FIELD of Cloth of Gold
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In 1520, King Henry VIII was persuaded to forge an alliance with France. A meeting was arranged between the two monarchs at a location just outside Calais, between the villages of Ardres and Guines.Virtually the entire English court traveled across the English Channel for a meeting with King Francis I of France, for the purpose of establishing a political alliance. These two monarchs were rivals, both politically and personally, and each prided himself on the splendour of his court.
When it was determined that the castles of both villages were in too great a state of disrepair to house the courts, they camped in fields, Francis at Ardres andHenry at Guines. Even the valley in which the two kings met was artificially levelled so that neither of them would have an unfair advantage over the other. This was no ordinary camping expedition; huge pavilions were erected to serve as halls and chapels, and great silken tents decorated with gems and cloth of gold. Each camp occupied about 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of land, and included a large pavilion to serve as a great hall, another for a large chapel, and numerous gilded tents to house the kings’ enormous retinues (which numbered in the thousands at both camps). The silken tents were richly decorated with cloth of gold and precious gems, as were the throngs of courtiers and ladies in waiting. A temporary gilt fountain was built, with three separate spouts for claret, spiced wine, and water. Some idea of the size of Henry's following may be gathered from the fact that in one month 2200 sheep and other viands in a similar proportion were consumed. In the fields beyond the castle, tents to the number of 2800 were erected for less distinguished visitors, and the whole scene was one of the greatest animation. of chivalry, jostled mountebanks, mendicants and vendors of all kinds.
The meeting lasted for three weeks (7 Jun - 24 Jun 1520), during which time each court strove to outdo the other in offering splendid entertainments and making grandiose gestures. Masterminded by <a class="external" href="http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Bios/ThomasWolsey%28Cardinal%29.htm" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Cardinal Thomas Wolsey</a>, each king and Court strove to outshine the other.Feasts and jousts were held, including a tilt between Henry and Francis themselves. There were processions, masques, balls, banquets, sporting events, and even fireworks.Queen Katherine of Aragon sat beneath a canopy of estate entirely lined with pearls to watch her husband and King Francis joust against one another. Each day the monarchs and their entourages appeared in more sumptuous and elaborate costumes. The expense incurred by both monarchs was enormous, and put tremendous strain on the finances of each country.Henry was accompanied by 5,000 people and spent in excess of £13,000 on the splendour of the occasion.
Though Henry and Francis agreed in principle to an alliance, it was just two weeks later that Henry met with Charles V himself in England. By the terms of this new treaty between England and the Empire, each agreed to not sign any new treaties with France for two years, and the betrothal of Princess Mary to the Dauphin was broken in favour of a new betrothal to Charles V himself. Two years later King Henry VIII would declare war on France, and his ally, the Emperor Charles, did likewise soon afterward. By 1525, the betrothal between Princess Mary and Charles had been broken also, and a new treaty was arranged with France.[source: tudorplace.com.ar]
Season 1 Episode 2
directed by Charles McDougall
King Henry VIII & King Francis I
(left -detail from painting of field of cloth of gold)
The Palace at the field of cloth of Gold had a brick foundation and real glass windows.
After riding over a hilltop overlooking the valley of gold & spotting the French delegation arriving on the opposite hilltop, Henry decides that he must ride out alone to meet the French King. His men wonder if it could be a trap, but Henry commands them to hold their positions “to the pain of death”.
The two Kings, Henry in gold, Francis in Blue slowly ride towards each other, greeting each other warily with “cousin”. Each insist that the other enter the palace first. They break out in laughter, maybe realizing how petty the competition is considering they are equals and ride in together.
|Henry shows Sir Thomas More that the Palace of Illusions is only painted canvas and not gold in an incredible visual. |
|At the summit introductions, Henry refuses to be known as King of England, Ireland, and France (as he is known in England) and states that here he is simply King of England. Francis seems shocked but touched. Francis says that he will be known simply as King of France….and Burgundy.||Cardinal Thomas Wolsey asks both kings to swear on the Bible to start the summit. Princess Mary Tudor, Henry’s daughter is introduced to Prince Henry Phillip. To seal the treaty, they are to betrothed to each other. Mary kisses Henry Phillip and he squirms; when he fusses and protests, Mary pushes him down. Henry beams with pride at his daughter, while the French rush to check on the heir to the throne.|
|Francis presents Henry with a gift of jewels after a fencing display. Henry states that he is embarrassed and only has a pastry for Francis in return. When Francis cuts into the large pastry, it begins to move and at least a dozen yellow birds fly out . Francis whispers into Henry’s ear that he calls Mary Boleyn his “English mare, since I ride her so often,” while Henry begins to seethe.|
The two kings are watching Greco-Roman wrestlers. After a French victory, Francis leans into Henry and states that the French have the greatest artists, poets, philosophers, the most beautiful women, and even French wrestlers are superior. To rub it in more, Francis notes that most of them live at his court. Henry looks like he is going to have an aneurysm. Henry finally cracks and challenges Francis to a wrestling match. Francis is shocked but when Henry calls him a coward, he accepts the challenge.
|Wolsey motions to More to intervene, but Henry won’t allow him to speak. The first man to throw his opponent to the ground is the winner. Henry is at least half a foot shorter and doesn’t appear to be a match for Francis. They circle and stall, until Henry tries to shoot for the legs. Francis shoves him off, but Henry lands on his feet. They tie up and jockey for a headlock until Francis is able to throw Henry to the floor. Francis laughs in triumph as Buckingham sits looking disgusted.||Henry immediately starts screaming for a rematch while his court restrains him, asking Francis if he is afraid. Francis, trying to figure out why this man he just clearly beat is challenging his honor, asks what he should be afraid of. Henry, looking completely savage roars “OF ME.” Henry yells at More that he won’t sign the treaty. More grabs Henry in close and says that if he wants them to know that the King of England is easily challengeable, shallow, and incapable of keeping his word, then yes, he will go tell them. Henry relents with a sigh.|
|Mary Boleyn is presented to a defeated Henry in his chambers. He lifts her hood, raises her chin, and asks her what French graces she has learned? Mary asks for his permission, which is immediately granted, and slides slowly to her knees.|
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Royal Armouries Field of Cloth of Gold film clip
|After signing the treaty, Henry goes into a violent rage in his quarters, destroying everything, reserving his most vicious blow for his mirror, which he shatters. Henry weeps.|
|Designs for tents for the Field of Cloth of Gold |
for Henry VIII.
Three designs for tents to be used at the Field of Cloth of Gold. The top one represents the Tudor colours of green and white. The most elaborate is the bottom one in crimson and gold as the tent poles appear to be crowned with ‘King’s beasts’ (lions, dragons, greyhounds, harts and heraldic antelopes). Royal badges appear throughout as does the royal mottoes ‘Dieu et mon droit’ and ‘Semper vivat in eterno’
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