7 June 1520 – Henry VIII, Francis I and the Field of Cloth of Gold

Field of Cloth of GoldThe 7th June 1520, was the first day of the historic meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France between the English stronghold of Guînes and the French town of Ardres, on a piece of land referred to as the Field of Cloth of Gold. It was to last until 24th June.

Henry VIII and his queen, Catherine of Aragon, were accompanied by over five thousand people, and although the meeting was supposed to solidify the Treaty of London between the two countries, it was also an opportunity for the two kings to show off to each other.

Here are some details about the Field of Cloth of Gold:

  • The English court was housed in “exotic pavilions”.
  • The King’s chamber was a palace made out of wood and canvas.
  • Courtiers were dressed in “velvet, satin and cloth of gold”.
  • Rich furnishings were used for the state apartments.
  • 6,000 men were employed in building the English quarters.
  • There were two wine fountains flowing with red wine.
  • There was plenty of entertainment – jousts, fights, singing from the French and English choirs, banquets, wrestling and archery displays.
  • The tents of the English court featured cloth decorated with gold, fringing of the Tudor livery colours, fleurs-de-lis designs on some of the roofs, some with candelabra and friezes bearing the Royal mottoes and others with Tudor roses and “King’s beasts”, e.g. lions, greyhounds, dragons etc., on tent poles.

Trivia: Henry VIII challenged Francis I to a wrestling match but unfortunately the English king lost.

The Royal Armouries have produced an excellent video about the combat armour made for Henry VIII specifically for the Field of Cloth of Gold:

Notes and Sources

  • Loades David. Henry VIII, p113

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