The Tudor Society

New Year’s Eve and St Sylvester

I'm posting this week's Friday video a day early because I'm talking about New Year's Eve, which is also the feast day of St Sylvester, a 4th century pope.

Find out more about this saint and hear William Caxton's 15th century version of a legend associated with him, in this week's video.

You can read William Caxton's chapter on St Sylvester at

This 13th century fresco shows Pope Sylvester and Emperor Constantine:

amd this 14th century fresco by Maso di Banco shows Pope Sylvester and the dragon:

Do have a read of the article Sausages, sponges and silver: Modern New Year vs Roman Saturnalia that Kevin Butcher, Professor of Roman History at Warwick University, shared with us a few years ago.

Here are the talks I mentioned on the Tudors and New Year:

The following video is the one I mention and is a wonderful video looking at books that were given to and by Tudor monarchs at New Year.

In this video, I mention John Nichol's early 19th century book The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth and you can read the lists of Elizabeth I's New Year gifts at, pages xxxiii to xxli


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New Year’s Eve and St Sylvester