When every blessed thing you hold
Is made of silver, or of gold,
You long for simple pewter.
When you have nothing else to wear
But cloth of gold and satins rare,
For cloth of gold you cease to care -
Up goes the price of shoddy.
- Gilbert and Sullivan, The Gondoliers
Cloth in which threads of real gold are woven. Known from the seventh century in Byzantium, it is especially associated with medieval costume and pageantry, though it continues to be made by traditional methods in India today.
Gold is so ductile that by repeated passing of wire through ever narrower holes it can be made into thread, which can be woven on a loom. This can be used in conjunction with silk or wool, or even by itself.
It is similar to modern lamé, which however is typically a coating of metal on a core of textile thread. Such techniques of gold strip on gut or textile core were also used in the past.
When Mongols invaded Russia in the 1200s their golden tents led the Russians to give them the name of Golden Horde.
In 1520 King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France met near Calais, the English encamping at Guines and the French at Ardres. Because of the finery of their arrangements this conference is known to history as the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Henry VIII decided not to ally himself with France, but chose the Emperor Charles V. Both kings took most of their courts and a retinue of musicians with them, and the two nations' choirs sang together. A golden fountain had three spouts, for claret, spiced wine, and water. The two kings had a friendly joust, and the whole thing almost bankrupted them both.
A cloth of estate is a cloth-of-gold covering for a throne or similar elevated object.