Bayeux Tapestry Meme Goodness + History!

Mental Floss has a brilliant overview of one of my favorite memes: the Bayeux Tapestry meme. I first came across the Bayaux Tapestry in college, and then I had no idea it held such hilarious possibility when brought to the Internet masses. I remember seeing a humorous take on the Bayeux on Fark years ago, and likely found it far funnier than most people, having studied it (medievalism win!). Still, Mental Floss’s article is pitch perfect.

Some quick facts about the Bayeux Tapestry:

– It measures 70 meters/230 feet long

– It was completed in the 1070s, likely within a decade of the Norman Invasion.

– It depicts the Norman Invasion of England, as well as other political events leading up to it

– Technically it’s embroidered cloth, not a tapestry. A tapestry is woven together as one piece, whereas an embroidery is embellished on top of cloth.

– The piece is chronological and reads much like a long comic book. Figures appear and reappear during the progress of the narrative throughout.

– While no one is certain who commissioned the work itself–possibilities include Bishop Odo, William the Conqueror’s brother; Queen Matilda, William’s wife; and Edith of Wessex–it’s generally accepted to be the work of renowned Anglo-Saxon seamsters.

– The thread is wool, the cloth is tabby-woven linen. The now-famous color pattern includes many local dyes, according to Wikipedia, in “shades of terracotta or russet, blue-green, dull gold, olive green, and blue, with small amounts of dark blue or black and sage green.”

– Haley’s comet makes an appearance, helping to date the piece, not to mention adding a sense of foreboding to the story.

– It is written in Latin, with Anglo-Saxon flavor here and there.

– A handful of mysteries surround the piece, not to mention theories explaining its true purpose. There are missing panels (making up about 7 yards of lost material) and panels near impossible to decipher, including one of a clergyman beating a woman. Throughout the cloth are marginalia, symbols and descriptions which are still difficult for historians to understand. Some have posited that there are underlying anti-Norman messages throughout, as well. Medieval conspiracy theories, ftw!

And now for the funny. As Mental Floss points out, you can even make your own at the Historic Tale Construction Kit, which may be my favorite new site.

[via Mental Floss, Wikipedia]


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