For any writer of medieval romance set at the time of the Norman Conquest of England, the Bayeux Tapestry is an invaluable resource. I studied it carefully while writing the first book of my series The Montbryce Legacy. In Conquering Passion, my hero, Rambaud (Ram) de Montbryce, is given the responsibility by William the Duke of Normandy of building the invasion fleet.
I found it incongruous that the launch of the fleet was held up for six weeks because of unfavourable winds. Surely if the Normans were descendents of the Viking Norsemen they would simply have rowed across the Channel. But no, a close examination of the tapestry clearly shows there were no oarsmen, only men holding the tillers and the wind filling the square sails.
One of the reasons the Normans were ultimately victorious is that they had mounted troops. While it may be difficult to believe that hundreds of horses were transported on these relativley crude longboats, that too is clearly shown in the tapestry.
The tapestry, which is actually an embroidery, was completed in England by Anglo-Saxon artists who were well known for their embroidery skills. It was sent to Bayeux where William the Conqueror's half brother, Eude (Odo) was building a cathedral. He was Bishop of Bayeux and had fought alongside William in the Battle of Hastings.
The tapestry details the reason for the invasion-Harold Godwinson's "stealing" of the throne of England after the death of Edward the Confessor.
My latest release, Defiant Passion, tells the story of the coming of the Normans from the Celtic viewpoint of the Welsh resistance to Norman rule. Many readers have suggested that the villain-turned-hero Rhodri from Conquering Passion is worthy of his own story. So I gave him his own series, entitled The Sons of Rhodri. Defiant Passion is Book One, and Dark and Bright (coming soon) will tell the story of Rhodri's oldest son, Rhys. Readers met Rhys briefly in A Man of Value.
The Conqueror's insistence on a record glorifying and justifying his invasion of England has left us with a tremendously rare glimpse into a medieval event that completely changed the course of history.
I hope you enjoy this nifty animated version of the Tapestry where history comes to life.
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