7 June 1520 – The First Day of the Field of Cloth of Gold

Jun7,2013 #Francis I #Henry VIII

Field of Cloth of Gold7th June 1520 was the first day of a meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France, between the English stronghold of Guînes and the French town of Ardres, to solidify the Treaty of London. It lasted until 24th June.

Although the meeting was supposed to be about politics and diplomacy, these two famous Renaissance princes used it as an opportunity to show off to each other, a case of “My court is more lavish than yours, I’m richer than you…” Chronicler Edward Hall records what happened on 7th June:

“Thursday the seuenth day of Iune, in the vale of Andren, within the lordeship royall of Guysnes, before daie was set and pight a royall rich tent, all of clothe of gold, and riche embroudery of the kyng of Englandes, and diverse other hales and pauilions: thesame riche tente of gold, was within hanged of the richest Arras, newly contriued and made, that euer before was seen, and a presence of the kynges estate, with two chayers and riche cusshyns therein: the ground was spred with Carpettes, of newe Turkey makyng, all full of beautie.”1

It was an over-the-top display of wealth and extravagance which included:

  • “A forest of exotic pavilions”2 to house the English Court
  • “A wooden and canvas palace”3 to act as the King’s Chamber
  • Courtiers dressed in “velvet, satin and cloth of gold”4
  • Rich furnishings in the state apartments
  • 6,000 men employed in building the English quarters
  • Two wine fountains flowing with red wine

The programme of entertainment and events included:

  • Jousting and fighting on foot
  • Singing from the French and English choirs
  • Banquets and dancing
  • Wrestling
  • Archery displays

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

You can read all of the details of the Field of Cloth of Gold meeting in Hall’s Chronicle online – click here. It runs from page 608 to 615.

Notes and Sources

  1. Hall, Edward. Hall’s Chronicle, p608
  2. Loades David. Henry VIII, p113
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.

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One thought on “7 June 1520 – The First Day of the Field of Cloth of Gold”
  1. A very showy two weeks, lots of jousts and competitions and the English Palace was something to behold. Johnathon Foyle drew a sketch of it in his documentary and stated from the description that it was three times the size of that shown here in the famous painting. It was great to get close up and personal with no barriers to this painting in 2009, the 500 Anniversary of King Harry’s coming to the throne: and it really is spectacular and very detailed. Excellent stuff! Would have loved to have been there with all that wine and tournaments. I would also have laughed when King Francis tripped and threw King Henry in that wrestling match!

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