Alexander "Sasha" Volokh

My tour of medieval Europe
Hastings/Battle, England, July 1, 1999

Above: Two scenes from the Bayeux tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry, now hanging in the Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy, is a pro-Norman record of the events leading up to the Norman Conquest. For a full view and explication of the tapestry, see Mr. Sedivy's web site. On the top, the end of the sentence, "Hic Willelm venit Bagias ubi Harold sacramentum fecit Willelmo duci" ("Here William came to Bayeux where Harold took an oath to Duke William") -- this was the moment when, according to William, Harold had sworn on relics to help William ascend the English throne. Also, on the top, the beginning of the next sentence: "Hic Harold dux reversus est Anglicam terram" ("Here duke Harold has returned to English soil"). Later, Harold reneged on the alleged deal and became king himself. On the bottom, the end of the sentence, "Hic dederunt Haroldo corona regis" ("Here they gave Harold the crown of the king," apparently wrong grammar -- should be "coronam"?), and the next sentence, "Hic residet Harold rex Anglorum" ("Here sits Harold king of the English"). "Stigant archiep[i]s[copus]" (Archbishop Stigand, who crowned Harold,) is pointed out.

Above: An artist's rendition of the first Norman attack on the English shield wall (Peter Dunn)

Above: The traditional spot where King Harold was killed, now marked by this plaque

Above: Hastings field today

Above: A current inhabitant of Hastings field

Above: Battle Abbey

"William [the Conqueror] promised to establish a monastery free of episcopal control if God granted him victory. This pleasing story first appears in a forged charter of 1154, produced by the monks as part of their struggle to maintain exemption from the jurisdiction of the bishop of Chichester in whose diocese the abbey lay. More prosaically, William's vow was probably made about 1070. That year, the papal authorities imposed heavy penalties on the Normans for the bloodshed of the conquest of England. An abbey founded here as an act of penance by the king would not only please his followers and honour the dead of the battle, but it would also help populate a comparatively empty stretch of country which had only recently shown itself to be a good invasion route. In naming it Battle Abbey, the new Norman regime demonstrated its self-confidence, not to say arrogance" (The Battle of Hastings and the Story of Battle Abbey, English Heritage guidebook).

Back to Reculver/Hearne Bay
Advance to Dover
Return to places page
Return to home page