The Field of the Cloth of Gold
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The Field of the Cloth of Gold

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Through the diplomacy of Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII had in 1518 signed a treaty to which all the greater and lesser powers of Europe subscribed, which was to override all previous treaties, and usher in a perpetual peace in Europe. An additional clause provided that Henry and François I of France should have a personal meeting in which all their nations' age-old differences were to be dispelled. This event, the high point of Henry's career, was the assembly of the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

It was to be an unparalleled spectacle: the eighth wonder of the world, in a contemporary phrase. The English king and Catherine his queen, with a retinue of 5000, including almost the entire English court, crossed the Channel in a fleet of ships, to meet the French court near Guisnes, not far from Calais. The feasting, jousting and merrymaking continued for two weeks, and the event was accounted a great success. But its diplomatic results began to unravel almost immediately, as Henry VIII hastened away from the Field for a meeting with François' great rival, Charles V.

These sovereigns are not at peace: they hate each other cordially.
Venetian Ambassador.

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