Picture of Gerald of Wales

Gerald of Wales

places mentioned


Next Selection

The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales


Gerald the Welshman - Giraldus Cambrensis - was born, probably in 1147, at Manorbier Castle in the county of Pembroke. His father was a Norman noble, William de Barri, who took his name from the little island of Barry off the coast of Glamorgan. His mother, Angharad, was the daughter of Gerald de Windsor1 by his wife, the famous Princess Nesta, the "Helen of Wales," and the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr, the last independent Prince of South Wales.

Gerald was therefore born to romance and adventure. He was reared in the traditions of the House of Dinevor. He heard the brilliant and pitiful stories of Rhys ap Tewdwr, who, after having lost and won South Wales, died on the stricken field fighting against the Normans, an old man of over fourscore years; and of his gallant son, Prince Rhys, who, after wrenching his patrimony from the invaders, died of a broken heart a few months after his wife, the Princess Gwenllian, had fallen in a skirmish at Kidwelly. No doubt he heard, though he makes but sparing allusion to them, of the loves and adventures of his grandmother, the Princess Nesta, the daughter and sister of a prince, the wife of an adventurer, the concubine of a king, and the paramour of every daring lover - a Welshwoman whose passions embroiled all Wales, and England too, in war, and the mother of heroes - Fitz-Geralds, Fitz-Stephens, and Fitz-Henries, and others - who, regardless of their mother's eccentricity in the choice of their fathers, united like brothers in the most adventurous undertaking of that age, the Conquest of Ireland.

Though his mother was half Saxon and his father probably fully Norman, Gerald, with a true instinct, described himself as a "Welshman." His frank vanity, so naive as to be void of offence, his easy acceptance of everything which Providence had bestowed on him, his incorrigible belief that all the world took as much interest in himself and all that appealed to him as he did himself, the readiness with which he adapted himself to all sorts of men and of circumstances, his credulity in matters of faith and his shrewd common sense in things of the world, his wit and lively fancy, his eloquence of tongue and pen, his acute rather than accurate observation, his scholarship elegant rather than profound, are all characteristic of a certain lovable type of South Walian. He was not blind to the defects of his countrymen any more than to others of his contemporaries, but the Welsh he chastised as one who loved them. His praise followed ever close upon the heels of his criticism. There was none of the rancour in his references to Wales which defaces his account of contemporary Ireland. He was acquainted with Welsh, though he does not seem to have preached it, and another archdeacon acted as the interpreter of Archbishop Baldwin's Crusade sermon in Anglesea. But he could appreciate the charm of the Cynghanedd, the alliterative assonance which is still the most distinctive feature of Welsh poetry. He cannot conceal his sympathy with the imperishable determination of his countrymen to keep alive the language which is their differentia among the nations of the world. It is manifest in the story which he relates at the end of his "Description of Wales." Henry II. asked an old Welshman of Pencader in Carmarthenshire if the Welsh could resist his might. "This nation, O King," was the reply, "may often be weakened and in great part destroyed by the power of yourself and of others, but many a time, as it deserves, it will rise triumphant. But never will it be destroyed by the wrath of man, unless the wrath of God be added. Nor do I think that any other nation than this of Wales, or any other tongue, whatever may hereafter come to pass, shall on the day of the great reckoning before the Most High Judge, answer for this corner of the earth." Prone to discuss with his "Britannic frankness" the faults of his countrymen, he cannot bear that any one else should do so. In the "Description of Wales" he breaks off in the middle of a most unflattering passage concerning the character of the Welsh people to lecture Gildas for having abused his own countrymen. In the preface to his "Instruction of Princes," he makes a bitter reference to the prejudice of the English Court against everything Welsh - "Can any good thing come from Wales?" His fierce Welshmanship is perhaps responsible for the unsympathetic treatment which he has usually received at the hands of English historians. Even to one of the writers of Dr. Traill's "Social England," Gerald was little more than "a strong and passionate Welshman."

Sometimes it was his pleasure to pose as a citizen of the world. He loved Paris, the centre of learning, where he studied as a youth, and where he lectured in his early manhood. He paid four long visits to Rome. He was Court chaplain to Henry II. He accompanied the king on his expeditions to France, and Prince John to Ireland. He retired, when old age grew upon him, to the scholarly seclusion of Lincoln, far from his native land. He was the friend and companion of princes and kings, of scholars and prelates everywhere in England, in France, and in Italy. And yet there was no place in the world so dear to him as Manorbier. Who can read his vivid description of the old castle by the sea - its ramparts blown upon by the winds that swept over the Irish Sea, its fishponds, its garden, and its lofty nut trees - without feeling that here, after all, was the home of Gerald de Barri? "As Demetia," he said in his "Itinerary," "with its seven cantreds is the fairest of all the lands of Wales, as Pembroke is the fairest part of Demetia, and this spot the fairest of Pembroke, it follows that Manorbier is the sweetest spot in Wales." He has left us a charming account of his boyhood, playing with his brothers on the sands, they building castles and he cathedrals, he earning the title of "boy bishop" by preaching while they engaged in boyish sport. On his last recorded visit to Wales, a broken man, hunted like a criminal by the king, and deserted by the ingrate canons of St. David's, he retired for a brief respite from strife to the sweet peace of Manorbier. It is not known where he died, but it is permissible to hope that he breathed his last in the old home which he never forgot or ceased to love.

He mentions that the Welsh loved high descent and carried their pedigree about with them. In this respect also Gerald was Welsh to the core. He is never more pleased than when he alludes to his relationship with the Princes of Wales, or the Geraldines, or Cadwallon ap Madoc of Powis. He hints, not obscurely, that the real reason why he was passed over for the Bishopric of St. David's in 1186 was that Henry II. feared his natio et cognatio, his nation and his family. He becomes almost dithyrambic in extolling the deeds of his kinsmen in Ireland. "Who are they who penetrated into the fastnesses of the enemy? The Geraldines. Who are they who hold the country in submission? The Geraldines. Who are they whom the foemen dread? The Geraldines. Who are they whom envy would disparage? The Geraldines. Yet fight on, my gallant kinsmen,

Felices facti si quid mea carmina possuit.

Gerald was satisfied, not only with his birthplace and lineage, but with everything that was his. He makes complacent references to his good looks, which he had inherited from Princess Nesta. "Is it possible so fair a youth can die?" asked Bishop, afterwards Archbishop, Baldwin, when he saw him in his student days.2 Even in his letters to Pope Innocent he could not refrain from repeating a compliment paid to him on his good looks by Matilda of St. Valery, the wife of his neighbour at Brecon, William de Braose. He praises his own unparalleled generosity in entertaining the poor, the doctors, and the townsfolk of Oxford to banquets on three successive days when he read his Topography of Ireland before that university. As for his learning he records that when his tutors at Paris wished to point out a model scholar they mentioned Giraldus Cambrensis. He is confident that though his works, being all written in Latin, have not attained any great contemporary popularity, they will make his name and fame secure for ever. The most precious gift he could give to Pope Innocent III., when he was anxious to win his favour, was six volumes of his own works; and when good old Archbishop Baldwin came to preach the Crusade in Wales, Gerald could think of no better present to help beguile the tedium of the journey than his own "Topography of Ireland." He is equally pleased with his own eloquence. When the archbishop had preached, with no effect, for an hour, and exclaimed what a hardhearted people it was, Gerald moved them almost instantly to tears. He records also that John Spang, the Lord Rhys's fool, said to his master at Cardigan, after Gerald had been preaching the Crusade, "You owe a great debt, O Rhys, to your kinsman, the archdeacon, who has taken a hundred or so of your men to serve the Lord; for if he had only spoken in Welsh, you would not have had a soul left." His works are full of appreciations of Gerald's reforming zeal, his administrative energy, his unostentatious and scholarly life.

Professor Freeman in his "Norman Conquest" described Gerald as "the father of comparative philology," and in the preface to his edition of 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 range of subjects is indeed marvellous even for an age when to be a "universal scholar" was not so hopeless of attainment as it has since become. Professor Brewer, his earliest editor in the Rolls Series, is struck by the same characteristic. "Geography, history, ethics, divinity, canon law, biography, natural history, epistolary correspondence, and poetry employed his pen by turns, and in all these departments of literature he has left memorials of his ability." Without being Ciceronian, his Latin was far better than that of his contemporaries. He was steeped in the classics, and he had, as Professor Freeman remarks, "mastered more languages than most men of his time, and had looked at them with an approach to a scientific view which still fewer men of his time shared with him." He quotes Welsh, English, Irish, French, German, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, and with four or five of these languages at least he had an intimate, scholarly acquaintance. His judgment of men and things may not always have been sound, but he was a shrewd observer of contemporary events. "The cleverest critic of the life of his time" is the verdict of Mr. Reginald Poole.3 He changed his opinions often: he was never ashamed of being inconsistent. In early life he was, perhaps naturally, an admirer of the Angevin dynasty; he lived to draw the most terrible picture extant of their lives and characters. During his lifetime he never ceased to inveigh against Archbishop Hubert Walter; after his death he repented and recanted. His invective was sometimes coarse, and his abuse was always virulent. He was not over-scrupulous in his methods of controversy; but no one can rise from a reading of his works without a feeling of liking for the vivacious, cultured, impulsive, humorous, irrepressible Welshman. Certainly no Welshman can regard the man who wrote so lovingly of his native land, and who championed her cause so valiantly, except with real gratitude and affection.

But though it is as a writer of books that Gerald has become famous, he was a man of action, who would have left, had Fate been kinder, an enduring mark on the history of his own time, and would certainly have changed the whole current of Welsh religious life. As a descendant of the Welsh princes, he took himself seriously as a Welsh patriot. Destined almost from his cradle, both by the bent of his mind and the inclination of his father, to don "the habit of religion," he could not join Prince Rhys or Prince Llewelyn in their struggle for the political independence of Wales. His ambition was to become Bishop of St. David's, and then to restore the Welsh Church to her old position of independence of the metropolitan authority of Canterbury. He detested the practice of promoting Normans to Welsh sees, and of excluding Welshmen from high positions in their own country. "Because I am a Welshman, am I to be debarred from all preferment in Wales?" he indignantly writes to the Pope. Circumstances at first seemed to favour his ambition. His uncle, David Fitz-Gerald, sat in the seat of St. David's. When the young scholar returned from Paris in 1172, he found the path of promotion easy. After the manner of that age - which Gerald lived to denounce - he soon became a pluralist. He held the livings of Llanwnda, Tenby, and Angle, and afterwards the prebend of Mathry, in Pembrokeshire, and the living of Chesterton in Oxfordshire. He was also prebendary of Hereford, canon of St. David's, and in 1175, when only twenty-eight years of age, he became Archdeacon of Brecon. In the following year Bishop David died, and Gerald, together with the other archdeacons of the diocese, was nominated by the chapter for the king's choice. But the chapter had been premature, urged, no doubt, by the impetuous young Archdeacon of Brecon. They had not waited for the king's consent to the nomination. The king saw that his settled policy in Wales would be overturned if Gerald became Bishop of St. David's. Gerald's cousin, the Lord Rhys, had been appointed the king's justiciar in South Wales. The power of the Lord Marches was to be kept in check by a quasi-alliance between the Welsh prince and his over-lord. The election of Gerald to the greatest see in Wales would upset the balance of power. David Fitz- Gerald, good easy man (vir sua sorte contentus is Gerald's description of him), the king could tolerate, but he could not contemplate without uneasiness the combination of spiritual and political power in South Wales in the hands of two able, ambitious, and energetic kinsmen, such as he knew Gerald and the Lord Rhys to be. Gerald had made no secret of his admiration for the martyred St. Thomas e Becket. He fashioned himself upon him as Becket did on Anselm. The part which Becket played in England he would like to play in Wales. But the sovereign who had destroyed Becket was not to be frightened by the canons of St. David's and the Archdeacon of Brecon. He summoned the chapter to Westminster, and compelled them in his presence to elect Peter de Leia, the Prior of Wenlock, who erected for himself an imperishable monument in the noble cathedral which looks as if it had sprung up from the rocks which guard the city of Dewi Sant from the inrush of the western sea.

It is needless to recount the many activities in which Gerald engaged during the next twenty-two years. They have been recounted with humorous and affectionate appreciation by Dr. Henry Owen in his monograph on "Gerald the Welshman," a little masterpiece of biography which deserves to be better known.4 In 1183 Gerald was employed by the astute king to settle terms between him and the rebellious Lord Rhys. Nominally as a reward for his successful diplomacy, but probably in order to keep so dangerous a character away from the turbulent land of Wales, Gerald was in the following year made a Court chaplain. In 1185 he was commissioned by the king to accompany Prince John, then a lad of eighteen, who had lately been created "Lord of Ireland," to the city of Dublin. There he abode for two years, collecting materials for his two first books, the "Topography" and the "Conquest of Ireland." In 1188 he accompanied Archbishop Baldwin through Wales to preach the Third Crusade - not the first or the last inconsistency of which the champion of the independence of the Welsh Church was guilty. His "Itinerary through Wales" is the record of the expedition. King Richard offered him the Bishopric of Bangor, and John, in his brother's absence, offered him that of Llandaff. But his heart was set on St. David's. In 1198 his great chance came to him. At last, after twenty-two years of misrule, Peter de Leia was dead, and Gerald seemed certain of attaining his heart's desire. Once again the chapter nominated Gerald; once more the royal authority was exerted, this time by Archbishop Hubert, the justiciar in the king's absence, to defeat the ambitious Welshman. The chapter decided to send a deputation to King Richard in Normandy. The deputation arrived at Chinon to find Coeur-de-Lion dead; but John was anxious to make friends everywhere, in order to secure himself on his uncertain throne. He received the deputation graciously, he spoke in praise of Gerald, and he agreed to accept the nomination. But after his return to England John changed his mind. He found that no danger threatened him in his island kingdom, and he saw the wisdom of the justiciar's policy. Gerald hurried to see him, but John point blank refused publicly to ratify his consent to the nomination which he had already given in private. Then commenced the historic fight for St. David's which, in view of the still active "Church question" in Wales, is even now invested with a living interest and significance. Gerald contended that the Welsh Church was independent of Canterbury, and that it was only recently, since the Norman Conquest, that she had been deprived of her freedom. His opponents relied on political, rather than historical, considerations to defeat this bold claim. King Henry, when a deputation from the chapter in 1175 appeared before the great council in London and had urged the metropolitan claims of St. David's upon the Cardinal Legate, exclaimed that he had no intention of giving this head to rebellion in Wales. Archbishop Hubert, more of a statesman than an ecclesiastic, based his opposition on similar grounds. He explained his reasons bluntly to the Pope. "Unless the barbarity of this fierce and lawless people can be restrained by ecclesiastical censures through the see of Canterbury, to which province they are subject by law, they will be for ever rising in arms against the king, to the disquiet of the whole realm of England." Gerald's answer to this was complete, except from the point of view of political expediency. "What can be more unjust than that this people of ancient faith, because they answer force by force in defence of their lives, their lands, and their liberties, should be forthwith separated from the body corporate of Christendom, and delivered over to Satan?"

The story of the long fight between Gerald on the one hand and the whole forces of secular and ecclesiastical authority on the other cannot be told here. Three times did he visit Rome to prosecute his appeal - alone against the world. He had to journey through districts disturbed by wars, infested with the king's men or the king's enemies, all of whom regarded Gerald with hostility. He was taken and thrown into prison as King John's subject in one town, he was detained by importunate creditors in another, and at Rome he was betrayed by a countryman whom he had befriended. He himself has told us

Of the most disastrous chances Of moving accidents by flood and field,

which made a journey from St. David's to Rome a more perilous adventure in those unquiet days than an expedition "through darkest Africa" is in ours. At last the very Chapter of St. David's, for whose ancient rights he was contending, basely deserted him. "The laity of Wales stood by me," so he wrote in later days, "but of the clergy whose battle I was fighting scarce one." Pope Innocent III. was far too wary a politician to favour the claims of a small and distracted nation, already half-subjugated, against the king of a rich and powerful country. He flattered our poor Gerald, he delighted in his company, he accepted, and perhaps even read, his books. But in the end, after five years' incessant fighting, the decision went against him, and the English king's nominee has ever since sat on the throne of St. David's. "Many and great wars," said Gwenwynwyn, the Prince of Powis, "have we Welshmen waged with England, but none so great and fierce as his who fought the king and the archbishop, and withstood the might of the whole clergy and people of England, for the honour of Wales."

Short was the memory and scant the gratitude of his countrymen. When in 1214 another vacancy occurred at a time when King John was at variance with his barons and his prelates, the Chapter of St. David's nominated, not Gerald, their old champion, but Iorwerth, the Abbot of Talley, from whose reforming zeal they had nothing to fear. This last prick of Fortune's sword pierced Gerald to the quick. He had for years been gradually withdrawing from an active life. He had resigned his archdeaconry and his prebend stall, he had made a fourth pilgrimage, this time for his soul's sake, to Rome, he had retired to a quiet pursuit of letters probably at Lincoln, and henceforward, till his death about the year 1223, he devoted himself to revising and embellishing his old works, and completing his literary labours. By his fight for St. David's he had endeared himself to the laity of his country for all time. The saying of Llewelyn the Great was prophetic. "So long as Wales shall stand by the writings of the chroniclers and by the songs of the bards shall his noble deed be praised throughout all time." The prophecy has not yet been verified. Welsh chroniclers have made but scanty references to Gerald; no bard has ever yet sung an Awdl or a Pryddest in honour of him who fought for the "honour of Wales." His countrymen have forgotten Gerald the Welshman. It has been left to Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Foster, Professor Brewer, Dimmock, and Professor Freeman to edit his works. Only two of his countrymen have attempted to rescue one of the greatest of Welshmen from an undeserved oblivion. In 1585, when the Renaissance of Letters had begun to rouse the dormant powers of the Cymry, Dr. David Powel edited in Latin a garbled version of the Itinerary and "Description of Wales," and gave a short and inaccurate account of Gerald's life. In 1889 Dr. Henry Owen published, "at his own proper charges," the first adequate account by a Welshman of the life and labours of Giraldus Cambrensis. When his monument is erected in the cathedral which was built by his hated rival, the epitaph which he composed for himself may well be inscribed upon it -

Cambria Giraldus genuit, sic Cambria mentem
Erudiit, cineres cui lapis iste tegit.

And by that time perhaps some competent scholar will have translated some at least of Gerald's works into the language best understood by the people of Wales.

It would be impossible to exaggerate the enormous services which three great Welshmen of the twelfth century rendered to England and to the world - such services as we may securely hope will be emulated by Welshmen of the next generation, now that we have lived to witness what Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton has called "the great recrudescence of Cymric energy."5 The romantic literature of England owes its origin to Geoffrey of Monmouth;6 Sir Galahad, the stainless knight, the mirror of Christian chivalry, as well as the nobler portions of the Arthurian romance, were the creation of Walter Map, the friend and "gossip" of Gerald; 7 and John Richard Green has truly called Gerald himself "the father of popular literature."8 He began to write when he was only twenty; he continued to write till he was past the allotted span of life. He is the most "modern" as well as the most voluminous of all the mediaeval writers. Of all English writers, Miss Kate Norgate9 has perhaps most justly estimated the real place of Gerald in English letters. "Gerald's wide range of subjects," she says, "is only less remarkable than the ease and freedom with which he treats them. Whatever he touches - history, archaeology, geography, natural science, politics, the social life and thought of the day, the physical peculiarities of Ireland and the manners and customs of its people, the picturesque scenery and traditions of his own native land, the scandals of the court and the cloister, the petty struggle for the primacy of Wales, and the great tragedy of the fall of the Angevin Empire - is all alike dealt with in the bold, dashing, offhand style of a modern newspaper or magazine article. His first important work, the Topography of Ireland , is, with due allowance for the difference between the tastes of the twelfth century and those of the nineteenth, just such a series of sketches as a special correspondent in our own day might send from some newly-colonised island in the Pacific to satisfy or whet the curiosity of his readers at home." The description aptly applies to all that Gerald wrote. If not a historian, he was at least a great journalist. His descriptions of Ireland have been subjected to much hostile criticism from the day they were written to our own times. They were assailed at the time, as Gerald himself tells us, for their unconventionality, for their departure from established custom, for the freedom and colloquialism of their style, for the audacity of their stories, and for the writer's daring in venturing to treat the manners and customs of a barbarous country as worthy the attention of the learned and the labours of the historian. Irish scholars, from the days of Dr. John Lynch, who published his "Cambrensis Eversus" in 1622, have unanimously denounced the work of the sensational journalist, born out of due time. His Irish books are confessedly partisan; the Conquest of Ireland was expressly designed as an eulogy of "the men of St. David's," the writer's own kinsmen. But in spite of partisanship and prejudice, they must be regarded as a serious and valuable addition to our knowledge of the state of Ireland at the latter end of the twelfth century. Indeed, Professor Brewer does not hesitate to say that "to his industry we are exclusively indebted for all that is known of the state of Ireland during the whole of the Middle Ages," and as to the "Topography," Gerald "must take rank with the first who descried the value and in some respects the limits of descriptive geography."

When he came to deal with the affairs of state on a larger stage, his methods were still that of the modern journalist. He was always an impressionist, a writer of personal sketches. His character sketches of the Plantagenet princes - of King Henry with his large round head and fat round belly, his fierce eyes, his tigerish temper, his learning, his licentiousness, his duplicity, and of Eleanor of Aquitaine, his vixenish and revengeful wife, the murderess of "Fair Rosamond" (who must have been known to Gerald, being the daughter of Walter of Clifford-on-the-Wye), and of the fierce brood that they reared - are of extraordinary interest. His impressions of the men and events of his time, his fund of anecdotes and bon mots, his references to trivial matters, which more dignified writers would never deign to mention, his sprightly and sometimes malicious gossip, invest his period with a reality which the greatest of fiction-writers has failed to rival. Gerald lived in the days of chivalry, days which have been crowned with a halo of deathless romance by the author of Ivanhoe and the Talisman . He knew and was intimate with all the great actors of the time. He had lived in the Paris of St. Louis and Philip Augustus, and was never tired of exalting the House of Capet over the tyrannical and bloodthirsty House of Anjou. He had no love of England, for her Plantagenet kings or her Saxon serfs. During the French invasion in the time of King John his sympathies were openly with the Dauphin as against the "brood of vipers," who were equally alien to English soil. For the Saxon, indeed, he felt the twofold hatred of Welshman and Norman. One of his opponents is denounced to the Pope as an "untriwe Sax," and the Saxons are described as the slaves of the Normans, the mere hewers of wood and drawers of water for their conquerors. He met Innocent III., the greatest of Popes, in familiar converse, he jested and gossiped with him in slippered ease, he made him laugh at his endless stories of the glory of Wales, the iniquities of the Angevins, and the bad Latin of Archbishop Walter. He knew Richard Coeur-de-Lion, the flower of chivalry, and saw him as he was and "not through a glass darkly." He knew John, the cleverest and basest of his house. He knew and loved Stephen Langton, the precursor of a long line of statesmen who have made English liberty broad - based upon the people's will. He was a friend of St. Hugh of Lincoln, the sweetest and purest spirit in the Anglican Church of the Middle Ages, the one man who could disarm the wrath of the fierce king with a smile; and he was the friend and patron of Robert Grosstete, afterwards the great Bishop of Lincoln. He lived much in company with Ranulph de Glanville, the first English jurist, and he has "Boswellised" some of his conversations with him. He was intimate with Archbishop Baldwin, the saintly prelate who laid down his life in the Third Crusade on the burning plains of Palestine, heart-broken at the unbridled wickedness of the soldiers of the Cross. He was the near kinsman and confidant of the Cambro-Normans, who, landing in Leinster in 1165, effected what may be described as the first conquest of Ireland. There was scarcely a man of note in his day whom he had not seen and conversed with, or of whom he does not relate some piquant story. He had travelled much, and had observed closely. Probably the most valuable of all his works, from the strictly historical point of view, are the Itinerary and Description of Wales , which are reprinted in the present volume. Here he is impartial in his evidence, and judicial in his decisions. If he errs at all, it is not through racial prejudice. "I am sprung," he once told the Pope in a letter, "from the princes of Wales and from the barons of the Marches, and when I see injustice in either race, I hate it."

The text is that of Sir Richard Colt Hoare, who published an English translation, chiefly from the texts of Camden and Wharton, in 1806. The valuable historical notes have been curtailed, as being too elaborate for such a volume as this, and a few notes have been added by the present editor. These will be found within brackets. Hoare's translation, and also translations (edited by Mr. Foster) of the Irish books have been published in Bohn's Antiquarian Library.

The first of the seven volumes of the Latin text of Gerald, published in the Rolls Series, appeared in 1861. The first four volumes were edited by Professor Brewer; the next two by Mr. Dimmock; and the seventh by Professor Freeman.


The following is a list of the more important of the works of Gerald:-

Topographia Hibernica, Expugnatio Hibernica, Itinerarium Kambriae, Descriptio Kambriae, Gemma Ecclesiastica, Libellus Invectionum, De Rebus a se Gestis, Dialogus de jure et statu Menevensis Ecclesiae, De Instructione Principum, De Legendis Sanctorum, Symbolum Electorum.


1 It is a somewhat curious coincidence that the island of Barry is now owned by a descendant of Gerald de Windor's elder brother - the Earl of Plymouth.

2 Mirror of the Church , ii. 33.

3 Social England , vol. i. p. 342.

4 Published in the first instance in the Transactions of the Cymmrodaian Society , and subsequently amplified and brought out in book form.

5 Introduction to Borrow's Wild Wales in the Everyman Series.

6 Geoffrey, who ended his life as Bishop of St. Asaph, was supposed to have found the material for his History of the British Kings in a Welsh book, containing a history of the Britons, which Waltor Colenius, Archdeacon of Oxford, picked up during a journey in Brittany.

7 Walter Map, another Archdeacon of Oxford, was born in Glamorganshire, the son of a Norman knight by a Welsh mother. Inter alia he was the author of a Welsh work on agriculture.

8 Green, Hist. Eng. People , i. 172.

9 England under the Angevin Kings , vol. ii. 457.

Gerald of Wales, The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales (Oxford, Mississippi, 1997)

Next Selection