Giraldus Cambrensis
Overview
 
Gerald of Wales also known as Gerallt Gymro in Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

 or Giraldus Cambrensis in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, archdeacon of Brecon, was a medieval clergyman and chronicler of his times
English historians in the Middle Ages
Historians of England in the Middle Ages helped to lay the groundwork for modern historical historiography, providing vital accounts of the early history of England, Wales and Normandy, its cultures, and revelations about the historians themselves....

. Born around 1146 at Manorbier Castle
Manorbier Castle
Manorbier Castle is a Norman castle located in the village of Manorbier, five miles south-west of Tenby, West Wales.-Construction:Manorbier is a rectangular enclosure castle, curtain walls, and round and square towers. Its tower gateway was protected by a great door and portcullis as well as roof...

 in Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county town is Haverfordwest where Pembrokeshire County Council is headquartered....

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, he was of mixed Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 and Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

 blood, his name being Gerald de Barri.
Gerald was son of Guillaume de Barry
De Barry Family
The de Barry family is an ancient family of Cambro-Norman origins which once had extensive land holdings in Wales and County Cork, Ireland. The founder of the family was a knight who assited in the Norman Conquest of England and Wales during the 11th century...

 (or Barri), one of the most powerful Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

s in Wales at the time. He was a maternal nephew of David FitzGerald
David Fitzgerald
David Andrew Fitzgerald was an Australian first-class cricketer who played for the Southern Redbacks. He was a right-handed batsman and earned a reputation for grafting out long innings....

, the Bishop of St David's
Bishop of St David's
The Bishop of St David's is the ordinary of the Church in Wales Diocese of St David's.The succession of bishops stretches back to Saint David who in the 6th century established his seat in what is today the city of St David's in Pembrokeshire, founding St David's Cathedral. The current Bishop of St...

 and a grandson of Gerald de Windsor
Gerald de Windsor
Gerald de Windsor, also known as Gerald FitzWalter, was the nobleman in charge of the Norman forces in Wales in the late 11th century. Notably, he was the progenitor of the FitzGerald and de Barry dynasties of Ireland...

 (alias FitzWalter), Constable of Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle is a medieval castle in Pembroke, West Wales. Standing beside the River Cleddau, it underwent major restoration work in the early 20th century. The castle was the original seat of the Earldom of Pembroke....

, and Nest the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr
Rhys ap Tewdwr
Rhys ap Tewdwr was a Prince of Deheubarth in south-west Wales and member of the Dinefwr dynasty, a branch descended from Rhodri the Great...

.
Quotations

Hodie scripta nemo remuneret.

Nowadays no one ever pays for books.

Felix est illa civitas quae in pace bellum cogitat.

Happy the state which in times of peace is yet prepared for war.

Nec alia, ut arbitror, gens quam haec Kambrica, aliave lingua, in die districti examinis coram Judice supremo, quicquid de ampliori contingat, pro hoc terrarum angulo respondebit.

Whatever else may come to pass, I do not think that on the Day of Direst Judgement any race other than the Welsh, or any other language, will give answer to the Supreme Judge of all for this small corner of the earth.

Encyclopedia
Gerald of Wales also known as Gerallt Gymro in Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

 or Giraldus Cambrensis in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, archdeacon of Brecon, was a medieval clergyman and chronicler of his times
English historians in the Middle Ages
Historians of England in the Middle Ages helped to lay the groundwork for modern historical historiography, providing vital accounts of the early history of England, Wales and Normandy, its cultures, and revelations about the historians themselves....

. Born around 1146 at Manorbier Castle
Manorbier Castle
Manorbier Castle is a Norman castle located in the village of Manorbier, five miles south-west of Tenby, West Wales.-Construction:Manorbier is a rectangular enclosure castle, curtain walls, and round and square towers. Its tower gateway was protected by a great door and portcullis as well as roof...

 in Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county town is Haverfordwest where Pembrokeshire County Council is headquartered....

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, he was of mixed Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 and Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

 blood, his name being Gerald de Barri.

Early life

Gerald was son of Guillaume de Barry
De Barry Family
The de Barry family is an ancient family of Cambro-Norman origins which once had extensive land holdings in Wales and County Cork, Ireland. The founder of the family was a knight who assited in the Norman Conquest of England and Wales during the 11th century...

 (or Barri), one of the most powerful Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

s in Wales at the time. He was a maternal nephew of David FitzGerald
David Fitzgerald
David Andrew Fitzgerald was an Australian first-class cricketer who played for the Southern Redbacks. He was a right-handed batsman and earned a reputation for grafting out long innings....

, the Bishop of St David's
Bishop of St David's
The Bishop of St David's is the ordinary of the Church in Wales Diocese of St David's.The succession of bishops stretches back to Saint David who in the 6th century established his seat in what is today the city of St David's in Pembrokeshire, founding St David's Cathedral. The current Bishop of St...

 and a grandson of Gerald de Windsor
Gerald de Windsor
Gerald de Windsor, also known as Gerald FitzWalter, was the nobleman in charge of the Norman forces in Wales in the late 11th century. Notably, he was the progenitor of the FitzGerald and de Barry dynasties of Ireland...

 (alias FitzWalter), Constable of Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle is a medieval castle in Pembroke, West Wales. Standing beside the River Cleddau, it underwent major restoration work in the early 20th century. The castle was the original seat of the Earldom of Pembroke....

, and Nest the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr
Rhys ap Tewdwr
Rhys ap Tewdwr was a Prince of Deheubarth in south-west Wales and member of the Dinefwr dynasty, a branch descended from Rhodri the Great...

. Through their mother, Angharad, Gerald and his siblings were closely related to Angharad's first cousin, Rhys ap Gruffydd
Rhys ap Gruffydd
Rhys ap Gruffydd or ap Gruffudd was the ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth in south Wales. He is commonly known as The Lord Rhys, in Welsh Yr Arglwydd Rhys, but this title may not have been used in his lifetime...

, Yr Arglwydd Rhys, and his family.

Gerald had a church education at Gloucester
Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

, followed by a period of study in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. He returned to Britain about 1172, and was employed by Richard of Dover
Richard of Dover
Richard was a medieval Benedictine monk and Archbishop of Canterbury. Employed by Thomas Becket immediately before Becket's death, Richard arranged for Becket to be buried in Canterbury Cathedral and eventually succeeded Becket at Canterbury in a contentious election...

, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on various ecclesiastical missions in Wales, where he distinguished himself for his efforts to remove the abuses then flourishing in the Welsh Church. He was appointed archdeacon
Archdeacon
An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in Anglicanism, Syrian Malabar Nasrani, Chaldean Catholic, and some other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church...

 of Brecon
Brecon
Brecon is a long-established market town and community in southern Powys, Mid Wales, with a population of 7,901. It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powys, it remains an important local centre...

 to which was attached a residence at Llanddew
Llanddew
Llanddew is a small village, about two miles from Brecon, Wales.Its manor belongs to the bishops of Saint David's, who had formerly a castellated mansion or bishops palace there, of which some ruins still remain and incorporate a double-sided vaulted well, known as Bishop Gower’s Well.Llanddew...

. On the death of his uncle in 1176, the chapter fixed upon Gerald as the man most likely to withstand the aggressions of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 and submitted his name to Henry II of England
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

. The king promptly rejected Gerald possibly because of his Welsh blood, in favour of one of his Norman retainers Peter de Leia
Peter de Leia
Peter de Leia was Bishop of St David's from 1176 until his death. Before his appointment, he had been Prior of the Cluniac house at Wenlock....

; the chapter acquiesced in the decision; and Gerald, disappointed with the result, withdrew to the University of Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

, earning the title of magister and here continued his studies and gave lectures. According to Gerald the King said at the time: "It is neither necessary or expedient for king or archbishop that a man of great honesty or vigour should become Bishop of St. David's, for fear that the Crown and Canterbury should suffer thereby. Such an appointment would only give strength to the Welsh and increase their pride". In 1180 he returned to Wales and received an appointment from the Bishop of St. David's, which he soon resigned because of corruption he saw in the administration.

Royal servant – travels in Wales and Ireland

Gerald became a royal clerk and chaplain to King Henry II of England
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

 in 1184, first acting mediator between the crown and Prince Rhys ap Gruffydd
Rhys ap Gruffydd
Rhys ap Gruffydd or ap Gruffudd was the ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth in south Wales. He is commonly known as The Lord Rhys, in Welsh Yr Arglwydd Rhys, but this title may not have been used in his lifetime...

. He was chosen to accompany one of the king's sons, John, in 1185 on an expedition
John's first expedition to Ireland
The 1185 expedition of the future King John of England to Ireland has attracted much historical debate due to the lack of government records available and the subsequent reliance on sources such as the Irish Annals and the writings of Gerald of Wales....

 to Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. This was the catalyst for his literary career, his account of his findings being published as Topographia Hibernica
Topographia Hibernica
Topographia Hibernica , also known as Topographia Hiberniae, is an account of the landscape and people of Ireland written by Gerald of Wales around 1188, soon after the Norman invasion of Ireland...

 (1188). He followed it up, shortly afterwards, with an account of Henry's conquest of Ireland, the Expugnatio Hibernica. Gerald was proud to be related to some of the Norman invaders of Ireland such as his maternal uncle Robert Fitz-Stephen
Robert Fitz-Stephen
Robert Fitz-Stephen was a 12th century Cambro-Norman soldier, one of the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland, for which he was granted extensive lands in Ireland. He was a son of the famous Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, the last king of Deheubarth . His father was Nest's second husband,...

 and Raymond FitzGerald
Raymond Fitzgerald
Raymond FitzGerald , nicknamed Le Gros, was a Cambro-Norman commander during the Norman invasion of Ireland....

 and his influential accounts which portray the Irish as barbaric give an important insight into the Norman view of Ireland and the history of the invasion.

Having thus demonstrated his usefulness, Gerald was selected to accompany the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, Baldwin of Forde, on a tour of Wales in 1188, the object being a recruitment campaign for the Third Crusade
Third Crusade
The Third Crusade , also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin...

. His account of that journey, the Itinerarium Cambriae (1191) was followed by the Descriptio Cambriae in 1194. His two works on Wales remain incredibly valuable historical documents, significant for their descriptions — however untrustworthy and inflected by ideology, whimsy, and his unique style — of Welsh and Norman culture. As a royal clerk Gerald observed significant political events at first hand and was offered appointments as bishoprics of Wexford
Wexford
Wexford is the county town of County Wexford, Ireland. It is situated near the southeastern corner of Ireland, close to Rosslare Europort. The town is connected to Dublin via the M11/N11 National Primary Route, and the national rail network...

 and Leighlin, and apparently at a little later time the bishopric of Ossory
Ossory
The Irish geographical name Ossory can refer to:* Kingdom of Osraige* Roman Catholic Diocese of Ossory* Church of Ireland diocese of the Bishop of Ossory* A prophet of the Omnian religion in Terry Pratchett's Discworld...

 and the archbishopric of Cashel
Cashel, County Tipperary
Cashel is a town in South Tipperary in Ireland. Its population was 2936 at the 2006 census. The town gives its name to the ecclesiastical province of Cashel. Additionally, the cathedra of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly was originally in the town prior to the English Reformation....

, and later the Welsh Bishopric of Bangor
Bangor, Gwynedd
Bangor is a city in Gwynedd, north west Wales, and one of the smallest cities in Britain. It is a university city with a population of 13,725 at the 2001 census, not including around 10,000 students at Bangor University. Including nearby Menai Bridge on Anglesey, which does not however form part of...

 and, in 1191, that of Llandaff
Llandaff
Llandaff is a district in the north of Cardiff, capital of Wales, having been incorporated into the city in 1922. It is the seat of the Church in Wales Bishop of Llandaff, whose diocese covers the most populous area of South Wales. Much of the district is covered by parkland known as Llandaff...

, but turned them all down. He also made friends like Walter Map
Walter Map
Walter Map was a medieval writer of works written in Latin. Only one work is attributed to Map with any certainty: De Nugis Curialium.-Life:...

 whose career shares some similarities with Gerald. Retiring from royal service, he lived in Lincoln from around 1196 to 1198 where his friend William de Montibus was now chancellor of the Cathedral. It was in this period De instructione principis
De instructione principis
De instructione principis is a Latin work by the 12th-13th century author Gerald of Wales. It is divided into three "Distinctions"...

 was probably first written which is a useful historical source on contemporary events and was very influential, spreading for example the legend of MacAlpin's treason
MacAlpin's treason
MacAlpin's treason is a medieval legend which explains the replacement of the Pictish language by Gaelic in the 9th and 10th centuries.The legend tells of the murder of the nobles of Pictavia...

 for example. Here Gerald is frequently critical of the rule of the Angevin
House of Plantagenet
The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

 kings.

The battle to become Archbishop of St David's

On the death of Peter de Leia in 1198, the chapter of St. David's again nominated Gerald for the bishopric; but Hubert Walter
Hubert Walter
Hubert Walter was an influential royal adviser in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries in the positions of Chief Justiciar of England, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor. As chancellor, Walter began the keeping of the Charter Roll, a record of all charters issued by the...

, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused confirmation. Representatives of the canons followed Richard I to France, but before they could interview him he died; his successor, King John, received them kindly, and granted them permission to hold an election. They were unanimous in their selection of Gerald and Gerald acted as Bishop-elect for much of the next four years; and, as Hubert still refused to confirm the election, Gerald started for Rome to have his election confirmed, where he had an interview with Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni....

. He visited Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 on three occasions (1199–1200; 1201; 1202–3) in support of his claims. In 1198 the archbishop, however, had anticipated him and his agents in Rome undermined Gerald's case, and, as the pope was not convinced that St. David's was independent of Canterbury, the mission of Gerald proved a failure. Gerald had pleaded not only his own cause, but that of St David's as an Metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 archbishopric (and thus of the same status as Canterbury) reviving the earlier claims of Rhygyfarch and Bernard, Bishop of St David's
Bernard, Bishop of St David's
Bernard was a Norman Bishop of St David's, appointed by Henry I. He also served as Chancellor to Queen Adeliza. He was the last bishop to dispute the primacy of the see of Canterbury. He founded Whitland Abbey....

. It was in connexion with this cause that he wrote his books "De jure Menevensis Ecclesiâ" and "De Rebus a Se Gestis". Gerald returned, and his cause was now supported by the Princes of Wales most notably Llywelyn the Great
Llywelyn the Great
Llywelyn the Great , full name Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, was a Prince of Gwynedd in north Wales and eventually de facto ruler over most of Wales...

 and Gruffydd ap Rhys II
Gruffydd ap Rhys II
Gruffydd ap Rhys II was a prince of Deheubarth in south-west Wales.- Lineage :He was the son of Rhys ap Gruffydd and grandson of Gruffydd ap Rhys....

, while King John, frequently in conflict with the Welsh, warmly espoused the cause of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1202 Gerald was accused of stirring up the Welsh to rebellion and was put on trial, but the trial came to nothing in consequence of the absence of the principal judges. After a long struggle the chapter of St. David's deserted Gerald, and having been obliged to leave Wales he fled to Rome. The ports had been closed against him so he travelled in secret. In April 1203 Pope Innocent III annulled both elections, and Geoffrey of Henlaw was appointed to the See of St. David's, despite the strenuous exertions of Gerald. He afterwards reconciled with the king, even the expenses of his unsuccessful election were paid by the crown, and received from him a small pension. Failing to be appointed to St David's, Gerald maintained that it was the fear of the effect that it would have on the national politics in Wales that prevented his appointment. He famously complained in a letter to Innocent "Because I am a Welshman am I to be debarred from all preferments in Wales? On the same reasoning so would an Englishman in England, a Frenchman in France, and Italian in Italy. But I am sprung from the Princes of Wales and the Barons of the Marches, and when I see injustice in either race I hate it". At this point he resigned his position as archdeacon of Brecon.

Final years

Gerald spent the remainder of his life in academic study, producing works of devotional instruction and politics. He spent two years (1204–6) in Ireland with his relatives and made a fourth visit to Rome, purely as a pilgrimage, in 1206 and may have returned in Lincoln. The controversy over St David's soured his relationship with the crown. In 1216 a baronial plan to put Louis VIII of France
Louis VIII of France
Louis VIII the Lion reigned as King of France from 1223 to 1226. He was a member of the House of Capet. Louis VIII was born in Paris, France, the son of Philip II Augustus and Isabelle of Hainaut. He was also Count of Artois, inheriting the county from his mother, from 1190–1226...

 on the throne of England in the First Barons' War
First Barons' War
The First Barons' War was a civil war in the Kingdom of England, between a group of rebellious barons—led by Robert Fitzwalter and supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII of France—and King John of England...

 was warmly welcomed by him. He died in about 1223 in his 77th year, probably in Hereford
Hereford
Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, southwest of Worcester, and northwest of Gloucester...

 and he is according to some accounts buried at St David's Cathedral
St David's Cathedral
St David's Cathedral is situated in St David's in the county of Pembrokeshire, on the most westerly point of Wales.-Early history:The monastic community was founded by Saint David, Abbot of Menevia, who died in AD589...

.

There is a statue, by Henry Poole
Henry Poole (sculptor)
Henry Poole RA was a British architectural sculptor.He studied at the Lambeth School of Art in 1888; and from 26 January 1892 under Harry Bates ARA and George Frederic Watts RA at the Royal Academy Schools. Poole was elected ARA 22 April 1920 and became a full RA in 1927, shortly before his death...

 of Gerald in City Hall, Cardiff
City Hall, Cardiff
City Hall is a civic building in Cathays Park, Cardiff, Wales. Built of Portland stone, it became the fifth building to serve as Cardiff's centre of local government when it opened in October 1906. The competition to design a town hall and adjacent law courts for Cardiff was won in 1897 by the firm...

 and he was included in the vote on 100 Welsh Heroes
100 Welsh Heroes
100 Welsh Heroes was an opinion poll run in Wales as a response to the BBC's 100 Greatest Britons poll of 2002. The Welsh poll was carried out mainly on the internet, starting on 8 September 2003 and finishing on 23 February 2004...

.

Writings

Gerald's writings in good quality Latin, based on a thorough knowledge of Classical authors, reflect experiences gained on his travels as well as his great knowledge of the standard authorities and he was highly respected as a scholar in his time and afterwards. The noted scholar Edward Augustus Freeman
Edward Augustus Freeman
Edward Augustus Freeman was an English historian. His reputation as a historian rests largely on his History of the Norman Conquest , his longest completed book...

 said he was "the father of comparative philology," and in the preface to the last volume of Gerald's works in the Rolls Series, he calls him "one of the most learned men of a learned age," "the universal scholar." His writings were prolific, running to about ten volumes in modern printed editions. Gerald was a man of strong opinions whose works are frequently polemical, including bitter attacks on his enemies, but also had an intense curiosity recording much valuable detail of everyday life in his ethnographic works.

It is generally agreed today that his most distinguished works are those dealing with Wales and Ireland, with his two books on his beloved Wales the most important: Itinerarium Cambriae and Descriptio Cambriae which tell us much about Welsh history and geography and reflect on the Cultural relationship between the Welsh and the English
Cultural relationship between the Welsh and the English
The relationship between the Welsh and English within Great Britain is mostly characterised by tolerance, respect, and an intermixing of people and cultures. However, elements of mutual mistrust or dislike, and occasionally overt racism, also persist. Hatred or fear of the Welsh by the English or...

. Gerald, despite his desire for an independent Welsh Church and admiration for parts of Welsh life, was very loyal to Norman Marcher rule regarding the Normans as more civilised than the Welsh, a feeling reflected in his writings. Professor Davies tells us that Gerald, whom he calls "an admirable story-teller", is the only source for some of the most famous of the Welsh folk tales including the declaration of the old man of Pencader
Pencader, Carmarthenshire
Pencader is a small village in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire, and is part of the Community and Parish of Llanfihangel-ar-Arth. It is located around 5 km south-east of Llandysul and 10 km south-west of Llanybydder....

 to Henry II which concludes Descriptio Cambriae: "This nation, O King, may now, as in former times, be harassed, and in a great measure weakened and destroyed by your and other powers, and it will also prevail by its laudable exertions, but it can never be totally subdued through the wrath of man, unless the wrath of God shall concur. Nor do I think that any other nation than this of Wales, nor any other language, whatever may hereafter come to pass, shall on the day of severe examination before the Supreme Judge, answer for this corner of the earth."

It was Gerald who also wrote (of the Welsh) that "If they would be inseparable, they would be insuperable", and that, unlike the English hirelings, who fight for power or to procure gain or wealth, the Welsh patriots fight for their country. He had pleasant things to say about the poetic talents of his people, too:
Gerald could not have predicted the later perfection of cynghanedd
Cynghanedd
In Welsh language poetry, Cynghanedd is the basic concept of sound-arrangement within one line, using stress, alliteration and rhyme. The various forms of cynghanedd show up in the definitions of all formal Welsh verse forms, such as the awdl. Though of ancient origin, cynghanedd and variations of...

, the complex system of sound correspondence that has characterized the strict-meter poetry of the Welsh for so many centuries and that is still practised today, especially in competitions for the eisteddfod chair. Cynghanedd did not become a formal system with strict rules until the fourteenth century, but its uniquely Welsh forms had been honed for centuries before that.

Finally, in Descriptio Cambriae, Gerald penned the following words that give so much pride to Welsh singers of today, especially those who participate in the immensely popular Cymanfaoedd Canu (hymn-singing festivals) held throughout Wales and North America:
Another part of the above work, however is less positive. As Cambrensis puts it, "an attention to order now requires that, in this second part, we should employ our pen in pointing out those particulars in which it seems to transgress the line of virtue and commendation". David Powel
David Powel
David Powel was a Welsh Church of England clergyman and historian who published the first printed history of Wales in 1584.-Life:...

 published an abridged version of Itinerarium Cambriae and Descriptio Cambriae in 1585 omitting Gerald's negative comments about the Welsh. Due to translations into English, the first being done by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Bart., and other translations such as in Everyman's Library
Everyman's Library
Everyman's Library is a series of reprinted classic literature currently published in hardback by Random House. It was originally an imprint of J. M. Dent , who continue to publish Everyman Classics in paperback.J. M. Dent and Company began to publish the series in 1906...

 and Penguin Classics Gerald's works on Wales are well known today.

In his writing on Ireland his love of music is very evident too.
" Chapter Xi of Distinction III (Topographia Hibernica
Topographia Hibernica
Topographia Hibernica , also known as Topographia Hiberniae, is an account of the landscape and people of Ireland written by Gerald of Wales around 1188, soon after the Norman invasion of Ireland...

)
(Of the incomparable skill of the Irish in playing upon musical instruments)

The only thing to which I find that this people apply a commendable industry is playing upon musical instruments; in which they are incomparably more skilful than any other nation I have ever seen. For their modulation on these instruments, unlike that of the Britons to which I am accustomed, is not slow and harsh, but lively and rapid, while the harmony is both sweet and gay. It is astonishing that in so complex and rapid a movement of the fingers, the musical proportions can be preserved........ it must be remarked however, that both Scotland and Wales strive to rival Ireland in the art of music......

His works on Ireland although invaluable for their detail are obviously biased, and have been attacked by Irish writers such as Stephen White
Stephen White (Jesuit)
Stephen White, SJ was a Jesuit author and antiquarian who wrote about the early Irish saints.He was born in Clonmel, Ireland, to a family devoted to religion and education. In 1592, Trinity College, Dublin was founded, and S. White was one of the few students named in the charter...

. The following passage from his Topographia Hibernica
Topographia Hibernica
Topographia Hibernica , also known as Topographia Hiberniae, is an account of the landscape and people of Ireland written by Gerald of Wales around 1188, soon after the Norman invasion of Ireland...

 shows why the Irish might not always be too enamoured with Gerald's views:
  • Distinction III *Chapter XXXV (Of the number of persons in this nation who have bodily defects)
  • "Moreover, I have never seen in any other nation so many individuals who were born blind, so many lame, maimed or having some natural defect. The persons of those who are well-formed are indeed remarkably fine, nowhere better; but as those who are favoured with the gifts of nature grow up exceedingly handsome, those from whom she withholds them are frightfully ugly. No wonder if among an adulterous and incestuous people, in which both births and marriages are illegitimate, a nation out of the pale of the laws, nature herself should be foully corrupted by perverse habits. It should seem that by the just judgements of God, nature sometimes produces such objects, contrary to her own laws, in order that those who will not regard Him duly by the light of their own consciences, should often have to lament their privations of the exterior and bodily gift of sight."

Gerald as natural historian

Gerald was a keen and observant student of natural history, but the value of his observations is lessened by credulity and inability to distinguish fact from legend. He gives a vivid and accurate description of the last colony of the European Beaver
European Beaver
The Eurasian beaver or European beaver is a species of beaver, which was once widespread in Eurasia, where it was hunted to near extinction both for fur and for castoreum, a secretion of its scent gland believed to have medicinal properties...

 in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 on the River Teifi
River Teifi
The River Teifi forms the boundary between the counties of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire in south-west Wales for most of its 75 mile length, flowing into the sea below the town of Cardigan. The catchment of the river is estimated to be 1,008 square kilometres yielding an average flow at Glan...

, but spoils it by repeating the legend that beavers castrate themselves to avoid danger. Likewise he gives a good description of an Osprey
Osprey
The Osprey , sometimes known as the sea hawk or fish eagle, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than in length and across the wings...

 fishing, but adds the mythical detail that the bird has one webbed foot. His description of Irish wildlife was harshly called "worthless"; the better view perhaps is that despite its faults it gives a valuable glimpse of Irish fauna in the 1180s. Certainly there are valuable details: while the European Kingfisher
European Kingfisher
The Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, also known as Eurasian Kingfisher or River Kingfisher, is a small kingfisher with seven subspecies recognized within its wide distribution across Eurasia and North Africa...

 is now common in Ireland, Gerald states clearly that it was not found in Ireland in his time: on the other hand the European Dipper, which he had evidently not seen before, was very common.

List of works

  • Topographia Hibernica
    Topographia Hibernica
    Topographia Hibernica , also known as Topographia Hiberniae, is an account of the landscape and people of Ireland written by Gerald of Wales around 1188, soon after the Norman invasion of Ireland...

     ("Topography of Ireland", 1187)
  • Expugnatio Hibernica ("Conquest of Ireland", 1189)
  • Itinerarium Cambriae ("Journey through Wales", 1191)
  • Liber de Principis instructione c.1193
  • Descriptio Cambriae ("Description of Wales", 1194)
  • De instructione principis
    De instructione principis
    De instructione principis is a Latin work by the 12th-13th century author Gerald of Wales. It is divided into three "Distinctions"...

     ("Education of a prince")
  • De rebus a se gestis ("Autobiography")
  • De iure et statu Menevensis ecclesiae ("Rights and privileges of the Church of St David's")
  • Gemma ecclesiastica ("Jewel of the church")
  • Speculum ecclesiae ("Mirror of the church")
  • Symbolum electorum
  • Invectiones
  • Retractationes
  • Speculum duorum
  • Life of St Hugh of Lincoln
    Hugh of Lincoln
    Hugh of Lincoln was at the time of the Reformation the best-known English saint after Thomas Becket.-Life:...

  • Life of Geoffrey, Archbishop of York
    Geoffrey, Archbishop of York
    Geoffrey was an illegitimate son of Henry II, King of England, who became Bishop-elect of Lincoln and Archbishop of York. The identity of his mother is uncertain, but she may have been named Ykenai...

  • Life of St Ethelbert
  • Life of St Remigius
  • Life of St David


Lost works
  • Vita sancti Karadoci ("Life of St Caradoc")
  • De fidei fructu fideique defectu
  • Totius Kambriae mappa c.1205

In popular culture

  • Gerald's tour of Wales
    Wales
    Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

     in 1188 was detailed in a 1988 cartoon voiced by comedian
    Comedian
    A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy...

     Max Boyce
    Max Boyce
    Maxwell Boyce MBE is a Welsh comedian, singer and former coal miner. He rose to fame during the mid-1970s with an act that combined musical comedy with his passion for rugby union and his origins in the mining communities of South Wales...

    .
  • Gerald of Wales was 4th in the series of 8 by Nicholas Crane
    Nicholas Crane
    Nicholas Crane is an English geographer, explorer, writer and broadcaster. Since 2004, he has written and presented four notable television series for BBC Two: Coast, Great British Journeys, Map Man and Town....

     in Great British Journeys

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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