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Doris Williams Singing Angel / Blog

Musical Festivals in the Renaissance that rival Burning Man!

Tant que vivray

Did you know that back in the Renaissance, King Henry VIII and Francis I of France had a festival called The Field of Cloth of Gold near Calais, France, in which the Kings tried to outdo each other with dazzling tents and clothes, huge feasts, music, jousting, and games. The tents and the costumes displayed so much cloth of gold, an expensive fabric woven with silk and gold thread, that the site of the meeting was named after it. A temporary palace covering an area of nearly 12,000 square yards (10,000 m2), was erected for the reception of the English king. The palace was in four blocks with a central courtyard; each side was 328 feet (100 m) long. The only solid part was the brick base about 8 feet (2 m) high.[4] Above the brickwork, the 30-foot (10 meter) high walls were made of cloth or canvas on timber frames, painted to look like stone or brick. The slanting roof was made of oiled cloth painted to give the colour of lead and the illusion of slates. The following days were taken up with tournaments, in which both kings took part. There were banquets in which the kings entertained each other's queens. The many other entertainments included archery displays and wrestling between Breton and English wrestlers. Among the musicians present at these festivities was composer Claudin de Serminsy, director of France’s Royal Chapel Choir, and one of the finest composers. He was well known throughout Europe for this secular and sacred music. One of his most popular is Tant que vivray, which was one of the top hits of the 16th century, and was probably sung and danced to.