Tag Archives: Francis I

On this day in 1520 – the Field of Cloth of Gold began

The Field of the Cloth of Gold began on 7th June 1520 and lasted for 17 days. It was a meeting between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France. It was arranged to unite the two countries after the 1514 Anglo-French treaty. It was held just outside of Calais at Balinghem, an English territory. King Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon left Dover on 1st June 1520 and crossed the channel heading to Calais, they stayed here for six days before setting off to meet the French king. Hall’s Chronicle described the meeting as; “Thursday 8 June being Corpus Christi day, Henry and the French king Francis I, met in a valley called the Golden Dale which lay midway between Guisnes and Arde where the French king had been staying. In this valley Henry pitched his marquee made of cloth of gold near where a banquet had been prepared. His Grace was accompanied by 500 horsemen and 3,000 foot soldiers, and the French King had a similar number of each. When the two great princes met proclaimations were made by the herald and officers-of-arms of both parties, to the effect that everyone should stand absolutely still – the king of England and his company on one side of the valley and the king of France with his retinue on the other. They were commanded to stand thus, completely still, on pain of death whilst the two kings rode down the valley. At the bottom of the valley they embraced each other in great friendship and then, dismounting, embraced each other again, taking off their hats. Henry’s sword was held, unsheathed, by the marquess of Dorset whilst the duc de Bourbon bore the French king’s sword similarly all the while. On Friday 9 June the two kings met up at the camp where a tiltyard had been set up with a pretty green tree with damask leaves nearby. On Saturday two shields bearing the arms of the two kings were hung upon this tree and a proclamation made to the effect that anyone who intended to attend the royal jousts and compete in feats of arms – such as the running at the tilt, fighting tourneys on horseback and fighting on foot at the barriers with swords should bring their shields of arms and have their names entered into the records kept by Clarencieux and Lancaster, officers-at-arms. On Sunday 11 June the French king came to Guisnes to dine with the Queen of England and was graciously received by the Lord Cardinal, the Duke of Buckingham, the Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Northumberland and various other noblemen, together with a large number of ladies and gentlemen all richly dressed in cloth of gold, velvet and silks. That day too the French king was himself magnificently dressed in tissue-cloth set with precious stones and pearls. When dinner was over, some time was spent dancing in the banqueting hall. Before he started to dance, the French king went from one end of the room to the other, carrying his hat in his hand and kissing all the ladies on both sides – except for four or five who were too old and ugly. He then returned to the Queen and spoke with her for a while before spending the rest of the day dancing. At the same moment King Henry was dining with the French Queen at Arde where he spent the time in a similar manner until seven o’clock in the evening when he returned to Guisnes and the French king likewise returned to Arde. On Monday 12 June both kings and their men-at-arms met at the aforementioned camp. Also present were the Queen of England and the Queen of France, wife of Francis I with her ladies-in-waiting – all riding in litters and sedan chairs covered in sumptuous embroidery. Some other ladies also arrived mounted on richly decorated palfreys. Then the two kings with their teams of challengers and their sides entered the field, every one fully armed and magnificently dressed. The French king started the jousts and did extremely well, even though the first lance was broken by King Henry, who managed to break one on each charge. The French king broke a good number of lances but not as many as Henry. Thursday 15 June saw Henry in the field again, fully armoured and challenging all comers. Opponents that day included two French noblemen with their men-at-arms, all well-mounted and finely dressed, who acquitted themselves well. On Friday 16 June there was no contest at the camp because of a tremendous gale. On Saturday both kings entered the field and King Henry’s armour-skirt and horse-trapper were decorated with 2,000 ounces of gold and 1,100 huge pearls, the price of which was incalculable, the Earl of Devonshire also appeared that day wearing cloth of gold, tissue-cloth and cloth of silver, all elaborately embroidered, with his retinue wearing the same uniform. When the French king and the Earl of Devonshire charged at each other, so fierce was their encounter that both their lances broke. In all they ran off eight times, during which the French king broke three lances while the earl broke two lances and the French king’s nose. On Saturday 23 June a large and well-appointed chapel was set up on the grounds, decorated with ornate hangings and filled with statues of saints and holy relics. Later the lord cardinal said mass in the chapel – which had been built and fitted out entirely at King Henry’s expense. During the service the chaplains of both kings took it in turns to sing the refrains, which was heavenly to listen to. The mass completed, the kings and queens, proceeded to the gallery beside the chapel to dine in great style.” Henry and Francis were always in competition with each other and the Field of the Cloth of Gold was no different each camp tried to outshine the other. In the English camp a temporary palace was erected covering nearly 12,000 square yards. The palace was separated into four blocks with a central courtyard. The base of each block was brick that stood at eight feet high and above this the walls were made of canvas or cloth attached to timber frames and painted to look like brick. Oiled cloth was painted to give the impression of a slated roof. In the central courtyard stood two fountains that flowed red wine for everyone to enjoy, it is believed that over 2800 tents were erected around the palaces for lesser visitors. The following days of the meeting saw many tournaments, banquets in each camp where the kings entertained each other’s queens. Other entertainment included wrestling, although the kings had not competed against each other due to carefully established rules Henry challenged Francis to a wrestling match but promptly lost. The Field of the Cloth of Gold came to an end on 24th June when the two kings departed the political reasons for the meeting was not resolved and in fact relations began to break down soon after.

Field of the cloth of goldField of the Cloth of Gold

On this day in 1515 – Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon officially married

Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon were officially married on 13th May 1515 after Mary was widowed following her marriage to King Louis XII of France.

It is believed that Mary and Charles were already in love when her marriage to the King of France was arranged by her brother Henry VIII. Mary was originally betrothed to the future Holy Roman Emperor, Charles in 1507 but following a change in allegiance Henry broke off the arrangement and began negotiating with France with the aid of Cardinal Wolsey. At the age of 18 Mary was sent to France to marry the 52 year old King, with a deal in place that Mary would do her duty by marrying Louis but when he dies Mary would be able to choose her next husband.

When the elderly King died in January 1515 negotiations began to bring Mary back to England. Henry had charged his closest friend with escorting his sister home under the promise that he would not propose to the Dowager Queen of France. One reason for this is that Henry was keen to see Mary return to England with the jewels and gold plate that the old King had promised his wife along with her substantial dowry.

Mary would confide her feelings in the new King of France, Francis I, about Brandon and he set about arranging the first meeting when Brandon landed on French soil. Francis saw that if Mary and Brandon married then Henry would not be able to use her as a political pawn by marrying her to the future Holy Roman Emperor, as she was originally suppose to.

On 5th March 1515 in a small chapel in Palais de Cluny, Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon married in secret, essentially Brandon had committed treason as they did not have the permission of the King to marry a Princess. The Privy Council called for Brandon to be imprisoned or even executed and it was only when Cardinal Wolsey intervened did Henry begin to calm down. Henry was close to both his sister and Brandon and so let the couple of with a heavy fine. The fine was £24,000, paid in yearly instalments of £1,000, along with Mary’s dowry from Louis of £200,000 and the gold plate and jewels that were given to her by her late husband.

The couple were officially married on 13th May 1515 at Greenwich Hall with Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon in attendance, a feast and celebration followed but it was deemed a family affair. They would go on to have four children, two daughters and two sons.

Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon

Book review – Mary Boleyn in a nutshell by Sarah Bryson

Very little is known about the other Boleyn girl. Was she the mistress of two Kings? Did she give birth to Henry VIII’s children? Just what do we know about Mary Boleyn?

Sarah Bryson jumps into the unknown life of Mary Boleyn and attempts to pull the facts out of the little that is known about her.

We start right at the beginning with the birth of the Boleyn children and the debate over the order in which they were born. We follow Mary though her time at the French court and her return to England.

Sarah Bryson takes her time to look into Mary’s alleged relationship with King Francis I of France. Bringing in arguments for and against Mary being the French King’s mistress we are given a balanced and clear idea of what may have happened. All the evidence is carefully examined and anything that was documented falsely is proven with the reasons why. An example of this is a letter written by Rodolfo Pio in the year that Anne and George were executed. Bryson clearly explains why and how what is written in the letter is false.

A large portion of this book looks at Mary’s relationship with King Henry VIII and it deals with the question of whether her children Catherine and Henry were in fact Henry’s children or the legitimate children with her husband William Carey. I found this section of the book highly interesting as this is what Mary is remembered for over everything else so to have the facts written down clearly is helpful to anyone who doesn’t know much about Mary Boleyn.

Bryson also explains what happens to Mary once her relationship with Henry was over, her banishment from court and her second marriage with William Stafford. Much of her later life is unknown but we get the idea that she lived happily away from court with her family.

The book is a great read and easily finished if you have an afternoon free for reading. It is great to learn more about the Boleyn who is often left in the shadows of her younger sister, Anne.

Mary Boleyn in a nutshell

On this day in 1547 – King Francis I died

Francis was born on 12th September 1494 to Charles, Count of Angoulême and Louise of Savoy. He ascended the throne of France as his father in law and cousin, King Louis XII, died without a male heir.

Francis was a great supporter of the arts and helped the start of the French Renaissance by bringing many artists to work on his great home the Château de Chambord. Like his English counterpart Francis saw many changes during his time on the throne from the exploration of new worlds to the rise of Protestantism as well as the development of a standardised French language.

Chateau                                                   Château de Chambord

Francis was also engaged in many military campaigns mainly against Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. On these campaigns he courted Henry VIII as an ally and signed many treaties with the King of England. On one of the few occasions the two kings met was the Field of the Cloth of Gold, a 17 day event that was designed to build the friendship between the two countries, however at this event negotiations failed.

In 1505 Louis XII ordered his heir presumptive Francis to marry his daughter, Claude and the marriage took place on 18th May 1514. Louis died shortly after the marriage which meant Francis inherited the throne, Francis was crowned King of France on 25th January 1515 with Claude as his queen consort.

Francis died on 31st March 1547 at the Château de Rambouillet and was succeeded by his son Henry II who turned 28 on the day his father died. Francis was buried with his first wife, Claude, in Saint Denis Basilica. Francis died of fever and it was said that “he died complaining about the weight of a crown that he had first perceived as a gift from God”.

Francis I