The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 70 metres long and 50 centimetres tall, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 concerning William, Duke of Normandy.
It is set to be displayed in Britain after France agreed it could leave the country for the first time in 950 years. The two countries will also work together to produce a full English translation of the tapestry.
The Bayeux Tapestry chronicles the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, one of the most important battles in English history. It has rarely been moved, and never outside France.CreditCreditStéphane Maurice/Mairie de Bayeux, via Associated Press
Hartwig Fischer, the director of the British Museum, said in a statement, “This would be a major loan, probably the most significant ever from France to the U.K. It is a gesture of extraordinary generosity and proof of the deep ties that link our countries.”
Mr. Fischer did not confirm whether the Bayeux Tapestry would be displayed at the British Museum but said the institution would be “honoured and delighted” to show it.
It is on permanent display at the museum in Bayeux in Normandy but has previously been shown at other locations across France. Napoleon put it on display in Paris in 1804 when he was planning an invasion of England. It was briefly exhibited again in Paris during World War II, before being returned to Bayeux.
The tapestry opens with Harold, the Earl of Wessex, promising William of Normandy that he would support William's quest to inherit the throne of England, on the death of King Edward
The story then moves on to Edward's funeral, and Harold breaking his promise by accepting the crown.
On hearing the news, William decides to invade England and take the throne he believes to be his.
His army lands in East Sussex, and the rivals meet at the Battle of Hastings which ends in Harold's death.
It was a turning point in history as it ended the Anglo-Saxons' long reign of more than 600 years.
Historians have long debated the origins of the tapestry. The earliest written reference to it is from 1476, in an inventory from Bayeux Cathedral, but it is not known whether it was made in England or France.
According to the Reading Museum, there is evidence to suggest that the work was commissioned by William the Conqueror’s half-brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux, and made in Kent, in southern England.
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