From the Bayeux tapestry to Timmy on tour
Standing on the huge ramparts of Mont St-Michel I was reminded how dangerous the sands are around this island. The tide sweeps in at an alarming rate. It’s got a huge tidal bore that sweeps all before it and fills this enormous bay in less than 2 hours. You could never out run the tide, anything or anyone caught in these currents would perish in an instant. I’m reminded that in 1064 these same tides made history.
Duke William was in a struggle with a neighbouring Count and his guest warrior in that struggle was non other than Harold Godwinson earl of Wessex, shortly to be king Harold of Hastings fame. Duke William of Normandy was ‘hosting’ Harold as a guest warrior at this time and Harold knew a bit about big tides and quicksands and became a hero that day. He saw Duke William’s soldiers getting into difficulty as they crossed the treacherous channels and single handedly rescued them in the nick of time…
The Duke was delighted. He knighted Harold and the deed is recorded in the Bayeux tapestry. We know where it happened because the tapestry shows Mont St Michel and Harold giving a piggy back to clearly grateful soldiers. All of this was designed to show Harold as a traitor 2 years later at Hastings but I think it showed Harold’s humanity. Rescuing drowning soldiers at considerable risk to himself shows great courage and I think some sort of memorial at Mont St Michel wouldn’t go amiss. It would also remind us today that the tides here are dangerous and to watch out around these waters….