By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Mediæval Wales - Chiefly in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries: Six Popular Lectures
Author: Little, A. G. (Andrew George), 1863-1945
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mediæval Wales - Chiefly in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries: Six Popular Lectures" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

images generously made available by The Internet
Archive/Canadian Libraries)

               MEDIÆVAL WALES


           Six Popular Lectures


      A. G. LITTLE, M.A., F.R.Hist.S.



              T. FISHER UNWIN

[_All rights reserved._]


This volume contains the substance of a course of popular Lectures
delivered at Cardiff in 1901. The work does not claim in any way to
be an original contribution to knowledge, and is published on the
recommendation of some friends in whose literary judgment I have
confidence. In a popular book of this kind I have not thought it
necessary to give detailed references to authorities, but a list of
a few of the books which I used in the preparation of the Lectures,
and which are likely to be interesting to readers of Welsh history,
may be useful. Among mediæval works I may mention the two Welsh
chronicles--the Annales Cambriæ and the Brut y Tywysogion, both
published in the Rolls Series; Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of
the Kings of Britain" (translated in Bohn's "Six Old English
Chronicles"); Giraldus Cambrensis, "The Itinerary and Description of
Wales" (translated in Bohn's library); the prefaces, especially those
by Brewer, in the Rolls Series edition of Giraldus, will be found
interesting. Of the English chroniclers, Ordericus Vitalis, Roger of
Wendover, and Matthew Paris are perhaps the most valuable for the
history of Wales and the Marches during the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries. Among modern books, the reader may be referred to Rhys and
Jones, "The Welsh People"; Freeman, "William Rufus"; Thomas Stephens,
"Literature of the Kymry"; Henry Owen, "Gerald the Welshman"; Clark,
"Mediæval Military Architecture," and "The Land of Morgan"; Newell,
"History of the Welsh Church"; Tout, "Edward I."; and the "Dictionary
of National Biography." Since these Lectures were delivered at least
three books on Welsh history have appeared which deserve mention: Mr.
Bradley's "Owen Glyndwr," with a summary of earlier Welsh history;
Mr. Owen Edwards's charmingly written volume in the Story of the
Nations Series; and Mr. Morris's valuable work on "The Welsh Wars of
Edward I."

The maps are taken from large wall maps which I used when lecturing.
In drawing up the map of Wales and the Marches at the beginning of the
thirteenth century, I had the assistance of my friend and former
pupil, Mr. Morgan Jones, M.A., of Ferndale, who generously placed at
my disposal the results of his researches into the history of the
Welsh Marches.

    A. G. LITTLE.



      I. INTRODUCTORY                                      1

     II. GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH                             27

    III. GIRALDUS CAMBRENSIS                              51

     IV. CASTLES                                          77

      V. RELIGIOUS HOUSES                                 99




    WALES AND THE MARCHES, c. A.D. 1200-1210               2

    CASTLES AND RELIGIOUS HOUSES                          78

    CARDIFF AND CAERPHILLY CASTLES                        88

[Illustration: WALES & THE MARCHES, c. A.D. 1200-1210.]



In the following lectures no attempt will be made to give a systematic
account of a political development, which is the ordinary theme of
history. History is "past politics" in the wide sense of the word. It
has to do with the growth and decay of states and institutions, and
their relations to each other. The history of Wales in the Middle
Ages, viewed from the political standpoint, is a failure; its interest
is negative; and in this introductory lecture I intend to discuss "the
failure of the nation" (to use the words of Professor Rhys and Mr.
Brynmor Jones) "to effect any stable and lasting political
combination." Wales failed to produce or develope political
institutions of an enduring character--failed to become a state. Its
history does not possess the unity nor the kind of interest which the
history of England possesses, and which makes the study of English
history so peculiarly instructive to the student of politics. In
English history we study primarily the growth of the principle of
Representative Government, which we can trace for centuries through a
long series of authoritative records. That is the great gift of
England to the world. Not only has Wales entered on this inheritance;
it helped to create it. It was Llywelyn ap Iorwerth who began the
revolt against John which led to the Great Charter, and the clauses of
the Great Charter itself show that it was the joint work of English
and Welsh. Wales again exerted a decisive influence on the Barons'
War--the troubles in which the House of Commons first emerged. And
Wales--half of it for more than six hundred years--half of it for
nearly four hundred--has lived under the public law and administrative
system which the Norman and Angevin kings of England built up on
Anglo-Saxon foundations. This public law and this administrative
system have become part and parcel of the life and history of Wales.
The constitutional history of England is one of the elements which go
to make up the complex history of Wales.

The history of Wales, taken by itself, is constitutionally weak; and
its interest is social or personal, archæological, artistic,
literary--anything but political. And the fact--which is
indisputable--that Wales failed to establish any permanent or united
political system needs explanation.

The ultimate explanation will perhaps be found in the geography of the
country. The mountains have done much to preserve the independence and
the language of Wales, but they have kept her people disunited; and
the Welsh needed a long drilling under institutions, which could only
grow up in a land less divided by nature, before they could develope
their political genius.

Wales, owing largely to its geography, had the misfortune never to be
conquered at one fell swoop by an alien race of conquerors. Such a
conquest may not at first sight strike one as a blessing, but it is,
if it takes place when a people is in an early, fluid, and
impressionable stage, as may be seen from a comparison of countries
which have undergone it with countries which have not--a comparison,
for instance, of England with Ireland or Germany. Perhaps the nearest
parallel in the history of Wales to the Norman Conquest of England is
the conquest of Wales by Cunedda, the founder of the Cymric kingdom,
in the dark and troublous times which followed the withdrawal of the
Roman troops from Britain. But though an invader and a conqueror,
Cunedda was not an alien; he spoke the same language as the people he
conquered and belonged to the same race to which the most important
part of them belonged. And this militated against his chances of
becoming a founder of Welsh unity. A race of conquerors distinct from
the conquered in blood and language and civilisation, must hold
together for a time; they form an official governing class, enforcing
the same principles of government, and establishing a uniform
administration throughout the country. And the uniform pressure reacts
on the conquered, turning them from a loose group of tribes into a
nation. This is what the Norman Conquest did for England. But if the
conquerors are of the same race and language as the conquered, they
readily mix with them; instead of holding together they identify
themselves with local jealousies and tribal aspirations. This happened
again and again in Germany. A Saxon emperor sends a Saxon to govern
Bavaria as its duke and hold it loyal to the central government; the
Saxon duke almost instantaneously becomes a Bavarian--the champion of
tribal independence against the central government; and so the Germans
remained a loose group of tribes and states--a divided people. This
illustration suggests one of the reasons why Cunedda's conquest failed
to unite Wales.

Again the custom of sharing landed property among all the sons tended
to prevent the growth of Welsh unity. Socially it appears far more
just and reasonable than the custom of primogeniture. It is with the
growth of feudalism (already apparent in the Welsh laws of the tenth
century) that its political dangers become evident. The essence of
feudalism is the confusion of political power and landed property; the
ruler is lord of the land, the landlord is the ruler. If landed
property is divided, political power is divided. When the Lord Rhys
died in 1197 leaving four sons, Deheubarth had four rulers and formed
four states instead of one; and civil war ensued.

The unity of Welsh history is not to be found in the growth of a state
or a political system. But may we regard the history of Wales as a
long and heroic struggle inspired by the idea of nationality? A
caution is necessary here. It is one of the besetting sins of
historians to read the ideas of the present into the past; and to the
general public historical study is dull unless they can do so. It is
very difficult to avoid doing so; it needs a severe training, a long
immersion in the past, and a steady passion for truth above all
things. In no case perhaps is this warning so necessary as in matters
involving the idea of nationality. This is characteristic of the
present age, but it has not been characteristic of any other to
anything like the same extent. We live in an atmosphere of
nationality; we have seen it create the German Empire and the kingdom
of Italy, and the Welsh University; we see it now labouring to break
up the Austrian Empire, and perhaps changing the unchanging East. But
the whole history of Europe shows that it is an idea of slow and
comparatively late growth. The first appearance of nationality as a
conscious principle of political action is found in England--and
possibly in France--at the beginning of the thirteenth century, and in
Wales about the same time; in the other countries of Europe much
later. And it was very rarely till the very end of the eighteenth
century that it became a dominant factor in politics. Of course our
ancestors always hated a foreigner--but they did not love their
fellow-countrymen. The one thing a man hated more than being driven
out of house and home by a foreign invader, was being driven out by
his next-door neighbour; and, as his neighbour was more likely to do
it, and when he did it, to stay, he hated his neighbour most. A
certain degree of order and settled government was necessary before
the national idea could become effective.

In mediæval Wales it never succeeded in uniting the people; the petty
patriotism of the family stood in the way of the larger patriotism of
the nation; local rivalries and jealousies were always stronger than
the sense of national unity. The attempt of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth to
create a National Council, like the Great Council of England, died
with him. In the final struggle with Edward I., when for a few months
the idea of Welsh unity was nearest realisation in action, the men of
Glamorgan fought on the winning side. Read the "Brut y Tywysogion" and
consider how far the actions there related can have been inspired by
the feeling of nationality. Here is the account in the "Brut" of what
was happening in Wales in 1200 and the following years, the period
represented by our map.

    "1200. One thousand and two hundred was the year of
    Christ when Gruffudd, son of Cynan, son of Owain, died,
    after taking upon him the religious habit, at
    Aberconway,--the man who was known by all in the isle of
    Britain for the extent of his gifts, and his kindness
    and goodness; and no wonder, for as long as the men who
    are now shall live, they will remember his renown, and
    his praise and his deeds. In that year, Maelgwn, son of
    Rhys, sold Aberteivi, the key of all Wales, for a
    trifling value, to the English, for fear of and out of
    hatred to his brother Gruffudd. The same year, Madog,
    son of Gruffudd Maelor, founded the monastery of
    Llanegwestl, near the old cross, in Yale.

    "1201. The ensuing year, Llywelyn, son of Iorwerth,
    subdued the cantrev of Lleyn, having expelled Maredudd,
    son of Cynan, on account of his treachery. That year on
    the eve of Whitsunday, the monks of Strata Florida came
    to the new church; which had been erected of splendid
    workmanship. A little while afterwards, about the feast
    of St. Peter and St. Paul, Maredudd, son of Rhys, an
    extremely courteous young man, the terror of his
    enemies, the love of his friends, being like a lightning
    of fire between armed hosts, the hope of the South Wales
    men, the dread of England, the honour of the cities, and
    the ornament of the world, was slain at Carnwyllon; and
    Gruffudd, his brother, took possession of his castle at
    Llanymddyvri. And the cantrev, in which it was situated,
    was taken possession of by Gruffudd, his brother. And
    immediately afterwards, on the feast of St. James the
    Apostle, Gruffudd, son of Rhys, died at Strata Florida,
    having taken upon him the religious habit; and there he
    was buried. That year there was an earthquake at

    "1202. The ensuing year, Maredudd, son of Cynan, was
    expelled from Meirionydd, by Howel, son of Gruffudd, his
    nephew, son of his brother, and was despoiled of
    everything but his horse. That year the eighth day after
    the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Welsh fought
    against the castle of Gwerthrynion, which was the
    property of Roger Mortimer, and compelled the garrison
    to deliver up the castle, before the end of a fortnight,
    and they burned it to the ground. That year about the
    first feast of St. Mary in the autumn, Llywelyn, son of
    Iorwerth, raised an army from Powys, to bring Gwenwynwyn
    under his subjection, and to possess the country. For
    though Gwenwynwyn was near to him as to kindred, he was
    a foe to him as to deeds. And on his march he called to
    him all the other princes, who were related to him, to
    combine in making war together against Gwenwynwyn. And
    when Elise, son of Madog, son of Maredudd, became
    acquainted therewith, he refused to combine in the
    presence of all; and with all his energy he endeavoured
    to bring about a peace with Gwenwynwyn. And therefore,
    after the clergy and the religious had concluded a peace
    between Gwenwynwyn and Llywelyn, the territory of Elise,
    son of Madog, his uncle, was taken from him. And
    ultimately there was given him for maintenance, in
    charity, the castle of Crogen, with seven small
    townships. And thus, after conquering the castle of
    Bala, Llywelyn returned back happily. That year about
    the feast of St. Michael, the family of young Rhys, son
    of Gruffudd, son of the lord Rhys, obtained possession
    of the castle of Llanymddyvri."

One may almost say that Wales is Wales to-day in spite of her
political history. Wales owes far more to her poets and men of letters
than to her princes and their politics.

Giraldus Cambrensis laid his finger on the spot, when he said: "Happy
would Wales be if it had one prince, and that a good one." A necessary
preliminary to the union of Welshmen was the wiping out of all
independent Welsh princes except one. Till that happened local feeling
would always remain stronger than national feeling; the disintegrating
forces of family feuds and personal ambitions and clannish loyalty
would always outweigh the sense of national unity.

The Lords of the Marches were slowly doing this for Wales; they were
wiping out all the independent Welsh princes except one. We may see
the process going on in the accompanying map, which gives the chief
political divisions of Wales at the beginning of the thirteenth
century, and we will turn for a few minutes to consider the fortunes
of some of these petty states and the manner of the men who ruled

The great Palatine Earldom of Chester, a kingdom within the kingdom,
was ruled before 1100 by Hugh the Wolf, of Avranches, who conquered
for a time the north coast of Wales. In Anglesey he built a castle,
and kennelled the hounds he loved so well in a church, to find them
all mad the next morning. The stories of his savage mutilation of his
Welsh prisoners show that he merited the name of "the Wolf." Yet he
was the friend of the holy Anselm, and died a monk. The struggle
between Chester and Gwynedd for the possession of the Four Cantreds,
the lands between the Conway and the Dee, was almost perpetual during
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the fortune of war
continually changing. With the extinction of the old line of the Earls
of Chester (1237) and the grant of the earldom to Prince Edward
(1254), a new era opened for Wales.

Further south, in the Middle March, along the upper valleys of the
Severn and the Wye, the great power of the Mortimers was growing. They
had already stretched out a long arm to grasp Gwerthrynion. But the
greatest expansion of their power came later, under Roger Mortimer,
grandson of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, friend of Edward I. in the wild days
of his youth, persistent foe of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd; and soon the
Mortimer lands embraced all Mid-Wales and reached the sea, and a
Mortimer was strong enough to depose and murder a king and rule
England as paramour of the queen. Savage as the Mortimers were, they
were mild compared with one of their predecessors. Robert Count of
Bellesme and Ponthieu, the great castle builder of his time, became
Earl of Shrewsbury and Arundel in 1098. Men had heard tales of his
ferocity on the Continent--how he starved his prisoners to death
rather than hold them to ransom; how, when besieging a castle, he
threw in the horses to fill up the moat, and when these were not
enough he gave orders to seize the villeins and throw them in, that
his battering rams might go forward on a writhing mass of living human
bodies. These tales seemed incredible in England, but the men of the
Middle March believed them when they were "flayed alive by the iron
claws" of the devil of Bellesme. In his rebellion against Henry I. the
princes of Gwynedd supported him, till their army was bought over by
the lying promises of the king; but the day when the Earl of
Shrewsbury surrendered to King Henry and the whole force of England
was a day of deliverance alike to England and to Wales.

We next come to the group of lordships held about this time by William
de Braose, lord of Bramber in Sussex. They stretched from Radnor to
Gower, from the Monnow to the Llwchwr, and included the castles of
Builth, Brecon, Abergavenny. But he held these lands by different
titles, and they were never welded together. William de Braose began
his public career by calling the princes of Gwent to a conference at
Abergavenny, and massacring them. He was on intimate terms with King
John, who gave Prince Arthur into his keeping; but this was a piece of
work which even De Braose recoiled from, and he refused to burden his
soul with Arthur's murder. A few years later John suddenly turned
against him, and demanded his sons as hostages. His wife, Maud de St.
Valérie, who lived long in the popular memory as a witch, sent back
the answer: she would not entrust her children to a man who had
murdered his nephew. The king chased Braose from his lands, caught his
wife and eldest son, and starved them to death in Windsor Castle. The
Braose family continued to hold Gower, but the rest of their
possessions passed to other houses--Brecon to the Bohuns of Hereford,
Elvael to Mortimer, Abergavenny to Hastings, Builth first to Mortimer
and then to the Crown.

Glamorgan, during our period, was attached to the earldom of
Gloucester. From Fitzhamon the Conqueror it passed, through his
daughter, to Robert of Gloucester, and early in the thirteenth
century to the great house of Clare, Earls of Gloucester and Hertford,
who held the balance between parties in the Barons' War. With the
organisation of Glamorgan and with its great rulers we shall deal
later. At the time represented by our map, it was in the hands of King
John, who obtained it by marriage. John divorced his wife in 1200, but
managed to keep her inheritance till nearly the end of his reign; and
Fawkes de Bréauté, the most infamous of his mercenary captains, lorded
it in Cardiff Castle.

Further west, between the Llwchwr and the Towy, lay the lordship of
Kidweli, held by the De Londres family, who had accompanied Fitzhamon
in the conquest of Glamorgan, and were lords of Ogmore and founders of
Ewenny. One episode in the history of this family may be
mentioned--the battle in the Vale of Towy in 1136, when Gwenllian, the
heroic wife of Rhys ap Gruffydd, led her husband's forces against
Maurice and De Londres, and was defeated and slain by the Lord of
Kidweli. Her death was soon avenged by the slaughter of the Normans
at Cardigan. The present castle of Kidweli dates from the later
thirteenth century, before the war of 1277, after the lordship had
passed to the Chaworths.

In the extreme west, in Dyfed, the land of fiords, Arnulf of
Montgomery had early founded the Norman power, but he was involved in
the fall of his brother, Robert of Bellesme, and Henry I. tried to
form the land into an English shire, and planted a colony of Flemings
in "Little England beyond Wales." But it was too far off for the royal
power to be effectively exercised there, and the Earldom of Pembroke
was granted to a branch of the De Clares, who had already conquered
Ceredigion, and built castles at Cardigan and Aberystwyth. The De
Clares also held Chepstow and lands in Lower Gwent. The Earldom itself
was smaller than the present shire of Pembroke, and William Marshall,
who succeeded the De Clares through his marriage with the daughter of
Richard Strongbow (1189), owed his commanding position in English
history of the thirteenth century far more to his personal qualities,
his courage and wisdom and patriotism, than to his territorial

It was by driving the De Clares out of Ceredigion in Stephen's reign
that Rhys ap Gruffydd laid the foundation of his power, and raised
Deheubarth to be the foremost of the native principalities. The Lord
Rhys was clever and farseeing enough to win the confidence of Henry
II., and received from him the title of Justiciar--or King's
Deputy--in South Wales. As long as Owain Gwynedd lived the unusual
spectacle was seen of a prince of South Wales and a prince of North
Wales working harmoniously together. But after Owain's death (1170)
Rhys fought with his successors over the possession of Merioneth,
while Owain Cyfeiliog, the poet-prince of Powys, did all he could to
thwart him. In 1197 the death of Rhys, "the head and the shield and
the strength of the South and of all Wales," and the civil wars among
his sons, opened his principality again to the encroachment of foes on
all sides, and removed one danger from Powys. Powys, however, was
being steadily squeezed by the pressure of Gwynedd on one side, and
the growing power of Mortimer on the other, and its princes resorted
to a shifty diplomacy and a general adherence--open or secret as
circumstances dictated--to the English Crown, till they sank at length
into the position of petty feudatories of the English king.

The Prince of Gwynedd alone upheld the standard of Welsh nationality,
the dragon of Welsh independence; only in Gwynedd and its dependencies
did the Welsh public law prevail over feudal custom. And what was the
result? Exactly what Giraldus Cambrensis had foreseen and longed for.
The eyes of Welshmen everywhere began to turn to the Lord of Eryri,
the one hope of Wales. It was an alluring--an inspiring prospect,
which opened before the princes of Gwynedd--to head a national
movement, drive out the foreigners, and unite all Wales under their
sway. Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, at the end of his long reign, deliberately
rejected the dream. That is the meaning of his emphatic declaration
of fidelity and submission to Henry III. in 1237. "Llywelyn, Prince of
Wales, by special messengers sent word to the king that, as his time
of life required that he should thenceforth abandon all strife and
tumult of war, and should for the future enjoy peace, he had
determined to place himself and his possessions under the authority
and protection of him, the English king, and would hold his lands from
him in all fealty and friendship, and enter into an indissoluble
treaty; and if the king should go on any expedition he would, to the
best of his power, as his liege subject, promote it, by assisting him
with troops, arms, horses, and money." Llywelyn the Great refused to
dispute the suzerainty of England. This may appear pusillanimous to
the enthusiastic patriot, but subsequent events proved the old
statesman's wisdom and clearsightedness. His successors were less
cautious, were carried away by the patriotism round them and the syren
voices of the bards. And to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd the prospect was even
more tempting than to Llywelyn ap Iorwerth. The Barons' War weakened
the power of England, and the necessities of Simon de Montfort led
him to enter into an alliance with Llywelyn. The expansion of Gwynedd
was great and rapid. Llywelyn's rule extended as far south as Merthyr,
and made itself felt on the shores of Carmarthen Bay. The Earl of
Gloucester found it necessary to build Caerphilly Castle to uphold his
influence in Glamorgan. But it was just the expansion of Llywelyn's
power which forced Edward I. to overthrow him once for all. "We hold
it better"--so ran Edward's proclamation in 1282--"that, for the
common weal, we and the inhabitants of our land should be wearied by
labours and expenses this once, although the burden seem heavy, in
order to destroy their wickedness altogether, than that we should in
future times, as so often in the past, be tormented by rebellions of
this kind at their good pleasure."

The "Principality" now became shire land--under English laws and
English administration. The rest of Wales remained divided up into
Marcher Lordships for another two hundred and fifty years, under
feudal laws--a continual source of disturbance and scene of disorder.
These were the lands in which the King's Writ did not run, where (to
summarise the description in the Statute of 1536) "murders and
house-burnings, robberies and riots are committed with impunity, and
felons are received, and escape from justice by going from one
lordship to another."

Yet the Marcher Lords did something for Welsh civilisation in their
earlier centuries. Guided by enlightened self-interest, they often
founded towns, granting considerable privileges to them in order to
attract burgesses--such as low rents, and freedom from arbitrary
fines. Fairs, too, were established and protected by the Lords
Marchers. The early lords of Glamorgan seem to have been specially
successful in this respect; in the twelfth century immigrants from
other parts of Wales are said to have come to reside in Glamorgan,
owing to the privileges and comparative security which were to be
found there. Nor perhaps has it been sufficiently recognised how soon
the Lords of the Marches began drilling their Welsh subjects in
Anglo-Norman methods of local self-government. Most of the greater
Marcher Lords possessed estates in England; not a few of them, such as
William de Braose, served as sheriffs in English shires; some, such as
John de Hastings, were judges in the royal courts. They introduced
into Wales methods of government which they learnt in England, and
institutions with a great future before them, like the Franco-Roman
"inquest by sworn recognitors," from which trial by jury was
developed, were soon acclimatised in the Marches of Wales.



When Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote, Norman influence in Wales was at its
height. In the old days we used to begin English history with William
the Conqueror; since Freeman wrote his five thick volumes and
proved--not that the Norman Conquest was unimportant--but that it did
not involve a breach of continuity, a new start in national life, the
pendulum has swung too much the other way, and the tendency of late
years has been to underestimate the importance of the Norman Conquest.

The Norman wherever he went brought little that was new; he was but a
Norseman--a Viking--with a French polish. He had no law of his own; he
had forgotten his own language, he had no literature. But he had the
old Norse energy; which not only drove him or his ancestors to settle
and conquer in lands so distant and diverse as Russia and Sicily,
Syria and North America, but enabled him to infuse new life into the
countries he conquered. Further, he still retained that adaptability
and power of assimilation which is characteristic of peoples in a
primitive stage of civilisation. With a wonderful instinct he fastened
on to the most characteristic and strongest features of the different
nations he was brought in contact with, developed them, gave them
permanent form, and often a world-wide importance.

The Norman conquerors were not always fortunate in their selection.
Ireland has little to thank them for. The most striking characteristic
which they found in Ireland was anarchy, and they brought it to a high
pitch of perfection. To quote Sir J. Davies's luminous discourse on
Ireland, in 1612: "Finding the Irish exactions to be more profitable
than the English rents and services, and loving the Irish tyranny
which was tied to no rules of law and honour better than a just and
lawful seigniory, they did reject the English law and government,
received the Irish laws and customs, took Irish surnames, as
MacWilliam, MacFeris, refused to come to Parliaments, and scorned to
obey those English knights who were sent to command and govern this

One extortionate Irish custom, called "coigny," they specially
affected, of which it was said "that though it were first invented in
hell, yet if it had been used and practised there as it hath been in
Ireland, it had long since destroyed the very kingdom of Beelzebub."

England and Wales were more fortunate. In England--while the old
English literature was crushed out by the heel of the oppressor, the
Norman instinct seized on the latent possibilities of the old English
political institutions, welded them into a great system, developed out
of them representative government, and created a united nation.

In Wales, the Normans paid little or no heed to Welsh laws and
political institutions; the law of the Marches was the feudal law of
France, the charters of liberties of the towns were imported from
Normandy; the Welsh Marches and border shires were the most thoroughly
Normanised part of the whole kingdom. But with a fine instinct for the
really great things, in Wales the Normans seized on the literary
side--the poetic traditions of the people--giving them permanent form,
adding to them, making them for ever part of the intellectual heritage
of the whole world.

It may very likely be a mere accident that the earliest Welsh
manuscripts date from the twelfth-century--Norman times; it may also
imply an increased literary productiveness. It may be due to
accidental causes that the first accounts of Eisteddfodau extant date
from the twelfth century; it may also be that the institution excited
new interest, received new attention and honour, under the influence
of the open-minded and keen-sighted invaders. Take, for instance, the
account of the great Eisteddfod in 1176, from the Brut y Tywysogion:
"The lord Rhys held a grand festival at the castle of Aberteivi,
wherein he appointed two sorts of competitions--one between the bards
and poets, and the other between harpers, fiddlers, pipers, and
various performers of instrumental music; and he assigned two chairs
for the victors in the competitions; and these he enriched with vast
gifts. A young man of his own court, son to Cibon the fiddler,
obtained the victory in instrumental music, and the men of Gwynedd
obtained the victory in vocal song; and all the other minstrels
obtained from the lord Rhys as much as they asked for, so that there
was no one excluded." An Eisteddfod where every one obtained prizes,
and every one was satisfied, suggests the enthusiasm natural to a new
revival. It was now--when Wales was brought in contact with the great
world through the Normans--that modern Welsh poetry had its beginning.
The new intellectual impetus is clearly illustrated by the change
which takes place in the Welsh chronicles about 1100. Before that time
they are generally thin and dreary: they suddenly become full, lively,
and romantic. Wales was not exceptional in this renaissance; something
of the same sort occurred in most parts of Europe; and the
renaissance is no doubt to be connected with the Crusade, the reform
of the Church, in a word, with the Hildebrandine movement, and so
ultimately with the Burgundian monastery of Clugny. But it was the
Normans who brought this new life to England and Wales; the Normans
were the hands and feet of the great Hildebrandine movement of which
the Clugniac popes were the head.

Among the Norman magnates who encouraged the intellectual movement in
Wales--one stands out pre-eminent--Robert Earl of Gloucester and Lord
of Glamorgan, a splendid combination of statesman, soldier, patron of
letters. Robert was a natural son of Henry I.--born before 1100--there
is no evidence that his mother was the beautiful and famous Nest,
daughter of Rhys ap Tudor. He acquired the Lordship of Glamorgan
together with the Honour of Gloucester and other lands in England and
Normandy, by marriage with Mabel, daughter and heiress of Fitzhamon,
conqueror of Glamorgan. An account of the wooing is preserved in old
rhymed chronicle: the king conducts negotiations; the lady remarks
that it was not herself but her possessions he was after--and she
would prefer to marry a man who had a surname. The account is not
historical, as surnames had not come in: in the early twelfth century
the lady would have expressed her meaning differently. However, there
is evidence that she was a good wife: William of Malmesbury says, "She
was a noble and excellent woman, devoted to her husband, and blest
with a numerous and beautiful family." Robert was a great builder of
castles; Bristol and Cardiff Castles were his work, and many others in
Glamorgan; he organised Glamorgan, giving it the constitution of an
English shire--with Cardiff Castle as centre and meeting-place. After
Henry I.'s death, he was the most important man in England, and was
the only prominent man who played an honourable part in the civil wars
which are known as the reign of Stephen; he died in 1147. His
relations with the Welsh appear to have been good; large bodies of
Welsh troops fought under him at the battle of Lincoln, 1141--he was
probably the first Norman lord of Glamorgan who could thus rely on
their loyalty. And it is significant that in the earliest inquisitions
extant for Glamorgan--or inquests by sworn recognitors--Welshmen were
freely employed in the work of local government.

Robert of Gloucester was a magnificent patron of letters; to his age
Giraldus Cambrensis looked back with longing regret as to the good old
times in which learning was recognised and received its due reward. To
Robert of Gloucester, William of Malmesbury, the greatest historian of
the time, dedicated his history, attributing to him the magnanimity of
his grandfather the Conqueror, the generosity of his uncle, the wisdom
of his father, Henry I. He was the founder of Margam Abbey, whose
chronicle is one of the authorities for Welsh history; Tewkesbury,
another abbey whose chronicle is preserved, counted him among its
chief benefactors; Robert de Monte, Abbot of Mont St. Michel, the
Breton and lover of Breton legends, was a native of his Norman estates
at Torigny, and wrote a valuable history of his times. Among the
brilliant circle of men of letters who frequented his court at
Gloucester and Bristol and Cardiff were Caradoc of Llancarven, whose
chronicle (if he ever wrote one) has been lost, and greatest of all
Geoffrey of Monmouth.

Geoffrey dedicated his History of the Kings of Britain to Robert: "To
you, therefore, Robert Earl of Gloucester, this work humbly sues for
the favour of being so corrected by your advice that it may be
considered not the poor offspring of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but, when
polished by your refined wit and judgment, the production of him who
had Henry, the glorious King of England, for his father, and whom we
see an accomplished scholar and philosopher, as well as a brave
soldier and tried commander."

Not very much is known about Geoffrey. The so-called "Gwentian Brut,"
attributed to Caradoc of Llancarven, on which his biographers have
relied for a few details of his life, is very untrustworthy, and,
according to the late Mr. Thomas Stephens, was written about the
middle of the sixteenth century, though containing earlier matter.
The sixteenth century was a great age for historical forgeries. We
find a Franciscan interpolating passages in a Greek manuscript of the
New Testament in order to refute Erasmus; a learned Oxonian forging a
passage in the manuscript of Asser's "Life of Alfred" to prove that
Alfred founded the University of Oxford; and Welsh genealogies
invented by the dozen and the yard--reaching back to "son of Adam, son
of God." The "Gwentian Brut" or "Book of Aberpergwm" is in doubtful
company. The following seem to be the facts known about Geoffrey. In
1129 he was at Oxford, in company with Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford
(not Walter Mapes). His father's name was Arthur; and he was connected
with the Welsh lords of Caerleon. He calls himself "of Monmouth,"
either as being born there, or as having a connection with the
Benedictine monastery at Monmouth, which was founded by a Breton, and
kept up connections with Brittany and Anjou. He may have been
archdeacon--but not of Monmouth. The first version of his history was
finished in or before April, 1139, and the final edition of the
History was completed by 1147. In his later years he resided at
Llandaff. He was ordained priest in February, 1152, and consecrated
bishop of St. Asaph in the same month. In 1153 he was one of the
witnesses to the compact between King Stephen and Henry of Anjou,
which ended the civil wars. He died at Llandaff in 1153.

We will now turn to consider the sources of his History of the Kings
of Britain. Geoffrey says: "In the course of many and various studies
I happened to light on the history of the Kings of Britain, and
wondered that, in the account which Gildas and Bede, in their elegant
treatises, had given of them, I found nothing said of those kings who
lived here before Christ, nor of Arthur, and many others; though their
actions were celebrated by many people in a pleasant manner, and by
heart, as if they had been written. Whilst I was thinking of these
things, Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, a man learned in foreign
histories, offered me a very ancient book in the Britannic tongue,
which, in a continued regular story and elegant style, related the
actions of them all, from Brutus down to Cadwallader. At his request,
therefore, I undertook the translation of that book into Latin." At
the end of his history he adds: "I leave the history of the later
kings of Wales to Caradoc of Llancarven, my contemporary, as I do also
the kings of the Saxons to William of Malmesbury and Henry of
Huntingdon. But I advise them to be silent concerning the kings of the
Britons, since they have not that book written in the Britannic
tongue, which Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, brought out of Britannia."

There has been a good deal of controversy as to whether this very
ancient book was in Welsh or Breton, but the first question is, Did it
ever exist? Was Geoffrey a translator, or an inventor, or a collector
of oral traditions current in Wales or Brittany during his time?

There can be little doubt that the conclusion of Thomas Stephens, in
the "Literature of the Kymry," is correct--that "Geoffrey was less a
translator than an original author." It is very doubtful whether the
Britannic book ever existed, whether it was not a mere ruse, such as
was often resorted to by mediæval romancers, and is still a favourite
method with modern historical novelists--to give their works an
appearance of genuineness. It has been argued against this, that in
that case, Archdeacon Walter must have been a party to the
fraud--which is incredible. Such an argument implies a large ignorance
of the archdeacons of the twelfth century--when it was a question
solemnly discussed among the learned--whether an archdeacon could
possibly be saved. It would be well if there were nothing worse to
bring against them than such an innocent fraud on the public as this.
But the strongest argument against the existence of the Britannic book
is (not that it is not extant now, but) that the historians of the
next generation never saw it. Geoffrey's History at once created a
tremendous stir in the literary world--nor was it accepted on
trust--but received with suspicion and incredulity. Thus William of
Newburgh, in the latter part of the twelfth century, calls Geoffrey
roundly, "a saucy and shameless liar." William, of course, did not
know Welsh, and could not have made anything out of the Britannic
book, even if he had seen it. This objection does not apply to
Giraldus Cambrensis; his knowledge of Welsh was indeed slight--but he
had plenty of Welsh-speaking relatives and friends, and he was himself
a collector of manuscripts. Gerald refers to "the lying statements of
Geoffrey's fabulous history," and implies in a much-quoted passage
that he regarded Geoffrey's history as a pack of lies. Speaking of a
Welshman at Caerleon who had dealings with evil spirits, and was
enabled by their assistance to foretell future events, he goes on: "He
knew when any one told a lie in his presence, for he saw the devil
dancing on the tongue of the liar. If the evil spirits oppressed him
too much, the Gospel of St. John was placed on his bosom, when like
birds they immediately vanished; but when the Gospel was removed, and
the History of the Britons by Geoffrey Arthur was substituted in its
place, the devils instantly came back in greater numbers, and remained
a longer time than usual on his body and on the book." Geoffrey may
very probably have used some Britannic manuscript, but it could not
have been very ancient; and he certainly did not translate it, but
used it as he used Gildas and Bede and Nennius--sometimes quoting
their statements, more generally amplifying them almost beyond

Was Geoffrey merely an inventor? Sometimes--undoubtedly. The long
strings of names of purely fictitious princes whom the Roman Consul
summoned to fight against King Arthur, at a time when in sober history
Justinian was Roman Emperor, are invented by Geoffrey. And consider
too his parodies of the practice of historians of referring to
contemporary events: an instance of the genuine article is given in
Gerald's Itinerary. "In 1188, Urban III. being pope, Frederick,
Emperor of the Romans, Isaac, Emperor of Constantinople, Philip, King
of France," &c., &c. Now take Geoffrey's parodies: "At this time,
Samuel the prophet governed in Judæa, Æneas was living, and Homer was
esteemed a famous orator and poet." Or again: "At the building of
Shaftesbury an eagle spoke while the wall of the town was being built:
and indeed I should have transmitted the speech to posterity, had I
thought it true, like the rest of the history. At this time Haggai,
Amos, Joel, and Azariah were prophets of Israel." One may be quite
sure that passages like these are not derived from the writings of the
ancients, or from oral traditions. One can in some cases trace back
his statements and see how much he added to his predecessors. A good
instance is his account of the conversion of the Britons under King
Lucius, in Bk. IV., cap. 19 and 20, and V., cap. 1 (A.D. 161).
Geoffrey's account is circumstantial: King Lucius sent to the Pope
asking for instruction in the Christian religion. The Pope sent two
teachers (whose names are given), who almost extinguished paganism
over the whole island, dedicated the heathen temples to the true God,
and substituted three archbishops for the three heathen archflamens
at London, York, and Caerleon-on-Usk, and twenty-eight bishops for the
twenty-eight heathen flamens. Now all this is based on a short passage
in Bede: "Lucius King of the Britains sent to the Pope asking that he
might be made a Christian; he soon obtained his desire, and the
Britons kept the faith pure till the Diocletian persecution," which
itself is amplified from an entry in the _Liber Pontificalis_: "Lucius
King of the Britains sent to the Pope asking that he might be made a
Christian." This last does not occur in the early version of the
_Liber Pontificalis_, and is irreconcilable with the history and
position of the papacy in the second century; but is a forgery,
inserted at the end of the seventh century by the Romanising party in
the Welsh Church--the party desiring to bring the Welsh Church into
communion with the Roman, and so interested in proving that British
Christianity came direct from the Pope; and all the talk about the
archflamens and archbishops, &c., is pure invention. Notice too what
an important part the places with which Geoffrey is specially
connected play in his history: Caerleon is the seat of an
archbishopric and favourite residence of Arthur; Oxford is frequently
mentioned though it did not exist until the end of the ninth century;
the Consul of Gloucester (predecessor of Geoffrey's patron, Robert,
Consul of Gloucester) makes the decisive move in Arthur's battle with
the Romans.

A parallel case is Geoffrey's account of Brutus and the descent of the
Britons from the Trojans. The tradition is found in Nennius, and
perhaps dates from the classical revival at the court of Charlemagne.
It is clearly not a popular tradition, but an artificial tradition of
the learned; but whilst Geoffrey did not invent the legend, he
invented all the details--letters and speeches, and hairbreadth
escapes and tales of love and war.

Probably his detailed accounts of King Arthur's European
conquests--extending over nearly all Western Europe, from Iceland and
Norway to Gaul and Italy--are still more the work of Geoffrey's
inventive genius, though it is possible they may rest on early Celtic
myths about the voyage of Arthur to Hades, as Professor Rhys suggests,
or on late Breton traditions which mixed up Arthur with Charles the

Now let us consider Geoffrey as a gatherer and transmitter of the
genuine oral traditions of the Welsh and Breton people. Genuine
traditions are true history in the sense that they preserve manners
and customs and modes of thought prevalent at the time when they
became current. Thus they are on quite a different level from
Geoffrey's inventions, though they cannot be taken as containing the
history of any of the individuals to whom they profess to relate. He
tells us in his preface that the actions of Arthur and many others,
though not mentioned by historians, "were celebrated by many people in
a pleasant manner and by heart," were sung by poets and handed down
from generation to generation, like the poetical traditions of every
people in primitive times. There can be no doubt that Geoffrey
collected a number of these old stories and wove them into his
narrative. Thus, the story of King Lear and his daughters has the
ring of a genuine popular tradition about it, though the dates and
pseudo-historical setting were probably supplied by Geoffrey. Again,
there were certainly prophecies attributed to Merlin current in
Geoffrey's time. But one may suspect Geoffrey of doing a good deal
more than translate the prophecies of Merlin; he adapted them; one may
even suspect him of parodying them. "After him shall succeed the boar
of Totness, and oppress the people with grievous tyranny. Gloucester
shall send forth a lion and shall disturb him in his cruelty in
several battles. The lion shall trample him under his feet ... and at
last get upon the backs of the nobility. A bull shall come into the
quarrel and strike the lion ... but shall break his horns against the
walls of Oxford." "Then shall two successively sway the sceptre, whom
a horned dragon shall serve. One shall come in armour and ride upon a
flying serpent. He shall sit upon its back with his naked body, and
cast his right hand upon its tail.... The second shall ally with the
lion; but a quarrel happening they shall encounter one another ...
but the courage of the beast shall prevail. Then shall one come with a
drum, and appease the rage of the lion. Therefore shall the people of
the kingdom be at peace, and provoke the lion to a dose of physic!"

Then as to Arthur. In Geoffrey's history he appears mainly as a great
continental conqueror--a kind of Welsh Charlemagne. "Many of the most
picturesque and significant features of the full-grown legend (as
Professor Lewis Jones points out)[1] are not even faintly suggested by
Geoffrey. The Round Table, Lancelot, the Grail were unknown to him,
and were grafted on the legend from other sources." But he made the
Arthurian legends fashionable; he opened for all Europe the hitherto
unknown and inexhaustible well of Celtic romance; and it may be said
without exaggeration that "no mediæval work has left behind it so
prolific a literary offspring as the History of the Kings of Britain."

The value of Geoffrey is not in his fictions about past history, but
in his influence on the literature and ideas of the future. He stands
at the beginning of a new age: he is the first spokesman of the Age of
the new Chivalry. Read his glowing account of Arthur's court, where
"the knights were famous for feats of chivalry, and the women esteemed
none worthy of their love but such as had given proof of their valour
in three several battles. Thus was the valour of the men an
encouragement for the women's chastity, and the love of the women a
spur to the knight's bravery." Or, as an old French version has it,
"Love which made the women more chaste made the knights more valorous
and famous." We have here a new conception of love which has
profoundly influenced life and thought ever since--love no longer a
weakness as in the ancient world, or a sin as it seemed to the ascetic
spirit of the Church, but a conscious source of strength, an avowed
motive of heroism. And it was round Arthur and his court that the
French poets of the next generation wove their romances inspired by
this conception--the offspring of the union of Norman strength and
Celtic gentleness.


[1] See his paper on Geoffrey of Monmouth (Transactions of the
Cymmrodorion Society, 1899), to which I am much indebted.



Gerald the Welshman was certainly one of the most remarkable men of
letters that the Middle Ages produced--remarkable not merely for the
great range of his knowledge, or the voluminousness of his writings,
but for the originality of his views and variety of his interests.

In this lecture I intend to give first a general account of his life,
and then deal in more detail with his Itinerary through Wales.

We know a great deal about Gerald; he was interested in many things,
and not least in himself; he was not troubled by that shrinking sense
of his own worthlessness--with the feeling of being not an individual,
but a part of a community--which is so characteristic of mediæval
writers, and led them often to omit to mention their own names.

Gerald was born about 1146, at Manorbier, in Pembroke--"the most
delightful spot in Wales." His ancestry is interesting. His father was
a Norman noble, holding of Glamorgan, William de Barri by name; his
mother was the daughter of another Norman noble, Gerald de Windsor of
Pembroke, and the famous Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tudor, the Helen of
Wales. He was cousin of the Fitzgeralds who played so important a part
in the conquest of Ireland, and connected with Richard Strongbow and
the great house of Clare. He thus "moved in the highest circles," and
lived in an atmosphere of great deeds and great traditions.

He was from the first marked out by his own inclinations for an
ecclesiastical career. He tells us that when he and his elder brothers
used to play as children on the sands of Manorbier his brothers built
castles but he always built churches. He received an elementary
education from the chaplains of his uncle, the Bishop of St. David's;
he seems to have been slow at learning when a child, and his tutors
goaded him on not by the birch rod, but by sarcasm--by declining
"_Stultus_, _stultior_, _stultissimus_." His higher education was not
obtained in Wales, and it is singular that he does not notice any
place of learning in Wales in all his writings. He studied at
Gloucester, and then at Paris, the greatest mediæval university. We
have it on his own authority that he was a model student. "So entirely
devoted was he to study, having in his acts and in his mind, no sort
of levity or coarseness, that whenever the Masters of Arts wished to
select a pattern from among the good scholars, they would name Gerald
before all others." Later he lectured at Paris on canon law and
theology; his lectures, he tells us, were very popular. He returned
thence in 1172, two years after the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, whose
example and struggle for the rights of the Church made a deep and
lasting impression on him. Gerald soon obtained preferment: he held
three livings in Pembroke, one in Oxfordshire, and canonries at
Hereford and St. David's. His energy soon made itself felt. He
excommunicated the Welshmen and Flemings who would not pay tithes; and
then attacked the sins of the clergy. Most of the Welsh clergy were
married, contrary to the laws of the Church. Gerald hated a married
priest even more than he hated a monk. The Welsh priest, he says, was
wont to keep in his house a female (_focaria_) "to light his fire but
extinguish his virtue." "How can such a man practice frugality and
self-denial with a house full of brawling brats, and a woman for ever
extracting money to buy costly robes with long skirts trailing in the
dust?" Gerald hated women--the origin of all evil since the world
began: observing that in birds of prey the females are stronger than
the males, he remarks that this signifies "the female sex is more
resolute in all evil than the male." Among the married clergy he
attacked was the Archdeacon of Brecon; and the old man, being forced
to choose between his wife and his archdeaconry, preferred his wife.
Gerald was made Archdeacon of Brecon. In later years he had qualms of
conscience about the part he took in this business.

Between 1180 and 1194 he was often at Court and employed in the
king's affairs. Henry II. selected him as a suitable person to
accompany the young prince John to Ireland in 1185, and the result was
his two great works--"The Topography," and "The Conquest of Ireland,"
which are the chief and almost the only authorities for Irish history
in the Middle Ages. The former work he read publicly at Oxford on his
return; it was a great occasion: we must tell it in his own words.
"When the work was finished, not wishing to hide his candle under a
bushel, but wishing to place it in a candlestick, so that it might
give light, he resolved to read it before a vast audience at Oxford,
where scholars in England chiefly flourished and excelled in
scholarship. And as there were three divisions in the work, and each
division occupied a day, the readings lasted three successive days. On
the first day, he received and entertained at his lodgings all the
poor people of the town; on the second, all the doctors of the
different faculties and their best students; and on the third, the
rest of the students and the chief men of the town. It was a costly
and noble act; and neither present nor past time can furnish any
record of such a solemnity having ever taken place in England."

In 1188 he accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury in his tour
through Wales to preach the Third Crusade. With this we shall deal

He was abroad with Henry II. at the time of the old king's death, and
has left a valuable account of his later years in the book "On the
Instruction of Princes." His connection with the Court gave him
opportunities for studying the great characters of the time at close
quarters, and we have from his pen graphic sketches of many of them.
Take this description of Henry II.: "He had a reddish complexion,
rather dark, and a large round head. His eyes were gray, bloodshot,
and flashed in anger. He had a fiery face; his voice was shaky; he had
a deep chest, and long muscular arms, his great round head hanging
somewhat forward. He had an enormous belly--though not from gross
feeding. Indeed he was temperate in all things, for a prince. To keep
down his corpulency, he took immoderate exercise. Even in times of
peace he took no rest--hunting furiously all day, and on his return
home in the evening seldom sitting down either before or after supper;
for in spite of his own fatigue, he would weary out the Court by being
constantly on his legs."

The whole is very interesting and full of life. It occurs in the
"Conquest of Ireland," and is quoted in several of his other works.
Gerald's favourite author was Gerald of Barry, Archdeacon of Brecon.

The next important episode in his life was the struggle for St.
David's (1198-1203). It was really a fight for the independence of the
Welsh Church from England and its direct dependence on the Pope.
Gerald was elected bishop by the canons of St. David's, in opposition
to the will of King John (whose consent was necessary) and of Hubert
Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury (whose rights as metropolitan were
attacked). Gerald hastened off to Rome to get the Pope's support,
taking with him the most precious offering that he could think of--six
of his own books; for Rome had a bad name for bribery--and who could
resist such a bribe? But he found it advisable to supplement his books
by other promises, especially by the offer to the Pope of tithes from

The Pope at this time was Innocent III.--the greatest of all the
Popes--who brought kings and nations under his feet and held despotic
sway over the Universal Church, and stamped out heresy in blood. In
the references to him in Gerald's works he appears in much more human
guise. We see him after supper unbending and laughing at Gerald's
anecdotes and cracking jokes of a somewhat risky character with the
archdeacon. It is clear that the Pope thoroughly enjoyed the
Welshman's company, but also that he did not take him very seriously
as an ecclesiastical statesman. "Let us have some more stories about
your archbishop's bad Latin," he would say, when Gerald was getting
too urgent on the independence of the Welsh Church or his own right to
the see of St. David's.

This archbishop was Hubert Walter, who was much more of a secular
administrator than an ecclesiastic, and whose Latin though clear and
ready might show a fine contempt for all rules of grammar. Gerald was
a stickler for correct Latin grammar; he is great on "howlers." There
is one of his stories, illustrating both the avarice of the Norman
prelates and the ignorance of the Welsh clergy: A Welsh priest came to
his bishop and said, "I have brought your lordship a present of two
hundred _oves_." He meant "_ova_"; but the bishop insisted on the
sheep; and the priest probably rubbed up his Latin grammar. Gerald had
also other patriotic reasons for his hostility to the archbishop, who
as chief justiciary--_i.e._, chief minister of the king--had recently
attacked and defeated the Welsh between the Wye and the Severn.
"Blessed be God," writes Gerald sarcastically to him, "who has taught
your hands to war and your fingers to fight, for since the days when
Harold almost exterminated the nation, no prince has destroyed so many
Welshmen in one battle as your Grace."

Gerald continued the struggle till 1203, though deserted by the Welsh
clergy. "The laity of Wales," he said, "stood by me; but of the
clergy whose battle I was fighting, scarce one." He was proclaimed as
a rebel, and had some narrow escapes of imprisonment or worse--escapes
which he owed to his ready wit and which he delights to tell. At last
he gave way, and during the remainder of his life we find him at Rome,
Lincoln, St. David's, revising his works and writing new ones,
modifying some of his judgments (especially that on Hubert Walter),
and encouraging Stephen Langton in the great struggle against John. He
was buried at St. David's, probably in 1223.

We will now return to the "Itinerary through Wales" and the
"Description of Wales." Jerusalem was taken by Saladin in 1187, and
the Third Crusade--the Crusade of Richard Coeur de Lion--was preached
throughout Europe. In 1188 Archbishop Baldwin made a preaching tour
through Wales accompanied by Glanville, the great justiciary of Henry
II., and Gerald of Barry. While the primary object was the preaching
of the Crusade, the king had an eye to business and saw that the Holy
Cause could be utilised for other purposes; it gave an opportunity for
the assertion of the metropolitan rights of Canterbury over the Welsh
Church, and for a survey of the country by the royal officials, which
was not possible under other circumstances. That is why the archbishop
and the justiciar accompanied the expedition. It is remarkable that
Gerald, the champion of the Welsh Church, should have given his
support to it; but he had not fully adopted the patriotic attitude of
his later years; and, with him as with most people of the time, the
rescue of the Holy Sepulchre was, in theory at any rate, the greatest
object in the world; while further, we must not forget that the
journey had many attractions for him as an author; it gave him "copy"
for a new book, and the chance of reading his Irish Topography to the
archbishop. Every day during the journey the archbishop listened to a
portion of this book, and at the end took it home to finish. As the
journey lasted at least fifty days, one may calculate that it took at
most an average of three pages a day to send the archbishop to sleep.

The Itinerary (which was later dedicated to Stephen Langton) contains
in the author's words an account of "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."

The route pursued was as follows: From Hereford to Radnor, Brecon,
Abergavenny, Caerleon, Newport, Cardiff, Llandaff, Ewenny, Margam,
Swansea, Kidweli, Carmarthen, Haverford, St. David's, Cardigan, Strata
Florida, thence keeping close to the coast, through Bangor and
Chester; and then south by Oswestry, Shrewsbury, Ludlow, to Hereford.

The travellers were well received and entertained both by the Lords
Marcher and the Welsh princes. It was especially to the Welsh that
their attention was directed, and Welsh princes accompanied them
through their territories. The chief was Rhys ap Gruffydd (Gerald's
uncle), prince of South Wales, who was then at the height of his
power, and had been made chief justice of South Wales by Henry II., to
whom he faithfully adhered. Gwynedd and Powys were then divided among
several heirs. One of the princes of Powys, Owain Cyfeiliog, the poet,
was distinguished as being the only prince who did not come to meet
the archbishop with his people; for which he was excommunicated.
Gerald notes that he was an adherent of Henry II., and was
"conspicuous for the good management of his territory." Perhaps that
is why he would not have anything to do with the Crusade.

How far was the expedition successful in its primary object in gaining
crusaders? The archbishop and justiciar had already taken the cross;
they remained true to their vows and went to the Holy Land, the
archbishop dying at the siege of Acre, heartbroken at the wickedness
of the army. Gerald himself was the first to take the cross in Wales,
not acting under the influence of religious enthusiasm, but (as he
says himself) "impelled by the urgent requests and promises of the
king and persuasions of the archbishop," who wanted him to act as
historian; but Gerald, after setting the example, bought a
dispensation and did not go. A number of the lesser Welsh princes soon
took the cross. The Lord Rhys himself was eager to do so, but "his
wife by female artifices diverted him wholly from his noble purpose."
The wives were all dead against the whole affair. At Hay the wives
caught hold of their husbands, and the would-be Crusaders had
literally to run away from them to the castle, leaving their cloaks
behind them. A nobler spirit of self-sacrifice was shown by the old
woman of Cardigan, who, when her only son took the cross, said: "O
most beloved Lord Jesus Christ, I give Thee hearty thanks for having
conferred on me the blessing of bringing forth a son worthy of Thy
service." This son was probably worth more than the twelve archers of
the castle of St. Clears who were forcibly signed with the cross for
committing a murder; and one may reasonably look with suspicion on the
sudden conversion of "many of the most notorious murderers and robbers
of the neighbourhood" at Usk. It was this kind of thing that turned
the Holy Land into a sort of convict settlement.

The preachers clearly worked hard and had some trying experiences, and
kept up their spirits by little jokes, which Gerald retails. They
nearly came to grief in quicksands at the mouth of the river Neath.
"Terrible hard country this," said one of the monks next day in the
castle at Swansea. "Some people are never satisfied," retorted his
companion; "you were complaining of its being too soft in the
quicksand yesterday." The mountains were trying to men no longer in
their youth; after toiling up one the archbishop sank exhausted on a
fallen tree and said to his panting companions, "Can any one enliven
the company by whistling a tune?" "Which," adds Gerald, "is not very
easily done by people out of breath." From whistling the conversation
passed to nightingales, which some one said were never found in Wales.
"Wise bird, the nightingale," remarked the archbishop.

One serious difficulty they had was that none of them, not even
Gerald, knew Welsh sufficiently well to preach in it, though they
generally had interpreters. The archbishop, who would sometimes preach
away for hours without result, felt this much more than Gerald. He
declares he moved crowds to tears though they did not understand a
word of what he was saying. But one may take the words of Prince
Rhys's fool as evidence (if any were needed) that ignorance of Welsh
weakened the effect. "You owe a great debt, Rhys, to your kinsman the
archdeacon, who has taken a hundred or so of your men to serve the
Lord; if he had only spoken in Welsh, you wouldn't have had a soul

In all about three thousand took the cross; but the Crusade was
delayed, zeal cooled, and it is probable that comparatively few went.
The _Itinerarium Regis Ricardi_ mentions, I think, only one exploit by
a Welshman in the Third Crusade; he was an archer, and so a South

This brings me to one of the incidental notes of great value scattered
about the Itinerary. Speaking of the siege of Abergavenny (1182),
Gerald tells us that the men of Gwent and Glamorgan excelled all
others in the use of the bow, and gives curious evidence of the
strength of their shooting. Thus the arrows pierced an oak door four
inches thick; they had been left there as a curiosity, and Gerald saw
them with their iron points coming through on the inner side. He
describes these bows as "made of elm--ugly, unfinished-looking
weapons, but astonishingly stiff, large, and strong, and equally
useful for long and short shooting." Add to this that the longbow was
not a characteristic English weapon till the latter part of the
thirteenth century, that the first battle in which an English king
made effective use of archery (at Falkirk, 1298), his infantry
consisted mainly of Welshmen; and there can be little doubt that the
famous longbow of England, which won the victories of Creçy and
Poitiers and Agincourt, and indirectly did much to destroy feudalism
and villenage, had its home in South Wales.

Gerald was also a keen observer of nature, and his knowledge of the
ways of animals is extensive and peculiar. Perhaps even more marked
is his love of the supernatural; he could believe anything, if it was
only wonderful enough--except Geoffrey of Monmouth's History. But I
must confine myself to one story--the story of the boy in Gower who
(as the root of learning is bitter) played truant and found two little
men of pigmy stature, and went with them to their country under the
earth, and played games with golden balls with the fairy prince. These
little folk were very small--of fair complexion, and long luxuriant
hair; and they had horses and dogs to suit their size. They hated
nothing so much as lies; "they had no form of public worship, being
lovers and reverers, it seemed, of truth." The boy often went, till he
tried to steal a golden ball, and then he could never find fairyland
again. But he learnt some of the fairy language, which was like Greek.
And then Gerald compares words in different languages, and notes how,
for instance, the same word for _salt_ runs through Greek and British
and Irish and Latin and French and English and German, and the fairy
language, which suggests a close relation between all these peoples
in past ages. It is very modern; and it is not without reason that
Gerald has been called "the father of comparative philology."

In his "Description of Wales" Gerald describes the manner of life and
characteristics of the people. All are trained to arms, and when the
trumpet sounds the alarm, the husbandman rushes as eagerly from his
plough as the courtier from his court. Agricultural work takes up
little of their time, as they are still mainly in a pastoral stage,
living on the produce of their herds, and eating more meat than bread.
They fight and undergo hardships and willingly sacrifice their lives
for their country and for liberty. They wear little defensive armour,
and depend mainly on their mobility; they are not much good at a close
engagement, but generally victors in a running fight, relying more on
their activity than on their strength.

It was the fashion to keep open house for all comers. "Those who
arrive in the morning are entertained till evening with the
conversation of young women and the music of the harp; for each house
has its young women and harps allotted for the purpose. In each
family the art of playing on the harp is held preferable to any other
learning; and no nation is so free from jealousy as the Welsh." After
a simple supper (for the people are not addicted to gluttony or
drunkenness), "a bed of rushes is placed along the side of the hall,
and all in common lie down to sleep with their feet towards the fire.
They sleep in the thin cloak and tunic they wear by day. They receive
much comfort from the natural heat of the persons lying near them; but
when the underside begins to be tired with the hardness of the bed, or
the upper one to suffer from the cold, they get up and go to the fire;
and then returning to the couch they expose their sides alternately to
the cold and to the hardness of the bed."

Gifted with an acute and rich intellect they excel in whatever studies
they pursue, notably in music. They are especially famous for their
part-singing, "so that in a company of singers, which one very often
meets with in Wales, you will hear as many different parts and voices
as there are performers,"(!) and this gift has by long habit become
natural to the nation.

"They show a greater respect than other nations to churches and
ecclesiastics, to the relics of saints, bells, holy books, and the
cross; and hence their churches enjoy more than common tranquillity."

He then goes on to the other side of the picture: "for history without
truth becomes undeserving of its name." "These people are no less
light in mind than in body, and by no means to be relied on. They are
easily urged to undertake any action, and as easily checked from
prosecuting it.... They never scruple at taking a false oath for the
sake of any temporary advantage.... Above all other peoples they are
given to removing their neighbours' landmarks. Hence arise quarrels,
murders, conflagrations, and frequent fratricides. It is remarkable
that brothers show more affection to each other when dead than when
living; for they persecute the living even unto death, but avenge the
dead with all their power."

Finally, as a scientific observer of politics, he discusses how Wales
may be conquered and governed, and how the Welsh may resist.

A prince who would subdue this people must give his whole energies to
the task for at least a whole year. He must divide their strength, and
by bribes and promises endeavour to stir up one against the other,
knowing the spirit of hatred and envy which generally prevails among
them. He must cut off supplies, build castles, and use light-armed
troops and plenty of them; for though many English mercenaries perish
in a battle, money will procure as many more; but to the Welsh the
loss is for the time irreparable. He recommends that all the English
inhabitants of the Marches should be trained to arms; for the Welsh
fight for liberty and only a free people can subdue them. His advice
to the Welsh is: Unite. "If they would be inseparable, they would be
insuperable, being assisted by these three circumstances--a country
well defended by nature, a people contented to live upon little, a
community whose nobles and commoners alike are trained in the use of
arms; and especially as the English fight for power, the Welsh for
liberty; the English hirelings for money, the Welsh patriots for their

I hope I may persuade some who do not yet know Gerald to make his
acquaintance, and to read either his works on Ireland and Wales,
translated in Bohn's library, or Mr. Henry Owen's brilliant and
delightful volume, "Gerald the Welshman," my indebtedness to which I
wish to acknowledge. Gerald tells us many miracles; but he has himself
performed a miracle as wonderful as any he relates; he has kept all
the charm and freshness of youth for more than seven hundred years.

[Illustration: CASTLES & RELIGIOUS HOUSES. (12th & 13th Centuries)]



Wales is pre-eminently the land of castles. There are between thirty
and forty in Glamorgan alone. The accompanying map, though it is by no
means exhaustive, shows the general lie of the castles, which may be
divided into three groups, having as their respective bases Chester,
Shrewsbury, and Gloucester. But though there is some evidence of an
organised plan for the conquest of Wales in the time of William Rufus,
it is useless to look for any great and general system of offence or
defence, because most of the castles were not built by a centralised
government with any such object in view, but by individuals to guard
their own territories and protect their independence against either
their neighbours or the English king. The great age of castle-building
was between 1100 and 1300. Castles play a very small part in the
fighting in Wales till the end of the eleventh century. Before that
time indeed there were few stone castles anywhere; the usual type, even
of the early Norman castles, was a moated mound surrounded by wooden
palisades. One hears for instance of a castle being built by William
the Conqueror in eight days. An example of this early type of fortress
was Pembroke Castle at the end of the eleventh century, "a slender
fortress of stakes and turf," which had the good fortune to be in
charge of Gerald of Windsor, grandfather of Giraldus Cambrensis. It
stood several sieges, which shows that the siege engines of the Welsh
were of a very poor and primitive type. One of these sieges was turned
into a blockade, and the garrison was nearly reduced by starvation. The
constable had recourse to a time-honoured ruse. "With great prudence he
caused four hogs which still remained to be cut into small pieces and
thrown down among the enemy. The next day he had recourse to a more
refined stratagem: he contrived that a letter from him should fall
into the hands of the enemy stating that there was no need for
assistance for the next four months." The besiegers were taken in and
dispersed to their homes.

The characteristic types of castles in the twelfth century were the
rectangular keep and the shell keep; in the thirteenth the concentric
castle. Of the two last we have splendid examples in Cardiff and
Caerphilly. Of rectangular keeps there are very few in Wales--Chepstow
is the only important one--though there are several on the borders,
notably Ludlow. The square keep seems to us most characteristic of
Norman military architecture; the Tower of London, Rochester,
Newcastle, Castle Rising, are well-known examples, and there are many
more in a good state of preservation; there are many more solid square
keeps than shell keeps well preserved, but this is simply due to the
greater solidity of the former; the shell keeps were far more numerous
in the twelfth century; and the reasons for this are obvious--the
rectangular keep was much more expensive to build, and it was too
heavy to erect on the artificial mounds on which the Norman
architects generally founded their castles.

The keep of Cardiff Castle is one of the most perfect shell keeps in
existence. It is built on a round artificial mound, surrounded by a
wide and deep moat--the mound and moat being, of course, complements
of each other. Such mounds and moats are common in all parts of
England, and in Normandy. They are not Roman, nor British, nor are
they, as Mr. G. T. Clark maintained, characteristic of Anglo-Saxon
work. They are essentially Norman, and a good representation of the
making of such a mound may be seen in the Bayeux Tapestry, under the
heading--'He orders them to dig a castle.' When was the Cardiff mound
made? Perhaps the short entry in the Brut gives the answer: "1080, the
building of Cardiff began." It would then be surrounded by wooden
palisades, and surmounted by a timber structure, as a newly made mound
would not stand the masonry. The shell keep was probably built by
Robert of Gloucester, and it was probably in the gate-house of this
keep, that Robert of Normandy was imprisoned. A shell keep was a ring
wall eight or ten feet thick, about thirty feet high, not covered in,
and enclosing an open courtyard, round which were placed the
buildings--light structures, often wooden sheds, abutting on the ring
wall--such as one may see now in the courtyard of Castell Coch. The
shell keep was the centre of Robert's castle, but not the whole. From
this time dated the great outer walls on the south and west--walls
forty feet high and ten feet thick and solid throughout. The north and
east and part of the south sides of the castle precincts are enclosed
by banks of earth, beneath which, the walls of a Roman camp have
recently been discovered. These banks were capped by a slight
embattled wall. Outside along the north, south and east fronts was a
moat, formerly fed by the Taff through the Mill leat stream which ran
along the west front. The present lodgings, or habitable part of the
castle built on either side of the great west wall, date mostly from
the fifteenth century. The earlier lodgings were, perhaps, on the same
site--though only inside the wall; a great lord did not as a rule
live in the keep, except in times of danger.

The area of the enclosure is about ten acres--more suited to a Roman
garrison than to a lord marcher of the twelfth century. That the
castle was difficult to guard is shown by the success of Ivor Bach's
bold dash, _c._ 1153-1158. Ivor ap Meyric was Lord of Senghenydd,
holding it of William of Gloucester, the Lord of Glamorgan, and,
perhaps, had his headquarters in the fortress above the present
Castell Coch. "He was," says Giraldus Cambrensis, "after the manner of
the Welsh, owner of a tract of mountain land, of which the earl was
trying to deprive him. At that time the Castle of Cardiff was
surrounded with high walls, guarded by 120 men at arms, a numerous
body of archers and a strong watch. Yet in defiance of all this, Ivor,
in the dead of night secretly scaled the walls, seized the earl and
countess and their only son, and carried them off to the woods; and
did not release them till he had recovered all that had been unjustly
taken from him," and a goodly ransom in addition. Perhaps the most
permanent result of this episode was the building of a wall 30 feet
high between the keep and the Black Tower--dividing the castle
enclosure into two parts and forming an inner or middle ward of less
extent, and less liable to danger from such sudden raids.

Cardiff Castle was much more than a place of defence; it was the seat
of government. The bailiff of the Castle was _ex officio_ mayor of the
town in the Middle Ages. The Castle was also the head and centre of
the Lordship of Glamorgan. This was divided into two parts--the shire
fee or body, and the members. The shire fee was the southern part;
under a sheriff appointed by the chief Lord: the chief landowners owed
suit and service--_i.e._, they attended and were under the
jurisdiction of the shire court held monthly in the castle enclosure,
and each owed a fixed amount of military service--especially the duty
of "castle-guard"--supplying the garrison and keeping the castle in
repair. There are indications of the work of the shire court in some
of the castle accounts published in the Cardiff Records, _e.g._, in
1316, an official accounts for 1d., the price of "a cord bought for
the hanging of thieves adjudged in the county court: stipend of one
man hanging those thieves 4d." The "members" consisted of ten
lordships (several of which were in the hands of Welsh nobles): these
were much more independent; each had its own court (with powers of
life and death), from which an appeal lay to the Lord's court at
Cardiff: generally they owed no definite service to the Lord (except
homage, and sometimes a heriot at death), but on failure of heirs the
estate lapsed to the chief Lord. At Cardiff Castle the Lord had his
chancery, like the royal chancery on a small scale--issuing writs,
recording services and grants of privileges, and legal decisions:
practically the whole of these records have been lost--and our
knowledge of the organisation of the Lordship is mainly derived from
the royal records at times, when owing to minority or escheat, the
Lordship was under royal administration. The Lord of Glamorgan owed
homage, but no service to the king; and (though this was sometimes
disputed by his tenants and the royal lawyers), no appeal lay from his
courts to the king's court. The machinery of government was probably
more complete and elaborate in Glamorgan than in any other Marcher

Caerphilly Castle had not the political importance of Cardiff, but far
surpasses it as a fortress. By the strength and position of
Caerphilly, one may measure the power of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd after
the Barons' War and before the accession of Edward I. The Prince of
Wales had extended his sway down as far as Brecon, and Welshmen
everywhere were looking to him as the restorer of their country's
independence. Among them was the Welsh Lord of Senghenydd, one of the
chief "members" of Glamorgan, and his overlord probably saw reason to
suspect his loyalty. An alliance between him and Llywelyn would open
the lower Taff Valley to the Welsh prince and give him command of the
hill country north of Cardiff. It was on the lands of the lord of
Senghenydd that Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, built Castell
Coch and Caerphilly.

[Illustration: CARDIFF CASTLE. (12th Century)]

[Illustration: CAERPHILLY CASTLE. (13th Century)]

Caerphilly is described by the latest historian of the Art of War as
the grandest specimen of its class; it represents the high-water mark
of mediæval military architecture in this country, and was the model
of Edward I.'s great castles in the north. It illustrates the
influence of the Crusades on Western Europe, being an instance of the
"concentric" system of defences, of which the walls of Constantinople
afford the most magnificent example, and which the Crusaders adopted
in many of their great fortresses in the East.

Caerphilly Castle consists of three lines of defences, and the way in
which these supplement each other shows that the work in all
essentials was designed as a great whole; it did not grow up bit by
bit. There are of course many evidences of alterations and rebuilding
at later times; the buildings in the middle ward, on the south side,
seem to be later additions; the hall appears to have been enlarged,
and the tracery of the windows suggests the fourteenth century; the
state-rooms to the west of the hall have been much altered; but such
alterations as appear are confined to the habitable part of the
castle, and do not affect it as a military work. It has been suggested
that the castle may have been greatly enlarged in the latter years of
Edward II., when it played an important part in connection with the
division of the Gloucester inheritance and the younger Despenser's
ambitions. There are a number of notices of the castle in the
chronicles and public records of that time, but apparently no
references to any building operations. And the unity of plan is
evidence that the whole dated from the same time.

The castle is built on a tongue of gravel nearly surrounded by low,
marshy land, forming a sort of peninsula; a stream on the south
running eastwards to the Rhymny; and two springs on the north. By
damming these waters and cutting through the tongue of gravel an
artificial island was secured for the site of the castle. The inner
ward, or central part of the castle, consists of a quadrangle with a
large round tower at each corner: in the centre of the east and west
side are massive gate-houses defended by portcullises; from the
projecting corner towers all the intervening wall was commanded. The
gateways communicate with the second line of defence or middle ward.
This completely encircles the inner ward, on a much lower level; it is
a narrow space bounded by a wall, with low, semi-circular bastions at
the corners; it is commanded at every point from the inner ward; the
narrowness of the space would prevent the concentration of large
bodies of assailants or the use of battering-rams, and communication
is at several points stopped by walls or buildings jutting out from
the inner ward. The middle ward had strong gate-houses at the east and
west ends, and was completely surrounded by water--east and west by a
moat, north and south the moat widens into lakes: note how on the
north a narrow ridge of gravel has been used to ensure a water moat on
that side, in case there was not enough water to flood the whole lake.
These lakes form part of the third line of defence or outer ward,
which includes also on the west the "horn-work" and on the east the
grand front. The horn-work is about three acres in extent, surrounded
by a wall 15 feet high, which is of the nature of an escarpment, the
ground rising above it. It is entirely surrounded by a moat, and
connected with the middle ward on one side and the mainland on the
other by drawbridges. It would probably be used for grazing purposes,
and thus would be of great value to the garrison; but so far as the
actual defences of the castle are concerned, a lake would have been
much more effective; the nature of the ground would however have
prevented this. The horn-work was intended to cover the only side upon
which the castle was open to an attack from level ground, and to
occupy what would otherwise have been a dangerous platform.

The eastern side of the outer ward--the grand front--is a most
imposing structure. It is a wall about 250 yards long, and in some
parts 60 feet high, furnished with buttresses and projecting towers
from which the intervening spaces are easily commanded, culminating
in the great gate-house near the centre, and terminating at both ends
in clusters of towers which protect the sally-ports. On the outside is
a moat spanned by a double drawbridge. The northern part of this
front, which was probably occupied by stables, would in dry weather be
the least defensible part of the castle; but it was cut off from the
rest by an embattled wall running from the gate-house to the inner
moat and pierced only by one small and portcullised gate. The southern
half was more important and stronger. It crossed the stream at the
dam, the walls being 15 feet thick where subjected to the pressure of
the water, and the strong group of towers at the end--on the other
side of the stream--guarded the dam on which the safety of the castle
largely depended; the wall and towers here form a semicircle, curving
back into the edge of the lake, so as to avoid the danger of being

On the inside of the grand front were various buildings, such as the
mill. This eastern line was divided from the middle ward by a moat 45
feet wide--a space which is too wide to be spanned by a single
drawbridge, and as there are no signs of the foundations of a central
pier, it seems probable that the bridge rested on a wooden support,
which could be removed when necessary, and the assailants plunged into
the moat below.

There are a large number of interesting details connected with both
the military functions of the castle and its domestic economy. There
were at least four exits (not counting the two water-gates); this
would give the garrison opportunities of harassing assailants by
sallies, and would make a much larger army necessary in order to
blockade the castle; contrast the single narrow entrance to the Norman
keep--high up in the wall and visible to all outside. The water-gates
are worth studying, especially the methods of protecting the eastern
water-gate--two grates with a shoot above and between them. One should
notice, too, the "splaying" of the outer wall, by which missiles from
the top would be projected outwards; and also the use of the
mill-stream to carry away the refuse of the garderobe tower. And there
are many other points, to which one would like to call attention, if
time allowed.

The history of Caerphilly in the Middle Ages need not detain us long.
It was besieged by Llywelyn in 1271, while it was being built.
Llywelyn declared he could have taken it in three days if he had not
been persuaded to submit the dispute to the arbitration of the king.
It is clear that the castle was not finished; shortly after this
Gilbert de Clare obtained license from the king to "enditch" the
castle: such license was not, as a rule, required in the Marches (as
it was in England) and was only necessary now because the king was
acting as arbitrator. The Earl of Gloucester kept possession. We next
hear of it in 1315, when it resisted the attack of Llywelyn Bren. It
was then in the hands of the king, pending the division of the
Gloucester inheritance among the three co-heiresses. In 1318
Caerphilly, with the rest of Glamorgan, was granted to the younger
Despenser, who perhaps enlarged the hall and made the other
alterations referred to above. Edward II. was there for a few days
when flying for his life; had he trusted to Caerphilly, instead of
fleeing further through South Wales, he might have saved his head and
his crown; at any rate, there would have been a great siege to add to
the history of mediæval warfare. The king's adherents held out in
Caerphilly for months, and only surrendered when, the king being dead,
there was nothing more to fight for, and they were allowed to go free.
Happy is the castle which has no history. The perfection of Caerphilly
as a fortress saved it from serious attacks.

In conclusion, I will give two illustrations of the relations between
the garrison of a castle and those outside. The first refers to
Swansea. There is a curious Charter of King John to the good men of
Swansea, in which he releases them from the "custom of eating" forced
on them by the men of the castle. This would be a solid variation of
the liquid scot-ales or free drinks which officials and garrisons were
in the habit of exacting from their neighbours, and which were among
the most persistent grievances in the Middle Ages.

The second concerns Builth, and is taken from the Patent Rolls of
Edward II. in 1315. Builth was then in the hands of the king, to whom
the townsfolk appeal for redress of grievances. The community complain
that, though they are only bound to carry timber to the castle twice a
week, they are often forced to carry it three times a week and more,
and victuals too; and the men of the castle compel them to plough
their lands and cut their corn, and hold them to ransom if they
refuse; and they carry away from the houses of the said complainants
divers kind of victuals--lambs, geese, hens, &c.--and pay only one
quarter of their value, or nothing at all; and though the complainants
gave the keeper of the castle £120 that they might be free from such
oppressions, he took the money and oppresses them just the same.
Further, the courts which the people have to attend are multiplied;
and recently the court was held at a time when so great a flood had
happened that neither horsemen nor footmen could approach the court,
and so thirty-six men and women, fearing the cruelty of the bailiffs,
entered a boat and were overwhelmed in the rush of the river. And one
night men of the castle, maliciously seeking occasion against the
commonalty of the town, went out of the castle and pretended to
besiege it and shot arrows at it; and then secretly re-entered the
castle and declared the townsfolk had been attacking the castle. And
on this account many burgesses were imprisoned in the castle and
ill-treated, and their swine maliciously killed. And things are so
intolerable that many of the greater burgesses have left the country,
and the residue, without speedy remedy, cannot remain.

Life was evidently dull in a castle: one had to play practical jokes
to relieve the monotony; and life was anything but pleasant outside a
castle. The castles of Wales are much more attractive to us to-day
than they were to those who lived in them or round them six or seven
hundred years ago.



In speaking of the Religious Houses in Wales I shall deal with those
which flourished in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries--the period
we have hitherto been studying--though it is tempting to go back to
the glories of the old Welsh monasteries of the sixth century, such as
Llantwit Major and Bangor Iscoed, whose dim memories must always
exercise a strong fascination. The monasteries of this early type had
fallen on evil days in Wales, as in Ireland and elsewhere, before the
twelfth century, many had been wiped out by the Danes; and those that
remained seem to have lost the spirit of life (save in a few distant
islands or inaccessible mountains), and made no struggle for existence
against the vigorous invasion of the new monasticism.

We shall be concerned with two kinds of religious houses--namely, the
houses of monks and the houses of friars. And, first, let us consider in
briefest outline the main course of development of the religious orders
in the Roman Church. The Rule of St. Benedict (+541) was adopted by all
monks: the essential features of it were prayer, labour, silence, a
common life and common property. But among the early Benedictines each
monastery was independent and self-governing, though an abbey might have
priories in some measure connected with it. The result was that in the
course of time the discipline and life of monasteries varied infinitely;
and there was no co-operation for self-defence among the various
monasteries. Hence in the tenth century arose the Cluniac order--the
first attempt at organisation--the Abbot of Clugny became head of a vast
number of monasteries in different countries of Europe; the priors of
these owed allegiance to the Abbot of Clugny, were appointed by him, and
paid revenues to the head abbey and the general fund of the Order. This
organisation was thus monarchical--despotic; the Abbot of Clugny was a
pope of monasticism. The movement acquired enormous influence on the
Church as a whole, getting control of the papacy, insisting that the
Church should be independent of the State, and that celibacy of the
clergy should be practically enforced. But the Cluniacs instead of
withdrawing from the world began to dominate it, losing many of the
essential features of monasticism. Hence another reform movement arose
about 1100, that of the Cistercian Order, which is associated with the
name of St. Bernard. This aimed at reviving the Benedictine rule in all
its strictness, insisting especially on manual labour. Cistercian houses
were founded in desolate places, as far removed from populous centres as
possible. But the Order differed from the early Benedictines in
organisation. Each Cistercian house was independent and self-governing,
electing its own abbot; but all the abbots were bound to come together
at stated times for general assemblies or chapters, and these general
assemblies were the supreme governing body in the Order. Thus unity was
established; the organisation was close, but not monarchical; the Order
was a great federation. This is the highest point reached in monastic

But about the time of the Crusades another ideal made itself felt.
Hitherto the religious man withdrew from the world: but, as an old
chronicler put it, "God found out the Crusades as a way to reconcile
religion and the world"--was it not possible to serve God _in_ the
world? The knight did it; he went on fighting, but he fought for the
Holy Sepulchre. The Military Orders (Templars and Hospitallers)
combined the life of a monk with the life of a soldier. The Regular or
Augustinian Canons combined the life of a monk with the life of a
parish priest. And this ideal--new to the Middle Ages--received its
highest realisation in the Dominican and Franciscan friars. The monk
left the world in order to become religious; the friar aimed at making
the world religious. The monk's main object was to save his own soul;
the friar's, to save the souls of others.

We will now turn to the monasteries in Wales. Of the older
Benedictine houses there were about fifteen, almost all in South
Wales, and all except one were not abbeys but priories, or cells,
_i.e._, they were dependent on some abbey elsewhere. A number of them
belonged to some foreign abbey, especially the earliest. This was the
case with the Priory of Monmouth, founded by the Breton Wihenoc, which
belonged to the Abbey of St. Florence of Saumur (Anjou); and this was
the case too with the priories of Abergavenny and Pembroke. These
"alien priories" were simply used by the abbeys abroad as sources of
revenue; they were foreign, unpopular, and during the French war in
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries most of them were suppressed
and their revenues appropriated by the Crown. The same applies to the
three Cluniac cells established in Wales, such as St. Clears, which
seems only to have contained the prior and one monk, who did not live
with much strictness, though Gerald of Barry says the Cluniacs here
were better than they were abroad, and not nearly so bad as the
Cistercians. The life of monks in these outlying cells, where they
were not under any supervision, and where there was no "public
opinion" of the monastery to keep them straight, was generally very
lax; they lived liked laymen, looking after the estates (generally
wasting them), and without much regard to their vows: "they lived like
beasts," says Gerald. Thus the Lord Rhys had to eject the monks from
one cell, because of the charges brought against them by the fathers
and husbands of the surrounding district, who declared that they would
leave and go to England if the evil was not stopped.

Another class of houses were those founded as priories or cells of
English abbeys. Thus the Priory at Brecon was a cell of Battle Abbey,
founded by Bernard of Newmarch, and largely endowed by the Braoses;
Ewenny, founded by Maurice de Londres, was a cell to St. Peter's,
Gloucester. All these of course, like the alien priories, were founded
by the Norman conquerors, and for two purposes: Firstly, for the souls
of the founder and his family, a very necessary provision; the Normans
were in their way a devout people and made sacrifices to win the
favour of heaven. William de Braose used to give his clerks "something
extra" for inserting pious expressions in his legal documents.
Secondly, these houses also served as castles and stations for
garrisons. Take, for instance, Ewenny; it is much more like a castle
than a religious house, with its great embattled walls and towers, and
magnificent gate-house furnished with a triple portcullis and
"shoots," or holes in the roof above for pouring molten lead on the
assailants' heads. The De Londres family were businesslike as well as
pious; Ewenny's prime object was to help them to gain heaven, it also
helped them to gain the earth. The close and constant connection which
these houses maintained with their mother abbeys in England and abroad
always kept them Anglo-Norman in sympathies--foreign garrisons. But
while recognising this aspect of the monastic houses in Wales, one
must avoid exaggerating it, as, _e.g._, Mr. Willis Bund does. He
regards all the monasteries as founded solely with this political
object: "to represent," he says, "a Welsh prince as founder of a
religious house in South Wales after 1066 is representing him as the
worst of traitors. Bad as the Welsh chieftains were, even they would
have hesitated to introduce into their country what were really Norman
garrisons;" and he rejects the idea of a Welsh prince founding Strata
Florida. Now these remarks are only applicable to those religious
houses which were dependencies on some English or foreign abbey; they
do not apply to the Cistercian monasteries, all of which were
practically equal and self-governing; each elected its own head and
was not under foreign dictation. While the whole Cistercian Order
formed an united body for purposes of monastic life and discipline,
each abbey identified itself in a very remarkable way with the local
or national aspirations of the people round, from whom its monks were
drawn. Some of the Cistercian monasteries in Ireland refused to admit
any Englishman. Some of the Cistercian abbeys in Wales were the
warmest supporters of Welsh independence.

The Welsh princes felt the need of providing for the safety of their
souls just as the Norman barons did, and the souls of both parties
needed a great deal of saving. Further, the Welsh were not cut off
from the great movements of the world; they felt like every other
country in Europe the waves of religious enthusiasm, which resulted in
the twelfth century in the spread of the Cistercians, in the
thirteenth century in the spread of the friars. In the twelfth century
the acts most pleasing to God were generally thought to be taking the
Cross and endowing a Cistercian monastery. Again, though many of the
Welsh chiefs were mere creatures of impulse, there were others who
looked to the future. The Lord Rhys was an acute man of the world, who
was not averse to improving his property. He possessed great tracts of
mountain land, which was practically worthless; he saw Cistercian
monks elsewhere, not exactly making such tracts blossom like the rose,
but, at any rate, utilising them for pasture land, keeping flocks of
sheep, becoming the great wool-growers for all Europe; why should he
not hand over his worthless property to Cistercians, and by so doing
lay up for himself treasure in heaven and on earth? Mr. Willis Bund
says, "How unnatural for any Welsh prince to found a Cistercian
abbey!" Surely it was the most natural thing in the world.

The Cistercians had far greater influence in Wales than any other
monastic order. The Cistercian abbeys were Aberconway, Basingwerk,
Valle Crucis, Strata Marcella, Cymer, Strata Florida, Cwm Hir,
Whitland, Neath, Margam, Llantarnam, Tintern, Grace Dieu, Dore. We
have in Gerald a very unfavourable and prejudiced witness on the
Cistercians. He tells with pious horror and human satisfaction the
story of the abbot of Strata Marcella, who was a great founder of
nunneries, and at length eloped with a nun (he soon repented and came
back to his abbey, preferring the bread and water of affliction to the
nun). Gerald had a personal grudge against the Cistercians; wanting to
raise money he had pawned his library to the monks of Strata Florida,
and when he tried to redeem the books they declared they had bought
them, and would not give them up.

The Cistercians certainly drove hard bargains, and insisted on their
rights to the uttermost farthing. In reading the history of any of
these Cistercian houses--the history, say, of Margam by Mr. Trice
Martin--one's first feeling is one of disappointment: it is nearly all
about property. When one looks through to find evidences of spiritual
influence one finds instead prosecutions for poaching. Did they have
schools and teach the youth of the country round? I have found no
evidence of it. Why should they? Monks never professed to be learned
men or to be teachers. Many were both, but it was a disputed question
whether they were not in this contravening their rule. At any rate, it
was going outside their duty. Their business was to serve God--to
perform divine services--and in the intervals to keep out of mischief
by manual labour, and to perform works of charity. Margam was
specially famous for this last.

Margam Abbey was founded by Robert of Gloucester, in 1147, and the
brother of St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, the most important man in
Europe in his time, came over to arrange about the establishment of
the house. It was endowed with lands by both English and Welsh, such
as the Earl of Gloucester and the Lord of Senghenydd. William
Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, granted the monks freedom from toll in all
his boroughs in Wales and Ireland. The Braoses gave them the privilege
of "buying and selling freely all manner of merchandise without toll"
in Gower, and they had the right to all wrecks along the coast near
Kenfig. We find the abbot asserting his fishing rights sometimes by
excommunicating poachers, sometimes by the more effective method of
haling them before the Shire Court at Cardiff and getting them fined
3d. a head. The monks of Margam obtained also a footing in Bristol
through the Earls of Gloucester, a great commercial advantage to them
for the sale of their wool both in England and abroad.

Their lands and privileges were not always, of course, free gifts.
Thus in the twelfth century Gilbert Burdin grants land to Margam, and
in return the abbot gives 20s. to the grantor, a gold coin to his
wife, and red shoes to each of his children. In 1325 John Nichol, of
Kenfig, gave his property to the abbey in return for a life annuity.
He was to receive daily one loaf, two cakes, and a gallon of beer;
also 6s. 8d. for wages, four pairs of shoes (price 12d.), a quarter of
oats, and pasture for two beasts.

The annual revenue of Margam was returned as 500 marks in 1383, but
before that time the abbey had suffered severely from inundations, sea
and sand covering whole villages and much of the best property of the
house; and the finances were in a bad way. These were improved by
grants of the tithes of parish churches--a favourite form of gift to a
monastery, but a great scandal. The rectorial tithes were paid to a
monastery, while the monks at best put in some under-paid vicar to
look after the parish. Generally, wherever there is a vicar instead of
a rector in England or Wales the explanation is the appropriation of
the tithes by a monastery.

What did Margam do with its income? The first charge was the support
of about forty monks and forty lay brethren. Next there were the
construction and keeping in repair of the church and other monastic
buildings; and, thirdly, the expense of charity and hospitality. The
monasteries were the hotels of the Middle Ages, except that they made
no charges, and Margam was celebrated for its hospitality for
centuries. Gerald, the enemy of monks, says: "This noble abbey was
more celebrated for its charitable deeds than any other of that order
in Wales. And as a reward for that abundant charity which the
monastery had always, in times of need, exercised towards strangers
and the poor, in a season of approaching famine their corn and
provisions were divinely increased, like the widow's cruse of oil."
Two centuries later we find the Pope bearing witness to the well-known
and universal hospitality of the Abbey of Margam. It was placed on the
main road between Bristol and Ireland, at a distance from other places
of refuge, and so was continually overrun by rich and poor strangers,
the poor evidently preponderating. In this connection I will give one
instance of wise charity on the part of these monks from the end of
the twelfth century. Hugh, son of Robert of Llancarven, gives the
abbey some land in return for "four marks of silver and a young ox,
given to him in his great need by the Abbot." The monastery performed
some of the services of the modern bank.

Strata Florida presents some different characteristics. Like most
Cistercian houses, it lay off the beaten track. It was founded in 1164
by the Lord Rhys, near the site of an older monastery. It was endowed
with large expanse of lands, mostly mountain pastures, and the monks
soon began building their church and refectory and cloister. The
monastery was completed in 1201, when "the monks came to the new
church, which had been erected of splendid workmanship." The
architectural details of this church are peculiar and almost unique.
Mr. S. W. Williams notices especially the large amount of interlacing
work in the carving, which one sees in the old Celtic crosses, and
which is so characteristic of Celtic art. The convent seems to have
become very soon essentially Welsh. Nearly all the abbots have Welsh
names. It was the burial-place of the princes of South Wales; but as
they were, after the Lord Rhys, quite unimportant, its political
interest is connected with the princes of Gwynedd. When in the
thirteenth century the princes of North Wales were attracting the
allegiance of the South Welsh also they found Strata Florida a
convenient place for important political assemblies. It was here that
Llywelyn ap Iorwerth summoned all the Welsh chiefs to do homage to his
son David. The monastery suffered damage during the wars of Edward I.,
who in 1284 granted it £78 for repairs. But it suffered the worst
injuries during the rebellion of Owen Glyndwr, when the English troops
used it as a barracks, and stabled their horses in church and choir.

The patriotic tone of Strata Florida is expressed in the Welsh
chronicles written there. The later part of the _Annales Cambriæ_ was
written there, and the Brut y Tywysogion. At Margam also a chronicle
was composed which has been preserved. When an abbey decided to begin
a chronicle, the first step was to borrow a chronicle from some other
house; thus Margam, founded by Robert of Gloucester, copied out the
Chronicle of William of Malmesbury, which was dedicated to Robert of
Gloucester. The monks of Strata Florida copied out the earlier portion
of the _Annales Cambriæ_. These chronicles of course only became of
historical value when they become independent and contemporary. They
do not confine themselves to the monastery or local history, but
relate events of general interest--to the whole of Britain and to all
Europe--intermixed with notices of the burning of a monastic barn or
the death of the local abbot. Knowledge of the great world came to an
abbey through the travellers who stayed there; through political or
ecclesiastical assemblies held there; and through public documents
sent to the monks for safekeeping or to be copied. We generally do not
know who wrote these chronicles; they were rather the work of the
community than of the individual monks. "Every year (so runs a
regulation on the subject) the volume is placed in the _scriptorium_,
with loose sheets of paper or parchment attached to it, in which any
monk may enter notes of events which seem to him important. At the end
of the year, not any one who likes, but he to whom it is commanded,
shall write in the volume as briefly as he can what he thinks of all
these loose notes is truest and best to be handed down to posterity."
"Thus it was that a monastic chronicle grew, like a monastic house, by
the labour of different hands and at different times; but of the heads
that planned it, of the hands that executed it, no satisfactory record
was preserved. The individual is lost in the community."

Coming now to the Friaries in Wales, we find ourselves in a different
atmosphere. The friars were not troubled with questions of property:
they had none; they depended for their livelihood on the alms of the
faithful. Again, speaking generally, one may say that while the
Benedictine priory is found under the shadow of a castle, and the
Cistercian abbey in the heart of the country, the friaries were built
in the slums of the towns. As there were few towns in Wales, the
houses of the Mendicant Orders were not numerous or important. The
Dominicans (or Black Friars) had houses at Bangor, Rhuddlan, Brecon,
Haverfordwest, and Cardiff; the Franciscans (or Grey Friars) at
Cardiff, Carmarthen, and Llanfaes; the Carmelites (or White Friars) at
Denbigh; and the Austin Friars at Newport in Monmouthshire. It is
remarkable that the Dominicans had more houses in Wales than the
Franciscans; though the Franciscans--the mystic apostles of love--were
more in sympathy with the Celtic spirit than the Dominicans, the stern
champions of orthodoxy. Francis of Assisi strove to reproduce again on
earth the life of Christ--in the letter and in the spirit; and the
religious poetry of Wales in the thirteenth century is saturated with
Franciscan feeling--full of intense realisation of the childhood and
suffering of Christ, the humanity of God. This may be illustrated by
the following poem by a Welsh friar of the thirteenth century, Madawc
ap Gwallter:--

    "A Son is given us,
    A kind Son is born ...
    A Son to save us,
        The best of Sons.

    A God, a man,
    And the God a man
        With the same faculties.
    A great little giant,
    A strong puny potentate
        Of pale cheeks.

    Richly poor
    Our father and brother,
    Exalted, lowly,
        Honey of minds;
    With the ox and ass,
    The Lord of life
    Lies in a manger;
    And a heap of straw
    As a chair,
        Clothed in tatters;

    Velvet He wants not,
    Nor white ermine--
        To cover Him;
    Around His couch
    Rags were seen
        Instead of fine linen."

I do not know the dates of the foundations of the Welsh Franciscan
houses; the dates given in Mr. Newell's scholarly "History of the
Church in Wales" are impossible. Llanfaes is said to have been
established by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, and Franciscan influence would
come to Wales through Thomas the Welshman, Bishop of St. David's
(1247), who had been lecturer to the Franciscans at Oxford, and was
famous for his piety and learning. Another Franciscan I wish to
mention is Friar John the Welshman, who in his old age was employed to
negotiate with the Welsh in 1282. He had studied and taught at Oxford
and Paris, and made a creditable show beside such intellectual giants
as Thomas Aquinas and Roger Bacon, his contemporaries. The widespread
and lasting popularity of his works is shown by the large number of
manuscripts and early printed editions which have come down to us. But
his chief interest and life-work was the popularisation of knowledge
in the service of morality. He devoted his energies to training up
lecturers who should go to the Franciscan friaries in the chief towns
in England and Wales and teach friars and clergy the art of popular
preaching. Friar John of Wales was one of the chief inspirers of the
"University Extension" movement of the Middle Ages. These popular
preachers or lecturers did not do much for the advancement of sound
learning, because they did not study any science for its own sake,
but only for the moral lessons they could find in it. But, to rouse
some intellectual interest in the people at large, and stimulate their
moral sense, was a work not unworthy of the universities; and this aim
was to some degree attained. One of the favourite ways of spending a
holiday in the Middle Ages was to go and hear a friar preach. Here is
a summary of a friar's sermon constructed after the method of Friar
John of Wales, on the relative merits of the Ass and the Pig.

"The pig and the ass live not the same life: for the pig during his
life does no good, but eats and swills and sleeps; but when he is
dead, then do men make much of him. The ass is hard at work all his
days and does good service to many; but when he dies, there is no
profit. And that is the way of the world. Some do no good thing while
they live, but eat and drink and wax fat, and then they are dragged
off to the larder of hell, and others enrich themselves with their
goods. Whereby I know that those, who for God's sake live the life of
holy poverty, shall never lack substance, because their heavenly
Father has pigs to kill. For as the good man before the season will
kill a pig or two to give puddings to his children, so will our Lord
kill those hardened sinners before their time, and give their goods to
the children of God. So the psalmist says: 'The bloodthirsty and
deceitful men shall not live out half their days,' because they do no
work to keep their bodies healthy. Nothing is so healthful for body
and soul as honest work. Work is the life of man, the guardian of
health; work drives away sin, and makes people sleep well at night.
Work is the strength of feebleness, the health of sickness, the
salvation of men,--quickener of the senses, foe of sloth, nurse of
happiness, a duty in the young and in the old a merit. Therefore it is
better to be an ass than a pig."

One of the most able of these "extension lecturers" was another
Welshman--probably a native of Cardiff--Friar John David, whose
lectures at Hereford were so successful that after a year both the
friars and the clergy of the city declared he was indispensable, and
petitioned for his reappointment. He became the head of the
Franciscan province of England, and lies buried among the ruins of the
church of the Grey Friars in Cardiff.



Throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the history of England
and the history of Wales are so closely bound up together that it is
impossible to study either apart from the other. In illustration of
this general statement I will ask you to consider briefly the history
of twelve years, from 1255 to 1267--a period of special interest to
us, because these are the years in which Llywelyn's power was founded
and built up.

In 1255 occurred three events of great importance to Wales: (1)
Llywelyn overthrew his brothers in battle; (2) Edward Longshanks took
possession of his Chester estates; (3) Edmund Crouchback was formally
proclaimed king of Sicily.

1. David, younger son of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, died in 1246, leaving
no descendants, and the Principality was seized by the three sons of
his elder brother Gruffydd--Owain the Red, Llywelyn, and David. For
some years they held together, because Henry III. opposed the
accession of any of them, claiming the Principality as a lapsed fief
under a treaty made with the last prince, David ap Llywelyn. But after
a time the king accepted the homage and recognised the rights of the
sons of Gruffydd. Being thus freed from direct hostility of the
English king, the joint rulers soon quarrelled, and came to open war
in 1255. "By the instigation of the devil," says the Brut y
Tywysogion, "a great dissension arose between the sons of
Gruffydd--namely, Owain the Red and David on the one side, and
Llywelyn on the other. And thereupon Llywelyn and his men awaited
without fear, trusting in God, at Bryn Derwin the cruel coming of his
brother accompanied by a vast army, and before the end of one hour
Owain was taken and David fled, after many of the army were killed and
others captured, and the rest had taken to flight. And then Owain the
Red was imprisoned; and Llywelyn took possession of the territory of
Owain and David without any opposition." Thus Gwynedd was united under
one ruler.

2. It was the policy of Henry III. to collect the earldoms into the
hands of his relations. Thus the great palatine earldom of Chester,
having lapsed to the Crown through failure of heirs, was granted in
1254 to the king's eldest son, Edward. Besides Chester and its
dependencies Edward received Montgomery and the royal lands in South
Wales (Cardigan and Carmarthen), Ireland and Gascony--in fact all the
territory outside England over which the king had rights. These
possessions were calculated to give the heir to the throne a varied
experience and splendid training in the art of government. Edward was
in need of such training, as the story of his early years shows. He
was only sixteen years of age in 1255, but in the Middle Ages men
lived short lives and matured very early. Edward was married in 1254,
and had much experience in war and statesmanship before he was
twenty. It was a wild time, and young Edward was among the wildest
spirits; as he rode through the country, accompanied by his two
hundred followers--mostly rollicking and arrogant foreign
adventurers--who robbed and devastated the land, and thrashed and even
mutilated passers-by for fun, people looked forward with great fear to
the accession of such a ruffian. A few years of responsibility, and
failure, soon changed him into the noblest and most law-abiding of the
Plantagenets. It was Wales which gave him his first lesson. He first
tried his hand at the reorganisation of the "Middle Country," making
it "shire-land," introducing the English law and administrative
system; the same policy was put in force in Cardigan and Carmarthen,
which formed one shire with a Shiremoot and the usual institutions of
an English county. Some Welshmen had already petitioned the king for
the introduction of English law into Wales, complaining that by Welsh
law the crime of the guilty is visited on the innocent relations. At
best it was a task which required very careful management, and Edward
and his advisers were as yet quite unfitted for it, prone as they were
to violent methods, having an insolent contempt for all customs and
habits which differed from those to which they were used, and all
classes except their own. The result is thus expressed by the Welsh
chronicler: After Edward returned to England, "the nobles of Wales
came to Llywelyn, having been robbed of their liberties and made
captives, and declared they would rather be killed in war for their
liberty than suffer themselves to be trampled on by strangers. And
Llywelyn was moved at their tears, and invaded the Middle Country and
subdued it all before the end of the week." In this work Llywelyn was
assisted by descendants of Rhys, the princes of South Wales, who in
Cardigan suffered from Prince Edward's policy in the same way as the
men of the Middle Country or Four Cantreds. This union of North and
South Wales is one of the special characteristics of the struggle
under Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. That the Welsh of the North should join
those of the South was, notes Matthew Paris, "a circumstance never
known before." And Llywelyn was statesman enough to see the importance
of this union and take steps to strengthen it. After recovering the
Middle Country, he marched south, took possession of Cardigan and
Builth--then a possession of the Crown, though in the custody of
Mortimer--and gave these districts to Meredydd, grandson of the Lord
Rhys, to hold as vassal--a wise measure, intended to bind the South to
him by common interests. Matthew Paris, who holds up the Welsh
resistance to tyranny as an example to the English, puts in Llywelyn's
mouth a striking speech in favour of unity: "Let us then stand firm
together; for if we remain inseparable we shall be insuperable"--the
very words of Gerald of Barry, whose advice had borne some fruit. But
Meredydd soon proved a traitor, and the failure of Henry III.'s
campaign in 1257 was less due to the union of the Welsh than to the
disunion of the English.

3. This brings us to the third event referred to above--the
proclamation of Edmund as King of Sicily. The Pope was trying to
conquer Sicily, but wanted some one else to pay the war budget. After
trying various people he induced Henry III. to accept the crown of
Sicily for Edmund and promise enormous sums for the payment of the
papal armies, and pledge his whole kingdom as security for the
payment. This, coming on the top of many years of misgovernment and a
long series of extortions, led directly to the crisis of the
reign--the revolution known as the Provisions of Oxford in 1258, by
which the powers of government were taken away from the Crown and
given to committees of barons.

The disaffection against Henry III. at once made itself felt in the
Welsh war. "Those who had promised the king assistance did not come;"
and when the whole knighthood of England were called out to meet at
Chester, only "manifold complaints and murmurs were heard." We might
have expected the Marcher Lords at any rate to rally round the king;
but they were not disposed to assist in building up a royal power in
Wales which would endanger their independence, and were glad enough to
stand by and see the scheme thwarted. Some of them even went so far as
to send secret information to the Welsh prince. The king had to
retreat ingloriously, pursued by Llywelyn, and followed by the
derisive sneers of the enemy. It may interest some of us to note that
in this war the English army fought, as often, under the Dragon
standard; probably the Dragon made in 1244 by Edward Fitz Odo, the
King's goldsmith, who was commanded to make it "in the manner of a
standard or ensign, of red samit, to be embroidered with gold, and his
tongue to appear as though continually moving, and his eyes of
sapphire or other stones agreeable to him." This was in 1257; the king
was still less able to attack Llywelyn in 1258 and the following
years, and had to agree to an ignominious truce.

Almost the whole English baronage under the leadership of Simon de
Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester,
combined against the king, who was only supported by the royal family
and those of his foreign relations to whom he had given earldoms and
baronies and bishoprics in England or Wales. If Llywelyn had contented
himself with occupying the royal lands in Wales--the territories
granted to Edward--and with seizing Powys, which held to the English
king, he would have had nothing to fear at this time from the English
baronage, and the Crown was powerless to resist. It is clear from the
English chroniclers that there was a genuine admiration for the Welsh
resistance on the part of the English people. "Their cause," says
Matthew Paris, "seemed a just one even to their enemies." But Llywelyn
attacked the great Marcher Lords; it was difficult for a champion of
Welsh patriotism to avoid doing so--it may be also that Llywelyn
failed to grasp thoroughly the political situation in England, as he
certainly failed to grasp it after the accession of Edward I. The
first to suffer severely from him was Roger Mortimer, lord of the
Middle March; thus Llywelyn drove him out of Gwerthrynion and
Maelienydd, and added these territories to his own. Successes like
these roused great enthusiasm among the Welsh gentry, though they
excited the alarm and jealousy of some of the princes (such as
Meredydd, and Llywelyn's brother David, who "by the instigation of the
devil" deserted the cause and went over to the English). But the good
men of Brecon revolted from their lord, the Earl of Hereford, and
adhered to Llywelyn, who came down and received their homage in 1262.

The general situation was altered by these events. It became clear to
the Lords Marchers that their power was endangered by Llywelyn's
success, and that they must make common cause with Prince Edward. The
Lords Marchers began to form the royalist party. Thus Mortimer, who in
1258 was among the leaders of the baronial opposition to the Crown,
was in 1260 acting with the king against the barons. The Mortimers
were the most directly affected of all the Marchers by the successes
of Llywelyn, not only because their territories lay near Gwynedd, but
because nearly all their lands lay in or close to the Marches; they
had all their eggs in the same basket, while the other leading Lords
Marchers had large possessions elsewhere, from which they drew the
bulk of their revenues, using their March lands as a recruiting-ground
for their troops. Thus to the De Clares their estates in Kent were
probably worth more as a source of income than the whole of Glamorgan;
and they also had estates in Hertford and Suffolk and Hampshire, and
elsewhere; the Fitzalans were great landowners in Sussex; the Bohuns
of Hereford had broad acres in Huntingdon, Essex, and Hertford. To
these men the limitation of the royal powers--especially of the power
of taxing, and the king's right to employ foreigners in places of
trust--was more important than the checking of Llywelyn's advance,
which certainly weakened the king and made it easier to enforce
constitutional rights against him.

Still we have here one of the causes which broke the unity of the
baronage, which created a royalist party, and led to open war. This
has hardly been enough emphasised. It is generally said that the
question on which the barons split was the question of the recognition
of popular representation in the government of the country--the
question, in a word, of a House of Commons--Simon de Montfort being
the leader of the popular cause, Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester
(till his death in July, 1262), the leader of the oligarchic party,
which aimed merely at transferring the royal power to a committee of
barons. This was undoubtedly the most important cause of the quarrel,
because it was a question of principle big with results for the
future, affecting the whole course of English history, while the
attitude which the barons ought to take towards Llywelyn was merely
for the barons a matter of political tactics. But it is probable that
the latter loomed larger in the eyes of contemporaries--certainly in
the eyes of most of the Lords Marchers.

Hence it came about that, when war actually broke out in the spring of
1263, the elder of the Lords Marchers fought on the side of the
king--such as Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun--though the younger
men--young Gilbert of Gloucester and Humphrey de Bohun, the son of
Hereford--remained under the spell of Simon de Montfort's fascination
and high-minded enthusiasm. The war began in the Welsh Marches, Simon
attacking the forces of Edward of Chester and Roger Mortimer--the
principal royalists. As these were also the most formidable enemies of
the Welsh, Llywelyn at the same time attacked them from the other
side, the baronial party and Welsh co-operating, though without any
formal alliance or friendly feelings. Thus in 1263 the baronial army
besieged Shrewsbury, which defended itself till "a countless host" of
Welshmen, came up and began to attack it from the other side; the town
then surrendered to the barons lest it should fall into the hands of
the Welsh.

This campaign led to a very great defection from the baronial side:
the Lord Marchers generally--such as Clifford and Fitzalan--deserted
Simon, who appeared as a traitor to the country. How great the
defection is shown by Simon's words: "Though all should leave me, yet
with my four sons I will stand true to the just cause, which I have
sworn to uphold for the honour of the Church and the good of the
kingdom; I have been in many lands, pagan and Christian, but in none
have I found such faithlessness as in England."

The royalists were now the strongest party in the Marches, and in 1264
Edward and Mortimer gained a number of successes over the troops of
Simon and Llywelyn (who seem to have been acting together) and
captured Brecon. But they were called off to the main seat of war in
the Midlands, and Simon inflicted a crushing defeat on the royalists
at Lewes, in Sussex, 1264. It appears that Welsh archers fought in
Simon's army, but these would be South Welsh, not North Welsh, the
troops of Gilbert de Clare, not those of Llywelyn. The Marchers who
escaped from Lewes were followed up by Simon, and being encircled by
his forces and those of Llywelyn, submitted in December, 1264.

But Simon in the hour of triumph was now near his fall, which was made
inevitable by the defection of Gilbert de Clare and whole of the
Gloucester interest. The causes of the quarrel as given in the
chronicles are mainly personal. Simon, with all his greatness, was
quick-tempered and overbearing, inclined to seize power for himself,
and perhaps even avaricious; one may infer this from the statement of
a friendly chronicler, William Rishanger: "his habitual prayer to God
was that he would save him from avarice and covetousness of worldly
goods." But, apart from merely personal questions, it is to be noticed
that the closer the relations between Simon and Llywelyn became, the
less cordial became his relations to Gilbert de Clare. Thus when Simon
co-operated with Llywelyn in bringing Mortimer and the Marchers to
submission in December, 1264, Gilbert began to intrigue with them; and
soon after the famous parliament of 1265 had transferred to Simon the
earldom of Chester--thus relieving Llywelyn of his most dangerous
neighbour, Prince Edward--Gilbert definitely joined Mortimer and
Edward. The meeting between the three at Ludlow is very important;
for Prince Edward now, at the instance of Gloucester, definitely
pledged himself to the cause of reform and good government. It may be
said for the Red Earl of Gloucester that in deserting Simon he did not
desert his cause. To ensure the future of English liberties it was no
longer necessary to support De Montfort: "henceforth it was not Simon
but Edward who best represents the cause of orderly national

A few days after the desertion of Gloucester Simon made his first
formal treaty with Llywelyn, ceding to him Hawarden, Ellesmere,
Montgomery, Maud's Castle, a line of fortresses along the eastern
border, recognising his right to the title of Prince of Wales, and to
the homage of all the Welsh barons, while Llywelyn engaged to supply
Simon with five thousand spearmen and raid the estates of Mortimer and
De Clare. The first part of the campaign of Evesham was carried out in
Gwent. Prince Edward held the line of the Severn, separating Simon at
Hereford from his English partisans. Simon, while waiting for his
English supporters to concentrate, entered Monmouthshire, where
Llywelyn's spearmen joined him and ravaged the Gloucester estates,
trying to entice the royalists into Wales. Edward followed; but--his
pupil in war as in politics--the young prince outgeneralled him at
every point, and Simon only escaped at Newport by hurried flight
across the river, burning the bridge behind him. He kept the Usk
between him and his enemy, but this involved a long march north,
through mountains and barren country, and he got back to Hereford with
a half-starved army, only to find the line of the Severn held more
strongly than ever. We cannot follow out the rest of the campaign,
marked as it was by brilliant strategy on the part of the young
Edward, which proved him a born master of the art of war. In the final
battle all the advantages were on his side, and one cannot blame the
spearmen of Gwynedd for trying to save themselves by flight at the
"murder of Evesham." The body of the great Earl of Leicester was
shamefully mutilated by the conquerors, and his head sent as a
fitting present to Matilda de Braose, wife of Roger Mortimer.

The struggle continued for two years both in England and Wales. In
England Simon's adherents held out owing to the severity of the terms
which the victorious party insisted on. They are known as "The
Disinherited," and their cause was championed by the two
enemies--Llywelyn and Gilbert de Clare. The "Brut" states that in
1267, "Llywelyn confederated with Earl Clare; and then the earl
marched with an immense army to London; and through the treachery of
the citizens he got possession of the Tower. And when King Henry and
his son Edward heard of this they collected an immense army and
marched to London and attacked it, and upon conditions they compelled
the earl and citizens to submit." "The Annals of Winchester," a
contemporary English chronicle, relate the same event, but omit any
mention of Llywelyn: "Earl Gilbert took London, and the Disinherited
flocked to him as to their saviour; peace was settled in June, and
many of the Disinherited were pacified at the instance of the Earl of
Gloucester." It is clear that each of these rivals posed as champion
of the Disinherited, but for opposite reasons. Llywelyn's object was
to encourage their resistance and keep England divided by civil war;
Gilbert's to insist on better terms in order to induce them to yield.
Gilbert was successful in bringing about peace and reform. The
Disinherited were allowed to pay a fine instead of losing all their
property, and many of the legal reforms demanded by the baronial party
at the beginning of the struggle were embodied in the Statute of
Marlborough. And now the Earl of Gloucester employed his resources in
strengthening his Glamorgan lordship to resist the threatened invasion
of Llywelyn by building Castell Coch and Caerphilly.

Llywelyn continued his victorious career as long as war lasted. In
1266 he inflicted a crushing defeat on Mortimer at Brecon. In the
autumn of next year, when peace had been established in England, he
came to terms, through the mediation of the papal legate, in the
Treaty of Montgomery. Llywelyn kept the four cantreds of the Middle
Country; also Cydewain, Ceri, Gwerthrynion, Builth, and Brecon. But
Maelienydd was restored to Roger Mortimer, though Llywelyn reserved
his right to appeal to the law against this article. Further, the
Prince of Gwynedd received the hereditary title of Prince of Wales,
and was recognised as overlord of all the Welsh barons in Wales,
except Meredydd ap Rhys, who remained immediate vassal of the King of
England: his territories therefore in the Vale of Towy were withdrawn
from the power of Llywelyn. The Prince of Wales in return did homage
and agreed to pay him 25,000 marks by instalments. The treaty is less
favourable to Llywelyn than that of 1265. His rights in Deheubarth
were curtailed, and he gave up his claims to Ellesmere and Montgomery,
and possession of Maelienydd.

The papal legate who arranged the treaty is not to be congratulated on
his draftsmanship. Many things were left undecided, and a series of
disputes arose. Thus Llywelyn seems to have claimed suzerainty over
the Lord of Senghenydd as one of the "Welsh barons," though that term
was surely only meant to include the Welsh barons who held directly of
the king, not the vassals of the Lord of Glamorgan. But it is evident
that Llywelyn did not try to abide by the treaty. He continued to
intrigue with the English barons, posing as the successor of Simon de
Montfort, and failing to see that Edward I. was the political heir of
the great earl. He tried to throw off the suzerainty of England, with
the result that he lost the independence of his country. He lived in
an atmosphere of enthusiasm and flattery, and failed to realise the
limits of his power. The bards by whom he was surrounded exercised a
"highly pernicious influence in practical concerns," and ill-repaid
his generosity by urging him to attempt the impossible.

    "His bards are comely about his tables,
    I have seen him generously distributing his wealth,
    And his meadhorns filled with generous liquors.
    I never returned empty-handed from the North.
    The bards prophesy that he shall have the government and
        sovereign power;
    Every prediction is at last to be fulfilled."

But if Llywelyn lacked the hard head of the practical statesman, if
he did not, like his grandfather, merit the title of "the Great," he
will always remain an attractive and striking figure in history; he
possessed qualities which made him an ideal representative of the
Cymric race in the Middle Ages:--

    "A bold and bounteous lion--the most reckless of givers,
    Man whose anger was destructive; most courteous prince;
    A man sincere in grief, true in loving,
    Perfect in knowledge."



    =WALES.= By OWEN M. EDWARDS. Crown 8vo, cloth, 5s. ("The
    Story of the Nations" Series.)

    BRYNMOR-JONES, Q.C., M.P. Third Edition, revised. Demy
    8vo, cloth, 16s.


    Edited by OWEN M. EDWARDS, Author of "Wales." Each
    volume Foolscap 8vo. 2s. Cloth, 1s. Paper.

    =Vols. 1-3. THE MABINOGION.=
        (_In Preparation._)


Transcriber's Note

Minor typographic errors in punctuation and variations in hyphenation
have been corrected without note.

The following amendments have been made:

    Page vi--Cymry amended to Kymry--"... Thomas Stephens,
    "Literature of the Kymry"; ..."

    Page 21--harminously amended to harmoniously--"... and a
    prince of North Wales working harmoniously together."

    Page 34--FitzHamon amended to Fitzhamon--"... daughter
    and heiress of Fitzhamon, conqueror of Glamorgan."

    Page 37--Caradog amended to Caradoc--"... attributed to
    Caradoc of Llancarven, on which his biographers ..."

    Page 80--omitted word 'the' added--"... fighting in
    Wales till the end of ..."

    Page 84--Senghennydd amended to Senghenydd--"Ivor ap
    Meyric was Lord of Senghenydd, ..."

The single oe ligature (in Coeur), and superscripts within century
numbers have not been retained in this version. The single dagger symbol
is indicated using a + symbol.

The illustration on page 88 (Cardiff and Caerphilly Castles) has been
moved so that it is not in the middle of a paragraph.

Repeated headings at the start of each essay have been deleted so
there is only one instance left for each.

Advertising material has been moved to the end of the text. Bold in
that material is indicated =like this=.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mediæval Wales - Chiefly in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries: Six Popular Lectures" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.