Bayeux

Perhaps my favorite town of any we visited was Bayeux. It was a charming place with medieval houses, a water mill, and a small park just out of the town’s center. I enjoyed our hour to walk around, though I did not get to see the market which others visited. My favorite part of the town was the cathedral. It was in the gothic style, with different patterned tracery across every window, elaborate stonework and soaring ceilings. It rivaled even the ones we saw in Paris.

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In the afternoon we saw the Bayeux tapestry itself, depicting the Battle of Hastings from a Norman perspective. I was eager to see the tapestry, mainly because of my interest in the year 1066: the first recorded appearance of the Halley’s comet, the Battle of Hastings, and the start of a transition of the English language all occurred within that time. It was extraordinary to consider that the tapestry was older than our language as we know it: the Norman invasion introduced French to the Germanic language of the Anglo-Saxons, marking the transition from Old English into Middle English. With my fascination in etymology, I was more than eager to see the story behind this linguistic revolution.

Although I knew that the tapestry was incredibly long before arriving in the gallery, I could not believe how many details and micro-stories fit together to weave the tale. Sewn figures voyaged, ruled, and conquered, each scene surrounded by multicolored depictions of the landmarks, animal counterparts, and geography that featured in the chapter. Although the tapestry’s artwork displayed the classic symbolic style of the Middle-ages, I was surprised at how accurately the horses were portrayed, as well as the choice of colors used in the tapestry. When I reached the end of the cloth, I felt that I had voyaged across the sea of threads from France to England and back in the company of William the Conquerer.

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