[00:00.00]Narrator: Listen to a conversation between a student and his European History Professor.
[00:06.63]Professor: So I wanted to talk about your outline. [00:09.56]I do like your topic: William, the conqueror, leading the Norman invasion of England. [00:15.31]But I'm a little concerned about your source and the fact that you want to use it as the entire basis of your paper.
[00:24.24]Student: Really? The Bayeux tapestry? [00:26.85]I thought it was pretty creative to use something that was made to hang on a wall as a source. [00:31.50]And as far as I know it's the most important documentation of the invasion, a first-hand account, right?
[00:38.09]Professor: Well, you are right. It's considered a primary source. [00:43.05]And at 70 meters long, the tapestry certainly is impressive. [00:47.49]Imagine the time it took for those embroiderers to sew all those words and images to tell the story of the Norman forces sailing from France to England. [00:57.84]So, yeah, it's an amazing artifact, but what’s problematic is that the tapestry is a very controversial source. [01:09.43]Were you aware of this?
[01:10.87]Student: Well, I know some pieces of it were probably lost.
[01:14.34]Professor: It is incomplete, but...
[01:16.54]Student: But I also read that historians have relied on it to help interpret the events leading up to the invasion and the battle itself.
[01:26.78]Professor: Well, it has great historical value, no doubt, but in my opinion, there's a problem because...well...do you know who commissioned the tapestry?
[01:39.81]Student: It was a church official...um...the bishop of Bayeux, a city in France?
[01:48.15]Professor: Yes. And the bishop was also William the Conqueror's half-brother.
[01:53.63]Student: Oh! That I didn't know. [01:56.14]But regardless of who commissioned it, isn't the fact that it was based on eye witness accounts the most important thing? [02:04.81]I mean, it was made only 17 years after the battle. [02:08.29]So plenty of eye witnesses were still alive.
[02:10.48]Professor: Yes, that's true. [02:12.21]But the real point of the controversy isn't the battle itself. [02:16.70]It has to do with the reason for the battle: who was the rightful heir to the throne? [02:23.49]Who would be the next king? [02:25.79]And if William the Conqueror's brother is the one who's commissioned this tapestry...
[02:31.56]Student: Then he would be the one to decide which words and images would go on the tapestry and what would be left out.
[02:38.46]Professor:Exactly. So of course the tapestry shows why William should be the new king.
[02:44.86]Student:I guess I see your point. [02:46.82]Embroiderers are just gonna do what they are told to do.
[02:49.85]Professor:You have to understand that the tapestry depicted an entire series of events as they were interpreted by the Normans, the victors of the battle. [02:59.15]And that's a problem if you are trying to write objectively about the invasion, especially if you use it as your only source of information. [03:08.66]After all, it's important for historians to examine an event from all sides.