Archaeologia Volume 3 Section XXIV

Archaeologia Volume 3 Section XXIV is in Archaeologia Volume 3.

Field of the Cloth of Gold

An historical Description of an ancient Picture in Windsor castle, representing the Interview between king Henry VIII. and the French king Francis I. between Guînes and Ardres, in the year 1520. By Sir Joseph Ayloffe (age 63), Baronet, V. P. A. S. and F. R. S.

Read at the Society of ANTIQUARIES, March 29, 1770; and a second Time, by Order of the Society, March 7, 1771.

Joseph Ayloffe 6th Baronet: In 1708 he was born to Joseph Ayloffe. Archaeologia Volume 3 Section XLIII. An Account of the Body of King Edward the First, as it appeared on opening his Tomb in the Year 1774. By Sir Joseph Ayloffe, Bart. V. P. S. A. and F. R. S. Read at the Society of Antiquaries, May 12, 1774. On 19 Apr 1781 he died.

The numerous remains of Greek and Roman sculpture now extant, afford incontestable proofs that, in early times, a strong passion prevailed amongst the civilized states of Asia and Europe, for perpetuating and transmitting to posterity, durable and faithful representations of their most memorable transactions, as well as of their customs, civil and religious rites, ceremonies, and triumphs. The like inclination afterward spread itself throughout the west, where the people had no sooner rubbed off the rust of barbarism, then they adopted the ideas, customs, manners, and practice of the more polished nations. Our northern ancestors followed the example; and we find, that it was not unusual with them to represent and perpetuate, either in sculpture, painting, or arras, such transactions, pomps, solemnities, and remarkable events, more especially those which happened in their own times, as they conceived to be either redounding to the national honour and the glory of their monarch; or tending to add a lustre to their own characters and the reputation of their families, from the several parts they had respectively acted in those affairs.

This custom, which was very prevalent in the neighbouring kingdom of France, hath furnished the celebrated antiquary father Montfaucon with a considerable part of the materials from whence he compiled his elaborate work, intitled, Monumens de la Monarchie Francoise.

It would not, perhaps, be a deviation from truth, to assert, that in regard to historic facts, this practice was not only frequently enjoined by royal authority, but that, in some cases, it was made the duty of those persons who had the superintendence and direction of public ceremonies, to cause them to be carefully represented either in sculpture or painting. Unexceptionable documents, as well as the public records, supply us with evidence in support of the former part of the suggestion; and the probability of the latter is strengthened by passages in several of the old historical descriptions of pomps and solemnities, some of which descriptions, for the better elucidation of their subject, refer to paintings and sculptures wherein such solemnities were represented.

Part of the ceremony of the coronation of Knute and his queen Elfgiva is painted at the beginning of a very curious coæval manuscript formerly belonging to Hyde abbey, of which Knute.. was the foundera. The conquest of England by William the Norman, together with the circumstances that contributed thereunto, from the first embassy on which Harold went into: Normandy until the conclusion of the battle of Hastings, was, by command of queen Matilda, represented in painting; and afterwards, by her own hands and the assistance of the ladies of her court, worked in arras, and presented to the cathedral at Bajeux, where it is still preservedb. Simeon, IXth abbot of Ely, who was a near relation to the Conqueror, and founder of that cathedral, caused the history of saint Etheldreda daughter of Anna king of the East Angles, to be carved in baflo-relievo on the capitals of the eight pillars that support the dome and lanternc. King Henry III. who throughout the course of his long reign, shewed his great regard to the liberal arts, and entertained and encouraged their professorsd, frequently commanded that his palaces and chapels should be adorned with English historical paintings and sculpturese. Although that monarch doth not mention what were the subjects of those historical pieces which he ordered to be painted in his queen's chamber at Winchesterf; yet he is more explicit as to others, which were the effects of his royal mandate. Such as the histories of the two royal faints, Edmund and Edward, which were painted in his round chapel at Woodstockg. The history of the Crusade in the king's great chamber within the Tower of Londonh, and in a low room in the garden near his Jewry at Westminster, which last mentioned room, on account of its being so decorated, was thenceforth to be called the Antioch chamberi. The story of Edward the Confeffor taking off his ring and giving it to a poor stranger, painted in St. John's chapel within the Tower of Londonk, and in the queen's chapel at Winchesterl; and the life of king Edward the Confessor, both in painting and sculpture, round his: chapel in Westminster abbeym, executed by the hand of Peter Cavalinin. Many parts of our English story are represented in the illuminations which adorn that copy of Matthew. Paris which he presented to king Henry III.o. Langton, Bishop of Lichfield, caused the coronation, marriages, wars, and funeral of his patron king Edward I. to be painted in the hall of his episcopal palace, which he had newly builtp The story of Guy earl of Warwick was wrought in a suit of arras, and presented by king Richard II. to his half-brother Thomas earl of Surryq. And the history of the latter part of the reign of that unfortunate king was, by one of his courtiers, represented with great accuracy in fixteen paintings, which adorn a manuscript presented to his queen, and now in the British Museumr. Many other instances might likewise be produced.

Note a. This manuscript is now in the Library of Thomas Afle, esq.

Note b. Memoires de l'Academie R. des Sciences, tom. VIII. Monumens de la Monarchie Francoise, tom. IV. Memoires de l'Academie R. des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, tom. VI. Ducarel's Antiquities, in Append.

Note c. Bentham's Hist. and Antiq. of the Church of Ely, p. 52, & c. where these carvings are engraved.

Note d. See Mr. Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England.

Note e. Rot. Claus. 20 Hen. III. m. 12. A ° 22. m. 3. A ° 29. m. 4. Aº 35. im. 5. Aº 36. m. 22. A ° 44. m. 9. Rot. Liberat. Aº 21 Hen. III. m. 5. A ° 22. m. 3. Aº 44. m. 6. Aº 49. m. 7. A ° 51, m. 8. &.10.

Note f. Rot. Liberat. A ° 17 Hen. III. m. 6.

Note g. Ibid.

Note h. Rot. Claus. Aº 35 Hen. III. m. 11.

Note i. Ibid. m. 10.

Note k. Rot. Clauf. Aº 20 Hen. III, m, 12.

Note l. Rot. Clauf. Aº 20 Hen. III.

Note m. The paintings are now loft; but the sculptures, consisting of fourteen elegant compartments, remain on the fafcia of the cornice of the wall which separates the Confessor's chapel from the choir. The paintings on the thrine of king Sebert, and those in the press which contain the figures commonly called the ragged regiment, were executed by order of king Henry III.

Note n. Mr. Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting

Note o. This curious and truly valuable MS. is now in the British Museum.

Note p. Erdswicke's Staffordshire, p. 101.... Willis's Cathedrals, vol. I. p. 17.

Note q. Dugdale's Warwickshire,

Note r. Harleian Library, No 1319. This MS. was-written and painted by John de la Marque, a French gentleman, who attended King Richard II, from his ex pedition into Ireland to the time of the delivery of the young Queen to the com piffoners of her father the French King.

However intrinsic the merits of these performances might have been, the satisfaction they afforded at the time of their being compleated was much inferior to the advantages of which such as still remain have since been productive. Their utility to antiquaries, and the light which they have thrown upon many. subjects of historical enquiry, have been much greater than could have been originally apprehended. To this, the conduct of the artists employed on such occasions evidently contributed, and that in no small degree. Instead of loading their compositions with allegory, fiction, and emblems; instead of introducing a variety of imaginary and romantic figures and embellishments, that never existed but in the wildness of fancy; and instead of grouping together things which in fact were ever distant from each other, practices too much indulged by later painters; they confined themselves, with the greatest attention, to truth, reality, and accuracy. They represented persons and things exa & tly in the fame mode, form, attitude, habit, colour, situation, and condi tion, as they actually saw them; and that without any disguise, diminution, addition, or other alteration; and, by drawing from the life every principal figure in the piece, exhibited exact portraits of the personages concerned in that particular transaction which they endeavoured to commemorate.

Hence it is, that such pieces, whilst they display the grandeur and magnificence of former ages, and point out the taste, fashions, customs, and manners of our ancestors, at the same time shew us the armour, weapons, habits, furniture, implements, and orna ments, which they used; give us real and faithful views, not only of their towns, churches, palaces, and other buildings, as they actually were, but of the decorations of their several parts; fet before us a variety of interesting particulars unnoticed by our histo rians; and convey to 113 a clearer idea of the whole, than can be attained by reading the most elaborate and descriptive narratives

Note s. Amongst these the following may be reckoned; videlicet, K. Richard II. seated on his throne, and attended by his uncles1. John lord Lovel fitting in his great hall, and receiving a book from father John Sifernes2. The coronation of king Henry V.3. King Henry V. and his family4. The consecration of St. Thomas Becket, presented to king Henry V. by his uncle the duke of Bedford5. The battle of Agincourt, formerly in the palace at St. James's6. The marriage of king Henry VI. and Margaret daughter of Reyner, duke of Anjou7. King Edward IV. his queen, eldest son, and the nobility of his court8. The landing of Henry duke of Richmond, afterwards king Henry VII. and the marriage of his son Arthur, wrought in tapestry, and sold by order of the parliament after the death of king Charles I.9. The battle of Bofworth enamelled on a jewel, usually worn by king Henry VIII. and fold among king Charles l's pictures9. A grand geographical chart of the kingdom of England, in which the several places wherein any battles had happened between the houses of York and Lancaster were marked10. A sea fight between the French and English off Dover in the year 1400, wrought in tapestry, and preserved in the great wardrobe at St. James's10. The inter view between king Henry VIII. and the emperor Maximilian at Tournay, now in a priva: e apartment in Kensington palace; two pictures, representing the entry of king Henry VIII. into Calais, accompanied by several persons of distinction, painted from the life; and another picture of Henry VIII's inter view with the emperor Charles V. at Calais, all which were kept in a gallery at the palace of St. James in the reign of queen Elizabeth10. The landing of the emperor Charles V. and his reception at Dover; the interview of Henry VIII. and Francis I.; the siege of Bulloign; the fight between the English and French fleets near Spithead; the procession of King Edward VI. and other histo rical pieces, at Cowdry, in Sussex, the seat of the vifcount Montagu. The battle of the spurs, in the picture gallery at Windfor. The taking of Kinsale by the Spaniards, which hung in the gallery next the playhouse at St. James's palace10. Henry VIII, giving a charter of incorporation to the company of Barber-surgeons11. Edward VI. delivering to the lord Mayor of London his royal charter; whereby he gave up his royal palace of Bridewell to be converted into an hospital and workhoufe12. The glorious destruction of the boasted Spanish armada, wrought in tapestry, and now the hangings of the house of lords. A limning of the Spanish Arniada, by old Hilliard13. A map of all the country about Kinsale, where the Spaniards were beaten13; and many others.

Note 1. ln an illuminated copy of Froisart, in the British Museum.

Note 2. In a missal, ibid.

Note 3. In alto relievo, on the outside of the wall of the feretry of that king in Westminster abbey.

Note 4. In pofseflion of the late James West, esq.

Note 5. In poffefsion of the late James Weft, esq.

Note 6. Mandello's Voyage to England in the year 1640, vol. IV. p. 617, & c.

Note 7. Belonging to H. Walpole, esq.

Note 8. MSS. in the Lambethian library,

Note 9. Belonging to H. Walpole, esq.

Note 10. Mandelo.

Note 11. At Barbers Hall.

Note 12. In the great hall at Bridewell.

Note 13. Cat. of king Charles I's pictures.

The miseries which England underwent in the long contest between the houses of York and Lancaster, the fury which at the time of the Reformation was exerted against sculptures, pictures, and images, in general; the demolition of our monasteries and religious houses; the ruins of time; and the outrages committed during the civil wars and subsequent usurpation; have un, doubtedly deprived the present age of many valuable performances. of this sort. Happily some have, however, escaped the general wreck; and, by the entertainment and information they afford, teach us to deplore the loss of those which have been either de stroyed by time, or fallen sacrifices to popular rage, ignorance, anarchy, and confusion.

Amongst the pictures here alluded to, that which represents the famous interview of king henry viii. and the french king francis i. within the english pale between guînes and ardres in the year 1520, hath a particular claim to our attention, as well on account of the importance and fingularity of its subject, as of the immense number of figures which it contains, the variety of matter which it exhibits, and the manner in which the whole is executed.

This masterly and elaborate performance is preserved in the royal castle at Windsor; but being there placed in the king's private apartments below stairs, which are seldom permitted to be shewn, hath long remained in great measure unknown to the public, notwithstanding it hath a better claim to the attention of the curious, and more particularly to that of an antiquary, than many of the justly celebrated pictures in that inestimable cola lection.

History informs us, that four days after signing of the treaties concluded at London on the fourth of October 1518, for the marriage of the princess Mary of England with the dauphin of Erance, for the delivery of Tournay to the French, and for the mutual prevention of depredations being committed by the subjects either of England or France on the territories of their relpective monarchs [ t ], a further treaty was concluded for an interview between king Henry VIII. and Francis I.; which interview was thereby agreed to be had before the end of July following, at Sandifeild, situate between the limits of their respective territories [ u ]. This meeting however was prevented from taking place at that time, by the death of the emperor Maximilian, and the confusion wherein all Europe was thereby involved. Toward the close of the ensuing year, Charles V. of Spain being elected emperor, the French king, who had been his competitor for the empire, grew apprehensive that a war was inevitable, on account of the jealousies which still subsisted between them. He therefore sent Bonivet, admiral of France, again into England, to press on and settle every thing relating to the intended interview; hoping thereby to secure king Henry in his interest. In this negociation the admiral was powerfully seconded by the repeated applications of the four French noblemen who remained in England as hostages for Francis's performance on his part of the beforementioned trea ties [ w ]. Henry being equally desirous that the interview should take place, every obstacle was removed by Wolsey, who secretly Hattered himself with expectations, that his presence, on that occasion, would give him a fair opportunity of obtaining the French king's assistance towards his election to the papal chair, an elevation to which he at that time aspired.