Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bayeux, France - June 9, 2008

Bayeux, just nine miles from the D-Day beaches, survived WWII essentially unscathed. The Bayeux War Cemetery and Memorial on the other hand, is the largest British WWII cemetery in France, with 3,935 British graves and 466 German, most of them lost in the Invasion of Normandy.A digression. By the middle of the 11th century, England's King Edward had failed to produce an heir, which left an English nobleman named Harold, and William, Duke of Normandy, as the top contenders for the job. Harold, in truth anything but noble, was later captured while fighting in Normandy, and in exchange for his life, promised William that when the King died, he would allow William to have the throne of England. Silly Willy agreed and let Harold go home.
In a while, King Edward did die, and lowlife Harold immediately claimed the throne. Duke William was miffed and, in 1066, promptly took off to England with his army. Fourteen hours later, the Battle of Hastings was over, Harold was dead and the Duke added both King-of-England and William-the-Conqueror to his resume. The sweet irony in this, is that many historians believe that if William, the Frenchie, had not won this battle, and hapless Harry had become king, England would not have become the most powerful country in the world and French may have been the official language of the New World. So far, so good! End of digression.
A few years after the Battle of Hastings, Bishop Odo of Bayeux commissioned a work known as Queen Matilda's Tapestry, to be hung in the town's soon-to-be cathedral. From about 1070 to 1080, English nuns crafted a tapestry that is 230 feet long and about 3 feet wide, comprising 58 seperate scenes telling the story of the battle. Meanwhile, t
he Cathédral Notre-Dame was completed and was consecrated on July 14, 1077, ready for the great work. The Bayeux Tapestry, as it came to be known, is now displayed in a local museum and, by current accounts, remains in excellent condition more than 900 years later. Pics about town here.

No comments: