Theatricalisation at The Field of Cloth of Gold, 1520

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Abstract

The sumptuous détente that took place in 1520 between Henry VIII of England and Francois I of France, known respectively as The Field of Cloth of Gold or Le Camp du Drap D'Or, is re-examined through the perspective of performance theory, in particular, theatricalisation. The application of this theoretical perspective draws out the complex ways in which national identity and power were enacted by the English and French monarchs through a combination of scripted and unscripted meetings, and through the exploitation of more obviously theatrical elements, such as costume and mask. Discussion of different national approaches to costume in mask and in the meeting as a whole, reveals the importance of material clothing in the construction and interpretation of national identity. The English chroniclers Hall and Holinshed show how English uniformity in costume was intended to express uniformity of purpose and conformity to a Tudor model of national identity; whereas French material variety was seen to be indicative of moral unreliability. Examination of unscripted elements of the meeting, such as the wrestling match between Henry and Francois, and the performance of gift exchange, reveals how the rival monarchs sought to outmanoeuvre each other in a competition of royal prestige; this was a high risk strategy, promising a boost in the personal reputation of the monarch if successful. Reading this diplomatic extravaganza through the lens of theatricalisation underlines how the performance of national and individual selves was integral to the political negotiations of the period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheatralisierung
EditorsSabine Coelsch-Foisner, Timo Heimerdinger, Christopher Herzog
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
PublisherUniversitatsverlag Winter
Pages69-85
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9783825366889
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

Publication series

NameKulterelle Dynamiken
PublisherUniversitatsverlag Winter

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Mickel, L. (2016). Theatricalisation at The Field of Cloth of Gold, 1520. In S. Coelsch-Foisner, T. Heimerdinger, & C. Herzog (Eds.), Theatralisierung (pp. 69-85). (Kulterelle Dynamiken). Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag Winter.