History of the Masterpiece (11th-21st Century)

The Bayeux Tapestry was displayed in different place between the 11th and the 21st Centuries.



To begin with,  the Bayeux Tapestry was probably displayed in different locations, churches and castles in Normandy and in England. Altough undoubtedly, it would have been brought fairly quickly to the cathedral of Bayeux. The first written mention of the Tapestry is found in the Inventory of the Cathedral Treasures, in 1476. At the time, it was displayed in the nave of the cathedral every year, for the Feast Day of the Relics (from 1st to 8th July). The Relics of Bayeux played a crucial role in the stroy told by the Tapestry. Harold swore fealty to William on the sacred relics of Bayeux, but later betrayed his oath, thus becoming a traitor in the eyes of the Normans.

During the French Revolution, the Tapestry featured in an inventory among books and other objects belonging to the cathedral, compiled by the Arts Commission. According to a well-established local tradition, it was almost destroyed but was saved by a lawyer, Léonard Lambert-Forestier. At the time when Napoleon was planning an invasion of England, in 1804, during the first French Empire, the Tapestry was taken to Paris to be displayed.

From 1842, the Tapestry was permanently on display, first in a room of the library on the place du Château (place de Gaulle) and in 1913 in the former Deanery. During the Second World War, it was the object of a German scientific study conducted by Herbert Jankuhn. In 1944, the Tapestry was exhibited in Paris for the second time and was then returned to Bayeux. Since 1983, it has been preserved in the former Seminary. 


Pierre Bouet and François Neveux
International experts on the Bayeux tapestry


Further reading:

The Bayeux Tapestry by Pierre Bouet and François Neveux
Hardback due out in October 2013, éditions Ouest France