The Sequel to the Battle of Hastings.

King William’s victory was not welcomed by the Saxon population but it would be have been surprising if it had been.  The next months were stormy and he was crowned king on Christmas Day, 1066 in a deliberately empty Westminster Abbey.  England was a country of separate areas and each one had its own Saxon government.  There were rebellions and after each one, King William confiscated land and gave it to his Norman supporters.  By the end of his 20 year reign, the countryside was owned and governed by Normans.  He introduced some very sensible laws.

Curious?  Look them up on Wikipedia.

He also built multiple castles and fortresses including the Tower of London.  Civilian building included St Albans Abbey and Winchester Cathedral.

King William moved back to Normandy. He was illiterate but made an attempt to learn Olde Englyshe.  He was too busy and he gave up.  He had 8 children who he married off all over Europe.  It is said that every European royal family is descended from King William.

If the Saxons had won the Battle of Hasting, King Harold would have been a HERO big time.  The Saxon nation seems to have been more peaceful than either the Vikings or the Normans.  It was also isolated and backward compared with the Normandy.  The Normans modernized it.

There were several factors that contributed to the Saxon defeat.  They were battle weary after Stamford Bridge.  Both the Viking and Saxon armies were largely foot soldiers.  The Saxons lost highly trained fighting men and there were injuries. Reading today tells me that the Saxons had horses which they rode to battle: but, they fought on foot.

Then, they had another major battle to fight and its location was long way from  Stamford Bridge.  The Norman army was rested, mounted on horseback, were well drilled and disciplined.  An example of superior technology winning the war.  King Harold made some strategical errors including having both his surviving brothers involved in the battle.  When all three were killed it left a leadership vacuum.

Consequences of William the Conqueror’s Victory at the Battle of Hastings.

The Animated Bayeux Tapestry

King William ordered a survey of the assets of England in 1086 primarily as a basis for taxation. The results were compiled into the Domesday Book. About the same time, Bishop Odo commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry.  This was to make sure that the Saxon population really did know who won the war.

Many scholars have studied the Bayeux Tapestry and many books written on the subject.  My reference was by Eric Maclagan C.B.E. and published in 1943.  I have owned this small book since I was a student at RSN.  As I looked at photos on the web, I have marveled at the artistic rendering of so many men, horses and scenes from everyday life.  The design is amazing in that there is an understandable order in each scene and a continuity between one scene and the next.

It all makes sense.  What does not make sense is a discrepancy between the design and drawing between the prequel scenes and the actual battle.  They all have a a life and energy to them but nothing prepares for the confusion and mayhem of the battle scenes.  The soldiers are larger than life and graphic in death.  Did the same artist draw the final scenes?  Whoever the artist was, he/she was as conversant with battle action as with everyday life.

I am going to raise a question that I have not seen anywhere in my reading.  The Tapestry definitely had an artist/designer.  The logical and graphic sequencing of events could not have been randomly stitched. But, there appears, to me, to be a different eye and hand portraying the battle scenes.

Go back and look at it again.  The battle scenes are graphic, chaotic and bloody.  Could one artist have portrayed the daily life and adventures of the 11th century and then changed his/her style for the battle?  One noticeable difference is that the faces in the early scenes are squarish or round and the bodies are normally proportioned. In the battle scenes, they are elongated and individual facial differences are less obvious.  Yes, I know that a man standing in the stirrups of his horse is tall.  The change in style seems to happen after the Normans army leaves its camp and continues on to the end of the Tapestry. (scenes 60 – 79).

Were there two artists?  Did the second artist quit or was he no longer available for some reason?

Go online and look at Bayeux Tapestry  Images.  I could not find a specific picture to include here.

The quality of the stitching is remarkable.  The stitchers retained the energy of the action which is palpable almost 1000 years later.  The main characters are recognizable and facial features are distinctive. Horses, often in a mass, are individually distinctive and that takes some doing.

If it really was Queen Mathilda and her ladies who stitched the Bayeux Tapestry, they did a wonderful job.  Embroidery was a profession in those days and if the best of their best stitched the Tapestry, I am dazzled by their prowess.

The stitchers would seem to have continued their work until they ran out of a design,

What do you think about the artist/s and design?

I do not know, but, I am wondering.

Tomorrow:  The Hastings Embroideries.

Unlike the Bayeux Tapestry which everyone has heard of, I bet you are unaware of these.




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