Front Page Titles (by Subject) No. VIII. (page 179.): Letter from M. Augustin Thierry to M. de la Fontenelle de Vaudore, Corresponding Member of the Institute. - History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, vol. 1
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No. VIII. (page 179.): Letter from M. Augustin Thierry to M. de la Fontenelle de Vaudore, Corresponding Member of the Institute. - Augustin Thierry, History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, vol. 1 
History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, translated from the seventh Paris edition, by William Hazlitt (London: H.G. Bohn, 1856). In 2 volumes. Vol. 1.
Part of: History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, 2 vols.
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No. VIII. (page 179.)
Letter from M. Augustin Thierry to M. de la Fontenelle de Vaudore, Corresponding Member of the Institute.
“You request my opinion of Mr. Bolton Corney’s Researches and Conjectures on the Bayeux Tapestry;1 I will give it you as succinctly as I can. Mr. Bolton Corney’s theory comprises two principal propositions: 1, that the Bayeux tapestry was not a gift to the chapter of Bayeux from queen Matilda, nor, indeed, from any other person, but was manufactured for the cathedral by the order and at the expense of the chapter; 2, that this venerable monument is not contemporary with the conquest of England by the Normans, but dates from the period when Normandy was reunited to France. The first proposition appears to be quite supported by evidence; the second I consider inadmissible.
The tradition which assigned to queen Matilda the execution of the piece of tapestry preserved at Bayeux, a tradition in itself quite recent and thoroughly refuted by M. de la Rue, is now no longer admitted by any one. As to the second question, whether this tapestry was or was not a present made to the church of Bayeux, Mr. Corney resolves it in the negative, and this in what appears to be a very decisive manner. The inference from the entire silence on the subject of the ancient inventories of the church, he corroborates by proofs derived from the monument itself, demonstrating that its details are very decidedly impressed with the stamp of locality; that the conquest of England by the Normans is considered there almost entirely as it were with reference to the city and church of Bayeux. One bishop alone figures on the tapestry, and this the bishop of Bayeux, who repeatedly makes his appearance, and is sometimes designated merely by his title, Episcopus. Again, of all the lay personages represented around duke William, there is no one who bears an historical appellation. The names constantly recurring are Turold, Wadard, Vital, all of them probably popular men at Bayeux; indeed, the two latter, Wadard and Vital, are registered in Domesday Book, among the feudatories of the church of Bayeux, in Kent, Oxfordshire, and Lincolnshire. If we combine with this reason those which Mr. Corney deduces from the peculiar form and application of the monument, we cannot but concur in his opinion that the tapestry was ordered by the chapter of Bayeux, and executed according to its commission.
I proceed to the second proposition, that the Bayeux tapestry was worked after the reannexation of Normandy to France. This hypothesis needs no very diffuse refutation, for its author bases it upon one sole circumstance, the use of the term Franci in designating the Norman army. “William of Poitiers,” he writes, “calls those who formed part of the army Normanni; the tapestry always terms them Franci, French. I regard this as a mistake, indicative of the period at which the monument was executed.” Now, in point of fact, there is no mistake in the matter, no grounds whatever for the presumption that the Bayeux tapestry is otherwise than contemporary with the conquest of England by the Normans. The Anglo-Saxons themselves used to designate by the term French (Frencan, Frencisee men) all the inhabitants of Gaul, without distinction of province or of race. The Saxon Chronicle, in the thousand places where it mentions the chiefs and soldiers of the Norman army, invariably calls them French. In England this name served to distinguish the conquerors from the indigenous population, not merely in ordinary language, but also in legal acts. We read in the laws of William the Conqueror, under the article Murdrum, these words, Ki Franceis occist, and in the Latin version of these laws, Si Francigena interfectus fuerit.1 The employment of the word Franci instead of Normanni is not, then, any proof at all that the Bayeux tapestry is of a date posterior to the conquest. If it proved anything, it would be that the tapestry was executed not in Normandy but in England, and that it was to workmen and workwomen of the latter country that the chapter of Bayeux gave its commission.
This theory, indeed, which I submit to the opinion of archaiologists, appears further confirmed by the orthography of certain words and the employment of certain letters in the legends we read on the monument. We find even in the name of duke William, and in that of the city of Bayeux, traces of Anglo-Saxon pronunciation: Hic Wido adduxit Haroldum ad Wilgelmum Normannorum ducem; Willem venit Bagias; Wilgelm for Wilielm, Bagias for Bayeux. The diphthong ea, one of the peculiarities of Anglo-Saxon orthography, is exhibited in the legends which contain the name of king Edward; Hic portatur corpus Eadwardi. Another legend presents this name of a place, given with exact accuracy in its Saxon form; At foderetur castellum ad Hestenca castra. Lastly, the name of Gurth, (pronounced Gheurth) brother of king Harold, as spelt with three Saxon letters; g having the sound of ghè; y, having that of eu, and the d having that of the modern English th.
Thus, then, I think with the majority of the Saxons who have written on the Bayeux tapestry, that this tapestry is contemporaneous with the great event it represents; I think with Mr. Bolton Corney that it was executed at the order and cost of the chapter of Bayeux, and I add, as a conjecture of my own, that it was manufactured in England and by English workers, according to a design transmitted from Bayeux
Receive, Sir, the assurances, &c.
June 25, 1843
[1 ] London, 1839.
[1 ] Leges Will. Conquist., apud Script. rer. Angl. (Gale) i. 90.