The Bayeux Tapestry: A Critically Annotated Bibliography

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9781442251557: The Bayeux Tapestry: A Critically Annotated Bibliography
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Commanding its own museum and over 200 years of examination, observation and scholarship, the monumental embroidery, known popularly as the Bayeux Tapestry and documenting William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in October 1066, is perhaps the most important surviving artifact of the Middle Ages. This magnificent textile, both celebrated and panned, is both enigmatic artwork and confounding historical record. With over 1780 entries, Szabo and Kuefler offer the largest and most heavily annotated bibliography on the Tapestry ever written.

Notably, the Bayeux Tapestry has produced some of the most compelling questions of the medieval period: Who commissioned it and for what purpose? What was the intended venue for its display? Who was the designer and who executed the enormous task of its manufacture? How does it inform our understanding of eleventh-century life? And who was the mysterious Aelfgyva, depicted in the Tapestry’s main register? This book is an effort to capture and describe the scholarship that attempts to answer these questions. But the bibliography also reflects the popularity of the Tapestry in literature covering a surprisingly broad array of subjects. The inclusion of this material will assist future scholars who may study references to the work in contemporary non-fiction and popular works as well as use of the Bayeux Tapestry as a primary and secondary source in the classroom.

The monographs, articles and other works cited in this bibliography reflect dozens of research areas. Major themes are: the Tapestry as a source of information for eleventh-century material culture, its role in telling the story of the Battle of Hastings and events leading up to the invasion, patronage of the Tapestry, biographical detail on known historical figures in the Tapestry, arms and armor, medieval warfare strategy and techniques, opus anglicanum (the Anglo-Saxon needlework tradition), preservation and display of the artifact, the Tapestry’s place in medieval art, the embroidery’s depiction of medieval and Romanesque architecture, and the life of the Bayeux Tapestry itself.

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About the Author:

John F. Szabo is the City Librarian of Los Angeles. He was previously Director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Szabo has also headed the public libraries in Clearwater and Palm Harbor, Florida as well as Robinson, Illinois. He holds a bachelor’s in telecommunication and film from the University of Alabama and a master’s in information and library studies from the University of Michigan. He is the author of Death and Dying: An Annotated Bibliography of the Thanatological Literature and Mortuary Science: A Sourcebook.

Nicholas Kuefler is a Los Angeles area educator. He received his bachelor of music education and master of arts administration degrees from Florida State University and has directed numerous youth arts organizations. He has studied the Bayeux Tapestry and its uses in the classroom for many years.

Review:

The Bayeux Tapestry, its embroidered images recounting the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, is one of the most famous pieces of cloth work. Although the project usually is attributed to the patronage of Odo, bishop of Bayeux and half brother of William the Conqueror, this is by no means certain. Authors Szabo and Kuefler address this question and others about the tapestry. Their annotated bibliography is by no means complete, but important studies are included. Organized alphabetically by author—easy for finding known scholars—each item is numbered sequentially, to number 1,787. This decision about arrangement, however, makes it difficult to track changes in interpretations according to chronology. The annotations themselves vary in length and depth, from several lines to an entire page. . . .The introduction is brief, listing mostly previous bibliographies. Much more interesting are the appendixes. One, Dramatis Personae, lists and briefly describes not just the conqueror himself and his foes Harold Godwinson and Harald Hardraada but also lesser-known figures, such as Ælfgyva, Turold (probably the dwarf depicted on the tapestry), and Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Wales. Another appendix lists medieval sources, including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, French texts such as the Song of the Battle of Hastings by Bishop Guy of Amiens, and Anglo-Norman writings to the late 12th century. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty. (CHOICE)

In entry 1163 the editors quote Miles’s paraphrase of the director of the British Museum ‘anybody who is anybody in Tapestry studies gathered in the British Museum in 2008, largely to contradict each other’. If that describes you, or your library customer, then you will need a copy of this book. For social and military historians, arts and textile specialists and others not so deeply interested in tapestry studies will find this bibliography a good entree to a diverse and scatted literature on the middle ages. (Reference Reviews)

Commanding its own museum and over 200 years of examination, observation and scholarship, the monumental embroidery, known popularly as the Bayeux Tapestry and documenting William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in October 1066, is perhaps the most important surviving artifact of the Middle Ages. With over 1780 entries, Szabo and Kuefler offer the largest and most heavily annotated bibliography on the Tapestry ever written.

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