Gerald of Wales, The Description of Wales

Picture of Gerald of Wales

Gerald of Wales, or Giraldus Cambrensis, was born at Manorbier in Pembrokshire in around 1146. His real name was Gerald de Barri, and he was of mixed Welsh and Norman ancestry. His father, William de Barry, was a leading Welsh nobleman. His uncle was Bishop of St. David's and he received a religious education. He became chaplain to King Henry II of England in 1184. He accompanied Prince John on his expedition to Ireland in 1184, which led to his first book, Topographia Hibernica (1188). In 1188 he accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin of Exeter, on a tour of Wales recruiting for the Third Crusade, which led to him writing the Itinerarium Cambriae (1191) and the Descriptio Cambriae (1194). He died in about 1223.

The following sections are available:
First Preface
Second Preface
Book 1, Ch. 1: Of the length and breadth of Wales
Book 1, Ch. 2: Of the ancient division of Wales
Book 1, Ch. 3: Genealogy of the Princes of Wales
Book 1, Ch. 4: Cantreds, royal palaces, and cathedrals
Book 1, Ch. 5: Of the two mountains
Book 1, Ch. 6: The pleasantness and fertility of Wales
Book 1, Ch. 7: Origin of the names Cambria and Wales
Book 1, Ch. 8: Nature, manners, and dress
Book 1, Ch. 9: Of their sober supper and frugality
Book 1, Ch. 10: Of their hospitality and liberality
Book 1, Ch. 11: Their cutting of their hair
Book 1, Ch. 12: Of their quickness and sharpness
Book 1, Ch. 13: Of their symphonies and songs
Book 1, Ch. 14: Their wit and pleasantry
Book 1, Ch. 15: Their boldness and confidence
Book 1, Ch. 16: The soothsayers of this nation
Book 1, Ch. 17: Their love of high birth
Book 1, Ch. 18: The antiquity of their faith
Book 2, Preface
Book 2, Ch. 1: The inconstancy and instability of this nation
Book 2, Ch. 2: Their living by plunder
Book 2, Ch. 3: Of their deficiency in battle
Book 2, Ch. 4: Their seizure of lands
Book 2, Ch. 5: Their great exaction
Book 2, Ch. 6: The crime of incest
Book 2, Ch. 7: Of their sins
Book 2, Ch. 8: How this nation is to be overcome
Book 2, Ch. 9: How Wales should be governed
Book 2, Ch. 10: How Wales may resist and revolt