The Bayeux Tapestry: Embroidering History with Alexander Wilson

The Bayeux Tapestry: Embroidering History with Alexander Wilson


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Many of us have heard of the famous Bayeux Tapestry and 1066, but what is the real story behind the unique masterpiece and the momentous events of that year? This conversation looks to unravel both the history and the mystery behind this brilliant weave, with a local expert based in Normandy.

On the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ register since 2007, the almost 1000-year-old Bayeux Tapestry is actually an embroidery. Around 70 meters long and 20 inches wide, it is a long storyboard which tells the story of William Duke of Normandy’s conquest of England, culminating spectacularly in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Commissioned by William’s half-brother, Bishop Odo, to be displayed in his spectacular new Cathedral in Bayeux, it tells the history from that of the victor’s standpoint: it is a work of propaganda designed to lend legitimacy to William the Conqueror’s seizure of the English throne.

Beyond the narrative, it is an extraordinary work of art and a source of inspiration even today. At the same time, it gives amazing historical detail on the nitty-gritty of medieval life, from food through shipbuilding to warfare. This talk will explore these different aspects, looking to put the Bayeux Tapestry into its historical context and to delve into some of its mysteries. Including the fascinating story of its very survival through centuries of upheaval and war. Led by Alex Wilson, local guide and historian who lives nearby, this Context Conversation will also hopefully entice participants to include Bayeux and its unique masterpiece in their next visit to Normandy.

Photo credit: Wiki Commons

Alex Wilson, a History First from Oxford, has been living and working in France for 35 years. After running his own publishing company, he has been guiding in Normandy (and for Context) for the last ten years. While his interests extend from William the Conqueror through to the post-War reconstruction, his main focus is on WW2 and the Battle of Normandy.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 74 reviews
92%
(68)
5%
(4)
1%
(1)
1%
(1)
0%
(0)
M
Mary-Anne Rayburn (Portland, US)
The Bayeux Tapestry: Embroidery History with Alexander Wilson

The program was excellent. Mr. Wilson brought life to history- not only scenes in the linen but the cast of characters who are the focus of the story. Mr. Wilson was more than a lecturer but offered insight and understated humor to explain and teach. I only wish there was more time in the seminar to look at the many other panels that comprise the “Tapestry”. I hope to view it in person in 2022.

J
Janet James (Bloomington, US)
Highest Marks!

Mr. Wilson made an extraordinary presentation. He spoke knowledgeably with passion, and warmth; he communicated a genuine love of “teaching the tapestry” to an audience ranging from trained art historians, medievalists, enthusiastic tourists, and armchair learners. It was a totally delightful, illuminating experience. I could hardly wait to assemble my own reading list and podcasts to continue my own journey.

A
Angelika H. (Lysaker, NO)
Bayeux Tapestry

This is an excellent talk about the Bayeux Tapestry by an enthusiastc lecturer. It covers the historic context, scenes shown on the tapestry, how it survived through time and more. It makes you curious to see the tapestry and learn even more about it. I will certainly listen to the podcast Alexander mentioned.

H
Harriett Michael (San Rafael, US)
Amazing Tapestry that isn’t!

Alexander Wilson was such a good presenter that when I looked at the time while taking photos on my phone, I was surprised that it had been more than an hour. I thought ,Oh, No, it’s almost over!!”
The slides and explanations were marvelous.

J
James Wright (Vancouver, CA)
Ambiguities vs. certainties

The instructor really knows his stuff. I appreciated the extensive context he provided, and his going "cel to cel" explaining the illustrations and the storyline. I also liked his delving into the ambiguity of the oath and various incidents and their potential explanations, as well as the French vs English interpretations.

Customer Reviews

Based on 74 reviews
92%
(68)
5%
(4)
1%
(1)
1%
(1)
0%
(0)
M
Mary-Anne Rayburn (Portland, US)
The Bayeux Tapestry: Embroidery History with Alexander Wilson

The program was excellent. Mr. Wilson brought life to history- not only scenes in the linen but the cast of characters who are the focus of the story. Mr. Wilson was more than a lecturer but offered insight and understated humor to explain and teach. I only wish there was more time in the seminar to look at the many other panels that comprise the “Tapestry”. I hope to view it in person in 2022.

J
Janet James (Bloomington, US)
Highest Marks!

Mr. Wilson made an extraordinary presentation. He spoke knowledgeably with passion, and warmth; he communicated a genuine love of “teaching the tapestry” to an audience ranging from trained art historians, medievalists, enthusiastic tourists, and armchair learners. It was a totally delightful, illuminating experience. I could hardly wait to assemble my own reading list and podcasts to continue my own journey.

A
Angelika H. (Lysaker, NO)
Bayeux Tapestry

This is an excellent talk about the Bayeux Tapestry by an enthusiastc lecturer. It covers the historic context, scenes shown on the tapestry, how it survived through time and more. It makes you curious to see the tapestry and learn even more about it. I will certainly listen to the podcast Alexander mentioned.

H
Harriett Michael (San Rafael, US)
Amazing Tapestry that isn’t!

Alexander Wilson was such a good presenter that when I looked at the time while taking photos on my phone, I was surprised that it had been more than an hour. I thought ,Oh, No, it’s almost over!!”
The slides and explanations were marvelous.

J
James Wright (Vancouver, CA)
Ambiguities vs. certainties

The instructor really knows his stuff. I appreciated the extensive context he provided, and his going "cel to cel" explaining the illustrations and the storyline. I also liked his delving into the ambiguity of the oath and various incidents and their potential explanations, as well as the French vs English interpretations.