Where were we? Somewhere on this complex lineage…
Giraldus Cambrensis, Gerallt Gymro, Gerald of Wales, or Giraldus de Barri was such an interesting bloke that, not only did he have 4 names, we’ve also just named a train service after him.
Nest’s grandson via Angharad and William de Barri he was born c1146. in Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire. Educated at the best colleges of the time (including Paris) he became archdeacon of Brecon on his return to Wales in 1175 ish. His Wiki biography is excellent – I’d like to know who wrote it to be honest –Well worth a read.
I’ll leave his religious struggles and persecution aside and focus on his travel books: Straight quote from Wiki:
“He became a royal clerk and chaplain to King Henry II of England in 1184, first acting mediator between the crown and Prince Rhys ap Gruffydd. He was chosen to accompany one of the king’s sons, John, in 1185 on an expedition to Ireland. This was the catalyst for his literary career, his account of his findings being published as Topographia Hibernica (1188). He followed it up, shortly afterwards, with an account of Henry’s conquest of Ireland, the Expugnatio Hibernica. Geoffrey was proud to be related to some of the Norman invaders of Ireland such as his maternal uncle Robert Fitz-Stephen and Raymond FitzGerald 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, Baldwin of Exeter, on a tour of Wales in 1188, the object being a recruitment campaign for the Third Crusade. His account of that journey, the Itinerarium Cambriae (1191) was followed by the Descriptio Cambriae in 1194”
So four books – TH, EH, IC and DC for short.
TH a bit of a strange one – Gerald displayed the usual Norman prejudice toward the Irish – bestial sexual practices and all that nonsense but also described some strange native Irish animals – A Meath werewolf ???
EH better – in this Gerald describes his family’s role in the Norman campaign. Here he describes the five-fold claim of England over Ireland. Total Bull – but typical of his times
IC I must admit I thoroughly enjoy – lots of interesting anecdote. You can read many selections here. He describes how we were the original Trojans..Brilliant!!
DC a companion volume which includes one of the most famous speeches in Welsh history – that of the Old Man of Pencader to Henry II of England:
“This nation, O King, may now, as in former times be harassed, and in a great measure weakened and destroyed by you 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, or 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.”
2 kwl 4 skwl.