1520: The Field of the Cloth of Gold

By Amy Licence

The Field of the Cloth of Gold is a fascinating and detailed look at the famous meeting between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France that took place in 1520.

Right from the start, it is evident that author Amy Licence has done a great deal of research for this book. She has studied documents including letters from ambassadors, inventories, personal letters, and records kept both privately and publicly from such sources as English, Italian, French and Venetian (just to name a few). If there is a reference to the happenings before, during or after the famous event then you can be sure Amy Licence has studied it! Using this wealth of information Licence gives a brief background about Henry VIII, his wife Katherine of Aragon, Francis I and his wife Claude and then moves on to discuss the political reasons as to why this magnificent meeting took place.

The Field of the Cloth of Gold was an event that lasted over two weeks that had, quite literally, thousands upon thousands of people involved. Licence details the multitude of jobs that were required to bring this event to life, from builders to carpenters, from cooks to seamstresses, from servants to painters. The number of people involved was just incredible and it is almost overwhelming to learn how much work these people did to ensure a successful and grand meeting between these two powerful Kings. I was fascinated by the lists that Licence included such as the range of food that people ate, the wages paid to workers and the massive amount of materials needed. It is details such as this, that are often not included in other recounts of the event, that shows just how much research Licence has done for this book. As well as all of this, Licence discusses, again in detail, the different things that took place each day. From the first meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I, through to their respective Queen’s meeting, to the lavish dances that were presented, the jousting and other sporting events that were undertaken, the magnificent feasts held and then the final meeting between both kings.

Following on from such a detailed description of The Field of the Cloth of Gold, Licence discusses the political results from the meeting. She talks about both the short and long term relations between England and France and the impact that the event had upon both countries as well as greater Europe.

The Field of the Cloth of Gold is a fascinating, detailed book which does not miss a single detail. It is, quite honestly, amazing that such a massive event was able to be successfully accomplished! Licence does a wonderful job of discussing both the political and personal impacts of this event on England, France and wider Europe. I really enjoyed this book and found it an engaging read. Licence has a fluid writing style that really captures the reader and this book is a testament to that style. Highly Recommended!


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