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The Bayeux Tapestry
The Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry

The Life Story of a Masterpiece


368 Pages, 5 x 8

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $24.95 (US $24.95)

Publication Date: September 2008

ISBN 9780099450191

Rights: US

Penguin Random House UK (Sep 2008)
Vintage UK

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The story of the famed Bayeux Tapestry, from its origins in 1066 to Napoleon, Nazi raids, and beyond.

One of Europe’s greatest artistic treasures, the Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. For all its fame, its origins and story are complex and somewhat cloudy. Though many assume it was commissioned by Bishop Odo—William’s ruthless half-brother—it may also have been financed by Harold’s dynamic sister Edith, who was juggling for a place in the new court. In this intriguing study, medieval art historian Carola Hicks investigates the miracle of the tapestry’s making—including the unique stitches, dyes, and strange details in the margins—as well as its complicated past. For centuries it lay ignored in Bayeux cathedral until its discovery in the 18th century. It quickly became a symbol of power: townsfolk saved it during the French Revolution, Napoleon displayed it to promote his own conquest, and the Nazis strove to make it their own. Packed with thrilling stories, this history shows how every great work of art has a life of its own.


"Fascinating stuff throughout." —BBC History Magazine

"A perceptive and sure-footed guide . . . fascinating tale with deftest of touches." —The Guardian

"Carola Hick’s scholarly book is a masterly account of [the Bayeux Tapestry's] origins and the controversies that have always surrounded it." —Spectator

"Well-written, well-documented . . . weaves its own spell." —The Times Literary Supplement

"Hick’s enchantment with the tapestry is compelling, and her style confident and writerly." —The Daily Telegraph

"Full of page-turning vignettes.” —The Sunday Telegraph

Author Biography

Carola Hicks is the author of Animals in Early Medieval Art, Discovering Stained Glass, and Improper Pursuits.