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The Field of Cloth and Gold

At 6pm on 7 June 1520, Henry VIII of England met François I of France near Calais, for an astonishingly grand European festival, designed to improve relations between the two great rival kingdoms. So magnificent was the occasion that it became known as the Field of Cloth of Gold.

To celebrate their newfound friendship — orchestrated by Henry’s right-hand man, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey — Henry and François had agreed to meet and now, in a shallow valley a little to the south of Calais in northern France, the two kings embraced warmly.

The momentous moment marked the start of 18 days of feasts, tournaments, masquerades and religious services set amidst a sea of specially built — and incredibly elaborate — tents, banqueting houses and ‘portable palaces’. 

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