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and other ancient remains of Pevenscy, and a little to the right the bold cliffs and sloping downs of Hastings.
As day dawned, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, a half-brother of Duke William, celebrated mass in the field on a portable altar, and gave his benediction to the troops, being armed the while in a coat of mail, which he wore under his episcopal rochet; and when the mass and the blessing were over, he mounted a very large and white war-horse, took a lance in his hand, and marshalled his brigade of cavalry. William rode a fine Spanish horse, which a rich Norman had brought him on his return from a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Iago in Galicia: he wore suspended round his neck some of those relics upon which Harold had sworn; the pride of the Norman nobility were formed in column behind him; and the standard blessed by the pope was carried at his side by one Tonstain, surnamed “the White,” who accepted the honourable but dangerous office after two Norman barons had declined it. Before the onslaught, the duke, from the back of his Spanish steed, harangued the collected host, telling them that a great booty was before them, and that if they could conquer this land, they should have it all in lots among them. Then Taillefer, a gigantic Norman, who was minstrel, juggler, and champion, spurred his horse to the front of the van, and sung with a loud voice the popular ballads which immortalized the valour of Charlemagne and Roland, and all that flower of chivalry that fought in the great fight of Roncesvalles ; and as Taillefer sang he performed fcats with his sword, throwing it into the air with great force with one hand, and catching it as it fell with the other. The Normans repeated the burden of his song, or cried “ Dieu aide ! Dieu aide !” This accomplished champion craved permission to strike the first blow : he ran one Saxon through the body, and threw a second to the ground; but in attacking a third, he was himself mortally wounded; and having sung his last war-song, he crossed himself and was at peace for ever. The Saxon host remained in their position on the ridge of a hill, fortified by trenches and palisades : they were marshalled after the fashion of the Danes, shield against shield, presenting an impenetrable front to the enemy's lauces ; and in response to the “Dieu aide!" or "God is our help!” of the Normans, they shouted, “ Christ's rood ! The holy rood!” According to ancient privilege, the brave men of Kent stood in the first line, and the burgesses of London formed the body-guard of the sovereign, and were drawn up close round the royal standard. At the foot of this standard stood bold Harold, with his two stout brothers, Gurth and Leofwin, and a few of the noblest and bravest thanes of all England.
Many were the checks and reverses, and fearful the losses sustained by the invaders. At one term the pride of the Norman cavalry were driven pell-mell into a decp trench which had been artfully covered over and concealed by the Saxons, and in which men and horses perished in great numbers : and at this disastrous moment the cry was spread that the duke himself was slain, and a panic and hcadlong flight was begun. William, whose horse had been killed, but who was himself unhurt, mounted a fresh steed, got before the fugitives, and endeavoured to stop them, first by threatening them and striking them with his lance, and then by uncovering his face and head, and crying, Here I am ! Look at me! I am still alive, and will conquer by God's help!” At last, near upon six o'clock of the evening, when the battle had lasted nine hours, and when the sun was setting in the sea beyond the headland of Beachy Head, victory alighted upon the proud crest of the Norman. Harold was shot through the brain by a random arrow, and the foe made a dash and hemmed in the spot, exerting themselves in the most desperate manner to seize the royal Saxon banner. Robert Fitz Ernest had almost grasped it when a Saxon battle-axe laid him low for ever. Twenty Norman knights of name then undertook the task, and this attempt succeeded after ten of their number had perished. The Saxon standard was then lowered, and the consecrated banner sent by the pope from Rome was raised in its stead, in sign of victory. Gurth and Leofwin, the brothers of Harold, died before the standard was taken, and all the hill-side where it stood was covered thick with the Saxon dead and dying. William himself had lost not one but three horses that were killed under him, and at one moment he was well nigh laid prostrate by a blow struck upon his steel cap by a Saxon knight.
Scenes of the most striking kind followed closely upon the battle of Hastings. Before leaving Normandy, William had caused a muster-roll to be drawn up, specifying the names and quality of all his followers. The morning after the battle all those who survived it were drawn up in line, and this muster-roll was called over. To a fourth of the names no answer was returned ; and among the missing, who were all dead, were many of the noblest lords and bravest knights of Normandy. Those who had been more fortunate gathered round the Duke, and, with eager looks and their swords and lance-heads yet wet with the blood of the conquered, demanded possession of the houses and lands of the ns. A new roll was prepared, on which were inscribed the names of all the noblemen and gentlemen who had survived ; and this roll was deposited in Battle Abbey, which, in the accomplishment of a solemn vow, the Conqueror afterwards erected on the hill which Harold had occupied and so gallantly defended. The high altar of this abbey church stood on the very spot where the standard of the last of our Saxon kings had floated.
The aged mother of Harold, who lost three brave sons in the battle of Hastings, offered its weight in gold for the dead body of the king. Two monks, who were allowed by William to search for the body, were unable to distinguish it among the heaps of the slain, who had all been stripped naked by the Norman soldiery ; but the monks sept for a beautiful young Saxon lady to whom Harold had been fondly attached, and the fair Editha- “the swan-necked” as she is called by some of the chroniclers—came to that scene of slaughter and horror, and went groping and peering with weeping and half-blinded eyes among the dead, nor ceased her search until she found the disfigured body of King Harold. The body was conveyed to Waltham Abbey, on the banks of the river Lea, a house and a country which he had much loved while alive. He was there honourably interred, the Waltham monks putting over his tomb the simple inscription “Here lies the unfortunate Harold !"
C. KNIGHT. The most extraordinary memorial of that eventful period of transition, which saw the descendants of the old Saxon conquerors of Britain swept from their power and their possessions, and their places usurped by a swarm of adventurers from tho shores of Normandy, is a work not of stone or brass, not of writing and illumination more durable than stone or brass, but a roll of needlework, which records the principal events which preceded and accompanied the Conquest, with a minuteness and fidelity which leave no reasonable doubt of its being a contemporary production. This is the celebrated Bayeux Tapestry. When Napoleon contemplated the invasion of England in 1803, he caused this invaluable record to be removed from Bayeux, and to be exhibited in the National Museum at Paris; and then the French players, always ready to seize upon a popular subject, produced a little drama in which they exhibited Matilda, the wife of the Conqueror, sitting in her lonely tower in Normandy, whilst her husband was fighting in England, and thus recording, with the aid of her needlewomen, the mighty acts of her hero, portrayed to the life in this immortal worsted-work. But there is a more affecting theory of the
accomplishment of this labour than that told in the French vaudeville. The women of England were celebrated all over Europe for their work in embroidery; and when the husband of Matilda ascended the throne of England, it is reasonably concluded that the skilful daughters of the land were retained around the person of the queen. They were thus employed to celebrate their own calamities. But there was nothing in this tapestry which told a tale of degradation. There is no delineation of cowardly flight or abject submission. The colours of the threads might have been dimmed with the tears of the workers, but they would not have had the deep pain of believing that their homes were not gallantly defended. In this great invasion and conquest, as an old historian has poetically said, “was tried by the great assise of God's judgment in battle the right of power between the English and Norman nations--a battle the most memorable of all others; and, howsoever miserably lost, yet most nobly fought on the part of England." There was nothing in this tapestry to encourage another invasion eight centuries later. In one of the compartments of the tapestry were represented men gazing at a meteor or comet, which was held to presage the defeat of the Saxon Harold. A meteor had appeared the south of France, at the time of the exhibition of the tapestry in 1803; and the mountebank Napoleon proclaimed that the circumstances were identical.
The tapestry, having served its purpose of popular delusion, was returned to its original obscurity. It had previously been known to Lancelot and Montfaucon, French antiquaries; and Dr. Ducarel, in 1767, printed a description of it, in which he stated that it was annually hung up round the nave of the church of Bayeux on St. John's day. During the last thirty years this ancient work has been fully described, and its date and origin discussed. Above all, the Society of Antiquaries rendered a most valuable service to the world, by causing a complete set of coloured fac-simile drawings to be made by an accomplished artist, Mr. Charles Stothard, which have since been published in the Vetusta Monumenta.'
In the Hôtel of the Prefecture at Bayeux is now preserved this famous tapestry. In 1814, so little was known of it in the town where it had remained for so many centuries, that Mr. Hudson Gurney was coming away without discovering it, not being aware that it went by the name of the “ Toile de St. Jean.” It was coiled round a windlass ; and drawing it out at leisure over a table, he found that it consisted of “a very long piece of brownish linen cloth, worked with woollen thread of different colours, which are as bright and distinct, and the letters of the superscriptions as legible, as if of yesterday.” The roll is twenty inches broad, and two hundred and fourteen feet in length. Mr. Gurney has some sensible remarks upon the internal evidence of the work being contemporaneous with the Conquest. In the buildings portrayed there is not the the trace of a pointed arch ; there is not an indication of armorial bearings, properly so called, which would certainly have been given to the fighting knights had the needlework belonged to a later age ; and the Norman banner is invariably Argent, a cross Or in a border Azure, and not the latter invention of the Norman leopards. Mr. Gurney adds, “ It may be remarked, that the whole is worked with a strong outline ; that the clearness and relief are given to it by the variety of the colours.” The likenesses of individuals are preserved throughout. The Saxons invariably wear moustaches ; and William, from his erect figure and manner, could be recognised were there no superscriptions. Mr. Charles Stothard, who made the drawings of the tapestry which have been engraved by the Society of Antiquities, communicates some interesting particulars in a letter written in 1819. He adds to Mr. Gurney's account of its character as a work of art, that "there is no attempt at light and shade, or perspective, the want of which is substituted by the use of different coloured worsteds. We observe this in the off-legs of the horses, which are distinguished alone from the near-legs by
being of different colours. The horses, the hair, and mustachios, as well as the eyes and features of the characters, are depicted with all the various colours of green, blue, red, &c., according to the taste or caprice of the artist.
This may be easily accounted for, when we consider how few colours composed their materials.”
The first of the seventy-two compartments into which the roll of needlework is divided, is inscribed “Edwardus Rex.” The crowned king, seated on a chair of state, with a sceptre, is given audience to two persons in attendance; and this is is held to represent Harold departing for Normandy. The second shows Harold, and his attendants with hounds, on a journey. He bears the hawk on his hand, the distinguishing mark of nobility. The inscription purports that the figures represent Harold, Duke of the English, and his soldiers, journeying to Bosham. The third is inscribed “Ecclesia,” and exhibits a Saxon church, with two bending figures about to enter. The fourth compartment represents Harold embarking; and the fifth shows him on his voyage. The sixth is his coming to anchor previous to disembarking on the coast of Normandy. The seventh and eight compartments exhibit the seizure of Harold by the Count of Ponthieu. The ninth shows Harold remonstrating with Guy, the Count, upon his unjust seizure.
The compartments from ten to twenty-five, inclusive, exhibit various circumstances connected with the sojourn of Harold at the court of William. Mr. Stothard has justly observed, “That whoever designed this historical record was intimately acquainted with whatever was passing on the Norman side, is evidently proved by that minute attention to familiar and local circumstances evinced in introducing, solely in the Norman party, characters certainly not essential to the great events connected with the story of the work.” The twenty-sixth compartment represents. Harold swearing fidelity to William, with each hand op a shrine of relics. All the historians appear to be agreed that Harold did take an oath to William to support his claims to the crown of England, whatever might have been the circumstances under which that oath was extorted from him. The twenty-seventh compartment exhibits Harold's return to England; and the twenty-eighth shows him on his journey after landing. The twenty-ninth compartment has an inscription purporting that Harold comes to Edward the King. The thirtieth shows the funeral procession of the deceased Edward to Westminster Abbey, a hand out of heaven pointing to that building as a monument of his piety. The inscription says, “ Here the body of Edward the King is borne to the church of St. Peter the Apostle.” The thirty-first and thirty-second compartments exhibit the sickness and death of the Confessor. The thirty-third shows the crown offered to Harold. The thirtyfourth presents us Harold on the throne, with Stigant the Archbishop. Then comes the compartment representing the comet already mentioned ; and that is followed by one showing William giving orders for the building of ships for the invasion of England. We have then compartments, in which men are cutting down trees, building ships, dragging along vessels, and bearing arms and armour. The forty-third has an inscription, “ Here they draw a car with wine and arms.” After a compartment with William on horseback, we have the fleet on its voyage. The inscription to this recounts that he passes the sea with a great fleet, and comes to Pevensey. Three other compartments show the disembarkation of horses, the hasty march of cavalry, and the seizure and slaughter of animals for the hungry invaders. The forty-ninth compartment bears the inscription “ This is Wadard.” Who this personage on horseback, thus honoured, could be, was a great puzzle, till the name was found in Domesday-Book as a holder of land in six English counties, under Odo; Bishop of Bayeux, the Conqueror's half-brother. This is one of the circumstances exhibiting the minute knowledge of the designers of this needlework. The fiftieth and fifty-first compartments present us the cooking and feasting of the Norman
army. We have then the dining of the chiefs ; the Duke about to dine, whilst Odo blesses the food; and the Duke sitting under a canopy. The fifty-fifth shows him holding a banner, and giving orders for the construction of a camp at Hastings.
Six other compartments show us the burning of a house with firebrands, the march out of Hastings, the advance to the battle, and the anxious questioning by William of his spies and scouts as to the approach of the army of Harold. The sixty-third presents a messenger announcing to Harold that the army of William is near at hand. The sixty-fourth bears the inscription, that Duke William addresses his soldiers that they should prepare themselves boldly and skilfully for the battle. We have then six compartments, each exhibiting some scene of the terrible conflict. The seventy-first shows the death of Harold. The tapestry abruptly ends with the figures of Aying soldiers.
We have probably been somewhat too minute in the description of this remarkable performance. If any apology be necessary, it may be best offered in the words of Mr. Amyot, in his 'Defence of the Early Antiquity of the Bayeux Tapestry,' which is almost conclusive as to the fact of its being executed under the direction of Matilda, the wife of the Conqueror (* Archæologia,' vol. xix). “If the Bayeux Tapestry be not history of the first class, it is perhaps something better. It exhibits genuine traits, elsewhere sought in vain, of the costume and manners of that age which, of all others, if we except the period of the Reformation, ought to be the most interesting to us ; that age which gave us a new race of monarchs, bringing with them new landholders, new laws, and almost a new language. As in the magic pages of Froissart, we here behold our ancestors of each race in most of the occupations of life—in courts and camps—in pastime and in battle--at feasts, and on the bed of sickness. These are characteristics which of themselves would call forth a lively interest; but their value is greatly enhanced by their connection with one of the most important events in history, the main subject of the whole design.”
C. KNIGHT. IN MAGNO NAVIGIO MARE TRANSIVIT, ET VENIT AD PEVENSÆ. Such is the inscription to the forty-fifth compartment of the Bayeux Tapestryin a great ship he passes the sea, and comes to Pevensey. The Bay of Pevensey is not now as it was on the 28th of September, A.D. 1066, when this great ship sailed into it, and a bold man, one whose stern will and powerful mind was to change the destiny of England, leaped upon the strand, and, falling upon his face, a great cry went forth that it was an evil omen ;- but the omen was turned into a sign of gladness when he exclaimed, with his characteristic oath, “I have taken seisin of this land with both my hands." The shores of the bay are now a dreary marsh, guarded by dungeon-looking towers, which were built to defend us from such another seisin. The sea once covered this marsh, and the Norman army came a mile or so nearer to the chalk hills, beyond which they knew there was a land of tempting fertility. It must have been somewhat near the old Roman castle that the disembarkation took place, whose incidents are exhibited in the Bayeux Tapestry. Here were the horses removed from the ships : here each horseman mounted his own, and galloped about to look upon a land in which he saw no enemy; here were the oxen and the swine of Saxon farmer slaughtered by those for whom they were fatted not; here was the cooking, and the dining, and the rude pomp of the confident Duke, who knew that his great foe was engaged in a distant conflict. The character of William of Normandy was so remarkable, and indeed was such an