The World’s Oldest Comic Strip – I recently went to France and had the great pleasure of going on a Viking river cruise on the Seine river.
We went by boat from Paris into the heart of Normandy, first to Vernon and then to the region’s capital at Rouen. From the boat, we went by bus on several excursions. One of our adventures was seeing what I like to call the “world’s oldest comic strip” – The Bayeaux Tapestry.
Why it is called tapestry when it is not, is a complex story. Suffice to say the “tapestry” is actually an embroidered cloth nearly 230 feet long and 20 inches tall. It depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.
The legend is that the “Tapestry” was embroidered by William’s Queen, Matilda of Flanders, along with her ladies-in-waiting stitched the story of her husband’s conquest of England. It is more likely that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William’s half-brother, and made in England—not Bayeux—in the 1070s.
Because it is embroidered, and not woven, that makes it technically not a tapestry.
I took some pictures and I hope I did not have the flash on because I later learned from an exhibit in another room that flash pictures can cause harm to the cloth.
There are a couple very nice videos on YouTube regarding the “Bayeux Embroidery”.
The Animated Bayeux Tapestry was created as a student project while at Goldsmiths College. Just as the historic original embroidery does, the animation depicts the lead up to the Norman Invasion of Britain in 1066. Starts about halfway through the original work at the appearance of Halley’s Comet and concludes at the Battle of Hastings. Marc Sylvan redid the soundtrack to include original music and sound effects. (4.5 minutes)
A complete guide to the story as depicted on the famous Bayeux Tapestry. There is a lot more to it than just the Battle of Hastings. (20+ minutes)