1518 (3rd October)
The Treaty of London
On the advice of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
, King Henry VIII
of England had agreed to make peace with France. This treaty was a peace agreement between the major European powers at the time. It was signed by representatives of Burgundy, France, England, the Netherlands, the Holy Roman Empire, Spain and the Papal States. The treaty agreed that if any one country was attacked the others would come to their aid.
Within a year of signing the Treaty of London, there were tensions between England and France. Thomas Wolsey knew that Henry VIII and Francis I of France were around the same age and were rivals for power in Europe. As they had never met, Wolsey suggested a grand summit meeting between the two monarchs. Both Henry and Francis were keen to appear the epitome of a Renaissance prince. Choosing peace and friendship was a key feature in Renaissance thinking and so the meeting was a good opportunity to show this.
Thomas Wolsey began making detailed plans for the meeting which included the numbers of people that should attend each king as well as events that would take place.
Designs for the temporary palace that would house King Henry VIII and his court were put forward. It had been decided that the English king would camp in Guisnes and the French king in Ardres. Nobles and others in the kings’ retinues would be housed in tents made of cloth of gold that would give the Field of the Cloth of gold its name.
1520 (31st May)
King Henry VIII, his Queen, Catherine of Aragon
and his large retinue left Dover for Calais. Henry and Catherine saided in the ‘Katherine Plesaunce’.
1520 (1st June)
Thomas Wolsey met King Francis I of France for the first time. Wolsey travelled in procession with two crosses held high before him. He was accompanied by 100 archers.
1520 (4th June)
King Henry VIII reached Guisnes which was to be his base. He was to be housed in a large tent covering an area of 10,000 metres squared and standing 12 metres high. The tent was erected on a brick base and the base of the cloth had been painted to look like stone. At the entrance to the tent there was a fountain that ran with wine. King Henry was accompanied by his queen, Catherine of Aragon, his sister, Mary Tudor, Cardinal Wolsey and a large retinue. The courtiers that had accompanied Henry were to be housed in the tents made of cloth of gold that gave the event its name.
1520 (4th June)
King Francis I reached his base at Ardres. He was accompanied by his queen, Claude, his mother, Louise of Savoy and his sister Marguerite.
1520 (6th June)
Cardinal Wolsey visited Henry VIII and Francis I in their camps. He was attended by a great retinue and made a great show of ensuring each king was happy to go ahead with the meeting.
1520 (7th June)
Both kings rode out of their camps in the late afternoon and met at a spot midway between their camps, known afterwards as Val d’Or. Both kings were attended by around 3,000 soldiers who were instructed to stand absolutely still as the two kings met. Henry and Francis met in an elaborately decorated tent. Afterwards each party returned to their own camps.
1520 (9th June)
A jousting tournament was held. It had been agreed that throughout the Field of the Cloth of Gold summit meeting the two kings would not compete against each other. However, Henry challenged Francis to a wrestling match which he lost.
1520 (11th June)
Henry VIII of England dined with the French Queen Claude at Ardres while Francis I dined with Catherine of Aragon at Guisnes. Hundreds of courtiers attended each banquet which was followed by dancing.
1520 (12th June)
Another full-day jousting tournament took place and this time both kings took part competing against all-comers. Queen Catherine of England and Queen Claude of France were carried in litters to watch the spectacle.
1520 (15th June)
King Henry took part in another joust where he was opposed by a number of French noblemen.
1520 (16th June)
Planned activities for this day were cancelled due to a tremendous gale.
1520 (17th June)
The two kings took part in the joust. Each king competed against noblemen from the other camp. King Henry VIII wore and elaboratly decorated and expensive suit of armour.
1520 (23rd June)
Both Kings and Queens and their leading noblemen and women heard mass in a purpose built timber chapel which had been richly decorated. The mass was said by Thomas Wolsey and chaplains of both kings took turns in singing the refrains. After the service they celebrated with a large feast.
1520 (24th June)
The festivities ended with each king giving the other expensive gifts of jewels as an expression of their friendship. The Field of the Cloth of Gold event had cost each king a staggering amount – Henry VIII had spent around £36,000 while Francis had spent around £40,000.