1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Field of the Cloth of Gold

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FIELD OF THE CLOTH OF GOLD, the French Camp du drap d’or, the name given to the place between Guînes and Ardres where Henry VIII. of England met Francis I. of France in June 1520. The most elaborate arrangements were made for the accommodation of the two monarchs and their large retinues; and on Henry’s part especially no efforts were spared to make a great impression in Europe by this meeting. Before the castle of Guînes a temporary palace, covering an area of nearly 12,000 sq. yds., was erected for the reception of the English king. It was decorated in the most sumptuous fashion, and like the chapel, served by thirty-five priests, was furnished with a profusion of golden ornaments. 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. Ladies gorgeously clad, and knights, showing by their dress and bearing their anxiety to revive the glories and the follies of the age of chivalry, jostled mountebanks, mendicants and vendors of all kinds.

Journeying from Calais Henry reached his headquarters at Guînes on the 4th of June 1520, and Francis took up his residence at Ardres. After Cardinal Wolsey, with a splendid train had visited the French king, the two monarchs met at the Val Doré, a spot midway between the two places, on the 7th. The following days were taken up with tournaments, in which both kings took part, banquets and other entertainments, and after Wolsey had said mass the two sovereigns separated on the 24th. This meeting made a great impression on contemporaries, but its political results were very small.

The Ordonnance for the Field is printed by J. S. Brewer in the Calendar of State Papers, Henry VIII. vol. iii. (1867). See also J. S. Brewer, Reign of Henry VIII. (1884).