By Dave MacLeod
Last updated 2011-02-17
The pictures of the tapestry tell the story of the adventures of Duke Harold Godwinson, brother-in-law of King Edward the Confessor, who was shipwrecked in Ponthieu in 1064. Following his rescue by William, Duke of Normandy, Harold is shown swearing to support William in his quest to succeed Edward the Confessor as King of England - a promise which he was later to break. We then see Harold returning to England and being acclaimed as king after Edward's death.
The tapestry approaches this piece of history from the Norman perspective, attempting to justify the invasion launched by William to claim what he believed was rightfully his. The image of Harold that the tapestry projects is one of a double-dealer who broke a sacred promise to William.
But the oath sworn by Harold to William is reported in only one other source - William of Poitiers' 'Deeds of Duke William', another Norman account, written some ten years after the conquest. The Norman version clearly needed this event to have happened - but a historian cannot be sure whether it did, or did not, take place.