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Title: The Bayeux Tapestry Elucidated
Author: Bruce, John Collingwood
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                        JOHN COLLINGWOOD BRUCE,
                             LL.D., F.S.A.

                       LONDON, J. RUSSELL SMITH.

                      [Illustration: PLATE XVII.]

                            BAYEUX TAPESTRY





              “ ...They burning both with fervent fire
              Their countrey’s auncestry to understond.”

                 JOHN RUSSELL SMITH, 36, SOHO SQUARE.



[Illustration: The Most Noble ELEANOR DUCHESS of NORTHUMBERLAND lineally
descended from a distinguished Companion of William of Normandy in the
Conquest of England This Work illustrative of the Title and Triumphs of
the Conqueror is with her Grace’s kind permission most dutifully &
gratefully inscribed.]


England has performed, and is probably destined yet to perform, an
important part in the history of nations. The era treated of in this
work was doubtless the crisis of her fate. Happily, she survived the
shock of the Conquest, and was benefited by its rough discipline. All
true-hearted Englishmen must read with peculiar feeling this portion of
our country’s annals. Surrounding nations, too, have their share of
interest in it. When the Society of Antiquaries published the beautiful
copy of the Bayeux Tapestry, made, at their request, by Mr. Charles
Stothard, they testified the importance which they attached to the
document. As yet they have published no explanation of it. The world
still expects it at their hands. To supply, meanwhile, some little
assistance to the student of history, this work is published. It was
suggested by a holiday ramble in Normandy, amidst the scenes rendered
famous by the career of William the Conqueror. The plates have been
carefully reduced from those published by the Society of Antiquaries, by
Mr. Mossman, and printed in colours by the Messrs. Lambert, of
Newcastle-upon-Tyne. These gentlemen, and the Printers, have spared no
pains to render the volume creditable to the local press. In addition to
the authorities cited in the course of the work, _La Tapisserie de
Bayeux, édition variorum, par M. Achille Jubinal_, has been continually
before the eye of the writer.

_Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 13th of October, 1855,
    (Eve of the Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.)_



    “_There she weaves, by night and day,_
     _A magic web with colours gay._”


Master Wace, to whom we are indebted for “the most minute, graphic, and
animated account of the transactions”[1] of the Norman Conquest, thus
exalts the art of the chronicler--“All things hasten to decay; all fall;
all perish; all come to an end. Man dieth, iron consumeth, wood
decayeth; towers crumble, strong walls fall down, the rose withereth
away; the war-horse waxeth feeble, gay trappings grow old; all the works
of men perish. Thus we are taught that all die, both clerk and lay; and
short would be the fame of any after death if their history did not
endure by being written in the book of the clerk.”[2]

The pen of the writer of romance is not the only implement which confers
immortality upon man. The chisel of the sculptor, the pencil of the
painter, and the needle of the high-born dame, can confer a lasting
renown upon those whose deeds are worthy of being remembered. The work
which we are about to consider was effected by the simplest of these
implements--the needle.

One of the earliest modes of transmitting the history of important
transactions to posterity was by recording them in long lines of
pictorial representation. In the temples of Nimroud, in the sepulchres
of Egypt, in the sculptures which entwine the columns of Trajan and
Antonine at Rome, we have familiar examples of the practice. The Bayeux
record is a large roll of historic drawings rather than a piece of
tapestry; and it is remarkable as being the last example of this species
of representation which antiquity has handed down to us.

In the days of the Conqueror, and of some of his Saxon predecessors, the
ladies of Engle-land were famous for their taste and skill in
embroidery; and this species of lady-like manufacture was known
throughout Europe as English work.[3]

One effect of the Conquest was to bring the people of England and
Normandy into closer alliance than before. On the first occasion on
which William returned to Normandy, after the battle of Hastings, he
took with him, “in honourable attendance,” a considerable number of the
Saxon nobles,[4] who were doubtless accompanied by their wives and
daughters. Assisted by English ladies, as well as by those of her own
court, Matilda, the wife of the Conqueror, probably at this time
constructed the Tapestry which for many ages was preserved in the
Cathedral of Bayeux.

Never, perhaps, was so important a document written in worsted. It is a
full and a faithful chronicle of an event on which the modern history of
the world has turned. It is referred to as an historical authority by
nearly every writer who discusses the period. The way in which the
subject is treated, the spirit shown in its design, and the harmony of
its colouring, warrant us in pronouncing it to be a monument worthy of
its reputed author, and of the event which it is designed to

It is, however, a double memorial; it is a record of the love and duty
of William’s consort, as well as of the skill and valour of the great
hero himself. A loving wife sympathizes with her husband in all his
tastes. She takes an enthusiastic interest in his favourite pursuits;
and she had “lever far,” to use an expression of Lady Payson’s, that
success attended his efforts--that another leaf were added to his laurel
crown--“than that she should have a new gown, though it were of
scarlet.” Matilda could not bestride the war-horse, and do battle in the
field by her husband’s side; but she could commit his exploits to the
Tapestry. Surrounded by her ladies, all adroitly using their
many-coloured threads, she--

      Fought all his battles o’er again;
    And thrice [she] routed all his foes, and thrice [she] slew the slain.

Matilda was, during the greater part of her life, a loving wife.
William, too, was a devoted and faithful husband; though in one case he
cannot be recommended as a model to enamoured swains. It is said that
for seven long years he courted Matilda of Flanders, but in vain. Her
affections were set upon a Saxon nobleman, but were not reciprocated.
At length the Duke resolved to bring matters to a crisis. He repaired to
Bruges, and met the high-bred damsel as she returned from church through
the streets of her father’s gay capital. Having reproached her for her
long-continued scorn and cruelty, he seized her, and coolly rolled her
in the mud, to the no small injury of her trim and costly attire. Then,
after a few more striking proofs of his regard, which she must have
sensibly felt from such a hand, the lover rode away at full speed,
leaving her to account for this novel mode of courtship as best she
could. Strangely enough, she put a charitable construction upon his
actions; she regarded his blows as so many proofs of the violence of his
affection; she felt sorry for him; and then--all was over--in a very
brief space the nuptial ceremonies were solemnized with a splendour
becoming the greatness of the occasion.[5]

Thus did William win the hand of a lady who was to give to England a
race of monarchs more renowned than those of any other dynasty. She
herself, let it be observed, had the blood of Alfred in her veins.

Before proceeding further, it may be well to give a brief reply to the
question which will naturally arise in the minds of most--Has the Bayeux
Tapestry descended to us from a period so remote as that of the
Conquest? A minute examination of the work supplies the best answer to
this question. Montfaucon, whose knowledge of antiquities no one will
dispute, and who was the first to describe the Tapestry as a whole, was
quite satisfied that popular tradition was correct in ascribing it to
the wife of the Conqueror; and Thierry, the last and ablest writer upon
the Norman Conquest, though he hesitates to ascribe the work to Matilda,
has no doubt that it is contemporaneous with the Conquest, and
constantly refers to it as a document of unquestionable authenticity.[6]

Not, however, to settle the question by authorities, it may be
observed:--1st. That the fulness and correctness of its historical
details prove that it is a contemporaneous chronicle. Wace, as has
already been observed, treats more largely of the Norman invasion than
any of the writers of the Norman period; and, such is the general
agreement between the verses of the one and the delineations of the
other, that the Tapestry may be pronounced to be what in these latter
days would be called the “illustrations,” and the narrative of the
chronicler the “letter-press,” of an elaborate history of the Norman
Conquest.[7] And yet the one does not follow the other slavishly. Whilst
they agree in all the general facts, they differ in many minute details,
as all independent narratives will.

2. Again, the architecture, the dresses, the armour, the furniture, of
the Tapestry are those which prevailed at the period of the Conquest,
and at no other. It is at all times exceedingly difficult, whether by
writing or painting, to portray accurately the manners, language, and
modes of thought, of an anterior period. In mediæval times, however, the
attempt was seldom made. The draftsmen represented the manners “living
as they rose.” “It was the invariable practice with artists in every
country,” says Mr. Charles Stothard,[8] “excepting Italy, during the
middle ages, whatever subject they took in hand, to represent it
according to the manners and customs of their own time. Thus we may see
Alexander the Great, like a good Catholic, interred with all the rites
and ceremonies of the Romish church. All the illuminated transcripts of
Froissart, although executed not more than fifty years after the
original work was finished, are less valuable on account of the
illuminations they contain not being accordant with the text, but
representing the customs of the fifteenth century instead of the
fourteenth. It is not likely that in an age far less refined this
practice should be departed from. The Tapestry, therefore, must be
regarded as a true picture of the time when it was executed.” The
testimony of an earlier authority, Strutt, is to the same effect:--“To a
total want of proper taste in collecting of antiquities, and application
to the study of them, are owing the ignorant errors committed by the
unlearned illuminators of old MSS.; and so far were they from having the
least idea of any thing more ancient than the manners and customs of
their own particular times, that not only things of a century earlier
than their own era, are confounded together, but even representations of
the remotest periods in history. The Saxons put Noah, Abraham, Christ,
and King Edgar, all in the same habit, that is, the habit worn by
themselves at that time; and in some MSS., illuminated in the reign of
Henry the Sixth, are exhibited the figures of Meleager, Hercules, Jason,
&c., in the full dress of the great lords of that prince’s court. At the
latter end of one of these MSS., indeed, the illuminator, reading
something about a lion’s skin, has covered the shoulders of the beau
Hercules with that kingly animal’s hide over his courtly load of silk
and gold embroidery. Yet this is a lucky circumstance in the present
want of ancient materials; for though these pictures do not bear the
least resemblance of the things they were originally intended to
represent, yet they nevertheless are the undoubted characteristics of
the customs of that period in which each illuminator or designer
lived.”[9] A comparison of Master Wace with the Bayeux Tapestry will
furnish us with an illustration in point. Wace, after alluding to the
negotiations which took place before the armies closed at the decisive
field of Hastings, says, “As the Duke said this, and would have said
more, William Fitz Osbern rode up, _his horse all covered with iron_;
Sire, said he to his lord, we tarry too long, let us arm ourselves.
Allons! Allons!”[10] Now, if we look at the Tapestry, we shall find that
not a single horse is equipped in steel armour; and if we refer to the
authors who lived at that period, we shall find that not one of them
mentions any defensive covering for the horse. Wace, who flourished in
the days of Henry I. and Henry II., is the first writer who mentions
horse-armour, and, excepting from the passage which has just been
quoted, it could not be proved that it had been introduced even in his
day. Wace is therefore probably guilty of an anachronism, and describes
what happened at the close of his own time as having occurred in that of
his immediate predecessors.[11] This example shows how exceedingly
difficult it is to portray customs with accuracy a few years after the
period in which they prevailed. Had the Tapestry been made by Matilda
the Empress, as some contend, numerous similar anachronisms must have

3. But the design of the Tapestry shows its early date. Its manifest
object is to prove the right of William to the throne of England, to
exhibit in strong colours the undutifulness and ingratitude of Harold in
attempting the usurpation of the crown, and to record the punishment
with which that disloyal and sacrilegious act was visited.[12] In the
latter days of the Conqueror such an undertaking would have been
valueless. He had planted his foot firmly upon the necks of the native
population; the barons, too, by whom he achieved the Conquest, had been
brought into subjection. He was king of England by the power of his
sword; he cared not then about the will of Edward the Confessor, the
oath of Harold, or the election of the nobles--he was king _de facto_,
and let them who durst deny it! These remarks, made with reference to
the close of the Conqueror’s reign, apply with still greater force to
the time of the Empress Matilda, to whom, as some conceive, we are
indebted for the Tapestry.[13] She would not have thought it necessary
to establish in so elaborate a manner her deceased grandfather’s right
to the throne, and to display at such length the obligations under
which Harold lay to him. The Brittany campaign would not have been given
in such detail excepting it had been quite a recent event. The Tapestry,
it will be observed, ends with the battle of Hastings. It does not even
include the subsequent coronation of William. It represents the first
act in the drama of the Conquest of England, and was doubtless intended
to prepare for the scenes which were to follow. It is difficult to
conceive that the Tapestry was designed at any period save that
immediately subsequent to the battle of Hastings. William had not then
assumed the character of an arbitrary monarch, which he subsequently
did. The Saxon ladies, full of reverence for the character of their
lately deceased monarch, Edward the Confessor, might naturally resent
the attempt of Harold to resist the evident wish of that monarch to
bequeath his crown to William, and, imbued with the superstition of an
ignorant age, regard the fatal results of the battle of Hastings as a
just judgment from God for the violation of an oath taken upon the
relics of the saints. Taking this view of it there was nothing
unpatriotic in their entering zealously into the views of their queen.
But if, after England had reaped the bitter fruits of the conquest; if,
after their fathers had been slain, their husbands driven into exile,
their children made to herd with the dogs of the Conqueror’s flock, they
had lent their skill to commemorate the desolation of their country and
their homes, they would have dishonoured their lineage and their name.
On these general grounds, therefore, we may conceive the Tapestry to be
of the era of the Conqueror, and to date from an early period in his
reign. Many opportunities of reverting to this subject will afterwards

But although it be admitted that the Tapestry is of the age of the
Conquest, it does not necessarily follow that it was wrought by the
Queen and her court. The opinion that Matilda presided over its
execution has been strongly controverted, chiefly by those, however, who
deny its early antiquity. The Abbé de la Rue, as formerly observed,
ascribes it to Matilda the Empress. Mr. Bolton Corney, in an able paper
entitled _Researches and Conjectures on the Bayeux Tapestry_, contends
that it was not executed until the year 1205, and that it was then done
at the expense of the Chapter. Dr. Lingard adopts Mr. Corney’s views,
and in a note appended to the first volume of his _History of England_
condenses his arguments. If, however, the Tapestry bear internal
evidence of an earlier date, these arguments are of little value.

No contemporary historian indeed tells us that the Tapestry was made by
Matilda. It is not mentioned in her will, or the Conqueror’s. The
inventory of the treasures of the church at Bayeux, bearing date 1369,
and which is the earliest document mentioning the Tapestry, contains no
allusion to Matilda. Another inventory, made in 1476, and professing to
be a descriptive catalogue of the jewels, ornaments, books, and other
valuables of the church, mentions the Tapestry, describes its form and
subject, and names the period of its public exhibition; but gives no
hint that it was made at the command of Matilda. It is difficult, it may
even be impossible, satisfactorily to account for the absence of all
allusion to the Queen in these documents, but negative arguments prove
little. Besides, the case is by no means singular. The compilers of
ancient documents seem to have left much to be taken for granted. Sir
Henry Ellis, in his _General Introduction to Domesday_, says, “Of Queen
Matilda’s gifts to foreign monasteries, two only are particularly
specified in the Survey; the land at Deverel in Wilts, which she gave to
St. Mary at Bee; and two hides at Frantone in Dorset, which she gave to
the Conqueror’s foundation of St. Stephen at Caen. _No mention occurs of
the Conqueror and his Queen having founded the monasteries of St.
Stephen and the Holy Trinity in that city_: although their lands in
England are specified.”[14] It is scarcely less difficult to account for
these omissions in the _Domesday Book_, than it is to account for the
absence of all allusion to the framer of the Tapestry by contemporary
writers. In the absence of direct evidence, we are thrown upon
probabilities. And what is more likely than that the opinion which
Montfaucon found prevailing at Bayeux when he discovered the Tapestry is
the correct one? As the Abbé de la Rue himself argues, “To have
undertaken this Tapestry would have required a considerable degree of
interest in the subject of it, and to have possessed the necessary
powers for its execution.”[15] Who can be supposed to have had so great
an interest in the establishment of the Conqueror’s right to the throne
of England as Matilda of Flanders, and who but herself would have been
at the trouble of asserting it in such full detail? Would any one but an
immediate connexion of the Duke’s have taken such prominent notice of
the rescue of Harold from his captivity in Ponthieu, and of his
subsequent friendly intercourse with William in Brittany; and would even
Matilda herself have done this if the Tapestry had been prepared after
the stupendous results of the battle of Hastings had fully developed

Dr. Lingard, in appealing to the roll itself, says, “Nor does the
costliness of the work bespeak a royal benefactor.” “There is in it no
embroidery of gold, none of silver, none of silk, nothing worthy the
rank or the munificence of the supposed donor.” Had the article in
question been a royal robe, or sacerdotal vestment, the omission of the
precious metals might have been unaccountable; but in a piece of
embroidery of such extent, it is nothing wonderful. Neither should the
artistic value of the document be overlooked. Its figures may appear
uncouth in our eyes, but they are done in the very best style of the
period. A person of ordinary resources could not have commanded, to the
extent required, the services of the ablest artists of the day. The
preparation of the Tapestry must have been a costly and laborious
process, not at all unworthy of the wife of the victor of Hastings.[16]
What is more likely, then, than that the traditional opinion which
Montfaucon found prevailing in his day at Bayeux is well founded, and
that to the first of our Norman Queens we are indebted for this most
wonderful piece of needle-work?

Although the actual execution of the Tapestry devolved upon the ladies
of Matilda’s court, there can be no doubt that they wrought from a
design prepared by some draftsman. The priests were the principal
artists of that day. The Latin inscriptions prove that in that part of
their work, at least, the ladies had the assistance of some educated
person. The name of the designer has not come down to us; unless indeed
there be truth in the following statement made by Miss Agnes
Strickland:--“This pictorial chronicle of her mighty consort’s
achievements appears to have been, in part at least, designed for
Matilda by Turold, a dwarf artist, who moved by a natural desire of
claiming his share in the celebrity which he foresaw would attach to the
work, has cunningly introduced his own effigies and name,[17] thus
authenticating the Norman tradition, that he was the person who
illuminated the canvas with the proper outlines and colours.”[18] Though
ignorant of the individual who designed the Tapestry, the style of the
work induces us to believe that the artist was an Italian. The postures
into which many of the figures are thrown are not English or French, but
Italian.[19] The cordiality subsisting at the time of the Conquest
between the courts of Normandy and Rome, and the successful exhibition
of Norman prowess for some time previously on the plains of the Italian
peninsula, sufficiently account for the introduction of the
peculiarities of southern Europe into the Tapestry.

Perhaps, however, we have acted rashly in having ventured even thus
cursorily to touch upon the antiquity of the Tapestry. Miss Agnes
Strickland, who, in her _Lives of the Queens of England_, shows how
vigorously she can wield the pen, is rather indignant that any one who
is not learned in cross-stitch, should venture to discuss the subject.
Before we argue, she wants to know if we can sew. She says, “With due
deference to the judgment of the lords of the creation on all subjects
connected with policy and science, we venture to think that our learned
friends, the archæologists and antiquaries, would do well to direct
their intellectual powers to more masculine objects of inquiry, and
leave the question of the Bayeux Tapestry (with all other matters allied
to needle-craft) to the decision of the ladies, to whose province it
belongs. It is matter of doubt to us whether one, out of the many
gentlemen who have disputed Matilda’s claims to that work, if called
upon to execute a copy of either of the figures on canvas, would know
how to put in the first stitch.”[20] Few of the rougher sex would like
to be put to the_experimentum acus_, and therefore it may be as well at
once to exercise the best part of valour, and beat a hasty retreat.

The attention of the learned world was first, in modern times, called
to the Bayeux Tapestry by M. Lancelot, who in 1724 found a drawing of a
portion of it in the Cabinet of Antiquities at Paris. He was struck with
its appearance, and at once pronounced it to be of the age of William
the Conqueror, and intended to commemorate his exploits; but he was
unable to conjecture whether the drawing represented a bass-relief, a
piece of sculpture surrounding a choir of a church or a tomb, a painting
in fresco or upon a glass window, or even, he adds, if it be a piece of
tapestry. He conceived that the original would be found at Caen. In
consequence of his suggestion, Father Montfaucon made diligent
inquiries, and, after some trouble, found the Tapestry, not at Caen, but
at Bayeux. He ascertained that it was there popularly ascribed to Queen
Matilda.[21] M. Lancelot further informs us that it was ordinarily
called in the country _La Toilette de Duc Guillaume_. At that period,
and for long afterwards, it was kept in a side chapel of the cathedral,
rolled upon a kind of winch, and was exposed to public view only once a
year, on the festival of the relics (July 1), and during the octave. On
these occasions it was hung up in the nave of the church, which it
completely surrounded.

In the autumn of 1803, when Bonaparte, then First Consul of France,
contemplated the invasion of England, the Tapestry was brought from its
obscurity at Bayeux, and exhibited in the National Museum at Paris,
where it remained some months. The First Consul himself went to see it,
and affected to be struck with that particular part (_Plate VII._) which
represents the appearance of a meteor presaging the defeat of Harold:
affording an opportunity for the inference, that the meteor which had
then been lately seen in the south of France was the prelude to a
similar event. The exhibition was popular; so much so, that a small
dramatic piece was got up at the Theatre du Vaudeville, entitled _La
Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde_, in which Matilda was represented
passing her time with her women in embroidering the exploits of her
husband, never leaving their work, except to put up prayers for his

At present the Tapestry is preserved in the town’s library at Bayeux,
where it is advantageously exposed to view by being extended in eight
lengths from end to end of the room, and is at the same time protected
from injury by being covered with glass.

The Tapestry has originally formed one piece, and measures two hundred
and twenty-seven feet in length, by about twenty inches in breadth. The
groundwork of it is a strip of rather fine linen cloth, which, through
age, has assumed the tinge of brown holland. The stitches consist of
lines of coloured worsted laid side by side, and bound down at intervals
with cross fastenings; as is seen in the frontispiece, which represents
a portion of the Tapestry of the original size. The parts intended to
represent flesh (the face, hands, or naked legs of the men) are left
untouched by the needle. Considering the age of the Tapestry, it is in a
remarkably perfect state. The first portion of it is somewhat injured,
and the last five yards of it are very much defaced. The colours chiefly
used by the fair artists are--dark and light blue, red, pink, yellow,
buff, and dark and light green. On examining this interesting relic, I
was struck with nothing so much as the freshness of the colours; and can
entirely subscribe to the words of Mr. Hudson Gurney, in the
_Archæologia_, “the colours are as bright and distinct, and the letters
of the superscriptions as legible, as if of yesterday.”

Perspective and light and shade are wholly disregarded. An effort is
made, by varying the colours employed, to avoid the confusion arising
from this circumstance: thus, while the leg of a horse which is nearest
to the spectator is painted blue, the one more removed will be coloured
red; or if the one be pink, the other may be a greenish yellow. The
colours, owing probably to the restricted extent of them at the command
of Matilda, are employed somewhat fancifully, and we have horses
exhibited to us of hues which, could they be realized in living
specimens in Hyde Park now-a-days, would attract the envy and admiration
of all beholders. Notwithstanding the liberty thus taken, the harmony of
the colouring is such, that persons may look at the Tapestry for some
time without discovering that truth, in this particular, has been in any
degree violated. Mr. Dawson Turner remarks, that “in point of drawing,
the figures are superior to the contemporary sculpture at St. George’s
and elsewhere; and the performance is not deficient in energy.”[22] As
we examine the figures in detail, we shall have occasion to notice the
spirit and the expression which the artist has infused into his work.

Besides the principal subject, which occupies the central portion of the
Tapestry, there is an ornamental border at the top and bottom of the
field, which is filled with a variety of representations. Here the
artist has indulged in a considerable play of fancy. Figures of birds
and beasts which certainly never came out of Noah’s ark are admitted
into this menagerie. Probably many of these forms represent the
griffins, centaurs, and other fabulous creatures which occupy so
conspicuous a place in the romances of the period. Others clearly
represent animals, such as the camel and lion, with which the people of
that age could not be very familiar, but which would, on that account,
furnish subjects of thought and conversation all the more exciting.

In the lower border of the roll, near the beginning, are some
representations of the fables of Æsop. There is the crow and the fox,
the wolf and the lamb, the crane and the wolf, the eagle and the
tortoise, and some others. Besides these subjects, we have many of the
operations of husbandry, such as ploughing, sowing, and harrowing. The
sports of the field are not neglected. One man is seen shooting birds
with a sling. At this period the sling had quite gone into disuse as a
weapon of war, but was probably long afterwards retained for the
purposes of the sportsman. In one compartment, a man is seen fighting,
sword in hand, with a bear that is chained to a tree. In another, the
huntsman summons his dogs to the chase. In some portions of the Tapestry
the border has an evident reference to the main subject of the piece;
towards the end of the work the whole of the lower margin is filled with
the bodies of the slain, thus forming it, as it were, the foreground of
the general delineation.

The whole picture is divided into seventy-two compartments or scenes,
which are generally separated from one another by trees, or what are
intended to represent such. The artist, very modestly mistrusting his
own powers, has usually affixed an inscription, in Latin, to each
subject, the more fully to explain his intention. The letters, like the
figures, are stitched in worsted, and are about an inch in length.

That the Tapestry should from a period beyond all record have belonged
to the church of Bayeux is nothing surprising. Odo, the uterine brother
of William, who rendered the Conqueror such efficient assistance in the
battle of Hastings, and in the subsequent government of the kingdom, was
archbishop of that place. Matilda may, with great propriety have given
it to him in acknowledgement of his services, and he with equal
probability, for he was very munificent to his church, may have given it
to the Chapter. There is no other period at which it could with so much
probability have come into the possession of the ecclesiastics of Bayeux
as during the episcopate of Odo.[23]


    “All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.”


Very frequently the means which we adopt to secure our ends are those by
which Providence designs to thwart them.

During that disastrous period when England was subject to the incessant
depredations of the Danes, Ethelred II. contracted a marriage with Emma,
a daughter of Richard I., Duke of Normandy. Ethelred’s conduct to his
wife proved that the match was not one of affection; his object
evidently was to obtain the assistance of the powerful house of Rollo in
resisting the attacks of the Vikings of the north. Instead of doing
this, the alliance resulted in arraying the Normans amongst the enemies
of England. Alfred and Edward, the sons of Ethelred and Emma, found an
asylum in the Norman court during the supremacy of Sweyn and Canute. At
one time an expedition was in readiness to leave the shores of Normandy,
with a view of placing by force a son of Ethelred on the throne of his
father. William of Malmesbury, speaking of the two youths, says--“I find
that their uncle Richard (II.) took no steps to restore them to their
country; on the contrary, he married his sister Emma to the enemy and
the invader. Robert, however, whom we have so frequently before
mentioned as having gone to Jerusalem, assembling a fleet and embarking
soldiers, made ready an expedition, boasting that he would set the crown
on the head of his grand-nephews; and doubtlessly he would have made
good his assertion, had not, as we have heard from our ancestors, an
adverse wind constantly opposed him: but assuredly this was by the
hidden counsel of God, in whose disposal are the powers of all kingdoms.
The remains of the vessels, decayed through length of time, were still
to be seen at Rouen in our days.”[24] Thus half a century before William
the Conqueror set out upon his expedition, a Norman invasion loomed in
the distance.

Whilst the ships of Robert were rotting in the harbour of Rouen, Alfred
and Edward, the sons of Emma, were being trained up in the court of
Normandy in those habits and feelings which eventually led to the
assembling of an armament which adverse winds were not destined to
baffle. Alfred visiting England, was barbarously murdered; the Norman
chroniclers assert that the cruel deed was instigated by Godwin. At
length, by the death of Hardicanute, a way was opened for Edward,
afterwards styled the Confessor, to the throne of his father. He was,
however, at the time of his accession, as Camden expresses it,
thoroughly Frenchified. He could scarcely speak a word of English. His
court was filled with Normans, who usurped most of the official
dignities. When advancing years compelled the monarch to take some steps
for securing a fitting successor to the throne, his mind reverted to the
court of

[Illustration: PLATE I.]

Normandy. His immediate heir, Edgar Atheling, was too feeble a youth to
be placed, in such turbulent times, in so responsible a position. When
the choice lay between Harold the Saxon and William the Norman, the
Confessor’s early predilections necessarily induced him to look
favourably upon the youthful head of his mother’s house. Independently
of any communications which the English king may have made to the young
Duke of Normandy, the partiality which he manifested towards him could
not fail to nurture in Duke William’s mind the most ambitious views.
Hence sprung the Norman invasion.

We are now prepared for examining in detail the scenes depicted in the

The first compartment exhibits to us Edward the Confessor giving
audience to two personages of rank. The king is seated on a throne; his
feet rest upon a footstool. A crown, ornamented with _fleurs-de-lis_, is
on his head, and he holds a sceptre in his left hand. The robe of the
monarch is full, and is ornamented at the collar, the wrists, and down
the front, probably by needle-work of gold. Similar ornaments appear
upon his knees. The arms and feet of the throne, according to the usage
of the period, terminate in carvings of the head and feet of a dog. The
taller of the persons waiting upon the king is no doubt Harold, as the
face bears a strong resemblance to that of one of the horsemen in the
next group, which the inscription tells us is Harold. A general likeness
is preserved throughout the Tapestry, both in the case of William and
Harold, so that we may reasonably suppose that the delineations of
these personages bear some resemblance to the originals, and that they
were drawn by an artist who knew them both. Edward is in the attitude of
a king giving law to his subjects. Harold and his companion _stand_ in
the royal presence, both to betoken their reverence for their monarch,
and their readiness to depart on the instant in the performance of the
royal behests. They evidently pay earnest attention to the commands of
the king.

The subject of this interview is no doubt Harold’s intended expedition
to the court of William. Unhappily, there is no point in history
respecting which a greater diversity of statement exists among
contemporary writers, than the visit of Harold to the court of William.
Three views are taken of it:--one is, that Harold was commissioned by
Edward to inform the young Duke of Normandy that he had been nominated
by him as his successor to the throne; another is, that Harold, whilst
taking recreation in a fishing-boat, was accidentally carried out to
sea, and driven on the shores of Ponthieu; the third is, that Harold had
begged permission of Edward to go into Normandy, in order to release
from captivity two relatives, a brother and a nephew, who, after Earl
Godwin’s rebellion, had been placed as hostages in the hands of the
Norman duke. The question for us to consider is which is the view
countenanced by the Tapestry. Unfortunately, the inscription over the
group is simply EDWARD REX, and, so, gives us no definite information.
It will be well to examine the statements of the chroniclers, and then
compare them with the representations of our worsted work.

William of Malmesbury says, “King Edward declining into years, as he had
no children himself, and saw the sons of Godwin growing in power,
despatched messengers to the King of Hungary to send over Edward, the
son of his brother Edmund, with all his family; intending, as he
declared, that either he, or his sons, should succeed to the hereditary
kingdom of England, and that his own want of issue should be supplied by
that of his kindred. Edward came in consequence, but died almost
immediately. He left three surviving children; that is to say, Edgar,
who, after the death of Harold, was by some elected king; and who, after
many revolutions of fortune, is now living wholly retired in the
country, in extreme old age;[25] Christina, who grew old at Romsey in
the habit of a nun; and Margaret, whom Malcolm King of the Scots,
espoused.... The king, in consequence of the death of his relation,
losing his first hope of support, gave the succession of England to
William Earl of Normandy. He was well worthy of such a gift, being a
young man of superior mind, who had raised himself to the highest
eminence by his unwearied exertion; moreover, he was his nearest
relation by consanguinity, as he was the son of Robert, the son of
Richard the Second (of Normandy), whom we have repeatedly mentioned as
the brother of Emma, Edward’s mother. Some affirm that Harold himself
was sent into Normandy by the King for this purpose; others, who knew
Harold’s more secret intentions, say, that being driven thither against
his will by the violence of the wind, he imagined this device, in order
to extricate himself. This, as it appears nearest the truth, I shall
relate. Harold being at his country seat at Bosham, went for recreation
on board a fishing-boat and, for the purpose of prolonging his sport,
put out to sea; when a sudden tempest arising, he was driven with his
companions on the coast of Ponthieu. The people of that district, as was
their native custom, immediately assembled from all quarters; and
Harold’s company, unarmed and few in number, were, as it might easily
be, quickly overpowered by an armed multitude, and bound hand and foot.
Harold, craftily meditating a remedy for this mischance, sent a person,
whom he had allured by great promises, to William to say, that he had
been sent into Normandy by the King, for the purpose of expressly
confirming in person the message which had been imperfectly delivered by
people of less authority, but that he was detained in fetters by Guy,
and could not execute his embassy.... By these means Harold was
liberated at William’s command, and conducted by Guy in person.”[26]

Master Wace inclines to the opinion, that he went to rescue the
hostages. His statement is, “When his father (Earl Godwin) had died,
Harold, pitying the hostages, was desirous to cross over into Normandy,
and bring them home. So he went to take leave of the King. But Edward
strictly forbade him, and charged and conjured him not to go to
Normandy, nor to speak with Duke William; for he might soon be drawn
into some snare, as the Duke was very shrewd; and he told him that if he
wished to have the hostages home, he would choose some messenger for the
purpose. So at least I have found the story written. But another book
tells me, that the King ordered him to go for the purpose of assuring
Duke William, his cousin, that he should have the realm after his death.
How the matter really was I never knew.”[27]

Let us now attend to the questions, How are we to reconcile these
various statements, and what is the view taken by the draftsman of the

We must at once abandon the fishing boat story. The preparation which
Harold makes for his expedition, and the numbers he takes with him, are
irreconcileable with this view. Besides, the ships do not seem to be
suffering from stress of weather, and, according to the inscription,
Harold appears to have made a prosperous voyage, ET VELIS VENTO PLENIS,
VENIT IN TERRAM WIDONIS COMITIS--And his sails being filled with the
wind, he came into the territory of Count Guy.

We must also abandon the view which represents him as going to procure,
_in a direct and open manner_, the hostages which William held. He knew
that William was as shrewd as he was ambitious, and would not be so
simple as to give up at his request, however reasonable it might be, the
only means he had of holding him in restraint. Besides, the Tapestry
represents the King, in the first compartment, in the attitude of one
giving a command, rather than administering advice. The interview which
Harold has with the King, on his return, strengthens this view. (_Plate
VII._) Harold comes into the presence of the Confessor like a guilty
person, deploring his misdeeds and craving pardon. An axe, carried by an
attendant on the left of the King, is turned towards him, apparently
betokening that he has committed an offence worthy of death. The King is
evidently reproving him sharply, but the attendant on the right of the
King having the edge of his axe turned away from Harold, shows that the
result of the interview was a pardon. The monarch was in fact too
powerless to adopt any rigorous steps towards so influential a subject
as the son of Godwin. If Harold had simply failed upon a private errand
of his own, but which the King had forewarned him would be a bootless
one, the King would have been more disposed to laugh at the trouble into
which he had brought himself than take such serious notice of his

Besides, it is admitted on all hands, that Edward intended to appoint
William as his successor, and most of the chroniclers agree in asserting
that the Norman had already received some intimation of it. Further,
William, after procuring the kingdom, always claimed to hold it, amongst
other pleas, _Beneficio concessionis domini et cognati mei, gloriosi
Regis Edwardi_--By the devise of my lord and relative the glorious King
Edward.[28] Now, is it likely that a document which depicted the views
of the Norman court would neglect to insert so important a title?

Supposing it to be a point established, that in the first compartment
the Confessor is giving orders to Harold to inform William of the
honours that awaited him, and abandoning, for the reasons already
stated, the view of his being accidentally cast ashore on the coast of
Ponthieu, we are necessarily led to suppose that he designedly shaped
his course to that place, in order to promote his own ends. The Earl of
Ponthieu was jealous of William’s growing power, and had often been in
arms against him. He had on one occasion been imprisoned by him for two
years. Harold might readily suppose, that if he could obtain the
assistance of Guy, he might, by stealth or stratagem, get possession of
the persons of his brother and nephew. Hence, instead of going direct to
Rouen, he seems to have shaped his course more to the north. He might
argue with himself, that when once he had got possession of the
hostages, the wrath of William, which would no doubt be aroused by the
proceeding, would be easily allayed by his putting him in formal
possession of the fact of his being appointed by the present occupant of
the English crown his successor.

On the first view of the case, it seems strange that Harold should
undertake an errand which was apparently so much opposed to his
interests, or even that the King should intrust him with such a
commission. Harold, however, could have little objection to make it
known that it was the King’s wish that William should be appointed his
successor; for it was of some importance to him, having an eye to the
crown himself, that the direct heir should, at all events, be
superseded. Edgar Atheling, the next in the succession, was a rival in
the palace itself; William the Norman was separated from him and the
land of their mutual ambition by a barrier which was in those days a
very formidable one--the English Channel. If Harold entertained these
views, he would take care to inform the King of his acquiescence in his
well known intentions respecting the succession, and thus encourage him
to send him upon his present errand.

This method of reconciling the different views given by the chroniclers
upon this involved point of English history is, it must be confessed,
purely theoretical; at the same time, no better occurs.

Harold has received his commission from the King; let us see how he
fulfils it. He is first seen riding in company with several persons of
distinction (as their dress indicates) to the place of embarkation. The
BOSHAM--Where Harold the English chief and his knights ride to Bosham.
Harold is represented twice in this group (by no means an unusual thing,
as we shall afterwards see); once, lifting up his hand, as if in the
attitude of command; and again, with his hawk upon his fist, to betoken
his high rank; a pack of hounds are scampering before him.

The hawk and the hounds require a few words of remark. It is well known
to persons conversant in antiquity, that the great men of those times
had only two ways of being accoutered when they set out upon a journey;
either in the habiliments of war, or for the chase. Harold, as going on
an errand of peace, we find here represented in the latter. The bird
upon the fist was a mark of high nobility. We see it frequently upon
seals and miniatures, of that age, of ladies as well as men; and so
sacred was this bird esteemed, that we find it prohibited in the ancient
laws for any one to give his hawk or his sword as part of his ransom.
Severe fines were laid on those who should steal another’s hawk. Harold,
it will be observed, is the only one of all his suite who has the bird
upon his fist.[29]

Several hawks are introduced in the course of the Tapestry, but in no
one case is the bird provided with a hood. The hood was introduced from
the East about the year 1200, and as after its introduction it was
considered an essential part of the equipment of the bird, its absence
in the Tapestry is conclusive evidence of its comparatively early

The three larger dogs have collars, provided with rings through which,
most probably, the leash passed; the other two are of a smaller breed.
The horses are hog-maned. Harold’s horse, in the more forward instance,
has some ornament entwined with its mane.

Bosham is a hamlet in Sussex, near to Chichester, which still retains
its ancient name. It was a sea-port of some consequence in Saxon times,
and we frequently read of its being the point of departure for persons
going to the Continent. Bosham was the property of Harold, having been
obtained by his father, Earl Godwin, from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Among the endowed churches of England, that of Bosham was probably one
of the richest. In the reign of King Edward it had land belonging to it
to the extent of a hundred and twelve hides. The generality of church
endowments were infinitely smaller. Hence we find the church represented
in the Tapestry as a structure of considerable consequence.[31]

A tree closes the scene. It is of a species which does not flourish in
our modern woods, but which nevertheless grows very abundantly in the
MSS. of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Several of similar character
may be seen in the Illustrations to Cædmon’s _Metrical Paraphrase_,
executed in the tenth century.[32] These trees, like the lions and
leopards of the heralds of a subsequent date, were mere conventional
forms, and not intended to be correct representations of the objects

The next compartment exhibits to us Harold and a companion (one no doubt
being used to represent all) entering the sacred structure, with the
view of seeking the divine blessing upon their enterprise. As the
humility of their posture, when inside, could not be represented, the
artist has exhibited them as entering it in a state of semi-genuflexion.
In this he follows a classical model. Among the Greeks and Romans the
act of adoration was expressed by the artists representing the body
inclined slightly forwards, the knees gently bent, and the right hand
touching the object of reverence.[33] Over the building which Harold and
his companion enter is written the word ECCLESIA.--the church.

It is not a little curious to observe, that in immediate contiguity with
the church in which our voyagers offer their devotions, is the festal
board at which they comfort their own bowels, and pledge each other in
goblets large as their own hearts. The scene is one of a truly Saxon
character. Our blue-eyed forefathers never did things by halves, and
whenever they sat down at the social table--and they did so as often as
convenient--they exhibited a refreshing earnestness.

The scene represents the end of the feast, and hence the drinking horns
rather than the platters are brought into requisition. Two of these are
magnificent specimens, and remind us of the horn of Ulphe preserved in
York Minster, and the Pusey horn. The individuals in the building are
evidently pledging each other, and the challenged and the challenger are
drinking in turn out of the same cup. Robert de Brunne refers to this
practice in the following lines:--

    “This is their custom and their gest
     When thei are at the ale or fest;
     Ilk man that loves, where him think
     Sall say wassail, and to him drink.
     He that bids, sall say wassail;
     The tother sall say again drinkhail.
     That said wassail drinkes of the cup,
     Kissand his felow he gives it up;
     Drinkhail, he says, and drinkes thereof,
     Kissand him in bord and skoff.”[34]

Besides horns, semicircular vessels, or mazer cups, appear among the
furnishings of the board. These vessels were generally of wood, but
occasionally of gold or silver. Our ancestors, who somewhat strangely
blended religion with their festivities, not unfrequently had mottos,
such as the following, inscribed upon their mazer bowls:--

    In the name of the trinitie
    Fille the kup and drink to me.

But the best of friends must part. A messenger, who has blown the horn,
to inform our voyagers that the boats are ready, till he is tired, comes
personally, horn in hand, to urge their departure.

The scene of the embarkation is curious. Harold, the most powerful
subject in England--if he can be called a subject--strips off his lower
garments, and wades into the sea. His companions follow him in similar
guise. Harold has, as usual, his hawk upon his fist, and he and his
companion (the representative of the rest), more careful of their hounds
than themselves, carry them dry-shod on board the ship that waits to
receive them.

No satisfactory explanation has been given of the peculiar implement
held in the left hand of the attendant who is next but one to Harold.
Can it be a ‘throw stick’ such as was generally used by the ancient
Egyptian sportsmen in fowling?[35]

Harold has two ships, and they are represented twice over--once at their
departure from the English coast, and again on their arrival at the
shores of France. But before attending to the adventures which befell
the Saxon Earl on the opposite side, it will be well to review the
ground already trodden, in order to gather up some fragments of
information respecting the tastes and habits of the ancient English.

The architectural delineations of the Tapestry are those of the
Conquest. Throughout the whole, the circular arch, which is
characteristic of the Saxon and Norman styles, prevails in its simplest
forms. Interlacing arches which occur so frequently in the later Norman
buildings, and which are supposed to have introduced the pointed or
Gothic-style, never occur. The palace of Edward the Confessor, in the
first compartment, is a large building as compared with the church and
manor-house of Bosham in the second. In some of its details it bears a
striking resemblance to the ‘heavenly abode’ in one of the early
illustrations of Cædmon’s Paraphrase.[36] Of the chequered work on the
face of the chief buttress tower many examples exist to this day in
Normandy. The chief feature of the church is the doorway, as is the case
with all Norman buildings up to a late period. The windows are small and
insignificant, and were probably unglazed. It is roofed with stone
shingles or tiles, rounded at the lower extremity, and fastened to the
framework with nails, as is conventionally represented in the drawing.
The roofs in the Saxon illustrations already referred to present a
precisely similar appearance. The traveller in Normandy will often be
reminded by existing buildings of these arrangements. The house in which
the voyagers take their farewell repast is worthy of observation. It is
constructed upon the plan of the ancient “peel houses” of the North of
England. The upper apartment has an independent entrance by stone steps
from the outside, and seems to be the place of greatest comfort and
security. The lower room is vaulted, and is divided into three
compartments, like the aisles of a church. This was not an unusual
arrangement in buildings of the Saxon and Norman period.[37]

The dress of the parties may be briefly described. It has manifestly
been derived from a Roman model. A garment, doubtless of woollen,
invests the body, and comes up to the neck. A tunic, having something of
the form of a frock coat, is put on over this, and is bound round the
waist by a girdle. In the horsemen, this tunic is brought below the
knees, and, for greater convenience in riding, is divided so as to form
two wide loose legs. Most of the men are furnished with hose, which fit
tightly, and come well up the thigh. Most of them also are furnished
with shoes, which seem to fit the foot naturally and easily. In addition
to these coverings, the superior orders wear a cloak, nearly resembling
the _chlamys_ of the Roman general, and which is fastened by a fibula,
or brooch, at the right shoulder.

All the figures, excepting those accoutred with crowns or helmets, are
bare-headed. This at first sight does not seem to be the case; the heads
of the parties appear as if they were enveloped with caps of various
colours. It will be observed, however, that, within doors as well as
without, their heads wear the same appearance. But the shaven crown of
the priests reveals the fact. These personages appear with hair as
indisputably red, and blue, and yellow, as the rest, yet they show the
bare poll in the centre. (_See Plates IV. and VII._) It may also be
observed that the hinder part of the heads of the Frenchmen is bare. In
France, at this period, an absurd custom prevailed of shaving the back
of the head. The men of Normandy and Ponthieu accordingly appear as if
they had caps stuck upon the front of their heads, leaving the back part
naked. All this seems to prove that, at the time of the Conquest, it was
not customary either in England or France for men to cover the head,
except for defensive purposes in the day of battle.

The Saxons are uniformly represented with mustaches; the French are not.
King Edward always appears with a beard. The Saxons were fond of
cultivating the hair, and exhibiting full and flowing locks. In the
youthful days of King Edward both razors and scissors were eschewed. In
process of time, however, through some silvery influence, men were
induced to denude their chins of nature’s covering. Frenchmen made a
clean sweep of it, but the Saxons held out for the mustache. King Edward
maintained the customs of his youth, and he is always represented on
coins, medals, and the Tapestry, with all the capillary attractions
which nature ever gave him. In these respects, the Tapestry is true to

In ancient times, as well as in modern, fashions were subject to change.
In the reigns immediately succeeding the Conqueror’s, modes prevailed
different from those depicted in the Tapestry. The points of the shoes
were elongated, greater extravagance of dress was indulged in, and the
Normans, instead of shaving their hair like monks, suffered it to grow
ridiculously long; beards, too, were cultivated. The following summary
of the fashions of the late Norman period is to our present purpose:--

“During the reigns of Rufus and Henry I. the dress of the higher classes
became much more costly in material and extravagant in shape. Some most
ridiculous fashions are reprobated and caricatured by the historians and
illuminators of that period. The sleeves of the tunics were made long
enough to cover and hang considerably below the hand. Peaked-toed boots
and shoes of the most absurd shapes, some terminating like a scorpion’s
tail, others stuffed with tow and curling round like a ram’s horn, are
mentioned by the monkish historians. Ordericus Vitalis says they were
invented by some one deformed in the foot. The mantles and tunics were
worn much longer and fuller, and the former lined with the most
expensive furs. Henry I. is said to have had one presented to him by the
Bishop of Lincoln, lined with black sable with white spots, and which
cost £100. of the money of that day.

“The English now, both Saxon and Norman, suffered their hair to grow to
an immoderate length instead of being cropped ridiculously short; and
William of Malmesbury, who has previously complained of his countrymen
having imitated the latter fashion, now laments over the long hair, the
loose flowing garments, the pointed shoes, and effeminate appearance of
the English generally. Even long beards were worn during the reign of
Henry I.; and Ordericus Vitalis compares the men of that day to ‘filthy

“Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused his benediction on Ash
Wednesday to those who would not cut their hair. Councils were held on
this important matter. The razor and the scissors were not only
recommended _ex cathedra_, but positively produced sometimes at the end
of a sermon against the sinfulness of long locks and curling mustaches.
Serlo d’Abon, Bishop of Seez, on Easter Day, 1105, after preaching
against beards before Henry I., cropped not only that of the king but
those of the whole congregation with a pair of scissors he had provided
for the occasion. But nothing could long repress these fashions, which
in the time of Stephen again raged to such an extent that the fops of
the day suffered their hair to grow till they looked more like women
than men; and those whose ringlets were not sufficiently luxurious added
false hair to equal or surpass in appearance their more favoured

We can only account for the exact conformity of the manners and customs
depicted in the Tapestry with those prevailing during the Conqueror’s
reign, on the supposition that the Tapestry was then produced.


    “Sir, what ill chance hath brought you to this place?”

                               _Paradise Regained._

When Robert of Normandy went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he named his
son William, then a boy seven years of age, his heir. His courtiers
expressing their fears that during his absence the estates would be left
without a head, he replied, “Not so, by my faith, not so! I will leave
you a master in my place. I have a little bastard here; he is little,
indeed, but he will grow; nay, by God’s grace, I have great hopes that
he will prove a gallant man; therefore I do pray you all to receive him
from my hands, for from this time forth I give him seisin of the duchy
of Normandy, as my known and acknowledged heir.” William, who was
destined never again to see his father, was committed to the
guardianship of his two uncles--“a lamb to the tutelage of wolves.”
When, at a very early age, he was compelled to take the reins of
government into his own hands, he had a difficult part to perform. As
the author of the _Roman de Rou_ informs us, “The feuds against him were
many, and his friends few; for he found that most were ill inclined
towards him; those even whom his father held dear he found haughty and
evil disposed. The barons warred upon each other;

[Illustration: PLATE II.]

the strong oppressed the weak, and he could not prevent it.”[39] The
success which attended his efforts made him an object of jealousy and
fear. In 1054 the King of France made war upon him, with the intention
of depriving him of his duchy. In the battle of Mortemer, William
overcame the forces of France, and, along with some others, took Guy
Count of Ponthieu prisoner.

Harold knew well the difficult part which his rival had to perform, and
doubtless thought to take advantage of it. If he could induce Guy to
interest himself in the fate of his brother and nephew, who were
detained as hostages at the court of Normandy, the assistance of the
King of France and of many of his great barons could easily be secured.
Such, probably, was the reasoning of Harold, as he stepped on board his
ship at Bosham. The territories of Guy lay immediately to the north of
those of William. Let us see how the voyager fares. No untoward accident
occurs on the passage across, but all is expectation and anxiety as the
ships approach the shore. One man from the top of the mast of the
hindermost vessel eagerly spies out the land, the whole of the crew are
standing up and looking anxiously toward it. They evidently discern
indications which make them doubtful of a hospitable reception. This
ship, however, bears no marks of having encountered a gale. Its sail is
fully extended, and is in good order.

The foremost vessel contains Harold alone, as the superscription,
HAROLD, informs us. He is in full dress, ready to pay his respects to
the Count of Ponthieu. He is, however, armed with a spear, which
evidently indicates that he has reason to fear that he is in an enemy’s

The next group of figures reveals the plot. Guy, accompanied by a troop
of horsemen bearing sword and shield and spear, orders the arrest of
Harold and his companions. The Count is simply clad, but well armed; he
has not only a sword of portentous size attached to his side, but a
basilard, or hunting knife, suspended from his saddle. “As an instance
of that peculiar accuracy which is observed by the designer of the
Tapestry, even in seemingly unimportant particulars, and which makes the
work so much more interesting as a faithful depiction of the various
circumstances of the times, we find the Norman horses of this and other
groups are represented as being larger than the Anglo-Saxon. The hair of
the mane is also uncut, and falls on the neck; the saddle and its
accoutrements are similar.”[40] Harold, stripped, as before, for
disembarkation, is immediately seized. The first impression on the minds
of the party evidently is to resist. Their ordinary weapons, which have
for the moment been laid aside, are not at hand; but that weapon which a
Saxon never laid aside--that weapon, half knife, half dagger, with which
he divided his food at meals, which he had by him even during the hours
of sleep, and which was deposited in his grave when his warfare was
o’er--that weapon, the saxe, from which, according to the mediæval
rhymer Gotfridus Viterbiensis, the Saxons derived their name--

    “Ipse brevis gladius apud illos Saxo vocatur,
     Unde sibi Saxo nomen peperisse notatur.”[41]

--is clutched and drawn.

The latter figures of the group, by the hesitancy of their manner, seem
to say that resistance is useless; each has instinctively laid hold of
his weapon, but it rests midway in his girdle.

The inscription over this group is, HIC APPREHENDIT WIDO HAROLDUM ET
DUXIT EUM AD BELREM ET IBI EUM TENUIT.--Here Guy seized Harold, and led
him to Beaurain, where he detained him prisoner. The modern Beaurain is
situated a short distance from Montreuil, the capital of the ancient
province of Ponthieu. A tree closes the scene.

In the solitude of his prison Harold must have reflected bitterly upon
his rashness in committing himself to the hands of Guy without having
accurately ascertained his feelings towards him. Instead of a friend he
found in him a foe. Instead of furthering his views he involved him in
almost inextricable difficulties. The Count, probably, had too keen a
sense of William’s power again to run the risk of incurring his wrath;
he therefore resolved, to avoid all appearance of ambiguity, to detain
Harold as a prisoner, and to extract from his friends as large a sum as
possible in the shape of ransom. It gives us a curious insight into the
state of society in those days, to observe that no one disputed the
right of Guy to seize the person and property of a stranger, who,
without hostile intent, had ventured upon his shores, or, as some
believe, had been driven there by mischance. Harold had no friend at
hand to release him from his unpleasant position. His active and clever
rival, William of Normandy, hearing of his circumstances, immediately
put forth the most strenuous and apparently generous efforts to effect
his enlargement, thereby laying him under very serious obligations. It
is the object of the succeeding portions of the Tapestry to place these
efforts in a strong light, and by implication to show the ingratitude of
Harold in opposing William’s claims to the English throne.

The first scene represents Harold proceeding to the residence of his
captor. The expression given to the unlucky Earl is one of deep
dejection. He is stripped of the cloak which marked his nobility; and
though he carries his hawk upon his fist, its usual posture is reversed,
an intimation that his hawking days are over. Harold is well guarded by
a party of armed horsemen. Guy rides before, clad in the decorative
mantle of his rank, and having the falcon upon his fist, with its head
advanced as if ready to take wing. The artist has very successfully
portrayed in the countenance of Guy the chuckling conceit of this
heartless chieftain in the possession of so rich a prize as Harold.

The next group of standing figures is supposed to represent some of
Harold’s party, distinguished by the mustache, in custody of Guy’s

Harold, indignant at the unjust treatment which he had received,

[Illustration: PLATE III.]

sought an interview with the Count, no doubt feeling sure that he would
be able to make such a representation of his case, or to offer such
inducements, as would infallibly lead to his immediate release. An
interview was granted. The inscription over the next scene is “UBI
HAROLD ET WIDO PARABOLANT”--Where Harold and Guy converse. Guy is seated
(_Plate III._) with great pomp upon an elevated seat. His throne is less
ornate than that of the Confessor, to mark no doubt the difference
between a King and a Count, and it is without a cushion, but it is
decorated with dogs’ heads and claws, which are so frequently introduced
into all the work of that period. His feet, as is usual with persons of
rank, rest upon a footstool, having in this instance three steps. Guy
holds a naked sword with its point turned upwards; he is attended by a
guard, who is armed with a sword of prodigious size, and a spear. This
attendant touches the elbow of his chief with one hand, and with the
forefinger of the other points to some object, probably the messengers
of William, who are now approaching. Harold, though suffered to wear the
chlamys of nobility, comes into the presence of the haughty Count in a
slightly inclining posture. He feels he is at the mercy of his captor.
He has a sword, but its point is directed to the ground. His companion
has neither cloak nor sword. From the arrogant bearing of Guy in this
picture we cannot doubt that the unhappy Harold returned to his prison
more disconsolate than before.

But, help was at hand. There is a figure, which we have not observed, at
one extremity of the audience chamber. He is a very attentive but
apparently an unobserved witness of the interview. His party-coloured
dress and the vandyked fringe of his tunic have suggested the idea that
this personage is the court jester.[42] The court fool was usually a
very shrewd person, and having, on account of his presumed simplicity,
access to his master at all times, was a very convenient agent in court
intrigue. This wily personage seems to have found means to acquaint
William with the untoward position of the English ambassador, for the
WIDONEM--Where the messengers of William came to Guy.

William on one occasion owed his life to the friendly interference of a
jester. Wace thus relates the story:--Guy of Burgundy, who was a near
relative of William’s, became envious of him, and resolved to disinherit
him. Assembling several powerful barons, who were as discontented as
himself, he said, “There was not any heir who had a better right to
Normandy than himself.... He was no bastard, but born in wedlock; and if
right was done, Normandy would belong to him. If they would support him
in his claim, he would divide it with them.” So, at length, he said so
much, and promised so largely, that they swore to support him according
to their power in making war on William, and to seek his disherison by
force or treason. Then they stored their castles, dug fosses, and
erected barricades, William knowing nothing of their preparations. He
was at that time sojourning at Valognes, for his pleasure as well as on
business; and had been engaged for several days hunting and shooting in
the woods. One evening, late, his train had left his court, and all had
gone to rest at the hostels where they lodged, except those who were of
his household; and he himself was laid down. Whether he slept or not, I
do not know, but in the season of the first sleep, a fool named Golet
came, with a staff slung at his neck, crying out at the chamber door,
and beating the wall with the staff; “_Ovrez!_” said he, “_ovrez!
ovrez!_ ye are dead men: _levez! levez!_ Where art thou laid, William?
Wherefore dost thou sleep? If thou art found here thou wilt die; thy
enemies are arming around; if they find thee here thou wilt never quit
the Cotentin, nor live till the morning!” Then William was greatly
alarmed; he rose up, and stood as a man sorely dismayed. He asked no
further news, for it seemed unlikely to bring him any good. He was in
his breeches and shirt, and putting a cloak around his neck, he seized
his horse quickly, and was soon upon the road. I know not whether he
even stopped to seek for his spurs, but he hasted on till he came to the
fords nearest at hand, which were those of Vire, and crossed them by
night in fear and great anger.[43]

Had the fool not thus opportunely aroused him--had he not acted with
peculiar promptitude--had he not received important assistance in the
course of his journey from a faithful vassal, who facilitated his
flight, and led his pursuers off the track--we should never have heard
of William the Conqueror. As it was, he got safely next day to his own
castle at Falaise. “If he were in bad plight,” says Wace, “what matters
it, so that he got safe.”

The result of the fool’s interference in behalf of Harold soon appears.
We are now introduced to two personages, sent by Duke William, who, in
their master’s name, demand the deliverance of the captive. Guy is
standing, and wears a haughty air. He holds an axe in his hand, by way
of asserting that he has the power of life or death over his prisoner.
He is partially habited in the costume of war. Under his chlamys he
wears a tunic of scale armour, probably composed of overlapping pieces
of leather. This dress, though not so secure as one of mail, would
nevertheless present considerable resistance to the stroke of a weapon.
Odo is represented as wearing a dress somewhat similar in the battle of
Hastings; also a figure which I take to be William approaching Mount St.
Michael. His hose are composed of party-coloured materials; several
other personages in the Tapestry, chiefly individuals of consequence,
are so adorned. The Saxons, and probably the Normans also, were in the
habit of protecting their legs in the day of battle by binding them
round with slips of leather or other material. Guy has an armed
attendant, standing aloof, but ready to act; and the two messengers of
William apparently press their mission with great vigour. The legend of
messengers of Duke William came to Guy. The horses of the messengers
stand hard by, held by a _dwarf_, who, although he wears a beard, is
evidently a Norman, for his hair is shaven off the back of his head.
Over this little fellow, in the Tapestry, is written the word TUROLD.
Who this personage was we have no means of knowing. He may have been
some favourite with the ladies employed upon the embroidery, who adopted
this mode of conferring immortality upon him; or, as Miss Agnes
Strickland has suggested, he may have been the artist who was employed
to design the Tapestry, and who, though he could not with historic truth
be introduced into any of the principal scenes, yet, very laudably,
wished for a place upon the canvas. It is, however, important to
observe, that the son of a person named Turold occurs in the Domesday
Survey, among the under-tenants of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, for the county
of Essex.[44] The celebrated Norman ballad _The Song of Roland_ seems to
have had for its author a person of the name of Turold, if we may credit
its concluding lines, “And so endeth the history sung of Turoldus.”[45]
This inscription bears upon the subject of the authenticity of the
Tapestry. Had the work been constructed some considerable period after
the events which it describes, it must have been compiled from historic
documents, and so have contained none but historic personages. As it is,
there are several individuals introduced to us in the Tapestry of which
we have no trace in the chronicles of the day, but with which the
draftsman takes it for granted that all are as familiar as himself--a
very natural and very common oversight. The house, divided into three
aisles after the manner of that in which Harold took his parting feast,
is probably intended to represent the palace of the Count.

These messengers having reported their ill success to Duke William, he
immediately sends two others, who gallop to Beaurain at the utmost
speed of their horses. Over them is the inscription, NUNTII
WILLELMI--The messengers of William. A watchman, elevated upon a tree,
observes the movements of this second embassy, probably with the view of
giving William the earliest intelligence respecting it. All this is
cleverly designed, in order to show the deep interest which William took
in the welfare of his captive friend, who was afterwards, according to
the court version of the story, to repay him with so much ingratitude.
These horsemen wear a threatening aspect; they are armed with spear,
shield, and sword; their spears are pointed threateningly towards the
place of their destination. Their shields bear a curious device, a
winged dragon whose tail is twisted in a peculiar manner. This object is
one of constant occurrence in the Tapestry, and seems to be one of
superstitious reverence. Harold’s standard is a dragon. The standard of
the Dacians, as depicted in Trajan’s Column, is a dragon. We have some
others introduced into the ornamental border of the Tapestry. In the
illustrations of _Cædmon’s Paraphrase_, the great dragon Satan is in two
instances figured in a guise nearly resembling these. Whilst in a
heathen state the Saxons and Normans doubtless made the evil one an
object of worship, as most heathen nations have done, and, long after
their reception of Christianity, may, though with questionable taste,
have retained for ornamental purposes the emblem which they had been
accustomed to regard with superstitious reverence.

The transactions we are now considering probably occurred in the spring
of the year at the close of which King Edward died. In the lower margin
of the scenes just reviewed the operations of husbandry peculiar to that
season are portrayed. One man is ploughing. The plough has wheels, and
is very similar to some that are figured in _Cædmon’s Paraphrase_. Next
comes a sower casting the seed into the ground. He conducts the
operation precisely as it has been conducted from that day to this. Next
follows a harrow, drawn by an ox, which wears the yoke upon its neck.
This method of yoking oxen is still common in Normandy.

We are not certain what means William used to bring Guy to his views.
Some chroniclers say he coaxed him, some say he threatened him, and
several maintain that he bribed him by giving him a large tract of land.
This however is certain, that he succeeded in inducing him to relax his
hold of Harold.

The next compartment of the Tapestry exhibits to us William seated on a
throne near his castle gate. He is receiving a messenger, who approaches
him on bended knees. The superscription is, HIC VENIT NUNTIUS AD
WILGELMUM DUCEM--Here a messenger came to Duke William. The peculiarity
of the spelling of the Duke’s name WILGELMUS need not surprise us. At
that day, and for long afterwards, the orthography even of proper names
was not fixed. The G would no doubt be sounded like _y_ or the diphthong
_ie_, as is still the case in certain words in some parts of the North
of England. Who the messenger is we are not informed; he is evidently a
Saxon, and is probably one of Harold’s companions, who has accompanied
William’s ambassadors to Rouen, by way of giving the Duke a pledge of
the success of their commission.

Guy having agreed to deliver up his prisoner, resolves to make a merit
of doing so, and conducts him in person to William’s court. The Duke,
desirous of doing all honour to his expected guest, goes out to meet
him. When the two parties approach, Guy very officiously introduces
Harold to the Duke, and seems to expect great commendations for his zeal
and activity. Harold himself follows Guy, having once again the mantle
of gentle birth on his left shoulder, and carrying his hawk upon his
fist, looking forward, in token of liberty. William sits firmly upon his
horse; his manner is quiet, but very decided; his figure is that of a
strong, square-built man. We know that his muscular powers were very
considerable; this is probably no fancy portrait.

The inscription over this compartment is, HIC WIDO ADDUXIT HAROLDUM AD
WILGELMUM NORMANNORUM DUCEM--Here Guy led Harold to William Duke of the

William now accompanies his guest to his palace--probably at Rouen. A
man from a gateway tower looks out and receives the party. The palace of
William is a large and splendid structure. Both it and the castle we
last noticed contrast strongly with those we have previously seen. The
Normans were great builders. Whilst they were frugal in their household
expenditure, they erected elegant habitations for themselves; the Saxons
on the other hand (at least so say the chroniclers) did not care how
they were lodged, but laid out large sums in eating and drinking.[46]
William has a guard standing at his back. A Saxon is addressing him

[Illustration: PLATE IV.]

with considerable vehemence upon some business relating to the French
soldiers, to whom he points. The speaker is probably Harold; but what
the subject of conference is, can only be a subject of conjecture. Can
it be that he is requesting the assistance of an escort to accompany a
messenger of his to England to inform his friends of his happy release
from captivity?

In the border above the palace are a pair of pea-fowls. This is probably
intended to give us an idea of the splendour of William’s court. In the
middle ages no feast was complete excepting this bird made its
appearance on the table, arrayed, after being taken from the spit, in
all its gorgeous plumage. The feathers of this bird were in great
request among our Saxon nobles as a means of decorating their halls.

The next compartment presents great difficulties. It is headed, UBI UNUS
CLERICUS ET ÆLFGYVA--Where a clerk and Ælfgyva [converse]. It evidently
refers to a transaction with which the court of Duke William were well
acquainted, but of which the chroniclers have given us no account.

_Ælfgyva_ is a Saxon word, signifying a present from the genii.[47]
Emma, the wife of Ethelred, and some other English Queens, are
occasionally by Saxon authors styled Ælfgyva; hence the term has been
considered a descriptive title rather than a proper name. On this
account some writers conceive that Queen Matilda is the individual here
presented to our notice. If, however, the term Ælfgyva was a descriptive
one, and applicable only to a Saxon Queen, it could not at this period
of the narrative belong to her, for William had not then obtained the
English throne. Other authors consider that Agatha, a daughter of
William, is the lady in question. Her name is written by Wace, Ele; and
by some authors she is confounded with her sister Adeliza. When Harold
swore to support William in his pretensions to the throne, he agreed to
receive Agatha in marriage. This lady’s subsequent history is confused.
William of Malmesbury says she died before she was marriageable.
Ordericus Vitalis gives the following account of her--“His daughter
Agatha, who had been betrothed to Harold, was afterwards demanded in
marriage by Alphonzo, King of Galicia, and delivered to his proxies to
be conducted to him. But she, who had lost her former spouse, who was to
her liking, felt extreme repugnance to marry another. The Englishman she
had seen and loved, but the Spaniard she was more averse to because she
had never set eyes on him. She therefore fervently prayed to God that
she might never be carried into Spain, but that he would rather take her
to himself. Her prayers were heard, and she died a virgin while she was
upon the road.” She, however, cannot be the Ælfgyva of the Tapestry.
Making every allowance for the varities of her name, it would scarcely
have been so written in her father’s court; as she was never Queen, the
descriptive epithet could not with propriety have been applied to her;
and as at the time of Harold’s visit to Normandy she was but a child, we
cannot suppose that any formal embassage would be sent to her respecting
the release of the English Earl, or any other subject.

The lady in question is probably Algitha, the widow of Griffith King of
Wales, and sister to Edwin and Morcar, Earls of Mercia and
Northumberland, whom Harold must have married shortly after his return
to England, as his second wife.[48] Her name, as it is written by
Florence of Worcester, and some other chroniclers, differs but little
from Ælfgyva; besides, as Queen of England, she was entitled to the
epithet. If this supposition be correct, the force of the introduction
of this lady and the clerk into the Tapestry is considerable. The whole
object of this part of the drawing is to display in glowing colours the
generous kindness of William and the base treachery of Harold. Now if,
as we may reasonably suppose, Harold had set his affections upon this
lady before his departure for Normandy, and if, as we have conjectured,
he had, on being rescued, sent, by William’s assistance, messengers to
England to announce his safety, a special and loving message to the
queen of his affections would not be forgotten. The clerk certainly
approaches her in a jocose manner, and undoubtedly has some agreeable
intelligence to communicate. Now if Harold acted thus while enjoying
William’s hospitality, and solemnly undertaking to marry his daughter
Agatha as soon as she became of fitting age, his conduct was most
unjustifiable; and it was peculiarly suitable to the object for which
the Tapestry was prepared to expose it. Harold, before leaving England,
may have placed his lady for temporary protection in some nunnery, which
we may suppose to be indicated by the narrow and confined building in
which Ælfgyva stands. In this case none was so proper to approach her as
a priest. The employment of a person of the clerical order was moreover
necessary, as few of the laity could read or write. The individual in
the Tapestry has a shaven crown, but is dressed in ordinary attire.
William of Malmesbury tells us that the Saxon clergy were not fond of
any distinctive dress.

In the whole course of the Tapestry only three females are presented to
our view--Ælfgyva, a mourning relative by the dying bed of the
Confessor, and a woman forced by the flames from her dwelling at
Hastings. This circumstance surely proves the modesty and retiring
habits of the Saxon and Norman ladies.

As our ladies are scarce, let us pay them minute attention. The dress of
the Saxon women varied very little during the long period that elapsed
between the eighth and the end of the eleventh century; by thoroughly
enveloping the whole body, it consulted the modest feelings of the sex,
whilst its graceful folds gave considerable elegance to the person.
Antiquaries are inquiring men. They do not like to leave any subject
unexamined. That judicious inquirer, Strutt, finds some little
difficulty in investigating the undermost garment worn by the Saxon
ladies; he manages it, however, with great adroitness and delicacy. His
words are worth quoting:--

“In the foregoing chapter it has been clearly proved that the shirt
formed part of the dress of the men; and surely we cannot hesitate a
moment to conclude that the women were equally tenacious of delicacy in
their habit, and of course were not destitute of body-linen: the remains
of antiquity it is true afford not sufficient authority to prove the
fact; yet the presumptive argument founded upon female delicacy weighs
so strongly in the scale, that I conclude this supposition to be
consonant with the truth.”[49] Over this undermost garment came another,
which was only seen when the lower portion of the _gunna_, or gown, had
been pushed aside; it was made of linen or some other light material.
Next came the gown, consisting usually of some strong stuff. It fell
down to the feet, and was sometimes girt round the waist by a band. The
sleeves near the wrist were usually made very full, and hung down after
the manner lately in use among ourselves. A mantle was worn over this by
ladies of rank. It was probably fastened by a fibula, or brooch. The
woman coming out of the burning house (_Plate XI._) belongs probably to
the lower orders, for she has not a mantle. A head-cover, or kerchief,
was an indispensable part of the dress of Saxon ladies, whether high or
low. It enveloped the head, concealing the hair entirely; the ends of it
fell upon the shoulders.

In the time of Rufus and Henry I. the dress of the ladies, which had
remained so long stationary, felt the stimulus of the Conquest. “The
sleeves of their robes and their kerchiefs appear in the illuminations
of that period knotted up, to prevent their trailing on the ground. Some
of the sleeves have cuffs hanging from the wrist down to the heels, and
of the most singular forms.”[50] An ancient monk has drawn the evil one
attired in this way, in order no doubt to throw discredit upon the
fashion. The hair also was no longer concealed, but hung down in plaits
on each side of the person as far as the waist. A statue of Matilda,
wife of Henry I., on the west door-way of Rochester Cathedral, exhibits
this usage. Had the Tapestry been executed in the days of this Queen,
Ælfgyva’s sleeves would have been fuller than they are, and her hair
would have hung down in graceful ringlets.


    “Young knight whatever, that dost armes professe,
     And through long labours huntest after fame,
     Beware of fraud”----

                              _Faerie Queene_

When Rollo and his brave companions, emigrating from Northern Europe at
the end of the ninth century, got a firm hold of Rouen and the
surrounding district, they were as far from being satisfied us ever.
They ravaged every part of France, carrying their arms even into
Burgundy. Charles the Simple, who had already yielded Normandy to them,
harrassed by these unceasing hostilities, sought to purchase peace by
the cession of another portion of his dominions. He offered Rollo the
land between the river Epte and Brittany, if he would become a Christian
and live in peace; but, though Charles threw his daughter into the
scale, Rollo would not agree, for the territory was too small, and the
lands uncultivated. He next offered him Flanders, which, by the way, was
not his to give; but Rollo rejected it because it was boggy and full of
marshes. He then offered him Brittany, which Rollo accepted.[51]
Brittany, however, claimed to be a free state, and its inhabitants were
a spirited and energetic race, not likely to yield allegiance where none
was due. In accepting Brittany, therefore, Rollo obtained little better
than an old quarrel. Continual wars, and a national enmity, between the
states, was the only result of the gift.

We can here scarcely help observing by what a rare conjunction of
circumstances it was that William, who from his boyhood had been at war
with all the neighbouring states, and who a few months before the
invasion of England, was engaged in active hostilities with the Count of
Brittany, had leisure to undertake the great event of his life, could
leave his duchy and drain it of his troops, without being exposed to the
devastations of angry neighbours, and, not only so, but could obtain for
his great enterprise the powerful assistance of those rival chiefs with
whom he had so often been at variance, not even excepting the Counts of
Ponthieu and Brittany. The most careless observer cannot but mark in
this the finger of Providence.

But to return to our worsted work. Conan Earl of Bretagne being at this
juncture at war with Duke William, and having drawn the Earl of Anjou
into alliance with him, the two naturally agreed upon a given day to
invade Normandy with their united forces. The Duke was however too much
upon his guard, and too lively, to wait for them in his own dominions.
He raised a considerable body of troops; and, knowing Harold to be a
brave soldier, and fond of showing his valour, invited him and his
companions to go with him upon this expedition; which Harold readily
agreed to do. This was a clever stroke of policy. He not only procured
the valuable assistance of Harold and his companions, all

[Illustration: PLATE V.]

the more valuable in consequence of the experience they had gained in
Wales, but obtained ample opportunities of studying the character of the
man whom he could not but look upon as his great rival. He had the
means, in their lengthened intercourse, of showing him great attentions,
and thus of apparently laying him under great obligations. But, above
all, he induced Harold by this step to excite the enmity of the men of
Brittany against himself. That William should make war upon them was no
more than the custom of the country, but what right had the Saxon to
interfere in their affairs? They could not, and did not, forget this on
the field of Hastings.

The campaign in Brittany is described more fully in the Tapestry than in
any of the chronicles, and some events are there depicted, such as the
surrender of Dinan, which are not mentioned in any of them. William and
his party setting out upon their expedition (_Plate V._) pass the
neighbourhood of Mount St. Michael. The inscription is, HIC WILLEM DUX
his army came to Mount St. Michael. This mount consists of a solitary
cone of granite rising out of a wide, level expanse of sand, which at
high tide is nearly covered by the sea. It is a very conspicuous object,
and is seen on all sides from a great distance. A little to the south of
St. Michael’s Mount, the river Coësnon, which forms the boundary between
Normandy and Brittany, joins the sea. At this point the waters of the
ocean, in consequence of the contracting boundaries of the bay lying
between Brest and Cape la Hogue, rise with great impetuosity and to a
great height. The fording of the river, therefore, in the vicinity of
the sea is often a hazardous undertaking. To add to the difficulties of
travellers, the sand which covers the plain around St. Michael’s Mount,
and extends some distance inland and along the bed of the river, is an
exceedingly fine, white, marly dust, which, when covered with water,
affords most treacherous footing. The beds of sand, moreover, frequently
shift according to the varying currents of the tide, so that even a well
accustomed traveller may get wrong. These statements have prepared us
for the disasters which befel the party in crossing into Brittany. The
legend here is, ET HIC TRANSIERUNT FLUMEN COSNONIS--And here they
crossed the river Coësnon--Most of the group, mistrusting the
treacherous ford, have dismounted. One individual more venturesome than
the rest reaps the consequences of his rashness. All those on foot do
not, however, entirely escape. Harold is represented rescuing two of
them from their difficulties; one he bears upon his back, the other he
drags by the hand. The inscription is--HIC HAROLD DUX TRAHEBAT EOS DE
ARENA--Here Harold the Earl dragged them out of the quicksand.

The fishes and the eels in the lower border are an appropriate ornament.
The draftsman has here indulged in a little play of fancy. A man, with
knife in hand, in trying to catch one of the eels, tumbles; his toe is
caught by a wolf, whose tail is in turn seized by an eagle, and so the
chapter of accidents proceeds.

The difficulty of the ford being got over, our party continued their
march towards Dol, which is here represented by a castle. The
inscription is, ET VENERUNT AD DOL--And they came to Dol. The present
town of Dol is a remarkable place, bearing thoroughly the aspect of
ancient days. Its walls are tolerably perfect. However antique its walls
and houses, its market presents us with traces of an antiquity greatly
exceeding theirs. Large quantities of pottery, resembling in form and
substance the commoner kinds used by the Romans, are here exposed for
sale. It is curious to see Roman taste, as exhibited in such fragile
articles, outliving the lapse of so many centuries.

As has been already stated, Conan intended to invade William, who,
however, anticipated him. The Duke moreover came upon him unexpectedly,
and found him engaged in settling a private quarrel with Rual, to whom
the seigneury of the city of Dol belonged. The moment the forces of
William made their appearance before the gates of Dol, Conan was
constrained to flee, and take refuge in Rennes, the capital of Brittany.
His army is represented in the Tapestry as fleeing to the city, pursued
by the troops of the Norman Duke. Over this scene is the legend, ET
CONAN FUGA VERTIT--And Conan betakes himself to flight.

Rual, the lord of Dol, was but little benefited by the retreat of Conan.
William’s forces scoured the country, and supplied their own wants at
the expense of the inhabitants. Rual very politely thanked William for
his deliverance, but hinted that if his army continued making such
depredations everywhere, it was the same to him whether his country was
ruined by Bretons or Normans. William issued orders prohibiting further
devastation. A man is seen in the Tapestry letting himself down by a
cord from the battlements of the castle; this, it has been conjectured,
is the messenger sent to Duke William. A castle represents the city of
Rennes, over which is inscribed the word REDNES.

We next meet with the town of Dinan. The inscription reads, HIC MILITES
attack Dinan. The place is undergoing all the calamities of a siege.
Some of William’s party are assailing it, but their onset is met by the
exertions of the garrison. Others apply flames to the structure. We
learn from the Tapestry that the castle was obliged to yield, and we see
that the act of surrender is conducted in a very formal manner (_Plate
VI_). An inhabitant of the town, probably Conan himself, (_ET CUNAN
CLAVES PORREXIT_--And Conan reached out the keys) is seen handing out
the keys upon a lance, and they are received in a similar way by one of
the chiefs of the attacking party. Both spears are adorned with a pennon
or banner.[52] As we have no account of this siege in the chronicles, we
can only gather its history from the stitches before us. Most likely
William was satisfied with the formal submission of Conan, and quietly
withdrew his forces. We do not in the Tapestry observe any of the
invading troops entering the town.

Before proceeding further, we may notice some of the prominent

[Illustration: PLATE VI.]

features of the castles which have been presented to our view. All of
them are built upon elevated mounds. This was certainly one of the
characteristics of an early Norman fortress. Further, we see that they
were surrounded by a fosse, the section of which, in the Tapestry, is
very boldly marked. In the case of Dinan, we have a barricade on the
outside of this entrenchment. Besides these outworks, the castles
consist of an outer fortification, or bailey, and of an interior
building, or keep. The colouring of these structures may be purely
fanciful, but I am disposed to think that the vertical stripes which we
see upon some of them represent timber. The remains of some castles in
Cornwall incontestably prove that, occasionally at least, the outside of
the walls was braced with timber.[53] The walls of Guildford Castle are
pierced with holes, which we are told were made for the scaffolding, and
in order to hasten the drying of the mortar were left unfilled, and have
since remained so. Is it not more likely that these cavities were
formerly occupied by bolts for fastening an outside timber-casing to the

But to proceed with Queen Matilda’s narrative. The campaign in Brittany
being brought to a satisfactory conclusion, the honours of knighthood
awaited the Saxon Earl. William himself confers upon him the envied
dignity. The superscription is HIC WILELMUS DEDIT HAROLDO ARMA--Here
William gave arms to Harold. Both parties are shown in the Tapestry
armed cap-a-pie. Harold holds in his hand the banner which, by virtue of
the rank now bestowed upon him, he is entitled to bear. William is seen
placing with one hand the helmet on Harold’s head, and with the other
bracing the straps of his hauberk.

The Norman Duke, in conferring the honour of knighthood upon his adopted
son in arms, doubtless exhorted him to fight valiantly in the cause of
God and the ladies, and especially to bear himself gallantly against any
one who should disparage the beauty of that one lady to whom he had
plighted his troth. In this way William strengthened the meshes which he
had already cast over Harold.

It has been noticed that the mode of conferring knighthood used on this
occasion is a compromise between the Norman and Saxon methods. Ingulphus
tells us that the ministrations of a priest were required when
knighthood was conferred among the Saxons, but that the Normans regarded
it entirely as a military ceremony.[54] Further, whilst the Normans,
whose military strength lay in cavalry, performed the ceremony on
horseback, the Saxons, who had no cavalry, always performed it on foot.
In the case before us the ceremony is performed on foot, but without the
agency of a priest. According to Wace, the ceremony of knighthood took
place before the commencement of the campaign in Brittany. This is one
of those variations which prove the independence of each authority.

William and Harold, who had been sojourning so long together, fighting
side by side, living in the same tent, eating at the same board, now
came to Bayeux (WILLELMVS VENIT BAGIAS--William came to Bayeux), and
here the Saxon Earl came under that obligation the breach of which
filled men’s minds with horror and indignation. William could not but be
aware that Harold intended to seize the crown of England on the death of
the Confessor; he resolved therefore to avail himself of the present
opportunity of throwing as many obstacles in his path as possible.
Considering that Harold had come over professedly to announce to William
that he was to be the successor to the Confessor, considering the very
friendly terms on which they had now for some time been, and the very
great obligations under which the Norman Duke had laid him, he could not
refuse to take the oath. He no doubt felt, moreover, that he was in
William’s power, and knew full well that unless he complied with his
demand he would not be allowed to return to his native shores. He
therefore swore to support his rival’s claims to the English throne. As
the perjury of Harold was one of the pleas most successfully urged by
William against his opponent, it invites our careful attention. Our
faithful chronicler Wace gives us a full account of the transaction.--

“To receive the oath William caused a parliament to be called. It is
commonly said that it was at Bayeux that he had his great council
assembled. He sent for all the holy bodies thither, and put so many of
them together as to fill a whole chest, and then covered them with a
pall; but Harold neither saw them, nor knew of their being there; for
nought was shown or told him about it; and over all was a philactery,
the best that he could select.... When Harold placed his hand upon it,
the hand trembled and the flesh quivered; but he swore and promised upon
his oath to take Ele to wife, and to deliver up England to the Duke; and
thereunto to do all in his power, according to his might and wit, after
the death of Edward, if he should live, so help him God and the holy
relics there! Many cried ‘God grant it!’ and when Harold had kissed the
saints and had risen upon his feet, the Duke led him up to the chest and
made him stand near it, and took off the chest the pall that had covered
it, and showed Harold upon what holy relics he had sworn; he was sorely
alarmed at the sight.”[55]

In this account there is a little inconsistency. We are told of Harold’s
amazement when he had seen the relics, but we were previously informed
that when he first placed his hand upon the chest “the hand trembled and
the flesh quivered.” If he did not know that dead men’s bones were under
the pall he must have suspected it; he must have known that this was the
customary mode of taking an oath.[56]

In the Tapestry, Harold stands between two objects. One of them is a
reliquary of the usual form, to which two staves are attached for the
purpose of carriage. This reliquary has, however, a _superaltare_
attached to it, such as is usually placed upon altars for the purpose of
containing the consecrated wafer. The other object is an altar of the
usual form and character. There does not seem to have been much
temptation to William to practise a trick upon Harold, for he had so
completely committed himself to the Duke that he could not avoid taking
the oath, even though no covering had concealed the bones. But whether
William did or did not practise this base artifice upon the Earl, it was
natural that the Tapestry, being the work of Matilda, should endeavour
to throw a veil over it. He is certainly in the Tapestry exhibited as
swearing by the relics in the chest and by the host upon the altar, and
he evidently touches them as if he knew they contained something very
dreadful--he could not approach red-hot iron much more charily. We can
readily conceive that after the ceremony William, by way of making as
lively an impression as possible upon the mind of his victim, displayed
the bones to him in all their sepulchral hideousness, and told them out
in full tale before him. In such a case Harold might readily shrink from
the exhibition, and be surprised at the number of martyrs which
William’s diligence had brought together. William was too brave a man to
attempt the mean artifice which historians ascribe to him. Harold never
accused him of it. When reminded before the battle of Hastings, by a
messenger of the Duke’s, of the oath he had taken, he sent this answer
back, “Say to the Duke that I desire he will not remind me of my
covenant nor of my oath; if I ever foolishly made it and promised him
any thing, I did it for my liberty. I swore in order to get my freedom;
whatever he asked I agreed to; and I ought not to be reproached, for I
did nothing of my own free will.”[57]

But after all, this oath of Harold’s was not in the estimation of the
men of that day the serious thing that has been represented. Men whom an
oath taken in the name and in the presence of the living God could not
bind, were not to be restrained by any moral influence. A little
ingenuity only was requisite to release a man from an oath taken upon
the relics. In the _Roman de Rou_ we have a case in point.[58] At Val de
Dunes the rebel lords of Normandy appeared in arms against the Duke.
Before the opposing hosts joined, Raol Tesson, who was arrayed against
William, was seen to act with hesitancy. His men besought him not to
make war upon his lawful lord, whatever he did, reminding him that the
man who would fight against his lord had no right to fief or barony.
Raol could understand this argument, but what was he to do? he “had
pledged himself, and sworn upon the saints at Bayeux to smite William
wherever he should find him.” The difficulty was however got over.
Ordering his men to rest where they were, “he came spurring over the
plain, struck his lord with his glove, and said laughingly to him, ‘What
I have sworn to do that I perform; I had sworn to smite you as soon as
I should find you; and as I would not perjure myself, I have now struck
you to acquit myself of my oath, and henceforth I will do you no farther
wrong or felony.’ Then the Duke said, ‘Thanks to thee!’ and Raol
thereupon went on his way back to his men.” Success attended the side
which Raol thus espoused, and we hear nothing of his perjury. Harold
fell on the hard-fought field of Hastings, and heaven and earth
resounded with cries of horror at the foul sin. Had he won, a new abbey,
or the re-imposition of Peter’s pence, would have cleared off the score.

Harold was now permitted to return home. The ship in which he sailed is
represented in the Tapestry. Over the scene is the inscription, HIC
returned to England. His approach to the shore is anxiously looked for
by a watchman on the top of the gate-tower of his palace at Bosham. On
reaching the land of his nativity Harold lost no time in repairing to
court--ET VENIT AD EDWARDVM REGEM--And came to Edward the King. At the
beginning of Plate VII. we see him in the presence of his sovereign, who
reprimands him, as we have already observed (p. 28), for the miscarriage
of his Commission.


    “Crowned but to die.”----


The latter days of Edward the Confessor were embittered by the prospect
of those evils which he saw were coming upon England. On the Easter day
before he died he held his court at Westminster. William of Malmesbury
tells us that “While the rest were greedily eating, and making up for
the long fast of Lent by the newly-provided viands, he was absorbed in
the contemplation of some divine matter, when presently he excited the
attention of the guests by bursting into profuse laughter.” On earnest
enquiry being made of him as to this unusual circumstance, he said “that
the seven sleepers in Mount Cœlius, who had lain for two hundred years
on their right side, had now turned upon their left; that they would
continue to lie in this manner for seventy-four years, which would be a
dreadful omen to wretched mortals. Nation would rise against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom; earthquakes would be in divers places;
pestilence and famine, terrors from heaven, and great signs; changes in
kingdoms; wars of the gentiles against the Christians, and also
victories of the Christians over the pagans.”[59]

This was not the only vision he had. On one occasion he had lain two
days speechless; on the third, sadly and deeply sighing as he awoke from
his torpor, he said, that two monks from Normandy whom he had known in
his youth had appeared to him, and had spoken to the following
effect:--“Since the chiefs of England, the dukes, bishops, and abbots,
are not the ministers of God, but of the devil, God, after your death,
will deliver this kingdom, for a year and a day into the hands of the
enemy, and devils shall wander over all the land.”[60]

Borne down by these painful anticipations, Edward rapidly sank. Feeling
death approach, he hastened the completion of the abbey church of
Westminster, in which he designed that his body should be laid. He lived
to realize this his last care. Roger of Wendover says, “Edward King of
England, held his court at Christmas (1065) at Westminster; and, on the
blessed Innocents’ day, caused the church which he had erected from its
foundations, outside the city of London, to be dedicated with great pomp
in honour of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles; but both before and
during the solemn festival of this dedication, the King was confined
with severe illness.” At length “the pacific King Edward, the glory of
England, the son of King Ethelred, exchanged a temporal for an eternal
kingdom, in the fourth indiction, on the vigil of our Lord’s Epiphany,
being the fifth day of the week. The day after his death the most
blessed King was buried at London, in the church which he himself had
built in a new and costly style of architecture, which was afterwards
adopted by numbers.”[61]

The Tapestry exhibits to us the church of St. Peter at Westminster, and
the funeral procession of the recently departed monarch. The church is a
building of the Norman style in its greatest simplicity. As is usual in
cathedrals and conventual churches of the first class, it has its tower
in the centre, and is provided with transepts. The weathercock may
perhaps excite attention, as proving that this appendage of our churches
is no novelty. It appears in the Saxon illustrations of Cædmon. But what
is particularly worthy of our notice is, that a workman appears to be in
the act of affixing it. By this, the designer of the Tapestry means to
show that the church was but just completed when the interment of the
Confessor took place. A hand appears over the western end of the church
to denote the finger of Providence, and to indicate that it was the will
of God that the remains of the departed King should be deposited in that
building. A similar hand appears on the coins of some of the Roman
emperors, and in several of the sculptures of the catacombs at Rome.
This is another indication that the artist was acquainted with the Roman
method of treating such subjects.

We next meet with the funeral of the King. The circumstance which
chiefly strikes us in it is its simplicity. No gilded cross is borne
before the body. No candles, lighted or unlighted, are carried in
procession. The attendants, clerical and lay, wear their ordinary
dresses. Two youths go by the side of the bier, ringing bells. That the
persons who follow the bearers are ecclesiastics is evident from their
shaven crowns. Two of them have books, from

[Illustration: PLATE VII.]

which they chant some requiem. Only one of them has a mantle, betokening
him to be a person of importance. The body, agreeably to the Saxon
custom, has been wound up in a cloth, fastened with transverse
bandages.[62] It is carried head-foremost. At a date not long subsequent
to the Conquest it was usual to carry the bodies of princes to the grave
fully exposed to view, dressed in all the habiliments of state. The
body, on arriving at the place of sepulture, would be deposited in the
stone coffin that was prepared to receive it.[63] The legend here is,
APOSTOLI--Here the body of King Edward is carried to the church of St.
Peter the Apostle.

On proceeding to the next compartment we are surprised at being
introduced into the chamber of the dying King, whose remains we have
already seen conducted to the grave. Some writers think that here the
artist has been guilty of an oversight, or that the fair ladies who
carried out his design have been very inattentive to their instructions.
The seeming inconsistency is very easily explained. A new subject is now
entered upon, and that subject is the right of succession. One
important element in it is the grant of the King. The historian of the
Tapestry, in discussing this very important part of his design, found it
necessary to revert to the scenes which preceded the death of the
Confessor, and to the directions which in his last moments he had given.

The narrative which Wace gives us of the last hours of the King agrees
well with the Tapestry. “The day came that no man can escape, and King
Edward drew near to die. He had it much at heart that William should
have his kingdom, if possible; but he was too far off, and it was too
long to tarry for him, and Edward could not defer his hour. He lay in
heavy sickness, in the illness whereof he was to die; and he was very
weak, for death pressed hard upon him. Then Harold assembled his
kindred, and sent for his friends and other people, and entered into the
King’s chamber, taking with him whomsoever he pleased. An Englishman
began to speak first, as Harold had directed him, and said, ‘Sire, we
sorrow greatly that we are about to lose thee; and we are much alarmed,
and fear that great trouble may come upon us. No heir of thine remains
who may comfort us after thy death.... On this account the people weep
and cry aloud, and say they are ruined, and that they shall never have
peace again, if thou failest them. And in this I trow they say truly;
for without a king they will have no peace, and a king they cannot have,
save through thee.... Behold the best of thy people, the noblest of thy
friends; all are come to beseech thee, and thou must grant their prayer
before thou goest hence, or thou wilt not see God. All come to implore
thee that Harold may be King of this land. We can give thee no better
advice, and no better canst thou do.’ As soon as he had named Harold,
all the English in the chamber cried out that he said well, and that the
King ought to give heed to him. ‘Sire!’ they said, ‘if thou dost it not
we shall never in our lives have peace.’ Then the King sat up in his
bed, and turned his face to the English there, and said, ‘Seigniors! you
well know, and have oft-times heard, that I have given my realm at my
death to the Duke of Normandy; and as I have given it, so have some
among you sworn that it shall go.’ But Harold, who stood by, said,
‘Whatever thou hast heretofore done, sire! consent now that I shall be
King, and that your land be mine. I wish for no other title, and want no
one to do any thing more for me.’ So the King turned round and said,
whether of his own free will I know not,--‘Let the English make either
the Duke or Harold king, as they please; I consent.’ So he let the
barons have their own will.”[64] This narrative bears all the marks of
probability, and is quite consistent with the representations of the
Tapestry. The circumstance of the dying monarch’s having been
clamorously assailed, at a time when peace is most required, by the
adherents of Harold, in order to induce him to alter the arrangements he
had already made respecting the succession, was calculated to win for
the Duke the sympathy of all right-minded persons.

Still, the question remains, why should Harold have been so anxious to
be nominated the successor of the Confessor?

Three circumstances seem to have constituted a legal claim to the throne
among the Anglo-Saxons--heirship, the appointment of the departed
monarch, and the election of the nobles.

That heirship alone did not constitute a valid claim to the throne is
plain from the will of King Alfred, which has been preserved by Asser.
He there styles himself king of the whole of Wessex, by the consent of
the nobility, _nobilitatis consensu pariter et assensu rex_; and in the
same public act declares that he inherited the kingdom, after his two
brothers Ethelbald and Ethelred, by the will of his father, _de
hereditate, quam pater meus Ethelwulphus ... delegavit_. It is quite
evident, therefore, that a thoroughly valid claim to the crown was of
the triple nature now represented. As neither Harold nor William
belonged to the royal line of England, the remaining sources of right
became of the more importance to them.

Let us now revert to the Tapestry. The feeble condition of the King is
well represented. An attendant is supporting him behind with a pillow,
whilst he makes an attempt to speak. The blackness of death has settled
upon his shrunken countenance. A priest dressed in canonicals stands by,
whose uplifted hand and sorrow-stricken face seem to say that the grand
climax is at hand. A lady at the foot of the bed weeps; she is doubtless
the wife of the Confessor, the sister of Harold. Harold is eagerly
pressing his claim. The legend here is, HIC EADWARDUS REX IN LECTO
ALLOQUIT: FIDELES--Here King Edward on his bed addresses his faithful
attendants. Underneath is a scene, which the inscription explains, ET
HIC DEFUNCTUS EST--And here he is dead. A priest in canonicals is again
present, probably the one we saw above, and two attendants wrap up the
body for burial.

The compartment before us is the only one in the Tapestry in which two
scenes are given in one breadth. This is probably not without design.
The death and burial of Edward, and the election and coronation of
Harold, all took place within eight-and-forty hours. It was of great
importance to Harold to get actual possession of the crown before
William could put in his claim. It was usual in these times to perform
the ceremonies of coronation only at one of the great festivals of the
church. Edward died on the last day but one of Christmas, and for Harold
to wait till Easter, the next festival, was to throw away the important
advantage which he had gained over his rival. Hence the rapidity with
which the coronation of Harold followed the death of the Confessor. It
is to show, that no sooner had the vital spirit fled than preparations
for the burial were begun, that we have the two scenes in the same

The next pictures represent the election and coronation of Harold.
William of Malmesbury says, “While the grief for the King’s death was
yet fresh, Harold, on the very day of the Epiphany, seized the diadem,
and extorted from the nobles their consent; though the English say, that
it was granted him by the King.”

In many respects the Tapestry is more candid than the Chroniclers. It
here says, HIC DEDERUNT HAROLDO CORONAM REGIS--Here they gave the crown
of the King to Harold; and the next legend is, HIC RESIDET HAROLD REX
ANGLORUM--Here is seated Harold, King of the English. One contemporary
writer denies that Harold was anointed at all, or had any claim but his
own usurpation. In the Doomsday Survey, Harold is mentioned as seldom as
possible, and when his name does occur it is not as King Harold, but
Harold the Earl. The Norman chroniclers, writing subsequently to the
time when William had established his conquest, seldom write his name
without appending some derogatory epithet to it, such as “the perfidious
and perjured King Harold.” All this seems to favour the idea that the
Tapestry was designed during the first visit of William to Normandy. He
had not then broken faith with the Saxon nobles who thronged his court;
he was not yet independent of their good will, so that in stating his
own claims to the crown, he found it necessary not entirely to ignore
their views. After he was firmly established, he cared not what women
stitched or clerks wrote.

The artist has managed the election-scene very adroitly. One nobleman,
in the name of the people, offers Harold the crown, which, as he
intimates by the finger directed towards the death-scene of Edward, he
has just taken from the head of that monarch. Harold looks most
wistfully at it. He seems to say--I should like very much to have it,
but I know it does not belong to me. For a moment he forbears to extend
his hand to grasp it. His right elbow is towards it, but his hand
remains upon his belt. On a line with the crown is an axe, held by
another nobleman, somewhat significantly turned towards Harold. Harold
has his own

[Illustration: PLATE VIII.]

axe in his left hand, and it too, though apparently by accident, is
turned towards himself. The Norman artist, in thus managing the subject,
manifestly serves the cause of William better than if he had altogether
disowned the fact of Harold’s election.

That Harold should have been elected by the people is nothing wonderful.
The native population had groaned under the domination of a crowd of
foreigners, brought over by Edward the Confessor. They must have felt
that under William, a Norman by lineage as well as education, the evil
would be perpetuated and increased. Hence they gave their voices most
cordially and unanimously for the Saxon. Most of the English chroniclers
distinctly state, that Harold was duly elected to the office by the
nobles. Thus Roger of Hoveden, following Florence of Worcester, writes,
“After his burial, the Viceroy Harold, son of Earl Godwin, whom before
his decease the king had appointed his successor, was elevated to the
throne by all the chief men of England, and was on the same day, with
due honour, consecrated king.”[65] That Harold did not thrust himself
upon the people, is abundantly proved by the fact that not one man of
Saxon blood deserted him upon the landing of William.

In our days the great reason which rendered a strictly hereditary
succession to the crown inexpedient does not exist. The adoption of that
wise maxim that a monarch can only rule by his ministers, renders the
personal qualifications of the monarch of less importance than in former
days. Still, even in our time, a remnant exists of the ancient form of
election. In the coronation service the king is directed, after
entering the church and attending to his private devotions, to take his
seat, not on the throne, but on the chair before and below the throne,
and there repose himself. Then the first part of the service, called the
“Recognition,” is to be proceeded with. In it the archbishop,
accompanied by the great officers of state, severally addresses the
assembly northwards and southwards, eastwards and westwards, saying,
with a loud voice, the king meanwhile standing up, “Sirs! I here present
unto you ---- the undoubted king of this realm: wherefore all of you who
are come this day to do your homage, are you willing to do the same?” It
is not until the people, thus severally addressed, have signified their
assent by crying out, “God save the king!” that the ceremony is
proceeded with.

Harold, though he well knew the dangers attending the step, accepted the
crown. Few could have rejected the tempting offer. He was moreover a
brave man, and thoroughly imbued with Saxon feeling. He was willing to
peril his life for the national peculiarities of his country. He was
accordingly straightway anointed, and the Tapestry next exhibits him
seated upon his throne, manifesting all the pomp and dignity of a king.
The throne is considerably elevated above the floor of the apartment.
The sceptre is in one hand, the ball in the other. His officers present
him with the sword of justice. On his left hand stands Stigand, in his
archiepiscopal robes. The superscription calls him Stigant, which seems
further to show that the artist was not an Englishman. Wace the
chronicler, who was a Norman, usually calls Harold, Heraut. The
inscription gives Stigand his title of Archbishop--ARCHIEPS, a
contraction for ARCHIEPISCOPUS. At a period later than that in which we
have supposed the Tapestry to have been prepared, he would not have been
so denominated. For a variety of reasons Stigand was distasteful to the
authorities of Rome. For some years prior to the Conquest, the payment
of Peter’s pence had been discontinued, and Stigand, in common with all
Englishmen, was looked upon coldly. Stigand, moreover, had succeeded the
Norman archbishop, Robert de Jumieges, who had been expelled the country
in the rising under Godwin. The Normans were at this time better
churchmen than the English. Stigand further, in common with the majority
of the Saxon clergy, was an advocate of “the older doctrine of the
eucharist;” Lanfranc, who superseded him, was, in common with the
authorities at Rome, an ardent maintainer of the doctrine of
transubstantiation. Under all these circumstances, Stigand, on being
made archbishop of Canterbury by the Confessor, was not very sanguine of
having the appointment confirmed by the Pope, and instead of making an
immediate application to Rome, quietly took possession of the _pallium_,
which his predecessor in his haste had left behind him. At length he did
apply, and Benedict X., for reasons arising out of his own peculiar
position, granted him the _pallium_. This, however, only made matters
worse. Benedict X. was speedily dethroned by an army from beyond the
mountains, and a new pope elected, who excommunicated his predecessor
and annulled all his acts. Stigand, therefore, found himself once more
without the _pallium_, accused of usurpation, and charged with a new
and much more serious crime, that of having solicited the favour and
countenance of a false and excommunicated pope. If the Tapestry had been
constructed after Lanfranc had planted his foot upon the necks of the
English clergy, Stigand would not have been denominated archbishop. When
William of Malmesbury has occasion to name him, he calls him “the
pretended and false archbishop.”

The Norman chroniclers, for the most part, agree with the Tapestry in
stating that Harold was crowned by Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury.
Florence of Worcester and Roger of Hoveden state, that the solemn
ceremony was performed by Aldred, Archbishop of York. Roger of Wendover
says that the King “placed the diadem on his own head.”

The dress of the archbishop nearly resembles that of a Roman Catholic
prelate of the present day. The _stole_ will be observed. The _pallium_,
which subsequently was made of pure white wool, is in Stigand’s case
purple.[66] The _maniple_ which, at a later period was worn upon the arm
of the priest, is in the Tapestry, and other contemporaneous drawings,
placed on the wrist. But the circumstance most observable in the costume
of Stigand is the absence of the mitre. This distinctive decoration of
the episcopal office seems not to have been known at this period. It is
not met with in the Catacombs of Rome. In the illustrations of the
_Benedictional of St. Æthelwold_ we have priests and apostles in great
numbers, but none of them wear a mitre, unless the circle round the head
of St. Benedict be one. The same remark applies to the illustrations of
the metrical _Paraphrase_ of Cædmon. The bishops of the Lewes chess-men,
which seem to have been executed about the middle of the twelfth
century, probably furnish us with the earliest British examples of a
mitre. The mitres worn by the ecclesiastics who support the head of the
sovereign on the tomb of King John, at Worcester, are also early

In an apartment next to that in which the ceremonies of the coronation
are being solemnized several spectators are assembled, expressing by
their gestures surprise and apprehension. In the spring of the year 1066
an event occurred which filled the minds of men with alarm. At Easter a
comet appeared, which is noticed by nearly all the chroniclers. Wace
thus describes it:--“Now while these things were doing a great star
appeared, shining for fourteen days, with three long rays streaming
towards the earth; such a star as is wont to be seen when a kingdom is
about to change its king. I have seen many men who saw it, men of full
age at the time, and who lived many years after. Those who would
discourse of the stars call it a comet.” Our worsted astronomers have
produced a very brilliant meteor, with more than twice three streams of
fire issuing from it. Fear doubtless proved a multiplying glass in their
hands. This drawing is, however, remarkable, as furnishing us with the
earliest representation that we have of these erratic bodies.

The discoveries of modern science have attached a peculiar degree of
interest to this comet. Halley, the astronomer, having noticed that a
brilliant comet had been seen in the years 1531, 1607 and 1682,
conceived the idea that it was the same body which had appeared on these
several occasions, and ventured to affirm that comets, like the other
heavenly objects with which we are acquainted, obeyed the laws of
gravitation. The reappearance of this comet in 1759 established his
position, and proved that its periodic time was about seventy-seven
years. These facts, together with the subsequent accurate calculation of
the orbit of the body, enable us to carry back our reckonings, so as to
render it highly probable that the comet which alarmed our ancestors is
that which bears the name of Halley, and whose return in the year 1835
was looked forward to by the civilized world with so much delightful
anticipation. Mr. Hinde, in his recently published book on Comets, says,
“There is considerable probability in favour of the appearance of the
comet in the year of the Norman conquest, or in April 1066. This famous
body, which astonished Europe in that year, is minutely, though not very
clearly, described in the Chinese annals, and its path, there assigned,
is found to agree with elements which have great resemblance to those of
Halley’s comet.... It was equal to the full moon in size, and its train,
at first short, increased to a wonderful length. Almost every historian
and writer of the eleventh century bears witness to the splendour of the
comet of 1066, in which we are disposed to recognise the comet of
Halley.”[68] The legend to this part of the Tapestry is, ISTI MIRANT
STELLAM--These men wonder at the star.

The minds of men were not long kept in suspense. The next compartment
exhibits King Harold seated on his throne, bending down his ear very
eagerly to a messenger who has arrived with important intelligence. The
nature of it is explained by the dreamy-like flotilla which is shown in
the lower border.

Harold, on succeeding to the throne, neglected to dispossess of their
offices the Norman favourites whom Edward left behind him. He no doubt
thought, by conciliation, to procure their good will. He was mistaken. A
ship is immediately fitted out, and messengers sent to Normandy to
acquaint the Duke with the important events which had just transpired.
This is shown in the Tapestry (_Plate VIII._) in a scene which is
English ship came to the territory of Duke William.

William takes the news in terrible dudgeon. We see him in the next
compartment sitting erect upon his ducal throne wearing an air of great
indignation. His mantle seems to have partaken of the passion of its
wearer, and is expanded to its full dimensions.

Wace tells us, “The Duke was in his park in Rouen. He held in his hand a
bow, which he had strung and bent, making it ready for the arrow ...
when, behold!... a serjeant appeared, who came journeying from England
... who went straight to the Duke, and told him privily that King Edward
was dead, and that Harold was raised to be king. When the Duke had
listened to him ... he became as a man enraged, and left the craft of
the woods. Oft he tied his mantle, and oft he untied it again; and spoke
to no man, neither dared any man speak to him. Then he crossed the Seine
in a boat, and came to his hall and entered therein; and sat down at the
end of a bench, shifting his place from time to time, covering his face
with his mantle, and resting his head against a pillar. Thus he remained
long, in deep thought, for no one dared to speak to him; but many asked
aside, ‘what ails the Duke? why makes he such bad cheer?’”

Once, in more recent history, a man standing on the shores of France was
similarly agitated. Napoleon had ordered his fleets to the West Indies,
in order that they might lead Nelson into a pursuit, and suddenly
returning gain possession of the English Channel. Long and anxiously did
he watch the signals which were to tell him that his point was
gained--but he saw them not. When it was hinted that Villeneuve, instead
of forcing his way to Brest, might possibly have steered for Cadiz, he
gave way to successive gusts of passion, and read and re-read the
despatches of Villeneuve and of Lauriston. When told, at last, that
beyond a doubt Villeneuve was at Cadiz, strong excesses of passion again
ensued, and the Army of England was transferred from the heights of
Boulogne to the plains of Austerlitz.


    “Curate, ut splendor meo sit clypeo clarior,
     Quam solis radii esse olim, quum sudum ’st, solent:
     Ut, ubi usus veniat, contra conserta manu,
     Præstringat oculorum aciem in acie hostibus.”


The Duke of Normandy was a bold man, and was not disposed to attempt any
thing that he was not prepared to pursue to the end. He knew that
Harold, with the power of England at his disposal, was no despicable
enemy, and he resolved to fortify his cause in every possible way. The
sea was to him an object of great dread, as he knew it would be to his
followers. “If,” he said, “he could attack and punish them without
crossing the sea, he would willingly have done so; but he would rather
cross the sea than not revenge himself and pursue his right.”

William sent messengers to Harold demanding the crown, and reminding him
of his oath. He would not have done this had he lost any time by it.
Harold’s reply was worthy of a constitutional monarch. “It is true that
I took an oath to William; but I took it under constraint. I promised
what did not belong to me; a promise which I could not in any way
perform. My royal authority is not my own; I could not lay it down
against the will of my country; nor can I, against the will of the
country, take a foreign wife.”[69] William referred the case to the
Pope. Harold, conscious that he was acting inconsistently with his oath,
fearing that the cause would not be impartially heard, or not choosing
to submit the destinies of England to the decision of a foreigner, made
no appeal to the Holy Father. The result of William’s application was,
that the Pope “granted his request, and sent him a gonfanon, and a very
precious, rich, and fair ring, which, he said, had under the stone one
of St. Peter’s hairs. With these tokens he commanded, and in God’s name
granted to him, that he should conquer England, and hold it of St.

William, however, relied neither upon the tenderness of Harold’s
conscience nor upon the Pope’s sense of justice--he looked mainly to his
barons and retainers. He summoned all who owed him suit and service to
meet him in his castle at Lillebone. He there opened to them his design
of invading England, and urged them to double for this occasion the
amount of their usual contributions of men and money. The account given
of this meeting affords us a good idea of the noisy nature of the
parliaments of that day--a feature which they still occasionally
exhibit. “They remained long in council, and the debate lasted a great
while; for they hesitated long among themselves what they should say,
what answer they should give, and what aid they would afford. They
complained much to each other, saying that they had been often
aggrieved; and they murmured much, conferring together in small parties;
here five, there fifteen, here forty, there thirty, sixty, a hundred.
Some said they feared the sea, and were not bound to serve beyond it.
Some said they were willing to bring ships and cross the sea with the
Duke; others said that they would not go, for they owed much, and were
poor. Some would, others would not, and there was great contention among

William on this occasion acted upon his usual maxim, “divide and
conquer.” He dealt privately with such as he was most likely to
influence, and having induced them to enter zealously into his plans,
others were led by shame or sympathy to follow. He was lavish of his
promises. To the barons he proffered numerous manors, to the clerks he
held out the bait of rich benefices; to these who were amorously
inclined he promised wives with ample dowries; to such as were not to be
allured by prospective advantages he gave at once large sums of money.
It is said that he offered much more than he could possibly perform; for
he was well aware that the Saxon battle-axes would cancel many of his
bonds. Meanwhile the Pope’s sanction of the scheme arrived in Normandy,
and it inspired the invading hosts with fresh zeal. “The Duke rejoiced
greatly at receiving the gonfanon, and the license which the Apostle
[Pope] gave him. He got together carpenters, smiths, and other workmen;
so that great stir was seen in all the ports of Normandy, in the
collecting of wood and materials, cutting of planks, framing of ships
and boats, stretching sails, and rearing masts, with great pains and at
great cost. They spent all one summer and autumn in fitting up the fleet
and collecting the forces; and there was no knight in the land, no good
serjeant, archer, nor peasant of stout heart, and of age for battle,
that the Duke did not summon to go with him to England.”

The Tapestry represents these preparations. In the compartment which we
last noticed William is accompanied by his half-brother Odo, who is
busily employed in issuing orders to the master carpenter. This
functionary holds a peculiarly shaped axe in his hand, of which there
are some examples in the illustrations to _Cædmon’s Paraphrase_. The
William issues orders for the building of ships.

Next we see the execution of the orders. Trees are being felled, and the
planks prepared. Presently the ships have assumed their proper shape,
and then we see them being drawn down to the shore. This operation is
effected by means of a rope passed through a pulley inserted in a post
driven into the shore below the water mark. The legend is HIC TRAHUNT
NAVES AD MARE--Here they draw the vessels to the sea. Afterwards the
stores and ammunition are taken on board, and when all is ready the
horses and troops embark.

This may be a fitting place in which to introduce some observations upon
the ships and armour of the Normans.

The vessels of this period were of small burden. This is proved by the
fact that they were drawn down to the sea, after being built, in the
manner shown in the Tapestry. The _Domesday Book_ establishes the same
thing. There we find it stated that Dover and Sandwich (and probably the
other Cinque Ports also) were severally

[Illustration: PLATE IX.]

obliged to furnish the King with twenty ships for fifteen days, once
every year, each vessel having a crew of twenty-one persons.[71] The
gunwale of the vessels was low. In the Tapestry (_Plate X._) we see them
landing the horses, by making them leap over the sides of the ships on
to the shore. On the voyage the gunwale was practically heightened by
placing the shields of the soldiers along the sides of the vessel, one
shield partly lying over another. The prow and stern of the ships, which
are the same in form, are a good deal elevated, and are usually
decorated with the head of a dragon, lion, bull, or some fanciful
figure. We have several descriptions of the ship in which William sailed
on his ever-memorable expedition. Wace says, “The Duke placed a lantern
on the mast of his ship, that the other ships might see it, and hold
their course after it. At the summit was a vane of brass gilt. On the
head of the ship, in the front which mariners call the prow, there was a
figure of a child in brass, bearing an arrow with a bended bow. His face
was turned towards England, and thither he looked, as though he was
about to shoot.”[72] In an ancient MS. preserved in the British Museum,
and printed in the Appendix of Lyttleton’s _Henry II._,[73] we are told
that this figure pointed towards England with his right fore-finger, and
held to his mouth an ivory horn with his left hand. With this
description the Tapestry nearly agrees; the figure is, however, placed
not on the prow, but at the stern of the vessel. The lamp would only be
required at night. On the top of the mast of William’s vessel the
sacred banner given him by the Pope is fixed, surmounted by a cross. The
banner, as it appears here and in other parts of the Tapestry, would be
described by heralds as “_argent_, a cross _or_ in a bordure _azure_.”
The vessels have one mast, which is lowered forward as the land is
approached. To the mast, supported by a few shrouds, or rather stays, a
large square sail is suspended. The modern rudder was not known for some
time after the period of the Conquest;[74] the vessels are steered by a
paddle fixed to the quarter. The steersman, who was also the captain and
pilot, holds the paddle in one hand, and the sheet in the other. This
was exactly the position of Palinurus in the _Æneid_ of Virgil.

    “Ipse sedens clavumque regit, velisque ministrat.”

The larger vessels of the ancients were provided with two paddle
rudders, one on each quarter. This arrangement is shown in the
recently-discovered sculptures of Nineveh and in many Roman coins. The
ship in which St. Paul was wrecked on the shore of Malta had two
rudders. The vessels in the Tapestry have only one paddle, probably on
account of their inferior size. It is perhaps worthy of the
consideration of modern navigators, whether, in cases where the hinged
rudder is displaced in a storm, the paddle-rudder might not
advantageously be resorted to as a temporary expedient. The anchors of
the Tapestry resemble those in modern use. The anchor of the ship in
which the spies of William sail to Normandy (_Plate VIII._) has no
stock--but this is probably merely an oversight of the draftsman, for in
an earlier case (_Plate II._) the stock is represented.

The sides of the ships are painted of various colours in longitudinal
stripes, each stripe probably representing a plank. The sails of the
ships are also variously coloured. Roger of Wendover tells us that the
Conqueror’s ship had a crimson sail; probably this is nearly correct,
for in the Tapestry it is painted red, with a yellow stripe in the

The effect of the whole fleet must have been very striking, and well
calculated to make a powerful impression upon spectators of that or any

Writers differ much as to the number of the vessels in William’s fleet,
as well as of the men they carried. Wace says, “I heard my father say--I
remember it well, though I was but a lad--that there were seven hundred
ships less four, when they sailed from St. Valeri; and that there were,
besides these, ships’ boats and skiffs for the purpose of carrying
harness. I have found it written (but I know not whether it be true)
that there were in all three thousand vessels bearing sails and masts.
Any one will know that there must have been a great many men to have
furnished out so many vessels.”

The different computations of the chroniclers probably arise from some
of them including the small transport vessels in their reckoning and
others not. Most modern historians set down William’s army at sixty
thousand strong. The transport of so large a body of troops would
require a flotilla more numerous than had sailed upon any waters since
the decline of the Roman empire.

The armour of the combatants in the Tapestry may now engage our

Nearly all the combatants are provided with helmets. The precise shape
of them we learn from those which are being brought to the shore to be
placed with other military stores on board the fleet. The helmet has a
conical form, and is provided with a projection in front called the
nasal, to protect the face. In some of them there appears to be a
smaller projection at the back. It is a remarkable circumstance that
exceedingly few helmets have been found in the graves of the Franks and
Saxons, which are usually replete with military implements. Two however
have been found in this country, one near Cheltenham the other in
Derbyshire.[75] From these specimens, as well as from the appearance of
those in the Tapestry, we may suppose that the helmet consisted of a
framework of iron, over which a covering of leather was stretched. From
the fact, however, that so few helmets have been found in Saxon graves,
we may perhaps infer that the framework of the earlier specimens was of
wood. Wace makes express mention of one man who at the battle of
Hastings wore a wooden helmet:--“On the other side (he says) was an
Englishman who much annoyed the French, assaulting them with a
keen-edged hatchet. He had a helmet made of wood, which he had fastened
down to his coat and laced round his neck, so that no blows could reach
his head. The ravage he was making was seen by a gallant Norman knight,
who rode a horse that neither fire nor water could stop in its career
when its lord urged it on. The knight spurred, and his horse carried him
on till he charged the Englishman, striking him over the helmet, so that
it fell down over his eyes; and as he stretched out his hand to raise it
and uncover his face, the Norman cut off his right hand, so that his
hatchet fell to the ground. Another Norman sprung forward, and eagerly
seized the prize with both his hands, but he kept it little space and
paid dearly for it; for as he stooped to pick up the hatchet, an
Englishman with his long-handled axe struck him over the back, breaking
all his bones, so that his entrails and lungs gushed forth. The knight
of the good horse meantime retired without injury.”[76]

The helmet speedily underwent several changes after the period of the
battle of Hastings. Flaps were affixed to the sides in order to protect
the ears and the cheeks. These appear in the chess-men found in the
island of Lewis, which, as already observed, belong to a period not
later than the middle of the twelfth century. Soon after the Conquest
the nasal being found to be inconvenient was frequently omitted; at
length the contrivance called the _ventaille_ was introduced, which when
brought over the face fully protected it, and yet, as its name implies,
admitted air to the nostrils of the wearer, and when his convenience
required could be lifted up. That the _ventaille_ was not known at the
battle of Hastings appears from the helmets which are being taken on
board the fleet. Another fact represented on the Tapestry (_Plate XV._)
shows the same thing; William, when he wishes to show himself in order
to contradict the rumour that he has been killed, is obliged to lift his
helmet almost off his head. And yet Wace, who lived at the period just
subsequent to the Conquest, writes as though Harold’s helmet was
provided with a _ventaille_. He says, “Harold was sorely wounded in his
eye by the arrow, and suffered grievous pain from the blow. An armed man
came in the throng of the battle and struck him on the _ventaille_ of
his helmet, and beat him to the ground.” This passage shows how
exceedingly difficult it is, when describing past events, to avoid
anachronisms. Sir Samuel Meyrick, in commenting upon this passage, says,
“By the _ventaille_ is here meant merely the open part below his helmet.
The _ventaculum_, or _ventaille_, strictly speaking, was not invented at
this time, but was in full use when Wace lived; he adopts it therefore
merely for the sake of the rhyme, and as familiar to his

The body armour consisted of a tunic of leather or stout linen, on which
was fastened some substance calculated to resist the stroke of a weapon.
Occasionally, as we have already seen, overlapping flaps of leather,
sometimes pieces of horn or horses’ hoofs, and not unfrequently plates
or rings of iron were employed. When rings were used they were laid side
by side, and not locked into each other, as was the case in the chain
armour of a subsequent date. When small plates of iron were used they
were generally lozenge-shaped; hence this species of armour has been
termed mascled. The ingenuity of man has had recourse to these and
similar contrivances in every age. Amongst the ruins of Nineveh scale
armour has been discovered, and on Trajan’s column the Sarmatian cavalry
and their horses are clad in it.

The coat of mail comprehended body, legs, and arms all in one piece; the
legs and arms were however short and loose. It is difficult to
understand the mode of putting it on. It seems to have been drawn over
the head. We are expressly told that when William was preparing for the
battle he had his hauberk brought; but in _putting his head in_, to get
it on, he inadvertently turned it the wrong way, with the back part in
front;” and that seeing his error, “he crossed himself, _stooped his
head_, and put it on aright.” In the Tapestry (_Plate XVI._) we see some
persons stripping the slain; they uniformly draw the hauberk over the
head. The legs of the dress must in this case have been made to open.
When on, it was tightened by straps at the breast. This armour seems to
have been occasionally provided with a hood of the same material, which
covered the head. There are some examples of it in the Tapestry. The
legs in the Tapestry are for the most part left unprotected;
occasionally they are wrapped round with bandages of leather; in the
case of a few of the leading personages they are covered with mascled or
ring armour. The weight of the hauberk, or haubergeon, must have been
considerable. In taking the dresses down to the ships we observe two men
are employed to carry one; they bear it on a pole upon their shoulders.
One of William’s nobles, whilst waiting at Hastings for the onset of
Harold, complained of the weight of his armour. The Duke quietly desired
him to put it off, and then putting it on himself over his own hauberk,
mounted his horse without assistance, and rode off, to the great chagrin
of the noble and the astonishment of all.[78]

The shields of the ancient knights formed an important part of their
equipment. The shield of the early Saxons was circular, having a boss in
the centre. The boss was concave on the inside of the shield, and of a
size sufficient to contain the hand of the warrior, which grasped the
shield by a handle put across the cavity. In the Tapestry we have some
examples of the circular shield, but by far the larger part of the
shields on the Saxon as well as the Norman side are of a different
character. It would appear that the intercourse subsisting between
Normandy and England during the reign of the Confessor had led to the
abandonment of the old Saxon shield. The shield of the Tapestry is of
large size, and of the shape of a kite. It is in every instance flat.
Here again we have another opportunity of judging of the minute accuracy
of the Tapestry. Towards the end of the eleventh century the shield of a
French knight is described[79] as having its surface not flat but
convex, so as to embrace the person of the wearer. Other changes were
speedily introduced; towards the close of the twelfth century it became
shorter, and the bow at the top was flattened into a straight line. Thus
it formed the “heater shield” of the middle ages.

The Norman shield when in use was carried by the arm, not the fist
alone; two loops were placed on the inner side of it for the reception
of the arm; when not wanted it was slung from the neck of the warrior;
this is seen in several instances in the Tapestry. Many of the shields
were ornamented with studs of metal, which were kept bright, so as to
dazzle the sight of an antagonist. Others bear badges or devices, by
which the bearer might be distinguished in the field.

From the earliest days, devices, answering the purpose of coats of arms,
have been adopted. The tribes of Israel had their insignia. The armorial
bearings of several Grecian chiefs are minutely described by the poets.
The Roman legions had their characteristic symbols.[80] It was probably
with this view that the shields in the Tapestry were painted in the way
in which we see them. A dragon is a common device; so also is a cross,
the four arms of which proceed from the central stud in a sigmoidal

Besides the insignia on the shields, ensigns and banners guided the
movements of the armies and their various detachments.[81] The banner of
the Norman army is invariably _argent_, a _cross or_ in a _bordure
azure_. This is repeated over and over again. We meet with it in the war
against Conan, as well as at Pevensey and Hastings. There is no trace of
the leopards or lions which shortly afterwards made their appearance in
the arms of Normandy.

The different chieftains assembling under the Norman standard had each
his pennon, gonfanon, or banner. None of these subsidiary standards are
square, as the banner of a baron always was when the feudal system was
developed. All the flags in the Tapestry have streamers attached to
them, like those of a knight’s pennon. It is not impossible, however,
that these may represent the ribbons given to the Norman lords, as
keepsakes by their ladies. Wace, in describing the battle of
Val-des-dunes, says of Raol Tesson, that “he stood on one side afar off,
having six score knights and six in his troop--all with their lances
raised, _and trimmed with silk tokens_.” It would thus appear that the
practice was not unusual, even in ordinary wars; how much more proper
and becoming in a hazardous undertaking like the present. We know that
the Norman lords had great difficulty in getting the leave of their
ladies to embark in the undertaking. Some feared the battle axes of the
Saxon men, others dreaded the influence of the bright eyes of the Saxon
ladies--a shrewd fear.[82]

Harold also had a standard. He planted it on the highest part of the
eminence on which he marshalled his army for the fight, and by it he
fought unflinchingly until cut down by the overpowering strength of the
Norman chivalry. William of Malmesbury and several other writers tell us
that Harold’s standard was “in the form of a man fighting.”[83] In the
Tapestry it is a dragon. Wace does not describe it, but says, “His
gonfanon was in truth a noble one, sparkling with gems and precious
stones; after the victory William sent it to the Apostle to prove and
commemorate his great conquest and glory.”

A glance at the Tapestry will shew that the Saxons were entirely
destitute of cavalry.[84] The comparatively limited size of the kingdom
had rendered cavalry unnecessary for police purposes, and the Danes, the
foreign enemies with whom the English had hitherto to contend, had too
wide and stormy an ocean to cross, to attempt the transport of horses
for the purposes of war. The great strength of the Norman army consisted
in cavalry. William had been accustomed to contend with the King of
France and other powerful chiefs in his immediate neighbourhood, and was
thus compelled to avail himself of every device which human ingenuity
had contrived for maintaining his cause.

The saddles of the horses are peculiar, having a high peak before and
behind. We can readily understand how William, when he had become
corpulent, received a mortal injury by coming down with violence upon
the pommel of such a saddle. No horse armour is used, neither have any
of the horses a saddle-cloth. “On the seal of Henry I. is the first
representation of a saddle-cloth, and either during that reign or the
preceding one, the high peak behind the saddle was altered for a back of
greater breadth.”[85] Most of the riders are provided with stirrups and
with prick spurs. William’s own horse was either an Arabian or a cross
from an Arabian. It was presented to him by the King of Spain.

The Normans were strong in another force, of which the Saxons were
almost entirely destitute--bowmen. In the Saxon lines there appears but
one solitary bowman, whilst on the Norman side there are many. The
Norman archers must have plied their shafts most diligently, for their
arrows are sticking in the shields, and to some extent in the bodies of
the Saxons, like pins in a lady’s pincushion. In the battle of Hastings
the great event of the day turned upon an arrow skilfully sped. Had
Harold’s eye not been pierced, the battle would have been a drawn one,
and in William’s peculiar circumstance such a result was defeat.

The Saxon javelin differed from the Norman: it was short, and was used
as a missile. In the Tapestry we see that some of the English have a
bundle of spears in their hands, and that others are in the act of
throwing them at the enemy. The Norman spear was a long one, adapted for
use on horseback, and was employed in giving a thrust; one only
therefore was required by each horseman. The Saxons darted their
javelins at an approaching foe, and, when they came to close quarters,
relied chiefly upon the vigorous use of the dreadful battle axe. As
however at the battle of Hastings the Normans were on horseback, and
were armed with long spears, it was with no small difficulty that the
English could get within battle axe reach of their foes. In this way
many of the Saxons were picked off before they could strike a blow. In
Wace we have many examples of this--thus, he speaks of the knight of
Tregoz, who “killed two Englishmen; smiting the one through with his
lance, and braining the other with his sword; and then galloped his
horse back, so that no Englishman touched him.” In the Tapestry (_Plate
XVI._) we see a horseman thrusting Leofwin, the brother of Harold,
through with his lance, who in vain whirls his battle axe around him.

The battle axe of the Saxons had one disadvantage. “A man,” says Wace,
“when he wanted to strike with one of their hatchets, was obliged to
hold it with both his hands, and could not at the same time, as it seems
to me, both cover himself and strike with any freedom.” This fact will
account for the disastrous consequences of the retreat of the English at
the battle of Hastings, after having been lured by the Normans into a

The statements of Agathias, a writer of the sixth century, throw some
light upon the Saxon mode of fighting. Speaking of the Franks (a kindred
race), he says, “The arms of the Franks are very simple: they wear
neither coat of mail nor greaves, but their legs and thighs are defended
by bands of linen or leather. Their cavalry is inconsiderable, but they
are formidable on foot; they wear a sword on the left thigh and carry a
buckler. They use neither bow nor sling, but they are armed with double
axes and _angones_ [spears] with which they do most execution. These
_angones_ are of a length that may be both used as a javelin or in close
fight against a charge of the enemy. The staff of this weapon is covered
with iron laminæ or hoops, so that but very little wood appears, even
down to the spike at the butt-end. On either side of the head of this
javelin are certain barbs projecting downward close together as far as
the shaft. The Frank soldier, when engaged with the enemy, casts his
_angon_, which, if it enter the body, cannot be withdrawn in consequence
of the barbs. Nor can the weapon be disengaged if it pierce the shield,
for the bearer of the shield cannot cut it off because of the iron
plates with which the staff is defended, while the Frank rushing forward
jumps upon it as it trails on the ground, and thus bearing down his
antagonist’s defence, cleaves his skull with his axe, or transfixes him
with a second javelin.”[86]

In the Bayeux Tapestry the javelins in the hands of the Saxons are
chiefly barbed, whilst the most of those in the hands of the Normans are
lance-shaped, and are formed after the Roman model.

In _Cædmon’s Paraphrase_ and other Saxon illustrations the spears of the
warriors are generally barbed. To what extent the hosts of Harold were
armed with the true _angon_, the chief characteristic of which was a
long iron shank, does not of course appear from the Tapestry, the scale
being too small to allow of its minute delineation. The following cut
exhibits the head of an _angon_, found in the well of the Roman station
of Carvoran in Northumberland.


The sword of the combatants is chiefly remarkable for its great size.
The Tapestry in this, as in other particulars, is strictly accurate. Mr.
Akerman, after stating that several swords of large size had been found
in Frank and Anglo-Saxon graves, says, “One of the finest examples which
has ever come under my notice is that found at Fairford, in
Gloucestershire, and recently exhibited by Mr. Wylie of that town. Its
length, including the handle, is just three feet, the blade broad,
two-edged, and pointed.”

The only weapon that remains to be noticed is the mace or club. This
was a comparatively rude weapon, which ceased to be used as an
instrument of offence after this period. At the battle of Hastings it
seems to have been employed by the Saxons only. One is seen in the
Tapestry (_Plate XIV._), which has been thrown against the advancing
line of the Normans, and at the close of the picture the retreating
Saxons are seen to be armed with this weapon only.

From the review that we have taken of the equipment of the two armies,
it is apparent that the English laboured under very great disadvantages.
They were destitute of cavalry, with which the Normans were well
provided; they had few archers, and they had no weapon that was a match
for the long lance of the Normans. Strong in their insular position,
they had neglected to adopt those improvements in the art of war which
had been long adopted on the continent. We cannot wonder that, in
despite of their native courage and astonishing personal prowess, the
Saxons were overborne by the hosts of William on the field of Hastings.

It is time now to attend to the movements of the contending parties, and
to trace them in their progress to the field on which their destiny was
to be decided.


    “Et jam Argiva phalanx instructis navibus ibat.”

                       _Æn. II._, 254.

The vigorous manner in which William entered upon the preparations for
his grand campaign excited the enthusiasm of his continental neighbours.
“Reports,” says Ordericus Vitalis, “of the expedition drew many valiant
men from the adjoining countries, who prepared their arms for battle.
Thus the French and Bretons, the Poitevins and Burgundians, and other
people on this side the Alps, flocked together for the war over the sea,
and scenting the booty which the conquest of Britain offered, were
prepared to undergo the various perils and chances, both by sea and
land, attending the enterprise.” In the month of August William’s fleet
assembled at the mouth of the river Dive,[87] in the vicinity of which
it is probable most of his ships were built. Unfavourable weather
detained it here for some time, and when it did move, it was not able to
proceed further than St. Valery-sur-Somme. Adverse winds again prevailed
for a month. “At this,” says Wace, “the barons were greatly wearied.
Then they prayed the Convent to bring out the shrine of St. Valery, and
set it on a carpet on the plain; and all came praying the holy relics
that they might be allowed to pass over the sea. They offered so much
money, that the relics were buried beneath it; and from that day forth
they had good weather and a fair wind.”

The long detention of the Norman forces on the French coast was a
fortunate circumstance for them. Harold had made ample provision for
resisting the landing of his opponent. With a fleet which he had
assembled at Harwich he sailed to the Isle of Wight, and there
throughout the summer and autumn months awaited William’s arrival. He
also kept a land force in suitable positions near the sea shore.[88] The
same wind however which detained William at St. Valery brought Harold
another foe which compelled him to withdraw his troops from the southern
coast. On his departure the fleet was dispersed. Some of the chroniclers
tell us that the seamen’s time of service had expired, others that they
were short of provisions. Harold’s absence no doubt materially
contributed to the demoralization of this important national safeguard.

Here we are again called upon to notice the vanity of man’s policy.
Harold foreseeing that a struggle would ensue between William and
himself, and being, consequently, desirous of promoting friendly
alliances with some of the continental powers, encouraged his brother
Tostig to marry a daughter of the Earl of Flanders. This Tostig did, and
thereby became brother-in-law to William of Normandy. Tostig, during the
life of the Confessor, was appointed to the earldom of Northumbria, but
the people having risen in arms against him, probably on account of the
harshness of his rule, he was removed, and Morcar appointed in his
place. When Harold became king, Tostig expected to be reinstated, but so
far from taking active measures in his favour, Harold married the sister
of the earl who had supplanted him. Tostig, enraged at this treatment,
conceived a violent hatred against his brother, and inflamed the minds
of the Earl of Flanders and the Duke of Normandy against him. Receiving,
moreover, the active support of Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, he
landed with a hostile force in Yorkshire, and ravaged the country.
Harold, while watching the proceedings of the Norman armada, heard of
his brother’s attempt. Hastening northwards, he came upon him unawares,
and slew both him and Hardrada, and scattered their forces. While Harold
was engaged in these operations, William landed unopposed in Sussex!

It was on the night of the 29th September that the Norman expedition
crossed the sea, and early next morning it reached the port of Pavensey.
The Tapestry represents this important transaction. The Duke’s own ship
is distinguished by the consecrated banner at its mast head. This vessel
was called the Mora, and is stated to have been a present from the
Duchess Matilda. The legend in this part of the Tapestry (_Plate IX._)
PEVENSÆ[89]--Here Duke William in a large ship crossed the sea, and
arrived at Pevensey.

A glance at the map of Sussex will shew that Pevensey was a most fitting
place at which to effect a landing. Beachy Head projecting considerably
to the south, protects this ancient port from the swell occasioned by
the wind which most violently affects the English Channel--the
south-west. The beach, too, is of a nature well adapted for allowing
ships such as William’s were being safely drawn up upon it. This was the
port selected by the Conqueror for his embarkation when he returned to
Normandy after his coronation. In all probability William’s fleet would
line the shore for a considerable space on both sides of Pevensey in the
manner which they are represented as doing in the Tapestry, (_Plate X._)
It is curious to observe, that the remains of a vessel, which Mr. Lower
thinks is at least as old as the Conquest, has recently been discovered,
imbedded in the gravel of the ancient beach of Pevensey. The nature of
the position in which it is placed prevents its being excavated; we
might otherwise, perchance, have the pleasure of looking upon one of the
Conqueror’s own ships.

William landed with great caution. Wace thus describes the
operation--“They arrived near Hastings, and there each ship was ranged
by the other’s side. There you might see the good sailors, the
sergeants, and squires, sally forth and unload the ships; cast the
anchors, haul the ropes, bear out shields and saddles, and land the
war-horses and palfreys. The archers came forth, and touched land the
foremost; each with his bow bent, and his quiver full of arrows slung at
his side. All were shaven and shorn, and all clad in short garments,
ready to attack, to shoot, to wheel about, and

[Illustration: PLATE X.]

skirmish. All stood well equipped, and of good courage for the fight;
and they scoured the whole shore, but found not an armed man there.
After the archers had thus gone forth, the knights landed next, all
armed, with their hauberks on, their shields slung at their necks, and
their helmets laced. They formed together on the shore, each armed upon
his war-horse. All had their swords girded on, and passed into the plain
with their lances raised.”

Our picture-chronicle does not neglect these transactions. The
disembark, and here the soldiers hurry forward to Hastings to seize

An incident is told respecting the landing of William which is best
related in the words of the Chronicler. “As the ships were drawn to
shore, and the Duke first landed, he fell by chance upon his two hands.
Forthwith all raised a loud cry of distress, ‘an evil sign’ said they,
‘is here.’ But he cried out lustily, ‘See seigniors, by the splendour of
God! I have seized England with my two hands; without challenge no prize
can be made; all is our own that is here; now we shall see who will be
the bolder man.’ Then one of his men ran forward and put his hand on a
hut, and took a handful of the thatch and turned to the Duke, saying
heartily, ‘Sire, come forward and receive seizin; of this land I give
you seizin; without doubt the country is yours.’ And the Duke said, ‘I
accept it; may God be with us.’”[91]

The nature of the ground prevented William from proceeding directly up
the country from Pevensey. So late as the days of Queen Elizabeth, the
land inwards from this point was little better than a marsh. The
Ordnance map of Sussex shows, in this direction, a remarkable absence of
towns and villages, indicating pretty clearly what it must have been in
former times. William went cautiously along the shore to Hastings, where
he erected his fortifications, and refreshed his troops. In the Tapestry
we see them seizing the sheep and cattle in the fields, cooking their
food, and afterwards seating themselves at table. Wace says “Before
evening had set in they had finished a fort. Then you might see them
make their kitchens, light their fires, and cook their meat. The Duke
sat down to eat, and the barons and knights had food in plenty; for
they had brought ample store. All ate and drank enough, and were right
glad that they were ashore.”

The culinary operations of the invading force require some notice.
Although some huts have been erected on the shore, having been brought
in frame with the fleet, the cooks discharge their duties in the open

    “...... A kettle slung
     Between two poles upon a stick transverse
     Receives the morsel....”

The pot may have been a metallic vessel brought over from Normandy with
the stores; its appearance, however, strongly reminds us of a plan which
Froissart tells us the Scotch adopted in one of their incursions into
England. Having seized an ox, they slaughtered it, and boiled its flesh
in its skin, supporting the extemporaneously-made cauldron after the
manner shown in the Tapestry. The rest of the cookery is done upon a
hearth. A spit, on which the wood is placed, is thrust into the ground,
so as to suspend the article to be cooked a short way above the fire. At
the present day much of the cookery of Normandy is done by placing the
food in earthenware vessels, which are brought into contact with the
embers without the intervention of a grate. The food when cooked was
usually, at this period, handed to the guests seated at the table, on
the spits, who took it off with their fingers, assisted with a knife
which they carried with them. Forks were comparatively unknown for some
centuries after the Conquest.

In the Tapestry two tables are spread. The first of them seems to be
formed of shields set upon a frame. The persons seated at it are
probably some of William’s chief officers whose duty it is to arrange
the entertainment, and taste the food and wine previous to its being set
before the Duke. William sits at a table which was no doubt brought from
Normandy. It is of classic form, being like that called by the Romans
Sigma, from its resemblance to the Greek letter of that name, which in
the time of the Roman Emperors was formed like our C. The guests sit at
one side of it only, the inner or concave side being left open, to allow
the servants more readily to approach. All the operations of the table
are presented to us by the artist. Odo, with his thumb and two
forefingers extended, is blessing the food and the drink. William has
planted his hand upon the principal dish, as if to claim the lion’s
share for himself. Another person is tearing a fish to pieces with his
fingers, and conveying the morsels by the same medium to his mouth. An
old man with a beard, probably William’s Nestor, who refused to comply
with the tonsured fashion of the day, is drinking with his neighbour;
both of them have uplifted bowls. A servant upon bended knee is
presenting a covered dish to the party. These compartments are
MINISTRI--Here the food is being cooked and here the attendants have
POTUM BENEDICIT--Here they have prepared the feast and here the bishop
is blessing the meat and drink.

[Illustration: PLATE XI.]

The meal must necessarily have been a hasty one. One of the guests has
already risen from his seat, and calls the attention of the Duke to
something that is passing without.

William was now fairly committed to a great and hazardous undertaking,
and retreat was not to be thought of; at the same time, the utmost
circumspection was necessary, and the Duke of Normandy was not the man
to neglect any precaution.

We accordingly next find him in solemn consultation with his two uterine
brothers--Odo, Archbishop of Bayeux, and Robert, Count of Mortaine.
William has his sword elevated, and Robert is in the act of drawing his
from the scabbard--indications which strongly mark the nature of the
attempt before them. The legend over this group (_Plate XI._) is simply,
ODO EPISCOPUS: ROBERTUS--Odo the Bishop: Robert.

As the result, probably, of the deliberations of the three brothers, it
was resolved strongly to fortify the position occupied by William’s
army. Such was the importance of this work, that William, with the
consecrated banner in his hand, is seen personally superintending it.
The spades of the workmen are worthy of observation. They are evidently
made of wood, but shod with iron. They have a notch for the foot on one
side only. That they were adapted not merely for turning up the soil,
but for trenching the scull of an enemy, is evident not only from their
size and form, but from the use to which they are put by two of the
parties before us. The inscription over this part is, ISTE JUSSIT UT
FODERETUR CASTELLUM AT HESTENGA[M]--He has ordered an intrenchment to
be dug at Hastings; and over the castle itself is written,
CEASTRA[92]--The camp.

The camp in question could not be the castle, the ruins of which now
crown the heights of Hastings. However strong the position of Hastings
castle, there is not space enough on the rocky platform on which it
stands for the encampment of an army one fourth of the size of
William’s; besides, we cannot suppose that William in his present
circumstances would attempt the erection of a fort of solid masonry. The
camp which William constructed was, as the Tapestry leads us to believe,
formed of earth, strengthened with wooden palisades, the whole being
commanded at intervals by towers which had been brought in frame from
France. The phrase _ut foderetur_, that they might _dig_ a castle, is
express, and the men are seen throwing up the soil. This agrees with
what Wace says, “They enclosed a fort and strengthened it round about
with palisades and a fosse.” Some extensive entrenchments, still to be
seen in the immediate vicinity of the railway station at Hastings, are
probably the remains of the Duke’s encampment.[93]

An English knight, who had watched the landing of William, hastened to
Harold with the alarming news. He found him rejoicing after the defeat
of Tostig and Hardrada. “Foolish” says Wace, “is he who glorifies
himself, for good fortune soon passeth away. The heart of man often
rejoiceth when ruin is nigh.”

Bitterly did Harold grieve that he had not been at the spot when the
Normans landed, that he might have driven them into the sea. “It is a
sad mischance,” said he, “but thus it hath pleased our Heavenly King.”

Harold had, by the rapidity of his marches, surprised his brother
Tostig, and come upon the troops of Hardrada unawares. He thought to
adopt the same policy with William; and, without taking time to refresh
or recruit his exhausted army, commenced his march southwards. In the
course of a few days he was in the vicinity of his enemy. William,
however, was not to be taken by surprise, and Harold was constrained to
take up a position at Battle, distant about six miles from Hastings,
where the Duke was encamped.

The next compartment in the Tapestry exhibits to us William giving
audience to a messenger who announces to him the approach of Harold. The
legend is, HIC NUNTIATUM EST WILLELMO DE HAROLD--Here news is brought to
William respecting Harold.

Whilst these movements were going on, the inhabitants of the southern
shore of Sussex were suffering severely. Not only were their cattle
taken from the folds, and their recently replenished granaries emptied,
but their dwellings were wantonly destroyed. Perhaps the Saxons may have
provoked the vengeance of the foe, for they were not men to take quietly
the spoiling of their goods. In the Tapestry we see a soldier setting
fire to a house (one being the representative of many), from which a
female and child are escaping--escaping from present destruction to be
cast, with winter before them, houseless, friendless, and without food,
upon the wide world. The sufferings of the battle field form but a small
part of the horrors of war. This compartment of the work bears the
inscription, HIC DOMUS INCENDITUR--Here a house is set fire to. Some
outlined figures in the margin of this part of the work doubtless refer
to those distressing immoralities which too often attend the march of

Whilst the two armies lay within a few miles of each other several
messages passed between the commanders. William was too good a soldier
to risk a battle if he could avoid it. He therefore sent a tonsured monk
to Harold, reminding him of his oath, and calling upon him to deliver up
the kingdom. Harold, flushed with recent victory, was with difficulty
restrained from cutting down the messenger; as it was, he sent him away
with insults. When his rage had subsided he saw his folly, and sent an
envoy, acquainted with the language of France, to duke William, offering
to make him a pecuniary recompense if he would recross the sea, telling
him however, if he did not, he would give him battle on the following

Saturday, the 1st of October, was Harold’s birth day. He always regarded
it as his fortunate day; and he was anxious if he did enter into mortal
conflict with a desperate foe, that it should be when his propitious
star was in the ascendant. Like another of England’s heroes--Oliver
Cromwell--the day of his birth was to prove the day of his death.

A battle now being imminent, Gurth, the brother of Harold, was
exceedingly anxious that the king should retire from the host and give
the command to him. Gurth had taken no oath to William, and therefore
had not the punishment of perjury to fear. Besides, if he were slain,
England would still have her king; and army after army could be raised,
if need be, to resist the pretensions of any invader. Harold refused to
adopt the wise counsel of his brother. Though a brave man, he had not
the self-command of William, nor the same power of taking an enlarged
view of a subject.

The day before the battle, Harold and Gurth rode out early in the
morning to descry the enemy. “They rode on, viewing and examining the
ground, till, from a hill where they stood, they could see the Norman
host, who were near. They saw a great many huts made of branches of
trees, tents well equipped, pavilions, and gonfanons; and they heard
horses neighing, and beheld the glittering of armour. They stood a long
while without speaking”--and at length returned in silence to their
tent. They had seen enough to awaken their apprehensions, and to make
them anxious for further information. Harold, therefore, sent out two
spies to reconnoitre. They fell into the hands of the Normans, who
brought them to William. He used them well, and ordered them to be
conducted through the host. On their return they reported that the
Normans, whom they had noticed to be close shaven and cropt, were an
army of priests and mass-sayers rather than knights. Harold, who knew
the habits of the Normans, replied, “These are valiant knights, bold and
brave warriors, though they bear not beards and mustaches as we do.”

Notwithstanding the ill success of his former representations, William
persevered in negotiation. He lost no time by it, and if he did not
succeed in his immediate object, he induced his observers to believe,
that one who was so bent upon the investigation of his claims must have
right upon his side.

On the same day that he entertained the spies of Harold, he sent a monk,
learned and wise, offering Harold one of three things--that he should
resign the kingdom, that he should submit to the judgment of the Pope,
or meet him singly and fight body for body. Harold declined every

Next day--the day before the battle--William attempted to obtain a
personal interview with Harold. Harold refused to meet him. By the
messenger who brought Harold’s negative to the proposal for a meeting,
William sent him word that if he would retire he would give him all
Northumberland, and whatever belonged to the kingdom beyond the Humber;
to his brother Gurth he promised the lands of Godwin their father.
Harold rejected this also: Northumberland was nothing worth; it was
chiefly peopled by Danes, and was liable to constant invasion. William,
when king, could not govern Northumberland. As a matter, not of feeling,
not of revenge, but of cool, calculating state policy, he swept it of
every living thing--he made it a desert, and such it continued for a
century after his time.

At the same time that William sent his last message, he charged the
clerk who took it, in case of refusal, to sow the seeds of terror and
dissatisfaction among the English. “Tell them,” said he, “that all who
come with Harold, or support him in this affair, are excommunicated by
the Apostle and his clergy.” This was a javelin skilfully thrown. “At
this excommunication the English were much troubled; they feared it
greatly, and the battle still more.”

Gurth, however, rallied them. He told them that their all was at stake,
that William had promised their lands to his followers, and that he had
already taken homage for them from many. “Defend yourselves then,” he
said, “and your children and all that belongs to you, while you may.”

At these words the English were aroused, and cried out that the Normans
had come on an evil day, and had embarked on a foolish matter.

“The Duke and his men tried no further negotiation, but returned to
their tents, sure of fighting on the morrow. Then men were to be seen on
every side straightening lances, fitting hauberks and helmets, making
ready the saddles and stirrups; filling the quivers, stringing the bows,
and making all ready for the battle.”

The night before a battle must be a season of peculiar solemnity and
suspense. The shades of night, giving indistinctness to the landscape,
harmonize too well with the doubts which becloud the mind as to the
morrow’s destiny. He is a fool, not a hero, who would step from time
into eternity without solemn thought.

The accounts which we have of the way in which the hosts spent the
night before the battle are all to the disadvantage of the English. Had
they been the winning instead of the losing party, the chroniclers would
doubtless have been less severe. As it is, they tell us that the troops
of Harold spent the night in eating and drinking and merriment--never
lying down in their beds. If this be true, how we are we to account for
the vigour with which they fought from nine o’clock in the morning until
nightfall next day? The Normans and French, on the other hand, we are
told, betook themselves to their orisons. “They made confession of their
sins, accused themselves to the priests, and vowed that they would never
more eat flesh on the Saturday” (the day of the battle). Many of them
kept the vow!

At the dawn of day each party had completed its preparations. Before the
sun should set, a battle was to be fought on which hung not merely the
fate of an empire, but, as events have subsequently proved, the
destinies of the civilized world to this hour.


    “Revolving in his altered soul
        The various turns of fate below.”


The room is still pointed out in the roofless donjon keep of Falaise, in
which Arlotte, the tanner’s daughter, gave birth to William the
Conqueror. It is a small comfortless apartment. When the newborn babe
was laid upon the floor, he grasped the straw which covered it with a
vigour that induced the bystanders to predict that he would ere long
take a foremost place amongst the ambitious potentates of his age. In
the course of our worsted narrative we have followed our hero to a point
in which he is about to justify the correctness of these surmisings.

Harold, painfully conscious of the inferiority of his military
equipments, resolved to act on the defensive. He took up his position on
a round-topped hill, having on its summit a circular platform just
sufficient to contain his troops drawn up in close order. This hill was
anciently called Senlac; it afterwards became the site of the Abbey of
Battle. Harold further strengthened his position by earthen ramparts
crowned with palisades of wood. Wace, speaking of these precautions,
says, “They had built up a fence before them with their shields, and
with ash and other wood; and had well joined and wattled in their whole
work, so as not to leave even a crevice; and thus they had a barricade
in their front, through which any Norman who would attack them must
first pass. Being covered in this way by their shields and barricades,
their aim was to defend themselves; and if they had remained steady for
that purpose, they would not have been conquered that day; for every
Norman who made his way in lost his life in dishonour, either by hatchet
or bill, by club or other weapon.” In addition to these defences, Wace
tells us that Harold “made a fosse, which went across the field,
guarding one side of their army.” This was probably lower down the hill
than the position occupied by his camp, and was chiefly intended to
incommode the cavalry.

Harold further feeling that he had not the power to prevent the enemy’s
horse outflanking him, ordered “that all should be ranged with their
faces towards the enemy”--that they should front three sides at least of
the square. We see them (_Plate XIV._) sustaining an attack from
opposite quarters, and in both cases fronting the foe. He moreover
issued directions “that no one should move from where he was; so that
whoever came might find them ready; and that whatever any one, be he
Norman or other, should do, each should do his best to defend his own
place.” He planted his standard--the dragon of Wessex--on the most
elevated part of the hill, and there he resolved to defend it to the
last. Nobly Harold fulfilled his purpose--nothing could tempt him from
his post--and ere the Saxon ensign bowed to the banner blessed by the
Pope, his blood had drenched the soil.

Harold’s men consisted but in part of regularly trained troops. Amongst
them were many “villains called together from the villages, bearing such
arms as they found--clubs and great picks, iron forks and stakes.” These
undisciplined Saxons exhibited no lack of that indomitable energy for
which the English race is famous; but, as Harold’s brother, Gurth,
remarked, “a great gathering of vilanaille is worth little in battle.”

The numbers of the two armies have been variously stated. Probably Wace
is right in saying that they were nearly equal. He sets down the army of
William at sixty thousand, and speaks thus of his opponent’s: “Many and
many have said that Harold had but a small force, and that he fell on
that account. But many others say, and so do I, that he and the Duke had
man for man. The men of the Duke were not more numerous, but he had
certainly more barons, and the men were better. He had plenty of good
knights, and great plenty of good archers.”

The Norman forces, having finished their devotions by an early hour in
the morning, were ordered to form in three divisions, the Duke himself
commanding the centre, which consisted of Normans. William then
addressed his army, saying, “If I conquer, you will conquer; if I win
lands, you shall have lands”--telling them, at the same time, that he
came not merely to establish his own claims, but also to punish the
English for the massacre of the Danes, and other felonies which they had
committed against his people. Then they began to cry out, “You will not
see one coward; none here will fear to die for love of you if need be.”
And he answered them, “Strike hard at the beginning; stay not to take
spoil; all the booty shall be in common, and there will be plenty for
every one. There will be no safety in peace or flight. The English will
neither love nor spare Normans. Felons they were, and are; false they
were, and false they will be.”

William was continuing his speech, when Fitz-Osborne, who had been one
of his principal advisers in the whole business, interrupted him: “Sire,
said he, we tarry here too long; let us arm ourselves. _Allons!

When William began to prepare for battle, he called first for his good
hauberk, and a man brought it on his arm and placed it before him; but,
in putting his head in to get it on, he inadvertently turned it the
wrong way, with the back in front. He quickly changed it; but when he
saw that those who stood by him were sorely alarmed, he said, “I never
believed in omens, and I never will. I trust in God. The hauberk which
was turned wrong and then set right, signifies that I who have hitherto
been but duke, shall be changed into a king. Then he crossed himself,
and straightway took his hauberk, stooped his head, and put it on
aright; and laced his helmet and girt his sword, which a varlet brought

There is something poetical in the error which William made. He was too
good a general to be boastful--he had been too often in the field not to
know the difference between the putting on and the putting off of the
armour--he knew too well, moreover, the serious nature of the venture
which he had made to pay much attention to the duties of his military
toilet. His capacious mind

[Illustration: PLATE XII.]

was weighing the chances of victory or defeat, and for the last time
reviewing all the arrangements which he had made for either alternative.
The Norman Duke, notwithstanding his usual exemption from superstitious
influences, did not consider his preparation for battle complete until
he had strung around his neck a portion of the relics over which Harold
had taken his faithless vow. William entrusted the standard which the
Pope had given him to Turstin Fitz-Rou. His demeanour, rendered even
more than usually commanding by the greatness of the occasion, seems to
have attracted the attention of his companions in arms;--“Never (said
the Viscount of Toarz), never have I seen a man so fairly armed, nor one
who rode so gallantly, or bore his arms or became his hauberk so well;
neither any one who bore his lance so gracefully, or sat his horse or
manœuvred so nobly. There is no such knight under heaven! a fair knight
he is, and a fair king he will be!”

We are now prepared for examining the Tapestry. Under the compartment
inscribed HIC MILITES EXIERUNT DE HESTENGA--Here the soldiers have
departed from Hastings--we see the Duke, armed cap-a-pie, preparing to
mount his charger, which is brought him by an attendant. Next we have a
well arranged group of horsemen, representing the whole Norman army,
proceeding onward at a steady pace. Some scouts in advance scour the
country, and guard against surprise. The inscription proceeds, ET
Harold the King.

The country between Hastings and Battle is of an undulating nature. The
Duke had many defiles of a dangerous nature to pass, in which Harold
might have harassed him if he had possessed cavalry, and if he had had
troops to spare. As it was, he was allowed to proceed unmolested;
nevertheless, both parties sent out scouts to watch each other’s
movements. The horseman, Vitalis, seems to have been sent on this errand
by William. In the Tapestry he is represented as galloping up to his
chieftain with the news which he has gathered respecting the enemy,
towards whom his spear is pointed. The group is labelled, HIC WILLELM:
asks Vitalis, whether he had seen Harold’s army.

Harold’s scout is next seen, on foot, endeavouring to obtain a glimpse
through the forests of the approaching foe; he then informs his king of
WILLELM: DUCIS--This man brings word to Harold the King respecting Duke
William’s army. “The line of the Normans’ march from the camp of
Hastings to the battle-field, must have lain on the south-western slope
of the elevated ridge of land extending from Fairlight to Battle; that
is, to the north of the village of Hollington, through what is now
Crowhurst Park, to the elevated spot called Hetheland, but now known as
Telham Hill.”[94] This hill is about a mile south of the one occupied by
Harold. Its ancient name seems to imply that it was covered with heath
rather than with wood; this circumstance, together with the fact of its
elevated position, would enable

[Illustration: PLATE XIII.]

William’s host for the first time clearly to descry their enemy from its
summit, and render it a fitting place on which to make the final
preparations for the onslaught. This spot, according to local tradition,
derived its name of Telham, or Telman Hill, from William’s having told
off his men before advancing to the fight.

We can readily conceive what would be the feelings of the two forces, as
on the morning of the 14th of October, 1066, they came in sight of each
other;--“Some with their colour rising, others turning pale; some making
ready their arms, others raising their shields; the brave man raising
himself to the fight, the coward trembling at the approaching danger.”
Who can stand upon the ground occupied by either party without
sympathizing, in part, with their fierce emotions? Happily, such
sympathy is vain. Not only have victor and vanquished long ceased to be
moved by earth’s concernments, but the descendants of each have long
been blended into one race, having common interests, common feelings.

Before commencing the onslaught, William again addressed his troops. He
is represented in the Tapestry (_Plate XIII._) beside a tree,
representing probably the edge of the forest, with the baton of command
in his right hand. The legend here is, HIC WILLELM: DUX ALLOQUITUR SUIS
ANGLORUM EXERCITUM--Here Duke William exhorts his soldiers to prepare
manfully and prudently for battle against the army of the English. Wace
says that the battlecry of the Normans was _Dex aie!_ (God help!), that
of the English, _Ut!_ (out!--begone!)

Harold was not less diligent than his antagonist in making preparations.
“He ordered the men of Kent to go where the Normans were likely to make
the attack; for they say that the men of Kent are entitled to strike
first, and that whenever the king goes to battle, the first blow belongs
to them. The right of the men of London is to guard the king’s body, to
place themselves around him, and to guard his standard; and they were
accordingly placed by the standard to watch and defend it.” “Each man
had a hauberk on, with his sword girt, and his shield at his neck. Great
hatchets were also slung at their necks, with which they expected to
strike heavy blows. They were on foot in close ranks, and carried
themselves right boldly. _Olicrosse_ (holy cross) they often cried, and
many times repeated _Godamite_ (God Almighty).”[95] “And now behold!
that battle was gathered whereof the fame is yet mighty.”

Nearly all the chroniclers tell us that the minstrel-warrior Taillefer
was the first to begin the battle, and some of them inform us that as he
approached the English lines, he produced a sort of panic amongst them
by his juggling tricks. It says not a little for the correctness of the
delineations of the Tapestry, and of the authenticity of the _Roman de
Rou_, that neither of them refers to these improbable stories, however
great the pictorial effect of them might have been. As, however, the
verses of Gaimar, describing the

[Illustration: PLATE XIV]

apocryphal exploits of Taillefer, possess considerable interest, it may
be well to introduce them here in the garb in which they have been
clothed by Mr. Amyot, in the _Archæologia_,[96]

    “Foremost in the bands of France,
    Arm’d with hauberk and with lance,
    And helmet glittering in the air,
    As if a warrior-knight he were,
    Rushed forth the minstrel Taillefer.--
    Borne on his courser swift and strong,
      He gaily bounded o’er the plain,
    And raised the heart-inspiring song
    (Loud echoed by the warlike throng)
      Of Roland and of Charlemagne,
    Of Oliver, brave peer of old,
      Untaught to fly, unknown to yield,
    And many a knight and vassal bold,
    Whose hallowed blood, in crimson flood,
      Dyed Roncevalles’ field.

    Harold’s host he soon descried,
    Clustering on the hill’s steep side:
    Then, turned him back brave Taillefer,
    And thus to William urged his prayer:
    ‘Great Sire, it fits not me to tell
    How long I’ve served you, or how well;
    Yet if reward my lays may claim,
    Grant now the boon I dare to name:
    Minstrel no more, be mine the blow
    That first shall strike yon perjured foe.’
    ‘Thy suit is gained,’ the Duke replied,
    ‘Our gallant minstrel be our guide.’
    ‘Enough,’ he cried, ‘with joy I speed,
    Foremost to vanquish or to bleed.’

    And still of Roland’s deeds he sung,
    While Norman shouts responsive rung,
    As high in air his lance he flung,
      With well directed might;
    Back came the lance into his hand,
    Like urchin’s ball, or juggler’s wand,
    And twice again, at his command,
      Whirled it’s unerring flight.--
    While doubting whether skill or charm
    Had thus inspired the minstrel’s arm,
    The Saxons saw the wondrous dart
    Fixed in their standard-bearer’s heart.

    Now thrice aloft his sword he threw,
      ’Midst sparkling sunbeams dancing,
    And downward thrice the weapon flew,
    Like meteor o’er the evening dew,
      From summer sky swift glancing:
    And while amazement gasped for breath,
    Another Saxon groaned in death.

    More wonders yet!--on signal made,
      With mane erect, and eye-balls flashing,
    The well-taught courser rears his head,
      His teeth in ravenous fury gnashing;
    He snorts--he foams--and upward springs--
      Plunging he fastens on the foe,
    And down his writhing victim flings,
      Crushed by the wily minstrel’s blow.
    Thus seems it to the hostile band
    Enchantment all, and fairy land.

    Fain would I leave the rest unsung:--
    The Saxon ranks, to madness stung,
    Headlong rushed with frenzied start,
    Hurling javelin, mace, and dart;
    No shelter from the iron shower
    Sought Taillefer in that sad hour;
    Yet still he beckoned to the field,
    ‘Frenchmen, come on.--the Saxons yield--
    Strike quick--strike home--in Roland’s name--
    For William’s glory--Harold’s shame.’
    Then pierced with wounds, stretched side by side,
    The minstrel and his courser died.”

The charge of Taillefer roused the mettle of both parties. “Forthwith
arose the noise and cry of war, and on either side the people put
themselves in motion.” “Some were striking, others urging onwards; and
all were bold, and cast aside fear.”

“Loud and far resounded the bray of the horns and the shocks of the
lances; the mighty strokes of clubs, and the quick clashing of swords.
One while the Englishmen rushed on, another while they fell back; one
while the men from over the sea charged onwards, and again, at other
times, retreated. Then came the cunning manœuvres, the rude shocks and
strokes of the lance, and blows of the sword, among the sergeants and
soldiers, both English and Norman. When the English fall the Normans
shout. Each side taunts and defies the other, yet neither knoweth what
the other saith; and the Normans say the English bark, because they
understand not their speech.” In this way the struggle proceeded for
several hours. The Saxons had an arduous part to sustain; for, as shewn
in the Tapestry, they were attacked on all sides.

Early in the battle the brothers of Harold, Gurth and Leofwin fell. The
fact is indicated by the superscription, HIC CECIDERUNT LEWINE ET GURTH
FRATRES HAROLDI REGIS--Here fell Leofwin and Gurth, the brothers of
Harold the King. Bravely had they sustained their brother in his
efforts to resist the invader, and doubtless they had, in the excess of
their zeal, needlessly hazarded their lives. According to Wace, they did
not fall until after Harold had been slain. This is one of the points in
which the worsted chronicle differs from the _Roman de Rou_. In a
battle, where all is confusion--where few can obtain a general view of
what passes--and where each is intensely occupied with his own
foeman--it is exceedingly difficult for any one to give a just account
of the whole scene, or to reconcile the conflicting statements of
others. All our historians agree that both the brothers of Harold were
slain in the battle of Hastings;--had it been otherwise William would
not have been crowned at Westminister that Christmas.

Following, on the Tapestry, the death of Gurth and Leofwin (_Plate XV._)
PRELIO. The scene is here most animated. Saxons and Normans are mingled
in a close encounter. Horses and men exhibit the frantic contortions of
dying agony. At the further end of the compartment a party of Saxons,
posted on a hill, exposed to the enemy on one side, but protected by a
forest (represented by a tree) on the other, seem to be making head
against their assailants. The Normans had attacked the Saxon encampment
with the utmost impetuosity in front and in flank. The Saxons maintained
their ground well, but some, through fear or misadventure, were
constrained to flee. The victorious Normans, strongly armed and well
mounted, pursued the flying footmen. In doing so, they left not only
their own army, but that of Harold in

[Illustration: PLATE XV.]

the rear. Soon a swampy valley was to be encountered. The retreating
English, climbing the opposite hill, paused, at once to take breath and
to examine their position. Finding the Normans struggling with the
difficulties of the morass, and conscious of the advantage which their
elevated position gave them, they wheeled about, and became the
attacking party. Their efforts were crowned with success; the invaders
were thrown into a state of confusion nearly inextricable. But it is
necessary now to refer to our authorities. The account given in the
_Roman de Rou_ of this important part of the events of that eventful day
is the following: “In the plain was a fosse, which the Normans now had
behind them, _having passed it in the fight without regarding it_. But
the English charged, and drove the Normans before them, till they made
them fall back upon this fosse, overthrowing into it horses and men.
Many were to be seen falling therein, rolling one over the other, with
their faces to the earth, and unable to rise. Many of the English also,
whom the Normans drew down along with them, died there. At no time
during the day’s battle did so many Normans die as perished in that
fosse. So said they who saw the dead.” The account given in the
_Chronicle of Battle Abbey_ is similar. “There lay between the hostile
armies a certain dreadful precipice.... It was of considerable extent,
and being overgrown with bushes or brambles, was not very easily seen,
and great numbers of men, principally Normans in pursuit of the English,
were suffocated in it. For, ignorant of the danger, as they were running
in a disorderly manner, they fell into the chasm, and were fearfully
dashed to pieces and slain. And this pit, from this deplorable accident,
is still called _Malfosse_.” With these statements that of William of
Malmesbury agrees--“By frequently making a stand, they slaughtered their
pursuers in heaps; for, getting possession of an eminence, they drove
down the Normans, when roused with indignation and anxiously striving to
gain the higher ground, into the valley beneath, when, easily hurling
their javelins and rolling down stones on them as they stood below, they
destroyed them to a man.” With these descriptions the delineation of the
Tapestry agrees in a remarkable manner. The only point which remains for
us is to identify the scene of this skirmish with some locality in the
vicinity of Battle. This Mr. Lower enables us to do. “There is no place
near Battle which can, with a due regard to the proprieties of language,
be called a ‘dreadful precipice’ (_miserabile præceipitium vaste
patens_), though, by comparing Malmesbury with the Monk of Battle, I
think I have succeeded in identifying the locality of this ‘bad
ditch.’[97] From all the probabilities of the case, it would seem that
the flight and pursuit must have lain in a north-westerly direction,
through that part of the district known as Mountjoy. Assuming this, the
eminence alluded to must have been the ridge rising from Mount Street to
Caldbeck Hill, and the _Malfosse_ some part of the stream which, flowing
at its feet, runs in the direction of Watlington, and becomes a
tributary of the Rother. This rivulet occasionally overflows its banks,
and the primitive condition of the adjacent levels was doubtless that
of a morass, overgrown with flags, reeds, and similar bog vegetables.
Thanks, however, to good drainage, this ‘bad ditch’ no longer remains.
The name was corrupted, previously to 1279, to Manfosse, and a piece of
land called Wincestrecroft, in Manfosse, was ceded to the Abbey of
Battle in that year. Now Wincestrecroft is still well known, and lies in
the direction specified, west by north of the present town of

The English, after having exterminated their pursuers, regained the
eminence on which the main body was encamped.

This was the most critical period of the day’s fight. The varlets who
had been set to guard the harness of the Normans, began to abandon it.
The priests who had confessed and blessed the army in the morning, and
had meanwhile retired to a neighbouring height, began to take themselves
off. In this extremity Odo interfered, and turned the fate of the
battle. The description in the _Roman de Rou_ precisely corresponds with
the drawing in the Tapestry. Wace says, “Then Odo, the good priest, the
Bishop of Bayeux, galloped up, and said to them ‘Stand fast, stand fast!
be quiet and move not! fear nothing, for if it please God, we shall
conquer yet.’ So they took courage, and rested where they were; and Odo
returned galloping back to where the battle was most fierce, and was of
great service on that day. He had put a hauberk on, over a white aube,
wide in the body, with the sleeves tight; and sat on a white horse, so
that all might recognize him. In his hand he held a mace, and wherever
he saw most need, he led up and stationed the knights, and often urged
them on to assault and strike the enemy.” With this description the
Tapestry exactly accords, except in the colour of the horse; it however
represents it as being sufficiently conspicuous.

PUEROS--Here Odo holding a staff exhorts the soldiers.[99] The staff
which Odo wields is, I suspect, the badge of command--the marshal’s
baton as it were--and not a weapon, as some writers suppose. William
himself, in the next group, is represented with a similar implement.
During the middle ages the priests of the sanctuary were not
unfrequently to be found in the battle-field. Some of them were much
more at home in the midst of the _melée_ than in guiding sin-stricken
souls to a Saviour. The bold Bishop of Durham, Anthony Beck, never left
the precincts of his castle but in magnificent military array. He fought
personally at the battle of Falkirk, and drew from a soldier, who felt
perhaps a superstitious dread at aiming a deadly blow at one invested
with the sacred office, the merited rebuke, “To your mass, O priest.”
Richard I., when at war with Philip of France, took a French Bishop
prisoner. The Pope sent to demand his liberation, claiming him as a son
of the church. Richard upon this sent the Bishop’s coat of mail to the
Pope, just as it was, besmeared with the blood of the slain, employing
the words of Jacob’s sons, “This have we found; know now whether it be
thy son’s coat or no.” The canon laws indeed forbade a priest to shed
blood; but this was evaded, it is said, by the use of a mace instead of
a sword. The warrior-priest did not stab a man; he only brained him. It
is on this ground that the baton held by Odo has been considered by some
writers to be a weapon.

In consequence of the confusion and panic which attended the disasters
in the Malfosse, a report was spread among the Normans that William was
dead. At the same time, too, according to one writer,[100] Eustace Count
of Boulogne strongly urged the Duke to withdraw his forces from the
field, considering the battle to be lost beyond recovery. A Saxon shaft
at that moment laid Eustace low, and delivered William from his
importunity. The Duke, nothing daunted by this disaster, rushed among
his troops, encouraged his men to maintain the combat, and to assure
them of the falsehood of the report of his death, raised his helmet and
exhibited himself to his people. This act is exhibited in the Tapestry
(_Plate XV._); at the same time, his standard-bearer, who never left him
throughout the day, draws attention to the circumstance. The group is
labelled, HIC EST DVX WILEL:--Here is Duke William. By these energetic
means the Normans returned to the onset.

The Tapestry shows us the fearful slaughter which took place on that
hard-fought field. The border is filled with dead men and horses lying
in every conceivable position; a head is not unfrequently deposited at
some distance from the body to which it once belonged. We can scarcely
look upon the drawing without being impressed with the idea that the
designer of the Tapestry had been the witness of some fight. It is said
that when a man receives a mortal wound, his body is thrown for the
moment into violent spasmodic action. So much is this the case, that you
may tell the effect of a death-bringing volley by noticing how many
unhappy wretches make a sudden leap. In the Tapestry something of this
spasmodic action is manifested, and some of the men are coming to the
ground in such a posture as they could only do after having sprung up
from it.[101]

The battle had now lasted the greater part of the day. “From nine
o’clock in the morning till three in the afternoon the battle was up and
down, this way and that, and no one knew who would conquer and win the
land. Both sides stood so firm and fought so well that no one could
guess which would prevail. The Norman archers with their bows shot
thickly upon the English; but they covered themselves with their
shields, so that the arrows could not reach their bodies.... Then the
Normans determined to shoot their arrows upwards into the air, so that
they might fall on their enemies’ heads and strike their faces. The
archers adopted this scheme, and shot up into the air towards the
English; and the arrows in falling struck their heads and faces, and put
out the eyes of many, and all feared to open their eyes or leave their
faces unguarded.” “The arrows now flew thicker than rain before the
wind. Then it was that an arrow that had been thus shot upwards struck
Harold above his right eye and put it out. In his agony he drew the
arrow (_Plate XVI._) and threw it away, breaking it with his hands; and
the pain to his head was so great that he leaned upon his shield.” Still
the English did not yield, and Harold, though grievously hurt,
maintained his ground.

At length the device was adopted which put victory into the hands of the
Normans. Harold, knowing William’s skill in strategy, exhorted his
troops at the beginning of the fight to keep their ground, and not
suffer themselves to be drawn into a pursuit. Had his troops been
well-trained men, to whom obedience is a second nature, that battle had
probably not been lost. Many of them however had been brought from the
fields, and were unable to resist the prospect of inflicting deserved
vengeance upon their adversaries. Harold’s troops were the more likely
to fall into the snare laid for them, in consequence of the success
which attended, in an earlier part of the day, the attack upon the
pursuing Normans in the Malfosse.

William’s army fled by little and little, the English following them.
“As the one fell back, the other pressed after; and when the Frenchmen
retreated, the English thought and cried out that the men of France fled
and would never return. ‘Cowards,’ said they, ‘you came hither in an
evil hour, wanting our lands, and seeking to seize our property, fools
that you were to come! Normandy is too far off, and you will not easily
reach it ... your sons and daughters are lost to you!’ The Normans bore
these taunts very quietly, as indeed they easily might, for they did not
know what the English said.”

At length the time arrived for the assailants to come to a stand. The
English had broken rank; the valley, too, had been crossed, and the
Normans were now standing above the Saxons on the flank of the hill on
the top of which they had formed in the morning.

At the word of command, DEX AIE, the Normans halted, and turned their
faces towards the enemy. Now commenced the fiercest part of that bloody
day’s encounter. Neither party was wanting in courage. All the
chroniclers do justice to the contending forces. “One hits, another
misses; one flies, another pursues; one is aiming a stroke, while
another discharges his blow. Norman strives with Englishman again, and
aims his blows afresh. One flies, another pursues swiftly; the
combatants are many, the plain wide, the battle and the _melée_ fierce.
On every hand they fight hard, the blows are heavy, and the struggle
becomes fierce.”

As neither the horrors nor the gallantry exhibited on a battle-field can
be comprehended by a general description, it may be well here to
introduce an account of one or two of the individual encounters
occurring at this period, with which Wace supplies us.

“The Normans were playing their part well, when an English knight came
rushing up, having in his company a hundred men furnished with various
arms. He wielded a northern hatchet, with the blade a full foot long;
and was well armed after his manner, being tall, bold, and of noble
carriage. In the front of the battle, where the Normans thronged most,
he came bounding on swifter than a stag, many Normans falling before him
and his company. He rushed straight upon a Norman, who was armed, and
riding on a war-horse, and tried with a hatchet of steel to cleave his
helmet; but the blow miscarried, and the sharp blade glanced down before
the saddle-bow, driving through the horse’s neck down to the ground, so
that both horse and master fell together to the earth. I know not
whether the Englishman struck another blow; but the Normans who saw the
stroke were astonished, and about to abandon the assault, when Roger de
Montgomery came galloping up, with his lance set, and heeding not the
long-handled axe which the Englishman wielded aloft, struck him down,
and left him stretched upon the ground. Then Roger cried out ‘Frenchmen,
strike; the day is ours!’ And again a fierce _melée_ was to be seen,
with many a blow of lance and sword; the English still defending
themselves, killing the horses, and cleaving the shields.”

“There was a French soldier of noble mien, who sat his horse gallantly.
He spied two Englishmen who were also carrying themselves boldly. They
were both of them men of great worth, and had become companions in arms
and fought together, the one protecting the other. They bore two long
and broad bills, and did great mischief to the Normans, killing both
horses and men. The French soldier looked at them and their bills, and
was sore alarmed; for he was afraid of losing his good horse, the best
that he had, and would willingly have turned to some other quarter, if
it would not have looked like cowardice. Fearing the two bills, he
raised his shield by the ‘enarmes,’ and struck one of the Englishmen
with his lance on the breast, so that the iron passed out at the back.
At the moment that he fell, the lance broke, and the Frenchman seized
the mace that hung at his right side, and struck the other Englishman a
blow that completely fractured his scull.”

The slaughter at this period of the day must have been fearful. The
chronicler of Battle Abbey says, “Amid these miseries there was
exhibited a fearful spectacle: the fields were covered with dead bodies,
and on every hand nothing was to be seen but the red hue of blood. The
dales around sent forth a gory stream, which increased at a distance to
the size of a river! How great think you must have been the slaughter of
the conquered, when the conquerors’ is reported, upon the lowest
computation, to have exceeded ten thousand? Oh how vast a flood of human
gore was poured out in that place where these unfortunates fell and were
slain! What a dashing to pieces of arms, what a clashing of strokes;
what shrieks of dying men; what grief; what sighs were heard! How many
groans; how many bitter notes of direst calamity then sounded forth, who
can rightly calculate! What a wretched exhibition of human misery was
there to call forth astonishment! In the very contemplation of it our
heart fails us.”[102]

Notwithstanding the horrors of the scene, and the hopelessness of their
efforts, the courage of the Saxons failed not; sometimes fleeing, and
sometimes making a stand, they slaughtered their pursuers in heaps.

The place where this havoc took place is probably the southern front of
the eminence on which Battle Abbey was afterwards placed. The whole site
of the contest has sometimes been denominated “Sanguelac,” or the “Lake
of Blood,” but this designation properly belongs to that part in which
the street of the modern town of Battle called “the Lake” is situated.
Until a very recent period this place was supposed still occasionally to
reek with human gore. “Thereabout,” says Drayton, “is a place which
after rain always looks red, which some have attributed to a very bloody
sweat of the earth, as crying to heaven for revenge for so great a

    “ ... Asten once distained with native English blood;
     Whose soil, when wet with any little rain,
     Doth blush, as put in mind of those there sadly slain.”

The truth is “the redness of the water here, and at many other places in
the neighbourhood, is caused by the oxydation of the iron which abounds
in the soil of the Weald of Sussex.”[103]

To return to the battle, “Loud was now the clamour, and great the
slaughter; many a soul then quitted the body which it inhabited. The
living marched over the heaps of dead, and each side was weary of
striking. He charged on who could, and he who could no longer strike
still pushed forward. The strong struggled with the strong; some failed,
others triumphed; the cowards fell back, the brave pressed on; and sad
was his fate who fell in the midst, for he had little chance of rising
again; and many in truth fell who never rose at all, being crushed under
the throng. And now the Normans pressed on so far that at last they
reached the English standard.” The Tapestry represents the eager advance
of a body of horsemen. The compartment is inscribed, HIC FRANCI PUGNANT
ET CECIDERUNT QUI ERANT CUM HAROLDO--Here the French are fighting, and
have slain the men who were with Harold. “There Harold had remained,
defending himself to the utmost; but he was sorely wounded in the eye by
the arrow, and suffered grievous pain by the blow. An armed man came in
the throng of the battle, and struck him on the _ventaille_ of his
helmet and beat him to the ground; and as he sought to recover himself,
a knight beat him down again, striking him on the thick of his thigh,
down to the bone.” This is shown in the Tapestry (_Plate XVI._) Harold
first of all appears standing by his standard, contending with a
horseman who is making a rush at him; then he is shown pulling the arrow
out of his eye; and lastly he is seen, falling--

    “With his back to the field, and his feet to the foe,”

--his battle axe has dropped from his nerveless grasp, and a Norman,

[Illustration: PLATE XVI.]

stooping from his horse, inflicts a wound upon his thigh. The group is
superscribed, HIC HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST--Here Harold the King is

“The English were in great trouble at having lost their King, and at the
Duke’s having conquered and beat down the standard; but they still
fought on, and defended themselves long, and in fact till the day drew
to a close. Then it clearly appeared to all that the standard was lost,
and the news had spread throughout the army that Harold for certain was
dead; and all saw now that there was no longer any hope, so they left
the field and those fled who could.” Ingulph tells us that all the
nobles that were in Harold’s army were slain;[105] we are hence led to
infer that it was the untrained peasantry only who betook themselves to
flight. The Tapestry is in consistency with this. The last compartment
represents a group of men unprotected by body armour, and supplied only
with a mace or club, retreating before a party of fully equipped
horsemen. The inscription is, ET FUGA VERTERUNT ANGLI--And the English
betake themselves to flight.

Happily the exact spot on which the final struggle of the day took place
is clearly ascertained. The writer of the _Battle Abbey Chronicle_
tells us, that the King having resolved to commemorate his victory by
the erection of a Christian temple, the high altar was placed upon the
precise spot where the standard was observed to fall.[106] Long after
all traces of the Abbey Church had been obliterated, the finger of
tradition faithfully pointed to the spot so interesting to all
Englishmen. In the year 1817, the proprietor of the soil, anxious to
test the truth of the popular belief, made the necessary excavations,
and in the very place indicated, at the depth of several feet below the
surface, found the remains of an altar in the easternmost recess of the
crypt of the church.[107]

William on that day fought well--as well he might, for he had engaged in
a desperate venture--“many a blow did he give, and many receive, and
many fell dead under his hand.” Two horses were killed under him. After
the English had been exterminated, or had forsaken the field, the Duke
returned thanks to God, and ordered his gonfanon to be erected where
Harold’s standard had stood. Here, too, he raised his tent. Amidst the
dying and the dead he partook of his evening meal and passed the night.

The next morning which dawned upon that sad battle field was the
Sabbath. On that first day of the week no heavenly choir sang of peace
on earth and good will toward men. The human family was exhibited in
its most painful aspect, “hateful and hating one another”--that field
but recently covered over with the golden sheaves of harvest, now bore
upon its surface the gory fruits of man’s ambition.

“When William called over the muster-roll, which he had prepared before
he left the opposite coast, many a knight, who on the day when he
sailed, had proudly answered to his name, was then numbered with the
dead. The land which he had done homage for was useless to him
now.”[108] He had come to win large domains and baronial honours--six
feet of common earth was all he got. “The Conqueror had lost more than
one-fourth of his army.”[109] Both parties spent the day in burying the
dead. “The noble ladies of the land also came, some to seek their
husbands, and others their fathers, sons, or brothers.”

The account given by Ordericus of the disposal of Harold’s body is the
following: “Harold could not be discovered by his features, but was
recognized by other tokens, and his corpse being borne to the Duke’s
camp, was, by order of the Conqueror, delivered to William Mallet for
interment near the sea-shore, which had long been guarded by his
arms.”[110] William of Poictiers gives a similar statement. Later
writers say that his body was interred with regal honours in Waltham
Abbey. This tradition, which probably had its origin in the wish of the
monks to attract visitors to the shrine at Waltham, cannot be
entertained, in opposition to the express statements of contemporaries.
Some venture, too, to assert that, though sorely wounded at Hastings, he
was not killed, and that, on escaping from the field, he first fled to
the continent, and afterwards led the life of a recluse at Chester. This
is a statement which may at once be rejected.

The difficulty in discovering the body to which Ordericus refers was, it
is generally believed, overcome by Edith, surnamed, from her beauty, the
Fair. The keen eye of affection discerned his mangled form amidst heaps
of dead, which appeared to common observers an undistinguishable mass.
What will not woman’s love accomplish!

Many writers have done great dishonour to this lady by stating that she
was the mistress of Harold. Sir Henry Ellis, in his _Introduction to
Domesday Book_, has proved that she was his Queen; “Aldith, Algiva or
Eddeva, being names which are all synonymous.” Unhappy Elfgyva, how
different her feelings now from what they were when the clerk announced
to her, in his own familiar way, the rescue of Harold from the capture
of Guy!


    “From seeming evil still educing good.”


The Saxons lost the battle of Hastings. Here, however, they left no blot
on their name. The old historian Daniel justly, as well as forcibly,
remarks, “Thus was tried, by the great assize of God’s judgment in
battle, the right of power between the English and Norman nations; a
battle the most memorable of all others; and, however miserably lost,
yet most nobly fought on the part of England.” The death of Harold, and
the absence of any other competitor, opened the way for William to the
throne. Presenting himself to the nobles of the land, assembled in
London, he was in due form elected to the vacant throne, and was crowned
by Aldred Archbishop of York, on Mid-winter’s day. William never claimed
the English crown by right of conquest. His quarrel was with Harold, not
with the English people, and he denounced him as interfering with his
just claims. The _Saxon Chronicle_ expressly asserts that “Before the
Archbishop would set the crown upon his head, he required of him a
pledge upon Christ’s book, and also swore him, that he would govern this
nation as well as any king before him had at the best done, if they
would be faithful to him.” He never claimed to be the Conqueror of
England in the ordinary sense of the word. In his first charter to
Westminster Abbey, he founds his right to the crown upon the grant of
his relative Edward the Confessor. The _Domesday Book_ was not compiled
until near the close of William’s reign (about the year 1086), yet in it
he is not spoken of as a conqueror. “Throughout the _Survey_,” says Sir
Henry Ellis, “Harold is constantly spoken of as the usurper of the
realm: ‘quando regnum _invasit_.’ Once only is it said ‘quando
_regnabat_.’ Of William it is as constantly said, ‘postquam _venit_ in
Angliam,’ after he came to England. Once only does the expression occur,
‘W. rex _conquisivit_ Angliam,’ when he conquered or acquired
England.”[111] But whatever were William’s rights and original
intentions, it was impossible that he could long reign over England as a
constitutional monarch. It was not likely that the great chiefs who
survived the battle of Hastings would long submit to the rule of a
stranger--hosts of foreigners would necessarily be introduced into the
court, and this, as in the reign of the Confessor, would be a continual
source of heartburning and jealousy--and, above all, the followers of
the King were to be rewarded, and this could only be done by depriving
the Saxon noblemen of their patrimonies. When William won the battle of
Hastings, he bid farewell to peace for ever. His subsequent history was
a continued series of entanglements and broils. One chieftain after
another, one district and then another, became restless under his rule;
each he crushed in succession. At length he became in the strict sense
of the word the Conqueror. He ruled by the sword alone. His own Norman
barons, and even his brother Odo, felt the weight of his iron hand; but
it fell with peculiar force upon his native-born subjects. The writer in
the _Saxon Chronicle_, speaking from his own knowledge, says of William,
“He was a very wise and a great man, and more honoured and more powerful
than any of his predecessors. He was mild to those good men who loved
God, but severe beyond measure towards those who withstood his will....
He was a very stern and wrathful man, so that none durst do anything
against his will, and he kept in prison those earls who acted against
his pleasure.... Truly there was much trouble in these times, and very
great distress; he caused castles to be built, and oppressed the
poor.... He made large forests for the deer, and enacted laws therewith,
so that whoever killed a hart or a hind should be blinded. He loved the
tall stags as if he had been their father. The rich complained and the
poor murmured, but he was so sturdy that he recked nought of them; they
must will all that the king willed, if they would live; or would keep
their lands; or would hold their possessions; or would be maintained in
their rights. Alas! that any man should so exalt himself, and carry
himself in his pride over all!”[112] Ingulph speaks of the entire
subjugation of the English people, and of their systematic exclusion
from offices of honour. “Many of the chief men of the land, for some
time, offered resistance to William, the new king, but, being
afterwards crushed by his might and overcome, they at last submitted to
the sway of the Normans.... So inveterately did the Normans at this
period detest the English, that, whatever the amount of their merits
might be, they were excluded from all dignities; and foreigners who were
far less fitted, be they of any other nation whatever under heaven,
would have been gladly chosen instead of them.”[113] Henry of Huntingdon
uses language which the English of the present day, accustomed as they
are to rear their heads proudly among the nations, can hardly
understand. “In the twenty-first year of the reign of King William, when
the Normans had accomplished the righteous will of God on the English
Nation, and there was now no prince of the ancient regal race living in
England, and all the English were brought to a reluctant submission, so
that _it was a disgrace even to be called an Englishman_, the instrument
of Providence in fulfilling its designs was removed from the
world.”[114] “Many of the people,” as Holinshed tells us, “utterly
refusing such an intolerable yoke of thraldom as was daily laid upon
them, chose rather to leave all, both goods and lands, and after the
manner of outlaws, got them to the woods with their wives, children, and
servants, meaning from henceforth to live upon the spoils of the country
adjoining, and to take whatsoever came next to hand.”

Notwithstanding the heavy pressure of these evils good ensued. The
political tempest resulted in the increased purity, health, and peace,
of the national atmosphere.

William established a strong government. Had Harold been unopposed from
without, he would have had rivals from within the nation. The opposition
of his own brother Tostig was but a prelude of what the general result
of his reign would have been. Ambitious men, such as Edwin and Morcar,
the Earls of Mercia and Northumbria, would on the least provocation have
espoused the cause of Edgar Atheling, and by rendering the land a scene
of internal discord, have made it an easy prey to new bands of
adventurers from Denmark, Norway, Flanders, and France. William, by the
vigour, and even harshness of his rule, quelled internal dissension, and
bid defiance to foreign rivalry.

The Norman invasion hastened and perfected the establishment of the
feudal system in England. This system had one great defect, which
renders it unfit for the present condition of England--it altogether
overlooked the claims of the lower classes, who always form the great
bulk of the population; still, it produced most beneficial results in
the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It brought all the great barons of
the empire into subjection to the sovereign, and by defining the
corresponding duties of the mesne lords and inferior tenants, knit the
whole kingdom into one. By this unity the realm was prepared to put down
intestine broils, and to resist foreign aggression. A way too was
prepared for the elevation of the lower classes. The system had but to
be extended in order to define the duties, and to confer corresponding
privileges, upon every member of the community.

Learning and civilization were greatly advanced by the Norman Conquest.
Italy at this time was the focus of the knowledge and refinement of the
world. The light kindled by the genius of Attica, and nurtured by the
philosophy and poetry of the Augustan era, still irradiated the
seven-hilled city. Britain, severed from the main-land by a stormy
channel, had less intercourse with Rome than the nations of the
continent. Though William of Malmesbury may have somewhat overdrawn the
statement, still there is much truth in the picture which he gives of
the social condition of the Saxons at the time of the Conquest. “In
process of time the desire after literature and religion had decayed,
for several years before the arrival of the Normans. The clergy,
contented with a very slight degree of learning, could scarcely stammer
out the words of the sacraments; and a person who understood grammar was
an object of wonder and astonishment. The nobility were given up to
luxury and wantonness. The commonalty, left unprotected, became a prey
to the most powerful, who amassed fortunes, by either seizing on their
property, or by selling their persons into foreign countries; although
it be an innate quality of this people to be more inclined to revelling,
than to the accumulation of wealth. Drinking was a universal practice,
in which they passed entire nights as well as days. They consumed their
whole substance in mean and despicable houses; unlike Normans and
French, who, in noble and splendid mansions, lived with frugality.”[115]
There cannot be a doubt that by the introduction of the refinements of
life the condition of the people was improved, and that a check was
given to the grosser sensualities of our nature. Certain it is that
learning received a powerful stimulus by the conquest. At the period of
the Norman invasion, a great intellectual movement had commenced in the
schools on the continent. Normandy had beyond most other parts profited
by it. William brought with him to England some of the most
distinguished ornaments of the schools of his native duchy; the
consequence of this was that England henceforward took a higher walk in
literature than she had ever done before.[116]

Another important advantage resulting from the Conquest was the
emancipation of the lower classes. At the period of the invasion the
great bulk of the population were in a servile condition. One class of
the people, the churls, were attached to the land, and were transferred
with it from one master to another without the power of choosing their
employer, or taking any steps to improve their condition--another large
class, the thews, were the absolute property of their owners. The
attempts which Alfred and some of the clergy made to remedy this
gigantic evil were attended with but partial success. The Conquest gave
it its death blow. The convulsions which ensued afforded great numbers
the wished-for opportunity of escaping from thraldom. Many of the
landowners, seeing the shipwreck of their fortunes inevitable, made a
virtue of necessity, and manumitted their serfs. One of William’s
regulations had a tendency quietly to complete what was thus
auspiciously begun. He passed a law declaring that every slave who had
resided unchallenged a year and a day in any city or walled town in the
kingdom, should be free for ever.[117] This law became a door of hope to
many, and in due time not one slave was left in England. It had another
very beneficial effect. Men were led to congregate in towns; knowledge
was promoted; a stimulus was given to the cultivation of the refinements
of social life; and the commoners, strong in their numbers, were induced
to assert and maintain their common rights.

Even the despotic measures of the king had a beneficial influence upon
the lower grades of society. The thanes and aldermen of the Confessor’s
days being deprived of their lands, were glad to hold a small portion of
them as the inferior tenants of the great Norman barons. Hence sprung
the yeomanry of England, who, in days of difficulty and danger, have
often proved themselves the mainstay of the country. The Saxon noblemen,
in descending from their high estate, brought with them their
independence of feeling and high spirit. They were chastened but not
crushed. They not only maintained their own freedom of thought, but
infused a portion of their energy into the newly emancipated class below
them. Formerly the difference in social position between the landed
proprietor and the tiller of the soil was so great, that there could be
little friendly intercourse between them, and no unity of interest; but
now, by the formation of a middle class, the two extremes of society
were linked together, and all classes placed in a position to benefit
the rest, as well as to be benefited by them. The hope of rising in the
social scale now dawned upon the lower orders.

Another signal benefit resulted from the Conquest. It brought to our
English soil a host of men renowned in their own persons and those of
their descendants for all that is great in art and arms, for all that is
noble in knightly enterprise and chivalric feeling. Strike out from the
page of history the deeds of the Montfords, the Marmions, the Warrens,
the Nevilles, the Percys, the Beauchamps, the Bruces, the Balliols, the
Talbots, the Cliffords, and a host of others who fought with William at
Hastings, or followed in his wake, what a blank would be left. True,
they were not always found contending on the side of liberty and truth;
but, on the whole, they contributed to the developement of England’s
liberties and enlightenment and power, and left an example of
indomitable energy and manly bearing which mankind to the latest ages
will do well to copy.

One other view of the subject we must take. England required
chastisement, but shall the oppressor on that account go free? The
chroniclers most favourable to William do not conceal the harshness and
covetousness which disfigured the latter part of his reign. They tell
us, too, of the evils which afflicted his age, and pursued him beyond
the tomb. His eldest son rose in rebellion against him. Many of his own
nobles joined the undutiful youth; even his beloved wife Matilda
favoured him. In the New Forest, which he had wrongfully appropriated to
his own pleasures, his son Richard was slain, during his lifetime. His
son William, who succeeded him, came to a violent end in the same
place. A grandson also is said to have perished in it. Whilst ravaging
Mantes, in revenge for an idle jest, he met with his own death stroke.
No sooner had he ceased to breathe than his lifeless body was forsaken
by his family and domestics. When all that remained of the once potent
William was about to be committed to the tomb, the man from whom he had
wrested the site forbade his burial; some of the bystanders ‘of their
charity’ satisfied the claim, and the Conqueror was laid in an
eleemosynary grave. At a subsequent period that grave was violated, and
his bones dispersed.

His followers, bent upon enriching themselves at the expense of justice,
did not escape. Many of them rose in rebellion, and were crushed. Others
suffered in the troubles which ensued upon his death. In the struggle
between Stephen and Matilda, dreadful was the havoc committed upon the
followers of William and their children. During the Wars of the Roses,
nearly all the great families founded at the Conquest suffered
calamities differing little in kind or degree from those which the
victors of Hastings inflicted upon the old nobility of the land. History
gives emphasis to the divine injunction, “Fret not thyself because of
evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity: for
they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green


NOTE A.--_Page 4._

The authority for the odd story of the Duke of Normandy’s courtship is
the following passage in the _Chronicle of Tours_, quoted in the
_Encyclopædia Metropolitana_, Vol. xi., p. 527, _n_.

“Tunc Guillelmus, Dux Normanniæ, Mathildam, filiam Balduini Comitis
Flandriæ duxit in uxorem in hunc modum. Cum ipsa a Patre suo de sponso
recipiendo sæpius rogaretur, eique Guillelmus Normannicus a Patro, qui
eum longo tempore nutrierat, præ aliis laudaretur, respondit, nunquam
Nothum recipere se maritum. Quo audito, Guillelmus Dux elam apud Brugis,
ubi puella morabatur, cum paucis accelerat, eamque, regredientem ab
Ecclesiâ pugnis, calcibus, atque calcaribus verberet atque castigat,
sicque ascenso equo in patriam remeat. Quo facto, puella dolens ad
lectum decubat; ad quam Pater veniens illam de sponso recipiendo
interrogat et requirit; quæ respondens dixit se nunquam habere maritum
nisi Guillelinum Ducem Normanaiæ; quod et factum est.”

NOTE B.--_Page 5._

As the following letter of M. Thierry’s is less accessible to the
English reader than most of the documents connected with the Bayeux
Tapestry it is here given in full. It is addressed to M. de la
Fontenelle de Vandoré:--

     “MONSIEUR,--Pardonnez-moi de répondre bien tard à une demande qui,
     venant de vous, m’honore infiniment. Vous désirez savoir ce que je
     pense des _Recherches et conjectures_ de M. Bolton Corney _sur la
     tapisserie de Bayeux_; je vais vous le dire, en aussi peu de mots
     et aussi nettement que je le pourrai. L’opinion soutenue par M.
     Bolton Corney comprend deux thèses principales: 1º que la
     tapisserie de Bayeux n’est pas un don de la reine Mathilde, ni même
     un don fait au chapitre de cette ville par un autre personne;
     qu’elle a été fabriqué pour l’église cathédrale de Bayeux, sur
     l’ordre et aux frais du chapitre; 2º que ce vénérable monument
     n’est pas contemporain de la conquête de l’Angleterre par les
     Normands, mais qu’il date du temps où la Normandie se trouvait
     réunie à la France. De ces deux thèses, la première me semble vraie
     de toute évidence, la seconde est inadmissible.

     “La tradition qui attribuait à la reine Mathilde la pièce de
     tapisserie conservée à Bayeux, tradition, du reste, assez récente,
     et que l’abbé de La Rue a réfutée, n’est plus soutenue par
     personne. Quant à la seconde question, celle de savoir si cette
     tapisserie fut ou non un présent fait à l’église de Bayeux, M.
     Bolton Corney la résout négativement, et d’une façon qui me semble
     péremptoire. Au silence des anciens inventaires de l’église il
     joint des preuves tirées du monument lui-même, et démontre avec
     évidence que ses détails portent une empreinte très-marquée de
     localité, que la conquête de l’Angleterre par les Normands y a été
     considérée en quelque sorte au point de vue de la ville et de
     l’église de Bayeux. Un seul évêque y figure, et c’est celui de
     Bayeux, très-souvent en scène et quelquefois désigné par son seul
     titre: _episcopus_. De plus, parmi les personnages laïques qui
     figurent à côté du duc Guillaume, pas un ne porte un nom
     historique. Les noms qui reviennent sans cesse sont ceux de Turold,
     Wadard et Vital, probablement connus et chéris à Bayeux, car les
     deux derniers, Wadard et Vital, sont inscrits sur le Domesday-Book,
     au nombre des feudataires de l’église de Bayeux, dans les comtés de
     Kent, d’Oxford, et de Lincoln. Si l’on joint à ces raisons celles
     que M. Bolton Corney déduit de la forme et de l’usage particuliers
     du monument, il est impossible de ne pas croire avec lui que la
     tapisserie fut commandée par le chapitre de Bayeux et exécutée pour

     “Je passe à la seconde proposition, savoir que la tapisserie de
     Bayeux fut exécutée après la réunion de la Normandie à la France.
     Cette hypothèse n’exige pas une longue réfutation, car l’auteur du
     mémoire la fonde sur une seule preuve, l’emploi du mot _Franci_
     pour désigner l’armée normande. ‘Guillaume de Poitiers, dit-il,
     appelle ceux qui faisaient partie de l’armée _Normanni_, des
     Normands; la tapisserie les nomme toujours _Franci_, des Français.
     Je considère cela comme une bévue indicative du temps où le
     monument a été exécute.’ Il n’y a là aucune bévue, ni rien qui
     puisse faire présumer que la tapisserie de Bayeux n’est pas
     contemporaine de la conquète de l’Angleterre par les Normands. En
     effet, les Anglo-Saxons avaient coutume de désigner par le nom de
     Français (_Frencan, Frencisce men_) tous les habitants de la Gaule,
     sans distinction de province ou d’origine. La Chronique saxonne,
     dans les mille endroits où elle parle des chefs et des soldats de
     l’armée normande, les appelle Français. Ce nom servait en
     Angleterre à distinguer les conquérants de la population indigène,
     non-seulement dans le langage usuel, mais encore dans celui des
     acts légaux. On lit dans les lois de Guillaume-le-Conquérant, à
     l’article du meurtre, ces mots: _Ki Franceis occist_, et, dans la
     version latine de ces lois: _Si Francigena interfectus fuerit_.
     L’emploi du mot _Franci_ au lieu de _Normanni_, ne prouve donc
     point que la tapisserie de Bayeux date d’un temps posterieur à la
     conquête. S’il prouve quelque chose, c’est que la tapisserie a été
     exécutée non en Normandie, mais en Angleterre, et que c’est à des
     ouvriers ou ouvrières de ce dernier pays que le chapitre de Bayeux
     a fait sa commande.

     “Cette opinion, que je soumets au jugement des archéologues, est
     confirmée d’ailleurs par l’orthographe de certains mots et par
     l’emploi de certaines lettres dans les légendes du monument. On y
     trouve, jusque dans le nom du duc Guilluame et dans celui de la
     ville de Bayeux, des traces de prononciation anglo-saxonne: _Hic
     Wido adduxit Haroldum ad Wilgelmum normannorum ducem; Willem venit
     Bagias_; c’est le _g_ saxon qui figure ici avec sa consonance
     _hié_. _Wilgelm_ pour _Wilielm_, _Bagias_ pour _Bayeux_. La
     dipthongue _ea_, l’une des particularités de l’orthographe
     anglo-saxon, se rencontre dans les légendes qui offrent le nom du
     roi Edward: _Hic portatur corpus_ EADWARDI. Une autre légende
     présente cette indication de lieu, correctement saxonne: _Ut
     foderetur castellum at_ HESTENCA CASTRA. Enfin le nom de _Gurth_
     (prononcez _Gheurth_), frère du roi Harold, est orthographié avec
     trois lettres saxonnes; le _g_, ayant le son de _ghé_ l’_y_, ayant
     le son d’_eu_, et le _d barré_, exprimant l’une des deux
     consonnances que les Anglais figurent aujourd’hui par _th_.

     “Ainsi, je crois, avec la majorité des savants qui ont écrit sur la
     tapisserie de Bayeux, que cette tapisserie est contemporaine du
     grand événement qu’elle représente; je pense, avec M. Bolton
     Corney, qu’elle a été exécutée sur l’ordre et aux frais du chapitre
     de Bayeux; j’ajoute, pour ma part de conjectures, qu’elle fut
     ouvrée en Angleterre et par des mains anglaises, d’après un plan
     venu de Bayeux.

     “Agréez, Monsieur, l’assurance de ma considération la plus

                                                   “AUG. THIERRY.

         “_Le 25 juin 1843._”

NOTE C.--_Page 25._

In the _Northumberland Pipe Rolls_,[118] we have an interesting trace of
Edgar Atheling.--He had been owing the crown 20 marks of silver,
probably for the right to institute some law proceeding. Of this sum he
paid 10 marks to the Sheriff of Northumberland in 1157 or 1158, and the
remainder in the following year. Ten years later he paid 2 marks to the
crown for the right to bring some plea. At this time he must have been
about 120 years of age. He came with his father to England in 1057, as a
child; supposing him to have been 10 years of age at this period, he
would be of the great age already mentioned at the time the last payment
was made. How much longer he lived there is no evidence to show. The
exact place of his residence, at this time, is not known. Edlingham
Castle, situated about six miles to the south-west of Alnwick, has, upon
the supposition that the neighbouring village of Edlingham takes its
name from him (Ætheling’s ham), been by some considered to be the spot.

NOTE D.--_Page 87._

The appearances presented on the examination of the remains of St.
Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral are in consistency with the opinion that
the mitre was not in vogue in Saxon times. Before the body of the saint
was put in the shrine in 1104, it was inspected. Reginald, who gives us
an account of this circumstance, says, “Upon the forehead of the holy
bishop there is a fillet of gold, not woven work, and of gold only
externally, which sparkles with most precious stones of different kinds,
scattered all over its surface.”[119] In 1827, when the remains were
again examined, Mr. Raine tells us. “The scull of the saint was easily
moved from its place; and when this was done, we observed on the
forehead, and apparently constituting a part of the bone itself, a
distinct tinge of gold of the breadth of an ordinary fillet.” It would
thus seem that a gilded fillet was the only mitre, if such it can be
called, which St. Cuthbert wore.






 [1] Taylor’s Wace, p. xv.

 [2] Ibid. p. 3.

 [3] Archæologia, vol. xvii., p. 105.

 [4] Ordericus Vitalis, bk. IV., ch. ii.

 [5] Roscoe’s Life of the Conqueror, p. 92. _See_ Note A. at the end of
 the volume.

 [6] _See_ Note B. at the end of the volume.

 [7] Taylor’s Wace, p. xxviii.

 [8] Archæologia, vol. xix., p. 186.

 [9] Strutt thus disposes of a difficulty which may occur to some
 minds.--“If any one should say, by way of objection to this
 established rule, that though the illuminator has not given us the
 customs, habits, &c., of those people he designed to picture out,
 yet is it not most likely that such dresses as are given should be
 fictitious, agreeable rather to his own wild fancy than to the real
 customs and habits of his own times? To answer their objection, (and
 that because the chief materials of the present work are collected
 from the ancient MSS.) the reader must be informed, that many of these
 MSS. (especially such as are illuminated) were done as presents, or
 at the command of kings and noblemen, who are generally represented
 in the frontispiece in their proper habits receiving the particular
 MS. done for them from the author, and they are generally pictured
 attended by their court, or retinue. That these figures should be
 habited in the true dress of the times will not be doubted; and
 then, as far as the anonymous illuminations which may chance to
 follow in the MS. shall agree with those figures in the frontispiece,
 so far they may be allowed as authentic; other MSS. were done for
 particular abbeys and monasteries, in the embellishments of which no
 pains were spared. But a still greater proof of the authenticity of
 these delineations is, that on examining all the illuminated MSS. of
 the same century together, which, tho’ various, every one written
 and ornamented by different hands, yet on comparing the several
 delineations with each other, they will be found to agree in every
 particular of dress, customs, &c., even in the minutiæ, which perfect
 similitude it would have been impossible to have preserved, had not
 some sure standard been regularly taken for the whole; therefore the
 fancy of the painter will be found to have little share in these
 valuable delineations. Besides, these pictures constantly agree
 with the description of the habits and customs of the same period,
 collected from the old historians.”--_Strutt’s Manners, Customs, &c.,
 of the Inhabitants of England_, vol. i, p. 3.

 [10] Taylor’s Wace, p. 162.

 [11] Ibid. p. 163. n.

 [12] “All have hitherto treated the Bayeux Tapestry as a ‘Monument
 of the Conquest of England,’ following therein M. Lancelot, and
 speaking of it as an unfinished work: whereas it is an apologetical
 history of the claims of William to the crown of England, and of the
 breach of faith, and fall of Harold; and is a perfect and finished
 action.”--_Mr. Hudson Gurney_, Archæologia, vol. xvii., p. 361.

 [13] The Abbé de la Rue, in an elaborate paper in the _Archæologia_
 (vol. xvii, p. 85-109), supports the opinion that the Tapestry was
 prepared at the command of Matilda, daughter of Henry I. and wife of
 Henry V. Emperor of Germany. Lord Lyttleton (History of Henry II.,
 vol. i, p. 353) and Hume (History of England, vol. i, _note_ F.)
 entertain similar views.

 [14] Vol. i., p. 328, 8vo. edition.

 [15] Archæologia, vol. xvii., p. 105.

 [16] Some idea of the labour involved in the work may be learned from
 the number of figures represented in it. It contains 623 men, 202
 horses, 55 dogs, 505 animals of various kinds not already enumerated,
 37 buildings, 41 ships and boats, and 49 trees--in all 1512 figures.

 [17] See Plate III.

 [18] Queens of England, vol. i., p. 66, edition 1851. I have been
 unable to meet with any authority for this statement.

 [19] In a short visit which I made to Italy in the winter of 1853-4, I
 paid some attention to this subject. I have seen a _vettorino_, when
 protesting that his exorbitant charge was a most reasonable one, throw
 himself into all the contortions exhibited in the Tapestry.

 [20] Lives of the Queens of England, edition 1853, p. 65. _n_.

 [21] His words are “L’opinion commune à Bayeux est que ce fut la reine
 Mathilde, femme de Guillaume-le-Conquérant, qui la fit faire. Cette
 opinion, qui passe pour une tradition dans le pays, n’a rien que de
 fort vraisemblable.”--_Jubinal’s Tapisserie de Bayeux_, p. 1.

 [22] Letters from Normandy, vol. i. p. 241.

 [23] Ducarel, Appendix I., p. 3.

 [24] William of Malmesbury’s English Chronicle (Bohn’s edition), p.

 [25] _See_ Note C., at the end of the Volume.

 [26] Bohn’s edition, p. 253.

 [27] Taylor’s Wace, p. 76.

 [28] General Introduction to Domesday, vol. i., p. 312.

 [29] Ducarel’s Antiquities of Normandy, Appendix, p. 4.

 [30] The first account of the hood is in a book written in Latin by
 the Emperor Frederic II. _See_ History of Inventions and Discoveries
 by John Beckmann, translated by William Johnston, vol. i. p. 330.

 [31] Introduction to Domesday, vol. i, p. 295.

 [32] _See_ Archæologia, vol. xxiv.

 [33] Rich’s Companion to the Latin Dictionary, art. _Adoratio_.

 [34] Quoted in Taylor’s Wace, p. 156.

 [35] _See_ Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson’s Popular Account of the Ancient
 Egyptians, vol. i, p. 235; and Bonomi’s Nineveh, p. 136.

 [36] Archæologia, vol. 24, plate LV.

 [37] Illustrations of Cædmon’s Paraphrase, Archæologia, vol. xxiv., p.
 339, plate LXXV. Hudson Turner’s Domestic Architecture
 of England, vol. i., p. 4.

 [38] Pictorial History of England, vol. i. p. 637.

 [39] Taylor’s Wace, page 7.

 [40] This observation, together with some others which may not in
 every case require to be specially noted, has been taken from a clever
 series of papers on the Bayeux Tapestry, which were published in the
 _Ladies’ Newspaper_ for 1851-2.

 [41] Akerman on Celtic and Teutonic Weapons.--_Archæ._, vol. xxxiv.

 [42] Mr. Charles Stothard in the Archæologia, vol. xix, p. 189.

 [43] Taylor’s Wace, p. 11.

 [44] Introduction to Domesday, vol. ii. p. 404.

 [45] The Song of Roland, London, 1854.

 [46] William of Malmesbury, (Bohn’s edition) p. 279.

 [47] Thierry’s Norman Conquest (London, 1841), p. 41.

 [48] The following passages from the _Chronicle of Florence of
 Worcester_ furnish distinct evidence as to the marriage of Harold with
 Algitha:--“Regnavit autem Haraldus mensibus IX. et diebus totidem.
 Cujus morte audita, comites Eadwinus et Morcarus, qui se cum suis
 certamini subtraxere, Lundoniam venere, et sororem suam _Algitham
 reginam_ sumptam ad civitatem Legionum misere.” “Anno regni XXIII. rex
 Anglorum Eadwardus decessit. Cui ex ipsius concessione comes Haroldus,
 filius Godwini West-Saxonum ducis ... successit; qui de _regina
 Aldgitha_, comitis Alfgari filia, habuit filium Haroldum; eodemque
 anno a Normanorum comite Willelmo peremptus est in bello.”--_Monumenta
 Historica_, pp. 614, 642.

 [49] Planche’s Strutt, vol. i., p. 14.

 [50] Pict. Eng., vol. i., p. 637.

 [51] Thierry’s History of the Normans, p. 36.

 [52] It is often asserted that the house of Percy derived its name
 from one of the family having slain Malcolm, King of Scotland, by
 thrusting the spear into his eye when he came forward to demand the
 keys of Alnwick Castle. That historic name occurs in the Battle Abbey
 Roll, and is derived from the cradle of the family, the hamlet of
 Perci, in Normandy.

 [53] The walls of Tintagel Castle “were evidently constructed in
 a framework of wood; the square holes which pierce the walls at
 regular intervals, from the foundations upwards, show the places
 once occupied by bond pieces, by which the wooden frames were held
 together.”--_Notes by Rev. W. Haslam, in Report of Royal Inst.
 Cornwall_, 1850.

 [54] Ingulph’s Chronicle (Bohn), p. 14.

 [55] Taylor’s Wace, p. 83.

 [56] The Normans seem to have been particularly addicted to the
 worship of relics. They carried them about their persons, and had them
 enclosed in the handles of their swords. In the _Song of Roland_ that
 hero is represented, when dying, as addressing his sword thus:--“Ah,
 Saint Durandal! in thy golden pommel what precious relics lie hid!
 A tooth of Saint Peter!--Blood of Saint Basil!--Hair of Monseigneur
 Saint Denis!--Vesture of the Virgin Mary! And shall a pagan possess
 thee?” Being thus at all times provided with relics, they were never
 at a loss as to the administration of an oath. In the Song already
 referred to we have a case in point:--‘Be it as thou wilt,’ answered
 Ganelon, and upon the relics of his sword he swore to the treason and
 consummated his crime.

 [57] Wace, p. 138.

 [58] Wace, p. 20, 21.

 [59] William of Malmesbury, p. 249.

 [60] Malmesbury, p. 252.

 [61] Vol. i. p. 322.

 [62] “Having first washed the corpse, it was clothed in a
 straight linen garment, or put into a bag or sack of linen, and
 then wrapped closely round from head to foot with a strong cloth
 wrapper.”--_Strutt_, vol. i., p. 66.

 [63] The custom of carrying the dead in some slight envelope to the
 sarcophagus which was to be its last resting place, accounts for the
 mischance which occurred at the burial of William the Conqueror, force
 being required to thrust the body into its too narrow cell. Bede
 tells us (_Ecc. Hist._ b. iv. c. xi.) how the stone coffin for Sebba,
 King of the East Saxons, was too small, and when the attendants were
 for bending the knees of the corpse a miracle ensued, and the coffin
 elongated of itself.

 [64] Wace, p. 89.

 [65] Annals of Roger de Hoveden, vol. i. p. 130.

 [66] The _paludamentum_, or official dress of a Roman general, to
 which the episcopal _pallium_ is probably to be traced, was either of
 a brilliant white, scarlet, or purple colour.

 [67] See note D, at the end of the volume.

 [68] Hinde on Comets, p. 52.

 [69] Thierry, p. 60.

 [70] Taylor’s Wace.

 [71] Sir N. Harris Nicolas’ Hist. Royal Navy, vol. i., p. 24.

 [72] Wace, p. 123.

 [73] Vol. i., p. 464.

 [74] “This mode of steering was retained till a comparatively late
 period. In a bass-relief over the doorway of the leaning tower of
 Pisa, built in the twelfth century, ships are represented with paddle
 rudders, as those in the Bayeux Tapestry representing the Norman
 Invasion. They must have been in use till after the middle of the
 thirteenth century; for in the contracts to supply Louis IX. with
 ships, the contractors are bound to furnish them with two rudders. By
 the middle of the following century we find the hinged rudders on the
 gold noble of Edward III. The change in the mode of steering must,
 therefore, have taken place about the end of the thirteenth, or early
 in the fourteenth, century.”--_Smith’s Voyage and Shipwreck of St.

 [75] They are engraved in Smith’s Collectanea Antiqua, vol. ii., p.

 [76] Wace, p. 210.

 [77] Crit. Inquiry into Ancient Armour, vol. i., p. 8.

 [78] When Harold, in 1063, conducted an expedition against the Welch,
 he found the heavy armour of his troops unsuitable to the service on
 which they were engaged, and immediately changed it. Ingulf says,
 “Seeing that the activity of the Welch, proved remarkably effective
 against the more cumbrous movements of the English and that, after
 making an attack, they retreated into the woods, while our soldiers,
 being weighed down with their arms, were unable to follow them, he
 ordered all his soldiers to accustom themselves to wear armour made
 of boiled leather, and to use lighter arms. Upon this the Welch were
 greatly alarmed, and submitted.”

 [79] Archæologia, vol. xxiv., p. 270.

 [80] _See_ Fenwick’s Introduction to the _Slogans of the North of
 England_, and the Notes to the Introduction.

 [81] “And all had their cognizances, so that each might know his
 fellow, and Norman might not strike Norman, nor Frenchman kill his
 countryman, by mistake.”

_Taylor’s Wace_, p. 172.

 [82] The Saxons as well as the Normans paid great attention to the
 opinions of the ladies, even upon martial subjects. Strutt says,
 they “would not go to battle or undertake any great expedition
 without consulting their wives, to whose advice they paid the
 greatest regard.” This excellent antiquary pays more regard to
 truth than gallantry when in the same sentence he adds, “They
 also superstitiously placed great faith in the neighing of
 horses.”--_Manners of the English_, vol i., p. 17.

 [83] “This standard ... was sumptuously embroidered with gold and
 precious stones, in the form of a man fighting.” Can Malmesbury have
 had in view here the description which Æschylus gives us of the shield
 of Polynices?

    “His well-orb’d shield he holds,
     New-wrought, and with double impress charged:
     _A warrior blazing all in golden arms_,

        *       *       *       *       *

     Such their devices.”

 [84] Florence of Worcester distinctly states that it was “contrary to
 the custom of the English to fight on horseback.”--_Bohn’s Ed._ p. 157.

 [85] Meyrick, vol. i., p. 27.

 [86] Akerman, in the Archæologia, vol. xxxiv.

 [87] A stream which enters the sea a few miles to the east of the
 river Orne, upon which the city of Caen is situated.

 [88] Roger de Hoveden, vol. i., 134. Ordericus Vitalis, vol. i., p.

 [89] Perhaps this is an elipsis for _ad litus Pevensæ_; more probably,
 however, these irregularities of construction are to be ascribed to
 the low state of Latinity at the period.

 [90] A stroke has probably been over the last A in
 _Hastinga_, so as to make it _Hastingam_, which the construction
 requires. _Raperentur_ seems to have been used as a deponent verb,
 contrary to classical usage.

 [91] This was not the first occasion on which a similar occurrence
 took place. The following passage bearing upon the subject may
 interest the reader:--“Thou sayest well Sancho (quoth Don Quixote),
 but I must tell thee that times are wont to vary and change their
 course; and what are commonly accounted omens by the vulgar, though
 not within the scope of reason, the wise will nevertheless regard as
 incidents of lucky aspect. Your watcher of omens rises betimes, and
 going abroad, meets a Franciscan friar, whereupon he hurries back
 again, as if a furious dragon had crossed his way. Another happens to
 spill the salt upon the table, and straightway his soul is overcast
 with the dread of coming evil: as if nature had willed that such
 trivial accidents should give notice of ensuing mischances. The wise
 man and good christian will not, however, pry too curiously into
 the counsels of heaven. Scipio, on arriving in Africa, stumbled as
 he leapt on shore; his soldiers took it for an ill omen, but he,
 embracing the ground, said, ‘Africa, thou canst not escape me--I have
 thee fast.’”--_Don Quixote_, Part II. chap. lviii.

 [92] It has been argued from the occurrence of AT
 instead of AD, and of CEASTRA for
 CASTRA, in these inscriptions, that the clerk who wrote
 them was an Englishman. It must, however, be borne in mind that the
 original Norman language, which had a common origin with the Saxon,
 was at the period of the Conquest spoken in comparative purity at
 Bayeux. In other parts of the duchy French prevailed.

 [93] It was my privilege when wandering over the ground rendered
 memorable by the battle of Hastings to enjoy the companionship of Mr.
 Lower, of Lewes. To his local knowledge, his extensive acquaintance
 with antiquarian science, and his friendly attention, I am largely

 [94] Lower on the Battle of Hastings, ‘Sussex Arch. Col.,’ vi. 18.

 [95] During the middle ages the English were much given to the
 irreverent use of this great name; so much so was this the case, that
 _Godamites_ became, in France, synonymous with English. Joan of Arc
 usually designates her enemies by this term.

 [96] Vol. xix., p. 206. Mr. Amyot does not profess to adhere strictly
 to the text of Gaimar, but has introduced into his translation some
 incidents mentioned by other writers.

 [97] On accompanying Mr. Lower to the spot, in January, 1853, I was
 satisfied of the correctness of his views.

 [98] Sussex Archæological Collections, vol. vi., p. 27.

 [99] There has been a discussion respecting the word _pueros_, some
 supposing that the parties thus addressed were young soldiers,
 inexperienced recruits. It is probable, however, that the word is
 equivalent to the phrase, “lads” among us, or the word “_boys_” in the
 lines which carried so much terror to the heart of James the Second,
 after he had seen a specimen of the stalwart youth which Cornwall

    “And must Trelawney die, and must Trelawney die?
     Then twenty thousand Cornish _boys_ will ask the reason why.”

 [100] Benoit de Saint-More. Taylor’s Wace, 193.

 [101] The special correspondent of _The Times_, writing from the
 Heights of Alma, Sep. 21st, 1854, says, “The attitudes of some of the
 dead were awful. One man might be seen resting on one knee, with the
 arms extended in the form of taking aim, the brow compressed, the lips
 clinched--the very expression of firing at an enemy stamped on the
 face and fixed there by death; a ball had struck this man in the neck.
 Physiologists or anatomists must settle the rest. Another was lying on
 his back with the same expression, and his arms raised in a similar
 attitude, the Minié musket still grasped in his hands undischarged.
 _Another lay in a perfect arch, his head resting on one part of the
 ground and his feet on the other, but his back raised high above
 it._--_The Times_, Oct. 11th, 1854. _See_ also Sir Charles Bell’s
 _Anatomy of Expression_, 3rd edition, p. 160.

 [102] M. A. Lower’s Battle Abbey Chronicle, p. 7.

 [103] Ibid.

 [104] The Tapestry represents the death of Harold as rapidly
 succeeding the infliction of the wound in his eye. The impression left
 by a perusal of Wace is, that at least an hour or two elapsed between
 the one event and the other. The diversity of statement between these
 authorities is probably more apparent than real. After Harold was
 wounded in so important an organ as the eye, it was impossible that he
 could long withstand the onset of William’s troops; his defeat, or, in
 other words, his death, was certain. However manfully Harold may have
 borne up under the inconvenience and pain of his wound, the artist
 of the Tapestry is logically correct in at once bringing us to the
 conclusion of the scene.

 [105] Ingulph’s Chronicle, p. 139.

 [106] Lower’s Chronicle of Battle Abbey, p. 11.

 [107] Sussex Archæological Collections, vol. 1., page 33.--For some
 years the public have been admitted to the Abbey grounds only on one
 day of the week, and that the day (Monday) most inconvenient to those
 who reside at a distance from Battle. Let us hope that henceforth no
 one respectfully requesting permission to muse upon the spot where the
 deed was done on which the modern history of the world has turned,
 will meet with a denial.

 [108] History of the Anglo-Saxons (European Library), p. 337.

 [109] Lingard’s Hist. Eng., vol. i., p. 313.

 [110] Vol. i., p. 487.

 [111] General Introduction to Domesday, vol. i. p. 311. In all
 probability William obtained the title of Conqueror from the Latin
 word _conquiro_, which in its legal acceptation signified to acquire.
 It is still used in this sense by the Scottish lawyers.

 [112] Saxon Chronicle, Bohn’s edition, p. 462.

 [113] Ingulph’s Chronicle, p. 140.

 [114] Henry of Huntingdon, vol. i. p. 216.

 [115] William of Malmesbury, p. 279.

 [116] _See_ Wright’s Biographia Britannica, vol. ii., p. 10.

 [117] Would not the United States of America do well to notice this?

 [118] Hodgson’s Northumberland, Vol. III., Part iii., pp. 3, 11.

 [119] Raine’s St. Cuthbert, p. 88.

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