Transcription of original document
The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales by Giraldus Cambrensis
This account of a journey through Wales and the border country in the twelfth century is of specific relevance to the history of Ewyas Lacy where it describes Llanthony and the Vale of Ewyas [chapter 3 of book one], but is included in full for its general importance in establishing the wider environment and historical context of the area at that time.
The journey described took place against a background of efforts to raise recruits and money for the Third Crusade [1189 – 1192] to the Holy Land. This was a response to the defeat of the then Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem and the subsequent capture of Jerusalem itself by the Muslims under Saladin in 1187. The 10% tallage, or tithe, to finance the crusade was to be raised by the church on behalf of King Henry II, and this journey to ‘preach the crusade’ by Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, and his entourage was part of that campaign. It was also in part a recruitment drive to raise an army; those who ‘took the cross’ [joined the crusaders] were exempted altogether from the tithe.
This transcription has been reproduced from the http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/ website and forms part of the data collection of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project (2004) 'Great Britain Historical GIS'. University of Portsmouth.
Ewyas Lacy Study Group
Journey Through Wales by Gerald of Wales
FIRST PREFACE - TO STEPHEN LANGTON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
As the times are affected by the changes of circumstances, so are the minds of men influenced by different manners and customs. The satirist [Persius] exclaims,
" Mille hominum species et mentis discolor usus;
Velle suum cuique est, nec voto vivitur uno."
" Nature is ever various in her name;
Each has a different will, and few the same."
The comic poet also says, " Quot capita tot sententiae, suus cuique mos est." " As many men, so many minds, each has his way." Young soldiers exult in war, and pleaders delight in the gown; others aspire after riches, and think them the supreme good. Some approve Galen, some Justinian. Those who are desirous of honours follow the court, and from their ambitious pursuits meet with more mortification than satisfaction. Some, indeed, but very few, take pleasure in the liberal arts, amongst whom we cannot but admire logicians, who, when they have made only a trifling progress, are as much enchanted with the images of Dialectics, as if they were listening to the songs of the Syrens.
But among so many species of men, where are to be found divine poets? Where the noble assertors of morals? Where the masters of the Latin tongue? Who in the present times displays lettered eloquence, either in history or poetry? Who, I say, in our own age, either builds a system of ethics, or consigns illustrious actions to immortality? Literary fame, which used to be placed in the highest rank, is now, because of the depravity of the times, tending to ruin and degraded to the lowest, so that persons attached to study are at present not only not imitated nor venerated, but even detested. " Happy indeed would be the arts," observes Fabius, " if artists alone judged of the arts;" but, as Sydonius says, " it is a fixed principle in the human mind, that they who are ignorant of the arts despise the artist."
But to revert to our subject. Which, I ask, have rendered more service to the world, the arms of Marius or the verses of Virgil? The sword of Marius has rusted, while the fame of him who wrote the Aeneid is immortal; and although in his time letters were honoured by lettered persons, yet from his own pen we find,
Carmina nostra valent tela inter Martia, quantum
Chaonias dicunt, aquila veniente, columbas."
Who would hesitate in deciding which are more profitable, the works of St. Jerom, or the riches of Croesus? But where now shine the gold and silver of Croesus whilst the world is instructed by the example and enlightened by the learning of the poor coenobite. Yet even he, through envy, suffered stripes and contumely at Rome, although his character was so illustrious; and at length being driven beyond the seas, found a refuge for his studies in the solitude of Bethlehem. Thus it appears, that gold and arms may support us in this life, but avail nothing after death; and that letters through envy profit nothing in this world, but, like a testament, acquire an immortal value from the seal of death.
According to the poet,
" Pascitur in vivis livor, post fata quiescit;
Cum suus ex merito quemque tuetur honor."
" Denique si quis adhuc praetendit nubila, livor
Occidet, et meriti post me referentur honores."
Those who by artifice endeavour to acquire or preserve the reputation of abilities or ingenuity, while they abound in the words of others, have little cause to boast of their own inventions. For the composers of that polished language, in which such various cases as occur in the great body of law are treated with such an appropriate elegance of style, must ever stand forward in the first ranks of praise. I should indeed have said, that the authors of refined language, not the hearers only, the inventors, not the reciters, are most worthy of commendation. You will find, however, that the practices of the court and of the schools are extremely similar; as well in the subtleties they employ to lead you forward, as in the steadiness with which they generally maintain their own positions. Yet it is certain that the knowledge of logic (the acumen, if I may so express it, of all other sciences as well as arts) is very useful, when restricted within proper bounds; whilst the court (i.e. courtly language), excepting to sycophants or ambitious men, is by no means necessary. For if you are successful at court, ambition never wholly quits its hold till satiated, and allures and draws you still closer; but if your labour is thrown away, you still continue the pursuit, and, together with your substance, lose your time, the greatest and most irretrievable of all losses. There is likewise some resemblance between the court and the game of dice, as the poet observes:-
" Sic ne perdiderit non cessat perdere lusor,
Dum revocat cupidas alea blanda manus;"
which, by substituting the word CURIA for ALEA, may be applied to the court. This further proof of their resemblance may be added; that as the chances of the dice and court are not productive of any real delight, so they are equally distributed to the worthy and the unworthy.
Since, therefore, among so many species of men, each follows his own inclination, and each is actuated by different desires, a regard for posterity has induced me to choose the study of composition; and, as this life is temporary and mutable, it is grateful to live in the memory of future ages, and to be immortalized by fame; for to toil after that which produces envy in life, but glory after death, is a sure indication of an elevated mind. Poets and authors indeed aspire after immortality, but do not reject any present advantages that may offer.
I formerly completed with vain and fruitless labour the Topography of Ireland for its companion, the king Henry the Second, and Vaticinal History, for Richard of Poitiou, his son, and, I wish I were not compelled to add, his successor in vice; princes little skilled in letters, and much engaged in business. To you, illustrious Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, equally commendable for your learning and religion, I now dedicate the account of our meritorious journey through the rugged provinces of Cambria, written in a scholastic style, and divided into two parts. For as virtue loves itself, and detests what is contrary to it, so I hope you will consider whatever I may have written in commendation of your late venerable and eminent predecessor, with no less affection than if it related to yourself. To you also, when completed, I destine my treatise on the Instruction of a Prince, if, amidst your religious and worldly occupations, you can find leisure for the perusal of it. For I purpose to submit these and other fruits of my diligence to be tasted by you at your discretion, each in its proper order; hoping that, if my larger undertakings do not excite your interest, my smaller works may at least merit your approbation, conciliate your favour, and call forth my gratitude towards you; who, unmindful of worldly affections, do not partially distribute your bounties to your family and friends, but to letters and merit; you, who, in the midst of such great and unceasing contests between the crown and the priesthood, stand forth almost singly the firm and faithful friend of the British church; you, who, almost the only one duly elected, fulfil the scriptural designation of the episcopal character. It is not, however, by bearing a cap, by placing a cushion, by shielding off the rain, or by wiping the dust, even if there should be none, in the midst of a herd of flatterers, that I attempt to conciliate your favour, but by my writings. To you, therefore, rare, noble, and illustrious man, on whom nature and art have showered down whatever becomes your supereminent situation, I dedicate my works; but if I fail in this mode of conciliating your favour, and if your prayers and avocations should not allow you sufficient time to read them, I shall consider the honour of letters as vanished, and in hope of its revival I shall inscribe my writings to posterity.
SECOND PREFACE - TO THE SAME PRELATE
Since those things, which are known to have been done through a laudable devotion, are not unworthily extolled with due praises; and since the mind, when relaxed, loses its energy, and the torpor of sloth enervates the understanding, as iron acquires rust for want of use, and stagnant waters become foul; lest my pen should be injured by the rust of idleness, I have thought good to commit to writing the devout visitation which Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, made throughout Wales; and to hand down, as it were in a mirror, through you, O illustrious Stephen, to posterity, the difficult places through which we passed, the names of springs and torrents, the witty sayings, the toils and incidents of the journey, the memorable events of ancient and modern times, and the natural history and description of the country; lest my study should perish through idleness, or the praise of these things be lost by silence.
Chapter 1: Journey through Hereford and Radnor
In the year 1188 from the incarnation of our Lord, Urban the Third being the head of the apostolic see; Frederick, emperor of Germany and king of the Romans; Isaac, emperor of Constantinople; Philip, the son of Louis, reigning in France; Henry the Second in England; William in Sicily; Bela in Hungary; and Guy in Palestine: in that very year, when Saladin, prince of the Egyptians and Damascenes, by a signal victory gained possession of the kingdom of Jerusalem; Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, a venerable man, distinguished for his learning and sanctity, journeying from England for the service of the holy cross, entered Wales near the borders of Herefordshire.
The archbishop proceeded to Radnor, on Ash Wednesday (Caput Jejunii ), accompanied by Ranulph de Glanville, privy counsellor and justiciary of the whole kingdom, and there met Rhys, son of Gruffydd, prince of South Wales, and many other noble personages of those parts; where a sermon being preached by the archbishop, upon the subject of the Crusades, and explained to the Welsh by an interpreter, the author of this Itinerary, impelled by the urgent importunity and promises of the king, and the persuasions of the archbishop and the justiciary, arose the first, and falling down at the feet of the holy man, devoutly took the sign of the cross. His example was instantly followed by Peter, bishop of St. David's, a monk of the abbey of Cluny, and then by Eineon, son of Eineon Clyd, prince of Elvenia, and many other persons. Eineon rising up said to Rhys, whose daughter he had married; My father and lord! With your permission I hasten to revenge the injury offered to the great father of all.....
Early on the following morning, after the celebration of mass, and the return of Ranulph de Glanville to England, we came to Cruker Castle [Castell Crug Eryr], two miles distant from Radnor, where a strong and valiant youth named Hector, conversing with the archbishop about taking the cross, said, If I had the means of getting provisions for one day, and of keeping fast on the next, I would comply with your advice; on the following day, however, he took the cross. The same evening, Malgo, son of Cadwallon, prince of Melenia, after a short but efficacious exhortation from the archbishop, and not without the tears and lamentations of his friends, was marked with the sign of the cross.
But here it is proper to mention what happened during the reign of king Henry the First to the lord of the castle of Radnor , in the adjoining territory of Builth, who had entered the church of Saint Avan (which is called in the British language Llan Avan ), and, without sufficient caution or reverence, had passed the night there with his hounds. Arising early in the morning, according to the custom of hunters, he found his hounds mad, and himself struck blind. After a long, dark, and tedious existence, he was conveyed to Jerusalem, happily taking care that his inward sight should not in a similar manner be extinguished; and there being accoutred, and led to the field of battle on horseback, he made a spirited attack upon the enemies of the faith, and, being mortally wounded, closed his life with honour....
In this same province of Warthrenion, and in the church of Saint Germanus [St Harmans, near Rhayader], there is a staff of Saint Cyric [Curig], covered on all sides with gold and silver, and resembling in its upper part the form of a cross; its efficacy has been proved in many cases, but particularly in the removal of glandular and strumous swellings; insomuch that all persons afflicted with these complaints, on a devout application to the staff, with the oblation of one penny, are restored to health. But it happened in these our days, that a strumous patient on presenting one halfpenny to the staff, the humour subsided only in the middle; but when the oblation was completed by the other halfpenny, an entire cure was accomplished. Another person also coming to the staff with the promise of a penny, was cured; but not fulfilling his engagement on the day appointed, he relapsed into his former disorder; in order, however, to obtain pardon for his offence, he tripled the offering by presenting three pence, and thus obtained a complete cure.
At Elevein, in the church of Glascwm , is a portable bell, endowed with great virtues, called Bangu, and said to have belonged to Saint David. A certain woman secretly conveyed this bell to her husband, who was confined in the castle of Raidergwy [Rhaiadyr], near Warthrenion, (which Rhys, son of Gruffydd, had lately built) for the purpose of his deliverance. The keepers of the castle not only refused to liberate him for this consideration, but seized and detained the bell; and in the same night, by divine vengeance, the whole town, except the wall on which the bell hung, was consumed by fire. The church of Luel [Llywel], in the neighbourhood of Brecknock, was burned, also in our time, by the enemy, and everything destroyed, except one small box, in which the consecrated host was deposited....
Chapter 2: Journey through Hay and Brecheinia
Having crossed the river Wye, we proceeded towards Brecknock, and on preaching a sermon at Hay, we observed some amongst the multitude, who were to be signed with the cross (leaving their garments in the hands of their friends or wives, who endeavoured to keep them back), fly for refuge to the archbishop in the castle.
Early in the morning we began our journey to Aberhodni, and the word of the Lord being preached at Landeu [Llanddew], we there spent the night.
The castle and chief town of the province, situated where the river Hodni joins the river Usk, is called Aberhodni [Aberhonddu; Brecon]; and every place where one river falls into another is called Aber in the British tongue. Landeu signifies the church of God. The archdeacon of that place [Giraldus Cambrensis] presented to the archbishop his work on the Topography of Ireland, which he graciously received, and either read or heard a part of it read attentively every day during his journey; and on his return to England completed the perusal of it. I have determined not to omit mentioning those occurrences worthy of note which happened in these parts in our days.
It came to pass before that great war, in which nearly all this province was destroyed by the sons of Jestin, that the large lake, and the river Leveni, which flows from it into the Wye, opposite Glasbyry, were tinged with a deep green colour. The old people of the country were consulted, and answered, that a short time before the great desolation caused by Howel, son of Meredyth, the water had been coloured in a similar manner. About the same time, a chaplain, whose name was Hugo, being engaged to officiate at the chapel of Saint Nicholas , in the castle of Aberhodni [Aberhonddu; Brecon], saw in a dream a venerable man standing near him, and saying,
Tell thy lord William de Braose, who has the audacity to retain the property granted to the chapel of Saint Nicholas for charitable uses, these words: The public treasury takes away that which Christ does not receive; and thou wilt then give to an impious soldier, what thou wilt not give to a priest.
This vision having been repeated three times, he went to the archdeacon of the place, at Landeu, and related to him what had happened...
It happened also that the hand of a boy, who was endeavouring to take some young pigeons from a nest, in the church of Saint David of Llanvaes , adhered to the stone on which he leaned, through the miraculous vengeance, perhaps, of that saint, in favour of the birds who had taken refuge in his church; and when the boy, attended by his friends and parents, had for three successive days and nights offered up his prayers and supplications before the holy altar of the church, his hand was, on the third day, liberated by the same divine power which had so miraculously fastened it. We saw this same boy at Newbury, in England, now advanced in years, presenting himself before David the Second, bishop of Saint David's, and certifying to him the truth of this relation, because it had happened in his diocese. The stone is preserved in the church to this day among the relics, and the marks of the five fingers appear impressed on the flint as though it were in wax....
Bernard de Newmarch was the first of the Normans who acquired by conquest from the Welsh this province, which was divided into three cantreds. He married the daughter of Nest, daughter of Gruffydd, son of Llewelyn, who, by his tyranny, for a long time had oppressed Wales; his wife took her mother's name of Nest, which the English transmuted into Anne; by whom he had children, one of whom, named Mahel, a distinguished soldier, was thus unjustly deprived of his paternal inheritance. His mother, in violation of the marriage contract, held an adulterous intercourse with a certain knight; on the discovery of which, the son met the knight returning in the night from his mother, and having inflicted on him a severe corporal punishment, and mutilated him, sent him away with great disgrace. The mother, alarmed at the confusion which this event caused, and agitated with grief, breathed nothing but revenge. She therefore went to king Henry I, and declared with assertions more vindictive than true, and corroborated by an oath, that her son Mahel was not the son of Bernard, but of another person with whom she had been secretly connected. Henry, on account of this oath, or rather perjury, and swayed more by his inclination than by reason, gave away her eldest daughter, whom she owned as the legitimate child of Bernard, in marriage to Milo Fitz-Walter, constable of Gloucester, with the honour of Brecheinoc as a portion; and he was afterwards created earl of Hereford by the empress Matilda, daughter of the said king.
By this wife he had five celebrated warriors; Roger, Walter, Henry, William, and Mahel; all of whom, by divine vengeance, or by fatal misfortunes, came to untimely ends; and yet each of them, except William, succeeded to the paternal inheritance, but left no issue. Thus this woman (not deviating from the nature of her sex), in order to satiate her anger and revenge, with the heavy loss of modesty, and with the disgrace of infamy, by the same act deprived her son of his patrimony, and herself of honour... But of the five above-mentioned brothers and sons of earl Milo, the youngest but one, and the last in the inheritance, was the most remarkable for his inhumanity; he persecuted David II., bishop of St. David's, to such a degree, by attacking his possessions, lands, and vassals, that he was compelled to retire as an exile from the district of Brecheinoc into England, or to some other parts of his diocese. Meanwhile, Mahel, being hospitably entertained by Walter de Clifford, in the castle of Brendlais [Bronllys], the house was by accident burned down, and he received a mortal blow by a stone falling from the principal tower on his head: upon which he instantly dispatched messengers to recall the bishop, and exclaimed with a lamentable voice, O, my father and high priest, your saint has taken most cruel vengeance of me, not waiting the conversion of a sinner, but hastening his death and overthrow. Having often repeated similar expressions, and bitterly lamented his situation, he thus ended his tyranny and life together; the first year of his government not having elapsed.
A powerful and noble personage, by name Brachanus, was in ancient times the ruler of the province of Brecheinoc, and from him it derived this name. The British histories testify that he had four- and-twenty daughters, all of whom, dedicated from their youth to religious observances, happily ended their lives in sanctity. There are many churches in Wales distinguished by their names, one of which, situated on the summit of a hill, near Brecheinoc, and not far from the castle of Aberhodni [Aberhonddu; Brecon], is called the church of St. Almedda , after the name of the holy virgin, who, refusing there the hand of an earthly spouse, married the Eternal King, and triumphed in a happy martyrdom; to whose honour a solemn feast is annually held in the beginning of August, and attended by a large concourse of people from a considerable distance, when those persons who labour under various diseases, through the merits of the Blessed Virgin, received their wished-for health. The circumstances which occur at every anniversary appear to me remarkable. You may see men or girls, now in the church, now in the churchyard, now in the dance, which is led round the churchyard with a song, on a sudden falling on the ground as in a trance, then jumping up as in a frenzy, and representing with their hands and feet, before the people, whatever work they have unlawfully done on feast days; you may see one man put his hand to the plough, and another, as it were, goad on the oxen, mitigating their sense of labour, by the usual rude song: one man imitating the profession of a shoemaker; another, that of a tanner. Now you may see a girl with a distaff, drawing out the thread, and winding it again on the spindle; another walking, and arranging the threads for the web; another, as it were, throwing the shuttle, and seeming to weave. On being brought into the church, and led up to the altar with their oblations, you will be astonished to see them suddenly awakened, and coming to themselves. Thus, by the divine mercy, which rejoices in the conversion, not in the death, of sinners, many persons from the conviction of their senses, are on these feast days corrected and mended.
This country sufficiently abounds with grain, and if there is any deficiency, it is amply supplied from the neighbouring parts of England; it is well stored with pastures, woods, and wild and domestic animals. River-fish are plentiful, supplied by the Usk on one side, and by the Wye on the other; each of them produces salmon and trout; but the Wye abounds most with the former, the Usk with the latter. The salmon of the Wye are in season during the winter, those of the Usk in summer; but the Wye alone produces the fish called umber, the praise of which is celebrated in the works of Ambrosius, as being found in great numbers in the rivers near Milan; What, says he, is more beautiful to behold, more agreeable to smell, or more pleasant to taste? The famous lake of Brecheinoc supplies the country with pike, perch, excellent trout, tench, and eels...
This country is well sheltered on every side (except the northern) by high mountains; on the western by those of cantref Bychan; on the southern, by that range, of which the principal is Cadair Arthur, or the chair of Arthur, so called from two peaks rising up in the form of a chair, and which, from its lofty situation, is vulgarly ascribed to Arthur, the most distinguished king of the Britons. A spring of water rises on the summit of this mountain, deep, but of a square shape, like a well, and although no stream runs from it, trout are said to be sometimes found in it. Being thus sheltered on the south by high mountains, the cooler breezes protect this district from the heat of the sun, and, by their natural salubrity, render the climate most temperate. Towards the east are the mountains of Talgarth and Ewyas.
The natives of these parts, actuated by continual enmities and implacable hatred, are perpetually engaged in bloody contests. But we leave to others to describe the great and enormous excesses, which in our time have been here committed, with regard to marriages, divorces, and many other circumstances of cruelty and oppression.
Chapter 3: Ewyas and Llanthony
In the deep vale of Ewyas, which is about an arrow-shot broad, encircled on all sides by lofty mountains, stands the church of Saint John the Baptist [Llanthony Priory], covered with lead, and built of wrought stone; and, considering the nature of the place, not unhandsomely constructed, on the very spot where the humble chapel of David , the archbishop, had formerly stood decorated only with moss and ivy. A situation truly calculated for religion, and more adapted to canonical discipline, than all the monasteries of the British isle. It was founded by two hermits, in honour of the retired life, far removed from the bustle of mankind, in a solitary vale watered by the river Hodeni. From Hodeni it was called Lanhodeni, for Lan signifies an ecclesiastical place. This derivation may appear far- fetched, for the name of the place, in Welsh, is Nanthodeni. Nant signifies a running stream, from whence this place is still called by the inhabitants Landewi Nanthodeni, or the church of Saint David upon the river Hodeni. The English therefore corruptly call it Lanthony, whereas it should either be called Nanthodeni, that is, the brook of the Hodeni, or Lanhodeni, the church upon the Hodeni.
Owing to its mountainous situation, the rains are frequent, the winds boisterous, and the clouds in winter almost continual. The air, though heavy, is healthy; and diseases are so rare, that the brotherhood, when worn out by long toil and affliction during their residence with the daughter [house in Gloucester], retiring to this asylum, and to their mother's lap, soon regain their long-wished-for health. For as my Topographical History of Ireland testifies, in proportion as we proceed to the eastward, the face of the sky is more pure and subtile, and the air more piercing and inclement; but as we draw nearer to the westward, the air becomes more cloudy, but at the same time is more temperate and healthy.
Here the monks, sitting in their cloisters, enjoying the fresh air, when they happen to look up towards the horizon, behold the tops of the mountains, as it were, touching the heavens, and herds of wild deer feeding on their summits: the body of the sun does not become visible above the heights of the mountains, even in a clear atmosphere, till about the hour of prime, or a little before. A place truly fitted for contemplation, a happy and delightful spot, fully competent, from its first establishment, to supply all its own wants, had not the extravagance of English luxury, the pride of a sumptuous table, the increasing growth of intemperance and ingratitude, added to the negligence of its patrons and prelates, reduced it from freedom to servility; and if the step-daughter, no less enviously than odiously, had not supplanted her mother.
It seems worthy of remark, that all the priors who were hostile to this establishment, died by divine visitation. William, who first despoiled the place of its herds and storehouses, being deposed by the fraternity, forfeited his right of sepulture amongst the priors. Clement seemed to like this place of study and prayer, yet, after the example of Heli the priest, as he neither reproved nor restrained his brethren from plunder and other offences, he died by a paralytic stroke. And Roger, who was more an enemy to this place than either of his predecessors, and openly carried away every thing which they had left behind, wholly robbing the church of its books, ornaments, and privileges, was also struck with a paralytic affection long before his death, resigned his honours, and lingered out the remainder of his days in sickness.
In the reign of king Henry I., when the mother church was as celebrated for her affluence as for her sanctity (two qualities which are seldom found thus united), the daughter not yet being in existence (and I sincerely wish she never had been produced), the fame of so much religion attracted hither Roger, bishop of Salisbury, who was at that time prime minister; for it is virtue to love virtue, even in another man, and a great proof of innate goodness to show a detestation of those vices which hitherto have not been avoided. When he had reflected with admiration on the nature of the place, the solitary life of the fraternity, living in canonical obedience, and serving God without a murmur or complaint, he returned to the king, and related to him what he thought most worthy of remark; and after spending the greater part of the day in the praises of this place, he finished his panegyric with these words: Why should I say more? the whole treasure of the king and his kingdom would not be sufficient to build such a cloister. Having held the minds of the king and the court for a long time in suspense by this assertion, he at length explained the enigma, by saying that he alluded to the cloister of mountains, by which this church is on every side surrounded.
But William, a knight, who first discovered this place, and his companion Ervistus, a priest, having heard, perhaps, as it is written in the Fathers, according to the opinion of Jerome, that the church of Christ decreased in virtues as it increased in riches, were accustomed often devoutly to solicit the Lord that this place might never attain great possessions. They were exceedingly concerned when this religious foundation began to be enriched by its first lord and patron, Hugh de Lacy, and by the lands and ecclesiastical benefices conferred upon it by the bounty of others of the faithful: from their predilection to poverty, they rejected many offers of manors and churches; and being situated in a wild spot, they would not suffer the thick and wooded parts of the valley to be cultivated and levelled, lest they should be tempted to recede from their heremitical mode of life.
But whilst the establishment of the mother church increased daily in riches and endowments, availing herself of the hostile state of the country, a rival daughter sprang up at Gloucester, under the protection of Milo, earl of Hereford; as if by divine providence, and through the merits of the saints and prayers of those holy men (of whom two lie buried before the high altar), it were destined that the daughter church should be founded in superfluities, whilst the mother continued in that laudable state of mediocrity which she had always affected and coveted. Let the active therefore reside there, the contemplative here; there the pursuit of terrestrial riches, here the love of celestial delights; there let them enjoy the concourse of men, here the presence of angels; there let the powerful of this world be entertained, here let the poor of Christ be relieved; there, I say, let human actions and declamations be heard, but here let reading and prayers be heard only in whispers; there let opulence, the parent and nurse of vice, increase with cares, here let the virtuous and golden mean be all-sufficient.
In both places the canonical discipline instituted by Augustine, which is now distinguished above all other orders, is observed; for the Benedictines, when their wealth was increased by the fervour of charity, and multiplied by the bounty of the faithful, under the pretext of a bad dispensation, corrupted by gluttony and indulgence an order which in its original state of poverty was held in high estimation....
The mountains are full of herds and horses, the woods well stored with swine and goats, the pastures with sheep, the plains with cattle, the arable fields with ploughs; and although these things in very deed are in great abundance, yet each of them, from the insatiable nature of the mind, seems too narrow and scanty. Therefore lands are seized, landmarks removed, boundaries invaded, and the markets in consequence abound with merchandise, the courts of justice with law-suits, and the senate with complaints.... But I am inclined to think this avidity does not proceed from any bad intention. For the monks of this Order (although themselves most abstemious) incessantly exercise, more than any others, the acts of charity and beneficence towards the poor and strangers; and because they do not live as others upon fixed incomes, but depend only on their labour and forethought for subsistence, they are anxious to obtain lands, farms, and pastures, which may enable them to perform these acts of hospitality...
It is a remarkable circumstance, or rather a miracle, concerning Lanthony, that, although it is on every side surrounded by lofty mountains, not stony or rocky, but of a soft nature, and covered with grass. Parian stones are frequently found there, and are called free-stones, from the facility with which they admit of being cut and polished; and with these the church is beautifully built. It is also wonderful, that when, after a diligent search, all the stones have been removed from the mountains, and no more can be found, upon another search, a few days afterwards, they reappear in greater quantities to those who seek them.
In these temperate regions I have obtained (according to the usual expression) a place of dignity, but no great omen of future pomp or riches; and possessing a small residence near the castle of Brecknock, well adapted to literary pursuits, and to the contemplation of eternity, I envy not the riches of Croesus; happy and contented with that mediocrity, which I prize far beyond all the perishable and transitory things of this world. But let us return to our subject.
Chapter 4: The journey by Coed Grono and Abergavenny
From thence we proceeded through the narrow, woody tract called the bad pass of Coed Grono [Grwyne], leaving the noble monastery of Lanthony, inclosed by its mountains, on our left.
The castle of Abergavenny is so called from its situation at the confluence of the river Gevenni with the Usk...A sermon having been delivered at Abergevenni, and many persons converted to the cross, a certain nobleman of those parts, named Arthenus, came to the archbishop, who was proceeding towards the castle of Usk, and humbly begged pardon for having neglected to meet him sooner. Being questioned whether he would take the cross, he replied, That ought not be done without the advice of his friends. The archbishop then asked him, Are you not going to consult your wife? To which he modestly answered, with a downcast look, When the work of a man is to be undertaken, the counsel of a woman ought not to be asked; and instantly received the cross from the archbishop.
We leave to others the relation of those frequent and cruel excesses which in our times have arisen amongst the inhabitants of these parts, against the governors of castles, and the vindictive retaliations of the governors against the natives. But king Henry II. was the true author, and Ranulf Poer, sheriff of Hereford, the instrument, of the enormous cruelties and slaughter perpetrated here in our days ... For after seven years of peace and tranquillity, the sons and grandsons of the deceased, having attained the age of manhood, took advantage of the absence of the lord of the castle [Abergavenny], and, burning with revenge, concealed themselves, with no inconsiderable force during the night, within the woody foss of the castle. One of them, name Sisillus (Sitsylt) son of Eudaf, on the preceding day said rather jocularly to the constable, Here will we enter this night, pointing out to him a certain angle in the wall where it seemed the lowest; but since ... the constable and his household watched all night under arms, till at length, worn out by fatigue, they all retired to rest on the appearance of daylight, upon which the enemy attacked the walls with scaling-ladders, at the very place that had been pointed out. The constable and his wife were taken prisoners, with many others, a few persons only escaping, who had sheltered themselves in the principal tower. With the exception of this stronghold, the enemy violently seized and burned everything; and thus, by the righteous judgment of God, the crime was punished in the very place where it had been committed.
A short time after the taking of this fortress, when the aforesaid sheriff was building a castle at Landinegat [Dingestow], near Monmouth, with the assistance of the army he had brought from Hereford, he was attacked at break of day, when Tythoni croceum linquens Aurora cubile was only beginning to divest herself of the shades of night, by the young men from Gwent and the adjacent parts, with the descendants of those who had been slain. Through aware of this premeditated attack, and prepared and drawn up in battle array, they were nevertheless repulsed within their intrenchments, and the sheriff, together with nine of the chief men of Hereford, and many others, were pierced to death with lances...
It seems worthy of remark, that the people of what is called Venta [Gwent] are more accustomed to war, more famous for valour, and more expert in archery, than those of any other part of Wales. The following examples prove the truth of this assertion. In the last capture of the aforesaid castle, which happened in our days, two soldiers passing over a bridge to take refuge in a tower built on a mound of earth, the Welsh, taking them in the rear, penetrated with their arrows the oaken portal of the tower, which was four fingers thick; in memory of which circumstance, the arrows were preserved in the gate. William de Braose also testifies that one of his soldiers, in a conflict with the Welsh, was wounded by an arrow, which passed through his thigh and the armour with which it was cased on both sides, and, through that part of the saddle which is called the alva, mortally wounded the horse. Another soldier had his hip, equally sheathed in armour, penetrated by an arrow quite to the saddle, and on turning his horse round, received a similar wound on the opposite hip, which fixed him on both sides of his seat. What more could be expected from a balista? Yet the bows used by this people are not made of horn, ivory, or yew, but of wild elm; unpolished, rude, and uncouth, but stout ...... But let us again return to our Itinerary.
Chapter 5: Of the progress by the castle of Usk and the town of Caerleon
At the castle of Usk , a multitude of persons influenced by the archbishop's sermon, and by the exhortations of the good and worthy William bishop of Llandaff, who faithfully accompanied us through his diocese, were signed with the cross; Alexander archdeacon of Bangor acting as interpreter to the Welsh. It is remarkable that many of the most notorious murderers, thieves, and robbers of the neighbourhood were here converted, to the astonishment of the spectators.
Passing from thence through Caerleon and leaving far on our left hand the castle of Monmouth , and the noble forest of Dean, situated on the other side of the Wye and on this side the Severn, and which amply supplies Gloucester with iron and venison, we spent the night at Newport, having crossed the river Usk three times.
Caerleon means the city of Legions, Caer , in the British language, signifying a city or camp, for there the Roman legions, sent into this island, were accustomed to winter, and from this circumstance it was styled the city of legions. This city was of undoubted antiquity, and handsomely built of masonry, with courses of bricks, by the Romans. Many vestiges of its former splendour may yet be seen; immense palaces, formerly ornamented with gilded roofs, in imitation of Roman magnificence, inasmuch as they were first raised by the Roman princes, and embellished with splendid buildings; a tower of prodigious size, remarkable hot baths, relics of temples, and theatres, all inclosed within fine walls, parts of which remain standing. You will find on all sides, both within and without the circuit of the walls, subterraneous buildings, aqueducts, underground passages; and what I think worthy of notice, stoves contrived with wonderful art, to transmit the heat insensibly through narrow tubes passing up the side walls.
Julius and Aaron, after suffering martyrdom, were buried in this city, and had each a church dedicated to him. After Albanus and Amphibalus, they were esteemed the chief protomartyrs of Britannia Major. In ancient times there were three fine churches in this city: one dedicated to Julius the martyr, graced with a choir of nuns; another to Aaron, his associate, and ennobled with an order of canons; and the third distinguished as the metropolitan of Wales. Amphibalus, the instructor of Albanus in the true faith, was born in this place. This city is well situated on the river Usk, navigable to the sea, and adorned with woods and meadows...
Chapter 6: Newport and Caerdyf [Cardiff]
At Newport, where the river Usk, descending from its original source in Cantref Bachan, falls into the sea, many persons were induced to take the cross.
Having passed the river Remni, we approached the noblecastle of Caerdyf [Cardiff], situated on the banks of the river Taf... An extraordinary circumstance occurred ... at the castle of Caerdyf. William earl of Gloucester, son of earl Robert, who, besides that castle, possessed by hereditary right all the province of Gwladvorgan, that is, the land of Morgan, had a dispute with one of his dependants, whose name was Ivor the Little, being a man of short stature, but of great courage. This man was, after the manner of the Welsh, owner of a tract of mountainous and woody country, of the whole, or a part of which, the earl endeavoured to deprive him. At that time the castle of Caerdyf [Cardiff] was surrounded with high walls, guarded by one hundred and twenty men-at-arms, a numerous body of archers, and a strong watch. The city also contained many stipendiary soldiers; yet, in defiance of all these precautions of security, Ivor, in the dead of night, secretly scaled the walls, and, seizing the count and countess, with their only son, carried them off into the woods, and did not release them until he had recovered everything that had been unjustly taken from him, and received a compensation of additional property; for, as the poet observes, Spectandum est semper ne magna injuria fiat Fortibus et miseris; tollas licet omne quod usquam est Argenti atque auri, spoliatis arma supersunt .
In this same town of Caerdyf [Cardiff], king Henry II., on his return from Ireland, the first Sunday after Easter, passed the night. In the morning, having heard mass, he remained at his devotions till every one had quitted the chapel of St. Piranus . As he mounted his horse at the door, a man of a fair complexion, with a round tonsure and meagre countenance, tall, and about forty years of age, habited in a white robe falling down to his naked feet, thus addressed him in the Teutonic tongue: God hold thee, cuing, which signifies, May God protect you, king; and proceeded, in the same language,
Christ and his Holy Mother, John the Baptist, and the Apostle Peter salute thee, and command thee strictly to prohibit throughout thy whole dominions every kind of buying or selling on Sundays, and not to suffer any work to be done on those days, except such as relates to the preparation of daily food; that due attention may be paid to the performance of the divine offices. If thou dost this, all thy undertakings shall be successful, and thou shalt lead a happy life.
The king, in French, desired Philip de Mercros, who held the reins of his horse, to ask the rustic if he had dreamt this and when the soldier explained to him the king's question in English, he replied in the same language he had before used,
Whether I have dreamt it or not, observe what day this is (addressing himself to the king, not to the interpreter), and unless thou shalt do so, and quickly amend thy life, before the expiration of one year, thou shalt hear such things concerning what thou lovest best in this world, and shalt thereby be so much troubled, that thy disquietude shall continue to thy life's end.
The king, spurring his horse, proceeded a little way towards the gate, when, stopping suddenly, he ordered his attendants to call the good man back. The soldier, and a young man named William, the only persons who remained with the king, accordingly called him, and sought him in vain in the chapel, and in all the inns of the city . The king, vexed that he had not spoken more to him, waited alone a long time, while other persons went in search of him; and when he could not be found, pursued his journey over the bridge of Remni to Newport. The fatal prediction came to pass within the year, as the man had threatened; for the king's three sons, Henry, the eldest, and his brothers, Richard of Poitou, and Geoffrey, count of Britany, in the following Lent, deserted to Louis king of France, which caused the king greater uneasiness than he had ever before experienced; and which, by the conduct of some one of his sons, was continued till the time of his decease...
Not far from Caerdyf [Cardiff] is a small island situated near the shore of the Severn, called Barri [Barry], from St. Baroc who formerly lived there, and whose remains are deposited in a chapel overgrown with ivy, having been transferred to a coffin. From hence a noble family, of the maritime parts of South Wales, who owned this island and the adjoining estates, received the name of de Barri. It is remarkable that, in a rock near the entrance of the island, there is a small cavity, to which, if the ear is applied, a noise is heard like that of smiths at work, the blowing of bellows, strokes of hammers, grinding of tools, and roaring of furnaces; and it might easily be imagined that such noises, which are continued at the ebb and flow of the tides, were occasioned by the influx of the sea under the cavities of the rocks.
Chapter 7: The see of Llandaff and monastery of Margam, and the remarkable things in those parts
On the following morning, the business of the cross being publicly proclaimed at Llandaff, the English standing on one side, and the Welsh on the other, many persons of each nation took the cross, and we remained there that night with William bishop of that place, a discreet and good man. The word Landaf signifies the church situated upon the river Taf, and is now called the church of St. Teileau, formerly bishop of that see.
The archbishop having celebrated mass early in the morning, before the high altar of the cathedral, we immediately pursued our journey by the little cell of Ewenith [Ewenny Priory] to the noble Cistercian monastery of Margam . This monastery, under the direction of Conan, a learned and prudent abbot, was at this time more celebrated for its charitable deeds than any other of that order in Wales. On this account, it is an undoubted fact, that, as a reward for that abundant charity which the monastery had always, in times of need, exercised towards strangers and poor persons, in a season of approaching famine, their corn and provisions were perceptibly, by divine assistance, increased, like the widow's cruise of oil by the means of the prophet Elijah.
About the time of its foundation, a young man of those parts, by birth a Welshman, having claimed and endeavoured to apply to his own use certain lands which had been given to the monastery, by the instigation of the devil set on fire the best barn belonging to the monks, which was filled with corn; but, immediately becoming mad, he ran about the country in a distracted state, nor ceased raving until he was seized by his parents and bound. Having burst his bonds, and tired out his keepers, he came the next morning to the gate of the monastery , incessantly howling out that he was inwardly burnt by the influence of the monks, and thus in a few days expired, uttering the most miserable complaints.
It happened also, that a young man was struck by another in the guests' hall ; but on the following day, by divine vengeance, the aggressor was, in the presence of the fraternity, killed by an enemy, and his lifeless body was laid out in the same spot in the hall where the sacred house had been violated.
In our time too, in a period of scarcity, while great multitudes of poor were daily crowding before the gates for relief, by the unanimous consent of the brethren, a ship was sent to Bristol to purchase corn for charitable purposes. The vessel, delayed by contrary winds, and not returning (but rather affording an opportunity for the miracle), on the very day when there would have been a total deficiency of corn, both for the poor and the convent, a field near the monastery was found suddenly to ripen, more than a month before the usual time of harvest: thus, divine Providence supplied the brotherhood and the numerous poor with sufficient nourishment until autumn. By these and other signs of virtues, the place accepted by God began to be generally esteemed and venerated...
Chapter 8: Passage of the rivers Avon and Neth - and of Abertawe and Goer
Continuing our journey, not far from Margam, where the alternate vicissitudes of a sandy shore and the tide commence, we forded over the river Avon, having been considerably delayed by the ebbing of the sea; and under the guidance of Morgan, eldest son of Caradoc, proceeded along the sea-shore towards the river Neth, which, on account of its quicksands, is the most dangerous and inaccessible river in South Wales. A pack-horse belonging to the author, which had proceeded by the lower way near the sea, although in the midst of many others, was the only one which sunk down into the abyss, but he was at last, with great difficulty, extricated, and not without some damage done to the baggage and books. Yet, although we had Morgan, the prince of that country, as our conductor, we did not reach the river without great peril, and some severe falls; for the alarm occasioned by this unusual kind of road, made us hasten our steps over the quicksands, in opposition to the advice of our guide, and fear quickened our pace; whereas, through these difficult passages, as we there learned, the mode of proceeding should be with moderate speed. But as the fords of that river experience a change by every monthly tide, and cannot be found after violent rains and floods, we did not attempt the ford, but passed the river in a boat, leaving the monastery of Neath on our right hand, approaching again to the district of St. David's, and leaving the diocese of Llandaff (which we had entered at Abergevenny) behind us.
It happened in our days that David II., bishop of St. David's, passing this way, and finding the ford agitated by a recent storm, a chaplain of those parts, named Rotherch Falcus, being conversant in the proper method of crossing these rivers, undertook, at the desire of the bishop, the dangerous task of trying the ford. Having mounted a large and powerful horse, which had been selected from the whole train for this purpose, he immediately crossed the ford, and fled with great rapidity to the neighbouring woods, nor could he be induced to return until the suspension which he had lately incurred was removed, and a full promise of security and indemnity obtained; the horse was then restored to one party, and his service to the other.
Entering the province called Gower, we spent the night at the castle of Swansea , which in Welsh is called Abertawe, or the fall of the river Tawe into the sea. The next morning, the people being assembled after mass, and many having been induced to take the cross, an aged man of that district, named Cador, thus addressed the archbishop:
My lord, if I now enjoyed my former strength, and the vigour of youth, no alms should ransom me, no desire of inactivity restrain me, from engaging in the laudable undertaking you preach; but since my weak age and the injuries of time deprive me of this desirable benefit (for approaching years bring with them many comforts, which those that are passed take away), if I cannot, owing to the infirmity of my body, attain a full merit, yet suffer me, by giving a tenth of all I possess, to attain a half.
Then falling down at the feet of the archbishop, he deposited in his hands, for the service of the cross, the tenth of his estate, weeping bitterly, and intreating from him the remission of one half of the enjoined penance. After a short time he returned, and thus continued:
My lord, if the will directs the action, and is itself, for the most part, considered as the act, and as I have a full and firm inclination to undertake this journey, I request a remission of the remaining part of the penance, and in addition to my former gift, I will equal the sum from the residue of my tenths.
The archbishop, smiling at his devout ingenuity, embraced him with admiration.
On the same night, two monks, who waited in the archbishop's chamber, conversing about the occurrences of their journey, and the dangers of the road, one of them said (alluding to the wildness of the country), This is a hard province; the other (alluding to the quicksands), wittily replied, Yet yesterday it was found too soft. ...
Chapter 9: Passage over the rivers Lochor and Wendraeth; and of Cydweli
Thence we proceeded towards the river Lochor, through the plains in which Howel, son of Meredyth of Brecheinoc, after the decease of King Henry I., gained a signal victory over the English. Having first crossed the river Lochor, and afterwards the water called Wendraeth, we arrived at the castle of Cydweli [Kidwelly]. In this district, after the death of king Henry, whilst Gruffydd son of Rhys, the prince of South Wales, was engaged in soliciting assistance from North Wales, his wife Gwenliana (like the queen of the Amazons, and a second Penthesilea) led an army into these parts; but she was defeated by Maurice de Londres, lord of that country, and Geoffrey, the bishop's constable. Morgan, one of her sons, whom she had arrogantly brought with her in that expedition, was slain, and the other, Malgo, taken prisoner; and she, with many of her followers, was put to death.
During the reign of King Henry I., when Wales enjoyed a state of tranquillity, the above-mentioned Maurice had a forest in that neighbourhood, well stocked with wild animals, and especially deer, and was extremely tenacious of his venison. His wife (for women are often very expert in deceiving men) made use of this curious stratagem. Her husband possessed, on the side of the wood next the sea, some extensive pastures, and large flocks of sheep. Having made all the shepherds and chief people in her house accomplices and favourers of her design, and taking advantage of the simple courtesy of her husband, she thus addressed him:
It is wonderful that being lord over beasts, you have ceased to exercise dominion over them; and by not making use of your deer, do not now rule over them, but are subservient to them; and behold how great an abuse arises from too much patience; for they attack our sheep with such an unheard-of rage, and unusual voracity, that from many they are become few; from being innumerable, only numerous.
To make her story more probable, she caused some wool to be inserted between the intestines of two stags which had been embowelled; and her husband, thus artfully deceived, sacrificed his deer to the rapacity of his dogs.
Chapter 10: Tywy river - Caermardyn - monastery of Albelande
Having crossed the river Tywy in a boat, we proceeded towards Caermardyn [Carmarthen], leaving Llanstephan and Talachar [Laugharne] on the sea-coast to our left. After the death of King Henry II., Rhys, the son of Gruffydd, took these two castles by assault; then, having laid waste, by fire and sword, the provinces of Penbroch and Ros, he besieged Caermardyn, but failed in his attempt.
Caermardyn [Carmarthen] ...ancient city is situated on the banks of the noble river Tywy, surrounded by woods and pastures, and was strongly inclosed with walls of brick , part of which are still standing; having Cantref Mawr, the great cantred, or hundred, on the eastern side, a safe refuge, in times of danger, to the inhabitants of South Wales, on account of its thick woods; where is also the castle of Dinevor [Dinefawr], built on a lofty summit above the Tywy, the royal seat of the princes of South Wales.
In ancient times, there were three regal palaces in Wales: Dinevor [Dinefawr] in South Wales, Aberfrau in North Wales, situated in Anglesea, and Pengwern in Powys, now called Shrewsbury; Pengwern signifies the head of a grove of alders. Recalling to mind those poetical passages: Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat? and Et si non recte possis quocunque modo rem, my pen shrinks with abhorrence from the relation of the enormous vengeance exercised by the court against its vassals, within the comot of Caeo, in the Cantref Mawr. Near Dinevor, on the other side of the river Tywy, in the Cantref Bychan, or the little cantred, there is a spring which, like the tide, ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours.
Not far to the north of Caermardyn [Carmarthen], namely at Pencadair, that is, the head of the chair, when Rhys, the son of Gruffydd, was more by stratagem than force compelled to surrender, and was carried away into England, King Henry II despatched a knight, born in Brittany, on whose wisdom and fidelity he could rely, under the conduct of Guaidanus, dean of Cantref Mawr, to explore the situation of Dinevor [Dinefawr] castle , and the strength of the country. The priest, being desired to take the knight by the easiest and best road to the castle, led him purposely aside by the most difficult and inaccessible paths, and wherever they passed through woods, the priest, to the general surprise of all present, fed upon grass, asserting that, in times of need, the inhabitants of that country were accustomed to live upon herbs and roots. The knight returning to the king, and relating what had happened, affirmed that the country was uninhabitable, vile, and inaccessible, and only affording food to a beastly nation, living like brutes. At length the king released Rhys, having first bound him to fealty by solemn oaths and the delivery of hostages.
On our journey from Caermardyn towards the Cistercian monastery called Alba Domus [Whitland], the archbishop was informed of the murder of a young Welshman, who was devoutly hastening to meet him; when turning out of the road, he ordered the corpse to be covered with the cloak of his almoner, and with a pious supplication commended the soul of the murdered youth to heaven. Twelve archers of the adjacent castle of St. Clare [Saint Clears], who had assassinated the young man, were on the following day signed with the cross at Alba Domus, as a punishment for their crime.
Having traversed three rivers, the Taf, then the Cleddeu, under Lanwadein [Llawhaden], and afterwards another branch of the same river, we at length arrived at Haverford. This province, from its situation between two rivers, has acquired the name of Daugleddeu, being enclosed and terminated, as it were, by two swords, for cleddue, in the British language, signifies a sword.
Chapter 11: Of Haverford and Ros
A sermon having been delivered at Haverford by the archbishop, and the word of God preached to the people by the archdeacon, whose name appears on the title-page of this work, many soldiers and plebeians were induced to take the cross. It appeared wonderful and miraculous, that, although the archdeacon addressed them both in the Latin and French tongues, those persons who understood neither of those languages were equally affected, and flocked in great numbers to the cross.
An old woman of those parts, who for three preceding years had been blind, having heard of the archbishop's arrival, sent her son to the place where the sermon was to be preached, that he might bring back to her some particle, if only of the fringe of his garment. The young man being prevented by the crowd from approaching the archbishop, waited till the assembly was dispersed, and then carried a piece of the earth on which the preacher had stood. The mother received the gift with great joy, and falling immediately on her knees, applied the turf to her mouth and eyes; and thus, through the merits of the holy man, and her own faith and devotion, recovered the blessing of sight, which she had entirely lost.
The inhabitants of this province derived their origin from Flanders, and were sent by king Henry I. to inhabit these districts; a people brave and robust, ever most hostile to the Welsh; a people, I say, well versed in commerce and woollen manufactories; a people anxious to seek gain by sea or land, in defiance of fatigue and danger; a hardy race, equally fitted for the plough or the sword; a people brave and happy, if Wales (as it ought to have been) had been dear to its sovereign, and had not so frequently experienced the vindictive resentment and ill-treatment of its governors.
A circumstance happened in the castle of Haverford during our time, which ought not to be omitted. A famous robber was fettered and confined in one of its towers , and was often visited by three boys, the son of the earl of Clare, and two others, one of whom was son of the lord of the castle, and the other his grandson, sent thither for their education, and who applied to him for arrows, with which he used to supply them. One day, at the request of the children, the robber, being brought from his dungeon, took advantage of the absence of the gaoler, closed the door, and shut himself up with the boys. A great clamour instantly arose, as well from the boys within, as from the people without; nor did he cease, with an uplifted axe, to threaten the lives of the children, until indemnity and security were assured to him in the most ample manner....
It appears remarkable to me that the entire inheritance should devolve on Richard, son of Tankard, governor of the aforesaid castle of Haverford, being the youngest son, and having many brothers of distinguished character who died before him. In like manner the dominion of South Wales descended to Rhys son of Gruffyd, owing to the death of several of his brothers.
During the childhood of Richard, a holy man, named Caradoc, led a pious and recluse life at St. Ismael, in the province of Ros, to whom the boy was often sent by his parents with provisions, and he so ingratiated himself in the eyes of the good man, that he very often promised him, together with his blessing, the portion of all his brothers, and the paternal inheritance. It happened that Richard, being overtaken by a violent storm of rain, turned aside to the hermit's cell ; and being unable to get his hounds near him, either by calling, coaxing, or by offering them food, the holy man smiled; and making a gentle motion with his hand, brought them all to him immediately. In process of time, when Caradoc had happily completed the course of his existence, Tankard, father of Richard, violently detained his body, which by his last will he had bequeathed to the church of St. David ; but being suddenly seized with a severe illness, he revoked his command. When this had happened to him a second and a third time, and the corpse at last was suffered to be conveyed away, and was proceeding over the sands of Niwegal towards St. David's, a prodigious fall of rain inundated the whole country; but the conductors of the sacred burthen, on coming forth from their shelter, found the silken pall, with which the bier was covered, dry and uninjured by the storm; and thus the miraculous body of Caradoc was brought into the church of St. Andrew and St. David , and with due solemnity deposited in the left aisle, near the altar of the holy proto-martyr Stephen....
Chapter 12: Of Pembroke
The province of Pembroke adjoins the southern part of the territory of Ros, and is separated from it by an arm of the sea. Its principal city, and the metropolis of Demetia, is situated on an oblong rocky eminence, extending with two branches from Milford Haven, from whence it derived the name of Penbroch , which signifies the head of the estuary. Arnulph de Montgomery, in the reign of king Henry I., erected here a slender fortress with stakes and turf, which, on returning to England, he consigned to the care of Giraldus de Windesor, his constable and lieutenant-general, a worthy and discreet man.
Immediately on the death of Rhys son of Tewdwr, who a short time before had been slain by the treachery of his own troops at Brecheinoc, leaving his son, Gruffydd, a child, the inhabitants of South Wales besieged the castle . One night, when fifteen soldiers had deserted, and endeavoured to escape from the castle in a small boat, on the following morning Giraldus invested their armour bearers with the arms and estates of their masters, and decorated them with the military order. The garrison being, from the length of the siege, reduced to the utmost want of provisions, the constable, with great prudence and flattering hopes of success, caused four hogs, which yet remained, to be cut into small pieces and thrown down to the enemy from the fortifications. The next day, having again recourse to a more refined stratagem, he contrived that a letter, sealed with his own signet, should be found before the house of Wilfred, bishop of St. David's, who was then by chance in that neighbourhood, as if accidentally dropped, stating that there would be no necessity of soliciting the assistance of earl Arnulph for the next four months to come. The contents of these letters being made known to the army, the troops abandoned the siege of the castle, and retired to their own homes.
Giraldus, in order to make himself and his dependants more secure, married Nest, the sister of Gruffydd, prince of South Wales, by whom he had an illustrious progeny of both sexes; and by whose means both the maritime parts of South Wales were retained by the English, and the walls of Ireland afterwards stormed, as our Vaticinal History declares. ...
The castle called Maenor Pyrr [Manorbier], that is, the mansion of Pyrrus, who also possessed the island of Chaldey, which the Welsh call Inys Pyrr, or the island of Pyrrus, is distant about three miles from Penbroch. It is excellently well defended by turrets and bulwarks, and is situated on the summit of a hill extending on the western side towards the sea-port, having on the northern and southern sides a fine fish-pond under its walls, as conspicuous for its grand appearance, as for the depth of its waters, and a beautiful orchard on the same side, inclosed on one part by a vineyard, and on the other by a wood, remarkable for the projection of its rocks, and the height of its hazel trees.
On the right hand of the promontory, between the castle and the church , near the site of a very large lake and mill, a rivulet of never-failing water flows through a valley, rendered sandy by the violence of the winds. Towards the west, the Severn sea, bending its course to Ireland, enters a hollow bay at some distance from the castle; and the southern rocks, if extended a little further towards the north, would render it a most excellent harbour for shipping. From this point of sight, you will see almost all the ships from Great Britain, which the east wind drives upon the Irish coast, daringly brave the inconstant waves and raging sea. This country is well supplied with corn, sea-fish, and imported wines; and what is preferable to every other advantage, from its vicinity to Ireland, it is tempered by a salubrious air. Demetia, therefore, with its seven cantreds, is the most beautiful, as well as the most powerful district of Wales; Pembroke, the finest part of the province of Demetia; and the place I have just described, the most delightful part of Penbroch. It is evident, therefore, that Maenor Pirr [Manorbier] is the pleasantest spot in Wales; and the author may be pardoned for having thus extolled his native soil, his genial territory, with a profusion of praise and admiration...
I ought not to omit mentioning the falcons of these parts, which are large, and of a generous kind, and exercise a most severe tyranny over the river and land birds. King Henry II. remained here some time, making preparations for his voyage to Ireland; and being desirous of taking the diversion of hawking, he accidentally saw a noble falcon perched upon a rock. Going sideways round him, he let loose a fine Norway hawk, which he carried on his left hand. The falcon, though at first slower in its flight, soaring up to a great height, burning with resentment, and in his turn becoming the aggressor, rushed down upon his adversary with the greatest impetuosity, and by a violent blow struck the hawk dead at the feet of the king. From that time the king sent every year, about the breeding season, for the falcons of this country, which are produced on the sea cliffs; nor can better be found in any part of his dominions. But let us now return to our Itinerary.
Chapter 13: Of the progress by Camros and Niwegal
From Haverford we proceeded on our journey to Menevia, distant from thence about twelve miles, and passed through Camros, where, in the reign of king Stephen, the relations and friends of a distinguished young man, Giraldus, son of William, revenged his death by a too severe retaliation on the men of Ros. We then passed over Niwegal sands, at which place (during the winter that king Henry II. spent in Ireland), as well as in almost all the other western ports, a very remarkable circumstance occurred. The sandy shores of South Wales, being laid bare by the extraordinary violence of a storm, the surface of the earth, which had been covered for many ages, re-appeared, and discovered the trunks of trees cut off, standing in the very sea itself, the strokes of the hatchet appearing as if made only yesterday. The soil was very black, and the wood like ebony. By a wonderful revolution, the road for ships became impassable, and looked, not like a shore, but like a grove cut down, perhaps, at the time of the deluge, or not long after, but certainly in very remote ages, being by degrees consumed and swallowed up by the violence and encroachments of the sea. During the same tempest many sea fish were driven, by the violence of the wind and waves, upon dry land. We were well lodged at St. David's by Peter, bishop of the see, a liberal man, who had hitherto accompanied us during the whole of our journey.
Chapter 1: Of the see of Saint David's
We are informed by the British histories, that Dubricius, archbishop of Caerleon, sensible of the infirmities of age, or rather being desirous of leading a life of contemplation, resigned his honours to David, who is said to have been uncle to king Arthur; and by his interest the see was translated to Menevia, although Caerleon, as we have observed in the first book, was much better adapted for the episcopal see. For Menevia is situated in a most remote corner of land upon the Irish ocean, the soil stony and barren, neither clothed with woods, distinguished by rivers, nor adorned by meadows, ever exposed to the winds and tempests, and continually subject to the hostile attacks of the Flemings on one side, and of the Welsh on the other. For the holy men who settled here, chose purposely such a retired habitation, that by avoiding the noise of the world, and preferring an heremitical to a pastoral life, they might more freely provide for " that part which shall not be taken away;" for David was remarkable for his sanctity and religion, as the history of his life will testify...
The spot where the church of St. David's stands, and was founded in honour of the apostle St. Andrew, is called the Vale of Roses; which ought rather to be named the vale of marble , since it abounds with one, and by no means with the other. The river Alun, a muddy and unproductive rivulet, bounding the churchyard on the northern side, flows under a marble stone, called Lechlavar, which .... serves as a bridge ... It was a beautiful piece of marble, polished by the feet of passengers, ten feet in length, six in breadth, and one in thickness. Lechlavar signifies in the British language a talking stone. There was an ancient tradition respecting this stone, that at a time when a corpse was carried over it for interment, it broke forth into speech, and by the effort cracked in the middle, which fissure is still visible; and on account of this barbarous and ancient superstition, the corpses are no longer brought over it...
Chapter 2: Of the journey by Cemmeis [Cemais]- the monastery of St. Dogmael
The archbishop having celebrated mass early in the morning before the high altar of the church of St. David , and enjoined to the archdeacon [Giraldus] the office of preaching to the people, hastened through Cemmeis to meet prince Rhys at Aberteive [Cardigan]....
I shall not pass over in silence the circumstance which occurred in the principal castle of Cemmeis at Lanhever [Nevern], in our days. Rhys, son of Gruffydd, by the instigation of his son Gruffydd, a cunning and artful man, took away by force, from William, son of Martin (de Tours), his son-in-law, the castle of Lanhever, notwithstanding he had solemnly sworn, by the most precious relics, that his indemnity and security should be faithfully maintained, and, contrary to his word and oath, gave it to his son Gruffydd; but since " A sordid prey has not a good ending," the Lord, who by the mouth of his prophet, exclaims " Vengeance is mine, and I will repay!" ordained that the castle should be taken away from the contriver of this wicked plot, Gruffydd, and bestowed upon the man in the world he most hated, his brother Malgon. Rhys, also, about two years afterwards, intending to disinherit his own daughter, and two granddaughters and grandsons, by a singular instance of divine vengeance, was taken prisoner by his sons in battle, and confined in this same castle; thus justly suffering the greatest disgrace and confusion in the very place where he had perpetrated an act of the most consummate baseness. I think it also worthy to be remembered, that at the time this misfortune befell him, he had concealed in his possession, at Dinevor, the collar of St. Canauc of Brecknock, for which, by divine vengeance, he merited to be taken prisoner and confined.
We slept that night in the monastery of St. Dogmael , where, as well as on the next day at Aberteivi [Cardigan], we were handsomely entertained by prince Rhys. On the Cemmeis side of the river, not far from the bridge, the people of the neighbourhood being assembled together, and Rhys and his two sons, Malgon and Gruffydd, being present, the word of the Lord was persuasively preached both by the archbishop and the archdeacon, and many were induced to take the cross; one of whom was an only son, and the sole comfort of his mother, far advanced in years, who, steadfastly gazing on him, as if inspired by the Deity, uttered these words:- O, most beloved Lord Jesus Christ, I return thee hearty thanks for having conferred on me the blessing of bringing forth a son, whom thou mayest think worthy of thy service. Another woman at Aberteivi, of a very different way of thinking, held her husband fast by his cloak and girdle, and publicly and audaciously prevented him from going to the archbishop to take the cross; but, three nights afterwards, she heard a terrible voice, saying, Thou hast taken away my servant from me, therefore what thou most lovest shall be taken away from thee. On her relating this vision to her husband, they were struck with mutual terror and amazement; and on falling asleep again, she unhappily overlaid her little boy, whom, with more affection than prudence, she had taken to bed with her. The husband, relating to the bishop of the diocese both the vision and its fatal prediction, took the cross, which his wife spontaneously sewed on her husband's arm.
Near the head of the bridge where the sermons were delivered, the people immediately marked out the site for a chapel , on a verdant plain, as a memorial of so great an event; intending that the altar should be placed on the spot where the archbishop stood while addressing the multitude; and it is well known that many miracles (the enumeration of which would be too tedious to relate) were performed on the crowds of sick people who resorted hither from different parts of the country.
Chapter 3: Of the river Teivi, Cardigan, and Emelyn
The noble river Teivi flows here, and abounds with the finest salmon, more than any other river of Wales; it has a productive fishery near Cilgerran, which is situated on the summit of a rock, at a place called Canarch Mawr, the ancient residence of St. Ludoc, where the river, falling from a great height, forms a cataract, which the salmon ascend, by leaping from the bottom to the top of a rock, which is about the height of the longest spear, and would appear wonderful, were it not the nature of that species of fish to leap....
The church dedicated to St. Ludoc , the mill , bridge , salmon leap, an orchard with a delightful garden, all stand together on a small plot of ground. The Teivi has another singular particularity, being the only river in Wales, or even in England, which has beavers; in Scotland they are said to be found in one river, but are very scarce...
We proceeded on our journey from Cilgerran towards Pont Steffan [Lampeter], leaving Crug Mawr, i.e. the great hill, near Aberteivi, on our left hand. On this spot Gruffydd, son of Rhys ap Tewdwr, soon after the death of King Henry I., by a furious onset gained a signal victory against the English army, which, by the murder of the illustrious Richard de Clare, near Abergevenny (before related), had lost its leader and chief. A tumulus is to be seen on the summit of the aforesaid hill, and the inhabitants affirm that it will adapt itself to persons of all stature and that if any armour is left there entire in the evening, it will be found, according to vulgar tradition, broken to pieces in the morning.
Chapter 4: Of the journey by Pont Steffan, the abbey of Stratflur, Landewi Brevi, and Lhanpadarn Vawr
A sermon having been preached on the following morning at Pont Steffan [Lampeter], by the archbishop and archdeacon, and also by two abbots of the Cistercian order, John of Albadomus, and Sisillus of Strata Florida, who faithfully attended us in those parts, and as far as North Wales, many persons were induced to take the cross.
We proceeded to Strata Florida, where we passed the night. On the following morning, having on our right the lofty mountains of Moruge, which in Welsh are called Ellennith, we were met near the side of a wood by Cyneuric son of Rhys, accompanied by a body of light-armed youths. This young man was of a fair complexion, with curled hair, tall and handsome; clothed only, according to the custom of his country, with a thin cloak and inner garment, his legs and feet, regardless of thorns and thistles were left bare; a man, not adorned by art, but nature; bearing in his presence an innate, not an acquired, dignity of manners. A sermon having been preached to these three young men, Gruffydd, Malgon, and Cyneuric, in the presence of their father, prince Rhys, and the brothers disputing about taking the cross, at length Malgon strictly promised that he would accompany the archbishop to the king's court, and would obey the king's and archbishop's counsel, unless prevented by them.
From thence we passed through Llanddewi Brefi, that is, the church of David of Brevi, situated on the summit of that hill which had formerly risen up under his feet whilst preaching, during the period of that celebrated synod, when all the bishops, abbots, and clergy of Wales, and many other persons, were collected thither on account of the Pelagian heresy, which, although formerly exploded from Britain by Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, had lately been revived in these parts. At this place David was reluctantly raised to the archbishopric, by the unanimous consent and election of the whole assembly, who by loud acclamations testified their admiration of so great a miracle. Dubricius had a short time before resigned to him this honour in due form at Caerleon, from which city the metropolitan see was transferred to St. David's.
Having rested that night at Llanbadarn Fawr, or the church of Paternus the Great , we attracted many persons to the service of Christ on the following morning. It is remarkable that this church, like many others in Wales and Ireland, has a lay abbot; for a bad custom has prevailed amongst the clergy, of appointing the most powerful people of a parish stewards, or, rather, patrons, of their churches; who, in process of time, from a desire of gain, have usurped the whole right, appropriating to their own use the possession of all the lands, leaving only to the clergy the altars, with their tenths and oblations, and assigning even these to their sons and relations in the church. Such defenders, or rather destroyers, of the church, have caused themselves to be called abbots, and presumed to attribute to themselves a title, as well as estates, to which they have no just claim. In this state we found the church of Llanbadarn, without a head. A certain old man, waxen old in iniquity (whose name was Eden Oen, son of Gwaithwoed), being abbot, and his sons officiating at the altar.
But in the reign of King Henry I., when the authority of the English prevailed in Wales, the monastery of St. Peter at Gloucester held quiet possession of this church; but after his death, the English being driven out, the monks were expelled from their cloisters, and their places supplied by the same violent intrusion of clergy and laity, which had formerly been practised. It happened that in the reign of King Stephen, who succeeded Henry I., a knight, born in Armorican Britain, having travelled through many parts of the world, from a desire of seeing different cities, and the manners of their inhabitants, came by chance to Llanbadarn. On a certain feast-day, whilst both the clergy and people were waiting for the arrival of the abbot to celebrate mass, he perceived a body of young men, armed, according to the custom of their country, approaching towards the church; and on enquiring which of them was the abbot, they pointed out to him a man walking foremost, with a long spear in his hand. Gazing on him with amazement, he asked, If the abbot had not another habit, or a different staff, from that which he now carried before him? On their answering, No! he replied, I have seen indeed and heard this day a wonderful novelty! and from that hour he returned home, and finished his labours and researches. This wicked people boasts, that a certain bishop of their church (for it formerly was a cathedral) was murdered by their predecessors; and on this account, chiefly, they ground their claims of right and possession. No public complaint having been made against their conduct, we have thought it more prudent to pass over, for the present, the enormities of this wicked race with dissimulation, than exasperate them by a further relation.
Chapter 5: Of the river Devi, and the land of the sons of Conan
Approaching to the river Devi, which divides North and South Wales, the bishop of St. David's, and Rhys the son of Gruffydd, who with a liberality peculiarly praiseworthy in so illustrious a prince, had accompanied us from the castle of Aberteivi, throughout all Cardiganshire, to this place, returned home. Having crossed the river in a boat, and quitted the diocese of St. David's, we entered the land of the sons of Conan, or Merionyth, the first province of Venedotia on that side of the country, and belonging to the bishopric of Bangor.
We slept that night at Tywyn. Early next morning, Gruffydd son of Conan came to meet us, humbly and devoutly asking pardon for having so long delayed his attention to the archbishop. On the same day, we ferried over the bifurcate river Maw, where Malgo, son of Rhys, who had attached himself to the archbishop, as a companion to the king's court, discovered a ford near the sea.
That night we lay at Llanfair, that is the church of St. Mary , in the province of Ardudwy. This territory of Conan, and particularly Merionyth, is the rudest and roughest district of all Wales; the ridges of its mountains are very high and narrow, terminating in sharp peaks, and so irregularly jumbled together, that if the shepherds conversing or disputing with each other from their summits, should agree to meet, they could scarcely effect their purpose in the course of the whole day. The lances of this country are very long; for as South Wales excels in the use of the bow, so North Wales is distinguished for its skill in the lance; insomuch that an iron coat of mail will not resist the stroke of a lance thrown at a small distance.
The next morning, the youngest son of Conan, named Meredyth, met us at the passage of a bridge , attended by his people, where many persons were signed with the cross; amongst whom was a fine young man of his suite, and one of his intimate friends; and Meredyth, observing that the cloak, on which the cross was to be sewed, appeared of too thin and of too common a texture, with a flood of tears, threw him down his own.
Chapter 6: Passage of Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bachan, and of Nevyn, Carnarvon, and Bangor
We continued our journey over the Traeth Mawr, and Traeth Bachan, that is, the greater and the smaller arm of the sea, where two stone castles have newly been erected ; one called Deudraeth [Castell Aber Îa?], belonging to the sons of Conan, situated in Evionyth, towards the northern mountains; the other named Carn Madryn [Carn Fadryn], the property of the sons of Owen, built on the other side of the river towards the sea, on the head-land Lleyn. Traeth, in the Welsh language, signifies a tract of sand flooded by the tides, and left bare when the sea ebbs. We had before passed over the noted rivers, the Dissenith, between the Maw and Traeth Mawr, and the Arthro, between the Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bachan.
We slept that night at Nefyn, on the eve of Palm Sunday, where the archdeacon, after long inquiry and research, is said to have found Merlin Sylvestris.
Beyond Lleyn, there is a small island inhabited by very religious monks, called Caelibes, or Colidei. This island, either from the wholesomeness of its climate, owing to its vicinity to Ireland, or rather from some miracle obtained by the merits of the saints, has this wonderful peculiarity, that the oldest people die first, because diseases are uncommon, and scarcely any die except from extreme old age. Its name is Enlli in the Welsh, and Bardsey in the Saxon language; and very many bodies of saints are said to be buried there, and amongst them that of Daniel, bishop of Bangor.
The archbishop having, by his sermon the next day, induced many persons to take the cross, we proceeded towards Banchor, passing through Caernarvon, that is, the castle of Arvon; it is called Arvon, the province opposite to Mon, because it is so situated with respect to the island of Mona. Our road leading us to a steep valley, with many broken ascents and descents, we dismounted from our horses, and proceeded on foot, rehearsing, as it were, by agreement, some experiments of our intended pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Having traversed the valley, and reached the opposite side with considerable fatigue, the archbishop, to rest himself and recover his breath, sat down on an oak which had been torn up by the violence of the winds; and relaxing into a pleasantry highly laudable in a person of his approved gravity, thus addressed his attendants: Who amongst you, in this company, can now delight our wearied ears by whistling? which is not easily done by people out of breath. He affirming that he could, if he thought fit, the sweet notes are heard, in an adjoining wood, of a bird, which some said was a woodpecker, and others, more correctly, an aureolus. The woodpecker is called in French, spec, and with its strong bill, perforates oak trees; the other bird in called aureolus, from the golden tints of its feathers, and at certain seasons utters a sweet whistling note instead of a song. Some persons having remarked, that the nightingale was never heard in this country, the archbishop, with a significant smile, replied, The nightingale followed wise counsel, and never came into Wales; but we, unwise counsel, who have penetrated and gone through it.
We remained that night at Bangor, the metropolitan see of North Wales, and were well entertained by the bishop of the diocese. On the next day, mass being celebrated by the archbishop before the high altar , the bishop of that see, at the instance of the archbishop and other persons, more importunate than persuasive, was compelled to take the cross, to the general concern of all his people of both sexes, who expressed their grief on this occasion by loud and lamentable vociferations.
Chapter 7: The island of Mona
From hence, we crossed over a small arm of the sea to the island of Mona [Anglesey], distant from thence about two miles, where Roderic, the younger son of Owen, attended by nearly all the inhabitants of the island, and many others from the adjacent countries, came in a devout manner to meet us. Confession having been made in a place near the shore, where the surrounding rocks seemed to form a natural theatre, many persons were induced to take the cross, by the persuasive discourses of the archbishop, and Alexander, our interpreter, archdeacon of that place, and of Sisillus, abbot of Stratflur.
Many chosen youths of the family of Roderic were seated on an opposite rock, and not one of them could be prevailed upon to take the cross, although the archbishop and others most earnestly exhorted them, but in vain, by an address particularly directed to them. It came to pass within three days, as if by divine vengeance, that these young men, with many others, pursued some robbers of that country. Being discomfited and put to flight, some were slain, others mortally wounded, and the survivors voluntarily assumed that cross they had before despised. Roderic, also, who a short time before had incestuously married the daughter of Rhys, related to him by blood in the third degree, in order, by the assistance of that prince, to be better able to defend himself against the sons of his brothers, whom he had disinherited, not paying attention to the wholesome admonitions of the archbishop on this subject, was a little while afterwards dispossessed of all his lands by their means; thus deservedly meeting with disappointment from the very source from which he expected support.
The island of Mona contains three hundred and forty-three vills, considered equal to three cantreds. Cantred, a compound word from the British and Irish languages, is a portion of land equal to one hundred vills. There are three islands contiguous to Britain, on its different sides, which are said to be nearly of an equal size - the Isle of Wight on the south, Mona on the west, and Mania (Man) on the north-west side. The two first are separated from Britain by narrow channels; the third is much further removed, lying almost midway between the countries of Ulster in Ireland and Galloway in Scotland. The island of Mona is an arid and stony land, rough and unpleasant in its appearance, similar in its exterior qualities to the land of Pebidion, near St. David's, but very different as to its interior value. For this island is incomparably more fertile in corn than any other part of Wales, from whence arose the British proverb, Mon mam Cymbry , Mona mother of Wales; and when the crops have been defective in all other parts of the country, this island, from the richness of its soil and abundant produce, has been able to supply all Wales....
There is also in this island the church of St. Tefredaucus [St Tyfrydog at Llandyfrydog], into which Hugh, earl of Shrewsbury, (who, together with the earl of Chester, had forcibly entered Anglesey), on a certain night put some dogs, which on the following morning were found mad, and he himself died within a month; for some pirates, from the Orcades, having entered the port of the island in their long vessels, the earl, apprised of their approach, boldly met them, rushing into the sea upon a spirited horse. The commander of the expedition, Magnus, standing on the prow of the foremost ship, aimed an arrow at him; and, although the earl was completely equipped in a coat of mail, and guarded in every part of his body except his eyes, the unlucky weapon struck his right eye, and, entering his brain, he fell a lifeless corpse into the sea. The victor, seeing him in this state, proudly and exultingly exclaimed, in the Danish tongue, Leit loup, let him leap; and from this time the power of the English ceased in Anglesey.
In our times, also, when Henry II. was leading an army into North Wales, where he had experienced the ill fortune of war in a narrow, woody pass near Coleshulle, he sent a fleet into Anglesey, and began to plunder the aforesaid church , and other sacred places. But the divine vengeance pursued him, for the inhabitants rushed upon the invaders, few against many, unarmed against armed; and having slain great numbers, and taken many prisoners, gained a most complete and bloody victory. For, as our Topography of Ireland testifies, that the Welsh and Irish are more prone to anger and revenge than any other nations, the saints, likewise, of those countries appear to be of a more vindictive nature.
Two noble persons, and uncles of the author of this book, were sent thither by the king; namely, Henry, son of King Henry I., and uncle to King Henry II., by Nest, daughter of Rhys, prince of South Wales; and Robert Fitz-Stephen, brother to Henry, a man who in our days, shewing the way to others, first attacked Ireland, and whose fame is recorded in our Vaticinal History. Henry, actuated by too much valour, and ill supported, was pierced by a lance, and fell amongst the foremost, to the great concern of his attendants; and Robert, despairing of being able to defend himself, was badly wounded, and escaped with difficulty to the ships.
There is a small island [Puffin Island; Priestholm], almost adjoining to Anglesey, which is inhabited by hermits, living by manual labour, and serving God. It is remarkable that when, by the influence of human passions, any discord arises among them, all their provisions are devoured and infected by a species of small mice, with which the island abounds; but when the discord ceases, they are no longer molested...This island is called in Welsh, Ynys Lenach, or the ecclesiastical island, because many bodies of saints are deposited there, and no woman is suffered to enter it...
Chapter 8: Passage of the river Conwy in a boat, and of Dinas Emrys
On our return to Bangor from Mona, we were shown the tombs of prince Owen and his younger brother Cadwalader, who were buried in a double vault before the high altar, although Owen, on account of his public incest with his cousin-german, had died excommunicated by the blessed martyr St. Thomas, the bishop of that see having been enjoined to seize a proper opportunity of removing his body from the church.
We continued our journey on the sea coast, confined on one side by steep rocks, and by the sea on the other, towards the river Conwy, which preserves its waters unadulterated by the sea. Not far from the source of the river Conwy, at the head of the Eryri mountain, which on this side extends itself towards the north, stands Dinas Emrys, that is, the promontory of Ambrosius, where Merlin uttered his prophecies, whilst Vortigern was seated upon the bank...
Chapter 9: Of the mountains of Eryri
I must not pass over in silence the mountains called by the Welsh Eryri, but by the English Snowdon, or Mountains of Snow, which gradually increasing from the land of the sons of Conan, and extending themselves northwards near Deganwy, seem to rear their lofty summits even to the clouds, when viewed from the opposite coast of Anglesey. They are said to be of so great an extent, that according to an ancient proverb, As Mona could supply corn for all the inhabitants of Wales, so could the Eryri mountains afford sufficient pasture for all the herds, if collected together...
Chapter 10: Of the passage by Deganwy and Ruthlan, and the see of Lanelwy, and of Coleshulle
Having crossed the river Conwy, or rather an arm of the sea, under Deganwy, leaving the Cistercian monastery of Conwy [Aberconwy] on the western bank of the river to our right hand, we arrived at Ruddlan , a noblecastle on the river Cloyd, belonging to David, the eldest son of Owen where, at the earnest invitation of David himself, we were handsomely entertained that night....
Many persons in the morning having been persuaded to dedicate themselves to the service of Christ, we proceeded from Ruthlan to the small cathedral church of Lanelwy [St Asaph]; from whence (the archbishop having celebrated mass) we continued our journey through a country rich in minerals of silver, where money is sought in the bowels of the earth, to the little cell of Basingwerk, where we passed the night.
The following day we traversed a long quicksand, and not without some degree of apprehension, leaving the woody district of Coleshulle, or hill of coal, on our right hand, where Henry II., who in our time, actuated by youthful and indiscreet ardour, made a hostile irruption into Wales, and presuming to pass through that narrow and woody defile, experienced a signal defeat, and a very heavy loss of men.
Chapter 11: Of the passage of the River Dee, and of Chester
Having crossed the river Dee below Chester, (which the Welsh call Doverdwy), on the third day before Easter, or the day of absolution (holy Thursday), we reached Chester. As the river Wye towards the south separates Wales from England, so the Dee near Chester forms the northern boundary. ...
Chester boasts of being the burial-place of Henry, a Roman emperor, who, after having imprisoned his carnal and spiritual father, pope Paschal, gave himself up to penitence; and, becoming a voluntary exile in this country, ended his days in solitary retirement. It is also asserted, that the remains of Harold are here deposited. He was the last of the Saxon kings in England, and as a punishment for his perjury, was defeated in the battle of Hastings, fought against the Normans. Having received many wounds, and lost his left eye by an arrow in that engagement, he is said to have escaped to these parts, where, in holy conversation, leading the life of an anchorite, and being a constant attendant at one of the churches of this city, he is believed to have terminated his days happily. The truth of these two circumstances was declared (and not before known) by the dying confession of each party...
Chapter 12: Of the journey by the White Monastery, Oswaldestree, Powys, and Shrewsbury
The feast of Easter having been observed with due solemnity, and many persons, by the exhortations of the archbishop, signed with the cross, we directed our way from Chester to the White Monastery [Whitchurch] and from thence towards Oswaldestree [Oswestry]; where, on the very borders of Powys, we were met by Gruffydd son of Madoc, and Elissa, princes of that country, and many others; some few of whom having been persuaded to take the cross (for several of the multitude had been previously signed by Reiner, the bishop of that place), Gruffydd, prince of the district, publicly adjured, in the presence of the archbishop, his cousin-german, Angharad, daughter of prince Owen, whom, according to the vicious custom of the country, he had long considered as his wife.
We slept at Oswaldestree [Oswestry], or the tree of St. Oswald, and were most sumptuously entertained after the English manner, by William Fitz-Alan, a noble and liberal young man. A short time before, whilst Reiner was preaching, a robust youth being earnestly exhorted to follow the example of his companions in taking the cross, answered, I will not follow your advice until, with this lance which I bear in my hand, I shall have avenged the death of my lord, alluding to Owen, son of Madoc, a distinguished warrior, who had been maliciously and treacherously slain by Owen Cyfeilioc, his cousin-german; and while he was thus venting his anger and revenge, and violently brandishing his lance, it suddenly snapped asunder, and fell disjointed in several pieces to the ground, the handle only remaining in his hand. Alarmed and astonished at this omen, which he considered as a certain signal for his taking the cross, he voluntarily offered his services.
In this third district of Wales, called Powys, there are most excellent studs put apart for breeding, and deriving their origin from some fine Spanish horses, which Robert de Belesme, earl of Shrewsbury, brought into this country: on which account the horses sent from hence are remarkable for their majestic proportion and astonishing fleetness.
Here King Henry II. entered Powys, in our days, upon an expensive, though fruitless, expedition. Having dismembered the hostages whom he had previously received, he was compelled, by a sudden and violent fall of rain, to retreat with his army. On the preceding day, the chiefs of the English army had burned some of the Welsh churches , with the villages and churchyards; upon which the sons of Owen the Great, with their light-armed troops, stirred up the resentment of their father and the other princes of the country, declaring that they would never in future spare any churches of the English. When nearly the whole army was on the point of assenting to this determination, Owen, a man of distinguished wisdom and moderation - the tumult being in some degree subsided - thus spake:
My opinion, indeed, by no means agrees with yours, for we ought to rejoice at this conduct of our adversary; for, unless supported by divine assistance, we are far inferior to the English; and they, by their behaviour, have made God their enemy, who is able most powerfully to avenge both himself and us. We therefore most devoutly promise God that we will henceforth pay greater reverence than ever to churches and holy places.
After which, the English army, on the following night, experienced (as has before been related) the divine vengeance.
From Oswaldestree, we directed our course towards Shrewsbury, which is nearly surrounded by the river Severn, where we remained a few days to rest and refresh ourselves; and where many people were induced to take the cross, through the elegant sermons of the archbishop and archdeacon. We also excommunicated Owen de Cevelioc, because he alone, amongst the Welsh princes, did not come to meet the archbishop with his people....
Chapter 13: Of the journey by Wenloch, Brumfeld, the castle of Ludlow, and Leominster, to Hereford
From Shrewsbury, we continued our journey towards Wenloch, by a narrow and rugged way, called Evil-street... From Wenloch, we passed by the little cell of Brumfeld , the noble castle of Ludlow , through Leominster to Hereford leaving on our right hand the districts of Melenyth and Elvel; thus (describing as it were a circle) we came to the same point from which we had commenced this laborious journey through Wales.
During this long and laudable legation, about three thousand men were signed with the cross; well skilled in the use of arrows and lances, and versed in military matters; impatient to attack the enemies of the faith; profitably and happily engaged for the service of Christ, if the expedition of the Holy Cross had been forwarded with an alacrity equal to the diligence and devotion with which the forces were collected. But by the secret, though never unjust, judgment of God, the journey of the Roman emperor was delayed, and dissensions arose amongst our kings. The premature and fatal hand of death arrested the king of Sicily, who had been the foremost sovereign in supplying the holy land with corn and provisions during the period of their distress. In consequence of his death, violent contentions arose amongst our princes respecting their several rights to the kingdom; and the faithful beyond sea suffered severely by want and famine, surrounded on all sides by enemies, and most anxiously waiting for supplies. But as affliction may strengthen the understanding, as gold is tried by fire, and virtue may be confirmed in weakness, these things are suffered to happen; since adversity (as Gregory testifies) opposed to good prayers is the probation of virtue, not the judgment of reproof. For who does not know how fortunate a circumstance it was that Paul went to Italy, and suffered so dreadful a shipwreck? But the ship of his heart remained unbroken amidst the waves of the sea.
Chapter 14: A description of Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury
Let it not be thought superfluous to describe the exterior and inward qualities of that person, the particulars of whose embassy, and as it were holy peregrination, we have briefly and succinctly related. He was a man of a dark complexion, of an open and venerable countenance, of a moderate stature, a good person, and rather inclined to be thin than corpulent. He was a modest and grave man, of so great abstinence and continence, that ill report scarcely ever presumed to say any thing against him; a man of few words; slow to anger, temperate and moderate in all his passions and affections; swift to hear, slow to speak; he was from an early age well instructed in literature, and bearing the yoke of the Lord from his youth, by the purity of his morals became a distinguished luminary to the people; wherefore voluntarily resigning the honour of the archlevite, which he had canonically obtained, and despising the pomps and vanities of the world, he assumed with holy devotion the habit of the Cistercian order; and as he had been formerly more than a monk in his manners, within the space of a year he was appointed abbot, and in a few years afterwards preferred first to a bishopric, and then to an archbishopric; and having been found faithful in a little, had authority given him over much. But, as Cicero says, " Nature had made nothing entirely perfect;" when he came into power, not laying aside that sweet innate benignity which he had always shewn when a private man, sustaining his people with his staff rather than chastising them with rods, feeding them as it were with the milk of a mother, and not making use of the scourges of the father, he incurred public scandal for his remissness. So great was his lenity that he put an end to all pastoral rigour; and was a better monk than abbot, a better bishop than archbishop. Hence pope Urban addressed him; " Urban, servant of the servants of God, to the most fervent monk, to the warm abbot, to the luke-warm bishop, to the remiss archbishop, health, etc."
This second successor to the martyr Thomas, having heard of the insults offered to our Saviour and his holy cross, was amongst the first who signed themselves with the cross, and manfully assumed the office of preaching its service both at home and in the most remote parts of the kingdom. Pursuing his journey to the Holy Land, he embarked on board a vessel at Marseilles, and landed safely in a port at Tyre, from whence he proceeded to Acre, where he found our army both attacking and attacked, our forces dispirited by the defection of the princes, and thrown into a state of desolation and despair; fatigued by long expectation of supplies, greatly afflicted by hunger and want, and distempered by the inclemency of the air: finding his end approaching, he embraced his fellow subjects, relieving their wants by liberal acts of charity and pious exhortations, and by the tenor of his life and actions strengthened them in the faith; whose ways, life, and deeds, may he who is alone the " way, the truth, and the life," the way without offence, the truth without doubt, and the life without end, direct in truth, together with the whole body of the faithful, and for the glory of his name and the palm of faith which he hath planted, teach their hands to war, and their fingers to fight.
Gerald of Wales, or Giraldus Cambrensis, was born at Manorbier in Pembrokshire in around 1146. His real name was Gerald de Barri, and he was of mixed Welsh and Norman ancestry. His father, William de Barry, was a leading Welsh nobleman. His uncle was Bishop of St. David's and he received a religious education. He became chaplain to King Henry II of England in 1184. He accompanied Prince John on his expedition to Ireland in 1184, which led to his first book, Topographia Hibernica (1188). In 1188 he accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin of Exeter, on a tour of Wales recruiting for the Third Crusade, which led to him writing the Itinerarium Cambriae (1191) and the Descriptio Cambriae (1194). He died in about 1223.