Friday 26 June 2015

To Calais Glittering In The Sun

Around just over 495 years ago Sir Richard Carew of Beddington was quietly biding his time until  retirement as Lieutenant of Calais when a courier arrived.

It was not a routine scroll from fussy Clerks of the Exchequer querying the accounts that he needed to juggle to pay the bills and fiddle for his families future, it was a directive from the King.  He was going to pay a visit in June 1520.

This was bad news enough, keeping the King and his immediate Court amused and well fed was difficult.  But this time he was bringing almost the entire aristocracy with him and was to meet the King of France, also with his Court and a host of others of high standing.

It was to be a Royal occasion to surpass all others of known history as King Henry VIII wished to be at the heart of Europe and to be seen as a force to be reckoned with in the union of Europe of its day. Embracing fellow monarchs and leaders is nothing new.

The event was known as The Field Of The Cloth of Gold and was held by Balinghem on the D231 between Guines and Ardres in the then territory of Calais.  For just a few days of politicking, fun, jousts and the rest that almost approached such occasions of the present, there would be a temporary tented city created.

It would not be basic or modest.  It was to be a rich, glowing fantasy world at huge expense that would be beyond the imaginations or ordinary men with no expense spared and every known luxury provided and with food and entertainment at the highest levels.

We know those of the high elites who were there.  What we do not know are the names of the hordes of both those who were there to serve and work and inevitably the vast numbers who would turn up on the main chance.  Nor do we know where they went when the tents were folded and the party ended.

Seeing all this would cause them to think that England was the place to go.  If the English could spend on this scale it was impressive.  They could throw money around, build palaces and fine houses and enjoy the good life of the age.  To have a share in this the only problem was to cross The Channel.

By 1520 the miserly austere years of King Henry VII were almost forgotten.  His desire to tax but not spend, storing money away and avoiding debt had been overtaken.

As well as the landed elite there was a network of great religious houses wealthy in their turn from farming and the interlocking wool trade which allowed hospitals, schools and charity to be had.

In London, The City was becoming wealthier having devised new means of moving money and accounting for in great ledgers.  It released new activity in support of all the Kings great schemes and called for greater sums as year followed year.  There was to be wealth for all and all comers.

And when Queen Catherine bore the King a living son the circle would be complete and the future certain.

The sad news was that Sir Richard Carew had died suddenly on the 23rd of May 1520, said to be from over work.

1 comment:

  1. "Sir Richard Carew had died suddenly on the 23rd of May 1520, said to be from over work."

    It was one way to escape the possibility of taking the blame for things not turning out well.