On the 7th June 1520, Henry VIII and Francis I of France met between the English stronghold of Guînes and the French town of Ardres. Ardres was a piece of land referred to as the Field of Cloth of Gold. Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon were accompanied by over five thousand people. The meeting was supposed to solidify the Treaty of London between the two countries.
These two men also used this as an opportunity to show off to each other, even though the meeting was supposed to be about politics. Chronicler Edward Hall records what happened:
‘Thursday the seuenth day of lune, in the vale of Andren, within the lordeship royall of Guysnes, before dair 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.’
The event included ‘a forest of exotic pavilions’ for the English court to stay in and ‘a wooden and canvas palace’ to act as the King’s Chamber. 6,000 men were employed in building the English quarters, courtiers dressed in ‘velvet, satin and cloth of gold’ and there were two wine fountains flowing with red wine.
Many of the Boleyn family are likely to have met at the Field of Cloth of Gold. Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth Boleyn were there, possibly the newly wedded Mary Carey and we can assume that her brother George was among his father’s eleven attendants too. However, even though we do not know where Anne was at the time, it is likely that she was beside Queen Claude and so was part of this family meeting.
Hall’s Chronicle, p608
‘The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn’ by Eric Ives, p31-32
Painting of the Field of Cloth of Gold.