On the evening of June 7, 1520, a crowd gathered in a field outside of Calais, which was then under the rule of England. One can imagine the finery of the noble onlookers, the gossip they exchanged, the bated breaths as they awaited the arrival of the two guests of honor—the kings of France and England.
By this time, the two countries had centuries of animosity beneath their glittering crowns, but an attempt was being made to change all that. This gathering that would become known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold was arranged as an 18-day celebration to solidify a new era of peace. Thousands of workers had toiled for months to erect massive gilded tent cities to house each of the royal delegations and the events—feasts, tournaments, and other revelry—that they would host.
Against the backdrop of booming cannons, the two mounted men appeared on either side of the field—King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France.