ballade royale (noun phrase)
(1) ?An evaluative term for a short poem in various forms. The literary anthologist John Shirley uses the phrase to introduce works in various forms, both three-stanza through-rhymed rhyme-royal ballades and rhyme-royal ballades with three stanzas plus a fourth envoy stanza, as well as longer poems written in both rhyme royal and in eight-line ababbcbc stanzas. The adjective thus seems to have no particular formal designation.
(2) ?A term for a type of ballade. The Quixley who translated John Gower’s French ballade sequence, the Traitié, into English, writes in his prologue that Gower composed the work ‘In balades ryale’. Gower’s ballades in this sequence are three-stanza through-rhymed ballades with refrains in ababbcc stanzas, without a final envoi stanza. Quixley have intended the adjective simply as evaluative, or the term may refer to a through-rhymed ballade, or it may be an early example of the term being used to refer to rhyme royal (see (3) below).
(3) A term for rhyme royal stanzas. William Caxton (in the preface to his circa 1484 print of Cato’s Distichs) calls Benedict Burgh’s earlier rhyme-royal translation of the same text a translation in ‘balade ryal’. This reference likely indicates that by the late fifteenth-century this term defined the particular type of stanza that we now call rhyme royal, rhyming ababbcc. George Gascoigne is the first to use the term ‘Rithme royal’ in a work of 1575, Certayne Notes of Instruction Concerning the Making of Verse or Ryme in English.