A special exhibition of dazzling Tudor treasures celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Field of Cloth of Gold
This exhibition immersed visitors in Tudor history and reunited stunning works of art, gold, weapons, manuscripts and clothing from the Field of Cloth of Gold, Henry VIII's legendary encounter with his great rival François I of France.
A never-before-seen tapestry was also on display, which shed rare light on people of colour in the Tudor period.
A Tudor spectacle
The Field of Cloth of Gold, an 18-day meeting between Henry VIII and François I in 1520, was unparalleled in its lavish demonstration of wealth and power.
Inside huge temporary palaces, under tents made of luxurious cloth of gold or on the specially constructed tiltyard, the two competitive kings and their courtiers jousted and wrestled, hosted great banquets and exchanged expensive gifts. Wine flowed from the fountains and a 'dragon' flew above the festivities.
Top image: The Field of the Cloth of Gold c. 1545. © Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
20 April - 05 September 2021
This exhibition is closed.
This is Tudor history at its most dramatic, dazzling best.
Tracy Borman, Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces
Gold and Glory exhibition
Reuniting 16th-century treasures after 500 years
The exhibition took place in the rooms at Hampton Court Palace that were used by the mastermind of the event, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, and combined significant artefacts from the Field of Cloth of Gold with dazzling treasures from Henry's Tudor court and François' Valois court.
Key items included the spectacular Stonyhurst vestments — woven from luxurious cloth of gold and selected by Henry for use at the religious services held near Calais and the Wolsey's Book of Hours.
The resulting display evoked the political tensions that preceded this defining moment in Henry VIII's reign, as well as the ostentation of the event itself.
Image: Henry VIII by Lucas Horenbout 1526-7. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
Never-before-seen tapestry to go on display
As well as a treasure trove of precious objects from the rival courts of Tudor England and Valois France, the exhibition featured a unique tapestry that went on public display for the first time in its history.
Manufactured in Tournai in the 1520s, the richly woven textile depicts a bout of wrestling at the Field of Cloth of Gold, and includes a black trumpeter among the brace of royal musicians.
This incredible object is one of only a handful of surviving early 16th century visual representations of people of colour at the European royal courts, and the only depiction of a black musician in attendance at the Field of Cloth of Gold.
Explore the Field of Cloth of Gold
Image: The Field of the Cloth of Gold c. 1545. © Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
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