The Tapestry of Bayeux would probably rank among the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World should anyone ever have made up such a list. Students and those familiar with it from our own day consider it one of the most celebrated and important of all survivals, artistic, literary, documentary, and so on, from medieval times. Its contemporaries, however, do not appear to have viewed it with such veneration. With the possible exception of a poem written around 1100 (by Baudri of Bourgueil), not a single medieval author or written record refers to it until it appears in a 1476 inventory of Bayeux cathedral (hence its name) some four centuries after it was made. It may have been little known beyond the confines of Bayeux cathedral where it was exhibited once annually (such was the case, at least, in 1720), or outside the restricted circles of the court—if it had earlier belonged to royalty or aristocratic society. Even those who knew it may have looked condescendingly at its simple colored wool figures stitched on a plain linen background and thereby lacking the rich gold, silver, and silk threads of the luxurious tapestries of later medieval times.
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