The Bayeux Tapestry is one of the great historical artefacts of the medieval period and provides an unparalleled visual reference for historians. Despite its name, it is technically not a tapestry (it is an embroidery) and almost certainly not from Bayeux (it is now believed to have been made in Canterbury, England). The 70-metre (231-foot) cloth is an artistic treasure. It tells the story, in great and gory detail, of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 by William, Duke of Normandy, better known now as ‘the Conqueror’, against a backdrop of political turmoil in Europe.
Believed to have been made within a few years of the invasion, it culminates in a bloody recreation of the Battle of Hastings at which Harold Godwinson, then king of England, is shown being killed by an arrow through the eye. The survival of the tapestry is one of its greatest feats having been very nearly cut up during the French Revolution, removed to Paris by Napoleon and taken once more by the Nazis during their occupation of France. In 2018 President Emmanuel Macron, against a backdrop of political turmoil in Europe, surprised many by promising that the tapestry would go on loan to the UK, the first time it left France.