HotFreeBooks.com
The Itinerary of Archibishop Baldwin through Wales
by Giraldus Cambrensis
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

This etext was prepared by David Price ccx074@coventry.ac.uk, from the 1912 J. M. Dent edition.



The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales



INTRODUCTION



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 Windsor {1} 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 Norgate {9} 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. {10} 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.

W. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS. January 1908.

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.



FIRST PREFACE - TO STEPHEN LANGTON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY



As the times are affected by the changes of circumstances, so are the minds of men influenced by different manners and customs. The satirist [Persius] exclaims,

"Mille hominum species et mentis discolor usus; Velle suum cuique est, nec voto vivitur uno."

"Nature is ever various in her name; Each has a different will, and few the same."

The comic poet also says, "Quot capita tot sententiae, suus cuique mos est." "As many men, so many minds, each has his way." Young soldiers exult in war, and pleaders delight in the gown; others aspire after riches, and think them the supreme good. Some approve Galen, some Justinian. Those who are desirous of honours follow the court, and from their ambitious pursuits meet with more mortification than satisfaction. Some, indeed, but very few, take pleasure in the liberal arts, amongst whom we cannot but admire logicians, who, when they have made only a trifling progress, are as much enchanted with the images of Dialectics, as if they were listening to the songs of the Syrens.

But among so many species of men, where are to be found divine poets? Where the noble assertors of morals? Where the masters of the Latin tongue? Who in the present times displays lettered eloquence, either in history or poetry? Who, I say, in our own age, either builds a system of ethics, or consigns illustrious actions to immortality? Literary fame, which used to be placed in the highest rank, is now, because of the depravity of the times, tending to ruin and degraded to the lowest, so that persons attached to study are at present not only not imitated nor venerated, but even detested. "Happy indeed would be the arts," observes Fabius, "if artists alone judged of the arts;" but, as Sydonius says, "it is a fixed principle in the human mind, that they who are ignorant of the arts despise the artist."

But to revert to our subject. Which, I ask, have rendered more service to the world, the arms of Marius or the verses of Virgil? The sword of Marius has rusted, while the fame of him who wrote the AEneid is immortal; and although in his time letters were honoured by lettered persons, yet from his own pen we find,

" - tantum Carmina nostra valent tela inter Martia, quantum Chaonias dicunt, aquila veniente, columbas."

Who would hesitate in deciding which are more profitable, the works of St. Jerom, or the riches of Croesus? but where now shine the gold and silver of Croesus? whilst the world is instructed by the example and enlightened by the learning of the poor coenobite. Yet even he, through envy, suffered stripes and contumely at Rome, although his character was so illustrious; and at length being driven beyond the seas, found a refuge for his studies in the solitude of Bethlehem. Thus it appears, that gold and arms may support us in this life, but avail nothing after death; and that letters through envy profit nothing in this world, but, like a testament, acquire an immortal value from the seal of death.

According to the poet,

"Pascitur in vivis livor, post fata quiescit; Cum suus ex merito quemque tuetur honor."

And also

"Denique si quis adhuc praetendit nubila, livor Occidet, et meriti post me referentur honores."

Those who by artifice endeavour to acquire or preserve the reputation of abilities or ingenuity, while they abound in the words of others, have little cause to boast of their own inventions. For the composers of that polished language, in which such various cases as occur in the great body of law are treated with such an appropriate elegance of style, must ever stand forward in the first ranks of praise. I should indeed have said, that the authors of refined language, not the hearers only, the inventors, not the reciters, are most worthy of commendation. You will find, however, that the practices of the court and of the schools are extremely similar; as well in the subtleties they employ to lead you forward, as in the steadiness with which they generally maintain their own positions. Yet it is certain that the knowledge of logic (the acumen, if I may so express it, of all other sciences as well as arts) is very useful, when restricted within proper bounds; whilst the court (i.e. courtly language), excepting to sycophants or ambitious men, is by no means necessary. For if you are successful at court, ambition never wholly quits its hold till satiated, and allures and draws you still closer; but if your labour is thrown away, you still continue the pursuit, and, together with your substance, lose your time, the greatest and most irretrievable of all losses. There is likewise some resemblance between the court and the game of dice, as the poet observes:-

"Sic ne perdiderit non cessat perdere lusor, Dum revocat cupidas alea blanda manus;"

which, by substituting the word CURIA for ALEA, may be applied to the court. This further proof of their resemblance may be added; that as the chances of the dice and court are not productive of any real delight, so they are equally distributed to the worthy and the unworthy.

Since, therefore, among so many species of men, each follows his own inclination, and each is actuated by different desires, a regard for posterity has induced me to choose the study of composition; and, as this life is temporary and mutable, it is grateful to live in the memory of future ages, and to be immortalized by fame; for to toil after that which produces envy in life, but glory after death, is a sure indication of an elevated mind. Poets and authors indeed aspire after immortality, but do not reject any present advantages that may offer.

I formerly completed with vain and fruitless labour the Topography of Ireland for its companion, the king Henry the Second, and Vaticinal History, for Richard of Poitiou, his son, and, I wish I were not compelled to add, his successor in vice; princes little skilled in letters, and much engaged in business. To you, illustrious Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, equally commendable for your learning and religion, I now dedicate the account of our meritorious journey through the rugged provinces of Cambria, written in a scholastic style, and divided into two parts. For as virtue loves itself, and detests what is contrary to it, so I hope you will consider whatever I may have written in commendation of your late venerable and eminent predecessor, with no less affection than if it related to yourself. To you also, when completed, I destine my treatise on the Instruction of a Prince, if, amidst your religious and worldly occupations, you can find leisure for the perusal of it. For I purpose to submit these and other fruits of my diligence to be tasted by you at your discretion, each in its proper order; hoping that, if my larger undertakings do not excite your interest, my smaller works may at least merit your approbation, conciliate your favour, and call forth my gratitude towards you; who, unmindful of worldly affections, do not partially distribute your bounties to your family and friends, but to letters and merit; you, who, in the midst of such great and unceasing contests between the crown and the priesthood, stand forth almost singly the firm and faithful friend of the British church; you, who, almost the only one duly elected, fulfil the scriptural designation of the episcopal character. It is not, however, by bearing a cap, by placing a cushion, by shielding off the rain, or by wiping the dust, even if there should be none, in the midst of a herd of flatterers, that I attempt to conciliate your favour, but by my writings. To you, therefore, rare, noble, and illustrious man, on whom nature and art have showered down whatever becomes your supereminent situation, I dedicate my works; but if I fail in this mode of conciliating your favour, and if your prayers and avocations should not allow you sufficient time to read them, I shall consider the honour of letters as vanished, and in hope of its revival I shall inscribe my writings to posterity.



SECOND PREFACE - TO THE SAME PRELATE



Since those things, which are known to have been done through a laudable devotion, are not unworthily extolled with due praises; and since the mind, when relaxed, loses its energy, and the torpor of sloth enervates the understanding, as iron acquires rust for want of use, and stagnant waters become foul; lest my pen should be injured by the rust of idleness, I have thought good to commit to writing the devout visitation which Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, made throughout Wales; and to hand down, as it were in a mirror, through you, O illustrious Stephen, to posterity, the difficult places through which we passed, the names of springs and torrents, the witty sayings, the toils and incidents of the journey, the memorable events of ancient and modern times, and the natural history and description of the country; lest my study should perish through idleness, or the praise of these things be lost by silence.



THE ITINERARY THROUGH WALES - BOOK I



CHAPTER I



Journey through Hereford and Radnor

In the year 1188 from the incarnation of our Lord, Urban the Third {11} being the head of the apostolic see; Frederick, emperor of Germany and king of the Romans; Isaac, emperor of Constantinople; Philip, the son of Louis, reigning in France; Henry the Second in England; William in Sicily; Bela in Hungary; and Guy in Palestine: in that very year, when Saladin, prince of the Egyptians and Damascenes, by a signal victory gained possession of the kingdom of Jerusalem; Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, a venerable man, distinguished for his learning and sanctity, journeying from England for the service of the holy cross, entered Wales near the borders of Herefordshire.

The archbishop proceeded to Radnor, {12} on Ash Wednesday (Caput Jejunii), accompanied by Ranulph de Glanville, privy counsellor and justiciary of the whole kingdom, and there met Rhys, {13} son of Gruffydd, prince of South Wales, and many other noble personages of those parts; where a sermon being preached by the archbishop, upon the subject of the Crusades, and explained to the Welsh by an interpreter, the author of this Itinerary, impelled by the urgent importunity and promises of the king, and the persuasions of the archbishop and the justiciary, arose the first, and falling down at the feet of the holy man, devoutly took the sign of the cross. His example was instantly followed by Peter, bishop of St. David's, {14} a monk of the abbey of Cluny, and then by Eineon, son of Eineon Clyd, {15} prince of Elvenia, and many other persons. Eineon rising up, said to Rhys, whose daughter he had married, "My father and lord! with your permission I hasten to revenge the injury offered to the great father of all." Rhys himself was so fully determined upon the holy peregrination, as soon as the archbishop should enter his territories on his return, that for nearly fifteen days he was employed with great solicitude in making the necessary preparations for so distant a journey; till his wife, and, according to the common vicious licence of the country, his relation in the fourth degree, Guendolena, (Gwenllian), daughter of Madoc, prince of Powys, by female artifices diverted him wholly from his noble purpose; since, as Solomon says, "A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." As Rhys before his departure was conversing with his friends concerning the things he had heard, a distinguished young man of his family, by name Gruffydd, and who afterwards took the cross, is said thus to have answered: "What man of spirit can refuse to undertake this journey, since, amongst all imaginable inconveniences, nothing worse can happen to any one than to return."

On the arrival of Rhys in his own territory, certain canons of Saint David's, through a zeal for their church, having previously secured the interest of some of the prince's courtiers, waited on Rhys, and endeavoured by every possible suggestion to induce him not to permit the archbishop to proceed into the interior parts of Wales, and particularly to the metropolitan see of Saint David's (a thing hitherto unheard of), at the same time asserting that if he should continue his intended journey, the church would in future experience great prejudice, and with difficulty would recover its ancient dignity and honour. Although these pleas were most strenuously urged, the natural kindness and civility of the prince would not suffer them to prevail, lest by prohibiting the archbishop's progress, he might appear to wound his feelings.

Early on the following morning, after the celebration of mass, and the return of Ranulph de Glanville to England, we came to Cruker Castle, {16} two miles distant from Radnor, where a strong and valiant youth named Hector, conversing with the archbishop about taking the cross, said, "If I had the means of getting provisions for one day, and of keeping fast on the next, I would comply with your advice;" on the following day, however, he took the cross. The same evening, Malgo, son of Cadwallon, prince of Melenia, after a short but efficacious exhortation from the archbishop, and not without the tears and lamentations of his friends, was marked with the sign of the cross.

But here it is proper to mention what happened during the reign of king Henry the First to the lord of the castle of Radnor, in the adjoining territory of Builth, {17} who had entered the church of Saint Avan (which is called in the British language Llan Avan), {18} and, without sufficient caution or reverence, had passed the night there with his hounds. Arising early in the morning, according to the custom of hunters, he found his hounds mad, and himself struck blind. After a long, dark, and tedious existence, he was conveyed to Jerusalem, happily taking care that his inward sight should not in a similar manner be extinguished; and there being accoutred, and led to the field of battle on horseback, he made a spirited attack upon the enemies of the faith, and, being mortally wounded, closed his life with honour.

Another circumstance which happened in these our days, in the province of Warthrenion, {19} distant from hence only a few furlongs, is not unworthy of notice. Eineon, lord of that district, and son-in-law to prince Rhys, who was much addicted to the chase, having on a certain day forced the wild beasts from their coverts, one of his attendants killed a hind with an arrow, as she was springing forth from the wood, which, contrary to the nature of her sex, was found to bear horns of twelve years' growth, and was much fatter than a stag, in the haunches as well as in every other part. On account of the singularity of this circumstance, the head and horns of this strange animal were destined as a present to king Henry the Second. This event is the more remarkable, as the man who shot the hind suddenly lost the use of his right eye, and being at the same time seized with a paralytic complaint, remained in a weak and impotent state until the time of his death.

In this same province of Warthrenion, and in the church of Saint Germanus, {20} there is a staff of Saint Cyric, {21} covered on all sides with gold and silver, and resembling in its upper part the form of a cross; its efficacy has been proved in many cases, but particularly in the removal of glandular and strumous swellings; insomuch that all persons afflicted with these complaints, on a devout application to the staff, with the oblation of one penny, are restored to health. But it happened in these our days, that a strumous patient on presenting one halfpenny to the staff, the humour subsided only in the middle; but when the oblation was completed by the other halfpenny, an entire cure was accomplished. Another person also coming to the staff with the promise of a penny, was cured; but not fulfilling his engagement on the day appointed, he relapsed into his former disorder; in order, however, to obtain pardon for his offence, he tripled the offering by presenting three- pence, and thus obtained a complete cure.

At Elevein, in the church of Glascum, {22} is a portable bell, endowed with great virtues, called Bangu, {23} and said to have belonged to Saint David. A certain woman secretly conveyed this bell to her husband, who was confined in the castle of Raidergwy, {24} near Warthrenion, (which Rhys, son of Gruffydd, had lately built) for the purpose of his deliverance. The keepers of the castle not only refused to liberate him for this consideration, but seized and detained the bell; and in the same night, by divine vengeance, the whole town, except the wall on which the bell hung, was consumed by fire.

The church of Luel, {25} in the neighbourhood of Brecheinoc (Brechinia), was burned, also in our time, by the enemy, and everything destroyed, except one small box, in which the consecrated host was deposited.

It came to pass also in the province of Elvenia, which is separated from Hay by the river Wye, in the night in which king Henry I. expired, that two pools {26} of no small extent, the one natural, the other artificial, suddenly burst their bounds; the latter, by its precipitate course down the declivities, emptied itself; but the former, with its fish and contents, obtained a permanent situation in a valley about two miles distant. In Normandy, a few days before the death of Henry II., the fish of a certain pool near Seez, five miles from the castle of Exme, fought during the night so furiously with each other, both in the water and out of it, that the neighbouring people were attracted by the noise to the spot; and so desperate was the conflict, that scarcely a fish was found alive in the morning; thus, by a wonderful and unheard-of prognostic, foretelling the death of one by that of many.

But the borders of Wales sufficiently remember and abhor the great and enormous excesses which, from ambitious usurpation of territory, have arisen amongst brothers and relations in the districts of Melenyth, Elvein, and Warthrenion, situated between the Wye and the Severn.



CHAPTER II



Journey through Hay and Brecheinia

Having crossed the river Wye, we proceeded towards Brecheinoc, and on preaching a sermon at Hay, {27} we observed some amongst the multitude, who were to be signed with the cross (leaving their garments in the hands of their friends or wives, who endeavoured to keep them back), fly for refuge to the archbishop in the castle. Early in the morning we began our journey to Aberhodni, and the word of the Lord being preached at Landeu, {28} we there spent the night. The castle and chief town of the province, situated where the river Hodni joins the river Usk, is called Aberhodni; {29} and every place where one river falls into another is called Aber in the British tongue. Landeu signifies the church of God. The archdeacon of that place (Giraldus) presented to the archbishop his work on the Topography of Ireland, which he graciously received, and either read or heard a part of it read attentively every day during his journey; and on his return to England completed the perusal of it.

I have determined not to omit mentioning those occurrences worthy of note which happened in these parts in our days. It came to pass before that great war, in which nearly all this province was destroyed by the sons of Jestin, {30} that the large lake, and the river Leveni, {31} which flows from it into the Wye, opposite Glasbyry, {32} were tinged with a deep green colour. The old people of the country were consulted, and answered, that a short time before the great desolation {33} caused by Howel, son of Meredyth, the water had been coloured in a similar manner. About the same time, a chaplain, whose name was Hugo, being engaged to officiate at the chapel of Saint Nicholas, in the castle of Aberhodni, saw in a dream a venerable man standing near him, and saying, "Tell thy lord William de Braose, {34} who has the audacity to retain the property granted to the chapel of Saint Nicholas for charitable uses, these words: 'The public treasury takes away that which Christ does not receive; and thou wilt then give to an impious soldier, what thou wilt not give to a priest.'" This vision having been repeated three times, he went to the archdeacon of the place, at Landeu, and related to him what had happened. The archdeacon immediately knew them to be the words of Augustine; and shewing him that part of his writings where they were found, explained to him the case to which they applied. He reproaches persons who held back tithes and other ecclesiastical dues; and what he there threatens, certainly in a short time befell this withholder of them: for in our time we have duly and undoubtedly seen, that princes who have usurped ecclesiastical benefices (and particularly king Henry the Second, who laboured under this vice more than others), have profusely squandered the treasures of the church, and given away to hired soldiers what in justice should have been given only to priests.

Yet something is to be said in favour of the aforesaid William de Braose, although he greatly offended in this particular (since nothing human is perfect, and to have knowledge of all things, and in no point to err, is an attribute of God, not of man); for he always placed the name of the Lord before his sentences, saying, "Let this be done in the name of the Lord; let that be done by God's will; if it shall please God, or if God grant leave; it shall be so by the grace of God." We learn from Saint Paul, that everything ought thus to be committed and referred to the will of God. On taking leave of his brethren, he says, "I will return to you again, if God permit;" and Saint James uses this expression, "If the Lord will, and we live," in order to show that all things ought to be submitted to the divine disposal. The letters also which William de Braose, as a rich and powerful man, was accustomed to send to different parts, were loaded, or rather honoured, with words expressive of the divine indulgence to a degree not only tiresome to his scribe, but even to his auditors; for as a reward to each of his scribes for concluding his letters with the words, "by divine assistance," he gave annually a piece of gold, in addition to their stipend. When on a journey he saw a church or a cross, although in the midst of conversation either with his inferiors or superiors, from an excess of devotion, he immediately began to pray, and when he had finished his prayers, resumed his conversation. On meeting boys in the way, he invited them by a previous salutation to salute him, that the blessings of these innocents, thus extorted, might be returned to him. His wife, Matilda de Saint Valery, observed all these things: a prudent and chaste woman; a woman placed with propriety at the head of her house, equally attentive to the economical disposal of her property within doors, as to the augmentation of it without; both of whom, I hope, by their devotion obtained temporal happiness and grace, as well as the glory of eternity.

It happened also that the hand of a boy, who was endeavouring to take some young pigeons from a nest, in the church of Saint David of Llanvaes, {35} adhered to the stone on which he leaned, through the miraculous vengeance, perhaps, of that saint, in favour of the birds who had taken refuge in his church; and when the boy, attended by his friends and parents, had for three successive days and nights offered up his prayers and supplications before the holy altar of the church, his hand was, on the third day, liberated by the same divine power which had so miraculously fastened it. We saw this same boy at Newbury, in England, now advanced in years, presenting himself before David the Second, {36} bishop of Saint David's, and certifying to him the truth of this relation, because it had happened in his diocese. The stone is preserved in the church to this day among the relics, and the marks of the five fingers appear impressed on the flint as though it were in wax.

A small miracle happened at St. Edmundsbury to a poor woman, who often visited the shrine of the saint, under the mask of devotion; not with the design of giving, but of taking something away, namely, the silver and gold offerings, which, by a curious kind of theft, she licked up by kissing, and carried away in her mouth. But in one of these attempts her tongue and lips adhered to the altar, when by divine interposition she was detected, and openly disgorged the secret theft. Many persons, both Jews and Christians, expressing their astonishment, flocked to the place, where for the greater part of the day she remained motionless, that no possible doubt might be entertained of the miracle.

In the north of England beyond the Humber, in the church of Hovedene, {37} the concubine of the rector incautiously sat down on the tomb of St. Osana, sister of king Osred, {38} which projected like a wooden seat; on wishing to retire, she could not be removed, until the people came to her assistance; her clothes were rent, her body was laid bare, and severely afflicted with many strokes of discipline, even till the blood flowed; nor did she regain her liberty, until by many tears and sincere repentance she had showed evident signs of compunction.

What miraculous power hath not in our days been displayed by the psalter of Quindreda, sister of St. Kenelm, {39} by whose instigation he was killed? On the vigil of the saint, when, according to custom, great multitudes of women resorted to the feast at Winchelcumbe, {40} the under butler of that convent committed fornication with one of them within the precincts of the monastery. This same man on the following day had the audacity to carry the psalter in the procession of the relics of the saints; and on his return to the choir, after the solemnity, the psalter stuck to his hands. Astonished and greatly confounded, and at length calling to his mind his crime on the preceding day, he made confession, and underwent penance; and being assisted by the prayers of the brotherhood, and having shown signs of sincere contrition, he was at length liberated from the miraculous bond. That book was held in great veneration; because, when the body of St. Kenelm was carried forth, and the multitude cried out, "He is the martyr of God! truly he is the martyr of God!" Quindreda, conscious and guilty of the murder of her brother, answered, "He is as truly the martyr of God as it is true that my eyes be on that psalter;" for, as she was reading the psalter, both her eyes were miraculously torn from her head, and fell on the book, where the marks of the blood yet remain.

Moreover I must not be silent concerning the collar (torques) which they call St. Canauc's; {41} for it is most like to gold in weight, nature, and colour; it is in four pieces wrought round, joined together artificially, and clefted as it were in the middle, with a dog's head, the teeth standing outward; it is esteemed by the inhabitants so powerful a relic, that no man dares swear falsely when it is laid before him: it bears the marks of some severe blows, as if made with an iron hammer; for a certain man, as it is said, endeavouring to break the collar for the sake of the gold, experienced the divine vengeance, was deprived of his eyesight, and lingered the remainder of his days in darkness.

A similar circumstance concerning the horn of St. Patrick (not golden indeed, but of brass [probably bronze], which lately was brought into these parts from Ireland) excites our admiration. The miraculous power of this relic first appeared with a terrible example in that country, through the foolish and absurd blowing of Bernard, a priest, as is set forth in our Topography of Ireland. Both the laity and clergy in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales held in such great veneration portable bells, and staves crooked at the top, and covered with gold, silver, or brass, and similar relics of the saints, that they were much more afraid of swearing falsely by them than by the gospels; because, from some hidden and miraculous power with which they are gifted, and the vengeance of the saint to whom they are particularly pleasing, their despisers and transgressors are severely punished. The most remarkable circumstance attending this horn is, that whoever places the wider end of it to his ear will hear a sweet sound and melody united, such as ariseth from a harp gently touched.

In our days a strange occurrence happened in the same district. A wild sow, which by chance had been suckled by a bitch famous for her nose, became, on growing up, so wonderfully active in the pursuit of wild animals, that in the faculty of scent she was greatly superior to dogs, who are assisted by natural instinct, as well as by human art; an argument that man (as well as every other animal) contracts the nature of the female who nurses him. Another prodigious event came to pass nearly at the same time. A soldier, whose name was Gilbert Hagernel, after an illness of nearly three years, and the severe pains as of a woman in labour, in the presence of many people, voided a calf. A portent of some new and unusual event, or rather the punishment attendant on some atrocious crime. It appears also from the ancient and authentic records of those parts, that during the time St. Elwitus {42} led the life of a hermit at Llanhamelach, {43} the mare that used to carry his provisions to him was covered by a stag, and produced an animal of wonderful speed, resembling a horse before and a stag behind.

Bernard de Newmarch {44} was the first of the Normans who acquired by conquest from the Welsh this province, which was divided into three cantreds. {45} He married the daughter of Nest, daughter of Gruffydd, son of Llewelyn, who, by his tyranny, for a long time had oppressed Wales; his wife took her mother's name of Nest, which the English transmuted into Anne; by whom he had children, one of whom, named Mahel, a distinguished soldier, was thus unjustly deprived of his paternal inheritance. His mother, in violation of the marriage contract, held an adulterous intercourse with a certain knight; on the discovery of which, the son met the knight returning in the night from his mother, and having inflicted on him a severe corporal punishment, and mutilated him, sent him away with great disgrace. The mother, alarmed at the confusion which this event caused, and agitated with grief, breathed nothing but revenge. She therefore went to king Henry I., and declared with assertions more vindictive than true, and corroborated by an oath, that her son Mahel was not the son of Bernard, but of another person with whom she had been secretly connected. Henry, on account of this oath, or rather perjury, and swayed more by his inclination than by reason, gave away her eldest daughter, whom she owned as the legitimate child of Bernard, in marriage to Milo Fitz-Walter, {46} constable of Gloucester, with the honour of Brecheinoc as a portion; and he was afterwards created earl of Hereford by the empress Matilda, daughter of the said king. By this wife he had five celebrated warriors; Roger, Walter, Henry, William, and Mahel; all of whom, by divine vengeance, or by fatal misfortunes, came to untimely ends; and yet each of them, except William, succeeded to the paternal inheritance, but left no issue. Thus this woman (not deviating from the nature of her sex), in order to satiate her anger and revenge, with the heavy loss of modesty, and with the disgrace of infamy, by the same act deprived her son of his patrimony, and herself of honour. Nor is it wonderful if a woman follows her innate bad disposition: for it is written in Ecclesiastes, "I have found one good man out of a thousand, but not one good woman;" and in Ecclesiasticus, "There is no head above the head of a serpent; and there is no wrath above the wrath of a woman;" and again, "Small is the wickedness of man compared to the wickedness of woman." And in the same manner, as we may gather grapes off thorns, or figs off thistles, Tully, describing the nature of women, says, "Men, perhaps, for the sake of some advantage will commit one crime; but woman, to gratify one inclination, will not scruple to perpetrate all sorts of wickedness." Thus Juvenal, speaking of women, say,

" - Nihil est audacior illis Deprensis, iram atque animos a crimine sumunt. - Mulier saevissima tunc est Cum stimulos animo pudor admovet. - colllige, quod vindicta Nemo magis gaudet quam foemina.

But of the five above-mentioned brothers and sons of earl Milo, the youngest but one, and the last in the inheritance, was the most remarkable for his inhumanity; he persecuted David II., bishop of St. David's, to such a degree, by attacking his possessions, lands, and vassals, that he was compelled to retire as an exile from the district of Brecheinoc into England, or to some other parts of his diocese. Meanwhile, Mahel, being hospitably entertained by Walter de Clifford, {47} in the castle of Brendlais, {48} the house was by accident burned down, and he received a mortal blow by a stone falling from the principal tower on his head: upon which he instantly dispatched messengers to recal the bishop, and exclaimed with a lamentable voice, "O, my father and high priest, your saint has taken most cruel vengeance of me, not waiting the conversion of a sinner, but hastening his death and overthrow." Having often repeated similar expressions, and bitterly lamented his situation, he thus ended his tyranny and life together; the first year of his government not having elapsed.

A powerful and noble personage, by name Brachanus, was in ancient times the ruler of the province of Brecheinoc, and from him it derived this name. The British histories testify that he had four- and-twenty daughters, all of whom, dedicated from their youth to religious observances, happily ended their lives in sanctity. There are many churches in Wales distinguished by their names, one of which, situated on the summit of a hill, near Brecheinoc, and not far from the castle of Aberhodni, is called the church of St. Almedda, {49} after the name of the holy virgin, who, refusing there the hand of an earthly spouse, married the Eternal King, and triumphed in a happy martyrdom; to whose honour a solemn feast is annually held in the beginning of August, and attended by a large concourse of people from a considerable distance, when those persons who labour under various diseases, through the merits of the Blessed Virgin, received their wished-for health. The circumstances which occur at every anniversary appear to me remarkable. You may see men or girls, now in the church, now in the churchyard, now in the dance, which is led round the churchyard with a song, on a sudden falling on the ground as in a trance, then jumping up as in a frenzy, and representing with their hands and feet, before the people, whatever work they have unlawfully done on feast days; you may see one man put his hand to the plough, and another, as it were, goad on the oxen, mitigating their sense of labour, by the usual rude song: {50} one man imitating the profession of a shoemaker; another, that of a tanner. Now you may see a girl with a distaff, drawing out the thread, and winding it again on the spindle; another walking, and arranging the threads for the web; another, as it were, throwing the shuttle, and seeming to weave. On being brought into the church, and led up to the altar with their oblations, you will be astonished to see them suddenly awakened, and coming to themselves. Thus, by the divine mercy, which rejoices in the conversion, not in the death, of sinners, many persons from the conviction of their senses, are on these feast days corrected and mended.

This country sufficiently abounds with grain, and if there is any deficiency, it is amply supplied from the neighbouring parts of England; it is well stored with pastures, woods, and wild and domestic animals. River-fish are plentiful, supplied by the Usk on one side, and by the Wye on the other; each of them produces salmon and trout; but the Wye abounds most with the former, the Usk with the latter. The salmon of the Wye are in season during the winter, those of the Usk in summer; but the Wye alone produces the fish called umber, {51} the praise of which is celebrated in the works of Ambrosius, as being found in great numbers in the rivers near Milan; "What," says he, "is more beautiful to behold, more agreeable to smell, or more pleasant to taste?" The famous lake of Brecheinoc supplies the country with pike, perch, excellent trout, tench, and eels. A circumstance concerning this lake, which happened a short time before our days, must not be passed over in silence. "In the reign of king Henry I., Gruffydd, {52} son of Rhys ap Tewdwr, held under the king one comot, namely, the fourth part of the cantred of Caoc, {53} in the cantref Mawr, which, in title and dignity, was esteemed by the Welsh equal to the southern part of Wales, called Deheubarth, that is, the right-hand side of Wales. When Gruffydd, on his return from the king's court, passed near this lake, which at that cold season of the year was covered with water-fowl of various sorts, being accompanied by Milo, earl of Hereford, and lord of Brecheinoc, and Payn Fitz-John, lord of Ewyas, who were at that time secretaries and privy counsellors to the king; earl Milo, wishing to draw forth from Gruffydd some discourse concerning his innate nobility, rather jocularly than seriously thus addressed him: "It is an ancient saying in Wales, that if the natural prince of the country, coming to this lake, shall order the birds to sing, they will immediately obey him." To which Gruffydd, richer in mind than in gold, (for though his inheritance was diminished, his ambition and dignity still remained), answered, "Do you therefore, who now hold the dominion of this land, first give the command;" but he and Payn having in vain commanded, and Gruffydd, perceiving that it was necessary for him to do so in his turn, dismounted from his horse, and falling on his knees towards the east, as if he had been about to engage in battle, prostrate on the ground, with his eyes and hands uplifted to heaven, poured forth devout prayers to the Lord: at length, rising up, and signing his face and forehead with the figure of the cross, he thus openly spake: "Almighty God, and Lord Jesus Christ, who knowest all things, declare here this day thy power. If thou hast caused me to descend lineally from the natural princes of Wales, I command these birds in thy name to declare it;" and immediately the birds, beating the water with their wings, began to cry aloud, and proclaim him. The spectators were astonished and confounded; and earl Milo hastily returning with Payn Fitz-John to court, related this singular occurrence to the king, who is said to have replied, "By the death of Christ (an oath he was accustomed to use), it is not a matter of so much wonder; for although by our great authority we commit acts of violence and wrong against these people, yet they are known to be the rightful inheritors of this land."

The lake also {54} (according to the testimony of the inhabitants) is celebrated for its miracles; for, as we have before observed, it sometimes assumed a greenish hue, so in our days it has appeared to be tinged with red, not universally, but as if blood flowed partially through certain veins and small channels. Moreover it is sometimes seen by the inhabitants covered and adorned with buildings, pastures, gardens, and orchards. In the winter, when it is frozen over, and the surface of the water is converted into a shell of ice, it emits a horrible sound resembling the moans of many animals collected together; but this, perhaps, may be occasioned by the sudden bursting of the shell, and the gradual ebullition of the air through imperceptible channels. This country is well sheltered on every side (except the northern) by high mountains; on the western by those of cantref Bychan; {55} on the southern, by that range, of which the principal is Cadair Arthur, {56} or the chair of Arthur, so called from two peaks rising up in the form of a chair, and which, from its lofty situation, is vulgarly ascribed to Arthur, the most distinguished king of the Britons. A spring of water rises on the summit of this mountain, deep, but of a square shape, like a well, and although no stream runs from it, trout are said to be sometimes found in it.

Being thus sheltered on the south by high mountains, the cooler breezes protect this district from the heat of the sun, and, by their natural salubrity, render the climate most temperate. Towards the east are the mountains of Talgarth and Ewyas. {57} The natives of these parts, actuated by continual enmities and implacable hatred, are perpetually engaged in bloody contests. But we leave to others to describe the great and enormous excesses, which in our time have been here committed, with regard to marriages, divorces, and many other circumstances of cruelty and oppression.



CHAPTER III



Ewyas and Llanthoni

In the deep vale of Ewyas, {58} which is about an arrow-shot broad, encircled on all sides by lofty mountains, stands the church of Saint John the Baptist, covered with lead, and built of wrought stone; and, considering the nature of the place, not unhandsomely constructed, on the very spot where the humble chapel of David, the archbishop, had formerly stood decorated only with moss and ivy. A situation truly calculated for religion, and more adapted to canonical discipline, than all the monasteries of the British isle. It was founded by two hermits, in honour of the retired life, far removed from the bustle of mankind, in a solitary vale watered by the river Hodeni. From Hodeni it was called Lanhodeni, for Lan signifies an ecclesiastical place. This derivation may appear far- fetched, for the name of the place, in Welsh, is Nanthodeni. Nant signifies a running stream, from whence this place is still called by the inhabitants Landewi Nanthodeni, {59} or the church of Saint David upon the river Hodeni. The English therefore corruptly call it Lanthoni, whereas it should either be called Nanthodeni, that is, the brook of the Hodeni, or Lanhodeni, the church upon the Hodeni. Owing to its mountainous situation, the rains are frequent, the winds boisterous, and the clouds in winter almost continual. The air, though heavy, is healthy; and diseases are so rare, that the brotherhood, when worn out by long toil and affliction during their residence with the daughter, retiring to this asylum, and to their mother's {60} lap, soon regain their long-wished-for health. For as my Topographical History of Ireland testifies, in proportion as we proceed to the eastward, the face of the sky is more pure and subtile, and the air more piercing and inclement; but as we draw nearer to the westward, the air becomes more cloudy, but at the same time is more temperate and healthy. Here the monks, sitting in their cloisters, enjoying the fresh air, when they happen to look up towards the horizon, behold the tops of the mountains, as it were, touching the heavens, and herds of wild deer feeding on their summits: the body of the sun does not become visible above the heights of the mountains, even in a clear atmosphere, till about the hour of prime, or a little before. A place truly fitted for contemplation, a happy and delightful spot, fully competent, from its first establishment, to supply all its own wants, had not the extravagance of English luxury, the pride of a sumptuous table, the increasing growth of intemperance and ingratitude, added to the negligence of its patrons and prelates, reduced it from freedom to servility; and if the step-daughter, no less enviously than odiously, had not supplanted her mother.

It seems worthy of remark, that all the priors who were hostile to this establishment, died by divine visitation. William, {61} who first despoiled the place of its herds and storehouses, being deposed by the fraternity, forfeited his right of sepulture amongst the priors. Clement seemed to like this place of study and prayer, yet, after the example of Heli the priest, as he neither reproved nor restrained his brethren from plunder and other offences, he died by a paralytic stroke. And Roger, who was more an enemy to this place than either of his predecessors, and openly carried away every thing which they had left behind, wholly robbing the church of its books, ornaments, and privileges, was also struck with a paralytic affection long before his death, resigned his honours, and lingered out the remainder of his days in sickness.

In the reign of king Henry I., when the mother church was as celebrated for her affluence as for her sanctity (two qualities which are seldom found thus united), the daughter not yet being in existence (and I sincerely wish she never had been produced), the fame of so much religion attracted hither Roger, bishop of Salisbury, who was at that time prime minister; for it is virtue to love virtue, even in another man, and a great proof of innate goodness to show a detestation of those vices which hitherto have not been avoided. When he had reflected with admiration on the nature of the place, the solitary life of the fraternity, living in canonical obedience, and serving God without a murmur or complaint, he returned to the king, and related to him what he thought most worthy of remark; and after spending the greater part of the day in the praises of this place, he finished his panegyric with these words: "Why should I say more? the whole treasure of the king and his kingdom would not be sufficient to build such a cloister." Having held the minds of the king and the court for a long time in suspense by this assertion, he at length explained the enigma, by saying that he alluded to the cloister of mountains, by which this church is on every side surrounded. But William, a knight, who first discovered this place, and his companion Ervistus, a priest, having heard, perhaps, as it is written in the Fathers, according to the opinion of Jerome, "that the church of Christ decreased in virtues as it increased in riches," were accustomed often devoutly to solicit the Lord that this place might never attain great possessions. They were exceedingly concerned when this religious foundation began to be enriched by its first lord and patron, Hugh de Lacy, {62} and by the lands and ecclesiastical benefices conferred upon it by the bounty of others of the faithful: from their predilection to poverty, they rejected many offers of manors and churches; and being situated in a wild spot, they would not suffer the thick and wooded parts of the valley to be cultivated and levelled, lest they should be tempted to recede from their heremitical mode of life.

But whilst the establishment of the mother church increased daily in riches and endowments, availing herself of the hostile state of the country, a rival daughter sprang up at Gloucester, under the protection of Milo, earl of Hereford; as if by divine providence, and through the merits of the saints and prayers of those holy men (of whom two lie buried before the high altar), it were destined that the daughter church should be founded in superfluities, whilst the mother continued in that laudable state of mediocrity which she had always affected and coveted. Let the active therefore reside there, the contemplative here; there the pursuit of terrestrial riches, here the love of celestial delights; there let them enjoy the concourse of men, here the presence of angels; there let the powerful of this world be entertained, here let the poor of Christ be relieved; there, I say, let human actions and declamations be heard, but here let reading and prayers be heard only in whispers; there let opulence, the parent and nurse of vice, increase with cares, here let the virtuous and golden mean be all-sufficient. In both places the canonical discipline instituted by Augustine, which is now distinguished above all other orders, is observed; for the Benedictines, when their wealth was increased by the fervour of charity, and multiplied by the bounty of the faithful, under the pretext of a bad dispensation, corrupted by gluttony and indulgence an order which in its original state of poverty was held in high estimation. The Cistercian order, derived from the former, at first deserved praise and commendation from its adhering voluntarily to the original vows of poverty and sanctity: until ambition, the blind mother of mischief, unable to fix bounds to prosperity, was introduced; for as Seneca says, "Too great happiness makes men greedy, nor are their desires ever so temperate, as to terminate in what is acquired:" a step is made from great things to greater, and men having attained what they did not expect, form the most unbounded hopes; to which the poet Ovid thus alludes.

"Luxuriant animi rebus plerumque secundis, Nec facile est aequa commoda mente pati;

And again:

"Creverunt opes et opum furiosa cupido, Et eum possideant plurima, plura petunt."

And also the poet Horace:

" - scilicet improbae Crescunt divitiae, tamen Curtae nescio quid semper abest rei. Crescentem sequitur cura pecuniam Majorumque fames."

To which purpose the poet Lucan says:

" - O vitae tuta facultas Pauperis, angustique lares, o munera nondum Intellecta Deum!"

And Petronius:

Non bibit inter aquas nec poma fugacia carpit Tantalus infelix, quem sua vota premunt. Divitis hic magni facies erit, omnia late Qui tenet, et sicco concoquit ore famem."

The mountains are full of herds and horses, the woods well stored with swine and goats, the pastures with sheep, the plains with cattle, the arable fields with ploughs; and although these things in very deed are in great abundance, yet each of them, from the insatiable nature of the mind, seems too narrow and scanty. Therefore lands are seized, landmarks removed, boundaries invaded, and the markets in consequence abound with merchandise, the courts of justice with law-suits, and the senate with complaints. Concerning such things, we read in Isaiah, "Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they be placed alone in the midst of the earth."

If therefore, the prophet inveighs so much against those who proceed to the boundaries, what would he say to those who go far beyond them? From these and other causes, the true colour of religion was so converted into the dye of falsehood, that manners internally black assumed a fair exterior:

"Qui color albus erat, nunc est contrarius albo."

So that the scripture seems to be fulfilled concerning these men, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." But I am inclined to think this avidity does not proceed from any bad intention. For the monks of this Order (although themselves most abstemious) incessantly exercise, more than any others, the acts of charity and beneficence towards the poor and strangers; and because they do not live as others upon fixed incomes, but depend only on their labour and forethought for subsistence, they are anxious to obtain lands, farms, and pastures, which may enable them to perform these acts of hospitality. However, to repress and remove from this sacred Order the detestable stigma of ambition, I wish they would sometimes call to mind what is written in Ecclesiasticus, "Whoso bringeth an offering of the goods of the poor, doth as one that killeth the son before his father's eyes;" and also the sentiment of Gregory, "A good use does not justify things badly acquired;" and also that of Ambrose, "He who wrongfully receives, that he may well dispense, is rather burthened than assisted." Such men seem to say with the Apostle, "Let us do evil that good may come." For it is written, "Mercy ought to be of such a nature as may be received, not rejected, which may purge away sins, not make a man guilty before the Lord, arising from your own just labours, not those of other men." Hear what Solomon says; "Honour the Lord from your just labours." What shall they say who have seized upon other men's possessions, and exercised charity? "O Lord! in thy name we have done charitable deeds, we have fed the poor, clothed the naked, and hospitably received the stranger:" to whom the Lord will answer; "Ye speak of what ye have given away, but speak not of the rapine ye have committed; ye relate concerning those ye have fed, and remember not those ye have killed." I have judged it proper to insert in this place an instance of an answer which Richard, king of the English, made to Fulke, {63} a good and holy man, by whom God in these our days has wrought many signs in the kingdom of France. This man had among other things said to the king; "You have three daughters, namely, Pride, Luxury, and Avarice; and as long as they shall remain with you, you can never expect to be in favour with God." To which the king, after a short pause, replied: "I have already given away those daughters in marriage: Pride to the Templars, Luxury to the Black Monks, and Avarice to the White." It is a remarkable circumstance, or rather a miracle, concerning Lanthoni, that, although it is on every side surrounded by lofty mountains, not stony or rocky, but of a soft nature, and covered with grass, Parian stones are frequently found there, and are called free-stones, from the facility with which they admit of being cut and polished; and with these the church is beautifully built. It is also wonderful, that when, after a diligent search, all the stones have been removed from the mountains, and no more can be found, upon another search, a few days afterwards, they reappear in greater quantities to those who seek them. With respect to the two Orders, the Cluniac and the Cistercian, this may be relied upon; although the latter are possessed of fine buildings, with ample revenues and estates, they will soon be reduced to poverty and destruction. To the former, on the contrary, you would allot a barren desert and a solitary wood; yet in a few years you will find them in possession of sumptuous churches and houses, and encircled with an extensive property. The difference of manners (as it appears to me) causes this contrast. For as without meaning offence to either party, I shall speak the truth, the one feels the benefits of sobriety, parsimony, and prudence, whilst the other suffers from the bad effects of gluttony and intemperance: the one, like bees, collect their stores into a heap, and unanimously agree in the disposal of one well-regulated purse; the others pillage and divert to improper uses the largesses which have been collected by divine assistance, and by the bounties of the faithful; and whilst each individual consults solely his own interest, the welfare of the community suffers; since, as Sallust observes, "Small things increase by concord, and the greatest are wasted by discord." Besides, sooner than lessen the number of one of the thirteen or fourteen dishes which they claim by right of custom, or even in a time of scarcity or famine recede in the smallest degree from their accustomed good fare, they would suffer the richest lands and the best buildings of the monastery to become a prey to usury, and the numerous poor to perish before their gates.

The first of these Orders, at a time when there was a deficiency in grain, with a laudable charity, not only gave away their flocks and herds, but resigned to the poor one of the two dishes with which they were always contented. But in these our days, in order to remove this stain, it is ordained by the Cistercians, "That in future neither farms nor pastures shall be purchased; and that they shall be satisfied with those alone which have been freely and unconditionally bestowed upon them." This Order, therefore, being satisfied more than any other with humble mediocrity, and, if not wholly, yet in a great degree checking their ambition; and though placed in a worldly situation, yet avoiding, as much as possible, its contagion; neither notorious for gluttony or drunkenness, for luxury or lust; is fearful and ashamed of incurring public scandal, as will be more fully explained in the book we mean (by the grace of God) to write concerning the ecclesiastical Orders.

In these temperate regions I have obtained (according to the usual expression) a place of dignity, but no great omen of future pomp or riches; and possessing a small residence {64} near the castle of Brecheinoc, well adapted to literary pursuits, and to the contemplation of eternity, I envy not the riches of Croesus; happy and contented with that mediocrity, which I prize far beyond all the perishable and transitory things of this world. But let us return to our subject.



CHAPTER IV



The journey by Coed Grono and Abergevenni

From thence {65} we proceeded through the narrow, woody tract called the bad pass of Coed Grono, leaving the noble monastery of Lanthoni, inclosed by its mountains, on our left. The castle of Abergevenni is so called from its situation at the confluence of the river Gevenni with the Usk.

It happened a short time after the death of king Henry I., that Richard de Clare, a nobleman of high birth, and lord of Cardiganshire, passed this way on his journey from England into Wales, accompanied by Brian de Wallingford, lord of this province, and many men-at-arms. At the passage of Coed Grono, {66} and at the entrance into the wood, he dismissed him and his attendants, though much against their will, and proceeded on his journey unarmed; from too great a presumption of security, preceded only by a minstrel and a singer, one accompanying the other on the fiddle. The Welsh awaiting his arrival, with Iorwerth, brother of Morgan of Caerleon, at their head, and others of his family, rushed upon him unawares from the thickets, and killed him and many of his followers. Thus it appears how incautious and neglectful of itself is too great presumption; for fear teaches foresight and caution in prosperity, but audacity is precipitate, and inconsiderate rashness will not await the advice of the leader.

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse