December 23 – Nicholas Udall and how he was involved in Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation

On this day in Tudor history, 23rd December 1556, in the reign of Queen Mary I, Nicholas Udall (Yevedale) was buried at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster.

Udall was a schoolmaster, cleric, humanist and playwright, and he wrote a ballad for Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation celebrations in 1533. His ballad was about Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge…


Nicholas Udall

On this day in Tudor history, 23rd December 1556, in the reign of Queen Mary I, Nicholas Udall (Yevedale), schoolmaster, cleric, humanist and playwright, was buried at St Margaret’s, Westminster.

Udall’s play “Ralph Roister Doister”, which combined Latin comedy and English tradition, is regarded as the first English language comedy. He played a part in Anne Boleyn’s coronation in 1533, composing verses for the pageant, and in 1534 he published his Latin text book, “Floures for Latine Spekynge”.

In 1541, Udall was imprisoned for a few months at Marshalsea after committing ‘buggery’ with his pupil Thomas Cheney, but he was back in favour enough the next year to be leading a group of scholars in translating “The Paraphrase of Erasmus upon the New Testament” for Queen Catherine Parr.

Udall’s other works included translations of Erasmus’s “Apophthegms”, Pietro Martire’s “Discourse on the Eucharist” and Thomas Gemini’s “Anatomia”, and the play “Respublica”.

Nicholas Udall and Anne Boleyn’s White Falcon

One of the works he wrote for Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation on 1st June 1533 was a ballad about Anne’s falcon badge, and I’ll share it with you now in memory of Udall:

This White Falcon,
Rare and geason,
This bird shineth so bright;
Of all that are,
No bird compare
May with this Falcon White.

The virtues all,
No man mortal,
Of this bird can write.
No man earthly
Enough truly
Can praise this Falcon White.

Who will express
Great gentleness
To be in any wight;
He will not miss,
But call him this
The gentle Falcon White.

This gentle bird
As white as curd
Shineth both day and night;
Nor far ne near
Is any peer
Unto this Falcon White,

Of body small.
Of power regal,
She is, and sharp of sight ;
Of courage hault
No manner fault
Is in this Falcon White,

In chastity,
Excelleth she,
Most like a virgin bright:
And worthy is
To live in bliss
Always this Falcon White.

But now to take
And use her make
Is time, as troth is plight;
That she may bring
Fruit according
For such a Falcon White.

And where by wrong,
She hath fleen long,
Uncertain where to light;
Herself repose
Upon the Rose,
Now may this Falcon White.

Whereon to rest,
And build her nest;
GOD grant her, most of might!
That England may
Rejoice alway
In this same Falcon White.

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