Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Question from Amy - Name of and musicians at the Field of the Cloth of Gold

I'm doing research for my NaNoWriMo novel, which is going to be primarily based at the Field of Cloth of Gold and concerning court musicians for Henry VIII. I primarily have two questions:

From what I've read, Field of Cloth of Gold was not a contemporary term for the meet-up between Henry VIII and Francis I. Was there another official title to this meeting?

Secondly, I need to know more about housing for court musicians. Did they live in quarters at the palace, or were they responsible for their own outside dwellings?


Foose said...

The contemporary English records all call the meeting "Guisnes," after the local castle where the meeting occurred.

Per the musicians - Letters & Papers for March 1520 provides a list of the members of the King's household who were being taken along to the conference. I can only narrow down the musicians to the entry for "The Chapel" - that is the Chapel Royal, the court department responsible for the masques and guisings under the Master, William Cornish. The staff included musicians, child singers, gentlemen and priests, so the entry isn't helpful as to each person's occupation (a couple of them are clearly not musicians) - the only one I recognize is William Cornish, the Master of the Chapel.

The listing runs:

The Chapel:—Sir Roger Norton, subdean, Sir Wm. Tofte, Sir John Cole, Sir John Muldre, Sir Andrew Yong, Sir Thos. Hal, Sir Wm. Blakeden, Sir Ric. Elys, Robt. Fairefax, John Lloyd, John Sudborow, Wm. Cornysh, Robt. Penne, John Wever, John Fisher, Wm. Daubney, Thos. Farthing, Hen. Stevinson, Robt. Hawkyns, Davy Burton, John Giles, Thos. Bury, John Tyl, Wm. Colman, Thos. Cheyny, Wm. Hogeskyn, Robt. Jones, Wm. Crane, Sir Robt. Cotes, gospeller, Sir John Whetwood, "pisteler," Wm. Rothewel, John Bunting, Nich. Horneclif, Wm. Lambe, Geoffrey Write.

As to accommodations, the records concentrate mostly on where the king and queen and the fancy people will lodge; there are a couple of entries from the same month, March 1520, that may cover the musicians' situation:

"The commissioners to appoint the lodgings at Calais, are Sir John Peche, the marshal, Sir Ric. Carewe, Wotton and Garnishe; for Guisnes, Sir Wm. Sandes, Sir Nic. Vauxe and Sir Edw. Belknap; and the King's harbingers are to attend on both ...

"There being no place within the castle of Guisnes for the lodging of the servants and guard, Gibson will take across the King's halls, tents and pavilions, and a place for them shall be assigned by Sandes and the other commissioners."

Gibson is Sir Richard Gibson, Serjeant of the King's Tents. This entry might possibly suggest that the servants and guards were accommodated in tents and pavilions, but I couldn't find any other information to confirm this.

One useful book I ran across in researching this was The Early Tudor Court and International Musical Relations, by Theodore Dumitrescu. It lists a number of the Tudor court musicians by name, and much of it is viewable on Google Books.

Amy said...

Thanks for your help. My characters are fictional and the whole situation is largely fictional (except of course for the setting and some of the main characters). Part of my story will also take place prior to departure for the Field of Cloth of Gold, so that's really where my housing question comes from. I've been able to gather that the musicians likely would have been in a tent somewhere amongst the servants, soldiers, and field kitchens.

Foose said...

There is a good book called Music & Poetry in the Early Tudor Court by John E. Stevens, which covers the musicians' status, details of living and rank within the court. It appears to have been another strict hierarchy, with the musicians attached to the privy chamber having the status of quasi-gentlemen, or grooms, and thus probably having the privilege of being lodged in the king's house. Below this rank I was unable to determine the specifics of the musicians' accommodations, as the text is only partly available on Google Books.

There were some interesting points. Instrumentalists ranked considerably below singers. Foreign "virtuosi," rather than native Englishmen, commanded the highest regard (like Dionysus Memo, who taught Princess Mary on the virginals). The only instrumentalists to enjoy a high status were those who played the "keyboard," like Mark Smeaton, who was attached to the privy chamber as a musician and hence suffered from an equivocal status (Queen Anne saying, "You may not look to have me speak to you as I would do to a nobleman, because you are an inferior person ..."). It's well worth checking out.