, home of the tapestry in the Middle Ages and until the beginning of the 19th century
The earliest known written reference to the tapestry is a 1476 inventory of Bayeux Cathedral, but its origins have been the subject of much speculation and controversy.
French legend maintained the tapestry was commissioned and created by Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror's wife, and her ladies-in-waiting. Indeed, in France, it is occasionally known as "La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde" (Tapestry of Queen Matilda). However, scholarly analysis in the 20th century concluded it was probably commissioned by William's half-brother, Bishop Odo, who, after the Conquest, became Earl of Kent and, when William was absent in Normandy, regent of England.
The reasons for the Odo commission theory include: 1) three of the bishop's followers mentioned in the Domesday Book appear on the tapestry; 2) it was found in Bayeux Cathedral, built by Odo; and 3) it may have been commissioned at the same time as the cathedral's construction in the 1070s, possibly completed by 1077 in time for display on the cathedral's dedication.
Assuming Odo commissioned the tapestry, it was probably designed and constructed in England by Anglo-Saxon artists (Odo's main power base being by then in Kent); the Latin text contains hints of Anglo-Saxon; other embroideries originate from England at this time; and the vegetable dyes can be found in cloth traditionally woven there. Howard B. Clarke has proposed that the designer of the tapestry was Scolland, the abbot of St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury, because of his previous position as head of the scriptorium at Mont Saint-Michel (famed for its illumination), his travels to Trajan's Column, and his connections to Wadard and Vital, two individuals identified in the tapestry. The actual physical work of stitching was most likely undertaken by female needleworkers. Anglo-Saxon needlework of the more detailed type known as Opus Anglicanum was famous across Europe. It was perhaps commissioned for display in the hall of his palace and then bequeathed to the cathedral he built, following the pattern of the documented but lost hanging of Byrhtnoth.
Alternative theories exist. Carola Hicks has suggested it could possibly have been commissioned by Edith of Wessex. Wolfgang Grape has challenged the consensus that the embroidery is Anglo-Saxon, distinguishing between Anglo-Saxon and other Northern European techniques; Medieval material authority Elizabeth Coatsworth contradicted this: "The attempt to distinguish Anglo-Saxon from other Northern European embroideries before 1100 on the grounds of technique cannot be upheld on the basis of present knowledge." George Beech suggests the tapestry was executed at the Abbey of St. Florent in the Loire Valley, and says the detailed depiction of the Breton campaign argues for additional sources in France. Andrew Bridgeford has suggested that the tapestry was actually of English design and encoded with secret messages meant to undermine Norman rule.