Listen to a conversation between a student and his European history professor.
So, I wanted to talk about your outline.
I do like your topic- William the Conqueror leading the Norman invasion of England.
But I-I'm a little concerned about your source... and the fact that you want to use it as the entire basis of your paper.
Really? The Bayeux Tapestry?
I thought it was pretty creative to use something that was made to hang on a wall as a source.
And as far as I know, it's the most important documentation of the invasion... a firsthand account, right?
Well... you're right, it's considered a primary source.
And at 70 meters long, the tapestry certainly is impressive.
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...
So, yeah, it is an amazing artifact.
But, what's problematic is that the tapestry is a very- mmm, controversial source.
Were you aware of this?
Well, I know some pieces of it were probably lost.
It-it is incomplete, but...
Uh, but, I also read that historians have relied on it to help them interpret the events leading up to the invasion, and the battle itself.
Well, it has great historical value, no doubt.
But, in my opinion, there's a problem because... well, d-do you know who commissioned the tapestry?
Ahh... It was a church official, um, the bishop of Bayeux, a-a city in France...
Yes, and the bishop was also William the Conqueror's half brother!
Oh-That I didn't know!
Whew... but regardless of who commissioned it, isn't the fact that it was based on eyewitness accounts the most important thing?
I mean, it was made only seventeen years after the battle, so plenty of eyewitnesses were still alive.
Yes, that's true, but the real point of the controversy isn't the battle itself.
It has to do with the reason for the battle: who was the rightful heir to the throne... who would be the next king.
And if William the Conqueror's brother is the one who's commissioned this tapestry...
...then he would be the one to decide which words and images would go on the tapestry, and what would be left out.
Exactly. So of course the tapestry shows why William should be the new king.
Oh, I guess I see your point.
Embroiderers are just going to do what they're told to do.
You have to understand that the tapestry depicts an entire series of events as they were interpreted by the Normans... the victors of the battle.
And that's a problem if you're trying to write objectively about the invasion... especially if you use it as your only source of information.
After all, it's important for historians to examine an event from all sides.