David Gelber

What a Beard-Off

The Field of Cloth of Gold


Yale University Press 275pp £35 order from our bookshop

For one unavoidable reason, the plains of northern France will lie heavy in the public mind this year. In 1914, English and French soldiers repudiated ancient enmities and took to the field together. This union of arms – on territory where each nation had drained so much of the other’s blood – was not, as Glenn Richardson recalls in The Field of Cloth of Gold, unique. A little under four hundred years before, the nobilities of France and England, led by their monarchs, Francis I and Henry VIII, met on a stretch of farmland between the towns of Guînes and Ardres to proclaim everlasting concord between their nations. 

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