Bayeux is a French city in the Calvados region of Normandy. It sits on the Aure River, a few miles before it empties into the English channel and occupies the site of Augustodurum, an ancient Roman town. It was thus near the site of the D-Day Invasion by Allied forces in the Second World War and was the first city to be liberated from German occupation.
In this Photochrom print, however, the city is shown as it was around 1910.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Bayeux is said to be the oldest cathedral in Normandy. The current structure -- or at least the parts of it that have endured -- was consecrated July 14, 1077. Built by the family of Duke William of Normandy, it replaced an earlier church dating from the Merovingian era. Thirty years later, fire destroyed all but the two towers. It was rebuilt then and again after other misfortunes.
Each time, some of the earlier elements were incorporated into redesigns, so features characteristic of several architectural eras are visible. The 1077 cathedral was built in the Norman-Romanesque style but as rebuilding took place, it became more 13th Century Gothic in character.
This historic cathedral fortunately has remained standing through religious and political strife, including two World Wars. It is, or has been, home to historical treasures including two pipe organs created in the 1860s by Aristide Cavaille-Coll.
The patron of the 1077 cathedral, Duke William of Normandy, is perhaps best known for his exploits in invading England and defeating King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, for which he became known as William "the Conqueror."
Scenes portraying the invasion and conquest of England were memorialized in an epic tapestry alleged to be the work of Matilda, wife of Duke William. The tapestry is 20 inches wide and 214 feet long and embroidered with colorful yarns that represent in pictorial form this collision of Anglo-French history known as the Norman Invasion. The tapestry was "discovered" in 1730 and is preserved in the library in Bayeux. It is a visual reminder of customs and events in early Norman-French history.
Photochrom images (taken circa 1910) are from
the Library of Congress Collection.