Nicholas Grimald

(1519-1562 / England)

Biography of Nicholas Grimald

Nicholas Grimald (or Grimoald) (1519-1562), English poet, was born in Huntingdonshire, the son probably of Giovanni Baptista Grimaldi, who had been a clerk in the service of Empson and Dudley in the reign of Henry VII.

He was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he took his B.A. degree in 1540. He then removed to Oxford, becoming a probationer fellow of Merton College in 1541. In 1547 he was lecturing on rhetoric at Christ Church, and shortly afterwards became chaplain to Bishop Ridley, who, when he was in prison, desired Grimald to translate Laurentius Valla's book against the alleged Donation of Constantine, and the De gestis Basiliensis Concilii of Aeneas Sylvius (Pius II). His connection with Ridley brought him under suspicion, and he was imprisoned in the Marshalsea. It is said that he escaped the penalties of heresy by recanting his errors, and was despised accordingly by his Protestant contemporaries. Grimald contributed to the original edition (June 1557) of Songes and Sonettes (commonly known as Tottel's Miscellany), forty poems, only ten of which are retained in the second edition published in the next month.

He translated (1553) Cicero's De officiis as Marcus Tullius Ciceroes thre bokes of duties (2nd ed., 1556); a Latin paraphrase of Virgil's Georgics (printed 1591) is attributed to him, but most of the works assigned to him by Bale are lost. Two Latin tragedies are extant; Archipropheta sive Johannes Baptista, printed at Cologne in 1548, probably performed at Oxford the year before, and Christus redivivus (Cologne, 1543), edited by JM Hart (for the Modern Language Association of America, 1886, separately issued 1899).

It cannot be determined whether Grimald was familiar with Buchanan's Baptistes (1543), or with Jacob Schoepper's Johannes decollatus vel Ectrachelistes (1546). Grimald provides a purely romantic motive for the catastrophe in the passionate attachment of Herodias to Herod Antipas, and constantly resorts to lyrical methods. As a poet Grimald is memorable as the earliest follower of Surrey in the production of blank verse. He writes sometimes simply enough, as in the lines on his own childhood addressed to his mother, but in general his style is more artificial, and his metaphors more studied than is the case with the other contributors to the Miscellany. His classical reading shows itself in the comparative terseness and smartness of his verses. His epitaph was written by Barnabe Googe in May 1562.

See C. H. Herford, Studies in the Literary Relations of England and Germany (pp. 113-119, 1886). A Catalogue of printed books ... by writers bearing the name of Grimaldi (ed. AB Grimaldi), printed 1883; and Edward Arber's reprint of Tottel's Miscellany.

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A Rondel Of Love

LO, quhat it is to love
   Learn ye that list to prove,
By me, I say, that no ways may
   The ground of grief remove,
But still decay both nicht and day:
   Lo, quhat it is to love!

   Love is ane fervent fire
   Kindlit without desire,

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