Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Field of the Cloth of Gold

Henry VIII. was only twenty-four when the French king died, leaving his throne to his nearest male relative, Francis I. At that time Spain and Holland were both ruled by Charles V.; and as he too was young and clever, like the kings of England and France, there was great rivalry among the three rulers. When the Emperor of Germany died, the crown, being elective, was sought for by Henry, Francis, and Charles.

When the French king heard that Charles was elected, he felt angry and afraid, because his hated rival now occupied the land all around him. He therefore thought it would be a very good plan to make a friend of Henry, who could help him in case of war with Charles. So Francis invited Henry to come over to France and meet him near Calais, where they could enjoy a talk and indulge in games of skill, of which they were equally fond.

Henry gladly accepted this invitation, and got ready to go to France. But Charles, hearing of this plan, secretly crossed over to England, so as to see Henry first. His aim was to make himself so agreeable that Henry would not care to become the French king's ally. Charles won Henry's favour by calling him uncle, and secretly promised the king's minister, Wolsey, to help him become pope as soon as the present pope died.

Now you must know that Wolsey was a very ambitious man. Although only the son of a poor butcher, he had worked very hard to get a college education. Next he became a priest, and was so clever that Henry VII. engaged him as tutor for his children.

Little by little Wolsey won the king's confidence; and as he always did what he was told, and did it well and promptly, he soon rose in rank. Henry VIII. found him very useful, and as Wolsey flattered the young king, the latter liked him and made him Chancellor of State. Proud and even stern with every one else, Wolsey was always gentle and humble with the king, in whose name he really governed, although he pretended to be only a servant.

Henry was so generous that he is said to have given large estates to a lady who made him a good pudding, and to a gentleman who pushed his chair away from a too hot fire. You can understand from that how richly he would reward such a man as Wolsey, who soon lived almost as magnificently as the king, and owned the two palaces of Whitehall and Hampton Court.

Besides being chancellor, Wolsey was Archbishop of York and cardinal, and when the emperor promised to help him become pope in due time, he was greatly pleased. The visit over, Charles went home, while Henry and all his court went to France to see Francis I.

Henry VIII. and Cardinal Wolsey.


Great preparations had been made near Calais for the reception of both courts. We are told that the camp was composed of nearly three thousand tents of silk and brocade, all decked with gorgeous banners. Both kings were fond of display, so there was seen a rare array of jewels, clothes, armour, horses, etc. In fact, there was such a glitter that the place was called the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and shows and diversions of all kinds were the order of the day. But while the kings and queens exchanged visits and viewed the gay tournaments, their ministers discussed matters of state. Every day the round of gaiety was more splendid than before.

Weary of the constant ceremonial, King Francis rode into the English camp alone one morning, and, entering Henry's tent, roused him from his morning slumbers by playfully crying, "You are my prisoner; behold your chains!" In saying these words, Francis took off his beautiful golden chain and put it around Henry's neck.

The English king then returned the compliment by giving Francis a costly bracelet; and when Henry rose, the French king helped him dress. The ice being thus broken, the kings freely rode in and out of each other's camp, and we are told they once enjoyed a wrestling bout together. But Henry's vanity was sorely tried when Francis threw him, and he did not feel comfortable until he had outshone his rival in archery.

When the gay doings on the Field of the Cloth of Gold ended, the kings parted and went home, without any decided alliance having been made. But shortly after this, Henry had a second interview with Charles, and became his ally.