Oxford professor counts 93 penises in Bayeux Tapestry

Historians in the News
tags: Oxford, Bayeux Tapestry, George Garnett

The Bayeux Tapestry may have been scrutinised and interpreted for hundreds of years but it appears that nobody before had counted the penises.

So a professor of medieval history decided to tot them up and speculate — through evidence of tumescence — as to their meaning. George Garnett, of St Hugh’s College at the University of Oxford, counted 93 penises in what remains of the original tapestry; 88 belonged to horses and humans accounted for the others.

While it cannot be entirely dismissed that the “profusion of penises” was down to a “male adolescent mentality on the part of the tapestry’s designer”, there may be more to them than meets the eye. Professor Garnett concluded that it “cannot be simply a coincidence” that Harold is depicted, before battle commences, “mounted on an exceptionally well-endowed steed”. However, “the largest equine penis by far is that protruding from the horse presented by a groom to a figure who must be Duke William, just prior to the battle of Hastings”.

“The clear implications,” Professor Garnett writes in BBC History magazine, “are that the virility of the two leading protagonists is reflected in that of their respective mounts, and that William was in this respect much the more impressive . . . Duke William had to be the outstanding individual in every respect, including his horse’s penis.”

The human genitalia may tell even more intriguing stories, the professor suggests. He cited a recent paper by Steve White, a history professor in the US, which suggested that three sets of the male genitalia “are not simply gratuitous erotica but learned literary allusions to Phaedrus’s Latin versions of Aesop’s fables”. ...

Read entire article at The Times of London

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