earls, bishops, and abbots, and all those holy orders, are not what they seem to be, but, on the contrary, are servants of the devil, within a year and a day after the day of your death God has delivered all this kingdom, cursed by him, into the hands of the enemy, and devils shall come through all this land with fire and sword and the havoc of war.”57

In his dream, the king further related, he told the two monks that he would call on the people to repent; but they said, “‘These will not repent, nor will the forgiveness of God come to pass to them.’”58 Upon hearing these words, Queen Edith, her brother Earl Harold, Robert the steward, Archbishop Stigand, and several others whom King Edward had summoned “were all sore afraid.” Although Stigand – who, as a cleric, would have been considered the only legitimate witness of a deathbed gift – whispered to Harold that “the king was broken with age and disease and knew not what he said,” Edith and others present understood 55

56 57

58

I thank Kate Gilbert for explaining this point to me. On Edward’s “copia loquendi,” see Vita Ædwardi, 116–17. Ibid., 116–17. Ibid., 118–19.

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him “correctly,” according to the author of the Vita.59 Only after discoursing further on sin, repentance, and God’s vengeance did the author conclude his account of Edward’s last moments by writing that King Edward called on his people (sui) to intercede with God for his soul, expressed the hope that the queen would “obtain the reward of eternal happiness” from God, and only then, in the passage discussed above, commended her, the kingdom, and the foreigners (presumably Normans) who had served him faithfully to Harold’s protection. The King then called on those present not to conceal his death, so that “‘all the faithful (fideles) can beseech the mercy of Almighty God on me, a sinner,’” and then comforted the queen once more.60 That the deathbed scene and its inscription combined are best interpreted as having been intended to evoke multiple acts and speech acts – and not simply the commendations made by the dying king – seems all the more likely if we note the right-handed pointing gesture of the woman generally identified as Edith, who has her left arm raised to her face as if to wipe away tears. For these reasons, the deathbed scene should be understood, not as showing Edward bequeathing the kingdom to Harold, but as using very complex imagery and a cryptically allusive inscription to evoke a very complex tradition about Edward’s last moments – a tradition that may well have been inflected, supplemented and/or changed in ways meriting further investigation by the visual imagery used on the embroidery. An integral part of this literary tradition was the use of imagery from the Old Testament to dramatize issues that are central to the story of the conquest, but incompatible with traditional and revisionist readings of the textile. The issues include the sins of “those who have climbed to the highest offices of the land” (among them, one supposes, Stigand and Harold) and their refusal to repent of their sins, as the people of Nineveh did “‘on hearing of the divine indignation.’” Linking these issues with biblical stories of God’s anger and vengeance, the dying king prophesied that on account of the sins of these “servants of the devil,” God would take vengeance on the entire kingdom and its people, curse them and place them in the hands of the enemy (in manu inimici), as “devils shall come through all this land with fire and sword and the havoc of war” (“pervagabunturque diaboli totam hanc terram igne, ferro, et depredatione hostili”). Expanding on the king’s prophecy, the author of the Vita added: “For under these scourges of the chastising God many thousands of people are thrown down, the kingdom is ravaged by fire and plunder” (“regnum igne et depredatione devastatur”).61

The Legal Pre-History of the Conquest? If the opening scene is not meant to represent Edward making a bequest of the English kingdom to William or commissioning Harold to confirm one, the embroidery cannot have been intended to validate the duke’s claim to be Edward’s legitimate successor, because no other scene even comes close to doing so. Even though the oath-scene’s imagery and inscription make it clear that Harold swore an oath of fidelity to William (W25–6; Plate X; Fig. 13), this legal ceremony could have given William no right to the 59

60 61

Ibid., 118–19. On the prophecy, see Monika Otter, “1066: The Moment of Transition in Two Narratives of the Norman Conquest,” Speculum 74 (1999): 565–86, esp. 579–85. Vita Ædwardi, 118–21, where the editor identifies echoes of 4 Kgs. (2 Kgs.) 21:14; Jonah 3, 2 Kgs. (2 Sam.) 24:17; Ezek. 13:5; 2 Kgs. (2 Sam.) 24; Ps 38:11 (39: 10); 2 Kgs. (2 Sam.) 24:25; Isa. 24:2; Hos. 4:9.

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English kingdom, as Freeman pointed out long ago.62 The reason is not simply that the scene fails to indicate that the oath concerned the kingdom, but that no previous one even hints that Harold had any right to convey it to William; and, as we shall see in Chapter 10, no later scene shows that William made any claim to the kingdom before invading it. Contrary to what revisionists have argued, the scene’s failure to show that Harold swore an oath concerning the crown or the kingdom of England – as William of Jumièges said he did – does not render it unimportant, since it is obviously constructed in such a way as to make it the most important scene in the first half of the textile and possibly on the entire embroidery.63 However, the significance of the oath on the embroidery is very different from what it was in the Norman Story, as told by William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers, since it does not make or confirm a gift of the kingdom of England to the Duke of Normandy or even explicitly bind Harold to support William’s claim to the kingdom. Instead, by showing with such remarkable visual force that in the presence of witnesses who saw and heard, Harold did swear the oath of fidelity to William that everyone viewing the embroidery knew he later violated, the scene ostentatiously makes his perjury the dominant theme of the hanging, though not in the same way as it was in William of Poitiers’ version of the Norman Story. There, as we have already seen, Harold was sent to Normandy by Edward and swore an oath of fidelity to William to support the duke in claiming a right to the throne that King Edward had already given him and twice confirmed, first through the mediation of Archbishop Robert of Jumièges and then by Harold. In the same version of the Norman Story, Harold also did homage to William, who confirmed his lands to him. Since the embroidery’s imagery and even its inscriptions leave it as a matter of speculation why Harold sailed away from England, where he intended to go, or why he took an oath to the duke at all, Harold’s oath gives William no right to the English throne, but appears to place Harold under an obligation to William and, more importantly, to God and the saints on whose shrines he swore it. Moreover, any notion that the embroidery ever shows Edward and Harold or Harold and William dealing honestly with each other is at least called into question by many of the fables depicted in the borders of the first half of the embroidery. One of the main themes of the fables discussed in Chapter 7 is that predators prey or try to prey upon others by resorting to various forms of trickery – and sometimes legal trickery – so as to deceive, humiliate, and even destroy their unwary, credulous, or simply helpless prey. In fables shown in the borders as the main frieze depicts Harold being released to Duke William from captivity by Guy and then meeting with the latter at a ducal palace, trickery sometimes succeeds and sometimes fails in enabling the trickster to fulfill his desires for one kind of plunder or another. In the world of trick-or-be-tricked that these fables portray, an image of two humans facing each other and engaging in some sort of negotiation cannot necessarily be interpreted as implying that the two achieved a true meeting of minds. At the same time, any evaluation of how the embroidery represents and evaluates Harold and his kingship should take account of its images of him and his companions – ironically designated in an inscription as “milites” (W2) – with long hair, wearing short tunics, and frivolously engaging in hawking, hunting, and heavy drinking (W1–7; Figs 1–4), which Madeline Caviness associates with William of Malmesbury’s remark that English nobles were “abandoned to gluttony and lechery,” to “drinking in 62 63

See above Chapter 2. Bouet, “Bayeux Tapestry.”

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company” and to the “vices that keep company with drunkenness, and sap the virility of a man’s spirit.”64 If the deathbed scene does not show Edward bequeathing the kingdom to Harold, then the embroidery cannot have been intended to tell the English Story of the conquest, as presented only in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’s E-version, that Harold was granted the kingdom by Edward and then chosen and consecrated as king. Contrary to what revisionist interpreters of the embroidery have sometimes suggested, this scene’s failure to show Edward bequeathing Harold the kingdom is not remedied by the next two scenes, which, as Stenton argued convincingly, do not show that the legal ceremonies of electing and crowning him were duly performed.65 The scene immediately following the deathbed scene (W31; Plate XII; Fig. 16) has been interpreted as showing that Harold was chosen king by the Witan and then given the crown by its representative.66 But the Witan is nowhere in sight; and there is nothing to identify as its representatives the two men who, according to the inscription, gave Harold a royal crown (W31: “Hic dederunt Haroldo corona[m] regis”).67 Here, the scene’s imagery almost matches its inscription by showing one man (not two) giving a crown to Harold (and pointing back to the preceding scenes of Edward on his bed and Edward and shrouding), while another hands him a ceremonial axe. But is it a gift that they are legally empowered to make and that Harold can rightfully receive? By all appearances, the crown given to Harold, according to the inscription, and handed to him in this scene is not the same as the one worn by Edward in his deathbed scene. Had that scene represented Edward bequeathing the kingdom to Harold, one might see the two men as executing the king’s wishes by giving Harold a royal crown. But instead the scene leaves doubts about who they are, and it does not even hint that they represent the Witan, whose participation in choosing Harold king is so poorly documented that it has to be inferred from the assumption that its members would have been present at court for Christmas.68 Indeed, the two figures could easily stand for the “evil men” whom William of Poitiers accuses of supporting Harold in seizing the throne.69 The next scene (W31; Plate XIII; Fig. 16) does even less for the case that the embroidery represents Harold as a legitimate king, even though it shows him enthroned, 64

65

66 67

68

69

Madeline H. Caviness, “Anglo-Saxon Women, Norman Knights and a ‘Third Sex’ in the Bayeux Embroidery,” in Foys, BT, 85–118, at 99–100, citing WM, GR, 1, 458–9. On the association of long hair on males with effeminacy in late eleventh- and early twelfth-century France and England, see Robert Bartlett, “Symbolic Meanings of Hair in the Middle Ages,” TRHS 6th ser., 4 (1994): 43–60 at 49–52 and the literature cited in p. 50, note 30. For Stenton’s discussion of these scenes, see Chapter 2. See Freeman, NC, 3, 400–11; Bernstein, Mystery, 121–2; Bouet and Neveux, “Edward the Confessor’s Succession,” 59–65. Owen-Crocker, “Interpretation of Gesture,” 151. ASC E Swanton, sub 1066, merely says that “men chose him [i.e. Harold] for it [the kingship].” According to Hermann of Bury St Edmunds, “Miracles of St Edmund,” 171, Harold’s accession was hastily arranged. According to WP, GG, 101, “periurus regium solium cum plausu occupavit, quibusdam iniquis faventibus.” According to WM, GR, vol. 1, 418–19, “Harold, who had exacted an oath of loyalty from the chief nobles, seized (eripuit) seized the crown.” The same author wrote in William of Malmesbury, ‘Vita Wulfstani,’ in idem, Saints’ Lives: Lives of SS. Wulfstan, Dunstan, Patrick, Benignus and Indract, ed. and trans. M. Winterbottom and R. M. Thomson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002), 1–155 at 56–7, “Harold won the crown by favour, or extorted it by force.” (Haroldus, vel favore impetrata vel vi extorta corona, regnum paulo minus totum obtinuit.)

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crowned, facing the viewer and holding an orb and a scepter, while two men on his right give him a sword and Archbishop Stigand stands on his left. By interpreting the scene as either compressing multiple stages of a coronation ceremony into a single set of images or showing Harold “at his most kingly, with all the attributes of rule, ‘in majesty’,” Barbara English, like other commentators, concluded that the embroidery’s designer “accepted that by this ceremony Harold was indeed made king.”70 Whatever the designer’s view of the matter, the scene, together with its inscription (W31: “Hic residet Harold rex Anglorum”; Plate XIII; Fig. 16) can certainly be interpreted as depicting a legal ceremony that involved recognizing Harold as the king of the English. But simply showing Harold crowned and enthroned hardly signifies his full legitimacy, particularly since the scene “lacks any indication of actual unction or coronation.”71 Just how far this image falls short of depicting Harold’s coronation becomes clear if we compare it with the one of Edmund’s coronation in the “Illustrated Life of St Edmund” (c. 1130) from the abbey of Bury St Edmunds.72 Whereas the latter image truly depicts a coronation by showing Edmund on his throne between two tonsured, crozier-bearing archbishops, one of whom is in the process of placing a crown on his head, the embroidery’s so-called coronation scene shows only the investiture of an enthroned King Harold with a sword. To be sure, it shows him wearing a crown, but instead of indicating how he came to be wearing it, it depicts standing next to him the archbishop whom Harold’s enemies retrospectively represented as having consecrated him. Even if the embroidery had shown that Harold received a bequest of the kingdom from King Edward and was then duly chosen king by the Witan, his claim to be Edward’s legitimate successor could have been contested – and was contested – on the grounds that the oath he had supposedly sworn to William barred him from accepting Edward’s bequest or that he could not have been duly crowned or anointed by Stigand, whose archiepiscopal status at the time of Harold’s accession was later challenged directly in the Norman Story, according to which Harold, William of Poitiers wrote, “received an impious consecration from Stigand, who had been deprived of his priestly office by the just zeal and anathema of the pope.”73 Besides, merely undergoing the ceremonies of coronation and consecration hardly guaranteed that the man crowned and consecrated was a legitimate king and not a tyrant.74 In this case, Harold’s legitimacy as king of the English is easily contested, because the scene showing him acclaimed by the people is 70 71

72 73

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English, “Coronation,” 347–9. Caviness, “Anglo-Saxon Women,” 103. New York, Morgan Library, M. 736, fol. 8v, reproduced in Hahn, “Peregrinatio et Natio,” p. 121, Figure 4. WP, GG, 100–1. See English, “Coronation,” 377–8. According to Grape, BT, 56, however, the scene was intended “to enlist the beholder’s sympathies as firmly as possible for the Duke of Normandy.” According to the Coronation ordo that may have been used on this occasion – for which see “Second English Coronation Order,” in English Coronation Records, ed. Leopold G. Wickham Legg (Westminster: Archibald Constable, 1901), 15–23 (Latin text), 23–9 (English translation) – the king was to be consecrated and anointed with holy oil and blessed with a prayer that began, “May the Almighty Lord stretch forth the right hand of his blessing and pour out upon thee the gift of his protection.” It also included the following: “May he ever make thee victorious and a conqueror over thine enemies, visible and invisible.” Philippe Buc, “Political Rituals and Political Imagination in the Medieval West from the Fifth Century to the Eleventh,” in The Medieval World, ed. Peter Linehan and Janet L. Nelson (London: Routledge, 2001), 189–213 at 197 and 203.

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followed immediately by one in which the same populace marvels at a comet presaging his downfall (W32: “Isti mirant stella[m]”; Fig. 16). Because the comet, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle confirms, appeared in England more than three months after 5 January, the date usually assigned to Harold’s coronation, the general view, Barbara English writes, has been that “the Tapestry is chronologically at fault here, as the comet did not appear in England until 24 April.” However, English proposes instead that “the designer was correct” and that Harold’s coronation did not take place until Easter, a favored time for coronations, which fell that year on 16 April – in which case the comet’s appearance postdated the coronation by only eight days.75 There is, however, a third possibility, which depends on the presupposition that the designer’s purpose was not to depict events accurately, but to impose a particular meaning on them. By situating the comet’s appearance and the people marvelling at it immediately after a scene showing Harold crowned and enthroned with Stigand beside him, the embroidery indicates that God condemned him and presaged his downfall the moment he took the throne. The connection between Harold’s coronation and the sighting of the comet is much closer than it is even in the version of the Norman Story by William of Jumièges. It was only after telling how Harold “seized” (invasit) the throne and refused William’s request “to renounce this act of folly and … even unfaithfully turned all English people against him” that this author wrote: “At that time a star appeared in the north-west … and it portended, as many said, a change in some kingdom.”76 The doomed king’s imminent downfall is even clearer in the next scene, where an underling resembling the man in the coronation scene who, with his right hand, gave Harold the sword of justice with its point up, approaches Harold and holds a sword in his left hand pointing downward (W32–3; Cover Plate; Fig. 17).77 Whereas the pointing gesture of the man in the enthronement scene highlights the power symbolized by the sword that Harold is receiving by virtue of being invested with it, the man in the next scene can only be announcing Harold’s imminent downfall by holding a sword pointing toward the floor and telling him about the comet. Not only has Harold lost his royal title in the inscription (which simply says “Harold”), his entire throne is tilting to the right at a 70-degree angle, as is the pillar next to him, while he tilts in the opposite direction to listen to the messenger. As Caviness has pointed out, “the broken posture of the newly crowned monarch suggests instability.”78 The scepter – which he held up with his right hand in the previous scene – he now holds in his left hand and points downward. Below are five unmanned ships, which portend an invasion by sea as the means by which Harold’s downfall will come about (W32–3; Fig. 17). The ships in the lower border below Harold also anticipate the image of the “English ship” in the next scene that comes to the land of Duke William (W33–4; Fig. 17); the ships that Duke William orders to be built in the next scene, according to the inscription (W34–5; Fig. 18); and the ships in subsequent scenes, two of which show five ships together, just as the border below Harold does (W36–7; Fig. 19). What triggers the whole process is the investiture of the crowned, enthroned Harold with the sword of justice, while Archbishop Stigand stands beside him 75

76 77

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English, “Coronation,” 377. WJ, GND, 160–3. The comments in Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation” on the embroidery’s depiction of actions taken with the left hand may be pertinent here. Caviness, “Anglo-Saxon Women,” 103.

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and the people acclaim him.79 But why? As we saw in Chapter 2, viewers of the scenes starting with the ones showing King Edward on his deathbed and dead on his bed might readily conclude that if Harold was truly the legitimate king of England, God would surely not have announced a change of rule immediately after his enthronement.

Legal Ceremonies on the Bayeux Embroidery? If the Bayeux Embroidery did not legitimate the claims of either William or Harold to be King Edward’s rightful successor, it cannot have been intended to carry to contemporary viewers a Norman message about the conquest, an English message, or both messages simultaneously. The main reason why it should not be interpreted in any of these ways is that it did not clearly and unambiguously show the due performance of either the legal ceremonies that early written accounts treated as essential to establishing William I’s legitimacy as King Edward’s designated successor or the ones used to establish Harold II’s. The English Story and the Norman Story both bear out Philippe Buc’s observation that early medieval authors “were prone to invent rituals, which clearly were, next to miracles, the strongest keystone to a narrative.”80 After Harold’s defeat and death at Hastings, there were good grounds for remembering him as a king of the English, but little incentive to promote his full rehabilitation posthumously by elaborately justifying the dead ruler’s claim to have been the designated successor of the dead King Edward, rather than making him the fall-guy for the conquest. Still, the authors of the English Story made perfunctory efforts to do so. As we have already seen, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’s E-version and John of Worcester’s Chronicle simply mentioned, respectively, King Edward’s grant of the kingdom to Harold and his choice of Harold as his successor; but neither said where or when the king made his grant or who witnessed it. John of Worcester did a little better with Harold’s election and consecration. Where the E-version stated cryptically that “men chose [Harold] for [the kingship],” John referred to his election by all the primates of England. And instead of simply stating, as the E-version did, that Harold “was blessed as king on Twelfth Night,”81 John wrote of his consecration by the archbishop of York on the same day “with due ceremony.”82 To make his version of the Norman Story as authoritative-sounding as possible, William of Poitiers indulged in ceremonial overkill by inventing a series of legal ceremonies performed so flawlessly that they showed not only that the Duke of Normandy had an unimpeachable claim to the English throne as King Edward’s “instituted” heir, but also that he was a model Christian ruler – in striking contrast to his reputation outside Normandy and perhaps inside as well. The ceremonies included: Edward instituting William, with his greatest magnates approving the appointment and swearing to uphold it; the king sending Archbishop Robert to take two kinsmen of Harold’s as hostages for the appointment; Edward commissioning Harold to reconfirm the duke’s appointment; Harold executing his commission at a great council at Bonneville, where William confirmed Harold’s lands and power in England; and William sending Harold back 79

80 81

82

For a fine analysis of these scenes, see S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 108–15. Philippe Buc, “Political Rituals,” 190. ASC E, sub 1066. JW, CJW, vol., 2, 601.

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to England with munificent gifts and one of the hostages.83 As we shall see in Chapter 10, William of Poitiers completed the task of establishing Duke William’s claim to be King Edward’s heir and designated successor by inventing two further ceremonies. First, he staged a kind of placitum in which, he wrote, Duke William, using “a host of sound arguments” worthy of Cicero, “destroyed the case of Harold,” who based it on the unsupported allegation that Edward had made a deathbed bequest of the kingdom.84 Next, the same author presented the Battle of Hastings as a kind of judicial duel, in which he represented God as ruling aginst Harold’s claim and upholding William’s by granting the duke a victory over the English at Hastings and Harold an ignominious death. Further, William of Poitiers retold the story of Harold’s accession as king in such a way as to brand him as a usurper as well as a perjurer, by omitting any reference to Edward’s deathbed bequest to him, declaring that he had been acclaimed but not publicly elected, characterizing his consecration as impious because it had been performed by Stigand, and stating that Harold wore England’s crown without explaining where or how he got hold of it. A true report came unexpectedly, that the English land had lost its king and that Harold was wearing its crown. And this mad Englishman could not endure to await the decision of a public election, but on the tragic day when that best of all men was buried, while all the people were mourning, he violated his own oath and seized the royal throne, with acclamation, with the connivance of a few wicked men. He received an impious consecration from Stigand, who had been deprived of his priestly office by the just zeal and anathema of the pope.85

Although William of Poitiers, unlike William of Jumièges, did not go on to mention quickly that Harold’s accession was followed by God sending the comet, he concluded a lengthy denunciation of Harold that he situated in the aftermath of Hastings by writing: “The comet, terror of kings, which burned soon after your elevation, foretold your doom.”86 When we look back at the embroidery in the light of these findings about the essential role that legal ceremonies played in the English Story and even more strikingly in the Norman Story, we are left with the unsettling conclusion that it could not have served the purposes often ascribed to it, because it did not really tell “the legal pre-history of the conquest.” Not only was it lacking, as Ashe has noted, in “nationalist moral colouring,” “moral weighting,” or “overt political bias”;87 it lacked all of the legal coloring necessary to serve the purpose of presenting either William or Harold as having an unimpeachable right to succeed King Edward. In the writings of traditionalist and revisionist interpreters of the Bayeux Embroidery’s narrative, the assumption that the embroidery legitimated William’s or Harold’s claim to the throne depends on several further assumptions: that either the opening scene or the deathbed scene was intended to convey to the textile’s contemporary viewers that whatever the truth of the matter, Edward was making a bequest of his kingdom, or else that because the embroidery was a reliable record of 83

84 85

86 87

WP, GG, 18–21, 68–71. Ibid., 116–23. Ibid., 100–1. Ibid., 70–1. Ashe, Fiction and History, 37, 38, 39.

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events and the king did, in fact, make a bequest of his kingdom to William or Harold, well-informed contemporary viewers of the textile would have interpreted these scenes in the light of what they knew to be true and modern viewers should therefore do so as well. Yet in contrast to the texts rightly or wrongly considered as reliable sources for the conquest, the embroidery claimed no certainty about the motives and intentions or even the actions of the historical characters it represented or about the legal effects of those actions. The weakness of these interpretive strategies is especially evident when they serve as the basis for arguing that particular scenes on the embroidery depicted what are referred to here as legal ceremonies, performed to serve the instrumental purpose of publicly transferring legal rights, conferring powers, and/or imposing legal obligations in ways understood to be customary. Because there were well-established conventions for performing, recording, and pictorially representing at least some of these ceremonies, which were intended to memorialize as well as to execute legal acts, we can assess the plausibility of arguments that the embroidery intended to depict them by determining whether it followed conventions for depicting them or at least used pictorial devices and/ or inscriptions serving to memorialize the ceremonies. We can also determine whether contemporary viewers were likely to have interpreted a given scene as representing a specific type of legal ceremony – such as making a gift of land or swearing an oath of a particular kind – by asking whether the scene would have met expectations for representing the ceremony that we can plausibly impute to competent contemporary interpreters.88 This is not to say that legal ceremonies necessarily conferred legitimacy, but that representing them as having been duly performed was a necessary precondition for doing so. A key element of the legal ceremonies used for making gifts of land was to signal that the donor intended to make the gift. But the embroidery hardly ever signals the intentions of its characters, even when doing so is essential to representing a legal act. Additional key elements included witnessing the gift, memorializing the gift, and providing information necessary to defend the gift against challengers. When we look closely at all the scenes on the first half of the embroidery that might be read as legal ceremonies, only one of them – the oath-swearing scene – actually meets these tests. Why then does the Bayeux Embroidery fail so miserably to tell a story that could legally justify either William’s or Harold’s claim to be King Edward’s legitimate successor? Why does it repeatedly fail to represent the legal ceremonies that would have served one of these purposes and that many modern commentators have seen on it? Why does the first half of the pictorial narrative contain so many “gaps and inadequacies,” as Suzanne Lewis calls them, and include so many “striking silences” and “semantic gaps” and create “contexts of utterances without disclosing their content”?89 From Harold’s first meeting with King Edward in the opening scene to his second meeting with the king after sailing back to England, the embroidery presents both action scenes that are perfectly legible as events and what can called scenes of negotiation, whose meaning with only a signal exception is cloudy. Not only does the opening scene fail to indicate the 88

89

A key element of the legal ceremonies used for making gifts of land was to signal that the donor intended to make the gift. But the embroidery hardly ever signals the intentions of its characters, even when doing so is essential to representing a legal act. Another key element was memorializing the gift and providing information necessary to defend it against challengers – as charters repeatedly point out. S. Lewis, Rhetoric, 31, 39.

Legal Ceremonies and Legitimacy subject of the conversation between Edward and Harold; its relationship to subsequent scenes is in doubt, since there is no way of being sure that the meeting results in Harold riding with his men to Bosham. Besides, none of these scenes indicates where Harold was going, though we can probably infer that he got to Beaurain by mistake.90 The scene showing Harold petitioning William could be read as showing him pleading for the release of the man whose hand he is holding and who can probably be identified, as Owen-Crocker plausibly argues through an analysis of the handholding gesture, with one of the kinsmen of Harold’s whom William was supposedly holding as hostages.91 However, since the embroidery never indicates – as William of Poitiers and other authors do – that William returned one hostage to Harold, the scene makes an allusion, for those familiar with this episode, to the beginning of an episode without indicating how it ends. The same is true of the next scene showing Ælfgyva and the clericus. Since so many textual accounts of Harold’s journey state clearly that he and William worked out some kind of a marriage agreement involving a female kinswoman of one of them, it is tempting to interpret the scene as somehow alluding to this story by connecting it to the previous scene in which Harold is petitioning William. However, unless we associate the cleric’s gesture of touching Ælfgyva’s face by reaching into the enclosed space she occupies with sexual violation and sexual violation with marriage, there is no way of interpreting the scene as evoking a marriage agreement or relating it to other scenes in the sequence showing Harold’s visit. The so-called arms-giving scene poses a different kind of problem, since it obviously shows William giving arms to Harold; but the significance of his doing so remains elusive. Perhaps William is rewarding Harold for his service on the recently completed Breton campaign. But since his only service was to drag men out of quicksand – as perhaps a horse might do – rewarding him for this with weapons looks ironic. If we cannot assume that the embroidery was intended for display to viewers who would have remedied the inadequacies of key scenes by filling in their gaps and silences from either the Norman Story or the English Story and reading them as representing ceremonies that were not represented, the most plausible explanation for these gaps and silences is that the embroidery was not intended to represent Earl Harold, Duke William of Normandy, or both of them as King Edward’s legitimate successor, but was designed to convey doubt and uncertainty to its educated viewers at St Augustine’s about how the conquest of England had come about.92 That the embroidery should have questioned the legitimacy of any legal claims made by the kings, would-be kings, and magnates should come as no surprise when we consider the lessons that many of the fables in the border teach about the insatiable desire of kings and magnates for plunder and their predilection for giving a specious air of legitimacy to their plundering. In other words, the first half of the Bayeux Embroidery told neither the Norman Story nor the English Story. Instead, it implicitly subverted both of these stories and, in doing so, it indicated that neither William nor Harold was King Edward’s legitimate successor. Moreover, it implied that it was by God’s judgement that Harold and the English fell and that the duke owed the throne of England to God, who chose William as his instrument to punish the English for their sins and Harold for his act of perjury. This way of telling 90 91

92

On the possibility that it was treachery that brought Harold to Beaurain, see the work cited in Owen-Crocker, “Velis vento plenis,” at note 23. Owen-Crocker, “Gesture,” 152–3. Ashe, Fiction and History, 35–49 explains the embroidery’s gaps and silences in another way.

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the story of the conquest of the English bears a close resemblance to what George Garnett has called the “dissident” accounts that were written a generation or two after 1066 – accounts that were written by monks. Even if we leave aside the arguments already considered for interpreting the embroidery’s story in some other way, there is the question of whether Harold perjured himself at all and, even if he did so, whether his perjury could have been identified on the embroidery as the necessary and sufficient cause of Duke William’s invasion and the fall of Harold and the English. Traditionalists have insisted that if the opening scene does not show Edward commissioning Harold to confirm the king’s previous bequest of the kingdom, the oath-swearing scene, perhaps combined with other scenes showing Harold and William together, must do so. Revisionists, too, have focused on the oath-swearing scene and addressed the question of whether Harold, by taking the crown, is shown to have violated the oath he is shown swearing. They argue that Edward’s bequest would have overriden any previous promises or bequests he might have made. They further insist that the oath was not binding on Harold, either because he did not swear freely and of his own free will, as William of Poitiers had asserted, or because he could not legally grant rights he didn’t have, much less bar himself from accepting King Edward’s bequest. However, arguing over the legalities of the matter is irrelevant to the question that would have mattered most to the embroidery’s creators and at least some of its monastic viewers, as it did to monastic writers on the conquest. Why did God bring about Harold’s fall and the fall of the English generally? Just as all Norman writers began with the foundational assumption that William I was a legitimate king, whose legitimacy must have depended on his being designated as Edward’s legitimate heir, and then constructed the Norman Story so as to prove it, these authors started from the assumption that the conquest of the English was God’s will and then told stories to explain why he might have willed it and how it might have come to pass, while explicitly or implicitly acknowledging that the entire process was a mystery. In doing so, they expressed skepticism, at best, about the claim that the duke, according to the Norman Story, had been made Edward’s legitimate heir, showed their total disbelief in the English Story, and made Harold the fall guy for the Conquest. The oldest surviving text to express this view was written by a monk called Hermann of Bury of St Edmunds (fl. 1070–1100). In a collection of stories about the miracles of St Edmund that was completed by c. 1100, Hermann wrote that following King Edward’s death on 5 January 1066 and Harold Godwineson’s accession as king the next day, Count William of Normandy, having gathered a fleet of numerous ships, came by boat with as large a group of people as he could collect to the aforesaid king and England and took possession of it as if he were the more rightful successor of the good Edward, formerly his blood relation.

“Rumor had it,” according to Hermann, “that King Edward … had already promised the kingdom to the aforesaid Norman duke not only on account of their blood relationship but also because he had no children to succeed him.”93 93

“Hermann of Bury St Edmunds, “Miracles of St Edmund,” 171. “Quo regali tumulato more ante die missam, Theophaniorum die, statim cum introit misse inthronizatur in solio regni Haroldus filius Godwini callida vi veniens ad regnum, ideoque passus in eo detrimentum: regem manens non amplius decem mensium …. Sed interim Willelmus comes Normannicus, plurima navium

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Because Hermann merely said it was “rumored” that Duke William had had a claim to the English kingdom when he conquered it and because he implied that his claim was based, not on King Edward’s having formally instituted him as his heir, but on a mere promise that Edward had made to him and could later have overridden, Hermann’s account only dimly reflects the Norman Story told by William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers that the duke was the old king’s “instituted heir” and thus his legally designated successor. Although Hermann of Bury St Edmunds may well have known this story, he did not even come close to telling it or vouching for the legitimacy of William’s claim to the English throne.94 Hermann was not the only monk to write about the conquest a generation or two after 1066 who alluded to a few elements of the Norman Story without fully or accurately presenting it or who mentioned a claim that the Duke of Normandy allegedly had to England without actually saying that it was justified. Eadmer of Canterbury (c. 1060–c. 1126) wrote a parody of the Norman Story, in which he represented William as a political manipulator who based his own claim to the English throne on his own, unverified story that Edward had promised it to him when they were youths in Normandy, before Edward had even become king.95 In the Historia Ecclesiastica, Orderic Vitalis (1075–c. 1142) substantiated William’s claim to be Edward’s designated heir by telling his own version of the Norman Story but also undermined it in two invented speeches stating that William had no hereditary right to the English kingdom, acquired it by slaughter and rapine, and owed it to God alone.96 In the Gesta Pontificum

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copia fretus, cum gentium multitudine qua potuit navigio regem predictum et Angliam appetit et, quasi boni Eadwardi suique quodammodo consanguinei justior hereditarius, possedit. Rumor enim habebatur plurium bone memoriae regem Eadwardum jam dicto duci Normannico denominasse regnum tam consanguinitatis causa quam etiam, quia non erat ei successionis soboles ulla. Quibus de causis appetitu sic promote Anglici regiminis, et Haestinges navibus appulsis Normannicis, fit bellum die statute, quo perimitur rex Anglorum vice eorum variata. Quod regni discidium vere quedam prognosticaverat cometes, in transacta estate ejusdem anni fere per octo dies apparens.” Hermann of Bury St Edmund’s, “Heremanni archidiaconi Miracula Sancti Eadmundi,” in Ungedruckte Anglo-Normannische Geschichtsquellen, ed. F[elix] Liebermann (Strassburg: Trübner, 1879), 203–81 at 245–6. See also Hermannus the Archdeacon, “De miraculis Sancti Eadmundi,” in Memorials of St. Edmund’s Abbey, ed. Thomas Arnold, Rolls Series 96 (London: Longmans, 1890), 26–92 at 57-8. On Hermann, see Tom License, “History and Hagiography in the Late Eleventh Century: The Life and Work of Herman the Archdeacon, Monk of Bury St Edmunds,” EHR 124 (2009): 516–44; Antonia Gransden, “Baldwin, Abbot of Bury St Edmunds, 1065–1097,” ANS 4 (1982): 65–76, at 75 and p. 194 notes 146–7; idem, “The Composition and Authorship of the De miraculis Sancti Eadmundi Attributed to ‘Hermann the Archdeacon’,” Journal of Medieval Latin 5 (1995): 1–52, which identifies the author as a hagiographer called Bertran, not Hermann; and Antonia Gransden, “Hermann (fl. 1070–1100),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Lawrence Goldman (Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press), online at http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13083?docPos=2 (accessed 31 January 2013). On Abbot Baldwin of Bury St Edmunds as the likely source of Hermann’s story, see Garnett, Conquered England, p. 3 and note 13. Eadmer, HN, 5–8, on the dating of which see Garnett, Conquered England, 45–9; on Eadmer’s “scepticism about the official line on the conquest,” see ibid, 44. According to idem, Norman Conquest, 9, Eadmer “satirized [Duke William’s claim] by reinterpreting many of the familiar details [in William of Poitiers’ statement of the claim] and blending them into an account which was even more improbable than the official story.” For Orderic’s earlier version of the Norman Story, see Orderic, GND, 2, 158–61. For the later

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Anglorum (c. 1125), William of Malmesbury (c. 1090–c. 1142) represented Duke William’s claim ironically by stating that he had “seized England by force of arms, since God’s permission allowed it and it was supported by many arguments that he [i.e. William] did not consider weak.”97 In the Gesta Regum and in the Vita Wulfstani, the same author found other ways of questioning the legitimacy of the so-called Norman claim and, as we shall see, contested other points in the Norman Story as well.98 Although none of these authors told the official Norman Story of the conquest or justified the claim to the English throne that Duke William supposedly based on it, neither did they recycle the official English Story told in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’s E-version: that Harold had been granted the kingdom by Edward and was then chosen as king and consecrated after the old king was dead.99 Indeed, Hermann’s account of Harold’s accession was much closer to the Norman account of it than it was to the English one. After “[Edward’s] burial [had] taken place in a royal manner before the day’s Mass on Epiphany,” Hermann wrote, “Harold son of Godwin, who had seized the kingdom in a cunning way, promptly at the start of Mass sat himself on the royal throne and so triggered off his own demise for he was king for only ten months.”100 Orderic and William of Malmesbury, too, regarded Harold as a usurper and incorporated additional elements of the Norman Story into their own narratives when they called him a perjurer for having violated the oath that they said he had sworn in Normandy to uphold Duke William’s claim to the English throne. Taking a different view of Harold’s accession, Eadmer appeared to be retelling the official English Story of it when he wrote that Harold “succeeded [Edward] on the throne,” as the old king “had before his death provided.” However, the Christ Church monk also distanced himself from the same story by ignoring Harold’s election and consecration. Moreover, even though Eadmer hinted that Harold might not have been legally bound by the oath he had sworn in Normandy to uphold Duke William’s claim to the English throne, he still represented King Edward as stating that Harold was a perjurer who brought “misfortune on the whole kingdom and discredit upon [himself ].”101 Although Eadmer, Orderic, and William of Malmesbury included elements of the Norman Story in their accounts of the conquest, they also changed it significantly. All three of them supplemented the story by referring to William’s promise to give one, which was very different, see Orderic, EH, vol. 2, 134–7. For Guitmund’s speech, see ibid., vol. 2, 27–9; for William I’s deathbed speech, see Orderic, EH, vol. 4, 94–5. According to Henry, HA, 384–7, Duke William said he had a claim to the English throne by “right of kinship,” and thus, by implication, not as Edward’s “instituted heir.” 97 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum Anglorum: The History of the English Bishops, vol. 1, Text and Translation, ed. and trans. M. Winterbottom with R. M. Thomson (Oxford: Clarendon Press 2007), 46–7, “Willelmus comes Normanniae, Angliam veniens, armis provintiam perdomuit, cum et Dei permissio suffrageretur et nonnullae causae suppeterent quas non infirmas ipse arbitraretur.” 98 WM, GR, vol. 1, 416–23 and 44–61, presents two separate narratives of the conquest, neither of which endorsed the Norman Story that Edward had made William his heir and later sent Harold to Normandy to confirm the appointment. 99 ASC E, sub 1066. 100 Garnett, Conquered England, 3, credits Hermann with authoring “the nearest we are likely to get to an eye-witness account of Harold’s accession.” 101 Eadmer, HRE, 8; Eadmer, HN, 8.

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his daughter in marriage to Harold.102 William of Malmesbury all but rejected the Norman Story that Harold had been sent to Normandy by Edward to confirm the king’s appointment of William as his heir by hinting that Harold never intended to go there at all. According to Eadmer’s parody of the Norman Story, Harold went to Normandy despite King Edward’s warnings about William’s untrustworthiness, in order to ransom two kinsmen of his whom the duke was holding as hostages.103 Eadmer, William of Malmesbury, Orderic Vitalis, and Hermann of Bury St Edmunds each adopted a narrative style that differed significantly from the ones in which the official Norman and English stories were written. Despite the radical differences between the two official stories, their authors presented themselves as omniscient narrators of the events they recounted, as they claimed certain knowledge of the actions, intentions, and motives of Edward, Harold, and William that were essential to establishing that either Harold or William was Edward’s legitimate successor as king of the English while the other was simply a usurper. By contrast, early twelfth-century authors directly or indirectly acknowledged their doubts and uncertainties about the events they narrated by proposing different possible motivations for the same action, adopting ironic modes of narration, telling different stories about the same event, labeling these stories as rumors, presenting key elements of their stories in the form of direct speech by unreliable characters, or signaling their own dependence as storytellers on conflicting and inherently unreliable stories told by obviously untrustworthy narrators. William of Malmesbury made the last point most directly when he famously acknowledged, just at the point in King Edward’s reign where he had to rely on conflicting stories by English and Norman authors, that “here I perceive the course of my narrative to be somewhat in doubt because the truth of the facts is in suspense and uncertain.” The reason for this uncertainty was obvious: “It is these differences of opinion [between Norman and English authors] which … put my narrative at risk, since I cannot decide what precisely is the truth, either from the natural divisions between the two nations or because the fact is that the English are scornful of any superior and the Normans cannot endure an equal.”104 The overall effects of using these rhetorical techniques was to convey to readers that the human events leading up to the conquest of the English by the Normans were essentially unknowable. Because these “dissident” interpretations of the conquest were written too late to have directly influenced the Bayeux Embroidery’s narrative, which, as we have already seen, can be dated to between the mid-1070s to 1087, and because they all draw on earlier textual accounts of it, they have never figured prominently in previous scholarship on 102

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In Eadmer, HN, 7–8; idem, HR, 7–8, two marriages are arranged. In his version of the GND Orderic added to WJ’s statement that “Harold swore fealty to [William] about the kingdom [of England],” that “[William] promised [Harold] that he would give him his daughter Adeliza with half the kingdom.” (GND, vol. 2, 116–17) In EH, vol. 2, 136–7, Orderic mentioned no such marriage agreement as having been made, but stated that Harold had falsely told Edward that William had promised to give him [i.e. Harold] his [i.e. William’s] daughter and all his [i.e. William’s] rights in the English kingdom. WM, GR, 1, 418–19, reported the story that Harold was promised the hand of Duke William’s under-aged daughter in return for immediately confirming the castle he held at Dover to William and confirming the kingdom of England to the duke after Edward’s death. In ibid., 446–7, William of Malmesbury re-told Eadmer’s story about how and why the marriage agreement fell through. Eadmer, HN, 5–6; idem, HRE, 5–6. WM, GR, 2, 198.

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the textile.105 Nevertheless, they are our best available guides to the near-contemporary reception of the official Norman and English stories by monks able to read them critically in the light of their own independent knowledge of the English and Norman past. Moreover, they show how a conquest-narrative could include elements of the Norman and English stories without telling either of them, or fully justifying William’s or Harold’s claims to the English throne, or explaining precisely how the conquest came about and why. For these reasons, the study of the “dissident” interpretations provides an excellent vantage-point from which to assess previous interpretations of the textile’s narrative, to address questions that they leave unresolved about its story and message and status as an historical document, and, finally, to develop a new approach to the story that the embroidery’s creators at St Augustine’s, Canterbury intended it to tell about the conquest of England, when it was displayed at the abbey to an audience that included monks with the knowledge necessary to interpret it in all its complexity.

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Except for Eadmer’s account of Harold’s journey, which has been misread as conveying an authentic tradition about it, rather than a parody of the version of the Norman story by William of Poitiers.

Chapter 10 The Fall of the English Stephen D. White Re-Viewing the Battle of Hastings on the Bayeux Embroidery The Bayeux Embroidery assigns a prodigious amount of space to the Battle of Hastings, which was fought on 14 October 1066 between the armies of Duke William of Normandy and King Harold II of England. Almost a quarter of the textile vividly dramatizes the fighting, the killing, and the dying at Hastings (W57–73; Figs 29–36).1 More than a quarter of it is entirely devoted to the preparations of the duke’s forces for the battle, starting at the point where he orders that ships be built for the invasion of England (W34–5; Fig. 18) and ending with his army of horsemen and archers attacking the English army (W57; Fig. 29). Scenes showing the battle and the preparations for it thus make up over half of the embroidery in its extant form, so that if it were displayed as it presumably was in a place where viewers could take in all of it, the battle would have assumed enormous importance.2 Although there is no doubt that “What truly dominates the work [is] war … and, in particular, the battle of Hastings,”3 the sections of the textile devoted to the battle and preparations for it have received far less attention than the ones showing Harold’s visit to the Continent and return to England, King Edward’s death and burial, Harold’s accession as king, the sighting of the comet and Harold receiving news of it, and William’s decision to have ships built for the sea invasion of England.4 The reason for the relative neglect of the second half of it in the embroidery literature is that there seems to be little to debate or discuss, except for the question of whether it shows Harold being shot in the eye with an arrow.5 There has long been a consensus that aside from a scene that was adjusted to give special prominence to Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the textile’s pictorial narrative of the 1 2

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For the calculation, see M. K. Lawson, The Battle of Hastings, 1066 (Stroud: Tempus, 2003), 77. On the display, see Richard Brilliant, “The Bayeux Tapestry: A Stripped Narrative for their Eyes and Ears,” Word & Image 7 (1991): 98–126; rpt. in Gameson, Study, 111–37. See also Chapters 2, 3, 7, 11. Richard Gameson, “The Origin, Art, and Message of the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Gameson, Study, 157–211 at 207. On Harold’s death, see Martin K. Foys, “Pulling the Arrow Out: The Legend of Harold’s Death and the Bayeux Tapestry,” in Foys, BT, 158–75. On this debate, see below.

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battle closely matches the highly detailed written one included by William of Poitiers (c. 1020-post 1087) in his Gesta Guillelmi (c. 1073–74), which modern historians of the battle take to be by far the best available source for it and have repeatedly used as a reference point for interpreting the textile’s battle sequence.6 Moreover, since both are assumed to be reliable sources for this momentous event, it is also taken for granted that scholars can now determine how the battle was fought and how it proceeded by integrating selected scenes from the embroidery’s battle sequence to fill out the Gesta’s account. Edward A. Freeman can be credited with initiating the practice of treating the embroidery as a source for the battle in his History of the Norman Conquest, where he used it along with numerous late eleventh- and twelfth-century written sources to construct a composite narrative.7 Although Freeman’s own account of the battle became the subject of heated controversy,8 historians perpetuated his method of using the textile as a source for it and relied more heavily on it than he did, because, according to Sir Frank Stenton, its narrative of the battle so closely resembled the account of William of Poitiers as to suggest that they told “parallel” stories of an evenly fought battle by William’s forces and Harold’s.9 In constructing an account of Hastings, Frank Barlow relied on William of Poitiers’ Gesta Guillelmii and the textile as his two main sources, because, he wrote, when they “are in general agreement we have an account in which we can put some faith.”10 So did R. Allen Brown, who called them “our two best contemporary sources” for battle and lauded the embroidery as “a contemporary record, commissioned by [Odo of Bayeux] one who was at the very centre of affairs and present beside duke William at Hastings.”11 Moreover, Brown’s conviction that the embroidery was “made for a public display before those who had taken part in or lived through the Norman Conquest” led him to conclude that the narrative “can thus claim a formidable authority.”12 Although several recent writers on the battle sequence have taken a more nuanced view of its value as a source of historical evidence, they still emphasize its importance for the study of the battle. Stephen Morillo concedes that “its meaning and point of view, often, are not so obvious,” but believes that

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The account of the Battle of Hastings in WP, GG, 126–39, begins by describing the ordering of Duke William’s and King Harold II’s soldiers and ends with a final encounter between the Normans and the English. The account in Guy, Carmen, lines 336–556, begins and ends in precisely the same ways. On Freeman’s reading of the embroidery, see Chapter 2. On Freeman’s account of the battle, the attacks on it by J. H. Round, and defenses of it by T. A. Archer and Kate Norgate, Lawson, The Battle of Hastings, 1066, 138–41. Sir Frank Stenton, “The Historical Background,” in Stenton, BT, 9–24. Frank Barlow, William I and the Norman Conquest (London: The English Universities Press, 1965), 75; for the account of the battle, 77–9. Idem, “Introduction, “ in Carmen, xiii–xci at lix, lx, acknowledges the textile’s limitations as “an historical source,” but still judges it to be “more factual than any of the literary accounts.” David C. Douglas and George W. Greenaway, in English Historical Documents, vol. 2, 1042–1189, 2nd ed. (London: Eyre Methuen, 1981), 247, cite the textile’s “value as historical evidence” to justify its inclusion in this collection of translated sources. R. Allen Brown, “The Battle of Hastings,” ANS 3 (1981): 1–21; rpt. in Stephen Morillo, ed., The Battle of Hastings: Sources and Interpretations (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1996), 196–218 at 217. R. Allen Brown, The Norman Conquest, Documents of Medieval History 5 (London: Edward Arnold, 1984), 173.

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“the value of this source is clear.”13 Although George Garnett questions the embroidery’s reliability as an account of the battle, as has John Gillingham, he maintains that it and William of Poitiers’ account “provide much the most detailed contemporary narratives of the battle.”14 In a recent, brilliantly original analysis, M. K. Lawson writes that “as a record of a battle [the hanging] is inevitably somewhat lacking,”15 since, “[l]ike most pictorial sources, [it] is much better at showing what things looked like than at recording events in any detail.”16 Nevertheless, Lawson writes, “It is fair to assume that [the embroidery’s aristocratic Norman patrons] would have expected a degree of accuracy in terms of what soldiers looked like and the ways in which individuals fought, and there is little reason to suppose that they were disappointed in these respects.”17 Besides, since “none of the written sources can equal it in giving a visual impression of what certain aspects of the fighting were like,” it “brings us closer to what happened that day than any other source ever can.”18 In any case, Hugh M. Thomas concludes in discussing the battle that the embroidery’s depiction of Hastings is “a near contemporary pictorial record of the event.”19 To the extent that the battle sequence has been the subject of any interpretive analysis, there is also general agreement that although it does not vilify Harold as did William of Poitiers and the authors of other Norman accounts of the battle, it nevertheless conveyed to its beholders the same propagandistic “message” about the battle’s outcome as these authors did.20 According to William of Poitiers, the duke’s victory not only showed that Harold had had no right to the throne, but confirmed the faith placed in God by “this wise and Christian man [who] was firmly convinced that the omnipotence of God, which wills no evil, would not allow a just cause (iustam causam) to fail.”21 Guy of Amiens wrote that even before the battle, Harold’s “perjured hand [was] found guilty by the judgment of God (Divino … iudicio) and that at the end of it, “God granted victory to the Duke.”22 To be sure, the conventional view that the textile depicted the Battle of Hastings simply as a divinely sanctioned Norman victory was challenged in 1986 by Richard J. Bernstein, who argued that it brought out parallels between the conquest of the English and the Babylonian conquest of Judah.23 Neverthless, Bernstein’s valuable suggestion that the embroidery’s creators at the abbey of St Augustine’s – and, one might add, its viewers at 13

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Morillo, Battle of Hastings, 33. George Garnett, The Norman Conquest: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 3; John Gillingham, “‘Holding to the Rules of War’ (Bellica Iura Tenentes): Right Conduct before, during, and after Battle in North-Western Europe in the Eleventh Century,” ANS 29 (2007): 1–16. Lawson, Battle of Hastings, 79; on the embroidery as a source, see 75–85. Ibid., 77. Ibid., 79. Ibid., 81; for Lawson’s account of the battle, 199–242. On the battle, see also Stephen Morillo, “Hastings: An Unusual Battle,” The Haskins Society Journal 2 (1990): 95–104, rpt. in Morillo, Battle of Hastings, 220–7. Hugh M. Thomas, The Norman Conquest: England after William the Conqueror (Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield, 2008), 37. For the explicit vilification of Harold in Norman accounts, see, e.g., WP, GG, 76–9, 100–1, 114–15, 140–3. Ibid., 108–9, 140–1. Guy, Carmen, lines 241–2, 558. Bernstein, Mystery, Chapter 13, “The Bayeux Tapestry and the Hebrew Scriptures,” 166–78; see also Chapter 12, “Victory at Hastings and the Death of Harold,” 144–64.

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the abbey – would surely have understood the story of the conquest in the light of biblical history was set aside, even though Jenni Kiff established that the textile’s images of warfare built on “patterns of iconography set by … Biblical texts,” notably the manuscript produced at St Augustine’s, Canterbury known as The Old English Hexateuch.24 Instead, though writers on the battle sequence did not dispute that the embroidery’s viewers would have seen, as Gameson puts it, “earthly events as the unfolding of a divine plan under the guidance of the deity,”25 they maintained the consensus view that it carried the same triumphalist message about the divinely sanctioned Norman victory at Hastings that was conveyed in the Gesta Guillelmi and in the Carmen de Hastingae Proelio of Guy of Amiens. According to one scholar, the embroidery depicts “the great enterprise that was the Norman takeover of England.”26 Another maintains that it represents “the indisputable [story] of the fall of the English king Harold and of the triumph of the Duke of Normandy in accordance with the will of Divine Providence,” which, he later explained, “was on the Norman side.”27 A third asserts that by showing that the Normans won a battle so “closely fought” that their victory “betoken[ed] divine judgment” in their favor, the embroidery demonstrated to contemporary viewers that “God was with [the Normans] and supported their cause” and that they held England because “God in his infinite wisdom and just judgment gave it to them.”28 No one, however, seems ever to have confirmed this view of how the Bayeux Embroidery represents the battle of Hastings by systematically comparing its pictorial narrative of the battle, scene by scene, with William of Poitiers’ written narrative of it, episode by episode.29 Nor has anyone asked how the textile could have shown that God supported the Normans’ “cause” and upheld the justice of Duke William’s claim to the English throne, when, as Chapter 9 has already shown, it did not explain what his claim to the English throne was or represent the Battle of Hastings as a means of determining whether it was superior to the claim of Harold.30 Furthermore, because the fables depicted in the borders of several scenes preceding the battle have been ignored, no one has considered the possibility that they provided satirical and bitterly humorous commentary on the Battle of Hastings and its aftermath.31 Finally, though no one would deny that contemporary viewers of the battle sequence might well have understood its outcome as God’s will, no previous scholar has asked whether the embroidery necessarily shows that God willed the Norman triumph, rather than willing the fall of Harold and the English. 24

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Old English Hexateuch: London, British Library MS Cotton Claudius B. iv. Kiff ’s analysis: Jennie Kiff, “Images of War: Illustrations of Warfare in Early Eleventh-Century England,” ANS 7 (1985): 177–94. Gameson, “Origin,” 176. Heslop, “Regarding the Spectators of the Bayeux Tapestry: Bishop Odo and his Circle,” Art History 32 (2009): 223–49 at 249. Ibid., 212, 215. Gameson, “Origin,” 209, 210. Cowdrey, “Towards an Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” Anglo-Norman Studies 10 (1988): 49–65, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 93–110 at 106. See Chapter 9. The only fables depicted in the second half of the textile to receive attention are the two – Bitch and Puppies and Goat Who Sang – that appeared previously in the first half of the embroidery. For these fables and the others shown in the borders of the embroidery’s second half, see Chapter 7.

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The possibility of considering these questions about the textile’s depiction of the battle depends on accepting the arguments presented in previous chapters about who commissioned the hanging and why, where it was displayed, who made up its core audience, and, above all, how the pictorial narrative represented the pre-history of the conquest of the English.32 One of these key arguments is that the embroidery was created by the monks of St Augustine’s, Canterbury to serve the community’s own purposes when displayed at the abbey to an audience that included monks of the house. Another is that the narrative presented in the first half of the main frieze – on which the fables in the borders provide ironic, satirical commentary – does not establish the legitimacy of either William I’s or Harold II’s claim to be King Edward’s legitimate successor and implies that they were both unscrupulous predators who incessantly sought to fulfill their insatiable desires for plunder. If one examines the battle sequence with these assumptions as a starting point, the second half of the pictorial narrative appears in an entirely new light. The present chapter argues that, unlike William of Poitiers, the textile’s designer did not represent Hastings as an evenly fought battle whose outcome was in doubt until God finally tipped the balance in the Normans’ favor. On the contrary, the embroidery depicts a terrible mismatch – a rout, a slaughter – in which the English were doomed to defeat from the very start of the battle. Moreover, since – in contrast to the battle described by William of Poitiers – the one depicted on the embroidery is not represented as a means of determining whether God supported William’s or Harold’s right to be Edward’s successor as king of the English, and since earlier sections of the textile offer no evidence that William even had a claim to the English throne, the battle’s outcome on the embroidery cannot plausibly be interpreted as demonstrating that God granted William victory because he supported the duke’s cause. Since the only signs of God’s intervention in the story that the embroidery tells are the comet that he sends as a portent of Harold’s downfall and the ships in the next scene’s lower border that portend Duke William’s sea invasion of Harold’s kingdom, contemporary viewers at St Augustine’s who sought to understand the meaning of the Battle of Hastings and God’s role in determining its outcome could easily have drawn the conclusion that Harold’s death was God’s punishment of him for his perjury and that in bringing it about, the invaders were unkowingly acting as God’s instruments. Moreover, as we shall see below, there was such a strong impulse among monastic writers on the battle to treat the bloody defeat of the English as God’s punishment of them for their sins that it is plausible to assume that the embroidery’s designer at St Augustine’s intended for its depiction of the slaughter of the English to convey the same message to its viewers at the abbey.

Outline and Structural Analysis of the Battle Sequence For purposes of analysis, the battle sequence can be broken down into six main scenes, the first of which falls into two sections. All six of these scenes are defined by attacks on English footsoldiers from left and right by French horsemen (who are sometimes supported by archers); and each of the last five scenes is characterized by an inscription announcing the scene’s main theme. 1A. In the lengthy first section of the first scene (W57–62; Figs 29–31), a very long line of Duke William’s horsemen, supported by archers, rides rapidly from left to right 32

On discrepancies, see Garnett, Norman Conquest, 3–4.

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to attack a group of English footsoldiers, plus a solitary archer, all of whom face their attackers. The inscription above the line of horsemen and archers reads: “Here Duke William exhorts his soldiers that they prepare themselves manfully and wisely for the battle against the army of the English.” (W57–61: “Hic Willelm dux alloquitur suis militibus ut prepararent se viriliter et sapienter ad prelium contra Anglorum exercitu[m]”; Figs 29–30). 1B. In the short second section of the first scene (W62–3; Fig. 31), a smaller, weakerlooking band of English footsoldiers facing in the opposite direction are attacked from the right by a group of Duke William’s horsemen.33 2. The second scene in the battle sequence (W63–5; Fig. 32) shows how Harold’s two brothers, Gyrth and Leofwine, are attacked from the right and from the left by French horse and resist their attackers, but are cut down. Because the word “ceciderunt” in the inscription for this scene can be construed in two different ways, as either “they killed” or “they fell” (W63–5: “Hic ceciderunt Lewine et Gyrth fratres Haroldi regis”), the scene itself can be understood as showing how “they [i.e. the French horsemen] killed Leofwine and Gyrth, the brothers of King Harold”; how “Leofwine and Gyrth, the brothers of King Harold killed”; and how “Leofwine and Gyrth, the brothers of King Harold, fell.”34 3. In the third scene (W65–7; Fig. 33), the English (Angli) and the French (Franci) – as the embroidery calls them – fall in battle at the same time and kill at the same time (W65–6: “Hic ceciderunt simul Angli et Franci in prelio”). Here as in the previous inscription the word “ceciderunt” allows for multiple readings. Most of the English – who are much more lightly armed than the footsoldiers in the previous scenes – stand on a hillock, from which two are falling down dead to the left, and are under attack from left and right by French horsemen. For the only time in the entire battle sequence, French horsemen and their horses are falling down dead as well, so that the scene’s inscription neatly matches its imagery. 4. On the left side of the fourth scene (W67–70; Fig. 34) one can see Bishop Odo on horseback, holding a staff and giving encouragement to the mounted French youths (W67: “Hic Odo ep[iscopu]s baculu[m] tenens confortat pueros”); Duke William turning around in his saddle and lifting the visor of his helmet to show his face to the horsemen riding behind him; and a figure identified in a heavily restored inscription as Eustace, who points at Duke William with one hand and holds up a banner with the other.35 At the right of the fourth scene (W68–70; Figs 34–5), the inscription (“Hic Franci pugnant et ceciderunt qui erant cum Haroldo”) can be read to mean both “the French fight and have killed those who were with Harold” – that is, his bodyguards – and “those who were with Harold have fallen.” 33

34 35

This action in this scene is often considered to be taking place at the same time as the action in the first one, so that the English are hemmed in by attacks from both sides. However, interpreting the scenes in this way obscures the fact that in the second scene, the English footsoldiers in the shield-wall are in a weaker position than they are in the first scene, while the horsemen attacking them are in a stronger one. On “ceciderunt,” see Chapter 2. On the question of why Eustace, Odo, and William are shown together, see Shirley Ann Brown, “The Bayeux Tapestry: Why Eustace, Odo and William?” ANS 12 (1990): 7–28. According to David S. Spear, “Robert of Mortain and the Bayeux Tapestry,” in M. Lewis, BT, 75–80, the figure generally assumed to be Eustace of Boulogne on the basis of a restored inscription can be identified as Robert of Mortain.

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5. In the fifth scene (W70–2; Plate XXII; Fig. 36), “King Harold has been killed” by an anonymous French horsemen who has dismounted to use his sword to kill the king, who is falling down dead on his backside (W71: “Hic Harold rex interfectus est”). Meanwhile Harold’s men, standing on either side of him as he falls, fight against French horsemen attacking from the left and right (W70–2). 6. The heavily restored sixth scene (W72–3; Fig. 36) shows the English footsoldiers who “have turned to flight” with French horsemen in pursuit (W72–3: “Et fuga verterunt Angli”). And here, the embroidery abruptly breaks off. Although this sequence of six scenes is usually read as telling essentially the same story of the battle as did William of Poitiers in the Gesta Guillelmi, the two narratives differ with respect to how they represent the ground on which the battle was fought, the size and strength of the two armies, and the conduct of the fighting and killing.36 Perhaps the most noteworthy of these differences has to do with the ground on which the Battle of Hastings was fought. According to William of Poitiers, “not daring to fight William on equal terms, for they thought him more formidable than the King of the Norwegians, [the English] took their stand on higher ground, on the hill near to the woods through which they had come.”37 According to Guy of Amiens, “To prepare for the encounter [with William] the king mounted the hill” and assembled his troops to defend this position.38 For both authors, Harold’s taking the high ground in the battle was a significant point against him, since both represented him as having put the battle’s outcome in God’s hands and turning it into a kind of judicial duel, in which the contestants were expected to fight each other on even terms.39 For both writers, it was also a point in Duke William’s favor and a sign that he had God’s support that he fought an uphill battle against his enemy. According to William of Poitiers, “Undeterred by the roughness of the ground, the duke with his men climbed slowly up the steep slope” to attack Harold’s men, who “threw javelins and missiles of various kinds, murderous axes and stones tied to sticks” and “were greatly helped by the advantage of the higher ground (superioris loci).”40 William of Poitiers also makes a point of stating that although the English (Angli) were supported by the Danes (Dani), they still did not dare to meet William on even terms (cum aequo) and 36

37

38 39 40

With respect to how the battle is represented, there are also significant differences between the embroidery, on the one hand, and the accounts of the battle presented in Guy, Carmen and in Baudri de Bourgueil, “‘To Countess Adela,’” trans. Monica Otter, Journal of Medieval Latin 11 (2001): 60–141; see also idem, “Baudri de Bourgueil, Adelae Comitissae,” partial trans. Michael W. Herren, in Brown, Bibliography, Appendix III, pp. 155–64. For the Latin original, see “Adelae Comitissae,” in Baldricus Burgulianus, Carmina, ed. Karlheinz Hilbert. Editiones Heidelbergenses 19 (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1979). The poems by Guy and Baudri both closely resemble the account by William of Poitiers. In the text, I focus primarily on William of Poitiers’ account and cite the other two accounts in footnotes. WP, GG, 126–7, where the author might be writing of Harold’s Danish housecarls, were it not for the fact that he then refers to the duke and his men climbing up a steep slope to attack Harold’s men, who rain missiles down on them (Ibid., 128–9). Guy, Carmen, lines 363–80. Baudri, “Adela,” lines 397–8 stages the battle on the shore, shortly after Duke William and his men have landed in England. On the principle that judicial duels should be fought on equal terms, see Robert Bartlett, Trial by Fire and Water: The Medieval Judicial Ordeal (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), chap. 6. WP, GG, 128–9. Guy, Carmen, lines 379–80, makes the same point about the ground on which the battle was fought by noting that Harold went up the hill at the beginning of the battle and that William went up boldly to attack him.

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instead took the higher ground (locum editiorum). By contrast, William and his men were unfraid of the roughness of the ground (loci … asperitate) and the duke slowly climbed up the steep slope (ardu clivi sensius ascendit).41 Guy of Amiens, too, represents the battle as taking place on unequal ground, when he writes, “The duke, humble and God fearing… led [his men] fearlessly to mount the steep hill.”42 By contrast, the embroidery stages all but one of the scenes in the battle sequence on level ground. According to N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, an examination of the two-part first scene (W57–63; Fig. 31) shows how the designer “solved” what they call “the problem of depicting the Norman frontal cavalry attack up Battle hill against the English infantry drawn up on the ridge. He did not have the space to show horsemen charging up the hill and the Englishmen on the top, for he required the whole height of the Tapestry to show each single horseman distinctly.” Although the problem was solved, they write, “by showing the English ‘shield-wall’ in the centre and the Norman cavalry charge coming in from both sides,”43 one can see from the image of Duke William’s milites riding from left and right toward the men of Dinan in their fortress (W22; Figs 11–12), not to mention the third scene of the battle sequence to be discussed below, that if the designer had wished to show William’s horsemen attacking English footsoldiers on the top of a hill, he could have shown them making an attack on enemy infantry standing in a superior position – in this case a hill – with their spears pointing down at the horsemen attacking them. Instead, the first section of the first scene in the battle sequence shows Duke William’s cavalry riding rapidly on level ground – not up a hill – to attack English footsoldiers who are standing almost at the same level as their attackers and, for the most part, are aiming their spears at a slightly upward angle, not down. In the second section of the first scene, the designer makes it even clearer that the horsemen coming from the right are attacking the English footsoldiers on level ground, by showing their spears pointing downward at the English, who point their spears upwards at their attackers (W63; Fig. 31). When the horsemen in the second scene attack Gyrth and Leofwine from the left and from the right and kill them, they, too, are fighting on level ground (W63–5; Fig. 32). The same is true of the horsemen who attack and kill Harold’s bodyguards in the fourth scene (W67–70; Fig. 35), the ones who attack and kill other men with Harold and the king himself in the fifth (W70–2; Figs 35–6), and the ones who pursue the fleeing English in the sixth (W73–4; Fig. 36). Only in the fourth scene does the embroidery show French horsemen attacking English footsoldiers on the top of a hillock (W65–7; Fig. 33). However, this hill cannot be identified with the hill that Harold’s footsoldiers occupied at the beginning of the battle, according to William of Poitiers and Guy of Amiens, not only because the French attacking the English on top of it from the left need to cross what looks like a stream and because the English footsoldiers at the top of the hill are very lightly armed. Even though the embroidery stages the battle sequence almost entirely on level ground, it cannot have been intended to depict a battle fought on even terms, because it consistently makes Harold’s army look smaller and weaker than the duke’s army. By contrast, Norman textual accounts represent the English as vastly outnumbering Duke William’s 41

42 43

WP, GG, 126–7, 128–9. Guy, Carmen, lines 375 (montem), 380 (audaciter ardua montis ardit). N. P. Brooks and H. E. Walker, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry,” ANS 1 (1979): 1–34 and 191–9, rpt. in Gameson, Study, 63–92 at 81; and, for a similar interpretation, Foys, “Pulling the Arrow Out,” 174.

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forces. According to William of Poitiers, “If any author of antiquity had been writing of Harold’s line of march he would have recorded that in his passage rivers were dried up and forest laid flat. For huge forces of English had assembled from all the shires … The land of the Danes (who were allied by blood) also sent copious forces.”44 In the Carmen, where a messenger tells William that the English army was made up of 1,200,000 men, Guy of Amiens wrote: “Where [Harold] marches he reduces the forest to bare land and the rivers he crosses dry up.”45 Baudri de Bourgueil made the same point about the great size of the English army by representing it from the perspective of William’s men: Even before any Norman soldier had entered the battle, Cold fear struck at their hearts, panic crept up on them. For [the English] were without number; nobody could have counted How many soldiers there were waiting for them in the field.46

While emphasizing the enormous size of Harold’s army, Norman authors also brought out its strength and its ability to resist the duke’s forces by describing the English as fighting in a closely packed formation. Having written that the English “lined up all on foot in a dense formation,” William of Poitiers added that they held the higher ground “in serried ranks without sallying forward, and also by their great numbers and densely packed mass, and moreover by their weapons of war, which easily penetrated shields and other protections.”47 Guy of Amiens wrote of “the serried mass of the English” and “the dense forest of the English.”48 According to Baudri, The enemies, shunning their horses, form a wedge shape together, Which, while it stays in place, frustrates any attack. For the Norman soldiers dared not attack them united; Nor were they able to pry anyone loose from the wedge.49

Moreover, Baudri wrote, “So densely the soldiers were packed, none of the dead could fall.”50 The embroidery shows nothing of the kind. Even in the first scene in the battle sequence – which falls into two parts – there are gaps in both of the English shield-walls depicted, and several footsoldiers have fallen down dead, their corpses lying on the ground or in the lower border (W61–3; Fig. 31). Moreover, the two groups of English soldiers look few in number. Because each group is shown at an angle, it is possible for viewers to see its individual members and count them, rather than perceiving them as a dense mass or standing in serried ranks. Although one scholar has characterized this scene in the battle sequence as providing an “inadequate” image of a shield-wall, it can be better understood as representing a shield-wall that is less than adequate. To see that medieval artists were fully capable of creating images corresponding to descriptions of footsoldiers in serried ranks and representing footsoldiers massed together in such a way as to make them look 44 45

46 47

48

49 50

WP, GG, 126–7. Guy, Carmen, lines 223, 321-2; see also line 441. Baudri, “Adela,” lines 399–402. WP, GG, 128–9. Guy, Carmen, lines 415, 421. Baudri, “Adela,” lines 405–8. Ibid., line 416.

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like a large force capable of repelling an attack, it is only necessary to look at the images of men armed with spears in the Harley Psalter (Canterbury, c. 1000);51 the representation of soldiers with shields and spears in the Joshua Roll (Fig. 64);52 and the depiction of Norman footsoldiers on a ship from the Life of St Aubin.53 The Harley Psalter makes the groups of men armed with spears look larger than it is by massing them together and showing their spears all pointing upwards (Fig. 62). In the Life of St Aubin, an artist working a few decades after the Bayeux Embroidery’s creation made a group of footsoldiers look like an innumerable multitude by depicting them facing forward, heavily armed, helmeted, and bunched together in a symmetrical, multi-rowed formation, with the faces of most of them invisible, and with spears all pointing straight up at exactly the same angle (Fig. 63). The designer’s failure to deploy such techniques when he could perfectly well have done so reveals that he was aiming to make the men in the shield-wall look few in number and ill-prepared to meet an attack. Moreover, the designer has made the first group of nine English footsoldiers and a single archer look all the smaller by showing them under attack from four archers and fifteen horsemen, whom he has made to look all the larger by showing them in a very long line in which each individual horse and rider takes up five times as much space horizontally as each individual English footsoldier (W57–61; Figs 29–31). The numerical superiority of Duke William’s army to Harold’s is also emphasized in a sequence of three scenes before the battle begins (W52–5; Figs 26–8) and, as we shall see below, by the way in which the embroidery represents the duke’s preparations for the battle. The first scene shows William riding at the head of fourteen horsemen, holding a baton (W52–4; Figs 26–7). In the second, he asks Vital if he has seen Harold’s army (W54–5; Fig. 27). What army? Beyond the hill, all that is visible to viewers – and, the textile implies, to Vital as well – is an English scout reporting on Duke William’s army to King Harold, who, in contrast to William, has no soldiers accompanying him at all (W55–7; Fig. 28). There is only a tree, which separates him from Duke William – who, as noted above, is addressing a long line of fifteen horsemen from behind and instructing them to fight manfully and wisely (W57–61; Plate XVIII; Figs 28–31). In this context – where King Harold and a single scout are jammed in between two lengthy scenes of Duke William and a long line of horsemen – to represent Harold armed and on horseback (for the one and only time on the embroidery) and pointing authoritatively is to make him look foolish, as well as seriously lacking in the support he needs to meet the attack that is about to be launched against the English. The next time the embroidery depicts the King of the English, he is falling down dead. The textile uses other visual devices to make William’s army look stronger than Harold’s and considerably more powerful than the army described by William of Poitiers, who said that it was divided into infantry, archers, unreliable French and Breton cavalry, and, of course, valorous Norman horsemen, including nobles whose names he duly lists.54 Because the embroidery shows no infantry fighting for Duke William, it can never show the English footsoldiers fighting any of their enemies on even terms. Whereas William of 51

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London, British Library MS Harley 603, Psalm 2, fol. 2; Plate 91 in Bernstein, Mystery, 155. Joshua Roll, Constantinople, c. 1000. Rome, Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana MS Palat. Gr. 431. In Bernstein, Mystery, 100–1. Life of St Aubin, St Aubin Monastery, Angers, c. 1100. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale MS Nouv acq. Lat. 1390, fol. 7r. In Bernstein, Mystery, 72. See also Guy, Carmen, lines 413–14.

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Poitiers describes the English riding to battle on horseback and then dismounting to fight, the embroidery represents them as though they never had horses in the first place.55 Instead, the English are under constant attack from cavalry able to ride them down from two directions and archers able to strike them at a distance. In addition, the duke’s archers get special emphasis at the beginning of the battle, when four of them marching in formation (W60; Fig. 30) are contrasted with one small, pathetic-looking archer on the English side (W62; Fig. 31). The embroidery reveals the importance of the duke’s archers partly by showing a dead English footsoldier in the lower border with an arrow lodged in his throat and partly by indicating that the kite shields of at least three men in the first shield-wall hold more than one arrow (W61; Fig. 31). Later, an extended section of the lower border is monopolized by a very long line of nineteen of the duke’s archers (W68–70; Figs 34–5), whose arrows strike down English footsoldiers in the main frieze or become lodged in their shields (W69–71; Figs 35–6).56 Instead of dividing the duke’s cavalry into Normans, French, and Bretons – as William of Poitiers and Guy of Amiens did – the embroidery characterizes them as a unified, disciplined group by identifying all of them as “Franci” (W66, 68; Figs 33, 34) and by repeatedly showing them in carefully stylized postures (see, e.g. W58–61; Figs 29–31). Finally, by prominently depicting the genitalia of many of the horses, the embroidery genders the horsemen – and not just their mounts – as flagrantly masculine and accentuates their dominance over the horseless English (W51–2, 57–61; Figs 26, 28–30). There is also a striking difference between the fighting as depicted on the embroidery and as described by William of Poitiers and Guy of Amiens. The textile never names any of the horsemen who fight against the English; nor does it show the three figures it names – Duke William, Bishop Odo, and Robert of Mortain – even carrying a sword or a spear, much less committing any killings. By contrast, William of Poitiers exuberantly describes Duke William’s killings and identifies by name ten men of “military distinction and great renown, whose names deserve to be remembered in the annals of history among the very greatest warriors.”57 Guy of Amiens, too, dramatizes William’s killings and even describes him as joining with three other named men to kill King Harold on the battlefield.58 In describing the occasion on which Duke William lifted his helmet to show his face to his soldiers – an image of which is presented on the embroidery (W67; Fig. 34) – William of Poitiers and Guy of Amiens provide it with a context that is totally different from one that the pictorial narrative gives to it. In the Norman accounts, what provokes Duke William’s action is the sight of “a great part of the [English force on the top of the hill springing] forward to pursue his men.” In response, William rushed towards them, met them as they fled and halted them, striking out and threatening with his spear. Baring his head and lifting his helmet, he cried, ‘Look at me. I am alive, and with God’s help I will conquer.’” Upon hearing William, “they recovered their courage. He rushed forward at their head, brandishing his sword, and mowed down the hostile people, who deserved death for rebelling against him, their king. Full of zeal the 55

56

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58

WP, GG, 126–9. Acording to Guy, Carmen, line 369, the English did not fight on horseback. Projectiles lodged in a shield unbalance it, make it heavier to hold, and make it less effective in blocking attack. That the English footsoldiers have not had an opportunity to remove the arrows (and later in the battle, spears) from their shields indicates that they are hard-pressed. My thanks to Phil Huckerby for explaining this point. WP, GG, 130–1, 132–5. Guy, Carmen, lines 531–50.

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Normans surrounded some thousands who had pursued them and destroyed them in a moment, so that not a single one survived.59

After giving a similar account of how William stopped the retreat of his men and led them back to battle against the English, Guy of Amiens concludes the episode by saying: “Some [of his enemies] he beheaded, some he dismembered, and some he devoured with his sword.”60 To avenge the killings of his three horses, William of Poitiers wrote, the duke, “With his angry blade … tirelessly pierced shields, helmets and hauberks.”61 According to Guy of Amiens, William avenged the killing of one of his horses by Harold’s brother Gyrth by “tearing him limb from limb” and then taunting his corpse.62 Whereas William of Poitiers alludes only obliquely to the death of Harold in battle, Guy of Amiens tells of how the duke “caught sight of Harold on the top of the hill fiercely cutting down those who were attacking him” and recruited Eustace of Boulogne and two men called Hugh and Gilford to help kill the king. One of them “pierc[ed] the king’s shield and chest with his lance, drenched the ground with a gushing stream of blood”; another “with his sword cut off his head”; a third “liquified his entrails with his spear”; and a fourth “cut off his thigh and carried it some distance away. The earth held the body they had in these ways destroyed.”63 Learning of Harold’s death, “the English refuse to fight. Defeated, they ask for quarter; despairing of life, they flee from death. In this place the duke dispatched two thousand to Hades besides thousands more beyond counting.”64 On the embroidery, however, the warfare waged by the anonymous Frankish horsemen and archers excludes the individual acts of heroic violence that William of Poitiers and Guy of Amiens described and attributed, in particular, to Duke William. Moreover, the embroidery’s designer created a radically different compositional setting for the image of William lifting his helmet as he rides with Odo of Bayeux, Eustace of Boulogne, and French horsemen. None of these magnates, not even the duke, carries weapons, much less fights or kills anyone.65 They merely encourage the real fighters, the anonymous Franci who kill Leofwine and Gyrth, Harold’s bodyguards, and Harold himself and decapitate an unarmed Englishman who has already been disemboweled and holds out his hands to plead for mercy.66 They are indistinguishable from the other horsemen, who, in every battle scene, attack from