The Saint-Florent Hypothesis and Baudri of Bourgueil’s Poem to Countess Adèle

  • George Beech
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


The possibility that the Bayeux Tapestry was embroidered at Saint-Florent on the Loire would not only put the Breton campaign in a new perspective, it would also help to explain how the poet Baudri of Bourgueil may have known it. For over a century scholars have debated whether the tapestry Baudri describes at length in his poem to Adéle, countess of Blois, the Adelae comitissae, could actually have been the Bayeux Tapestry or was one he had created in his imagination.1 Supporting the notion that he was writing about the Bayeux Tapestry is Baudri’s statement that he had taken the scenes he portrays in this poem, scenes describing events leading up to the Conquest of England by William of Normandy, from a velum, a hanging depicting them. At the time this velum ‘was in the castle of Adèle, countess of Blois and daughter of William the Conqueror. Among the arguments for this having been an imaginary invention of Baudri’s is his insistence on this being a richly ornamented hanging of gold, silver, and silk, all of which are lacking in the Bayeux Tapestry. In a 1994 article, the most thorough analysis of the poem and the tapestry yet attempted, S. Brown and M. Herren concluded that there could be no further doubt on the question. Baudri could not have written his poem without having “enjoyed leisurely access to it”; that he had studied it "in detail."2


  1. 3.
    H. Pasquier, Baudri abbe de Bourgueil archeveque de Dol 1046–1130 d’apres les documents inédits (Paris: E.Thorin, 1878); G. Bond, “locus amoris:The Poetry of Baudri of Bourgueil and the Formation of Ovidian Subculture,” Traditio 42 (1986), 143–93 at 145–49; Brown and Herren,”Adelae comitissae,” 140–41.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    J.-Y. Tilliette, Baldricus Burgulianus. Baudri de Bourgueil. Carmina (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1998), I, no. 25, 45.Google Scholar

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© George Beech 2005

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  • George Beech

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