The Field of the Cloth of Gold


If you write your name with the wrong hand, the left hand if you're right handed and vice versa, then it cannot be denied that the marks are yours, the name is yours, and yet it is not your writing, not my signature at all. This is the signature which is not yours.


Every political scandal has a shape. The sex scandal is of particular interest. The space opened up can allow a force to interrupt the trajectory of a public figure, setting back reform, or suddenly allowing its possibility, as with George IV's "royal gambols" with his mistresses. Governance is an ordering of fields; for what is often described as "politics", the doings of parliament, a scandal can suddenly open a structuring moment of sex and betrayal, that is an area of experience which doesn't usually find a sympathy or representation in this public discourse. The result is destabilisng and unpredictable.


In scene one of Henry VIII or "All Is True", Norfolk describes the ceremonies at the Field of the Cloth of Gold:

Men might say
Till this time pomp was single, but now married
To one above itself. Each following day
Became the next day's master, till the last
Made former wonders its.
What does the ceremony show? Norfolk is thinking of nations, and of capital. Those who possess capital today make all former operations of capital theirs. It does not accumulate. Capital shines down the days, evaporating them. The gilded masque of two courts, two rivals for European ascendancy, provides the subject for Shakespeare (this early scene is almost certainly by him) to couple a time- and a capital-image. I run through this line in my mind, "their very labor was to them as a painting".

To-day the French,
All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods,
Shone down the English; and to-morrow, they
Made Britain India: every man that stood
Show'd like a mine. Their dwarfish pages were
As cherubims, all gilt; the madams too,
Not us'd to toil, did almost sweat to bear
The pride upon them, that their very labor
Was to them as a painting. Now this masque
Was cried incomparable; and th'ensuing night
Made it a fool and beggar.

Edmund Hardy

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