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Bayeux (French pronunciation: [bajø]) is a commune in the Calvados department in Normandy in northwestern France.

Bayeux is the home of the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England.


Bayeux is a sub-prefecture of Calvados. It is the seat of the arrondissement of Bayeux and of the canton of Bayeux. This country is famous also for the Bayeux Tapestry.

Bayeux is located seven kilometres from the coast of La Manche (English Channel) and 30 km north-west of Caen. The city, with elevations varying from 32 to 67 meters above sea level – with an average of 46 meters above sea level – is bisected by the river Aure. Bayeux is located at the crossroads of RN 13 and the train route Paris-Caen-Cherbourg. The city is the capital of the Bessin, which extends north-west of Calvados.

The city was known as Augustodurum in the Roman Empire. It means the durum (Celtic word duro- 'door', 'gate', Welsh dor, Breton dor 'door', 'gate') dedicated to Augustus, Roman Emperor. The Celtic word duron, Latinized in durum was probably used to translate the Latin word forum (Compare Fréjus Forum Julii, dedicated to Julius (Caesar)).[1]

In the Late Empire it took the name of the Celtic tribe who lived here : the Bodiocassi, Latinized in Bajocassi, Bajocasses, and this word explains the place-names Bayeux and Bessin. Bodiocassi has been compared with Old Irish Buidechass 'with blond locks'.[2]

Translated from the corresponding article on French Wikipedia:

Founded as a Gallo-Roman settlement in the 1st century BC under the name Augustodurum, Bayeux is the capital of the former territory of the Bodiocassi people of Gaul, whose name appears in the writings of Pliny the Elder. Evidence of earlier human occupation of the territory comes from fortified Celtic camps, but there is no evidence of any major pre-existing Celtic town before the organization of Gaul in Roman civitates. Any settlement was more likely confined to scattered Druid huts along the banks of the Aure and Drome rivers or on Mount Phaunus where they worshiped. Cemeteries have been found on the nearby Mount Phaunus indicating the area as a Druid center. Titus Sabinus, a lieutenant of Julius Caesar, subjected the Bessin region to Roman domination.

The town is mentioned by Ptolemy writing in the reign of Antoninus Pius under the name Noemagus Biducassium (for *Noviomagus Badiocassium 'New market of the Badiocassi') and remained so until the time of the Roman Empire. The main street was already the heart of the city. A pair of spas under the Church of St. Lawrence and the Dairy Street Postal office and a sculpted head of the goddess Minvera have been found attesting to the adoption of Roman culture. In 1990 a closer examination of huge blocks discovered in the Cathedral in the 19th century indicated the presence of an old Roman building. Bayeux was built on a crossroads between Lisieux and Valognes, developing first on the west bank of the river. By the end of the 3rd Century a walled enclosure surrounded the city until it was removed in the 18th Century. It's layout is still visible and can be followed today. The citadel of the city was located in the southwest corner and the Cathedral the southeast. An important city in Normandy, Bayeux was part of the coastal defense of the Roman Empire against the pirates of the region and a Roman Legion was stationed there.
Middle Ages
The Bayeux tapestry

The city was largely destroyed during the Viking Raids of the late 9th century but was rebuilt in the early 10th Century under the reign of Bothon. The elevent saw the creation of five villages beyond the walls to the north east evidence of its growth during Ducal Normandy. William the Conqueror's half brother Odo, Earl of Kent completed the cathedral in the city and it was dedicated in 1077. However the city began to lose prominence when William placed his capital at Caen. When King Henry I of England defeated his brother Robert Curthose for the rule of Normandy, the city was burned to set an example to the rest of the duchy. Under Richard the Lionheart, Bayeux was wealthy enough to purchase a municipal charter. From the end of Richard's reign to the end of the Hundred Years' War, Bayeux was repeatedly pillaged until Henry V of England captured of the city in 1417. After the Battle of Formigny, Charles VII of France recaptured the city and granted a general amnesty to its populace in 1450. The capture of Bayeux heralded a return to prosperity as new families replaced those decimated by war and these built some 60 mansions scattered throughout the city, with stone supplanting wood.
Bayeux City Centre (2011)

The area around Bayeux is called the Bessin, which was the bailiwick of the province Normandy until the French Revolution. During the Second World War, Bayeux was the first city of the Battle of Normandy to be liberated, and on 16 June 1944 General Charles de Gaulle made the first of two major speeches in Bayeux in which he made clear that France sided with the Allies. The buildings in Bayeux were virtually untouched during the Battle of Normandy, the German forces being fully involved in defending Caen from the Allies.

The Bayeux War Cemetery with its memorial includes the largest British cemetery dating from the Second World War in France. There are 4648 graves, including 3935 British and 466 Germans. Most of those buried there were killed in the invasion of Normandy.

The Royal British Legion National, every 5th June at 1530hrs attend the 3rd Division Cean Memorial service and beating retreat ceremony, on the 6th June hold a remembrance service in Bayeux Cathedral starting at 1015hrs, after at 1200hrs The Royal British Legion National hold a service of remembrance at the Bayeux Cemetery, all services are open to the public, all Standards RBL NVA RN ARMY RAF service and Regimental Associations are welcome to attend and parade. Details can be found at www.rblsomme.org
Natural features

The river Aure flows through Bayeux, offering panoramic views from a number of locations. The Aure has a relatively high level of turbidity and the speed of its brownish water is moderate because of the slight slope of the watercourse, although where it is narrow in places like the center of Bayeux, higher surface speeds are generated. In the center of Bayeux near the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, pH levels were measured at 8.35 and the electrical conductivity of water was tested at 37 microsiemens per centimeter. Turbidity was measured at 13 centimeters by the Secchi disk method. At this point of reference, flows are generally of the order of 50 cubic feet per second (1.4 m3/s).[3]
Historical population of Bayeux Year 1793 1800 1806 1821 1831 1836 1841 1846 1851
Population 10,578 9600 10,419 10,280 10,303 10,242 9840 9765 9360
Year 1856 1861 1866 1872 1876 1881 1886 1891 1896 1901
Population 9667 9483 9138 8536 8614 8357 8347 8102 7912 7806
Year 1906 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936 1946 1954 1962
Population 7736 7638 7206 7525 7351 7637 10,246 10,077 9678
Year 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2008
Population 11,451 13,457 14,721 14,704 14,961 13,478

The inhabitants of Bayeux are called Bayeusains [bajøzɛ̃] or Bajocasses [baʒokas].[citation needed]

Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux is a major tourist attraction, best known to British and French visitors for the Bayeux tapestry, made to commemorate events in the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. According to the legend, the tapestry was made by Reine Mathilde, wife of William the Conqueror. In fact, it may have been designed and woven in England.[4] It is displayed in a museum in the town centre. The large Norman-Romanesque and Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux,[5] consecrated in 1077, was arguably the original home of the tapestry where William's half-brother Odo of Bayeux (represented on the tapestry with a wooden club at the battle of Hastings), would have had it displayed.

The Jardin botanique de Bayeux is a botanical garden dating from 1864.

Muriel Barbery (born 1969), writer
Berengar II of Neustria (died 896 AD), Count of Bayeux
Roger Bésus (1915–1994), sculptor and writer
Frédéric Born (born 1975), footballer
Alain Chartier (1392–1430), politician and poet
Pierre Du Bosc (1623–1692), preacher
Franck Dumas (born 1968), footballer and coach Stade Malherbe de Caen
Jean-Léonce Dupont (born 1955), senator and former mayor
Arcisse de Caumont (1801–1873), archaeologist, founded the Societé des Antiquaires de Normandy
François de Caumont (1768–1848), designer and painter
Miss George (1787–1867), actress and mistress of Napoleon
Georges Lenepveu (1857–1923), inventor and master glassmaker
François Gérard (1770–1837), painter and member of Bayeux
Jean Grémillon (1901–1959), film director
Joachim Rupalley (1718–1780) painter
Édouard Lair de Beauvais, (1790–1851), architect
Alfred Lair de Beauvais (1820–1869), organist and composer
Robert Lefèvre (1755–1830), painter
Lionel Lemonchois (born 1960), navigator
Léon Le Cieux (1821–1873), violinist
Damien Letulle (born 1973), Olympic archer
Gabriel-Narcisse Rupalley (1745–1798), painter
Saint Marcouf (died 588 AD), saint born in Bayeux, best known for the healing of scrofula
Éric Navet (born 1959), jockey
Poppa of Bayeux, daughter of Berengar II, wife of Rollo
Saint Vigor (died 537 AD), bishop of Bayeux from 513 to 537, destroyed a pagan temple in Bayeux
William the Conqueror/Duke of Normandy, Conqueror of England in 1066
Exuperius, (end of 4th century– died c. 410) Archbishop of Toulouse.
Alfred-Georges Regner 1902-1987, painter-engraver

Twin towns

Dorchester (UK)
Lübbecke (Germany)
Chojnice (Poland)
Eindhoven (The Netherlands)
Viborg (Denmark)

See also

Communes of the Calvados department



^ fr:Pierre-Yves Lambert, La langue gauloise, éditions errance 1994.
^ Xavier Delamarre, Dictionnaire de la langue Gauloise, éditions errance 2003.
^ fr:Bayeux
^ World Book Encyclopedia, p. 177, World Book Inc.
^ Cathedral of Bayeux: France Tourism Summaries

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