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1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  790 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
This text presents a new reading of the Bayeux tapestry that radically alters our understanding of the events of 1066 and reveals the astonishing story of early Medieval Europe's greatest treasure.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Walker Books (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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May 27, 2007 Meredith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: medievalits or anyone who likes medieval history
Andrew Bridgeford takes a very thorough look at the events of 1066, which lead to the Norman Conquest of England. His main purpose of doing so is to explain the iconography of the Bayeaux Tapestry, challenging the long accepted interpretations of the embroidered tale. He comes up with some very interesting theories and clearly has done his research, but sometimes with 11th century history, you just can't prove things. Bridgeford runs into this problem at times. I think his ideas are very good an ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Carmen rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-history
I first saw pictures of this embroidery in 1966, when my grandmother used the cover and article of National Geographic to show me how learning embroidery could be a good thing. I vowed to go there some day, and I have. By reading this book, I learned that many of my previous misconceptions were untrue. I had thought it was made for the Bayeux Cathedral, and this was untrue. Reading the book gives you the chance to look at all the panels in such details, that are never allowed in Bayeux, as the p ...more
Sep 24, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Recommended to John by: Robertus
When the "Sopranos" ended last year, the show simply cut to black in the middle of a scene. Fans were outraged at the lack of resolution, but the producers explained that viewers were supposed to supply their own interpretation of what happened next. Clues to Tony Soprano's fate were sprinkled throughout the series, but the actual events, the definitive explanation, would always remain a point of conjecture. Maybe it's this unease with ambiguity that leads us to make histories, to get down on pa ...more
Apr 03, 2009 Allyson rated it liked it
I am hardly an expert on this period in history and some of the assumptions made in this book seemed like rather large leaps to me (though I suppose they might not actually be culturally-speaking), but even the less likely leaps just sort of added to the fun of the premise behind the book. I had only a vague understanding of the 1066 invasion of England but I walked away from this work with a greater and more thorough comprehension. I found it very readably interesting and easily understandable, ...more
Feb 04, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
I generally approach historical nonfiction with a little trepidation; I have found I don't know as much about history as I would like and am often a little befuddled when names of people and places are thrown around willy-nilly and I am expected to know who they are and why they're important.

In this case, I was delighted to find that my lack of expertise did not altogether hinder my enjoyment of a pretty impressive analysis of the Bayeux tapestry. I enjoyed the style of writing (simple yet scho
Jul 03, 2010 Myles rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
A really interesting and fun history read that one can be confident in. Bridgeford has extensive end notes that explain his reasoning and plausible assumptions - and is honest when the historical record is blank! Which is refreshing when so many historians simply make up something and expect the reader to take it as gospel. His bibliography is thorough as well and referenced frequently without becoming distracting.

Bridgeford is convincing in his argument about the subversive elements of the Baye
Aug 20, 2010 Ljonz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every few years I revitalize my interest in the Bayeaux Tapestry, English and French history, and needlework, by reading books about the Tapestry and looking at it closely.
Also found a book at the libary with large, clear pictures of the entire Tapestry. Also read A Needle in the Right Hand of God around the same time. Historians study the Tapestry for clues about daily life (and war) in medievel times, and so can we! I hope to go see it in person someday. The original is on display in Normand
Cassie Rodgers
Mar 05, 2011 Cassie Rodgers rated it liked it
Three and a half stars would be more appropriate, but I want to be stingy with my stars because I don't want to come across as easy to please...
1066, the year, is extremely significant in world history and this tapestry is one of the few remaining contemporary pieces to not only give us insight as to what happened, but also the thoughts and feelings of those who were directly affected by the Norman Invasion. Affects that will continue to linger for many years to come. The topic is exceedingly in
Feb 02, 2013 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Therese Allen, Sandee Jaeger , Cindy Martin
What a wealth of information this book had written in to it! The Bayeux Tapestry itself, has quite a story it could tell, about all the places it has been throughout history. It s truly by the grace of God that it is still here to this day, to let us "read the story of the year 1066, in beautiful vivid color stitches, on linen." While not a tapestry, in all actuality it was carefully thought out, and lovingly stitched by hand.

We also learn, as we read along that the story is not necessarily the
Nov 08, 2011 BarbaraNathalie rated it really liked it
I happily stumbled onto this fascinating look at textile as history. The tapestry is a very long, horizontal piece of embroidery that depicts events relating to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. This event changed the course of history. However, what interests me is not the battle itself; I'm most curious about those people who put in the hours to make the tapestry. Did they make and dye their own thread? What plants did they use? Were they monks or nuns? Whom was it made for?

The history of human
Nov 23, 2011 Oana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to the author for introducing me to the tapestry, its history, the history of the Norman conquest and the fun detective work to untangle all the mysteries. For example, I never knew that William the Conqueror's men swept through northern England on a wave of terrorization and just how destructive their policies were to generations of Anglo-Saxons. I also didn't know that Harold, days before before he met his end at the Battle of Hastings, thoroughly beat up the Vikings.

I thoroughly enj
Dec 22, 2011 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been fascinated with the Bayeux Tapestry since I was a kid. This book takes some of the history of the origins of the tapestry and posits that it was created not by pro-Norman artists, but by a pro-English artist who inserted subtle digs and clues that support an English telling of William the Conquerors exploits in England.

The first half of the book is a pane-by-pane look at the tapestry and some of the very subtle highlights in detail. The second half of the book looks at possible origins
Jan 22, 2012 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Overall an okay book. It talked about a part of history that I didn't know much about, so that was interesting. I didn't care much for the author's style. He emphasized over and over that the Bayeux tapestry was not pro-Norman as is popularly believed, which got a bit annoying after a while because although he presented information to support his statement, I don't think we can ever really know the exact truth about anything that happened a thousand years ago. A lot of his proof seemed more like ...more
Nick Johnson
Feb 11, 2012 Nick Johnson rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 22, 2012 carl rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, history
Subversive art: Banksy? duChamp? How about the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066? At least those are the thoughts of Mr Andrew Bridgeford in this title.

This was a terrifically fun read. The author's prose is as enjoyable as the story. Mr Bridgeford details not only the accepted versions of Bayeux interpretation, but at the end even offers other possible conclusions in the final chapter to the one he gives throughout the book.

Tracing the lives of William the Conquer
Warren Watts
Apr 25, 2012 Warren Watts rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Being rather ignorant of the history or significance of the Battle of Hastings, I had high hopes for this book. Ultimately, I was disappointed.

In defense of the title, it is subtitled "The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry", but I was expecting more history and less speculation on the part of the author.

Don't misunderstand; the book is filled with lots of historical background on the movers and shakers of the period, but the author's main purpose for including the background material was to
The most famous tapestry in the world isn't actually a tapestry at all, but somehow, "The Bayeux Wool-Embroidered-on-Linen" doesn't have the same kick, does it?

This almost millennial work of art resides in the city of Bayeux in Normandy. Over 230 feet long and approx. 1.6 feet wide, the tapesty is a vibrant, colorful, stylistic representation of the events leading up to and including the Battle of Hastings in 1066, in which William the Conqueror envaded Anglo-Saxon England, defeated and killed
Aug 26, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An analysis of the Bayeux Tapestry that calls into question the current theories about who created it and why. The author's tone is a trifle self-congratulatory at times ("No one in a thousand years has ever considered how important this detail is...until now!") but in the end the main argument is not about the message of the Tapestry, but a declaration that we still have so much to explore and learn from historical artifacts like it, and that's an argument I can get behind. Also, since I knew n ...more
Feb 26, 2013 Therese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in French/English history
Recommended to Therese by: Marilyn

A couple of months ago I had never even heard of this Tapestry or Bayeux for that matter. I had heard of William the Conqueror and the year 1066, and that is all I knew. The fact that there was this fabric (it really was a piece of embroidery not a tapestry) that had survived for nearly 1000 years is beyond my comprehension. It tells of the events happening in the last days of King Harold's reign over England, the Battle of Hastings, and the ascent of William to the throne. The research for
Jamison Shuck
Jun 08, 2013 Jamison Shuck rated it liked it
I really didn't know too much about the Bayeux Tapestry before reading this book. Its broken into two parts basically, the author goes scene by scene explaining what is happening in the Tapestry and providing more background information. Then he spends several chapters hypothesizing over who made the Tapestry, why, and for who. He also looks at the 4 obscure named characters portrayed in the tapestry. Some of his arguments I found solid, for example that the Tapestry has an anti-Norman, pro-Engl ...more
Aug 03, 2013 Maria rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look at the 1,000 year old piece linen that posits the idea that the tapestry actually tells the tale of the Battle of Hastings from the English point of view and not the Norman as has been thought through the centuries. That is survives at all is a miracle having come through all of the wars, bloodshed, conquests, etc., of the past millenium.

The book dissects each panel of the tapestry and in turn the reader feels as if you were there on the battlefield. It untangles the massive
Ellen Ekstrom
Aug 22, 2013 Ellen Ekstrom rated it really liked it
The Bayeux Tapestry is known to many as a footnote to William, Duke of Normandy's conquest of England; it is a record of the Norman Conquest and that's where we leave it. Andrew Bridgeford's book, "The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry" reveals what could have been another story: a subversive, pro-English commentary on the events of 1066. Embroidered in threads of blue, green, scarlet, yellow, the artist who designed the hanging (for that's what the tapestry really is - a long and strip of e ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it
A very good read and one of those "everything you know is wrong" sort of books which challenges the common assumptions. Bridgeford posits that, fr fro being the work of "Norman victory propaganda" it has long been thought to be, the Tapestry is possibly fraught with many hidden messages which argue it to be rather a cry from inside England, directed toward non-Norman French nobles and arguing that William I's claims of presumption of the throne were themselves based on lies. It's a really good r ...more
Garick Black
Dec 03, 2013 Garick Black rated it it was ok
To start with, this book was well researched and Bridgeford knew his subject. The book read more like a report, rather than a work of popular history. If you enjoy reading a new and defended viewpoint, it would probably be a good read. I did not like that there was not a narrative to the story. Instead there was an overview of what was displayed on the embroidery, and then separate histories of who was depicted and why. Bridgeford will make his claims as to his interpretation, and then submit ev ...more
Feb 09, 2014 Scott rated it really liked it
A fascinating read providing insights into the details surrounding the Norman conquest. As you might expect for a book that poses new theories about a 950-year-old event about which there are limited surviving contemporary documents, much of the book is based on guesswork and conjecture, some theories better supported than others. A few times too often, a hypothesis is posited without support, then idea and conjecture upon theoretical premise is stacked upon a hughly fragile foundation, but it w ...more
Andrew Bridgeford sets out to change the popular opinion of the Bayeux Tapestry and being a Norman celebration of the conquest of England. In stead he proposes that it actually tells the story of the conquest from an English point of view. This he bases on a largely subjective 'reading' of the scenes in the tapestry. I can see, how some of the things he says make a certain amount of sense, but to he did not convince me, that his was of interpreting the tapestry is the only one and the true one. ...more
David R.
Jul 01, 2014 David R. rated it really liked it
Bridgeford is a gifted amateur historian who raises interesting question about the meaning and sponsorship of the famous Bayeux Tapestry. Despite generations' of belief that the work celebrates the Norman Conquest of England, his theory is that the work was commissioned by a non-Norman and includes a coded message that is antithetical to the Norman claim on the English Crown. These are astonishing and very new conclusions. I'm concerned that there is an awful lot of assumption-making especially ...more
Sep 01, 2015 Nina added it
Thix book was very interesting. I knew nothing of the origin of the Bayeaux Tapestry. The author dissects each panel, describes the illustrations and points out the many layers of meaning possible. The accepted idea that it celebrates the Norman Conquest of England is challenged. The book presents a look at the complex system of politcal allinances existing at the time. Their fluidity can have both benficial and disastrous consequences that affect generations. I did not fully appreciate this piv ...more
Sep 08, 2015 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, history
Starts off interesting, soon gets tedious.
Gave up after a few chapters.
Nathan Albright
Sep 07, 2016 Nathan Albright rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge
This is the sort of book that is perfectly made for a reader like myself. On one level this book is a stellar piece of art history [1] examining one of the most famous artifacts of the world, the Bayeux tapestry, one of those artifacts that is so well known that people think mistakenly that everything about it is known and has been said. One another level, this is a history about the Norman conquest [2] and the way that English society was drastically affected by that conquest in ways that reson ...more
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