GIRALDUS CAMBRENSIS, so called from the country of which he was a native, was born about the year 1146, and belonged to one of the most distinguished families in South Wales. A Norman, or Anglo-Norman, chieftain had established himself in that district, and left to his family a name taken from the little island of Barri, on the coast of Glamorganshire. William de Barri, the head of this family in the reign of king Stephen, was lord of the princely castle of Manorbeer, in Pembrokeshire, and became allied by marriage with one of the most remarkable families in Wales. Rhys ap Tudor, prince of South Wales in the reign of William Rufus, had a daughter named Nesta, celebrated for her beauty, and for other accomplishments, who became the concubine of king Henry I., and was subsequently married to Gerald de Windsor, castellan of Pembroke. From this marriage sprung the illustrious family of Fitzgerald. William de Barri, just mentioned, married Angharad, the daughter of Gerald de Windsor and the princess Nesta, whereby the Barris became related both to the powerful Norman family of the Fitzgeralds, and to the princes of South Wales and the numerous families of Welsh chieftains who claimed kindred with them. Giraldus, the author of the historical treatises, of which we now publish a translation, was the youngest of the sons of William de Barri and Angharad; and was no doubt named after his maternal grandfather, the castellan of Pembroke. In


one of the books translated in the present volume, Giraldui relates how his cousins effected that extraordinary series of exploits, the conquest of Ireland; and it was the unity of family of the conquerors, and their great connections in Wales, which made them objects of jealousy, for their success, to king Henry. The same feeling of jealousy was extended to Giraldus himself; and, according to his own statement, stood in the way of his advancement to the bishopric of St. David's; and this circumstance will explain many sentiments expressed by him in various parts of these writings.

Giraldus was born in the castle of Manorbeer, and, as he says, displayed in his childhood a love for literature, and for the ecclesiastical profession, which led his father to call him "his little bishop". His education was entrusted to the care of his mother's brother, David Fitzgerald, bishop of St. David's, with whom he remained until he had reached his twentieth year; and then he repaired to Paris, and gained great distinction in that University. He returned to England in 1172, and obtained ecclesiastical preferment; but his activity in correcting the abuses in the church gained him many enemies. In 1176, the see of St. David's became vacant, and the chapter chose Giraldus as their bishop; but the king refused his consent to his election, and Giraldus and the canons were compelled to yield. Peter de Leia, prior of Wenlock, was chosen in his place. He returned to Paris, and continued his career in that celebrated University, where he rose to great honours; but he came home again in 1180, repaired to his archdeaconry of Brecknock, and was appointed administrator of St. David's during a temporary absence of the bishop. During the few years preceding, the first conquest of Ireland had taken place. King Henry, visiting the borders of Wales in 1184, became acquainted with Giraldus, and, admiring his learning, took him to court. He employed him on several


occasions in diplomatic negociations with the Welsh, made him one of his chaplains, appointed him preceptor to his son, prince John, and, in 1185, sent him with the young prince to Ireland, in the quality of secretary.

Giraldus was evidently a zealous, if a rather credulous, observer and collector of facts. It was during this visit to Ireland that he occupied himself diligently in collecting materials for a description of that country, and remained there for that purpose some time after the departure of prince John. The result was his "Topography of Ireland", which he began to compose soon after his return to Wales, a little after the Easter of 1186, and completed in 1187. Its completion gave occasion for a remarkable display of the writer's vanity and love of ostentation. He recited his book, which was divided into three parts, which he called by the then fashionable term of distinctions, before a public audience of the university of Oxford on three successive days; and, to give more effect to this proceeding, he gave on each day a sumptuous feast. The poor people of the town were entertained on the first day; the doctors and students of greatest distinction on the second; and on the third the other scholars and the burghers and soldiers. Giraldus was evidently very proud of the sensation he had made on these occasions; for in one of his books (that De Gestis Suis, lib. ii. c. 16), he declares that it was worthy of the classic ages of the poets of antiquity, and that nothing like it had ever been seen in England. Its effect appears to have been to increase his celebrity.

In the latter part of this year news arrived of the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin, and all Western Europe was thrown into a state of great excitement. Preparations were made on every side for a new crusade; and Henry II., though too prudent a monarch to be led away by the enthusiasm to which it gave rise, could not avoid seeming to encourage it. He accordingly proclaimed the crusade; and Baldwin,


archbiship of Canterbury, was sent to preach it in Wales. Giraldus was appointed to accompany the archbishop, in which there was no doubt a stroke of policy; for our author was then known throughout Wales as the champion of the rights and independence of the Welsh church against the pretensions of the metropolitan see of Canterbury; and it was thought that, by joining him in the mission, the fears and suspicions of all who might be inclined to look with distrust upon the visit of the English metropolitan would be silenced. It is probable, indeed, that the presence of Giraldus, the Welshman who had morally been raised to the see of St. David's, did give favour in the eyes of the Welsh to archbishop Baldwin's preaching; although the vanity of the archdeacon led him to believe that his own marvellous eloquence was the chief element in their success. This expedition is the subject of one of the most interesting of his books, the "Itinerary of Wales", which was compiled with the avowed intention of immortalizing the acts of the archbishop, and especially of his companion, the archdeacon.

In the year 1189, Giraldus accompanied Henry II. on his last expedition into France, and he appears to have been present at that king's death. The new king, Richard I., shewed the confidence he placed in our writer, by sending him immediately to Wales, to persuade his countrymen to abstain from revolt, and he appears to have fulfilled his mission with success. We find a further proof of the king's consideration, in the circumstance, that, when Richard departed for the Holy Land, he appointed Giraldus, who had obtained a dispensation from the crusade, to be coadjutor with the bishop of Ely, in the administration of the kingdom. Our author was now so confident in his expectation of obtaining, through the king's favour, the high ecclesiastical preferment to which he aspired, that he refused the lesser bishoprics of Bangor, in 1190, and Landaff, in 1191, but his


hopes seem to have met with continued disappointment, until, at length, he quitted the court, and, being prevented from going to France by the breaking out of war between the two countries, he retired to Lincoln, where he gave himself to his old literary occupations. And he remained in this retirement several years. In 1198, Peter de Leia died, and the bishopric of St. David's thus again became vacant. Giraldus was elected by the chapter, and opposed by the archbishop of Canterbury, Hubert Walter, who refused to accept the nomination on the same grounds which had been previously alleged by king Henry II., that it would be dangerous to the English supremacy to appoint a Welshman to the metropolitan see of Wales. Meanwhile king Richard died, and king John, whose favour Giraldus enjoyed, gave him reason to expect that his election would now be confirmed; but the king yielded to the arguments of the archbishop, and, after a rather obstinate struggle on the part of the canons of St. David's to sustain their choice, the election of Giraldus was set aside, and the bishopric of St. David's was finally conferred on Geoffrey de Henelawe, in 1203. In the course of this dispute, in which an appeal was made to the pope, Giraldus gave so much offence to king John, that that monarch proclaimed him an enemy to the crown, accusing him of a design to raise a rebellion among the Welsh, and seized upon his lands. He, however, made his peace with the king, after the election of Geoffrey de Henelawe; but, having resigned his archdeaconry in favour of one of his nephews, and retaining only his two church preferments of canon of Hereford, and rector of Chesterton, in Oxfordshire, he retired finally from public life. The see of St. David's was again vacant in 1215, and was offered to Giraldus, but he was now unwilling to accept it. We know nothing of his history during the rest of his life, but he appears to have died in the year 1223. Such was Giraldus de Barri, or Cambrensis, the writer of


the four works translated in the present volume, and of many others, most of which have been preserved. In these writings he appears to us in the character of what we may truly describe as an elegant scholar, deeply learned in the learning of his day, and widely read in classical and medieval literature. He was evidently a diligent collector of facts, but he was at the same time a man of extraordinary credulity, as all who read the following treatises will soon discover. Yet the information he gives us is almost always curious, and we feel in every instance that it is the bona fide result either of his own observations, or of his own inquiries. In common with Walter Mapes, and others of his contemporaries, he was fond of anecdote, and the continual introduction of popular stories into his writings not only render them extremely interesting, but give us very curious pictures of life and manners in the twelfth century. Our readers will soon detect another characteristic of Giraldus Cambrensis, which is not less apparent than his credulity - I need hardly say I mean his vanity. He seldom omits an opportunity of speaking of his own writings, and almost always in a laudatory vein - of talking of his own eloquence, of which he was evidently proud - or of setting forth his own deeds with the utmost degree of self-satisfaction. He also affects humour and wit; but this consists too often in puns and jokes upon words which tend rather to confuse than to amuse the reader. With all these different qualities, Giraldus Cambrensis is one of the most agreeable prose writers of the middle ages.

The four books contained in the present volume are those which may more strictly be called the historical treatises of Giraldus Cambrensis. The Topography of Ireland, as already stated, was completed in the year 1187, and was dedicated to king Henry II. The History of the Conquest of Ireland appears to have been commenced immediately after the completion of the Topography, and was dedicated


to Richard, count of Poictiers, then the heir to the Crown of England, which he inherited some two years afterwards as Richard I. In the preface to the description of Wales, he informs us that this history was the labour of two years, so that he must have completed it just before that prince ascended the throne. At a later period he published a revised edition of this book, and dedicated it to king John. The Itinerary through Wales, which was intended to commemorate the mission of archbishop Baldwin to preach the third crusade to the Welshmen, and the part which Giraldus himself acted in it, was dedicated to archbishop Langton, and therefore cannot have been completed before the year 1207, when that prelate was elected to the see of Canterbury. The Description of Wales, or the Topographia Cambria, appears to have preceded, in the date of its composition, the Itinerary, as the first edition was dedicated to Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, who occupied that see from 1186 to 1203; but a second and probably enlarged edition was subsequently published, and dedicated, like the Itinerary, to archbishop Langton. In the account of his own writings, given in a letter addressed to the chapter of Hereford, Giraldus tells us, that in order to make his country better known, as well as to occupy his leisure, and exercise his talents, he had drawn "a map of the whole of Wales, with its lofty mountains and dense forests, its principal lakes, rivers, and castles, many cathedral churches and monasteries, especially those of the Cistercian order", and that this was executed in a small space, on a single leaf, but perfectly distinct and clear. The loss of so singularly curious a record is greatly to be regretted. It appears that Giraldus had already imbibed the taste for writing topographies when he composed that of Ireland, for in various passages in that and his other works he announces his intention of writing similar works for Wales, England, and Scotland. One only of these plans he fulfilled, when he published that


of Waies, the extent and plan of which differ very considerably from those of the Topography of Ireland. We have every reason for believing that the Topographies of England and Scotland, which appear to have been delayed until the close of his life, were never written. It is certain that no such works are known to have existed.

It only remains to add, that the translations of the Topography of Ireland and the Vaticinal History of the Conquest are the work of Thomas Forester, Esq., well known by many excellent translations of our medieval chroniclers and historians, published in Bohn's Antiquarian Library. They are the first complete translations of these books that have ever appeared. The translations published by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, in 1806, have been adopted for the Itinerary and Description of Wales. All have been carefully revised on the original texts by the editor. A large portion of the notes on the Topography of Ireland are by the editor, while the rest, with nearly all those on the history, are by the translator. Sir Richard Colt Hoare took the Itinerary as a frame on which to build a large work on the local history and antiquities of Wales, and it was neither possible nor desirable to give the whole of his notes in the present volume. In abridging them the editor has retained chiefly that part which related to the history of the different places visited by Griraldus down to the time of his visit, and to the description of scenery or antiquarian remains. The words of Sir R.C. Hoare are retained, with the exception of a few necessary alterations and corrections; and wherever the writer speaks in the first person, the reader will understand that Sir Richard alone is responsible for the statement or opinion.






WHEN I reflect that our life is short and fleeting, I am filled with admiration of the noble aims of those men of genius who, before their path for the future was yet plain, resolved on making it their principal object to leave behind them some excellent memorial, by which they might secure enduring fame, and at least live in after-times, when their brief span of existence had ended. Thus we read in the books of celebrated poets:

"Denique, si quis adhuc praetendit nubila livor,
Occidet; et meriti post me referentur honores". [1]

"Should clouds of envy still around me spread,
Harmless on me their venom will be shed,
And honour's meed be mine, when numbered with the dead".

And elsewhere:

"Quaque patet domitis Romana potentia terris,
Oro legar populi, perque omnia saecula, fama,
Si quid habent veri vatum praesagia, vivam". [2]

"Far as the power of Rome the world obeys,
All climes and nations shall peruse my lays;
And, if inspired poets can divine,
Renown, through endless ages, shall be mine".

This was the first, and main, incentive with the greatest authors to undertake their works. There was another, second indeed in merit as well as in order, namely, the

[1] Statius, Thebaid, li. 818, 19.

[2] Ovid. Met. iv. 877-9.


patronage, reward, and encouragement of illustrious princes. For honours are the nurses of the liberal arts:

"Nam si Virgilio puer et tolerabile desit
Hospitium, caderent omnes a crinibus hydrae". [1]

"The snakes, had Virgil no Mecaenas found,
Shook from the Furies' head, had dropt upon the ground".

And again:

"Quis locus ingenio, nisi cum se carmine solo
Vexant, et dominis Cyrrhae Nisaeque feruntur
Pectora nostra, duas non admittentia curas". [2]

"What room for fancy say, unless the mind,
And all its thoughts, to poetry resigned,
Be hurried with resistless force along
By the two kindred powers of wine and song".

The philosophy, however, which loves a happy mean and modest independence, neither revelling in wealth, nor exposed to poverty, seems to have been condemned by Solomon: "Give me, O Lord, neither riches nor poverty, but only what things are necessary for subsistence". For, although mediocrity is not allowable in poets,

"Non dii, non homines, non concessere columnae"; [3] "Which gods, nor men, nor critics will permit";

still, if their wits be slender, there is no reason why they should not possess a moderate competence.

When, therefore, at any former period, the last mentioned inducement to write ceased, poetry began to fail. Not, indeed, that poetry was altogether lost, or philosophy extinct; nor did the imperishable records of glorious deeds ever fall into oblivion. Letters were not wanting, but lettered princes. The liberal arts had not disappeared, but the honours which ought to attend them were withheld. There would be no lack of eminent writers at the present day, if there were none of enlightened rulers. Give but a Pyrrhus, and you will have a Homer; a Pompey, and you will have a Tully; a Caius and Augustus, and a Virgil and Horace will follow in course. While, then, in our case, the second motive for writing fails for want of patrons, the first and most powerful of those I have mentioned urges me on. For

[1] Juv. Sat. vii. 69, 70.

[2] Ib. vii. 64-67.

[3] Hor. Ars Poet, 372.


nothing can better tend to kindle the sparks of mental vigour, and fan the innate fire into a flame, than that, supported by so many and such great authorities, and borne, as it were, upon their shoulders, we may rise to eminence by the aid of their manifold grandeur, if only we have confidence in ourselves. Nothing is so great a hindrance to bold attempts as diffidence. Despair of success is fatal to all efforts for obtaining it; so that many men of praiseworthy talent and learning have for this reason lived in idleness and seclusion, and while they shrunk from proving their abilities by active exertion, their brilliant merits remained hidden. Hence it happens that numbers of men of the greatest learning grow old without knowing their own powers; and turning the force of their genius to no account, for want of vigour of mind, perish like the beasts, and their names are lost in oblivion.

Since, then, "there is little difference between powers not called into action and buried in sloth"; since "fear is the token of a degenerate mind"; "a work well begun is half ended"; and "fortune favours the brave"; I have resolved on writing, preferring rather to incur the ridicule of the envious and malicious, than to seem in the judgment of worthy persons to shrink from my task through fear. Nor am I deterred by the example of Cicero, who says: "I do not compose a poem on that subject, because I cannot write such verses as I could wish, and those which I can I am unwilling to write". My own determination is this, and on this subject it is very decided

"Cum neque chorda sonum reddat, quern vult manus et mens,
[Poscentique gravem persaepe remittit acutum:] Nec semper feriet, quodcunque minabitur arcus". [1]

"For oft the strings the intended sound refuse:
In vain his tuneful hand the master tries;
He asks a flat and hears a sharp arise;
Nor always will the bow, though famed for art,
With speed unerring wing the threatening dart".

If I cannot write as well as I would, I will at least write according to the best of my ability. Devoting myself, therefore, to a task requiring long and close application,

[1] Hor. Ars Poet. 347-9.


shall I be esteemed presumptuous or provident, exposing myself to the shafts of envious malice while I live, in the hope of possibly achieving a glorious reputation when my days are ended?

After long musing on this subject, and after anxiously revolving it in my mind, at last it occurred to me that there was one corner of the earth, Ireland, which, from its position on the furthest borders of the globe, had been neglected by others. Not that it had been left altogether untouched, but no writer had hitherto comprehensively treated of it.

But it may be asked, "Can any good come from Ireland"? "Will its mountains drop sweetness, and its vallies flow with milk and honey"? Let us, then, endeavour to suck honey out of the rock, and draw oil from the flint. Let us follow the example of great orators, who, in an admirable manner, most polished the shafts of their eloquence, when the poverty of their subject required it to be elevated by the superiority of their style.

Et ferat invalidae robur facundia causae.

It behoved them, therefore, to lavish the graces of elocution on cases which were in themselves barren of interest, that, where reasoning little availed, language might do its best. For such is the effect, such the power of eloquence, that there is nothing so humble which it cannot exalt, nothing so copious which it cannot amplify, nothing so obscure which it cannot clear up, nothing so clear which it cannot illustrate. For, as the noble senator says in his Paradoxes: "There is nothing so incredible that it cannot be made probable by the manner of putting it, nothing so rude and barbarous that a brilliant oratory cannot ornament and polish". But what can a discourse which has but a slender pith of sense, a barren waste of words, offer to erudite ears, and to men of the highest eloquence? For it is useless, and altogether superfluous, to address the eloquent in barren phrases, or to set before the learned things which every one knows. What sort of sounds would the cackling goose litter among tuneful swans? Are we, then, to publish what is new, or what is already well known? Men recoil with disgust from what is trite and common, while, on the other hand, novelties require the support of authority.


For, as Pliny says, "it is a difficult matter to give novelty to old subjects, authority to new; to embellish what is threadbare, shed grace on what is out of fashion, light on obscurities, give confidence in what is doubtful, and nature to all".

Notwithstanding, it will be my endeavour, in the best manner I can, to rouse the reader's attention, by setting before him some new things, either not before related or very briefly noticed; exhibiting to him the topography of Ireland in this little work of mine, as in a clear mirror, so that its features may be open to the inspection of all the world.

I propose, therefore, to take, at least, a distinct view of this most remote island, both as regards its situation and character, explaining its peculiarities, so long hidden under the veil of antiquity, and searching out both the qualities and defects of almost all things which nature has produced there, both for the ornament of the better class and the use of the lower orders. Besides this, I propose to unravel the stupendous wonders of nature herself, to trace the descent of the various tribes from their origin, and to describe from my own knowledge the manners and customs of many men. And since the country of which we treat is backward and feeble, it will be no small satisfaction to studious minds to survey, at least in thought, our better part of the world and its condition, having all things made easy to be understood.

This work is divided into three parts. The first treats of the situation of Ireland, and its locality in reference to the Greater Britain; of the quality of the soil, its inequalities, and its various properties; of the fishes and birds which are distinct from ours in place rather than in origin; of wild beasts and reptiles, the nature as well as defects of the several species; and of the absence of all venomous creatures. It will also contain a comparison of the East and the West, showing that the West is deservedly to be preferred. All which is distinctly noted in the titles prefixed to the several chapters.

The second part tells of the prodigies and wonderful works of sportive nature, not those only which are found in this country, but others also, of whatever kind and wherever


existing, which are of the same description. It also sets forth the famous records of Saints celebrated for their virtues, which were manifested by glorious miracles unknown to the world.

The third part treats, in regular order, of the first inhabitants of this country, and the various immigrants of different nations, their arrival and departure; of the habits and customs of the Irish race which inhabits the island to the present day, and of their subjugation by foreign invaders. In short, it gives a history of all that is worthy of notice respecting this nation to our own times.

In the two first parts I have found no direct evidence from the Irish records, nothing from other sources, except the advantages I derived from personal inquiry, which could aid me in my task. It is only in the third part, which treats of the inhabitants of the island and the origin of the various races, that I obtained some information from their own chronicles. But these having been heaped together by the native writers in a loose and disorderly manner, with much that is superfluous or absurd, and being composed in a rude and barbarous style, I have digested them, with much labour, as clearly and compendiously as I could, like one seeking and picking up precious stones among the sands on the sea-shore, and have inserted whatever was of most value in the present volume. But since, from the wretched state of human imperfections,

'Judicis argutum labor hic formidat acumen'; [1]

'I tremble at the critic's shrewd review';

if not the work itself, at least the author's design has claims to commendation. For the love of study is praiseworthy; nor does it appear immeritorious to have had some regard for reputation amidst the regular and almost insupportable cares of attendance at court. Be it his praise, then, that while the body was subject to servitude, the mind was free. And since it is the part of a wise man to take breath in the refreshment of his own spirit of cheerfulness when at times he is worn by outward vexations, and to diversify wearisome employments by an interchange of such as are agreeable, nothing that is pleasant being considered a task, dignified leisure intervening between the multifarious calls of business is surely worthy of commendation.

[1] Ars Poet. 369.




IT hath pleased your excellency, most invincible king of England, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to dispatch me from your court in attendance on John, your beloved son, to Ireland. Coming there, not as a fugitive, but in some sort as a scout whose office it is to explore the country, I soon found occasion to remark many things which are quite different to what is found in other countries, and, being quite strange, are for their novelty much to be wondered at. I, therefore, began to make diligent inquiries respecting the site and nature of the country, the origin of the race, their customs, how often, by whom, and in what manner, the island had been subjugated and conquered; and what new and secret works, contrary to her ordinary rules, nature has stored up in these western and extreme borders of the earth. For beyond these confines neither land exists, nor is there any habitable spot either for men or animals; but throughout the entire horizon, in boundless space, Ocean only sweeps around, and rolls its waves in unknown and unfathomable channels.

For as the countries of the East are remarkable and preeminent for some prodigies peculiar to themselves and originating there, so also the Western parts are dignified by the miracles of nature performed within their limits. For sometimes, like one wearied with serious affairs and realities, she withdraws and retires for a little space, and, as it were, sportively employs herself with extraordinary freaks in secret parts reverently and mysteriously veiled. Having, therefore, selected and made a collection of the most curious facts, I have deemed it a not unprofitable labour to bring those which appeared most worthy of notice into one point of view and to submit them to your


highness's careful consideration, of which scarcely any part of history has escaped the observation.

I might, indeed, have presented for your highness's acceptance, as others have done, some little offerings of native gold, or falcons or hawks, with which the island abounds. But I thought it of little importance to offer to a mighty prince things which are easily procured, and are perishable in their nature, but rather preferred to send to your highness what cannot be lost, and thus, through you, instruct posterity by means which no lapse of time can destroy.

I esteemed it also a worthy undertaking to give a short account in writing of the virtues and victorious honour of yourself and your illustrious son, that the great glory they have conferred on our age may not be merely transitory, but, by the aid of letters, be firmly planted in the memory of posterity. Nor do I hesitate to believe that it may be well entrusted to your watchful care, that through the records of such noble achievements, the minds of many in future times may be roused to increased vigour by the admirable examples of valorous action; and that the perusal of these pages may have the same effect as the statues and portraits of their ancestors had on men of old, rousing a laudable spirit of emulation, not only in ardent minds, but in those which are feeble and sluggish; fanning the sparks of impetuous valour in the one, and lighting up the fire of innate courage in the other.






I. Of the situation of Ireland. Of the distance between Ireland and Britain. What land it has on the south and north, and on the east; and how far distant. 17

II. Of the Spanish sea which embraces Britain and Ireland with two arms. How far Ireland corresponds with Britain in its dimensions and qualities. On the length and breadth of Ireland. 17

III. Of the various opinions of Solinus, Orosius, Isidore, and Bede; some true, some erroneous. 19

IV. Of the surface of the country, and its inequalities. That the land is mountainous, and more gravelly than rocky. Of the fertility of the tillage-land; and that the grains of corn are so light that they can hardly be winnowed from the chaff. 20

V. Of the prevalence of wind and rain, and their causes. Of the prevailing north-west wind, which bows the trees in a certain direction. 20

VI. Of the nine principal rivers, and several others which have burst forth of late. 22

VII. Of the lakes, and the islands therein. Of the fishes in the sea, rivers, and lakes, and the species which are not found in Ireland. Of some new species of fishes, which are found no where else. 25

VIII. Of the birds, and those that are wanting, with their natural and allegorical significations. Of the hawk, falcon, and sparrow-hawk, and their natures. 26

IX. Of the eagle, and its nature. 30

X. Of the crane, and its nature. 34

XI. Of barnacles which grow from fir timber, and their natures. 36

XII. Of birds of twofold species, and mixed breed. 37

XIII. Of martinets, and their natures. 38

XIV. Of swans and storks, and their natures. 39

XV. Of birds which disappear in the winter. 39



XVI. Of grasshoppers which sing the better when their heads are cut off; and revive spontaneously after being long dead. 40

XVII. Of the various kinds of crows found here, and their natures. 41

XVIII. Of the croeriae which are here white, and their natures 42

XIX. Of wild animals, and their kinds, with those that are wanting; of stags, boars, and the small hares here. That all animals, except man, are more diminutive here than in other countries. 43

XX. Of the badger, and its nature. 44

XXI. Of the beaver, and its nature. 44

XXII. Of weasels, and their natures. 46

XXIII. Of reptiles, and those that are not found in Ireland; and that there are no venomous creatures. How venomous animals die as soon as they are brought over, the poison losing its venom. How the soil of the country destroys venomous reptiles. Of the leathern-thongs of this country used as an antidote against poison. 47

XXIV. Of a frog, lately discovered in Ireland. 50

XXV. Of the various advantages possessed by this island, and the nature of the climate. That it is cooled by winds from all quarters. That the island has little need of physicians. That the Irish are only troubled with the ague. 51

XXVI. A comparision of the East and West. That in the east all the elements are pestiferous. Of the venomous force of poison in the East, and of the unhealthiness of the climate. 52

XXVII. Of the singularly temperate character of our climate, and that we are happily free from many disadvantages. 53

XXVIII. That the East is the fountain-head of poisons, and that more advantages are to be found in the West than in the East. 55



I. Of the very strong currents in the Irish sea, and the ebb and flow of the tides therein. 59

II. Of the difference of the tides in Ireland and Britain. 59

III. Of the influence of the moon on the waters as well as on natural humours. 60

IV. Of two islands, in one of which no one dies, in the other no animal of the female sex enters. 61

V. Of an island, one part of which is frequented by good spirits, the other by evil spirits. 63



VI. Of an island where human corpses exposed to the atmosphere do not suffer decay. 64

VII. Of the wonderful natures of some fountains. 65

VIII. Of two extraordinary fountains, one in Britany, the other in Sicily. 69

IX. Of a vast lake, which originated in a remarkable manner. 70

X. Of a fish which had three golden teeth. 72

XI. Of the Northern islands, most of which are in subjection to the Norwegians. 73

XII. Of an island which was at first floating, and afterwards was firmly fixed by means of fire. 73

XIII. Of Iceland, which is inhabited by a people of few words, but truthful, who never take an oath. 74

XIV. Of a whirlpool in the sea, which sucks in ships. 75

XV. Of the Isle of Man, which, on account of the venomous reptiles it harbours, is considered to belong to Britain. 76

XVI. That islands were formed long after the flood, not suddenly, but by degrees, from alluvial matter. 76

XVII. Of Thule, the Western island, very celebrated among the Orientals, but totally unknown among the people of the West. 77

XVIII. Of the Giants' Dance, which was transferred from Ireland to Britain. 78

XIX. Of the prodigies of our times; and first, of a wolf which conversed with a priest. 79

XX. Of a woman who had a beard, and a hairy crest and mane on her back. 84

XXI. Of an animal which was half-ox, half-man. 85

XXII. Of an animal engendered by a stag and a cow. 86

XXIII. Of a goat which had intercourse with a woman. 86

XXIV. Of a lion that was enamoured of a woman. 87

XXV. That cocks in Ireland crow at different hours from those in other countries. 87

XXVI. Of wolves which whelp in the month of December. 88

XXVII. Of the ravens and owls which once had young ones about Christmas. 88

XXVIII. Of miracles of saints; and first, of the apples and ravens and blackbirds of St. Keiwin. 88

XXIX. Of St. Colman's teal, which were tamed by him, and cannot suffer injury. 93

XXX. Of the stone in which a cavity is every day miraculously filled with wine. 95

XXXI. Of the fleas which were got rid of by St. Nannan. 95

XXXII. Of the rats which were expelled from Fernigenan by St. Yvor. 96

XXXIII. Of a wandering bell. 96

XXXIV. Of various miracles in Kildare; and first, of the fire which never goes out, and the ashes which never increase. 96



XXXV. How the fire is kept alive by St. Brigit, on her night. 97

XXXVI. Of the hedge round the fire, which no male can enter. 97

XXXVII. Of the falcon in Kildare, which appeared tame and domesticated. 98

XXXVIII. Of a book miraculously written. 99

XXXIX. How the book was composed. 100

XL. Of the places of refuge miraculously protected by the saints. 100

XLI. Of the salmon-leap.102

XLII. How they leap. 102

XLIII. Of the life of St. Brendan. 103

XLIV. Of the cross at Dublin, which spake and bore testimony to the truth. 103

XLV. How the same cross became immovable. 104

XLVI. How a penny, offered before the cross, twice leapt back, but the third time, after confession made, remained; and of the iron greaves that were miraculously restored. 105

XLVII. Of a phrenetic at Ferns, who predicted future events. 105

XLVIII. Of an archer, who crossing St. Brigit's hedge was struck with madness; and of another who lost the use of his leg. 106

XLIX. Of the seed wheat, which being cursed by the bishop of Cork, failed to spring up, and the year following was miraculously produced from rye. 106

L. How Philip of Worcester was struck with sickness at Armagh, and Hugh Tyrrell divinely scourged. 107

LI. Of the mill which will not work on Sundays, nor grind any corn which has been pilfered or pillaged. 108

LII. Of the mill of St. Fechin, which no woman may enter. 108

LIII. How two horses, having fed on oats pillaged from this mill, immediately died. 108

LIV. How some archers at Finglass were punished by heaven. 109

LV. That the saints of this country appear to be of a vindictive temper. 111



I. Of the first arrival of Caesara, granddaughter of Noah, before the flood. 113

II. How Bartholanus was the second immigrant, 300 years after the flood. 114

III. How Nemedus, the third settler, came from Scythia, with his four sons. 116

IV. Of the fourth immigration, by the brothers and sons of Dela, who first divided Ireland into five equal parts. 117

V. How Slane was the first sole king of Ireland. 118


VI. Of the fifth immigration, when the four sons of king Milesius came over from Spain, and how Herimon and Heber divided the kingdom between them. 118

VII. How the brothers quarrelled, and Heber having been slain, Herimon was the first sole king of the Irish people. 119

VIII. Of Gurguntius, king of the Britons, who brought over the Basclenses to Ireland, and settled them, in the country. 120

IX. Of the triple and new rights of the British kings. 121

X. Of the character, customs, and habits of the people of Ireland. 121

XI. Of the incomparable skill of the Irish in playing upon musical instruments. 126

XII. Of the beneficial effects of music. 127

XIII. Of the first inventors of the art of music. 131

XIV. Of an eminent patron and improver of musical instruments. 131

XV. Whence music derived its name. 132

XVI. How many kings reigned from Herimon to the coming of Patrick, by whom the island was converted to the faith. 132

XVII. That there were no archbishops in Ireland before the arrival of John Papyrio, who planted there four archiepiscopal sees in the year of our Lord, 1152. 133

XVIII. How the bodies of three saints, Patrick, Columbus, and Bridget, were found in these our days at the city of Down, in Ulster, and translated. 134

XIX. How the Irish are very ignorant of the rudiments of the faith. 134

XX. Of their abominable treachery. 135

XXI. How they always carry an axe in their hands instead of a staff. 135

XXII. Of a new mode of making a league, a proof of their wickedness. 136

XXIII. How they love their foster-children and foster-brothers, and hate their own brothers and kindred. 137

XXIV. How new-comers are stained with the same vices. 137

XXV. Of a new and monstrous way of inaugurating their kings. 138

XXVI. How numbers in the island are not baptized, and have never come to the knowledge of the faith. 139

XXVII. Of many laudable qualities in the Irish clergy. 141

XXVIII. Of the neglect of the prelates in pastoral discipline. 142

XXIX. How nearly all the bishops of Ireland are elected from the monasteries. 143

XXX. How the clergy differ from monks, and are to be preferred to them. 144

XXXI. That many seem to be in the fold who shall be shut out; and the contrary. 146



XXXII. A sarcastic reply of the archbishop of Cashel. 145

XXXIII. How bells and pastoral staves, and other such relics of the saints, are held in great reverence by the people both of Ireland, Scotland, and of Wales. 146

XXXIV. Concerning the great virtues of the pastoral staff called the staff of Jesus; and how a priest had a two-fold disease inflicted on him. 146

XXXV. Of the number of persons in this nation who have bodily defects. 147

XXXVI. How many kings reigned from the time of St. Patrick to the coming of Turgesius. 148

XXXVII. How in the time of king Fedlimidius, the Norwegians, under their chief, Turgesius, subjugated Ireland. 148

XXXVIII. How the English say that it was Ghirmundus, the Irish that it was Turgesius, who conquered the Island. 149

XXXIX. Whence Gurmund came into Ireland or Britain. 150

XL. How, when Gurmund was slain in Gaul, Turgesius perished in Ireland by the hands of young men disguised as girls. 151

XLI. How the Norwegians were driven out of Ireland, after reigning there about thirty years. 151

XLII. A subtle question of the king of Meath. 151

XLIII. Of the arrival of the Ostmen. 152

XLIV. How many kings reigned in Ireland from the death of Turgesius to Boderic the last sole king of Ireland. 153

XLV. How many kings reigned from Herimon the first to Roderic the last. 153

XXVI. How from its first immigration to the time of Turgesius, and from his death to the expedition of Henry II., king of England, the Irish race maintained its independence. 154

XLVII. Of the victories of Henry II., king of England. 155

XL VIII. A short recapitulation of the titles and triumphs of the same king. 155

XLIX. Of the characters of his sons; and first of Henry III., king of England. 157

L. Of the character of the count of Poitou. 159

Of the difference in person and character between the two brothers. 161

Of the princes of Britany and Ireland. 162

How the brothers quarrelled between themselves, and with their father. 164

Of the Saxon, Spaniard, and Sicilian. 164




IRELAND, the largest of islands after Britain, lies in the Western ocean, a short day's sail beyond Wales, in Britain; but between Ulster and Galway, in Scotland, the sea contracts into a narrower strait of about half the breadth. There are, moreover, promontories on the coasts of both islands, which may be seen and made out from the opposite side more or less distinctly, but in all cases clearly enough in favourable weather. Ireland is the most remote of the western islands, having Spain parallel to it on the south, at the distance of three ordinary days' sail, Great Britain on the east, and the ocean alone on the west. On the north lies Iceland, the largest of the northern islands, at a distance of about three days' sailing. [1]



THE Spanish sea, named also the Iberian sea, either from the river Iberus, or because Spain presents the form of a hemisphere, receiving the waters of the ocean from the

[1] As the distance between the two islands cannot be less than eight degrees of latitude, the estimate given by Giraldus of the length of time occupied in the voyage by a sailing ship of those days, though possible, must be taken with some reserve. In some of the Icelandic sagas it is computed at about eight days.


west, between Ireland and Spain, is divided into two arms. One of these flows between Spain and Britain, and then, verging to the north, divides France from Britain. But although the mouth of this channel on both sides touches lands from which it might be named, it is most commonly called the French sea, taking its name from France only. The other branch of the Iberian sea, taking its course northward, flows between Ireland and Britain, and extends in length as much as it expands in breadth towards the north, until it mingles its waters with the Northern ocean at the Orkney islands. Thus separated from the rest of the known world, and in some sort to be distinguished as another world, not only by its situation, but by the objects out of the ordinary course of nature contained in it, Ireland seems to be nature's especial repository, where she stores up her most remarkable and precious treasures. Collaterally, Ireland thus occupies such a position in regard to the adjacent coast of Britain, that from whatever British port any one sails westward, he will have before him some part of it. Britain, however, is twice as large as Ireland; for, the greatest length of both islands running north and south, Britain is eight hundred miles long, and about two hundred miles broad, while Ireland extends from the Brandane mountains [1] to the island of Columba, called Thorach, [2] the length of eight good Irish days' journey, which is forty miles to the day; and from Dublin, to St. Patrick's hills and the sea of Connaught it is four such days' journey in breadth. The surface of Ireland may be, therefore, about as large as Wales and Scotland, the better part of the island of Britain, which was in ancient times annexed by its kings to their own dominions, and called by the Britons Loegria,

[1] A Brendanicis montibus, perhaps Mount Brandon, in Kerry, which would not be a measure of the extreme length from S.W. to N.E.

[2] We take this to be Rathlin island, off the coast of Antrim, which was in the early ages the chief station for the passage from Ireland to Scotland, and as such the rendezvous for a number of merchants and other travellers. It may be concluded from its Scandinavian name, Thorach, that it was also the point of departure for Norway and Iceland, although Malin Head, on the N.W. point of Donegal, is the point of the Irish coast nearest to Iceland; and it has been supposed that the station mentioned in the sagas for the intercourse between the two islands must be sought for in that neighbourhood.


from Locrine, the eldest son of Brute, to whom it was assigned.



SOLINUS describes Ireland with sufficient accuracy as one hundred and twenty miles in breadth; but he says nothing of its length. Hence I conclude that the island was unknown to him, especially as he asserts that it was of enormous magnitude. Orosius, better informed, represents Ireland as the nearest island to Britain, with a much smaller surface, and a climate the temperature of which was more favourable. Isidore agrees with Orosius, saying that Ireland is the island lying nearest to Britain, inferior in size, but, from its situation, of greater fertility. Bede, also, states that Ireland is much superior to Britain both in the salubrity and serenity of the atmosphere. He is right as to its salubrity; but, with due respect to his opinion, he is in error with regard to its serenity, as will appear in the sequel of this book. For, as France excels Britain, so by far does Britain surpass Ireland, in the serenity and pureness of its air. For the further you go towards the East, the brighter and clearer is the face of the sky, the more penetrating and inclement is the atmosphere; but when you turn your steps nearer and nearer to the extremity of the West, you find that, the air being more cloudy and thick, as well as milder and more wholesome, it renders the land more fruitful. Ireland, indeed, lying at equal distances between the cold of Iceland and the heat of Spain, with its temperature moderated from these opposite quarters, the country is happily favoured both in having a temperate climate and a wholesome air. In shape Ireland is much rounder than Britain, but rather narrow in the middle, and spreading in breadth towards the heads, while Britain is remarkable for being more oblong and narrow; and, as the north of Ireland is, as it were, broken off and much shortened, compared with Britain, so its southern extremity is so far from being shorter, that, according to Bede's statement, it extends much beyond the parallel of Britain.




IRELAND is a country of uneven surface, and mountainous; the soil is friable and moist, well wooded, and marshy; it is truly a desert land, without roads, but well watered. Here you may see standing waters on the tops of the mountains, for pools and lakes are found on the summits of lofty and steep hills. There are, however, in some places very beautiful plains, though of limited extent in comparison with the woods. On almost all sides, and towards the sea-coast, the land is very low, but in the interior it rises into hills of various elevations and mountains of vast height; not only the surrounding country, but also the central districts, being rather sandy than rocky.

The tillage land is exuberantly rich, the fields yielding large crops of corn; and herds of cattle are fed on the mountains. The woods abound with wild animals; but this island is more productive in pasture than in corn, in grass than in grain. The crops give great promise when in the blade, still more in the straw, but less in the ear; for the grains of wheat are shrivelled and small, and can hardly be separated from the chaff by dint of winnowing. The fields are luxuriantly covered, and the barns loaded with the produce. The granaries only show scanty returns.



THE crops which the spring brings forth, and the summer nourishes and advances, are harvested with difficulty, on account of the autumnal rains. For this country is exposed more than others to storms of wind and deluges of rain. A wind blowing transversely from the northwest, and more frequent and violent than any other winds, prevails here; the blast either bending or uprooting all the trees standing on high ground in the western districts, which are exposed to its sweep. This arises from


the land, surrounded on all sides by a vast sea and open to the winds, not having in those parts any solid shelter and protection, either distant or near. Add to this, that the waters attracted in clouds, and collected together by the high temperature of that region, and yet neither exhaled by fiery atmospheric heat, nor congealed by the coldness of the air and converted into snow or hail, at last burst in copious showers of rain. In short, this country, like other mountainous regions, generates and nourishes most abundant rains. For the heat evaporating from the high lands by excessive wet, the moisture which they attract is easily converted into its native element. And it is usually distinguished by various names, according to its various elevations. While yet hanging about the hills, it is called mist; when it rises higher, and, floating in the atmosphere, is quite disengaged from the earth, it becomes clouds; again descending in drops or particles, it is called snow or rain, according as it is solid or liquid. Thus, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland are subject to much rain.

The island is rich in pastures and meadows, honey and milk, and also in wine, although not in vineyards. Bede, indeed, among his other commendations of Ireland, says, "that it does not lack vineyards"; while Solinus and Isidore affirm, "that there are no bees". But, with all respect for them, they might have written just the contrary, that vineyards do not exist in the island, but that bees are found there. Vines it never possessed, nor any cultivators of them. Still, foreign commerce supplies it with wine in such plenty that the want of the growth of vines, and their natural production, is scarcely felt. Poitou, out of its superabundance, exports vast quantities of wine to Ireland, which willingly gives in return its ox-hides and the skins of cattle and wild beasts. Like other countries, it has bees producing honey, and I think it would flow from their cells more abundantly, if the increase of the swarms were not checked by the bitter and poisonous yews [1] with which the woods of the island abound; or rather, if the violent winds, and the moisture of the climate, in Ireland, did not disperse

[1] Giraldus adopts what Virgil says of Corsica:

"Fugiunt examina taxos". Ecl. ix. 30.


the swarms of so minute an animal, or cause them to perish.

It may be alleged, indeed, in favour of contrary opinions, that in Bede's time there were possibly some few vineyards in Ireland, and that St. Dominic of Ossory, as some say, introduced bees there long after the times of Solinus. But I can scarcely excuse those who assert that the soil is so noxious to bees, that if any one scatters dust or gravel brought from it among the beehives in any other country, the swarms desert their cells. Bede also affirms, that this island is famous for the hunting of stags and wild goats. Whereas it is a fact, that it never possessed any wild goats, and is still without them. Nor can it be wondered that these writers occasionally deviated from the truth, when they knew nothing but what they learnt at second-hand and from a distance, in which they placed implicit faith. Any statement rests on a certain foundation of truth, when the person who makes it has been also an eyewitness of what he affirms. Still, these writers are entitled to their due share of praise for their careful and generally correct investigation of subjects placed by distance so far beyond their observation. And, since nothing human is altogether perfect, and universal knowledge and freedom from error is the attribute of divinity, and not of mortals, any mistakes which may have crept into their statements must be considered pardonable, as arising both from human imperfections, and the remoteness of the country of which they treat. This indulgence we ask for ourselves, while we grant it to others, thinking nothing that concerns the human race foreign to our object. [1]



THE island is intersected and watered by nine noble rivers, which have been celebrated from the earliest ages, even from the time of Bartholanus, who first settled in it after the flood. Their names are these: the Avenlifius,

[1] "Hanc etiam veniam petimusque damusque vicissim,
Nihil unquam humani a nobis alienum esse putantes".


at Dublin; [1] the Banna runs through Ulster; [2] the Moadus, through Connaught; [3] the Slichenis and Samarius, through Kenelcunnill; [4] the Modarnus and Phinnus, through Keneleonia; [5] and the Saverennus and Luvius, through Cork. [6] There are also several other rivers flowing through Ireland, but they are, so to speak, new, and, compared with the others, of recent origin, though not inferior to them, except in respect of their age. Some of these take their rise from springs which have their sources in the bowels of the earth; others bursting suddenly from lakes in well-known parts, divide the island into separate districts during their long course.

I think it not superfluous to enumerate some of these. Three noble rivers, then, rise at the foot of the Blandine mountain: [7] they are called The Three Sisters, because they received their names from three sisters. These are the Beriia, which runs through Leighlin; [8] the Eyrus, which runs through Ossory; [9] and the Suyrus, which, after running through Archfinia and Tribarccia, falls into the sea at Waterford. [10] The Slana runs through Wexford; [11]

[1] The Liffey, which rises in the Wicklow mountains, and, as here intimated, flows into the bay of Dublin.

[2] The Bann, a river of the north of Ireland, which passes through Lough Neagh, and enters the sea near Coleraine.

[3] The Moy, a well-known river of Connaught, which rises in Sligo, and enters the bay of Killala.

[4] The Sligrach and Samar, the latter of which runs through Tyrconnell.

[5] The Morne and Finn, in Tyrone.

[6] The Bandon and Lee, in the county of Cork.

[7] Sliabh Bladhwa, or Slieve Bloom, an extensive mountain range, stretching across the King's and Queen's counties. The Three Sisters were the Barrow, Nore, and Suir. See Spenser, F.Q. lib. iv. cant, xi 42,43.

"The first the gentle Shure, that making way
By sweete Clonmell, adornes rich Waterford;
The next the stubborne Newre, whose waters gray
By faire Kilkenny and Rosseponte boord;
The third the goodly Barow, which doth hoord
Great heapes of salmons in his deepe bosome;
All which long sundred, doe at last accord
To joyne in one ere to the sea they come;
So, flowing all from one, all one at last become".

[8] The Barrow, which rises in the north of Queen's County, and empties itself into the bay of Waterford.

[9] The Nore is a tributary of the Barrow.

[10] The Suir rises in Tipperary, and flows into Waterford harbour.

[11] The river of Slaney runs through the county of Wicklow, and flows into Wexford harbour.


the Boandus, through Meath; [1] the Avonmore, [2] through Lignioria; and the Sinnenus, through Limerick. [3]

Of all the rivers in Ireland, new or old, the Sinnenus deservedly claims the first rank, both for its full and majestic stream, which flows through vast tracts of country, and for the abundance of fish contained in its waters. It has its source in a lake which divides Connaught from Munster, and forms two branches which take opposite courses; one branch flowing eastward, and washing the city of Killaloe in its course, after embracing Limerick, and separating for one hundred miles and more the two parts of Munster, falls into the sea of Brandon. The other branch, of equal importance, divides Meath and the further districts of Ulster from Connaught, and after various windings falls into the Northern Ocean. [4] Thus, flowing from sea to sea, it separates the fourth and western part of the island from the three others. For this country was formerly divided into five equal provinces; namely, the two Munsters, north and south, Leinster, Ulster, and Connaught. Merlin's prophecy predicted that they would be reduced to one; but of that I shall speak more fully in the proper place. It may, however, be as well to remark, that the two Munsters embraced the southern parts of Ireland; Ulster, the north; Leinster, the east; and Connaught, the west.

[1] The Boyne, which rises in Queen's County, flows north-east through Trion and Cavan, and enters the sea below Drogheda.

[2] Lignioria is probably a misreading of the manuscript by the copyist for Lismoria. Avonmore is the Irish name for the Blackwater, which rises among the mountains on the borders of Cork and Kerry, passes by Lismore, and enters the sea at Youghal.

[3] The Shannon, called in Irish, Sinain. It is not easy to account for the singular error into which Giraldus has fallen with regard to the course of this celebrated river. He seems to have imagined that it was a branch of the river Shannon which discharges itself into the sea at Ballyshannon, in the bay of Donegal. The Shannon, as is well known, takes its rise in Lough Allen, in the county of Leitrim, and takes first a southern and then a south-western course, till it discharges itself into the Atlantic, which was sometimes called St. Brendan's sea, because it was the supposed scene of his marvellous voyages.

[4] The river which empties itself into the sea, at Ballyshannon, is merely the outlet of the waters of lake Earne.




THIS island is also especially remarkable for a great number of beautiful lakes, abounding in fish, and surpassing in size those of any other countries I have visited. These lakes encompass some slightly elevated spots, most delightfully situated, which, for the sake of security, and because they are inaccessible except by boats, the lords of the soil appropriate as their places of refuge and seats of residence, where they raise their harvest.

Sea-fishes are found in considerable abundance on all the coasts. The rivers and lakes, also, are plentifully stored with the sorts of fish peculiar to those waters, and especially three species: salmon and trout, muddy eels, and oily shad. [1] The Sinnenus (Shannon) abounds in lampreys, [2] a dangerous delicacy indulged in by the wealthy.

This country, however, does not produce some fine fishes found in other countries, and some excellent fresh-water fishes, such as the pike, the perch, the roach, the barbel, the gardon, [3] and the gudgeon. Minnows, also, bullheads, and verones, [4] are not found there, also, no loches, or they are very rare. Thus, every country is deficient in some particular products. In Great Britain there are no tortoises or scorpions. Cisalpine Gaul produces no leopards or lions; Italy has no perch; Palestine no pikes; and both are without salmon. So also, Italy, Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, have no salmon; and no part of Spain produces pikes, perch, or pheasants. Crete has no owls; the Mediterranean sea, no herrings; and the kingdom of Hungary, no eels.

[1] Alosinqua praepinguibus. The shad, the clupea alosa of modern naturalists, called in France an alose. It is not a fresh-water fish, but ascends the larger rivers from the sea, and is most delicate when caught in the rivers.

[2] The unwholesome character of the lamprey is proverbial. Henry of Huntingdon informs us, that king Henry II.'s death was caused by indulgence in this favourite dish. See his History, in Bohn's Antiq. Lib. p. 259.

[3] One of the roach family, the leuciscus idus.

[4] One of the smaller members of the genus leuciscus, in modern French veron, is supposed to answer to our minnow; but Giraldus learly distinguishes it from the minuta, the old French menuise.


On the other hand, the lakes of this country contain three species of fish which are found nowhere else. One is a sort of trout, called also salares, which are longer and rounder than trout, and which are white, close-grained, and good-flavoured. [1] The tymal, commonly called the umber, [2] resembles the former kind of fishes, except that it is distinguished by a larger head. There are others which very much resemble the sea herring both in shape and quality, and in colour and taste. A third sort exactly resembles the trout, except that it has no spots. The first sort is called Glassans, the second, Cates, the third, Brits. [3] These three species of fishes make their appearance in the summer only, and are never seen in the winter. In Meath, near Fovera, [4] are three lakes, not far from each other, each of which has its own distinct and peculiar species of fish, and which are frequented by no other, although they are connected by streams affording communications between them; and if a fish of one kind is carried down into the water frequented by another, it either perishes or finds its way back to its first abode.



IRELAND has some aquatic birds, which build their nests in high crags, of the same species as are found in other countries; but some other species have never been found there from the most ancient times.

This country produces in greater numbers than any other, hawks, falcons, and sparrow-hawks, [5] a class of birds which nature has endowed with courageous instincts and armed

[1] Salares. This word is only found in this passage of Giraldus, and it is not quite clear to what fish it refers.

[2] The name umber is now given to the mallus vulgaris, better known as the graylin.

[3] Glassanos-catos-britios. These appear to have been old local names for the fishes alluded to, and are not found in any other writers.

[4] Foure, a small town in Westmeath, situated on Lough Lein.

[5] Nisos. This is the English interpretation of the Latin nisus given in the early Anglo-Latin vocabularies.


with curved and powerful beaks and sharp talons, to fit them as birds of prey. It is, however, a remarkable fact in the history of this tribe of birds, that their nests are not more numerous than they were many centuries ago; and, although they have broods every year, their numbers do not increase. When one pair perishes by any accident, another takes its place. The nests diminish in number from a variety of circumstances, but nothing occasions them to increase. According to Cassiodorus, birds of this class, which live by prey, allow their young no rest in their infancy, that they may not acquire indolent habits; they beat the tender brood with their wings, and compel them to fly as soon as they are fledged, that they may rear them to habits on which the parents may rely. And when, in process of time, they are strong on the wing, with the help of their natural instinct they are taught to seek their prey, and then are driven by their cruel parents from their native seats, to which they are not allowed to return.

Since, then, it is a much easier task to teach the ignorant than to reclaim the froward, prudent parents will breed up and educate their sons after the example set them by these birds. And, as idleness engenders instability of character, they will rouse and sharpen their will by constant exercise, lest embued with the vices attendant on listless sloth in their riper years, they may find it difficult to unlearn them.

Moreover, the Lord chastens the sons whom he loves; and, in order to set their minds more earnestly on eternal felicity, secures their happiness by present calamities. St. Augustine says, "Nothing is more unhappy than the happiness of sinners, which nourishes in them a fatal sense of impunity, and a foe within confirms their propensity to evil". Hence, Gregory remarks, that "oxen intended for slaughter have the free run of the pastures, while those that are reserved for labour are put under the yoke".

So also sons of ripe age are sometimes sent forth from the homes of their parents, for kind and prudent ends; that, left to themselves, they may learn caution instead of carelessness, diligence instead of idleness, activity instead of sloth, courage instead of cowardice. For he seldom fails who is not wanting to himself; while those who depend upon the assistance of others, appear very often to fall


short of their aims. For this cause the fathers and pastors of the church gradually admit their sons as they become capable of receiving higher instruction, to seek their meat boldly in the Lord's pastures; for "the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force". They teach them also to despise and eschew the troublesome paths of this life, and its sinful gulf, and to direct all their efforts towards that which is their true and permanent country; thus compelling them by a most merciful severity to be mortified to the world, and become exiles from it.

Moreover, as in all kinds of animals the males are naturally stronger than the females, so also in these birds, and all others which live by prey and have to pursue their game, and therefore particularly need for their subsistence strength and force, the female sex is bolder and stronger than in other kinds, though the males lose something of their superior privileges. Perhaps this may signify that the female sex is more resolute in all evil than the male. For, as Tully says, "Men will sometimes, to gain a single object, perpetrate one crime; but women will stick at nothing to satisfy their desires in a single instance". So it is said, in Ecclesiasticus, "The wrath of a man is shorter than the wrath of a woman". Nor are they ever wanting in efforts to establish their power over the men in a variety of ways; ...; [1] 1 and God makes use of the weak things of the world to confound the strong. Thus, nature has so deprived the males of these birds of the privilege of their sex, that as they grow old they almost always degenerate; while in the other sex years only add to their vigour and swiftness.

We find it remarkable in sparrow-hawks, that some are distinguished by white spots, some by red, and some by particoloured. Hence, it has been conjectured that they contracted this variety from the trees in which they were bred. But as this difference is perceived in broods from the same trees, and even from the same nests, it seems to be the better opinion that this variety in their plumage is derived from the parent birds. It is also reported of the sparrow-hawk, that when the frost of winter is very severe, it seizes a bat towards evening, and nestling to it the whole of

[1] The sequel of this sentence is here printed in the original Latin:-

"Et effoeminatos a foeminis viros debita virilitate foeminae depraedantur".


the night for the sake of the warmth, lets it go free in the morning uninjured, in return for its service. Hawks and sparrow-hawks, differing in size rather than instinct, pounce on their prey with great velocity, and either fail in their first attack, or carry it off.

There are several kinds of falcons, hoth large and small, high bred, and kestrels; merlins (meruli) also, small and summer birds, though sluggish at first when fat, afterwards swoop suddenly on their prey, and soaring on high in wide circles, pounce from above on the quarry, and having struck it and crushed it with the force of their breasts, pierce it and tear it to pieces with their extended claws. Their flight is so rapid and unwearied that, pursuing the bird which endeavours to escape, and flits from side to side, now high, now low, while all the spectators are filled with delight; no length of flight in the vast aerial amphitheatre, no artifice of the fugitive, can save it from its relentless foe. Hawks and sparrow-hawks are of a more delicate nature, requiring choicer food and more careful keepers. Falcons are both more pertinacious in their attacks, and more ready to return to their keeper when he raises his hand, or even at his call. May we not compare to the first class of birds, those who, indulging in sumptuous banquets, equipages, and clothing, and the various other allurements of the flesh, are so won by their charms, that they study only earthly things, and give themselves up to them; and as they do not soar on high to gain the prize by resolute and persevering efforts, their conversation is on earth, and not in heaven.

Those, again, may be compared to the other class of birds, who, rejecting altogether a delicate diet and all the other delights of the flesh, choose rather, by Divine inspiration, to suffer hardships and privations. And, since all virtue soars high, struggling upwards with all their efforts, their aim and object is that recompense and reward for their labours above, which the violent take by force.

Falcons derive their name from a sickle (falce), because they whirl their flight in a circle; gerfalcons are so called from their gyrations (gyrofaciendo); sparrow-hawks (nisi), from their swoop (nisu); and hawks (accipitres) from their greed of prey (accipiendo). [1]

[1] 1t may be right to remark, that most of these derivations are more fanciful than correct.




EAGLES are as numerous here as kites are in other countries. These birds eye with fixed gaze the full effulgence of the solar rays; and it is reported that they teach their young to do the same, though unwilling. Hence, eagles (aquilae) are so called from their piercing eyes (acumine). Thus, contemplative men strive to fix the whole powers of their mind without distractions on the very essence of the Divine majesty, and on the true sun of righteousness, and, putting their hands to the plough of the heavenly paradise, do not look backward. The fathers of the church also, in order to accustom their sons in tender age to that which is good, teach them to turn the eyes of the soul to the intuition and the desire of the light divine.

Eagles also live for so many ages, that, enjoying renewed youth, they seem to contend with eternity itself. So also the saints, renewed with the innocence of childhood, having put off the old man, and put on the new man, obtain the blessed fruit of everlasting life. Again, eagles often soar so high in their flight, that their wings are scorched with the fiery rays of the sun. So those who in the Holy Scriptures strive to unravel the deep and hidden secrets of the heavenly mysteries, beyond what is allowed, and those limits which it is not permitted us to pass, returning to themselves halt below as if the wings of the presumptuous imagination on which they were borne were scorched in their flight. But since a subject of great importance here incidentally occurs for I have both read and observed myself that numbers in many parts of the world have erred in this matter I think I shall be pardoned for dwelling upon it a little longer, and with more attention.

Rocks and stones, and masses of earth, which of themselves are incapable of motion, being only ponderous bodies which tend to the centre, [1] are vastly excelled by trees and herbs,

[1] Ad centrum tendunt. The tendency of heavy bodies to a centre was an article of the higher science doctrines of the age of Giraldus, and is stated still more fully by his contemporary, Alexander Neckam, in his treatise De Naturis Rerum. It was a foreshadowing of the Newtonian doctrine.


which have, as it plainly appears, a certain living vegetation and vegetable life, by which they sensibly, though without sense, move and grow, and increase and multiply. Again, trees and herbs are far surpassed by brute animals, which have the power of moving themselves from place to place, and by some instinct know their own stalls, and have some memory of the past. On this account, several of them are even esteemed higher than rational creatures; "for where reason abounds, there imagination yields". All these, however, are far surpassed by the microcosm man, who, richly gifted with intellect and reason, lifting his face to heaven, and having the use of speech, worships his Creator, and is the most perfect of all terrestrial creatures. But, as far as man excels all others, so are angelical beings pre-eminent, being as far above man in their subtle essence, and in their dwelling on high, in familiar intercourse with the Creator, in whose presence they always stand, as they are his superiors in intellect. Finally, the Almighty and All-creating God, as the potter is superior to the clay he moulds, aod the artificer to the material on which he works, incomparably transcends all creatures with a pre-excellence surpassing all powers of language or thought. For He formed all things according to his will; He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created. From Him is all wisdom, and out of His fullness we all receive. From Him it is that we exist, and are intelligent beings, as from the source from which all intellect flows, as the stream from its fountain. Since then human nature is so much inferior and less worthy than the angelical, tell us, O man, with what face, with what temerity thou presumest to scrutinize and trace out those mysteries, to the investigation of which the very angels esteem themselves wholly incompetent? By what arrogance dost thou aspire to embrace with the powers of thy intellect things which no intelligence can grasp or comprehend? As He is incomprehensible before whose majesty dominations adore and powers tremble, [1] so His judgments are incomprehensible, and His ways past finding out. My thoughts are not as your thoughts, nor my ways as your ways, saith the Lord.

[1] Dominationes, potestates. Terms in the mediaeval theology indicating different orders of the angels in heaven. Both the dominations and the potestates and powers formed the second rank of the angelic hierarchy.


For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts. Why is your heart so lifted up, and your eyes raised on high, that you are conversant with wonders and with miracles which are above you? Does your pride so separate you from the love of God, that while you are wise in that which is above knowledge, and aspire to still higher attainments, you turn aside from the path of the humble? Notwithstanding, it becomes us best not to know more than we ought to know, but to be wise with soberness.

Beware then, lest in thus employing your intelligence you become as though you had no understanding. Beware, lest abusing the privileges of reason and intellect, through which, by the merciful goodness of the Creator, you excel all beings under the sun, you justly forfeit them. Fix not your seat in the North, and seek in vain to be equal with the Most Highest. Beware, lest, lifting up your horn, you speak evil against the Lord. Beware, lest exalting yourself, you fall from on high. Beware, I say, lest, being so immeasureably exalted, your fall be equally great. Be wise, therefore, ye foolish among the people, and, ye unwise, have some understanding. He that planted the ear, shall He not hear? and He that made the eye, shall He not see? He that proveth man, shall He not chastise? and He that teacheth man wisdom? The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are but vain. Hear, rather, how humbly the man whom God himself testifies to have found after his own heart: I mean David the king and prophet, sings in the Psalms: "Lord, I am not high-minded, nor are my eyes lifted up; nor have I exercised myself in great matters, nor in wonders that are above me". Listen to what Solomon, the wisest of the kings of the earth, said to his son: My son, search not into things that are above thee, nor inquire into those that are mightier than thee; but meditate always on what the Lord hath commanded thee, and in many of his works be not too curious. Also, to one who eateth too much honey, it is bitter and evil; and elsewhere, if thou findest honey, eat that which shall satisfy thee, lest if thou eat too much thou vomit it up. Again, to quote, in part, the words of Job: How can man be more just than God, or purer than his Maker? Behold, his servants are not to be trusted, and


his angels he charged with folly. How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, while they lift their face to heaven, they shall perish and be consumed as it were by the moth. And again, in the same: Man shall not be justified when compared with God.

Tell me then, thou frail potsherd, with what face, against reason and against faith, thou presumest to give an account of all things above and below, and especially of those which are above all reason? For what can be more contrary to reason, than by the use of reason to strive to master that which transcends reason? And what is more contrary to faith than to refuse to believe whatever reason cannot grasp? "He who is swift to believe is light-minded"; as much as to say, that faith is to be controlled by reason. But understand, that Solomon did not speak of faith in God, but of mutual confidence amongst ourselves. Gregory distinctly denies the merit of faith in God which is founded on the experience of human reason. The Apostles are commended for having followed their Master in obedience to his simple summons. It was said in praise of one: "At the hearing of the ear he obeyed me". On the other hand, those disciples are rebuked who were slow to believe. Finally, Mary was commended for having preferred faith to reason, and Zacharias was punished because he tried faith by the test of reason. And again, Abraham was commended because against hope he believed in hope.

To return, however, to natural objects. What master ever intrusted to his servant all the secrets of his heart? or, did even Euryalus to Nisus, Tydeus to Polynices, Orestes to Pylades, without reserving in the inmost recesses of his soul many which he would never unfold or make known to anyone? How much more must He who is most infinite, reserve to himself things that are infinite? Will He who is the Maker and Ruler of the universe entirely reveal Himself to the lowest of his servants, who are but dust, so that all that relates or can relate to the lofty, the inscrutable, the ineffable nature of the Divinity, should be open to the ken of a being so frail, so corruptible, so vile in his nature, as man? Who ever saw a picture rival the art of the painter? Shall the vessel say to the potter,


Why did you mould me in a shape which is narrow at tha mouth and swells out below? Thus, it is said in the Book of Wisdom, Who hath measured the sand of the sea, the drops of rain, and the days of eternity? Who hath meted the height of the heavens, the breadth of the earth, and the depth of the abyss? Who hath searched out the wisdom of God, which was before all things? And again, to whom is the root of wisdom revealed, and who hath known all her secrets? To whom is the discipline of wisdom revealed and made manifest, and who hath understood the numbers of her goings out? There is one Most High and Omnipotent Creator. God, who sits and rules on his throne, is a mighty king, and greatly to be feared. He created wisdom by the Holy Spirit, and saw it, and counted and meted it out, and poured it forth over all his works, and in all flesh bestowed it on those who love him. Thus, on his people He has shed wisdom, not in entirety, but in portions, and as it were in rivulets, that in all their wants they may recur to him as the fountain-head, the well of living waters, inexhaustible and never-failing. Since then, the wisdom of the Lord is a deep abyss, the heaven of heavens is His, and what remains He will have destroyed by fire, we ought to remember with thanks that we are admitted to the knowledge of things in part only, and not to the fulness of intelligence and comprehension. Hence, when some one irreverently inquired, "What God did before the world was created"? Augustine replied, "He prepared hell for those who ask foolish questions". It is in vain, therefore, to torment ourselves with such inquiries, and I shall finally conclude with the positive axiom, that a well-disposed mind does not search into such things. Into a malevolent mind wisdom will not enter. To use the words of the prophet: "How great are thy works, O Lord: thy thoughts are very deep; an unwise man doth not know this, and a fool doth not understand it".



CRANES assemble in such numbers, that a hundred, or about that number, are often seen in one flock. By natural


instinct they keep watch in turns at night for their common safety, perched on one foot, and holding a stone in the other featherless claw, that if they should fall asleep, the fall of the stone may rouse them to renew their watch.

These birds are emblems of the bishops of the church, whose office it is to keep watch over their flock, not knowing at what hour the thief will come. And any sacred duty should employ the mind, and be like the stone, ready to drop. It should utterly shake off all sloth, and allow nothing to be thought of but itself. And if by any chance it should sometimes fail, the mind, being inured to its habitual occupation, resumes it like one awakened out of sleep.

This bird also gives notice of danger by its cries. In like manner the pastors of the church drive the wolves from the fold by sounding the alarm from the holy oracles, and with unwearied diligence lift up their voice like a trumpet. The liver of this bird is also of such a fiery heat, that, when by any chance it swallows iron, its stomach digests it. So bowels inflamed with the fire of charity subdue and soften iron hearts which were before indurate, and reduce them to soft concord in brotherly love.

Wild peacocks here abound in the woods, [1] but wild hens, which the common people call grutes, (grutas) are here small and scarce, being both in shape and colour very like partridges. There are immense flights of snipes, [2] also called kardioli, both the larger species of the woods, and the smaller of the marshes; but the latter are the more abundant. Quails are found in considerable numbers; ratulae, [3] also, with their hoarse cries, are innumerable; and clouds of larks singing praise to God.

[1] The bird here mentioned is probably the capercailzie, or cock of the wood, a noble bird of the size of a turkey, called in Norway "ticer", which is met with in the pine forests of that country, but seldom in any great numbers.

[2] Acetae. This Latin word is explained in the Anglo-Saxon glossaries by snite, the old form of snipe, or rude-cocc, perhaps an error for wude cocc, the woodcock, so that the latter are here probably meant by "the larger species of the woods", and "the smaller of the marshes" is no doubt the ordinary snipe.

[3] It has been suggested that we ought to read ranulae for ratulae in the text of Giraldus; but it is evident that he intended to speak of a bird, though of what kind is uncertain.




THERE are likewise here many birds called barnacles, which nature produces in a wonderful manner, out of her ordinary course. They resemble the marsh-geese, but are smaller. Being at first gummy excrescences from pine- beams floating on the waters, and then enclosed in shells to secure their free growth, they hang by their beaks, like seaweeds attached to the timber. Being in process of time well covered with feathers, they either fall into the water or take their flight in the free air, their nourishment and growth being supplied, while they are bred in this very unaccountable and curious manner, from the juices of the wood in the sea-water. I have often seen with my own eyes more than a thousand minute embryos of birds of this species on the seashore, hanging from one piece of timber, covered with shells, and already formed. No eggs are laid by these birds after copulation, as is the case with birds in general; the hen never sits on eggs in order to hatch them; in no corner of the world are they seen either to pair, or build nests. Hence, in some parts of Ireland, bishops and men of religion make no scruple of eating these birds on fasting days, as not being flesh, because they are not born of flesh. But these men are curiously drawn into error. For, if any one had eaten part of the thigh of our first parent, which was really flesh, although not born of flesh, I should think him not guiltless of having eaten flesh. [1] Repent, O unhappy Jew, recollect, though late, that man was first generated from clay without being procreated by male and female; nor will your veneration for the law allow you to deny that. In the second place, woman was generated of the man, without the intervention of the other sex. The third mode of generation only by male and female, as it is the ordinary one, obstinate as you are, you admit and approve. But the fourth, from which alone came salvation, namely, birth from a woman, without union with

[1] Another curious case of casuistry, arising out of what was an important question in those days, the distinction between fish and flesh, with reference to the diet allowed on days of abstinence, will be found in Chap. XXI. following.


a man, you utterly reject with perverse obstinacy, to your own perdition. Blush, O wretched man, blush! At least, recur to nature, which, in confirmation of the faith for our best teaching, continually produces and gives birth to new animals, without union of male and female. The first creature was begotten of clay; this last is engendered of wood. The one, proceeding from the God of nature for once only, was a stupendous miracle; the other, though not less admirable, is less to be wondered at, because imitative nature often performs it. But human nature is so constituted, that it holds nothing to be precious and admirable but what is uncommon and of rare occurrence. The rising and setting of the sun, than which there is nothing in the world more beautiful, nothing more fit to excite our wonder, we pass by without any admiration, because they are daily presented to our eyes; while an eclipse of the sun fills the whole world with astonishment, because it rarely occurs. [1] The procreation of bees from the honeycomb, by some mysterious inspiration of the breath of life, appears to be a fact of the same kind [as the origin of barnacles].



THERE are also many birds here of a twofold nature, which are called ospreys, in size less than eagles, and larger than hawks. By an extraordinary contrivance of sportive nature, one of their feet spreads open, armed with talons and adapted for taking their prey; the other is close, harmless, and only fit for swimming. It is wonderful how these birds - and I have often witnessed it myself - hover in the air over the waves supported by their wings, remaining still, that they may command a better view of the depths below; and when, with a penetrating glance, they discover through the great space of turbulent air and water small fishes lurking in the sand beneath the waves, they pounce upon them from on high with headlong speed, and diving and coming to the surface, use their web-foot in swimming, while with the other armed with talons they seize and

[1] A truly just and philosophical remark; a grain of wheat which we may well winnow from the chaff of our author's absurdities.


carry off their prey. In like manner, the old enemy of mankind fixes his keen eyes on us, however we may try to conceal ourselves in the troublesome waves of this present world; and ingratiating himself with us by temporal prosperity, which may be compared to the peaceable foot, the cruel spoiler then puts forth his ravenous claws to clutch miserable souls, and drag them to perdition.

It must be remarked that, in both kinds of birds, some are found which much resemble the other; but they are mongrels, and not true to their kind, differing very much in some things, though they possess the common nature of birds. But the careful observer will discriminate these differences in animals having a general resemblance, as well as certain resemblances in those which differ.



THESE are also found in this country the small birds called martinets, [1] which are less than the blackbird, and here, as elsewhere, rare, frequenting the rivers. They are short, like quails, and dive in the water after the small fish on which they feed; and though in other respects they retain their general character, their colour varies. For degenerating here, they have the belly white with a dark-coloured back, while in other countries the belly is red, with red beak and feet. Like parrots and peacocks, the back and wings are distinguished by their brilliant shade of green, which is very lustrous and beautiful. It is remarkable in these little birds that, if they are preserved in a dry place, when dead, they never decay; and if they are put among clothes and other articles, they preserve them from the moth and give them a pleasant odour. What is still more wonderful, if, when dead, they are hung up by their beaks in a dry situation, they change their plumage every year, as if they were restored to life, as though the vital spark still survived and vegetated through some mysterious remains of its energy.

Thus holy men, who are dead to the world, and, as it were, laid up in a dry place, and inflamed with the ardour

[1] The martinet (martineta) was the kingfisher. It is still called in French the martinet-pecheur.


of charity, purify and perfect themselves and those who are united to them from being vitiated by the corruption of sin, and render them conspicuous by the good odour of their virtues. And while they hang from above by the most intimate union of soul, casting off the old garment of the flesh, and clothed in new virtues, they are changed and renewed for the better from time to time, putting off the old man, and putting on the new. For that is the highest pitch of excellence, when the former acts are surpassed by being followed by those which are better.



SWANS abound in the northern part of Ireland; but storks are very rare throughout the island, and their colour is black. It is remarkable in swans that they teach us not to grieve at the fate of death; for in their last moments, making a virtue of necessity, they exhibit by their funeral songs contempt for the loss of life. So men, who are clothed in white by the merits of their virtues, depart joyfully from the troubles of the present world, and thirsting for God, the only fountain of life, desire to be dissolved, freed from this body of death, and to be with Christ.

It is remarkable in storks that they desert places where the waters are warm, and frequent those where they are cold. For throughout the winter they harbour about the beds of streams, but in the first opening of spring change the temperature, betaking themselves to a free current of air. So the saints, who now sleep in the dust of the earth, during the wintry season of this world, which now is, when it is renovated and changed into a better state, enjoying for ever a serene atmosphere, will rise from their hiding-places at the first sound of the archangel's voice, and being carried up to meet Christ in the air, shall be summoned to his right hand, and translated into the true liberty of his sons.



IT is also remarkable in birds of these and other similar species, which the rigour of winter is wont to drive away, that


during this period they are neither living nor dead, but vegetating, without the breath of life being extinct, they appear wrapt in a long trance, and, remaining without the nourishment by which animal life is wont to be sustained, are yet supported by some kind and secret process of nature, until, roused from their sleep, they come back with the zephyrs and the first swallow. In like manner the animals called dormice, because sleep makes them fat (for the word from which they derive their name, gliscere, signifies to grow fat, as well as to long after), sleep all the winter, and, after lying motionless as if they were dead, revive in the summer. This led some one, speaking in the person of this little animal, to say:

"Tota mila dormitur hyems, et pinguior illo
Tempore sum, quo me nil nisi somnus alit".

Those seem to fall into a similar trance whose spirits are on some occasions, by divine permission, wafted to the heavenly mansions above, or to the spectacle of hell below, returning at last, when their mission is completed, to their bodies on earth, which meanwhile have remained in an extraordinary state of destitution, breathing without a spirit, and living without life, and thus neither entirely dead or alive.



IN the districts of Apulia and Calabria there are grasshoppers with wings, which spring from place to place not by any effort of their legs, but by the use of their wings, and have orifices under their throats by which they utter tuneful sounds. It is also reported that they sing sweetest when their heads are cut off, and when they are dead better than when they are alive. Hence the shepherds in that country have a custom of depriving them of their heads, that at least they may extract sweetness from them even by their death. For the residue of the life-giving spirit, until it has escaped by these apertures from the dying body, gives forth wonderful harmony. These grasshoppers, also, being


congealed by the frost in the beginning of winter, shrivea up, and many of them putrify. But when warm weather returns in spring, the breath of life returns to them, and they revivify and recover their strength. That the dead sing better than the living may be exemplified in the case of the Christian martyrs, who, having been decapitated for Christ's sake, preach, when dead, better than they did when alive, so that the church is more edified by their death than by their life. In what follows concerning resuscitation and revival, we have a sign of our own resurrection. For thus the Creator, for our instruction and confirmation in the truth, corroborates the less probable articles of the received faith by familiar examples in the natural world. What else can be the meaning of that prodigious increase from their dust of the little worms which produce silk? What the astonishing reproduction of the phoenix from its own ashes?



ALSO there are no black crows in this country, or they are very rare; they are all parti-coloured. These birds carry up small shell-fish into the air, and let them fall on the rocks by the sea shore, that, not being able to crush the shells with their beaks, they may be fractured by collision with the stones, after falling from a great height. Thus the old enemy, with malicious guile, after raising to the highest pitch of honour those whom he was unable to pervert when in a humble condition, boldly assails them, in order that, neglecting the duties of their station, or wavering, from being puffed up with arrogance, the higher they have been lifted up the greater may be their fall into the depths of sin, and the more severely he may bruise and crush them.

It is a remarkable fact respecting these birds, that although in other things they are the most cunning of all fowls, their natural instinct fails them in choosing suitable situations for their nests, in which other birds, however silly, manifest great ingenuity. For they build their nests in a public road, or any other frequented place, or on a fallen tree, or a stone; never thinking of the winds, or apprehensive of


the access of snakes or men. Thus, however a man may be distinguished by vigour of genius and the endowments of wisdom, if he abandons himself to licentiousness, and is ensnared by lust, he pays little regard to temperance and modesty. This was exemplified in David and Solomon, one of whom incurred the guilt of murder, and the other of apostacy, through their violent passion for women.



As in Crete all the merles are white, so the Irish croeriae [1] are also white. It is the instinct of these birds to impale beetles on a thorn, so that the thorn is impregnated by venom. How remarkable is it that the mischief which we find in neither of the three by itself, is effected through the union of the three. Thus the Creator, by a wonderful union of things contrary, joins the spirit to the flesh, and so the evil of sin is forthwith contracted, although it is to be found in neither of the three of itself.

Ireland produces no falcons but those of noble breed. The ignoble species, vulgarly called layner, [2] are not found here. The gerfalcons, which are bred in the Northern and Arctic regions, and supplied from thence, are not produced in this country; nor are there partridges and pheasants. There are no magpies or nightingales; indeed, of birds in general, and especially of the smaller species, fewer are

[1] This word, as far as I know, has not been found elsewhere, and it is uncertain to what bird it is intended to apply. As it fed upon beetles, it must have been busiest towards nightfall. Ducange has the word croerola, as occurring in the Alemanic Laws, and conjectured to be the French crecerelle, a kestrel. But this can hardly be the meaning here.

[2] In old books of falconry, we find hawks formerly appropriated in a sort of fanciful order, according to the gradations of rank, and among them the "layner and layneret" were assigned to an esquire. Thus, also, the gerfalcon was counted a royal bird, the peregrine falcon was appropriated to an earl or lord, the "sakyr and sakyret" to a knight, a lease of merlins to a lady, a hoby to a gentleman "of the first heag", a goss-hawk to a yeoman, a sparrow-hawk to a priest, and a kestrel to a knave (in the old sense of the word). See Latham's Birds, vol. i. p. 109. As to the gerfalcon, see the note to c. 13, Distinction II. in this Topography.


found here than in other countries. This did not escape the notice of Orosius, when speaking of Ireland, for he observes, "No kind of snake is found there; birds are scarce; and there are no bees". In the two first instances his account is correct, in the third he is mistaken.

We may add to the list of birds a smaller species of white geese, also called gantes (wild geese), which are wont to arrive in great flocks, with a prodigious cackling. But they seldom migrate to these remote regions, and when they do, in very small numbers. The larger species, called by the vulgar bysiae, and also grisiae, come over in the depth of winter in vast flocks, when the north wind blows, and after the frosts are past, return with the south wind at the season for building their nests.



THIS island contains nearly all the species of wild animals which are bred in the western countries. It produces stags so fat that they lose their speed, and the more slender they are in shape, the more nobly they carry their heads and branching antlers. [1] In no part of the world are such vast herds of boars and wild pigs to be found; but they are a small, ill-shaped, and cowardly breed, no less degenerate in boldness and ferocity than in their growth and shape. There are a great number of hares, but they are a small breed, much resembling rabbits both in size and the softness of their fur. In short, it will be found that the bodies of all animals, wild beasts, and birds, each in its kind, are smaller here than in other countries; while the men alone retain their full dimensions. It is remarkable in

[1] The elk, the largest of the genus Cervus, of which there are any traces in Europe, and akin to the moose-deer of America, must have been extinct in Ireland long before the age of Giraldus, or he could hardly have failed to notice it. Still, from its remains being discovered in considerable numbers in the Irish bogs, and often in groups, it would appear that the elk co-existed in Ireland with the present state of organized nature. The species seems to have died off from some change of the climate, the destruction of the forests, or the loss of its natural food, just as attempts to acclimatize in Scotland the reindeer, kindred species, hare failed from similar causes


these hares, that, contrary to the usual instincts of that animal, when found by the dogs, they keep to cover like foxes, running in the woods instead of in the open country, and never taking to the plains and beaten paths, unless they are driven to it. This difference in their habits is, I think, caused by the rankness of the herbage in the plains, checking their speed. Martins are very plentiful in the woods; in hunting which the day is prolonged through the night by means of fires, For night coming on, a fire is lighted under the tree in which the hunted animal has taken refuge from the dogs, and being kept burning all night, the martin eyeing its brightness from the boughs above, without quitting its post, either is so fascinated by it, or, rather, so much afraid of it, that when morning comes the hunters find him on the same spot.



THERE is also here the badger or melot, an unclean animal, which bites sharply, frequenting the mountains and rocks. It makes holes under ground for its refuge and protection, scratching and digging them out with its feet. Some of them, whose natural instinct it is to serve the rest, have been seen, to the great admiration of the observers, lying on their backs with the earth dug out heaped on their bellies, and held together by their four claws, while others dragged them backward by a stick held in their mouth, fastening their teeth in which, they drew them out of the hole, with their burthens.



THE beavers, also, have a similar practice, through the kind provision of nature. When they are building their fortress in the bed of a river, they make servants of some of their own species and use them as vehicles in a very extraordinary manner, for collecting and conveying oak boughs from the woods to the water. In both these kinds of animals, some of these servants are to be found remarkable both for their degeneracy and uncouth shape, and for the manner in which the shaggy fur on their backs has been rubbed and


worn off. Ireland produces badgers, but not beavers. They are, however, found in Wales, but only in the river Teivy, near Cardigan (Kairdygan); and likewise in Scotland, but very rarely there also. [1]

It must be noted that beavers have broad tails, but they are not long; and being spread out like a man's hand, they supply the place of oars when they are swimming. Though they have a thick coat of fur over all the rest of their bodies, their tails are quite bare and smooth, and slippery like seals. Hence in Germany and the northern regions, where beavers are plentiful, even the great, and men of religion, eat the tails during fasting seasons instead of fish, of the nature of which they partake both in taste and colour. It would appear, however, that what is true of the whole, as a whole, is true of a part, considered as a part; nor is it usual that a part differs essentially from the whole. [2]

I propose to describe more fully in another work the habits and character of beavers, [3] how and with what skill they construct their fortresses in the middle of the rivers, and how, with such admirable instinct for an animal, when they are pursued by their enemies, they redeem the whole by the sacrifice of a part. [4] This I shall do when I come to treat of the geography and natural history of Wales and Scotland, and of the origin and characteristics of the two

[1] It would appear from this passage that the beaver, a native of the northern parts of Europe and Asia, was become extinct in Ireland before the time of Giraldus, and had then become very rare in Wales, though still found on the river Tivy in Cardiganshire. Beavers still exist in Norway, where we have seen their dykes in the province of Telemarken; but they are becoming rare in that country also, and a law was passed not long since, prohibiting their being killed for a term of seven years, in order to preserve the breed. Even in the solitudes of North America, when the beaver remained unmolested for ages after the value of its furs had caused it to be almost exterminated in other countries, it is fast disappearing before the persevering enterprise and cupidity of the trapper.

[2] An amusing specimen of the casuistry of ecclesiastics, who sought to vary their Lenten diet, and as curious an application of our author's shrewd logic to the case.

[3] Giraldus mentions the beaver again in Chapter III. of his Itinerary of Wales.

[4] The following scholium is printed in the margin of the Frankfort edition of Giraldus: "that is, by gnawing off, or rather cutting off, their own testicles".


nations. [1] But we shall find a place for this elsewhere, and for another purpose, under God's guidance, if life be spared. There are some other wild animals which are not found in Ireland, such as roebucks, goats, hedgehogs, hermins, and polecats (putacii).



THERE are here a vast number of weasels, but they are very small, and are of a reddish colour. This little animal has more spirit than body, and its courage supplying the deficiency of its strength, with a great heart actuating a slender frame, it is vindictive and relentless in its wrath, however it may hide it for a time. When injured it dissembles its resentment and defers its revenge; it is the tyrant of the larger sorts of mice, and commits great ravages by gnawing clothes. It preys also on hares and rabbits, nor does it shrink from engaging in single combat with the snake, in which conflict, often pretending to run away, it betakes itself to some mound of earth which it has noted before, and having a hole through the middle as well as one perforated above in the form of a cross. The snake gliding after it, and being entangled in the narrow passage without the power of wriggling out, the weasel darts upon it from the upper orifice with its natural agility, and seizes it with its teeth, without suffering any injury. Thus, by an innate impulse and ingenuity, not to call it a wonderful instinct, the weasel, avoiding its terrible enemy's venomous head, triumphs over it more by art than by prowess.

The weasel also, when its young are dying from any hurt, recovers and restores them to life by the use of a yellow flower. We are told by persons who have witnessed the fact, having put the whelp to death to make the experiment, that the weasel brought the flower in its mouth, and first applied it to the wound, and then to the mouth,

[1] It appears from this to have been the intention of Giraldus Cambrensis to write similar topographies of Wales and Scotland. The Cambriae Descriptio, of which a translation is given in the present volume, may, perhaps, be considered as the fulfilment of one part of this design, but no description of Scotland by our writer is at present known to exist.


nostrils, and other orifices of the little animal, that it might inhale the odour, by which, through the efficacious touch of the plant, breath was restored, though life seemed extinct, some slight and imperceptible vestiges of it only having remained.

Moreover, as death destroys every thing else by its mere glance, such is the weasel to the basilisk. In like manner, the hyaena subdues the lordly lion with the smallest drop of its urine. The mouse, too, is formidable to the elephant, the largest of animals. Thus, by the wise disposition of Providence, the greater are sometimes conquered by the less, that at least we may learn from them that there is nothing on earth so mighty or so favoured, as to enjoy entire felicity. What is there under heaven loftier than man? What more insignificant than an adder, a spider, or a gnat? The Creator has introduced among his creatures nothing without reason, no evil without a remedy.

There are very few or no moles in Ireland, either because they have never existed, or on account of the extreme humidity of the soil. As the sun blinds the mole, so a single day sees the birth and death of the grasshopper, on which account some one has thus apostrophized the little insect:

"Mors et vita dies una tibi est".

The larger species of mouse is found here in great numbers, and the smaller kind swarm to such an amazing degree that they consume more enormous quantities of grain than anywhere else, and are very destructive to clothes, which they gnaw and tear, however carefully they may be locked up in chests. Bede describes the island as possessing only two sorts of ravenous animals. [1] To these I have added this third, which is most destructive.



Of all sorts of reptiles, Ireland possesses those only which

[1] Scholium, "namely, wolves and foxes". Giraldus introduces a wolf in a curious legend, Distinction II. c.19, and in c.26; we find that wolves were not totally extirpated from the neighbourhood of Glendalough until 1710.


are harmless, and does not produce any that are venomous. [1] There are neither snakes nor adders, toads nor frogs, tortoises nor scorpions, nor dragons. It produces, however, spiders, leeches, and lizards; but they are quite harmless. Hence it may be said, or even written, pleasantly, as well as with historical truth: "In France and Italy the frogs fill the air with their croakings; in Britain they are mute: in Ireland there are none". Some indeed conjecture, with what seems a flattering fiction, that St. Patrick and the other saints of that country cleared the island of all pestiferous animals; but history asserts, with more probability, that from the earliest ages, and long before it was favoured with the light of revealed truth, this was one of the things which never existed here, from some natural deficiency in the produce of the island.

Nor does it appear to me much to be wondered at that the country does not naturally produce these reptiles, no more than some kinds of fishes, birds, and wild animals which are not found there. But it does appear very wonderful that, when any thing venomous is brought there from other lands, it never could exist in Ireland. For we read in the ancient books of the saints of that country, that sometimes, for the sake of experiment, serpents have been shipped over in brazen vessels, but were found lifeless and dead as soon as the middle of the Irish sea was crossed. Poison also similarly conveyed was found to lose its venom, when midway on the waters, disinfected by a purer air. Bede, in

[1] It is difficult to comprehend how the assertion, that no venomous animals existed in Ireland, could have been so generally current without some basis of truth; particularly as Giraldus, who was three years in the island, and appears to have been generally well informed on its zoology, not only strips the statement of its fabulous element, calling that "a flattering fiction", but affirms it on his own authority as a fact in natural history, offering the very plausible solution, that species of animals existing in some countries are not produced in others. The account he gives, in the next chapter, of the great surprise publicly manifested, when a frog or toad was found in the neighbourhood of Waterford, and brought to court, is so circumstantial, that the fact of its discovery being considered an extraordinary occurrence seems hardly to be doubted.


speaking of Ireland, writes on this subject as follows: "No reptile is found there; no serpent can live there; for, though often carried thither out of Britain, as soon as the ship draws near the land, and the scent of the air from off the shore reaches them, they die. On the contrary, almost all things produced in the island have virtues against poison. [1]

I have also heard it said by merchants, who pursued their adventures in the ocean, that on some occasions, having unloaded their ships in an Irish port, they found toads in the bottom of the hold; and having thrown them on shore in a living state, they immediately turned on their backs, and bursting their bellies, died, to the astonishment of many who witnessed it. It appears, therefore, that either through the merits of the saints, as report goes throughout the world, or some strange and unheard of, but most kindly, influence of the air, or some occult property of the soil itself inimical to poison, no venomous animal can exist here, and every kind of poison introduced from other countries forthwith loses its malignant effect.

Indeed the soil of Ireland is so hostile to poison, that, if gardens or any other spots in foreign countries are sprinkled with its dust, all venomous reptiles are immediately driven far away.

Thongs also, which are the real produce of the island, and made of the skins of animals born there, being grated in waters which is drunk, the potion is an efficacious remedy against the bites of toads and serpents. I have seen with my own eyes one of these thongs drawn tight in a circle round a toad, for the sake of the experiment. Coming to the thong, and trying to cross over it, the animal fell backwards as if it were stunned. It then tried the opposite side of the circle, but meeting with the thong all round, it shrunk from it, as if it were pestiferous. At last, digging a hole in the mud with its feet in the centre of the circle, it crept into it in the presence of many persons.

Nay more, according to Bede's statement, almost all things produced in the island have virtues against poison. He gives an instance which he witnessed himself. Some persons having been bitten by serpents, water in which the crapings of the leaves of books brought from Ireland had

[1] Eccles. Hist. b. i. c. 1.


been mixed was given them to drink, and it extracted all the venom of the spreading poison, reduced the swelling of their bodies, and assuaged the tumor. It happened also, within my time, on the northern borders of England, that a snake crept into the mouth of a boy while he was asleep, and passed through his gullet into his belly. The reptile, making a very ill return to his host for the lodgings with which it had been unconsciously supplied, began to gnaw and tear the lad's intestines, and threw him into such agonies that he would have preferred death at once to such a dying life. After satisfying his hunger, however, the snake allowed him some respite from his sufferings, but before that none at all. After the boy had resorted to the shrines of the saints of God throughout England for a long time, but all in vain, at length, better advised, he crossed over to Ireland, where, as soon as he had drank of the salubrious waters of that country and partaken of its food, his deadly enemy expired, and was voided through his intestines. Then rejoicing in renovated health, he returned to his own country.



NEVERTHELESS, a frog was found, within my time, in the grassy meadows near Waterford, and brought to court alive before Robert Poer, who was at that time warden there, and many others, both English and Irish. And when numbers of both nations, and particularly the Irish, had beheld it with great astonishment, at last Duvenold, [1] king of Ossory, a man of sense among his people, and faithful, who happened to be present, beating his head, and having deep grief at heart, spoke thus: "That reptile is the bearer of doleful news to Ireland". And uttering a sort of prognostic, he further said, that it portended, without doubt, the coming of the English, their threatened conquest, and the subjugation of his own nation. No man, however, will venture to suppose that this reptile was ever born in Ireland; for the

[1] Duvenold, or Donald, king or prince of Ossory, is introduced more fully by Giraldus, as an ally of the English, in the Vaticinal History of the Conquest of Ireland.


mud there does not, as in other countries, contain the germs from which green frogs are bred. If that had been the case, they would have been found more frequently, and in greater numbers, both before and after the time mentioned. It may have happened that some particle of the germ, hid in the moist soil, had been exhaled into the clouds by the heat of the atmosphere, and wafted hither by the force of the winds; or, perhaps, that the embryo reptile had been swept into the hollow of a descending cloud, and, being by chance deposited here, was lodged in an inhospitable and ungenial soil. But the better opinion is, that the frog was brought over by accident in a ship from some neighbouring port, and being cast on shore, succeeded in subsisting and maintaining life for a time, as it is not a venomous animal.



IRELAND is the most temperate of all countries. The burning heat of Cancer does not drive the inhabitants to the cool shades, nor the freezing blasts of Capricorn urgently invite them to the fire. You seldom observe snow here, and then only for a short time. Cold weather sometimes comes with every wind, no less from the east and west, than from the south or north. From all quarters they are moderate, and from none tempestuous. The grass in the fields is green in the winter as well as in the summer; so that they neither cut hay for fodder, nor ever build stalls for the cattle. In consequence of the agreeable temperature of the climate, it is warm at almost all seasons. The air also is so healthy, that no clouds bring infection, and there are no pestilent vapours, or tainted breezes. The islanders have little need of physicians, for you will find few sick persons, except those who are at the point of death. There is little medium between perfect health and the last end. Strangers here are troubled only with one disorder; they suffer from a single ailment. At first, hardly any one escapes a violent flux of the bowels, from the succulent qualities of the food they take. However, flesh and the produce of cows are to be had almost at all seasons; but pork meat is unwholesome. Moreover, no


natives of the island, who have never quitted its salubrious soil and climate, suffer at any time from either of three sorts of fever; the only one which attacks them is the ague, and that very seldom.

This was the course of things in due order of nature; but as the world grows older, and is falling as it were into the decrepitude of old age, and draws to an end, the nature of almost all things is corrupted and deteriorated. For now such floods of rain inundate the country, such dense clouds and fogs overspread it, that you will hardly see three clear days together, even during summer. Notwithstanding, no disturbance of the atmosphere, no seasonableness of the weather, either troubles those who are in health and spirits, or affects the nerves of delicate persons.



WHAT wealth then can Eastern lands boast which is comparable to these advantages? They possess, indeed, those silken fabrics, the produce of a little worm, which glow with colours of various dyes? They have the precious metals, and sparkling gems, and odoriferous trees. But what are these, procured at the cost of life and health? Are they not attended with the presence of a familiar enemy, the air the Orientals breathe, and which constantly surrounds them?

In those countries all the elements, though created for the use of man, threaten wretched mortals with death, undermine health, and bring life to an end. Plant your naked foot on the earth, death is at hand; incautiously seat yourself on a rock, death is at hand; drink pure water unmixed, or smell it when it is putrid, death is at hand. Expose your head uncovered to the free air, if it be cold it pierces you through, if it be hot you languish; death is at hand. The heavens terrify you with their thunders, and flash their lightnings in your eyes. The blazing sun allows you no rest. If you eat too much, death is at the gate; if you drink wine undiluted with water, death is at the gate.


Besides this, poison threatens on all hands: the mother-in-law gives it to her step-son, the exasperated wife to her husband, the corrupt cook to his master. You may suspect poison not only in the dish and in the cup, but in your clothes, your seats, your saddles. It insidiously creeps into your veins of itself; you are subject to its insidious attacks from venomous animals; man, of all noxious creatures the most noxious, insidiously gives it to man.

Besides all the more common annoyances which abound in these regions, the safety of man is threatened and endangered by swift panthers of various kinds; by rhinoceroses, allured by love of virgins; [1] crocodiles, fearful by their breath; [2] hippopotami frequenting the rivers; lynxes, with piercing eyes; and lions that fear nothing but the hyaena's urine. The country is infested by asps and vipers, by dragons, and by the basilisk, whose very glance is fatal. It is infested by the 'seps', a little reptile whose malignity makes up for its diminutive size. Its venom not only wastes the flesh, but the very bones. Of which the poet sings:

Ossaque consumit cum corpora tabificus seps. [3]

There is also the dipsa, a small species of snake, whose venom destroys life before it is even perceived, and is so powerful that its bite occasions death before any pain is felt.

It happened, within my own memory, that a man having gone on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as is the custom, from Britain, one morning, as he happened to be sifting with his hand the corn for his horses, he had his finger bitten by a little reptile which was lurking in the corn. Immediately his whole body, flesh and bone, was converted into a shapeless mass like pitch. His companions, making inquiry into the cause of his death, or rather of his transformation, and the nature of the reptile, discovered a very minute snake having the appearance of a black eel. They learnt from the natives that this species of snake is called Galeia, and that it was wont, rarely indeed, but yet too often,

[1] It was the unicorn, which, according to the mediaeval fable, could only be caught by the means of a pure virgin, to whom, when exposed in the places the animal haunted, he came and became perfectly tame, and the hunters took this opportunity of attacking and killing it.

[2] It was the old notion relating to crocodiles, that they drew to them their prey by the effect of their breath.

[3] Lucan's Pharsalia, lib. ix. 1. 723.


within the last thirty years to visit that country from the deserts of Babylonia, and by its attacks on man and beast, with such violent and incurable malignity, gave notice of its arrival. Of reptiles of this description, which abound in the East, each genus has its own peculiar poison, each species its own power of destruction. Their colours are as varied as the dolors they cause; their varieties as great as the sufferings they occasion. In such peril of death, what security is there for life? or rather, among so many deaths, what is life?



LET the East then have its abundant stores of venom and poison, while we, possessing in golden moderation whatever is necessary for decent use and the wants of nature, are compensated for Oriental pomps by the single circumstance of our temperate climate. O incomparable gift bestowed on the land by God! O inestimable favour one not sufficiently appreciated, conferred on mortals from above! We sleep secure in the open air, secure on the bare rock. We fear no wind piercing us with cold, prostrating our strength with heat, or carrying pestilence in its blast. The air we breathe, and with which we are surrounded, lends us its beneficent and salutary support. The nearer, indeed, we go to the regions of the East, and warmer climates, the greater is the fertility of the soil, and the more plentifully does the earth pour forth her fruits. There also are found in abundance the precious metals and gems, with silk and cotton wools; and wealth of all kinds is overflowing. The people also, thanks to a brighter atmosphere, although slender in person, are of a more subtle intellect. Hence, they have recourse to poison rather than to violence for success in their schemes, and gain their purposes more by their arts than by their arms. But when we come to the Western parts of the world, we find the soil more sterile, the air more salubrious, and the people less acute, but more robust; for where the atmosphere is heavy, the fields are less fertile than the wits. And, as each race, bred among Arctic frosts,


Nascitur indomitus bellis, et martis amator;
Gens haec ingentes animos ingenti corpore versant.

Is born to war, and filled with martial fire-
So here brave souls gigantic frames inspire.

Bacchus and Ceres, therefore, rule in the East, with their attendant Venus, who, deprived of them, is chilled; Minerva, also, who was always nursed and attracted by a purer sky. Here [in the West] reigns Mars, Mercury, and the Arcadian god. In the East is accumulated a superabundance of wealth; here we have a modest and honourable competence. There the atmosphere is serene, here it is salubrious. There the natives are fine witted; here, their understandings are robust. There they arm themselves with poisons, here with manly vigour. There, they are crafty, here bold in war. There men cultivate wisdom, here eloquence. There Apollo rules, Mercury here; there Minerva, here Pallas and Diana.

Many other things are wanting here much to our advantage, such as vermin. Here there are no earthquakes, you scarcely hear thunder once in a year; thunder-claps do not terrify, nor flashes of lightning strike. Here are no cataracts to overwhelm, no earthquake to swallow you up; no lions to carry you off, no panthers to mangle you, no bears to devour you, no tigers to destroy you. Moreover, no suspicion of poison makes you recoil from food, even offered by an enemy. No stepson fears the poison cup of his mother-in-law, no matron that of a jealous mistress.



THE East is the well-spring of poisons, and the further the stream flows from the fountain-head, the less is its natural force. Weakening gradually during its long course through such vast distances, the strength of the venom has wholly evaporated in these extreme parts of the world.

The further from the zodiac the sun's rays penetrate, the less is the influence of its warmth on objects exposed to it, so


that some extreme parts of the Arctic regions are entirely deprived of the benefit of its heat. But you will say, "The East is super-eminent for precious stones and medicinal roots". It is, indeed, a wise provision of nature, that where evils abound, there remedies for the evils should spring up. Where many diseases are rife, they require medicines to be discovered for their cure; but here, where the danger is less, the remedies are more scarce.

As much then as ease of mind is more desirable than anxiety, as preservation is better than cure, and as it is better to enjoy constant health than, after much suffering, to seek for remedies, so in the same degree, the advantages of the West are to be preferred to those of the East; and so far nature has cast a more favourable eye on the regions fanned by the west, than those swept by east winds. It appears to be very probable that as moisture tempers and softens the morning and evening of day, while noon is scorching, and the earliest and latest years of man are mellowed by a moist temperament, while his middle age is fervid, so while, in respect of the regions on the meridian and its confines, the sun raging in those parts as if in the prime of youth, infects the air with disease, so a more humid climate renders the boundaries of its rising and getting temperate.




I COME now to those facts which, being contrary to the course of nature, call forth our wonder and amazement. From among these I have thought it not superfluous to employ my pen in relating such as nature has produced in these remote lands, remarkable and novel in themselves, and such also as have been most eminently and miraculously wrought through the merits of the saints; the memorials of which are extant in authentic records, and most worthy of notice. As then the prodigies of the Eastern regions have already been brought to the light of public attention through the labours of industrious authors, so those of the West, which have hitherto been almost hidden and unknown, may at length, in these latter days, find an editor through my labours. I know, however, and am persuaded, that I shall have to write some accounts which will seem to the reader either utterly impossible, or quite ridiculous. But, with the help of God, I will insert nothing in my book the truth of which I have not elicited with the greatest diligence either from my own firm belief or the authentic testimony of most trustworthy men, who have lived in the districts of which I write. Let me not, however, be involved in a cloud of malicious slander. What I have witnessed with my own eyes, that I assert firmly and without any hesitation. But what has only reached my ear through others, which I am slower to believe, that I do not affirm, but only relate. To all those of which I received authentic accounts from many persons who were eye-witnesses of them, I give full credence; and I accept those given by others, whose truth and assertions I find no reason to doubt.

It is not surprising that wonders should be discovered, related, and written concerning His works, who made all


things according to his will; with whom nothing is impossible; who, as the God of Nature, moulds nature as he pleases, and makes that natural which appears unnatural. Moreover, how can any thing be said to be done contrary to primitive and true nature, which is God, when it is certain that he is the doer of it? Those things, therefore, are, in common phrase, rather than properly, said to be done contrary to nature, which appear to happen, not contrary to his power, but to his usual proceeding. Since, therefore, God is wonderful in his saints, and great in all his doings, come and behold the works of the Lord, who hath shown his wonders in the earth.

Some countries, islands especially, and parts remote from the centre of the earth, are remarkable for prodigies which are peculiarly their own. For nature always, and purposely as it were, interlards her works with some new ones, that she may thus plainly teach and declare, that although her usual operations may be comprehended by the human understanding, her mighty power cannot be understood. Let the careful reader also remark that history must not be sparing of truth, and that it rather chooses what is certain than what is probable. If, therefore, anything should escape me which is new and unheard of, let it not be condemned and struck out even by the malicious, but sometimes pardoning, sometimes approving, let my task proceed. For as the poet sings:

"Si patribus nostris novitas invisa fuisset,
Ut nobis, quid nunc esset vetus, aut quid haberet
Quod legeret, tereretque viritim publicus usus?" [1]

Let no one, therefore, condemn anything because it is new, which, as time passes on, while it is accused of novelty, ceases to be new. Let there be found here both what the present age may blame, and posterity applaud; what the one may rail at, the other read; what the one may condemn, the other love; what the one may reprove, the other approve.

[1] Hor. Epist. II., 1. 90. 3. Giraldus has altered the beginning of the first line, which is in the original:

"Quod si tam Graiis novitas", etc.




THE Irish Sea, being agitated by opposing currents, is almost always troubled, so that navigators scarcely ever find it tranquil even for a few days in summer.



WHENEVER the water is low in the port of Dublin, the tide being at half-ebb, the returning tide has already risen to half-flood at Milford, the most excellent harbour in Britain for ships to enter. At the same time the flood-tide gradually runs up to the farthest coast about Bristol, which had been left dry by the receding waters. The same rule applies to the tides on the opposite shores. There is also a port at Wicklow, on the coast of Ireland, lying opposite to France, [1] into which the tide sets when it is ebbing at most other places, but when the flood returns, this port is left dry. There is another thing remarkable in this locality; when the sea has receded and left the whole bay dry, still a stream flows in through the entire channel to the harbour, which makes the water salt and brackish. On the contrary, at Arklow, which is the nearest port, not only when the tide is setting in and filling the bay, but also at its reflux, when the sea has entirely ebbed, the stream which runs down retains its purity and freshness, and discharges its waters into the sea without any mixture of saltness.



WHEN the moon is at the meridian, the ocean, withdrawing its attendant waves, leaves the northern coasts of Britain

[1] Wicklow and Arklow (called by Giraldus Gwykingelo and Archelo) are sea-ports on the Irish channel, incorrectly described by Giraldua as opposite to the coast of France.


entirely dry. The reflux then produces high tides on the Irish shore at Dublin. The coast about Wexford, however has not the Irish tides of Dublin, but the British as they flow at Milford. What is still more remarkable, there is a rock in the sea, not far from Arklow, where the tide comesi in on one side, while it ebbs on the other.

When the moon is at half her growth, as her light returns, the Western seas, from some unknown natural cause, begin to be rough and agitated, and, till she is in her full, swell more and more from day to day, overflowing the shore far beyond their usual bounds. But when the moon wanes, and her light failing, she, as it were, turns away her face, the swelling of the waters gradually declines, and when the moon's face is no longer seen, the sea returns into its proper channels, its overflow subsiding. Indeed, the moon is the entire source and cause of motion in liquids, so that it not only regulates the waters of the ocean, but, in animal life, influences the marrow in the bones, the brains in the head, and the juices of trees and plants, in proportion to its increase or decrease. [1] Hence, when the moon ceases to be luminous you will find all animate nature shrink, but when she is again round and shining at the full, the marrow fills the bones, the brains the head, and the juices of vegetables swell. Hence it is, that those are called lunatics, who suffer every month by the excessive action of the brain, as the moon increases; and the word mensis (a month) is derived from mene, which signifies decrease, [2] because it decreases with the moon, and with her increase fills and completes its course.

It may be observed that a commentator on that part of the Gospel which speaks of our Lord's curing lunatics and paralytics, writes to the following effect. He calls those lunatics whose disorder augmented with the increase of the moon, not that their madness is caused by the moon, but the devil, who is the author of it, takes advantage of the moon's seasons to shame the creature to the blasphemy of his Creator. The commentator might, however, have said with

[1] The extraordinary influence of the moon on the earth and its inhabitants was one of the foundation stones of mediaeval science, and was the origin of numerous superstitions, some of which have hardly yet become obsolete.

[2] From minuo, to diminish?


equal truth, if I may be allowed to correct him, that valetudinarians are affected in this manner on account of the humours increasing in an extraordinary degree at the full-moon. But matters of this sort, and why the Western ocean attracts the flux and reflux of the tides by some lively influence, which is regular and unfailing, and acts more powerfully than the Mediterranean Sea; and how all this is affected through the influence of the moon on liquids; it would be a more serious task to explain. I have clearly, though briefly, treated on these subjects in my little metrical work called "The Flowers of Philosophy". [1]

In order, however, shortly to direct the readers' attention to the more evident causes of these great changes, and to a fuller investigation of their subtle principles, let him bear in mind these four points. Rivers, and the springs which feed them, from which the sea in some degree derives life and motion, are always more abundant towards the extremities of the earth. From the four conflicting and most distant parts of the ocean, there is a certain violent attraction of the sea, with alternate absorption and ebullition, and the disorder immediately occasioned by the decrease as well as by the increase of humidity, towards the extremities of the earth, is very apparent. Add to this, that there the ocean has freer course for its flux and reflux without impediment. When, however, the land embraces it on all sides, and it is reduced by so many obstacles to the conditions of standing water in a lake, it has no scope for flowing freely.



THERE is a lake in the northern parts of Munster, [2] containing two islands, one large, the other small. In the larger island there is a church held in great veneration from the

[1] De philosophicis flosculis. This work of Giraldus Cambrensis is not now known to exist.

[2] These islands were situated in a lake called Loch Cre, now dried up, in the parish of Corbally, three miles from Roscrea, in Tipperary. The bog, which has taken the place of the lake, is called Monaincha, i.e., the bog of the island; and on the latter, which is supposed to consist of the two islands spoken of by Giraldus, there are the ruins of a monastic house.


earliest times; the smaller island contains a chapel, which is devoutly served by a few celibates, called Heaven-worshippers, or God-worshippers. No woman, nor any animal of the female sex, could ever enter the larger island without instant death. This has been often proved by dogs and cats, and other animals, of the female sex, which, having been carried over for sake of the experiment, immediately expired. It is an extraordinary fact, that while male birds perch on the bushes on all parts of the island in great numbers, the female birds with whom they pair, fly back, avoiding the island from some natural instinct of its qualities, as if it were infested with the plague. In the smaller island no one ever dies, was ever known to die, or could die a natural death. It is consequently called the Isle of the Living. Notwithstanding, its inhabitants are sometimes severely afflicted with mortal diseases, and languish in misery till life is nearly exhausted. But when no hope remains, all expectation of the powers of life being restored becomes extinct, and they are reduced by their increasing malady to such a degree of suffering that they would rather die than live a life of death, the natives cause themselves to be ferried over in a boat to the larger island, where they breathe their last as soon as they touch the land. I have thought it right to notice this because it is mentioned in the first pages of the Scholastic History, which treats of the inhabitants of islands of this description. The tree of the sun is also there spoken of, concerning which king Alexander writes to Aristotle, that whoever eats of the fruit prolongs his life to an immense period.

There is also in Ulster a cemetery, with a station, consecrated by the long resort of holy men. Here, also, the female sex is not admitted; the bride cannot follow her husband, but a local divorce takes place; they cannot join in their devotions, and on this spot they are adjudged to an early separation. The cock enters here without the hen, and, strange to observe, it calls its mate without avail when it finds a place to feed in the island.

There is likewise, in the northern parts of Britain, an island called the Holy Isle, where women cannot bring forth children, yet they conceive, becoming pregnant, and increase in size according to the natural order of things, till the time


of delivery. When that is near at hand, if they are carried to another island, nature takes its free course; but if they are detained, as sometimes is done for the sake of experiment, they are tortured with excruciating pains, and reduced to the door of death by their sufferings, until they are sent away.



THERE is a lake in Ulster containing an island divided into two parts. In one of these stands a church of especial sanctity, and it is most agreeable and delightful, as well as beyond measure glorious for the visitations of angels and the multitude of the saints who visibly frequent it. The other part, being covered with rugged crags, is reported to be the resort of devils only, and to be almost always the theatre on which crowds of evil spirits visibly perform their rites. This part of the island contains nine pits, and should any one perchance venture to spend the night in one of them (which has been done, we know, at times, by some rash men), he is immediately seized by the malignant spirits, who so severely torture him during the whole night, inflicting on him such unutterable sufferings by fire and water, and other torments of various kinds, that when morning comes scarcely any spark of life is found left in his wretched body. It is said that any one who has once submitted to these torments as a penance imposed upon him, will not afterwards undergo the pains of hell, unless he commit some sin of a deeper dye.

This place is called by the natives the Purgatory of St. Patrick. [1] For he having to argue with a heathen

[1] Tradition places St. Patrick's Purgatory, as Giraldus describes it, on an island in a lake in the province of Ulster, Lough Derg, in Donenegal, near the town and bay of the same name, and about three-quarters of an Irish mile in extent; but Giraldus is the only writer who speaks of its division into paradisaic and purgatorial regions. The text-book on St. Patrick's Purgatory, in the middle ages, was a Latin narrative by Henry of Saltery, which is dated 1152, and is common in old manuscripts; it was translated into various languages. Giraldus had evidently not seen this book, as his account differs very much from it. See for full information on the subject, the volume on "St. Patrick's Purgatory", by the editor of the present volume. It appears that the penitents were immured in a low and dark cell cut in the rock, and capable of holding six or eight persons, where, with their heads half-turned by preparatory fastings and watchings, they were in a state to place implicit faith in the visions which superstition presented to their distempered imagination through a narrow window, the only aperture left in the stifling cell.


race concerning the torments of hell reserved for the reprobate, and the real nature and eternal duration of the future life, in order to impress on the rude minds of the unbelievers a mysterious faith in doctrines so new, so strange, so opposed to their prejudices, procured by the efficacy of his prayers an exemplification of both states even on earth, as a salutary lesson to the stubborn minds of the people.



THERE is an island called Aren, [1] situated in the western part of Connaught, and consecrated, as it is said, to St. Brendan, where human corpses are neither buried nor decay, but, deposited in the open air, remain uncorrupted. Here men can behold, and recognise with wonder, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and great-great-grandfathers, and the long series of their ancestors to a remote period of past time.

There is another thing remarkable in this island. Although mice [2] swarm in vast numbers in other parts of Ireland, here not a single one is found. No mouse is bred here, nor does it live if it be introduced; when brought over, it runs immediately away and leaps into the sea. If it be stopped, it instantly dies.

[1] These legends belong to an island called Inisgluair, off the coast of Erris, co. Mayo, which was sacred to St. Brandan, and which Giraldus seems to have confounded with Aran. According to the legend, the latter island was visited by St. Brandan when he set out on his grand voyage. St. Bean is supposed to be the saint of that name commemorated in the Romish calendar on the 16th of December.

[2] Giraldus uses the word mures, but some of the Irish antiquaries Believe that by this word he meant the small black rat which abounds in Ireland.




THERE is a well in Munster, in the waters of which whoever bathes has his hair immediately turned grey. I have seen a man, part of whose beard, having been washed in this water, had become white, while the other part retained its dark natural colour. On the contrary, there is a spring in Ulster, which prevents people who wash in its waters from ever becoming grey-haired. It is frequented by women, and by men who are desirous of avoiding grey hairs. [1]

There is also a spring of fresh water in Connaught, at the top of a high mountain, and far from the coast, which ebbs twice a day, and flows over as often, like the tides in the sea. There is also in Wales, not far from the castle of Dinevur, [2] in the province of Canterbochan, a spring whose waters have similar changes. Trojus Pompeius mentions a town of the Garamantes, in which a fountain bursts forth, which is alternately cold by night and warm by day. [3]

In the southern part of Britain also, which takes its name from that of its lord, several springs bubbling out from the naked rocks not far from each other, but at a great distance from the sea, are of a very changeable nature. The waters of these are neither sweet nor salt, but brackish. One of them, which springs out on the summit of a high rock having the appearance of a lofty tower, at the full tides of every month, which accompany the moon's increase, throws up a much larger volume of water than usual, to the admiration of all beholders.

Likewise, in the Chiltern district of Britain, [4] there are many springs which are entirely dried up when the crops are abundant, the earth being parched for want of their

[1] It is not at present known to what wells Giraldus here refers. A well, the water of which turned the hair grey, is mentioned as being in the parish of Gallorn, in the county of Monaghan, and therefore in Ulster, while that spoken of by Giraldus was in Munster. But holy and legendary wells are abundant in Ireland.

[2] This spring is again mentioned in the Itinerary of Giraldus, lib. 1, c. x.

[3] This statement is taken from Solinus, c. 29.

[4] The Chiltern hills are in Buckinghamshire, on the borders Berkshire and Oxfordshire, deriving their name from "chilt", or "cylt", the old English word for chalk, of which the district is composed.


refreshing streams. Against a time of dearth and famine, however, the waters bubble up freely from the veins of the earth, and bursting their channels, the precursors of evil, are seen to overflow. There is a fountain equally remarkable for the same prognostics at the village of Nichatensis, [1] in the territory of Vimoux, in the kingdom of France.

In some parts of Normandy, however, it happens just the contrary. The springs are full in seasons of plenty, and fail when the crops are deficient. There is a spring in the most northern part of Ulster, which is so excessively cold that it hardens wood, which has been immersed in it for seven years, into stone. We find in Norway another spring having the same property, only being nearer the Frigid Zone, it is still more powerful; for not only timber, but flax and woollen webs, are congealed into the hardest stone when they have been immersed in this spring a single year. In consequence, Oxippale, a Norwegian bishop, brought to Waldemar, king of Denmark in our time, an object which he had received from him the year before, for the purpose of making the experiment. It had now two different parts, as far as the middle, having been immersed in the water, it was stone; the other part, which had lain out of the water, retained its original nature.

In Great Britain, near the monastery of Wimborn, stands a grove of fruit trees, the wood of which, when it happens to fall into the water, or on the earth at that spot, is at a year's end converted to stone; so that stakes fixed in a hedge and planted in the soil, have different properties above and below the surface of the ground. Moreover, any articles carved in wood, and deposited either in the water, or in the earth, at that place for a year, are taken out by the inhabitants changed into stone. [2] What Palladius says

[1] We have not been able to identify this place.

[2] What Giraldus relates of tbe petrifaction of wood and other substances immersed in certain springs, was probably derived from reports which had reached him of the calcareous and silicious incrustations produced by the deposits of these waters. There are none more active than the stream wnich flows into the lake of the Solfatara, between Rome and Tivoli, where we have gathered reeds and aquatic plants, crystallized during the process of vegetation. Sir Humphrey Davey, in his "Consolations of Travel", says that he fixed a stick in a mass of travertin, covered by the water, in the month of May, and in April following he had some difficulty in breaking with a sharp-pointed hammer the mass which adhered to the stick, and which was several inches in thickness. The principal edifices of ancient and modern Rome are built of travertin from the quarries, composed of solid calcareous tufa, the deposit from such springs which abound in the Campagna di Roma.


on this subject I think worth quoting here. "There is in Cappadocia an extensive lake, situated on the road between Mazaca and Tuana. When reeds or other things are partially immersed in this lake, on their being drawn forth the next day, the part which is taken out is found stony, but that which remained out of the water retains its natural condition". Lo! how potent are the effects of the water of that lake, which accomplishes in the space of one day what elsewhere it requires one year, or even seven years, to perform. In Hungary, there is a fountain, the streams of which, not far from their source, are congealed to crystal ice. And what is still more remarkable, when the sun's rays first strike the ice, it is condensed into a solid mass of stone, impervious to the sight, although it might rather be expected that the ice would be dissolved by the sun. Hence a rocky mount has been formed of considerable size from liquids suddenly converted into solid matter, contrary to the usual course of nature. [1] In Switzerland, in the province called Suitis (Schwytz), there is a spring on the top of a high mountain which never flows except when the sun is above the horizon. As soon as the sun descends below the horizon it ceases to flow, until the sun has performed its revolution and appears to us again the next day. In the morning, not at daybreak, but when the sun has just risen and emerged from below the horizon, it pours forth its waters in great quantity. During the entire night it does not yield a drop, although it is the general character of night, being humid and cold, to be congenial to the production of water. [2]

There is a fountain in Poitou, at St. Jean d'Angeli, [3]

[1] Our author appears to have received some accounts of the effects of glacial action in the formation of Moranies in Alpine countries. See Lyell's Elements, chap, xx., and Forester's Norway.

[2] It can be no wonder that in one of the most elevated cantons of Switzerland, the streams fed by the melting of the snow under the influence of the sun's rays in the day-time should cease to flow during the night.

[3] St. Jean d'Angeli is a town in the S.W. of France, in the department of La Charente Inferieure. The fine facade of the Benedictine Abbey, from whence the town derived its name, is still standing.


where the head of St. John the Baptist is preserved, from which no water issues in winter, while, contrary to the usual nature of springs, it pours forth copious streams during the summer. In Cornwall there is wood, the timber of which thrown into the water, even in very small pieces, will not float. There is also in France, not far from the city of Paris, a wood adjoining the bank of the river Seine, and intersected by a public road. If you throw into the water a piece of timber taken from one side of this road, such is its peculiar gravity from occult causes, that, quite contrary to the usual nature of wood, it instantly sinks to the bottom like a mass of stone. On the other side of the road the timber preserves its natural lightness. This wood, therefore, presents a stupendous prodigy of two sorts. We have to wonder at the unnatural gravity of light substances contained in it, and also at the wonderful difference exhibited in a small space of ground.

In Auvergne, in the same kingdom of France, there is a forest, very thickly wooded, and exhibiting a nature quite contrary to the usual character. Part of it, when by some accideut it has taken fire and burnt down to the roots of the trees, spontaneously shoots up again without any labour bestowed on its cultivation. [1] But who shall presume to investigate or to assign the causes of such occurrences, when it is plain that the use of the elements is common to all classes of animated nature? In Connaught there is a fountain whose waters are salubrious to man only, but pestilential to beasts of burden, cattle, and animals of all sorts, when they venture to taste them. Pebbles taken from this fountain allay thirst, if held in the mouth when it is parched. There is a fountain in Hungary still more noxious than the former, inasmuch as it is more universally injurious, its stream being poisonous to mankind as

[1] Any one who has travelled in forest districts may have had opportunities of observing that the growth of young underwood from the stools of the burnt trees, after a conflagration, is no uncommon occurrence; but had Giraldus known that sometimes the young wood which springs up consists of species of trees wholly different from those which covered the ground before, he might well have classed the fact among the "wonders" of nature. We are not aware in what part of Auvergne the forest alluded to is situated. It would have been more to our author's purpose to have noticed the calcareous springs of that district, which have formed limestone elevations of surprising magnitude.


well as to all kinds of animals. There is also in the kingdom of France, not far from the castle of Pascensis, [1] a fountain, the waters of which only suit males, being unserviceable for women, either as a beverage or for exterior use. It is reported that these waters retain their cold temperature in spite of all applications of heat; no contrivance will change their natural properties, and neither by art or by accident can they be disguised or got rid of, even for a single hour.

In the kingdom of Germany and province of Cambray, on the frontiers of France, there is a river with a ford staked out across the stream, with two rows of stakes, one above, one below the ford. Within these bounds the water is always pestiferous to horses; but outside the boundary both horses and all other sorts of animals come to drink in common without injury. There is a fountain in Munster which, being touched or even looked at by any human being, will immediately inundate the whole province with rain. [2] Nor will it cease until a priest, specially appointed, and who has been continent from his birth, has appeased the fountain by performing mass in a chapel, which is known to have been founded not far off for this purpose, and by sprinkling holy water and the milk of a cow having only one colour - a rite, indeed, extremely barbarous, and void of all reason.



THERE is a fountain in Armorican Britain of a somewhat similar nature; for if you draw its water in the horn of an ox, and happen to spill it on the nearest road, however serene the sky may be and contrary to rain, you will not avoid its immediately falling. In Sicily there is a most wonderful fountain. If any one approaches it dressed in a red garment, its waters, bubbling up, suddenly rise to the height of the man's stature, although other colours produce no agitation of the surface. On the man's departure, the

[1] It would be difficult to ascertain what was the place here alluded to by Giraldus.

[2] According to other authorities, this well was in the mountain of Slieve-Bloom, in Leinster, and was, in fact, identical with the spring which forms the source of the river Barrow.


waters, sinking to their usual level, return into their former channels.

"Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,
Et fontem lustrasse boni".

" 'Tis blest to learn the principles of nature,
And scan the source of good".

But since bounds are set to the powers of the human mind, and everything mortal is far from perfection, the causes of such occurrences

"Dicite Pierides:- Non omnia possumus omnes".

"Ye Muses tell; we cannot master all".

Envious nature has locked up the causes of these and other unusual occurrences among her own mysterious wonders. There is on the sea-shore of Connaught a rocky point of considerable size, which, when the tide is out, appears to rise above the strand no higher than it does above the returning waves which cover all larger objects when the tide is full. There is also in Connaught a walled place, having the appearance of a large castle, consecrated, they say, by St. Patrick. Into this inclosure they never drive so many cattle (although the booty of the whole province is very often shut up in this place of refuge), but that it would contain many more, until by chance it is reported that it is full, or supposed to be full.



THERE is a lake in Ulster of vast size, being thirty miles long and fifteen broad, [1] from which a very beautiful river, called the Banna, flows into the Northern ocean. The fishermen in this lake make more frequent complaints of the quantity of fish inclosed in their nets and breaking them than of the want of fish. In our time a fish was caught here which had not come up from the sea, but was taken

[1] Giraldus refers to Lough Neagh, in the N.W. of Ulster, from which the river Bann issues, forming the boundary between the counties of Londonderry and Antrim in its course northward. The legend given by Giraldus, from ancient traditions, of the inundation which formed this vast lake, is recorded by Tigernach, the oldest of the Irish annalists; and the names of the tribes who occupied the plain so covered are given in ancient documents. The date of the catastrophe is fixed to A.D. 62.


descending the lake, and was in shape very like a salmon, but it was so large that it could neither be dragged out or conveyed whole, and therefore was carried through the province cut in pieces. It is reported that this lake had its origin in an extraordinary calamity. The land now covered by the lake was inhabited from the most ancient times by a tribe sunk in vice, and more especially incorrigibly addicted to the sin of carnal intercourse with beasts more than any other people of Ireland. Now there was a common proverb in the mouths of the tribe, that whenever the well-spring of that country was left uncovered (for out of reverence shown to it, from a barbarous superstition, the spring was kept covered and sealed), it would immediately overflow and inundate the whole province, drowning and destroying all the population. It happened, however, on some occasion that a young woman, who had come to the spring to draw water, after filling her pitcher, but before she had closed the well, ran in great haste to her little boy, whom she heard crying at a spot not far from the spring, where she had left him. But the voice of the people is the voice of God; and on her way back, she met such a flood of water from the spring that it swept off her and the boy, and the inundation was so violent that they both, and the whole tribe, with their cattle, were drowned in an hour in this partial and local deluge. The waters, having covered the whole surface of that fertile district, were converted into a permanent lake, as if the Author of nature judged the land which had been witness to such unnatural bestialities against the order of nature to be unfit for the habitation of men, either then or thereafter.

A not improbable confirmation of this occurrence is found in the fact, that the fishermen in that lake see distinctly under the water, in calm weather, ecclesiastical towers, [1] which, according to the custom of the country, are slender and lofty, and moreover round; and they frequently point them out to strangers travelling through those parts, who wonder what could have caused such a catastrophe. In a

[1] The round towers of Ireland have given rise to a multitude of opinions, and to many very wild speculations; but the most recent and careful researches seem to confirm the account of Giraldus, and to show that they were erected for ecclesiastical purposes, and at a comparatively late period. The reader is referred to Mr. Petrie's able work on this subject.


manner not very dissimilar, and for the same detestable crime, the region of the Pentapolis was converted into a bituminous lake, called the Dead, or Barren, Sea; because neither birds, nor fishes, nor anything else can live there. It was first burnt up by sulphureous fire sent down from heaven, and then overwhelmed with an inundation which for ever covered it; suffering thus for the enormity of its wickedness a double fate.

It must, however, be observed that the river before mentioned (the Bann), which now flows out of the lake in full stream, had its source in the aforesaid spring from the time of Bartholanus, who lived soon after the flood, when it was fed also by other rivulets, and took its course through the same district, but with a far less volume of water; and it was one of the nine principal rivers of Ireland.



Not [1] long before the time when the English came over to Ireland, a fish was found at Carlenford (Carlingford), in Ulster, of an immense size and an uncommon species. Among its other prodigies, it is reported that it had three golden teeth of fifty pounds weight. I should suppose that these teeth had rather the outward appearance of gold than that they were really such; and that the colour they assumed was a presage of the golden times of the future conquest immediately impending. Moreover, within our time a stag was found and taken in Great Britain, in the forest of Durham, all the teeth of which were of a golden hue.

[1] Another MS. reads, Non Biennio elapso, not two years ago. Lynch, in his Cambrensis Eversus, chap, vi., has given us an older legend, which was perhaps the origin of this story of Giraldus. "Not two, but more than four hundred years before the English invasion, and while Fiacha Dubhadrochtech, the son of Aid Ronius was king of Ulster, an enormous whale was drifted along by the tide, and cast up on the shore in Ulster. It had three teeth of gold, one of which was given by Fiacha as wages to some men whom he had employed in erecting a bridge over the rivers Fersus and Monidamh; the other two were presented to the church to make a reliquary case, on which the inhabitants of that country were accustomed to purge or bind themselves by oath". These teeth are stated in the Irish chronicles to have weighed fifty ounces.



OF THE NORTHERN ISLANDS, MOST OF WHICH ARE IN SUBJECTION TO THE NORWEGIANS. IN the Northern ocean, beyond Ulster and Galway, there are various islands, for instance, the Orcades and Inchades, and many others, of nearly all of which the Norwegians have obtained the dominion and lordship. [1] For, although these islands lie far nearer to other countries, the Norwegian people, exploring the ocean, are addicted to piratical enterprises far more than any other nation. Hence all their expeditions and wars are conducted by naval armaments. It should be observed that both Orosius and Isidore reckon that there are thirty-three islands in the Orcades, of which twenty were uninhabited and thirteen inhabited; but at the present time the greater part are inhabited.



AMONG the other islands is one newly formed, which they call the phantom isle, which had its origin in this manner. One calm day, a large mass of earth rose to the surface of the sea, where no land had ever been seen before, to the great amazement of the islanders who observed it. Some of them said that it was a whale, or other immense sea-monster; others, remarking that it continued motionless, said, "No; it is land". In order, therefore, to reduce their doubts to certainty, some picked young men of the island determined to approach nearer the spot in a boat. When, however, they came so near to it that they thought they should go on shore, the island sank in the water and entirely vanished from sight. The next day it re-appeared, and again mocked the same youths with the like delusion. At length, upon their rowing towards it on the third day, they followed the advice of an older man, and let fly an

[1] The Orkney and Shetland islands were colonized by the Norwegian vikings in the ninth century, and completely subjugated by Harold Harfaager in 895. By degrees the Norwegians also subdued and colonized the Hebrides and all the islands on the west coast, from Lewis to the Isle of Man, which they called the Sudrijar, or Southern islands, from their situation as respects the Orkneys.


arrow, barbed with red-hot steel, against the island; and then landing, found it stationary and habitable. This adds one to the many proofs that fire is the greatest of enemies to every sort of phantom; insomuch that those who have seen apparitions fall into a swoon as soon as they are sensible of the brightness of fire. For fire, both from its position and nature, is the noblest of elements, being a witness of the secrets of the heavens. The sky is fiery; the planets are fiery; the bush burnt with fire, but was not consumed; the Holy Ghost sat upon the apostles in tongues of fire.



ICELAND, the largest of the northern islands, lies at the distance of three natural days' sail from Ireland, towards the north. It is inhabited by a race of people who use very few words, and speak the truth. They seldom converse, and then briefly, and take no oaths, because they do not know what it is to lie; for they detest nothing more than falsehood. Among this people the offices of king and priest are united in the same person. Their prince is their pontiff. Their bishop performs the functions of government as well as of the priesthood. [1] Here never or very seldom lightnings flash, thunder-bolts fall, or the crash of thunder terrifies But they are troubled with another, and still more grievous calamity; for once in a year, or two years, a fiery stream

[1] The chiefs, or petty kings, of the territories into which Norway was divided, before the reign of Harald Harfaager, in the ninth century, united the functions of civil and military government with the sacerdotal office, and continued to exercise the same joint authority in their colonies in Iceland. After the introduction of Christianity, the bishops succeeded to the spiritual, and in some measure shared the temporal authority of the Godar, or pontiff-chiefs. In 925, the Icelanders, in their Al-Thing, or national assembly, enacted a very strict code of laws, containing many excellent regulations, one especially providing for the maintenance of the poor; but it would appear that the people were more distinguished for legal chicanery than for the virtues attributed to them by Giraldus. See the Supplement to Mallet's Northern Antiquities chaps, ii. and iii.


bursts forth in some quarter of the island, boiling up like a whirlpool, and the hissing flood, rushing violently on, burns up whatever lies in its way. But whether this fire has its origin casually, from below or above, is not known with any certainty. [1] Gerfalcons and goss-hawks are bred in the island and exported. [2]



NOT far from the islands, towards the north, there is an astonishing whirlpool in the sea, towards which there is a set current of the waves from all quarters, until, pouring themselves into nature's secret recesses, they are swallowed up, as it were, in the abyss. Should a vessel chance to pass in that direction, it is caught and drawn along by the force of the waves, and sucked by the vortex without chance of escape. [3] There are four of these whirlpools in the ocean, described by philosophers as existing in the four different quarters of the world; whence it has been conjectured that the currents of the sea, as well as the winds, are regulated by fixed principles.

[1] Giraldus seems to have blended in this description the phenomena, of which he may have heard a confused account, of the volcanic eruptions and boiling fountains, the Geysers, of Iceland. See Henderson's Journal of a Residence in Iceland, pp. 74 and 229; and Sir William Hooker's Tour in Iceland, vol. i. pp. 128 and 149.

[2] The gerfalcon was in great request in times when falconry was one of the principal sports of our ancestors; and Iceland had always the reputation of furnishing the most generous breed. Those whose plumage was white were most highly esteemed, and bore a great price. Gerfalcons do not appear to have been ever found wild in Britain, or in Ireland. See before, Distinction I., c. 18. They are still common in Norway. The goss-hawk is a native of England, but they are now rare, though plentiful in Scotland.

[3] Giraldus speaks of the maelstrom, a whirlpool in the northern ocean, on the coast of Norway, between the island of Wero and the southern part of the Loffoden island. Some Latin writers fancifully called it umbilicus maris, the navel of the sea; while our author describes the vortex as secreta naturae penetralia. This whirlpool, formerly painted in the most frightful colours, is only a strong current of the sea, which roars loudly, as it rises every day during six hours, after which it is more calm for the same period.




THERE is an island, not the least of the smaller islands, which is now called Man, but had in old times the name of Ewania, and lies, they say, in the mid-channel between the northern shores of Ireland and Britain. Which country it rightly belonged to was a matter of great doubt among the ancients; but the controversy was settled in this way. Since the island allowed venomous reptiles, brought over for the sake of experiment, to exist in it, it was agreed by common consent that it belonged to Britain. [1]



WHETHER islands were formed before the flood, or during the flood, when the parents of all living creatures were shut up in the ark, there seems reason to doubt how noxious animals, and especially venomous reptiles; replenished the remoter islands, as it is quite clear that no sane person would ever have wished to transport them thither. With respect to this, it may be reasonably suggested that long after the flood, when living things multiplied, and the earth was replenished with them in all parts, the islands were formed not by any violent or sudden action, but gradually by alluvial deposits. [2]

[1] Whatever may be thought of this experiment to determine the relative geographical position of the Isle of Man, we know that the island had an intimate political union with Ireland long before its sovereignty became a dependency on Britain. Colonized by the Norwegians in the eighth and ninth centuries, and governed by a succession of independent kings, nominally, perhaps, tributary to Norway, the connection between the kings of Man and the Scandinavian kings of Dublin was so close in the eleventh century that either the same, or, at all events, nearly related kings reigned both in Dublin and Man.

[2] Although islands and deltas are formed by diluvial deposits at the mouths of rivers, the theory that such islands as those on the north coast of Scotland, of which Giraldus is treating, had such origin, is only suited to the state of science in the times of our author. These islands were more probably severed from the mainland by the action of the strong currents and the storms of the Northern Ocean, through a process of disintegration, which is still going on. See Lyell's Elements of Geology, pp. 299-301. Giraldus raises in this chapter another curious question, which, on received opinions, we are as little able to solve as he was, how, not to say venomous creatures only, but all animals replenished (impleverunf) not only the remoter islands, but, we may add, continents.




THULE, which is said to be the furthest of the Western islands, is very remarkable for having been well known among the Orientals both in name and position, although entirely unknown to the people of the West. [1] Virgil says to Augustus:-

"et tibi serviat ultima Thule".

"And furthest Thule own thy rule".

And Solinus mentions Thule as the furthest among the islands which surround Britain. He says that at the summer solstice there is no night there, and at the winter solstice no day; and both Solinus and Isidore relate that beyond Thule lies the thick and frozen ocean.

Solinus places Thule, the most remote island in the ocean, between the Northern and Western regions beyond Britain, and says it derives its name from the sun, because the sun causes the summer solstice there, and beyond it there is no day. But this island is so unknown to the people of the West, that it appears that no one of the western or northern islands have the same name or character. We find, however, that in the furthest parts of the Arctic regions, the sun in summer is seen by the inhabitants revolving constantly for several nights about the edge of the earth, but

[1] It is a question full of doubt, to what island the ancients applied the name of Thule, or rather, it is probable that at different times they applied it to different islands, for they seem to have wished to indicate by it the most distant land towards the North-west of which they had any intelligence. Some have supposed that it was Iceland; others, that it was some one of the most distant islands off the northern coast of Scotland; and others, again, have held that by Thule the Romans meant Norway.


above the horizon; and when it returns from the constellation of Capricorn, as though under the dark confines of the Antarctic pole, the cheerful beams of that luminary vanish during the same space of days. Either, therefore, Thule is an island as fabulous as it was famous, or it must be looked for in the most remote and distant recesses of the northern ocean, far off under the Arctic pole. Hence Orosius, speaking with more certainty than others respecting doubtful points, says that Thule, which is separated on all sides by boundless space from the rest of the world, and faces towards the south in the midst of the ocean, is known but to few persons, and to them imperfectly. Augustine, however, in his twenty first book, De Civitate Dei, says that Thule, an island in India, is to be preferred to other lands, because there the trees which it produces keep their leaves all the whole year round. So that it appears to be situated in India. But he was led astray by a doubtful meaning, which is more apparent than real; for Tylis is the name of the one, Tyle (Thule) of the other. Hence Isidore also says, Tylis is an island of India, where the leaves are always green. And, again, Solinus says, Tylis is an island in India, [1] which bears palms, produces oil, and abounds in vines, and it excels all lands in the miracle that every tree which grows there is clothed with perpetual verdure.



In ancient times there was in Ireland a remarkable pile of stones, called the Giants' Dance, [2] because the giants brought it from the furthest parts of Africa into Ireland, and set it up, partly by main strength, partly by artificial contrivances, in an extraordinary way, on the plains of Kildare, near Naas. Hence, certain stones exactly resembling the rest, and erected in the same manner, are seen there to the

[1] Pliny, b. xii. c. 11, mentions an island called Tylos in the Persian Gulf; and Arrian, b. vii., one of the same name in the Indian Ocean.

[2] "Chorea Gigantum", from xopde, a dance, or company of dancers or singers. Giraldus refers, of course, to the celebrated monument on Salisbury Plain, called Stonehenge, which the old legends represent as having been brought from Ireland.


present day. It is wonderful how these stones, in such numbers and of such vast size, could ever be collected together on one spot, and raised upright, as well as by what mechanical contrivance others, not inferior in dimensions, were placed as lintels on top of the other massive and lofty piles, so that they appear suspended, and, as it were, hanging in the air, rather by some artificial contrivance than resting on the columns supporting them. According to the British History, [1] Aurelius Ambrosius, king of Britain, caused these stones to be transported from Ireland to Britain by the divine aid of Merlin; and in order to leave some memorial of so great a deed, they were erected on the spot where, before that time, the flower of the youth of Britain died by the concealed knives of the Saxons, who fell upon them and slew them, under the guise of peace, with their treacherous weapons.



I NOW proceed to relate some wonderful occurrences which have happened within our times. About three years before the arrival of earl John in Ireland, it chanced that a priest, who was journeying from Ulster towards Meath, was benighted in a certain wood on the borders of Meath. While, in company with only a young lad, he was watching by a fire which he had kindled under the branches of a spreading tree, lo! a wolf came up to them, and immediately addressed them to this effect: "Rest secure, and be not afraid, for there is no reason you should fear, where no fear is!" The travellers being struck with astonishment and alarm, the wolf added some orthodox

[1] By "the British History", Giraldus of course means Geoffrey of Monmouth, from whom, in fact, this account of the removal of the stones from Ireland to England is taken. See Geoffrey's British History, book viii. chapters x. to xii.

[2] The belief in men who could transform themselves into wolves, was a very prevalent superstition, not only in the middle ages, but it continued in force to much more recent times, and formed part of the witchcraft superstitions, from which plenty of stories like this told by Giraldus might be collected. In England, where wolves have long disappeared, the witches of later times turned themselves into hares.


words referring to God. The priest then implored him, and adjured him by Almighty God and faith in the Trinity, not to hurt them, but to inform them what creature it was that in the shape of a beast uttered human words. The wolf, after giving catholic replies to all questions, added at last: "There are two of us, a man and a woman, natives of Ossory, who, through the curse of one Natalis, saint and abbot, are compelled every seven years to put off the human form, and depart from the dwellings of men. Quitting entirely the human form, we assume that of wolves. At the end of the seven years, if they chance to survive, two others being substituted in their places, they return to their country and their former shape. And now, she who is my partner in this visitation lies dangerously sick not far from hence, and, as she is at the point of death, I beseech you, inspired by divine charity, to give her the consolations of your priestly office".

At this word the priest followed the wolf trembling, as he led the way to a tree at no great distance, in the hollow of which he beheld a she-wolf, who under that shape was pouring forth human sighs and groans. On seeing the priest, having saluted him with human courtesy, she gave thanks to God, who in this extremity had vouchsafed to visit her with such consolation. She then received from the priest all the rites of the church duly performed, as far as the last communion. This also she importunately demanded, earnestly supplicating him to complete his good offices by giving her the viaticum. The priest stoutly asserting that he was not provided with it, the he-wolf, who had withdrawn to a short distance, came back and pointed out a small missal-book, containing some consecrated wafers, which the priest carried on his journey, suspended from his neck, under his garment, after the fashion of the country. He then intreated him not to deny them the gift of God, and the aid destined for them by Divine Providence; and, to remove all doubt, using his claw for a hand, he tore off the skin of the she-wolf, from the head down to the navel, folding it back. Thus she immediately presented the form of an old woman. The priest, seeing this, and compelled by his fear more than his reason, gave the communion; the recipient having earnestly implored it, and devoutly par


taking of it. Immediately afterwards, the he-wolf rolled back the skin, and fitted it to its original form.

These rites having been duly, rather than rightly, performed, the he-wolf gave them his company during the whole night at their little fire, behaving more like a man than a beast. When morning came, he led them out of the wood, and, leaving the priest to pursue his journey, pointed out to him the direct road for a long distance. At his departure, he also gave him many thanks for the benefit he had conferred, promising him still greater returns of gratitude, if the Lord should call him back from his present exile, two parts of which he had already completed. At the close of their conversation, the priest inquired of the wolf whether the hostile race which had now landed in the island would continue there for the time to come, and be long established in it. To which the wolf replied: "For the sins of our nation, and their enormous vices, the anger of the Lord, falling on an evil generation, hath given them into the hands of their enemies. Therefore, as long as this foreign race shall keep the commandments of the Lord, and walk in his ways, it will be secure and invincible but if, as the downward path to illicit pleasures is easy, and nature is prone to follow vicious examples, this people shall chance, from living among us, to adopt our depraved habits, doubtless they will provoke the divine vengeance on themselves also".

The like judgment is recorded in Leviticus: "All these abominations have the inhabitants of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled. Beware, therefore, that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nation which was before you". [1] All this was afterwards brought to pass, first by the Chaldeans, and then by the Romans. Likewise it is written in Ecclesiasticus: "The kingdom is made over from one nation to another, by reason of their unjust and injurious deeds, their proud words, and divers deceits".

It chanced, about two years afterwards, that I was passing through Meath, at the time when the bishop of that land had convoked a synod, having also invited the assistance of the neighbouring bishops and abbots, in order

[1] Levit. xviii. 27, 28.


to have their joint counsels on what was to be done in the affair which had come to his knowledge by the priest's confession. The bishop, hearing that I was passing through those parts, sent me a message by two of his clerks, requesting me, if possible, to be personally present when a matter of so much importance was under consideration; but if I could not attend, he begged me at least to signify my opinion in writing. The clerks detailed to me all the circumstances, which indeed I had heard before from other persons; and, as I was prevented by urgent business from being present at the synod, I made up for my absence by giving them the benefit of my advice in a letter. The bishop and synod, yielding to it, ordered the priest to appear before the pope with letters from them, setting forth what had occurred, with the priest's confession, to which instrument the bishops and abbots who were present at the synod affixed their seals.

It cannot be disputed, but must be believed with the most assured faith, that the divine nature assumed human nature for the salvation of the world; while in the present case, by no less a miracle, we find that at God's bidding, to exhibit his power and righteous judgment, human nature assumed that of a wolf. But is such an animal to be called a brute or a man? A rational animal appears to be far above the level of a brute; but who will venture to assign a quadruped, which inclines to the earth, and is not a laughing animal, to the species of man? Again, if any one should slay this animal, would he be called a homicide? We reply, that divine miracles are not to be made the subjects of disputation by human reason, but to be admired. However, Augustine, in the 16th book of his Civit. Dei, chapter 8, in speaking of some monsters of the human race, born in the East, some of which had the heads of dogs, others had no heads at all, their eyes being placed in their breasts, and others had various deformities, raises the question whether these were really men, descended from the first parents of mankind. At last, he concludes, "We must think the same of them as we do of those monstrous births in the human species of which we often hear; and true reason declares that whatever answers to the definition of man, as a rational and mortal animal, whatever be its form, is to be considered a man". The same author, in the 18th book of the Civit. Dei, chapter 18,


refers to the Arcadians, who, chosen by lot, swam across a lake and were there changed into wolves, living with wild beasts of the same species in the deserts of that country. If, however, they did not devour human flesh, after nine years they swam back across the lake, and re-assumed the human form. Having thus further treated of various transformations of man into the shape of wolves, he at length adds, "I myself, at the time I was in Italy, heard it said of some district in those parts, that there the stable-women, who had learnt magical arts, were wont to give something to travellers in their cheese which transformed them into beasts of burthen, so that they carried all sorts of burdens, and after they had performed their tasks resumed their own forms. [1] Meanwhile, their minds did not become bestial, but remained human and rational". So in the Book which Apuleius wrote, with the title of the Golden Ass, he tells us that it happened to himself, on taking some potion, to be changed into an ass, retaining his human mind.

In our own time, also, we have seen persons who, by magical arts, turned any substance about them into fat pigs, as they appeared (but they were always red), and sold them in the markets. However, they disappeared as soon as they crossed any water, returning to their real nature; and with whatever care they were kept, their assumed form did not last beyond three days. It has also been a frequent complaint, from old times as well as in the present, that certain hags in Wales, as well as in Ireland and Scotland, changed themselves into the shape of hares, that, sucking teats under this counterfeit form, they might stealthily rob other people's milk. We agree, then, with Augustine, that neither demons nor wicked men can either create or really change their natures; but those whom God has created can, to outward appearance, by his permission, become transformed, so that they appear to be what they are not; the senses of men being deceived and laid asleep by a strange illusion, so that things are not seen as they actually

[1] Similar stories are told by other old writers; see William of Malmesbury, book ii. ch. 10. It is rather amusing to find Giraldus believing that, in the metamorphosis of the ass, Apuleius was giving a bona fide relation of what had happened to himself.


exist, but are strangely drawn by the power of some phantom or magical incantation to rest their eyes on unreal and fictitious forms.

It is, however, believed as an undoubted truth, that the Almighty God, who is the Creator of natures, can, when he pleases, change one into another, either for vindicating his judgments, or exhibiting his divine power; as in the case of Lot's wife, who, looking back contrary to her lord's command, was turned into a pillar of salt; and as the water was changed into wine; or that, the nature within remaining the same, he can transform the exterior only, as is plain from the examples before given.

Of that apparent change of the bread into the body of Christ (which I ought not to call apparent only, but with more truth transubstantial, because, while the outward appearance remains the same, the substance only is changed), I have thought it safest not to treat; its comprehension being far beyond the powers of the human intellect.



DUVENALD, king of Limerick, had a woman with a beard down to her navel, and, also, a crest like a colt of a year old, which reached from the top of her neck down her backbone, and was covered with hair. The woman, thus remarkable for two monstrous deformities, was, however, not an hermaphrodite, but in other respects had the parts of a woman; and she constantly attended the court, an object of ridicule as well as of wonder. The fact of her spine being covered with hair neither determined her gender to be male or female; and in wearing a long beard she followed the customs of her country, though it was unnatural in her. Also, within our time, a woman was seen attending the court in Connaught, who partook of the nature of both sexes, and was an hermaphrodite. On the right side of her face she had a long and thick beard, which covered both sides of her lips to the middle of her chin, like a man; on the left, her lips and chin were smooth and hairless, like a woman.




IN Wicklow (Gwykingelo), at the time Maurice Fitzgerald held possession of that territory and castle, there was seen a man-monster, if he may be called a man, the whole of whose body was human, except the extremities, which were those of an ox; they having the shape of hoofs, from the joints by which the hands are connected with the arms and the feet with the legs. His whole head was deformed by baldness, there being no hair either behind or before; but instead of it there was down in a few places. He had large eyes, round and of the colour of those of an ox. His face was flat down to the mouth, there being no protuberance of the nose, but only two orifices to serve for nostrils. He could not speak, the sounds he uttered resembling the lowing of an ox. He frequented for some time the court of Maurice, coming daily to dinner; and the food which was served he took up between the fissures of his cloven hoofs, which he used as hands. He was at last secretly put to death, a fate of which he was not deserving, in consequence of the jibes with which the young men about the castle assailed the natives of the country for begetting such monsters by intercourse with cows.

It is a fact, that shortly before the arrival of the English in the island, a cow gave birth to a man-calf, the fruit of an union between a man and a cow, in the mountains of Glendalough (Glindelachan), that tribe being especially addicted to such abominations; so that you may be perfectly convinced that there is another instance of a progeny half-ox half-man, half-man half-ox. This creature, having followed his mother with the rest of the calves, sucking her teats for nearly a year, was afterwards admitted into human society, as it had more of the man in it than of the beast. Shall the slayer of this creature be called a homicide? Who can associate such a monster, an irrational animal, wanting altogether speech as well as reason, with the family of rational beings? On the other hand, who can disallow the claims of a creature which stands erect, laughs, and goes on two feet, to belong to the human species? Is it not true that


"Os homini sublime dedit coelumque tueri Jussit"?

In nature's mould, to man the stamp is gives,
Which lifts his face from earth and points his eyes to heaven.

But nature's eccentricities of this kind must be excused, and her judgments are rather to be dreaded, than made the subject of discussion and disputation.



WITHIN our time, a stag had intercourse with a cow, at Chester, in Britain, and their offspring was a doe-calf, In the fore-parts, as far as the groin, it had entirely the form of a cow; but the thighs, tail, hind-legs, and feet were exactly those of a deer, with the same fur and colour. Having more of the nature of cattle about it than of a wild animal, it found its place in the herd.



RODERIC, king of Connaught, had a white tame goat, remarkable for its flowing hair and the length of its horns. This goat had intercourse, bestially, with the woman to whose care it had been committed; the wretched creature having seduced it to become the instrument of gratifying her unnatural lust, rather than that the animal was the guilty actor. O foul and disgraceful deed! How dreadfully has reason given the reins to sensuality! How brutally does the lord of brutes, discarding his natural privileges, descend to the level of brutes, when he, rational animal, submits to such intercourse with a beast! For although on both sides it is detestable and abominable, it is by far the least that brutes should be entirely submissive to rational creatures. But though brutes are destined by nature for the service of men, they were created for use, not abuse. The indignation of nature, strongly repudiating it, thus vents itself in verse:

"Omnia jam novitate placent, nova grata voluptas,
Et naturalis inveterata Venus.
Arte minus natura placet, consumitur usus;
In reproboa ratio, jam ratione carens.


Vis genitiva gernit, violata cupidinis arte;
Et violans vindex publicat ira scelus.
Pandit enim natura nefas, proditque pudorem
Criminis infandi, prodigiosa creans".



I SAW at Paris a lion which some cardinal had presented, when it was a whelp, to Philip, the son of king Louis. [1] This lion was in the habit of having bestial intercourse with a silly girl, whose name was Joan. If, by any chance, it broke out of its den, and became so infuriated that no one dared to approach it, Joan was called, and instantly disarmed its malice and pacified its rage. Soothed by female allurements, it followed her where she pleased, and immediately changed its fury to love. Both of these brutes merited a shameful death. But not only in modern times have these abominations been attempted, but in the earliest ages, remarkable for their greater innocence and simplicity of manners, society was polluted by these infamous vices. Thus we find it written in Leviticus: "If a woman approach unto any beast and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast shall be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them". [2] The beast was commanded to be slain, not for its guilt, of which its nature as a brute exculpated it, but as a memorial, to recall to the mind the enormity of the sin. It is also the opinion of many persons, that the story of Pasiphae being leaped by a bull was not a mere fable, but an actual fact.



COCKS at roost in Ireland do not, as in other countries, divide the third and last watches of the night, by crowing at three successive periods in the interval. Here they are heard a little before dawn; and the day is known to be as

[1] The celebrated Philippe Auguste, son of Louis VII. or Louis le Jeune. Philippe reigned over France from 1180 to 1223, but at the time Giraldus wrote this book he had not yet succeeded to the throne.

[2] Levit. xx. 16.


far off from the first cock crowing here as it is elsewhere from the third. Nor is it to be supposed that they have here a different nature from those in other countries; for cocks which are brought over to the island from other parts crow here at these periods. As Britain is satisfied with a short night, so is Ireland; and it is all the shorter for the sun's setting so much nearer the west. But the shorter the night is here, so much faster the day breaks after cock-crow. Hence always in the summer time the rising morn, as it were, soon brings on day; and as the sun dips its rays but little under the earth, all night long there is light in the sky about the horizon.



IN Ireland, the wolves often have whelps in the month of December, either in consequence of the great mildness of the climate, or, rather, in token of the evils of treason and rapine, which are rife here before their proper season.



AT the Christmas when earl John first quitted the island the ravens and owls had young ones in several parts of Ireland, and particularly in Meath, prognosticating, perchance, the occurrence of some new and premature event. Thus was proclaimed the fatal death, in the same year, of Hugh de Lacy, the lord of that territory, through the treachery of his subjects. [1]



LET us now pass to the miracles, beginning with those of St. Keiwin, the illustrious confessor and abbot. [2] When

[1] For Hugh de Lacy see afterwards b. ii. cc. 18 20, and 22 of the "Conquest of Ireland".

[2] St. Kevin was born, according to the legend, soon after St. Patrick, in the year 498, being related to the O'Tooles, the ancient kings of this part of Ireland. He was baptized by St. Cronan, educated by Petroc Briton, and went into a monastery, from which he visited St. Columba and many other famous contemporary saints. Retiring to the wilderness of Glendalough, he is said to have founded there the abbey and cathedral, and other churches, the remains of which are still seen. St. Kevin lived a hundred and twenty years, and died on the 3rd June, 618, which day is commemorated by a "patron", or festival, held in the Valley of the Seven Churches.


St. Keiwin had become celebrated for his life and sanctity at Glindelachan, [1] a noble boy, one of his scholars, happened to fall sick, and had a craving for some apples. The saint, taking compassion on him, and having prayed to the Lord, a willow-tree, which stood near the church, bore apples, to the relief of the boy as well as of other sick persons. And even to the present day that willow, and other sets from it, planted in the neighbouring cemetery, produce apples every year, as if it were an orchard, although in other respects, such as their boughs and leaves, the trees retain their natural properties. [2] These apples are white, and of an oblong shape, and more wholesome than pleasant to the taste. They are held in great reverence by the natives, who call them St. Keiwin's apples; and many carry them to the most distant parts of Ireland, as remedies for various diseases.

On the feast-day of the same saint, the ravens at Glindelachan, in consequence of his curse for his scholars having accidentally spilt their milk, neither come on the ground nor taste food; but, flying round the village and church, and making a loud cawing, enjoy no rest or refreshment on that day. [3]

[1] Glen-da-lough, or the Valley of the Two Lakes, lies in a hollow of the Wicklow mountains, about twenty-two Irish miles from Dublin. It is almost surrounded by lofty and precipitous mountains, the highest summit of which stands 2,268 feet above the level of the sea. Two dark lakes wind in the bottom of the valley; and the principal ruins are finely grouped on a green knoll, which slopes gradually from the breast of a mountain ridge, in the lower part of the valley. The most interesting of these buildings is the church called "St. Kevin's Kitchen", one of the few remaining stone-roofed buildings in Ireland, and a "Round Tower".

[2] The tradition of St. Kevin's willow-apples is still current at Glendalough, but the trees have disappeared, and the veneration paid to them appears to be transferred to a group of ancient thorn-bushes standing between the cathedral and the lake, and supposed to have been planted by the hands of the saint.

[3] We have not met with any explanation of the cause of St. Kevin's wrath against the ravens at Glendalough, which forms a contrast with his humane conduct to a blackbird, related at the close of this chapter. According to a story which rests only on the legends of tradition, the skylark also fell under the saint's ban. When St. Kevin was building the churches in the valley, he observed that the masons and labourers employed in the pious work were gradually losing their health and vigour; and on his inquiring the cause, it was found that their hours of labour were regulated by the maxim, "to rise with the lark and lie down with the lamb". Now the lark in the valley used to rise so unconscionably early, that the labourers were insensibly led into insupportable hardships; and to remove this evil the saint prayed that the lark might never be permitted to sing in the valley of Glendalough; which petition was accordingly granted. This tradition is alluded to in one of Moore's Irish Melodies, while the subject is taken from another legend of St. Kevin, the love of the hapless Cathleen:-

"By that lake, whose gloomy shore
Skylark never warbles o'er", etc.


In Italy likewise, at the famous city of Ravenna, on the feast day of St. Apollinaris, the ravens, crows, and jackdaws flock together every year from all parts of Italy, as if by appointment. By ancient custom, the carcase of a horse is given them on that day. If you ask a question respecting this fact, and demand the reason, I do not venture to assign any, unless that from long use, through an extended period of time, custom has become a second nature, and "where the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together". More probably, however, the matter is connected with some miracle of the saint. Hence, from this gathering of the ravens, the city was called at first Ravensburgh, which means the Town of Ravens, from which, as some conjecture, the name was altered to Ravenna.

Moreover, when St. Vincent was beheaded in Spain, the ravens which pounced upon his body, as they would on a carcass, all fell dead. And as the misdoings of an individual generally react on those of his kind, so here, as a punishment for this daring act, by the interposition of divine grace, which He wonderfully shows forth in his saints, from that hour ravens constantly settle and keep watch about the body of the martyr. Hence, when it was translated by sea from Carthage, [1](I mean the Spanish and not the African town of that name) to Lisbon, even then ravens constantly hovered about the ship in which the body was conveyed. Moreover, in the church of St. Vincent, at Lisbon, where the remains of

[1] Carthagena, in Spain.


the saint are deposited in a splendid shrine, ravens were wont to roost round the altar, even to almost modern times. There were about six of them, not always the same, but different ones in succession. In token of this, the signs [1] which pilgrims bring away from thence, impressed with the martyr's image, have also on them the effigy of a raven. In common phrase this martyr is also called St. Vincent de Corvo, so that an occurrence after his death gave him a surname, which did not belong to him when he was alive.

When the body of St. Firmin, bishop of Auch, [2] and a native of Narbonne, was carried through some parts of the province to Auch, the oxen which drew the vehicle being unyoked and turned out to graze, one of them was suddenly devoured by a bear. On discovering this, St. Ferreolus, who was nephew of St. Firmin, and the conductor of the noble procession, as well as St. Firmin's immediate successor in his episcopal see, instantly calling on the name of God, summoned the bear before him, who, making his appearance, forthwith submitted his neck to the yoke, and devoutly took the place of the ox he had slain as his successor in drawing the load. The body of St. Firmin having been thus miraculously drawn from that spot for several miles to the city of Auch, and his obsequies celebrated there with great pomp, the bear, having obtained, as it were, the permission of St. Firmin, returned unhurt to his mountain lair. Moreover, every year afterwards, as long as he lived, he regularly came to the church on the festival of St. Firmin, and, laying aside for the time all the ferocity of a beast of prey, he shewed himself to the people as a tame animal, allowing them to touch and stroke him; as if he were ready to undergo the punishment merited by his atrocious act, and the offence he had committed. Wherefore, his skin, carefully preserved in the church of St.

[1] The medieval practice of pilgrims bringing away signs or tokens, generally cast in lead, of the saints whose shrines they had visited, is now well known to antiquaries, and abundance of these pilgrims' signs are found in collections. They generally represent figures or emblems of the particular saint visited, and often both.

[2] Auch is a very ancient city, the seat of an archbishop, in the S.W. of France, twenty leagues from Toulouse. The ancient cathedral and best part of the place stand on an elevated ridge commanding a view of the Pyrenees, and washed at its foot by the river Gers, which, running northward, falls into the Garonne.


Firmin to the present day, is held in great veneration, and is shewn to travellers and pilgrims as a memorial of this great miracle.

In the region of Constantinople, in the province of the Chersonese, where the body of St. Clement was miraculously discovered in the sea, [1] the festival of the saint is held every year, and, during about eight days, the waters recede from the shore further than was ever known for ages before, and leave the bed of the sea dry, a miraculous road for the people and pilgrims who devoutly come to the feast. The solemnities ended, the wide sea flows all around, returning to its ancient bounds, and immediately occupies the whole space; nor can any traces of the road be discovered until the return of the same period in the revolving year. Thus, even in our days, on whom the ends of the world are come, the glorious miracle of the Red Sea is wont to be represented, in some sort, every year. Blessed, therefore, be the Lord God of Israel, who alone doeth wondrous things, and blessed be the name of his Majesty for ever. For to set forth the merits of his saints, and still to glorify on earth those who are glorified in heaven, birds and seas obey his commands. But enough of these: let us now return to our Keiwin.

St. Keiwin, then, upon some occasion, when, during the season of Lent, he had fled, as he was wont, from converse with men, retired to a little cabin in the wilderness, where, sheltered only from the sun and rain, he gave himself

[1] St. Clement, the second or third Bishop of Rome, is said to have been banished by a rescript of the Emperor Trajan, "to the city of Cherson, beyond the Euxine Sea". According to the legend, after making numerous converts there, Clement, in a general massacre of the Christians, was cast into the sea with an anchor attached to his neck. In the midst of the grief of the survivors of his flock, a strange spectacle was presented to their view. The sea receded for almost three miles from the shore, and the people, walking on dry land, discovered a small building, having the appearance of a marble chapel, built by angelic hands, and the body of St. Clement deposited therein in a stone coffin by the ministry of angels, with the anchor by which the body had been sunk laid near. It was revealed to the disciples that they should not remove the body, as on the recurrence of the anniversary of St. Clement's martyrdom, the sea would again recede, and for seven days permit approach to the tomb. Orderic. Vital., B. II. c. XVIII. (vol. i. p. 316, in Bohn's Antiq. Lib.)


up to contemplation, and spent all his time in reading and prayer. [1] One morning, having raised his hand to heaven, as was his custom, through the window, it chanced that a blackbird pitched upon it and laid her eggs in his palm, treating it as her nest. The saint, taking pity on the bird, shewed so much gentleness and patience that he neither drew in nor closed his hand; but kept it extended and adapted it to the purpose of a nest, without wearying, until the young brood was entirely hatched. In perpetual memory of this wonderful occurrence, all the images of St. Keiwin throughout Ireland represent him with a blackbird in his extended hand.



THERE is in Leinster a small pool frequented by the birds of St. Colman, [2] a species of small ducks, vulgarly called teal (cercellae). Since the time of the saint, these birds have become so tame that they take food from the hand, and until the present day exhibit no signs of alarm when approached by men. They are always about thirteen in number, as if they formed the society of a convent. [3] As often as any evil chances to befall the church or clergy, or the little birds themselves, or any molestation is offered them, they directly

[1] The site assigned to this retreat of St. Kevin is one of the most romantic spots in the valley of Glendalough. Beneath the dark and frowning cliff of Lugduff, on a little patch of arable land, are the low ruins of the church of Rhefeart, the sepulchre of kings, overgrown with ivy and wild shrubbery, beneath which a slab of grey marble marks the tombs of the great O'Tooles, the former kings of this territory, seven of whom are supposed to lie there. The church is also called Teampull-na-Skellig, the temple of the desert or rock, and St. Kevin's cell. It must not be confounded with "St. Kevin's Bed", a narrow cave in the face of an escarped rock, hanging perpendicularly thirty feet over the waters of the upper lake.

[2] Colman was an Irish ecclesiastic of the seventh century, who succeeded Finan as bishop of Lindisfarne, but in consequence of the great dispute on the subject of Easter, he abandoned his bishopric, and returned to Ireland, where he established a monastery in the isle of Inisbofinde. He died there in 676.

[3] A religious convent, strictly speaking, consisted of thirteen monks or nuns, of whom one was prior or prioress.


fly away, and, betaking themselves to some lake far removed from thence, do not return to their former haunts until condign punishment has overtaken the offenders. Meanwhile, during their absence, the waters of the pond, which were before very limpid and clear, become stinking and putrid, unfit for the use either of men or cattle. It has happened occasionally that some person fetching water from this pond in the night-time, has drawn up with it one of the birds, not purposely but by chance, and having cooked his meat in the water for a long time without being able to boil it, at last he has found the bird swimming in the pot, quite unhurt; and having carried it back to the pond, his meat was boiled without further delay.

It happened, also, in our time, that as Robert Fitz-Stephen, with Dermot, king of Leinster, was passing through that country, [1] an archer shot one of these birds with an arrow. Carrying it with him to his quarters, he put it in a pot to be cooked with his meat, but after thrice supplying the fire with wood, and waiting till midnight, he did not succeed in making the pot boil, so that after taking out the meat for the third time, he found it as raw as when he first placed it in the pot. At last, his host observing the little bird among the pieces of meat, and hearing that it was taken out of this pond, exclaimed with tears: "Alas me, that ever such a misfortune should have befallen my house, and have happened in it! For this is one of St. Colman's birds". Thereupon the meat being put alone into the pot, was cooked without further difficulty. The archer soon afterwards miserably expired.

Moreover, it chanced that a kite, having carried off one of these little birds, and perched with it in a neighbouring tree, behold, all his limbs immediately stiffened in the sight of many persons, nor did the robber regard the prey which he held in his claws. It also happened that one frosty season a fox carried off one of these birds, and when the morning came, the beast was found in a little hut on the shore of the lake which was held in veneration from its having been formerly the resort of St. Column, the bird being in the fox's jaws, and having choked him. In both cases the spoiler suffered the penalty of death, while

[1] See afterwards, "Conquest of Ireland", Part I. c. iv.


his prey was unhurt, the birds returning to the lake without the slightest injury, under the protection of their holy patron.



IN the southern part of Munster, in the neighbourhood of Cork, there is an island with a church dedicated to St. Michael, famed for its orthodox sanctity from very ancient times. There is a stone outside the porch of this church, on the right hand, and partly fixed in the wall, with a hollow in its surface, which, every morning, through the merits of the saint to whom the church is dedicated, is filled with as much wine as will conveniently suffice for the service of the masses on the day ensuing, according to the number of priests there who have to celebrate them. A like miracle is mentioned in the Dialogues of St. Gregory, where he speaks of a certain Campanian monk named Martin, who secluded himself for many years in a narrow cave of Mount Marisco. The first miracle he wrought was that, on closing the hole in the mountain in which he shut himself up, he caused a fresh rill of water to gush forth from the hollow of the rock in which he had dug out his narrow cave. It dropped just enough for the daily use of the servant of God, with none to spare, nor was a sufficiency ever wanting.



THERE is a village in Connaught celebrated for a church dedicated to St. Nannan, where swarms of fleas had so multiplied during a long course of years, that the plague with which they were infested drove nearly all the inhabitants away, and the place became deserted. At length, by the intercession of St. Nannan, they were expelled into a neighbouring meadow, and not a single one could afterwards be found in the village, so largely did the Divine influence overflow in that place through the merits of the saint. The fleas, however, swarmed in the meadow in such numbers, that neither man nor beast could venture to enter it.




THERE is in the province of Leinster a district called Fernigenan (Ferns), which is only separated from Wexford by the river Slaney. From this district the larger species of mice, commonly called rats, were so entirely expelled by the curse of St. Yvorus, the bishop, whose books they had probably gnawed, that none were afterwards bred there, or could exist if they were introduced.



IN Leinster, in the land of Mactalewi, there is a bell, which, unless it is adjured by its keeper every night with an exorcism composed for the purpose, and fastened by some cord, however slight, is found next morning at Clunarech, in Meath, in the church of St. Finnan, from which it had come. It is certain that this occurred on several occasions.



AT Kildare, in Leinster, celebrated for the glorious Brigit, many miracles have been wrought worthy of memory. Among these, the first that occurs is the fire of St. Brigit, which is reported never to go out. Not that it cannot be extinguished, but the nuns and holy women tend and feed it, adding fuel, with such watchful and diligent care, that from the time of the Virgin, it has continued burning through a long course of years; and although such heaps of wood have been consumed during this long period, there has been no accumulation of ashes. [1]

[1] St. Brigit, or Bridget, the illegitimate daughter of an Irish chieftain, was born, according to the legend, in 453, and at the age of fourteen received the veil from the hands of St. Patrick, or one of his immediate disciples. She founded a nunnery at Kildare, over which she presided, and where she was buried on her death, in the odour of sanctity, and having wrought many miracles, in 523. Her remains were afterwards removed, as Giraldus informs us, under his own superintendence, to Down. See Dist. iii. c. 18. In a sanctuary attached to, or near the Abbey, a perpetual fire, instituted by St. Brigit, was kept up by the nuns, like that of Vesta, by her virgins at Rome. It will be seen in the ensuing chapters what veneration was paid to this sacred fire, which General Vallancy supposes to have been a tradition of Eastern origin. Henry de Londres, archbishop of Dublin, caused it to be extinguished in 1220; but it was afterwards renewed, and continued till the suppression of monasteries by Henry VIII.




As in the time of St. Brigit twenty nuns were here engaged in the Lord's warfare, she herself being the twentieth, after her glorious departure, nineteen have always formed the society, the number having never been increased. Each of them has the care of the fire for a single night in turn, and, on the evening before the twentieth night, the last nun, having heaped wood upon the fire, says, "Brigit, take charge of your own fire; for this night belongs to you". She then leaves the fire, and in the morning it is found that the fire has not gone out, and that the usual quantity of fuel has been used.



THIS fire is surrounded by a hedge, made of stakes and brushwood, and forming a circle, within which no male can enter; and if any one should presume to enter, which has been sometimes attempted by rash men, he will not escape the divine vengeance. Moreover, it is only lawful for women to blow the fire, fanning it or using bellows only, and not with their breath. Moreover, by virtue of a curse pronounced by the virgin, goats here never have any young. In this neighbourhood there are some very beautiful meadows called St. Brigit's pastures, in which no plough is ever suffered to turn a furrow. Respecting these meadows, it is


held as a miracle that although all the cattle in the province should graze the herbage from morning till night, the next day the grass would be as luxuriant as ever. It may be said, indeed, of them,

"Et quantum longis carpunt armenta diebus,
Exigua tantum gelidus ros nocte reponit". [1]

"Crept in a summer's day by herds, the dew's
Refreshing moisture verdure still renews".



FROM the time of Brigit, a beautiful falcon frequented that spot, and was accustomed to perch on the top of the church tower. [2] Hence it was popularly called Brigit's bird, and held by all in great veneration. At the beck of the townspeople or of the knights in the castle, just as if it was tamed and trained for the purpose, it would chase ducks and other birds, both those which frequent the plains and the rivers in the plain of Kildare, to the great delight of the spectators, pouncing upon them in the air, and striking them to the ground with its instinctive velocity. What chance of escape was left to these poor birds, when the ground and the waters were beset by man, and their cruel tyrant had possession of the air! It was remarkable in this falcon, that it never suffered any bird to pair with it in the neighbourhood of the church which it frequented, but at the proper season withdrew to the mountains of Glendalough (Glindelachan), [3] and pairing there, in the usual manner, indulged its natural instinct. This ended, it returned to the church without its mate; thus setting a good example to ecclesiastical persons, and especially to those engaged in divine offices within the recesses and precincts of a church. At the time of earl John's first departure from Ireland, this bird, after existing so many centuries, and affording so much delight, as well as

[1] Virg. Georg. ii. 201, 2.

[2] One of the finest round towers in Ireland is still standing at Kildare, and it is supposed to be the same which Giraldus here calls ecclesiastica turris. See the note to D. ii. c. 9.

[1] See before, c. xxviii.


adding glory to St. Brigit's shrine, at length, incautiously settling on a quarry it had pierced, and fearless of the footsteps of man, was killed by the staff of some passing rustic. Hence it is evident, that in prosperity we ought to be prepared for misfortune, and that we must not trust in the prospect of long life and cherished happiness.



AMONG all the miracles in Kildare, none appears to me more wonderful than that marvellous book which they say was written in the time of the Virgin [St. Brigit] at the dictation of an angel. It contains the Four Gospels according to St. Jerom, and almost every page is illustrated by drawings illuminated with a variety of brilliant colours. In one page you see the countenance of the Divine Majesty supernaturally pictured; in another, the mystic forms of the evangelists, with either six, four, or two wings; here are depicted the eagle, there the calf; here the face of a man, there of a lion; with other figures in almost endless variety. If you observe them superficially, and in the usual careless manner, you would imagine them to be daubs, rather than careful compositions; expecting to find nothing exquisite, where, in truth, there is nothing which is not exquisite. But if you apply yourself to a more close examination, and are able to penetrate the secrets of the art displayed in these pictures, you will find them so delicate and exquisite, so finely drawn, and the work of interlacing so elaborate, while the colours with which they are illuminated are so blended, and still so fresh, that you will be ready to assert that all this is the work of angelic, and not human, skill. The more often and closely I scrutinize them, the more I am surprised, and always find them new, discovering fresh causes for increased admiration. [1]

[1] If the manuscript were written in the time of St. Brigit, who flourished in the fifth century, having been born in the year 439, its rich style of ornament might well be supposed miraculous among a people so little conversant with art as the Irish of that age. The Book of Kildare is unfortunately lost; but there is preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, an early copy of the Gospels, called the "Book of Kells", which for the beauty and splendour of its calligraphy and illuminations is not surpassed by any of its age that is known to exist. Indeed, as Mr. Petrie remarks, on looking at this exquisite piece of penmanship, it is difficult to avoid thinking that it is the very manuscript so elaborately described by Giraldus.




EARLY in the night before the morning on which the scribe was to begin the book, an angel stood before him in a dream, and, showing him a picture drawn on a tablet which he had in his hand, said to him, "Do you think that you can draw this picture on the first page of the volume which you propose to copy"? The scribe, who doubted his skill in such exquisite art, in which he was uninstructed and had no practice, replied that he could not. Upon this the angel said, "On the morrow, intreat your Lady to offer prayers for you to the Lord, that he would vouchsafe to open your bodily eyes, and give you spiritual vision, which may enable you to see more clearly, and understand with more intelligence, and employ your hands in drawing with accuracy". The scribe having done as he was commanded, the night following the angel came to him again, and presented to him the same picture, with a number of others. All these, aided by divine grace, the scribe made himself master of, and faithfully committing them to his memory, exactly copied in his book in their proper places. In this manner the book was composed, an angel furnishing the designs, St. Brigit praying, and the scribe copying.



IN the farthest part of Ulster, there are some mountains in which cranes and grutae, [1] and various other birds, build their nests during the season in vast numbers, on account of the peaceful asylum it offers not only to men, but also to beasts and birds, who are unmolested by the natives out of reverence

[1] In a previous chapter, p. 35, this word has occurred, and in the note it is stated to have not been yet explained. It ought to be remarked, that some of the Irish antiquaries have translated it by 'grouse', though this interpretation does not appear to rest on very positive grounds.


for St. Beanus, whose church gives celebrity to the place. The saint protects not only the birds, but their eggs, in a wonderful and unheard-of manner. For if you put forth your hand to rob them of their eggs, you instantly see a brood of young birds, but red and flaccid, as if they had been hatched that same hour. Withdraw your hand spontaneously, and, either by a miracle or some phantasm, you will see the brood again changed to eggs, contrary to the course of nature. Let two approach, the robber and a companion who is only a witness, and one will see chicks while the other sees eggs.

In the north of Munster, between Brendan's hill [1] and the wide sea which flows between Spain and Ireland, there is a large tract bounded on one side by a river, full of fish, and on the other by a rivulet, which, out of reverence to St. Brendan and the other saints of that place, affords a wonderful refuge, not only to men and cattle, but to the very animals which run wild, whether bred there, or migrated from some other district. Hence, both stags, wild boars, and hares, and other beasts of chace, when, pursued by the hounds following in their tracks, they perceive that they cannot otherwise escape, make for this asylum from a great distance with the utmost speed. As soon as they have crossed the rivulet, the hounds stop their running and chace them no further; so that they find themselves instantly out of danger. How wonderful is the power of God, which, through the merits of his saints, stops the impious and persevering devourers from seizing their ready prey, although their instinct is voracious, the hunters cheer them on, and the game is at their feet.

In these two places of refuge, birds and wild animals have so long enjoyed tranquillity, and become almost tame, that they do not flee from the footsteps of man. On the other side of this tract of land, there flows a river which is full of fish, and especially of salmon, in marvellous abundance. This great supply of fish was granted for the sake of supplying, in the cause of charity, sufficient means for that unwearied hospitality which the saints were in the custom of exhibiting in this place, to the utmost of their power, and beyond it, towards pilgrims and strangers. And lest this very abundance should provoke the covetous minds of men, tempted by avarice, which is so common, to turn it

[1] Query, Mount Brandon, in Kerry?


to gain, a remedy was divinely provided, as in the case of the manna; for the fish can never be kept to be eatable after the first night they are taken. Even if salted, they are always liable to become putrid, and are insipid and tasteless; and if by any means they are reserved for the morrow, they can neither be eaten or used.



MOBEOVER, this river flows through and over a great rock, and falls with great force, as usual in such cases, from the top to the bottom. On the summit of the rock is a small cavity, hollowed out in old times by holy men, into which the salmons leap in great numbers from below, the distance of the length of a full-sized spear, in a manner so wonderful that it might be thought miraculous, unless such were the habits of the fish; for this species has the natural instinct to take such leaps. Hence the place derives its name of the salmon-leap.



THEIR peculiar mode of leaping is as follows. Fishes of this sort naturally struggle against the stream; for as birds fly against the wind, so fishes swim up the current. Upon meeting, however, with any very precipitous obstacle, they bend their tails backward towards their mouths, and sometimes, in order to gain more power for their leap, firmly compress their tails in their mouths. Then suddenly releasing themselves from the sort of circle thus formed, with a particular jerk, like the sudden reaction of a bent rod, they spring from the bottom to the top of the leap, to the great astonishment of the beholders. There is a similar leap in the river Liffy, not far from Dublin, but it is not so great. [1] A third of these salmon-leaps is to be seen in the river Teivy in South Wales, and it is the highest of the three. [2]

[1] Leixlip, about eight miles above Dublin. Leax, or lex, was the Anglo-Saxon name for the salmon.

[2] Giraldus mentions the salmon-leap on the Teivy, in his Itinerary of Wales, lib. ii. c. 3.




AMONG the miracles which are related of St. Brendan, [1] which have been reduced to writing, it is told with what toils he wandered over the sea during a voyage which lasted seven years. There is also an account of the various appearances of angels; of his having celebrated the feast of Easter annually during seven years on an enormous sea monster; how the most miserable, but not pitiable, traitor Judas is chained to a rock in the sea, and deprived of the blessing of light; and, finally, how after Brendan's long and indefatigable labours, and his having attained to the blissful vision of the terrestrial paradise, he, by the aid of divine grace, returned happily to his own country. These things might truly be thought incredible, except that, to those who believe, all things are possible; and that the Lord hath done whatever he would in the heaven and in the earth, in the sea, and in the depths; and that God is wonderful in his saints, and great in all his works; and that the ends of the world are always producing some new wonder. Nature, who in a sort of way maintains her dignity in public, sports with more freedom in private. If any one, however, should desire to have fuller accounts of these matters, let him read the book which is written of the life of Brendan.



WE come now to treat of occurrences in modern times. There is a cross possessed of great virtues in the church

[1] St. Brendan, or Brandan, was the legendary navigator of the Middle Ages, and was made to be an Irishman, because Ireland presented a bold front to the Western Ocean. His legend appears to be made up of various traditionary stories of adventures of men who were carried out to sea, or ventured out to sea, to a great distance westward, and some of whom, perhaps, reached the Canary islands, and even the coast of America. The legend of St. Brandan was very popular from the twelfth century downwards, and was published first in a Latin narrative, and subsequently in translations in all the languages of Western Europe. The original Latin text, and several of the translations, have been printed.


of the Holy Trinity at Dublin, and having the features of a crucifix. Not many years before the arrival of the English, namely, in the time of the Ostmen, [1] this crucifix opened its sacred mouth and spoke in the presence of many persons who heard the words. The circumstances were these: one of the citizens had invoked the crucifix as the sole witness, and a kind of surety, in a contract which he had entered into. In process of time, however, the party with whom he had contracted repudiating his engagements, and persisting in denying his obligation for the money which the other had lent him on his credit, his fellow citizens, rather ironically than seriously, tried the case before the cross, and having assembled in the church for that purpose, the crucifix, on being adjured and called to witness, gave testimony to the truth in the presence of many persons who heard the words.



AT the time that earl Richard [2] came first with an army to Dublin, the citizens, having a presage in their minds of the many evils which were impending, and fearing that the city would be taken, as they despaired of its defence, were contriving how they could make their escape by sea, and wished to carry away this cross with them to the islands. They used every effort in their power to effect this; but the whole population of the city failed to move it from its place either by force or contrivance.



AFTER the city was taken, as a certain archer, among others, was offering a penny before the cross, when he

[1] See afterwards, Distinction iii., c. 43.

[2] Richard Strongbow, earl of Strigul. See afterwards, in B. i. cc. 2 and 12 of our author's History of the Conquest of Ireland.


retired, it flew back behind him; and upon his taking it up and again carrying it back to the cross, the same thing happened a second time, to the surprise of many beholders. He then confessed, in the presence of the multitude, that he had that day pillaged the bishop's residence within the precincts of that same church. Upon this, being enjoined to give up the money, and having restored everything which he had pillaged, he brought back the same penny for the third time, with great fear and reverence, to the foot of the cross, where at length it remained motionless.

Moreover, some young man in the household of earl Richard, when Raymond [1] was constable, having stole a pair of iron greaves, the whole of the household purged themselves of the guilt upon their oaths, before the crucifix already mentioned, in the church of the Holy Trinity. Not long afterwards, this young man, on his return from England, where he had gone under no suspicion of the robbery, threw himself at the feet of Raymond, worn to a skeleton, and in great misery on account of the crime he had committed, and offered to make satisfaction and implored forgiveness. He also made public confession that he had suffered such severe persecution from the cross, which from the time of his perjury had seemed to hang constantly about his neck with a heavy weight, that he could never afterwards sleep or enjoy any rest. Thus, at the period of our first arrival, this cross, so generally venerated for these and other various virtues and signs, shewed itself to be worthy of the reverence it here receives.



WHEN the Fitz-Maurices had obtained possession of the castle of Ferns, a young man of their household, who had received the surname of "The Phantastic", having pillaged the church of St. Maidoc, immediately fell into a phrenzy and became mad. Inspired also by some spirit, I know not of what kind, he began to prophesy, and foretold

1 See History of the Conquest of Ireland, B. ii. c. 2.


future events. "I behold", he said, "our men slain with the sword", mentioning several by name, "and the castle laid in ruins; and it is no longer here". This he shouted from day to day, to the great astonishment of everybody; nor did he cease until there came an attack by the enemy, and in a short time all that he had predicted came to pass.



AT Kildare, an archer belonging to the household of earl Richard leapt over the hedge of St. Brigit and blew the fire with his mouth. [1] On leaping back over the hedge, he began to lose his senses, and blew into every one's mouth he met, exclaiming, "See how I blew St. Brigit's fire". In the same way, running from house to house, through the city, wherever he found a fire, he began to blow it, using the same words. At last, having been seized by his comrades and bound, he entreated to be taken to the nearest water. Being conducted there, and parched with thirst, he took such deep draughts that he burst in the midst of them, and died in their hands. Another, who attempted to enter the circle round the fire, and with that intention had already planted one of his legs across the hedge, though he was dragged back and held by his companions, had his leg and foot instantly withered; whence afterwards, as long as he lived, he was lame and an idiot.



A CERTAIN knight, at Cork, having taken possession of the land of St. Finbar, and ploughed it, without the consent of the bishop, was sowing it with seed wheat, when the bishop of that see, coming to the spot, prohibited him in the name of God and the saints of his church from any longer forcibly occupying, or sowing the land. The knight

[1] See before, cc. xxxv., xxxvi.


obstinately refusing to desist from his purpose, the bishop turning back, and shedding tears, said, "I pray the Almighty that this seed may never produce you a crop". And it happened that year, to the great astonishment of all the people in the city, that those fields did not produce a single ear of corn, nor did one grain of seed germinate and spring into blade. Others having in the following year sown rye in the fields, with the bishop's consent, when autumn came they harvested ordinary wheat, having very little rye mixed with it; the grains of the rye being either miraculously changed into wheat, or rather the seed of the former year, which did not then vegetate, being reserved for the harvest of the second year, through the merits of the holy man.



PHILIP of Worcester having led troops during the season of Lent to Armagh, the see of St. Patrick, and the special seat of the primacy of all Ireland, and during those holy days having extorted by violence a large tribute from the sacred clergy, he was struck with a sudden illness as he returned with the spoils, and hardly escaped with his life. Moreover, Hugh Tyrrell having carried off with him to Louth a great boiler which belonged to the convent of clerks, pursued by the maledictions of the whole body of clergy, the same night a fire broke out in his lodgings, in which the two horses which had drawn the boiler, and many other things, were burnt. Great part of the town became also a prey to the flames on that occasion. Hugh Tyrrell, finding in the morning that the boiler had received no injury, sent it back to Armagh, in a fit of penitence. The bishop of Louth, who was there at that time, said of this Hugh, in the hearing of many persons belonging to the army, "some great misfortune will certainly happen to that man during the present year; for the lamentations of so many good men, and so many maledictions, can never be uttered in vain". And this, as we have seen, came to pass before the year


was ended, through the quarrel between Hugh Tyrrell and Hugh de Lacy, fomented by their followers, which plunged nearly the whole kingdom into confusion and ruin.



AT Ossory is the mill of St. Lucherinus, the abbot, which does not work on Sundays, and never grinds any corn which has been obtained by thieving or pillage.



THERE is a mill at Foure, in Meath, which St. Fechin made most miraculously with his own hands, in the side of a certain rock. No women are allowed to enter either this mill or the church of the saint; and the mill is held in as much reverence by the natives as any of the churches dedicated to the saint. It happened that when Hugh de Lacy was leading his troops through this place, an archer dragged a girl into the mill and there violated her. Sudden punishment overtook him; for, being struck with infernal fire in the offending parts, it spread through his whole body, and he died the same night.



MOREOVER, the army having quartered for the night in this place, Hugh de Lacy caused all the corn which they had pillaged from the churches and the mill to be restored; but a small quantity of oats which had been pilfered from the mill by two of the soldiers was surreptitiously placed by them before their steeds. One of these men became insane, and dashed his brains out the same night in the stable. The other, after a comrade had jeered those who made restitution of the corn, for their hypocritical pretences to religion, fell suddenly dead the next morning, by the side of


Hugh de Lacy, in sight of the greatest part of the troops, who were filled with amazement.



IT happened in our time, during an unusually violent thunder-storm, while king Henry was engaged in his expedition to Ireland, that several troops of archers were quartered for a time at a town of the archbishop of Dublin, called Finglass. The illustrious abbot Kenach and other holy men in succession, through whose fervent piety the place became celebrated, had formerly planted with their own hands ash trees and yews, and various other kinds of trees, round the cemetery for the ornament of the church. [1] On these the archers began to lay violent hands in the most irreverent and atrocious manner. For there being no woods near at hand, they fell on these trees with the usual insolence and recklessness of a depraved people and the license of soldiers, and lopping off the boughs of some of them, and tearing up others by the roots, speedily consumed nearly the whole in their fires. [2] But they were forthwith smitten by God, whose divine indignation reserves vengeance to himself, and condescends to vindicate the injuries offered to his saints, on earth, by a sudden and singular pestilence; so that most of them miserably perished within a very few days in the same village, being brought to judgment by a severe inquisitor in the same court wherein they had offended. The

[1] It is a pleasant relief to the dark shades of the ascetic life of these old recluses, to picture them planting trees, quae alteri saeculo prosint, for shelter and ornament in future ages, ahout their churches and religious houses. Finglas, an agreeable village, about two miles from Dublin, is still remarkable for its shady groves. Besides the modern cemetery, it possesses at Glassnevin the most picturesque of botanical gardens, in the grounds of which are old trees, that we may almost fancy coeval with the plantations of abbot Kenach or his successors.

[2] The sentence following is omitted, it not being material to the sense, and so full of alliterations and antithesis, that it is impossible to give it point in a translation: "Et vere officium illud et ab officiendo, non per antiphrasin sed proprie dictum est. Talibus enim ascripti officiis efficiocissime semper potius officere parati sunt, quam proficere".


rest endeavoured to save themselves by flight, but the ship in which they embarked being wrecked, they found in their extremity that He who rules the land rules the sea also. Who, indeed, can flee from his presence, who can escape?

"Quo fugis ergo manutn Regis, gens impia, regum?
An nescis longas regibus esse manus"?


"Quo fugis ex illo, qui claudit cuncta, pugillo"?

But among a thousand kinds of deaths, that is most to be dreaded which is only the beginning of death. Thus we find that the wrath of the only true and mighty Thunderer, which had been provoked by wickedness on the earth, was vindicated by Neptune in the waves. Hear what the prophet Amos says: "He that fleeth of them shall not escape, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. Though they go down to hell, thence shall my hand bring them up; though they climb up to heaven, thence I will bring them down; and though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence. And though they hide themselves from my eyes in the bottom of the sea, there will I command my serpent, and he shall bite them. And though they go into captivity before their enemies, there will I command the sword, and it shall slay them; and I will set my eyes upon them for evil and not for good". [1]

Listen also to Obadiah: "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord". [2] Hear also Jonah, who fled from the face of the Lord, and yet he says, "I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land". [3] On which St. Jerom thus comments: "Since he confesses him the Creator of the sea and the dry land, why should he suppose that quitting the dry land he could avoid his Maker in the sea"? Hear also the words of the Psalmist: "If I ascend up to heaven thou art there; if I go down to hell thou art there also. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me". [4]

[1] Amos, ix. 14.

[2] Obadiah, v. 4.

[3] Jonah, i. 9.

[4] Psalm cxxxix. 9.




IT appears to me very remarkable, and deserving of notice, that, as in the present life the people of this nation are beyond all others irascible and prompt to revenge, so also in the life that is after death, the saints of this country, exalted by their merits above those of other lands, appear to be of a vindictive temper. There appears to me no other way of accounting for this circumstance, but this: As the Irish people possessed no castles, while the country is full of marauders who live by plunder, the people, and more especially the ecclesiastics, made it their practice to have recourse to the churches, instead of fortified places, as refuges for themselves and their property; and, by divine Providence and permission, there was frequent need that the church should visit her enemies with the severest chastisements; this being the only mode by which evil-doers and impious men could be deterred from breaking the peace of ecclesiastical societies, and for securing even to a servile submission the reverence due to the very churches themselves, from a rude and irreligious people.



FOR the rest, it seems now time for me to employ my pen on the first inhabitants of this country, and the various arrivals of other races, successively, in the island; and I shall relate as briefly and clearly as I can, how and from what parts they came hither, how long they stayed, or in what manner they disappeared. For a due attention to method requires that, having fixed the site of the island as lying in the ocean; having described its surface and character, and the peculiarities of the various animals which inhabit it, noticing those that are not found there; and having mentioned several new and strange objects, I should now introduce man himself, the noblest part of the creation, and for whose sake I have treated of the rest; and that I should give an account of the manner and customs of the people, the various events in their history, and their changes of fortune until the present time. So that even as the subjects of our studies in the present age are enriched by the laudable industry of ancient writers, my labours also may make some additions to the stores of knowledge handed down to posterity, although I am sensible that in comparison with theirs, I strike a weak-toned lyre, and use a feeble pen: such is the difference between us; and in speaking of my own labours I follow the example of comparing little things to great. However, I am unwilling to lead my life in idleness and sloth, as if it were not given me for the common good, but to be spent uselessly in utter selfishness, without motives for action a mere animal existence. How far


more admirable and excellent is their spirit, who do not lock up the inestimable treasure of knowledge, that noble gift of God, but with a large and commendable liberality open it gratuitously to all, freely giving with increase what they freely receive, and offering to public view the light of wisdom burning clearly and carefully trimmed, that it may shine the brighter when brought into common use. So also their designs are most laudable, who, remembering how short the days of man are, and how transitory his life, watch and labour diligently to accomplish some noble task which shall hand their names to future ages, and perpetuate their renown by works worthy of their virtues.



ACCORDING to the most ancient histories of the Irish, Caesara, a granddaughter of Noah, [1] hearing that the flood was near at hand, resolved to escape by sailing with her companions to the farthest islands of the west, as yet uninhabited by any human being, hoping that, where sin had never been committed, the flood, its avenger, would not come. The ships in company with her having been lost by shipwreck, that in which she herself sailed, with three men and fifty women, was saved, and thrown by chance on the coast of Ireland in the year before the flood. But although, with ingenuity laudable in a woman, she had planned to escape the destined visitation, it was not in her power by any means to avoid the common and almost universal fate. The shore where the ship first came to land was called the bay of small ships, and the mound of earth in which she was buried is called the tomb of Caesara to this day. But it appears to be

[1] It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that all these stories relating to the first inhabitants of Ireland are in the highest degree fabulous. They are told fully in Keating's History of Ireland, which, indeed, forms the best commentary on this part of the "Topography" of Giraldus Cambrensis. According to some of the Irish legends, long before the arrival of Caesara, Ireland had received a colony, consisting chiefly of beautiful women, led by three daughters of Cain and their husbands.


matter of doubt how, if nearly all perished in the flood, the memory of these events and of their arrival could have been preserved. However, those who first committed to writing these accounts must be answerable for them. For myself, I compile history: it is not my business to impugn it. Perhaps some record of these events was found, inscribed on a stone or a tile, as we read was the case with the art of music before the flood.



IN the three-hundredth year after the flood, Bartholanus, [1] the son of Terah, a descendant from Japhet, the son of Noah, with his three sons and their wives, is reported to have landed on the coast of Ireland, either by chance or design; having either erred in their course, or, as the better opinion is, mistaken the country. He had three sons, Languinus, [2] Salanus, and Ruturugus, whose names having been conferred on localities where they are still extant, their memories have been thus perpetuated, so that they seem still to live among us. Lake Lagini [3] derived its name from the eldest son; and a very high mountain, towering over the sea which flows between Britain and Ireland, is named after the second son. St. Dominic having many ages afterwards built a noble monastery at the foot of this mountain, it is now better known by the name of Mount Dominic. Ruturugus, who succeeded his two brothers, gave his name to Lake Ruturugus.

We find few remarkable occurrences in the time of

[1] He is called in the Irish annals Partholan, and is said to have been the ninth in descent from Noah. Some MSS of Giraldus read Serah, instead of Terah, as the name of his father. According to the Irish legend, he was driven from Greece on account of his wickedness, and passing by Sicily, and along the coasts of Spain, reached Ireland, and landed at Inber-Sceine, on the coast of Kerry on a Wednesday, the 14th day of May. This event is said to have taken place three hundred years after the deluge.

[1] Another reading of the MSS. is Langurius,

[2] Lagurini, according to another reading.


Bartholanus; indeed not any, except that four [1] vast lakes burst suddenly out of the bowels of the earth, and four woods were felled and grubbed up, as agriculture made progress, and having been cleared with great toil, were turned into open country. For at that period the whole country, except some of the mountains, and generally even these, was overspread by immense forests and dense thickets, so that an open plain, suitable for tillage, could scarcely be found. Even to the present day such spots are very rare in comparison with the woods. However, Bartholanus and his sons and grandsons were no less fortunate in their affairs than in having a numerous posterity; for in three hundred years after their arrival, his descendants are said to have already increased to the number of nine thousand men. At length, having gained the victory in a great battle he fought with the Giants, since human prosperity is never durable, and

"Et quoniam faciles dare summa deos, eademque tueri
Difficiles; et quia summis hunc numina rebus
Crescendi posuere modum;
In se inagna ruunt, summisque negatum
Stare diu, nimiumque graves sub pondere lapsus".

"Although the gods their bounties freely send,
Slow are their aids such favours to defend,
And highest fortunes find the speediest end.
Thus great things soonest fall, the noblest die.
The loftiest totter, and in ruins lie".

Bartholanus, with nearly all his people, was carried off by a sudden pestilence, which probably was produced by the air being corrupted by the putrifying carcases of the slain giants. Ruanus alone is said to have escaped the mortality, and to have lived, as ancient chronicles inform us, for a vast number of years (more iudeed than it is easy to believe), surviving till the time of St. Patrick, by whom he was baptized. [2] It is reported that he gave a faithful account of

[1] According to the Irish legends, seven lakes burst forth on the arrival of Partholan.

[2] A different account of the long existence of Ruanus, who is elsewhere called Tuan, is given in the Ogygia, p. 4: "In varias brutorum formas per multa saecula transmutatus, tandem circa A.D. 527, e salmone, filius Carelli regis Ultoniae evasit". [After having been for ages transmuted into the shape of various animals, at last, about the year of our Lord 527, he came out from that of a salmon, as the son of Carell, king of Ulster.] It appears that the earliest Irish races held the eastern doctrine of the transmigration of souls; and fabulous accounts of the transmutation of the human species into animals received credit in Ireland even as late as the time of Giraldus. See before, Distinct, ii. c. 19.


the history of Ireland, having related to St. Patrick all the national events, the memory of which had faded, from their great antiquity. For there is nothing so firmly fixed in the mind that it is not lost by neglect and the lapse of time. Notwithstanding Ruanus had extorted from death a long truce, he could not succeed in making a permanent peace with him; for, although he had warded off his attacks for a term far exceeding the common and usual bounds of this mortal life, he could not escape the fate which awaits all miserable flesh. As far as can be collected from Irish annals, Ruanus is stated to have had his life prolonged for many years beyond the utmost longevity of the ancient patriarchs, although this account may appear very incredible and open to objection.



BARTOLANUS and all his descendants having thus perished under the stroke of a prolonged and severe pestilence, the land remained for some time uncolonized, until Nemedus, [1] son of Agnominius, a Scythian, was with his four sons conveyed over to the shores of the desolated country. The names of his sons were Starius, Gerbaueles, Antimus, and Fergusius. In the time of Nemedus, four lakes suddenly burst their bounds, and the inundations swept off many thickets and woods, and cleared the ground, so that it was converted into open fields. He fought four battles with the pirates [2] who were continually making devastations in Ireland, and was always victorious. He died in an island on the south of

[1] Nemedus, according to the legends, was the eleventh in descent from Noah, and came from the shores of the Euxine Sea, with his four sons.

[2] These were the Fomorians, powerful sea-rovers from Africa, who are celebrated in the old Irish poetry.


Ireland, to which he bequeathed his name, which it still bears. Nemedus's sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons, with their posterity, increased so fast and in such numbers, that they soon peopled the whole island, and every corner of it, to an extent never before known. But since

"Plus gravitatia habent res qu cum tempore crescunt, et Rara solet subitis rebus inesse fides";

"Things that are slow of growth, the longest last; What springs up suddenly, decays as fast";

as their numbers had suddenly increased, so they sunk under sudden and unexpected calamities, and their fall was quicker than their rise. The greater part soon perished in the war with the Giants, [1] who were then numerous in the island, and by various sufferings and misfortunes. The rest, determining to take refuge in flight from the numberless evils with which they were threatened at that time, embarked in ships, and part of them sailed to Scythia, the rest to Greece. The descendants of Nemedus held possession of Ireland during two hundred and sixteen years; and for two hundred years afterwards it was uninhabited.



THESE events having occurred in the order related, at length five chiefs, all brothers, who were the sons of Dela, and among the descendants of Nemedus, who had taken refuge in Greece, arrived in Ireland, and, finding it uninhabited, divided the country into five equal parts, of which each took one. [2] Their bounds meet at a stone standing near the castle of Kyllari, in Meath, which stone is called the navel of Ireland, because it stands in the middle of the country. [3]

[1] The Nemedians, according to the Irish annals, were driven from Ireland not by giants, but by the invasion of the piratic Fomorians.

[2] The colony brought by Dela were those known in Irish legend by the name of the Firbolgs. They are said to have arrived in Ireland in the year 1024 after the Deluge. Some antiquaries have identified them with the Belgae, and pretend that they went from Britain to Ireland.

[3] This spot was called Usneach, now Usny Hill, in the parish of Kildare, Westmeath. It was a celebrated place of pagan worship.


Hence that part of Ireland is called Meath (Media), because it lies in the middle of the island; but it formed neither oi the five famous provinces whose names I have before mentioned. For when the aforesaid five brothers, Grandius, Genandius, Sagandius, Rutherrargus, and Slanius, had divided the island into five parts, each of those parts had a small portion of Meath, abutting on the stone just mentioned; inasmuch as that territory had from the earliest times been the richest part of the country, having a level plain, and being very fertile and productive of corn. Hence none of the five brothers wished to be shut out from it.



IN process of time, as fortune changed, and according to wont caused many disasters, Slanius alone obtained the monarchy of the whole of Ireland. Hence he is called the first king of Ireland. He first reunited the five portions of Meath, and forming them into one province, appropriated the whole of Meath to the royal table. Hence Meath continues to this day a separate province, since the time that Slanius, as already stated, detached it from the other five; nor does it contain as much land as one of the other five, but only one-half. For as even in the time of Slanius each of those provinces contained thirty-two cantreds, Meath was content with sixteen only. The number of all the cantreds in Ireland is one hundred and seventy-six. Cantred is a word common to both languages, British and Irish, and signifies a quantity of land usually containing one hundred vills. Including these brothers and their successors, nine kings succeeded each other; but their reigns were short, and altogether lasted only thirty years. Slanius was buried on a hill in Meath, [1] which takes its name from him.



THE nation being much enfeebled, and almost

[1] Slieve Slange, now called Slieve Donard, in the county Down.


exterminated, by various hostilities among themselves, and still more by the war they waged, with great loss, against another branch of the posterity of Nemedus, [1] which had also come over from Scythia; at last, four nobles, sons of king Milesius, [2] arrived from Spain with a fleet of sixty ships, and quickly reduced the whole island under their dominion, no one opposing them. In process of time, the two most distinguished of these nobles, namely, Heber and Herimon, divided the kingdom between them in two equal portions, the southern part falling to Herimon, and the northern to Heber.



AFTER reigning jointly for some time prosperously and happily enough, as no faith can be put in a kingly consort, and power is always impatient of being shared, reckless ambition, the mother of mischief, tore asunder by degrees the ties of brotherly concord, soon broke every bond of peace, and the prosperous state of affairs was alloyed by discord, which perverts and disturbs everything. After several engagements between the brothers, with the doubtful issues common to war, victory at last declared in favour of Herimon; and his brother Heber being slain in a battle, [3] Herimon obtained the sole possession of the entire kingdom of Ireland, and became the first monarch of the Irish race who inhabit the island to the present day. According to some statements, the Irish (Hibernienses) derived their name from the aforesaid Heber; or rather, according to others, they were so named from the Hiberus (the Ebro), a river in Spain. They are likewise called Gaideli, and also Scots. Ancient histories relate that one Gaidelus, a

[1] These were the Tuatha-de-Danaan, who, according to the Irish antiquaries, came from the north of Scotland to the north of Ireland. They were, according to tradition, far more civilized than any of the colonies who preceded them.

[2] The Milesians are the most celebrated of all the legendary colonies of Ireland, and those from whom the modern Irish claim descent.

[3] This battle is said to hare taken place near Glashill, in Offaly.


grandson of Phaenius, [1] after the confusion of tongues at the tower of Nimrod, was deeply skilled in various languages. On account of this skill, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, gave him his daughter Scota for wife. Since, therefore, the Irish, as they say, derive their original lineage from these two, Gaidelus and Scota, as they were born, so are they called Gaideli and Scots. This Gaidelus, they assert, formed the Irish tongue, which is therefore called Gaidelach, as if it were collected from all languages. The northern part of the British island is also called Scotia, because a tribe which sprung from them is understood to inhabit that country. This is proved by the affinity of the two nations in language and habits, in arms as well as in customs, even to the present day.



ACCORDING to the British History, [2] Gurguntius, king of the Britons, the noble son of Belinus, and grandson of the famous Brennus, as he was returning from Denmark, which his father had formerly subdued, and, on its rebelling, he had again subjugated, met with a fleet in the Orkney islands, on board which the Basclenses had sailed thither from Spain. Their chieftains having presented themselves to the king, and told him whence they came, and the object of their expedition, namely, to settle in some country in the western parts, earnestly intreated him to give them land to

[1] Phaenius, king of the Scythians, was the grand ancestor of the Milesian race, and the first purifier of the Irish tongue, which, according to the legend, was the general language of the human race before the confusion of tongues at Babel. He also invented the Ogham characters. Nial, Phaenius's younger son, went to Egypt, married the princess Scota, and had a son, Gaidel, from whom came the name Gael. From Scota the Irish of the Milesian race were called Scoti, or Scots, and to them this name belonged, until it, as well as that of Gael, was carried by the Irish colonies into Scotland. Their leaders were Heber (Eiber) and Herimon, or Heremon (Eireamon).

[2] This chapter is taken from Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. iii. c. 12. The Basclenses are evidently the Basques, but this colony does not appear to be admitted by the Irish writers.


dwell in. At length the king, by the advice of his counsellors, granted them the island, now called Ireland, which was then almost deserted, or thinly peopled, that they might settle there. He also gave them pilots from his own fleet to steer them to the island. Hence it appears that the kings of Britain have claims to Ireland by some right, although it be ancient. We read also that Arthur, the famous king of the Britons, had the kings of Ireland tributary to him, and that some of them came to his court at the great city of Caerleon.



THE city of Bayonne stands on the frontier of Gascony, and is under the same government. It is also the capital of Basclonia (Biscay), from whence the Irish came. At the present day, Gascony and the whole of Aquitaine are under the same rule as Britain. [1] The kings of Britain, besides this claim, have also new claims of two sorts in this respect. One is the voluntary cession and spontaneous offer of fealty by the princes of Ireland (for every one is free to renounce his own rights); the other is the confirmation of the title by the Pope. [2] For Jove thundering on the western confines of the ocean, and Henry II., king of England, directing an expedition into those parts, the petty kings of the West, alarmed at his thunderings, warded off the bolt by means of a treaty of peace. [3] But we shall treat of this more fully in the proper place.



I HAVE considered it not superfluous to give a short account of the condition of this nation, both bodily and mentally;

[1] Henry II., by his marriage with Eleanor of Guienne, acquired the duchy of Aquitaine and the county of Poitou, embracing, with their dependencies, the whole of the south-west of France, as far as the Pyrenees.

[2] Giraldus has preserved the bulls of Popes Adrian and Alexander. See hereafter, Conquest of Ireland, B. ii. c. 6.

[3] Ib. B. i. c. 32.


I mean their state of cultivation, both interior and exterior. This people are not tenderly nursed from their birth, as others are; for besides the rude fare they receive from their parents, which is only just sufficient for their sustenance, as to the rest, almost all is left to nature. They are not placed in cradles, or swathed, nor are their tender limbs either fomented by constant bathings, or adjusted with art. For the midwives make no use of warm water, nor raise their noses, nor depress the face, nor stretch the legs; but nature alone, with very slight aids from art, disposes and adjusts the limbs to which she has given birth, just as she pleases. As if to prove that what she is able to form she does not cease to shape also, she gives growth and proportions to these people, until they arrive at perfect vigour, tall and handsome in person, and with agreeable and ruddy countenances. But although they are richly endowed with the gifts of nature, their want of civilization, shown both in their dress and mental culture, makes them a barbarous people. For they wear but little woollen, and nearly all they use is black, that being the colour of the sheep in this country. Their clothes are also made after a barbarous fashion.

Their custom is to wear small, close-fitting hoods, hanging below the shoulders a cubit's length, and generally made of parti-coloured strips sewn together. Under these, they use woollen rugs instead of cloaks, with breeches and hose of one piece, or hose and breeches joined together, which are usually dyed of some colour. [1] Likewise, in riding, they

[1] Seu braccis caligatis, sen caligis braccatis. The account given by Giraldus of the ancient dress of the Irish, in a language which supplied no equivalent terms, is necessarily obscure; but, connecting it with other sources of information, we find that it consisted of the following articles: 1. What our author calls caputium, was a sort of bonnet and hood, protecting not only the head, but the neck and shoulders from the weather. It was of a conical form, and probably made of the same sort of stuff as the mantle. 2. The cloak or mantle; to describe which Giraldus has framed the Latin word phalingium, from the Irish fatach, which signifies a rug or covering of any sort. This cloak had a fringed border sown or wove down the edges. It was worn almost as low as the ankles, and was usually made of frieze, or some such coarse material. It was worn by the higher classes of the same fashion, but of better quality, according to their rank and means; and was sometimes made of the finest cloth, with a silken or woollen fringe, and of scarlet or other colours. Many rows of the shag, or fringe, were sown on the upper part of the mantle, partly for ornament and partly to defend the neck from the cold; and along the edges ran a narrow fringe of the same texture as the outward garment. 3. The covering for the lower part of the body, the thighs and legs, consisted of close breeches, with hose or stockings made in one, or sewn to them. It was a garment common to the Celtic nations, and is often mentioned by Roman writers. One of the provinces of Gaul had the name of Gullia Braccata from this distinguishing article of the native dress The word might be translated "trowsers" (Fr., trusser, to truss), or "trews", with which and the plaid, both used by the Scots, there seems to have been a great similarity in shape, material, and the particolour. The Irish were so much attached to this national costume, that, in order to break down the line of demarcation between the natives and the English settlers, they were forbidden to wear it by laws passed in the 5 Edw. IV., 10 Henry VII., and 28 Henry VIII., just as the distinguishing dress of the Scotch Highlanders was prohibited, in order to break the spirit of the clans, after their faithful adhesion to the Stuart princes had drawn upon them the severities of the English government. Giraldus might have added to the list of articles formerly worn by the Irish the brogues, made of dried skins, or half-tanned leather, and fastened with latchets, or thongs of the same material.


neither use saddles, nor boots, nor spurs, but only carry a rod in their hand, having a crook at the upper end, with which they both urge forward and guide their horses. They use reins which serve the purpose both of a bridle and a bit, and do not prevent the horses from feeding, as they always live on grass. Moreover, they go to battle without armour, considering it a burthen, and esteeming it brave and honourable to fight without it.

But they are armed with three kinds of weapons: namely, short spears, and two darts; in which they follow the customs of the Basclenses (Basques); and they also carry heavy battle-axes of iron, exceedingly well wrought and tempered. These they borrowed from the Norwegians and Ostmen, [1] of whom we shall speak hereafter. But in striking with the battle-axe they use only one hand, instead of both, clasping the haft firmly, and raising it above the head, so as

[1] "Danish battle-axes are usually mentioned in the old English and Frankish chronicles as excellent and dangerous weapons of attack. Nay, even from the distant Myklegaard, or Constantinople, where the northerners, under the name of Varangians, served for a long series of years as the Greek emperors' body-guards, stories have reached us of the particular kinds of battle axes which they wielded with strength". Worsaae's Danes in England, etc., p. 46.


to direct the blow with such force that neither the helmets which protect our heads, nor the platting of the coat of mail which defends the rest of our bodies, can resist the stroke. Thus it has happened, in my own time, that one blow of the axe has cut off a knight's thigh, although it was incased in iron, the thigh and leg falling on one side of his horse, and the body of the dying horseman on the other. When other weapons fail, they hurl stones against the enemy in battle with such quickness and dexterity, that they do more execution than the slingers of any other nation.

The Irish are a rude people, subsisting on the produce of their cattle only, and living themselves like beasts - a people that has not yet departed from the primitive habits of pastoral life. In the common course of things, mankind progresses from the forest to the field, from the field to the town, and to the social condition of citizens; [1] but this nation, holding agricultural labour in contempt, and little covering the wealth of towns, as well as being exceedingly averse to civil institutions lead the same life their fathers did in the woods and open pastures, neither willing to abandon their old habits or learn anything new. They, therefore, only make patches of tillage; their pastures are short of herbage; cultivation is very rare, and there is scarcely any land sown. This want of tilled fields arises from the neglect of those who should cultivate them; for there are large tracts which are naturally fertile and productive. The whole habits of the people are contrary to agricultural pursuits, so that the rich glebe is barren for want of husbandmen, the fields demanding labour which is not forthcoming.

Very few sorts of fruit-trees are found in this country, a defect arising not from the nature of the soil, but from

[1] We have here the progress from the pastoral to the agricultural life, and social state very justly described, and we find that the Irish in the time of Giraldus had not advanced beyond the earliest stage. This may have resulted in part from other causes besides the natural bent of the people. Britain owed the first rudiments of progress to the Roman civilization; other races were successively mingled with her population; and she had powerful kings, and a wealthy aristocracy, while Ireland was still parcelled out under a number of petty princes, and a prey to internal feuds.


want of industry in planting them; for the lazy husbandman does not take the trouble to plant the foreign sorts which would grow very well here. There are four kinds of trees indigenous in Britain which are wanting here. Two of them are fruit-bearing trees, the chesnut and beech; the other two, the arulus [1] and the box, though they bear no fruit, are serviceable for making cups and handles. Yews, with their bitter sap, are more frequently to be found in this country than in any other I have visited; but you will see them principally in old cemeteries and sacred places, where they were planted in ancient times by the hands of holy men, to give them what ornament and beauty they could. [2] The forests of Ireland also abound with fir-trees, producing frankincense and incense. [3] There are also veins of various kinds of metals ramifying in the bowels of the earth, which, from the same idle habits, are not worked and turned to account. Even gold, which the people require in large quantities, and still covet in a way that speaks their Spanish origin, is brought here by the merchants who traverse the ocean for the purposes of commerce. They neither employ themselves in the manufacture of flax or wool, or in any kind of trade or mechanical art; but abandoning themselves to idleness, and immersed in sloth, their greatest delight is to be exempt from toil, their richest possession the enjoyment of liberty.

This people, then, is truly barbarous, being not only barbarous in their dress, but suffering their hair and beards (barbis) to grow enormously in an uncouth manner, just like the modern fashion recently introduced; [4] indeed, all their habits are barbarisms. But habits are formed by

[1] Other MSS. read alarus; but it is uncertain to what tree he alludes.

[2] See before, B. ii. c. 54.

[3] "Abundat et abiete sylvositas Hiberniae, thuris et incensi matre". Giraldus means, no doubt, the pinna sylvestris, which is also indigenous in Scotland, whence it has acquired its common name of the Scotch fir. He speaks somewhat poetically of its inflammable products in resin and pitch.

[4] Giraldus alludes probably to the fashion of wearing the hair and beard long, which came into vogue in the reign of Henry I., to the great scandal of the clergy; so that our author slily classes it with the barbarisms of an uncivilized race. See Orderic. Vital, vol. iii. p. 363-4, in Bohn's Antiq. Lib., and the notes.


mutual intercourse; and as this people inhabit a country so remote from the rest of the world, and lying at its furthest extremity, forming, as it were, another world, and are thus secluded from civilized nations, they learn nothing, and practise nothing but the barbarism in which they are born and bred, and which sticks to them like a second nature. Whatever natural gifts they possess are excellent, in whatever requires industry they are worthless.



THE only thing to which I find that this people apply a commendable industry is playing upon musical instruments; in which they are incomparably more skilful than any other nation 1 have ever seen. For their modulation on these instruments, unlike that of the Britons to which I am accustomed, is not slow and harsh, but lively and rapid, while the harmony is both sweet and gay. It is astonishing that in so complex and rapid a movement of the fingers, the musical proportions can be preserved, and that throughout the difficult modulations on their various instruments, the harmony is completed with such a sweet velocity, so unequal an equality, so discordant a concord, as if the chords sounded together fourths or fifths. [1] They always begin from B flat, and return to the same, that the whole may be completed under the sweetness of a pleasing sound. They enter into a movement, and conclude it in so delicate a manner, and play the little notes so sportively under the blunter sounds of the base strings, enlivening with wanton levity, or communicating a deeper internal sensation of pleasure, so that the perfection of their art appears in the concealment of it.

Si lateat prosit; ... ferat ars deprensa pudorem.

From this cause, those very strains which afford deep and unspeakable mental delight to those who have skilfully

[1] Seu diateperon, seu diapente. "The antients acknowledged no other concords than the diapason, the diapente, and the diateperon".- Hawkins' History of Music, i. 273. Giraldus repeats this account of the Irish instrumental music in his Description of Wales, B. i. c. 12.


penetrated into the mysteries of the art, fatigue rather than gratify the ears of others, who seeing do not perceive, and hearing do not understand; [1] and by whom the finest music is esteemed no better than a confused and disorderly noise, and will be heard with unwillingness and disgust. It must be remarked, however, that both Scotland and Wales strive to rival Ireland in the art of music; the former from its community of race, the latter from its contiguity and facility of communication. Ireland only uses and delights in two instruments, the harp and the tabor. Scotland has three, the harp, the tabor, and the crowth or crowd; and Wales, the harp, the pipes, and the crowd. [2] The Irish also used strings of brass instead of leather. Scotland at the present day, in the opinion of many persons, is not only equal to Ireland, her teacher, in musical skill, but excels her; so that they now look to that country as the fountain head of this science.



THE sweet harmony of music not only affords us pleasures, but renders us important services. It greatly cheers the drooping spirit, clears the face from clouds, smooths the wrinkled brow, checks moroseness, promotes hilarity; of all the most pleasant things in the world, nothing more delights and enlivens the human heart. There are two things which,

[1] Caradoc of Llancarvan, in his Chronicle of Wales, says, that Griffith ap Conan, king of Wales, being by his mother and grandmother an Irishman, and also born in Ireland, carried with him from thence into Wales divers cunning musicians, who devised in a manner all the instrumental music there, as appears both by the books written of the same, and by the tunes and measures used among them to this day.

[2] Choro, the crowth or crowd, which was played upon by a sort of bow, and is supposed to have been the origin of the violin. The clairseach of the Irish, and harp of the Britons, differed in form and the number of strings from the lyra or cithara of the ancients. The shape of the former is preserved in the national escutcheon. Venantius Fortunatus appears to draw a distinction between these several instruments

"Romanusque lyra plaudat tibi, Barbarus harpa,
Graecus achilles, crotta Brittana canat".
B. vii. c 8.


more than any other, refresh and delight the mind, namely, sweet odours and music. Man, as it were, feeds upon sweet odours and sweet music. In whatever pursuit the mind is engaged, it draws forth the genius, and by means of insensible things quickens the senses with sensible effect. Hence in bold men it excites courage, and in the religious it nourishes and promotes good feeling. Hence it happened that bishops and abbots and holy men in Ireland were in the habit of carrying their harps with them in their peregrinations, and found pious delight in playing upon them. In consequence of this, St. Keivin's harp was held in great reverence by the natives, and to this day is considered a valuable relic, possessed of great virtues. [1]

Further, the war-trumpet, with its blast, shows the corresponding effect of music, inasmuch as when its loud alarm gives the signal for battle, its echo raises the spirit of the brave to the highest pitch. Sometimes music has the contrary effect, for its influence may be used to heighten the pleasures of the vicious, as well as to animate the virtuous and brave. It is written of Alexander of Macedon, that when on some occasion he heard the sweet tones of a harp, while at table with his friends, he had the strings broken. Upon being asked why he had done this, he replied, "It is better that chords should be broken than hearts [corda]". For he was sensible, from his knowledge of human weakness, that his mind was highly excited, however he might struggle against it, by what he pointed out to them; and that such soft strains inclined him rather to pleasure (to which, perhaps, he was already disposed) than to war; to indulgence than to hardship; to Venus than to virtue; to voluptuousness, rather than to voluntary sacrifices of his ease. For our passions are by no means in our own power.

Moreover, music soothes disease and pain; the sounds which strike the ear operating within, and either healing our maladies, or enabling us to bear them with greater patience. It is a comfort to all, and an effectual remedy to many; for there are no sufferings which it will not mitigate, and there

[1] This relic is lost; but the harp of king Brian Boroimhe is still preserved in the library of Trin. Col. Dublin. See a description of the Irish harp in Lynch, "Cambrensis Eversus", c. iv. p. 37.


are some which it cures. David's lyre restrained the unclean spirit from vexing Saul, and while he played his trouble ceased; but as soon as the strains ceased, he was vexed again. What Solomon says may, however, appear opposed to this: "Music is out of season in time of affliction". For the man who can amuse himself with singing when he is in trouble, and affect to be gay and lift his voice in jocund strains at the moment he is suffering from severe pain, must be either a stoic or a fool. But although any sort of trouble, while it is fresh and on the increase, refuses comfort, still under the alleviating influence of time it loses its sting and admits of consolation. Grief which can neither be mitigated by reason, nor cured by medicine, yields to the softening effects of time, which brings all evils to an end. For such is the constitution of human nature, that things are always either on the increase or decrease, are getting better or growing worse, and never stand still. When they have reached their summit, the fall is far more rapid than the rise. If, therefore, you discern the times and observe moderation, having a mind well toned and regulated under all circumstances, you may turn to good account what would be otherwise out of season.

"Quis matrem, nisi mentis inops, in funere nati
Flere neget? Non hoc illa monenda loco est".

Wherefore -

"Dum dolor in cursu est, currenti cede dolori;
Tempore cum residet, tum medicina valet".

It appears, then, that music acts in contrary ways; when employed to give intensity to the feelings, it inflames, when to abate them, it lulls. Hence the Irish and Spaniards, and some other nations, mix plaintive music with their funereal wailings, [1] giving poignancy to their present grief, as well as, perhaps, tranquillizing the mind when the worst is past. Music also alleviates toil, and in labour of various kinds the fatigue is cheered by sounds uttered in measured time. Hence, artificers of all sorts relieve the weariness of their tasks by songs. The very beasts, not do speak of serpents, and birds, and porpoises, are attracted

[1] Every one knows that among the Irish this custom has lasted till the present day.


by musical harmony to listen to its melody; and what is still more remarkable, swarms of bees are recalled to their hives, and induced to settle, by musical sounds. I have sometimes observed, when on a voyage, shoals of porpoises long following in the wake of the ship when she is pursuing her course, and how they leaped above the surface, and erected their ears to listen to the tones of the harp or the trumpet. Moreover, as Isidore remarks, "No teaching can be perfect without harmony. Indeed, there is nothing in which it is not found. The world itself is said to be harmoniously formed, and the very heavens revolve amidst the harmony of the spheres. Sounds, the materials of which melodies are composed, are threefold; first, they are harmonic, being produced by the voices of singers; secondly,they are organic, being produced by wind; thirdly, they are rythmical, produced by the touch of the fingers. For sounds are either produced by the voice, through the throat, or by wind, as a trumpet or pipe; or by the touch, as by the harp, or any other instrument the melody of which is produced by the finger". What Cassiodorus says in favour of the harp, well deserves a place here. He writes thus: "These are the benefits which the harp confers: It changes grief and melancholy to mirth; assuages the effervescence of rage; charms away the most savage cruelty; effaces cowardice; rouses the languid and sleepy; and sheds a soothing repose on the wakeful. It recalls man from foul lusts to the love of chastity; and heals that weariness of the mind which is always adverse to good thoughts. It converts pernicious sloth into kindly succour; and, what is the most blessed sort of cure, expels the passions of the mind by its sweetest of pleasures. It soothes the spirit through the body, and by the mere sense of hearing moulds it to its will, making use of insensible things to exercise dominion over the senses. The divine mercy has scattered abroad its favours, and made all its works to be highly praised. David's lyre expelled the devil; the evil spirit obeyed its sound; and while the minstrel sung to the harp, thrice was the king released from the foul bondage to which he had been subjected by his spiritual enemy". I have made a delightful digression, but to the purpose; for it is always pleasant to converse of science with those who are skilled in it.




WE read in the Book of Genesis, that Tubal, a descendant of Cain, who lived before the flood, was the inventor of music; and he is called "the father of all such as handle the harp and organ". [1] And, as Adam had heard some prophecy of two judgments to come, in order that the art which had been invented might not be lost, he inscribed it on two columns, one of stone, the other of brick; that the one might not be dissolved by the flood, nor the other melted in the fire. In the teaching of the philosophers we are told that the rudiments of this science were introduced by Pythagoras, from the sounds given by the stroke of hammers, and by strings struck while they were stretched. Some, however, say that Linus of Thebes, Zetus, and Anxeos, were the first who were celebrated for their musical skill; after whom the science gradually made such progress, that it became as disgraceful to know nothing of music as not to have learned to read.



KING DAVID was an eminent patron and improver of musical instruments, many of which he invented, as well as made additions to all. He was the inventor of the psaltery with ten strings, and of several other instruments. Knowing well the influence of music, he exhorted the people to praise the Lord with musical instruments, that the Creator might receive the praises of his creatures in manifold ways; and that the feelings of the performers in acts of melody might be inflamed to higher degrees of divine love. Hence Augustine says, in his book of Confessions, "As often as I take more pleasure in the sound than in the sense, I confess that I am guilty of mortal sin. But it is well appointed by the church, that her services in praise of God shall be performed with musical chaunts, that so, by the influence of internal melody, the hearts of the faithful should be more

[1] Gen. iv. 21


powerfully led to the duties of piety". And again, in the same book. "How often have I shed tears, deeply moved by the sweet sounds of hymns and canticles in the church. My ears drank in the voices of the singers, and my heart was melted to receive the truth; it glowed with pious emotions, while my tears flowed, and it was well for me to be there". [1]



Music derived its name from the Muses; and the Muses are so called from the Greek word mazo, [2] which means to investigate, because by them, as the ancients supposed, the powers of the human voice in singing were first discovered. But enough of this; let us now return to our history.



FROM the first arrival, then, of this king, namely, Herimon, to the coming of Patrick, one hundred and thirty-one kings of the same race reigned in Ireland. Patrick, a native of Britain, and a man eminent for the sanctity of his life, came over to the island during the reign of Laegerius, the sou of Nellus the Great; [3] and finding the nation sunk in idolatry, and immersed in all kinds of superstitions, he was the first who, aided by divine grace, preached the faith of Christ, and planted it among them. The people flocking in crowds to

[1] Conf. 1. ix. c. 6. The Ambrosian chant was established in the Church of Milan, of which St. Augustine speaks in this beautiful passage. On the introduction of music into the church, see Burney's History, vol. ii. c. i.

[2] The Greek word is udw or uaiw, vehementer cupio, ut Eustathius expon, etiam jlurw, quaero.

[3] Laeghaire, the son of Nial; the latter, popularly called Nial of the Nine Hostages, was one of the most powerful monarchs of the Milesian race. Laeghaire is said to have ascended the throne in the year 428, and St. Patrick is reported to have come to Ireland in the fourth year of this reign, that is in A.D. 432. The saint is said to have died in A.D. 461.


be baptized by him, and the whole island having been converted to Christianity, he chose Armagh for his see, making it the [ecclesiastical] metropolis, and fixing there the primacy over the whole of Ireland. He also established bishops in suitable places, that, being called to share his labours, they might water what he had planted, and so God might give the increase.

It seems proper to remark in this place, that when the before-mentioned Nellus became sole king of Ireland, the six sons of Muredus, king of Ulster, sailed with a numerous fleet and took possession of the northern parts of Britain; [1] and their posterity, known by the special name of Scots, inhabit that corner of Britain to the present day.

What caused them to migrate there, and how and with what treachery, rather than force, they expelled from those parts the nation of the Picts, long so powerful, and vastly excelling them in arms and valour, it will be my business to relate, when I come to treat of the remarkable topography of that part of Britain. [2] Another benefit, worthy, permps, of the dignity of the subject, and attractive to studious minds, will then be conferred by the author on his own age.



THERE were no archbishops in Ireland, but the bishops consecrated each other mutually, until John Papyrio came as legate from the see of Rome not many years ago. [3] He

[1] This was the celebrated Dalreadic colony, but Giraldus has made some confusion of dates and circumstances. It was in the course of the fifth century that the Irish tribe of Dalreada in Ulster began to settle on the promontory of Cantyre, whence they gradually spread themselves over the surrounding districts. There was no Muredus, or Muireadhach, king of Ulster, in the time of Nial, but a king of that name began to reign in 451.

[2] Giraldus speaks elsewhere of his intention to write a Topography of Scotland, but nothing is known of it. See the present book, Distinc. i. c. 21.

[3] John Papyro was sent as legate to Ireland by Pope Eugenius III., who occupied the papal chair from 1145 to 1153.


brought four palls to Ireland, one of which he conferred on Armagh; another he gave to Dublin, where Gregory was then bishop; the third to Cashel; the fourth to Tuam (Toeniam), in Connaught. St. Patrick died and rested in the Lord in the one hundred and twentieth year of his age, in the year of our Lord 485, and from the arrival of the Irish 1800. [1]



ST. COLUMBA and St. Brigit were contemporaries with St. Patrick; and the bodies of all three were deposited in Ulster in the same city, namely, Down, where they were discovered in my time, that is, in the year that the lord earl John first came to Ireland. They were lying in a vault, containing three recesses, the body of St. Patrick lying in the centre, and those of the two others, one on each side. John de Courcy was then governor, [2] and under his directions these three noble treasures were discovered, through a divine revelation, and translated. The following verses were written on the occasion:

"In burgo Duno, tumulo tumulantnr in uno
Brigida, Patritius, atque Columba plus".

"Patrick, Columba, Brigit, rest in glorious Down;
Lie in one tomb, and consecrate the town".



THE faith having been planted in the island from the time of St. Patrick, so many ages ago, and propagated almost ever since, it is wonderful that this nation should remain to this day so very ignorant of the rudiments of Christianity. It is indeed a most filthy race, a race sunk in vice, a race

[1] The following scholium, or various reading, is given in the margin of our printed edition: "Elsewhere, in the year of his age 123, in the year of our Lord 493, when Felix I. was pope, Anastasius emperor, Aurelius Anibrosius ruling in Britain, and Forkerus in Ireland".

[2] See afterwards, "Conquest of Ireland", B. i. cc. 15, 16, 17.


more ignorant than all other nations of the first principles of the faith. Hitherto they neither pay tithes nor first fruits; they do not contract marriages, nor shun incestuous connections; they frequent not the church of God with proper reverence. Nay, what is most detestable, and not only contrary to the Gospel, but to every thing that is right, in many parts of Ireland brothers (I will not say marry) seduce and debauch the wives of their brothers deceased, and have incestuous intercourse with them; adhering in this to the letter, and not to the spirit, of the Old Testament; [1] and following the example of men of old in their vices more willingly than in their virtues.



THEY are given to treachery more than any other nation, and never keep the faith they have pledged, neither shame nor fear withholding them from constantly violating the most solemn obligations, which, when entered into with themselves, they are above all things anxious to have observed. So that, when you have used the utmost precaution, when you have been most vigilant, for your own security and safety, by requiring oaths and hostages, by treaties of alliance firmly made, and by benefits of all kinds conferred, then begins your time to fear; for then especially their treachery is awake, when they suppose that, relying in the fulness of your security, you are off your guard. That is the moment for them to fly to their citadel of wickedness, turn against you their weapons of deceit, and endeavour to do you injury, by taking the opportunity of catching you unawares.



FROM an ancient and wicked custom, they always carry an axe in their hands instead of a staff, that they may be ready promptly to execute whatever iniquity their minds suggest. Wherever they go they carry this weapon with

[1] See Deut. xxv. 5; Mark xii. 19; and Luke xx. 28.


them, and watching their opportunity as occasion offers, it has not to be unsheathed like a sword, nor bent like a bow, or thrust out like a spear. Raised a little, without any preparation, it deals a deadly wound. They have, therefore, always at hand, nay, in their hands, that which is sufficient to inflict death. From these axes [securibus] there is no security: while you fancy yourself secure, you will feel the axe [securim]. You put yourself heedlessly in danger, if you permit the axe, and omit to take precautions for your security. This race is inconstant, changeable, wily, and cunning. It is an unstable race, stable only in its instability, faithful only in its unfaithfulness.

"Hoc solum servans, quod nunquam firma, fidele;
Hoc solum retinens, quod nesciat esse fideles".

"Firm only in their faithless levity,
And true in nought but infidelity".

Their arts are, therefore, more to be feared than their arms, their friendship than their fire-brands, their sweets than their bitters, their malignity than their martial spirit, their treachery than their open attacks, their specious friendship than their spiteful enmity. [1] For this is their opinion:-

"Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat"?

"Who will be prompt to ask a foe,
If fraud or valour deal the blow"?



AMONG many other inventions of their abominable guile, there is one which especially proves it. When they wish to take off any one, they assemble in company with him at some holy place, under the guise of religious and peaceful meeting; then they go in procession round the church, and afterwards, entering within its walls, they confederate themselves in an indissoluble alliance before the altar, with oaths prodigally multiplied upon the relics of the saints, and

[1] In the original the whole of this chapter consists of a play upon words, which cannot be effectually represented in the translation.


confirmed by the celebration of tbe mass and prayers of the holy priests, as if it were a solemn affiance. At length, as a still stronger ratification of their league, and, as it were, the completion of the affair, they drink each others' blood, which is shed for the purpose. This custom has been handed down to them from the rites of the heathens, who were wont to seal their treaties with blood. How often, in the very act of such an alliance being made by bloody and deceitful men, has so much blood been fraudulently and iniquitously spilt, that one or other of them has fainted on the spot! How often has the same hour which witnessed the contract, or that which followed it, seen it broken in an unheard-of manner by a bloody divorce!



WOE to brothers among a barbarous race! Woe also to kinsmen! While alive, they pursue them to destruction; and even when dead they leave it to others to avenge their murder. If they have any feeling of love or attachment, it is all spent on their foster-children and foster-brothers. [1]



THUS it appears that every one may do just as he pleases; and that the question is not what is right, but what suits his purpose: although nothing is really expedient but what is right. However, the pest of treachery has here grown to such a height it has so taken root, and long abuse has so succeeded in turning it into a second nature habits are so formed by mutual intercourse, as he who handles pitch cannot escape its stains that the evil has acquired great force. A little wormwood, mixed with a large quantity of honey, quickly makes the whole bitter; but if the mixture contains twice as much honey as it does wormwood, the honey fails

[1] The custom of fostering prevailed among the Celtic and Teutonic races, and was the means of forming alliances which were, as Giraldus intimates, kept much more firmly and pertinaciously than those of blood. The ties of the latter were seldom' regarded, while a man was rarely deserted by his foster-son, or even by his foster-brother.


to sweeten it. Thus, I say, "evil communications corrupt good manners"; and even strangers who land here from other countries become generally imbued with this national crime, which seems to be innate and very contagious. It either adopts holy places for its purposes, or makes them; for, as the path of pleasure leads easily downwards, and nature readily imitates vice, who will doubt the sacredness of its sanctions who is predisposed and foretaught by so many sacrilegious examples, by so many records of evil deeds, by such frequent forfeitures of oaths, by the want of all obligations to honesty?



THERE are some things which shame would prevent my relating, unless the course of my subject required it. For a filthy story seems to reflect a stain on the author, although it may display his skill. But the severity of history does not allow us either to sacrifice truth or affect modesty; and what is shameful in itself may be related by pure lips in decent words. There is, then, in the northern and most remote part of Ulster, namely, at Kenel Cunil, [1] a nation which practises a most barbarous and abominable rite in creating their king. The whole people of that country being gathered in one place, a white mare is led into the midst of them, and he who is to be inaugurated, not as a prince but as a brute, not as a king but as an outlaw, comes before the people on all fours, confessing himself a beast with no less impudence than imprudence. The mare being immediately killed, and cut in pieces and boiled, a bath is prepared for him from the broth. Sitting in this, he eats of the flesh which is brought to him, the people standing round and partaking of it also. He is also required to drink of the broth in which he is bathed, not drawing it in any vessel, nor even in his hand, but lapping it with his mouth. These unrighteous rites being duly accomplished, his royal authority and dominion are ratified.

[1] Tirconnell, now the county of Donegal. Irish antiquaries utterly repudiate the disgusting account here given by Giraldus of the inauguration of the kings of this territory. See Ware, vol. ii. p. 64.




MOREOVER, though the faith has been planted for so long a period in this country that it has grown to maturity, there are some corners of the land in which many are still unbaptized, and to whom, through the negligence of their pastors, the knowledge of the truth has never penetrated. I heard some sailors relate that, having been once driven by a violent storm, during Lent, to the northern islands and the unexplored expanse of the sea of Connaught, they at last took shelter under a small island. Here they could hardly hold their ground, by the help of their anchor, though they had three cables out, or more. After three days, the storm abating, the sky becoming again clear, and the sea calm, they beheld at no great distance the features of a land which was before entirely unknown to them. From this land not long afterwards they saw a small boat rowing towards them. It was narrow and oblong, and made of wattled boughs, covered and sewn with the hides of beasts. [1] In it were two men, stark naked, except that they wore broad belts of the skin of some animal fastened round their waists. They had long yellow hair, like the Irish, falling below the shoulders, and covering great part of their bodies. The sailors, finding that these men were from some part of Connaught, and spoke the Irish language, took them into the ship. All that they saw there was new to them, and a subject of wonder. They said that they had never seen before a large ship, built of timber, or anything belonging to civilized man. Bread and cheese being offered to them, they refused to eat them, having no

[1] These coracles, or corraghs - wicker boats covered with hides, and so light that a man can carry one of them on his back are still used in Ireland and Wales. Though adapted only to quiet waters, such as rivers, lakes, and bays on the coast, the men of old times are said to have been venturous enough to put to sea in them. In the Chronicle of Marranius, under the year 892, we are told that three pilgrims embarked from Ireland in such a boat, taking with them a week's provisions, and that they reached Cornwall after an extraordinary voyage of seven days, without sails or tackling, and afterwards paid a visit to king Alfred.


knowledge of either. Flesh, fish, and milk, they said, were their only food. Nor did they wear any clothes, except sometimes the skins of beasts, in cases of great necessity, Having inquired of the sailors whether they had on board any flesh with which they could satisfy their hunger, and being told in reply, that it was not lawful to eat flesh during Lent, they were utterly ignorant what Lent was. Neither did they know anything about the year, the month, or the week; and by what names the days of the week were called was entirely beyond their conception. Being asked whether they were Christians, and had been baptized, they replied that to the present hour they had never heard of the name of Christ, and knew nothing about him. On their return, they carried back a loaf and a cheese, that they might be able to astonish their countrymen by the sight of the provisions which the strangers ate.

It must be observed also, that the men who enjoy ecclesiastical immunity, and are called ecclesiastical men, although they be laics, and have wives, and wear long hair hanging down below their shoulders, but only do not bear arms, wear for their protection, by authority of the Pope, fillets on the crown of their heads, as a mark of distinction. Moreover, these people, who have customs so very different from others, and so opposite to them, on making signs either with the hands or the head, beckon when they mean that you should go away, and nod backward as often as they wish to be rid of you. Likewise, in this nation, the men pass their water sitting, the women standing. They are also prone to the failing of jealousy beyond any other nation. [1] The women, also, as well as the men, ride astride, with their legs stuck out on each side of the horse.

[1] The Irish annalists tell us that jealousy was brought into Ireland by Partholan or Bartholanus. This primeval colonizer, not long after his arrival in the island, detected his wife, the beautiful Dealgnait, in an intrigue with one of his domestics, and, summoning them to his presence, he wreaked his vengeance, not on the lady or her paramour, but on Dealgnait's favourite greyhound, which he seized and dashed to pieces on the ground. This, we are told, was the first case of jealousy that ever occurred in Ireland.




WE come now to the clerical order. The clergy, then, of this country are commendable enough for their piety; and among many other virtues in which they excel, are especially eminent for that of continence. They also perform with great regularity the services of the psalms, hours, lessons, and prayers, and, confining themselves to the precincts of the churches, employ their whole time in the offices to which they are appointed. They also pay due attention to the rules of abstinence and a spare diet, the greatest part of them fasting almost every day till dusk, when by singing complines they have finished the offices of the several hours for the day. Would that, after these long fasts, they were as sober as they are serious, as true as they are severe, as pure as they are enduring, such in reality as they are in appearance. But among so many thousands you will scarcely find one who, after his devotion to long fastings and prayers, does not make up by night for his privations during the day by the enormous quantities of wine and other liquors in which he indulges more than is becoming.

Dividing the day of twenty-four hours into two equal parts, they devote the hours of light to spiritual offices, and those of night to the flesh; so that in the light they apply themselves to the works of the light, and in the dark they turn to the works of darkness. Hence it may be considered almost a miracle, that where wine has the dominion lust does not reign also. This appears to have been thought difficult by St. Jerome; still more so by the apostle: one of whom forbids men to be drunken with wine, wherein there is excess: the other teaches that the belly, when it is inflamed by drink, easily vents itself in lust.

There are, however, some among the clergy who are most excellent men, and have no leaven of impurity. Indeed this people are intemperate in all their actions, and most vehement in all their feelings. Thus the bad are bad indeed there are nowhere worse; and than the good you cannot find better. But there is not much wheat among the oats and the tares. Many, you find, are called, but few chosen: there is very little grain, but much chaff.




I FIND it especially worthy of reproach in the bishops and prelates, that they are very slothful and negligent in their duty of correcting a people guilty of such enormous delinquencies. As they neither preach nor correct, I predict that they will be corrected themselves; as they do not reprove others, I reprove them; as they neglect to censure others, I censure them. For, as St. Gregory says, whosoever is raised to the priesthood takes on himself the office of a preacher.

If, therefore, a priest neglects preaching, what sort of proclamation can such a dumb herald make. But if the prelates, during the many ages which have elapsed from the time of Patrick, had steadfastly devoted themselves to the duties of preaching and teaching, of censure and of correction, which their office required, and had in some degree rooted out the enormities of this people, already mentioned, doubtless they would have imprinted on them some form of religion and honesty. But there was no one among them to exalt his voice like a trumpet; there was no one to take the contrary part, and be as a wall of defence to the house of Israel: there was no one to contend even unto exile and death for the church of Christ, which he hath purchased to himself with his precious blood. Hence all the saints of this country were confessors, and none martyrs; a thing which it would be difficult to find in any other Christian kingdom.

It is wonderful therefore, that in a nation so cruel and blood-thirsty, in which the faith had been planted in very early times, and was always very flourishing, there should be no crown of martyrdom for the church of Christ. No one was found in those parts to cement the foundations of the rising church by shedding his blood; there was none to do it this service; no, not one. For there are pastors whose object it is, not to feed others, but to be fed themselves; there are prelates who aim not at doing good, but at preeminence; there are bishops who assume the name without the virtues, the honour without the burthens of the office.


Thus the prelates of this country, secluding themselves according to ancient custom within the inclosures of their churches, are generally content with indulging in a contemplative life, and are so smitten with delight in the beauty of Rachel, that they turn away from the blear-eyed Leah. Hence it happens that they neither preach to the people the word of the Lord, nor tell them of their sins; neither extirpate vices nor implant virtues in the flock committed to their charge.



FOB as nearly all the prelates of Ireland are elected from the monasteries over the clergy, they scrupulously perform all the duties of a monk, but pass by all those which belong to the clergy and bishops. [1] An anxious care for the good of the flock committed to them is little cultivated, or made a secondary concern. They are either entirely ignorant of what St. Jerom addressed to Eusticus the monk, or they pretend to be so: "So live in your monastery, that you may be worthy to become one of the clergy; devote a long time to learning yourself what you may have to teach; among good men always be a follower of the best: and when you are elected into the number of the clergy, fulfil all the clerical duties". And again he writes to the same person: "If you covet the office of a clerk, learn first what you may teach; be not a soldier before you have learnt discipline, nor a master before you have been a scholar". But they take little heed to themselves, they ill provide for their own welfare, when, through their own unconcern and negligence, they withhold that careful superintendence which the office they have undertaken requires over those who are committed to their charge. They ruin themselves even more fatally than their flocks.

[1] In England there was, and had been from Anglo-Saxon times, a strong feeling of hostility between the monks and the secular clergy, the latter being far less bigotted, as well as better informed, and more identified in life and sentiment with the laity. Giraldus had a strong leaning to the secular clergy, and, as will be seen in many parts of his Writings, a hostile feeling towards the monks.




THEY ought to know, as Jerome reminds Eleutherius, that as the care of the monks differs from that of the clergy, the clergy feeding the sheep, and the monks being fed; the monks are in the same relation to the clergy as the flock to the shepherds. The monk has only the guardianship of a single person, he has to take care of himself; the clerk is bound to have a deep concern for the welfare of many. The monk is therefore like a single grain of wheat deposited in the ground, the clerk like a grain that sprouts up and brings an abundant crop into the granary of the Lord.

Prelates of this sort have a double character; in some things they are monkish, in others clerical. As monks, they learn a dove-like simplicity; as clerks, the wisdom of the serpent: as the one, prudence, as the other, eloquence; as the one, words, as the other, deeds; as the one, to know themselves, as the other, to know others. In the one they cultivate fruitful thoughts, in the other fluency of speech; that being admitted into the tabernacle among the priests, the bells on their vestments may tinkle, and the words of instruction and reproof may be heard from their mouths. For Jerome rebukes in clear terms those foolish and dumb prelates, who have more of the monk than the clergy; saying: "A life of innocence and silence, though it may profit as an example, is rendered useless by its taciturnity; for the wolves are to be driven away by the baying of the dogs and the staves of the shepherds". He speaks in like manner in the first Prologue to the Bible: "A life of retirement, though holy, is profitable only to him who leads it; and, however his worth may edify the church of God, he injures it when he does not resist its destroyers. For error, when it is not opposed, is confirmed, and truth is stifled when it is not boldly defended". Jerome also writes thus to Eleutherius: "Neglect in confounding the perverse, when you have opportunity, is nothing else than encouragement of them; and he who hesitates to make head against open


wickedness, especially when the duties of his office require it, has the failings of a recluse".



IT is wonderful, however, that as the prelates have always been thus slothful in their duties, and negligent of the welfare of their people, so many of them have been reputed holy men while on earth, and are so devoutly reverenced and worshipped as saints. One of two things evidently results from this. Either that our writers of the lives of saints have omitted many accounts of a repulsive nature, both concerning the due exercise of the pastoral office, and other matters, and that as the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord, more is to be hoped from His clemency than feared from His justice, or rather, that the church militant is deceived in many things. The church triumphant, however, cannot be mocked; so that some who are accepted by the one are refused by the other, and those whose praises are sounded by the one are rejected by the other; and the contrary. The one raises to the rank of the elect, not without reason, many who are wholly discarded by the other. For many appear to be within the doors who are cast out, and many who are cast out, are within for often what is highly esteemed among men is offensive to God.



I ONCE made objections of this kind to Maurice, archbishop of Cashel, a discreet and learned man, in the presence of Gerald, a clerk of the Roman church, who formerly came as legate into those parts; and throwing the blame of the enormous delinquencies of this country principally on the prelates, I drew a powerful argument from the fact that no one in that kingdom had ever obtained the crown of martyrdom for the church of God. Upon this the archbishop replied sarcastically, avoiding the point of my proposition, and answering it by a home-thrust: "It is true", he said,


that although our nation may seem barbarous, uncivilized, and cruel, they have always shewn great honour and reverence to their ecclesiastics, and never on any occasion raised their hands against God's saints. [1] But there is now come into our land a people who know how to make martyrs, and have frequently done it. Henceforth Ireland will have its martyrs, as well as other countries.



I MUST not omit that the portable bells, and the staves of the saints having their upper ends curved and inlaid with gold, silver, or brass, were held in great reverence by the people and clergy both of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales; insomuch that they had much greater regard for oaths sworn on these, than on the gospels. For by some occult virtue, with which they were in a manner divinely imbued, to say nothing of a vindictive power after which their saints seem to have had a great hankering, those who forfeited such oaths have often been severely punished, and the chastisement inflicted on transgressors have been severe.



OF all the croziers in Ireland, and other relics in wood of the saints, the famous staff, which is called the Staff of Jesus, seems deservedly to hold the first place. It was with this, according to the vulgar belief, that St. Patrick expelled all venomous reptiles from the island. Its origin is as uncertain as its virtues are notorious. This great treasure was transferred from Armagh to Dublin, in our time, and by the means of our people.

I also saw in Wales, which made it the more remarkable,

[1] There was probably in this reply an allusion to the death of Thomas of Canterbury.


a mendicant who wore round his neck, as a relic, a horn of brass which was said to have belonged to St. Patrick. He told me that, out of reverence to the saint, no one dared to sound it. But having handed round the horn, according to the custom in Ireland, to be kissed by the byestanders, a certain priest, Bernard by name, snatched it out of his hands, and, placing it in the corner of his mouth, attempted to blow it and draw sounds from it. But at the same moment his mouth was twisted towards his ear by a paralytic stroke; nor did his punishment end there. He had before a burning eloquence, and a slanderer's foul tongue; but he instantly lost the use of speech; and so lasting was the injury, that he has stammered ever since. Besides which, he fell into a lethargy, and so totally forgot everything that he scarcely remembered his own name: such was his total loss of memory, that the psalms which he before knew by heart, I found him many days afterwards learning afresh, and wondered to see him again picking up the rudiments of letters when an old man, of which in his youth he had acquired a considerable knowledge. However at last, having crossed over to Ireland, on a pilgrimage to St. Patrick, in expiation of his rash attempt, he returned with better health, though it was not entirely restored.



MOREOVER, I have never seen in any other nation so many individuals who were born blind, so many lame, maimed, or having some natural defect. The persons of those who are well-formed are indeed remarkably fine, nowhere better; but as those who are favoured with the gifts of nature grow up exceedingly handsome, those from whom she withholds them are frightfully ugly. No wonder if among an adulterous and incestuous people, in which both births and marriages are illegitimate, a nation out of the pale of the laws, nature herself should be foully corrupted by perverse habits. It should seem that by the just judgments of God, nature sometimes produces such objects, contrary to her own laws, in order that those who will not regard Him


duly by the light of their own consciences, should often have to lament their privations of the exterior and bodily gift of sight.



THIRTY-THREE kings of this race reigned in Ireland, from the arrival of St. Patrick to the time of king Fedlimidius, [1] during a period of four hundred years; during whose days the Christian faith diffused here remained unshaken.



IN the time of this king Fedlimidius, in the year 838, the Norwegians landed on the coast of Ireland from a large fleet, and taking possession of the country with a strong hand, in the excesses of their heathen rage, destroyed almost all the churches. Their leader, whose name was Turgesius, [2] after many conflicts and fierce battles, in a short time

[1] In the text of the printed edition this king is called Felmidius, but the various reading of other manuscripts is adopted here, as being more correct. He was, in fact, Feidlim-mac-Criomthan, king of Munster, one of the celebrated monarchs in Irish history. According to the Irish annalists, his eagerness in following up domestic feuds gave an advantage to the nothern invaders.

[2] Turgesius is a corruption of the Scandinavian name Thorgils, a son of Harald Haarfager, who succeeded Halfdan the Black about the year 861, and was king of all Norway from about 900 or 910, to 931 or 936. The date assigned by Giraldus to the invasion of Thorgils is therefore incorrect. Thorgils had the fine province of Telemarken conferred upon him as an appanage by his father, but in the adventurous spirit of his race, he undertook an expedition to Ireland, where he perished. It is thus described in Harald Haarfager's Saga: "King Harald gave ships of war to Thorgils and Frode another of his sons with which they went westward on a viking cruise, and plundered in Ireland, Scotland, and Bretland (Briton-land or Wales). They were the first of the Northmen who took Dublin. It is said that Frode got poisoned drink there; but Thorgils was a long time king over Dublin, until he fell into a snare of the Irish and was killed". Snorro Sturleson's Slaimskringla, by Laing, vol. i. p. 304.


reduced the whole island under his dominion, and making a circuit through the kingdom erected castles in suitable situations all over the country. They were surrounded with deep ditches, and very lofty; being also round, and most of them having three lines of defences. [1] Walled castles, the remains of them, and vestiges of an early age, are to be found to the present day, still entire, but empty and deserted. For the Irish people attach no importance to castles; they make the woods their stronghold, and the bogs their trenches After this, Turgesius governed the Irish kingdom in peace for some time; until at last he fell into a snare laid for him by girls, and lost his life. [2]



IT appears, however, to me very extraordinary that our English people proclaim that Gurmund conquered the island, and built the castles and sunk the ditches I have just referred to, making no mention whatever of Turgesius; while the Irish and their written annals attribute these to Turgesius, and are altogether silent respecting Gurmund. Hence some say that the island was once subjugated by Gurmund, and again, the second time, by Turgesius. This, however, is quite contrary to the Irish histories, which assert that the Irish nation was never subdued but once before these times and that it was by Turgesius.

[1] It must not be supposed that the Northmen of this age erected in Ireland stone fortresses such as their descendants, the Normans, constructed everywhere two centuries later. The "castles" of which Giraldus speaks were inclosures, surrounded with trenches and ramparts, many of which are still seen on elevated spots in England as well as Ireland in which latter country they are called by the common people Danesforts, or raths. Some of them include subterranean vaulted chambers, and they are of various sizes, with one or more lines of circumvallation. There is one at Donaghadee which answers the description of Giraldus, having three great artificial ramparts surrounding it, and the largest fosse is 30 feet broad. Its conical height is 60 feet, raised by an artificial mound of the earth thrown up, and the circumference of the whole is 2100 feet. See Ware's Ant. of Ireland, vol. ii., p. 139.

[2] See afterwards, c. 40.


Others say that the conqueror was one and the same, but that he had two names; the English calling him Gurmund, and the Irish Turgesius: but the difference in their respective fates, and their dissimilar ends, forbid our accepting this solution.

The more truthful and probable account seems to be, that when Gurmund held the sceptre of the kingdom of Britain, which he had reduced under his own dominion, he sent over Turgesius with the flower of his army and a considerable part of his fleet to subdue this island. Which Turgesius, having been the commander of the expedition, remained here after the country had been subdued, as governor of the kingdom and Gurmund's seneschal. Thus the Irish nation handed down to future ages the name and glory of him only whom they had personally seen and known, and at whose hands they had suffered such great misfortunes.



WE read in the British History [1] that Gurmund came to Ireland from Africa; and that, having been invited by the Saxons to pass over to Britain, he laid siege to Cirencester; which being at length taken, and, as it is said, reduced to ashes by the instrumentality of sparrows, [3] and Keredith, who was then the ignoble king of the Britons, being driven into Wales, he obtained the dominion of the whole kingdom in a short time. Whether, however, he was an African, or, what appears nearer the truth, a Norwegian, he never was in Ireland at all, or, having made a short stay there, left Turgesius as his seneschal.

[1] This is taken from Geoffrey of Monmouth, Hist. Brit. lib. xi. c. 8. Kereditius, in Giraldus Cambrensis, is the Careticus of Geoffrey.

[2] This legend of the destruction of the Roman town by the means of sparrows is a common one. The people of Wroxeter in Shropshire still tell how, when the barbarians laid siege to the Roman city of Uriconium (of which Wroxeter is the site), and could make no impression on its walls, they collected all the sparrows from the surrounding country, and having tied burning matches to their legs, set them at liberty. The sparrows flew into the city, and settled on the roofs of the houses, which, being thatched with straw, took fire immediately, and during the confusion caused by the general conflagration, the besiegers forced their way into the city. The same story is told of Silchester, the Roman Calleva. Cirencester was the Corinium of the Romans.




WHEN Gurmund was slain in Gaul, and the Britons had taken that opportunity to shake off the yoke of the barbarians, the Irish nation lost no time in resorting to their accustomed arts of treachery, with complete success. For Turgesius being at that time deeply enamoured of the daughter of Omachlachelin, [1] king of Meath, the king, dissembling his vindictive feelings, promised to give him his daughter, and to send her to a certain island in Meath, in the lake called Lochyrenus, attended by fifteen damsels of high rank. Turgesius, being highly pleased at this, went to meet them at the appointed day and place, accompanied by the same number of the nobles of his own nation. On his arrival in the island, he was met by fifteen courageous, but beardless youths, who had been selected for the enterprise, and were dressed as young women, with daggers secreted under their mantles; and as soon as Turgesius and his companions advanced to embrace them, they fell upon them and slew them.



FAME on her swift wings having quickly taken her flight over the whole island, and spread abroad, according to custom, the success of the enterprise, the Norwegians were massacred in all quarters, and in a short time all of them were put to the sword by force or fraud, or compelled to take ship and return again to Norway or to the islands from whence they had come.



THE before-mentioned king of Meath, after he had planned in his mind the treacherous enterprise, having cunningly

[1] O'Melachlin, king of Meath. The lake alluded to was Loch-Var.


enquired of Turgesius by what contrivance or art certain birds which had lately migrated into the kingdom, and were very destructive throughout the country, could be got rid of and exterminated, he received for reply, that their nests should be everywhere destroyed, if it should be found that they had already built them. The Irish interpreting this of the castles of the Norwegians, rose to a man through the whole island, on the death of Turgesius, and laid the castles in ruins. The power of the Norwegians, and the tyranny of Turgesius in Ireland, lasted about thirty years, after which, the Irish race, having delivered themselves from slavery and recovered their ancient liberty, again succeeded to the government of the kingdom.



NOT long afterwards, some adventurers arrived again in the island from Norway and the Northern islands, who were either the remains of the former immigrants of that race who had seen with their own eyes, or their sons who had learnt from the reports of their parents, the wealth of the land. They did not come in ships armed for war, but in guise of peace, and under the pretext of being merchant adventurers; [1] so that having first established themselves in the seaports of Ireland, at length, with the consent of the lords of the territory, they built several cities in these places. For as the inherent sloth of the Irish race prevented them, as we have before observed, from making any efforts to explore the seas or engage in commerce, it was deemed advisable, in a general council of the whole kingdom, that some people should be admitted into parts of the kingdom, by whose commercial industry the products of other lands might be brought into the country, in order to

[1] The Northmen, sometimes called Ostmen, because their country lay to the east of the British isles, were at this time, and long before, not only distinguished for their piratical or viking expeditions, but for their commercial enterprise. Almost all the trade of the north of Europe was in their hands, and as merchants they founded colonies in the principal seaports of England as well as of Ireland which long subsisted as independent communities. See Worsaae's Danes in England, etc., sect. x. p. 99.


supply them with such articles as their own land did not furnish. These foreigners had for leaders three brothers, whose names were Amelaus, Sytaracus, and Yvorus. [1] They built first the three cities of Dublin, Waterford, and Limerick, of which Dublin fell to the share and was under the government of Amelaus, Waterford of Sytaracus, and Limerick of Yvorus; and from them colonies were sent in process of time to found other cities in Ireland.

This people, who are now called Ostmen, were at first submissive to the kings of the land, and peaceably disposed; but as soon as their numbers were increased to a great multitude, and they had fortified their cities with walls and ditches, they called to mind, at times, the ancient animosities buried in their bosoms, and begun to rebel. They are called Ostmen in their own tongue, from a word corrupted in the Saxon language which means Eastern-men; for, as regards this country, they arrived here from the East. From these new settlers, and the former immigration of the Norwegians (against whom they found little security), the natives learnt the use of the axe (securis); and as knowledge brings evil in its train, the mischief which they thus learnt from the foreigners was often poured forth on others.



THE kingdom of Connaught subsisted from the time of king Fedlimidius and the death of Turgesius to the time of Roderic, [2] who was the last king of that nation, and governs Connaught to the present day; and by whom Dermitius, king of Leinster, the son of Murchard, was expelled from his kingdom. During this period, seventeen kings reigned in Ireland.

[1] The Norwegian names of these chiefs, by Giraldus latinized, were Anlaf or Olaf, who became king of Dublin; Sihtric, or Sigtryg, of Waterford; and Ifar, or Ivar, of Limerick.

[2] Roderic Mac Tirdelvae O'Connor, king of Connaught, and last monarch of Ireland of the Milesian race, died A.D. 1198, aud was buried in the abbey of Cong. Details of his history will be found in the "Conquest of Ireland", which forms a part of the present volume.




THE number of all the kings who reigned in Ireland from Herimon, the first king of this nation, to Roderic, the last, was one hundred and eighty-one; whose names, acts, and times I here omit, both because I find little remarkable and worthy of record in their annals, and also that I may not incumber my compilation by a useless prolixity. The abovementioned kings acquired the monarchy of the entire island without the sanctions of a solemn coronation, and the sacrament of unction, nor even by hereditary right or any just claims to the succession, but by force of arms alone, and seized the reins of power after their own fashion. [1]



THE Irish race continued free and independent from the period of its first immigration, and of Herimon its first king, to the times of Gurmund and Turgesius, by whom its peace was disturbed and its tranquillity suffered a short interruption; and again from their death to these our times. During all this period it was unshaken by any

[1] This is denied by Irish antiquaries who inform us that the kings of Ireland, in battle and other public solemnities, appeared crowned with a diadem. At the memorable battle of Clontarf king Brian Boroimhe was recognised by the crown he wore, and such an ancient ornament was discovered in 1692, in a bog in the county of Tipperary. It appears also, that although the Irish kingdoms were elective, like those of the English Heptarchy and others, an hereditary right in the royal line was respected, except in a few cases of usurpation, during the long successions of Irish kings, although in those turbulent ages the most powerful and ambitious of the royal race often succeeded.


incursions of foreign nations, until at last, in these our days, it has been subjugated by you, most invincible king, and your intrepid courage, in the forty-first year of your age, the seventeenth of your reign, and the year of our Lord 1172.



FOR your victories vie with the world itself, since you, our Alexander of the West, have stretched out your arms from the Pyrenean mountains to the farthest and most western borders of the ocean. In these parts you have spread your triumphs as far as nature has spread her lands. If the bounds of your expeditions be sought, we reach the ends of the earth before we find their limits. For though your brave spirit may find no more lands to conquer, victory never deserts it; and its triumphs will never fail but with the want of materials for triumph.



How then has the Irish world been added to your titles and triumphs? By what great and glorious inspiration were you able to penetrate into the secrets of the ocean, and nature's hidden recesses? How prematurely, unreasonably, and iniquitously, were you recalled by an intestine conspiracy from your noble enterprise, when your triumph, indeed, was complete, but before you had restored order in the country? When your lightnings flashed, how did the petty kings of the West fly to your feet, dazzled at the light of your presence here, like moths to a candle? How unnaturally and scandalously has the conspiracy hatched in the bowels of your land, with such wicked and perfidious designs, much to the detriment of all Christendom, interrupted your victories both in the East, in Asia, and in Spain; which your noble mind proposed to extend to the West, and thereby notably enlarge the fold of Christ. What mercy and what laudable clemency, worthy of imitation


and of everlasting remembrance, did you, a prince and mortally offended king, exercise towards your proud and haughty foes, on whose necks you trod with extraordinary vigour, and over whom you everywhere triumphed; you, a conqueror and king, ruling your spirit with temper, and subduing your wrath with moderation. For you did not forget the verse:-

"Vince animos iramque tuam, qui caetera vincis".

You revolved also in your lofty mind that noble eulogium of Caius Caesar: "The whole world had perished, if mercy had not extinguished wrath". You had also frequently in your hands the book which Seneca addressed to Nero "On Clemency"; nor were you mindless of the counsel he so worthily gave to the emperor: "Follow", he said, "the practice of physicians, who, when their usual remedies fail of success, try their contraries". How nobly and exactly have you fulfilled the words of that great senator and excellent orator? "It is the part of a brave man to consider those as his enemies who contend with him for victory, but to judge the conquered as men; so that his courage may tend to diminish wars, while his clemency extends peace". With how much pains, and with what laudable diligence for one of royal blood, did you apply yourself to the study of learning, from your earliest years and in the days of your youth? You did not forget the words of Jerome: "the root of learning is bitter, but the fruit is very sweet"; and those of David, the king and prophet: "Be learned ye that are judges of the earth". You also, who are a second Solomon, called to your recollection the words of that king: "Learning prepareth food for old age, and discipline in youth maketh age fruitful". Following such examples as these, you became a learned prince, and being tolerably versed in profane literature, you shone like a brilliant gem among all the princes of the world; and would have soon excelled the greatest philosophers, both by your high natural endowments, and by the aids of instruction and study, if you had not been so unseasonably drawn from the pursuits of learning to earthly cares. Having gained renown, during your tender years, in both services, namely, those of Mars and of Minerva, premature success


attended your high genius and royal birth. With a grace that has no parallel on earth, but which was divinely conferred on you from above, you, the friend and promoter of concord, restored peace in your own dominions by your power, in foreign kingdoms by your counsels and authority. How has the terror of your incomparable valour and great name, and your threatened attacks, and your renown blazing through the world, though less than it merited, curbed the raging fury of the heathens, both in Europe and Asia, and secured peace and tranquillity to the church of Christ. What prodigal liberality and profuse kindness have you ever shown to foreigners and strangers, to your own great glory, and sometimes to the loss of those about you: how indiscriminating has been your bounty to aliens. And since no one is born without fault, and he is best who has the least, the few spots which darken your fair fame are to be regarded with indulgence, like clouds which pass over the face of the sun. Since then, from your earliest years, you have made your paths straight, and trodden down rough places, laying a heavy hand on those who withheld your crown, and disturbed your peace, how all things have prospered, and the divine favour has attended so pacific a king, and one so serviceable to all Christian people; all this, I say, who shall fully relate?



BUT since

Semper adest homini quo pectoris ima gemiscant,
Ne possit plena prosperitate frui;
Gaudia nunc luctu, nunc mutat amara secundis,
Versans humanas sors inopina vices.
Sola venire solent et vix, et sero, secunda;
Et simul, et subito, semper amara fluunt:

So, I say, the divine mercy has always smiled on you in almost all affairs, giving a prosperous issue to events; and I wish that it had so continued to the end, that (like one cutting to the quick, and a too powerful dose of medicine)


when the sons were in arms against their father, and counted his years hefore the time, it had spared the father more than, out of favour to the father, those who were dearest to him. The most illustrious of these, and, after one was taken, the eldest, [1] who enjoyed his father's name and style, like another Hector, son of Priam, was an honour to his friends, the terror of his enemies, and the delight of all. In arms he was like the thunderbolt winged by lightning, the only hope or fear of all.

Omnis honoris honos decoret, decus urbis et orbis,
Militiae splendor, gloria, lumen, apex.
Julius ingenio, virtutibus Hector, Achilles
Viribus, Augustus moribus, ore Paris.

In peace, and in private life, he was courteous, affable, gentle, and amiable, kindly indulgent to those by whom he chances to be injured, and far more disposed to forgive than to punish the offenders. His disposition was so good that he could never refuse to give anything that was fitting, thinking that no one ought to leave his presence sorrowful, or disappointed of his hopes. In short, he considered that he had lost a day when he had not secured the attachment of many by various acts of liberality, and bound them to him, body and soul, by multiplied favours conferred.

When in arms and engaged in war, no sooner was the helmet on his head than he assumed a lofty air, and became impetuous, bold, and fiercer than any wild beast. His triumphs were often gained more by his valour than by fortune; and he was in all respects another Hector, son of Priam, except that the one fought on behalf of his father and his country, and the other, alas! was led by evil counsels to fight against both. It was his only desire, and the summit of his wishes, to have the means and opportunity of employing his great valour, so that his martial genius might be fully displayed. Nothing human, however, can be entirely perfect, and so, envious nature, loth that so many good qualities should be united in one person

[1] Henry, the eldest son of Henry II., was crowned at Westminster on the 13th July, 1170, in his father's lifetime. He was usually spoke of as Henry III., until the son of king John ascended the throne.


without alloy, added one most signal blemish; making him only notorious for his ingratitude, and for the trouble he caused to his excellent father. [1] Wonderful as was his career, one thing appears almost miraculous, namely, that almost all the world attached themselves to a man who was totally without resources, either in money or territory. It was hoped that, before long, he would have restored order in the government of the world, had not the envious course of fate suddenly, prematurely, and unexpectedly, carried him off in the flower of his youth, and in the spring-time of the year. He died in the twenty-ninth year of his age, the fourteenth of his coronation, and the year of our Lord 1182.



THE crier's voice shall not be silent on the merits of one who is worthy of praise. By his father's wise provision, he bore a name belonging to his father's family, and been invested with his mother's territories, [2] although still young, he speedily reduced to obedience a country hitherto ungovernable, and ruled it with so much prudence, that he not only brought its wildest parts to a state of tranquillity unknown before, but re-annexed to it many districts which had been long detached and dismembered from it. Introducing order amongst a disorderly people, establishing law where all was lawless, beating down opposing obstacles, and levelling all that was rough, he restored the ancient boundaries and rights of Aquitaine. Like another Caesar, he pushed his fortune to the utmost, anticipated future, and was equal to present emergencies, and lost no time in following up his successes. Thinking "nothing done while aught remained undone", and fierce in his encounters in arms, he was

[1] Roger de Hoveden gives particular details of the unhappy dissensions between Henry II. and his sons. See vol, i. p. 367, etc., in Bohn's Antiq. Lib.

[2] Richard appears to have had that Christian name conferred on him in consequence of his descent from the dukes of Normandy of the same name. His father invested him with his mother's territories in Poitou, etc.


only happy when he marked his steps with blood; nor could inaccessible cliffs, crowned with towers which art and situation had rendered hitherto impregnable, withstand his bold assaults; whether they were made by force of arms or stratagem; whether they were directed against the battlements, or sapped the foundations of the fortresses. But evil follows on the heels of good, and virtue itself is often led into error and crime. Thus the over zealous assertor of the rights of peace and justice, was led to execute the laws with furious rigour against evil-doers, in order to curb the audacity of a stubborn people, and make the innocent secure in the midst of the guilty. This ought to have earned for him due praise from those who were right-minded; but the railings of the disaffected raised against him a popular cry accusing him of cruelty. It appears, however, that he incurred this imputation without any sufficient grounds; as, the demands for such severity soon abating, he reassumed his natural gentleness and clemency, and his rigid administration gradually settled into the golden mean, as far from cruelty as it was from being remiss.

Besides, the author of nature has joined suffering to the nature it has called into existence. Thus our lion-hearted prince, [1] who is more than a lion, is troubled with a quartan ague, as lions are, as a means of subduing the fierce impulses of his spirit. Quaking under continual accesses of this disorder, but not from fear, his quaking makes the whole world to tremble and to fear likewise. In short, among the several virtues for which he is distinguished, there are three which are incomparably eminent, and shed a peculiar lustre on his character. These are, his brilliant courage; his boundless liberality so worthy of a prince, and gracing so well his other virtues; and his resolute firmness both of mind and word. In conclusion, to sum up much that might be said, in a brief eulogy, he is second to his illustrious brother [1] in age only, and not in merit.

[1] Richard Coeur de Lion.



DIFFERENT as were the habits and pursuits of the two brothers, [1] sprung from the same stock and the same root, each has merited everlasting glory and endless fame. They were both tall in stature, rather above the middle size, and of commanding aspect. In courage and magnanimity they were nearly equal; but in the character of their virtues there was a great disparity. One was admirable for gentleness and liberality, the other distinguished himself by his severity and firmness. The one had a commendable suavity, the other gravity. One was commended for his easy temper, the other for his determined spirit. One was remarkable for his clemency, the other for his justice. The vile and undeserving found their refuge in the one, their punishment from the other. One was the shield of bad men, the other the hammer to crush them. The one was bent on martial sports, the other on serious conflicts. The one bestowed his favours on foreigners, the other on his own people; the one on all the world, the other on the worthy only. The one's ambition magnanimously compassed the world; the other coveted, to good purpose, what was rightfully his own.

But why should I dwell on such details? Neither the present age, nor any former times, have seen two princes born of the same king, so noble, and yet so different. Yet the germs of their great and various virtues, and of far greater still, if it were possible, might all be derived, different as they were, in rich abundance, from their illustrious stock. Whatever good qualities you find in either of them, you know were transfused from the root into the branches. For who was ever more merciful to the meek, or more cruel to the fierce, than their right noble father? But still his tendency was to mercy. After every victory, thinking it his supreme revenge to have had it in his power to take vengeance. Who was braver in arms who more subtle in counsel? Who could ever be more cheerful with the lighthearted, or more serious with the grave? I must not

[1] Henry, the young titular king, and Richard, who succeeded to tht throne on their father's death.


defraud history of its truth, although there is sometimes danger in telling all that is true; for it is a perilous thing on any occasion to use your pen against one who can proscribe you by a stroke of his; it is hazardous to bring charges against one who can send you into banishment. Still, I will ask, who carried himself more nobly among the lower orders? who lowered himself so much among the nobility? Who more exalted the humble? who more humbled the proud? Again, who was ever more favourable to foreigners? who more burthensome to his own people? Who, I say, held himself more aloof from his friends, or was more friendly to aliens? For at one time pretending to a character not his own, at another dissembling what belonged to himself, he rendered his disposition so flexible in his great prudence, that filling different characters to different persons, and becoming all things to all men, he made all things conform to his own will, as time and place required


THE Armorican-British and the Irish dominions proclaim the well-merited praises of the two others. Both of them were of rather short stature, a little below the middle height; and for their size were well-shaped enough. Of these, the one is already distinguished by his virtues, and has attained the highest honours; the other will. The one is well versed in military affairs; the other has to be instructed in them. The one is corn in the ear, the other in the blade. The one is already great in action, the other leads us to expect he will be great; for not degenerating from his high origin, he has equalled his most noble brothers in worth as far as his powers admit. Hence whether he originally derived it from the parent stock or from parity [with his brothers], it could not degenerate in his time. The one is an eloquent and astute man, and as he could not easily be deceived, is most prudent, if he would not deceive. In two wars, and in various ways imitating Ulysses as well as Achilles, he has been ever, alas! ungrateful to his father, and in this has trod in the footsteps of his elder brother, too plainly marked. He has more aloes than honey in him;

[1] Geoffrey, count of Britany, and John, on whom his father conferred the dominion of Ireland.


his tongue is smoother than oil; his sweet and persuasive eloquence has enabled him to dissolve the firmest alliances; and his powers of language to throw two kingdoms into confusion; for with wonderful industry he assumes all shapes, and dissembles all his designs. But as a man of many words will not be guided in his ways on the earth, the Lord hath not directed his goings, nor multiplied his days.

The other, [1] led away by the fervour of youth and ensnared by its passions, is prone to vice, and rude to his monitors; lending himself to the seductions of his time of life, instead of resisting the impulses of nature. Hitherto, therefore, by reason of his age, he is more given to pleasures than to arms, to dalliance than to endurance; to juvenile levity, more as yet, than to manly maturity, which he has not attained. He employs most of his time in those evil courses which gallants pursue, by which even youths who are naturally good are often roused to feats of arms, and soar from the camp of Cupid to the arts and towers of Pallas. As, then, he has obeyed the laws of green youth, so he will conform to those of subsequent age. Since, therefore, it is no disgrace to have enjoyed the pleasures of youth, but the shame lies in not bringing them to an end, juvenile levity is excusable if the mature age be commendable; and that stage of life is blameless, if age sets bounds to indulgence. The tree which bends its boughs downwards cannnot strike deep roots.

This is the last of the three brothers; may he not be the last in virtue; but being always dutiful to both his parents, may his days be long and prosperous on earth! May he as truly conform to the description given by Merlinus Ambrosius, in a prophecy much noised abroad, of the man before whom the walls of Ireland shall fall, as he appears to answer to it. "His beginning", it says, "shall be abandoned to loose living, but his end shall waft him to heaven".

[1] Prince John, afterwards king of England, and lord of Ireland.



YE gods, if these illustrious brothers had been united by the ties of fraternal love, and had regarded their father with filial affection, if they had been bound together by the twofold cords of good-will and of nature, how great, how inestimable, how splendid and incomparable in the present age, would have been the glory of the father, and the triumphs of the sons? How worthy would have been their history, worthy of the genius of a Maro, to be given to memory? What valour could resist their prowess; what kings, such princes; what realms, such warlike chiefs? The world itself is too small to allow scope for the exercise of so much bravery; and the surface of the earth would scarcely suffice to contain the triumphal annals of such valour. To what a magnitude, and height, and strength the tree would have grown, if the branches had been naturally knit together, and had drawn their sap from the roots, is manifest from the premature decay and heavy fall of what was so precious. For as branches lopped from the stem of a tree cannot reunite, so the tree stripped of its boughs, a treasonable outrage, is shorn both of its dignity and gracefulness.


How three noble shoots sprung from one weak root in the west, or rather, how three most brilliant rays of one sun which rose in the West, shone brightly on three opposite parts of Europe, would be a fitting sequel to my present theme. I shall endeavour to compile a full and true, but short, history of this important and difficult matter, which is worthy the pen of a far higher genius, if I have your commands to employ mine on the subject. For nothing can or ought to be thought a heavy task which is enjoined by so high a Majesty.

[1] The husbands of king Henry's three daughters, of whom the eldest, Maud, was married to Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony, the second, named Eleanor, to Alfonso VIII., king of Castile, and Joan, the youngest, to William II., king of Sicily. The last, after her husband's death, married Raymond, count of Toulouse.




FORASMUCH as in my Topography of Ireland I have described at large the site of the island, its singularities, and those of sundry things contained in it, the marvels in which nature has there indulged out of her ordinary course, and the origin of the various races settled in it from the earliest ages until these our own days, I have now undertaken, at the earnest request of many persons of high rank, to set forth in a separate volume the annals of events which have occurred in our own days relating to the last and recent conquest of Ireland. For if I have been able to give a tolerably clear account of times long past, and of things which happened in ages so far preceding our own, how much more exact will be my narrative of transactions which have taken place under my own observation, of the greatest part of which I have been an eye-witness, and which are so fresh in my memory that I cannot have any doubt about them. The Topography treats of localities and events connected with ancient times, the History deals with the present.

But methinks I see some one turn up his nose, and, disgusted with my book, hand it to another, or throw it aside, because the reader will find all things in it plain, clear, and easy of apprehension. But let him know that I have written chiefly for the use of the laity, and of princes who have


but little learning, and desire things to be related in so simple and easy a style, that all may understand them. For we may be permitted to use popular language when the acts of the people, as well as of their superiors, are to be reduced to writing. Besides, it has been my endeavour to compose all my works in a popular style, easy of apprehension, however I may have added to it some ornament from my own stores; and I have therefore entirely rejected the old and dry method of writing used by some authors. And, inasmuch as new times require new fashions, and the philosopher bids us follow the examples of the old men in our lives, and of the younger men in our words, I have earnestly aimed to adopt the mode of speech which is now in use, and the modern style of eloquence. For since words only give expression to what is in the mind, and man is endowed with the gift of speech for the purpose of uttering his thoughts, what can be a greater folly than to lock up and conceal things we wish to be clearly understood, in a tissue of unintelligible phrases and intricate sentences? To shew ourselves sciolists in a knowledge of our own, shall we take pains so to write, that others may see without comprehending, and hear without understanding? Is it not better, as Seneca says, to be dumb, than to speak so as not to be understood? The more, then, language is suited to the understanding, though framed with a certain elegance of style, the more useful it will be, as well as more suited to the tastes of men of letters. Wherefore the poet says,

Dixeris egregie notum si callida verbum
Reddiderit junctura novum.

Inasmuch also as some malevolent person has made slanderous attacks on my Topography, a work not to be despised, I have thought it worth my while to introduce here a few words in its defence. [1] The elegance of its scholastic style has obtained uniform praise from all quarters; and though it is contrary to my detractor's nature to commend anything, he is ashamed and afraid to cavil at my First and Third Distinctions. But it is no easy matter to act a counterfeit part, and my critic, not being able quite to change

[1] This book against Griraldus's Topography of Ireland appears to be lost, and even the author's name is unknown.


his natural disposition, that he might at least do some mischief, and vent the malignity with which he was bursting, he boldly cavils at the Second Distinction, hoping that by convicting me of falsehood in that he shall discredit the whole. His objections are of this sort: the author, he says, "introduces a wolf talking with a priest; he draws a picture of a creature with the body of a man, and the extremities of an ox; he tells us of a bearded woman; and of a goat and a lion which had intercourse with women". Let him, however, if he is so shocked at these stories, read in the Book of Numbers how Baalam's ass spoke, and the prophet chid the ass. Let him read the lives of the Fathers, and he will find Anthony conversing with a satyr; and that Paul the hermit was fed in the desert by a raven. Let him also read the other voluminous works of Jerome, the Hexameron of Ambrose, and the Dialogues of Gregory. He will find Augustine's volume "De Civitate Dei", and especially Books 16 and 21, full of prodigies. Let him also read the eleventh Book of Isidore's Etymologies, concerning marvels; his twelfth Book, respecting beasts; and his sixteenth, respecting precious stones and their virtues. Let him also examine the works of Valerius Maximus, Trogus Pompeius, Pliny, and Solinus; and in all these he will find many things at which he may cavil in the same manner. After reading these, I say, will he condemn the whole works of these great writers on account of some extraordinary accounts which they have inserted in them? But let him be better advised, and consider well the remark of St. Jerome, that there are many things contained in the Scriptures which, though they seem to be incredible, are nevertheless true. For nature cannot prevail against the God of nature; and every creature ought not to abhor, but to admire and hold in reverence, the works of the Creator. To adopt also the words of Augustine on this subject: "How can anything be against nature which exists by the will of the great Creator"? A prodigy therefore is not contrary to nature, but contrary to the common course of nature; and therefore, as it is not impossible for God to ordain and create whatsoever things he listeth, no more is it impossible for him to alter and change into what forms he listeth the things he has already created.


Still I do not desire that every thing I have stated should be blindly received as an undoubted truth; for I myself do not so firmly believe in all of them that I have no sort of doubt in my own mind concerning them, those only excepted of which I have myself had proof by personal experience, or which may easily be made the subject of experiment by any man. For the rest, I so account of them, as neither affirming nor denying their truth. Those who possess and know the value of precious stones from India, do not wonder at them so much as those who never saw them before; and if they had never seen them, they probably would not believe that such things existed, or if they did believe it, would marvel at that of which they had no experience. But repeated observation removes the incentives to wonder; for things of which we have ocular proofs every day come by use to be lightly esteemed, although in themselves they are as wonderful as ever. Thus the Indians set little value on their commodities, which when brought here are objects of admiration. Hence Augustine, when speaking of the gospel, where water was changed into wine, saith: "Marvellous is the power of God in the creation and government of the heaven and the earth, and in the daily conversion of the water, which the vines imbibe from rain, into wine, and in the growth of corn and trees from a grain of seed; and yet, because these are natural occurrences, we make no account of them. Wherefore God hath reserved to himself some things out of the common course of nature, though they be of less importance, in order to bring to the memory the power which he exercises on a larger scale".

Let, then, my detractor see and acknowledge that the Lord of nature hath purposedly done many things before the eyes of man contrary to the common course of nature, in order that it may be very evident that God's power far exceedeth man's knowledge, and His divinity surpasseth man's understanding. Cassiodorus therefore saith: "It is a great point of knowledge in man to understand that God can and does perform such great and wonderful things as far transcend the capacity of the human intellect to comprehend". For nature doth always, and as it were purposely, interlard her regular operations with some new forms, in order that although her ordinary works may be in some


measure within man's comprehension, nevertheless he may be unable to comprehend the whole of her powers. If, then, these old writers have so carefully inserted in their works accounts of the wonders which occurred in their days, setting us the example of using the same freedom in recording what is strange and contrary to the usual course of nature in our time and in our country, why should I, unless the whole world is given up to wickedness, be censured and maligned? And if any new and strange thing be brought to light through my work, let not the malicious forthwith cavil at and condemn it; but excusing some things, and approving others, suffer us to proceed with our undertaking. For, as the poet says:

"Si patribus nostris novitas invita fuisset,
Ut nobis, quid nunc esset vetus? Aut quid haberet,
Quod legeret, tereretque viritim publicus usus"? [1]

Let them, therefore, cease to condemn anything because it is new, because in the lapse of time the novelty ends, and it becomes old. In such matters, the present age may find things it cannot explain, and which yet posterity may glory in. The one may be offended by what the other will read; the one may find reason to condemn what the other will esteem; the one may reject what the other will accept.



HATING been often requested, and that by many persons, to write the history of such of the memorable acts performed in my own times as I have either heard reported by credible witnesses, or seen with my own eyes, I was wont to allege in excuse the wickedness of the age. For, certainly, luxury and wantonness have so much increased, and become so riotous and absorbing, that men are only careful to pamper their bodies, and the mind is held in total thraldom. Nevertheless, reflecting and carefully considering how very useful the knowledge of these matters will be to

[1] Hor. Epist. ii. 1, 90.


posterity, and that nothing is more pernicious and hurtful to a laudable genius and studious mind than the idleness contracted by a slothful disposition, I at length persuaded myself, though not without much difficulty, to yield to these requests, and take my pen in hand. Yet what can be more presumptuous than to write when leisure is wanting; to publish books which are to be in everyone's hands, when we nave no time to read them over ourselves; to submit them to the criticism of a crowd of envious and malignant judges, without having ourselves revised them? Tully, that wellspring of eloquence, being on some occasion asked to make an oration, excused himself on the ground that he had not prepared himself by reading the day before. If so great a master of language is found requiring the advantages of study, what must be the case with others? And truly, the powers of the human mind are apt to decay, unless they are refreshed by continual exercise; for reading is, as it were, the daily, food and aliment by which eloquence is fed and nourished. As the stock gathered in the barns is soon exhausted if it be not kept up by fresh supplies, and stores of wealth are soon spent, if they are not renewed; so man's imperfect knowledge is speedily exhausted, unless it have recourse to foreign aids. We are constituted of two natures one temporal, the other eternal; and, having respect to both, must devote the earthly and transitory part of our existence to things trifling and temporal, while, as to that within us which is permanent, we aspire to glory that fadeth not away. The cares attending a place at court may for a time engage the bodily powers, but those of the mind are free, and cannot be stifled or enthralled; and though sometimes acting under our own impulse, and sometimes under the influence of others, should always take their own course, and glory in their freedom. As for the outward man, let it wander abroad and be troubled about many things, and amuse itself with vain and trifling toys, following the variable dictates of the wills, and subject to the wretched and humiliating laws of the flesh; but let the treasure within, like the kernel in the shell, enjoy the innate privilege which God has bestowed upon it, and be so fenced round, that in a crowd it be not bewildered, in trouble it be not disturbed, in solitude it be not lonesome.


God and the king have each their several rights of power and authority over us. The king can only exercise dominion over the body, but He alone possesses the subtle and incomprehensive part within us, who only can search and know it. For the soul is a most noble and excellent thing, surpassing all the other gifts of God under heaven. Incomprehensible itself, it comprehends all things, and exhibits its divinity by its marvellous powers embracing in the glance of a moment the four quarters of the globe. Penetrating with wonderful acuteness as well as rapidity into all that the world contains, its structures, its arts and sciences, it is only known to Him who is unknown, seen of Him who is unseen, and measured by Him who is infinite. God forbid, therefore, that the continual exercises of this soul should be hindered by vain and worldly cares, so that they fail by omission, or become languid from interruption. For what is the body to the soul, but a burthen and a punishment; a prison which though it cannot enthral, yet fetters. What the shell is to the kernel, the same is the flesh to the spirit; each of them encumbers what it invests.

Wherefore, right noble count of Poictiers, [1] the future duke of Normandy and king of England, relying on its gifts and influences, I have determined to compile a History of the Conquest of Ireland, and the subjugation of the fierce and barbarous Irish nation, in these our days, and to dedicate my work to your highness; in order that the record of the glorious achievements performed by your father may augment your own glory; and as you are the heir to your father's territories, so you may be his successor both in lawful right and commendable rivalry of his triumphs and virtue, I have therefore employed myself on this theme, though the scene of events is narrow, barren, rough, and unprofitable; hoping, perhaps, to grace it by my style, and making it a sort of exercise for my unpractised pen, as a prelude to

[1] Giraldus, having dedicated his Topography to Henry II., takes this opportunity of complimenting his son Richard, who at that time held the county of Poictiers, his mother's inheritance, by addressing this History to him. This was in 1187, about two years before Henry's death. Soon after king John's accession to the throne, Giraldus published a revised edition of his History, which, as we shall presently find, he dedicated to that king.


another work. For I have planned, though from a distance and with much diffidence, to write hereafter a history of your noble achievements, which, great in their first beginnings, have already shed the brightest lustre on your riper years, and of the future increase, of which it shaU be more fully and adequately related.



To his most revered lord, and beloved in Christ, John, the noble and illustrious king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou: Giraldus dedicates his work, wishing him all health in body and soul, and the prosperous issue of all his worldly affairs.

It pleased your excellent and noble father, king Henry, some time ago, when I was in attendance on himself, to send me over to Ireland in your company. Having noted while I was there sundry notable things which were strange and unknown in other countries, I made a collection of materials with great industry, from which, on my return to England, after three years' labour, I published a Topography of Ireland, describing the country and the wonders of it; not forgetting the honour your father had gained from that land. The work so pleased him for, a rare thing in our times, he was a prince of great literary attainments that at his instance, I afterwards renewed or rather continued my labours, and composed the present work on the recent conquest of that kingdom, made by him and those under him. But, as worth is more commended than rewarded, I received no remuneration for either of these books.

But since, through neglect or rather your many occupations, the recollection of that land, not the least among the islands of the West, which you visited long since, seems to have faded from your mind, I have undertaken to refresh it, by dedicating to your highness a corrected and fuller edition of my work. The history commences from the time when prince Dermitius, driven into exile by his subjects, took refuge with your father in Normandy, and


obtained aid from him, and is continued until your first arrival in the island, when I attended you; and I have honestly related all that was done, whether for good or evil, by the several leaders of expeditions and nobles who went over to Ireland, in regular order from the first to the last.

Here then, as in a bright mirror, and far more clearly, and certainly by the light of historical truth, it may be ascertained, seen, and reflected to whom the greatest share of glory of this conquest ought justly to be attributed; whether to the men of the diocese of St. David's, my own kinsmen, who were the first adventurers, or to those of Llandaff, men truly of better descent than enterprise, for they went over on the invitation of the first conquerors, and tempted by the example of their success to embark in a similar adventure [1] - or lastly, whether it be due to the third expedition, which consisted of a large force, amply supplied with arms, provisions, and everything necessary.

Much was assuredly done by him who made the beginning, much by him who went over with additional forces and added strength to the first enterprise; but far more by him who gave his whole authority to the two former expeditions, and sanctioned them by his license, and at last, by going over himself, reduced the whole country to submission, and resolutely completed the whole undertaking, though his too hasty return from the island, caused by the unnatural conspiracy of his sons, prevented order being fully settled on a firm foundation.

Do not undervalue then, noble king, what cost your father and yourself so much toil, and do not part with so much glory and honour to strangers who are both unworthy and ungrateful; nor for the sake of an island of silver hazard the loss of one of gold; for the one does not exclude the other, but both together become doubly valuable. The gold of Arabia and the silver of Achaia enrich the same treasury, though in different heaps. Besides, other considerations may induce you not to be unmindful of your

[1] It need scarcely be remarked, that the "men of St David's", Giraldus's own kinsmen, were the Fitzgeralds, Fitzstephens, and De Barris, the first adventurers in the conquest of Ireland, who figure so conspicuously in the following History. The men of Llandaff were Richard, earl Strongbow, whose castles of Strigul and Chepstow stood in that diocese, and his followers.


dominion of Ireland. It has pleased God and your good fortune to send you several sons, both natural and legitimate, and you may have more hereafter. Two of these you may raise to the thrones of two kingdoms, and under them you amply provide for numbers of your followers by new grants of lands, especially in Ireland, a country which is still in a wild and unsettled state, a very small part of it being yet occupied and inhabited by our people.

But if neither the desire of augmenting your own glory, nor of royally endowing and elevating one of your sons, will induce you to extend your fostering care to your dominions of Ireland, you ought at least to protect and reinstate in their rights those veteran warriors who have served your father and yourself with so much devoted fidelity, by whose enterprise that land was first taken possession of, and by whose valour it is still retained, but who are constantly supplanted by new-comers, reaping the fruits of other men's labours, and advanced more by their good luck than by their valour. It should be your care to abate the pride and humble the insolence of such men as these; for, if report speaks true, their folly is risen to such a pitch of arrogance and presumption, that they even aspire to usurp in their own persons all the rights of dominion belonging to the princes of that kingdom.

Wherefore you should take the greatest care that when you have any designs of extending your conquests in the interior of the country, you should keep a close watch on what is passing in the Eastern districts, and use your utmost efforts to recover, by God's grace, what has been unjustly alienated there; for you have nothing to fear in the West if you leave no danger in your rear. It would doubtless be a sign not only of great negligence, but of idle folly, and a great reproach, were you to harbour in your own towns and castles, and on your own lands, which although they may be in the West, would lie close on your rear, domestic enemies, who are for ever plotting treason, and only wait for time and opportunity to break into open revolt. It would be like wrapping snakes in the folds of your robe, or nourishing fire in your bosom which was ready to burst into flame. It is unsafe for princes to foster any hydra-heads in their dominions. It is especially unsafe for island princes


to have in their territories any other frontier marches than the sea itself.

Moreover, if for these reasons, or any of them, you should be induced to pity and relieve your land so often mentioned, which is now desolate and in a manner deserted, and to reduce it to a state of order, not unprofitable to you and yours, permit me to offer your royal majesty some advice, though it may savour of the freedom of speech which is natural to Welshmen like myself, and which we can neither alter or get rid of. I refer to the two pledges which your father gave to pope Adrian, when he obtained his permission to invade and conquer Ireland, and acted most prudently and discreetly for his own interest, and those of his family and people, when he secured the sanction of the highest earthly authority to an enterprise of so much magnitude, and which involved the shedding of Christian blood. One was, that he would raise up the church of God in that country, and cause a penny to be paid to St. Peter for every house in Ireland, as it is done in England; according to the tenor of the bull of privilege granted by the said Pope, and obtained from him by your father's prudence and policy, and now laid up in the archives at Winchester, as is hereafter clearly set forth in the present History. But Solomon says in the Proverbs, "Nothing less becomes a prince than lying lips"; [1] and it is especially dangerous to lie to God, and for a creature to take upon himself to set at nought his Creator. In order, therefore, to deliver the soul of your father who made these promises, and your own soul and those of your children, it is highly fitting that you, having no other shield of defence against the anger of the righteous judge for so much Christian blood already shed, and perhaps still to be shed, should be very careful to fulfil your father's vows. And if by so doing God be honoured in this conquest, as is becoming and right, you may expect that the earthly prosperity of you and yours will be augmented, and above all, that eternal happiness will be your portion at last.

These promises not having hitherto been performed, the divine justice has therefore, we may well believe, suffered calamities of two kinds to happen by way of punishment.

[1] Prov. xvii. 7.


The one is that the completion of this conquest, and the profit to be drawn from it, have been deferred; the other that the first and principal invaders of Ireland, namely, Robert Fitzstephen, [1] who was the first of our countrymen who landed there, and as it were opened and shewed the way to others, as also Hervey de Mont-Maurise, Raymonde, John de Courcy, and Meyler, never had any lawful issue of their bodies begotten. Nor is it any marvel. The poor clergy in the island are reduced to beggary. The cathedral churches, which were richly endowed with broad lands, by the piety of the faithful in old times, now echo with lamentations for the loss of their possessions, of which they have been robbed by these men and others who came over with them, or after them; so that to uphold the church is turned into spoiling and robbing it.

It is the part of a good prince to redress these evils; for it concerns his honour, to say nothing of his duty to God, that the clergy throughout his dominions, whose place it is to assist him faithfully in his counsels, and in all the more weighty affairs and principal acts of his government, should be relieved of their grievances, and enjoy the honours and privileges which are their due. Moreover, in order that some acknowledgment and propitiation may be made to God for this bloody conquest and the profits of it, the promised tax of the Peter-pence should be paid in future. It is but small, and this moderate payment frees all, while it is not a burthen to any.

I would further add, with your permission, that in memory of this conquest of Ireland made by the English, and because, in the course of years, there are great changes in the succession of lords, so that in process of time the right of inheritance often devolves on heirs by descent in remote degrees, and even on utter strangers in blood, a fixed annual tribute in gold or birds, [2] or perhaps in timber, should be reserved by some written instrument, in order to show to all

[1] Giraldus mentions in his History, on several occasions, a son of Robert Fitz-Stephen's, named Ralph; but perhaps he was illegitimate.

[2] By the birds may be intended some of the nobler breeds of hawks for sporting. We shall find, in the course of the History, that the tribute of Roderic O'Connor, king of Connaught was reserved to be paid in skins.


future times that the realm of Ireland is subject to the crown of England by an indissoluble bond.

Considering also that annals of events, heard through an interpreter, are not so well understood, and do not fix themselves in the mind so firmly as when they are published in the vernacular tongue, it would be well, if such be your pleasure, that some man of learning, who is also skilled in the French language, be employed to translate the work of mine, which has cost me much labour, into French; [1] and then, as it would be better understood, I might reap the fruits of my toil, which hitherto, under illiterate princes, have been lost because there were few who could understand my works. Hence a man of great eloquence, Walter Mapes, archdeacon of Oxford, [2] has often said to me in conversation, with his usual facetiousness, and that urbanity for which he was remarkable: "You have written a great deal, Master Giraldus, and you will write much more; and I have discoursed much: you have employed writing; I speech. But though your writings are far better, and much more likely to be handed down to future ages than my discourses, yet, as all the world could understand what I said, speaking as I did in the vulgar tongue, while your works, being written in Latin, are understood by only a very few persons, I have reaped some advantage from my sermons; but you, addressing yourself to princes, who were, doubtless, both learned and liberal, but are now out of date, and have passed from the world, have not been able to secure any sort of reward for your excellent works, which so richly

[1] French or Norman was the language commonly used by the higher classes in England at this period; Latin, in which all the chronicles were composed, being confined to the ecclesiastics, the only men of learning; and the good old Anglo-Saxon tongue, in which the first of chronicles is written, being out of vogue, the language only of the vulgar, who could not read, or for whose instruction Giraldus, with all his love of popularity, felt no concern. It need not be added that, as far as we know, Giraldus did not succeed in his petition to have his History translated.

[2] Walter Mapes, a name celebrated in our literary history of the latter half of the twelfth century, was the intimate friend of Giraldus Cambrensis. He possessed much pungent humour, which he employed in inveighing bitterly against the profligacy of the monks.


merited it". It is true, indeed, that my best years, and the prime of my life, have been spent without any remuneration or advancement arising out of my literary labours, and I am now growing old, and standing, as it were, on the threshold of death; but I neither ask, nor expect, worldly recompense from any one. My only desire is, and it is all I ought to desire, that, first, and above all, I may partake of the divine mercy vouchsafed to me by Him who giveth all things freely, through good works; his grace co-operating, nay, being the sole efficient cause; and next, that through my poor literary works I may obtain favour with the world, if ever the pursuits of learning should again be held in esteem, and recover their former eminence; although my reward may be deferred till further times, when posterity is sure to award honour to every man, according to his just deserts.





I. How Dermitius, prince of Leinster, took refuge in England, and was restored to his dominions by Henry II., king of England. 184

II. How Dermitius returned through Great Britain; and of his stay in Bristol, and afterwards in some parts of Wales. 186

III. Of the landing of Fitz-Stephen in Ireland, and the taking of the town of Wexford. 189

IV. The conquest of Ossory. 193

V. The whole of Ireland in league against Dermitius and Fitz-Stephen. 195

VI. The description of Dermitius, son of Murchard. 196

VII. The speech of Roderic. 197

VIII. The speech of Dermitius. 199

IX. The speech of Robert Fitz-Stephen. 200

X. How peace was restored. 201

XI. The coming over of Maurice Fitzgerald, and the conquest of Dublin. 202

XII. Of the preparations of Richard, earl of Strigul. 204

XIII. Of the coming over of Raymond, and defeat of the men of Waterford at Dundunolf. 206

XIV. The speech of Raymond. 208

XV. The speech of Hervey. 209

XVI. The coming over of earl Richard, and his taking the city of Waterford, and marrying Dermot's daughter. 211

XVII. How the city of Dublin was besieged and taken. 213

XVIII. Of the synod of Armagh. 215

XIX. How the king of England issued a proclamation against the earl, and Raymond was sent over to the king. 216

XX. How Thomas, the illustrious archbishop of Canterbury, was martyred in England about this time. 217

XXI. Of the defeat of the Norwegians and Islanders at Dublin, under their chiefs, Hasculf, and John the Mad. 219



XXII. How Dublin was besieged by Roderic, king of Connaught, and the Islanders. 221

XXIII. The speech of Maurice Fitzgerald. 222

XXIV. The defeat of Roderic at Dublin. 223

XXV. How Fitz-Stephen was treacherously made prisoner by the men of Wexford. 224

XXVI. The character of Fitz-Stephen. 225

XXVII. The description and character of earl Strongbow. 226

XXVIII. How the earl met the king of England in the neighbourhood of Gloucester, and peace was restored between them. 227

XXIX. How, meanwhile, O'Roric, king of Meath, was defeated at Dublin. King Henry at Pembroke. 227

XXX. Of the coming of Henry II., king of England, to Ireland. 229

XXXI. How Fitz-Stephen was brought a prisoner to the king at Waterford, and soon afterwards released; and how Dermitius, prince of Cork, and Duvenald, prince of Limerick, and all the princes of the south of Ireland, submitted to the king. 229

XXXII. How all the princes of the north of Ireland, and Roderic, king of Connaught, made voluntary submission to the king at Dublin. 230

XXXIII. Of the synod summoned by the king at Cashel, and held with great pomp. 232

XXXIV. Of the royal constitutions promulgated at the synod. 232

XXXV. Of the tempestuous and stormy winter. 234

XXXVI. How the king was recalled by an intestine conspiracy. Legates arrive from the court of Rome. 236

XXXVII. How the king crossed over to Wales, and from Wales to England. The Lechlawar, or speaking-stone. 237

XXXVIII. How the king made terms of peace with the pope's legates at Coutances, and with Lewis, king of France, on the frontier-marches of his dominions, with his usual prudence. 239

XXXIX. Of the vision, or rather visitation, made to king Henry at Cardiff, and the revelation he received. 240

XL. How O'Roric, king of Meath, was betrayed, and slain by the troops from Dublin. 242

XLI. Of visions and their various fulfilments. 244

XLII. The character of Maurice Fitzgerald. 246

XLIII. How the king's sons, having openly rebelled against him, the garrison he had left in Ireland was recalled, and he committed the government then to earl Richard. 247

XLIV. Of the events of the two years' war, and how the king was everywhere victorious over his sons; and of his great and commendable clemency to the vanquished. 248

XLV. The character of Henry II., king of England. 249



I. How the earl was sent back to Ireland by the king, and Raymond was again made commander of the army. 255

II. How the territory of Ophelari was laid waste and Lismore plundered, and the naval fight in the port of Limerick. 255

III. How Raymond having returned into Wales, his troops under Hervey were again defeated and slain by the men of Dublin in Ossory; and how the earl was shut up in Waterford. 256

IV. Of the return of Raymond on the earl's summons, and his marriage to the earl's sister, Basilia; and how Roderic, king of Connaught, was driven from the territory of Dublin, which he had invaded. 257

V. Of the connexion of families by intermarriages; and how Maurice, as well as Meyler, obtained grants of land in Ireland. 259

VI. Of the privileges obtained in the meantime by the king of England from the pope, and published at the synod of Waterford. 260

VII. Of the five titles, two old and three new, by which the kings of Britain laid claim to Ireland. 262

VIII. Of the famous siege of Limerick. 263

IX. The character of Raymond. 265

X. The character of Meyler, and praise of his family. 266

XI. The character of Hervey, and his accusation of Raymond. 268

XII. How succour was nobly rendered to the garrison of Limerick by Raymond and Meyler. 269

XIII. The speech of Duvenald, prince of Ossory. 270

XIV. How tidings of earl Strongbow's death were in the meantime conveyed to Raymond; and how in consequence he evacuated Limerick, and drew off the garrison to Dublin. 271

XV. How William Fitz-Aldelm was made chief governor of Ireland, after the earl's death; and how he incessantly troubled Raymond and Meyler, the sons of Maurice, and all his race. 273

XVI. The character of Fitz-Aldelm; and how John De Courcy (without the authority of his superior) was the first who invaded Ulster, and alter many battles manfully subdued it. 276

XVII. The character of John De Courcy; and how Vivianus, a legate of the see of Rome, held a synod at Dublin, in which the king of England's right to Ireland was publicly declared, and liberty was given of taking provisions from churches on payment of the value. 281



XVIII. The recall of Fitz-Aldelm and the appointment of Hugh De Lacy as his successor; also the confederacy and establishment of Fitz-Stephen, Milo de Cogan, and Philip De Braose, in the territories of Cork and Limerick, and various occurrences in those parts. 283

XIX. How Hugh De Lacy reduced to order the kingdom of Ireland, and built castles; and how he fell into suspicion for having the Irish in too much favour. 288

XX. The character of Hugh De Lacy, and an eulogium on some young men of eminence. 289

XXI. How John, constable of Chester, and Richard De Pec were sent over; and several castles were built in Leinster after Hugh De Lacy was recalled. 290

XXII. How Hugh De Lacy was again sent over as governor. 291

XXIII. How Laurence, archbishop of Dublin, dies at Chateau D'Eu, and how John Comyn was appointed his successor. 292

XXIV. How John, archbishop of Dublin, was sent to Ireland by the king, to prepare the way for his son (John); and how Philip of Worcester came over as constable. 294

XXV. How Heraclius, patriarch of Jerusalem, came by sea from the East into the West, and crossed over to England to entreat succour from Henry II., king of England, for the Holy Land. 295

XXVI. The king's reply to the patriarch, who threatens him in a sort of prophetical spirit; and of the princes who joined the crusade. 296

XXVII. Of the quarrel which broke out suddenly between the kings. 300

XXVIII. Of the emperor Frederick. 301

XXIX. A vision seen by the author of this book, and the explanation of it. 301

XXX. Of the memorable events in England during our time. 304

XXXI. The first expedition of John, the king's son, to Ireland. 309

XXXII. The praises of Fitz-Stephen and earl Strongbow, and also their defence. 311

XXXIII. Of the delays and hindrances which prevented the completion of the conquest of Ireland. 311

XXXIV. A brief recapitulation of transactions in Ireland, when the dominion of the kingdom was vested in John. 313

XXXV. For what reasons the king's son did not fully succeed in his first enterprise. How three sorts of people served in Ireland. 315

XXXVI. How the Irish nation may be entirely subjugated. 320

XXXVII. How the Irish people ought to be governed. 323


[For pedigree, see pdf.]





DERMITIUS, the son of Murchard, [1] and prince of Leinster, who ruled over that fifth part of Ireland, possessed in our times the maritime districts in the east of the island, separated only from Great Britain by the sea which flowed between. His youth and inexperience in government led him to become the oppressor of the nobility, and to impose a cruel and intolerable tyranny on the chiefs of the land. This brought him into trouble, and it was not the only one; for O'Roric, [2] prince of Meath, having gone on an expedition into a distant quarter, left his wife, the daughter of Omachlacherlin, [3] in a certain island of Meath during his absence; and she, who had long entertained a passion for Dermitius, took advantage of the absence of her husband, and allowed herself to be ravished, not against her will. As the nature of women is fickle and given to change, she thus became the prey of the spoiler by her own contrivance. For as Mark Anthony and Troy are witnesses, almost all the greatest evils in the world have arisen from women. King O'Roric being moved by this to great wrath, but more for the shame than the loss he suffered, was fully bent on

[1] Dermot mac Murchard, or, more correctly, Mac Murrough, prince or king of Leinster.

[2] Called in Irish, Tiernan O'Ruare.

[3] Murtough O'Melaghlin, king of Meath. The name of his daughter, the heroine of this story, was Dervorgilla.


revenge, and forthwith gathered the whole force of his own people and the neighbouring tribes, calling besides to his aid Roderic, prince of Connaught, then monarch of all Ireland. The people of Leinster, considering in what a strait their prince was, and seeing him beset on every side by bands of enemies, began to call to mind their own long-smothered grievances, and their chiefs leagued themselves with the foes of Mac Murchard, and deserted him in his desperate fortunes.

Dermitius, seeing himself thus forsaken and left destitute, fortune frowning upon him, and his affairs being now desperate, after many fierce conflicts with the enemy, in which he was always worsted, at length resolved, as his last refuge, to take ship and flee beyond sea. It is therefore apparent from many occurrences, that it is safer to govern willing subjects than those who are disobedient. Nero learnt this, and Domitian also, while in our times, Henry, duke of Saxony and Bavaria, [1] was made sensible of it. It is better for a prince to be loved than to be feared; but it is expedient that he should be feared also, so that the fear proceeds rather from good-will than from coercion. For whatever is outwardly loved, it necessarily follows that the same must be also feared. Wherefore fear must be so tempered with love, that neither a lax freedom degenerate into coldness, nor terror extorted by a rash insolence be turned into tyranny. Love lengthened the reign of Augustus, but fear cut short the life and rule of the emperor Julius.

Meanwhile, Mac Murchard, submitting to his change of fortune, and confidently hoping for some favourable turn, crossed the sea with a favourable wind, and came to Henry II., king of England, for the purpose of earnestly imploring his succour. Although the king was at that time beyond sea, far away in Aquitaine, in France, and much engaged in business, he received Murchard with great kindness, and the liberality and courtesy which was natural to him; and having heard the causes of his exile and coming over, and received his bond of allegiance and oath of fealty, granted him letters patent to the effect following: "Henry, king of England, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and

[1] Henry the Lion, duke of Bavaria and Saxony, who reigned from 1180 to 1195, and was deposed for his turbulence and violence.


count of Anjou, to all his liegemen, English, Normans, Welsh, and Scots, and to all other nations subject to his dominion, Sendeth, greeting, Whensoever these our letters shall come unto you, know ye that we have received Dermitius, prince of Leinster, into our grace and favour, Wherefore, whosoever within the bounds of our territories shall be willing to give him aid, as our vassal and liegeman, in recovering his territories, let him be assured of our favour and licence on that behalf".



DERMITIUS, returning through Great Britain, loaded with honourable gifts by the royal munificence, but encouraged more by hope for the future than any aid he had yet obtained, reached at last the noble town of Bristol. Here he sojourned for some time, making a liberal expenditure, as on account of the ships which made frequent voyages from Ireland to that port, he had opportunities of hearing the state of affairs in his own country and among his people. During his stay he caused the royal letters patent to be read several times in public, and made liberal offers of pay and lands to many persons, but in vain. At length, however, Richard, surnamed Strongbow, [1] earl of Strigul, the son of earl Gilbert, came and had a conference with him; and after a prolonged treaty it was agreed between them that in

[1] Richard Strongbow was the representative of the great family of Clare, whose ancestors, descended from Godfrey, a natural son of Richard I., duke of Normandy, were counts of Brionne, which fief was exchanged for the castle of Tunbridge, in England. Gilbert de Clare, earl of Strigul, Strongbow's father, made extensive conquests in South Wales, with licence from Henry I., and was created earl of Pembroke in the third year of Stephen, 1138. Richard Strongbow, his son and heir, succeeded to his father's titles, but was stripped of his inheritance by Henry II., who, as some compensation, reluctantly permitted him to improve his fortunes in Ireland. Striguil, or Strigul, has been considered synonimous with Chepstow, but it was a small castle, built by earl Gilbert, and stood on the brow of the forest of Wentwood, about four miles from Chepstow, commanding a pass in the road over the hills from Abergavenny to Chepstow, which was still used by public vehicles in our younger days. Some ruins of it are still to be seen. It is probable, however, that both castles bore the name of Strigulia, being the common property of the Clares.


the ensuing spring the earl should lend him aid in recovering his territories, Dermitius solemnly promising to give him his eldest daughter for wife, with the succession to his kingdom. This treaty having been duly concluded, Dermitius, inflamed with the natural desire, which is so universal, of seeing his native land, lost no time in journeying to St. David's, in South Wales. The passage from hence to Leinster, by sea, may be accomplished in one day's sailing, and the distance is so short that one coast may be seen from the other. At that time, Rhys-ap-Gryffith was prince of that country, under fealty to the king, and David the second was bishop of St. David's; both of whom treated the unfortunate exile with great kindness.

Thus snuffing from the Welsh coast the air of Ireland wafted on the western breezes, and, as it were, inhaling the scent of his beloved country, [1] Dermitius had the no small consolation of sometimes feasting his eyes with the sight of his own land, though the distance was such that it was difficult to distinguish between mountains and clouds. At that time Robert Fitz-Stephen, who had been made prisoner through the treachery of his followers at Aberteivy, the chief place in the district of Cardigan, of which he was castellan, [2] and delivered up to Rhys, having been kept in close confinement for three years, was released from prison

[1] We may almost suppose that Giraldus had in view the beautiful lines in which another princely exile is described as eagerly scanning the intervening space of waters for any indications of his native land.

'Iiusvoc kai kapvoy apothpwokovra vopoa;
'He yainc. ODYSS. a. 58.

Ulysses, happy might he but behold
The smoke ascending from his native land.- COWPER.

[2] Robert Fitz Stephen was the son of Stephen, castellan of Abertivy, or Cardigan, by Nesta, daughter of Rhys-ap-Tudor, prince of South Wales, and sister of Griffyth-ap-Rhys. This extraordinary woman, ot whom we shall learn more in the Itinerary of Giraldus, after being a concubine of Henry II., had for her first husband Gerald de Windsor, castellan of Pembroke, by whom she had three sons, the Fitzgeralds, whose names frequently occur in the following History, and a daughter named Angharad, who married William de Barri, the father of Sylvester Giraldus, our historian, and several of whose other sons and grandsons distinguished themselves in the Conquest of Ireland. The Fitzgeralds were, therefore, as they are here represented, half-brothers of Robert Fitz-Stephen. See the Pedigree at the beginning of this Book.


on condition of his joining Rhys in taking arms against the king of England. But Robert, considering that, on the father's side, he was naturally bound in fealty to the king his lord, although by his mother, Nesta, a lady of high birth, the daughter of Rhys the Great, he was cousin-german to Rhys-ap-Griffyth, preferred committing himself to the chances of fortune and fate, at the hazard of his life, in a foreign country, than to undergo the charge of disloyalty, to the no small stain on his honour and reputation and those of his adherents and posterity. Through the mediation, therefore, of David, bishop of St. David's, and Maurice Fitzgerald, [1] his half-brothers, who negotiated between him and Dermitius, after licence obtained from Rhys, a contract was entered into that Dermitius should grant to Robert and Maurice the town of Wexford, with two adjoining cantreds of land, to be held in fee; in consideration whereof the said Robert and Maurice engaged to succour him in recovering his territories, as soon as spring should come and the winds be favourable.

Meanwhile, Dermitius, being impatient of the sufferings of his continued exile, resolved on endeavouring to restore his fortunes in his own country, which he had vainly sought to mend in a foreign land. He therefore went about the calends of August (1st August) to St. David's, the ancient and rightful metropolitan church of Wales, [2] proposing to embark from that neighbourhood. The weather being fair, and the wind favourable, it blowing from the east, he set sail, and encountering the dangers of the passage, and the landing, disembarked on a hostile coast, and, in his impatience, passed unattended through the quarters of his

[1] David II., bishop of St. David's, 1149 1176, under whose care our author was educated and first advanced in the church, and Maurice Fitzgerald were his uncles. The first conquerors of Ireland were nearly all descendants of Nesta, either by her two husbands, or through a son she had by Henry II., and their degrees of relationship are so constantly referred to by their kinsman, Giraldus, that it has been thought advisable to subjoin a Pedigree of the family to make it clear. This is inserted at the beginning of this History.

[2] Giraldus was a stout supporter of the metropolitan rights of the see of St. David's against the pretensions of the archbishops of Canterbury. Further reference to St. David's will be found in B. ii. c. 1 of our author's Itinerary of Wales.


numerous enemies. Arriving at Ferns, [1] he was honourably received by the clergy of that place, who entertained him to the best of their ability; and for a time laying aside his princely dignity, he spent the winter there in privacy.



IN the meantime, Robert Fitz-Stephen, mindful of his engagement and true to his plighted faith, had mustered thirty men-at-arms, [2] of his own kindred and retainers, together with sixty men in half-armour, and about three hundred archers and foot-soldiers, the flower of the youth of Wales, and embarking them in three ships, landed at the Banne, about the calends of May, [A.D. 1170]. Then was the old prophecy of Merlin the Wild [3] fulfilled: "A knight, bipartite, [4] shall first break the bonds of Ireland". If you wish to understand this mysterious prediction, you must have respect to the descent of Robert Fitz-Stephen by both his parents. On the father's side he was an Anglo-Norman, on the mother's a Cambro-Briton, being the son of the noble lady Nesta.

In his company there also came over a man of fallen fortunes, Hervey de Montmaurice, who, having neither armour nor money, was a spy [5] rather than a soldier, and

[1] Dermot landed at Glass-Carrig, a small creek and promontory on the open coast of Wexford, about twelve miles south of Arklow Head, and the same distance from Ferns, the see of a bishop, with his chapter, by whom he was hospitably entertained. This city appears to have been also the principal seat of the native princes of Leinster; Dublin being in the hands of the Ostmen or Norwegians, under kings, so called, of their own race, who exercised an independent jurisdiction.

[2] Milites. See a note to c. xi. on the rank and class of persons included in this term.

[3] Merlini Sylvestris. See on this personage B. ii. c. 8 of the Itinerary.

[4] Not only was the blood of two races mingled in Fitz-Stephen, but his armorial ensigns were, in the language of heraldry, bipartite; parti per pale, gules and ermine, with a saltier countercharged of the same.

[5] Explorator. Though the word is translated spy, it is not meant to convey that he was to act as such on his countrymen. Hervey's business was to enquire into the resources of the country, and its capabilities, in order to report to the earl, while making preparations for his invasion. It does not appear from the genealogy of the Clares, in Duquesne, nor in any other we have seen, how this Hervey was related to earl Richard Strongbow.


as such acting for earl Richard, whose uncle he was. On the following day, Maurice de Prendergast, [1] a stout and brave soldier, from the district of Ros, in South Wales, following Fitz-Stephen, and having embarked at the port of Milford, with ten men-at-arms, and a large body of archers, in two ships, landed also at the Banne. [2] All these forces having disembarked on the island of the Banne, and finding themselves in a position far from secure, the news of their landing having been spread abroad, they sent messengers to Dermitius, apprizing him of their arrival. Meanwhile, some of the people who dwelt on the coast, although they had

[1] The family of Prendergast took their name from a vill, formerly belonging to them, which is now a suburb of Haverfordwest. This town was the chief place in the district of Ros, in which a colony of Flemings was planted in the time of Henry I. See afterwards, in the "Itinerary of Wales", B i. c. 11.

[2] "It is by no means a question devoid of interest to identify the spot where these first Anglo-Norman invaders set foot on the soil of Ireland. There is a tradition which places it at a small peninsula or promontory on the coast of Wexford, now called Bagabun, which, consisting altogether of about thirty acres, forms a bold projection towards the Welsh coast. On one side of the greater headland is a lesser promontory stretching out to the east, about two hundred yards long, and seventy broad, accessible only at its extreme point; behind which rises a lofty insulated rock, forming a breakwater to the surf on the point, and imperfectly joined to the mainland by several smaller rocks which are just seen above water, and are described as forming a kind of causeway to the point of the promontory itself. Here it is pretended that Robert Fitz-Stephen ran in his ships, mooring them under the protection ot the larger rock, and landing his men by means of the low ridge. The cut between the last of these rocks, across which he is said to have jumped, is called popularly 'Fitz-Stephen's Stride'. The invaders are supposed to have first occupied the esplanade of the smaller peninsula, where there are still traces of hasty fortifications, which command the approaches and overlook the ground in the vicinity. In the middle of the rude encampment is a space like the foundations of a house, which is called 'Fitz-Stephen's Tent'. Others, however, have been inclined to disbelieve the tradition which made the Anglo-Normans land on the promontory of Bagabun, and they think, from the identity of the name, and its position with regard to Wexford, that the place now called Bannow, which may, from the known encroachments of the sea on this coast, have formerly been a peninsula, is the Banne of the ancient writers". Wright's History of Ireland, vol. i. p. 71.


deserted Dermitius when fortune frowned upon him, when she changed her aspect flocked together to support him; according to the words of the poet:

Sic cum fortuna statque caditque fides.
Thus loyalty, with fortune, ebbs and flows.

Mac Murchard, as soon as he heard of their coming, sent forward his natural son, Duvenald, who, though not legitimate, was a man of consequence in his country, to join the English expedition, and followed himself, without loss of time, and in great joy, at the head of five hundred men. Having renewed their former engagements and confirmed them by many oaths mutually exchanged for security on both sides, they joined their forces, and the combined troops of the different races being united in one common object, marched to the attack of the town of Wexford, distant about twelve miles from the Banne. The people of the town, when they heard of this, were so confident in their wonted good fortune, having been hitherto independent, that they sallied forth, to the number of about two thousand men, and meeting the enemy near their camp, resolved on giving them battle. But when they perceived the troops to which they were opposed, arrayed in a manner they had never before witnessed, and a body of horsemen, with their bright armour, helmets, and shields, they adopted new plans with a new state of affairs, and having set fire to, and burnt the suburbs, forthwith retired within their walls.

Fitz-Stephen lost no time in preparing for the attack; and lining the trenches with those of his troops who wore armour, while the archers were posted so as to command the advanced towers, an assault was made on the walls with loud cries and desperate vigour. But the townsmen were ready to stand on their defence, and casting down from the battlements large stones and beams, repulsed the attack for a while, and caused numerous losses. Among the wounded was Robert de Barri, [1] a young soldier, who, inflamed with ardent valour, and dauntless in the face of death, was among the first who scaled the walls; but being struck upon his helmet by a great stone, and falling headlong into the ditch

[1] Robert de Barri was an elder brother of Giraldus, being the son of William de Barri, who married Angharad, daughter of Nesta, by Gerald de Windsor. See the Pedigree at the beginning of this history.


below, narrowly escaped with his life, his comrades with some difficulty drawing him out. Sixteen years afterwards all his jaw-teeth fell out from the effects of this stroke, and, what is more strange, new teeth grew in their places. Upon this repulse, withdrawing from the walls, they gathered in haste on the neighbouring strand, and forthwith set fire to all the ships they found lying there. Among these, a merchant-ship, lately arrived from the coast of Britain with a cargo of corn and wine, was moored in the harbour; and a band of the boldest youths rowing out in boats, got on board the vessel, but were carried out to sea, the sailors having cut the hawsers from the anchors, and the wind blowing from the west; so that it was not without great risk, and hard rowing after taking to their boats again, that they regained the land.

Thus fortune, constant only in her instability, almost deserted not only Mac Murchard, but Fitz-Stephen also. However, on the following morning, after mass had been celebrated throughout the army, they proceeded to renew the assault with more circumspection and order, relying on their skill as well as their courage; and when they drew near to the walls, the townsmen, despairing of being able to defend them, and reflecting that they were disloyally resisting their prince, sent envoys to Dermitius commissioned to treat of the terms of peace. At length, by the mediation of two bishops, who chanced to be in the town at that time, and other worthy and peaceable men, peace was restored, the townsmen submitting to Dermitius, and delivering four of their chief men as hostages for their fealty to him. And the more to animate the courage of his adherents, and reward their chiefs for their first success, he forthwith granted the town, with the whole territory appertaining to it, to Fitz-Stephen and Maurice, according to the stipulations in their original treaty. He also conferred on Hervey de Montmaurice two cantreds lying between the towns of Wexford and Waterford, to hold to him and his heirs in fee.




THESE things having been accomplished according to their desires, and their troops having been reinforced by the townsmen of Wexford, they directed their march towards Ossory, [1] with an army numbering about three thousand men. Duvenald, the prince of Ossory, was the most implacable of all the enemies of Dermitius; and some time before, when the son of Dermitius was his prisoner, having become jealous of him, he carried his vengeance to such a pitch, that he put out his eyes. When, therefore, the combined forces first entered Ossory, they did not penetrate far into the province; for it being intricate and full of difficult passes, woods, and bogs, they found that the people were able to make a stout resistance in defence of their country. Whereupon, elated by their frequent successes, they pursued their enemies even as far as the open plains. There, however, the horsemen of Fitz-Stephen turned upon them, and charging them fiercely, defeated them with great slaughter, and scattering the fugitives over the country, slew them with their lances, and those who were dashed to the ground by the charge of horse had their heads quickly cut off by the broad-axes of the Irish foot soldiers. The victory being thus gained, about two hundred of the enemies' heads were collected and laid at the feet of Dermitius, who, turning them over one by one, in order to recognize them, thrice lifted his hands to heaven in the excess of his joy, and with a loud voice returned thanks to God most High. Among them was the head of one he mortally hated above all the rest, and taking it up by the ears and hair, he tore the nostrils and lips with his teeth in a most savage and inhuman manner.

After this, they made several inroads through the farthest

[1] The progress of their enterprise for reinstating Dermot mac Murrough in his principality of Leinster, would naturally lead his foreign allies, uniting their forces with his, to march northwards from Wexford, following the course of the Nore or the Barrow, into the districts of Ossory, one of which lay in the diocese of Leighlin, and the other iu that of Kilkenny. These were probably the two bishops who assisted in negotiating the treaty.


parts of the country, which they ravaged and devastated with fire and sword, until at length the prince of Ossory, by the advice of his counsellors, sued for peace, which was granted, although it was false on both sides, and, giving hostages and taking solemn oaths, he did fealty to Dermitius.

In these encounters, as in all others, Robert de Barri and Meyler [1] distinguished themselves above the rest by their eminent courage. Both these young men were nephews of Fitz-Stephen, the one being his brother's son, the other his sister's. They differed in their tempers and dispositions, and agreed only in their valour. Meyler being ambitious of honour and glory, all his acts had especial reference to that end, and he lost no opportunity of doing anything which could add to his fame; but he was more desirous of appearing brave than of being so. The other was naturally a person of distinguished courage, who neither coveted praise nor affected popularity, and strove rather to be always among the first than to appear so. Such was his natural disposition, that with a modesty becoming a maiden, he neither boasted of or proclaimed his own doings, nor would he suffer others to sound his praises. Hence it happened, that the less he coveted honour, the more it clung to him; for honour follows virtue, like a shadow the substance; but it deserts those who are most ambitious of it, and clings to those who despise it, often more than they would wish, and many men are more liked because they take no pains to please; praise being gained in an extraordinary manner when it is avoided.

It happened, while the army was in Ossory, that they encamped one night in a certain old fortification, and these two young men lying, as they were wont, in the same tent,

[1] Of these two cousins, Robert de Barri has been already noticed. Meyler, sometimes called, though not by our author, Meyler Fitz-Henry, was the younger of the three sons of Henry, an illegitimate son of Henry I., by Nesta. Meyler is a prominent character in this History; but though Giraldus dwells with satisfaction on the renown of his kinsman, and describes him as the nephew of Robert Fitz-Stephen and Maurice Fitzgerald, and consequently cousin-german of the De Barris, he does not, for obvious reasons, as a churchman, trace his lineage through his own grandmother Nesta, to her royal paramour. See the pedigree.


suddenly there was a great noise, as it were, of many thousand men rushing in upon them from all sides, with a great rattling of their arms and clashing of their battle-axes. Such spectral appearances frequently occur in Ireland to those who are engaged in hostile excursions. The alarm was so general that the greatest part of the army took to flight and hid themselves in the woods and marshes; but the two cousins, snatching up their arms, ran to the tents of Fitz-Stephen, loudly calling on their scattered comrades to rally for the defence of the camp. Amidst the general confusion, Robert de Barri exerted himself actively, to the admiration as well as the envy of many, for the safety of any of his retainers who might happen to be there. For among his various excellent qualities, this one was especially noted, that in no attack, however unexpected, in no sudden surprise, was he ever known to fear or despair, or to flee shamefully, or to exhibit any consternation of mind. He was always himself, always prepared to stand on his guard, always ready to fly to arms. He truly is the bravest man,

Qui promptus metuenda pati, si cominus instent;
Et deferre potens.

Who to the rescue springs, when dangers press,
And stoutly wards them off.

This Robert de Barri was the first man-at-arms who was struck down and wounded in this invasion of Ireland.



IN the mean time, the wheel of fortune turns, and those who were at the top are threatened with a sudden fall. For as soon as the late successes of Dermitius, and the arrival of a formidable band of foreign troops, were known throughout the island, Roderic, prince of Connaught, and monarch of all Ireland, [1] considering how great things arise from

[1] Roderic O'Connor, prince or king of Connaught, was also "monarch" or paramount lord of all Ireland. This high dignity, corresponding with that of the Bretwalda in the Saxon Heptarchy, was conferred by election, in a national assembly of the Irish, on one of the four kings or princes of the provinces into which the island was divided; the fifth, Meath, being assigned for the support of the household of the paramount king for the time being. The other princes did homage to him, and were bound to submit to his commands in peace and war. The supremacy was usually conferred on one or other of the reigning princes of the Mac Carthies of Munster, the Mac Murroughs of Leinster, or the O'Connors of Connaught.


small beginnings, and foreseeing the evils which threatened himself and his country from the coming in of strangers, sent round messengers, and convoked an assembly of the chief men from all parts of the island. These having taken counsel with him, it was unanimously resolved to make war against Dermitius, and several bodies of troops, with a vast multitude of the people, were gathered together at Kenteleia in Leinster.

Meanwhile Dermitius, in the time of his utmost need, found that he had very few firm supporters, except Fitz-Stephen and his followers; some of his other reed-like friends abandoning his cause, and withdrawing privately from his standard, and the rest openly joining his enemies, and so breaking their oaths of fealty to him. He therefore retreated with his remaining force to a position not far from Ferns, which was surrounded by thick woods and steep mountains, with waters and bogs, which made it naturally very inaccessible. Here, under Fitz-Stephen's direction, they felled trees, plashed the underwood, broke up the surface of the level ground by digging deep holes and trenches, and cut secret and narrow passages through the thickets in several places for the purpose of egress and ingress in case of attack, so that having thus added to the natural strength of the position by these defences, on which they bestowed great industry, they succeeded in completely shutting out the enemy, while means of access were open to themselves and their friends.



DERMITIUS was tall in stature, and of large proportions, and, being a great warrior and valiant in his nation, his voice had


become hoarse by constantly shouting and raising his warcry in battle. Bent more on inspiring fear than love, he oppressed his nobles, though he advanced the lowly. A tyrant to his own people, he was hated by strangers; his hand was against every man, and the hands of every man against him. Meanwhile, Roderic [1] sent messengers to Fitz-Stephen, with great presents and offers, to endeavour to persuade him to depart in peace and amity, from a country in which he could challenge no sort of right; but the message was fruitless. The envoys then applied to Mac Murchard, exhorting him to unite his forces with theirs in exterminating the foreigners, and promising that on his so doing the whole of Leinster should be peaceably restored to him, and that Roderic would enter into a treaty of close alliance with him; they alleged many reasons concerning their common country and nation, and used much speech to induce him to take this course; but all to no purpose.



RODERIC, perceiving that these proposals were of no avail, and being convinced that he must have recourse to arms as his last refuge, assembled his forces, and thus addressed them:

"Right noble and valiant defenders of your country and liberty, let us consider with what nations and for what causes we are now about to wage battle. That enemy of his country, that tyrant of his people, and foe of all men, who was formerly driven out of the land, is now returned with the support of foreign troops, and bent on the general ruin of the state. Envious of his country's welfare, he has brought in a foreign race, that, by the aid of a fierce and detested nation, he may be able to inflict upon us the mischief to which his own strength was unequal. Himself an enemy, he has called in our greatest national enemy; a people who have long aimed at being lords over him as well as over all of us, and give out that the dominion of our land justly

[1] Roderic O'Connor, prince of Connaught.


belongs to them, and is even destined to them by ancient prophecies. Nay, he has so universally diffused his venom that, while all are contaminated with it, he has not even spared himself. O cruel, and far more cruel than ever beast was! For to satisfy his insatiable malice in the blood of his own people, he spares neither himself nor his country, nor sex, nor age. This is he who formerly was a most cruel tyrant over his own subjects; this is he who, supported by bands of armed foreigners, is preparing to revel in the blood of us all. He deserves therefore to be treated as a public enemy, who proves himself to be the enemy of all. Mark, my countrymen, mark well, how most states have been overthrown in this way; I mean by civil discord. Julius Caesar, after having twice shewn his back to the Britons, returned the third time, and subdued the country on the invitation of Androgius, who was a victim to his own thirst for revenge. [1] This same Julius, after having, at length, conquered the western parts of the world, ambitious of supreme power, did not hesitate to bring foreign nations to shed the blood of the Roman people, in a worse than civil war. To come to examples nearer home and our own times, we find Gurmund the terror of the isles, bringing in the Saxons for the subjugation of the Britons, though it turned out to his own ruin and humiliation. Soon afterwards, Isembard, the king of the Franks, but the enemy of his people, called in the aid of Gurmund to conquer France, but without success. Let us then, following the example of the Franks, and fighting bravely for our country, rush against our enemies; and, as these foreigners have come over few in numbers, let us crush them by a general attack. Fire, while it only sparkles, may be speedily quenched; but when it has burst into a flame, being fed with fresh materials, its power increases with their bulk, and it cannot be easily extinguished. It is always best to meet difficulties half-way, and check the first approaches of disease; for,

... sero medicina paratur,
Cum mala per longas invaluere moras.

Too late is medicine, after long delay,
To stop the lingering course of slow decay.

[1] All this "British" history is of course taken from Geoffrey of Monmouth.


Wherefore, defending our country and liberty, and acquiring for ourselves eternal renown, let us by a resolute attack and the extermination of our enemies, though they are but few in number, strike terror into many, and by their fate for ever deter foreign nations from such nefarious attempts.



MAC MURCHARD, perceiving that his troops were disheartened, and apparently in a state of consternation, reanimated them in the best manner he could. "Ye men of Leinster", he said, "my tried comrades, whose faithful allegiance and resolute spirit have been my support under all changes of fortune, now is the time for us to stand boldly on our defence. That bold contriver of wicked devices and ambitious prince, Roderic, who is aiming to subject all of us to a universal tyranny, threatens now to drive us again from our country, or even, which God forbid, to massacre us in it, and the danger is imminent. Arrogant in his numbers, he measures his ambition by the strength of his arm; but a small and well-armed band, if brave, have often discomfited an unarmed and ill-organized rabble. Does he lay claim to Leinster, because some of its princes have been occasionally subject to the kings of Connaught? By the same reason, I may challenge a right to Connaught, because it has been sometimes held under my ancestors when they were monarchs of all Ireland. But he does not merely seek to rule as a monarch, but to condemn, to destroy, to drive us out of the country, and, succeeding in his own person to all our rights and inheritance, to become sole master of all. Many there are who boast of their great numbers and trust therein, but let them be well assured that the men of Leinster never shrunk from engaging a host of men; for victory is not won by numbers, but by valour and resolution. We, on our side, have humility against pride, right and equity against injustice, moderation against arrogance; men gain the victory by numerous virtues, not by innumerable forces. Law and right allows us to repel force and injury by force. It is a favourable cause to contend at once for our


country and our inheritance. They fight for gain, we to avoid loss. Moreover, we occupy ground which is strongly fortified both by nature and art, where excessive numbers would be inconvenient, and a small force, full of courage and acting in concert, may suffice to secure success".



WHEN Dermitius had ended his speech, Fitz-Stephen thus addressed his followers: "Ye brave youths, my comrades in war, who have gone through so many perils with me, and been ever courageous and indomitable, if we now consider what we are, under what leader, and for what purpose we encounter our present dangers, our wonted valour will still be in the ascendant, and the good fortune of our former wars will not desert us. We derive our descent, originally, in part from the blood of the Trojans, and partly we are of the French race. [1] From the one we have our native courage, from the other the use of armour. Since, then, inheriting such generous blood on both sides, we are not only brave, but well armed, can it be supposed that an unarmed multitude and mere rabble are able to resist us?

"Recollect, besides, that we have left behind in our native land ample patrimonies which we lost through domestic frauds and intestine mischiefs. Wherefore, we are come hither, not for the sake of pay or plunder, but induced by the promise of towns and lands, to be granted to us and our heirs for ever. We are not come as pirates or freebooters, but to reinstate this illustrious, generous, and liberal prince in his own territories, of which he has been despoiled by the treason of his followers. We have compassion on the distressed, we succour the oppressed, we restore the destitute to his country and his inheritance. He loves our nation, he it is who hath invited us here, and proposed to

[1] Alluding to the tradition or fable, of the Trojans, under Brute, the grandson of Dardanus, having established themselves in Britain. The admixture of Norman blood in these Cambrian adventurers is less questionable.


plant our race, and for ever settle it, in this island. It may oe the consequence of this enterprise that the five portions into which it is divided may be reduced into one, and the dominion of the whole kingdom devolve on our posterity. If the victory be won by our prowess, and Mac Murchard be restored, and the realm of Ireland be secured by our enterprise for us and our heirs for ever, how great will be our glory, how worthy of being achieved even by the loss of life and the contempt of death.

"For what is death, but a momentary interval of time, a brief delay, and, as it were, a short sleep between this fleeting life and that which is enduring? What is death, but a short passage from things transitory to things eternal? We must all die, because that is the inevitable and common fate of mankind; and though no splendid or glorious actions may have made us illustrious during life, by our deaths, at least, we may make our names memorable in future ages. Death is only to be feared by those who when they die appear as though all had perished with them; but it has no terror for such as have gained honour which can never fall into oblivion. Wherefore, ye valiant men, whose renown is already known to fame, let us strive to shew this day that our race has not degenerated, but in this conflict, either by victory or death, gain immortal fame as the reward of your valour".



RODERIC well knowing the uncertainty of events in war, and that, as it is justly said, "A wise man should try every means before he has recourse to arms", and also greatly dreading to join battle with foreigners who were completely armed, he sent envoys to endeavour by all manner of means to obtain terms of peace. Wherefore, by the mediation of good men, with the assistance of the Divine mercy, peace was at length agreed to upon the following conditions: that all Leinster should be left under the dominion of Dermitius, and that he should acknowledge Roderic to be the paramount king and monarch of Ireland, and yield him due


submission. For the performance of this, Dermitius delivered his son Cnuth as an hostage, and Roderic promised that if in the course of time the peace should continue firmly established, he would give his daughter in marriage to this young prince. These conditions were publicly proclaimed, and confirmed by oaths sworn by both parties; but there was also a secret agreement between them that Dermitius should not bring any more foreigners into the island; and should even send away those he had called in, as soon as he had reduced Leinster to a state of order.



THESE matters being settled, and fortune appearing again to smile upon them with a more favourable aspect, behold, Maurice Fitzgerald, of whom I have already spoken in the Second Chapter, and who was half-brother by the mother's side to Robert Fitz-Stephen, landed at Wexford with ten men-at-arms, [1] thirty mounted retainers, and about one

[1] There being no equivalent terms in Latin for describing the different classes of military men in the middle ages, the chroniclers often applied the word milites to soldiers of all ranks, and especially to those of the higher classes. This has led to some confusion, the word having been often indiscriminately translated knights. The order of knighthood was, however, a very high distinction, and conferred with much ceremony in chivalrous times, and it is plain that the number of "milites" described by Giraldus as going over in the several expeditions to Ireland is much too great to be of this high rank. But the term included not only knights, but all who were armed, cap-a-pied, or in complete armour, and who of course served on horseback. Grose (Mil. Antiq. vol. i. c. 5) says that this force was chiefly composed of the tenants in capite. Now every tenant by knight-service was required to find a certain number of horsemen in complete armour, in proportion to the fees he held, and the number was made up of his kinsmen and his mesne-tenants owing him feudal service. In the case of these Welsh levies for the invasion of Ireland, the service was voluntary; personal attachment to a tried and brave leader, the ties of kindred, so strong and extensive in Wales, the love of adventure, and the prospect of carving out an inheritance by the sword, drew numbers to the standard. Generally, then, this class of military men represented what we should now call the landed gentry of the country; a class below barons and knights, but of sufficient substance to provide themselves with a war horse and complete armour, a very costly equipment in those days. We have usually adopted the phrase "man-at-arms" to describe this class of combatants, the milites of our author. Hooker, his old translator, whose version is not only quaint, but often very incorrect, calls them "gentlemen of service"; but the phrase here adopted is, we think, preferable, it being understood to what class in society the "men-at-arms" belonged. The immediate body-guard of the sovereign in the present day, composed of men of a certain birth and standing, are called "gentlemen at arms", as distinguished from the "yeomen of the guard"; but, although that designation would very nearly convey the idea intended, it is scarcely suited to a translation of a work of the age of Giraldus.

The men-at-arms were attended by their servants and retainers, who wore half-armour, and formed an additional body of cavalry, in the proportion, we find, of two or three to each man-at-arms. The infantry consisted of spear and bill-men, cross-bowmen, and archers, in the proportion of ten or more, according to the nature of the service.


hundred archers and foot-soldiers, who came over in two ships. This Maurice was a man much distinguished for his honour and courage, of an almost maidenish modesty, true to his word, and firm in his resolution. Mac Murchard was much delighted and encouraged by the tidings of this new arrival, and calling to mind, with the desire of vengeance, the deep injuries which the people of Dublin had done both to his father and himself, he assembled an army and prepared to march, towards Dublin.

In the mean time, Fitz-Stephen was building a fort upon a steep rock, commonly called the Karrec, situated about two miles from Wexford, a place strong by nature, but which art made still stronger. [1] Maurice Fitzgerald, however, with the English troops, joined the army under Dermitius, who took the command and acted as guide. In a short time, the whole territory belonging to Dublin, with the adjacent districts, were almost laid waste, and reduced to the last extremity, by the ravages of the enemy, and by fire and sword; so that at length the townsmen sued for peace, and gave security for keeping their allegiance to their

[1] Fitz-Stephen's party threw up a slight rampart of sods and stakes to fortify their camp on the Carrig, an elevated position, washed on two sides by the harbour of Wexford, and about two miles from the town. A strong fort was afterwards erected on the spot.


prince in time to come, and paying him due homage and service.

Meanwhile, quarrels having broken out between Roderic of Connaught and Duvenald of Limerick, as soon as Roderic with his troops made an irruption on the borders of Limerick, Dermitius despatched Fitz-Stephen and his followers to the relief of Duvenald, who was his son-in-law. Duvenald thus supported, after several battles, in all of which he was victorious, compelled Roderic to retreat with disgrace into his own territories, and freed himself altogether from any acknowledgment of his supremacy. In this expedition, as in all others, Meyler and Robert de Barri distinguished themselves by their extraordinary valour. It was at this time that the woman was seen who had a beard, and a mane upon her back, like a horse, of whom I have already spoken in Distinct, ii. c. 20 of my Topography.



MAC MURCHARD, elated with his late successes, raised his hopes still higher, and having now recovered all his patrimonial territories, became ambitious of regaining the rights of his ancestors in old times, and formed the design of seizing by force Connaught and the monarchy of all Ireland. With a view to this, he sought a private conference with Fitz-Stephen and Maurice, and having opened to them all that was passing in his mind, received for answer that what he proposed could be easily accomplished if he could procure strong reinforcements of English troops to support his pretensions. Thereupon Dermitius used all manner of entreaties to induce them to invite over more numerous bands of their kindred and countrymen into the island, and take measures for carrying his project into execution; and at last, the better to persuade them, he offered to either of them his eldest daughter in marriage, with the right of succession to his kingdom. But as it chanced that both were already in the bonds of lawful wedlock, they came at last, after much deliberation, to the conclusion that Dermitius should forthwith despatch messengers to earl Richard, who has been


mentioned before in chapter 2, and to whom he had formerly promised to give this daughter when he was in Bristol; the messengers being the bearer of a letter to the following effect.

"Dermitius, son of Murchard, prince of Leinster, to Richard, earl of Strigul, son of earl Gilbert, sends greeting.

Tempora si numeres bene quae numeramus egentes,
Non venit ante suum nostra querela diem.

Were you, like those who wait your aid, to count the weary days,
You would not wonder that I chide these lingering delays.

We have watched the storks and swallows; the summer birds have come, and are gone again with the southerly wind; but neither winds from the east nor the west have brought us your much desired and long expected presence. Let your present activity make up for this delay, and prove by your deeds that you have not forgotten your engagements, but only deferred their performance. The whole of Leinster has been already recovered, and if you come in time with a strong force, the other four parts of the kingdom will be easily united to the fifth. You will add to the favour of your coming if it be speedy; it will turn out famous if it be not delayed, and the sooner, the better welcome. The wound in our regards which has been partly caused by neglect will be healed by your presence; for friendship is secured by good offices, and grows by benefits to greater strength".

Earl Richard having heard these tidings, and, after taking much counsel, being encouraged by Fitz-Stephen's success, of which he had been at first doubtful, resolved on pursuing the same course as the others had done; and, bending every effort towards one object, on which his most earnest desire was set, he made all kinds of preparations for the conquest of Ireland. This earl was descended from a very

[1] See before, note to chap. ii. The Clares, notwithstanding their high lineage and great alliances, had not been a prosperous family. For joining in the league of the disaffected nobles, king Stephen seized their castles in Kent and Sussex (Gesta Stephani, B. ii.); and Henry I. stripped this earl Richard of his father's inheritance, and refused him that of his nephews; so that he had great titles with small means.


noble stock, being of the famous race of the Clares: but his name was greater than his means, his descent than his talents, his rights of inheritance than his property in possession. [1] He addressed himself, therefore, to Henry II., king of England, and earnestly prayed and entreated him that he would either put him in possession of the lands which justly belonged to him by right of inheritance, or grant him licence to seek his fortune, trusting to fate, in foreign countries.



HAVING obtained the king's licence, although it was given in jest rather than in earnest, earl Richard, suffering the winter to elapse, sent forward to Ireland about the calends (the first) of May, a young man of his own household, whose name was Raymond, [1] with ten men-at-arms and seventy archers. He was a brave and stout soldier, expert in the practice of arms, and nephew both of Fitz-Stephen and Maurice, being the son of their elder brother. Landing at the rock of Dundunolf, [2] which lies on the sea-coast, about four miles from Waterford, and to the south of Wexford, they threw up a rather slight fortification, made of turf and boughs of trees. The townsmen of Waterford, and with them Mac Lacheline of Ophelan (Offaly), quickly received intelligence of their arrival, and suspecting mischief from the neighbourhood of such strangers, they held a council, and thinking it best to nip the evil in the bud, resolved on

[1] Other historians call him Raymond-le-Gros, which answers to our author's description of his person in B. ii. c. 9. Throughout this history, in which he plays so distinguished a part, and perhaps shines the most, he is simply called Raymond. But he was a Fitzgerald, being the youngest son of William Fitzgerald, the elder brother of Maurice and the bishop, and therefore nephew, by the half-blood, to Robert Fitz-Stephen. See the Pedigree.

[2] Dundonolf, or Dundrone, is a rocky promontory on the coast, about eight miles from Waterford and twelve from Wexford. A strong castle was afterwards erected on the spot where Raymond's hastily fortified camp stood.


marching out in a body against them. Mustering, therefore, about three thousand men, they crossed the river Suir, which runs under the walls of the town on the east side, dividing Desmonia [Munster] from Leinster, and being formed into three bodies, boldly marched up to the intrenchments, prepared to make the assault. [1]

But it is scarcely possible that courage will not shew itself, or the ardour of valour be extinguished or daunted; and therefore, Raymond and his followers, inferior as they were in numbers, with surpassing gallantry sallied forth to meet their assailants and engaged in the too unequal conflict. Their small band of soldiers was, however, unable to resist the attack of the multitudes to which they were opposed; and retreating to their camp, they were so hotly pursued by the enemy, that some of them entered pell-mell with the fugitives before the barricade could be closed.

Raymond, perceiving the strait to which his party was reduced, and, in short, that the peril was imminent, faced about boldly, and cut down with his sword, on the very threshold, the foremost of the enemy who were forcing an entrance. Thus nobly retracing his steps, while he dealt a terrible blow, and shouted his war-cry, he encouraged his followers to stand on their defence, and struck terror into the enemies' ranks.

Thus, in the ever-doubtful fortune of war, those who to all appearance were conquered, became in a moment the victors; and the enemy took to flight, and, dispersing themselves over the country, were pursued and slaughtered in such numbers that upwards of five hundred quickly fell by the sword; and when the pursuers ceased striking from sheer weariness, they threw vast numbers from the edge of the cliffs into the sea underneath.

In this engagement a certain man-at-arms, whose name was William Ferrand, exhibited undaunted courage. His body was weak, but his spirit resolute; for being diseased with leprosy, which threatened his life, he sought to

[1] It must be recollected that the townsmen of Waterford and other Irish sea-ports were Norwegian settlers, who not only inherited the old Northern blood, but were better armed and organized than the natives. Indeed, they appear to have opposed the only really formidable resistance to the invaders.


anticipate the effects of a disease by a premature, though glorious, death.

Thus fell the pride of Waterford, thus its power was lost; and from hence began the overthrow of the city, while the hopes of the English were raised and encouraged, and their enemies were struck with terror and despair. It was a thing unheard-of in those parts that so great a slaughter should be made by so small a band. But the English abused their good fortune by evil and detestable counsels and inhuman cruelty; for having gained the victory, they kept seventy of the principal townsmen prisoners in the camp, for whose ransom they might have obtained the city itself or an immense sum of money. Hervey de Montmaurice, who with three men-at-arms had joined them on their first landing, and Raymond, took opposite sides of the question during the deliberations.



RAYMOND, contending earnestly for the liberation of the prisoners, spoke thus: "Brave comrades, to enhance whose glory their fortune and courage seem to be enormous, let us now consider what is to be done with our captives. For my part, I see no reason for showing any favour to our enemies; but we must look on these citizens now, not as foes, but as men: they are not resisting, but vanquished, who have suffered adverse fortune while defending their country. Their enterprise was honourable, and they are not to be treated as thieves, insurgents, traitors, or freebooters. They are now in such a position that mercy ought rather to be shown them for example's sake, than cruelty to torture them. It is, indeed, a difficult thing, as was practised in old time, to moderate prosperity, when spirits are apt to be extravagant and unruly, by submission to some disagreeable occurrences. Let our clemency, therefore, procure for us the noble distinction that we who have conquered others can conquer our own fury and wrath. It is the part of temperance and moderation to check precipitate resolutions, and soothe angry passions. How worthy


is it of a great man, in the midst of his triumphs, to count it for sufficient revenge, that vengeance is in his power.

"Julius Caesar, for whose victories the world was not large enough, when in the possession of unbounded power, caused only one man, Domitius, to be put to death, and him he had before pardoned, when his life was at stake. How inhuman, how brutal is that cruelty, when mercy does not follow victory! It is the part of a brave man to consider those as his enemies with whom he is contending for victory, but to consider the vanquished as fellow-men; that while courage brings war to an end, humanity may add to the blessings of peace. Mercy is, therefore, much more worthy of a noble man than victory; the one is a virtue, the other the effect of fortune. Had these men fallen by our swords in battle, doubtless that would have augmented our success and added to our glory; but as they were made prisoners, their lives were granted, and they have been readmitted from the rank of our enemies to the common fellowship of men, it would be a great stain on our honour, and bring us to great disgrace, if we were now to inflict on them the punishment of death. Since, therefore, their execution will not give us possession of the country, their ransom, which will at once augment the resources of the troops, and be an example of virtue, must be thought preferable to their death. It is, indeed, the duty of a soldier, fighting in battle, with the helmet on his head, to thirst for blood, to give no quarter, to think of nothing but cutting down his enemy, and with more than brutal ferocity to be inexorable in all his acts; but when the tumult of battle is ended, and he has put oft his armour, his fierceness should also be laid aside, humanity should then take its place, pity actuate a noble mind, and gentle feelings revive".



RAYMOND having concluded his discourse, which was received by a murmur of applause from the people, Hervey stood up, and addressing the chiefs, thus began: "Raymond has discoursed to us very cleverly concerning mercy,


and perhaps has shewn us what is passing in his mind in well-set phrases; as if a foreign land was to be subdued by merciful deeds rather than by fire and sword. Was that the way by which Julius Caesar and Alexander of Macedon conquered the world? Did the nations voluntarily flock together from all parts to such spectacles of mercy, or were they not rather compelled to submit to the yoke by force of arms and the terrors of cruelty? While people are yet proud and rebellious, they must be subdued by all manner of means, without regard to feelings of pity; but when they have submitted, and are ready to obey, then they may be treated with all kindness, so that due order be taken for their government. In this case mercy may be shewn, in the other cruelty; in the one there is room for pity the other only admits of severity. Raymond argues with wonderful mildness, as if we had already subjugated these nations, and we had only to do with treating them kindly, or as if our enemies were so few, that, with such valour as ours, it matters not that we augment their numbers, whereas the whole population of Ireland are leagued for our destruction, and not without reason. He seems to me to be inconsistent, and contradicts himself. He comes here to conquer and subdue the people, and he reasons in favour of sparing them. What a specimen of false pity he exhibits when he persuades us to neglect our own safety, and to be moved to tenderness at the calamities of our enemies. Besides, we have already more enemies than guards in our camp; we are surrounded with perils on every side; is it not enough that we are exposed to them from without, and must we also have them within? Outside our trenches the enemy's host is innumerable, within there are numbers who plot our destruction.

What if it should happen that the prisoners should break their bonds, which are but weak, and suddenly seize our arms? The mouse is in the pouch, the fire in the home, the snake in the bosom; the foe in quarters where he is likely to shew small courtesy to his host. Tell me, I pray you, whether Raymond's acts are not inconsistent with his words. Let him answer me whether, if the enemy should advance to storm our camp, and by any chance should


succeed, they would deal mercifully with us? Would they allow the vanquished to purchase their lives? Would any ransom induce them to release the captives? But there is no need of multiplying words when the thing is plain. We must so employ oar victory that the death of these men may strike terror into others, and that, taking warning from their example, a wild and rebellious people may beware of encountering us again. Of two things, we must make choice of one: we must either resolutely accomplish what we have undertaken, and stifling all emotions of pity, utterly subjugate this rebellious nation by the strong hand and the power of our arms, or yielding to indulging in deeds of mercy, as Raymond proposes, set sail homewards, and leave both the country and patrimony to this miserable people".

Hervey's opinion was approved by his comrades, and the wretched captives, as men condemned, had their limbs broken, and were cast headlong into the sea, and drowned.



MEANWHILE earl Richard, having prepared all things necessary for so great an enterprise, took his journey to St David's along the coast of South Wales, [1] adding to his numbers picked youths from the districts through which he passed. When all was ready for the important voyage, he betook himself to the port of Milford, and embarking there with about two hundred men-at-arms, and other troops to the number of a thousand, sailed over to Waterford with a fair wind, and landed there on the tenth of the calends of September [the 23rd of August], being the eve of the feast of St. Bartholomew. On the morrow of the feast, being

[1] The earl, proceeding from his castles of Chepstow and Strigul to Milford Haven, would naturally take the road through Cardiff, Swansea, and Carmarthen, subsequently described in the Itinerary of Giraldus. He constantly calls it "the coast-road through South Wales"; and it is still described as such, the other road being through Abergavenny and Brecon.


Tuesday, they joined their forces to those of Raymond, whose banners were already displayed against the walls of the town, and advanced together to make the assault. But having been twice repulsed by the townsmen, and the rest who had escaped the slaughter at Dundunolf, Raymond, discovering a little house of timber standing upon a post, outside the wall, to which it also hung, loudly called on the assailants from all quarters to renew the assault, and sent men in armour to hew down the post. As soon as it was done, the house fell, and carried with it a great piece of the wall, and the assailants entering manfully through the breach, rushed into the town, and slaughtering the citizens in heaps along the streets, gained a very bloody victory. The two Sytaracs being taken in the tower called Reginald's tower, [1] were put to the sword, but Reginald and Machlachelin of Ophelan, being also taken prisoners in the same place, their lives were spared through the intervention of Dermitius, who just then came up with Maurice and Fitz-Stephen, as well as Raymond. A garrison was placed in the town, and the daughter of Dermitius, called Eva, having been then given to the earl by her father, and their marriage solemnized, according to, and in confirmation of, the treaty before made, [2] the whole army marched towards Dublin, with banners displayed.

[1] Reginald's Tower stood at an angle of the old city walls of Waterford, where it is still to be seen, in good preservation. The tower is round, and of rude but massive construction, and a curious relic of the architecture of the Ostmen or Norwegians, by whom it was built to defend their mercantile colony at Waterford. Reginald (Regnald), who was taken prisoner in it, was the chief magistrate, ruler, or king of that people in Waterford. The two Sytaracs (Sihtrics or Sygtre) appear from their names to have belonged to that hardy and enterprising race. They seem to have held out to the last in the tower, their principal stronghold.

[2] It is scarcely necessary to remark that the marriage of the earl Strongbow with Eva forms one of the subjects, illustrative of the national history, selected for fresco paintings on the walls of the new palace at Westminster.




DERMITIUS having received intelligence that the citizens of Dublin had summoned the people from all parts of Ireland to succour them in defending the place, and that all the roads through the woods and other difficult passes were beset with armed men, was careful to avoid his father's mischance, and leading his army by the ridges of the mountains of Glyndelachan (Glendahugh), [1] he conducted it in safety to the walls of the city. Dermitius had a mortal hatred for the citizens of Dublin, and not without reason; for they had murdered his father, while sitting in the hall of the house of one of the chief men, which he used for his court of justice; and they added insult to the foul deed by burying his corpse with a dog.

Now, however, on their sending envoys to Dermitius, and through the powerful mediation of Laurence, of blessed memory, who was at that time archbishop of Dublin, [2] a

[1] See the Topography, Distinct, ii. c. 28. There appears to have been good strategical reasons for approaching Dublin through the mountainous districts of Wexford and Wicklow, debouching in the valley of Glendalough; as Dermot thereby not only kept within his own territories, but outflanked the hostile septs of Ossory and Meath, who, combined with the powerful tribes in the west of Ireland, might have disputed his passage through the country of woods and bogs which lay in his direct road.

[2] Laurence O'Toole, archbishop of Dublin, 1162-1180, was son of Maurice O'Toole, petty prince of Smaly. He was educated at Glendalough, which lay in his father's territories, and frequently in after-life retired to its sacred recesses. When Dublin was first threatened by foreign invaders, he interposed his mediation between the citizens and Dermot, considering him probably as their paramount prince, though the Ostmen of Dublin were in some degree independent. But his patriotic zeal afterwards induced him to join the league of the native princes against the rising power of the Anglo or Cambro-Normans, and even to head one body of the forces which laid siege to Dublin. Finding, however, that resistance to the English power was hopeless, and perhaps hoping that the reform and advancement of the church, to which Henry waa pledged, would be carried into effect, he submitted to the English king. Notwithstanding this, we find in the sequel of the History (B. ii. c. 23), that his patriotic conduct at the council of Lateran, towards the close of his life, gave umbrage to Henry, and that in consequence he found a grave in a foreign land.


truce was agreed upon, during which the terms of a treaty of peace might be settled. Notwithstanding this, Raymond on one side of the city, and on the other a brave soldier, whose name was Milo de Cogan, (of whom we shall speak further in the 21st chapter), rushed to the walls with bands of youths, eager for the fight, and greedy of plunder, and making a resolute assault, got possession of the place after a great slaughter of the citizens. The better part of them, however, under their king Hasculf, [1] embarked in ships and boats with their most valuable effects, and sailed to the northern islands. [2]

On the same day two great miracles occurred in the city. One was that the crucifix which the citizens struggled hard to carry away with them to the islands remained immoveably fixed; the other, that of the penny offered before it having twice leapt back; both of which are related in my Topography. [3]

[1] Giraldus has informed us in his Topography (Distinct, iii. c. 43), that the Ostmen, who were Danes and Norwegians, but principally the latter, founded colonies in Dublin, Waterford, and other places, on the coast of Ireland, including Limerick and Cork, ostensibly for the purpose of trade, but that they soon surrounded their towns with strong fortifications, and became formidable to the native princes. We also find from various indications in our author, and from other sources, that their numbers were very considerable, and that they formed, as in England, separate communities under their own laws, and kings of their own race, of whom there are records of a succession during three centuries from Anlaf or Olaf, the first king of Dublin mentioned by Giraldus, to Ansculf or Asgal, whom we here find opposing the English, and in Waterford from Sihtric, who was contemporary with Anlaf, to Reginald or Regnald, who is referred to in a preceding chapter. These Scandinavian kings in Ireland, particularly those of Dublin, gradually extended their power, not only by their arms, taking advantage of the intestine divisions of the Irish princes, but by forming alliances and intermarriages with them.

[2] All the islands on the north and west of Scotland, and as far south as the Isle of Man, were at this time occupied by Norwegian colonies, with which their countrymen in Ireland had frequent communications, both political and commercial. It was therefore perfectly natural that Asgal and his people, when driven out by the united forces of Dermot and the English, should take refuge in the Isles, and obtaining reinforcements, return thence with the powerful armament by which they endeavoured to regain their ascendancy in Dublin; as we find in chap. 21.

[3] Distinct, ii. cc. 45, 46.


The earl then, having spent a few days in settling order in the city, left Milo de Cogan there as constable, and at the instigation of Mac Murchard, who had not forgotten an ancient feud with O'Roric, king of Meath, made a hostile irruption into the territories of that prince, and the whole of Meath was plundered and laid waste with fire and sword.

Roderic, king of Connaught, perceiving that he was in jeopardy, "when his neighbour's house was on fire", sent envoys to Dermitius, with this message: "Contrary to the conditions of our treaty of peace, you have invited a host of foreigners into this island, and yet, as long as you kept within the bounds of Leinster, we bore it patiently. But now, forasmuch as, regardless of your solemn oaths, and having no concern for the fate of the hostage you gave, you have broken the bounds agreed on, and insolently crossed the frontiers of your own territory; either restrain in future the irruptions of your foreign bands, or I will certainly have your son's head cut off, and send it to you". Dermitius, having received this message, made an arrogant reply, adding also that he would not desist from the enterprise he had undertaken, until he had reduced Connaught to subjection, which he claimed as his ancient inheritance, and obtained with it the monarchy of the whole of Ireland. Roderic was so indignant at this reply, that he caused the son of Dermitius, who had been delivered to him for an hostage (as mentioned before, chap. 10), to be put to death,



AFTER these events, a synod of all the clergy of Ireland was convoked at Armagh, in which the arrival of the foreigners in the island was the subject of long debates and much deliberation. At length it was unanimously resolved, that it appeared to the synod that the Divine vengeance had brought upon them this severe judgment for the sins of the people, and especially for this, that they had long been wont to purchase natives of England as well from traders as from


robbers and pirates, and reduce them to slavery; and that now they also, by reciprocal justice, were reduced to servitude by that very nation. [1] For it was the common practice of the Anglo-Saxon people, while their kingdom was entire, to sell their children, and they used to send their own sons and kinsmen for sale in Ireland, at a time when they were not suffering from poverty or famine. Hence it might well be believed that by so enormous a sin the buyers had justly merited to undergo the yoke of servitude, as the sellers had done in former times. It was therefore decreed by the before-mentioned synod, and proclaimed publicly by universal accord, that all Englishmen throughout the island who were in a state of bondage should be restored to freedom.



REPORTS having been spread abroad of these events, which were much exaggerated, and the earl having made himself master not only of Leinster, but of other territories to which he had no just claims in right of his wife, the king of England made a proclamation that in future no ship sailing from any part of his dominions should carry any thing to Ireland, and that all his subjects who had been at any time conveyed there should return before the ensuing Easter, on pain of forfeiting all their lands, and being banished from the kingdom for ever.

The earl finding himself in great straits, and that his followers were much cast down at the loss of reinforcements and the want of necessary supplies, after consulting his friends, dispatched Raymond to the king, who was then in the most distant parts of Aquitaine, with the following

[1] The existence of a considerable slave-trade among the Anglo-Saxons is a well-known fact. According to William of Malmsbury, book iii., c. 1, Bristol was a great mart for this trade, from whence, no doubt, the unfortunate victims were transported to Ireland; but the traffic was considerably diminished, if not suppressed, by the zealous exertions of Wulstan, bishop of Worcester, who died A.D. 1095. Yet, according to this statement of Giraldus, it must have continued after that time.


letter: "My lord and king, It was with your licence, as I understood, that I came over to Ireland for the purpose of aiding your faithful vassal Dermitius in the recovery of his territories. Whatever lands, therefore, I have had the good fortune to acquire in this country, either in right of his patrimony, or from any other person, I consider to be owing to your gracious favour, and I shall hold them at your free disposal".



RAYMOND pursuing his journey and having arrived at court with the earl's letter, the king received him with great coldness, and being as usual much occupied with business, deferred his reply.

About that time, Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, in England, perished by the hands of impious men, to the dismay of the great men of the realm, both lay and clerical; after having undergone the sufferings of banishment for nearly seven years in much grief, wearing sackcloth on every part of his body, and giving himself up to reading and prayer, besides, the most severe of all afflictions, a grievous proscription which spared no one, of whatever age or sex, his martyrdom at last filled up the measure of his sufferings and glory. He himself threw open the doors of the sanctuary to his furious enemies, and meeting boldly their drawn swords, bowed his consecrated head to their violence. This took place in the mother and metropolitan church, and before the altar. There he received four wounds on the crown of his head, the shaven crown which used to be regarded as a token of the protection due to the clergy, inflicted by four brutal retainers of the court, with more than brutal rage. [1] The illustrious soldier and martyr of Christ was thus distinguished by intrepidly suffering in that part of the body which betokened Christ's sufferings during his passion, and exchanged a corruptible for an incorruptible crown. He also hallowed the holy week of Christmas by

[1] A quatuor aulicis canibus, rabie plusquam canina furentibus.


then shedding his blood; and as the fifth day before Christmas is consecrated to the memory of the first Thomas, so the second Thomas shed glory on the fifth day after Christmas. [1] The one was the light of the East, the other of the West; one illuminated the infant church, the other the church of the latter days; and as the one cemented the foundations of the rising church with his blood, so the other, by shedding his blood, renewed the primitive virtues, and restored the edifice which in the lapse of so many ages had fallen to decay by the injuries of time, and the violence of the storms to which it had been exposed. The first Thomas was actuated by an ardent faith, the second was more than fervent when faith was now growing old. The one submitted to cruel torments while erecting the frame of the church, the other did not shrink from meeting death in order to preserve that frame uninjured. His triumphant claims to such glory are well summed up in the two following verses:

Pro Christ! sponsa, Christ! sub tempore, Christi
In templo Christi verus amator obit.

In Christ church, and at Christmas tide,
For Christ's spouse, Christ's true servant died.

Among his numerous miracles, there was one which was very memorable, and is well worthy of being mentioned; namely, the marvellous way in which he restored organs which had been actually lost; for by this novel kind of miracle it plainly appeared that he was a new martyr. Hence some one has said,

Miratur rediisse virum neutratus, ocelli
Succedunt oculis, albus hic, ille niger.

In order that no caviller might object that they were the same eyes which the sufferer had before, and to shew that they were not merely injured but actually plucked out, the new organs of sight were smaller and of a different colour, and had the power of seeing not only in the light of day, but in the dark.

This grain of wheat falling on the ground produced an

[1] The feast of St. Thomas, the apostle, is held on the 21st December, and that of St. Thomas a Becket on the 29th December.


abundant harvest. St. Thomas was cut off in the forty-eighth year of his age, the eighth of his consecration, and the seventh of his exile; finishing his course happily towards the close of December, and thus ending his life with the year, and entering on a new life in the year of our Lord 1171, when Alexander was pope of Rome, Frederick was emperor, and Louis, king of France. Hence some one says:

Annus millenus centenus septuagenus
Primus erat, primas quo ruit ense Thomas.

"In the year one thousand one hundred and seventy-one, the primate Thomas fell by the sword".

Meanwhile, when the winter was passed, Dermitius mac Murchard died at Ferns, full of years, on the calends (the first) of May.



AT this time, about the feast of Whitsuntide, Hasculf, who had been king of Dublin, sailed into the Liffy with sixty ships full of Norwegians and men of the isles, [1] and burning with revenge for his former discomfiture. Landing from their ships, in all haste, they sat down before the east gate of the city, prepared to assault it. They were under the command of John the Woode, or John the Mad, for such is the signification of the word, and were all warriors, armed in the Danish fashion, some having long breast-plates, and others shirts of mail; their shields were round, and coloured red, [2] and were bound about with iron. They were iron-hearted as well as iron-armed men. Milo de Cogan, [3] who was then governor of the city, with

[1] See note 3, c. xvii.

[2] We find in Ordericus Vitalis (B. x. c. 7), that when the expedition of Magnus, king of Norway, appeared off the Welsh coast in the eleventh century, a red shield was hoisted at the mast-head of the admiral's ship. Red was not only the national colour of the Scandinavian nations, but of the kindred Anglo-Norman race, and so continues to the present day, both in Denmark and England.

[3] Milo de Cogan, who is afterwards (B. ii. c. 10) called Milo of St. David's, was one of the most distinguished men engaged in the conquest of Ireland, exhibiting great prudence as well as bravery, and filling important offices. We find that he married a daughter of Robert Fitz-Stephen, and there is no doubt of his having been a Welshman, and he was probably connected by blood with the other adventurers. Perhaps Cogan is the same name as Gwgan or Wogan, belonging to a family of high standing in Pembrokeshire, where they were lords of Wilton, and who also acquired great eminence in Ireland. The conjecture is confirmed by finding that Sir John Wogan, who was chief justice there in the time of Edward I., founded a chauntry in the cathedral of St. David's.


his natural intrepidity boldly dared to march out to attack them, though his force was unequal to theirs. But not being able with inferior numbers to withstand the enemy's attack, he was compelled to retreat inside the gate, after losing some of his men, one of whom had his leg cut off by a single stroke of a battle axe, though it was cased in iron armour on both sides. At length, Richard de Cogan, Milo's brother, sallying unobserved from the east postern at the head of a small body of troops, fell on the enemy's rear with loud shouts; by which unexpected and sudden attack they were thrown into confusion, having to face their assailants both behind and before, and, such is the doubtful fortune of war, were quickly routed and took to flight.

They were nearly all put to the sword, and among them John the Mad, who was captured and slain by the aid of Walter de Ridenesford and some others. Hasculf fell into their hands while seeking to make his escape over the strand to his ships; and, to do more honour to the victory, he was brought back in triumph to the city of which he had been the ruler not long before. He was therefore reserved for ransom; but being brought before Milo de Cogan, was imprudent enough to vent his indignation before the crowded court in these words: "We are come now", he said, "with a small band, but this is only the commencement of our enterprise; and if life be spared me, it will soon be followed by much more formidable attempts". Upon hearing this, Milo ordered him to be beheaded: for on the tongue resteth life and death, and God humbleth the proud. It is an ill remedy for trouble to vent grief in such a manner as to


aggravate it. Thus, Hasculf, whose life had been pardoned, lost it for an arrogant speech.



AFTER this, the Irish finding that the resources of the earl were failing both by the loss of men and scarcity of victuals, with which the island had hitherto been plentifully supplied from England, the princes assembling their forces from all quarters, laid siege to Dublin, at the head of nearly all the people of Ireland. They were moved to this, as it is reported, by the patriotic zeal of Laurence, archbishop of Dublin, who joined with Roderic, king of Connaught, in sending letters to Gottred, prince of Man, [1] and to other lords of the isles, inviting them to blockade the city on the sea-side; for which good reasons were assigned, and ample pay was promised. These princes were more ready to engage in this enterprise, from the alarm they felt that the successes of the English were putting their own independence in danger, and they therefore lost no time in sailing with a favourable wind from the east, in about thirty ships full of men trained to war, and speedily entered the port of Avenliffy. [2]

The earl and his followers had now been confined within the walls of the city for nearly two months, and having received no supplies of food, either by land or sea, were in great want of provisions. And as evil seldom comes alone, and one misfortune is heaped upon another, just then,

[1] In 1077, Godred (Gudrod), a Norwegian, conquered the Isle of Man, and the other Sudreyjar islands, which were tributary to the crown of Norway, as well as Dublin and great part of Leinster. This occasioned the expeditions of king Magnus Barfod and his son Sigurd, related in the Chronicles and Sagas. Godred was deposed, but afterwards regained the Manx throne, and his successors reigned there till the time of Magnus, the last of his descendants, and the last Norwegian king of Man. The reigning king of this race, probably Godred Olaveson, very naturally came to the aid of his countrymen in Dublin on this occasion.

[1] The mouth of the Liffy in fact, the bay of Dublin.


lo! Duvenald, [1] son of Dermitius, arrived from Kinsale, bringing intelligence that Fitz-Stephen, with a small force, was beleaguered in his camp at Carrig by the townsmen of Wexford, joined by the men of Kinsale, to the number of about three thousand; and that unless they were succoured by a strong body of troops within three days, they must surrender at discretion.

At that time there were with the earl, besieged within the walls of Dublin, Fitzgerald, Maurice, and Raymond, who was just returned from court, all of whom were greatly troubled at the position in which not only themselves, but their friends, were placed. Maurice, especially, much as he was concerned on his own account, was still more anxious for his excellent brother, Robert Fitz-Stephen and his wife and children, who, surrounded by the enemy, were in a very ill-fortified hold, constructed of only turf and stakes. He therefore rose and thus addressed the earl and the other chief commanders.



"WE did not come into this remote part of the world for our pleasure, and to enjoy repose, but to try our fortunes and prove our valour at the risk of our lives. For awhile we were in the ascendant, but now the wheel is turned, and we are in a low estate. Such is the mutability of human affairs, that prosperity is always chequered by adverse circumstances. After the day comes night, and when the night is spent the day returns again. We, whose triumphs had gained us such abundance of everything that a successful fortune could bestow, are now beleaguered by the enemy on all sides, both by sea and land, and our provisions have failed. We get no supplies by sea, which is commanded by the enemy's fleet. Fitz-Stephen, likewise, whose valour and noble enterprise opened to us the way into this island, is

[1] O'Donnell? A natural son of Dermot mac Morrough, as we may suppose, from his daughter Eva having conveyed the inheritance of his territories to earl Strongbow.


shut up in a sorry fortress, which is strictly watched by a hostile people. What then do we look for? Is it succour from our own country that we expect? Nay, such is our lot, that what the Irish are to the English, we too, being now considered as Irish, are the same. The one island does not hold us in greater detestation than the other. Away then with hesitation and cowardice, and let us boldly attack the enemy, while our short stock of provisions yet supplies us with sufficient strength. Fortune helps the brave, and a well-armed though scanty force, inured to war, and animated by the recollection of former triumphs, may yet crush this rude and disorderly rabble".

Talia voce refert, curisque ingentibus aeger,
Spem simulat vultu, premit alto corde dolorem.

Maurice having finished his speech, Raymond, who shared his anxiety and distress, delivered his opinion to the same effect; and all joined in approving it. He also added that they ought first to attack the king of Connaught, as the chief and greatest of their enemies; for having defeated him, they would have little difficulty in dealing with the other armies.



THEREUPON the brave youths flew to arms, and their small force, having been divided into three troops, they immediately arranged themselves in separate divisions. In the first was Raymond, with twenty men-at-arms; in the centre, Milo, with thirty; in the third and last were the earl and Maurice with forty. Some horse-soldiers and a few citizens were joined to each division, and besides these a small number were left to guard the walls. After some contention whether the governor of the city or the commander of the troops was entitled to lead in the first battle, they issued forth from the gates about an hour after nones, and this small band fell boldly on the enemy's army of thirty thousand men, taking them by surprise, and off


their guard, for they expected no attack at that time, in consequence of some skirmishes having taken place in the morning of the same day. Raymond, ever first among the foremost, threw himself on the enemy long before the rest came up, and pierced two of them through with his lance. Meyler also, and the two sons of Fitz-Maurice, Gerald and Alexander, although they were stationed in the last troop, suddenly rushed to the front, prompted by their innate valour, and being rapidly followed by others distinguished for their bravery and skill in arms, made great slaughter of the enemy. Numbers having been slain, and the whole army put to the rout, Roderic himself, who was bathing, having escaped with difficulty, they pursued the vanquished fugitives, putting them to the sword, until the evening. Then at length they returned in triumph to the city, driving before them cars full of provisions, and loaded with arms and other booty. The other troops immediately dispersed, as well those of the archbishop, who were posted on the south side of the city, as all the forces of Leinster, namely, those of Machelonus (Mac Lachlin), Machaleney (Mac Elwyn), Gillemolmoc, and Othnethel, and others also who were equally dismayed, save only the men of Kinsale and Wexford. Likewise O'Roric of Meath, O' Carvel of Uriel, and Mac Saline of Ochadese, who were posted on the north side, with a vast multitude, broke up their camps. On the morrow, the English, leaving a garrison in the city, unfurled their standards, and, flushed with victory, marched by the upper road through Odrone towards Wexford.



MEANWHILE, as fortune is continually changing, and success always attended by some adverse event, the men of Wexford and Kinsale, to the number of about three thousand, regardless of their oaths and the faith they had pledged, marched against Fitz-Stephen, and taking him unawares, when he apprehended nothing of the kind, and had only a few men-at-arms and archers to defend his fort,


they harassed him with incessant attacks. But finding that ail their efforts were fruitless, for his men, though few, were at all times ready to stand on their guard, and one particularly, whose name was William Not, much distinguished himself by his brilliant courage in this defence, they had recourse to their usual falsehood and cunning. Bringing with them to the entrenchments the bishops of Wexford and Kildare, and other ecclesiastics, in their sacred vestments, they took solemn oaths on the holy relics that Dublin was taken, and that the earl, with Maurice and Raymond, and all the English were slain; also, that the king of Connaught and his army, with the Leinster troops, were on their march, and drawing near to Wexford. They also asserted that what they proposed was for the advantage of Fitz-Stephen; for as he had treated them like a courteous and liberal prince, they wished to send him and his followers back to Wales in safety, before the arrival of the vast army which was incensed against him. At length, Fitz-Stephen gave credit to their assertions, and committed himself and his people to their pledged faith. Whereupon they suddenly fell upon the English, and killing some of them, and cruelly beating and wounding others, threw them into dungeons. A true report, however, being soon received that the siege of Dublin was raised, and that the earl was near at hand, the traitors set fire to the town with their own hands, and crossed in boats to the island of Begeri, also called the Holy Isle, which lies at the mouth of the harbour, taking with them the captives and all their effects.



O EXCELLENT man, the true pattern of singular courage, and unparalleled enterprise, whose lot it was to be obnoxious to fickle fortune, and suffer adversity with few intervals of prosperity! O, worthy man, who both in Ireland and in Wales experienced so many changes of fortune, and bore them all with equanimity.

Quae pejor fortuna potest, atque omnibus usuin,
Quae melior.


O, Fitz-Stephen! Thou wert indeed another Marius; for if you consider his prosperity, no one was more fortunate; if you consider his misfortunes, he was of all men most miserable. Robert Fitz-Stephen was stout in person, with a handsome countenance, and in stature somewhat above the middle height; he was bountiful, generous, and pleasant, but too fond of wine and women.

Meanwhile, as the earl was on his march towards Wexford, the Leinster forces encountered him near Odrone, [1] at a spot which opposed natural obstacles to his passage, and which was besides strongly fortified by a number of trees being felled across it. Here then was a sharp engagement, but the earl forced his way through to the open country, with the loss of only one of his followers; Meyler distinguishing himself with his usual bravery.



As to the earl's portrait, his complexion was somewhat ruddy, and his skin freckled; he had grey eyes, feminine features, a weak voice, and short neck. For the rest, he was tall in stature, and a man of great generosity, and of courteous manner. What he failed of accomplishing by force, he succeeded in by gentle words. In time of peace he was more disposed to be led by others than to command. Out of the camp he had more the air of an ordinary man-at-arms, than of a general-in-chief; but in action the mere soldier was forgotten in the commander. With the advice of those about him he was ready to dare anything; but he never ordered any attack relying on his own judgment, or rashly presuming on his personal courage. The post he occupied in battle was a sure rallying point for his troops. His equanimity and firmness in all the vicissitudes of war were remarkable, being neither driven to despair in adversity, nor puffed up by success.

[1] Odrone is a barony in the neighbourhood of Leighlin, in the county of Carlow. It was the inheritance of the Carews, descended from the eldest son of Gerald and Nesta.




THE earl, continuing his march without loss of time, descended into the low country about Wexford, where he was met by envoys, who announced to him the calamity which had befallen Fitz-Stephen, and the burning of the town. They also conveyed to him a message from the traitors, that it was their firm resolution to cut off the prisoners' heads, and send them to him, if he should venture to advance against them. On receiving this intelligence, they wheeled to the right, in great bitterness of spirit, and took the road to Waterford, where they found Hervey just returned from executing his commission to the king of England, and bringing letters, inviting the earl to come over to England, which were seconded by a verbal message.

Accordingly the earl took shipping as soon as the wind was favourable, and, crossing the sea, met the king at Newnham, near Gloucester, where he was making preparations to pass over to Ireland, with a large army. While there, after much altercation, he succeeded at last, by the address and mediation of Hervey, in appeasing the royal displeasure, upon the terms that he should renew his oath of fealty to the king, and surrender to him Dublin, the capital of the kingdom, and the adjacent cantreds, with the towns on the sea coast, and all the fortresses; holding the rest of his conquests to him and his heirs of the king and his heirs. This matter being thus settled, the king proceeded on his march towards St. David's, by the road along the coast, and coming to Pembroke, quickly assembled a splendid fleet in the port of Milford.



IN the meantime, O'Roric, the one-eyed king of Meuth, taking advantage of the absence of the earl, and of


Raymond, who remained at Waterford, advanced to Dublin about the calends (the 1st) of September, with a great host of men. Finding a very small garrison in the place, though they were brave soldiers, he instantly made an assault on the walls and trenches with great fury and loud shouts. But as valour breaks through all bounds, and stifled fire will burst into flame, Milo de Cogan and his troops, suddenly sallying forth, made such slaughter of the enemy that they were speedily routed, O'Roric's son, a gallant youth, with a vast number of others, being slain.

While the king of England lay at Pembroke, he threatened with his severest indignation the princes and lords of South Wales, for having allowed earl Richard to take his passage from thence to Ireland; but at last the storm subsided on their allowing him to place royal garrisons in all their castles; and though the mutterings of the thunder were loud, the deadly bolt did not fall. It occurred at this time that while the king was amusing himself in the country with the sport of hawking, he chanced to espy a noble falcon perched on a crag, [1] and making a circuit round the rocks, he let loose upon it a large high-bred Norway hawk, which he carried on his left wrist. The falcon, though its flight was at first slower than the other bird's, having at last mounted above it, became in turn the assailant, and pouncing from aloft with great fury on the hawk, and striking it on the breast with her talons, laid it dead at the king's feet. From that time the king used to send every year in the proper season for the young falcons which are bred in the cliffs on the coast of South Wales; for in all his land he could not find better or more noble hawks.

[1] Fuller in his "Worthies", quoting this anecdote, says: "There is a very good breed in this county, of that kind of falcon they call peregrine, which name bespeaks them to be no indigenae, but foreigners, at first alighting here by some casualty"; and he says that the king's hawk was a Norway goss-hawk. The cliffs on the Pembrokeshire coast and the neighbouring rocky islands still abound with eyesses of several species of hawk.




THE preparations for his great enterprise detaining the king for some time in the district of Menevia, [1] he went to the church of St. David's, and having paid his devotions with all due solemnity, when the weather was fair and wind favourable, embarked his troops, [2] consisting of as many as five hundred men-at-arms, and a large body of horsemen and archers; and crossing the sea, arrived at Waterford about the fifteenth of the calends of November (the 18th of October), being St. Luke's day. The valiant king landed in Ireland therefore in the seventeenth year of his reign, and the forty-first year of his age, being the year of our Lord 1172; when Alexander III. was pope, Frederic emperor, and Louis king of France.



WHILE the king was resting a few days at Waterford, [3] the men of Wexford, to court his favour, brought to him in fetters their prisoner Fitz-Stephen, excusing themselves because he had been the first to invade Ireland without tne royal licence, and had set others a bad example. The king having loudly rated him, and threatened him with his indignation for his rash enterprise, at last sent him back loaded with fetters, and chained to another prisoner, to be kept in safe custody in Reginald's Tower.

[1] Menevia is the ancient name of the see of St. David's, and included all the western part of South Wales.

[2] Hoveden informs us that king Henry's fleet contained four hundred large ships laden with warriors, horses, arms, and provisions. He landed at the Carrig as he had done before.

[3] Hoveden states that the king stayed at Waterford fifteen days, and that he found there William Fitz-Aldelm, his seneschal, and Robert Fitz-Bernard, with some other persons of his household, whom, he had sent before him from England.


Soon afterwards, Dermitius, king of Cork, came of his own free will and made his submission to the king of England, doing homage and swearing fealty to him as his lord, and giving hostages for the regular payment of a yearly tribute. The king of England then moved his army, and coming first to Lismore, halted there for two days; and thence he marched to Cashel on the morrow. There Duvenald, king of Limerick, came to meet him at the water of Suir, and having asked for peace, which was granted, became also tributary to the king of England, and did him fealty, which he promised faithfully to observe. The king also appointed his own governors and officers in Cork and Limerick.

Even Duvenald, prince of Ossory, Mac Lachelin, prince of Ophelan, and others, in the south of Ireland, who, although not princes, were men of consequence in their respective nations, also made their voluntary submission; [1] and the king having sent them back into their own country with honour and liberal gifts, returned to Waterford, through Tybrach. While there, Fitz-Stephen was again brought before him, and being touched with compassion for a brave man who had been so often exposed to such great perils, and pitying his case, at the intercession of some persons of rank about his court, he heartily forgave and pardoned him, and freely restored him to his former state and liberty, reserving to himself only the town of Wexford with the lands adjoining.



AFTER these occurrences, the king, leaving Robert Fitz-Bernard with a garrison at Waterford, moved his army towards Dublin, through Ossory. Making some stay on the road, the chief men of those parts came and swore fealty and allegiance to him, obtaining from the merciful king as

[1] Among these we may include, on the authority of Hoveden, Reginald (or Regnald), the chief of the Ostmen in Waterford, mentioned before in c. xvi.


surance of peace and favour. Among these were Machelan of Ophelan, Mac Talewy, Othwetel, Grillemoholmoch, O'Eadhese, O'Carvel of Uriel, and O'Roric of Meath. But Roderic of Connaught only met the king's messengers, Hugh De Lacy and William Fitz-Aldelm, at the water of Shannon, which divides Meath from Connaught. He also sued for peace, and acknowledging the king of England as his supreme lord, became tributary to him, and bound himself by the most solemn oatbs of alliance and fealty. [1] Thus did all the princes of Ireland, except those of Ulster, severally make their submission for themselves; and thus, also, in the person of Roderic, prince of Connaught, and the titular head of the Irish and monarch of the whole island, they all became vassals to the king of England. Indeed, there was scarcely any one of name or rank in the island, who did not, either in person or otherwise, pay to the king's majesty the homage due from a liege-man to his lord.

Then was fulfilled that ancient and well-known prophecy of Merlinus Ambrosius (I do not vouch for its authenticity): "The sixth shall overthrow the walls of Ireland"; and another prediction of the same prophet: "The five portions shall be reduced to one".

The feast of Christmas drawing near, very many of the princes of the land repaired to Dublin to visit the king's court, and were much astonished at the sumptuousness of his entertainments and the splendour of his household; and

[1] We find Roderic O'Connor, king of Connaught, again in arm against the English, taking advantage of the defeat of the Ostmen of Dublin, related in B. ii. c. 3. Roger de Hoveden has, however, preserved the record of a transaction unnoticed by Giraldus, which may be considered as a record of the ultimate submission of this powerful and turbulent Irish prince. It purports to be a treaty made between Henry II. and Roderic, king of Connaught, by his envoys, at Windsor, in 1175, whereby the king of England grants to Roderic the kingdom of Connaught, to hold under fealty and payment of an annual tribute of one skin for every ten animals slaughtered, "such as may be approved by dealers". This instrument reserves to king Henry all Meath, with Dublin, Waterford, and other places in Leinster, in which it does not appear that Roderic of Connaught could have possessed any interest, unless, on the death of Dermot Mac Morrough, he had, as the paramount Irish king, in some way succeeded to Mac Morrough's rights in Leinster. See Hoveden, vol. i. p. 402. Antiq. Lib.


having places assigned them at the tables in the hall, [1] by the king's command, they learnt to eat cranes which were served up, a food they before loathed. It was at this time that the archers laid violent hands on the trees planted by the hands of the saints in old times round the cemetery at Finglass, and were carried off by a new sort of pestilence, as I have related in my Topography. [2]



THE king having now silenced all opposition by his presence, and the island enjoying peace and tranquillity, he was the more inflamed with zeal to advance the honour of the church of God and the Christian religion in those parts, for which purpose be convoked a synod of the clergy of the whole of Ireland at Cashel. At this synod enquiry was publicly made into the enormous offences and foul lives of the people of that land; which having been recounted and carefully reduced to writing under the seal of the bishop of Lismore, who, as the Pope's legate, presided at the synod, many godly constitutions, which are yet extant, were made with regard to contracting marriages, the payment of tithes, the reverence due to churches, and the duty of frequenting them. These constitutions the king promulgated, being very desirous of bringing the church of Ireland in all respects into conformity with the English church; and I have considered it not out of place to insert them here, verbatim, as they were published.



IN the year of our Lord 1172, being the first year in which the most illustrious Henry, king of England and conqueror

[1] It is said that the king received the homage of the Irish princes in a hall constructed of wicker work, after the fashion of the country. Hoveden says that it was a royal palace constructed for the occasion, with wonderful skill, of peeled osiers. Henry remained in Dublin from the feast of St. Martin, 11th November, to the beginning of Lent.

[2] See the Topog., D. ii. c. 54.


of Ireland, obtained the dominion of that island; Christian, bishop of Lismore and legate of the apostolical see, Donatus, archbishop of Cashel, Laurence, archbishop of Dublin, and Catholicus, archbishop of Tuam, with their suffragans and fellow-bishops, together with the abbots, archdeacons, priors, and deans, and many other Irish prelates, assembled by the conqueror's command at the city of Cashel, and there held a synod concerning the well-being of the Church and the reformation thereof.

At this synod were present, on the king's behalf, the venerable Ralph, abbot of Buildewas, Ralph, archdeacon of Llandaff, Nicholas the chaplain, and other clerks, having the commission of our lord the king. The decrees of the synod were subscribed by the prelates, and confirmed by the royal authority; as follows.

First. It is decreed that all the faithful throughout Ireland shall eschew concubinage with their cousins and kinsfolk, and contract and adhere to lawful marriages.

Second. That children be catechised outside the church doors, and infants baptized at the consecrated fonts in the baptisteries of the churches.

Third. That all good Christians do pay the tithes of beasts, corn, and other produce, to the church of the parish in which they live.

Fourth. That all the lands and possessions of the church be entirely free from all exactions of secular men; and especially, that neither the petty kings (reguli), nor earls, or other great men in Ireland, nor their sons, nor any of their household, shall exact provisions and lodgings on any ecclesiastical territories, as the custom is, nor under any pretence presume to extort them by violent means; and that the detestable practice of extorting a loaf four times a year from the vills belonging to the churches, by neighbouring lords, shall henceforth be utterly abolished.

Fifth. That in the case of a homicide committed by laics, when it is compounded for by the adverse parties, none of the clergy, though of kindred to the perpetrators of the crime, shall contribute anything; that, as they were free from the guilt of the homicide, so they shall be also exonerated from any payment in satisfaction for it.

Sixth. That every good Christian, being sick and weak,


shall solemnly make his last will and testament in the presence of his confessor and neighbours, and that, if he have any wife and children, all his moveable goods (his debts and servants' wages being first paid) shall be divided into three parts, one of which he shall bequeath to his children, another to his lawful wife, and the third to such uses as he shall declare. And if it shall happen that there be no lawful child or children, then his goods shall be equally divided between his wife and legatees. And if his wife die before him, then his goods shall be divided into two parts, of which the children shall take one, and his residuary legatees the other.

Seventh. That those who depart this life after a good confession shall be buried with masses and vigils and all due ceremonies.

Finally. That divine offices shall be henceforth celebrated in every part of Ireland according to the forms and usages of the church of England. For it is right and just that, as by divine Providence Ireland has received her lord and king from England, she should also submit to a reformation from the same source. Indeed both the realm and church of Ireland are indebted to this mighty king for whatever they enjoy of the blessings of peace and the growth of religion; as before his coming to Ireland all sorts of wickedness had prevailed among this people for a long series of years, which now, by his authority and care of the administration, are abolished.

The primate of Armagh was not present at this synod by reason of his infirmities and advanced age, but he afterwards came to Dublin and gave his assent to the royal will in all these matters. This holy man, as he was commonly esteemed, had a white cow, and took no other nourishment than this cow's milk, and therefore wherever he went she was taken with him.



THE winds raged so furiously, the sea was so rough, and storms succeeded each other with so much violence, that


during the whole winter scarcely a single ship made her passage over to the island, and no intelligence could in any way be obtained from England. Wherefore all men began to think that the wrath of God was impending over them for the sins of which they were guilty.

About the same time the sands were washed away on the coast of South Wales by the extraordinary violence of the prevailing storms, and the surface of the dry land, which had been for many long years covered by the waves, was laid bare to view. [1] Trunks of trees also appeared from place to place standing erect in the bed of the sea, and bearing on them the marks of the axe, as if they had been cut but yesterday. The soil was also very black, and the

[1] There can be no doubt that, at some remote period, though beyond the reach of any records, a vast tract of low ground extended round the coast of Pembrokeshire and the adjoining counties, washed by the Severn sea. The great storms of the memorable winter of 1172 again laid bars some parts of the coast in Pembrokeshire, and disclosed objects which are here faithfully described by Giraldus. He repeats this account in his Itinerary, B. i. c. 13, connecting it with his observations in crossing Newgill sands, near St. David's. But it equally applies to those of Ear-weare, near Tenby, which he must have known quite as well, as they lie within ten miles of Manorbeer, the place of his birth. Here there was a great forest, called Coed-Traeth, the wood on the strand, or beach, some remains of which still clothe the valleys which open out on the shore, at the verge of the buried tract. In both instances the stools and roots of trees are seen in their natural position, the trunks having been broken short off, and imbedded with their branches and leaves. Many of them are of large girth; and we have discovered many sorts, such as oak, elm, alder, and sallow, which, as Giraldus states, bear the marks of the axe. The wood is not only, as he says, black as ebony, but some of it is still so sound that it is converted into gate-posts. The strand is still below high-water mark; but when the tide is out, the black earth here mentioned, consisting of decomposed vegetable matter, is carted away by the farmers of the neighbourhood for manure.

Remote as the period of this catastrophe must have been, the circumstances are very different from those of the forest embedded on the Norfolk coast, near Cromer, presenting in some respects the same appearances. For there the forest lies buried under a mass of drift two hundred feet in thickness; and Lyell considers that its situation implies a subsidence of that depth since the commencement of the Post-Pliocene period, and a subsequent upheaval, as the forest bed of Norfolk is now again so high as to be exposed to view at many points at low water, like those in South Wales. See Elements of Geology, c. x.


wood of the trees resembled ebony. Such are the wonderful revolutions in the natural world, that, where once ships sailed, they could no now longer float, and what was a strand seemed now a grove of trees. Perhaps it was buried in the waters at the time of Noah's flood, or it may rather be supposed that it was gradually prostrated and absorbed long afterwards, but still in very ancient times, by the violence of the sea always overflowing its bounds and encroaching on the land.

Meanwhile, the king remained at Wexford, extremely anxious to hear news from his dominions beyond the sea. Under these circumstances he formed his household of the best men he found in these parts, such as Raymond, Milo de Cogan, William Mascarel, and some others whom he drew about him, in order to strengthen his own and weaken the earl's party.



AFTER the middle of Lent, the wind changing at last to the east, ships arrived both from England and the coast of Aquitaine, bringing ill news of deep importance. For two cardinals, by name Albert and Theotimus, [1] had arrived in Normandy, commissioned by the Pope, Alexander III., to make inquisitions respecting the murder of our martyred archbishop of Canterbury. These prelates were, it was supposed, just and good men, chosen for this mission on that account; but for all that they were Romans, and they threatened to lay the whole kingdom of England and the rest of the king's dominions under an interdict, unless he forthwith came over to meet them. And, as ill luck never comes alone, while fortune's favours are showered sparingly, intelligence was received of a still more serious and dangerous character. The king's sons, namely, the eldest, for

[1] Roger de Hoveden calls this cardinal Theodimus. He gives full details, and has preserved a great number of documents relating to the quarrel between Henry II. and Becket, the archbishop's murder, and the proceedings which arose out of it.


whom he had such a regard that he caused him to be crowned king, and his two younger sons also, led by the folly of youth to follow their brother's bad example, had taken advantage of the king's absence to form a conspiracy against him, in which they were abetted by many of the nobles of England and of the king's foreign dominions.

On receiving this intelligence, disclosing such serious and unexpected evils, the king was overwhelmed with perplexities. First, it grieved him that he should be suspected of a crime of which he was guiltless. Next, he was apprehensive that his kingdom and other dominions would be thrown into a disturbed state by these wicked plots. And, moreover, he was much vexed at being compelled so inopportunely to leave his Irish kingdom; having intended during the ensuing summer to build castles for securing its submission, and to establish peace and good order throughout the country. His first care was, therefore, to send some of his trusty servants to England; and then he turned his thoughts and took deliberate counsel as to what was to be done for the security of Ireland.



BEFORE he left Ireland, the king appointed these following to be constables or governors of cities and strongholds; namely, in Dublin, Hugh de Lacy, to whom he had granted Meath, to be held in fee, and who had with him twenty men-at-arms; also Fitz-Stephen and Maurice Fitzgerald, with twenty more; in Waterford, Humphrey de Bohun, Robert Fitz-Bernard, and Hugh de Gundeville, with forty men-at-arms; in Wexford, William Fitz-Aldelm, Philip de Hastings, and Philip de Braose, with twenty. At length, on the Monday of Easter week, at sunrise, he took boat, and getting on board ship in the outer harbour of Wexford, reached St. David's bay about noon, after a quick voyage, a strong wind blowing from the westward. Having landed, the king proceeded to St. David's with great devotion, in the guise of a pilgrim, on foot, and staff in


hand, and was met by the canons of the cathedral in solemn procession, who received him with due honour and reverence at the White Gate.

While the solemn procession was orderly passing onward, a Welsh woman suddenly threw herself at the king's feet, and made some complaint against the bishop of the diocese, which was explained to the king by an interpreter. Receiving, however, no redress, the woman became abusive, and raising her voice, and loudly clapping her hands, she repeatedly shouted, in the presence of all the company, "Avenge us this day, Lechlawar, avenge our race and nation on this man". [1] And, being stopped and thrust forth by the people of the country who understood British (Welsh), she still continued to vociferate the same words with increased violence, alluding to a certain prophecy of Merlin's, which, though current among the vulgar, was not authentic, to the purport that a king of England, returning through Menevia, after the conquest of Ireland, where he had been wounded by a man with a bloody hand, should die on Lechlawar. For this was the name given to a stone which was placed across the stream, dividing the cemetery of St. David's from the north side of the church, to form a bridge. The stone was of beautiful marble, and the surface was worn smooth by the feet of those who passed over it. Its length was ten feet, its breadth six, and it was one foot thick. In the British (Welsh) language the word Lechlawar means "the speaking-stone"; for there is an ancient tradition, that on some occasion, when a corpse was carried over it, the stone spoke at that very moment, but in the effort cracked in the middle, which crack is still to be seen. This gave rise to a barbarous superstition, which from that time to the present day forbids any dead bodies being carried to their burial over the bridge.

The king coming to the stone paused for a moment, having, perhaps, heard the prophecy mentioned; but having glanced keenly at it, he summoned up his resolution, and without further delay walked across. Then turning back, and looking at the stone, he said with some indignation, "Who now will have any faith in that liar, Merlin"? and so

[1] This anecdote is repeated by Giraldus in his Itinerary. See B. ii. c. 1.


entering the church founded in honour of St. Andrew and St. David, having paid his devotions and heard a mass solemnly celebrated by a certain chaplain, the only one of all the numerous priests attached to the church who had fasted to that hour, and who seemed to have been reserved for the occasion by Divine Providence, the king, after he had supped, went on to the castle of Haverford, about twelve miles distant.



THE king, in returning to England out of Wales, took the road on the sea coast by which he had journeyed thither, and going on board ship in great haste, and crossing over to Normandy, showed his deference for the pope by losing no time in presenting himself to the Roman cardinals at Coutances. There, after much altercation, he cleared his innocence by a solemn oath; but a penance was enjoined him, because, although he was not privy to the murder, it was through him the martyr suffered. Having then honourably dismissed the legates, he hastened to Marche, to hold a conference with Louis, king of France; and by the mediation of some men of worth, and especially of Philip count of Flanders, just then returned from a pilgrimage to St. James [of Compostella], means were found of restoring amity between them, and allaying the resentment which the French king entertained for the murder of the archbishop of Canterbury before named, because the king of England had pledged himself to him on his own oath and the oaths of other great and powerful men for the archbishop's safety when he was about to return to England. By this peace, so wonderfully brought about, the wicked and clandestine plot of the king's sons and their confederates was defeated until the year following.




BEFORE we proceed further, it may not be superfluous or unprofitable to relate in this place what happened to the king on his return from Ireland by the sea coast of South Wales. On the Saturday in Easter week he spent the night at the town of Cardiff, and on the morrow, being the day commonly called Low Sunday, he heard early mass in the chapel of St. Perian; [1] and after all had departed except the king, who continued his devotions longer than usual, when at length he came forth, as he was mounting his horse at the chapel door, a man stood before him, holding a stake in his hand, on which he supported himself. His hair was yellow, and it was cropped round; his face was emaciated; he was rather tall, appeared to be about forty years old, and wore a white tunic fitting close and girded about him, descending to his ancles; it was girded about him with a belt, and his feet were bare. This man addressed the king in the Teutonic tongue, as follows: "Got holde the, cuning" - "God keep thee! O king"! and afterwards added in the same language, "Christ and his Holy Mother, John the Baptist, and Peter the Apostle, salute thee, and do charge and command thee strictly to prohibit any kind of traffic, or markets, or fairs, to be held throughout thy dominions on the Lord's day, or any sort of work or labour to be done, save only in preparing necessary food, but that divine offices be duly and devoutly performed and heard on that day. If thou wilt do this, all that thou shalt take in hand shall prosper, and thou shalt have a happy life".

The king then said in French to one Philip de Mercros, [2] who was holding his horse's bridle, a person of good

[1] See the Itinerary of Wales, B. i c. 6.

[2] Philip de Mercros, or Marcros, derived his name from a place on the coast of Glamorganshire, near St. Donat's castle. Giraldus repeats this anecdote in his Itinerary, lib. i. c. 6. It is the earliest notice we have met with of the movement against the desecration of the Lord's day, which became very general in the beginning of the reign of king John, about thirty years after this period. Wendover, vol. ii. pp. 188-192, (Antiq. Lib.), and Hoveden, vol. ii. pp. 526-530, give some exceedingly curious details respecting it.


condition, born in those parts, and who gave me an exact account of this occurrence: "Ask the clown whether he dreamt this". Philip having interpreted this in English, the man replied: "Whether I dreamt this or not, mark well", he said, addressing himself to the king and not to the interpreter, "what day this is; for unless thou doest this, and shalt amend thy life before the end of the present year, thou shalt hear such tidings of those thou lovest best in the world, and shalt have from them so much trouble, that it shall last for all the rest of thy life". On hearing this, the king put spurs to his horse and went forward a little, as much as eight paces towards the town gate; but having reflected a moment on what was said, he reined in his horse, and said, "Call back that good man". Upon this, Philip de Mercros and a youth named William, the only two of the royal attendants who had remained in the town, called after him, and, on his not appearing, searched for him in the chapel, and afterwards in the court, and in all the inns of the town, but could not find him. The king waited alone for some time in the town while the others thus sought out the man in vain; and then sorrowing much, and in great dudgeon because he had not talked to him more at large, crossing the bridge at Rempni, [1] pursued his journey towards Newbury.

What this man predicted and threatened came to pass before the year was ended. The king's three sons, Henry, the eldest, and the other two, the earls of Poitou and Brittany, leagued against him in the Lent following, and went over to Louis, king of France; occasioning him so much disquietude as he had never experienced before, and which incessantly troubled him, from one or other of his sons, to the last day of his life. And it may be supposed to have been a just judgment of God, that as he had been a disobedient son to his spiritual father, his sons in the flesh should be disobedient to him. The king also received about

[1] The Rhumney river runs into the sea about four miles from Cardiff. In its course from the North it divides Monmouthshire from Glamorganshire, and it therefore forms the boundary between England and Wales.


the same period, and towards the close of his life, many other forewarnings, through the Divine mercy, which prefers the conversion and repentance of sinners, to their ruin. Would to God that his obstinate mind and hard heart had not despised these monitions, but that he had received them penitently, and corrected his misdeeds, to his endless happiness. On this subject I propose to enlarge, with God's permission, in the book I have so often promised to write concerning the "Instruction of a Prince". [1]



MEANWHILE, Ireland enjoyed tranquillity and peace under the governors to whom the custody of the realm was committed. However, some dispute arising between Hugh de Lacy and O'Roric, the one-eyed king of Meath, a day and place was assigned for a parley respecting it. But in the night before the day appointed, one of the men-at-arms, whose name was Griffyth, a nephew of Maurice and Fitz-Stephen, [2] had a dream, in which he saw a herd of wild boars rush pell-mell on Hugh and Maurice, and one larger and more ferocious than the rest, the leader of the herd, would have rent them asunder with its tusks, unless he (Griffyth) had rescued them with the strong hand and killed the boar. On the morrow they proceeded towards the place appointed for the conference, which is called O'Roric's hill, [3] and having first, by the exchange of messages at a distance, and afterwards in person when they met, taken security on both sides by their solemn oaths, they came to the parley. It had been stipulated that only a very few should be present

[1] The book De Instructione Principle, here alluded to, is preserved, and has been printed.

[2] See the Pedigree inserted at the beginning of this History. We find in B. ii. c. xxi., that Griffyth was brother to Raymond le Gros, and therefore a son of William, the eldest of the Fitzgeralds.

[3] This is the celebrated hill of Tarah, in Meath, on which the national assemblies were held, and where once stood the habheireg, or stone of destiny, on which the Irish kings were inaugurated. They had afterwards a palace on this spot, in the courts of which the estates of the kingdom are said to have assembled till the time of Brian Boroimhe, 995.


on each part, and those in equal numbers, and unarmed, except with their swords on the one side and their battleaxes on the other, while the rest of the people remained at some little distance. Meanwhile Griffyth, who had come to the parley in company with Maurice, and was full of anxiety in consequence of his dream, had selected seven of his kinsmen, in whose courage he had the strongest confidence, and drew them apart to one side of the hill, but as near as they were allowed to the place of conference. They then took their shields in hand, and putting their lances in rest, made show of being engaged in tilting according to the French fashion, in order that, however the parley ended, they might be ready in arms for any emergency, under the pretext of the sport in which they were amusing themselves.

In the meantime, O'Roric and Hugh de Lacy had much altercation on the questions in dispute between them; and so far from coming to an agreement, things tending to an open rupture, the one-eyed villain, meditating treachery, went aside for a short space under a ready pretence, and beckoned to his friends to come up with all speed. He was hastening with long strides, his face pale with revenge, and his axe raised, towards those who were engaged in the parley, when Maurice Fitzgerald, being on his guard, and having closely watched all that had taken place, in consequence of his having chanced to hear his nephew's dream mentioned, and during the parley had constantly kept his sword lying across his knees, with his hand on the hilt, now drew it, and rising up, warned Hugh de Lacy also to stand on his defence. The traitor then made a desperate stroke at Hugh, but it fell on the interpreter, who, faithful to his lord, thrust himself forward to shield him, and cut off his arm, giving him a mortal wound.

Maurice now called aloud to his friends to make a hasty retreat, while sword encountered battle-axe, and Hugh de Lacy, being twice felled to the ground, was saved by Fitzgerald's prowess. Meanwhile, the Irish rushed in great numbers from the valleys at the traitor's signal, armed with two edged broad-axes, and there would soon have been an end of Maurice and Hugh, had not Griffyth and his small band rode up at full speed, when they heard Fitzgerald's cries calling them to aid. O'Roric, seeing them


coming, thought that it was time to seek safety in flight, and was in the act of mounting a horse which was brought up for him, when Griffyth, putting spurs to his own, ran his spear both through O'Roric and the horse he was mounting. There were slain with him three of his followers, who at the risk of their lives had brought the horse. His head was cut off, and afterwards sent to the king in England; and the rest of the Irish fled in confusion and scattered themselves over the open country, till they reached the far-distant woods; the English pursuing them without respite, and making great slaughter amongst them. Ralph, Fitz-Stephen's son, a young and valiant soldier, much distinguished himself in this skirmish.



As there are many different opinions concerning visions, it may not be amiss on this occasion to introduce some true and authentic accounts of them which have been handed down to us. Valerius Maximus relates that two Arcadians being on a journey together, when they came to a certain town, one of them lodged with a friend, and the other went to a common inn. The one who lodged in his friend's house dreamed that his fellow-traveller came to him and begged help against his host who was grievously assaulting him; wherewith he awoke, but fell asleep again, and dreamed that his companion appeared to him a second time, and implored him that although he would not come and help him while he was living, he would at least have him buried. He added that his host was then taking his corpse in a cart outside the town gate, to conceal it in a dunghill. The man's friend waking up, and having made search, found this account to be true, and causing the inkeeper to be apprehended, he was condemned and executed.

Arcerius Rufus dreamed that he was killed by a gladiator, which came to pass the day following. Simonides, the poet, having buried the corpse of a man which he found lying on the sea-shore, was warned by him in a dream the same night not to go to sea on the day following, and


accordingly he remained on shore. The mariners, with whom he was to embark, set sai], and were buried in the waves before his eyes. Calphurnia, Julius Caesar's wife, dreamed the night before he was assassinated, that he lay in her bosom covered with mortal wounds; at which she was so terrified that she awoke and entreated him not to go to the senate-house the next morning. But he, not liking to have it said that he put any faith in a woman's dream, put her off with excuses.

Not to go so far for examples, let us seek them at home, and in modern times. My brother, Walter de Barri, [1] a man of condition, and a gallant soldier, having made preparations for an expedition against the enemy, the night before he was to set forward, my own mother, who had died long before, appeared to him in a dream, and earnestly admonished him, as he valued his life, to find some means of not joining in the expedition intended on the morrow. I should mention that she was not his mother, but his step-mother; but she loved him as much as if he were her own son. [2] He related what had occurred to his father, who was mine also, we being his sons by different mothers, and therefore half-brothers, and our father gave him the same advice. However, disregarding these admonitions, with the presumption natural to man, and being ashamed of appearing to be frightened by an idle dream, the next morning he went out on the expedition, and was slain by the enemy the same day. We find also an instance in which the event turned out otherwise. Valerius relates that on the eve of the battle between Augustus and Brutus, Minerva appeared in a dream to the emperor's physician Artorius, and enjoined him to prevent his engaging in the battle, because he was sick; but Augustus, notwithstanding he was informed of this, caused himself to be carried to the field in a litter, and gained the battle.

Again, shortly before our own times, it happened in the district called Kemmeis,in the province of Demetia, in Wales, that a certain wealthy man, whose mansion stood on the

[1] It is probable that this Walter de Barri was the author's eldest brother, though by the half-blood; and that he met his untimely end before the expedition to Ireland.

[2] Giraldus' mother, of whom he records this excellent trait, was Angharad, daughter of Nesta, by Gerald de Windsor.


north side of the mountains, of Presseli, [1] had dreams for three successive nights, in which he was admonished that if he went to a fountain in the neighbourhood, called St. Bernac's well, and put his hand down to the stone which lay over the spring, he would draw out a collar of gold. On the third day the man did as he was bidden, and putting his hand into the hole, a viper bit his finger, and he died in consequence.

From these and various other examples, whatever others may think of dreams (de somniis somnient), my opinion is that, like rumours, they may be sometimes credited and sometimes ought to be treated as idle tales. But of visions, such as those which are wont to be revealed by angels to men gifted with prophecy, the case is very different, for we know the events following them prove their truth on undoubted authority.



THIS Maurice was a man of dignified aspect and modest bearing, of a ruddy complexion and good features. He was of the middle height, neither tall nor short. In him, both in person and temper, moderation was the rule; the one was well proportioned, the other equable. Maurice was naturally of an excellent disposition, but he was much more anxious to be good than to appear such. He so governed all his conduct that both in morals and courtesy he may be considered the pattern and model of his country and times. [2] He was a man of few words, but his language was polished and there was more sense than sound, more reason than eloquence, in what he said; and when the occasion demanded it, he gave his opinion, though deliberately, with great intelligence. In war he was intrepid, and second to no man

[1] The Prescelly Mountains, in Pembrokeshire. Giraldus repeats this anecdote in the Itinerary, B. ii. c. 2, where notes will be found on the localities.

[2] Maurice Fitzgerald, of whom his nephew Giraldus draws this high character, was, as already mentioned, the second son of Gerald de Windsor and Nesta, and ancestor of the earls of Kildare, afterwards dukes of Leinster, and of the earls of Desmond.


in valour; but he did not run headlong into danger, and though prudent in making attacks was resolute in defence, He was sober, modest, chaste, constant, firm, and faithful; a man not altogether without fault, but not stained by any great and notorious crime.



IN the month of April following, the younger king of England, I mean Henry, son of king Henry, [1] being no longer able to conceal the wickedness he had long devised against his father through evil counsels, withdrew to the court of Louis, king of France, whose daughter he had married, taking with him his two brothers, the earls of Poictiers and Britany, and hoping, with his father-in-law's assistance, to supplant his father before his time. He had also many accomplices in his designs among the nobles of England and foreign dominions, as well as many more who were his secret abettors. The elder king, the father, was thrown into great perplexity by the unexpected difficulties with which he found himself surrounded; but assuming a cheerful countenance, he gave every sign of hope and comfort, and collected succours from all quarters. Among the rest, he recalled from Ireland, by special messengers, the veteran troops he had left there; and when he was at Rouen, committed the entire charge of that kingdom to earl Richard, joining Raymond with him in the commission, as the earl had refused to accept the government without his assistance. The king also, as a mark of his favour, granted the earl at that time the town of Wexford, with the castle of Ginkel.

[1] Henry, "the younger king of England", as he was called, having been crowned in his father's life-time, married Margaret, daughter of Lewis, king of France, and in August, 1172, brought her to England, where she was crowned at Winchester. Early in the year following, the young Henry withdrew to his father-in-law's court, and, supported by him, commenced that unhappy series of revolts, which, with short intervals, embittered the remainder of the life of Henry II. See Hoveden, vol. i. pp. 367, etc. Antiq. Lib.




THE king had to wage, during two years, worse than civil wars, both in England and Aquitaine, [1] at the cost of so many hurried expeditions, such watchings and careful labours, and he foiled the enterprises of his many powerful enemies with so much vigour, that it would seem he had more than human aid, divine Providence giving him success over the unnatural rebellion of his sons. But as a man's household are his worst adversaries, and of all plagues, internal enemies are the greatest, he was almost reduced to despair by the conduct of the gentlemen of his privy chamber, a chosen band, on whose fidelity his life or death depended, who would nearly every night disloyally go over to his sons, and when their services were wanted in the morning, could not be found. But although the war was almost hopeless in the outset, his better fortune prevailed, and victory crowning him in the end, he acquired such glory, and so augmented his power, that while at first all men thought that the divine indignation had suddenly marked him out for vengeance, so at last he seemed to be mercifully spared through that goodness which rejoiceth more in the conversion than in the destruction of a sinner. After deep grief at the capture of Dol, [2] St. Edmund having showered his favours on the kingdom, and the blessed martyr Thomas being appeased by the tears and supplications of the king, who went in pilgrimage to Canterbury, [3] and did penance in the night, peace and a long season of prosperity were

[1] See full details of this campaign, both in France and England, in Hoveden's History, vol. i. pp. 368-390.

[2] Dol, a strong castle in Britany, was taken by stratagem, on the 20th September, 1173, but recovered by king Henry a few days afterwards.

[3] St. Edmund, king and martyr, was highly venerated at this period, and his shrine at Bury visited with great devotion. Florence of Worcester frequently mentions the pilgrimages made to it by Henry III. The famous pilgrimage to Canterbury here referred to by Giraldus, took place on the 13th June, 1174, and is described both by Hoveden and Wendover.


restored to England, at the castle of Amboise, [1] of which Ranulf de Glanville was governor, an upright and prudent man, who had been faithful under all changes of fortune.

In these wars the king had taken prisoner the king of Scotland and the earls of Chester and Leicester, besides so many nobles, knights, and officers, on both sides of the French sea, that they could hardly find fetters and dungeons to hold them. But as the triumph of a prince over his enemies is little worth unless he triumphs over himself, the king, after the many victories with which fortune had favoured him, set the example of ruling himself, and subduing his own spirit and indignation, as he had triumphed over others, and restored their lives and honours to his vanquished enemies. And such was his rare equanimity, that in victory he did not forget clemency, nor moderation in adversity. Then, after all the trouble and weariness of this two years' war, endured to no purpose, his sons submitted and came back, having made professions of amity, which turned out to be false.



IT were not amiss in this place to draw the portrait of the king, that so his person as well as his character may be familiar to posterity; and those who in future ages shall hear and read of his great achievements, may be able to picture him to themselves as he was. For the history on which I am employed must not suffer so noble an ornament of our times to pass away with only a slight notice. But herein we crave pardon for speaking the exact truth, for without it, history not only loses all authority, but does not even merit the name. It is the business of art to copy nature, and the painter is not to be trusted who exaggerates graces and conceals blemishes.

No man indeed is born without faults, but he is best who

[1] The treaty which restored peace to Henry's foreign dominions, was made between Tours and Amboise, on the 30th September, 1174. It is preserved by Wendover, vol. i. p. 385. It is, perhaps, hardly necesary to state that Ranulf de Glanville was one of the most celebrated of king Henry's ministers.


has the least; and the wise will think that nothing which concerns mankind is devoid of interest. There is no certainty in worldly matters, and no perfect happiness; good is mixed with evil, and virtue with vice. Wherefore, if things spoken in commendation of a man's disposition or conduct are pleasant to the ear, it should not be taken amiss if his faults are told. It was the remark of a philosopher, that princes ought to be treated with deference, and not exasperated by severe things being said of them; and a comic writer tells us that smooth words make friends, but the language of truth makes enemies; so that it is a dangerous matter to say anything against one who has the power of revenging himself; and it is still more perilous, and more arduous than profitable, to describe freely and in many words a prince who, by a single word, can consign you to ruin. It would surely be a pleasing task, but I confess that it is one beyond my powers, to tell the truth respecting a prince in everything without in any way offending him. But to the purpose.

Henry II., king of England, had a reddish complexion, rather dark, and a large round head. His eyes were grey, bloodshot, and flashed in anger. He had a fiery countenance, his voice was tremulous, and his neck a little bent forward; but his chest was broad, and his arms were muscular. His body was fleshy, and he had an enormous paunch, rather by the fault of nature than from gross feeding. For his diet was temperate, and indeed in all things, considering he was a prince, he was moderate, and even parsimonious. In order to reduce and cure, as far as possible, this natural tendency and defect, he waged a continual war, so to speak, with his own belly by taking immoderate exercise. For in time of war, in which he was almost always engaged, he took little rest, even during the intervals of business and action. Times of peace were no seasons of repose and indulgence to him, for he was immoderately fond of the chase, and devoted himself to it with excessive ardour. At the first dawn of day he would mount a fleet horse, and indefatigably spend the day in riding through the woods, penetrating the depths of forests, and crossing the ridges of hills. On his return home in the evening he was seldom seen to sit down, either before he took his supper or


after; for, notwithstanding his own great fatigue, he would weary all his court by being constantly on his legs. But it is one of the most useful rules in life, not to have too much of any one thing, and even medicine is not in itself perfect and always to be used; even so it befel this king. For he had frequent swellings in his legs and feet, increased much by his violent exercise on horseback, which added to his other complaints, and if they did not bring on serious disorders, at least hastened that which is the source of all, old age. In stature he may be reckoned among men of moderate height, which was not the case with either of his sons; the two eldest being somewhat above the middle height, and the two youngest somewhat below.

When his mind was undisturbed, and he was not in an angry mood, he spoke with great eloquence, and, what was remarkable in those days, he was well learned. He was also affable, flexible, and facetious, and, however he smothered his inward feelings, second to no one in courtesy. Withal, he was so clement a prince, that when he had subdued his enemies, he was overcome himself by his pity for them. Resolute in war, and provident in peace, he so much feared the doubtful fortune of the former, that, as the comic poet writes, he tried all courses before he resorted to arms. Those whom he lost in battle he lamented with more than a prince's sorrow, having a more humane feeling for the soldiers who had fallen than for the survivors; and bewailing the dead more than he cared for the living. In troublesome times no man was more courteous, and when all things were safe, no man more harsh. Severe to the unruly, but clement to the humble; hard towards his own household, but liberal to strangers; profuse abroad, but sparing at home; those whom he once hated, he would scarcely ever love, and from those he loved, he seldom withdrew his regard. He was inordinately fond of hawking and hunting, whether his falcons stooped on their prey, or his sagacious hounds, quick of scent and swift of foot, pursued the chase. Would to God he had been as zealous in his devotions as he was in his sports.

It is said that after the grievous dissensions between him and his sons, raised by their mother, he had no respect for the obligations of the most solemn treaties. True it is that


from a certain natural inconstancy he often broke his word, preferring rather, when driven to straits, to forfeit his promise than depart from his purpose. In all his doings he was provident and circumspect, and on this account he was sometimes slack in the administration of justice, and, to his people's great cost, his decisions on all proceedings were dilatory. Both God and right demand that justice should be administered gratuitously, yet all things were set to sale and brought great wealth both to the clergy and laity; but their end was like Gehazi's gains.

He was a great maker of peace, and kept it himself; a liberal alms-giver, and an especial benefactor to the Holy Land. He loved the humble, curbed the nobility, and trod down the proud; filling the hungry with good things, and sending the rich empty away; exalting the meek, and putting down the mighty from their seat. He ventured on many detestable usurpations in things belonging to God, and through a zeal for justice (but not according to knowledge), he joined the rights of the church to those of the crown, and therein confused them, in order to centre all in himself. Although he was the son of the church, and received his crown from her hands, he either dissembled or forgot the sacramental unction. He could scarcely spare an hour to hear mass, and then he was more occupied in counsels and conversation about affairs of state than in his devotions. The revenues of the churches during their avoidance, he drew into his own treasury, laying hands on that which belonged to Christ; and as he was always in fresh troubles and engaged in mighty wars, he expended all the money he could get, and lavished upon unrighteous soldiers what was due to the priests. In his great prudence he devised many plans, which, however, did not all turn out according to his expectations; but no great mishap ever occurred, which did not originate in some trifling circumstance.

He was the kindest of fathers to his legitimate children during their childhood and youth, but as they advanced in years looked on them with an evil eye, treating them worse than a step-father; and although he had such distinguished and illustrious sons, whether it was that he would not have them prosper too last, or whether they were ill-deserving,


he could never bear to think of them as his successors. Aud as human prosperity can neither be permanent nor perfect, such was the exquisite malice of fortune against this king, that where he should have received comfort he met with opposition; where security, danger; where peace, turmoil; where support, ingratitude; where quiet and tranquillity, disquiet and disturbance. Whether it happened from unhappy marriages, or for the punishment of the father's sins, there was never any good agreement either of the father with his sons, or of the sons with their parent, or between themselves.

At length, all pretenders to the government and disturbers of the peace being put down, and the brothers, his sons, and all others, both at home and abroad, being reconciled, all things succeeded according to his will. Would to God that he had, even late, acknowledged this crowning proof of the divine mercy by works worthy of repentance. I had almost forgotten to mention that his memory was so good, that, notwithstanding the multitudes who continually surrounded him, he never failed of recognizing any one he had ever seen before, nor did he forget any thing important which he had ever heard. He was also master of nearly the whole course of history, and well versed in almost all matters of experience. To conclude in few words: if this king had been finally chosen of God, and had turned himself to obey his commands, such were his natural endowments that he would have been, beyond all comparison, the noblest of all the princes of the earth in his times. But enough: let what I have written, briefly and imperfectly indeed, but not altogether foreign to my subject, content the reader. Having somewhat cleared the way for other writers to follow out so noble a passage of history, we will now return to our Ireland, from which we have digressed.



THUS far I have continued my history in as perfect and full order as I could, omitting nothing worthy of memory which the series of events appeared to require. But being much occupied by the general business of the church belonging to my station, I have been unable to command much leisure for studious pursuits. Unwilling, however, to leave unfinished the work I have commenced, I am resolved to continue it in a cursory and brief way, and in a plain and unadorned style, as if I were furnishing posterity with materials for history rather than writing it. For now my leisure is changed into the distraction of business, my studies interrupted by animosities, my pleasure turned to grief, the tranquillity I possessed to grave disquietude.

The liberal arts have ceased to flourish, having given place to the duties of war; mental pursuits are no longer in vogue, but martial exercises; the muses are not cultivated, but skill in the use of weapons; men do not improve their minds, but burnish their arms. Wherefore let not the reader expect either order or ornament in this part of my work; for I am obliged to conform to present circumstances; and as the times are troublous, so must my narrative be disturbed by the unsettled state of affairs, as our inward griefs are often manifested by our countenances as well as by our words. I have, however, contrived to complete the present work in the midst of the preparations for a vast enterprise, though not without much thought and mature consideration, as if I were on a journey; and like the traveller who, setting out slowly, hurries forward to make up for the delay.




ON his return to Ireland, the people there having heard of the great troubles in parts beyond the sea, and being a race constant only in inconstancy, to be reckoned upon for nothing but their instability, and true only in their disloyalty, earl Richard found most of the princes of the country in revolt against the king and himself. All the treasure he brought with him being soon spent, and there being no money to pay the soldiers, the earl's own troops, who were commanded by Hervey, Raymond's rival, who was still constable, not being able to subsist by plunder as they were wont, came in a body to the earl, and loudly declared that unless Raymond was appointed their commander they would at once quit his service, and either return to England, or, what was worse, desert to the enemy.



IN this emergency, Raymond was appointed to the command, and the troops recovering their spirits, made an incursion into the district of Ophelan, [1] and carrying off an immense booty, obtained means of being fresh mounted and equipped. From thence they marched to Lismore, and having plundered both the city and province, conveyed their spoils by the coast road to Waterford. With these they freighted some small vessels which had lately arrived from Wexford, and some others which they found in the port of Waterford. While, however, they were waiting for a fair wind, thirty-two ships full of armed men came from the city of Cork, distant about sixteen miles westward, for the purpose of attacking them. A naval engagement

[1] Offaly, the territory of a petty Irish prince, which lay on the upper course of the Barrow, in what is now called King's County.


ensued, the Irish making a fierce attack, armed with slings and darts, and the English repelling it with arrows and iron bolts from their cross-bows, of which they had great store. In the end, the men of Cork were defeated, their leader, Gilbert mac Turger, being slain by Philip of Wales, a young soldier of great prowess. Then, Adam de Hereford, who commanded, having increased his fleet with the ships taken, loaded it with plunder and sailed in triumph to Waterford.

Meanwhile Raymond, who, hearing by chance of this engagement had hastened to that quarter along the coast road with twenty men-at-arms and sixty common soldiers, fell in with Dermitius, prince of Desmond, and defeated him at Lismore, as he was hastening to the aid of the men of Cork with a large force; Raymond thus took four thousand head of cattle, and brought them with him into Waterford. About the same time, the Irish of those parts, lurking at the entrance of the woods, drove off some few of the cattle from the level country about Waterford into the thickets at no great distance; but an alarm being raised in the town, the garrison sallied forth, and Meyler, conspicuous for his headlong valour, followed only by a single horseman, pursued the robbers into the outskirts of the wood. Then, however, he intended to retreat, but urged by the impetuosity of his follower, a rash youth, he dashed after the robbers into the deepest thickets; but the Irish rushed out of the wood, and severely wounding his companion, cut him to pieces with their broad-axes. Meyler, thus left alone, and surrounded by the enemy on every side, drew his sword, and charging the band, boldly cut his way through them, chopping here a hand and there an arm, besides hewing through heads and shoulders, and thus rejoined his friends on the plain unhurt, though he brought away three Irish spears stuck in his horse, and two in his shield.



APTER these events, the troops being flushed with success both by sea and land, Raymond crossed the sea and


returned to Wales in consequence of tidings he received of the death of his noble father, William Fitzgerald. [1] During his absence Hervey was again appointed constable, and wishing to do some memorable exploit, he brought the earl and his household troops to Cashel. The militia of Dublin [2] were also commanded to support them, and being quartered for the night at Ossory, Duvenald prince of Limerick, a man not wanting in ability for one of his nation, having learnt their arrival through his spies, fell on them at dawn of day, and taking them by surprise, slew four of their commanders, and four hundred of the Ostmen. On receiving intelligence of this disaster, the earl retreated in confusion to Waterford, and the consequence was that all the people of Ireland, with one consent, rose in arms against the English, so that the earl was like one besieged in Waterford, and could not move from it. Meanwhile, Roderic of Connaught crossed the river Shannon, and invaded Meath, at the head of a numerous force, and, finding all the strongholds evacuated as far as the confines of Dublin, he burnt and levelled them to the ground.



THE earl finding himself in great straits, after taking counsel, as his last refuge, despatched a letter to Raymond, in Wales, of the following purport: "As soon as you have read this letter, make all the haste you can to come over to us with all the force you can muster, and be assured that immediately on your arrival, I will give you my sister Basilia in marriage, according to your wishes". On receiving this letter, Raymond used all despatch in complying with it, both for love of the noble lady, to whom he had been long

[1] See the note to a chapter in the first book, on the family of Raymond-le-Gros; and the Pedigree at the beginning of this History.

[2] This force, as we shall presently find, was composed of the Ostmen, or independent Norwegian townsmen of Dublin, whose numbers and power have been mentioned in former notes, and appear from this narrative, although their present expedition terminated disastrously.


ardently attached, and from his desire of exhibiting his prowess and carrying succour to his lord in his time of need. Wherefore, in conjunction with his cousin Meyler and other men of condition who were his kinsmen, he hastily collected thirty men-at-arms, and one hundred horse-soldiers, with three hundred bowmen, the best in Wales, and as soon as the wind served, transported them to Waterford in fifteen ships. [1] At that very time the citizens of Waterford were in a state of insurrection, and raised to such a pitch of fury that they were ready to massacre all the English wherever they could lay hands on them; when, behold, they saw from the nearest hill the well-known ensigns of Raymond's fleet entering the bay. Their sudden arrival discomfited the rioters, and Raymond immediately landing, and marching to Waterford without loss of time, released the earl, and conducted him with a strong force to Wexford. Meanwhile, Tyrrell, [2] his governor of Waterford, hastening to follow him, and crossing the river Suir in a boat, was slain with some of his followers by the Ostmen who were conveying them over; and as soon as they had perpetrated this crime, they returned to the city, and butchered some of the English in the streets and houses, without respect to age or sex. The place was, however, held in submission by the garrison of Reginald's Tower, who drove out the assassins, and the other rebels were at last reduced to order, their treacherous enterprise being frustrated, with loss to themselves both in credit and estate.

Raymond, urging the fulfilment of the earl's promises, was not content to leave Wexford until messengers were sent to Dublin in great haste, to fetch Basilia, to whom he was contracted. The marriage having been solemnized, and the day and night spent in feasting and pleasure, news was brought in the midst of the revelry that Roderic of Connaught had made an irruption from the borders of Meath

[1] Raymond's elder brother Odo, the ancestor of the Carews, inherited the principal estates of their father, on whose demise Raymond returned to Wales; but he probably succeeded to possessions which enabled him to equip this powerful armament on a much more extensive scale than that with which he first went over to Ireland, and also made him a more suitable match for the earl's daughter.

[2] Fresellus, in the text, but corrected to Tyrellus in the margin, of the printed edition.


up to the very walls of Dublin. On the morrow Raymond, forgetting wine and love, mustered troops, and marched in haste to repel the enemy. Roderic, however, who had before experienced his valour, did not wait his coming, but retreated in alarm to his own territories. Having restored order in those parts, and the castles of Trim and Dunluce in Meath, which had been razed to the ground, and abandoned by Hugh Tyrrell, the governor thereof, having been repaired by Raymond, and put into a better condition, the island enjoyed peace for a time, in consequence of the terror struck by his successes.



HERVEY, being envious of the increase of Raymond's glory and his continued prosperity, and unable to wreak his malice on him openly, sought how he might injure him in the dark. He therefore became a suitor to Raymond's cousin Nesta, the daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald, and succeeded in marrying her; his object being to have better opportunities of effecting Raymond's ruin, under cover of his connections with him by this marriage. Raymond also, to consolidate the union among the English, induced the earl to give his daughter Alina in marriage to William, the eldest son of Maurice Fitzgerald. [1] The earl also, having invited Maurice to leave Wales and come over again to Ireland, gave him the middle cantred of Offaly, which the king had granted to the earl, with the castle of Wicklow, to be held as a fief under him. Meyler, as the lord marcher, had the frontier cantred; and the one nearest to Dublin, which the king had formerly granted to the two Fitz-Stephens, was now given to the brothers from Hereford. [2]

[1] For these intermarriages and family connexions, see the Pedigree at the beginning of this History.

[2] We find elsewhere the names of three brothers from Hereford engaged in these transactions, Adam, John, and Richard. Adam commanded the fleet which defeated that of Cork, as related just before, in chap. ii.




MEANWHILE, although the king was detained and much occupied by the wars, in the midst of all he was not forgetful of his dominions in Ireland, nor of the decrees made in the synod of Cashel, before mentioned, [1] for the reformation of manners. He therefore sent envoys to pope Adrian, a native of England, who then filled the Roman see, requesting him to grant a bull of privileges, by which, with the pope's authority and consent, he should be lord of Ireland, and have the power of reforming the Irish people, who were then very ignorant of the rudiments of the faith, by ecclesiastical rules and discipline, according to the usages of the English church. This bull of privileges was brought over to Ireland by Nicholas, then prior of Wallingford, but afterwards abbot of Malmesbury, and William Fitz-Aldelm; and a synod of the bishops being convoked at Waterford, the said bull of privileges was read at a public sitting, and with universal assent, by John of Salisbury, [2] afterwards bishop of Chartres, who was sent to Rome on this affair, and by whose hands the pope sent to the king a gold ring in token of the investiture; which ring and the pope's bull were immediately afterwards deposited among the archives at Winchester. The tenor of this instrument I have thought it not amiss to insert in this place. It was to the following effect:

"Adrian the bishop, the servant of the servants of God, to his most dearly beloved son in Christ, the illustrious king of England, sendeth greeting, with the apostolical benediction. [3]

'Your majesty (tua magnificentia) laudably and profitably

[1] B. i. c. 33.

[2] John of Salisbury, bishop of Chartres, one of the most learned scholars of the age.

[3] Adrian IV. held the papal see 1155-1159. A copy of the grant of Ireland made by this pope to Henry II. is also preserved by Roger de Wendover, who says that it was obtained in 1155; so that Henry's designs on Ireland, though early entertained, seem to have long slumbered. Even when the application for assistance made by Dermot mac Murrough in 1172, gave him a pretext for interfering in Irish affairs, he gave him only empty promises of relief, and the first expeditions to Ireland were undertaken by private adventurers, and if, with the king's tacit consent, he afterwards disavowed it. Henry procured a confirmation of pope Adrian's grant from his successor, Alexander III. There is a translation of it in Hooker's edition of the History of Giraldus. The grant appears to have been made in 1172.


considers how you may best promote your glory on earth, and lay up for yourself an eternal reward in heaven, when, as becomes a catholic prince, you labour to extend the borders of the church, to teach the truths of the Christian faith to a rude and unlettered people, and to root out the weeds of wickedness from the field of the Lord; for this purpose you crave the advice and assistance of the apostolic see, and in so doing we are persuaded that the higher are your aims, and the more discreet your proceedings, the greater, under God, will be your success. For those who begin with zeal for the faith, and love for religion, may always have the best hopes of bringing their undertakings to a prosperous end. It is beyond all doubt, as your highness acknowledgeth, that Ireland and all the other islands on which the light of the gospel of Christ has dawned, and which have received the knowledge of the Christian faith, do of right belong and appertain to St. Peter and the holy Roman church. Wherefore we are the more desirous to sow in them the acceptable seed of God's word, because we know that it will be strictly required of us hereafter. You have signified to us, our well-beloved son in Christ, that you propose to enter the island of Ireland in order to subdue the people, and make them obedient to laws, and to root out from among them the weeds of sin; and that you are willing to yield and pay yearly from every house the pension of one penny to St. Peter, and to keep and preserve the rights of the churches in that land whole and inviolate. We therefore, regarding your pious and laudable design with due favour, and graciously assenting to your petition, do hereby declare our will and pleasure, that, for the purpose of enlarging the borders of the church, setting bounds to the progress of wickedness, reforming evil manners, planting virtue, and increasing the Christian religion, you do enter


and take possession of that island, and execute therein whatsoever shall be for God's honour and the welfare of the same. And further, we do also strictly charge and require that the people of that land shall accept you with all honour, and dutifully obey you, as their liege lord, saving only the rights of the churches, which we will have inviolably preserved; and reserving to St. Peter and the holy Roman church the yearly pension of one penny from each house. If therefore you bring your purpose to good effect, let it be your study to improve the habits of that people, and take such orders by yourself, or by others whom you shall think fitting, for their lives, manners, and conversation, that the church there may be adorned by them, the Christian faith be planted and increased, and all that concerns the honour of God and the salvation of souls be ordered by you in like manner; so that you may receive at God's hands the blessed reward of everlasting life, and may obtain on earth a glorious name in ages to come".



LET, then, the envious and ignorant cease their cavillings that the kings of England have no right or title to Ireland; and let them learn that they can avouch and defend their right in five manner of ways, two old and three new, as is set forth in my Topography. [1]

First, we have the testimony of the British History, that Gurguntius, the son of Belinus, and king of Britain, on his return in triumph from Denmark, met the fleet of the Basclenses at the Orkney islands, and set them forward to Ireland, giving them pilots to direct their course thither. [2] The same history informs us also that Arthur, the renowned king of Britain, had kings of Ireland tributary to him, and that Gillomarus, king of Ireland, with other kings of the isles, came to his court at Caerleon.

Moreover, the city of Bayonne, which belongs at present to our Gascony, is the capital of Basclonia, from whence the

[1] Distinct, iii. cc. 8, 9.

[2] Ib. c. 8.


Irish migrated. And besides this, as every one may renounce his rights of his own free will, although he has been up to that time under no subjection, all the princes of Ireland voluntarily submitted to Henry II., king of England, doing him fealty and taking oaths of allegiance to him. And although these men, from natural inconstancy, did not shrink from often breaking their fealty, they were not thereby absolved from its obligations; for contracts of this sort, though entered into of free will, are not free to be broken. Finally, we have the authority of the Pope, the prince and primate of all Christendom, who claims a sort of especial right in all islands whatsoever; and that is enough to complete the title and give it absolute confirmation. [1]



IN the mean time, Duvenald prince of Limerick, having waxed very insolent, and faithlessly withdrawn from his fealty to the king of England, Raymond assembled a strong force of one hundred and twenty men-at-arms, three hundred horse soldiers, and four hundred archers on foot, marched about the calends (the 1st) of October to attack Limerick. When they reached the water of Shannon, which runs round that famous city, they found the river so rapid and deep that they could not cross it; and the gallant troops, bent on both glory and plunder, were very impatient at the obstacle opposed to their approach to the place which they were so eager to attack. However, a young soldier, Raymond's nephew, whose name was David Welsh, taking his surname from his family, though he was also a Welshman

[1] However it might be consistent in a writer of the age of Giraldus to gloss over the injustice of king Henry's pretensions to the dominion of Ireland by reference to antiquated claims or papal bulls, four-fifths of the grounds for them alleged in this chapter are too puerile to merit a single remark. The remaining one, the cession of their supremacy by the Irish princes, on which our author appears to place most reliance, resolves itself into the right of conquest; as the submission was extorted by force of arms, and that in all such cases forms an incontrovertible title.


born, a handsome youth, and tall above the rest, was so chafed at the delay, that, willing to risk his life to win honour, he put spurs to his horse and plunged into the river, although the bottom was full of rocks and stones. By crossing obliquely, he was able to stem the current; and his noble horse landing him safely on the opposite bank, he shouted to his comrades that he had discovered a ford; but, notwithstanding this, no one would cross after him but a man-at-arms whose name was Geoffrey Judas.

Both then returned to guide the rest of the army over the ford, but in so doing Geoffrey was carried away by the stream and drowned. Meyler, who had come with Raymond in this expedition, perceiving this, and burning to share the honour of the bold enterprise with David, who was also his near kinsman, spurred his strong horse, and dashing furiously into the river, full of emulation, and nothing daunted by the terrible example he had just witnessed, resolutely crossed to the other side. There, however, he was met by some of the citizens of Limerick, who, with others stationed on the town walls, which commanded the river bank, showered stones and darts upon him, with the determination to drive him back or slay him on the spot. The brave soldier, finding himself placed in the midst of perils, before him the furious enemy, behind him the foaming stream, stood his ground stoutly, receiving the missiles on his helmet and shield.

The loud shouts on both sides called Raymond from the rear, where he was posted as commander of the troops, unconscious of what had happened. Whereupon, putting spurs to his horse, and galloping to the river bank, he saw his nephew's danger, thus exposed, unsupported, to the enemy's attacks, and in great agitation loudly called to his troops as follows:

Raymond's Speech.

"MY MEN I know well your native valour, tried as it has been in so many hard encounters. Come, then, my men, the daring of our friends has discovered a ford by which we may pass the river. Let us follow the brave youth who has led the way so nobly for himself and so happily for us. We must not let him perish before our eyes".


With these words, Raymond, putting him self at their head, plunged first into the river, committing himself to fortune, and all the troops followed his example, striving who should be foremost. The whole force passed the ford safely, except two horsemen and one foot-soldier, and driving the enemy within the walls, followed them up with great slaughter, and carried the place by storm. Enriched by the plunder of the city, and having gained great renown, their perils and losses were well compensated. [1]

Reader, which of the three men I have mentioned, thinkest thou the most valiant? Him, who first set the example by crossing the river and finding a passage for the rest; or him, who following the example, and having before his eyes the fearful spectacle of his comrade's death, crossed in the face of the enemy, and exposed himself, alone and unsupported, to their attack; or him, who, after all, so nobly jeopardized himself and his whole force to succour his friend? It is worthy of notice, that as Limerick was taken on a Tuesday, and also recovered on a Tuesday, so Waterford, Wexford, and Dublin, were all taken on Tuesdays, And this did not happen by design, but by mere chance; nor can it be wondered or thought unreasonable, that martial affairs should be brought to a point on the day of Mars [Tuesday].



RAYMOND was very stout, [2] and a little above the middle height; his hair was yellow and curly, and he had large, grey round eyes. His nose was rather prominent, his countenance high-coloured, cheerful, and pleasant; and, although he was somewhat corpulent, he was so lively and active, that the incumbrance was not a blemish or inconvenience. Such was his care of his troops that he passed whole nights without sleep, going the rounds of the guards himself, and challenging the sentinels to keep them

[1] Limerick, as we have already remarked, was a Scandinavian colony, which accounts both for the great booty taken in a place enriched by commerce, and for the stout resistance the townsmen opposed to the invaders both on this and a subsequent occasion.

[2] Hence he is sometimes called, as we have before observed, Raymond le Gros.


on the alert. Through this constant watchfulness he had the good fortune of never, or very seldom, having the troops he commanded taken by surprise, or getting into any difficulties.

He was prudent and temperate, not effeminate in either his food or dress. He bore heat and cold equally well. He was not given to anger, and was insensible to fatigue. Thinking more how he could promote the welfare of his men than of commanding them, he was their servant rather than their master. To sum up his excellencies in few words, he was a liberal, kind, and circumspect man; and although a daring soldier and consummate general, even in military affairs prudence was his highest quality.



IN person, Meyler was of a dark complexion, with black eyes, and a stern and piercing look. Below the middle height, for his size he was a man of great strength. Broadchested and not corpulent, his arms and other limbs were bony and muscular, and not encumbered with fat. An intrepid and adventurous soldier, he never shrunk from any enterprise, whether singly or in company; and was the first in the onset, the last in retreat. In every engagement with the enemy he would either carry the day at all hazards, or die on the spot; knowing no medium between victory and death; for if he could not live with glory, he preferred to die. Both Raymond and Meyler would have deserved the highest praise, if they had been less ambitious of worldly honours, and had paid due reverence to the church of Christ, not only by preserving its ancient rights and privileges inviolate, but also by hallowing their new and sanguinary conquest, in which so much blood had been shed, and which was stained by the slaughter of a Christian people, by liberally contributing some portion of their spoils for religious uses. But it is still strange, and more to be lamented, that this has been the common failing of all our countrymen engaged in these wars, from their first coming over to the present day.


The Commendation of the rest of the Family.

What shall we say of the merits of the sons of Robert Fitz-Stephen in these times? What of Maurice Fitzgerald? What of Robert de Barri, an honest and brave man, whose good deserts have been already mentioned? What shall be said of Milo de Cogan, the nephew of Fitz-Stephen and Maurice, who was the first to come over, and was the foremost among the brave? What of Robert Fitz-Henry, Meyler's brother, who, but for his premature death, would doubtless have not been inferior to his noble brother? What of Raymond of Kantitune, and of Robert de Barri the younger, both tall, handsome, and most excellent men? What of Raymond Fitz-Hugh, who was, indeed, short in stature, but for his bravery and prudence not to be passed over? These three young men, after distinguishing themselves by their gallant conduct in Desmond, were cut off in the prime of youth, much to the loss of their friends, led on by their impetuous valour? What shall we say of many others of the same kindred, whose chivalrous deeds will make their names memorable to the latest posterity.

"Non mihi si linguae centum sint, oraque centum,
Ferrea vox, digne promere cuncta queam".

"Had I a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,
A voice of iron, to exact your praise,
I yet should fail".

O family! race! indeed it is doubly noble; deriving their courage from the Trojans, and their skill in arms from the French. Such a kindred and race, remarkable not only for its numerous branches but for its innate valour, would of itself have been equal to the conquest of a kingdom, had not envy and malice succeeded in lowering its high estate.

Raymond spent a short time at Limerick in well-ordering the state of the city, and having stored it with provisions collected from all the country round, he placed there a garrison consisting of fifty men-at-arms, two hundred horsemen, and as many archers, under the command of Milo of St.


David's [1] his cousin; and then returned triumphant into Leinster, without losing any of his troops. But as virtue is ever exposed to the shafts of envy, Hervey de Montmaurice, who, notwithstanding his new relationship, was still influenced by his former malice, sent messengers privately to the king of England, from time to time, with unfavourable representations of the state of affairs. He affirmed that Raymond, in derogation of the royal dignity, and contrary to his own fealty, evidently designed to secure to himself and his accomplices, not only the dominion of Limerick, but the sovereignty of all Ireland. And to give colour and credit to these statements, he asserted that Raymond had levied troops in the manner of the Bragmans, who were confederated with him to effect his purpose. Raymond had also made his whole army swear to bring all their plunder into a common stock, and divide it fairly among themselves, reserving the prince's share.



HERVEY was a tall and handsome man, with grey and rather prominent eyes, a pleasant look, fine features, and a command of polished language. His neck was so long and slender that it seemed scarcely able to support his head; his shoulders were low, and both his arms and legs were somewhat long. He had rather a broad breast; but was small and genteel in the waist, which is generally apt to swell too much, and, lower down, his stomach was of the same moderate proportion. His thighs, legs, and feet, were well shaped for a soldier, and finely proportioned to the upper part of his body. In stature he was above the middle height. But although nature thus endowed him with many personal graces, she had given him a mind and disposition stained with many vices. From a boy he was addicted to lascivious habits, and lent himself to all kinds of pollution, which he practised on others, there being no sort of filthiness or adultery from which he abstained. Besides this, he was spiteful, a false accuser, double-faced, full

[1] Called generally by our author Milo de Cogan. See the note on former chapter.


of wiles, and smooth, but false. Under his tongue was honey and milk mingled with poison. A man of no principle, he was consistent only in being constantly wavering. In his fortunes he was for a time at the top of the wheel, but by a sudden turn he fell to the bottom, and was plunged into irreparable ruin. Formerly he was a very good soldier after the French school, but now he is more remarkable for his malice than his gallantry, more full of deceit than honour, more puffed up with pride than respected, more witty than sensible, more wordy than truthful.

The king, however, as it turned out, putting more trust in his false accusations than they merited, injurious reports are more readily believed, and make a longer impression, than accounts of services rendered, as soon as the winter was passed, sent over to Ireland four commissioners, namely, Robert Poer, Osbert de Herlotera, William de Bendenges, and Adam de Yarmouth, two of whom returned with Raymond, who was recalled to England, and the other two remained with the earl.



RAYMOND having made all preparations for his departure, while he was only waiting for a favourable wind, messengers arrived from the garrison in Limerick with the intelligence that Duvenald prince of Thomond had blockaded the town on all sides with a vast multitude of men; and that as all the stores of provisions which they had found in the place, or afterwards drawn in, were exhausted during the winter, they were in need of immediate succour. The earl being anxious to march to their relief, mustered his own troops and announced his intention, but he found them so dissatisfied and dispirited at Raymond's recal, that they all declared with one voice that they would not go on the expedition without him. Being in this strait, and after consulting the royal commissioners, Raymond at last consented, at the joint request of the earl and the messengers from Limerick, to head the troops destined to the relief of the garrison. They consisted of eighty men-at-arms, two hundred horse-soldiers, and three hundred archers, besides a body of Irish


under Murchard of Kinsale and Duvenald of Ossory; and while they were on their march towards Cashel, Raymond learnt that the prince of Thomond had raised the siege, and posted himself at the pass of Cashel, where he intended to attack them, having added to the natural strength of the position by felling trees and digging trenches, and by throwing a very strong rampart across the road.



RAYMOND had formed his army in three divisions, and, when they drew near the pass, Duvenald prince of Ossory, being a mortal enemy to the Thomond people, and observing how few in number were the English troops, though they were full of spirit and well arrayed in their bright armour, thus addressed them, still further to animate their courage. "Brave soldiers, and conquerors of this island, we must this day manfully attack the enemy; for if your wonted valour is victorious in the onset, the Irish battle axes will second your swords in following up their defeat with effect. But if we find your ranks give way, which God forbid, it may chance that, in conjunction with the enemy, they will be turned against you. Look well, therefore, men, to yourselves; there are no strongholds near us, we are far from any place of refuge. It is our custom to side with the winning party, and to fall on those who run away. Trust to us therefore; but only while you are conquerors".

Upon hearing this, Meyler, who led the van, rushed like a whirlwind, at the head of his men, into the pass, and tearing down the rampart, they thus cut their way through the enemy with great slaughter. The pass was forced on Easter Eve, and on the third day in Easter week, Tuesday, [the day of Mars], the victorious army entered Limerick, being the same day on which the place was taken before.

Raymond halted there a short time, while he restored order and repaired the damages occasioned by the siege, and soon afterwards had a conference with the two princes of Thomond and Connaught, on the same day, but not on the same spot. Roderic came in a boat to an island in the


great lake, [1] from which the famous river Shannon rises and flows in two branches into the ocean. Duvenald took his station on the skirts of a wood not far from the same spot, while Raymond chose a place near Killaloe, about sixteen miles from Limerick. The conferences were prolonged, until at last both princes gave hostages for their good behaviour, and yielded their fealty to the king of England, renewing their allegiance, and promising for the future, on their corporal oaths, to preserve it inviolate.

After this was settled, and Raymond had returned to Limerick with the hostages, Dermitius Macarthy sent envoys to him, imploring aid against his eldest son, Cormac O'Lechan, [2] who had almost driven him out of his dominions, and offering, in return for his being restored, to become the liegeman of the king of England, acknowledging him as his lord, and doing fealty to him. He also promised Raymond large reward, and pay for his troops. Raymond, attracted by mingled prospects of lucre and glory, lost no time, after consulting his friends, in marching his victorious army to Cork. In this expedition he took much booty, and not only had abundant supplies for his own troops, so that they wanted nothing, but was able to send some herds of cattle and other provisions to Limerick. Thus, by Raymond's help, Dermitius Macarthy recovered the whole of his territories, at a time when his son Cormac had treacherously seized him and kept him in prison. His father, proving his equal in guile, did not hesitate to compass Cormac's death from the very dungeon in which his son immured him.



WHILE these things were doing in Desmond, there came a messenger in haste from Dublin, who brought Raymond a letter from his wife, Basilia, of the contents of which he was not apprized. It was therefore read to Raymond by a certain confidential clerk of his household, and the tenor was as fellows:

"To Raymond, her well-beloved lord and husband, his

[1] Lough Dearg.

[2] O'Lochlan.


Basilia wisheth health, as to herself. Be it known to your sincere love, that the great jaw tooth which used to give me so much uneasiness, has fallen out. Wherefore, if you have any care or regard for me, or even for yourself, return with all speed".

On hearing the letter read, Raymond shrewdly conjectured that by the falling out of the tooth was meant the death of earl Strongbow; for he had fallen very sick before Raymond left Dublin. The earl died about the calends (the 1st) of June; but, through fear of the Irish, every possible means were used to keep his death secret until the return of Raymond and the troops under his command. Making all haste, therefore, to come back to Limerick, and hiding his grief under a cheerful countenance from all except a few faithful servants of his own household, to whom he disclosed the loss he had sustained, he took counsel with the most discreet men about him regarding this new and untoward event. After deliberating on the state of affairs, it was agreed amongst them, that the earl's decease, and Raymond's impending departure for England, rendered it necessary that they should for a time relinquish the possession of a city which lay so remote, and was surrounded on all sides by hosts of enemies, and withdraw the whole force in good order, to defend the towns on the coast, and the castles in Leinster. Raymond concurring in this decision though very unwillingly, and not being able to find any one of note who would undertake the government of the city after his own departure, voluntarily gave it in charge to Duvenald prince of Thomond, as baron of the lord the king of England, on his taking a solemn oath to preserve the place in good condition, restore it to the king when required, and keep the peace, for which he gave fresh hostages, and renewed in various forms the solemn oaths he had before sworn.

Scarcely, however, had the garrison been withdrawn and passed the further end of the bridge, when it was broken down behind them, and they beheld with grief that noble city, so well fortified, containing such fair buildings, and stored with all manner of provisions collected from all quarters, given to the flames, fire being set to it in four places. It was the work of the traitorous Duvenald, who thus openly showed by


his new and disgraceful perfidy, what little reliance could be placed on Irish faith. When the king of England was informed afterwards of the results of this enterprise, he is reported to have said: "The attack of Limerick was a bold adventure, its relief a greater; but its evacuation was an act of pure wisdom". As soon as the garrison returned to Dublin, the earl's corpse, which, by his own command, had been kept unburied until Raymond's arrival, was entombed in the church of the Holy Trinity, at Dublin, by the appointment of Laurence, the archbishop of that see, who performed the obsequies with great ceremony. [1]



UPON the occurrence of these events, the change of circumstances requiring new plans, the royal commissioners hastened back to England with the first favourable wind, leaving Raymond to act as lieutenant-governor of Ireland until the royal pleasure was known. On their arrival they informed the king of the change of affairs in consequence of the earl's death. Whereupon the king sent over to Ireland William Fitz-Aldelm, attended by ten men-at-arms of Fitz-Aldelm's own household, to fill the office of lieutenant-governor. There were joined in commission with him John de Courcy, who had also ten men-at-arms, and Robert Fitz-Stephen and Milo de Cogan, who had distinguished themselves in the worse than civil two years' wars, under the banner of

[1] The cathedral of the Holy Trinity, or Christ Church, in Dublin, was built by Sigtryg, king of the Ostmen there, and Donald (Duncan) their bishop, about the year 1038. For we may add to our former notices of the Ostmen or Scandinavian colonists, who founded also the cathedral at Waterford, that they had their own bishops, who were consecrated in England, by the archbishop of Canterbury, independent of the see of Armagh, in which the primacy of the ancient Irish church was vested. Richard Strongbow had assisted archbishop Laurence in restoring and finishing the cathedral of Christ Church, in which he was buried. His tomb, which had been defaced by the fall of the roof, was repaired by Sir Henry Sydney, when he was lord deputy, and is still preserved. He died in 1176.


the king, both in England and France, and who now took with them twenty men-at-arms. Raymond, having heard of their landing, set forth from Dublin with a well-appointed body of troops, and meeting them on the confines of Wexford, after offering his congratulations, and embracing them in a friendly manner, proceeded forthwith to surrender and place in the charge of William Fitz-Aldelm, as the king's lieutenant, all the cities, towns, and castles of Ireland, and the several hostages which were in his custody.

Fitz-Aldelm seeing Raymond surrounded by so gallant a band, and beholding Meyler and his other nephews and kinsmen to the number of thirty mounted on noble steeds, in bright armour, and all having the same device on their shields, engaged in martial exercises on the plains, he turned to his friends, and said in a low voice: "I will speedily put an end to all this bravery; those shields shall soon be scattered". From that hour Fitz-Aldelm and all the other governors of Ireland, as it were by a common understanding, were so moved with envy towards Raymond, Meyler, the Fitzmaurices, and the Fitz-Stephens, that they took every opportunity of injuring them. For this seems to have been the fate of the whole of this race. In all services of war they were highly valued; always in the van, they were eminent for their valour and daring in every noble enterprise: but, as soon as the occasion for their services had ended, they were neglected and treated with the utmost contempt. But malice itself could not succeed in extirpating this generous race, so that even to this day the family, putting forth new branches, possesses no small share of wealth and power in this island. Who first penetrated into the heart of the enemy's country? The Geraldines. Who have kept it in submission? The Geraldines. Who strike most terrer into the enemy? The Geraldines. Against whom are the shafts of malice chiefly directed? The Geraldines. Oh, that they had found a prince who could have justly appreciated their distinguished worth! How tranquil, how peaceful would have been the state of Ireland under their administration! But they were always held in groundless suspicion, while confidence has been placed in others in blind security, who had none of their virtues. But persevere, ye gallant


kinsmen, in the course of honour ye have hitherto pursued, not holding your lives dear, if spent in the path of glory; and

"Felices facti, si quid mea carmina possunt".

"Blest if my feeble lines their worth proclaim,
And weave their guerdon of immortal fame".

For worth is imperishable, and will receive its reward either in present or future times; and although, either through the remissness of princes, or the envy of others, the great services of the Geraldines have been hitherto unrequited, at least they shall have all the credit that my pen can give them. Let, therefore, this noble progeny take heart, and still toil onward from day to day, animated by increasing love and desire of renown; for their memory shall never be lost and perish, but, more precious than land and wealth, shall flourish for ever in the annals of glory.

About this time, or shortly before, a human monster was seen in Wicklow, having the body of a man and the limbs of an ox. It was begotten by a man on a cow, an enormity too common in that nation. I have described the monster in my Topography. [1]

Meanwhile, Fitz-Aldelm employed himself in inspecting the towns and garrisons on the coast, but kept far enough from the mountainous districts of the interior. However, he did not forget to collect all the gold he could lay hands on, and in which the country abounds. About the calends of September [1st September] Maurice Fitzgerald died at Wexford, to the great grief of his friends; a man of great moderation, prudence, and courage, than whom no better for constancy, truth, and resolute valour was left in Ireland. After this, Fitz-Aldelm had a meeting with Maurice's sons at the castle of Ginkingelone (Ginkel), and so dealt with them that he never left them until, by some means or other, he craftily got the castle out of their hands. Soon afterwards, indeed, he gave them Ferns as a sort of exchange; where they forthwith built a strong fortress, and held it stoutly, though it was in the midst of the enemy's country. Walter the Almaine, so called, although he was not such either by

[1] Distinct, ii. c. 21


birth or stature, a nephew of William Fitz-Aldelm's, was appointed by him constable of Wexford, and showed by his conduct that he was of the same stock. It is but too true that

"Asperius nihil est humili cum surgit in altum;
Cuncta premit, dum cuncta timet, dessevit in omnes,
Ut se posse putent; nec bellua tetrior ulla est
Quam servi rabies in libera colla furentis". [1]

"No greater despot than the base-born raised
Above his rank; fear makes him a tyrant,
Measuring his power by the terror it excites:
Nothing so monstrous as a slave's oppression,
When set to govern freemen".

This Walter was corrupted by the bribes of Murchard, prince of Kinsale, to compass by crafty means the ruin of the family of the Fitz-Stephens; and William Fitz-Aldelm deprived Raymond of the lands he held in the valley of Dublin and about Wexford. He also, being well bribed, evaded carrying into effect the king's command for the restoration to the Fitz-Stephens of a cantred of land in Offaly, and at length left nothing to this noble family but remote and barren territories, constantly exposed to danger from the inroads of the enemy, on whose country they bordered.



THIS Fitz-Aldelm [2] was large and corpulent both in stature and shape, but of a reasonable height. He was a pleasant and courtly man, but whatever honours he paid to any one were always mingled with guile. There was no end of his

[1] Claudian. in Eutrop. i. 181-4.

[2] William Fitz-Aldelm was son of Aldelm, or Adelm, and younger brother of Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, and justiciary in the time of Henry III., one of the most powerful subjects in England. The Clanricards are descended from William Fitz-Aldelm, the founder of the Irish branch of this family.


craftiness; there was poison in the honey, and a snake in the grass. To outward appearance he was liberal and courteous, but within there was more aloes than honey. He always

"Pelliculam veterem retinens, vir fronte politus,
Astutam vapido portans sub pectore vulpem". [1]

"Beneath the outward guise of gentle bearing,
Concealed the fox's hateful guile within".


"Impia sub dulci melle venena ferens".

"Foul poison in the honeyed potion lurks".

His words were smoother than oil, and yet were they very swords. Those he honoured one day, the next he plundered or calumniated. A braggart against the defenceless, a flatterer of the rebellious, he succumbed to the powerful, and lorded over the humble; gentle to his enemies and severe to those who submitted, he neither struck terror into the one, nor kept faith with the other. He was a man full of guile, bland and deceitful, and much given to wine and women. Covetous of money and ambitious of court favour, he tried to advance himself both ways.

The Invasion of Ulster.

John de Courcy, perceiving that Fitz-Aldelm was covetous crafty, and timid in all his dealings, and considering that he was neither feared by the enemy nor trusted by his subjects, drew around him some of the garrison of Dublin, who were much dispirited for want of their regular pay and allowances, and the supplies they were used to obtain in cattle and provisions by inroads on the enemy. The band selected by Courcy was small in numbers, but full of courage and spirit; and the brave knight, with only twenty-two men-at-arms and about three hundred others, boldly ventured on an expedition into Ulster, a

[1] Perseus, Sat. v. 116-18.


part of the island where the English had not yet appeared in arms.

Then the prophecy attributed to the Calidonian Merlin (for I do not vouch its authenticity) seemed to receive its fulfilment "a white knight, sitting on a white horse, and having birds on his shield, shall be the first to enter the province of Ulster with force of arms". For John de Courcy was of a fair complexion, and chanced at this time to ride a white horse, and he bore on his shield the blazon of three birds. [1] After three days' march through the country of Uziele (Orgial), on the morning of the fourth day, being about the calends [the 1st] of February, he entered the city of Down without opposition, unexpected either as a guest or an enemy; and Dunlevus, [2] the king of that country, was so taken by surprise that he made a hasty flight. There Courcy's troops, who had been before in great need and half starved, were refreshed with the plunder and booty they took.

It happened at this very time that Vivianus, a legate of the see of Rome, was staying in the city, having crossed the sea from Scotland. This prelate took much pains to effect a treaty between the king and John de Courcy, and so induce the English to leave those parts and return to their own territories, in consideration of a tribute to be yearly paid them; but although he exerted all his powers of persuasion, his mediation was of no effect. Dunlevus, finding that words were of no avail, assembled his forces from all quarters and within eight days, and boldly marched against his enemies within the city at the head of ten thousand warriors. For in this island, as in other countries, the inhabitants of the northern parts are more warlike and truculent than the rest. Thus the poet says:

"Omnis in arctois sanguis quicunque pruinis
Nascitur, indomitus bellis, et mortis amator".

[1] The arms of the Courcys were: Argent, three griphs or geires gules, crowned or. The family took their name from a castle on the little river Dive in Normandy; and Richard de Courcy, who came in with William the Conqueror, received grants of lands in England, This John de Courcy, the first invader of the North of Ireland, was made earl of Ulster by Henry II., the first Irish earldom created.

[2] Roderic mac Dulevy, king of Ulster.


"The blood that's nurtured in the northern frosts,
Despises death, and yields not in the fight".

John de Courcy seeing the enemy's force approaching the city with great impetuosity, thought it far best to sally forth and meet them, as his own troops, though few in number, were full of courage, and thus try the fortune of battle, rather than be shut up in a weak fort which he had constructed of slight materials in one corner of the city, where he might be exposed to a long siege and be reduced by famine. Battle was therefore joined with great fury, arrows and darts being showered thickly from a distance at the first onset; then spears met spears, and swords and battle-axes crossed, and many fell on both sides. In this terrible conflict,

"Tam elypeo elypeus, umbone repellitur umbo,
Ense minax ensis, pede pes, et cuspide cuspis".

He who had seen how John de Courcy wielded his sword, with one stroke lopping off heads, and with another arms, must needs have commended him for a most valiant soldier.

Many others distinguished themselves by their bravery in this battle, among whom was Roger le Poer, [1] a beardless youth, fair and tall, who was second in the glorious list of warriors here, and afterwards gained great honour in the country about Leighlin, and also in Ossory. The battle was severely fought, and the issue for a long time doubtful, the odds in numbers being so great; but at length John de Courcy's obstinate valour secured the victory, and great multitudes of the Irish were slain as they were making their escape by the sea-shore. Then was fulfilled, as they say, the prophecy of Columba, the Irishman, who in times long past foretold this battle: "So much Irish blood", he said, "shall then be shed, that their enemies, in pursuing them, will wade up to their knees in blood". For the fugitives sank with their own weight in the quicksands

[1] Giraldus does not inform us how this young man was related to Robert le Poer, the founder of this distinguished Irish family, who is noticed elsewhere in this History.


on the shore, so that their pursuers were easily plunged up to their knees in the blood which floated on the surface. It is also reported that a prediction was committed to writing by the same prophet, purporting that a needy and broken man, a stranger from far countries, should, with a small company, come to Down, and take possession of the city without the leave of the governor. He also foretold several battles and other events, all which were clearly fulfilled in the acts of John de Courcy; who is said to have had this book of prophecies, written in the Irish tongue, in his possession, and to have valued it much, considering it as the mirror of his own deeds. It is also written in the same book, that a young man, with a band of armed men, should assault and break down the walls of Waterford, and take the city with great slaughter of the inhabitants; and that he should then pass through Wexford, and at length enter Dublin, without any opposition. All this was evidently fulfilled in earl Richard. The saint also predicted that Limerick would be twice evacuated by the English, but the third time they would retain possession of it. Now, truly it has been twice given up, once, as we have before related, and the second time by Philip de Braose, who, having the city of Limerick granted to him, came as far as the river which washes its walls, for the purpose of taking possession, but no efforts or taunts could prevail with him not to relinquish his enterprise; as we shall more fully relate in the proper place. And as we find in the prophecy, that, when the attempt should be made for the third time, possession of the city should be retained, this happened long afterwards, when Hamon de Valaignes was justiciary; for then the place was treacherously laid in ruins, but was afterwards recovered and rebuilt by Meyler.

As to John de Courcy, he gained the victory in two great battles at Down, one of which was fought after the feast of the Purification, (2nd February) and the other about the [eighth of the] calends of July, the feast of the Nativity of St. John, [24th June], when, with a very small force, he defeated fifteen thousand men, putting great numbers of them to the sword. He had a third engagement at Ferly, where he was overtaken in a narrow pass


while, with a small party, he was carrying off a herd of cattle, but being beset by the enemy, his party were compelled to retire, after several desperate charges, and so many of them perished, or dispersed themselves in the woods, that only eleven of his men-at-arms were left to stand by him. However, with undaunted courage, he and his small band made good their retreat for thirty miles, having continually to defend themselves against the enemy who pursued them. They lost their horses, and after travelling on foot two days and two nights, encumbered with their armour, and without tasting food, at length, by wonderful efforts, reached his castle in safety. His fourth battle was fought at Uriel, where he lost many of his people, and the rest were put to flight. The fifth battle was fought at the bridge of Ivor, after his return from England; and in this he came off victorious. Thus he gained the victory in three engagements, and was unsuccessful in two skirmishes, in which, however, the enemy's losses were far greater than his own.



IN person John de Courcy was of a fair complexion, and tall, with bony and muscular limbs, of large size, and very strong made, being very powerful, of singular daring, and a bold and brave soldier from his very youth. Such was his ardour to mingle in the fight, that even when he had the command, he was apt to forget his duties as such, and exhibiting the virtues of a private soldier, instead of a general, and impetuously charge the enemy among the foremost ranks; so that if his troops wavered he might have lost the victory by being too eager to win it. But although he was thus impetuous in war, and was more a soldier than a general, in times of peace he was sober and modest, and, paying due reverence to the church of Christ, was exemplary in his devotions and in attending holy worship; nor did he forget in his successes to offer thanksgivings, and ascribe all to the Divine mercy, giving God all the glory as often as he had achieved anything glorious. But, as Tally says, "Nature


never made anything absolutely perfect in all points", so we find in him an excessive parsimony and inconstancy, which cast a shade over his other virtues.

He married the daughter of Godred king of Man; and after the many conflicts of a long war, and severe struggles on every side, being raised by his victories to the summit of power, he erected castles throughout Ulster in suitable places, and settled the whole country in peace and good order, the fruits of his many toils, privations, and perils. One thing, however, is very remarkable, and I cannot forbear mentioning it, that four of the main pillars of the English power in the conquest of Ireland, namely, Fitz-Stephen, Hervey, Raymond, and John de Courcy, by some mysterious, though doubtless just, dispensation of Providence, had no lawful issue by their wives. I might add to these a fifth, Meyler, who, although he be married, has yet no child by his wife. Having said thus much briefly, and by way of episode, concerning John de Courcy, I leave his great deeds to be more fully related by future historians, and now return to Dublin.

The Synod of Dublin under the presidence of Vivianus.

While Vivianus performed the functions of papal legate in Ireland, a synod of the bishops was convoked and held in Dublin, at which he made a public declaration of the right of the king of England to Ireland, and the confirmation of the pope; and strictly commanded and enjoined both the clergy and people, under pain of excommunication, on no rash pretence to presume to forfeit their allegiance. And moreover, forasmuch as it was the custom in Ireland for stores of provisions to be carried to the churches in times of trouble for safe keeping, the legate allowed the English troops engaged in any expedition to take what they found in those churches, when they could not procure food elsewhere, paying what was justly due for the care thereof to those who had the charge of the churches.

After this, Milo de Cogan, who under Fitz-Aldelm was constable of the garrison of Dublin, and also for the second time governor of the city, crossed the river Shannon and invaded Connaught, into which the English had not yet


penetrated, at the head of forty men-at-arms, (twenty of whom were under the command of Fitz-Stephen's son, Ralph, a noble youth), with two hundred horse soldiers and three hundred bowmen. Thereupon the men of Connaught set fire to their own towns and villages, and burnt all the corn which they could not conceal in their underground granaries, not even sparing the churches from the flames, and taking down the crucifixes and images of the saints, they strewed them on the plains, in order to bring scandal on our people and draw down on them the vengeance of Almighty God. The English army, however, marched forward till they came to Thomond; but after halting there for eight days in the heart of the enemy's territory, finding that no provisions could be obtained in the country, they retired towards the river Shannon. On this march they fell in with the forces of Roderic prince of Connaught, posted in three bodies in a wood near the river. A severe engagement ensued, unintentionally on both sides; but Milo de Cogan forced his way through, and brought his troops safe to Dublin, having lost only three men, though the loss of the enemy was much greater.



FITZ-ALDELM was recalled to England, as well as Milo de Cogan and Robert Fitz-Stephen, having done nothing worthy of mention during his government, except procuring the miraculous staff called the staff of Jesus, to be transferred from Armagh to Dublin. King Henry then appointed Hugh de Lacy governor-general of Ireland, joining in commission with him Robert Poer [1] with the constableship both of Waterford and Wexford. The king also granted to Robert Fitz-Stephen and Milo de Cogan all the southern part of Munster, namely, the kingdom

[1] The honours and estates of the Le Poer family in Ireland, of which this Robert was the founder, passed by marriage to the Beresfords, of whom the marquis of Waterford is now the nead and representative.


of Cork from the west of Lismore, and the adjoining cantred, except the city of Cork, the said territories to be equally divided between them, and held of him by knight-service. The king also gave to Philip de Braose the northern division of Munster, namely, the whole kingdom of Limerick, except the city itself and the cantred belonging to it. These three having thus received their grauts and done fealty at the same time, formed a strict alliance, and crossed over to Ireland in company, in the month of November, each with his own armed retainers; and travelling along the coast-road southward, passed first through Waterford and then Lismore, arriving safely at Cork, where they were received with due honour by the citizens and a knight named Richard de Londres, [1] who had acted as governor thereof, under Fitz-Aldelm.

Having speedily established peace with Dermitius prince of Desmond, and with the other powerful men of those parts, Fitz-Stephen and Milo divided between them seven cantreds of land lying near the city, of which they had already obtained possession. The three eastern cantreds in this partition fell to the lot of Fitz-Stephen, and the four western to Milo, which was made equal by the smaller lots comprising the best land, whereas much of the other was barren. The city was left in their joint charge, and the tribute reserved for the remaining twenty-four cantreds was to be equally divided between the two lords, as it was received. It has been already mentioned in the Topography, that a cantred, both in English and Irish, signifies a tract of lands containing one hundred vills.

After this, his two confederates conducted Philip de Braose to Limerick; Fitz-Stephen taking with him thirty men-at-arms and forty horse soldiers; Milo de Cogan, twenty men-at-arms and fifty horse-soldiers; and Philip de Braose, twenty men-at-arms and sixty horse soldiers; besides the bowmen attached to each body of troops. On

[1] William de Londres held the castle and lands of Ogmore, in Glamorganshire, under Robert Fitz-Hamon. Among his descendants we find this Richard, Fitz-Aldelm's deputy at Waterford, and Henry de Londres, who succeeded John Comyn in the archbishopric of Dublin in 1212.


reaching the bank of the Shannon, over against Limerick, distant about forty miles from Cork, Fitz-Stephen and Milo de Cogan offered immediately to ford the river and storm the town, although it was then in flames before their eyes, having been set on fire by the citizens themselves; or otherwise they proposed, if Philip de Braose preferred it, to make a fortified camp for him on the opposite side of the river. Philip, however, listening to the pusillanimous counsels of his friends, though he was not wanting in courage himself, determined to return home safe, rather than to run the risk of the perils to which he would be exposed in a country so hostile and so remote from all succour. It is no wonder that this expedition turned out so unfortunately, considering the number of cut-throats, and murderers, and lewd fellows, whom Philip de Braose had, by his own special choice, got together, from South Wales and its marches, to accompany him to Ireland. [1]

Soon afterwards, Mereduc, Fitz-Stephen's son, a youth of great gallantry and much promise, died at Cork, in the month of March, to the great grief of his friends, he being truly a disciple of Mars. About this time also, the cow mentioned in my Topography [2] was found at Waterford, to the great astonishment of the Irish people.

Meanwhile, the famous council of Lateran, [3] under pope Alexander III., sat at Rome, by which the German church was restored to unity, and the schism occasioned by three antipopes, which had lasted for twenty years, was, by the

[1] We imagine that this Philip de Braose is identical with the person who is elsewhere called Philip of Worcester by Giraldus. The family of Braose obtained large grants of lands in Sussex, part of which, with the ancient barony of that name, are now vested in the duke of Norfolk. Giraldus frequently mentions in his Itinerary another of this family, William de Braose, who was lord of Brecknock at this time, and had great power in that part of Wales, which he exercised in a manner quite consistent with the description of his retainers here given. See the Itin., Book i. c. 2.

[2] Distinct ii. c. 22.

[3] This famous council was opened in the third week of Lent, 29th March, 1179. The Irish church was represented in it by Laurence, archbishop of Dublin, Catholicus of Tuam, and five or six other bishops: only four went from England. See Hoveden's Hist. vol. 1. pp 494 etc. (Antiq. Lib.), where the decrees of this council are given.


aid of Divine Providence, extinguished. Also, within the space of three years, about the same period, there were three eclipses of the sun; but they were not general, the sun being only partly eclipsed.

After Robert Fitz-Stephen and Milo de Cogan had jointly governed the kingdom of Desmond in peace for five years, restraining by their prudence and moderation the unruly spirits of their young men on both sides, Milo, together with Ralph, a son of Robert Fitz-Stephen, a young man of great merit, who had lately married Milo's daughter, went towards Lismore to have a parley with the men of Waterford; and as they were sitting in the fields waiting for their coming, one Mac Tyre, with whom they were to have lodged that night, with five men-of-arms, stealing upon them unawares, treacherously slew both, by strokes of broadaxes dealt from behind. This calamity threw the whole country into insurrection, and Dermitius Macarthy, and almost all the Irish in those parts, joined with Mac Tyre in throwing off their allegiance to the English, and rising in arms to try their strength and fortune against Fitz-Stephen. Nor could he ever afterwards recover the ascendancy, until Raymond succeeding to the inheritance of his uncle, Robert Fitz-Stephen, obtained the sole constableship of the city; nor even then was the country restored to its former state of tranquillity. We find that the people of the North of Ireland were always warlike, while those of the South were subtle and crafty; the one coveted glory, the other was steeped in falsehood; the one trusted to their arms, the other to their arts; the one was full of courage, the other of deceit. As the poet says:

"Omnis in Arctois sanguis quicunque pruinis
Nascitur, indomitus bellis, et Martis amator".

Aa quoted above; and again immediately after:

"Quicquid ad Ecos tractus coelique teporem
Jungitur, emollit mores dementia coeli".

"In eastern climes, the torrid heat we find
Exhaust the strength, and enervate the mind".


Raymond returns to Ireland.

Raymond having received intelligence that Robert Fitz-Stephen was desperately afflicted by this reverse of fortune, and beset on all sides by hosts of enemies, who blockaded him in the town of Cork, he set sail from the port of Wexford with twenty men-at-arms, and one hundred horse soldiers and bowmen, and, sailing along the coast, quickly brought relief to his countrymen, and struck terror into the enemy. In various encounters with the Irish, some of them were slain, others driven from that part of the country, but the greater part were reduced to submission, and peace being restored, this violent storm soon blew over.

Very shortly afterwards, Richard de Cogan, Milo's brother, a worthy scion of the same stock, was sent to Ireland by the king of England with a picked body of troops, to supply his brother's place. Also, towards the close of winter, at the end of the month of November, Philip de Barri, [1] Fitz-Stephen's nephew, a man of prudence and courage, arrived with a strong force both to succour his uncle and defend his own lands in Olethan, which had been granted him by Fitz-Stephen, and afterwards unjustly taken from him by his son Ralph. There came over at the same time in the same ship another nephew of Fitz-Stephen's, and a brother of Philip de Barri, who rendered his uncle and brother important assistance by his good advice, and also made diligent inquiries respecting the situation and natural history of the island, as well as the origin of the nation. This person was already versed in literary pursuits, and his name appears as the author of the present work. [2]

[1] Robert de Barri, a brother of this Philip de Barri and of our Giraldus, came over to Ireland with the first expedition under Fitz-Stephen. (See B. i. c. 3.) Hooker, however, represents this Philip de Barri as the founder of the Irish family of that name. Perhaps Robert died without issue, or returned to Wales. Philip had a son named Robert, as we are informed in c. 20 of this book. He had also a younger son named Philip, who was brought up to the church by his uncle Giraldus, and succeeded him in his archdeaconry and prebend, resigned in his favour.

[2] This was our author, Giraldus, who appears to have spent about a year in this, his first, visit to Ireland. He very seldom furnishes any dates; but his History is written in a regular sequence, and by a calculation made from other occurrences, it would appear that he went over with his brother Philip in 1182 or 1183. In 1184 he was at the court of Henry I. in Normandy, and returned to Ireland in attendance on prince John in 1185.


About this time Hervey de Montmaurice retired to Canterbury, and became a monk in the abbey of the Holy Trinity there, to which he gave in frank-almoin all the churches on his lands lying between Waterford and Wexford. Would to God that with the monastic garb his mind had become pious, and he had laid aside his malicious temper as well as his military habits.



WHILE these events were happening in Desmond, Hugh de Lacy, like a wise and prudent man, was building strong castles [1] throughout Leinster and Meath. Among others, he erected a castle at Leighlin, on the banks of the noble river Barrow, on the side of Ossory, towards Odrone, selecting for its site a spot naturally of great strength. [2] Before this, Robert Poer had the custody of the place, but he gave it up by the king's command. This Robert Poer and Fitz-Aldelm were pretty men to be made lords-marchers, and sent into a country where men of mark were needed.

"Quales ex humili magna ad fastigia rerum
Extollit, quoties yoluit fortuna jocari".

"'Tis fortune's freak, when men of low estate
She raises from the dust, and ranks them with the great".

The two were soldiers who delighted rather

"... jacuisse thoro, tenuisse puellam,
Threiciam digitis increpuisse lyram,
Quam clypeos humeris, et acutae cuspidis hastam,
Et galeam pressa sustinuisse coma". [3]

[1] Every one knows that this castellation was the usual policy of the Normans in all their conquests. Thus, their own Normandy, England, Wales, and Ireland were successively bridled; not to speak of Apulia, Sicily, and their other acquisitions in the South of Europe.

[2] The castle of Leighlin, or the Black Castle, stood upon the bank of the river Barrow, at Leighlin Bridge, about a mile from the cathedral town of the same name.

[3] Ovid. Epist. ii. 117-121.


It is indeed to be wondered that so sagacious a prince should have sent such paltry cowards to take the charge of these far-distant marches, merely because they were hangers-on about his court. Hugh de Lacy, a very different sort of person, made it his first care to restore peace and order, reinstating the peasants who, after they had submitted to the conquerors, were violently expelled from their districts, in the deserted lands, which from barren wastes now became cultivated and stocked with herds of cattle. Having thus restored confidence by his mild administration and firm adherence to treaties, his next care was to enforce submission and obedience to the laws on the inhabitants of corporate towns, thus gradually bringing them into subordination. By these means, where his predecessors had spread ruin and confusion, he restored order; and where they had sown toil and trouble, he reaped the happiest fruits.

In short, he had in a little time restored tranquillity over so vast an extent of country, so munificently provided for his own partisans out of the possessions of his fallen enemies, and such was the liberality and courtesy with which he won the hearts of the Irish people and drew around him their natural leaders, that a deep suspicion arose that his policy was to usurp all power and dominion, and, throwing off his allegiance, to be crowned as king of Ireland.



IF you wish to have a portrait of this great man, know that he had a dark complexion, with black, sunken eyes, and rather flat nostrils, and that he had a burn on the face from some accident which much disfigured him, the scar reaching down his right cheek to his chin. His neck was short, his body hairy and very muscular. He was short in stature, and ill-proportioned in shape. If you ask what were his habits and disposition, he was firm and stedfast, as temperate as a Frenchman, very attentive to his own private affairs, and indefatigable in public business and the administration of the government committed to his charge. Although he had great experience in military affaire, as a


commander he had no great success in the expeditions which he undertook. After he lost his wife he abandoned himself to loose habits, and not being contented with one mistress, his amours were promiscuous. He was very covetous and ambitious, and immoderately greedy of honour and reputation.

At this time flourished in Leinster, where he much distinguished himself, Robert Fitz-Henry, [1] brother to Meyler; but this flourishing flower was early nipped by the cold blasts of winter. There also flourished at the same time the two sons of Maurice Fitz-Stephen, Alexander and Giraldus, the latter of whom, though short in stature, was a man of great prudence and worth. Robert le Poer, who commanded the garrison of Leighlin under Hugh de Lacy, was also a man of note at this time. At Waterford there was William le Poer; and Robert de Barri, the younger son of Philip, flourished both on the borders of Leinster and in Desmond; and there were the two Raymonds, both Raymond of Kantitune and Raymond Fitz-Hugh. About this time the two wonderful miracles described in my Topography occurred at Foure, in Meath, one which ensued on a woman's being violated in St. Fechin's mill, the other in consequence of the oats which were stolen and secreted. [3]



SUCH being the state of affairs, and the suspicions already mentioned gaining strength continually from fresh reports, Hugh de Lacy was recalled, and John, the constable of Chester, and Richard de Pec arrived, about the calends (the first) of May, to take the government, to which they were jointly commissioned by the king of England. But before Hugh left the country, they all consulted together and built several strongholds in different parts of Leinster; for hitherto there were more castles in Meath than in Leinster.

[1] He was the second son of Henry, the king's illegitimate son by Nesta. See the Pedigree.

[2] Chapters 50 and 52.


First, therefore, they now built two castles in Fortheret arid Onolan, the one for Raymond, the other for his brother Griffyth. The third was at Tristerdermot, in Omurethi (O'Morough's country), for Walter de Ridenesford. The fourth was for John de Clahull, on the water of Barrow, not far from Leighlin. The fifth at Zyllacht, for John de Hereford. They also took from Meyler Kildare, with the adjacent territory, which had been granted to him by earl Richard, giving him in exchange on the king's part, the province of Lex, [1] a rough and woody country, exposed to the enemy's inroads and far from succour; expressly selecting so brave a champion and marcher to defend this border.



JOHN the Constable and Richard de Pec having been thus employed in the island during the summer, they were recalled to England during the ensuing winter, and Hugh de Lacy, being restored to the king's confidence, had the government of Ireland entrusted to him for the second time; but a certain ecclesiastic, named Robert of Salisbury, was joined in commission with him, as his coadjutor and councillor, and, on the king's behalf, to be privy to all his doings. On Hugh de Lacy's arrival, he set about building several more castles, among which was one at Tahmel, in Lex, for Meyler, to whom he also then gave his niece in marriage. He also built a castle near to it, at Obowy, for Robert do Bigarz; another, for Thomas de Flandres, not far distant, in Omurethy, on the other side of the river Barrow; and one for Robert Fitz-Richard at Norrach. Iu Meath he built the castles of Clunart and Killeen; a castle for Adam de Riceport; one for Gilbert de Nugent; and many others which it would be tedious to enumerate.

About this time that strange meeting and talk between the priest and the wolf, which is fully described in my

[1] The district of Lex lay on the extreme west of Leinster. It was a boggy and woody country, extending to the river Shannon. By stat. 3 & 4 of Philip and Mary, it was made a county, called the Queen's county.


Topography, [1] occurred in a wood in Meath. St. Jerom says that you will find many things in the Scriptures which appear incredible, and yet are true. For nature can do nothing against the Lord of nature; and it is man's duty to admire and reverence the Creator's works, whatever they may be.

Soon after this, Henry the younger, king of England, the son of king Henry, led astray, alas! by evil counsels, again revolted against his father; and in this rebellion he was aided and abetted by the powerful nobles of Poitou and the flower of the youth of France, besides his brother Geoffrey, earl of Britany, who was the mainspring of the wicked enterprise. But before long, about the calends (the first) of June, the young king, notwithstanding his invincible valour, became the victim of death, dying at Marseilles, [2] to the mutual grief of both armies, though it was thought a just judgment of God for his ungrateful conduct to his father. A few years afterwards, Geoffrey, earl of Britany, a brave soldier and eloquent speaker, a worthy peer to Ulysses as well as Achilles, who had now rebelled for the third time against his father, met his fate. He died at Paris about the calends (the first) of August. [3]



IN the meantime, Laurence, archbishop of Dublin, died at the castle of Eu, [4] in Normandy, on the eighteenth of the calends of December [14th November]. He was a worthy and just man, but incurred the king of England's

[1] Distinct, ii., c. 19.

[2] The text is corrupt. The young king Henry breathed his last at Martel, a village near Limoges, which city his father was then besieging. He died of a sudden attack of dysentery, on the 11th June, 1183, in deep penitence for his unnatural conduct.

[3] Geoffrey, earl of Britany, died at Paris, in 1186, from bruises which he received in a tournament. He was buried in Notre Dame.

[4] Eu stands on the Breste, just above its embouchure in the English channel at Treport, in Normandy. This ancient chateau of the counts D'Eu was restored with great magnificence by the late king Louis Philippe.


displeasure by the privileges he asserted and maintained in the Lateran council, at which he was present, against the king's dignity and honour, led, as is reported, by zeal for his nation; and for this cause he was long detained in Normandy and England. [1] A happy end at last terminated his long course of travels and toils. Among many miracles which God has wrought through this his saint, manifesting his wonders even in the present day, this remarkable one occurred while he was in parts beyond the sea. Being seized with mortal sickness at Abbeville, [2] the holy man, in spite of the remonstrances of his attendants, refused to rest there, saying that his place of rest was not there; and having passed onwards on the road to the castle of Eu, as soon as he came in sight of the church of St. Mary, and was informed that it was dedicated to the blessed Virgin, he quoted that verse from the Psalms in the spirit of prophecy: "This shall be my rest for ever: here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein". [3] He died a few days afterwards in that place, and was buried with due ceremony in the mother church there, [4] the Lord, who did not suffer his light to be hid, working many signs and wonders at his tomb.

He was succeeded by John Comyn, an Englishman and a

[1] See previous notices of archbishop Laurence, particularly in a note to chap. 17, B. i. The language of Giraldus in this place appears to intimate that the archbishop was not permitted to return to Ireland after the conclusion of the Lateran council, but was detained in Normandy until his death. There is, however, a passage in Hoveden which presents a different view of the circumstances. That historian states that Laurence came from Ireland to Normandy, bringing with him the son of Roderic of Connaught, whom he delivered to the king of England as a hostage for the performance of the treaty made between him and the king of Connaught for payment of tribute; shortly after which he died at Eu, and was buried there. Vol ii. p. 1. (Antiq. Lib.)

[2] Abbeville is a large town on the Somme, about eight leagues from Eu.

[3] Psalm cxxxii. 15.

[4] Among the side-chapels in the church of Notre Dame at Eu, which is built in the early pointed style, there is one dedicated to St. Laurence, who was buried there. The screen before this chapel is worthy of notice; and the monumental effigies of the archbishop, which had been mutilated and thrown into a vault, filled with rubbish, at the time of the revolution in France, were restored by Louis Philippe, and with those of the counts d'Eu, which had shared the same fate, deposited in crypt under the church.


monk of Evesham, who having through the king's influence been duly elected, without much opposition, by the clergy of Dublin, was consecrated by pope Lucius at Velletri, who also appointed him a cardinal priest. [1] He was a man of learning and eloquence, whose zeal in the cause of justice, and for the dignity of the office to which he was promoted, would have highly profited the Irish church, had not the spiritual sword been opposed by the temporal, the rights of the priesthood by the royal power, virtue by jealous malice. For as the flesh lusteth against the spirit, so carnal men oppose those who are spiritual; and the servants of Caesar never cease to maintain a warfare with the soldiers of Christ.



THE king of England had long formed the design of transferring to his youngest son, John, all his dominion over Ireland, and, having made the people of that country do him homage accordingly, now determined to carry his design into effect. He therefore sent over to Ireland John, the new archbishop of Dublin, about the calends (the first) of August, as his son's precursor. Soon afterwards, Hugh de Lacy [2] having been recalled, Philip de Worcester, a brave soldier, who lived sumptuously and spent freely, was appointed lieutenant-governor, and took his passage to Ireland about the calends of September, with a body of forty men-at-arms. One of his first acts was to revoke the grants of certain lands, and among others those of Ocathesi, which Hugh de Lacy had alienated, although they were

[1] John Comyn, archbishop of Dublin, 1181-1212, was of Scotch extraction, though born in England. This bishop built and endowed the cathedral of St. Patrick's in Dublin, about the year 1190. Lucius III. succeeded pope Alexander III. in 1181. Our author's statement that he made John Comyn a cardinal at the tune of his consecration, is not confirmed by any other authority.

[2] Hugh de Lacy did not return to England, but was slain on the 25th of July of this same year; while superintending the erection of one of his castles, an Irish workman came behind him while he was stooping, and struck off his head with an axe.


appropriated to the maintenance of the king's table, to which use they were now carefully restored.

As soon as the winter was over, he assembled a large body of troops, and coming to Armagh about the calends of March, exacted, or rather extorted, from the sacred clergy a monstrous sum of money by way of tribute, and then withdrew his troops and returned safe with his treasure, by way of Down, to Dublin. During this expedition two miracles were wrought, one at Armagh, when he was suddenly smitten with sickness as he left the city; the other at Down, in reference to the fire there and the cauldron which Hugh Tyrrell had carried off from the clergy at Armagh; both of which are related in the Topography, Distinct ii. c. 50.



WHILE these events were occurring in Ireland, Heraclius, the venerable patriarch of Jerusalem, came to England about the calends (the first) of February, after a long journey from the East to the West. He brought with him the keys of the holy city and of the sepulchre of our Lord, together with the royal standard, and a military badge, on behalf as well of the barons of the Holy Land, as of the brethren of the orders of the Temple and Hospital. He also, in the name, and by the unanimous consent, of the whole clergy and people of Palestine, made humble supplication to Henry II., king of England, and falling on his feet, with tears implored him that he would take pity on the Holy Land, Jesus Christ's own patrimony, now desperately afflicted by the infidels, and render it aid. [1] With a sort of

[1] The patriarch of Jerusalem was accompanied by Roger Desmoulins, grand-master of the Hospital, and they brought a letter from pope Lucius urging their suit. Neither Giraldus nor Hoveden expressly affirm that the envoys tendered the kingdom of Jerusalem for Henry's acceptance, though the insignia, of which they were the bearers, appear to intimate it. But Roger of Wendover distinctly says that the ambassadors, commissioned by the estates of the Holy Land, did offer Henry the throne of Jerusalem, to which he had some pretensions through his father, Geoffry, earl of Anjou, the brother of Fulk. Baldwin, the son of Baldwin the Leper, a boy five years old, had just succeeded to the throne; but in the present emergency, the policy of the deputies would not allow them to shrink from sacrificing the rights of the boy king to Henry's ambition.


prophetic view of coming evils, he moreover affirmed that, before long, the whole kingdom would fall into the hands of the Saracens under Saladin, who was then prince both of Egypt and Damascus; which came to pass within two years afterwards.

What glory it was to this king and realm that, passing by so many emperors, kings, and princes of other lands, as if there were no remedy to be found in so great an emergency in the centre of Europe, recourse should be had for succour to this furthest corner of the earth, another world as it were, cut off from the rest in the recesses of the ocean! How great, how incomparable, would have been the glory of the king, not in this world only, but in that which is to come, if, immediately setting aside all other business, he had, at the call of Christ, taken his cross and followed him as his disciple, from whom he had received his kingdom upon earth, and, what is more, the grace to rule it with so much glory! Verily, he should have received a kingdom above for upholding the rights of Christ's earthly kingdom in this its time of need. Oh! if he would have applied himself diligently, according to the best of his power, to defend the patrimony of the Almighty King in this day of distress, in this trial of devotion, how securely might he have relied on the guardianship of so great a patron and protector, when his own time of need came.



THE king having appointed a day for giving his answer at London, [1] many knights and persons of the lower order took the cross, being moved thereto by the admonitions of the patriarch, and his sermons in public, together with those of that holy and venerable man, Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, addressed to the people in persuasive language.

[1] Henry received the envoys from the Holy Land at Reading, and made his reply at a solemn assembly of the lords spiritual and temporal at Clerkenwell, on the 18th of March, 1185.


At last the patriarch received this reply from the king: that it was not safe to leave his kingdom without defence and government, and expose at the present juncture his dominions beyond sea to the rapacity of the French, his mortal enemies; but as to money, he would freely contribute both out of what he had already sent into those parts, placing it at the patriarch's disposal, and also other monies which should be forthwith delivered to him for the defence of the Holy Land.

To this the patriarch replied as follows: "You do nothing, O king, if this be your determination, and you persist in it. In this way you will neither save yourself nor preserve Christ's patrimony. We come to seek a prince, not money; nearly every part of the world sends us money, but none sends a prince. Therefore we desire to have a man that may want money, and not money that may want a man". The patriarch, finding, however, that he could get no other answer from the king, changed his plan of proceeding, and entreated that he would send one of his sons to succour them, and become their prince, the youngest of them, John, at least, if no other; that one sprung from the royal blood of the race of Anjou might shoot up among them as a fresh branch, and renew their strength. John himself, although he was then ready to cross over to Ireland, at the head of a powerful force, to assume the dominion of it, conferred on him by his father, threw himself at the king's feet, and, as it is said, much to his credit, implored to be sent to Jerusalem instead of to Ireland; but his prayer was not granted.

Then the patriarch, failing in all his efforts, and perceiving that it was in vain to think of drawing honey from the rock, or oil from the flint stone, addressed the king as follows, at a public audience, in words which were both admonitory and seemingly uttered in the spirit of prophecy: "Great king, you have hitherto reigned gloriously above all the princes of the earth, and your honours continually augmenting, have raised you to the highest pitch of royal dignity. But you were evidently reserved for this trial, in which you have been found wanting; and for this, the Lord whom you have forsaken, will desert you, and leave you destitute of heavenly grace. From henceforth your glory shall


be turned into sorrow, and your honour to reproach, to the end of your days". Would to God that the king, following the example of the king of Nineveh, had, by his repentance, made the threatening prediction of no effect, and caused his sentence to be reversed! The holy man, after uttering this warning, first at London, repeated it, without omitting a word, for the second time at Dover, and for the third, at the castle of Chinon, beyond sea.

Would to God that the patriarch had not been gifted with the spirit of prophecy, and had spoken falsely; or, that the sentence had been rather a commination, which money might have afterwards redeemed, than a disposition of Providence! But the better to prove the genuineness of the prophecy, we will briefly recount a few of the events which occurred afterwards, according to the prediction of the herald of truth, which we shall thus find to have been speedily accomplished in the order of Divine Providence. Of the five and thirty years during which the king reigned, thirty were granted him for worldly glory, in order that time might be allowed for his conversion, and trial made of his devotion to God; but for the last five years he was given up to punishment, sorrow, and disgrace, as an ungrateful servant, an outcast, and a reprobate. For in the thirty-second year of his reign, the very year of the prophet's arrival, as the spirit is lifted up before a fall, his first enterprise of sending his son John into Ireland, which had cost him so much fruitless toil and expense, failed, and came to nothing. In the thirty-third year of his reign, the king, who had never lost any part of his dominions before, but was continually adding to them, ceded nearly all Auvergne to Philip king of France, who, although of tender years, manfully took up arms against him, and obtained amends for his father's losses. In the thirty-fourth year he lost the castle of Chateauroux, [1] and nearly all Berri. In the thirty-fifth year of his reign, being the fourth after the coming of the patriarch, not only Philip king of France, but also his

[1] Giraldus calls it "castrum Rad". Chateauroux is now the chief town of the department of the Indre; it took its name from Raoul or Ralph de Deols, its founder, in the tenth century. Issoudun, another fortress in the neighbourhood, fell into the hands of Philip at the same time.


own son, the earl of Poitiers, taking arms against him, he lost the cities of Mans and Tours, with many castles, and finally, his own life. So true is what the Psalmist says: "Because of thine indignation and wrath, thou hast taken me up and cast me down". [1] And Gregory says: "Those whom the Lord hath long spared for their conversion, if they be not converted, he condemneth more grievously".


PERCHANCE, however, the king is reserved by Divine Providence to receive the palm as the reward of more earnest love. How much better is it to restore what is utterly destroyed than to prop up things in a ruinous condition, to lift the fallen than to support the falling. A sounder cure is made by using the knife than by patching up a sore. And since

"Hectora quis nosset, felix si Troja fuisset?
Ardua per praeceps gloria stravit iter".

"Who would have heard of Hector, but for ruined Troy!
A rugged path they tread who glory's meed enjoy".

The deeper a man is plunged in adversity, and the more the clouds of trouble thicken around him, the brighter shines forth his worth when the sky is again clear. For two years had scarcely past, when by the occult but righteous judgment of God, the Pagans and Parthians were allowed to gain the victory over the Christians, either in punishment of the languid zeal of the Eastern church, or to try the faith and stedfast obedience of the Western nations. No sooner had Richard, the illustrious earl of Poitiers, heard this calamitous intelligence, than even before the report was confirmed, he took the cross with earnest devotion at the city of Tours, setting an example of noble enterprise to the other princes on this side the Alps. Moreover, the earl's father, the king of England, together with Philip, king of France, burying their previous animosities, took the cross, with laudable emulation, at the same place and at the same hour, in a conference at Gisors, at the instance of the archbishop of Tyre, who came there for the purpose, and under the influence of divine grace; and their example was followed on the spot by great numbers, both

[1] Psalm cii. v. 10.


of the clergy and laity, who were of one heart. And as kings followed the earl's example, so after the example of the kings, and by the persuasions of the venerable bishop of Albano, a cardinal of the Roman church, (by His inspiration, from whom all holy desires, good thoughts, and just works are derived), the emperor Frederick took the cross, with great ceremony, at Laetare Hierusalem (the fourth Sunday of Lent), at the famous city of Mentz, with the princes and great men of Germany, both ecclesiastical and temporal, in the large court there which tbe bishop called God's court. Wherefore the king of England, having been reserved, as it was thought, above the rest, for the restoration of the Holy Land from its calamitous condition, if he had crowned his long course of prosperity with this final success, he would doubtless have fulfilled that famous prophecy of Merlin Ambrosius: "In the beginning he shall yield to unruly passions, but in the end he shall mount to heaven".



NOTWITHSTANDING, however, this wonderful unanimity, a sudden and unlooked-for discord broke out between the kings, and, what was worse, between the earl and his father, through the devices of the old enemy of mankind, and by the permission of the Ruler of the universe for the punishment of their sins; so that their noble enterprise was exposed to detriment and delay. It seemed as if they were unworthy of the honour of redeeming Jerusalem, and that Divine Providence reserved it for others; or, perhaps, as Gregory observes: "Adversity, when it stands in the way of good designs, is rather a trial of virtue than a mark of reprobation". Who is ignorant for how blessed a purpose Paul was urged to sail for Italy, and yet he suffered shipwreck; but violent as was the tempest, his heart was firm in the midst of the waves. Thus, as virtue is perfected through weakness, and gold is tried in the fire, the constancy of faith, which cannot be shaken, only grows the more, like the grain of mustard-seed; and the strong mind resists, with greater courage, adverse occurrences and severe assaults


Would that our princes had engaged in this expedition, supported by popular opinion and cheered by general applause, with only money enough for their expenses on the way, and that obtained by fair means, not extorted from their subjects, freely and not niggardly given; and with a pure and clear conscience. How much rather had I that these princes had set forth on this toilsome but glorious journey, thus pure in heart, and with a much smaller company of men acceptable to God, than, wanting these, that they should in this great trial boast in the multitude of their riches collected from all quarters, and in the numbers of their host gathered from many nations and not agreeing together. Look through the whole Bible, examine the history of later times, especially as it relates to those countries, and you will always find that victories have been gained not by numbers but by valour, by the virtues of those who won them, and by Divine grace, rather than by human power. Cassiodorus says, "A people in arms, without the Lord, is unarmed"; and Seneca, "It is not the number of the people, but the valour of a few, which secures the victory".



OF the four just mentioned, the emperor Frederick, although he was the last of the Cisalpine princes who took the cross, yet, with commendable expedition, he was the first in the execution of the undertaking. I count him the more worthy of the palm of victory in heaven and of glory upon earth, because he forsook larger dominions and states than the rest, and, unrestrained by the care of his vast empire, was resolute in keeping the time appointed for setting out.



I THINK it not irrelevant that I should relate here a vision, which, during the misery of these times and the insults paid to the cross of Christ, He who sometimes maketh known to the simple what he concealeth from the wise, revealed to me,


the vilest and least of his servants, whom yet the Lord vouchsafed to visit in this vision. In that civil and most detestable discord which broke out about this time between the king of England and the earl of Poitou, I was in attendance upon the king at the castle of Chinon, [1] when, on the night of the sixth of the ides of May [10th May], being asleep, about the first cock-crowing, methought I saw a great crowd of people looking up into heaven and wondering at some new appearance. So, lifting up my eyes to see what it was, I beheld flashes of brilliant light breaking through the thick canopy of the clouds, which suddenly parted, and the lower heaven being as it were thus opened, and my eyesight penetrating through that window, even into the empyreum, or heaven of heavens, the celestial courts, thronged with multitudes, were exposed to view. There appeared armed hosts around, engaged in the work of destruction, and, as it were, arrayed for the slaughter of their enemies. You might see there a head struck off from one, an arm from another; some were pierced with arrows lanced from afar, others with spears close at hand, and others thrust through with swords. Many of the beholders, dazzled by the excessive brightness, or moved to terror or devotion by the awful scene, fell on their faces to the earth; but methought that I, wishing to see the end of the matter, continued to observe what was passing much longer and more closely than the rest.

And now the murderous crew, having quickly triumphed over all the rest, united their forces to assault the Prince of the heavenly host sitting in the midst, on the throne of his majesty, as he is wont to be painted, and dragging him from his throne on the right hand, and having laid bare his breast, they thrust a spear into his right side. Thereupon, a terrible voice was immediately heard, crying "Woch, Woch, O Father and Son! Woch, Woch, O Holy Ghost"! But whether it came from above, or was uttered by the people who were round me, I cannot tell; and then the terror of the voice and the vision woke me from my sleep.

[1] Chinon was the favourite residence of Henry II., and our other Plantagenet kings, as well as of the earlier French kings. Its vast ruins are still seen on a nearly insulated rock on the bank of the river Vienne, just above its junction with the Loire.


I call Him here to witness, to whom all things are naked and open, that as I sat on my bed and reflected on what I had seen, I was in such horror, both of mind and body, for more than half-an-hour, that I feared that I was beside myself and was become demented. But having recourse without delay to that best source of human safety, I repeatedly making the sign of the cross on my forehead and breast with great devotion; and thus fortified, I passed the rest of the night till the dawn of day without sleep, and so, by God's grace, recovering my senses, I was at length restored to a full sense of security. But never to this day can I recall to mind that vision, but with the utmost horror. For what can be more terrible than for a creature to behold his Creator pierced with the sword? Who can bear to see the citizens of heaven, the servants of God, and the patrons of mankind, dragged to slaughter, without being overwhelmed with grief? Who can see the Lord of nature and Maker of the universe suffer, and not suffer with him?

What the vision meant, and what it portended, I will now briefly shew without any prejudice. He who once suffered in his own person on behalf of his people, shews us that he suffers now again, but in his servants; and having triumphed by the cross, and, ascending to the right hand of his Father, taken possession of his victorious kingdom, his enemies now strive to drag from his throne, dim his majesty, and subvert his church, which he hath purchased to himself by shedding his blood. Wherefore, as I suppose, this vision did not represent his passion on the cross, but in his majesty above; as though the cross being now taken away, his enemies attempted to deprive him of the glory of that majesty which he gained by the cross. Or rather, it may be supposed, that as his servants are now suffering in that Holy Land, which he, after so many miraculous signs of his corporal presence, consecrated by his own blood; sufferings, indeed, not on the cross, but in arms and the conflicts of war; so he willed that the passion which he now in some sort suffers in the persons of his servants should be set forth, where he reigns above in co-equal majesty with the Father, and not on the cross. For he himself testified that he should suffer with Peter the same sort of punishment


which he was about to undergo at Rome, when he said, "I am come to Rome to be crucified again".

As concerning the words uttered by the voice beginning in a barbarous language and ending in Latin, I will mention what I think. Woch, Woch, in the German tongue, is a sort of interjection repeated, and signifying woe; it means the same as if it were said, Alas! alas! Father and Son! alas! alas! Holy Ghost! And by that woful moan, beginning in German, and ended in Latin, it may signify that the nations who use those tongues are the only people who with their princes take this affliction of our Saviour seriously to heart, as is evident from their being the most forward in their preparations to avenge it. God forbid that the passion or lamentation should be understood as referring to any slaughter of the faithful which may hereafter happen, and more especially to the nations engaged in this expedition.



I THINK it not irrelevant to introduce, by way of episode, occasion offering, some account of certain occurrences and remarkable events which have happened in England within my own memory. [1] First, we have the sudden deaths of those who withheld the kingdom of England from the right heir, Henry, who was grandson to king Henry I., by his daughter Matilda; namely, the sudden deaths of the illustrious knight, Eustace, king Stephen's son, and the son-in-law of Louis, king of France, and that of his mother, Matilda, queen of England and countess of Bologne. Next we have the treaty of adoption made between Stephen, king of England, and Henry, duke of Normandy; the death of king Stephen; the marriage of queen Elianor, and the translation from crown to crown. Then the duke's elevation to the throne, and coronation as Henry II.; the siege of the famous castle of Bridgnorth on the river Severn; and the

[1] It would be out of place to offer any illustrations in detail of the series of events and occurrences in the reign of Henry II., which Giraldus briefly recounts in this chapter; especially as our author throws no fresh light on contemporary or other authentic annals, which are now generally accessible by means of the Antiquarian Library.


compulsory surrender of the brave knight, Hugh de Mortimer, a terrible example to all the world. What need is there of many words? To make what was rough, smooth, and to confound that which was strong, his success ended in the ruin not only of the usurpers of the kingdom, but of those who disturbed the peace of the realm, first of the brothers and then afterwards of the sons.

In North Wales, the fortune of war changing, prince Owen was overcome, though not without the loss of many of our soldiers, in a woody pass near Coleshylle, that is the Hill of Coals. A useless but sumptuous and noble expedition to Thoulouse. Frequent hostilities between Louis king of France, and Henry king of England, through the cabals on both sides. In South Wales, the surrender of prince Rhys, by the intervention of his uncle Owen, at Pencader, [1] that is, the head of the chair, when the king of England thundered against him. The acceptance of the Constitutions made at Clarendon, both in word and writing, by Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, and his suffragans; not voluntary, but said to be extorted from them. Then appeared to be fulfilled the prophecy of Merlinus Ambrosius: "And the tongues of the bulls shall be cut out". At Northampton, the insulting cries raised by the whole court against the holy father, defending his right of having the cross carried before him, and his privately withdrawing the same night, and going into exile. The embassy of Reginald, archbishop of Cologne and chancellor of the emperor, to the king of England, from the emperor Frederick, who succeeded in negotiating a treaty of marriage between the emperor's eldest son, Henry, duke of Saxony and Bavaria, and the king's eldest daughter, Matilda. His efforts, however, to propagate the schism of the German church failed. Notwithstanding, the king soon afterwards made a proclamation against the rights of the chair of St. Peter, and the archbishop of Canterbury. Soon afterwards, count Guncelinus, and other great Saxon nobles, came to England, as envoys on the duke's behalf, to escort the king's daughter.

The coronation of Henry III., son of king Henry, celebrated at London by the archbishop of York, to the prejudice of the rights of the church of Canterbury.

[1] See the Itinerary of Wales, lib. i. c. 2.


Ambassadors came from Spain and obtained the king's consent to the marriage of his daughter Elianor with Alphonso king of Toledo and Castile. Dermitius being driven into exile, resorts to the king of England; and Fitz-Stephen, first, and afterwards earl Richard, sail over to Ireland. The noble expedition from Album Monasterium into Powis, and its safe return, notwithstanding the floods from heavy rains, after the beheading of the hostages and destruction of many of his enemies. The martyrdom of St. Thomas. Glorious miracles at his tomb. The happy death of that right noble man, distinguished alike for his talents and high descent, being of the royal blood of England, Henry, bishop of Winchester, [1] who died there. The king's expedition to Ireland. The conspiracy of nobles against their prince, and of sons against their father. The cardinals come to Normandy to investigate the murder of the martyr Thomas. The king's sudden return from Ireland into Wales, from Wales to England, and thence to Normandy; and his speedy pacification with both the cardinals, and with the king of France. The first withdrawal of the young king with his two brothers from his father's court to France. The king's unexpected success in the unnatural two year's war, and his clemency to the vanquished, which I have shortly mentioned, noticing the capture of the earls of Chester and Leicester and the king of Scotland, at the end of the last Book. Huguntio Peter Leo, cardinal of St. Angelo, being sent as the pope's legate to England, convokes a synod of all the clergy of England at London; which was abruptly terminated by reason of the contention between Richard, archbishop of Canterbury, and Roger, archbishop of York, respecting the primacy and the precedence of their churches; the controversy leading to a broil, in which the partizans on both sides fought with their fists, sticks, and staves. The bishop of Capua, and Diaferus, bishop-elect of Troga, [2] with count Fleuri, came as ambassadors from William king of

[1] Henry de Blois, brother of king Stephen, who took so active a part in the politics of that turbulent reign, but after the accession of Henry II. appears to have lived in retirement at Winchester. Wendover informs us that Henry visited him on his death-bed, and that the bishop, reproaching him for the death of the martyr Becket, foretold many of the evils which would come upon him on account of it. The bishop died full of years, the next day, the 8th of August, 1171.

[2] In Naples.


Sicily, to negotiate a marriage between their prince and the king's youngest daughter, Joanna.

Ambassadors from the Spanish kings of Castile and Navarre arrived in England to submit the claims of those kings to certain territories and castles, about which they had grave disputes, to the arbitration of the king of England, their masters having pledged themselves to abide by it. Wherefore the king having assembled at London the wisest and most learned men in the kingdom, of both orders, that the merits of the case might be impartially investigated, the allegations on both sides were heard before them from the mouths of most famous advocates, among whom Peter of Cordova, who came on the part of the king of Navarre, was most distinguished for his extraordinary eloquence. The king having the advantage of wise counsel, and resolving to adopt a middle course, and remove all grounds for future quarrels, gave part to one, and took away part from the other, so that neither of them should suffer serious loss; for having been appointed umpire between the two, he was anxious to promote, as far as he could, the security of each. The proceedings having been put in shape and reduced to writing, the king, for greater caution, caused a formal judgment to be signed, in order that if either party should refuse to stand by the proceedings, all controversy might be quashed by his definitive sentence. [1]

Louis king of France came to England, and went on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, for the purpose of devoutly imploring the patronage of the blessed martyr, on whom he had heaped favours during his exile. The king having made an offering of a cup of gold of great value and exquisitely wrought, at the spot where the sacred remains were laid, prostrated himself for a while at the martyr's tomb, laying his bare head at the opening on the right side of the marble slab; and then rising from his devotions, that the remembrance of his pilgrimage might be preserved by some perpetual benefaction, be gave to the abbey at Canterbury a hundred tuns of wine, annually for ever;

[1] Our author is more diffuse in his account of this transaction, than in his records of other occurrences of greater importance. Hoveden gives full details, and has preserved all the documents, relating to th arbitration. See pp. 459-465, vol. ii. in Antiq. Lib.


and this he did in the presence of the king of England, the count of Flanders, the archbishop of the see, and the prior of the convent, and other great men. The second quarrel between king Henry III. and earl Geoffrey, and the untimely death of the younger king at Marseilles. Godfrey, archbishop of Cologne, and Philip, count of Flanders, came to England on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. The death of earl Geoffrey. The coming of the patriarch Heraclius, and the first expedition of John, the king's son, across the sea, to Ireland.

Almost all these events happened in my own time, in the order in which they are here placed, at no long intervals, and in about the period of thirty-three years.

O how happy should I have been to admit the great prosperity he enjoyed, to whose glory nearly all these occurrences tended, and who was favoured by fortune (if there be such a thing as fortune) in so many instances, had he only wound up the drama of his life by a good end, and doubling, nay, immeasurably augmenting, the favours graciously conferred upon him, passed from his terrestrial glory to that which is eternal. This, as far as I can conjecture, he would doubtless have done, if, in return, as it were, for the many mercies bestowed on him here, he had sought his reward even on earth, by giving himself up with devotion and promptitude to that noble vocation, to which Christ invited him, and obeying the call without hindrance or delay. Having reigned gloriously, so far as this world is concerned, for thirty years, he might well have devoted the last five years of his life, that short space of time, or even, if his life were spared, the whole of his remaining days, to the service of God, and thus would have reigned with Christ, filled the whole of Christendom with the renown of his arms, and gained eternal as well as earthly glory. Until this point the king's prosperity was always on the increase, and advancing to the highest pitch; thenceforth his fortunes somewhat declined, and he sustained many disasters to which he was before a stranger. Every wise man must remark the instability of fortune, and those changes which very few escape, even in the prime of life, and scarcely any who live to be old. What was it that brought to an end the glory of Pompey the Great? He had triumphed in all


parts of the world, and had raised himself to such an ascendancy at Rome, that, as often happened in ancient times, having ascended the steps which lead to the summit of power, he could neither mount higher, nor make good his footing, and so he fell from the top to the bottom. Wherefore, after having filled the high office of dictator, as the first man in the state, after gaining so many victories over various nations, fortune at last seemed to grow tired of him, and deserted him, and having lost the empire, both of the West and the East, this once victorious man died ignominiously. So that the poet Lucan says:

"O faciles dare summa deos, eademque tueri

What was it, on the contrary, that secured to Julius Caesar or to Alexander of Macedon such imperishable renown but this, that when they had reached the summit of their fortunes, sudden death came, in each case, from a reverse. Princes should also constantly bear in mind that although the Maker and Ruler of the world is long-patient, desiring the conversion of a sinner rather than his destruction, and is merciful to those who are converted and amend their lives; he pours forth his wrath on the reprobate and impenitent, and often begins their punishment in this life.



ALL things necessary for this great expedition having been prepared and made ready by the royal commands, John,

[1] Giraldus now returns to his History of the Conquest of Ireland, and that part of it with which he was personally conversant; but we cannot help feeling some disappointment at his supplying us with very meagre details of the results of an expedition so pompously commenced, and for which such vast preparations had been made. The truth is, that he had little to relate; for, as he acknowledges in a subsequent chapter, it was a complete failure. The levity, and other worse traits, of king John's character were early developed; and all he did in Ireland, where he only remained a few months, was to amass money and squander it on his pleasures. Cotemporary historians barely notice the expedition. Hoveden, after mentioning John's crossing over to Ireland, which is all that Wendover says about it, adds: "However, as he thought fit to shut up everything in his own purse, and was unwilling to pay his soldiers their wages, he lost the greatest part of his army in several conflicts with the Irish, and being at last reduced to want, after appointing lords-justices and distributing his knights in various places for the defence of the country, he returned to England".


the king of England's youngest son, on whom the dominion of Ireland had been lately conferred, took his journey by the coast road of South Wales towards Menevia, and arrived at Pembroke. He was accompanied by a person of the highest station, Ranulf de Glanville, the king's chief privy counsellor and justiciary of all England, who conducted him on board ship. On Wednesday in Easter week, the breeze blowing favourably from the eastward, he embarked in the noble fleet which lay at anchor in Milford harbour, and on account of the sudden change of wind was prevented visiting the venerable church of St. David's, an unpropitious omen. Setting sail the same evening, the fleet accomplished its passage and reached the port of Waterford about noon on the day following, having on board about three hundred men-at-arms, and a large force of horse soldiers and archers. Several ecclesiastics were sent over in company with the prince, and in the same ship, one of whom was specially appointed by the king to attend his son. Being a diligent investigator of natural history, and having spent two years in the island, in this expedition and on a former occasion, [1] he brought back with him, as the profit and reward of his labours, materials for composing his Vaticinal History and Topography. These he afterwards digested and arranged, during intervals of leisure, while attending the court in Britany, employing the labour of three years on the Topography, and of two years on the Vaticinal History; works which will be read by posterity, although they offend men of the present generation; and though carped at now, will be acceptable then; and though detested now, will be profitable in future times.

[1] Giraldus refers to his former visit to Ireland, in company with his brother Philip. He now came over as secretary to the young prince, and probably was selected by the sagacity of the king for his political adviser, for we find no other man of talent and experience about the person of the young prince.




ROBERT FITZ-STEPHEN first showed and led the way to the earl, the earl to the king, and the king to his son John. Much praise is due to him, who by his bold enterprise made the beginning; much to him who, as the connecting link, carried forward the undertaking so auspiciously commenced; most of all is due to those who lent their authority to complete the whole project. I may remark here, that both Fitz-Stephen and the earl, having restored Dermitius to his territories, which they were justified in doing, acquired rights under him, the one by fealty, the other by marrying his daughter, which, as far as Leinster was concerned, precludes their being considered as spoliators or robbers. But as to Waterford, and parts of Desmond and Meath, into which the earl intruded, I do not excuse him in that matter. The earl, however, yielded up the dominion of the fifth part of the island, which he had in right of his wife, to the king of England, and did fealty to him for it. The princes of the rest of Ireland, making voluntary submission without delay, did homage to the king, and indisputably confirmed his right. Wherefore, omitting at present the other grounds, both new and old, which have been stated in a former chapter, it is plain, even from those just mentioned, that the English nation and king did not enter upon this island so unjustly, from lack of title, as some unlearned persons dream.



FORTUNATE would this island have been, and it would long since have been firmly and completely subjugated from one end to the other, and brought without difficulty under order and good government, with towns and castles built on all sides, in fitting places from sea to sea, had not the succours which should have followed the first adventurers been cut off by a royal proclamation; [1] or, rather, if the king himself

[1] See B. i. c. 19


had not been prematurely recalled from his bold adventure by an intestine conspiracy which prevented his turning his enterprise to good account. Happy indeed would it have been if, the first conquerors being men of worth and valour, their merits had been duly weighed, and the government and administration of affairs had been placed in their hands. For the Irish people, who were so astounded and thrown into such consternation at the arrival of the first adventurers, [1] by the novelty of the thing, and so terrified by flights of arrows shot by the English archers, and the might of the men-at-arms, soon took heart, through delays, which are always dangerous, the slow and feeble progress of the work of conquest, and the ignorance and cowardice of the governors and others in command. And becoming gradually expert in the use of arrows and other weapons, as well as being practised in stratagems and ambuscades by their frequent conflicts with our troops, and taught by their successes, although they might at first have been easily subjugated, they became in process of time able to make a stout resistance.

Read the Books of Kings, read the Prophets, examine the whole series of the Old Testament, and even consider familiar examples furnished by our own times and our own country, and you will find that no nation was ever conquered which did not bring down punishment on themselves for their sins and wickedness. But although the

[1] It is surprising with how small a number of troops the capture of several important places, the reduction of at least all Leinster, and the general submission of the native princes, was effected. Giraldus has stated very exactly the numbers embarked in the several expeditions; and on counting them up we find that the Fitzgeralds and other adventurers from Wales took over at different times 1030 men, in the proportions of 80 men-at-arms, 180 other horsemen, and 770 archers and foot soldiers, all levied amongst their own kinsmen and retainers. Earl Strongbow's expedition mustered 1200 men, of whom 200 were men-at-arms. Giraldus states the number of men-at-arms who went over with king Henry to have been 500, but he does not furnish any account of the rest of his forces. This is, however, immaterial to our present purpose; as, though the presence of a numerous royal army may have awed the native princes into a more perfect submission, all the fighting seems to have been done before; the heart of the people was broken, the country had been traversed from east to west, and all the strong places had been reduced, and that with a force little exceeding 2000 men.


Irish people did well deserve, for their grievous offences and filthy lives, to be brought into trouble by the incursions of strangers, they had not so utterly offended God that it was his will they should be entirely subjugated; nor were the deserts of the English such as to entitle them to the full sovereignty over, and the peaceable obedience of, the people they had partly conquered and reduced to submission. Therefore, perhaps, it was the will of God that both nations should be long engaged in mutual conflicts, neither of them having merited or altogether forfeited his favour, so that the one did not gain the prize of triumphant success, nor was the other so vanquished as to submit their necks generally to the yoke of servitude.

The Irish may be said to have four prophets, Molingus, Braccanus, Patrick, and Columkill, whose books, written in Irish, are still extant; and all these, speaking of this conquest, agree in affirming that it will be attended with frequent conflicts, with long wars continued for several generations, and much shedding of blood. Indeed they scarcely promise complete victory to the English, and that the whole island shall be subdued, and castles built from sea to sea, much before doomsday. And Braccanus affirms that, although the English in the island, experiencing the fortune of war, shall often be defeated, and their power weakened, it will only happen when a certain king, descending from the desert mountains of Patrick, shall on a Sunday night storm a castle built in the woody parts of Ophelan, that nearly all the English shall be driven out of Ireland. These prophecies, however, declare that the whole territory lying on the east coast of the island shall for ever remain in the possession of the English.



THREE castles were built immediately after prince John's first arrival; one at Tibrach, another at Archfinan, and the third at Lismore. Likewise, three noble youths were unfortunately killed; Robert de Barri at Lismore, Raymond Fitz-Hugh at Olechan, and Raymond of Kantitune at Odrone. Part of the garrison of Archfinan were set on


and routed by the prince of Limerick, in the wood of Archfinan, on St. John the Baptist's day (24th June), and four men-at-arms were slain. The garrison of Archfinan were again attacked when plundering towards Limerick, and nineteen men-at-arms slain. Dermitius Macarthy, prince of Desmond, and many others, fell by the hands of the men of Cork, and the troops of Theobald Fitz Walter, in a parley near Cork. The men of Keneleone (Kilkenny), under their prince, having made a too daring irruption into the borders of Meath, the men of Meath, under the command of William the Little (Gulielmus Modicus), put one hundred of the invaders to the sword, and sent their heads to Dublin. John de Courcy having discovered a precious treasure, the bodies of three Saints, Patrick, Bridget, and Columba, at Down, these relics were by his care translated. Hugh de Lacy was treacherously slain and decapitated by the axes of the Irish under his dominion at Dernach. Thirteen of John de Courcy's noble men-at- arms were slain as they were returning with him from Connaught. Roger le Poer, a young man of great bravery, and much lamented, was killed at Ossory, with many of his people; whereupon, a secret conspiracy against the English was formed throughout Ireland, many castles were destroyed, and the whole island thrown into confusion; occurrences well worthy of a separate notice. The dominion of Ireland having now been transferred to the king's son, I leave his acts to be described by those who relate his history, [1] and hasten on to close my own work with what is more profitable. I think it, therefore, not amiss that I should briefly state why, and from what causes, this first enterprise of the king's son did not fulfil his expectations; the success not being equal to the vast preparations for it. And this sequel to my work, though it cannot remedy what is past, may yet supply some warnings for the future.

[1] There appears to be a touch of irony in the language by which Giraldus devolves on future historians the task of writing the annals of the disgraceful manner in which John's inauguration in his new dominion of Ireland was conducted. He does not, however, hesitate in the following chapters, which we think will be considered, for the most part, very ably written, to indicate his opinion of the mal-administration, which he failed to prevent, and at the same time points out its causes, and suggests remedies for the evil, and rules for the good government of Ireland.




I SHOULD say, then, that the first and principal cause of these mischances, was the king's not having listened to the solemn call of the patriarch Heraclius, before mentioned, and either gone himself, or at least sent one of his sons on his behalf, with ready devotion, in obedience to the commands of Christ. But instead of this, at the moment of this memorable summons, and in the very presence of the venerable envoy charged with it, he sent this son of his, with a retinue and outfit more sumptuous than profitable, not to the East, but to the West; not against the Saracens, but against Christians; for his own aggrandisement, not for the cause of Jesus Christ.

Another cause was this; as soon as the king's son landed in Ireland, there met him at Waterford a great many of the Irish of the better class in those parts; men who, having been hitherto loyal to the English and disposed to be peaceable, came to congratulate him as their new lord, and receive him with the kiss of peace. But our newcomers and Normans not only treated them with contempt and derision, but even rudely pulled them by their beards, which the Irishmen wore full and long, according to the custom of their country. No sooner, however, had they made their escape, than they withdrew from the neighbourhood with all their households, and, betaking themselves to the king of Limerick, the prince of Cork, and Roderick king of Connaught, gave full particulars of all that they had observed during their visit to the king's son. They said that they found him to be a mere boy, [1] surrounded by

[1] Holingshed states in his Chronicles of Ireland, on what authority we are unable to discover, that John was only twelve years old when he was sent over to assume the government; but it would seem preposterous that so politic a prince as Henry II., with all his fondness for his youngest son, should have committed so great a trust to him at so tender an age. Florence of Worcester, a very exact chronicler, records John's birth in 1166. We believe that it was in 1166, a year memorable for his father's great victory at Tinchibrai. John must therefore have been nineteen years old when he went to Ireland. We take this opportunity of remarking that Giraldus never mentions him but as "John the king's son". Florence, in noting his birth, calls him John Sans-terre, or Lack-land; and he had the title of earl of Mortaigne, by which other chroniclers usually designate him.


others almost as young as himself; and that the young prince abandoned himself to juvenile pursuits; and they further declared, that what they saw promised no mature or stable counsels, no security for the peace of Ireland.

On hearing this, the princes of Limerick, Connaught, and Cork, who were at that time the main stay of Ireland, although they were preparing to wait upon the young king's son and offer him their homage and submission with the usual forms, began to consider among themselves to what greater evils these small beginnings might lead, and what course would be taken with the proud and independent, when good and peaceable subjects were thus treated. They then resolved unanimously to resist the English, and defend with their lives their ancient liberties; and the better to carry this resolution into effect, a new league was generally entered into, and those who were before enemies were now reconciled, and became friends. We speak what we know, and testify what we have seen. And forasmuch as we insulted and drove from us those who came first to pay their respects, as God humbles the proud, by this example we deterred all the chief men of the country from making their submission. For this people, like other barbarous nations, although they do not understand what appertains to honour, covet above measure to be honoured themselves; and although they are not ashamed to be convicted of falsehood, they despise liars and commend truth; loving that in others which they do not blush at wanting themselves. What great evils may arise from insolent behaviour, a prudent man may learn from the example of Rehoboam, Solomon's son, and by the calamities which have happened to another, will avoid them in his own case. For he, being led away by the young men's counsels, said to his people: "My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins, and if he chastened you with whips, I will scourge you with scorpions". Wherefore the ten tribes forsook him, and adhered to Jeroboam, and a schism was made among the people, and he *ost them for ever. [1]

Another cause is this: We took away their lands from

[1] Kings, 12-14


our own Irishmen, who had faithfully stood by us from the first coming over of Fitz-Stephen and the earl, and have given them to our new-comers. These Irish, therefore, betaking themselves to our enemies, became spies upon us, and guides to shew them the way to us, having the more power to do us injury from their former familiarity with us. Besides, the care and custody of all the towns and castles on the sea-coast, with the lands, revenues, and tributes appertaining to them, which ought to have been administered for the public good and for defence against the enemy, were assigned to persons who thought only of hunting-out money; and, keeping themselves carefully within the town walls, they spent their time and all that they had in drunkenness and surfeiting, to the loss and damage of the good citizens, instead of the annoyance of the enemy.

Among many other misfortunes, this may be added: that at the very first entry of the king's son on this hostile land, among a warlike, rebellious, and savage people, as yet impatient of submission, men were appointed to command the troops, who had more of Mercury than of Mars about them, who liked their gowns better than their armour, and were more intent on pillaging the good subjects than attacking the enemy; such men, I mean, and marchers as Fitz-Aldelm, and the like, under whose rule both Wales and Ireland were well-nigh ruined and lost. Such men are neither confided in by their subjects, nor feared by the enemy; and know nothing of that principle which is innate in a noble spirit, "To spare the humbled, subjugate the proud". They rather act the contrary way, and leaving the enemy uninjured, are always plundering the vanquished. Hence it comes to pass that nothing has been done to strengthen our position in the island; there are no inroads into the enemy's country, no great number of fortresses erected, no felling of trees, and clearing and widening the roads through the woods, commonly called "bad passes", for the greater ease and security of convoys. The soldiers and serving-men in the garrisons also, imitating their captains and masters, lead the same sort of life as their betters, spending their whole time in drinking and wantonness, and taking good care not to leave the towns on the coast; so that the interior parts of the country, on the borders of the enemy, called the


marches, were left undefended; and such as there were amongst them, having no support, were plundered and burnt, and the garrisons put to the sword.

Meanwhile, the new-comers growing daily more insolent, the old tried and veteran soldiers were out of favour and kept themselves close, waiting patiently what would be the end of all this rioting and disturbance. In the meantime this was the state of the island; all the roads were impracticable, all communications cut off; no security anywhere from the broad axes of the Irish; new reports daily of fresh losses by the English. Such was the condition of the country outside the towns. Within the walls, there was some semblance of order and tranquillity; and with plenty of wine and money, delinquencies in all quarters were easily atoned. Besides, when the storm was gathering in the enemy's quarters, it was time for the troops to look to their arms, instead of being immersed in civil affairs. But instead of this, there was so much vexatious litigation, that the veteran soldiers were more harassed by their adversaries within, than by the enemy without the walls. While, therefore, our forces were enfeebled, the enemy became more daring in their resistance. Thus was the land misgoverned, and affairs ill administered, until the king, discarding the newcomers, as totally incapable, if not cowardly, and resolving to employ men who from the first had acquired experience in the conquest of the island, sent over John de Courcy to take the supreme command. Under his rule the kingdom speedily began to enjoy more tranquillity, the effect of his superiority to those who were superseded both in courage and vigour. He soon led an expedition into the furthest parts of the island, namely, Cork and Connaught, and not suffering his troops to lie idle, was always trying the chances of war, uncertain as they are, frequently sustaining defeats, and often inflicting losses on the enemy. Would that he had been as skilful a general as he was a brave soldier, and had exercised as much discretion in commanding as he exhibited daring in the field.

I must add to my account of the mischiefs done by the new government, one that is the greatest of all. Not only do we neglect to make any offering to the church of Christ, not only are the honours and thanks due to God


unacknowledged by any gift of the prince and his followers, but we even rob the church of its lands and possessions, and strive to abridge or annul its ancient rights and privileges. When I come to reflect on all that has happened to us, and especially on this dispute, done to our Lord himself, I am filled with the greatest anxiety, and painful thoughts frequently arise in my mind. Perhaps it was in consequence of these meditations that one night I had a vision in my sleep, which on the morrow I related to the venerable John, archbishop of Dublin, and it filled us both with wonder. Methought I beheld in my vision John, the king's son, in a certain green meadow, apparently laying the foundations of a church. And when he had marked out the ground on each side, and drawn lines on the face of the turf, as surveyors do, upon going round the spot with the model or plan of the work, to ascertain its dimensions by precise admeasurement, he discovered that the body of the church was sufficiently large, while the chancel appeared to be extremely confined and out of proportion, as if the nave were large enough to contain the laity, while the least possible space sufficed for the clergy. Methought I then contended earnestly, though in vain, that some additions should be made to the plan, so that the size of the building might be increased, and it might have a better shape; but I was so excited by my zeal for these improvements that I awoke from my dream.

The many outrages and disorders which have been the fruits of the new government of Ireland, are not to be imputed so much to the tender years of the king's son, as to evil counsels, although both had a large share in them; for the land, as yet rude and barbarous, required men of experience, whose minds were matured, to reduce it to order. Any nation, however excellent its condition may have been, is cursed when it is governed by a boy king. How much more must it be the case, when a country which is rude and uncivilized, is committed to the charge of one who is inexperienced and ill-informed. But that these great disorders were more to be attributed to the advice of evil counsellors, was even whispered among the younger sort, and taken for certain by older and more discreet persons. For some who had procured large grants, as the first of the richest and


most fertile lands in Ireland, either improvidently given them as lords of the fee, or for the most part in their actual possession, and who, perhaps, sometimes aspired to the sole government of the kingdom by means of the royal conquests and their own immense acquisitions of territory, when things did not turn out according to their expectations, seem, to have easily found means of eluding the fealty due to the father, and their faith and oaths pledged to his son.

How men of three different sorts were in the service of John.

OUR people consisted of men of three different sorts; Normans, English, and my own countrymen, [1] whom we found in Ireland. With the first we were most intimate, and we esteemed them best; the second had less regard, and the third none at all. The Normans could not do without wine, having been used to plenty of it from their youth, and so nothing could induce them to remain long in the marches, and in remote castles built at a distance from the sea-coast. Their chief care was to be about the person of the king's son, and to be near the supplies, and far enough from any scarcity. They were talkers, boasters, enormous swearers, and held all others in supreme contempt. Ever on the look-out for pay and grants of land, and the foremost to get advancement and honours, they were the last to earn them by their services. As, therefore, the veteran soldiers by whose enterprise the way into the island was opened to us, were treated with suspicion and neglect, and our counsels were only communicated to the new-comers, who only were trusted and thought worthy of honour, it came to pass that as the veterans kept aloof, and rendered no assistance to those who did not ask for it, the others had little success in all their undertakings.



IT is an old saying, that every man is most to be believed in respect of his own art; and so, as regards this expedition,

[1] Normanni, Angli, nostri. It may be supposed that Giraldus means by the last designation the Welshmen, who were the first to adventure on the conquest of Ireland, and still remained there.


their judgment may be best relied on, who have been longest conversant with the similar state of affairs in the country, and are most acquainted with the manners and customs of the people. And it much concerns them that this hostile race, whose implacable enmity they have drawn on themselves in the course of the continual conflicts of a long war, should by their aid either have their power reduced, or be altogether discomfited. I may also say of those parts of Wales which are inhabited by the English, that it would be happy for them if the king had long ago adopted a similar policy in dealing with the government, and protecting the country from the inroads of the native and hostile race. The Normans, who are newly come among us, may be very good soldiers in their own country, and expert in the use of arms and armour after the French fashion, but every one knows how much that differs from the mode of warfare in Ireland and Wales. In France it is carried on in a champaign country, here it is rough and mountainous; there you have open plains, here you find dense woods. In France it is counted an honour to wear armour, here it is found to be cumbersome; there victories are won by serried ranks and close fighting, here by the charges of light-armed troops; there, quarter is given, prisoners being taken and admitted to ransom, here their heads are chopped off as trophies, and no one escapes. Where armies engage in a plain country, that heavy and complex armour, whether shirts of mail, or coat armour of steel, is both a splendid ornament of the knights and men-at-arms, and also necessary for their protection. But where you have to fight in narrow passes, and in woods and bogs, in which foot-soldiers are more serviceable than horsemen, a far lighter kind of armour is preferable. In fighting against naked and unarmed men, whose only hope of success lies in the impetuosity of their first attack, men in light armour can pursue the fugitives, an agile race, with more activity, and cut them down in narrow passes and amongst crags and mountains. The Normans, with this complex armour and their deeply curved saddles, find great difficulty in getting on horseback and dismounting; and still greater when occasion requires that they shall march on foot.

In all expeditions, therefore, either in Ireland or in


Wales, the Welshmen bred in the marches, and accustomed to the continual wars in those parts, make the best troops. They are very brave, and, from their previous habits, bold and active; they are good horsemen and also light of foot, being equally suited to both services; and they are not nice in their appetites, and bear hunger and thirst well when provisions are not to be had. Such men and soldiers were they which took the lead in the conquest of Ireland, and by such men it must be finally and completely effected. Let each class of soldiers have its proper place. Against heavy-armed troops, depending upon their strength and complete armour, and fighting on a plain, you must oppose, I admit, men equal to them in the weight of their armour and strength of limb; but when you have to do with a race who are naturally agile and light of foot, and whose haunts are in steep and rocky places, you want light-armed troops, and especially such as have been trained by experience to fighting under such circumstances. And, in the Irish wars, particular care should be always used to mix bowmen with the other troops, in order to gall, by flights of arrows shot from a distance, the slingers who rush forward and heave stones on the heavy armed troops, and then retire with great agility, thus alternately advancing and retreating.

Moreover, the part of the country on this side, as far as the river Shannon, which forms the boundary between the three eastern parts of the island and the fourth or western part, should be protected by strongly fortified castles built in different places. And further, in the meantime, let all the country beyond the Shannon, including Connaught and part of Munster, be subjected to annual tributes [from the native princes], except the city of Limerick, which should by all means be recovered and occupied by the English. For it would be better, far better, to begin with building fortresses on suitable situations, proceeding by degrees to construct them, than to erect a great number at once, in a variety of places, at great distance from each other, where they would be entirely disconnected, and could afford no mutual aid in time of need,




As this people are easily moved to rebel, and are as lightminded as they are light of foot, when they have been subjugated and reduced to submission, they will have to be ruled with great discretion. The government should be entrusted to men of firm and equitable minds, who in times of peace, when the people obey the laws and are content to be loyal subjects, will win their hearts by keeping good faith, and treating them with respect; but if, through their natural levity, they presume to break into revolt, the governor should then divest himself of all gentleness, and instantly bring the offenders to condign punishment. Peace being again restored, and due satisfaction made for their misdeeds, as it is a bad thing to keep in memory wrongs that are passed, as long as they behave well their misconduct should be buried in oblivion, and they enjoy the same security, and be treated with the same consideration, as before. Thus, obedience to the laws, and the beneficial pursuits of peace, would meet with reward, while the certainty of punishment would deter the rebellious from rash attempts at insurrection.

But governors who throw all things into confusion by being slow to punish the rebellious, while they oppress the humble, by fawning on insurgents while they plunder peaceable subjects, robbing the weak and truckling to the refractory, as we have seen many do; such governors in the end bring disgrace on themselves. Besides, as evils foreseen are less hurtful, a prudent governor will take measures in time of peace, by erecting fortresses and opening roads through the woods, to be in constant preparation to meet the dangers of war. For this people are always plotting hostilities under colour of peace. And as it is wise to take warning from the mishaps of others, and avoid their errors, and the blow falls less heavily when it is anticipated from past experience, the examples of such men as Milo de Cogan, Ralph Fitz-Stephen, that gallant youth, Hugh de Lacy, and I may add Roger Poer, may teach that there is never any security from the weapons of the Irish. For, as I have said in my Topography, the craft of this people is more to


be feared than their prowess in arms, their show of peace than their fire-brands, their honey than their gall, their secret malice than their open warfare, their treachery than their attacks, their false friendship than their contemptible hostility.

As Evodius says, "Past ruin gives a lesson to future generations, and former mishaps are a caution ever afterwards"; and as in such matters over-caution can do no harm, and the utmost precaution is scarcely enough, this people, when finally subjected, should, by a public proclamation, like the Sicilians, be entirely prohibited from carrying arms under the severest penalties. In the meantime, they ought not be allowed in time of peace, on any pretence or in any place, to use that detestable instrument of destruction [the broad-axe], which, by an ancient but accursed custom, they constantly carry in their hands instead of a staff. Finally, forasmuch as the kings of Britain have on many grounds already set forth a just title to Ireland, and the people of that island cannot subsist without the benefits conferred by commercial intercourse, it seems reasonable that it should be subjected to some tribute to England, either in money, or in the birds with which it abounds, in order that all occasion of dispute or opposition may be obviated for the future. Thus, as time proceeds on its course, and the regular line of descent is perpetuated to the farthest degree, this annual tribute should be retained, as a lasting acknowledgment of this conquest, in the place of a written instrument, to the British nation and king.

I here bring my history to a close, having faithfully related what has come under my knowledge, and testified what I have actually witnessed; and I leave it to future historians, of sufficient talent, to describe subsequent events in a style fitting their importance.







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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

And also

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


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

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

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

Since, therefore, among so many species of men, each follows his own inclination, and each is actuated by different desires, a regard for posterity has induced me to choose the study of composition; and, as this life is temporary and mutable, it is grateful to live in the memory of future ages, and to be immortalized by fame; for to toil after that which produces envy in life, but glory after death, is a sure


indication of an elevated mind. Poets and authors indeed aspire after immortality, but do not reject any present advantages that may offer.

I formerly completed with vain and fruitless labour the Topography of Ireland for king Henry the Second, and its companion, the Vaticinal History, for Richard of Poitou, 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, [1] even if

[1] Giraldus, whose knowledge of all the classical authors I (Sir B.C. Hoare) have elsewhere had occasion to mention, has evidently adopted this expression from Ovid, who, in his Ars Amandi, says,

"... in gremium pulvis si forte puellae
Deciderit, digitis excutiendus erit.
Et, si nullus erit pulvis tamen excute nullum",


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.



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.




I. Journey through Hereford and Radnor. 331

II. Journey through Hay and Brecheinia. 337

III. Ewyas and Llanthoni. 354

IV. The Journey by Coed Grono and Abergevenni. 364

V. Of the progress by the castle of Usk and Caerleon. 371

VI. Newport and Caerdyf. 377

VII. The see of Landaf and monastery of Margan, and the remarkable things in those parts. 383

VIII. Passage of the rivers Avon and Neth - and of Abertawe and Goer. 387

IX. Passage over the rivers Lochor and Wendraeth; and of Cydweli. 392

X. Tywy river - Caermardyn Monastery of Albelande. 394

XI. Haverford and Ros. 398

XII. Penbroch. 404

XIII. Of the progress by Camros and Niwegal. 412


I. Of the see of St. David's. 414

II. Of the journey by Cemmeis the monastery of St. Dogmael. 422

III. Of the river Teivi - Cardigan - Emelyn. 427

IV. Of the journey by Pont Stephen, the Abbey of Stratflur, Landewi Brevi, and Lhanpadarn Vawr. 432

V. Of the river Devi, and the land of the sons of Conan. 437

VI. Passage of Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bachan, and of Nevyn, Carnarvon, and Bangor. 439

VII. The island of Mona. 443

VIII. Passage of the river Conwy in a boat, and of Dinas Emrys. 451

IX. Of the mountains of Eryri. 453

X. Of the passage by Deganwy and Ruthlan, and the see of Lanelwy, and of Coleshulle. 455

XI. Of the passage of the river Dee, and of Chester. 459

XII. Of the journey by the White Monastery, Oswaldestree, Powys, and Shrewsbury. 462

XIII. Of the journey by Wenloch, Brumfeld, the castle of Ludlow, and Leominster, to Hereford. 467

XIV. A description of Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury. 469





IN the year 1188 from the incarnation of our Lord, Urban the Third [1] 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

[1] Giraldus has committed an error in placing Urban III. at the head of the apostolic see; for he died at Ferrara in the month of October, A.D. 1187, and was succeeded by Gregory VIII., whose short reign expired in the month of December following. Clement III. was elected pontiff in the year 1188. Frederick I., surnamed Barbarossa, succeeded Conrad III. in the empire of Germany, in March, 1152, and was drowned in a river of Cilicia whilst bathing, in 1190. Isaac Angelus succeeded Andronicus I. as emperor of Constantinople, in 1185, and was dethroned in 1195. Philip II., surnamed Augustus, from his having been born in the month of August, was crowned at Rheims, in 1179, and died at Mantes, in 1223. William II., king of Sicily, surnamed the Good, succeeded in 1166 to his father, William the Bad, and died in 1189. Bela III., king of Hungary, succeeded to the throne in 1174, and died in 1196. Guy de Lusignan was crowned king of Jerusalem in 1186, and in the following year his city was taken by the victorious Saladin.


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, [1] on Ash Wednesday (Caput Jejunii), accompanied by Ranulph de Glanville, [2] privy counsellor and justiciary of the whole kingdom, and there met Rhys, [3] son of Gruffydh, 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, [4] a monk of the abbey of Cluny, and then by Eineon, son of Eineon Clyd, [5] prince of Elvenia, and many other persons. Eineon rising up, said to Rhys, whose daughter he had married, "My father and lord! with your permission I hasten to revenge the injury offered to the great father of all". Rhys himself was so fully determined upon the holy peregrination, as soon as the archbishop should enter his territories on his return, that for nearly

[1] New Radnor.

[2] On Ranulph de Glanville, see a former note in the History of the Conquest of Ireland.

[3] Rhys ap Gruffydh was grandson to Rhys ap Theodor, prince of South Wales, who, in 1090, was slain in an engagement with the Norman knight, Robert Fitzhamon, in the neighbourhood of Brecknock. He was a prince of great talent, but great versatility of character, and made a conspicuous figure in Welsh history. He died in 1196, and was buried in the cathedral of St. David's; where his effigy, as well as that of his son Rhys Gryg, still remain in a good state of preservation.

[4] Peter de Leia, prior of the Benedictine monastery of Wenlock, in Shropshire, was the successful rival of Giraldus for the bishopric of Saint David's, vacant by the death of David Fitzgerald, the uncle of our author; but he did not obtain his promotion without considerable opposition from the canons, who submitted to the absolute sequestration of their property before they consented to his election, being desirous that the nephew should have succeeded his uncle. He was consecrated in 1176, and died in 1199.

[5] In the Latin of Giraldus, the name Eineon is represented by AEneas, and Eineon Clyd by AEneas Claudius.


fifteen days he was employed with great solicitude in making the necessary preparations for so distant a journey; till his wife, and, according to the common vicious license of the country, his relation in the fourth degree, Guendolena, (Gwenlhian), daughter of Madoc, prince of Powys, by female artifices diverted him wholly from his noble purpose; since, as Solomon says, "A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps". As Rhys before his departure was conversing with his friends concerning the things he had heard, a distinguished, young man of his family, by name Gruffydh, and who afterwards took the cross, is said thus to have answered: "What man of spirit can refuse to undertake this journey, since, amongst all imaginable inconveniences, nothing worse can happen to any one than to return".

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

Early on the following morning, after the celebration of mass, and the return of Ranulph de Glanville to England, we came to Cruker Castle, [1] two miles distant from Radnor, where a strong and valiant youth named Hector, conversing

[1] Cruker Castle. The corresponding distance between Old and New Radnor evidently places this castle at Old Radnor, which was anciently called Pen-y-craig, Pencraig, or Pen-crug, from its situation on a rocky eminence. Cruker is a corruption, probably, from Crug-caerau, the mount, or height, of the fortifications. It has been supposed to be the site of a Roman station, but this supposition appears to be supported by no direct evidence.


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 Buelt, [1] who had entered the church of Saint Avan (which is called in the British language Lhan Avan), [2] and, without sufficient caution or reverence, had passed the night there with his hounds. Arising early in the morning, according to the custom of hunters, he found his hounds mad, and himself struck blind. After a long, dark, and tedious existence, he was conveyed to Jerusalem, happily taking care that his inward sight should not in a similar manner be extinguished; and there being accoutred, and led to the field of battle on horseback, he made a spirited attack upon the enemies of the faith, and, being mortally wounded, closed his life with honour.

Another circumstance which happened in these our days, in the province of Warthrenion, [3] distant from hence only a

[1] Buelth or Builth, a large market town on the north-west edge of the county of Brecon, on the southern banks of the Wye, over which there is a long and handsome bridge of stone. It had formerly a strong castle, the site and earthworks of which still remain, but the building is destroyed.

[2] Llan-Avan, a small church at the foot of barren mountains about five or six miles north-west of Buelth. The saint from whom it takes its name, was one of the sons of Cedig ab Cunedda; whose ancestor, Cunedda, king of the Britons, was the head of one of the three holy families of Britain. He is said to have lived in the beginning of the sixth century.

[3] Melenia, Warthrenion, Elevein, Elvenia, Melenyth, and Elvein, places mentioned in this first chapter, and varying in their orthography, seem to relate to three different districts in Radnorshire: Melenyth is a hundred in the northern part of the county, extending into Montgomeryshire, in which is the church of Keri: Elvein retains in modern days the name of Elvel, and is a hundred in the southern part of the county, separated from Brecknockshire by the Wye; and Warthrenion, in which was the castle built by prince Rhys at Rhaiadyr-gwy, seems to have been situated between the other two. Warthrenion may more properly be called Gwyrthrynion; it was anciently one of the three comots of Arwystli, a cantref of Merioneth, though since by stat. 27 Henry VIII. attached to the then newly erected counties of Radnor and Montgomery: Gwyrthrynion is in the former county. Maelienydd and Elvel, according to the ancient division of Wales by Roderic the Great, were cantrefs of that part of Powys, or Mathravel, which lay between the rivers Wye and Severn; but by stat. 27 Henry VIII. were made part of Radnorshire. In the year 1174, Melyenith was in the possession of Cadwallon ap Madawe, cousin german to prince Rhys; Elvel was held by Eineon Clyd, and Gwyrthrynion by Eineon ap Rhys, both sons-in-law to that illustrious prince.


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

In this same province of Warthrenion, and in the church of Saint Germanus, [1] there is a staff of Saint Cyric, [2] 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.

[1] The church of Saint Germanus is now known by the name of Saint Harmans, and is situated three or four miles from Rhaiadyr, in Radnorshire, on the right-hand of the road from thence to Llanidloes; it is a small and simple structure, placed on a little eminence, in a dreary plain surrounded by mountains.

[2] Several churches in Wales have been dedicated to Saint Curig, who was a stranger, celebrated for his learning and holy life, and came into Wales in the seventh century.


But it happened in these our days, that a strumous patient on presenting one halfpenny to the staff, the humour subsided only in the middle; but when the oblation was completed by the other halfpenny, an entire cure was accomplished. Another person also coming to the staff with the promise of a penny, was cured; but not fulfilling his engagement on the day appointed, he relapsed into his former disorder; in order, however, to obtain pardon for his offence, he tripled the offering by presenting three-pence, and thus obtained a complete cure.

At Elevein, in the church of Glascum, [1] is a portable bell, endowed with great virtues, called Bangu, [2] and said to have belonged to Saint David. A certain woman secretely conveyed this bell to her husband, who was confined in the castle of Raidergwy, [3] near Warthrenion, (which Rhys, son of Gruffydh, 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, [4] in the neighbourhood of Brecheinoc (Brechinia), was burned, also in our time, by the enemy, and everything destroyed, except one small box, in which the consecrated host was deposited.

[1] Glascum is a small village in a mountainous and retired situation between Buelth, in Brecknockshire, and Kington, in Herefordshire.

[2] Bangu. This was a hand bell kept in all the Welsh churches during the times of popery, which the clerk or sexton took to the house of the deceased on the day of the funeral: when the procession began, a psalm was sung; the bellman then sounded his bell in a solemn manner for some time, till another psalm was concluded; and he again sounded it at intervals, till the funeral arrived at the church. The bangu was at this period deemed sacred, which accounts for the superstitious attributes given it by Giraldus.

[3] Rhaiadyr, called also Rhaiader-gwy, is a small village and market-town in Radnorshire. The site only of the castle, built by prince Rhys, A.D. 1178, now remains at a short distance from the village; it was strongly situated on a natural rock above the river Wye, which, below the bridge, forms a cataract.

[4] Llywel, a small village about a mile from Trecastle, on the great road leading from thence to Llandovery; it was anciently a township and by charter of Philip and Mary was attached to the borough of Brecknock, by the name of Trecastle ward


It came to pass also in the province of Elvenia, which is separated from Hay by the river Wye, in the night in which king Henry I. expired, that two pools [1] of no small extent, the one natural, the other artificial, suddenly burst their bounds; the latter, by its precipitate course down the declivities, emptied itself; but the former, with its fish and contents, obtained a permanent situation in a valley about two miles distant. In Normandy, a few days before the death of Henry II., the fish of a certain pool near Seez, five miles from the castle of Exme, fought during the night so furiously with each other, both in the water and out of it, that the neighbouring people were attracted by the noise to the spot; and so desperate was the conflict, that scarcely a fish was found alive in the morning; thus, by a wonderful and unheard-of prognostic, foretelling the death of one by that of many.

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



HAVING crossed the river Wye, we proceeded towards Brecheinoc, and on preaching a sermon at Hay, [2] we observed

[1] Leland, in his description of this part of Wales, mentions a lake in Low Elvel, or Elvenia, which may perhaps be the same as that alluded to in this passage of Giraldus. "There is a llinne in Low Elvel within a mile of Payne's castel by the church called Lanpeder. The llinne is caullid Bougklline, and is of no great quantite, but is plentiful of pike, and perche, and eles". Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 72.

[2] Hay. A pleasant market-town on the southern banks of the river Wye, over which there is a bridge. It still retains some marks of baronial antiquity in the old castle, within the present town, the gateway of which is tolerably perfect. A high raised tumulus adjoining the church marks the site of the more ancient fortress. The more modern and spacious castle owes its foundation probably to one of those Norman lords, who, about the year 1090, conquered this part of Wales. Little notice is taken of this castle in the Welsh chronicles; but we are informed that it was destroyed in 1231, by Henry II., and that it was refortified by Henry III.


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, [1] 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; [2] and every place where one river falls into another is called Aber in the British tongue. Landeu signifies the church of God. The archdeacon of that place (Giraldus ) presented to the archbishop his work on the Topography of Ireland, which he graciously received, and either read or heard a part of it read attentively every day during his journey; and on his return to England completed the perusal of it.

I have determined not to omit mentioning those occurrences worthy of note which happened in these parts in our days. It came to pass before that great war, in which nearly all this province was destroyed by the sons of Jestin, [3] that the large lake, and the river Leveni, 4 which flows from

[1] Llanddew, a small village, about two miles from Brecknock, on the left of the road leading from thence to Hay; its manor belongs to the bishops of Saint David's, who had formerly a castellated mansion there, of which some ruins still remain. The tithes of this parish are appropriated to the archdeaconry of Brecknock, and here was the residence of our author Giraldus, which he mentions in several of his writings, and alludes to with heartfelt satisfaction at the end of the third chapter of this Itinerary.

[2] Aberhodni, the ancient name of the town and castle of Brecknock, derived from its situation at the confluence of the river Hodni with the Usk. The castle and two religious buildings, of which the remains are still extant, owed their foundation to Bernard de Newmarch, a Norman knight, who, in the year 1090, obtained by conquest the lordship of Brecknock.

[3] Jestyn ap Gurgant was lord of the province of Morganwe, or Glamorgan, and a formidable rival to Rhys ap Theodor, prince of South Wales; but unable to cope with him in power, he prevailed on Robert Fitzhamon, a Norman knight, to come to his assistance, by whom, and his knights, this part of South Wales was afterwards completely subdued.

[4] This little river rises near the ruins of Blanllyfni castle, between Llangorse pool and the turnpike road leading from Brecknock to Abergavenny, and empties itself irto the river Usk, near Glasbury.


it into the Wye, opposite Glasbyry, [1] 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 [2] caused by Howel, son of Meredyth, the water had been coloured in a similar manner. About the same time, a chaplain, whose name was Hugo, being engaged to officiate at the chapel of Saint Nicholas, in the castle of Aberhodni, saw in a dream a venerable man standing near him, and saying, "Tell thy lord William de Braose, [3] who has the audacity to retain the property granted to the chapel of Saint Nicholas for charitable uses, these words: 'The public treasury takes away that which Christ does not receive; and thou wilt then give to an impious soldier, what thou wilt not give to a priest'". This vision having been repeated three times, he went to the archdeacon of the place, at Landeu, and related to him what had happened. The archdeacon immediately knew them to be the words of Augustine; and shewing him that part of his writings

[1] A pretty little village on the southern banks of the Usk, about four miles from Hay, on the road leading to Brecknock.

[2] The great desolation here alluded to, is attributed by Dr. Powel to Howel and Meredyth, sons of Edwyn ap Eineon; not to Howel, son of Meredith. In the year 1021, they conspired against Llewelyn ap Sitsylht, and slew him: Meredith was slain in 1033, and Howel in 1043.

[3] William de Breusa, or Braose, has been mentioned in the Vaticinal History; he was by extraction a Norman, and had extensive possessions in England, as well as Normandy: he was succeeded by his son Philip, who, in the reign of William Rufus, favoured the cause of king Henry against Robert Curthose, duke of Normandy; and being afterwards rebellious to his sovereign, was disinherited of his lands. By his marriage with Berta, daughter of Milo, earl of Hereford, he gained a rich inheritance in Brecknock, Overwent, and Gower. He left issue two sons: William and Philip: William married Maude de Saint Wallery, and succeeded to the great estate of his father and mother, which he kept in peaceable possession during the reigns of king Henry II. and king Richard I. In order to avoid the persecutions of king John, he retired with his family to Ireland; and from thence returned into Wales; on hearing of the king's arrival in Ireland, his wife Maude fled with her sons into Scotland, where she was taken prisoner, and in the year 1210 committed, with William, her son and heir, to Corf castle, and there miserably starved to death, by order of king John; her husband, William de Braose, escaped into France disguised, and dying there, was buried in the abbey church of Saint Victor, at Paris. The family of Saint Walery, or Valery, derived their name from a sea-port in France.


where they were found, explained to him the case to which they applied. He reproaches persons who held back tithes and other ecclesiastical dues; and what he there threatens, certainly in a short time befell this withholder of them: for in our time we have duly and undoubtedly seen, that princes who have usurped ecclesiastical benefices (and particularly king Henry the Second, who laboured under this vice more than others), have profusely squandered the treasures of the church, and given away to hired soldiers what injustice should have been given only to priests.

Yet something is to be said in favour of the aforesaid William de Braose, although he greatly offended in this particular (since nothing human is perfect, and to have knowledge of all things, and in no point to err, is an attribute of God, not of man); for he always placed the name of the Lord before his sentences, saying, "Let this be done in the name of the Lord; let that be done by God's will; if it shall please God, or if God grant leave; it shall be so by the grace of God". We learn from Saint Paul, that every thing ought thus to be committed and referred to the will of God. On taking leave of his brethren, he says, "I will return to you again, if God permit"; and Saint James uses this expression, "If the Lord will, and we live", in order to show that all things ought to be submitted to the divine disposal. The letters also which William de Braose, as a rich and powerful man, was accustomed to send to different parts, were loaded, or rather honoured, with words expressive of the divine indulgence to a degree not only tiresome to his scribe, but even to his auditors; for as a reward to each of his scribes for concluding his letters with the words, "by divine assistance", he gave annually a piece of gold, in addition to their stipend. When on a journey he saw a church or a cross, although in the midst of conversation either with his inferiors or superiors, from an excess of devotion, he immediately began to pray, and when he had finished his prayers, resumed his conversation. On meeting boys in the way, he invited them by a previous salutation to salute him, that the blessings of these innocents, thus extorted, might be returned to him. His wife, Matilda de Saint Valery, observed all these things, a prudent and chaste woman; a woman placed with


propriety at the head of her house, equally attentive to the economical disposal of her property within doors, as to the augmentation of it without; both of whom, I hope, by their devotion obtained temporal happiness and grace, as well as the glory of eternity.

It happened also that the hand of a boy, who was endeavouring to take some young pigeons from a nest, in the church of Saint David of Lhanvaes, [1] 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, [2] bishop of Saint David's, and certifying to him the truth of this relation, because it had happened in his diocese. The stone is preserved in the church to this day among the relics, and the marks of the five fingers appear impressed on the flint as though it were in wax.

A similar miracle happened at St. Edmundsbury to a poor woman, who often visited the shrine of the saint, under the mask of devotion; not with the design of giving, but of taking something away, namely, the silver and gold offerings, which, by a curious kind of theft, she licked up by kissing, and carried away in her mouth. But in one of these attempts her tongue and lips adhered to the altar, when by divine interposition she was detected, and openly disgorged the secret theft. Many persons, both Jews and Christians, expressing their astonishment, flocked to the place, where for the greater part of the day she remained

[1] A small church dedicated to Saint David, in the suburbs of Brecknock, on the great road leading from thence to Trecastle. "The paroche of Llanvays, Llan-chirch-Vais extra, ac si diceres, extra muros. It standeth betwixt the river of Uske and Tyrtorelle brooke, that is, about the lower ende of the town of Brekenok".- Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 69.

[2] David Fitzgerald was promoted to the see of Saint David's in 1147, or, according to others, in 1149. He died A.D. 1176.


motionless, that no possible doubt might be entertained of the miracle.

In the north of England beyond the Humber, in the church of Hovedene, [1] the concubine of the rector incautiously sat down on the tomb of St. Osana, sister of king Osred, [2] which projected like a wooden seat; on wishing to retire, she could not be removed, until the people came to her assistance: her clothes were rent, her body was laid bare, and severely afflicted with many strokes of discipline, even till the blood flowed; nor did she regain her liberty, until by many tears and sincere repentance she had showed evident signs of compunction.

What miraculous power hath not in our days been displayed by the psalter of Quindreda, sister of St. Kenelm, [3] by whose instigation he was killed? On the vigil of the saint, when, according to custom, great multitudes of women resorted to the feast at Winchelcumbe, [4] the under butler of that convent committed fornication with one of them within the precincts of the monastery. This same man on

[1] Now Howden, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

[2] Osred was king of the Northumbrians, and son of Alfred. His reign was short; for the same giddy multitude who had placed the diadem on his head, A.D. 791, deprived him of it in less than a year. He fled for security to the Isle of Man, but was afterwards ensnared by Ethelred, his successor, and, falling a sacrifice to his wiles, was put to death at a place called Dinburch.

[3] St. Kenelm was the only son and heir of Kenulfus, king of the Mercians, who left him under the care of his two sisters, Quendreda and Bragenilda. The former, blinded by ambition, resolved to destroy the innnocent child, who stood between her and the throne; and for that purpose prevailed on Ascebert, who attended constantly on the king, to murder him privately, giving him hopes, in case he complied with her wishes, of making him her partner in the kingdom. Under the pretence of diverting his young master, this wicked servant led him into a retired vale at Clent, in Staffordshire, and having murdered him, dug a pit, and cast his body into it, which was discovered by a miracle, and carried in solemn procession to the abbey of Winchelcomb. In the parish of Clent is a small chapel dedicated to this saint; and on one of the outward walls is the rude figure of a child, holding up hi right hand, as if in the act of giving the benediction. In the chapel yard is a fine spring, which in former days was much celebrated for its miraculous qualities

[4] Winchelcumbe, or Winchcomb, in the lower part of the hundred of Kiftsgate, in Gloucestershire, a few miles to the north of Cheltenham.


the following day had the audacity to carry the psalter in the procession of the relics of the saints; and on his return to the choir, after the solemnity, the psalter stuck to his hands. Astonished and greatly confounded, and at length calling to mind his crime on the preceding day, he made confession, and underwent penance; and being assisted hy the prayers of the brotherhood, and having shown signs of sincere contrition, he was at length liberated from the miraculous bond. That book was held in great veneration; because, when the body of St. Kenelm was carried forth, and the multitude cried out, "He is the martyr of God! truly he is the martyr of God"! Quindreda, conscious and guilty of the murder of her brother, answered, "He is as truly the martyr of God as it is true that my eyes be on that psalter"; for, as she was reading the psalter, both her eyes were miraculously torn from her head, and fell on the book, where the marks of the blood yet remain.

Moreover I must not be silent concerning the collar (torques) which they call St. Canauc's; [1] for it is most like to gold in weight, nature, and colour; it is in four pieces wrought round, joined together artificially, and clefted as it were in the middle, with a dog's head, the teeth standing outward; it is esteemed by the inhabitants so powerful a relic, that no man dares swear falsely when it is laid before him: it bears the marks of some severe blows, as if made with an iron hammer; for a certain man, as it is said, endeavouring to break the collar for the sake of the gold, experienced the divine vengeance, was deprived of his eyesight, and lingered the remainder of his days in darkness.

A similar circumstance concerning the horn of St. Patrick [2] (not golden indeed, but of brass [probably bronze], which

[1] The antiquary will recognize in this description the well-known peculiarities of a Roman torques. St. Kynauc, who flourished (according to the legend) about the year 492, was the reputed son of Brychan, lord of Brecknock, by Benadulved, daughter of Benadyl, a prince of Powis, whom he seduced during the time of his detention as an hostage at the court of her father. He is said to have been murdered upon the mountain called the Van, and buried in the church of Merthyr Cynawg, or Cynawg the Martyr, near Brecknock, which is dedicated to his memory.

[2] This miracle relating to the horn is related by Giraldus in his Topography of Ireland.


lately was brought into these parts from Ireland) excites our admiration. The miraculous power of this relic first appeared with a terrible example in that country, through the foolish and absurd blowing of Bernard, a priest, as is set forth in our Topography of Ireland. Both the laity and clergy in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales held in such great veneration portable bells, and staves crooked at the top, and covered with gold, silver, or brass, and similar relics of the saints, that they were much more afraid of swearing falsely by them than by the gospels; because, from some hidden and miraculous power with which they are gifted, and the vengeance of the saint to whom they are particularly pleasing, their despisers and transgressors are severely punished. The most remarkable circumstance attending this horn is, that whoever places the wider end of it to his ear will hear a sweet sound and melody united, such as ariseth from a harp gently touched.

In our days a strange occurrence happened in the same district. A wild sow, which by chance had been suckled by a bitch famous for her nose, became, on growing up, so wonderfully active in the pursuit of wild animals, that in the faculty of scent she was greatly superior to dogs, who are assisted by natural instinct, as well as by human art; an argument that man (as well as every other animal) contracts the nature of the female who nurses him. Another prodigious event came to pass nearly at the same time. A soldier, whose name was Gilbert Hagernel, after an illness of nearly three years, and the severe pains as of a woman in labour, in the presence of many people, voided a calf. A portent of some new and unusual event, or rather the punishment attendant on some atrocious crime. It appears also from the ancient and authentic records of those parts, that during the time St. Elwitus [1] led the life of a hermit at

[1] St. Elwitus. In Welsh, Illtyd, which has been latinized into Iltutus, as in the instance of St. Iltutus, the celebrated disciple of Germanus, and the master of the learned Gildas, who founded a college for the instruction of youth at Llantwit, on the coast of Glamorganshire; but I do not conceive this to be the same person. The name of Ty-Illtyd, or St. Illtyd's house, is still known at Llanamllech, but it is applied to one of those monuments of Druidical antiquity called a cistvaen, erected upon an eminence named Maenest, at a short distance from the village. It is composed of three rude stones pitched firmly in the ground, and supporting a fourth, placed in a declining posture upon the top, and evidently of the same construction with what is elsewhere called a cromllech. The space beneath is about eight feet long, four feet wide, and nearly of the same height, and open at one end. The side stones within are inscribed with a number of strange characters, slightly scratched with the point of some sharp instrument, but without any seeming order, the playful handiwork, perhaps, of those who from curiosity have visited the hermit's cell. A rude, upright stone stood formerly on one side of it, and was called by the country people Maen Illtyd, or Illtyd's stone, but was removed about a century ago. A well, the stream of which divides this parish from the neighbouring one of Llansaintfraid, is called Ffynnon Illtyd, or Illtyd's well. This was evidently the site of the hermitage mentioned by Giraldus.


Lhanhamelach, [1] the mare that used to carry his provisions to him was covered by a stag, and produced an animal of wonderful speed, resembling a horse before and a stag behind.

Bernard de Newmarch [2] was the first of the Normans who acquired by conquest from the Welsh this province, which was divided into three cantreds. [3] He married the daughter of Nest, daughter of Gruffydh, son of Lhewelyn, 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

[1] Lhanhamelach, or Llanamllech, is a small village, three miles from Brecknock, on the road to Abergavenny.

[2] The name of Newmarche appears in the chartulary of Battel abbey, as a witness to one of the charters granted by William the Conqueror to the monks of Battel in Sussex, upon his foundation of their house. He obtained the territory of Brecknock by conquest, from Bleddyn ap Maenyrch, the Welsh regulus thereof, about the year 1092, soon after his countryman, Robert Fitzhamon, had reduced the county of Glamorgan. He built the present town of Brecknock, where he also founded a priory of Benedictine monks. According to Leland, he was buried in the cloister of the cathedral church at Gloucester, though the mutilated remains of an effigy and monument are still ascribed to him in the priory church at Brecknock.

[3] Brecheinoc, now Brecknockshire, had three cantreds or hundreds, and eight comots. 1. Cantref Selef with the comots of Selef and Trahayern. 2. Cantref Canol, or the middle hundred, with the comots Talgarth, Ystradwy, and Brwynlys, or Eglwys Yail. 3. Cantref Mawr, or the great hundred, with the comots of Tir Raulff Llvwel, and Cerrig Howel.- Powel's description of Wales, p. 20.


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, [1] constable of Gloucester, with the honour of Brecheinoc as a portion; and he was afterwards created earl of Hereford by the empress Matilda, daughter of the said king. By this wife he had five celebrated warriors; Roger, Walter, Henry, William, and Mahel; all of whom, by divine vengeance, or by fatal misfortunes, came to untimely ends; and yet each of them, except William, succeeded to the paternal inheritance, but left no issue. Thus this woman (not deviating from the nature of her sex), in order to satiate her anger and revenge, with the heavy loss of modesty, and with the disgrace of infamy, by the same act deprived her son of his patrimony, and herself of honour. Nor is it wonderful if a woman follows her innate bad disposition: for it is written in Ecclesiastes, "I have found one good man out of a thousand,

[1] Milo was son to Walter, constable of England in the reign of Henry I., and Emme his wife, one of the daughters of Dru de Baladun, sister to Hameline de Baladun, a person of great note, who came into England with William the Conqueror, and, being the first lord of Overwent in the county of Monmouth, built the castle of Abergavenny. Milo was an expert soldier, and one of the chief counsellors to king Henry, who gave to him in marriage Sibyll, eldest daughter of Bernard de Newmarch, together with the honour of Brecknock. He so far ingratiated himself with the empress Matilda, by taking her part against king Stephen, that, in return for his services she created him earl of Hereford. He was wounded by an arrow while hunting, on Christmas eve, in 1144, and was buried in the chapter-house of Lanthoni, near Gloucester.


but not one good woman"; and in Ecclesiasticus, "There is no head above the head of a serpent; and there is no wrath above the wrath of a woman"; and again, "Small is the wickedness of man compared to the wickedness of woman". And in the same manner, as we may gather grapes off thorns, or figs off thistles, Tully, describing the nature of women, says, "Men, perhaps, for the sake of some advantage will commit one crime; but woman, to gratify one inclination, will not scruple to perpetrate all sorts of wickedness". Thus Juvenal, speaking of women, says,

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

But of the five abovementioned 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, [1] in the castle of Brendlais, [2] the house was by accident burned down, and he received a mortal blow by a stone falling from the principal tower on his head: upon which he instantly dispatched messengers to recal the bishop, and exclaimed

[1] Walter de Clifford. The first of this ancient family was called Ponce; he had issue three sons, Walter, Drogo or Dru, and Richard. The Conqueror's survey takes notice of the two former, but from Richard the genealogical line is preserved, who, being called Richard de Pwns, obtained, as a gift from king Henry I., the cantref Bychan, or little hundred, and the castle of Llandovery, in Wales; he left three sons, Simon, Walter, and Richard. The Walter de Clifford here mentioned was father to the celebrated Fair Rosamond, the favourite of king Henry II.; and was succeeded by his eldest son, Walter, who married Margaret, daughter to Llewelyn, prince of Wales, and widow of John de Braose.

[2] Brendlais, or Brynllys, is a small village on the road between Brecknock and Hay, where a stately round tower marks the site of the ancient castle of the Cliffords, in which the tyrant Mahel lost his life.


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, [1]

[1] An ancient manuscript entitled "Cognacio Brychan unde Brecheynawc dicta est, pars Demetiae South-Walliae", in the Cottonian Library, gives an account of this prince and his family. We are told that he was the son of Awlach Mac-Gormuc, an Irish prince, by Marchell, daughter of Tydor, regulus of Garthmathrin. In the Cambrian Biography he is said to have been the son of Aulach, son of Cormach Mac Carbery, one of the supreme kings of Ireland; that at an early age he was brought to Britain by his parents, who took up their residence at Benne, (the Gaer, upon the banks of the river Isgeer, near Brecknock), and having spent his youth in military exercises, succeeded, upon the death of his father, about the beginning of the fifth century, to the government of Garthmathrin, the name of which he changed to Brycheinog, which it still bears amongst the Welsh inhabitants, Brecon and Brecknock being merely the corruption by English settlers. Of Brychan and his family the monkish writers abound in superstitious anecdotes. He was a distinguished character in the history of Wales, as being the father of a very numerous issue, which came to be styled one of the three holy families of Britain; for nearly all his children embraced a religious life, and were the founders of several churches. Besides his daughters, the Cambrian Biography enumerates the names of twenty-four sons, viz. Cynog, Cledwyn, Dingad, Arthen, Cyvlevyr, Rhain, Dyvnan, Gerwyn, Cadog, Mathaiarn, Pasgen, Nefai, Pabiali, Llechau, Cynbryd, Cynvran, Hychan, Dyvrig, Cynin, Dogvan, Rhawin, Rhun, Cledog, Caian. St. Almedha, though not included in the ordinary lists, is said to have been a daughter of Brychan, and sister to St. Canoc, and to have borne the name of Elevetha, Aled, or Elyned, latinized into Almedha. The Welsh genealogists say, that she suffered martyrdom on a hill near Brecknock, where a chapel was erected to her memory; and William of Worcester says she was buried at Usk. Mr. Hugh Thomas (who wrote an essay towards the history of Brecknockshire in the year 1698) speaks of the chapel as standing, though unroofed and useless, in his time; the people thereabouts call it St. Tayled. It was situated on an eminence, about a mile to the eastward of Brecknock, and about half a mile from a farm-house, formerly the mansion and residence of the Aubreys, lords of the manor of Slwch, which lordship was bestowed upon Sir Reginald Awbrey by Bernard Newmarch, in the reign of William Rufus. Some small vestiges of this building may still be traced, and an aged yew tree, with a well at its foot, marks the site near which the chapel formerly stood.


was in ancient times the ruler of the province of Brecheinoc, and from him it derived this name. The British histories testify that he had four-and-twenty daughters, all of whom, dedicated from their youth to religious observances, happily ended their lives in sanctity. There are many churches in Wales distinguished by their names, one of which, situated on the summit of a hill, near Brecheinoc, and not far from the castle of Aberhodni, is called the church of St. Almedha, 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: [1] 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 amended.

[1] This same habit is still (in Sir Richard Colt Hoare's time) used by the Welsh ploughboys; they have a sort of chaunt, consisting of half or even quarter notes, which is sung to the oxen at plough: the countrymen vulgarly supposing that the beasts are consoled to work more regularly and patiently by such a lullaby.


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, [1] the praise of which is celebrated in the works of Ambrosius, as being found in great numbers in the rivers near Milan; "What", says he, "is more beautiful to behold, more agreeable to smell, or more pleasant to taste"? The famous lake of Brecheinoc supplies the country with pike, perch, excellent trout, tench, and eels. A circumstance concerning this lake, which happened a short time before our days, must not be passed over in silence. "In the reign of king Henry I., Gruffydh, [2] son of Rhys ap

[1] The umber, or grayling, is still a plentiful and favourite fish in the rivers on the Welsh border.

[2] Gruffydh ap Rhys was son of Rhys ap Theodor, who in the year 1090 was slain in battle, not far from Brecknock. About the year 1113, "there was a talke through South Wales, of Gruffyth, the sonne of Rees ap Theodor, who, for feare of the king, had beene of a child brought up in Ireland, and had come over two yeares passed, which time he had spent privilie with his freends, kinsfolks, and affines; as with Gerald, steward of Penbrooke, his brother-in-law, and others. But at the last he was accused to the king, that he intended the kingdome of South Wales as his father had enjoied it, which was now in the king's hands; and that all the countrie hoped of libertie through him; therefore the king sent to take him. But Gryffyth ap Rees hering this, sent to Gruffyth ap Conan, prince of North Wales, desiring him of his aid, and that he might remaine safelie within his countrie; which he granted, and received him joiouslie for his father's sake". He afterwards proved so troublesome and successful an antagonist, that the king endeavoured by every possible means to get him into his power. To Gruffyth ap Conan he offered "mountaines of gold to send the said Gruffyth or his head to him". And at a subsequent period, he sent for Owen ap-Cadogan, and said to him, "Owen, I have found thee true and faithful unto me, therefore I desire thee to take or kill that murtherer, Gruffyth ap Rees, that doth so trouble my loving subjects". But Gruffyth escaped all the snares which the king had laid for him, and in the year 1137 died a natural and honourable death; he is styled in the Welsh chronicle, "the light, honor, and staie of South Wales"; and distinguished as the bravest, the wisest, the most merciful, liberal, and just, of all the princes of Wales. By his wife Gwenlhian, the daughter of Gruffyth ap Conan, he left a son, commonly called the lord Rhys, who met the archbishop at Radnor, as is related in the first chapter of this Itinerary.


Theodor, held under the king one comot, namely, the fourth, part of the cantred of Caoc, [1] in the cantref Mawr, which, in title and dignity, was esteemed by the Welsh equal to the southern part of Wales, called Deheubarth, that is, the right-hand side of Wales. When Gruffydh, on his return from the king's court, passed near this lake, which at that cold season of the year was covered with waterfowl of various sorts, being accompanied by Milo, earl of Hereford, and lord of Brecheinoc, and Payn Fitz-John, lord of Ewyas, who were at that time secretaries and privy counsellors to the king; earl Milo, wishing to draw forth from Gruffydh some discourse concerning his innate nobility, rather jocularly than seriously thus addressed him: "It is an ancient saying in Wales, that if the natural prince of the country, coming to this lake, shall order the birds to sing, they will immediately obey him". To which Gruffydh, richer in mind than in gold, (for though his inheritance was diminished, his ambition and dignity still remained), answered, "Do you therefore, who now hold the dominion of this land, first give the command"; but he and Payn having in vain commanded, and Gruffydh, perceiving that it was necessary for him to do so in his turn, dismounted from his horse, and falling on his knees towards the east, as if he had been about to engage in battle, prostrate on the ground, with his eyes and hands uplifted to heaven, poured forth devout prayers to the Lord: at length, rising up, and signing his face and forehead with the figure of the cross, he thus openly spake: "Almighty God, and Lord Jesus Christ, who knowest all things, declare here this day thy power. If thou hast caused me to descend lineally from the natural princes of Wales, I command these birds

[1] This cantref, which now bears the name of Caeo, is placed, according to the ancient divisions of Wales, in the cantref Bychan, or little hundred, and not in the Cantref Mawr, or great hundred. A village between Llanbedr in Cardiganshire and Llandovery in Caermarthenhire, still bears the name of Cynvil Gaeo, and, from its picturesque situation and the remains of its mines, which were probably worked by the Romans, deserves the notice of the curious traveller.


in thy name to declare it"; and immediately the birds, beating the water with their wings, began to cry aloud, and proclaim him. The spectators were astonished and confounded; and earl Milo hastily returning with Payn Fitz-John to court, related this singular occurrence to the king, who is said to have replied, "By the death of Christ (an oath he was accustomed to use), it is not a matter of so much wonder; for although by our great authority we commit acts of violence and wrong against these people, yet they are known to be the rightful inheritors of this land".

The lake also [1] (according to the testimony of the inhabitants) is celebrated for its miracles; for, as we have before observed, it sometimes assumed a greenish hue, so in our days it has appeared to be tinged with red, not universally, but as if blood flowed partially through certain veins and small channels. Moreover it is sometimes seen by the inhabitants covered and adorned with buildings, pastures, gardens, and orchards. In the winter, when it is frozen over, and the surface of the water is converted into a shell of ice, it emits a horrible sound resembling the moans of many animals collected together; but this, perhaps, may be occasioned by the sudden bursting of the shell, and the gradual ebullition of the air through imperceptible channels. This country is well sheltered on every side (except the northern) by high mountains; on the western by those of cantref Bachan; [2] on the southern, by that range, of which

[1] The lake of Brecheinoc bears the several names of Llyn Savaddon, Brecinau-mere, Llangorse, and Talyllyn Pool, the two latter of which are derived from the names of parishes on its banks. It is a large, though by no means a beautiful, piece of water, its banks being low and flat, and covered with rushes and other aquatic plants to a considerable distance from the shore. Pike, perch, and eels are the common fish of this water; tench and trout are rarely, I believe, (if ever), taken in it. The notion of its having swallowed up an ancient city is not yet quite exploded by the natives; and some will even attribute the name of Loventium to it; which is with much greater certainty fixed at Llanio-isau, between Llanpedr and Tregaron, in Cardiganshire, on the northern banks of the river Teivi, where there are very considerable and undoubted remains of a large Roman city. The legend of the town at the bottom of the lake is at the same time very old.

[2] That chain of mountains which divides Brecknockshire from Caermarthenshire, over which the turnpike road formerly passed from Trecastle to Llaadovery, and from which the river Usk derives its source.


the principal is Cadair Arthur, [1] 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. [2] The natives of these parts, actuated by remains of those ancient heart-burnings, which subsisted between the native princes of Gwentland and Brecheinog, respecting the possession of the territories of Ystradwy and Ewyas (the first comprehending a part of the present hundred of Talgarth, and the hundred of Crickhowel, and the other extending into Herefordshire), which was strongly contested between them in long and bloody wars, but was at last, by the mediation of Edgar king of England, conceded to the former. Mr. Wynne (page 58, edit. 1774) quotes an ancient MS. then existing at Llandaff, called Cwtta Cyfarwdd o Forgannwg, or a brief history of Glamorgan, in which Ystradwy and Ewyas are called the "two sleeves of Gwent Vwchcoed": and Mr. Owen, in his Archaeology, gives a copy of this document in the Welsh language.

[1] Cadair Arthur. This mountain is now called, by way of eminence, the Van, or the height, but more commonly, by country people, Bannau Brycheinog, or the Brecknock heights, alluding to its two peaks. Our author, Giraldus, seems to have taken his account of the spring, on the summit of this mountain, from report, rather than from ocular testimony. I (Sir R. Colt Hoare) examined the summits of each peak very attentively, and could discern no spring whatever. The soil is peaty and very boggy. On the declivity of the southern side of the mountain, and at no considerable distance from the summit, is a spring of very fine water, which my guide assured me never failed. On the north-west side of the mountain is a round pool, in which possibly trout may have been sometimes found, but, from the muddy nature of its waters, I do not think it very probable; from this pool issues a small brook, which falls precipitously down the sides of the mountain, and pursuing its course through a narrow and well-wooded valley, forms a pretty cascade near a rustic bridge which traverses it. I am rather inclined to think, that Giraldus confounded in his account the spring and the pool together.

[2] Mountains of Talgarth and Ewyas. The first of these are now styled the Black Mountains, of which the Gadair Fawr is the principal, and is only secondary to the Van in height, The Black Mountains are an extensive range of hills rising to the east of Talgarth, in the several parishes of Talgarth, Llaneliew, and Llanigorn, in the county of Brecknock, and connected with the heights of Ewyas. The most elevated point is called Y Gadair, and, excepting the Brecknock Van (the Cadair Arthur of Giraldus), is esteemed the highest mountain in South Wales. The mountains of Ewyas are those now called the Hatterel Hills, rising above the monastery of Llanthoni, and joining the Black mountains of Talgarth at Capel y Ffin, or the chapel upon the boundary, near which the counties of Hereford, Brecknock, and Monmouth form a point of union. But English writers have generally confounded all distinction, calling them indiscriminately the Black Mountains, or the Hatterel Hills. The dissensions here alluded to by our author, as subsisting between the inhabitants of these neighbouring districts, were perhaps the


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.



In the deep vale of Ewyas, [1] which is about an arrow-shot broad, encircled on all sides by lofty mountains, stands the church of Saint John the Baptist, covered with lead, and built of wrought stone; and, considering the nature of the place, not unhandsomely constructed, on the very spot where the humble chapel of David, the archbishop, had formerly stood decorated only with moss and ivy. A situation truly calculated for religion, and more adapted to canonical

[1] If we consider the circumstances of this chapter, it will appear very evidently, that the vale of Ewyas made no part of the actual Itinerary. Our author having in his last chapter noticed the mountains of Ewyas as forming a part of the boundaries of Brecknockshire, takes the opportunity of introducing to his readers the monastery of Llanthoni, which is situated in the vale. He begins the chapter, "Stat autem in valle de Ewyas"; but, by-the-bye, in the vale of Ewyas stands the monastery of Llanthoni, etc.; and having indulged his talent in a style equally picturesque and accurate, adding some keen reflections on the monastic life and institutions, he mentions his own dignity of archdeacon, and residence near Brecknock, and concludes with these words: "Sed ad rem revertamur", but now to our point; thus clearly proving, both by the beginning and end of this chapter, that the whole is a digression from their intended route.


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, [1] or the church of Saint David upon the river Hodeni. The English therefore corruptly call it Lanthoni, whereas it should either be called Nanthodeni, that is, the brook of the Hodeni, or Lanhodeni, the church upon the Hodeni. Owing to its mountainous situation, the rains are

[1] Landewi Nant Hodeni, or the church of St. David on the Hodni, is now better known by the name of Llanthoni abbey. This monastery is situated in the northern part of Monmouthshire, on the banks of the little river Hodni, and in the secluded vale of Ewyas. A small and rustic chapel, dedicated to St. David, at first occupied the site of this abbey; in the year 1103, William de Laci, a Norman knight, having renounced the pleasures of the world, retired to this sequestered spot, where he was joined in his austere profession by Ernicius, chaplain to queen Maude. In the year 1108, these hermits erected a mean church in the place of their hermitage, which was consecrated by Urban, bishop of Llandaff, and Rameline, bishop of Hereford, and dedicated to St. John the Baptist: having afterwards received very considerable benefactions from Hugh de Laci, and gained the consent of Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, these same hermits founded a magnificent monastery for Black canons, of the order of St. Augustine, which they immediately filled with forty monks collected from the monasteries of the Holy Trinity in London, Merton in Surrey, and Colchester in Essex. Robert de Betun succeeded, but was removed to Hereford, and consecrated bishop of that see in June, 1131. Robert de Braci was the third prior, during whose time the peace and tranquillity of this religious establishment was so completely destroyed, by the continual incursions and depredations of the neighbouring Welsh, that the residence became insupportable: he applied to Robert de Betun, his predecessor, for advice and relief on behalf of his distressed brethren, and by the advice and assistance of that prelate the monks removed to the neighbourhood of Gloucester. The spot assigned to them by earl Milo, on the intercession of Robert de Betun, was called Hyde, and in the charter, Castele Mede, and is situated at a short distance from the city of Gloucester, on the banks of the river Severn. Here they built a church and spacious monastery, which, after the name of their former residence, they called Llanthoni; it was consecrated A.D. 1136, by Simon, bishop of Worcester, and Robert Betun bishop of Hereford, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.


frequent, the winds boisterous, and the clouds in winter almost continual. The air, though heavy, is healthy; and diseases are so rare, that the brotherhood, when worn out by long toil and affliction during their residence with the daughter, retiring to this asylum, and to their mother's [1] 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. [2] 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, [3] who first despoiled the place of its herds and

[1] The titles of mother and daughter are here applied to the mother church in Wales, and the daughter near Gloucester.

[2] This passage in the original text always appeared to me obscure and inexplicable: "Hora vero diei quasi inter primam et tertiam super montium cacumina vix emergens, et sereno tempore, corpus hic solare primo conspicitur". But on referring to the various MS. copies of Giraldus in the British Museum, I found the meaning fully solved, by the following alteration of the Latin text: "Circa primam vel parum ante".

[3] William of Wycumb, the fourth prior of Lanthoni, succeeded to Robert de Braci, who was obliged to quit the monastery, on account of the hostile molestation it received from the Welsh. To him succeeded Clement, the sub-prior, and to Clement, Roger de Norwich.


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, [1] 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

[1] Matthew Parker informs us, that Roger was the third bishop of Salisbury, A.D. 1107; and the following anecdote is recorded of him by that author: "It happened that prince Henry (afterwards king), when accompanying his brother William on some military expedition, diverged to a certain church situated in the suburbs of the town of Caen, in Normandy, in order to attend divine service with his fellow soldiers. Roger, at this time, served the church on a very small salary, and well aware in what manner religious ceremonies were relished by soldiers, he expedited them with such celerity, that he had finished saying mass, when some of his auditors thought he had but just began. All with one accord exclaimed, 'That so accommodating a priest for soldiers could nowhere be found', upon which, the prince, in a jocular manner, encouraged him to follow his camp, which he willingly did, and thus paved his way to the great honours which he afterwards received from king Henry I".


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, [1] 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

[1] Walter de Laci came into England with William the Conqueror, and left three sons, Roger, Hugh, and Walter. About that period, when several Norman lords obtained leave from William to invade Wales; when Robert Fitzhamon had been successful in the conquest of Glamorganshire, and Bernard Newmarch in that of the lordship of Brecknock; Hugh de Laci gained the adjoining province of Ewyas, and became afterwards the founder of the convent of Llanthoni; his elder brother, Robert, held also four caracutes of land within the limits of the castle of Ewyas, which king William had bestowed on Walter, his father; but joining in rebellion against William Rufus, he was banished the kingdom, and all his lands were given to his brother Hugh, who died without issue. This great inheritance devolved on his two sisters, Emmeline, who had no children, and Emme, who took to husband ... by whom she had a son, named Gilbert, who assumed the name of Laci. From him descended Hugh de Laci, who, for his steady adherence to king Henry II. (who was then at variance with his son), and for services done in Ireland, obtained a grant of the whole territory of Meath, with its appurtenances, to hold for himself and his heirs by the service of fifty knights' fees, in as ample a manner as Murchard Hugh Melachlin enjoyed the same. He was murdered in Ireland, A.D. 1185, leaving issue two sons, Walter and Hugh.


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

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

And again:

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


And also the poet Horace:

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

To which purpose the poet Lucan says:

"... O vitae tuta facultas
Pauperis, angustique lares, o munera nondam
Intellecta Deum"!

And Petronius:

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

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

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

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

So that the scripture seems to be fulfilled concerning these men, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves". But I


am inclined to think this avidity does not proceed from any bad intention. For the monks of this Order (although themselves most abstemious) incessantly exercise, more than any others, the acts of charity and beneficence towards the poor and strangers; and because they do not live as others upon fixed incomes, but depend only on their labour and forethought for subsistence, they are anxious to obtain lands, farms, and pastures, which may enable them to perform these acts of hospitality. However, to repress and remove from this sacred Order the detestable stigma of ambition, I wish they would sometimes call to mind what is written in Ecclesiasticus, "Whoso bringeth an offering of the goods of the poor, doth as one that killeth the son before his father's eyes": and also the sentiment of Gregory, "A good use does not justify things badly acquired"; and also that of Ambrose, "He who wrongfully receives, that he may well dispense, is rather burthened than assisted". Such men seem to say with the Apostle, "Let us do evil that good may come". For it is written, "Mercy ought to be of such a nature as may be received, not rejected, which may purge away sins, not make a man guilty before the Lord, arising from your own just labours, not those of other men". Hear what Solomon says; "Honour the Lord from your just labours". What shall they say who have seized upon other men's possessions, and exercised charity? "O Lord! in thy name we have done charitable deeds, we have fed the poor, clothed the naked, and hospitably received the stranger": to whom the Lord will answer; "Ye speak of what ye have given away, but speak not of the rapine ye have committed; ye relate concerning those ye have fed, and remember not those ye have killed". I have judged it proper to insert in this place an instance of an answer which Richard, king of the English, made to Fulke, [1] a good and holy

[1] This anecdote is thus related by the historian Hollinshed: "Hereof it came on a time, whiles the king sojourned in France about his warres, which he held against king Philip, there came unto him a French priest, whose name was Fulco, who required the king in anywise to put from him three abominable daughters which he had, and to bestow them in marriage, least God punished him for them. 'Thou liest, hypocrite (said the king), to thy verie face; for all the world knoweth I have not one daughter'. 'I lie not (said the priest), for thou hast three daughters: one of them is called Pride, the second Covetousness, and the third Lecherie'. With that the king called to him his lords and barons, and said to them, 'This hypocrite heere hath required me to marry awaie my three daughters, which (as he saith) I cherish, nourish, foster, and mainteine; that is to say, Pride, Covetuousness, and Lechene: and now that I have found out necessarie and fit husbands for them, I will do it with effect, and seeke no more delaies. I therefore bequeath my pride to the high-minded Templars and Hospitallers, which are as proud as Lucifer himselfe; my covetousness I give unto the White Monks, otherwise called of the Cisteaux Order, for they covet the divell and all; my lecherie I commit to the prelats of the church, who have most pleasure and felicitie therein'".


man, by whom God in these our days has wrought many sign in the kingdom of France. This man had among other things said to the king; "You have three daughters, namely, Pride, Luxury, and Avarice; and as long as they shall remain with you, you can never expect to be in favour with God". To which the king, after a short pause, replied: "I have already given away those daughters in marriage: Pride to the Templars, Luxury to the Black Monks, and Avarice to the White". It is a remarkable circumstance, or rather a miracle, concerning Lanthoni, that, although it is on every side surrounded by lofty mountains, not stony or rocky, but of a soft nature, and covered with grass, Parian stones are frequently found there, and are called free-stones, from the facility with which they admit of being cut and polished; and with these the church is beautifully built. It is also wonderful, that when, after a diligent search, all the stonea have been removed from the mountains, and no more can be found, upon another search, a few days afterwards, they reappear in greater quantities to those who seek them. With respect to the two Orders, the Cluniac and the Cistercian, this may be relied upon; although the latter are possessed of fine buildings, with ample revenues and estates, they will soon be reduced to poverty and destruction. To the former, on the contrary, you would allot a barren desert and a solitary wood; yet in a few years you will find them in possession of sumptuous churches and houses, and encircled with an extensive property. The difference of manners (as it appears to me) causes this contrast. For as without meaning offence to either party, I shall speak the truth, the one feels the benefits of sobriety, parsimony, and prudence, whilst the other suffers from the bad effects of gluttony and


intemperance: the one, like bees, collect their stores into a heap, and unanimously agree in the disposal of one well-regulated purse; the others pillage and divert to improper uses the largesses which have been collected by divine assistance, and by the bounties of the faithful; and whilst each individual consults solely his own interest, the welfare of the community suffers; since, as Sallust observes, "Small things increase by concord, and the greatest are wasted by discord". Besides, sooner than lessen the number of one of the thirteen or fourteen dishes which they claim by right of custom, or even in a time of scarcity or famine recede in the smallest degree from their accustomed good fare, they would suffer the richest lands and the best buildings of the monastery to become a prey to usury, and the numerous poor to perish before their gates.

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

In these temperate regions I have obtained (according to the usual expression) a place of dignity, but no great omen of future pomp or riches; and possessing a small residence [1] near the castle of Brecheinoc, well adapted to literary pursuits, and to the contemplation of eternity, I envy not the

[1] This small residence of the archdeacon was at Landeu, a place which has been described before: the author takes this opportunity of hinting at his love of literature, religion, and mediocrity.


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.



FROM thence [1] we proceeded through the narrow, woody tract called the bad pass of Coed Grono, leaving the noble

[1] The last chapter having been wholly digressive, and the greater part of the preceding one taken up with general description, anecdote, and legendary tales, we must now recur back to Brecknock, or rather, perhaps, to our author's residence at Landeu, where we left him, and from thence accompany him to Abergavenny. But in doing this (as he did not pursue the common route through the vale of Usk, and by Crickhowel,) we should undoubtedly have met with much difficulty, had not his own accuracy of description pointed out to us such certain marks as might enable posterity, even at this remote period, to retrace his footsteps through a wild, intricate, and desert tract of country, and but little known even to the present generation. It appears then, that from Landeu he took the road to Talgarth, a small village a little to the south east of the road leading from Brecknock to Hay; from whence, climbing up a steep ascent, now called Rhiw Cwnstabl, or the Constable's ascent, he crossed the black mountains of Llaneliew to the source of the Gronwy-fawr river, which rises in that eminence, and pursues its rapid course into the Vale of Usk. From thence a rugged and uneven track descends suddenly into a narrow glen, formed by the torrent of the Gronwy, between steep, impending mountains; bleak and barren for the first four or five miles, but afterwards wooded to the very margin of the stream. A high ledge of grassy hills on the left hand, of which the principal is called the Bal, or Y Fal, divides this formidable pass (the "Malus passus" of Giraldus) from the vale of Ewyas, in which stands the noble monastery of Llanthoni, "montibus suis inclusum", encircled by its mountains. The road at length emerging from this deep recess of Coed Grono, or Cwm Gronwy, the vale of the river Gronwy, crosses the river at a place called Pont Escob, or the Bishop's bridge, probably so called from this very circumstance of its having been now passed by the archbishop and his suite, and is continued through the forest of Moel, till it joins the Hereford road, about two miles from Abergavenny. This formidable defile is at least nine miles in length. It may, perhaps, occasion some surprise, that our most reverend missionary and his coadjutor, quitting that easy and direct road which would have led them shortly to their wished-for point, should thus have sought for difficulties in a wild, uninteresting district; but if we consider the Quixotic errand they were engaged in, and the ardent enthusiasm which animated their minds, we shall easily discern the motives. Their object (as our author tells us) was to preach the crusade in Wales, and rouse the spirit of the natives to support the banners of the cross. To do this effectually, it was necessary to explore the interior of the country, where that oppressed people still maintained a kind of poor independence among the deep recesses of the mountains, from whence it would be difficult even for Norman rapacity to dislodge them. The lower lands along the banks of the Usk were held exclusively by Normans, or the immediate vassals of De Braose, the great lord of Brecon and Abergavenny, whom it was consequently unnecessary to address, as from the nature of their tenures they were bound to follow the standard of their leader, and who, perhaps, would have been little pleased with such interference.


monastery of Lanthoni, inclosed by its mountains, on our left. The castle of Abergevenni is so called from its situation at the confluence of the river Gevenni with the Usk.

It happened a short time after the death of king Henry I., that Richard de Clare, a nobleman of high birth, and lord of Cardiganshire, passed this way on his journey from England into Wales, accompanied by Brian de Wallingford, lord of this province, and many men-at-arms. At the passage of Coed Grono, [1] and at the entrance into the wood, he dismissed

[1] In the vale of the Gronwy, about a mile above Pont Escob, there is a wood called Coed Dias, or the Wood of Revenge. Here again, by the modern name of the place, we are enabled to fix the very spot on which Richard de Clare was murdered. The Welsh Chronicle informs us, that "in 1135, Morgan ap Owen, a man of considerable quality and estate in Wales, remembering the wrong and injury he had received at the hands of Richard Fitz-Gilbert, slew him, together with his son Gilbert". A personal revenge then appears to have been the motive. The name Coed Dias, or the Wood of Revenge, the deep retirement and situation of the place, close upon the banks of the Gronwy, and only one mile from the forest of Moel, the territory of Brien Fitz-Count, lord of Abergavenny, who, we are told, accompanied Richard de Clare to the extent of his own demesne, usque ad passum predictum; all conspire to point out this very wood as the lurking-place from whence the assassins issued to complete their barbarous purpose, It appears that the aforesaid Richard de Clare, or Fitz- Gilbert, was proceeding on his journey from Nether-Went into Cardiganshire, where he had two castles, one upon the banks of the river Ystwyth, a mile from Llanbadarn Vawr, the other on the river Teivy at Cardigan; his nearest road to the former would be through Talgarth and Builth; and if he really had property on the Gronwy, (for Dugdale says his father Gilbert possessed the whole of Nether-Went and one half of Grun, in Wales, which may have been a territory bordering on the river Gronwy), he would naturally give that road the preference, as expecting safety amongst his own tenants. The river Gronwy Fawr has its source in the parish of Llaneliew, from whence, descending rapidly through a deep and rocky channel, it pursues a southward course, varying occasionally to humour the position of the mountains; and divides Brecknockshire from the adjoining counties of Hereford and Monmouth, near the junction of the parishes of Llanbedr and Patriss-shew, vulgarly called Patricio, (a small church in a very retired situation, remarkable for a curious roodloft admirably carved in wood), from whence it takes a sudden turn to the westward, and is soon afterwards joined by another stream, called the Gronwy-fechan, or smaller Gronwy. The first of this great family, Richard de Clare, was the eldest son of Gislebert, surnamed Crispin, earl of Brion, in Normandy. This Richard Fitz-Gilbert came into England with William the Conqueror, and received from him great advancement in honour and possessions. On the death of the Conqueror, favouring the cause of Robert Curthose, he rebelled against William Rufus, but when that king appeared in arms before his castle at Tunbridge, he submitted; after which, adhering to Rufus against Robert, in 1091, he was taken prisoner, and shortly after the death of king Henry I., was assassinated, on his journey through Wales, in the manner already related. Brian de Wallingford, called also Brien Fitz-Count, and Brien de Insula, received from his uncle, Hamelin, eldest son of Dru de Baladun, the castle of Abergavenny and all Over-Went, and in right of his wife, Maude, sole daughter and heiress to Robert D'Oiley, and widow of Milo Crispin, the whole honour of Wallingford; king Henry I. giving her unto him in marriage with all that her inheritance, after the death of her said husband Milo. He was strongly attached to the cause of the empress Maude, received her in his castle at Wallingford, assisted her in the siege of Winchester, and attended her in her flight to the castle at Devizes. Having two sons, both lepers, he placed them in the priory at Abergavenny, to which he made considerable benefactions; then, seized with the religious frenzy of the times, he took the cross, and went to Jerusalem, bequeathing his possessions in Over-Went, and the castle of Grosmont, to his kinsman Walter, constable of England, who, in the reign of king Henry I., held also the castles of Glocester and Hereford; and was buried in the chapter-house of Lanthoni abbey in Wales. This Walter had one son, named Milo, whom I have mentioned in a former note. Milo had five sons, to the second of whom, named Henry, Walter, during the lifetime of his father, gave up the castle of Abergavenny, and all Wentland, which he held quietly in possession during the lives of his grandfather Walter, and his brothers Milo and Roger; which last dying without issue, Henry succeeded as next heir to his property, but was afterwards unfortunately killed by one of his satellites named Senell, son of Donwald, near Arnald's castle in Upper Went, and was buried in the abbey of Llanthoni in Wales. His other three brothers dying without issue, his inheritance devolved on his sisters; Margaret, who married Humphrey de Bohun, and received as her portion the earldom of Hereford; Bertha, married to Philip de Braose, lord of Builth, had the lordship of Brecknock, Upper-Went, and Gower; and Lucia, who married Herbert, son of Henry Fitz-Herbert, chamberlain to king Henry I., and afterwards to king Stephen, received the forest of Dean and other lands in England.


him and his attendants, though much against their will, and proceeded on his journey unarmed; from too great a


presumption of security, preceded only by a minstrel and a singer, one accompanying the other on the fiddle. [1] The Welsh awaiting his arrival, with Jorwerth, brother of Morgan of Caerleon, at their head, and others of his family, rushed upon him unawares from the thickets, and killed him and many of his followers. Thus it appears how incautious and neglectful of itself is too great presumption; for fear teaches foresight and caution in prosperity, but audacity is precipitate, and inconsiderate rashness will not await the advice of the leader.

A sermon having been delivered at Abergevenni, [2] and

[1] Tibicinem praevium habens et praecentorem cantilenae notulis alternatim in fidicula respondentem.

[2] Abergavenny. Hamelin, son of Dru de Baladun, who came into England with William the Conqueror, was the first lord of Over-Went, and built a castle at Abergavenny, on the same spot where, according to ancient tradition, a giant called Agros had erected a fortress. He died in the reign of William Rufus, and was buried in the priory which he had founded at Abergavenny; having no issue, he gave the aforesaid castle and lands to Brian de Insula, his nephew, by his sister Lucia. The enormous excesses mentioned by Giraldus, as having been perpetrated in this part of Wales during his time, seem to allude to a transaction that took place in the castle of Abergavenny, in the year 1176, which is thus related by two historians, Matthew Paris and Hollinshed. "A.D. 1176, The same yeare, William de Breause having got a great number of Welshmen into the castle of Abergavennie, under a colourable pretext of communication, proposed this ordinance to be received of them with a corporall oth, 'That no traveller by the waie amongst them should beare any bow, or other unlawful weapon', which oth, when they refused to take, because they would not stand to that ordinance, he condemned them all to death. This deceit he used towards them, in revenge of the death of his uncle Henrie of Hereford, whom upon Easter-even before they had through treason murthered, and were now acquited with the like againe". Hollinshed, tom. ii. p. 95. Our author, ever ready to inveigh against king Henry, says in one place that he was the true author, and Ranulph Poer the instrument, "vere auctor extiterat Anglorum rex Henricus Secundus, vicecomes autem Herefordiae Ranulphus Poerius machinator"; and he afterwards endeavours to exculpate William de Braose, by alleging that he was not the author of the crime, but the executioner, "non auctor sceleris, sed executor". De Braose was, in fact, a desperate and a bad man, capable of committing, under a mask of piety, the most atrocious actions. Whoever reads the sad tragedy which we have just related, must deprecate the smiling villain, who, in the very moment when he protended friendship, could be guilty of so horrid an assassination Of no less atrocity was the murder of Trahern Fychan, which he committed at Brecknock; and yet Giraldus has condescended to become his panegyrist, commending his piety, and labouring to transfer that load of infamy which degraded his character to the shoulders of his sovereign, whom he styles the prime author of the mischief.


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, which I thought better to omit, lest bad men should be induced to follow the example; for although temporary advantage may seem to arise from a base cause, yet, by the balance of a righteous judge, the punishment of wickedness may be deferred, though not totally avoided, according to the words of the poet,

"Non habet eventus sordida praeda bonos".

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 (Abergevenni), and, burning with revenge, concealed themselves, with no inconsiderable force, during the night, within the woody foss of the castle. One of them, named 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

"... Ridendo dicere verum
Quis vetat"?


"... fas est et ab hoste doceri",

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, [1] 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. Though 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 is remarkable that, although Ranulf, besides many other mortal wounds, had the veins and arteries of his neck, and his windpipe separated with a sword, he made signs for a priest, and from the merit of his past life, and the honour and veneration he had shewn to those chosen into the sacred order of Christ, he was confessed, and received extreme unction before he died. And, indeed, many events concur to prove that, as those who respect the priesthood, in their latter days enjoy the

[1] Landinegat, or the church of St. Dingad, is now better known by the name of Dingatstow, or Dynastow, a village near Monmouth.


satisfaction of friendly intercourse, so do their revilers and accusers often die without that consolation. William de Braose, who was not the author of the crime we have preferred passing over in silence, but the executioner, or, rather, not the preventer of its execution, while the murderous bands were fulfilling the orders they had received, was precipitated into a deep foss, and being taken by the enemy, was drawn forth, and only by a sudden effort of his own troops, and by divine mercy, escaped uninjured. Hence it is evident that he who offends in a less degree, and unwillingly permits a thing to be done, is more mildly punished than he who adds counsel and authority to his act. Thus, in the sufferings of Christ, Judas was punished with hanging, the Jews with destruction and banishment, and Pilate with exile. But the end of the king, who assented to and ordered this treachery, sufficiently manifested in what manner, on account of this and many other enormities he had committed (as in the book "De Instructione Principis", by God's guidance, we shall set forth), he began with accumulated ignominy, sorrow, and confusion, to suffer punishment in this world.

It seems worthy of remark, that the people of what is called Venta [1] 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

[1] Leland divides this district into Low, Middle, and High Venteland, extending from Chepstow to Newport on one side, and to Abergavenny on the other; the latter of which, he says, "maketh the cumpace of Hye Venteland". He adds, "The soyle of al Venteland is of a darke reddische yerth ful of slaty stones, and other greater of the same color. The countrey is also sumwhat montayneus, and welle replenishid with woodes, also very fertyle of corne, but men there study more to pastures, the which be well inclosed".- Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 6. Ancient Gwentland is now comprised within the county of Monmouth.


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 hoth sides to 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; not calculated to shoot an arrow to a great distance, but to inflict very severe wounds in close fight.

But let us again return to our Itinerary.



AT the castle of Usk, [1] a multitude of persons influenced by the archbishop's sermon, and by the exhortations of the good and worthy William bishop of Landaf, [2] who faithfully accompanied us through his diocese, were signed with the cross; Alexander archdeacon of Bangor [3] 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, [4] situated on the other side of the Wye

[1] Usk, a small town, prettily situated on a river of the same name, over which there is a long and picturesque bridge of stone. The Roman station of Burrium is supposed to have stood near the site of the present town. There are still the remains of a large castle on an eminence, which overlooks the town, and of a priory, adjoining to the parish church.

[2] William de Salso Marisco, who succeeded to the bishopric of Llandaff, A.D. 1185, and presided over that see during the time of Baldwin's visitation, in 1188.

[3] Alexander was the fourth archdeacon of the see of Bangor.

[4] The forest of Dean is situated in the westerly part of Gloucestershire, between the rivers Severn and Wye. It contains about thirty thousand acres, the soil of which is a deep clay, adapted to the growth of oak. It was formerly so thick with trees, and so very dark and terrible by reason of its shades and cross-ways, that it rendered the inhabitants barbarous, and emboldened them to commit many outrages. In the reign of Henry VI., they so annoyed the inhabitants of the banks of the Severn with their robberies, that an act of parliament was made on purpose to restrain them. The oak of this forest was so considerable, that it is said to have been part of the instructions of the Spanish Armada to destroy its timber. Since the discovery of iron ore on this spot, the woods have largely disappeared.


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. [1] Caerleon [2] 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 tbey 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, [3] after suffering martyrdom, were buried

[1] Once at Usk, then at Caerleon, and afterwards on entering the town of Newport.

[2] This city was the station of the Legio Secunda Augusta, and still retains many vestiges of Roman antiquity: the extent of its stone walls may yet be traced: the grounds within its precincts are thickly strewed with Roman bricks, and many Latin inscriptions have been dug up. The situation of this ancient city, on the banks of the river Usk, is elegantly expressed by an anonymous writer, quoted by archbishop Usher, whom he calls Pseudo-Gildas

"Nobilis urbs, et amoena situ, quam labilis Osca
Irrigat ...".

[3] According to what is probably a mere legend, when the persecution of the emperor Dioclesian raged against the Christians throughout the whole empire, a certain man, named Amphibalus, illustrious for his virtues and learning, having crossed the sea, came to Verulamium, in Britain, and, entering that city, craved admittance, as a stranger, to the house of Albanus, who was one of the citizens, eminent for his quality and noble parentage, and who received the holy man with great kindness and liberality, and, by his persuasions, became a convert to Christianity. Anxious, however, for the safety of his guest, Albanus exhorted him to depart from Verulam, and as a disguise gave him his own military vestment, woven with gold, taking in exchange that of Amphibalus, called a caracalla. But this liberal and friendly conduct proved fatal to Albanus; for he was seized by order of the Roman judge, confined in prison, scourged, and led to execution, at which perilous moment he is said to have converted his executioner, one Heraclius, a soldier, who, throwing away his sword, cast himself at the feet of the holy man, and humbly begged his pardon. Amphibalus having made his escape from Verulam, proceeded towards Wales, but was soon overtaken, bound with cords, and driven barefooted back to Verulam, where he was stripped of his garments, tied to a stake, and put to death in a manner too barbarous to relate.


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. The Roman ambassadors here received their audience at the court of the great king Arthur; and here also, the archbishop Dubricius ceded his honours to David of Menevia, the metropolitan see being translated from this place to Menevia, according to the prophecy of Merlin Ambrosius; "Menevia pallio urbis Legionum induetur". "Menevia shall be invested with the pall of the city of Legions".

Not far hence is a rocky eminence, impending over the Severn, called by the English Gouldcliffe, [1] or golden rock, because from the reflections of the sun's rays it assumes a bright golden colour:

"Nec mihi de facili fieri persuasio posset,
Quod frustra tantum dederit natura nito rem
Saxis, quodque suo fuerit flos hic sine fructu".

Nor can I be easily persuaded that nature hath given such splendour to the rocks in vain, and that this flower should

[1] Gouldcliffe, or Goldcliff, is situated a few miles S.E. of Newport, on the banks of the Severn. In the year 1113, Robert de Candos founded and endowed the church of Goldclive, and, by the advice of king Henry I, gave it to the abbey of Bec, in Normandy; its religious establishment consisted of a prior and twelve monks of the order of St. Benedict.


be without fruit, if any one would take the pains to penetrate deeply into the bowels of the earth; if any one, I say, would extract honey from the rock, and oil from the stone. Indeed many riches of nature lie concealed through inattention, which the diligence of posterity will bring to light; for, as necessity first taught the ancients to discover the conveniences of life, so industry, and a greater acuteness of intellect, have laid open many things to the moderns; as the poet says, assigning two causes for these discoveries,

"... labor omnia vincit
Improbus, et duris urgens in rebus egestas".

It is worthy of observation, that there lived in the neighbourhood of this City of Legions, in our time, a Welshman named Melerius, who, under the following circumstances, acquired the knowledge of future and occult events. Having, on a certain night, namely that of Palm Sunday, met a damsel whom he had long loved, in a pleasant and convenient place, while he was indulging in her embraces, suddenly, instead of a beautiful girl, he found in his arms a hairy, rough, and hideous creature, the sight of which deprived him of his senses, and he became mad. After remaining many years in this condition, he was restored to health in the church of St. David's, through the merits of its saints. But having always an extraordinary familiarity with unclean spirits, by seeing them, knowing them, talking with them, and calling each by his proper name, he was enabled, through their assistance, to foretel future events. He was, indeed, often deceived (as they are) with respect to circumstances at a great distance of time or place, but was less mistaken in affairs which were likely to happen nearer, or within the space of a year. The spirits appeared to him usually on foot, equipped as hunters, with horns suspended from their necks, and truly as hunters, not of animals, but of souls. He particularly met them near monasteries and monastic cells; for where rebellion exists, there is the greatest need of armies and strength. He knew when any one spoke falsely in his presence, for he saw the devil, as it were, leaping and exulting upon the tongue of the liar. If he looked on a book faultily or falsely written, or containing a false passage, although wholly illiterate, he would point out the place with his finger. Being questioned how he could gain


such knowledge, he said that he was directed by the demon's finger to the place. In the same manner, entering into the dormitory of a monastery, he indicated the bed of any monk not sincerely devoted to religion. He said, that the spirit of gluttony and surfeit was in every respect sordid; but that the spirit of luxury and lust was more beautiful than others in appearance, though in fact most foul. If the evil spirits oppressed him too much, the Gospel of St. John was placed on his bosom, when, like birds, they immediately vanished; but when that book was removed, and the History of the Britons, by Geoffrey Arthur, was substituted iu its place, they instantly reappeared in greater numbers, and remained a longer time than usual on his body and on the book. It is worthy of remark, that Barnabas placed the Gospel of St. Matthew upon sick persons, and they were healed; from which, as well as from the foregoing circumstance, it appears how great a dignity and reverence is due to the sacred books of the gospel, and with what danger and risk of damnation every one who swears falsely by them, deviates from the paths of truth. The fall of Enoch, abbot of Strata Marcella, [1] too well known in Wales, was revealed to many the day after it happened, by Melerius, who, being asked how he knew this circumstance, said, that a demon came to him disguised as a hunter, and, exulting in the prospect of such a victory, foretold the ruin of the abbot, and explained in what manner he would make him run away with a nun from the monastery. The end in view was probably the humiliation and correction of the abbot, as was proved from his shortly returning home so humbled and amended, that he scarcely could be said to have erred. Seneca says, "He falls not badly, who rises stronger from his fall". Peter was more strenuous after

[1] The Cistercian abbey here alluded to was known by the several names of Ystrat Marchel, Strata Marcella, Alba domus de Strat-margel, Vallis Crucis, or Pola, and was situated between Guilsfield and Welshpool, in Montgomeryshire. Authors differ in opinion about its original founder. Leland attributes it to Owen Cyveilioc, prince of Powys, and Dugdale to Madoc, the son of Gruffydh, giving for his authority the original grants and endowments of this abbey. According to Tanner, about the beginning of the reign of king Edward III., the Welsh monks were removed from hence into English abbeys, and English monks were placed here, and the abbey was made subject to the visitation of the abbot and convent of Buildwas, in Shropshire.


his denial of Christ, and Paul after being stoned; since, where sin abounds, there will grace also superabound. Mary Magdalen was strengthened after her frailty. He secretly revealed to Conan, the good and religious abbot of Alba-domus, his opinion of a certain woman whom he had seen; upon which the holy man confessed, with tears in his eyes, his predilection for her, and received from three priests the discipline of incontinence. For as that long and experienced subtle enemy, by arguing from certain conjectural signs, may foretel future by past events, so by insidious treachery and contrivance, added to exterior appearances, he may sometimes be able to discover the interior workings of the mind.

At the same time there was in Lower Gwent a demon incubus, who, from his love for a certain young woman, and frequenting the place where she lived, often conversed with men, and frequently discovered hidden things and future events. Melerius being interrogated concerning him, said he knew him well, and mentioned his name. He affirmed that unclean spirits conversed with mankind before war, or any great internal disturbance, which was shortly afterwards proved, by the destruction of the province by Howel, son of Jorwerth of Caerleon. At the same time, when king Henry II., having taken the king of Scotland prisoner, had restored peace to his kingdom, Howel, fearful of the royal revenge for the war he had waged, was relieved from his difficulties by these comfortable words of Melerius: "Fear not", says he, "Howel, the wrath of the king, since he must go into other parts. An important city which he possesses beyond sea is now besieged by the king of France, on which account he will postpone every other business, and hasten thither with all possible expedition". Three days afterwards, Howel received advice that this event had really come to pass, owing to the siege of the city of Rouen. He forewarned also Howel of the betraying of his castle at Usk, a long time before it happened, and informed him that he should be wounded, but not mortally; and that he should escape alive from the town. In this alone he was deceived, for he soon after died of the same wound. Thus does that archenemy favour his friends for a time, and thus does he at last reward them.


In all these singular events it appears to me most wonderful that he saw those spirits so plainly with his carnal eyes, because spirits cannot be discerned by the eyes of mortals, unless they assume a corporeal substance; but if in order to be seen they had assumed such a substance, how could they remain unperceived by other persons who were present? Perhaps they were seen by such a miraculous vision as when king Balthazar saw the hand of one writing on the wall, "Mane, Techel, Phares", that is, weighed, numbered, divided; who in the same night lost both his kingdom and his life. But Cambria well knows how in these districts, from a blind desire of dominion, a total dissolution of the endearing ties of consanguinity, and a bad and depraved example diffused throughout the country, good faith has been so shamefully perverted and abused.



AT Newport, [1] 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 noble castle of Caerdyf, [2] situated on the banks of the river Taf. [3] In the

[1] Newport (in the Latin of Giraldus, Novusburgus) is a borough town, on the banks of the Usk, with the ruins of an ancient castle.

[2] Caerdiff, i.e., the fortress on the river Taf. About the year 1091, Robert Fitz-Hamon, a Norman chief, and kinsman of William the Conqueror, made the conquest of Glamorgan, and having parcelled out various lordships and manors to each of the twelve knights who had accompanied him, in reward of service, he reserved, as a portion for himself, the castle of Caerdiff, where he resided and held his courts of justice. In the days of Giraldus, this castle was probably in a high state of preservation, as he calls it "nobile castrum"; it is still a massive pile of building, but, owing to the alterations made to render it habitable for the marquis of Bute, it has lost, in a great measure, that baronial grandeur which so strongly characterized these ancient buildings. A fine specimen, however of its Norman architecture is still preserved in the octagonal tower, on the western side of the castle.

[3] The sources of the rivers Usk, Remni, and Taf, are mentioned by Giraldus in his Description of Wales, Book i. chap. 5.


neighbourhood of Newport, which is in the district of Gwentluc, [1] there is a small stream called Nant Pencarn, [2] passable only at certain fords, not so much owing to the depth of its waters, as from the hollowness of its channel and muddy bottom. The public road led formerly to a ford, called Ryd Pencarn, that is, the ford under the head of a rock, from Rhyd, which in the British language signifies a ford, Pen, the head, and Carn, a rock; of which place Merlin Sylvester had thus prophesied: "Whenever you shall see a mighty prince with a freckled face make an hostile irruption into the southern part of Britain, should he cross the ford of Pencarn, then know ye, that the force of Cambria shall be brought low". Now it came to pass in our times, that king Henry II. took up arms against Rhys, the son of Gruffydh, and directed his march through the southern part of Wales towards Caermardyn. On the day he intended to pass over

[1] Gwentluc so called from Gwent, the name of the province, and llug, open, to distinguish it from the upper parts of Wentland, is an extensive tract of flat, marshy ground, reaching from Newport to the shores of the river Severn. "The length of Wentllug is from the Severn se to the lordship of Meridith, that is to say, from south to northe, about a xx mile. Where it is most brodest, from est to west, it is not countid by estimation above 8 miles, and in diverse places lesse. The soile by south towards Severn is sumwhat lowe, and fulle of dikes to drene it. There is lightly great plenty of benes, and in divers places it berith al other maner of corne. And this low ground is from the causey or highway that goit from Newport to Pont Remny by south to the Severne se. The north side of the same highway is stille higher and higher to the northe". Leland, Itin. vol. iv. p. 33.

[2] Nant Pencarn, or the brook of Pencarn. After a very attentive examination of the country round Newport, by natives of that place, and from the information I have received on the subject, I am inclined to think that the river here alluded to was the Ebwy, which flows about a mile and a half south of Newport. "The river of Ebouith risith yn a montayne of High Wencelande, and strait cummith into a valley, caullid Diffrin Serowy. Ebouith goith into Wisk a mile and a half beneth Newport, and half a mile from the haven mouth of Wiske". (Leland.) At first it bears the appearance of a mountain torrent, but on approaching towards the marshes, it assumes the character ascribed to it by our author. Before the new turnpike road and bridge were made across Tredegar Park, the old road led to a ford lower down the river, and may still be travelled as far as Caerdyff; and was probably the ford mentioned in the text, as three old farm-houses in its neighbourhood still retain the names of Great Pencarn, Little Pencarn, and Middle Pencarn.


Nant Pentcarn, the old Britons of the neighbourhood watched his approach towards the ford with the utmost solicitude; knowing, since he was both mighty and freckled, that if the passage of the destined ford was accomplished, the prophecy concerning him would undoubtedly be fulfilled. When the king had followed the road leading to a more modern ford of the river (the old one spoken of in the prophecy having been for a long time in disuse), and was preparing to pass over, the pipers and trumpeters, called Cornhiriet, from hir, long, and cornu, a horn, began to sound their instruments on the opposite bank, in honour of the king. The king's horse, startling at the wild, unusual noise, refused to obey the spur, and enter the water; upon which, the king, gathering up the reins, hastened, in violent wrath, to the ancient ford, which he rapidly passed; and the Britons returned to their homes, alarmed and dismayed at the destruction which seemed to await them. An extraordinary circumstance occurred likewise at the castle of Caerdyf. William earl of Gloucester, son of earl Robert, [1] who, besides that castle, possessed by hereditary right all the province of Gwladvorgan, [2] that is, the land of Morgan, had a

[1] Robert Fitz-Hamon, earl of Astremeville, in Normandy, came into England with William the Conqueror; and, by the gift of William Rufus, obtained the honour of Gloucester, which had been the inheritance of Brictric, a Saxon; who, having incurred the displeasure of Maude, the Conqueror's wife, by refusing her in marriage, was dispossessed thereof upon the Normans gaining possession of England. He was wounded with a spear at the siege of Falaise, in Normandy, died soon afterwards, and was buried, A.D. 1102, in the abbey of Tewkesbury, which he had founded. Leaving no male issue, king Henry gave his eldest daughter, Mabel, or Maude, who, in her own right, had the whole honour of Glocester, to his illegitimate son Robert, who was advanced to the earldom of Gloucester by the king, his father. He is said to have built a castle, and founded a priory at Bristol, and to have erected the castle at Caerdiff. He died A.D. 1147, and was buried in the choir of the priory of St. James at Bristol, under a tomb-stone of green jasper. He left four sons: William, the personage here mentioned by Giraldus, who succeeded him in his titles and honours; Roger, bishop of Worcester, who died at Tours in France, A.D. 1179; Hamon, who died at the siege of Toulouse, A.D. 1159; and Philip.

[2] The Coychurch Manuscript quoted by Mr. Williams, in his History of Monmouthshire, asserts that Morgan, surnamed Mwyn-fawr, or the Gentle, the son of Athrwy (the celebrated Arthur), not having been elected to the chief command of the British armies, upon his father's death retired from Caerleon, and took up his residence in Glamorganshire, sometimes at Rhadir, near Cardiff, and at other times at Margan; and from this event the district derived its name, quasi Gwlad-Morgan, the country of Morgan. Another MS. quoted by the same author, which he calls the Truman MS., says that this same Morgan had a palace at Margan, and erected a bishopric there, which lasted five generations, and was then united to the see of Llandaff. "Glade is in Welsh a country or a land, and this province or country is often called Morganhog. I take Moregan to have the name of More, that is to say the sea unto the shore whereof it lyeth. The confine of Glamorgan lyeth thus:- Remney is the march on the E. side of it, Creenline, a lattel broke, is the march of the W. part. The Severne se boundith from the mouthe of Remney to the mouth of Cramlin. The rootes of the Blake mountain marcheth it by N.". Leland, Itin., iv. 54.


dispute with one of his dependants, whose name was Ivor the Little, [1] 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 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, 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. [2] As he mounted his horse at the door, a man of a

[1] Cui nomen Yvorus agnomen Modicus erat. Explained in the margin of the folio edition of Giraldus by Yvorus Bach.

[2] St. Piranus, otherwise called St. Kiaran, or Piran, was an Irish saint, said to have been born in the county of Ossory, or of Cork, about the middle of the fourth century; and after that by his labours the Gospel had made good progress, he forsook all worldly things, and spent the remainder of his life in religious solitude. The place of his retirement was on the sea-coast of Cornwall, and not far from Padstow, where, as Camden informs us, there was a chapel on the sands erected to his memory. Leland has informed us, that the chapel of St. Perine at Caerdiff, stood in Shoemaker Street.


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 the, 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, [1] 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

[1] So called from a parish of that name in Glamorganshire, situated between Monk Nash and St. Donat's, upon the Bristol Channel.


three sons, Henry, the eldest, and his brothers, Richard of Poitou, and Geoffrey, count of Britany, in tne 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. This monarch, through divine mercy (for God is more desirous of the conversion than the destruction of a sinner), received many other admonitions and reproofs about this time, and shortly before his death; all of which, being utterly incorrigible, he obstinately and obdurately despised, as will be more fully set forth (by the favour of God) in my book, "de Principis Instructione".

Not far from Caerdyf is a small island situated near the shore of the Severn, called Barri, from St. Baroc, [1] 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.

[1] Our author, in the life of St. David, the archbishop, gives a most wonderful account of this St. Baruc, who, he tells us, was an abbot of Cork; and, having been upon a visit to that holy prelate, and detained by contrary winds, borrowed his friend's horse, and rode across the sea from Pembrokeshire to the Irish coast. According to Cressy, he died in the year 700, and was buried in the island of Barri, which bears his name. Camden says that this saint was a disciple of St. Gwalchi, who was buried on one of the two islands in the Bristol Channel, called Steep Holme and Flat Holme.

Barri Island is situated on the coast of Glamorganshire; and, according to Cressy, took its name from St. Baruc, the hermit, who resided, and was buried there. The Barrys in Ireland, as well as the family of Giraldus, who were lords of it, are said to have derived their names from this island. Leland, in speaking of this islasd, says, "The passage into Barrey isle at ful se is a flite shot ever, as much as the Tamise is above the bridge. At low water, there is a broken causey to go over, or els over the shalow streamelet of Barrey-brook on the sands. The isle is about a mile in cumpace, and hath very good corne, grasse, and sum wood; the ferme of it worth a 10 a yere. There ys no dwelling in the isle, but there is in the middle of it a fair little chapel of St. Barrok, where much pilgrimage was usid". This little island is nearly opposite to Watchet, on the coast of Somerset, and is situated about ten miles from Caerdiff.




ON the following morning, the business of the cross being publicly proclaimed at Landaf, 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, [1] a discreet and good man. The word Landaf [2] 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 [3] to the noble Cistercian monastery of Margan. [4] This monastery, under the direction of Conan, a learned

[1] William de Salso Marisco.

[2] The see of Llandaff is pretended to have been founded by the British king Lucius as early as the year 180, but this can be only taken for a fable. Gulielmus de Salso Marisco, whom our author, Giraldus, calls "virum bonum, discretion, et honestum", presided over the see of Llandaff at this time, and received the archbishop and his attendants on their journey through Wales.

[3] From Llandaff, our crusaders proceeded towards the Cistercian monastery of Margan, passing on their journey near the little cell of Benedictines at Ewenith, or Ewenny, whose embattled towers and antiquated appearance would, in modern days, naturally attract the attention of every investigating traveller on his road from Cowbridge to Pyle, and induce him to deviate half a mile from the turnpike road. This religious house was founded by Maurice de Londres towards the middle of the twelfth century. It is situated in a marshy plain near the banks of the little river Ewenny, which abounds with trout, and whose waters never fail. The present remains appear to be those of the original building.

[4] The Cistercian monastery of Margan, justly celebrated for the extensive charities which its members exercised, was founded A.D. 1147, by Robert earl of Gloucester, who died in the same year, and was buried in the priory of St. James at Bristol. Of this once-famed sanctuary nothing now remains but the shell of its chapter-house, which, by neglect, has lost its most ornamental parts. When Mr. Wyndham made the tour of Wales in the year 1777, this elegant building was entire, and was accurately drawn and engraved by his orders.


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.

It came to pass also in our days, during the period when the four sons of Caradoc son of Jestin, and nephews of prince Rhys by his sister, namely, Morgan, Meredyth, Owen, and Cadwallon, bore rule for their father in those parts, that Cadwallon, through inveterate malice, slew his brother Owen. But divine vengeance soon overtook him; for on his making a hostile attack on a certain castle, he was crushed to pieces by the sudden fall of its walls: and thus, in the presence of a numerous body of his own and his brother's forces, suffered the punishment which his barbarous and unnatural conduct had so justly merited.

Another circumstance which happened here, deserves notice. A greyhound belonging to the aforesaid Owen, large, beautiful, and curiously spotted with a variety of colours, received seven wounds from arrows and lances, in the defence of his master, and on his part did much injury to the enemy and assassins. When his wounds were healed, he was sent to king Henry II. by William earl of Gloucester, in testimony of so great and extraordinary a deed. A dog, of all animals, is most attached to man, and most easily distinguishes him; sometimes, when deprived of his master, he refuses to live, and in his master's defence is bold enough to brave death; ready, therefore, to die, either with or for his master. I do not think it superfluous to insert here an example which Suetonius gives in his book on the nature of animals, and which Ambrosius also relates in his Exameron. "A man, accompanied by a dog, was killed in a remote part of the city of Antioch, by a soldier, for the sake of plunder. The murderer, concealed by the darkness of the morning, escaped into another part of the city; the corpse lay unburied; a large concourse of people assembled; and the dog, with bitter howlings, lamented his master's fate. The murderer, by chance, passed that way, and, in order to prove his innocence, mingled with the crowd of spectators, and, as if moved by compassion, approached the body of the deceased. The dog, suspending for a while his moans, assumed the arms of revenge; rushed upon the man, and seized him,


howling at the same time in so dolorous a manner, that all present shed tears. It was considered as a proof against the murderer, that the dog seized him from amongst so many, and would not let him go; and especially, as neither the crime of hatred, envy, or injury, could possibly, in this case, be urged against the dog. On account, therefore, of such a strong suspicion of murder (which the soldier constantly denied), it was determined that the truth of the matter should be tried by combat. The parties being assembled in a field, with a crowd of people around, the dog on one side, and the soldier, armed with a stick of a cubit's length, on the other, the murderer was at length overcome by the victorious dog, and suffered an ignominious death on the common gallows.

Pliny and Solinus relate that a certain king, who was very fond of dogs, and addicted to hunting, was taken and imprisoned by his enemies, and in a most wonderful manner liberated, without any assistance from his friends, by a pack of dogs, who had spontaneously sequestered themselves in the mountainous and woody regions, and from thence committed many atrocious acts of depredation on the neighbouring herds and flocks. I shall take this opportunity of mentioning what from experience and ocular testimony I have observed respecting the nature of dogs. A dog is in general sagacious, but particularly with respect to his master; for when he has for some time lost him in a crowd, he depends more upon his nose than upon his eyes; and, in endeavouring to find him, he first looks about, and then applies his nose, for greater certainty, to his clothes, as if nature had placed all the powers of infallibility in that feature. The tongue of a dog possesses a medicinal quality; the wolf's, on the contrary, a poisonous: the dog heals his wounds by licking them, the wolf, by a similar practice, infects them; and the dog, if he has received a wound in his neck or head, or any part of his body where he cannot apply his tongue, ingeniously makes use of his hinder foot as a conveyance of the healing qualities to the parts affected.




CONTINUING our journey, [1] not far from Margan, 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 Neth [2] on our right hand,

[1] In continuing their journey from Neath to Swansea, our travellers directed their course by the sea-coast to the river Avon, which they forded, and, continuing their road along the sands, were probably ferried over the river Neath, at a place now known by the name of Breton Ferry, leaving the monastery of Neath at some distance to the right: from thence traversing another tract of sands, and crossing the river Tawe, they arrived at the castle of Swansea, where they passed the night.

[2] The monastery of Neath was situated on the banks of a river bearing the same name, about a mile to the westward of the town and castle. It was founded in 1112, by Richard de Grainville, or Greenefeld, and Constance, his wife, for the safety of the souls of Robert, earl of Gloucester, Maude, his wife, and William, his son. Richard de Grainville was one of the twelve Norman knights who accompanied Robert Fitz-Hamon, and assisted him in the conquest of Glamorganshire. He received, in recompense for his services, the lordship of Neath; all of which, as well as the chapel in his castle at Neath, he gave to the abbot and convent of Savigny, near Lyons, in France, on condition that they should build and maintain a monastic establishment at Neath. This abbey was at first inhabited by monks of the order of Savigny, or Fratres Grisei, who became afterwards Cistercians, or Monachi Albi. Notwithstanding the original donation to Savigny, we do not find that this religious house was ever subject to any foreign abbey, or accounted as alien. Although by this curious document we are able to ascertain the date of the original foundation of the abbey of Neath, yet, on a review of its ruins, we see no fragments of architecture that mark so early a period as the year 1112, about which time I conclude it was built. In the time of Leland this abbey was in a high state of preservation, for he says, "Neth abbay of white monkes, a mile above Neth town, standing in the ripe of Neth, semid to me the fairest abbay of al Wales". Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 14. The remains of the abbey and of the adjoining priory-house are considerable; but this ancient retirement of the grey and white monks is now occupied by the dingy inhabitants of the neighbouring copper-works. In a field nearly opposite to the ruins of the abbey lies a well-sculptured effigy of an abbot, holding the model of a church in his hand, intended probably to perpetuate the memory of the person who either built or repaired the church. Within the village of Neth are some remains of its ancient castle, of which history has left the following memorial. Its original construction may be attributed to Richard de Grainville; it was besieged A.D. 1185 for the second time, and held out manfully till an army came from England to its relief, put to flight the Welsh who had besieged it, and burned a large machine which they had erected against it.


approaching again to the district of St. David's, and leaving the diocese of Landaf (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 Goer, [1] we spent the night at the castle of Sweynsei, [2] 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

[1] Gower, the western district of Glamorganshire, appears to have been first conquered by Henry de Newburg, earl of Warwick, soon after Robert, duke of Gloucester, had made the conquest of the other part of Glamorganshire. This earl is described as "dulcis et quieti animi vir, et qui congruo suis moribus studio vitam egit et clausit". His son Roger succeeded to his earldom, and is said by Dugdale (History of Warwickshire, p. 304) to have been the conqueror of Gowherland in Wales, which his posterity for a long time afterwards enjoyed. A contemporary author has described him as "vir mollis, et deliciis magis quam animi fortitudine affluens".

[2] Sweynsei, Swansea, or Abertawe, situated at the confluence of the river Tawe with the Severn sea, is a town of considerable commerce, and much frequented during the summer months as a bathing-place. The old castle, now made use of as a prison, is so surrounded by houses in the middle of the town, that a stranger might visit Swansea without knowing that such a building existed. The Welsh Chronicle informs us, that it was built by Henry de Beaumont, earl of Warwick, and that in the year 1113 it was attacked by Gruffydd ap Rhys, but without success. This castle became afterwards a part of the possessions of the see of St. David's, and was rebuilt by bishop Gower.


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".

A short time before our days, a circumstance worthy of note occurred in these parts, which Elidorus, a priest, most strenuously affirmed had befallen himself. When a youth of twelve years, and learning his letters, since, as Solomon says, "The root of learning is bitter, although the fruit is sweet", in order to avoid the discipline and frequent stripes inflicted on him by his preceptor, he ran away, and concealed himself under the hollow bank of a river. After fasting in that situation for two days, two little men of pigmy stature appeared to him, saying, "If you will come with us, we will lead you into a country full of delights and sports". Assenting and rising up, he followed his guides through a path, at first subterraneous and dark, into a most beautiful country, adorned with rivers and meadows, woods and plains, but obscure, and not illuminated with the full light of the sun. All the days were cloudy, and the nights extremely dark, on account of the absence of the moon and stars. The boy was brought before the king, and introduced to him in the presence of the court; who, having examined him for a long time, delivered him to his son, who was then a boy. These men were of the smallest stature, but very well proportioned in their make; they were all of a fair complexion, with luxuriant hair falling over their shoulders like that of women. They had horses and greyhounds adapted to their size. They neither ate flesh nor fish, but lived on milk diet, made up into messes with saffron. They never took an oath, for they detested nothing so much as lies. As often as they returned from our upper hemisphere, they reprobated our ambition, infidelities, and inconstancies; they had no form of public worship, being strict lovers and reverers, as it seemed, of truth.


The boy frequently returned to our hemisphere, sometimes by the way he had first gone, sometimes by another: at first in company with other persons, and afterwards alone, and made himself known only to his mother, declaring to her the manners, nature, and state of that people. Being desired by her to bring a present of gold, with which that region abounded, he stole, while at play with the king's son, the golden ball with which he used to divert himself, and brought it to his mother in great haste; and when be reached the door of his father's house, but not unpursued, and was entering it in a great hurry, his foot stumbled on the threshold, and falling down into the room where his mother was sitting, the two pigmies seized the ball which had dropped from his hand, and departed, shewing the boy every mark of contempt and derision. On recovering from his fall, confounded with shame, and execrating the evil counsel of his mother, he returned by the usual track to the subterraneous road, but found no appearance of any passage, though he searched for it on the banks of the river for nearly the space of a year. But since those calamities are often alleviated by time, which reason cannot mitigate, and length of time alone blunts the edge of our afflictions, and puts an end to many evils, the youth having been brought back by his friends and mother, and restored to his right way of thinking, and to his learning, in process of time attained the rank of priesthood. Whenever David II., bishop of St, David's, talked to him in his advanced state of life concerning this event, he could never relate the particulars without shedding tears. He had made himself acquainted with the language of that nation, the words of which, in his younger days, he used to recite, which, as the bishop often had informed me, were very conformable to the Greek idiom. When they asked for water, they said Ydor ydorum, which meant bring water, for Ydor in their language, as well as in the Greek, signifies water, from whence vessels for water are called ydores; and Dur also, in the British language, signifies water. When they wanted salt they said, Halgein ydorum, bring salt: salt is called al in Greek, and Halen in British, for that language, from the length of time which the Britons (then called Trojans, and


afterwards Britons, from Brito, their leader) remained in Greece after the destruction of Troy, became, in many instances, similar to the Greek.

It is remarkable that so many languages should correspond in one word, al in Greek, Halen in British, and Halgein in the Irish tongue, the g being inserted; Sal in Latin, because, as Priscian says, "the s is placed in some words instead of an aspirate", as als in Greek is called Sal in Latin, eu - semi - epra - septem - Sel in French - the a being changed into e - Salt in English, by the addition of t to the Latin; Sout, in the Teutonic language: there are therefore seven or eight languages agreeing in this one word. If a scrupulous inquirer should ask my opinion of the relation here inserted, I answer with Augustine, "that the divine miracles are to be admired, not discussed". Nor do I, by denial, place bounds to the divine power, nor, by assent, insolently extend what cannot be extended. But I always call to mind the saying of St. Jerome; "You will find", says he, "many things incredible and improbable, which nevertheless are true; for nature cannot in any respect prevail against the lord of nature". These things, therefore, and similar contingencies, I should place, according to the opinion of Augustine, among those particulars which are neither to be affirmed, nor too positively denied.



THENCE we proceeded towards the river Lochor, [1] 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,

[1] Lochor, or Llwchwr, was the Leucarum mentioned in the Itineraries, and the fifth Roman station on the Via Julia. This small village is situated on a tide-river bearing the same name, which divides the counties of Glamorgan and Caermarthen, and over which there is a ferry. "Lochor river partith Kidwelli from West Gowerlande".- Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 23.


and afterwards the water called Wendraeth, [1] we arrived at the castle of Cydweli. [2] In this district, after the death of king Henry, whilst Gruffydh son of Rhys, then 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. [3] 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

[1] Wendraeth, or Gwen-traith, from gwen, white, and traeth, the sandy beach of the sea. There are two rivers of this name, Gwendraeth fawr, and Gwendraeth fychan, the great and the little Gwendraeth, of which Leland thus speaks: "Vendraeth Vawr and Vendraith Vehan risith both in Eskenning commote: the lesse an eight milys of from Kydwelli; the other about a ten, and hath but a little nesche of sand betwixt the places wher thei go into the se, about a mile beneth the towne of Kidwely".

[2] Cydweli was probably so called from cyd, a junction, and wyl, a flow, or gushing out, being situated near the junction of the rivers Gwendraeth fawr and fychan; but Leland gives its name a very singular derivation, and worthy of our credulous and superstitious author Giraldus. "Kidwely, otherwise Cathweli, i.e., Catti lectus, quia Cattus olim solebat ibi lectum in quercu facere: There is a little towne now but newly made betwene Vendraith Yawr and Vendraith Vehan. Vendraith Vawr is half a mile of". Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 22.

[3] The scene of the battle fought between Gwenllian and Maurice de Londres is to this day called Maes Gwenllian, the plain or field of Gwenllian; and there is a tower in the castle of Cydweli still called Tyr Gwenllian.


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.



HAVING crossed the river Tywy in a boat, [1] we proceeded towards Caermardyn, leaving Lanstephan and Talachar [2] on the sea-coast to our left. After the death of king Henry II., Rhys, the son of Gruffydh, 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 [3] signifies the city of

[1] Our crusaders here deviated from the modern post-road between Cydweli and Caermarthen, by crossing the river Tywy, and leaving the castle of Llanstephan on their left. This fortress is boldly situated on a well-wooded promontory, guarding the western entrance of the river, and its ruins are still very considerable. In 1145, it was taken by Cadelh, the son of Gruffyd ap Rhys, though the Normans and Flemings came to its relief; in 1189 it yielded to the forces of prince Rhys.

[2] The castle of Talachar is now better known by the name of Llaugharne; it protected the western entrance of the river Tave, which is fordable at low water, and is distant from Llanstephan about three or four miles. The situation of these two castles is widely different. Llanstephan, proudly seated on a high rock, commands on one side an enchanting view towards Caermarthen, and towards Tenby on the other. Llaugharne is placed in so low a situation, that its walls are washed by the tide. This line of coast in Carmarthenshire and Glamorganshire is singularly intersected by tide rivers - the Tave at Llaugharne, the Tywy at Llanstephan, the two Gwendraeths at Cydweli, the Lochor and Tawy at Swansea, and the Nedd at Neath.

[3] Much has been said and written by ancient authors respecting the derivation of the name of this city, which is generally allowed to be the Muridunum, or Maridunum, mentioned in the Roman itineraries. Some derive it from Caer and Merdhyn, that is, the city of the prophet Merdhyn; and others from Mur and Murdhyn, which in the British language signify a wall, There can, however, be little doubt that it is derived simply from the Roman name Muridunum. When we consider the many and repeated reverses of fortune which Caermardyn experienced, we cannot be disappointed in finding so few vestiges of its ancient castle. Caermarthen is beautifully situated on the banks of the navigable river Tywy. The county gaol occupies the site of the old castle, a few fragments of which are seen intermixed with the houses of the town.


Merlin, because, according to the British History, he was there said to have been begotten of an incubus.

This 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, [1] 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 in South Wales, Aberfrau in North Wales, situated in Anglesea, and Pengwern in Powys, now called Shrewsbury (Slopesburia); Pengwern signifies the head of a grove of alders. Recalling to mind those poetical passages:

"Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat"?


"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

[1] Dinevor, the great castle, from dinas, a castle, and vawr, great, was in ancient times a royal residence of the princes of South Wales. In the year 876, Roderic the Great, having divided the principalities of North and South Wales, and Powys land, amongst his three sons, built for each of them a palace. The sovereignty of South Wales, with the castle of Dinevor, fell to the lot of Cadelh. This principality, with its fifteen cantreds, extended from the mouth of the river Dovy, in Cardiganshire, to the mouth of the Severn. In the year 1144, we find it in the possession of Gilbert earl of Clare, besieged, and surrendered to Cadelh, son of Gruffydh ap Rhys, prince of South Wales: in 1191, it was delivered up on the first assault to Rhys, prince of South Wales, who, in 1194, was taken prisoner by his own sons. The ruins of this ancient castle still crown the summit of a high hill, majestically clothed with wood, and form a principal feature in the beautiful grounds at Newton. To view this fine object in the most favourable point of view, it is advisable to go into the meadows on the other side of the Tywy where the hill, castle, and river, form a most enchanting landscape.


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. [1] Not far to the north of Caermardyn, namely at Pencadair, [2] that is, the head of the chair, when Rhys, the son of Gruffydh, was more by stratagem than force compelled to surrender, and was carried away into England, king Henry II. despatched a knight, born in Britany, on whose wisdom and fidelity he could rely, under the conduct of Guaidanus, dean of Cantref Mawr, to explore the situation of Dinevor 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, [3] the archbishop was informed

[1] There is a spring very near the north side of Dinevor park wall, which bears the name of Nant-y-rhibo, or the bewitched brook, which may, perhaps, be the one here alluded to by Giraldus.

[2] Pencadair. It is here necessary to correct a topographical error made by the old annotator on Giraldus, Dr. Powel, respecting this place. He says, in 1163, "Then the king gathered a great power against South Wales, and came himselfe as farre as Pencadayr, beside Brecknock, where Rees came to him, and did him homage, and gave him pledges, and then the king went to Ireland againe".- Powel, p. 20. But the real place of their meeting was at the Pencadair here alluded to, a small village situated to the north of Caermarthen, and at a short distance on the left of the road leading from that place to Llanbedr in Cardiganshire. On referring to the original text in the Myvyrian Archaeology, I find it mentions Pencadair in South Wales only, not near Brecknock.

[3] Alba Domus was called in Welsh Ty Gwyn ar Dav, or the White House on the river Tav. In the history of the primitive British church, Ty Gwyn, or white house, is used in a sense equivalent to a chapter-house. The White House College, or Bangor y Ty Gwyn, is pretended to have been founded about 480, by Paul Hen, or Paulinus, a saint of the congregation of Illtyd. From this origin, the celebrated Cistercian monastery is said to have derived its establishment. Powel, in his chronicle, says, "For the first abbey or frier house that we read of in Wales, sith the destruction of the noble house of Bangor, which savoured not of Romish dregges, was the Tuy Gwyn, built the yeare 1146, and after they swarmed like bees through all the countrie". (Powel, p. 254.) Authors differ with respect to the founder of this abbey; some have attributed it to Rhys ap Theodor, prince of South Wales; and others to Bernard, bishop of Saint David's, who died about the year 1148. I am inclined to think it owed its foundation to the latter personage, as the date of his episcopacy concurs with Powel's account, and is corroborated by the following passage in Wharton's Anglia Sacra: "Anno 1143 ducti sunt monachi ordinis Cisterciensis qui modo sunt apud Albam Landam, in West Walliam, per Bernardum episcopum". Leland, in his Collectanea, says, "Whitland, abbat. Cistert., Rhesus filius Theodori princeps Suth Walliae primus fundator"; and in his Itinerary, mentions it as a convent of Bernardynes, "which yet stondeth". About the year 1171, king Henry was entertained by prince Rhys, at the White House, when on his journey to Ireland; upon which occasion the king restored to him his son Howel, who had been detained for a considerable time as a hostage. (Powel, p. 231.) The ruins of this abbey are situated about five miles from Saint Clare's, on the right hand of the road leading from thence to Narberth. A few fragments of rude walls, and the traces of some foundations, point out its ancient site. It stood in a sequestered valley, sheltered from the north and east winds by a magnificent range of hanging wood, extending along the declivities of the hill for more than a mile: it was called the White House on the Taf, though that river runs to the westward of this vale. This valley, once the peaceful abode of the meek and recluse Cistercian, where

"Remote from man, with God he passed his days,
Prayer all his pleasure, all his profit praise",

now re-echoes with the hammering sounds of two iron forges. Oh, Alba Domus! how changed in colour, how changed in thy inhabitants!


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, [1] who had assassinated the young man,

[1] Saint Clare is a long, straggling village, at the junction of the river Cathgenny with the Tave. Immediately on the banks of the former, and not far from its junction with the latter, stood the castle, of which not one stone is left; but the artificial tumulus on which the citadel was placed, and other broken ground, mark its ancient site.


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 Cledheu, under Lanwadein, [1] 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 Daugledheu, [2] being enclosed and terminated, as it were, by two swords, for cledhue, in the British language, signifies a sword.



A SERMON having been delivered at Haverford [3] by the archbishop, and the word of God preached to the people by

[1] Lanwadein, now called Lawhaden, is a small village about four miles from Narberth, on the banks of the river Cledheu. On the summit of a high hill covered with wood, there are considerable remains of a castle, belonging to the see of Saint David's, In those days of turbulence and oppression, when the principalities of North and South Wales were continually ravaged and harassed by the hostile incursions of the Welsh, Normans, and Flemings, and when even the most hallowed sanctuaries and churches were unrespected by the invaders, the bishops in Wales thought it necessary to fortify their palaces against the attacks of the enemy. I have already had occasion to mention one castellated mansion at Landeu, near Brecknock, belonging to this see; there is a second at Lawhaden, and a third at Llantphey, near Pembroke.

[2] Daugledheu, so called from Dau, two, and Cled, or Cleddau, a sword. The rivers Cledheu have their source in the Prescelly mountain, unite their streams below Haverfordwest, and run into Milford Haven, which in Welsh is called Aberdaugleddau, or the confluence of the two rivers Cledheu. Leland thus mentions this river: "Dueglevi lordship is conteynid betwixt the 2 rivers of Glevi. In this lordship or grounde be few or none notable buildinges: ther is a little rille betwixt the 2 Gleves caullid Kollell, i.e., cultellus". And again, alluding to the latter rivulet, he says, "betwyxt the 2 Gleves by Harfordwest is a little ryveret caullid in Walsh, ..., in Englisch, Knife. One being requirid wher he lay al night, answered 'that he lay, having a sword on eche side of hym, and a knife at his hart, alluding to the 3 ryvers in the middle of whom he lay al night'". Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 27, 28. The annotator, Dr. Powel, in his notes on this chapter, confounds Hulphord, or Haverford, with Aberdaugledheu, or Milford Haven.

[3] Haverford, now called Haverfordwest, is a considerable town on the river Cledheu, with an ancient castle, three churches, and some monastic remains. "Haverfordwest lordship, which is in Roselande, hath the waullid town of Haverford and castel: the water of Mylford Haven devidith the lordship from Penbrooke". Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 26. The old castle (now used as the county gaol), from its size and commanding situation, adds greatly to the picturesque appearance of this town.


the archdeacon, [1] 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

[1] By the title of archidiaconus Menevensis, which Giraldus here applies to himself, the reader might suppose him to have been archdeacon of St. Darid's, whereas he was only archdeacon of Brecon, in that diocese.


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. A similar accident happened at Chateau-roux in France. The lord of that place maintained in the castle a man whose eyes he had formerly put out, but who, by long habit, recollected the ways of the castle, and the steps leading to the towers. Seizing an opportunity of revenge, and meditating the destruction of the youth, he fastened the inward doors of the castle, and took the only son and heir of the governor of the castle to the summit of a high tower, from whence he was seen with the utmost concern by the people beneath. The father of the boy hastened thither, and, struck with terror, attempted by every possible means to procure the ransom of his son, but received for answer, that this could not be effected, but by the same mutilation of those lower parts, which he had likewise inflicted on him. The father, having in vain entreated mercy, at length assented, and caused a violent blow to be struck on his body; and the people around him cried out lamentably, as if he had suffered mutilation. The blind man asked him where he felt the greatest pain? when he replied in his reins, he declared it was false, and prepared to precipitate the boy. A second blow was given, and the lord of the castle asserting that the greatest pains were at his heart, the blind man expressing his disbelief, again carried the boy to the summit of the tower. The third time, however, the father, to save his son, really mutilated himself; and when he exclaimed that the greatest pain was in his teeth; "It is true", said he, "as a man who has had experience should be believed, and thou hast in part revenged my injuries. I shall meet death with more satisfaction, and thou shalt neither beget any


other son, nor receive comfort from this". Then, precipitating himself and the boy from the summit of the tower, their limbs were broken, and both instantly expired. The knight ordered a monastery to be built on the spot for the soul of the boy, which is still extant, and called De Doloribus. It appears remarkable to me that the entire inheritance should devolve on Richard, son of Tankard, [1] 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 Gruffydh, 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, [2] 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

[1] In the life of Caradoc we find this same person mentioned (and whom I imagine to have been of Flemish extraction) as having been very troublesome to the saint; and he is reported to have lost his life by falling down a precipice into the sea, whilst eager in the pursuit of a stag.

[2] The province of Ros, in which the town of Haverfordwest is situated, was peopled by a colony of Flemings during the reign of king Henry I., of which the historian Hollinshed gives the following memorial: "A.D. 1107, about this season, a great part of Flanders being drowned by an enundation or breaking in of the sea, a great number of Flemings came into England, beseeching the king to have some void place assigned them, wherein they might inhabit. At the first, they were appointed to the countrie lieng on the east part of the river of Tweed, but within foure yeres after, they were removed into a corner by the sea-side in Wales, called Penbrokeshire, to the end they might be a defense there to the English against the unquiet Welshmen. It should appeare, by some writers, that this multitude of Flemings consisted not of such onelie as came over about that time by reason their countrie was overflowne with the sea (as ye have heard), but of other also that arrived here long before, even in the daies of William the Conquerour, through the freendship of the queene their countriewoman, sithens which time their numbers so increased, that the realme of England was sore pestered with them; whereupon king Henrie devised to place them in Penbrokeshire, as well as to avoid them out of the other parts of England, as also by their helpe to tame the bold and presumptuous fiercenesse of the Welshmen, which thing in those parties they brought verie well to passe; for after they were settled there, they valiantlie resisted their enimies, and made verie sharpe warres upon them, sometimes with gaine, and sometimes with losse".


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 [1] 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. It is worthy of remark, that these people (the Flemings),

[1] St. Caradoc was born of a good family in Brecknockshire, and after a liberal education at home, attached himself to the court of Rhys prince of South Wales, whom he served a long time with diligence and fidelity. He was much esteemed and beloved by him, till having unfortunately lost two favourite greyhounds, which had been committed to his care, that prince, in a fury, threatened his life; upon which Caradoc determined to change masters, and made a vow on the spot to consecrate the remainder of his days to God, by a single and religious life. He went to Llandaff, received from its bishop the clerical tonsure and habit, and retired to the deserted church of St. Kined, and afterwards to a still more solitary abode in the Isle of Ary, from whence he was taken prisoner by some Norwegian pirates, but soon released. His last place of residence was at St. Ismael, in the province of Ros, where he died in 1124, and was buried with great honour in the cathedral of St. David's. We must not confound this retreat of Caradoc with the village of St. Ismael on the borders of Milford Haven. His hermitage was situated in the parish of Haroldstone, near the town of Haverfordwest, whose church has St. Ismael for its patron, and probably near a place called Poorfield, the common on which Haverfordwest races are held, as there is a well there called Caradoc's Well, round which, till within these few years, there was a sort of vanity fair, where cakes were sold, and country games celebrated.


from the inspection of the right shoulders of rams, which have been stripped of their flesh, and not roasted, but boiled, can discover future events, or those which have passed and remained long unknown. [1] They know, also, what is transpiring at a distant place, by a wonderful art, and a prophetic kind of spirit. They declare, also, by means of signs, the undoubted symptoms of approaching peace and war, murders and fires, domestic adulteries, the state of the king, his life and death. It happened in our time, that a man of those parts, whose name was William Mangunel, a person of high rank, and excelling all others in the aforesaid art, had a wife big with child by her own husband's grandson. Well aware of the fact, he ordered a ram from his own flock to be sent to his wife, as a present from her neighbour, which was carried to the cook, and dressed. At dinner, the husband purposely gave the shoulder-bone of the ram, properly cleaned, to his wife, who was also well skilled in this art, for her examination; when, having for a short time examined the secret marks, she smiled, and threw the oracle down on the table. Her husband, dissembling, earnestly demanded the cause of her smiling, and the explanation of the matter. Overcome by his entreaties, she answered: "The man to whose fold this ram belongs, has an adulterous wife, at this time pregnant by the commission of incest with his own grandson". The husband, with a sorrowful and dejected countenance, replied: "You deliver, indeed, an oracle supported by too much truth, which I have so much more reason to lament, as the ignominy you have published redounds to my own injury". The woman, thus detected, and unable to dissemble her confusion, betrayed the inward feelings of her mind by external signs; shame and sorrow urging her by turns, and manifesting themselves, now by blushes, now by paleness, and lastly (according to the custom of women), by tears. The shoulder of a goat was also once brought to a certain person, instead of a ram's both being alike, when

[1] This curious superstition is still preserved, in a debased form, among the descendants of the Flemish population of this district, where the young women practise a sort of divination with the bladebone of a shoulder of mutton to discover who will be their sweetheart. It is still more curious that William de Rubruquis, in the thirteenth century, found the same superstition existing among the lartars.


cleaned; who, observing for a short time the lines and marks, exclaimed, "Unhappy cattle, that never was multiplied! unhappy, likewise, the owner of the cattle, who never had more than three or four in one flock!" Many persons, a year and a half before the event, foresaw, by the means of shoulder-bones, the destruction of their country, after the decease of king Henry I., and, selling all their possessions, left their homes, and escaped the impending ruin.

It happened also in Flanders, from whence this people came, that a certain man sent a similar bone to a neighbour for his inspection; and the person who carried it, on passing over a ditch, broke wind, and wished it in the nostrils of the man on whose account he was thus troubled. The person to whom the bone was taken, on examination, said, "May you have in your own nose, that which you wished to be in mine". In our time, a soothsayer, on the inspection of a bone, discovered not only a theft, and the manner of it, but the thief himself, and all the attendant circumstances; he heard also the striking of a bell, and the sound of a trumpet, as if those things which were past were still performing. It is wonderful, therefore, that these bones, like all unlawful conjurations, should represent, by a counterfeit similitude to the eyes and ears, things which are passed, as well as those which are now going on.



THE province of Penbroch 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 aestuary. Arnulph de Montgomery, [1] 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

[1] Arnulph, younger son of Roger de Mountgomery, did his homage for Dyvet, and is said, by our author, to have first erected a slender fortress with stakes and turf at Pembroke, in the reign of king Henry I., which, however, appears to have been so strong, as to have resisted the hostile attack of Cadogan ap Blethyn in 1092, and of several lords of North Wales, in 1094.


de Windesor, [1] his constable and lieutenant-general, a worthy and discreet man. Immediately on the death of Rhys son of Theodor, who a short time before had been slain by the treachery of his own troops at Brecheinoc, leaving his son, Gruffydh, 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, [2] 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 dependents more secure, married Nest, the sister of Gruffydh, prince of South Wales, by whom he had

[1] Walter Fitz-Other, at the time of the general survey of England by William the Conqueror, was castellan of Windsor, warden of the forests in Berkshire, and possessed several lordships in the counties of Middlesex, Hampshire, and Buckinghamshire, which dominus Otherus is said to have held in the time of Edward the Confessor. William, the eldest son of Walter, took the surname of Windsor from his father's office, and was ancestor to the lords Windsor, who have since been created earls of Plymouth: and from Gerald, brother of William, the Geralds, Fitz-geralds, and many other families are lineally descended. The Gerald here mentioned by Giraldus is sometimes surnamed De Windsor, and also Fitz-Walter, i.e., the son of Walter; having slain Owen, son of Cadogan ap Blethyn, chief lord of Cardiganshire, he was made president of the county of Pembroke. See the pedigree prefixed to the Vaticinal History.

[2] Wilfred is mentioned by Browne Willis in his list of bishops of St. David's, as the forty-seventh, under the title of Wilfride, or Griffin: he died about the vear 1116.


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.

In our time, a person residing at the castle of Penbroch, [1] found a brood of young weasels concealed within a fleece in his dwelling house, which he carefully removed and hid. The mother, irritated at the loss of her young, which she had searched for in vain, went to a vessel of milk that had been set aside for the use of the master's son, and raising herself up, polluted it with her deadly poison; thus revenging, as it were, the loss of her young, by the destruction of the child. The man, observing what passed, carried the fleece back to its former place; when the weasel, agitated by maternal solicitude, between hope and fear, on finding again her young, began to testify her joy by her cries and actions, and returning quickly to the vessel, overthrew it; thus, in gratitude for the recovery of her own offspring, saving that of her host from danger. In another place, an animal of the same species had brought out her young into a plain for the enjoyment of the sun and air; when an insidious kite carried off one of them. Concealing herself with the remainder behind some shrubs, grief suggested to her a stratagem of exquisite revenge; she extended herself on a heap of earth, as if dead, within sight of the plunderer, and (as success always increases avidity) the bird immediately seized her and flew away, but soon fell down dead by the bite of the poisonous animal.

The castle called Maenor Pyrr, [2] that is, the mansion of

[1] The present castle of Pembroke differs widely from the slender fortress here described by our author as being first erected by Arnulph de Mountgomery; it is spacious, well built, and strongly situated on a rock overhanging a branch of Milford Haven. It still preserves much of its Norman character; the lofty round tower, with an arched roof of stone, is a most grand and conspicuous object, rearing its majestic summit high above every other part of the castle, which appears to have had three stories besides the ground floor. The walls are nearly fourteen feet thick, and the tower is in height about sixty. A natural cavern, called the Wogan, which penetrates for a considerable way under the castle, and opens to the river, merits the traveller's attention.

[2] Maenor Pyrr, now known by the name of Manorbeer, is a small village on the sea coast, between Tenby and Pembroke, with the remaining shell of a large castle. Our author has given a far-fetched etymology to this castle and the adjoining island, in calling them the mansion and island of Pyrrhus: a much more natural and congenial conjecture may be made in supposing Maenor Pyrr to be derived from Maenor, a Manor, and Pyrr the plural of Por, a lord; i.e., the Manor of the lords, and, consequently, Inys Pyrr, the Island of the lords. As no mention whatever is made of this castle in the Welsh Chronicle, I am inclined to think it was only a castellated mansion, and therefore considered of no military importance in those days of continued warfare throughout Wales. It is one of the most interesting spots in our author's Itinerary, for it was the property of the Barri family, and the birth-place of Giraldus; in the parish church, the sepulchral effigy of a near relation, perhaps a brother, is still extant, in good preservation. Our author has evidently made a digression in order to describe this place.


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; Penbroch, 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 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.

In this part of Penbroch, unclean spirits have conversed, not visibly, but sensibly, with mankind; first in the house of Stephen Wiriet, [1] and afterwards in the house of William Not; [2] manifesting their presence by throwing dirt at them, and more with a view of mockery than of injury. In the house of William, they cut holes in the linen and woollen garments, much to the loss of the owner of the house and his guests; nor could any precaution, or even bolts, secure them from these inconveniences. In the house of Stephen, the spirit in a more extraordinary manner conversed with men, and, in reply to their taunts, upbraided them openly with every thing they had done from their birth, and which they were not willing should be known or heard by others. I do not presume to assign the cause of this event, except that it is said to be the presage of a sudden change from poverty to riches, or rather from affluence to poverty and distress; as it was found to be the case in both these instances. And it appears to me very extraordinary that these places could not be purified from such illusions, either by the sprinkling of holy water, or the assistance of any other religious ceremony; for the priests themselves, though protected by the crucifix, or the holy water, on devoutly entering the house, were equally subject to the same insults. From whence it appears that things pertaining to the sacraments, as well as the sacraments themselves, defend us from hurtful, but not from harmless things; from annoyances, but not from illusions. It is worthy of note, that in our time, a woman in Poitou was possessed by a demon, who, through her mouth, artfully and acutely disputed with the learned.

[1] The house of Stepnen Wiriet was, I presume, Orielton. There is a monument in the church of St. Nicholas, at Pembroke, to the memory of John, son and heir of Sir Hugh Owen, of Boden, in Anglesea, knight, and Elizabeth, daughter and heir of George Wiriet, of Orielton, A.D. 1612.

[2] The family name of Not, or Nott, still exists in Pembrokeshire,


He sometimes upbraided people with their secret actions, and those things which they wished not to hear; but when either the books of the gospel, or the relics of saints, were placed upon the mouth of the possessed, he fled to the lower part of her throat; and when they were removed thither, he descended into her belly. His appearance was indicated by certain inflations and convulsions of the parts which he possessed, and when the relics were again placed in the lower parts, he directly returned to the upper. At length, when they brought the body of Christ, and gave it to the patient, the demon answered, "Ye fools, you are doing nothing, for what you give her is not the food of the body, but of the soul; and my power is confined to the body, not to the soul". But when those persons whom he had upbraided with their more serious actions, had confessed, and returned from penance, he reproached them no more. "I have known, indeed", says he, "I have known, but now I know not, (he spake this as it were a reproach to others), and I hold my tongue, for what I know, I know not". From which it appears, that after confession and penance, the demons either do not know the sins of men, or do not know them to their injury and disgrace; because, as Augustine says, "If man conceals, God discovers; if man discovers, God conceals".

Some people are surprised that lightning often strikes our places of worship, and damages the crosses and images of him who was crucified, before the eyes of one who seeth all things, and permits these circumstances to happen; to whom I shall only answer with Ovid,

"Summa petit livor, perflant altissima venti,
Summa petunt dextra fulmina missa Jovis".

On the same subject, Peter Abelard, in the presence of Philip king of France, is said to have answered a Jew, who urged these and similar things against the faith. "It is true that the lightning descending from on high, directs itself most commonly to the highest object on earth, and to those most resembling its own nature; it never, therefore, injures your synagogues, because no man ever saw or heard of its falling upon a privy". An event worthy of note, happened in our time in France. During a contention


between some monks of the Cistercian order, and a certain knight, about the limits of their fields and lands, a violent tempest, in one night, utterly destroyed and ruined the cultivated grounds of the monks, while the adjoining territory of the knight remained undamaged. On which occasion he insolently inveighed against the fraternity, and publicly asserted that divine vengeance had thus punished them for unlawfully keeping possession of his land; to which the abbot wittily replied, "It is by no means so; but that the knight had more friends in that riding than the monastery"; and he clearly demonstrated that, on the other hand, the monks had more enemies in it.

In the province of Penbroch, another instance occurred, about the same time, of a spirit's appearing in the house of Elidore de Stakepole, [1] not only sensibly, but visibly, under the form of a red-haired young man, who called himself Simon. First seizing the keys from the person to whom they were entrusted, he impudently assumed the steward's office, which he managed so prudently and providently, that all things seemed to abound under his care, and there was no deficiency in the house. Whatever the master or mistress secretly thought of having for their daily use or provision, he procured with wonderful agility, and without any previous directions, saying, "You wished that to be done, and it shall be done for you". He was also well acquainted with their treasures and secret hoards, and sometimes upbraided them on that account; for as often as they seemed to act sparingly and avariciously, he used to say, "Why are you afraid to spend that heap of gold or silver, since your lives are of so short duration, and the money you so cautiously hoard up will never do you any service"? He gave the choicest meat and drink to the rustics and hired servants, saying that "Those persons should be abundantly supplied, by whose labours they were acquired". Whatever he determined should be done, whether pleasing or displeasing to

[1] There are two churches in Pembrokeshire called Stackpoole, one of which, called Stackpoole Elidor, derived its name probably from the Elidore de Stakepole mentioned in this chapter by Giraldus. It contains several ancient monuments, and amongst them the effigies of a cross-legged knight, which has been for many years attributed to th aforesaid Elidore.


his master or mistress (for, as we have said before, he knew all their secrets), he completed in his usual expeditious manner, without their consent. He never went to church, or uttered one Catholic word. He did not sleep in the house, but was ready at his office in the morning. He was at length observed by some of the family to hold his nightly converse near a mill and a pool of water; upon which discovery, he was summoned the next morning before the master of the house and his lady, and, receiving his discharge, delivered up the keys, which he had held for upwards of forty days. Being earnestly interrogated, at his departure, who he was? he answered, "That he was begotten upon the wife of a rustic in that parish, by a demon, in the shape of her husband, naming the man, and his father-in-law, then dead, and his mother, still alive; the truth of which the woman, upon examination, openly avowed. A similar circumstance happened in our time in Denmark. A certain unknown priest paid court to the archbishop, and, from his obsequious behaviour and discreet conduct, his general knowledge of letters and quick memory, soon contracted a great familiarity with him. Conversing one day with the archbishop about ancient histories and unknown events, on which topic he most frequently heard him with pleasure, it happened that when the subject of their discourse was the incarnation of our Lord, he said, amongst other things, "Before Christ assumed human nature, the demons had great power over mankind, which, at his coming, was much diminished; insomuch that they were dispersed on every side, and fled from his presence. Some precipitated themselves into the sea, others into the hollow parts of trees, or the clefts of rocks; and I myself leaped into a well"; on which he blushed for shame, and took his departure. The archbishop, and those who were with him, being greatly astonished at that speech, began to ask questions by turns, and form conjectures; and having waited some time (for he was expected to return soon), the archbishop ordered some of his attendants to call him, but he was sought for in vain, and never re-appeared. Soon afterwards, two priests, whom the archbishop had sent to Rome, returned; and when this event was related to them, they began to inquire the day and hour on which the


circumstance had happened? On being told it, they declared that on the very same day and hour he had met them on the Alps, saying, that he had been sent to the court of Rome, on account of some business of his master's (meaning the archbishop), which had lately occurred. And thus it was proved, that a demon had deluded them under a human form.

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 [1] of this country, which are produced on the sea cliifs; nor can better be found in any part of his dominions. But let us now return to our Itinerary.



FROM Haverford we proceeded on our journey to Menevia, distant from thence about twelve miles, and passed through Camros, [2] 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

[1] Ramsey Island, near St. David's, was always famous for its breed of falcons.

[2] Cambros, a small village, containing nothing worthy of remark, excepting a large tumulus. It appears, by this route of the Crusaders, that the ancient road to Menevia, or St. David's, led through Camros, whereas the present turnpike road lies a mile and a half to the left of it. It then descends to Niwegal Sands, and passes near the picturesque little harbour of Solvach, situated in a deep and narrow cove, surrounded by high rocks.


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. [1] 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.

[1] The remains of vast submerged forests are commonly found on many parts of the coast of Wales, especially in the north. Giraldus has elsewhere spoken of this event in the Vaticinal History, book i. chap. 35.



SINCE, therefore, St. David's is the head, and in times past was the metropolitan, city of Wales, though now, alas! retaining more of the name than of the omen, [1] yet I have not forborne to weep over the obsequies of our ancient and undoubted mother, to follow the mournful hearse, and to deplore with tearful sighs the ashes of our half-buried matron. I shall, therefore, endeavour briefly to declare to you, in what manner, from whence, and from what period the pall was first brought to St. David's, and how it was taken away; how many prelates were invested with the pall; and how many were despoiled thereof; together with their respective names to this present day.



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

[1] Giraldus, ever glad to pun upon words, here opposes the word nomen to omen. "Plus nominis habens quam ominis". Being a man of extraordinary reading, and conversant with the works of the Greek and Roman writers, he may have perhaps borrowed this expression from Plautus, who in his play of Persa has introduced a young female, offered for sale to a pander of the name of Dordalus, who, in company with a knavish servant called Toxilus, is introduced as putting questions to the damsel. The dialogue is as follows: (Dordalus) Quid nomen tibi est? (Virgo), Lucridi nomen in patri fuit. (Toxilus) Nomen atque omen quantivis est pretii, etc. (Dordalus) Si te emam, mihi quoque Lucriclem confido fore te. Plautus Delphini, tom. ii. p. 27.- Actus iv., Scena iv.


in the first book, was much better adapted for the episcopal see. [1] For Menevia is situated in a most remote corner of land upon the Irish ocean, the soil stoney 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

[1] "Hic etenim angulus est supra Hibernicum mare remotissimus; terra saxosa, sterilis, et infoecunda; nec silvis vestita, nec fluminibus distincta, nec pratis ornata; ventis solum et procellis semper exposita". Such is the dreary and well-pictured account given by Giraldus of the local situation of this once-celebrated ecclesiastical establishment; and such, I fear, will every traveller find it on his approach to the wretched village of St. David's, where misery and beggary stare him full in the face, and from whence the want of even tolerable accommodations has driven away many an inquisitive tourist and antiquarian. Although, in the language of the poet,

... "Menevia plorat
Curtatos mitrae titulos, et nomen inane
Semisepultae urbis",

yet hospitality has not deserted these mitred walls, and I should be much wanting in gratitude, were I not to acknowledge thus publicly the many acts of friendship and civility which I have experienced during two successive pilgrimages to the shrine of St. David. (Sir R.C.H.) We have now an admirable history of the cathedral and see of St. David's, by E.A. Freeman, Esq., and the Rev. Basil Jones. According to his legend, Dewi, or David, was the son of Sandde ab Cedig ab Ceredig ab Cunedda, whose mother was Non, the daughter of Gynyr, of Caer Gawch, in Pembrokeshire, and was one of the most celebrated British saints, being the founder of several churches in Wales. There are four dedicated to him in Radnorshire; two in Cardiganshire; four in Pembrokeshire; two in Caermarthenshire; three in Brecknockshire; one in Glamorgan; and three in Monmouthshire; and many more were dedicated to his name in aftertimes. He is said to have lived in the middle of the sixth century, and to have been bishop of Caerleon, which was then considered as the metropolitan of the Welsh church. But, in consequence of his father-in-law's having given all his lands in Pembrokeshire to the church, and the former place being too much exposed to the incursions of the Saxons, Dewi removed the see to Mynyw, which afterwards was called Ty Dewi, the house of David, or St. David's, after nis name.


away"; for David was remarkable for his sanctity and religion, as the history of his life will testify. Amongst the many miracles recorded of him, three appear to me the most worthy of admiration: his origin and conception; his pre-election thirty years before his birth; and what exceeds all, the sudden rising of the ground, at Brevy, under his feet while preaching, to the great astonishment of all the beholders.

Since the time of David, twenty-five archbishops presided over the see of Menevia, whose names are here subjoined: David, Cenauc, Eliud, who was also called Teilaus, Ceneu, Morwal, Haerunen, Elwaed, Gurnuen, Lendivord, Gorwysc, Cogan, Cledaue, Anian, Euloed, Ethelmen, Elauc, Malscoed, Sadermen, Catellus, Sulhaithnai, Nonis, Etwal, Asser, Arthuael, Sampson. In the time of Sampson, the pall was translated from Menevia in the following manner: a disorder called the yellow plague, and by the physicians the icteric passion, of which the people died in great numbers, raged throughout Wales, at the time when Sampson held the archiepiscopal see. Though a holy man, and fearless of death, he was prevailed upon, by the earnest intreaties of his people, to go on board a vessel, which was wafted, by a south wind, to Britannia Armorica, [1] where he and his attendants were safely landed. The see of Dol being at that time vacant, he was immediately elected bishop. Hence it came to pass, that on account of the pall [2] which Sampson

[1] Armorica is derived from the Celtic words Ar and Mon, which signify on or near the sea, and so called to distinguish it from the more inland parts of Britany. The maritime cities of Gaul were called "Armoricae civitates Universis civitatibus quae oceanum attingunt, quaeque Gallorum consuetudine Armoricae appellantur". Caesar, Comment, lib. vii.

[2] The archiepiscopal pall was at first truly a mantle or upper vesture (as the word imports) worn by the Roman emperors, and by Constantine permitted as an honour to the pope, and by him communicated to the other patriarchs; and in this form it continues in the Eastern parts; whereas at Rome, and in the west, this title is given to a small portion, as appendix to the first pallium, being (according to the description given of it by pope Innocent III.) a certain wreath (as it were the collar of an order) of about three fingers breadth encompassing the neck; from which descended two labels, before and behind. On the circle are interwoven four purple crosses, and on each label, one; and it is fastened to the upper garment with three golden pins. Creasy, p. 92.


had brought thither with him, the succeeding bishops even to our times, always retained it. But during the presidency of the archbishop of Tours, this adventitious dignity ceased; yet our countrymen, through indolence or poverty, or rather owing to the arrival of the English into the island, and the frequent hostilities committed against them by the Saxons lost their archiepiscopal honours. But until the entire subjugation of Wales by king Henry I., the Welsh bishops were always consecrated by the bishop of St. David's; and he was consecrated by his suffragans, without any profession or submission being made to any other church.

From the time of Sampson to that of king Henry I., nineteen bishops presided over this see: Ruelin, Rodherch, Elguin, Lunuerd, Nergu, Sulhidir, Eneuris, Morgeneu, who was the first bishop of St. David's who ate flesh, and was there killed by pirates; and he appeared to a certain bishop in Ireland on the night of his death, shewing his wounds, and saying, "Because I ate flesh, I am become flesh". Nathan, Jevan (who was bishop only one night), Argustel, Morgenueth, Ervin, Tramerin, Joseph, Bleithud, Sulghein, Abraham, Wilfred. Since the subjugation of Wales to the present time, three only have held the see: in the reign of king Henry I., Bernard; in the reign of king Stephen, David II.; and in the reign of king Henry II., Peter, a monk of the order of Cluny; who all, by the king's mandate, were consecrated at Canterbury; as also Geoffrey, prior and canon of Lanthoni, who succeeded them in the reign of king John, and was preferred to this see by the interest of Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, and afterwards consecrated by him. We do not hear that either before or after that subjugation, any archbishop of Canterbury ever entered the borders of Wales, except Baldwin, a monk of the Cistercian order, abbot of Ford, [1] and afterwards bishop of Worcester, who traversed that rough, inaccessible, and remote country with a laudable devotion for the service of

[1] Ford Abbey was situated in the parish of Thorncomb, Devon, and near the confines of the county of Somerset. In 1136, Richard Fitz-Baldwin de Brien, baron of Okehampton, and sheriff of Devonshire, brought an abbot and twelve Cistercian monks to a place called Brightley, in Devonshire, from whence they were removed to Ford, in the year 1141, by Adelicia, sister and heiress to the aforesaid Richard.


the cross; and as a token of investiture, celebrated mass in all the cathedral churches. So that till lately the see of St. David's owed no subjection to that of Canterbury, as may be seen in the English History of Bede, who says that "Augustine, bishop of the Angles, after the conversion of king Ethelfred and the English people, called together the bishops of Wales on the confines of the West Saxons, as legate of the apostolic see. When the seven bishops [1] appeared, Augustine, sitting in his chair, with Roman pride, did not rise up at their entrance. Observing his haughtiness (after the example of a holy anchorite of their nation), they immediately returned, and treated him and his statutes with contempt, publicly proclaiming that they would not acknowledge him for their archbishop; alleging, that if he now refused to rise up to us, how much more will he hold us in contempt, if we submit to be subject to him"? That there were at that time seven bishops in Wales, and now only four, may be thus accounted for; because perhaps there were formerly more cathedral churches in Wales than there are at present, or the extent of Wales might have been greater. Amongst so many bishops thus deprived of their dignity, Bernard, the first French [i.e., Norman] bishop of St. David's, alone defended the rights of his church in a public manner; and after many expensive and vexatious appeals to the court of Rome, would not have reclaimed them in vain, if false witnesses had not publicly appeared at the council of Rheims, before pope Eugenius, and testified that he had made profession and submission to the see of Canterbury. Supported by three auxiliaries, the favour and intimacy of king Henry, a time of peace, and consequent plenty, he boldly hazarded the trial of so great a cause, and so confident was he of his just right, that he sometimes caused the cross to be carried before him during his journey through Wales.

Bernard, however commendable in some particulars, was remarkable for his insufferable pride and ambition. For as soon as he became courtier and a creature of the king's, panting after English riches by means of translation, (a

[1] The bishops of Hereford, Worcester, Llandaff, Bangor, St. Asaph, Llanbadern, and Margan, or Glamorgan. This is very fabulous, for it is an absolute absurdity to suppose that there were bishops of Hereford or Worcester at the time of Augustine.


malady under which all the English sent hither seem to labour), he alienated many of the lands of his church without either advantage or profit, and disposed of others so indiscreetly and improvidently, that when ten carucates [1] of land were required for military purposes, he would, with a liberal hand, give twenty or thirty; and of the canonical rites and ordinances which he had miserably and unhappily instituted at St. David's, he would hardly make use of one at most only of two or three. With respect to the two sees of Canterbury and St. David's, I will briefly explain my opinion of their present state. On one side, you will see royal favour, affluence of riches, numerous and opulent suffragan bishops, great abundance of learned men and well skilled in the laws; on the other side, a deficiency of all these things, and a total want of justice; on which account the recovery of its ancient rights will not easily be effected, but by means of those great changes and vicissitudes which kingdoms experience from various and unexpected events.

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, [2] bounding the churchyard on the northern side, flows under a marble stone, called Lechlavar, which has been polished by continual treading of passengers, and concerning the name, size, and quality of which we have treated in our Vaticinal History. [2] Henry II., on his return from Ireland, is said to have passed over this stone, before he devoutly entered the church of St. Andrew and St. David. Having left the following garrisons in Ireland, namely, Hugh de Lacy (to whom he had given Meath in fee) in Dublin, with twenty knights; Fitz-Stephen and Maurice Fitzgerald, with other twenty; Humphrey de Bohun, Robert Fitz-Bernard, and Hugh de Grainville at Waterford, with forty; and

[1] The value of the carucate is rather uncertain, or, probably, it varied in different districts, according to the character of the land; but it is considered to have been usually equivalent to a hide, that is, to about 240 statute acres.

[2] This little brook does not, in modern times, deserve the title here given to it by Giraldus, for it produces trout of a most delicious flavour.

[3] See the Vaticinal History, book i. c. 37.


William Fitz-Adelm and Philip de Braose at Wexford, with twenty; on the second day of Easter, the king embarked at sunrise on board a vessel in the outward port of Wexford, and, with a south wind, landed about noon in the harbour of Menevia. Proceeding towards the shrine of St. David, habited like a pilgrim, and leaning on a staff, he met at the white gate a procession of the canons of the church coming forth to receive him with due honour and reverence. As the procession solemnly moved along [1], a Welsh woman threw herself at the king's feet, and made a complaint against the bishop of the place, which was explained to the king by an interpreter. The woman, immediate attention not being paid to her petition, with violent gesticulation, and a loud and impertinent voice, exclaimed repeatedly, "Revenge us this day, Lechlavar! revenge us and the nation in this man"! On being chidden and driven away by those who understood the British language, she more vehemently and forcibly vociferated in the like manner, alluding to the vulgar fiction and proverb of Merlin, "That a king of England, and conqueror of Ireland, should be wounded in that country by a man with a red hand, and die upon Lechlavar, on his return through Menevia". This was the name of that stone which serves as a bridge over the river Alun, which divides the cemetery from the northern side of the church. 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. [1] 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. The king, who had heard the prophecy, approaching the stone, stopped for a short time at the foot of it, and, looking earnestly at it, boldly passed over; then, turning round, and looking towards the stone, thus indignantly inveighed against the prophet: "Who will hereafter give credit to the lying Merlin"? A person standing

[1] Lechlavar, so called from the words in Welsh, Llec, a stone, and Llavar, loquacious.


by, and observing what bad passed, in order to vindicate the injury done to the prophet, replied, with a loud voice, "Thou art not that king by whom Ireland is to be conquered, or of whom Merlin prophesied"! The king then entering the church founded in honour of St. Andrew and St. David, devoutly offered up his prayers, and heard mass performed by a chaplain, whom alone, out of so large a body of priests, Providence seems to have kept fasting till that hour, for this very purpose. Having supped at St. David's, the king departed for the castle of Haverford, distant about twelve miles. It appears very remarkable to me, that in our days, when David II. presided over the see, the river should have flowed with wine, and that the spring, called Pistyll Dewi, [1] or the Pipe of David, from its flowing through a pipe into the eastern side of the churchyard, should have run with milk. The birds also of that place, called jackdaws, from being so long unmolested by the clergy of the church, were grown so tame and domesticated, as not to be afraid of persons dressed in black. In clear weather the mountains of Ireland are visible from hence, and the passage over the Irish sea may be performed in one short day; on which account William, the son of William the Bastard, and the second of the Norman kings in England, who was called Rufus, and who had penetrated far into Wales, on seeing Ireland from these rocks, is reported to have said, "I will summon hither all the ships of my realm, and with them make a bridge to attack that country". Which speech being related to Murchard, prince of Leinster, he paused awhile, and answered, "Did the king add to this mighty threat, If God please"? and being

[1] The miraculous origin of this spring has been attributed to St. David, and is thus related in his life, written by Giraldus. "It happened on a certain day, when the brethren of the church were assembled together, that a general complaint was made of the want of clean and pure water for the performance of mass and other religious solemnities; for the river Alun, which flows through the vale, was muddy, and oftentimes defective during the summer season. On hearing which, the holy father David went immediately to the cemetery adjoining the church, and having offered up many long and devout prayers to the Almighty, a spring of the most transparent water suddenly burst forth on the spot, which was fully sufficient for all religious purposes, and continues to flow to this present day".


informed that he had made no mention of God in his speech, rejoicing in such a prognostic, he replied, "Since that man trusts in human, not divine power, I fear not his coming".



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 [1] to meet prince Rhys at Aberteivi. Two circumstances occurred in the province of Cemmeis, the one in our own time, the other a little before, which I think right not to pass over in silence. In our time, a young man, native of this country, during a severe illness, suffered as violent a persecution from toads, [2] as if the reptiles of the whole province had come to him by agreement; and though destroyed by his nurses and friends, they increased again on all sides in

[1] Cemmeis, Cemmaes, Kernes, and Kemeys. Thus is the name of this district variously spelt. Cemmaes in Welsh signifies a circle or amphitheatre for games; and a curious kind of game, called knappan, or hurling the ball, was formerly much practised in this part of Pembrokeshire; a particular account of which may be seen in the Cambrian Register for 1795, p. 168. From an ancient manuscript by George Owen, Esq., of Henllys, lord of Kemeys, published in the second volume of the Cambrian Register, 1796, we find that the county of Pembroke contained seven cantreds, of which Kemeys was one; in it were three comots, Ywch Nyfer, Is Nyfer, and Trefdraeth. Martin de Tours, a Norman knight, made the conquest of this territory, and founded a monastery for Benedictine monks at St. Dogmaels, within the precincts thereof, and annexed it as a cell to the abbey of Tyrone in France, which his son Robert endowed with lands during the reign of king Henry I. This Robert married Maude Peverel, and left issue, William, his son and heir, who married the daughter of Rhys ap Gruffydh, from whom (through the instigation of Gruffydh, his son) he received great injuries; for, by force and arms, and contrary to his solemn oath and promise, he took from him his castle at Lanever in Kemeys, for which oppressive dealing, Rhys was afterwards punished with great afflictions from his own sons, who took him prisoner, and shut him up in the same castle.

[2] There is a place in Cemmaes now called Tre-liffan, i.e., Toad's town; and over a chimney-piece in the house there is a figure of a toad sculptured in marble, said to have been brought from Italy, and intended probably to confirm and commemorate this tradition of Giraldus.


infinite numbers, like hydras' heads. His attendants, both friends and strangers, being wearied out, he was drawn up in a kind of bag, into a high tree, stripped of its leaves, and shred; nor was he there secure from his venomous enemies, for they crept up the tree in great numbers, and consumed him even to the very bones. The young man's name was Sisillus Esceir-hir, that is, Sisillus Long Leg. It is also recorded that by the hidden but never unjust will of God, another man suffered a similar persecution from rats. In the same province, during the reign of king Henry I., a rich man, who had a residence on the northern side of the Preseleu mountains, [1] was warned for three successive nights, by

[1] Preseleu, Preselaw, Prescelly, Presselw. The topography of the Preseleu mountains is thus accurately described in the manuscript before mentioned: "The cheefest and principall mountaine of this sheere is Percelley, which is a long ridge or ranck of mountaines running east and west, beginning above Pencellyvor, where the first mount of high land thereof is called Moel Eryr, and soe passing eastward to Cwmkerwyn, being the highest parte of it, runneth east to Moel-trigarn and Lanvirnach. This mountaine is about six or seven miles long, and two miles broade. It hath in it many hills rising in the high mounten, which are to be discerned twenty, thirty, nay forty miles off and more, and from this hill may be seen all Pembrokeshire, and some parte of nine other sheeres, viz., Cardigan, Glamorgan, Brecknock, Montgomery, Merioneth, and Carnarvonshires; Devonshire and Somersetshire: the Isle of Londay, and the realme of Ireland. The commodities of this mountaine are great, for it yealdeth plenty of good grasse, and is full of sweete springs of water; it yealdeth also store of fuell for the inhabitants adjoining, for most of the mountaine furnisheth good peate and turffe, as well the lower parte and playne thereof, as the toppe of the mountaine. Alsoe out of this mountaine have many fine rivers their originall and beginnings, namely, Navarne, Taf, Clydagh, Clethe, Syvnvey, Gwayn, Clydagh againe, and the third Clydagh, which water most part of the countrye. This mountaine is so high and farre mounted in the ayre, that when the countrey about is faire and cleere, the toppe thereof will be hidden in a cloude, which of the inhabitants is taken a sure sign of raine to follow shortly; whereof grewe this proverbe:-

'When Percelly weareth a hat,
All Pembrokeshire shall weete of that'.

The greatest parte of this mountaine is a common to the free tenants and inhabitants of Kemes, within which lordship it standeth, yet in divers parts thereof claymed to be the landes of divers particular persons, and this name of Percelley is a genus, as Cotteswald is in Gloucestershire, divers particular places therein having special and proper names. Cwmkerwyn is the highest pointe or peake of this mountaine, and is the first and cheefest land-marke that mariners doe make at sea, coming from the south or south-west, and is theire sure marke whereby they make for Milford, and it appeareth unto them at the first sight a round black hill, sayling twelve or sixteen houres after they first make this land, before they come to the sight of any other land, by reason the sea shores is so lowe; and therefore the name of Percelley is as well knowne at sea as on lande. Along the sayd hille toppe of Percelley from the beginning to the ende, there is scene the tract of an ancient way now cleare out of use; yet such hath been the trade of old that way, that to this day markes of it are apparently discerned, and this way is usually called yet, 'The Fleming's Way'; and in an ancient charter of Sir Nicholas Martin, lord of Kernes, by which he makes a grant of all his lands in Presselw to the heirs of Gwrwared, son of Kuhylin, and to the heirs of Lhewelyn, another son of the said Kuhylin, mention is made of this road;- Sicut via Flandrensica ducit per summitatem montis, a loco qui dicitur Wyndy-pete indirecte versus orientem usque ad Blaenvanon, et sic descendendo usque ad Ecclesiam Albam, Meline Trefthey, Perketh, Kiven, et Kilgwyn, etc.'".


dreams, that if he put his hand under a stone which hung over the spring of a neighbouring well, called the fountain of St. Bernacus, [1] he would find there a golden torques. Obeying the admonition on the third day, he received, from a viper, a deadly wound in his finger; but as it appears that many treasures have been discovered through dreams, it seems to me probable that, with respect to rumours, in the same manner as to dreams, some ought, and some ought not, to be believed.

I shall not pass over in silence the circumstance which occurred in the principal castle of Cemmeis at Lanhever, [2]

[1] St. Bernacus is said, by Cressy, to have been a man of admirable sanctity, who, through devotion, made a journey to Rome; and from thence returning into Britany, filled all places with the fame of his piety and miracles. He is commemorated on the 7th of April. Several churches in Wales were dedicated to him; one of which, called Llanvernach, or the church of St. Bernach, is situated on the eastern side cf the Prescelley mountain; and I have been informed that there is a redundant spring, called St. Bernard's Well, under the same range of mountains near the road leading from Haverfordwest to Cardigan, not far from Castel Henry. Adjoining the well are some ruined walls, perhaps originally appertaining to the saint's hermitage, or chapel.

[2] The "castrum apud Lanhever" was at Nevern, a small village between Newport and Cardigan, situated on the banks of a little river bearing the same name, which discharges itself into the sea at Newport. On a hill immediately above the western side of the parish church, is the site of a large castle, undoubtedly the one alluded to by Giraldus. On the southern side of the churchyard is a curious ancient cross mentioned by Camden, richly decorated in divers compartments, with knots, fret-work, etc. The neighbourhood of Nevern abounds with Druidical antiquities. The cromlech at Pentre Evan surpasses in size and height any I have yet seen in Wales, or, indeed, in England, Stonehenge and Abury alone excepted. At Newport there is a smaller cromlech, and between that place and the sea-shore there is a very fine one called Lech y drybed. Tradition has also recorded a striking memorial of this memorable expedition of archbishop Baldwin, in the name of a bridge over the little river Duad, which is still called Pont Baldwyn, and is situated at a short distance above the village of College.


in our days. Rhys, son of Gruffydb, by the instigation of his son Gruffydh, 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 Gruffydh; 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, Gruffydh, 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 grand-daughters 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 befel him, he had concealed in his possession, at Dinevor, the collar of St. Canauc of Brecknock, for which, by divinevengeance, he merited to be taken prisoner and confined.

We slept that night in the monastery of St. Dogmael, [1]

[1] St. Dogmael. Martin de Tours, a Norman knight, who made the conquest of the territory of Kemeys, is said to have been the first founder of the monastery of St. Dogmael's, and to have been there buried in the middle of the choir. But Robert, the son of Martin, was the chief benefactor. The saint to whom this monastery was dedicated, is mentioned by Cressy, under the names of Tegwel and Dogmael, "as illustrious for his great virtues, his sanctity, and his miracles". In the Cambrian Biography he is styled "Dogvael, son of Ithel ab Ceredig ab Cunedda, a saint who lived about the middle of the seventh century, and who has a church dedicated to him in Pembrokeshire". Some extensive, but by no means picturesque, ruins of this abbey are still visible at a short distance from the town of Cardigan. Its situation was well chosen, on high ground, overlooking the river Teivi. The fine old ash trees, with which the ruins of the abbey and parish church are encircled, still give it a venerable monastic appearance.


where, as well as on the next day at Aberteivi, we were handsomely entertained by prince Rhys. On the Cemmeia side of the river, not far from the bridge, the people of the neighbourhood being assembled together, and Rhys and his two sons, Malgon [1] and Gruffydh, 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. [2]

[1] "This lord was faire and comelie of person, honest and just of conditions, beloved of his friends, and feared of his foes, against whom (especiallie the Flemings) he achieved diverse victories". Powel, p. 241.

[2] The origin of assuming the cross may be derived from the Council of Clermont, in 1095, when those religious enthusiasts who undertook the expedition to the Holy Land, had the cross sewed on their garments: "Crucem assumere dicebantur, qui ad sacra bella prefecturi crucis symbolum palliis suis assuebant et affigebant, in signum votivea illius expeditionis, cujus originem Concilio Claromontano sub Urbano II. adscribunt scriptores omnes Rerum Hierosol. et alii passim". It was either woven in gold or silk, or made with cloth, and generally sewed on the right shoulder; but in the celebrated crusade undertaken in the year 1188, by Philip king of France, and Henry II. of England, and which gave rise to this Itinerary of archbishop Baldwin through Wales, the different sovereigns distinguished their own subjects by varying the colours of their respective insignia. In the first crusade all were red; but in this the French alone preserved that colour, whilst the English were distinguished by white, and the Flemings by green crosses. Some zealots carried their zeal so far as to imprint the figure of the cross on their skin with a red-hot iron, and thus perpetuated the holy mark.


Near the head of the bridge where the sermons were delivered, the people immediately marked out the site for a chapel, [1] 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.



THE noble river Teivi [2] flows here, and abounds with the finest salmon, more than any other river of Wales; it has a

[1] On the Cemmaes, or Pembrokeshire side of the river Teivi, and near the end of the bridge, there is a place still called Park y Cappell, or the Chapel Field, which is undoubtedly commemorative of the circumstance recorded by our author.

[2] This fine river rises in that long and extensive range of mountains which separate the counties of Montgomery, Radnor, and a part of Brecknockshire, from that of Cardigan, and to which our author gives the title of Ellennith. Its principal source is derived from a lake amongst these mountains, bearing the name Llyn Tyfi. It flows to the north of the celebrated Cistercian monastery of Stratflur, and, till it reaches the little village of Tregaron, "it fletithe and rageth upon stones". From Tregaron, steering its course to Llanbedr, or Pons Stephani, it passes between the venerable old sanctuary of Llandewi Brefi and the Roman station of Luentium, or Loventium, in the parish Llanio-isau; the former being situated on the south-east, the latter on the north-west banks of the river, and nearly opposite to each other. From Llanbedr it flows by Newcastle Emlyn (where its course is very singular) to Kenarth, the Canarch Mawr of Giraldus, where, confined within a narrow and well-wooded vale, it forms the cataract and salmon-leap here mentioned. From hence, descending to Lechryd bridge, it loses its raging character, and smoothly gliding under the proud, romantic towers of Cilgarran castle, and adding a most beautiful feature to that enchanting scenery, is partly lost in the marshes near Cardigan, where it becomes a tide river.


productive fishery near Cilgarran, [1] which is situated on the summit of a rock, at a place called Canarch Mawr, [2] the ancient residence of St. Ludoc, where the river, falling

[1] Cilgarran.- This castle, situated on the Pembrokeshire side of the river Teivi, experienced (like its neighbour at Cardigan) the frequent and desolating vicissitudes of war. In the year 1109, Gilbert Strongbow, earl of Striguil, having obtained leave of king Henry to make conquests in Wales, landed in Cardiganshire, and having conquered the country, built two castles, one at Aberystwyth, another at a place called Dyngerant, which has generally been supposed to be the same as Cilgarran. "In the year 1165, it was taken and rased by prince Rhys; and in the yeare ensuing, the Flemings and Normanes came to West Wales with a great power against the castell of Cilgarran (which Rees had fortified), and laid siege to it, assaulting it diverse times; but it was so manfullie defended, that they returned home as they came, and shortlie after they came before it againe, where they lost manie of their best men, and then departed againe". From the many revolutions this castle underwent during those times of turbulence and warfare, with which almost every district of North and South Wales was continually agitated, we cannot in modern days expect to find many remains of its ancient architecture. Two round towers, of large and massive proportions, stand conspicuous amidst its ruins, one of which, from the uniformity of its arches, seems to have suffered but little, as to its outward form, and from the prevalence of the circular arch, bespeaks a Norman origin. In one of these, a staircase is still practicable for ascent to the summit of the tower. The beautiful scenery around this castle stands unequalled in South Wales, and can only be rivalled by that of Conway, in North Wales; but, to be seen to most advantage, it must be visited by water, not by land. Skirting the sides of a long and extensive marsh, a sudden bend of the river contracting its channel, conducts us into a narrow pass, surrounded by a perpendicular rampart of wood and rock, with steep and precipitate banks of oak and copse wood feathering down to the water's edge; the first view we catch of the castle, at a distance, between a perspective range of well-wooded hills, is very striking; and what, on a nearer approach, it may lose in picturesque beauty, it certainly gains in grandeur; the proud walls of a large castle appear towering full in front; the hill on which they stand, is rather destitute of wood, but boldly broken with projecting rocks; and, perhaps, the general effect of the landscape may not lose by this contrast to the rich surrounding scenery of wood.

[2] Now known by the name of Kenarth, which may be derived from Cefn y garth the back of the wear, a ridge of land behind the wear; a name perfectly applicable to this village, beautifully situated on the banks of the river Teivi, which, confined within a narrow vale, forms at this spot a picturesque cataract and salmon-leap.


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: hence they have received the name of salmon, from salio. Their particular manner of leaping (as I have specified in my Topography of Ireland) is thus: fish of this kind, naturally swimming against the course of the river (for as birds fly against the wind, so do fish swim against the stream), on meeting with any sudden obstacle, bend their tail towards their mouth, and sometimes, in order to give a greater power to their leap, they press it with their mouth, and suddenly freeing themselves from this circular form, they spring with great force (like a bow let loose) from the bottom to the top of the leap, to the great astonishment of the beholders. The church dedicated to St. Ludoc, [1] 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; [2] in Scotland they are said to be found in one river, but are very scarce. I think it not a useless labour, to insert a few re

[1] The name of St. Ludoc is not found in the lives of the saints. Leland mentions a St. Clitauc, who had a church dedicated to him in South Wales, and who was killed by some of his companions whilst hunting. "Clitaucus Southe-Walliae regulus inter venandum a suis sodalibus occisus est. Ecclesia S. Clitauci in Southe Wallia". Leland, Itin., tom. viii. p. 95.

[2] The Teivy is still very justly distinguished for the quantity and quality of its salmon, but the beaver no longer disturbs its streams. That this animal did exist in the days of Howel Dha (though even then a rarity), the mention made of it in his laws, and the high price set upon its skin, most clearly evince; but if the castor of Giraldus, and the avanc of Humphrey Llwyd and of the Welsh dictionaries, be really the same animal, it certainly was not peculiar to the Teivi, but was equally known in North Wales, as the names of places testify. A small lake in Montgomeryshire is called Llyn yr Afangc; a pool in the river Conwy, not far from Bettws, bears the same name, and the vale called Nant Ffrancon, upon the river Ogwen, in Caernarvonshire, is supposed by the natives to be a corruption from Nant yr Afan cwm, or the Vale of the Beavers. Mr. Owen, in his dictionary, says, "That it has been seen in this vale within the memory of man". Giraldus has previously spoken of the beaver in his Topography of Ireland, Distinct i. c. 21.


marks respecting the nature of these animals; the manner in which they bring their materials from the woods to the water, and with what skill they connect them in the construction of their dwellings in the midst of rivers; their means of defence on the eastern and western sides against hunters; and also concerning their fish-like tails.

The beavers, in order to construct their castles in the middle of rivers, make use of the animals of their own species instead of carts, who, by a wonderful mode of carriage, convey the timber from the woods to the rivers. Some of them, obeying the dictates of nature, receive on their bellies the logs of wood cut off by their associates, which they hold tight with their feet, and thus with transverse pieces placed in their mouths, are drawn along backwards, with their cargo, by other beavers, who fasten themselves with their teeth to the raft. The moles use a similar artifice in clearing out the dirt from the cavities they form by scraping. In some deep and still corner of the river, the beavers use such skill in the construction of their habitations, that not a drop of water can penetrate, or the force of storms shake them; nor do they fear any violence but that of mankind, nor even that, unless well armed. They entwine the branches of willows with other wood, and different kinds of leaves, to the usual height of the water, and having made withinside a communication from floor to floor, they elevate a kind of stage, or scaffold, from which they may observe and watch the rising of the waters. In the course of time, their habitations bear the appearance of a grove of willow trees, rude and natural without, but artfully constructed within. This animal can remain in or under water at its pleasure, like the frog or seal, who shew, by the smoothness or roughness of their skins, the flux and reflux of the sea. These three animals, therefore, live indifferently under the water, or in the air, and have short legs, broad bodies, stubbed tails, and resemble the mole in their corporal shape. It is worthy of remark, that the beaver has but four teeth, two above, and two below, which being broad and sharp, cut like a carpenter's axe, and as such he uses them. They make excavations and dry hiding places in the banks near their dwellings, and when they hear the stroke of the hunter, who with sharp poles endeavours to penetrate them, they fly as soon as


possible to the defence of their castle, having first blown out the water from the entrance of the hole, and rendered it foul and muddy by scraping the earth, in order thus artfully to elude the stratagems of the well-armed hunter, who is watching them from the opposite banks of the river. When the beaver finds he cannot save himself from the pursuit of the dogs who follow him, that he may ransom his body by the sacrifice of a part, he throws away that, which by natural instinct he knows to be the object sought for, and in the sight of the hunter castrates himself, from which circumstance he has gained the name of Castor; and if by chance the dogs should chase an animal which had been previously castrated, he has the sagacity to run to an elevated spot, and there lifting up his leg, shews the hunter that the object of his pursuit is gone. Cicero speaking of them says, "They ransom themselves by that part of the body, for which they are chiefly sought". And Juvenal says,

"... Qui se
Eunuchum ipse facit, cupiens evadere damno

And St. Bernard,

"Prodit enim castor proprio de corpore velox
Reddere quas sequitur hostis avarus opes".

Thus, therefore, in order to preserve his skin, which is sought after in the west, and the medicinal part of his body, which is coveted in the east, although he cannot save himself entirely, yet, by a wonderful instinct and sagacity, he endeavours to avoid the stratagems of his pursuers. The beavers have broad, short tails, thick, like the palm of a hand, which they use as a rudder in swimming; and although the rest of their body is hairy, this part, like that of seals, is without hair, and smooth; upon which account, in Germany and the arctic regions, where beavers abound, great and religious persons, in times of fasting, eat the tails of this fish-like animal, as having both the taste and colour of fish.

We proceeded on our journey from Cilgarran towards Pont-Stephen, [1] leaving Cruc Mawr, i.e., the great hill, near

[1] Our author having made a long digression, in order to introduce the history of the beaver, now continues his Itinerary. From Cardigan, the archbishop proceeded towards Pont Stephen, leaving a hill, called Cruc Mawr, on the left hand, which still retains its ancient name, and agrees exactly with the position given to it by Giraldus. On its summit is a tumulus, and some appearance of an intrenchment.


Aberteivi, [1] on our left hand. On this spot Gruffydh, son of Rhys ap Theodor, 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. [2] 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.



A SERMON having been preached on the following morning

[1] This town, which in modern times has assumed the name of Cardigan, is situated on the northern banks of the river Teivi, which discharges itself into the sea a few miles from the town. When the Normans and Flemings spread themselves over the western coasts of Wales, they probably erected a fort to guard this river; but the first mention of it in the Welsh Chronicle occurs in the year 1155, when prince Rhys built a castle at Aberdyfi, to protect his frontiers against the princes of North Wales. In the year 1157, Roger earl of Clare, having obtained a grant from king Henry of such lands in Wales as he could win, came with a great army to Caerdigan, and fortified the castle of Dyvy, which Rhys, prince of South Wales, destroyed in the following year. On the return of king Henry to England, in the year 1165, after his unsuccessful attempts against the Welsh, prince Rhys, availing himself of his retreat, laid siege to the castle of Aberteivi, and won it, and levelled it to the ground. It was, however, rebuilt before the year 1177, at which time prince Rhys held a most magnificent feast at Christmas, in his castle at Aberteivi, which is recorded in the Welsh Chronicle. In 1188, the same lord Rhys entertained archbishop Baldwin and his crusaders on their passage through Cardigan into North Wales.

[2] The signal victory of the Welsh, here alluded to by Giraldus, happened in 1135, soon after the death of Henry I., and the cruel murder of Richard de Clare and his son Gilbert, near Abergavenny, by Morgan ap Owen, of Caerleon.

[3] Though Emelyn is mentioned in the title of the preceding chapter, no notice is taken of it in the text. This village, on the direct road from Cardigan to Llanbedr, now bears the name of Newcastle Emlyn, and is pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Teivi. There are still some considerable remains of the castle on an eminence overlooking the river. Its situation was very strong, being nearly insulated by the very singular channel of the Teivi.


at Pont Stephen, [1] by the archbishop and archdeacon, and also by two abbots of the Cistercian order, John of Albadomus, and Sisillus of Stratflur, [2] who faithfully attended us in those parts, and as far as North Wales, many persons were induced to take the cross. We proceeded to Stratflur, 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

[1] Lanpeter, or Llanbedr, a small town near the river Teivi, still retains the name of Pont-Stephen. The verdant site alone remains of its ancient castle, which I imagine to be the same as that of Stephen, alluded to in the Welsh Chronicle, as having been demolished and overthrown in the year 1137, by Owen Gwynedh, eldest son of Gruffydh ap Conan. Here our crusaders rested the night, and, on the following morning, the service of the cross was successfully promoted by the united exhortations of the archbishop, Giraldus the archdeacon, and the abbots.

[2] Leland thus speaks of this place: "Strateflere is set round about with montanes not far distant, except on the west parte, where Diffrin Tyve is. Many hilles therabout hath bene well woddid, as evidently by old rotes apperith, but now in them is almost no woode - the causes be these. First, the wood cut down was never copisid, and this hath beene a great cause of destruction of wood thorough Wales. Secondly, after cutting down of woodys, the gottys hath so bytten the young spring that it never grew but lyke shrubbes. Thirddely, men for the monys destroied the great woddis that thei should not harborow theves". This monastery is situated in the wildest part of Cardiganshire, surrounded on three sides by a lofty range of those mountains, called by our author Ellennith; a spot admirably suited to the severe and recluse order of the Cistercians. But wild and desolate as its present appearance may seem, how much more so must it have been in former times, when king Edward, for the better security of his subjects from the dangers they were likely to incur in these solitary districts, ordered the highways to be repaired, and the surrounding woods to be cut down.


these three young men, Gruffydh, 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 Landewi Brevi, [1] that is, the church of David of

[1] Leaving Stratflur, the archbishop and his train returned to Llandewi Brefi, and from thence proceeded to Llanbadarn Vawr. It ought to be observed, that an unusual deviation was here made from the direct road to the latter place, by returning to Llandewi Brefi, which, on the preceding day, they must have passed, on their journey from Pont-Stephen to Stratflur. The large tract of mountains, which almost inclose the Vale of the Teivi, bore the name of Ellennith, and were called by the English, Moruge. As, after a long and minute enquiry amongst the natives of these parts, I cannot find any modern or ancient name attached to these hills, which at all corresponds with the word in question, I am inclined to think that the word Moruge is only a corruption from Moors, or Moorish, for such is the nature of these mountains. Ellennith should be written Maelienydd, for these mountains are still so called in old writings; and I have before mentioned a cantref in Radnorshire, on the other side of these mountains, called Maelyenidd. The village of Llandewi Brefi is situated near the southern banks of the river Teivi, and opposite Llanio-isau, where there are evident remains of the Roman town of Loventium. It has been much celebrated by ecclesiastical writers, on account of the miracle performed there in honour of St. David. I shall recount the miracle in the words of the historian Cressy. "When all the fathers assembled enjoined David to preach, he commanded a child which attended him, and had lately been restored to life by him, to spread a napkin under his feet; and, standing upon it, he began to expound the gospel and the law to the auditory. All the while that this oration continued, a snow-white dove, descending from heaven, sate upon his shoulders; and, moreover, the earth on which he stood raised itself under him till it became a hill, from whence his voice, like a trumpet, was clearly heard and understood by all, both near and far off, on the top of which hill a church was afterwards built, and remains to this day". The church, which was the scene of the miracle, is situated on a gentle eminence, backed by high mountains, and surrounded by the most miserable hovels I ever beheld. Though a large and spacious building, it corresponds with the village in misery and desolation. In the year 1188, no greater ecclesiastical establishment existed probably at Llandewi Brefi than a simple church or chapel, commemorating the successful preaching of St. David: and as Giraldus makes no mention of their having preached there, we may conclude that devotion and respect for the hallowed spot alone induced them to pass through it on their road from Stratflur to Llanbadarn.


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 Lhanpadarn Yawr, [1] 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

[1] Lhanbadarn Vawr, the church of St. Paternus the Great, is situated in a valley, at a short distance from the sea-port town of Aberystwyth in Cardiganshire. It derived its name from Paternus, a distinguished saint in the British history, of whom Cressy and archbishop Usher give the following account: "The sanctity of St. Dubricius and St. David drew into Britain from foreign parts, St. Paternus, a devout young man, about the year 516, together with 847 monks, who accompanied him. These fixed themselves in a place called Mauritania, and there St. Paternus built a church and monastery, in which he placed the monks under an economus, a provost, and a dean. This monastery seems to have sent abroad many colonies of religious men into the province; for we find that this saint built monasteries and churches through all the region called Ceretica, now Cardiganshire. The church he erected in Mauritania was raised to the dignity of an episcopal see, which he governed for one and twenty years, and was from him called Paternensis. He was recalled by prince Caradoc into his own native country of Lesser Britany, where he was made bishop of the church of Vannes, having left Kinoc as successor to his former bishopric".


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 Lhanpadarn, 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, aad the manners of their inhabitants, came by chance to Lhanpadarn. 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 [1] 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

[1] The name of this bishop is said to have been Idnerth, and the same personage whose death is commemorated in an inscription at Llandewi Brefi.


wicked race with dissimulation, than exasperate them by a further relation.



APPROACHING to the river Devi, [1] which divides North and South Wales, the bishop of St. David's, and Rhys the son of Gruffydh, 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. [2] We slept that night at Towyn. [3] Early next morning, Gruffydh son of Conan [4] came to meet

[1] This river is now called Dovy.

[2] From Llanbadarn our travellers directed their course towards the sea-coast, and ferrying over the river Dovy, which separates North from South Wales, proceeded to Towyn, in Merionethshire, where they passed the night. Various have been the derivations given to the name of this country; some have deduced its name from Meirion, the son of Tibion ab Cunedda, a chieftain who lived hi the middle of the fifth century. His father was slain when fighting with his brothers against the Irish, who had established themselves in several parts of the coasts of Wales, whereupon Meirion had the cantref of Meirionydd, and was acknowledged by the people of that district as their lord, in reward for his services in driving the Irish out of the country.

[3] Towyn, now called Towyn Merioneth, is a small town built in a bad and unhealthy situation, flanked on one side by a turbary and marsh, and distant about a mile from the sea-shore, where there is a large extent of hard and level sands.

[4] The province of Merionyth was at this period occupied by David, the son of Owen Gwynedh, who had seized it forcibly from its rightful inheritor. The family of Conan, who bore rule in North Wales for so many years, descended from Jago, or James, son of Edwal, who, after the death of Lhewelyn ap Sitsylt, in 1020, succeeded to the principality of North Wales: he died in 1037, and left a son named Conan, who, though heir to the throne, never obtained it: but his son, Gruffyth ap Conan, after the defeat and death of Trahaern ap Caradoc, A.D. 1078, on the mountains of Carno, regained his inheritance, and maintained it quietly for the long term of fifty-nine years. After his death, in 1137, his sons, according to the Welsh custom, divided his lands betwixt them, and the principality of North Wales fell to the lot of Owen Gwynedh, the eldest son of the late prince, who enjoyed it for the space of thirty-two years. On his death, in 1169, dissensions arose amongst his children respecting the succession;- "Edward, or Iorwerth Drwyndwn, the eldest sonne borne in matrimonie, was counted unmeete to governe, because of the maime upon his face; and Howel, who tooke upon him all the rule, was a base sonne, begotten upon an Irish woman. Therefore David gathered all the power he could, and came against Howel, and fighting with him, slew him, and afterwards enjoied quietlie the whole of North Wales, untill his brother Iorwerth's son (Lewelyn) came to age, and recovered his rightful inheritance".- Powell. Gruffydh was son to Conan ap Owen Gwynedh; he died A.D. 1200, and was buried in a monk's cowl, in the abbey of Conway.


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, [1] 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 Lhanvair, [2] that is the church of St. Mary, in the province of Ardudwy. [3] 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

[1] The epithet "bifurcus", ascribed by Giraldus to the river Maw, alludes to its two branches, which unite their streams a little way below Llaneltid bridge, and form an aestuary, which flows down to the sea at Barmouth, or Aber Maw. The ford at this place, discovered by Malgo, no longer exists.

[2] Llanfair is a small village, about a mile and a half from Harlech, with a very simple church, placed in a retired spot, backed by precipitous mountains. Here the archbishop and Giraldus slept, on their journey from Towyn to Nevyn, and I hope, for their sakes, Llanfair presented a more respectable appearance in 1188, than it did to me in 1804.

[3] Ardudwy was a comot of the cantref Dunodic, in Merionethshire, and according to Leland, "Streccith from half Trait Mawr to Abermaw on the shore xii myles". The bridge here alluded to, was probably over the river Artro, which forms a small aestuary near the village of Llanbedr.


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.



WE continued our journey over the Traeth Mawr, [1] and Traeth Bachan, [2] that is, the greater and the smaller arm of the sea, where two stone castles have newly been erected; one called Deudraeth, belonging to the sons of Conan, situated in Evionyth, towards the northern mountains; the other named Carn Madryn, [3] the property of the sons of Owen, built on the other side of the river towards the sea,

[1] The Traeth Mawr, or the large sands, are occasioned by a variety of springs and rivers which flow from the Snowdon mountains, and, uniting their streams, form an aestuary below Pont Aberglasllyn.

[2] The Traeth Bychan, or the small sands, are chiefly formed by the river which runs down the beautiful vale of Festiniog to Maentwrog and Tan y bwlch, near which place it becomes navigable. Over each of these sands the road leads from Merionyth into Caernarvonshire.

[3] Deudraeth, Carn Madryn.- Our author makes mention of these two castles, one in Evionyth, or Caernarvonshire, towards the northern mountains, versus montana borealia, called Deudraeth; and the other on the headland of Lhyn, named Carn Madryn. I have not been able, either by personal researches, or by enquiry amongst the natives, to gain any information respecting the castle named Deudraeth, which in the Welsh language implies a place betwixt the two sands. There is a promontory between the Traeth Mawr and the Traeth Bychan, called Pentyr Deudraeth, or a promontory between two tracts of sand; but I could gain no intelligence of any ancient fortress being visible on that spot. The river descending from the mountains under Pont Aberglasllyu and the Traeth Mawr, seems to have formed the ancient boundary between the comots of Ardudwy and Evionyth. The other castle, Carn Madryn, is well known both by name and position, and still retains many marks of its high antiquity: it stands on a lofty insulated hill, rising immediately above the well-wooded grounds of Mr. Parry, at Madryn Ucna.


on the head-land Lhyn. [1] 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, [2] between the Maw and Traeth Mawr, and the Arthro, between the Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bachan. We slept that night at Nevyn, [3] on the eve of Palm Sunday, where the archdeacon, after long inquiry and research, is said to have found Merlin Sylvestris. [4]

[1] Lhyn, the Canganorum promontorium of Ptolemy, was an extensive hundred containing three comots, and comprehending that long neck of land between Caernarvon and Cardigan bays. Leland says, "Al Lene is as it were a pointe into the se".

[2] In mentioning the rivers which the missionaries had lately crossed, our author has been guilty of a great topographical error in placing the river Dissennith between the Maw and Traeth Mawr, as also in placing the Arthro between the Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bychan, as a glance at a map will shew.

[3] Nefyn, a miserable village, situated on an eminence at a short distance from the western coast of Caernarvon Bay, containing (in these our modern days) no one object worthy of note, yet in 1284 it was honoured by Edward I. with a royal visit, and a magnificent tournament.

[4] Merlin Sylvestris.- To two personages of this name the gift of prophecy was anciently attributed: one was called Ambrosius, the other Sylvestris; the latter here mentioned (and whose works Giraldus, after a long research, found at Nefyn) was, according to the story, the son of Morvryn, and generally called Merddin Wyllt, or Merddin the Wild. He is pretended to have flourished about the middle of the sixth century, and ranked with Merddin Emrys and Taliesin, under the appellation of the three principal bards of the Isle of Britain. He was born at Caerwerthevin, near the forest of Celyddon or Dunkell, in Scotland, where he possessed a great estate, which he lost in the war of his lord Gwenddolau, the son of Ceidio, and Aeddan vradog, against Rhydderch Hael. His misfortunes in Scotland drove him into Wales; and there is now extant a poetical dialogue between him and his preceptor Taliesin. He was present at the battle of Camlan in the year 542, where, fighting under the banner of king Arthur, he accidentally slew his own nephew, the son of his sister Gwenddyda, in consequence of which calamity he was seized with a madness which affected him every other hour.

"Awr o'i gov gan Dduw ry gai,
Awr yn mhell yr anmhwyllai".

The literal meaning of which is, "An hour of his memory from God he was wont to have; an hour succeeding he would be divested of reason". He fled back into Scotland, and concealed himself amongst the woods, but he afterwards returned to North Wales, where he died, and was buried in the isle of Bardsey.


Beyond Lhyn, 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 Enhli in the Welsh, and Berdesey [1] 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, [2] that is, the

[1] Mr. Pennant has given the following description of this island:- "From the port of Aberdaron, I took boat for Bardsey Island, which lies about three leagues to the west. The mariners seemed tinctured with the piety of the place, for they had not rowed far, but they made a full stop, pulled off their hats, and offered up a short prayer. After doubling a headland, the island appears full in view; we passed under the lofty mountain which forms one side; after doubling the further end, we put into a little sandy creek, bounded by low rocks, as is the whole level part. On landing, I found all this tract a very fertile plain, well cultivated, and productive of every thing which the main land affords. The abbot's house is a large stone building inhabited by several of the natives; not far from it is a singular chapel or oratory, being a long arched edifice, with an insulated stone-altar near the east end. In this place one of the inhabitants reads prayers; all other offices are performed at Aberdaron". This island once afforded, according to the old accounts, an asylum to twenty thousand saints, and after death, graves to as many of their bodies; whence it has been called Insula Sanctorum, the Isle of Saints; it would be much more facile to find graves in Bardsey for so many saints, than saints for so many graves. The slaughter of the monks at Bangor, about the year 607, is supposed to have contributed to the population of this island, for not only the brethren who escaped, but numbers of other pious Britons, fled hither to avoid the rage of the Saxons. This island derived its British name of Enhli from the fierce current which rages between it and the main land. The Saxons named it Bardsey, probably from the Bards, who retired hither, preferring solitude to the company of invading foreigners.

[2] This ancient city has been recorded by a variety of names. During the time of the Romans it was called Segontium, the site of which is now called Caer Seient, the fortress on the river Seient, where the Setantiorum portus, and the Set