Bayeux Tapestry tituli

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The Bayeux Tapestry in its museum in Bayeux, France.

The Bayeux Tapestry tituli are Medieval Latin captions that are embroidered on the Bayeux Tapestry and describe scenes portrayed on the tapestry. These depict events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.


Detail of embroidered lettering

The Bayeux Tapestry was probably commissioned by William the Conqueror's half-brother, Bishop Odo, possibly at the same time as Bayeux Cathedral's construction in the 1070s, and completed by 1077 in time for display on the cathedral's dedication.[1] It is embroidered in wool yarn on a tabby-woven linen ground using outline or stem stitch for detailing and lettering.[2][3] A dark blue wool, almost black, is used for most of the tapestry's lettering but towards the end other colours are used, sometimes for each word and other times for each letter.

The content of the hanging is primarily pictorial but tituli are included on many scenes of the action to point out names of people and places or to explain briefly the event being depicted.[4] The text is in Latin (which for the most part is grammatically correct), and is extremely direct, with each statement being closely tied to the scenes depicted in a given section.[5][6] The text is frequently abbreviated as indicated by tildes placed over words at the place of omission of a letter. The words themselves are often demarcated by two points (which Lucien Musset likens to colons); sometimes, more important section breaks are demarcated by three points. Many personal names, mostly in English, are not Latinised and the same applies for names of places in England and for Beaurain "Belrem" in France. In places the spelling shows an English influence, such as the phrase "at Hestenga ceastra", which in proper Latin would be "ad Hastingae castra").[5] Some French names are either archaic ("Rednes") or anglicised ("Bagias").[7] Sometimes "Franci" is used to describe the Normans who at that time certainly did not regard themselves as French.[8]

The end of the tapestry has been missing from time immemorial and the final titulus "Et fuga verterunt Angli" is said by Lucien Musset to be "entirely spurious", added shortly before 1814 at a time of anti-English sentiment.[9] The first word on the tapestry "Edward" is also a restoration.[10]

Latin text with English translation[edit]

The English translation provided here is of a literal nature, to reflect the simplicity of the captions themselves. The numbering scheme uses the scene numbers on the tapestry's backing cloth, which were added sometime around 1800.[4]

Scene Text[nb 1] Translation[11] Image
1 EDWARD[US][nb 2] REX King Edward BayeuxTapestryScene01.jpg
2-3 UBI HAROLD DUX ANGLORUM ET SUI MILITES EQUITANT AD BOSHAM ECCLESIA[M] Where Harold, a leader of the English, and his knights ride to Bosham Church[12] BayeuxTapestryScene02-03.jpg
4 HIC HAROLD MARE NAVIGAVIT Here Harold sailed by sea BayeuxTapestryScene04.jpg
5 ET VELIS VENTO PLENIS VENIT IN TERRA WIDONIS COMITIS and with sails filled with wind came to the land of Count Wido[nb 3] BayeuxTapestryScene05.jpg
6 HAROLD Harold BayeuxTapestryScene06.jpg
Higher resolution detail
7 HIC APPREHENDIT WIDO HAROLDU[M] Here Wido seized Harold BayeuxTapestryScene07.jpg
8 ET DUXIT EUM AD BELREM ET IBI EUM TENUIT and led him to Beaurain and held him there BayeuxTapestryScene08.jpg
9 UBI HAROLD ⁊[nb 4] WIDO PARABOLANT Where Harold and Wido confer BayeuxTapestryScene09.jpg
10 UBI NUNTII WILLELMI DUCIS VENERUNT AD WIDONE[M] Where the messengers of Duke William came to Wido BayeuxTapestryScene10a.jpg
TUROLD Turold[nb 5] BayeuxTapestryScene10b.jpg
11 NUNTII WILLELMI The messengers of William BayeuxTapestryScene11.jpg
12 † HIC VENIT NUNTIUS AD WILGELMUM DUCEM [nb 6] Here the messenger comes to Duke William BayeuxTapestryScene12.jpg
13 HIC WIDO ADDUXIT HAROLDUM AD WILGELMUM NORMANNORUM DUCEM Here Wido led Harold to William Duke of the Normans BayeuxTapestryScene13.jpg
14 HIC DUX WILGELM[US] CUM HAROLDO VENIT AD PALATIU[M] SUU[M] Here Duke William comes with Harold to his palace BayeuxTapestryScene14.jpg
15 UBI UNUS CLERICUS ET ÆLFGYVA Where a cleric and Ælfgyva ... [nb 7] BayeuxTapestryScene15.jpg
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16 HIC WILLEM[US] DUX ET EXERCITUS EIUS VENERUNT AD MONTE[M] MICHAELIS Here Duke William and his army came to the Mount of Michael BayeuxTapestryScene16.jpg
17 ET HIC TRANSIERUNT FLUMEN COSNONIS and here they crossed the river Couesnon BayeuxTapestryScene17.jpg
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HIC HAROLD DUX TRAHEBAT EOS DE ARENA Here earl Harold dragged them from the sand
18 ET VENERUNT AD DOL ET CONAN FUGA VERTIT and they came to Dol and Conan turned in flight BayeuxTapestryScene18a.jpg
REDNES Rennes BayeuxTapestryScene18b.jpg
19 HIC MILITES WILLELMI DUCIS PUGNANT CONTRA DINANTES Here the knights of Duke William fight against the men of Dinan BayeuxTapestryScene19.jpg
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20 ET CUNAN CLAVES PORREXIT and Conan passed out the keys BayeuxTapestryScene20.jpg
21 HIC WILLELM[US] DEDIT ARMA HAROLDO Here William gave arms to Harold BayeuxTapestryScene21.jpg
22 HIE [sic][nb 8] WILLELM[US] VENIT BAGIAS Here William came to Bayeux BayeuxTapestryScene22.jpg
23 UBI HAROLD SACRAMENTUM FECIT WILLELMO DUCI Where Harold made an oath to Duke William BayeuxTapestryScene23.jpg
24 HIC HAROLD DUX REVERSUS EST AD ANGLICAM TERRAM Here earl Harold returned to English land BayeuxTapestryScene24.jpg
25 ET VENIT AD EDWARDU[M] REGEM and he came to King Edward BayeuxTapestryScene25.jpg
26 HIC PORTATUR CORPUS EADWARDI REGIS AD ECCLESIAM S[AN]C[T]I PETRI AP[OSTO]LI Here the body of King Edward is carried to the Church of Saint Peter the Apostle[nb 9] BayeuxTapestryScene26.jpg
27 HIC EADWARDUS REX IN LECTO ALLOQUIT[UR] FIDELES Here King Edward in bed speaks to his faithful followers BayeuxTapestryScene27-28.jpg
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28 ET HIC DEFUNCTUS EST and here he died
29 HIC DEDERUNT HAROLDO CORONA[M] REGIS Here they gave the king's crown to Harold BayeuxTapestryScene29.jpg
30 HIC RESIDET HAROLD REX ANGLORUM Here sits Harold King of the English BayeuxTapestryScene30-31.jpg
Higher resolution detail
31 STIGANT ARCHIEP[ISCOPU]S Archbishop Stigand
32 ISTI MIRANT[UR] STELLA[M] These people marvel at the star[nb 10] BayeuxTapestryScene32.jpg
33 HAROLD Harold BayeuxTapestryScene33.jpg
34 HIC NAVIS ANGLICA VENIT IN TERRAM WILLELMI DUCIS Here an English ship came to the land of Duke William BayeuxTapestryScene34.jpg
35 HIC WILLELM[US] DUX JUSSIT NAVES [A]EDIFICARE Here Duke William ordered ships to be built BayeuxTapestryScene35.jpg
36 HIC TRAHUNT NAVES AD MARE Here they drag the ships to the sea BayeuxTapestryScene36.jpg
37 ISTI PORTANT ARMAS AD NAVES ET HIC TRAHUNT CARRUM CUM VINO ET ARMIS These men carry arms to the ships and here they drag a cart (laden) with wine and arms BayeuxTapestryScene37.jpg
38 † HIC WILLELM[US] DUX IN MAGNO NAVIGIO MARE TRANSIVIT ET VENIT AD PEVENESÆ [nb 6] Here Duke William in a great ship crossed the sea and came to Pevensey BayeuxTapestryScene38.jpg
39 HIC EXEUNT CABALLI DE NAVIBUS Here the horses leave the ships BayeuxTapestryScene39.jpg
40 ET HIC MILITES FESTINAVERUNT HESTINGA UT CIBUM RAPERENTUR and here the knights have hurried to Hastings to seize food BayeuxTapestryScene40.jpg
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41 HIC EST WADARD Here is Wadard[nb 11] BayeuxTapestryScene41.jpg
42 HIC COQUITUR CARO ET HIC MINISTRAVERUNT MINISTRI Here the meat is being cooked and here the servants have served (it) BayeuxTapestryScene42.jpg
43 HIC FECERUN[T] PRANDIUM Here they have a meal BayeuxTapestryScene43a.jpg
ET HIC EPISCOPUS CIBU[M] ET POTU[M] BENEDICIT And here the bishop blesses the food and drink BayeuxTapestryScene43b.jpg
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44 ODO EP[ISCOPU]S WILLEM[US] ROTBERT Bishop Odo, William, Robert BayeuxTapestryScene44.jpg
45 ISTE JUSSIT UT FODERETUR CASTELLUM AT HESTENGA[nb 12] He ordered that a motte should be dug at Hastings BayeuxTapestryScene45.jpg
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CEASTRA[nb 13] the camp
46 HIC NUNTIATUM EST WILLELM[O] DE HAROLD[O] Here William was told about Harold BayeuxTapestryScene46.jpg
47 HIC DOMUS INCENDITUR Here a house is burned BayeuxTapestryScene47.jpg
48 HIC MILITES EXIERUNT DE HESTENGA ET VENERUNT AD PR[O]ELIUM CONTRA HAROLDUM REGE[M] Here the knights have left Hastings and have come to the battle against King Harold BayeuxTapestryScene48.jpg
Higher resolution detail
49 HIC WILLELM[US] DUX INTERROGAT VITAL[EM] SI VIDISSET HAROLDI EXERCITU[M] Here Duke William asks Vital[nb 14] if he has seen Harold's army BayeuxTapestryScene49.jpg
50 ISTE NUNTIAT HAROLDUM REGE[M] DE EXERCITU WILLELMI DUCIS This messenger tells King Harold about Duke William's army BayeuxTapestryScene50.jpg
51 HIC WILLELM[US] DUX ALLOQUITUR SUIS MILITIBUS UT PREPAREN[T] SE VIRILITER ET SAPIENTER AD PR[O]ELIUM CONTRA ANGLORUM EXERCITU[M] Here Duke William speaks to[nb 15] his knights to prepare themselves manfully and wisely for the battle against the army of the English BayeuxTapestryScene51a.jpg
52 HIC CECIDERUNT LEWINE ET GYRD FRATRES HAROLDI REGIS Here fell Leofwine and Gyrth, brothers of King Harold BayeuxTapestryScene52a.jpg
53 HIC CECIDERUNT SIMUL ANGLI ET FRANCI IN PR[O]ELIO Here English and French fell at the same time in battle BayeuxTapestryScene53.jpg
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54 HIC ODO EP[ISCOPU]S BACULU[M] TENENS CONFORTAT PUEROS Here Bishop Odo, holding a club, gives strength to the boys BayeuxTapestryScene54.jpg
55 HIC EST WILLEL[MUS] DUX Here is Duke William BayeuxTapestryScene55.jpg
56 E[USTA]TIUS Eustace BayeuxTapestryScene56a.jpg
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HIC FRANCI PUGNANT ET CECIDERUNT QUI ERANT CUM HAROLDO Here the French are fighting and have killed those who were with Harold BayeuxTapestryScene56.jpg
57 HIC HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST Here King Harold is slain BayeuxTapestryScene57.jpg
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58 ET FUGA VERTERUNT ANGLI[nb 16] and the English have turned in flight BayeuxTapestryScene58.jpg
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  1. ^ Letters in square brackets are omitted on the tapestry either by way of abbreviation or where they are implied by a macron diacritic on the previous letter.
  2. ^ The Bayeux Tapestry scholar Lucien Musset argues that "Edward" is anachronistic (as his name is spelled elsewhere on the tapestry as "Eadwardus") and that it was almost certainly added by restorers, given that the name is missing in 18th century copies.[10]
  3. ^ Wido is Guido or Guy, count of Ponthieu.[13]
  4. ^ This symbol, resembling a right-angled 7, is a Tironian note abbreviation for et ("and").[5]
  5. ^ Possibly a member of either or Duke William or Bishop Odo's entourage.[14]
  6. ^ a b The significance of the cross is discussed by Norton.[15]
  7. ^ A verb is missing, which makes this image the greatest mystery in the Tapestry. The historian D. C. Douglas commented as follows: "The similarity of attitude between the clerk and the semi-obscene figure in the lower margin will not escape notice, nor will the absence of a verb in the legend. Perhaps the dovecot and the doves in the upper border have an erotic significance, and the whole episode may possibly refer to some scandal, then notorious, but now advantageously forgotten".[16] Theories on the woman and her relationship with the cleric abound, ranging from being an embroidress to receiving anger, lewdness or affection on part of the clergyman.[17]
  8. ^ This word is a misspelling of the demonstrative pronoun hic.[18][19]
  9. ^ I.e. Westminster Abbey.[20]
  10. ^ I.e. Halley's comet.[21]
  11. ^ A vassal of Bishop Odo.[22]
  12. ^ The spelling of the Latin word ad here has been cited by some in favour of the theory that the Tapestry was made in England.[23]
  13. ^ The spelling of the Latin word castra here has been cited by some in favour of the theory that the Tapestry was made in England.[23]
  14. ^ Possibly a vassal of Bishop Odo.[24]
  15. ^ Or "harangues".[25]
  16. ^ This caption was missing in 18th century copies. Musset refers to this line as "entirely spurious" and the result of "heavy-handed restoration".[9]



  1. ^ Stenton (1961).
  2. ^ Coatsworth (2005), p. 23.
  3. ^ Musset (2011), p. 19.
  4. ^ a b Musset (2011).
  5. ^ a b c Musset (2011), p. 35.
  6. ^ Musset (2011), p. 36.
  7. ^ Musset (2011), pp. 35–6.
  8. ^ Musset (2011), p. 37.
  9. ^ a b Musset (2011), p. 266.
  10. ^ a b Musset (2011), p. 88.
  11. ^ Translations based mainly on Stenton (1965), Hicks (2006), Musset (2002), p. 270; and Musset (2011), pp. 266, 270.
  12. ^ Integral scene per Douglas (1961), p. 233.
  13. ^ Musset (2011), p. 104.
  14. ^ Musset (2011), p. 112.
  15. ^ Norton (2019), pp. 71, 75.
  16. ^ Douglas (1961), p. 234, plate XVIII
  17. ^ "Aelfgyva: The Mysterious Lady of the Bayeux Tapestry". 24 August 2014. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  18. ^ Musset (2011), p. 114.
  19. ^ Walls (1962), p. 3. "Some inconsistencies of orthography can be accounted for as slips of the needle [...] for example, 'hie' for 'hic'".
  20. ^ Jenkyns (2011), p. 130.
  21. ^ Olson & Pasachoff (1987), p. 2.
  22. ^ Musset (2011), p. 208.
  23. ^ a b Douglas (1961) p. 237.
  24. ^ Musset (2011), p. 224.
  25. ^ Plaché (1867), p. 151.


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