The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is
the people versus the banks. — Lord Acton

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.
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.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

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