City and diocese (Baiocensis ) in Calvados, Normandy, France. In 1802 it incorporated part of the Diocese of
lisieux and in 1855 became the See of Bayeux-Lisieux. Its Christian origins are unknown. As the capitol of the civitas Baiocassium, it is first mentioned in the late fourth century, the time of its first three bishops—Saints Exuperius, Rufinianus and Lupus. Bishop Vigor evangelized the pagans at the time of the Merovingian Childebert (511–558). Two nearby monasteries, Cerisy and Deux-Jumeaux, had early origins. The episcopal succession was disrupted by the invasion of the Normans, who slew Bishops Sulpicius (844) and Baltfrid (858). The disruption of the church lasted until Bishop Hugh (1015–49) began the religious restoration by building rural churches to combat paganism. The Norman barons began to donate their loot from elsewhere to local churches and under William the Conqueror, a reform of Normandy was undertaken by his half brother Bishop odo, and lanfranc by holding councils and building abbeys. In the 12th century churches multiplied. After Philip II incorporated Normandy into France (1204), synods at rouen worked diligently to improve ecclesiastical discipline. When the English evacuated the area in 1450 at the end of the Hundred Years' War, it was in material and moral ruin, and the clergy were at a very low status.
Lutheranism appeared by 1540 and Calvinist churches by 1555. Catholic worship was interrupted for months in 1562 when Huguenots sacked Bayeux, and Protestantism took a firm foothold in the area. The Holy league again sacked the city in 1589. Bishops Édouard Molé (1647–52) and François Servien (1654–59) began the reform. St. John eudes undertook missions and the com pagnie du saint-sacrement took the offensive against Protestants. Bishop François de Nesmond (1662–1715) founded the seminary and restored discipline among secular and religious clergy. Bishop François de Lorraine-Armagnac (1719–28) was an ardent Jansenist. There was an influx of religious orders into the diocese in the 17th century, as there had been in the 13th century. On the eve of the French Revolution there were 620 parish priests, 12 monasteries and two convents.
The cathedral was rebuilt by Bishop Odo in 1046 after a fire and again by Henry I of England after it was destroyed in 1105. In the 14th and 15th centuries it was enlarged and embellished. St. Jean Brébeuf, the apostle of the Hurons, canonized in 1930, was born in Bayeux. The distinctive and conservative liturgy of Bayeux, to which durandus of troarn contributed in the 11th century, is preserved in many manuscripts of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Since the 16th century the liturgy has been modified only slowly and gradually.
The Bayeux Tapestry is a linen roll of colored stitch-work, 231 feet long and 20 inches wide in its present state, representing in 72 scenes the events that led up to the battle of Hastings in 1066. It was made c. 1080, perhaps in England. Depicting 623 persons, 202 horses and mules, 55 dogs, 505 other animals, 37 buildings, 41 boats and ships and 49 trees, it is of value for the study of arms and armor, warfare, architecture, dress and the folklore of the period. The upper and lower borders are decorated with a series of animals, some of which are real, others imaginary.
Bibliography: s. e. gleason, An Ecclesiastical Barony of the Middle Ages: The Bishopric of Bayeux 1066–1204 (Cambridge, Mass. 1936). e. de laheudrie, Bayeux, capitale du Bessin, des origines à la fin de la monarchie, 2 v. in 1 (Bayeux 1945). e. jarry and j. hourlier, Catholicisme, 1:1324–31.