The ‘Other’ Tapestry and the Battle of Hastings

Wondering how? …. Ideas from Battle

It was only a matter of time before the ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ Prestonpans Tapestry project looked at the other great memorial addressing usurpers and rightful accession to the English throne of William the Conqueror – Battle Abbey.

The Abbey was built as penance by William at the command of the Pope, and of course it survived and thrived until Henry VIII took his own path away from Rome in 1537. Today the site boast the Abbey School and a comprehensive interpretation of the battlefield itself, on which the Abbey was constructed. The spot where King Harold the Usurper fell is at the heart of the Abbey ruins.

View the English Heritage 940th Anniversary Re-enactment HERE

Most extraordinarily, English Heritage which manages the battlefield, has chosen to use the Bayeux Tapestry as the basis for its video presentation to visitors. It also offers a fine stock of Bayeux memorabilia in its bookshop, not least Carola Hicks excellent study of the fate of the tapestry [known earlier as La Taspisserie de la Reine Mathilde – William’s wife] ever since it was embroidered in the 11th century …. possibly in Canterbury some would argue, but most likely in France at the behest of Bishop Odin William’s brother-in-law to decorate his new cathedral in Bayeux on its consecration.

Carola Hicks’ fascinating study [The Bayeux Tapestry, 2006, Chatto & Windus] explores inter alia how Napoleon I sought to leverage his notions of Imperial grandeur by bringing the tapestry to Paris for exhibition at the start of the 19th century, and the vaudeville that ensued – unsurpisingly at the Vaudeville Theatre itself! In those days the tapestry was formally known as La Tapisserie de la Reine Matilde. Then much later, mid 20th century, she tells of Heinrich Himmler’s Nazi ambition to take the tapestry away after the Allies landed in Normandy – frustrated only by Bletchley Park’s enigma code crackers who alerted the local curators to spirit it away before the SS arrived.

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Filed under Prestoungrange, Scottish History

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