The dynamics of Henry's friendship with King Francois are complicated. Although the two men were close in age (Henry being only three years older), they were both competitive, and were two of Europe's most powerful monarchs. Great peace could be acheived if the two of them could get along, and likewise terrible hardships could occur if they were to upset each other. This relationship had teetered on the line between friend and foe, and this was an attempt to set things right once and for all, and to allow the two to publicly meet in an elaborate setting.
Henry and Katherine left Dover with their large retinue and stayed in Calais for six days before meeting the King of France on June 8th - (though it is also possible that the meeting happened on June 7th).
Henry pitched his large marquee, made of "cloth of gold" in a valley called the Golden Dale, near where the French King was staying. Both Kings had about 500 horsemen and 3,000 foot soldiers in their company.
The main goal of this elaborate meeting between monarchs was to agree to outlaw war forever among Christian nations. This was the purpose of the Treaty of Peace from 1518 and the Anglo-French Treaty of 1514.
The lodgings that were made in preparation for Henry VIII to arrive were extraordinary. He had a temporary palace constructed (which was, of course made of cloth), and covered 12,000 square yards. There was a brick base, timber frames, and canvas which had been painted to resemble bricks and slate. Inside, it was decorated with golden ornaments, and outside red wine flowed from fountains. Clearly, no expense was spared in the preparation for the Kings' arrivals!
The actual meeting of the two Kings was really interesting. The English were on one side of the valley and the French on the other. Everyone was ordered to remain "completely still" on pain of death while the two Kings rode towards each other. The Kings embraced in the middle of the valley, declaring their friendship. However, there were precautions taken - both of the King's swords were held (unsheathed) by their men nearby, just in case!
The days that followed would include tournaments, banquets and various forms of entertainment, but I'll talk about that in the next few days. Today, it is important to consider the political motivations that sparked this meeting, and to imagine that initial meeting and embrace by two of the most powerful Kings in the world at that time. What a magnificent moment in Tudor history, especially when we consider the amount of effort put into the decoration and grandeur that both countries were trying to show each other.