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DATE J AN 8 199 





GIRALDTTS CAMBEENSIS, so called from the country ot 
which he was a native, was born about the year 1146, ana 
belonged to one of the most distinguished families in South 
Wales. A Norman, or Anglo-Norman, chieftain had esta- 
blished himself in that district, and left to his family a 
name taken from the little island of Barri, on the coast of 
G-lamorganshire. William de Barri, the head of this family 
in tbe 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. Ehys ap Tudor, prince of South Wales in the 
reign of William Eufus, had a daughter named Nesta, cele- 
brated for her beauty, and for other accomplishments, who 
became the concubine of king Henry I., and was subse- 
quently married to Grerald de Windsor, castellan of Pem- 
broke. Prom this marriage sprung the illustrious family 
of Pitzgerald, 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 Pitzgeralds, and to 
the princes of South Wales and the numerous families of 
Welsh chieftains who cl aime d kindred with them. Giraldus , 
the author of the historical treatises, of which we now pub- 
lish a translation, was the youngest of the sons of William 
de Barri and Angharad ; and was no doubt named after 
hia maternal grandfather, the castellan of Pembroke. la 


one of the books translated in the present volume, Giraldm 
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 suc- 
cess, to king Henry. The same feeling of jealousy was ex- 
tended to Giraldus himself; and, according to his own state- 
ment, 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 

Giraldus was born in the castle of Manorbeer, and, as he 
gays, dipplayed 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 twertieth 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 cele- 
brated 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 hi* 
earning, took him to court. He employed him on several 


occasions in diplomatic negociations with the Welsh, made 
aim 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. 

Griraldus 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. 
Griraldus 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, 


j-Trtbishop of Canterbury, was sent to preach it in "Wales. 
Oiraldus was appointed to accompany the archbishop, in 
which tnere 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 suc- 
cess. This expedition is the subject of one of the most in- 
teresting 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 

In the year 1189, Griraldus accompanied Henry II. on his 
last expedition into France, and he appears to have been 
present at that king's death. The new king, Eichard 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 mis- 
sion with success. We find a further proof of the king's 
consideration, in the circumstance, that, when Eichard de- 
parted 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 king. 
dom. Our author was now so confident in his expectation 
of obtaining, through the king's favour, the high ecclesiasti- 
cal preferment to which he aspired, that he refused the lesser 
bishoprics of Bangor, in 1190, and Landaff, in 1191, but his 




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 him- 
self 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. 
G-iraldus was elected by the chapter, and opposed by the 
archbishop of Canterbury, Hubert Waiter, who refused to 
accept the nomination on the same grounds which had been 
previously alleged by king Henry II., that it would be dan- 
gerous to the English supremacy to appoint a Welshman to 
the metropolitan see of Wales. Meanwhile king Eichard 
died, and king John, whose favour Giraldus enjoyed, gave 
him reason to expect that his election would now be con- 
firmed ; but the king yielded to the arguments of the arch- 
bishop, 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 Griraldus, but he was now unwilling to accept 
it. We know nothing of his history during the rest of hia 
life, but he appears to have died in the year 1223. 

Such was Giraldus de Barri, or Cambrensis, the writer ol 

fill PREFACE. 

the four works translated in the present volume, and o! 
mary otners, 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 credu- 
lity, as all who read the following treatises will soon dis- 
cover. 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 in- 
quiries. 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 G-iraldus 
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, G-iral- 
dus 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 
Giraidus 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 Kienard, count of Poictiers, then the heir to the c^ 
of England, which he inherited some two years afterwards 
as Bichard 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 re- 
vised edition of this book, and dedicated it tc king John. 
The Itinerary through Wales, which was intended to com- 
memorate the mission of archbishop Baldwin to preach the 
third crusade to the Welshmen, and the part which Griraldus 
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 Canter- 
bury. 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 Itine- 
rary, to archbishop Langton. In the account of his own 
writings, given in a letter addressed to the chapter of Here- 
ford, 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 mo- 
nasteries, especially those of the Cistercian order," and that 
this was executed in a small space, on a single leaf, but per- 
fectly distinct and clear. The loss of so singularly curious 
a record is greatly to be regretted. It appears that Giral- 
dus 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 exteiit and plan of which differ very consi- 
derably from those of the Topography of Ireland. We have 
every reason lor 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 Topo- 
graphy 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 Bonn'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 Eichard 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 E. 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 under- 
stand that Sir Eichard alone is responsible for the state- 
ment or opinion. 

T. W. 







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 cele- 
brated poets : 

" Denique, si quis adhuc prsetendit nubila liror, 
Occidet j et merit! post me referentur honores.** l 

" 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 E'omana potentia terris> 
Oro legar populi, perque omnia seecula, fama, 
Si quid habent veri vatum prsesagia, 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 pa- 

Statins, Thebaid, xi. 818, 19. 2 Ovid. Met. xv. 877-9. 

B 2 


tronage, reward, and encouragement of illustrious priiicv*. 
For honours are the nurses of the liberal arts : 

" Nam si Yirgilio puer et tolerabile desit 
Hospitium, caderent omnes a crinibus hydrse." 1 

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

Aud again : 

" Quis locus ingenio, nisi cum se carmine solo 
Vexant, et dominis Cyrrhee Nisseque feruntur 
Pectora nostra, duas non admittentia curas." a 
" 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 ex- 
posed 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 column ;" * 
" 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, in- 
deed, 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 JUT. Sat. vii. 69, 70. * Ib. vii. 6467. 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, sup- 
ported 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 confi- 
dence 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 maims et mens, 
[Poscentique gravem perssepe remittit acutum :] 
Nee semper feriet, quodcunque minabitur arcus." 1 

" For oft the strings the intended sound refuse : 
In vain his tuneful hand the master tries j 
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. 3479. 


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 posi- 
tion 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 Ire- 
land ?" " Will its mountains drop sweetness, and its val- 
lies 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 elo- 
quence, when the poverty of their subject required it to be 
elevated by the superiority of their style. 

Et ferat invalid robur facundia causse. 

It behoved them, therefore, to lavish the graces of elocu- 
tion 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 no- 
thing 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 pro- 
bable by the manner of putting it, nothing so rude and 
barbarous that a brilliant oratory cannot ornament and po- 
lish." 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 bar- 
ren phrases, or to set before the learned things which every 
one knows. "What sort of sounds would the cackling goose 
utter 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 

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 quali- 
ties and defects of almost all things which nature has pro- 
duced 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 de- 
scent 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 under- 

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 inequa- 
lities, 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 pre- 
ferred. 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 wher- 


ever 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 inhabi- 
tants of this country, and the various immigrants of diffe- 
rent 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 re- 
specting 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 pre- 
sent volume. But since, from the wretched state of human 

' Judicis argutum labor hie formidat acumen $' * 

* 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 
ia 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 dili- 
gent 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 pre- 
eminent for some prodigies peculiar to themselves and ori- 
ginating 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 la- 
bour to bring those which appeared most worthy of notice 
into one point of view and to submit them to your high- 


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

I might, indeed, have presented for your highness's ac- 
ceptance, 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 high- 
ness 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 re- 
cords of such noble achievements, the minds of many in 
future times may be roused to increased vigour by the ad- 
mirable 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 5 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 . 89 



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 croerite 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 

XXI. Of the beaver, and its nature 

XXII. Of weasels, and their natures 


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 comparison of the East and West. That in the 
east all the elements are pestiferous. Of the veno- 
mous force of poison in the East, and of the unhealthi- 
ness 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 atmos- 
phere 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 subjec- 
tion 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 sud- 
denly, 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 Ire- 
land to Britain . . . . .78 
XIX. Of the prodigies of our times j 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 in- 
crease . ... 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 do- 
mesticated . . . . . 98 

XXXVni. Of a book miraculously written . .99 

XXXIX. How the book was composed . . 100 

XX. 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 

XUV. Of the cross at Dublin, which spake and bore testimony 

to the truth . . . . . .103 

XLV. How the same cross became immovable . . 104 

XL VI. 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 
XL VII. Of a phrenetic at Ferns, who predicted future events . 105 
XL VIII. 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 vindic- 
tive temper ...... Ill 



I. Of the first arrival of Csesara, 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 

TIL How the brothers quarreled, and Heber having been 
slain, Heiimon was the first sole king of the Irish 
people . . . . . .119 

VIII. Of G-urguntius, king of the Britons, who brought over 
the Baselenses 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 instru- 

ments ...... 131 

XV. Whence music derived its name . . . 132 

XVI. How many kings reigned from Herimoa 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 pre- 
ferred to them ..... 144 
XXXI. That many seem to be in the fold who shall be shut 

out j and the contrary . . . ; 145 



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

XXXIH. 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 *he 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 G-urmundus, the Irish 

that it was Turgesius, who conquered the Island . 149 
XXXIX. Whence Gurmund came into Ireland or Britain . 150 

XL. How, when Q-urmund was slain in Gaul, Turgesius 
perished in Ireland by the hands of young men dis- 
guised 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 

XXIII. Of the arrival of the Ostmen . . . .152 

XLIV. How many kings reigned in Ireland from the death of 

Turgesius to Roderic the last sole king of Ireland . 153 
XLV. How many kings reigned from Herimon the first to 
Roderic the last ..... 

XL VI. How from its first immigration to the time of Tur- 
gesius, 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 Henrv TL, 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 j 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 . . . . . 154 

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 Bri- 
tain ; 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, afc 
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 dis- 
tance of about three days' sailing. 1 



?HE Spanish sea, named also the Iberian sea, either from 
the river Iberus, or because Spain presents the form of a 
dsphere, 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 G-iraldus 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 
Beems to be nature's especial repository, where she stores 
up her most remarkable and precious treasures. Collate- 
rally, 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 



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 un- 
known to him, especially as he asserts that it was of enor- 
mous 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, infe- 
rior in size, but, from its situation, of greater fertility. 
Bede, also, states that Ireland is much superior to Bri- 
tain 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 sere- 
nity 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 at- 
mosphere ; 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, in- 
deed, 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 ob- 
long and narrow ; and, as the north of Ireland is, as it were, 
broken off" and much shortened, compared with Britain, 
BO its southern extremity is so far from being shorter, that, 
according to Bede's statement, it extends much beyond the 
parallel of Britain. 

o 2 




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 beau- 
tiful 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 north- 
west, 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 dis- 
tricts, 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 to- 
gether 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 usu- 
ally 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 GKraldus adopts what Virgil says of Corsica : 

"Fugiunt examina taxos." Eel. ix, 30. 


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

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 con- 
sidered pardonable, as arising both from human imperfec- 
tions, 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. 3 



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 danmeque vicissim, 
Nihil unquam human! a nobis alienutn 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 Kenel- 
eonia; 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 

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 run- 
ning through Archfinia and Tribarccia, falls into the 
sea at Waterford. 10 The Slana runs through Wexford ; u 

1 The Liffey, which rises in the Wicklow mountains, and, as here in- 
timated, 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. * 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 

" The first the gentle Shure, that making way 

By sweete Clonmell, adornes rich Waterford j 
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, ana 
empties itself into the bay of Waterford. 9 The Nore is a tribu- 
tary of the Barrow. 10 The Suir rises in Tipperary, and flows 
into Waterford harbour. The river of Slaney runa 
through the county of Wicklow, and flows into Wexford harbour. 


the Boandus, through Meath ; J the Avonmore, 2 through 
Lignioria ; and the Sinnenus, through Limerick.* 

Of all the rivers in Ireland, new or old, the Sinnenus 
deservedly claims the first rank, both for its full and ma- 
jestic 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.* 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 

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 copy- 
ist for Ltsmoria. 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 Bally shannon, 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 3 
southern and then a south-western course, till it discharges itself into 
the Atlantic, which was sometimes called St. Brandan's sea, because it 
was the supposed scene of his marvellous voyages. 

4 The river which empties itself into the sea, at Ballyshaunon, is 
merely the outlet of the waters of kke 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 delight- 
fully 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 especi- 
ally 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 G-aul 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 Alosisqua prcvpinguilus. The shad, the clupea alosa of modern natu- 
ralists, 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 j but Giralduf 
dearly 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 re- 
sembles the trout, except that it has no spots. The first 
sort is called Glassans, the second, Cafes, 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, 6 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 catosbritios. 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 Nitos. This is the English interpretation of the Latin nisus g' ren 
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 j 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 in- 
stinct 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. Augus- 
tine 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. Por 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 natu- 
rally 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. 
Tor, 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 ; j 1 and Grod 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 dis- 
tinguished by white spots, some by red, and some by parti- 
coloured. Hence, it has been conjectured that they con- 
tracted 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 effceminatos a fceminis viros debita yirilitate foeminee deprsedantur." 


tlie 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, both 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 inspi- 
ration, 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 (ffyrofariendo) ; sparrow-hawks (nisi), 
from their swoop (nisu) ; and hawks (accipitres) from their 
greed of prey (accipiendo). 1 

1 It 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 coun- 
tries. 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 
(aquilat) are so called from their piercing eyes (acu- 
mine). 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 right- 
eousness, 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 night, that their wings are scorched with 
the fiery rays of the sun. So those who in the Holy Scrip- 
tures 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. 

Bocks 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 Newto- 
nian 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 Cre- 
ator, 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 inter- 
course 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, and 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 them- 
selves 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 th 
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 mira- 
cles which are above you ? Does your pride so separate 
you from the love of G-od, that while you are wise in that 
which is above knowledge, and aspire to still higher attain- 
ments, you turn aside from the path of the humble ? Not- 
withstanding, 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 Grod himself tes- 
tifies 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 Grod, 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 

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 faifh 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 com- 
mended 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 in- 
scrutable, 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 Grod, 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 under- 
stood 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 know- 
ledge of things in part only, and not to the fulness of intelli- 
gence and comprehension. Hence, when some one irreve- 
rently inquired, " What Grod did before the world was cre- 
ated ?" Augustine replied, " He prepared hell for those 
who ask foolish questions." It is in vain, therefore, to tor- 
ment 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." 



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


gtinct 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 know- 
ing 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 occu- 
pation, 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 trum- 
pet. 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, (y rut as) are here 
small and scarce, being both in shape and colour very like 
partridges. There are immense nights 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 ; ra- 
tul<B* 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 
gi'eat numbers. 

2 Aceta. This Latin word is explained in the Anglo-Saxon glossaries 
by snite, the old form of snipe, or rude-coco, perhaps an error for wiide 
coce, 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. 

* It has been suggested that we ought to read ranulce for ratulas in 
the text of Giraldus ; but it is evident that he intended to speak of a 
bird, though of what kind is uncertain. 

D 2 




THEBE 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 copu- 
lation, 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, unhappy Jew, recollect, 
though late, that man was first generated from clay without 
being procreated by male and female ; nor will your venera- 
tion 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 im- 
portant 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, yon 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 crea- 
ture 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 ad- 
mirable, 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 mys- 
terious 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, harm- 
less, 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 tempo- 
ral 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 dif- 
ferences in animals having a general resemblance, as well 
as certain resemblances in those which differ. 



THERE 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 degene- 
rating 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 

: The martinet (martineta) was the kingEsher. It is still called in 
French the martinet-pechenr. 


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 spe- 
cies, 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 na- 
ture, 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 mihi 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 spi- 
rit, and living without life, and thus neither entirely dead 
or alive. 



IN the districts of Apulia and Calabria there are grass- 
hoppers with wings, which spring from place to place not 
by any effort of their legs, but by the use of their win^s, 
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, shrivei 
up, and many of them putrify. But when warm weather 
returns in spring, the brealh 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 astonish- 
ing 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 
Jie stones, after falling from a great height. Thus the old 
feiemy, with malicious guile, after raising to the highest 
pitch of honour those whom he was unable to pervert when 
m 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 oi 


the access of snakes or men. Thus, however a man maj 
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 croerice 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 won- 
derful 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 mean- 
ing here. 

* 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 IL 
la 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 bysice, and also grisia, 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 degene- 
rate 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, have failed from similar causes. 


these hares, that, contrary to the usual instincts of thatani 
mal, 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, check- 
ing 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, with- 
out 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 extraordi- 
nary 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 slip- 
pery like seals. Hence in Germany and the northern re- 
gions, 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. 3 

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 be- 
fore 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 enter- 
prise and cupidity of the trapper. 

8 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. 8 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 Grod'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 defi- 
ciency 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 per- 
forated 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 won- 
derful instinct, the weasel, avoiding its terrible enemy's 
venomous head, triumphs over it more by art than by 

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 experi- 
ment, 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 Cam- 
brensisto write similar topographies of Wales and Scotland. The Cam- 
escriptto, of which a translation is given in the present volume 
nay, perhaps, be considered as the fulfilment of one part of this design! 
but no escription of Scotland by our writer is at present known to 


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 ex- 
tinct, some slight and imperceptible vestiges of it only having 

Moreover, as death destroys every thing else by its mere 
glance, such is the weasel to the basilisk. In like manner, 
the hya3na 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 humi- 
dity 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 : 
" Mora et vita dies una tibi est." 

The larger species of mouse is found here in great num- 
bers, and the smaller kind swarm to such an amazing de- 
gree 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. 



0* all sorts of reptiles, Ireland possesses those only which 
ij "namely, wol~?s and foxes." Giraldus introduce* 


are harmless, and does not produce any that are venomous/ 
There are neither snakes nor adders, toads nor irogs, 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 Ire- 
land 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 
neverexisted here, from some natural deficiency in the pro- 
duce 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 mid- 
way on the waters, disinfected by a purer air. Bede, in 

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 Glen- 
dalough until 1710. 

1 It is difficult to comprehend how the assertion, that no venomoub 
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 nattering fiction," but affirms it on his own authority as a fact 
in natural history, offering the very plausible solution, that species oil 
animals existing in some countries are not produced in others. The 
account he gives, in the next chapter, of the great surprise publicly mani- 
fested, when a frog or toad was found in the neighbourhood of Water- 
ford, and brought to court, is so circumstantial, that the fact of its dis- 
ooTery being considered an extraordinary occurrence seems hardlv tc 
be doubted. 9 


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 un- 
loaded 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 forth- 
with 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 imme- 
diately 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 
scrapings 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 
Tnake 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 ago- 
nies 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 



NEVEBTHELESS, 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 hap- 
pened to be present, beating his head, and having deep grief 
at heart, spoke thus : " That reptile is the bearer of dole- 
ful 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 subjuga- 
tion 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 
fcilly by GKraldus, 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 phy- 
sicians, 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 anyone escapes a violent flux of the bowels, 
from the succulent qualities of the food they take. How- 
ever, 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 com- 
parable 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 sur- 
rounds them ? 

In those countries all the elements, though created for 
the use of man, threaten wretched mortals with death, under- 
mine health, and bring life to an end. Plant your naked 
foot on the earth, death is at hand ; incautiously seat your- 
self 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 endan- 
gered by swift panthers of various kinds ; by rhinoceroses, 
allured by love of virgins j 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 dra- 
gons, 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 corpore tabificus seps. 2 

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. Immedi- 
ately his whole body, flesh and bone, was converted into 
a shapeless mass like pitch. His companions, making in- 
quiry into the cause of his death, or rather of his trans- 
formation, 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 
Ga/eia, 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 com- 
pensated for Oriental pomps by th^ single circumstance of 
our temperate climate. incomparable gift bestowed on the 
land by Grod ! inestimable favour one not sufficiently ap- 
preciated, 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 fer- 
tility 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, 


Naacitur indomitus bellis, et martis amator ; 
Gens hsec ingerites anirnos 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 ; Miner- 
va, 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 superabun- 
dance 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 Mi- 
nerva, here Pallas and Diana. 

Many other things are wanting here much to our advan- 
tage, 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 ca- 
taracts 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 na- 
tural 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 mel- 
lowed by a moist temperament, while his middle age is fer- 
vid, 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 
setting 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 pro- 
duced 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 rs- 
cords, 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 G-od, 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 
"eason to doubt. 

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


things according to his will ; with whom nothing is impoa* 
eible ; who, as the (rod 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 Grod, when it is cer- 
tain 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 un- 
derstanding, 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 par- 
doning, 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 no- 
velty, 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 con- 
demn, 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 tarn Grans novitas," &c. 




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 gradu- 
ally 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 
AVicklow, 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 runa 
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 
aa opposite to the coast of France 


entirely dry. The reflux then produces high tides on thf 
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 cornea 
in on one side, while it ebbs on the other. 

When the moon is at half her growth, as her light re- 
turns, 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 in- 
crease or decrease. 1 Hence, when the moon ceases to be lu- 
minous 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 decrease? 
with the moon, and with her increase fills and completes ite 

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 in- 
habitants was one of the foundation stones of mediaeval science, and 
was the origin of numerous superstitions, some of which have hardlj 
jet become obsolete, 2 From tninuo, to drminish P 


equal truth, if I may be allowed to correct him, that vale- 
tudinarians 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 extre- 
mities of the earth. From the four conflicting and most 
distant parts of the ocean, there is a certain violent attrac- 
tion 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 impedi- 
ment. 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. 



THEEE is a lake in the northern parts of Munster, 2 contain- 
ing two islands, one large, the other small. In the larger 
island there is a church held in great veneration from the 

1 De philosophicisflosculis. 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 con- 
sist 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-wor- 
shippers, or Grod-worshippers. No woman, nor any animal 
of the female sex, could ever enter the larger island with- 
out 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 num- 
bers, 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. Notwithstand- 
ing, 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 

There is also in Ulster a cemetery, with a station, conse- 
crated 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 ob- 
serve, 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 
ID 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 experi- 
ment, they are tortured with excruciating pains, and re- 
duced 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 espe- 
cial 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 com- 
mit 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 Done- 
negal, near the town and bay of the same name, and about three-quarters 
of an Irish mile in extent j 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 manu- 
scripts j it was translated into various languages. Giraldus had evidently 
not seen this book, as his account differs very much from it. See fo* 


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. 



THEEE 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 de- 
cay, but, deposited in the open air, remain uncorrupted. 
Here men can behold, and recognise with wonder, grand- 
fathers, 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. Al- 
though 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. 

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 imagina- 
tion through a narrow window, the only aperture left in the stifling cell. 

1 These legends belong to an island called Inisgluair, off the coast of 
Erris, co. Mayo, which was sacred to St. Brandan, and which OHraldus 
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 commemo- 
rated in the Romish calendar on the 16th of December. 

2 Giraldus uses the word mures, but some of the Irish antiquaries 
Delieve that by this word he meant the small black rat which abound* 
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. l 

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 Graramantes, 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, 
howeyer, 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 remark- 
able for the same prognostics at the village of Nicbatensis, 1 
in the territory of Vimoux, in the kingdom of Erance. 

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 
Walderaar, 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 Griraldus relates of the petrifaction of wood and other sub- 
stances 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 
Eome and Tivoli, where we have gathered reeds and aquatic plants, crys- 
tallized during the process of vegetation. Sir Humphrey Davey, in his 
u Consolations of Travel," says that he fixed a stick iu a mass of tra- 
vertin, covered by the water, in the month of May, and in April fol- 
lowing he had sou*e difficulty in breaking with a sharp-pointed hammer 


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 con- 
dition." Lo ! how potent are the effects of the water of that 
lake, which accomplishes in the space of one day what else- 
where 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 ex- 
pected 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 day- 
break, but when the sun has just risen and emerged from be- 
low 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 

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. 

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 8.W. of France, in the depart- 
ment of La Charente Inferieure. The fine fagade of the Benedictinfl 
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 in- 
tersected 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 bot- 
tom 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 exhi- 
bited 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 accident it has taken fire and burnt down to the 
roots of the trees, spontaneously shoots up again with- 
out 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 ani- 
mals 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 uni- 
versally injurious, its stream being poisonous to mankind as 

1 Any one who has travelled in forest districts may have had oppor- 
tunities of observing that the growth of young underwood from the 
stools of the burnt trees, after a conflagration, is no uncommon occur- 
rence; 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 
UYS 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 re- 
ported 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. 



THEEE 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 ft rinef 

" Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas, 

Et ibi.tem 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 won- 
ders. 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 pro- 
vince 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 fisher- 
men 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 
Tast la!je. is recorded by Tigernach, the oldest of the Irish annalists j 
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 incorri- 
gibly 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 w r as 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 de- 
stroying 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 aspotnot 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, w r ere 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 

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 thi* 


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 ; be- 
cause 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 men- 
tioned (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 Carl enford (Carlingford), in Ul- 
ster, 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 Dur- 
ham, 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 
tated in the Irish chronicles to have weighed fifty ounces. 




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 Norwe- 
gian 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 arma- 
ments. 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." ]n 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 hy Harold 
Harfaager in 895. By degrees the Norwegians also subdued and colo- 
nized 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 Grhost sat upon the apostlea 
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 ofiices 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 ye"ar, 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 sacer- 
dotal 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 Ice- 
landers, in their Al- Thing, or national assembly, enacted a very strict 
code of laws, containing many excellent regulations, one especially pro- 
riding for the maintenance of the poor ; but it would appear that the 
people were more distinguished for legal chicanery than for the vir- 
tues attributed to them by Giraldus. See the Supplement to 
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 erup- 
tions and boiling fountains, the Geysers, of Iceland. See Henderson's 
Journal of a Residence in Iceland, pp. 74 and 229 j 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 plu- 
mage 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 marts, the navel of the sea ; while our author de- 
scribes the vortex as secreta naturae penetralia. This whirlpool, for- 
merly 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 ani- 
mals, and especially venomous reptiles, replenished the re- 
moter 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 allu- 
vial 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 Nor- 
wegians 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 inlands 




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, how- 
ever, that in the furthest parts of the Arctic regions, the 
sun in summer is seen by the inhabitants revolving con- 
stantly for several nights about the edge of the earth, but 

were more probably severed from the mainland by the action of the 
strong currents and the storms of the Northern Ocean, through a pro- 
cess of disintegration, which is still going on. See LyelTs Elements of 
G-eology, 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 (impleverunt) not only the remoter islands, but, we may 
add, continents. 

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 ; arid others, again, have held that by Thule the Romans 
meant Norway. 


above the horizon ; and when it returns from the constella- 
tion 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 doubt- 
ful 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, how- 
ever, 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 



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 pre- 

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. 

Chorea Gigantum," from x(>^f 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 
Laving been brought from Ireland. 


sent day. It is wonderful bow these stones, in such num- 
bers and of such vast size, couid ever be collected together 
on one spot, and raised upright, as well as by what mecha- 
nical 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 His- 
tory, 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, be- 
fore 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 



I NOW proceed to relate some wonderful occurrences which 
have happened within our times. About three years be- 
fore 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 se- 
cure, 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 His- 
tory, book viii. chapters x. to xii. 2 The belief in men who 
could transform themselves into wolves, was a very prevalent super- 
stition, 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 col- 
lected. In England, where wolves have long disappeared, the witchei 
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 oft' 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 places, they return to their coun- 
try and their former shape. And now, she who is my part- 
ner 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 hol- 
low 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 lie- wolf rolled 
back the skin, and fitted it to its original form. 

These rites having been duly, rather than rightly, per- 
formed, 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 : " Eor 
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, doubt- 
less they will provoke the divine vengeance on themselves 

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, there- 
fore, that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, 
as it spi.ed out the nation which was before you." l All 
this was afterwards brought to pass, first by the Chaldeans, 
and then by the Romans. Likewise it is written in Eccle- 
siasticus : " 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 con- 
fession. The bishop, hearing that I was passing through 
those parts, sent me a message by two of his clerks, re- 
questing 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 ap- 
pear 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 Grod'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 laugh- 
ing 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 dis- 
putation 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 trans- 
formed 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 Grolden 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 magi- 
cal 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 com- 
plaint, 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 nei- 
.ther 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 

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

G 2 


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

It is, however, believed as an undoubted truth, that the 
Almighty Q-od, 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 com- 
mand, was turned into a pillar of salt ; and as the water 
was changed into wine ; or that, the nature within remain- 
ing 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 ap- 
pearance 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. 



DUYENALD, 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 back- 
bone, and was covered with hair. The woman, thus re- 
markable 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. 





Wicklow (Gwykingelo), at the time Maurice Fitzgerald 
held possession of that territory and castle, there was seen 
a mau-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 inter- 
course 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 Grlen- 
dalough (Grlindelachan), that tribe being especially addicted 
to such abominations ; so that you may be perfectly con- 
vinced 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 ra- 
tional 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 I uman species ? Is it not true that 


" Os homirii sublime dedit coelumque tueri 

Jussit ?" 

In nature's mould, to man the stamp is given, 
Which lifts his face from earth and points his eyes to l.eaveEi- 

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, re- 
markable 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 dread- 
fully 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, consmnitur usus ; 
In reprobos ratio, jam ratione carens. 


Vis genitiva gemit, violata cupidinis arte j 

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 allure- 
ments, 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, re- 
markable for their greater innocence and simplicity of man- 
ners, society was polluted by these infamous vices. Thus 
we find it written in Leviticus : " If a woman approach 
unto auy beast and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the 
woman, and the beast shall be put to death. Their blood 
shall be upon them." 3 The beast was commanded to be 
slain, not for its guilt, of which its nature as a brute excul- 
pated it, but as a memorial, to recall to the mind the enor- 
mity 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, per- 
chance, 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 St. 

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

a 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 thi* 


Keiwin had become celebrated for his life and sanctity at 
Grlindelachan, 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 na- 
tural 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 Glinde- 
lachan, 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 

part of Ireland. He was baptized by St. Cronan, educated by Petroo 
a Briton, and went into a monastery, from which he visited St. Columba 
and many other famous contemporary saints. Retiring to the wilder- 
ness 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. 

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 in- 
teresting of these buildings is the church called " St. Kevin's Kitchen," 
one of the few remaining stone-roofed buildings in Ireland, and a 
" Kound Tower." 

2 The tradition of St. Kevin's willow-apples is still current at Glen- 
dalough, 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 


In Italy likewise, at the famous city of E-avenna, 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 punish* 
ment 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, ! (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 

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 un- 
conscionably early, that the labourers were insensibly led into insup- 
portable 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 ic 
one of Moore's Irish Melodies, while the subject is taken from anothef 
legend of St. Kevin, the love of the hapless Cathleen ; 
"By that lake, whose gloomy shore 

Skylark never warbles o'er," &c. 
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 mar- : 
tyr'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 sur- 
name, 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. Eirmin, and the conduc- 
tor of the noble procession, as well as St. Eirmin's imme-, 
diate successor in his episcopal see, instantly calling on the, 
name of Grod, 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. Eirmin hav-, 
ing 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. Eirmin, 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. Eir- 
min, 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 atro- 
cious act, and the offence he had committed. Where T 
fore, 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. 


ITirmin 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 mi- 
racle of the Red Sea is wont to be represented, in some 
sort, every year. Blessed, therefore, be the Lord G-od 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 glo- 
rified 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 spec- 
tacle 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. XYin. 
(vol. j. p. 316, in Bohrfs 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 hia 
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. 



THEEE is in Leinster a small pool frequented by the birds 
of St. Colman, 2 a species of small ducks, vulgarly called teal 
(cercellce). Since the time of the saint, these birds have be- 
come 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 G-lendalough. 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 suc- 
ceeded Finan as bishop of Lindisfarne, but in consequence of the great 
dispute on the subject of Easter, he abandoned his bishopric, and re- 
turned to Ireland, where he established a monastery in the isle of Inis- 
bofinde. He died there in 676. 

8 A religious convent, strictly speaking, consisted of thirteen monk 
Of nuns, of whom one was prior or prioress. 


fly away, and, betaking themselves to some lake far re- 
moved 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. Col- 
man'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 ot the lake which was held in veneration 
from its having been formerly the resort of St. Colman, 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. iy. 


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. Mi- 
chael, 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 
G-od, 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 inhabi- 
tants 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 num 
bers, that neither man nor beast could venture to enter it. 




THEBE is in the province of Leinster a district called Fer- 
nigenan (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 exor- 
cism 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 occa- 



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. Bri- 
git, which is reported never to go out. Not that it can- 
not 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 re- 
ceived the veil from the hands of St. Patrick, or one of his immediate dis- 
ciples. Shefoiu>dd a nunnery at Kildare, over which she presided, and 




As in the time of St. Brigit twenty nuns were here en- 
gaged in the Lord's warfare, she herself being the twen- 
tieth, 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 es- 
cape 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 mea- 
dows called St. Brigit's pastures, in which no plough is ever 
suffered to turn a furrow. Respecting these meadows, it is 

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 Valiancy supposes 
to have been a tradition of Eastern origin. Henry de Londres, arch- 
bishop of Dublin, caused it to be extinguished in 1220 ; but it was 
afterwards renewed, and continued till the suppression of monasteriea 
by Henry VIII. 



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 

" Cropt 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 Grlendalough (Grlindelachan), 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 re- 
cesses 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 Kil- 
dare, and it is supposed to be the same which Giraldus here calls ecclt* 
tiastica turris. See the note to D. ii. c. 9. 

3 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 foot- 
steps of man, was killed by the staff of some passing rustic: 
Hence it is evident, that in prosperity we ought to be pre* 
pared 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 cue page 
you see the countenance of the Divine Majesty supernatu- 
ral ly pictured ; in another, the mystic forms of the evan- 
gelists, with either six, four, or two wings ; here are de- 
picted 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 calligra- 

H 2 




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 pro- 
pose 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 intelli- 
gence, 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^n^, 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 

phy 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. 

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 re- 
marked, that some of the Irish antiquaries have translated it by ' grouse,' 
though this interpretation does not appear to rest on very positife 


for St.Beanus, whose church gives celebrity to the place. The 
saint protects not only the birds, but their eggs, in a wonder- 
ful and unheard-of manner. Eor 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 in- 
stantly out of danger. How wonderful is the power of 
Grod, 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 abun- 
dance. 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. 



MOREOYER, 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 ot 
the salmon-leap. 



THEIR peculiar mode of leaping is as follows. Pishes 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 some- 
times, in order to gain more power for their leap, firmly 
compress their tails in their mouths. Then suddenly re- 
leasing 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 Lifly, 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 

ftlmon-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, re- 
turned happily to his own country. These things might 
truly be thought incredible, except that, to those who be- 
lieve, 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 Grod 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 pre- 
sented 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 popu- 
lar from the twelfth century downwards, and was published first in a 
Jjatin narrative, and subsequently in translations in all the languages 
of Western Europe. The original Latin text, and several of the trans- 
Utions, have been printed. 


of the Holy Trinity at Dublin, and having the features 01 
a crucifix. Not many years before the arrival of the En- 
glish, 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 en- 
gagements, and persisting in denying his obligation for the 
money which the other had lent him on his credit, his fel- 
low 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. 



A.T the time that earl Eichard 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 con- 
triving 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 re 

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. 


tired, 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 l 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 Eng- 
land, 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 com- 
mitted, and offered to make satisfaction and implored for- 
giveness. 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 fu- 

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


ture 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 every body; 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, wher- 
ever 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 G-od and the saints of his church from any 
longer forcibly occupying, or sowing the land. The knight 
* See before, cc. xxxv., xxxvi. 


obstinately refusing to desist from his purpose, the bishop 
turning back, and shedding tears, said, " I pray the Al- 
mighty 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 hear- 
ing 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 yeat 


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 dedi- 
cated 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 punish- 
ment 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 re- 
stitution of the corn, for their hypocritical pretences to 
religion, fell suddenly chad the next morning, by the side of 


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



IT happened in our time, during an unusually violent thun- 
der-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 succes- 
sion, through whose fervent piety the place became cele- 
brated, had formerly planted with their own hands ash trees 
and yews, and various other kinds of trees, round the ceme- 
tery 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 reck- 
lessness 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 in- 
quisitor 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, qua alteri sceculo prosint, 
for shelter and ornament in future ages, about 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 afficium illud et ab officiendo, non 
per antiphrasin sed proprie dictum est. Talibus enim ascripti officiis^ 
Hfficiociasime 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 manum Regis, gens impia, regum P 
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 Car- 
mel, 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." l 

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 Grod 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 laud 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 Araos, ix. 1 4. - Obadiah, v 4. 

Jonah, i. 9. * 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 be- 
yond 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 ac- 
counting 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 them- 
selves 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, froir a rude 
and irreligious people. 



/OR 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 mention- 
ed 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 laud- 
able 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 idle- 
ness 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 


nore 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, 
Csesara, a granddaughter of iNoah, 1 hearing that the flood was 
near at hand, resolved, to escape by sailing with her compa- 
nions 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 Csesara to this day. But it appears to be mat- 

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 be- 
fore the arrival of Ceesara, Ireland had received a colony, consisting 
chiefly of beautiful women, led by three daughters of Cain and their 


ter 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, 
1 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. 



Iff 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 arid their wives, is reported to 
huve landed on the coast of Ireland, either by chance or 
design ; having either erred in their course, or, aa 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 Bar- 

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 ipain, reached Ireland, and 
landed at Inber-Sceine, on the coast of Kerry, on a Wednesday, tha 
14th day of May. This event is said to have taken place three hun- 
dred years after the deluge. 

8 Another reading of the MSS. is Languriu$ t 

* Layurini, according to another reading. 


tholanus ; 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 SODS 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 decs, eademque tueri 
Difficiles ; et quia summis hunc nurnina rebus 
Crescendi posuere modum ; 
In se magna 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. Euanus alone is said to have escaped the mortality, 
and to have lived, as ancient chronicles inform us, for avast 
number of years (more indeed than it is easy to believe), 
surviving till the time of St. Patrick, by whom he was bap- 
tized. 2 It is reported that he gave a faithful account of 

1 According to the Irish legends, seven lakes burst forth on the ar- 
rival of Partholan. 

A different account of the long existence of Kuanus, who is else- 
where called Tuan, is given in the Ogygia, p. 4 : "In varias brutorum 
ibrmas per multa ssecula trarismutatus, tandem circa A.D. 527, e sal- 
n one, filius Carelli regis Ultoniee evasit." [After having been for 
iti.i>v ages transmuted iuto the shape of various animals, at last, about 

I 2 


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 Euanus 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 an- 
nals, Euanus 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 

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 re- 
ceived credit in Ireland even as late as the time of Giraldus. See be- 
fore, Distinct, ii. c. 19. 

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 

" These were the Fomorians, powerful sea-rovers from Africa, who 
are oeleWated 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 gravitatis habent res quse cum tempore crescunt, et 
Rara solet subitis rebus inesse fides ;" 

" Things that are slow of growth, the longest last j 
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 number- 
less 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 posses- 
sion 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. J Their bounds meet at a stone standing near the 
castle of Kyilari, 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 Belgse, and pretend that they went from Britain to Ireland. 

3 This spot was called Usneach, now Usny Hill, in the parish of 
KilJare, 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 of 
the five famous provinces whose names I have before men- 
tioned. For when the aforesaid five brothers, Grandius, 
Genandius, Sagandius, Eutherrargus,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 mo- 
narchy of the whole of Ireland. Hence he is called the 
first king of Ireland. He first reunited the five por- 
tions of Meath, and forming them into one province, ap- 
propriated 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 suc- 
cessors, nine kings succeeded each other ; but their reigns 
were short, and altogether lasted only thirty years. Sla- 
nius was buried on a hill in Meath, 1 which takes its name 
from him. 



THE nation being much enfeebled, and almost extermi- 
1 Slieve Slange, now called Slieve Donard, in the county Down. 


nated, 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 do- 
minion, no one opposing them. In process of time, the 
i wo 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 hap- 
pily enough, as no faith can be put in a kingly consort, and 
power is always impatient of being shared, reckless ambi- 
tion, 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 en- 
gagements between the brothers, with the doubtful issues 
common to war, victory at last declared in favour of Heri- 
mon ; and his brother Heber being slain in a battle, 8 
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 Ebrp). 
a river in Spain. They are likewise called Graideli, and also 
Scots. Ancient histories relate that one Gaidelus, a grand- 

1 These were the Tuatha-de-Danaan, who, according to the Irish an- 
tiquaries, 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 legendaiy colonies 
of Ireland, and those from whom the modern Irish claim descent. 

* This battle is said to have taken place near GUashill, in Of&ly. 


son of Phsenius, 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, Grai- 
delus and Scota, as they were born, so are they called Gaideli 
and Scots. This Graidelus, they assert, formed the Irish 
tongue, which is therefore called G-aidelach, 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 lan- 
guage 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 Phsenius, king of the Scythians, was the grand ancestor of the 
Milesian race, and the first purifier of the Irish tongue, which, ac- 
cording to the legend, was the general language of the human race be- 
fore the confusion of tongues at Babel. He also invented the Ogham 
characters. Nial, Phsenius'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, xmtil it, as well as that of Gael, waa 
carried by the Irish colonies into Scotland. Their leaders were Hebor 
(Eiber) and Herimon, or Heremon (Eireamon). 

2 This chapter is taken from Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. iii. o. 12. 
The Basclenses are evidently the Basques, but this colony .does not ap* 
pear to be admitted by the Irish writers. 


dwell in. At length the king, by the advice of his coun- 
sellors, 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 Grasccay, 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 tbunderings, 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 HA YE 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 

. 2 G-iraldus 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 Jeft 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 pro- 
portions 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 ill 
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 

Their custom is to wear small, close-fitting hoods, hang- 
ing 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 braccalis. The account given by Gi- 
raldus 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, pro- 
tecting 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 Griraldus 
has framed the Latin word phalinyium, from the Irish falach, 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 
ancles, 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 


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 

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 Gallia 
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 go- 
vernment. 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. 

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 such 
trength." Worsaae's Danes in England, 8fc. t p. 46. 


to direct the blow with such force that neither the helmeta 
which protect our heads, nor the platting of the coat of mail 
which defends the rest of our bodies, can resist the stroke. Thug 
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 ou 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 progresse8 
from the forest to the field, from the field to the town, and 
to the social condition of citizens j 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 pro- 
ductive. 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 whicji 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. 
Ihis 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 husband- 
man 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 arulna 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 re- 
quire in large quantities, and still covet in a way that 
speaks their Spanish origin, is brought here by the mer- 
chants 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 
fcloth, 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 
(Larbis) 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 

* Other MSS. reaAalarus; but it is uncertain to what tree he alludes. 
8 See before, B. ii. c. 54. 

3 " Abundat et abiete sylvositas Biberniee, thuris et incensi matre." 
Giraldus means, no doubt, the pinutt sylvestris, which is also indigenous 
in Scotland, whence it has acquired its common name of the Scotch 
fir. He speaks somewhat poeticaDy 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 bar- 
barisms of an uncivilized race. See Orderic. Vital, vol. iii. p. 363-4, 
111 Bukus Aiitiq^ 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 what- 
ever 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 ac- 
customed, 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 fiat, 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 plea- 
sure, 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, teu diapente. " The antients acknowledged no 
other concords than the diapason, the diapente, and the diateperon." 
Haw/kins' History of Music, i. 273. Giraldus repeats this account o 
the Irish instrumental music in his Description of Wales, B. i. c. 12. 


penetrated into the mysteries of the art, fatigue rather thai; 
gratify the ears of others, who seeing do not perceive, and 
hearing do not understand j 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 foun- 
tain 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 grand- 
mother 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 

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 ciihara of the ancients. The 
shape of the former is preserved in the national escutcheon. Venan- 
tius Fortunatus appears to draw a distinction between these several in- 

44 Roman usque lyra plaudat tibi, Barbarus harpa, 
Grsecus achillea, 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 hap- 
pened that bishops and abbots and holy men in ]reland 
were in the habit ot 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 con- 
sidered a valuable relic, possessed of great virtues. 1 

Further, the war-trumpet, with its blast, shows the cor- 
responding 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 vir- 
tuous 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 re- 

flied, " It is better that chords should be broken than hearts 
?orda~\" For he was sensible, from his knowledge oi 
uman 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 Yenus than to 
virtue ; to voluptuousness, rather than to voluntary sacri- 
fices 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 ; tor 
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 th 
IrLsh harp in Lynch, " Cambrensis E versus," c. iv. p. 37. 


are some which it cures. David's lyre restrained the un- 
clean spirit from vexing Saul, and while he played his 
trouble ceased ; hut 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 afflic- 
tion." 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 ilia monenda loco est." 


" Dum dolor in cursu est, currenti cede dolori j 
Tempore cum residet, turn 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 Spani- 
ards, 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 
wO speak of serpents, and birds, and porpoises, are attracted 

1 Every one Imowe that among the Irish this custom has laeted 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 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, pro- 
duced 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 pas- 
sions 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 ex- 
pelled 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 sub- 
jected 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 pro- 
phecy 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 musi- 
cal 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. Know- 
ing 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 ot 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 per- 
formed with musical chaunts, that so, by the influence of 
internal melody, the hearts of the faithful should be xaora 
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." l 



Music derived its name from the Muses ; and the Muses 
are so called from the Greek word mazo? 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 Bri- 
tain, and a man eminent for the sanctity of his life, came 
over to the island during the reign of Laegerius, the son of 
Kellus 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 

' 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 Bumey's 
History, vol ii. c. i. 

3 The Greek word is fida) or ftai'w, vehenienter cupio, ut Eustathius 
expon. etiam 7rw, qusero. 

J 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 ol 
this reign, that is in A.D. 432. The saint is said to have died in AJX 


be baptized by him, and the whole island having been eon- 
verted 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 topogra- 
phy of that part of Britain. 2 Another benefit, worthy, per- 
haps, 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 con- 
secrated each other mutually, until John Papyrio came as 
legate from the see of Borne 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 Carityre, whence they gradually spread 
theiiiselves 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, Dia- 
tine. i. c. 21. 

3 John Papyro was sent as legate to Ireland by Pope Eugtnios 
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 (Toe- 
niam), 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. l 



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, contain- 
ing 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 tumulantur 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, Anasfcasius eniporor, 
Aurelius Ambrosius ruling in Britain, and Forkerus in Ireland. 1 * 

* St-e 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 ; ad- 
hering in this to the letter, and not to the spirit, of the Old 
Testament ;* 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 wilt 

1 See Deut. xxv. 5 ; Mark xii. 19 j arid 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, there- 
fore, always at hand, nay, in their hands, that which is suf- 
ficient 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 dan- 
ger, 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 insta- 
bility, faithful only in its unfaithfulness. 

" Hoc solum servans, quod nunquam firraa, fidele j 
Hoc solum retinens, quod nesciat ease 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 friend- 
ship than their spiteful enmity. 1 Eor 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 them- 
selves in an indissoluble alliance before the altar, with oaths 
prodigally multiplied upon the relics of the saints, and con- 

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


firmed by the celebration of the 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 can- 
not 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 re- 
quired 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 inaugu- 
ration of the kings of this territory. See Ware, vol. ii. p. 64. 




MOREOVER, though the faith has been planted for so .ong 
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 Con- 
naught, 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 ob- 
long, 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 ani- 
mal 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 hidey, 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 paid 
to have been venturous enough to put to sea in them. In the Chro- 
nicle of Marranius, under the year 892, we are told that three pilgrims 
embarked from Ireland in such a boat, taking with them a week'f 
provisions, and that they reached Cornwall after an extraordinary 
Toy age of seven days, without sails or tackling, and afterwards paH 
a Tisit 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 pro- 
visions which the strangers ate. 

It must be observed also, that the men who enjoy eccle- 
siastical immunity, and are called ecclesiastical men, al- 
though 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 na- 
tion. 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 pre- 
sence, 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 erer 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 oi 
whom forbids men to be drunken with wine, wherein there 
is excess : the other teaches that the belly, when it is in- 
flamed 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 in- 
deed 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 rnucL chaff. 




1 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 delin- 
quencies. 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, who- 
soever 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, doubt- 
less they would have imprinted on them some form of re- 
ligion 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 

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 pre- 
eminence ; 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 contem- 
plative 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. 



FOR 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 Rusticus 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 negli- 
gence, 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. G-iralrlus had a strong 
leaning to the secular clergy, and, as will be seen in many parts of hia 
writing^, 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 guar- 
dianship of a single person, he has to take care of him- 
self; 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 Eleu- 
therius : "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 wel- 
fare 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 with- 
out 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 Eoman 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 mar- 
tyrdom 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 reve- 
rence to their ecclesiastics, and never on any occasion raised 
their hands against G-od'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 un- 
certain 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, 

i There was probably in this reply an allusion to the death of Thomaa 
d 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 para- 
lytic 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 be- 
fore 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, 1 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 adul- 
terous 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 tims 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 re- 

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 Mun- 
ster, 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't 

, by Laing, vol. i. p. 304. 


dticed the whole island under his dominion, and making a 
circuit through the kingdom erected castles in suitable sit- 
uations 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 re- 
mains 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 Grurmund conquered the is- 
land, 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 Ghirmund. Hence some 
say that the island was once subjugated by Grurmund, 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, con- 
structed every where 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 Danes- 
forts, 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 artifi- 
cial 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 Grurmund, 
and the Irish Turgesius : but the difference in their respective 
fates, and their dissimilar ends, forbid our accepting this 

The more truthful and probable account seems to be, 
that when Grurmund 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 con- 
siderable 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 Grurmund'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 



WE read in the British History 1 that Grurmund came to Ire- 
land 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, 2 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. 

a This legend of the destruction of the Roman town by the means 
of sparrows is a common one. The people of Wroxeter in Shrop- 
shire still tell how, when the barbarians laid siege to the Roman city of 
TJriconium (of which Wroxeter is the site), and could make no im- 
pression on its walls, they collected all the sparrows from the surround- 
ing 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 G-urmund 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 com- 
panions 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 cus- 
tom, 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 en- 

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


quired 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 j 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 pre- 
vented 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 king- 
dom, 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 prin- 
cipal seaports of England as well as of Ireland which long subsisted 
as independent communities. See Worsaae's Danes in England, &o. 
ect. 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 mul- 
titude, and they had fortified their cities with walls and 
ditches, they called to mind, at times, the ancient ani- 
mosities buried in their bosoms, and began to rebel. 
They are called Ostmen in their own tongue, from a 
word corrupted in the Saxon language which means East- 
ern-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 
Koderic, 2 who was the last king of that nation, and go- 
verns 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, and 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 en-^ 
tire 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 Grurmund 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 in- 

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. 


cursions 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 



EOR 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 expeditious 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 con- 
quer, 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 con- 
spiracy 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, inter- 
rupted 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 csetera 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 ex- 
cellent orator ? " It is the part of a brave man to consi- 
der 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 bril- 
liant 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 con- 
ferred 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 w r orld, 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 regarde'd with indulgence, like clouds which pass over 
the face of the sun. Since th en, 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 before 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 de- 
light 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 orbia, 

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 pre- 
sence 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 libe- 
rality, 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 oppor- 
tunity of employing his great valour, so that his martial 
genius might be fully displayed. Nothing human, how- 
ever, 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 111.,, 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 ca- 
reer, 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 



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 ungo- 
vernable, 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 level- 
ling 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 re- 
mained undone," and fierce in his encounters in arms, he was 

1 Roger de Hoveden gives particular details of the unhnppy dissen- 
sions between Henry II. and his sons. See vol, i. p. 3(17, &c. in //;/'.% 
Antiq. Lib. 

2 Richard appears to have had that Christian name conferred on him 
in consequence of his descent from the dukes of IN'ormnndy of the 
ame name. His father invested him with hia mother's territories in 
Poitou, <fec. 


only happy when lie marked his steps with blood ; nor could 
inaccessible cliffs, crowned with towers which art and situa- 
tion had rendered hitherto impregnable, withstand his bold 
assaults ; whether thy were made by force of arms or strata- 
gem ; 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 de- 
mands for such severity soon abating, he reassumed his na- 
tural 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 im- 
pulses 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 in age only, and not in merit. 

Bi chard Cceur ie Lion, 



DIFFERENT as were the habits and pursuits of the twobro 
thers, 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 gentle- 
ness 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 tem- 
per, the other for his determined spirit. One was remark- 
able 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 tavours 
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, differ- 
ent as they were, in rich abundance, from their illustrious 
stock. Whatever good qualities you find in either of them, 
you know were transfused from tne 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 ven- 
geance. Who was braver in arms who more subtle in 
counsel ? Who could ever be more cheerful with the light- 
hearted, or more serious with the grave ? I must not de- 

l Henry, the young titular king, and Eichard, who succeeded to tht 
throne on their father's death. 



fraud history of its truth, although there is sometimes dan- 
ger 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 foreign- 
ers ? 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 cha- 
racter 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 per- 
sons, 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 in- 
structed 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 con- 
fusion ; 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 en- 
snared by its passions, is prone to vice, and rude to his mo- 
nitors ; 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 plea- 
sures than to arms, to dalliance than to endurance ; to juve- 
nile 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 commend- 
able ; 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 aban- 
doned to loose living, but his end shall waft him to heaven." 

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

M 2 



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 in- 
estimable, how splendid and incomparable in the present 
age, would have been the glory of the father, and the tri- 
umphs 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 mani- 
fest 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 treason- 
able 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 de- 
scribed 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 to- 
lerably 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 con- 
nected with ancient times, the History deals with the pre- 

But methinks I see some one turn up his nose, and, dis- 
gusted 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 writ- 
ten 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 re- 
duced to writing. Besides, it has been my endeavour to 
compose all my works in a popular style, easy of apprehen- 
sion, 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 philo- 
sopher 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 comprehend- 
ing, and hear without understanding ? Is it not better, as 
Seneca says, to be dumb, than to speak so as not to be un- 
derstood ? The more, then, language is suited to the under- 
standing, 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 
Keddiderit juncturanovum. 

Inasmuch also as some malevolent person has made slan- 
derous attacks on my Topography, a work not to be de- 
spised, 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 coun- 
terfeit part, and my critic, not being able quite to change 

l This book against Giraldus'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 mis- 
chief, and vent the malignity with which he was bursting, he 
boldly cavils at the Second Distinction, hoping that by con- 
victing me of falsehood in that he shall discredit the whole. 
His objections are of this sort : the author, he says, " in- 
troduces 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, how- 
ever, 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 mar- 
vels ; 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 be condemn the whole works of 
these great writers on account of some extraordinary ac- 
counts 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 any- 
thing 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 whatso- 
ever 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. Eor 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 obser- 
vation 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 commodi- 
ties, 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. "Where- 
fore God hath reserved to himself some things out of the 
common course of nature, though they be of less import- 
ance, 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 compre- 
hend. 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 cen- 
sured 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. 


HAYING been often requested, and that by many persons, 
to write the history of such of the memorable acts per- 
formed 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, cer- 
tainly, 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 thral- 
dom. 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 ? Tally, that well- 
spring 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 advan- 
tages 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 res- 
pect 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 some- 
times 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 in- 
nate privilege which G-od 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. 


Gk>d and the king have each their several rights of power 
and authority over us. The king can only exercise domi- 
nion 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. In- 
comprehensible itself, it comprehends all things, and ex- 
hibits 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 un- 
known, seen of Him who is unseen, and measured bv Him 
who is infinite. Grod 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 bur- 
then 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 encumbera 
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 His- 
tory 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 law- 
ful 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, hy 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, GHraldus pub- 
lished 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 begin- 
nings, have already shed the brightest lustre on your riper 
years, and of the future increase, of which it shall 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 mate- 
rials with great industry, from which, on my return to Eng- 
land, 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 con- 
quest 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 occu- 
pations, 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 re- 
fresh 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 sub- 
jects, 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 as- 
certained, seen, and reflected to whom the greatest share of 
glory of this conquest ought justly to be attributed ; whe- 
ther to the men of the diocese of St. David's, my own kins- 
men, who were the first adventurers, or to those of Llandaif, 
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 expedi- 
tion, 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 con- 
spiracy 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 con- 
siderations may induce you not to be unmindful of your 

4 It need scarcely be remarked, that the " men of St David's," Giral- 
uus's own kinsmen, were the Fitzgeralds, Fitzstephens, and De Barris, 
the first adventurers ni the conquest of Ireland, who figure so conspi- 
cuously in the following History. The men of Llandaff were Kichard, 
earl Strongbow. whose castles of Strigul and Chepstow stood in that 
diocese, and his followers. 


dominion of Ireland. It lias pleased (rod and your good 
fortune to send you several sons, both natural and legiti- 
mate, 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 in- 
terior 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 iii the West, would lie close on your rear, domestic ene- 
mies, 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 nou- 
rishing fire in your bosom which was ready to burst into 
Ha me. 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 re- 
duce 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 Grod 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 here- 
after clearly set forth in the present History. But 
Solomon says in the Proverbs, " Nothing less becomes a 
prince than lying lips ;' M and it is especially dangerous to lie 
to Grod, 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 Grod be honoured 
in this conquest, as is becoming and right, you may expect 
that the earthly prosperity of you and yours will be aug- 
mented, 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 cf 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 
Fitzstephcn, 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, Eaymonde, 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 Grod, 
that the clergy throughout his dominions, whose place it is 
to assist him jfaithfully 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 
Grod for this bloody conquest and the profits of it, the pro- 
mised tax of the Peter-pence should be paid in future. It 
is but small, and this moderate payment frees all, while it ia 
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 be- 
cause, 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 
Eobert 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 tho History, that the tri- 
bute of Roderic O'Connor, king of Connaught- was reserved to'bt 
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 them- 
selves 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 ;' 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 under- 
stand my works. Hence a man of great eloquence, Walter 
Mapes, archdeacon of Oxford, 2 has often said to me in con- 
versation, with his usual faeetiousness, and that urbanity 
for which he was remarkable : " You have written a great 
deal, Master Griraldus, 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 dis- 
courses, 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, doubt- 
less, 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 Gorman 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 vul- 
gar, 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 be4 years, and the 
prime of my life, have been spent without any remunera- 
tion 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-operat- 
ing, 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 poste- 
rity is sure to award honour to every man, according to hia 
just deserts. 




J. How Dermitius, prince of Leinster, took refuge in Eng- 
land, and was restored to his dominions by Henry 
II., king of England . 1 84 

J.I. 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 r ' . . . . 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 con- 
quest 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 

XVJII. 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 Canter- 
bury, was martyred in England about this time . 217 
XXI. Of the defeat of the Norwegians and Islanders at Dub- 
lin, under their chiefs, Hasculf and John the Mad . 219 



XXII. How Dublin was besieged by Roderic, king of Con- 
naught, and the Islanders .... 22] 

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 neigh- 
bourhood of Gloucester, and peace was restored be- 
tween them ...... 227 

XXIX. How, meanwhile, O'Roric, king of Meath, was de- 
feated at Dublin. King Henry at Pembroke . 227 
XXX. Of the coming of Henry II., king of England, to Ire- 
land . . . . . .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 Ro- 
deric, king of Connaught, made voluntary submis- 
sion 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, arid 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 Ophelan was laid waste and Lis- 
more 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 con- 
sequence he evacuated Limerick, and drew off the gar- 
rison to Dublin ..... 271 
XV. How William Fitz-Aldelm was made chief governor of 
Ireland, after the earl's death ; and how he inces- 
santly 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 after 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 
XVTII. The recall of Fitz-Aldelin 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 sus- 
picion 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 s-ent 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 
XXY. 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 

XXYI. 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 ....... 3^0 

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 o:ig\t to be governed . 323 




i pMarduke, died young. 



1 "1 - 
i % 2 | L Ealph Fitz-Stephen, m. 

tf"a 1 


PH fe "PH the dau. of Milo de 

*3 3 * * 






cC '*' 3 P^ ^ 

:? r Eichard de Cogan. 



TJ ^ -j 

^ o L Milo de Cogan 





M ^ . [-Sylvester G-iraldus 



" ^^"S Cambrensis, (the 

^'"o * 



<J g'^ author) 

i a 1 


If 1 

-I * r-'Phili'n HP T?nrri 

"? i s I 



3 W "-Eobert de Barri. 




^ ^ 

w S 


t* 3 

\[~ Walter de Barri,* killed 




&2 in Wales. 

<D S 



g rNesta, married Hervey 



fcCpf w - 

q de Montmaurice. ^ 1 'i 



,-, ^^ "Alexander Fitzgerald. 

& 1 



-S ^3 ^ "Gerald Fitzgerald. 



? |^ 

1 S'S'g '-William Fitzgerald, 



. P3 o 

married Alina, dau. 



2 of earl Strongbow. 

^^ . 11 


tT A 

.2 ^5 _i 

2.a*a' H 



_ ^ W) _ fdauffhter 1 

>l| li 



^ hGhiffyth. 

1S.i3 ^ | 


<C C3 


T3 * 


Sj d 

Is "S o 

.j ^ j-Eaymond le Gros, mar- 
^ 1 ried Basilia, dau. of 

o a 


S ^ L F3 ^ earl Strongbow. 

3 ^g 


' " 

L Odo,* ancestor of the 


^ sj 

Carews of Wales. 

s ** 


n ~ 
5 ^ 

si ;| 

~ ^T'Sc-Q* ^ r Meyler Fitzhenry, mar- 
^ % rt t* ried the niece of 



>H lie"* S ^rM Hugh de Lacy. 

"H *M 

5 v 

& ^ TS 1 g I ^ h^obert Fitzhenry. 


^ c 4 

BuJlSi e 


H ^Henry Fitzhenry. 

'* - 







jthe son of Mur chard, 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 be- 
come the oppressor of the nobility, and to impose a cruel 
and intolerable tyranny on the chiefs of the land. Thia 
brought him into trouble, and it was not the only one ; for 
O'Eoric, 2 prince of Meath, having gone on an expedition 
into a distant quarter, left his wife, the daughter of Omach- 
lacherlin, 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 her- 
self 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'Eoric being moved by this to great wrath, but more for 
the shame than the loss he suffered, was fully bent on re- 

1 Dermot mac Murchard, or, more correctly, Mac Murrough, p 
of Leinster. 2 Called in Irish, Tiernan O'K 

or king 

* Murtough O'Melaghlin, king of Meath. 
Ihe heroine of this story, was Dervorgilla. 

The name of his daughter. 


venge, and forthwith gathered the whole force of his own 
people and the neighbouring tribes, calling besides to 
his aid Eoderic, 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 des- 
perate, 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 Sax- 
ony 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 ter- 
ror 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 *o 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 ob- 
tained, 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 oi 
Eichard I., duke of Normandy, were counts of Brionne, which fief was 
exchanged for the castle of Tunbridge, iri 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. Eichard 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 con- 
sidered 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 th? Clares. 


the ensuing spring the earl should lend him aid in recover- 
ing his territories, Dermitius solemnly promising to give him 
his eldest daughter for wife, with the succession to his king- 
dom. This treaty having been duly concluded, Dermitius, in- 
flamed 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 Lein- 
ster, 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, Ehys-ap-Grryffith 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 unfor- 
tunate 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 diffi- 
cult to distinguish between mountains and clouds. At that 
time Hobert Fitz-Stephen, who had been made prisoner 
tli rough 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 Griraldus 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. 

'Ijui>0 Kai Kfnrvbv aiTod()(iJffKovra vofjffai 

'lie yaij]Q. ODYSS. a. 58. 

Ulysses, happy might he but behold 

The smoke ascending from his native land. COWPEK. 

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-RhyB. This extraordinary woman, ot 
whom we shall learn more in the Itinerary of Griraldus, after being a 
concubine of Henry II., had for her first husband Grerald 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 Sylves- 
ter Griraldus, our historian, and several of whose other sons and grand- 
sons distinguished themselves in the Conquest of Ireland. The Fita- 
.geralds were, therefore, as they are here represented, half-brothers of 
llobert Fitz-Stephen. See the Pedigree at the beginning of this Beck. 


on condition of his joining Rhys in taking arms against 
the king of England. But Eobert, 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 Ehys the Great, he was 
cousin-german to Rhys-ap-Grinyth, 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 reputa- 
tion 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 
Eobert and Maurice the town of Wexford, with two adjoin- 
ing cantreds of land, to be held in fee ; in consideration 
whereof the said Eobert 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 impa- 
tience, passed unattended through the quarters of his nu- 

1 David II., bishop of St. David's, 11491176, 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 Can- 
terbury. Further reference to St. David's will be found in B. ii. c. 1 
of our author's Itinerary of Wales. 


merous enemies. Arriving at Ferns, 1 be was honourably 
received by tbe clergy of that place, wbo 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 en- 
gagement and true to his plighted faith, had mustered 
thirty men-at-arms, 3 of his own kindred and retainers, to- 
gether with sixty men in half- arm our, and about three hun- 
dred 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 for- 
tunes, Hervey de Montmaurice, who, having neither ar- 
mour 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 in- 
cluded in this term. 

3 Merlini Sylvestris. See on this personage B ii. c. 8 of the Itinerary. 
* 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 busi- 
ness was to enquire into the resources of the country, and its capabili- 
ties, in order to report to the earl, while making preparations for his 


as such acting for earl Bichard, whose uncle he was. On 
the following day, Maurice de Prendergast, 1 a stout and 
brave soldier, from the district of Eos, 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 

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. 

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 pro- 
montory 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 promon- 
tory 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 cause- 
way to the point of the promontory itself. Here it is pretended that 
Robert Fitz-Stephen ran in his ships, mooring them under the protec- 
tion 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, arid 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 au- 
Cient writers." Wright's History oj Ireland, vol. i. p. 71. 


deserted Dermitius when fortune frowned upon him, when 
she changed her aspect nocked 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 legiti- 
mate, was a man of consequence in his country, to join the En- 
glish 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 for- 
tune, having been hitherto independent, that they sallied 
forth, to the number of about two thousand men, and meet- 
ing 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 ar- 
mour, helmets, and shields, they adopted new plans with a 
new state of aifairs, 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 ar- 
mour, 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 Eobert 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 Eobert 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 mer- 
chant-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 Eitz-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 re- 
sisting their prince, sent envoys to Dermitius commissioned 
to treat of the terms of peace. At length, by the media- 
tion of two bishops, who chanced to be in the town at that 
time, and other worthy and peaceable men, peace was re- 
stored, 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 stipula- 
tions 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 implac- 
able of all the enemies of Dermitius ; and some time be- 
fore, 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 jiis eyes. When, therefore, the 
combined forces first entered Ossory, they did not pene- 
trate 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 suc- 
cesses, they pursued their enemies even as far as the cpen 
plains. There, however, the horsemen of Eitz-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 hun- 
dred 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 Grod 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 Mur- 
rough in his principality of Leinster, would naturally lead his foreign 
allies, uniting their forces with his, to march northwards from Wex- 
ford, 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 Vere 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 virtuo, 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 en- 
camped 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 His- 
tory ; but though Griraldus dwells with satisfaction on the renown of 'his 
kinsman, and describes him as the nephew of Robert Fitz-Stephen 
an i Maurice Fitzgerald, and consequently cousin-german of the De 
B arris, 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 thou- 
sand men rushing in upon them from all sides, with a great 
rattling of their arms and clashing of their battle-axes. Sucli 
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 Eitz-Stephen, 
loudly calling on their scattered comrades to rally for the 
defence of the camp. Amidst the general confusion, Eobert 
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 ex- 
cellent 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 through- 
out 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 Connauglit, was also "mo- 
narch " or paramount lord of all Ireland. This high dignity, eorre 
ponding with that of the Brstwalda in the axon Heptarchy, was con- 

o 2 


email 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 Kente- 
leia 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 aban- 
doning his cause, and withdrawing privately from his stan- 
dard, and the rest openly joining his enemies, and so break- 
ing 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 inac- 
cessible. 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 at- 
tack, 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 

ferred 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 .-upport of the house- 
hold 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 Murrorghs 
of Leineter, or the O'Connors of Connaught. 


become hoarse by constantly shouting and raising his war- 
cry in battle. Bent more on inspiring fear than love, he op- 
pressed 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, Eoderic 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 Eoderic 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. 



EODERIC, 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 : 

" Eight 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 de- 
tested 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 be- 

1 Eoderic O'Connor, prince of Connaught. 


longs to them, and is even destined to them by ancient pro 
phecies. Nay, he has so universally diffused his venom that, 
while all are contaminated with it, he has not even spared 
himself. 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, re- 
turned the third time, and subdued the country on the invi- 
tation of Androgius, who was a victim to his own thirst for 
revenge. 1 This same Julius, after having, at length, con- 
quered the western parts of the world, ambitious of su- 
preme 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 Grurmund 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 Grurmund 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 ma- 
terials, 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 Moo* 


Wherefore, defending our country and liberty, and acquir- 
ing 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." 



MUBCHAED, perceiving that his troops were disheart- 
ened, 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 de- 
fence. That bold contriver of wicked devices and ambi- 
tious prince, Eoderic, 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 num- 
bers, he measures his ambition by the strength of his arm; 
but a small and well-armed band, if brave, have often dis- 
comfited 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 h's 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 shrank 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 con- 
sider 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 for- 
mer wars will not desert us. We derive our descent, ori- 
ginally, 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 

" Recollect, besides, that we have left behind in our na- 
tive 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 des- 
titute 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 quea- 


plant our race, and for ever settle it, in this island. It may 
be 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 en- 
terprise 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 ap- 
pear 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 



EODEEIC 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 Eoderic to be the para- 
mount king and monarch of Ireland, and yield him due sub- 


mission. For the performance of this, Dermitius delivered 
his son Cnuth as an hostage, and B/oderic promised that if 
in the course of time the peace should continue firmly es- 
tablished, 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 
aide to Eobert Fitz-Stephen, landed at Wexford with ten 
men-at-arms, 1 thirty mounted retainers, and about one hun- 

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 cere- 
mony in chivalrous times, and it is plain that the number of " milites " 
described by Giraldus as going over in the several expeditions to Ire- 
land 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 ar- 
mour, 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 
BOW call the landed gentry of the country j a class below barons and 


dred 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 Ktzgerald, how- 
ever, 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 

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 trans- 
lator, 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 5" 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 G-iraldus. 

The men-at-arms were attended by their servants and retainers, wha 
wore half-armour, and formed an additional body of cavalry, in the pro- 
portion, 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 pro- 
portion of ten or more, according to the nature of the service. 

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 
Bides 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 

Meanwhile, quarrels having broken out between Eoderic 
of Connaught and Duvenald of Limerick, as soon as Eoderic 
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 vic- 
torious, compelled Eoderic 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 Eobert 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 MUECHAED, elated with his late successes, raised his 
hopes still higher, and having now recovered all his patri- 
monial territories, became ambitious of regaining the rights 
of his ancestors in old times, and formed the design of seiz- 
ing 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 pre- 
tensions. 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 forth- 
with despatch messengers to earl Eichard, who has been 


mentioned before in chapter 2, and to whom he had for- 
merly promised to give this daughter when he was in Bristol ; 
the messengers being the bearer of a letter to the following 

" Dermitius, son of Murchard, prince of Leinster, to 
Richard, earl of Strigul, son of earl Gilbert, sends greeting. 

Tempora si numeres bene quee 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 engage- 
ments, but only deferred their performance. The whole of 
Leiuster has been already recovered, and if you come in 
time with a strong force, the other four parts of the king- 
dom 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 wel- 
come. 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 Eitz-Stephen's success, 
of which he had been at first doubtful, resolved on pursu- 
ing the same course as the others had done ; and, bending 
every effort towards one object, on which his most earnest 
desire wns 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 (Geata Stephani, B. ii.) ; and Henry I. 
stripped this earl Kichard of his father's inheritance, ana refused 
him that of his nephews ; so that he had great titles with 


noble stock, being of the famous race of the Clares : but his 
name was greater than his means, his descent than his ta- 
lents, his rights of inheritance than his property in posses- 
sion. 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 



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. Land- 
ing at the rock of Dundunolf, 2 which lies on the sea-coast, 
about four miles from Waterford, and to the south of "Wei- 
ford, 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 Kaymond-le-Gros, which answers to our 
author's description of his person in B. ii. c. 9. Throughout this his- 
tory, in which he plays so distinguished a part, and perhaps shines the 
most, he is simply called Eaymond. But he was a Fitzgerald, being 
the youngest son of William Fitzgerald, the elder brother of Maurice 
arid the bishop, and therefore nephew, by the half-blood, to Eobert 
Fitz- Stephen. See the Pedigree. 

8 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 for- 
tified camp stood. 


marching out in a body against them. Mustering, there- 
fore, about three thousand men, they crossed the river Suir, 
which runs under the walls of the town on the east side, di- 
viding 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 
Avere in numbers, with surpassing gallantry sallied forth to 
meet their assailants and engaged in the too unequal con- 
flict. Their small band of soldiers was, however, unable to 
resist the attack of the multitudes to which they were op- 
posed ; 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. .. .; 

Eaymond, 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 them- 
selves over the country, were pursued and slaughtered in 
such numbers that upwards of live 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 inan-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 anti- 

1 It must be recollected that the townsmen of Waterford and other 
IHsli 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 resist- 
ance to the invaders. 


cipate the effects of a disease by a premature, though gl<* 
rious, 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 inhu- 
man 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 free- 
booters. 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, there- 
fore, 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 precipi- 
tate resolutions, and soothe angry passions. How wortlrf 


fe 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 vic- 
tory ! 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 dis- 
grace, 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 off 
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 re- 
ceived by a murmur of applause from the people, Hervey 
stood up, and addressing the chiefs, thus began : " Eay- 
mond 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 Macedou 
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. Eaymond argues with won- 
derful mildness, as if we had already subjugated these na- 
tions, 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 de- 
struction, 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, arid 
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 Bayrnond'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 sue* 


ceod, they would deal mercifully with us ? Would they al- 
low 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 our 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 aud patrimony to this miserable 

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 ne- 
cessary 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, Swan- 
sea, and Carmarthen, subsequently described in the Itinerary of GHral- 
dus. He constantly calls it " the coast-road through South Wales?" 
and it is still described as such, the other road being through Aberga 
veuny 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, Eaymoiul, 
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 DermitiuH, 
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 solem- 
nized, according to, and in confirmation of, the treaty be- 
fore 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 Water- 
ford, 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 (Kegnald), 
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 

2 It is scarcely necessary to remark that the marriage of the earl 
Strongbow with Kva forms one of the subjects, illustrative of the na- 
tional 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 
Giyndelachan (Grlendalough), 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 jus- 
tice ; 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 Laiirence O'Toole, archbishop of Dublin, 1162 ]180, was son of 
Maurice O'Toole, petty prince of Smaly. He was educated at G-lenda- 
lough, which lay in his father's territories, and frequently in after-life re- 
tired 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 after- 
wards 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 was 
pledged, would be carried into effect, he submitted to the English king. 
Notwithstanding this, we find in the sequel of the History (B. ii. cu 
23), that his patriotic conduct at the council of Lateran, towards th* 
close of his life, gave umbrage to Henry, and that in consequence hs, 
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, Kay- 
mond 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 immove- 
ably 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 pur- 
pose 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 En- 
glish, 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, gra- 
dually 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 co- 
lonies, with which their countrymen in Ireland had frequent commu- 
nications, 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 ob- 
taining reinforcements, return thence with the powerful armament by 
which they endeavoured to regain their ascendancy in Dublin j 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'E-oric, king of Meath, made a hos- 
tile irruption into the territories of that prince, and the 
whole of Meath was plundered and laid waste with fire and 

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." Der- 
mitius, having received this message, made an arrogant 
reply, adding also that he would not desist from the enter- 
prise 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. 
Boderic 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 



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 de- 
liberation. 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 servi- 
tude 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 uni- 
versal 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 Eng- 
land 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 ting, 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 lauds, 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 cold 
ness, 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 dis- 
may 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 proscrip- 
tion which spared no one, of whatever age or sex, his mar- 
tyrdom 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 re- 
garded 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 furentilmt* 



then shedding his blood ; and as the fifth day before Christ- 
mas 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 shed- 
ding 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 actu- 
ated 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 Christi 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 hie, 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 li^ht 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 to- 
wards 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 Liny 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 com- 
mand 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 Yitalis (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, 


his natural intrepidity boldly dared to march out to attack 
them, though his force was unequal to theirs. Bat 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, Eichard 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 

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 

David's, was one of the most distinguished men engaged in the con- 
quest 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 ho 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 con- 
jecture is confirmed by finding that Sir John Wogan, who was chief 
justice there in the time of Edward L. founded a chauntry in the 
cathedral of St. David's. 


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 Eoderic, king of Connaught, in 
sending letters to G-ottred, 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 en- 
gage in this enterprise, from the alarm they felt that the 
successes of the English were putting their own indepen- 
dence 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 after- 
wards 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 Ola- 
veson, very naturally came to the aid of his countrymen in Dublin OB 
this occasion. 

8 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 sur- 
render 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 cir- 
cumstances. 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 success- 
ful 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 

O'Donnell ? A natural son of Dermot mac Morrough, as we may 
suppose, from his daughter Eva having conveyed the inheritance of hia 
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 suc- 
cour 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 pro- 
visions 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 vooe refert, curisque ingentibus seger, 
Spem simulat vultu, premit alto corde dolorem. 

Maurice having finished his speech, Eaymond, 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. 



THEKEtrpoisr the brave youths flew to arms, and their small 
force, having been divided into three troops, they immedi- 
ately arranged themselves in separate divisions. In the 
first was Eaymond, 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 oif 


their guard, for they expected no attack at that time, in con- 
sequence 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 El- 
wyn), Grillemolmoc, 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 suc- 
cess always attended by some adverse event, the men of 
"Wexford and Kinsale, to the number of about three thou- 
sand, 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 particu- 
larly, 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 vest- 
ments, they took solemn oaths on the holy relics that Dublin 
was taken, and that the earl, with Maurice and Eaymond, 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 iii- 
censed 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. 

QUJC pejor fortuna potest, atque omnibus usum, 
QutB melior. 


0, Fitz- Stephen ! Thou wert indeed another Marius ; fo* 
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 Wex- 
ford, the Leinster forces encountered him near drone, 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 distin- 
guishing 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 fea- 
tures, a weak voice, and short neck. For the rest, he was 
tall in stature, and a man of great generosity, and of cour- 
teous 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 rnan- 
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 adver- 
sity, 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 ibis 
eldest son of Q-erald and Nesta. 




THE earl, continuing his march without loss of time, de- 
scended into the low country about Wexford, where he 
was met by envoys, who announced to him the calamity 
which had befallen Eitz-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 pri- 
soners' 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 re- 
turned from executing his commission to the king of Eng- 
land, 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 ISTewn- 
ham, 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 con- 
quests 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'Boric, the one-eyed king of Meath, 
taking advantage of the absence of the earl, and of Kay- 

Q 2 


mo tid, 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 name, Milo de Cogan and his troops, suddenly 
sallying forth, made such slaughter of the enemy that they 
were speedily routed, O'Eoric's son, a gallant youth, with 
a vast number of others, being slain. 

"While the king of England lay at Pembroke, he threat- 
ened 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 sub- 
sided 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 pere- 
grine, which name bespeaks them to be no indigense, 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 
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 favour- 
able, embarked his troops, 2 consisting of as many as five hun- 
dred 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 there- 
fore 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 Eitz-Btephen, excusing themselves 
because he had been the first to invade Ireland without *ne 
royal licence, and had set others a bad example. The king 
having loudly rated him, and threatened him with his indig- 
nation for his rash enterprise, at last sent him back loaded 
with fetters, and chained to another prisoner, to be kept in 
safe custody in Eeginald's Tower. 

1 Menevia is the ancient name of the see of St. David's, and in- 
cluded 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 landau 
at the Carrig as he had done before. 

3 Hoveden states that the king stayed at Waterford fifteen days, ani 
that he found there William Fitz-Aldelm, his seneschal, and Robert 
Fitz-Bernard, with some other persona of his household, whom he h&d 
sent before him from England. 


Soon afterwards, Dermitius, king of Cork, came of his 
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 Lim- 
erick, came to meet hiivj 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 be- 
fore 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 Eobert Fitzl 
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- 

Among these we may include, on the authority of Hoveden, Re- 
ginald (or Regnald), the chief of the Ostmeu in Waterford, mentioned 
before in c. xvi. 


Burance of peace and favour. Among these were Machelan 
of Ophelan, Mac Talewy, Othwetel, Grillemoholmoch, O'Ead- 
hese, 0' Carvel of Uriel, and O'Eoric of Meath. But Eoderic 
of Connaught only met the king's messengers, Hugh De 
Lacy and William Eitz-Aldelm, at the water of Shannon, 
which divides Meath from Connaught. He also sued for 
peace, and acknowledging the king of England as his su- 
preme 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 Soderic, prince of Connaught, and the titu- 
lar 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 ihe 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 authen- 
ticity): "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, pre- 
served the record of a transaction unnoticed by Griraldus, 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 Eoderic, king of Connaught, by his envoys, at Windsor, in 1175, 
whereby the king of England grants to Roderic the kingdom of Cou- 
naught, to hold under fealty and payment of an annual tribute of one 
ekm for every ten animals slaughtered, " such as may be approved by 
dealers." This instrument reserves to king Henry all Meath, with 
Public, Waterford, and other places in Leinster, in which it does r.ot 
appear that Roderic of Connaught could have possessed any interest, 
unless, on the death of Dermot Mac Morrough, he had, as the para- 
mount Irish king, in some way succeeded to Mac Morrough's rights 
in Leinster. See Hoveden, vol. i. p. 402. Antiy. Lib 


having places assigned them at the tables in the hall,' 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 Kis pre- 
sence, and the island enjoying peace and tranquillity, he was 
the more inflamed with zeal to advance the honour of the 
church of Grod and the Christian religion in those parts, for 
which purpose he 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 re- 
duced 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 reve- 
rence due to churches, and the duty of frequenting them. 
These constitutions the king promulgated, being very de- 
sirous 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 cnem 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 "ft is said that the king received the homage of the Irish princes in 
a hnli 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, llth 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, Do- 
natus, archbishop of Cashel, Laurence, archbishop of Dublin, 
and Catholicus, archbishop of Tuaxn, 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 ve- 
nerable Ealph, abbot of Buildewas, Kalph, 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 Ire- 
land shall eschew concubinage with their cousins and kins- 
folk, 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 chiirch 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 espe- 
cially, 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 neigh- 
bouring 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 shalJ 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 pre- 
sence of his confessor and neighbours, and that, if he have 
any wife and children, all his moveahle 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. Thai divine offices shall be henceforth cele- 
brated 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 refor- 
mation 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 after- 
wards 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 Grod 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 beeL 
cut but yesterday. The soil was also very black, and the 

1 There can be no doubt that, at some remote period, though be- 
yond 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 
aeain 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 obser- 
vations 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 posi- 
tion, 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 
G-iraldus 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 con- 
verted into gate-posts. The strand is still below high-water mark ; but 
when the tide is out, the black earth here mentioned, consisting of de- 
composed vegetable matter, is carted away by the farmers of the neigh- 
bourhood for manure. 

Remote as the period of this catastrophe must have been, the circum- 
stances are very different from those of the forest embedded on the 
Norfolk coast, near Cromer, presenting in some respects the same ap- 
pearances. For there the forest lies buried under a mass of drift two 
hundred feet in thickness ; and Lyell considers that its situation imp];^ 
a subsidence of that depth since the commencement of the Post- Plio- 
cene 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. 



rood of the trees resembled ebony. Such are the wonder- 
ful 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 sup- 
posed 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 dan- 
gerous 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 It and Becket, the archbishop's murder, and tha 
proceedings which arose out of it. 


lie had such a regard that he caused him to be 
crowned king, and his two younger sons also, led by the 
foily 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 per- 
plexities. First, it grieved him that he should be suspected 
of a crime of which he was guiltless. Next, he was appre- 
hensive 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 inop- 
portunely 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 through- 
out the country. His first care was, therefore, to send 
some of his trusty servants to England ; and then he turned 
bis thoughts and took deliberate counsel as to what was to 
be done for the security of Ireland. 



BEEOEE he left Ireland, the king appointed these follow- 
ing to be constables or governors of cities and strong- 
holds ; 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 Fitz- 
gerald, with twenty more ; in Waterford, Humphrey de 
Bohun, Eobert 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 reve- 
rence at the White Grate. 

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. Re- 
ceiving, 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 tradi- 
tion, 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 enter- 

1 This anecdote is repeated by G-iraldus in his Itinerary. See B. ii. c. 1. 


irg the church founded in honour of St. Andrew and St. 
David, having pa-id 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 tha 
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 tho 
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 hia 
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 Marehe, 
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" pil- 
grimage to St. James [of Compostella], means were found 
of restoring amity between them, and allaying the resent- 
ment 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 Eng- 
land. 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 ; l 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 a*: 
the chapel door, a man stood before him, holding a stake k. 
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 : " Grot holde the, 
cuning " " God keep thee ! O king !" and afterwards 
added in the same language, " Christ and his Holy Mo- 
ther, John the Baptist, and Peter the Apostle, salute 
thee, and do charge and command thee strictly to pro- 
hibit 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 neces- 
sary food, but that divine offices be duly and devoutly per- 
formed 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 cou- 

1 See the Itinerary of Wales, B. i c. 6. 

2 Philip de Mercros, or Marcros, derived his name from a place on f be 
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. 188192 


dition, 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 
tins, 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 sa 
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 Grod, 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 

(Antlq. Ltb.\ and Hoveden, vol. ii. pp. 526530, give some exceedingly 
curious details respecting it. 

1 The Khumney river runs into the sea about four miles from Cardiff. 
In its course from the North it divides Monmouthshire from Glamor- 
ganshire, and it therefore forms the boundary between IWland aud 


the same period, and towards the close of his life, many 
other forewarnings, through the Divine mercy, which pre- 
fers the conversion and repentance of sinners, to their ruin. 
Would to Grod 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 hap- 
piness. 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 com- 
mitted. 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 Eitz- 
Stephen, 2 had a dream, in which he saw a herd of wild boars 
rush pell-mell on High 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 after- 
wards 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 Groe, 
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 
etone 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. 

DEATH or O'EOEIC. 243 

on each part, and those in equal numbers, and unarmed, 
except with their swords on the one side and their battle- 
axes on the other, while the rest of the people remained at 
some little distance. Meanwhile G-riffyth, 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 confi- 
dence, 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 hasten- 
ing 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 men- 
tioned, find 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'Eoric, seeing them 

B 2 


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 fol- 
lowers, 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 lied 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, 
Eitz-Stephen's son, a young and valiant soldier, much dis- 
tinguished 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 
facing on a journey together, when they came to a cer- 
tain 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 im- 
plored 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 appre- 
hended, 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 a*> 


cordingly he remained on shore. The mariners, with whom 
he was to ombark, set sail, and were buried in the waves be- 
fore his eyes. Calphurnia, Julius Caesar's wife, dreamed the 
night before he was assassinated, that he lay in her bosom co- 
vered 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 oft' 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 prepara- 
tions 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 men- 
tion that she was not his mother, but his step-mother ; but 
she loved him as much as if he were her own son. 1 He re- 
lated 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. How- 
ever, 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, wai 
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. Ber- 
nac'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 

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 un- 
doubted 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 in- 
telligence. 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 

2 Maurice Fitzgerald, of whom his nephew Giraldus draws this high 
character, was, as already mentioned, the second son of Gerald de Wind- 
sor 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 Eng- 
land, 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 ac- 
complices in his designs among the nobles of England and 
foreign dominions, as well as many more who were his se- 
cret 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 coun- 
tenance, he gave every sign of hope and comfort, and col- 
lected succours from all quarters. Among the rest, he re- 
called from Ireland, by special messengers, the veteran 
troops he had left there ; and when he was at Rouen, com- 
mitted 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 Grinkel. 

* 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 
HoTeden, vol. i. pp. 367, &c. Aniiq. 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, in- 
ternal 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. 368390. 

2 Dol, a strong castle in Britany, was taken by stratagem, on the 
20th September, 1 173, but recovered by king Henry a few days after- 

3 St. Edmund, king and martyr, was highly venerated at this period, 
and his shrine at Bury visited with great devotion. Florence of Wor- 
cester 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 
arid Wendover. 


restored to England, at the castle of Amboise, 1 of which 
lianulf 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 dun- 
geons 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 sub- 
duing his own spirit and indignation, as he had triumphed 
over others, and restored their lives and honours to his van- 
quished 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 na- 
ture, 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 

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 nece- 
ary 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 cer- 
tainty in worldly matters, and no perfect happiness ; good 
is mixed with evi], 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 philo- 
sopher, 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 dan- 
gerous 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 counte- 
nance, his voice was tremulous, and his neck a little bent 
forward ; but his chest was broad, and his arms were mus- 
cular. His body was fleshy, and he had an enormous 
paunch, rather by the fault of nature than from gross feed- 
ing. For his diet was temperate, and indeed in all things, 
considering he was a prince, he was moderate, and even par- 
simonious. 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 exer- 
cise. 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 ar- 
dour. 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 seec to sit down, either before he took his supper or 


after; for, notwithstanding his own great fatigue, be 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 dis- 
orders, at least hastened that which is the source of all, old 
age. In stature he may be reckoned among men of mode- 
rate 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 inordi- 
nately 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 

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 pro- 
mise than depart from his purpose. In all his doings he 
was provideut 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 put- 
ting 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 know- 
ledge), 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 re- 
ceived 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 coun- 
sels and conversation about affairs of state than in his de- 
votions. The revenues of the churches during their avoid- 
ance, 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 de- 
vised many plans, which, however, did not all turn out ac- 
cording to his expectations ; but no great mishap ever oc- 
curred, which did not originate in some trifling circum- 

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 fast, or whether they were ill-deserving, 


he could never bear to think of them as his successors. 
And 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 tran- 
quillity, 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 dis- 
turbers of the peace being put down, and the brothers, his 
sons, and all others, both at home and abroad, being recon- 
ciled, all things succeeded according to his will. Would 
to Grod 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 foiled 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 fol- 
low 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 unfi- 
nished the work I have commenced, I am resolved to con- 
tinue 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 stu- 
dies 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 circum- 
stances ; and as the times are troublous, so must my narra- 
tive 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 com- 
plete 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 dis- 
loyalty, 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 com- 
mand, and the troops recovering their spirits, made an in- 
cursion into the district of Ophelan, 1 and carrying off an 
immense booty, obtained means of being fresh mounted and 
equipped. Erom 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 upp ei 
course of the Barrow, in what is now called King's County. 


ensued, the Irish making a fierce attack, armed with slingi 
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 

Meanwhile Raymond, who, hearing by chance of this en- 
gagement 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 
ho 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, pur- 
sued 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 sur- 
rounded 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. 



AFTER these events, the troops being flushed with suc 
cess 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 
liis 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 receiv- 
ing intelligence of this disaster, the earl retreated in con- 
fusion 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 Water- 
ford, and could not move from it. Meanwhile, Eoderic 
of Connaught crossed the river Shannon, and invaded Meath, 
at the head of a numerous force, and, finding all the strong- 
holds 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 Ba- 
sil ia in marriage, according to your wishes." On receiving 
this letter, Eaymond 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 Ray- 
inond-le-Gros ; and the Pedigree at the beginning of this History. 

3 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 nar- 
rative, although their present expedition terminated disastrously. 



ardently attached, and from his desire of exhibiting hia 
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 has- 
tily 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 Water- 
ford were in a state of insurrection, and raised to such a 
pitch of fury that they were ready to massacre all the En- 
glish wherever they could lay hands on them ; when, behold, 
they saw from the nearest hill the well-known ensigns of 
Eaymond's fleet entering the bay. Their sudden arrival 
discomfited the rioters, and Eaymond immediately landing, 
and marching to Waterford without loss of time, released 
the earl, and conducted him with a strong force to Wez- 
ford. Meanwhile, Tyrrel], 2 his governor of Waterford, has- 
tening 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 perpe- 
trated this crime, they returned to the city, and butchered 
some of the English in the streets and houses, without re- 
spect to age or sex. The place was, however, held in sub- 
mission 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. 

Eaymond, 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 Eoderic of Con- 
naught had made an irruption from the borders of Meath 

1 Eaymond's elder brother Odo, the ancestor of the Carews, in- 
herited 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 exten- 
sive scaie than that with which he first went over to Ireland, and also 
made him a more suitable match for the earl's daughter. 

2 tfresellus, 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 aban- 
doned 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. 



HEEYET, 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 mar- 
rying 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 ^\ Vales 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 fron- 
tier 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 en- 
gaged in these transactions, Adam, John, and Eichard. Adam com- 
manded the fleet which defeated that of Cork, as related just before, in 
hap. ii. 




MEANWHILE, although the king was detained and much oc- 
cupied 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, request- 
ing 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 after- 
wards 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 im- 
mediately afterwards deposited among the archives at Win- 
chester. 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 benedic- 
tion. 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. 

1 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 Weiidover, who says that it was obtained in 1155 ; so that Henry's 
designs on Ireland, though early entertained, seem to have long slum- 
bered. Even when the application for assistance made by Dermot 


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 bor- 
ders 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 G-od, 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 high- 
ness 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 laud whole and inviolate. We there- 
fore, 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 en- 
larging 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 

mac Murrough in 1172, gave him a pretext for interfering in Irish 
affairs, he gave him only empty promises of relief, and the first ex- 
peditions 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 


and take possession of that island, and execute therein 
whatsoever shall be for Grod'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 pre- 
served; and reserving to St. Peter and the holy Eoman 
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 Grod'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 
Grurguntius, the son of Belinus, and king of Britain, on his 
return in triumph from Denmark, met the fleet of the Bas- 
clenses at the Orkney islands, and set them forward to Ire- 
land, 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 Grillomarus, 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 
onr Gascony, is the capital of Basclonia, from whence the 

1 Distinct, iii. cc. 8, 9. 2 Ib. c. 8, 


Irisli 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 volun- 
tarily 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 en- 
tered 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 meantime, Duvenald prince of Limerick, having waxed 
very insolent, and faithlessly withdrawn from his fealty to 
the king of England, Eaymond 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, Ray- 
mond'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 


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 Ray- 
mond 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 no- 
thing 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 foam- 
ing 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 
iroops 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 himself 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, think- 
est 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 unsup- 
ported, 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 tho 
invaders both on this and a subsequent occasion. 

2 Hence he is sometimes called, as we have before observed. Bay* 
mond 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 

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. Think- 
ing 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. Broad- 
chested and not corpulent, his arms and other limbs were 
bony and muscular, and not encumbered with fat. An in- 
trepid 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 libe- 
rally 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 Eobert 
Fitz-Stephen in these times? What of Maurice Fitz- 
gerald ? What of Eobert 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 Eobert Fitz-Henry, 
Meyler's brother, who, but for his premature death, would 
doubtless have not been inferior to his noble brother? 
"What of Eaymond of Kantitune, and of Eobert de Barri 
the younger, both tall, handsome, and most excellent men ? 
What of Eaymond Fitz-Hugb, who was, indeed, short in 
stature, but for his bravery and prudence not to be passed 
over ? These three young men, after distinguishing them- 
selves 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 

" Non mihi si linguse centum sint, oraque centum, 
Ferrea vox, digne promere cuncta queam." 

<e Had I a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues, 
A voice of iron, to exact your praise, 
I yet should fail." 

family ! O 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. 

Eaymond 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 gar- 
rison 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 Montmau- 
rice, who, notwithstanding his new relationship, was still in- 
fluenced 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 con- 
trary to his own fealty, evidently designed to secure to him- 
self 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. Eaymond 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. 



HERYET was a tall and handsome man, with grey and rather 
prominent eyes, a pleasant look, fine features, and a com- 
mand 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 Cogau. See the note o 
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 irre- 
parable 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 re- 
ports are more readily believed, and make a longer impres- 
sion, than accounts of services rendered, as soon as the win- 
ter was passed, sent over to Ireland four commissioners, 
namely, Eobert Poer, Osbert de Herlotera, William de Ben- 
denges, and Adam de Yarmouth, two of whom returned 
with Eaymond, who was recalled to England, and the other 
two remained with the earl. 



EAYMOND 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 an- 
nounced his intention, but he found them so dissatisfied 
and dispirited at Eaymond'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, Eaymond 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- 
eoldiers, and three hundred archers, besides a body of Irish 


under Murchard of Kinsa^e 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 throw- 
ing 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 your- 
selves ; there are no strongholds near us, we are far from 
any place of refuge. It is our custom to side with the win- 
ning 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 tear- 
ing 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 cor- 
poral oaths, to preserve it inviolate. 

After this was settled, and Raymond had returned to 
Limerick with the hostages, Dermitius Macarthy sent en- 
voys 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 con- 
sulting 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 cer- 
tain confidential clerk of his household, and the tenor was as 
follows : 

" To Raymond, her well-beloved lord and husband, hii 
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 conjec- 
tured 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 dis- 
creet 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 Ray- 
mond's impending departure for England, rendered it ne- 
cessary that they should for a time relinquish the posses- 
sion 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 re- 
newed in various forms the solemn oaths he had before 

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 bj 


ills 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 uuburied until Raymond's arrival, was entombed 
in the church of the Holy Trinity, at Dublin, by the ap- 
pointment of Laurence, the archbishop of that see, who 
performed the obsequies with great ceremony. 1 



UPON the occurrence of these events, the change of cir- 
cumstances 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 Ire- 
land 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 Ostuien there, and Donald (Duncan) 
their bishop, about the year 1038. For we may add to our former no- 
tices of the Ostmen or Scandinavian colonists, who founded also the 
cathedral at Waterford, that they had their own bishops, who were con- 
secrated in England, by the archbishop of Canterbury, independent of 
the see of Armagh, in which the primacy of the ancient Irish church 
was vested. Eiehard Strongbow had assisted archbishop Laurence in 
restoring and finishing the cathedral of Christ Church, in which he was 
buried. His tomb, wnich had been defaced by the fall of the roof, was 
repaired by Sir Henry Sydney, when he was lord deputy, and is stil] 
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 1 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 lieute- 
nant, 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 scat- 
tered." From that hour Fitz-Aldelm and all the other go- 
vernors of Ireland, as it were by a common understanding, 
were so moved with envy towards Eaymond, 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 emi- 
nent 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 Greraldines. Who have kept it in 
submission ? The G-eraldines. "Who strike most terror into 
the enemy? The G-eraldines. 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 
Uad none o* their virtues. But persevere, ye gallant kina- 



men, 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 un- 
requited, 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 nourish 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 mo- 
deration, prudence, and courage, than whom no better for con- 
stancy, truth, and resolute valour was left in Ireland. After 
this, Fitz-Aldelm had a meeting with Maurice's sons at the 
castle of Grinkingelone (Grinkel), 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 forth- 
with 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 

i 2 


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 

" Asperius nihil est humili cum surgit in altum ; 
Cuncta premit, dum cuncta timet, dessevit in omnes, 
Ut se posse putent ; neo bellua tetrior ulla est 
Quam servi rabies in libera colla furentis." ' 

" yfo 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 



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 Clan- 
ricards 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 cour- 
teous, but within there was more aloes than honey. He 

" Pelliculam veterem retinens, vir fronte politus, 
Astutam vapido portans sub pectore vulpem." l 

" Beneath the outward guise of gentle hearing, 

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 flat- 
terer 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. 11618. 



part of the island where the English had not yet appeared 
in arms. 

Then the prophecy attributed to the Calidouian 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 

It happened at this very time that Vivian us, 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 often thou- 
sand 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 geirea 
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, w.ifi 
made earl of Ulster by Henry II., the first Irish earldom created. 

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 num- 
ber, 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, 

" Tarn clypeo clypeus, 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 

Many others distinguished themselves by their bravery 
in this battle, among whom was Roger le Poer, 1 a beard- 
less youth, fair and tall, who was second in the glo- 
rious list of warriors here, and afterwards gained great 
honour in the country about Leighlin, and also in Ossory. 
Thp, 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 vic- 
tory, and great multitudes of the Irish were slain as they 
were making their escape by the sea-shore. Then was ful- 
filled, 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 quick- 

1 Giraldus does not inform us how this young man was related tc 
"Robert le Poer, the founder of this distinguished Irish family, who ia 
noticed elsewhere in this History, 


sands 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 ful- 
filled 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 evi- 
dently 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 re- 
lated, 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 Va- 
laignes was justiciary ; for then the place was treacherously 
laid in ruins, but was afterwards recovered and rebuilt by 

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 en- 
gagement at Eerly, 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 com- 
pelled 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 vic- 
torious. 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 exhi- 
biting 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 gene- 
ral, 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 Tully 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 G-odred 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 re- 
turn to Dublin. 

The Synod of Dublin under the ^residence of Vimanus. 

While Vivian us 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 confirma- 
tion 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 Eitz-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 Grod. The En- 
glish 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 
Eoderic prince of Connaught, posted in three bodies in a 
wood near the river. A severe engagement ensued, unin- 
tentionally 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 



FITZ-ALDELM was recalled to England, as well as Milo de 
Cogan and Eobert Fitz-Stephen, having done nothing 
worthy of mention during his government, except pro- 
curing 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 Ire- 
land, joining in commission with him Eobert Poer l with 
the constableship both of Waterford and Wexford. The 
king also granted to Eobert 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 tne nead and representative. 


of Cork from the west of Lismore, and the adjoining 
cantred, except the city of Cork, the said territories to bo 
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 belong- 
ing to it. These three having thus received their grants 
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 tra- 
velling 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 go- 
vernor 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 al- 
ready 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-Sfcephen 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 ; be- 
sides the bowmen attached to each body of troops. On 

1 William de Londres held the castle and lands of Ogmore, in Gla- 
morganshire, under Eobert Fitz-Hamon. Among his descendants we 
find this Richard, Fitz-Aldelrn'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 coun- 
sels 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, con- 
sidering 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 Borne, 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 
gi-eat 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. i 
pp. 494, &c. (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 Water- 
ford ; 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 broad- 
axes 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 oft* 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." 

As quoted above ; and again immediately after : 

" Quicquid ad Eoos 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 Eitz-Stephen's, and a brother 
of Philip de Barri, who rendered his uncle and brother im- 
portant 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 waa 
already versed in literary pursuits, and his name appears as 
the author of the present work. 3 

1 Kobert de Earri, a brother of this Philip de Barri and of our 
Giraldus, came over to Ireland with the first expedition under Fitz-Ste- 
phen. (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 
jwtr in this, his first, visit to Ireland. He very seldom furnishes any 
dries ; but his History is written in a regular sequence, and by a oal- 


About this time Hervey de Montmaurice retired to Can- 
terbury, 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 Wes- 
ford. Would to Grod 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, select- 
ing for its site a spot naturally of great strength. 2 Before 
this, Eobert Poer had the custody of the place, but he gave 
it up by the king's command. This Eobert Poer and Pitz- 
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 reruin 
Extollit, quoties voluit 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 acutee cuspidis hastam, 
Et galeam pressa sustinuisse coma." 3 

culation 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. 

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. 117121. 


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 differ- 
ent sort of person, made it his first care to restore peace 
and order, reinstating the peasants who, after they had sub- 
mitted 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 subor- 
dination. 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 

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 ene- 
mies, 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 wa-s 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 
gome 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 tempe- 
rate as a Frenchman, very attentive to his own private 
affairs, and indefatigable in public business and the adminis- 
tration of the government committed to his charge. Al- 
though he had great experience in military affairs, as ft 




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 reputa- 

At this time nourished in Leinster, where he much dis- 
tinguished himself, Robert Eitz-Henry, 1 brother to Meyler ; 
but this nourishing flower was early nipped by the cold 
blasts of winter. There also flourished at the same time the 
two sons of Maurice Eitz-Stephen, Alexander and Griraldus, 
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 Eobert 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 Kan- 
titune and Raymond Eitz-Hugh. About this time the two 
wonderful miracles described in my Topography occurred at 
Eoure, in Meath, one which ensued on a woman's being 
violated in St. Eechin'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 
and 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 Ridenes- 
ford. 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 select- 
ing 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 re- 
called 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-Ricbard at JSTorrach. In 
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 

TJ 2 


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 
eon 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 hie 
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 displea- 

1 Distinct, ii., c. 19. 

8 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 llth June, 1183, in 
deep penitence for his unnatural conduct. 

3 Geoffrey, earl of Britany, died at Paris, in 1186, from bruisei 
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 count* 
D'Eu was restored with great magnificence by the late king Looia 


sure 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 Nor- 
mandy and England. 1 A happy end at last terminated his 
long course of travels and toils. Among many miracles 
which Grod 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 pro- 
phecy : " This shall be my rest for ever : here will I dwell, 
for I have a delight therein." 3 He died a few days after- 
wards 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 

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 Q-iraldus 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 Nor- 
mandy 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 Eng- 
land 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. 

* 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. Lau- 
rence, 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 
a 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 



THE king of England had long formed the design of trans- 
ferring to his youngest son, John, all his dominion over Ire- 
land, 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 halving been recalled, Philip de Worcester, a brave 
soldier, who lived sumptuously and spent freely, was ap- 
pointed lieutenant-governor, and took his passage to Ireland 
about the calends of September, with a body of forty men- 
afc 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 appro- 

1 John Comyn, archbishop of Dublin, 11811212, 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 
lie made John Comyn a cardinal at the tune of his consecration, is not 
confirmed by any other authority. 

3 Hugh de Lacy did not return to England, but was slaiz. 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. 


priated 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 with- 
drew 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 smit- 
ten with sickness as he left the city ; the other at Down, in 
reference to the fire there and the cauldron which Jlugh 
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 jour- 
ney 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 suppli- 
cation to Henry II., king of England, and felling 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 Desmou- 
lins, grand-master of the Hospital, and they brought a letter from pope 
Lucius urging their suit. Neither Griraldus 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 Koger of Wendover distinctly says that the ambas- 
sadors, 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 tin 


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 

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 uphold- 
ing 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 Can- 
terbury, addressed to the people in persuasive language. 

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. 

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 domi- 
nions 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 no- 
thing, O king, if this be your determination, and you per- 
sist 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 pro- 
ceeding, 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 Ire- 
land, at the head of a powerful force, to assume the domi- 
nion of it, conferred on him by his father, threw himself at 
the king's feet, and, as it is said, much to his credit, im- 
plored to be sent to Jerusalem instead of to Ireland ; but 
nis prayer was not granted. 

Then the patriarch, failing in all his efforts, and perceiv- 
ing that it was in vain to think of drawing honey from the 
rock, or oil from the flint stone, addressed the king as fol- 
lows, at a public audience, in words which were both ad- 
monitory 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 des- 
titute 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 (rod 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 G-od 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 Pro- 
vidence ! 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 Grod ; but for the last five years he was 
given up to punishment, sorrow, and disgrace, as an un- 
grateful servant, an outcast, and a reprobate. For in the 
thirty-second year of his reign, the very year of the pro- 
phet'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 GHraldus calls it " castrum Had." 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 for- 
tress in the neighbourhood, fell into the hands of Philip at the sairt 


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 Provi- 
dence to receive the palm as the reward of more earnest 
love. How much better is it to restore what is utterly de- 
stroyed 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 prseceps 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 right- 
eous judgment of Grod, the Pagans and Parthians were al- 
lowed 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 be- 
fore the report was confirmed, he took the cross with ear- 
nest 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 animo- 
sities, took the cross, with laudable emulation, at the same 
place and at the same hour, in a conference at Grisors, 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 inspira- 
tion, 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 the bishop called 
G-od's court. Wherefore the king of England, having been 
reserved, as it was thought, above the rest, for the restora- 
tion 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 pro- 
phecy of Merlin Ambrosius : " In the beginning he shall 
yield to unruly passions, but in the end he shall mount to 



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 punish- 
ment of their sins ; so that their noble enterprise was ex- 
posed 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 ship- 
wreck ; 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 con- 
stancy 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 


"Would that our princes had engaged in this expedition, 
supported by popular opinion and cheered by general ap- 
plause, 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 com- 
pany 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 his- 
tory 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 



Or 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 wonder- 
ing 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 ter- 
rible 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 tlie rivet 
Vienne, just aboire 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 Cre- 
ator 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 ene- 
mies 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 ene- 
mies attempted to deprive him of the glory of that majesty 
which he gained by the cross. Or rather, it may be sup- 
posed, that as his servants are now. suffering in that Holy 
Land, which he, after so many miraculous signs of his cor- 
poral 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 Borne, when he said, " I 
am come to Borne 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 G-host ! And by that woful moan, begin- 
ning 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 pas- 
sion 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 expedi- 



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 illus^ 
trious 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 trans- 
lation 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 Giral- 
dus briefly recounts in this chapter ; especially as our author throws 
no fresh light on contemporary or other authentic annals, which are 
aow generally accessible by means of the Antiquarian Library. 

EVENTS. 305 

compulsory surrender of the brave knight, Hugh de Morti- 
mer, 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 expe- 
dition 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 ap 
peared to be fulfilled the prophecy of Merlinus Ambrosius : 
" And the tongues of the bulls shall be cut out." At North- 
ampton, 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 ne- 
gotiating 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 Can- 
terbury. Soon afterwards, count Gruncelinus, 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, cele- 
brated at London by the archbishop of York, to the pre- 
judice of the rights of the church of Canterbury. Am- 
1 See the Itinerary of Wales, lib. i. c. 2. 



bassadors came from Spain and obtained the king's consent 
to the marriage of his daughter Elianor with Alphonso king 
of Toledo and Castile. Dermitms being driven into exile, re- 
sorts to the king of England ; and Fitz-Stephen, first, and 
afterwards earl Richard, sail over to Ireland. The noble ex- 
pedition 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 Nor- 
mandy 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 men- 
tioned, 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. Wen- 
dover informs us that Henry visited him on his death-bed, and that the 
bishop,reproachinghini for the death of the martyr Becket, foretold many 
of the evils which would come upon him on account of it. The bishop 
diad 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 Na- 
varre 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. Where- 
fore 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 judg- 
ment to be signed, in order that if either party should re- 
fuse 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 im- 
ploring 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 valne and exquisitely 
wrought, at the spot where the sacred remains were laid, 
prostrated himself for a while at the martyr's tomb, lay- 
ing 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, he 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 lias preserved a.l the documents, relating to the 
arbitration. See pp. 459 465, vol. ii. in Antiq. Lib* 


and this lie 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 G-eoffrey, and the un- 
timely 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 pros- 
perity he enjoyed, to whose glory nearly all these occur- 
rences 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 con- 
ferred 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 ad- 
vancing 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 re- 
mark 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 gbry 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 victo- 
ries 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 ignoininiously. So that the poet Lucan says : 

" O faciles dare summa decs, eademque tueri 

"What was it, on the contrary, that secured to Julius 
Caesar or to Alexander of Macedon such imperishable re- 
nown 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 Euler 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 im- 
penitent, 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 G-iraldus 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 Ire- 
land, 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 Ir* 


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 Grlanville, 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 Yaticinal 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 Topo- 
graphy, 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 pro- 
fitable in future times. 

land, which is all that Wendover says about it, adds : " However, as 
he thought fit to shut up everything in his own purse, and was un- 
willing 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." 
1 GHraldus 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 per* 
ion 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-Ste- 
phen andthe 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 Water- 
ford, 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 chap- 
ter, 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 



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 ;* or, rather, if the king himself 
' 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 adven- 
turers, 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 con- 
quered which did not bring down punishment on them- 
selves 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 adven- 
turers from Wales took over at different times 1030 men, in the propor- 
tions 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 mimerous 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 submis- 
sion. Therefore, perhaps, it was the will of G-od 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 suc- 
cess, 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 con- . 
quest, agree in affirming that it will be attended with fre- 
quent conflicts, with long wars continued for several genera- 
tions, 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 unfor- 
tunately killed ; Robert de Barri at Lismore, Raymond 
Fitz-Hugh at Olechan, and Eaymond of Kantitune at 
Odrone. Part of the garrison of Archfinan were set on 


and routed by the prince of Limerick, in the wood of Arch- 
finan, on St. John the Baptist's day (24th June), and four 
men-at-arms were slain. The garrison of Archfman 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. Eoger 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 Gi- 
raldus 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 fol- 
lowing 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. 




1 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 com- 
mands 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 peace- 
able, came to congratulate him as their new lord, and 
receive him with the kiss of peace. But our new-comera 
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 neighbour- 
hood with all their households, and, betaking themselves to 
the king of Limerick, the prince of Cork, and Eoderick 
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 prepos- 
terous 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 memor- 
able for his father's great victory at Tinchibrai. John must therefore 
have been nineteen years old when he went to Ireland. We take thia 
opportunity of remarking that Giraldus never mentions him but ttd 


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 
3arry 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 in- 
sulted 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. Eor this people, like other barbarous nations, 
although they do not understand what appertains to honour, 
covet above measure to be honoured themselves ; and al- 
though 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 Eehoboam, 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 scor- 
pions." 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 

"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. ' 2 Kings, 12 14, 


our own Irishmen, who had faithfully stood by us from the 
first coming over of Fit z- Stephen and the earl, and have 
given them to our new-comers. These Irish, therefore, be- 
taking 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 ap- 
pertaining 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 impa- 
tient 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 attack- 
ing the enemy ; such men, I mean, and marchers as Fitz- 
Aldelm, and the like, under whose rule both Wales and Ire- 
land 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 unin- 
jured, 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 imprac- 
ticable, 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 coun- 
try 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 new- 
comers, 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 ex- 
hibited 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 unacknov 


ledged 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 espe- 
cially on this dispute, done to our Lord himself, I am 
filled with the greatest anxiety, and painful thoughts fre- 
quently 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 sur- 
veyors do, upon going round the spot with the model or 
plan of the work, to ascertain its dimensions by precise ad- 
measurement, he discovered that the body of the church 
was sufficiently large, while the chancel appeared to be ex- 
tremely 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 im- 
puted 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 expe- 
rience, 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 inex- 
perienced 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 con- 
quests 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 ; Nor- 
mans, 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 fore- 
most to get advancement and honours, they were the last to 
earn them by their services. As, therefore, the veteran so 1 - 
diers 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 as- 
sistance 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 ad- 
venture 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 raco, 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 simi- 
lar 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 iu 
Ireland and Wales. In France it is carried on in a cham- 
paign 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 pro- 
tection. But where you have to fight in narrow passes, and 
m woods and bogs, in which foot-soldiers are more service- 
able than horsemen, a far lighter kind of armour is prefer- 
able. 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 pro- 
visions 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 natu- 
rally agile and light of foot, and whose haunts are in steep 
and rocky places, you want light-armed troops, and espe- 
cially such as have been trained by experience to fighting 
under such circumstances. And, in the Irish wars, parti- 
cular care should be always used to mix bowmen with the 
other troops, in order to gall, by nights of arrows shot from 
a distance, the slingers who rush forward and heave stoned 
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 differ- 
ent places. And further, in the meantime, let all the country 
beyond the Shannon, including Connaught and part of Mun- 
ster, 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 




As tin's people are easily moved to rebel, and are as light- 
minded as they are light of foot, when they have been sub- 
jugated 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 tq 
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 go- 
vernor should then divest himself of all gentleness, and in- 
stantly 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 miscon- 
duct should be buried in oblivion, and they enjoy the same 
security, and be treated with the same consideration, as be- 
fore. Thus, obedience to the laws, and the beneficial pur- 
suits 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 peace- 
able subjects, robbing the weak and truckling to the refrac- 
tory, 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 lire-brands, their honey than their gall, their 
secret malice than their open warfare, their treachery than 
their attacks, their false friendship than their contemptible 

As Evodius says, " Past ruin gives a lesson to future 
generations, and former mishaps are a caution ever after- 
wards ;" 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, nee 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 senfentice, sun* 
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 Gralen, 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 pro- 
gress, 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 pre- 
sent times displays lettered eloquence, either in history or 
poetry ? Who, I say, in our own age, either builds a sys- 
tem 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 v< meiated, 
but even detested. " Happy indeed would be the arts," 
observes Eabius, " 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 

But to revert to our subject. Which, I ask, have ren- 
dered 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 JEneid is immortal ; and 
although in his time letters were honoured by lettered per- 
sons, yet from his own pen we find, 

tan turn 

Cannina 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 cha- 
racter 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 sup- 
port 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 liver, post fata quiescit ; 

Cum suus ex merito quemque tuetur honor." 
And also 

" Denique si quis adhuc prsetendit 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 pDlished 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 resem- 
blance 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 ap- 
plied 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 indi- 


cation of an elevated mind. Poets and authors indeed 
aspire after immortality, but do not reject any present ad- 
vantages that may offer. 

I formerly completed with vain and fruitless labour the To- 
pography of Ireland for king Henry the Second, and its com- 
panion, 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 re- 
ligion, I now dedicate the account of our meritorious jour- 
ney 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, con- 
ciliate your favour, and call forth my gratitude towards you ; 
who, unmindful of worldly affections, do not partially dis- 
tribute your bounties to your family and friends, but to let- 
ters 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 

' 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 gremimn pulvis si forte puellse 

Deciderit, digitis excutiendus erit. 

Et, si Mtllus erit pulvis, tarn en excute nullum. n 


there should be none, in the midst of a herd of flatterers, 
that I attempt to conciliate your favour, but by my writ- 
ings. To you, therefore, rare, noble, and illustrious man, 
on whom nature and art have showered down whatever be- 
comes 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 suffi- 
cient time to read them, I shall consider the honour of let- 
ters as vanished, and in hope of its revival I shall inscribe 
any 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 understand- 
ing, 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 Canter- 
bury, made throughout Wales ; and to hand down, as it 
were in a mirror, through you, 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 an- 
cient and modern times, and the natural history and de- 
scription of the country ; lest my study should perish 
through idleness, or the praise of these things be lost bj 




I. Journey through Hereford and Eadnor . . . 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 Eos ..... 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 Euthlan, 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, em- 
peror of Constantinople ; Philip, the son of Louis, reigning 
in France ; Henry the Second in England ; William in 
Sicily; Bela in Hungary ; and G-uy in Palestine: in that 
very year, when Saladin, prince of the Egyptians and Da- 
mascenes, by a signal victory gained possession of the king- 
dom 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 ex- 
pired in the month of December following. Clement III. was elected 
pontiif 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 


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 
(CaputJejunii), accompanied by Ranulph de Grlanville, 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 ser- 
mon 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 impor- 
tunity 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 1 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 Eadnor. 

2 On Eanulph de Glanville, see a former note in the History of the 
Conquest of Ireland. 

3 Rhys ap Gruffydh was grandson to Ehys ap Theodor, prince of 
South Wales, who, in 1090, was slain in an engagement with the Nor- 
man knight, Eobert 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 Ehys G-ryg, still remain in a good state of preserva- 

* 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 sequestra- 
tion of their property before they consented to his election, being de- 
sirous that the nephew should have succeeded his uncle. He was con- 
secrated in 1176, and died in 1199. 

5 In the Latin of Giraldus, the name Eineon is represented by 
JEneas, and Eineon Clyd by JEneas Claudius. 


fifteen days lie was employed with great solicitude in making 
the necessary preparations for so distant a journey ; till hia 
wife, and, according to the common vicious license of the 
country, his relation in the fourth degree, G-uendolena, 
(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 de- 
parture 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 ima- 
ginable inconveniences, nothing worse can happen to any 
one than to return." 

On the arrival of Bhys in his own territory, certain 
canons of Saint David's, through a zeal for their church, 
having previously secured the interes't 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 diffi- 
culty would recover its ancient dignity and honour. Al- 
though these pleas were most strenuously urged, the natu- 
ral 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 Eanulph de Grlanville 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 Kadnor, 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 even- 
ing, 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 Kadnor, 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 cau- 
tion 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 extin- 
guished ; 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, 
ia 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 Llari-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 Ced g 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 hundi'ed in the northern part of the county, extending into Mont- 
gomeryshire, in which is the church of Keri : Elvein retains in modern 

lays the name of Elvel, and is a hundred in the southern part of the 
county, separated from Brecknockshire by the Wye : and Warthrenion, 


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 remark- 
able, as the man who shot the hind suddenly lost the use of 
his right eye, and being at the same time seized w r ith a para- 
lytic 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 Grermanus, 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. 

in which was the castle huilt by prince Rhys at Rhaiadyr-gwy, seems to 
have been situated between the other two. Warthrenion may more 
properly be called Grwyrthrynion ; 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 : Grwyrthrynion is in the former county. Maelienydd 
and Elvel, according to the ancient division of Wales by Roderic the 
Great, were caritrefs 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 Madawc, cousin german to prince Rhys ; 
Elvel was held by Eineon Clyd, and Grwyrthrynion by Eineon ap Rhys, 
both sons-in-law to that illustrious prince. 

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 Radnor- 
shire, 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. 

a Several churches in Wales have been dedicated to Saint Ourig, who 
was a stranger, celebrated for his learning and holy life, and came into 
Wales in the se^ 3nth century. 


But it happened in these our days, that a strumous patient 
on presenting one halfpenny to the staff, the humour sub- 
sided only in the middle ; but when the oblation was com- 
pleted by the other halfpenny, an entire cure was accom- 
plished. Another person also coming to the staff with the 
promise of a penny, was cured ; but not fulfilling his engage- 
ment on the day appointed, he relapsed into his former dis- 
order ; 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 con- 
veyed this bell to her husband, who was confined in the 
castle of Eaidergwy, 3 near Warthrenion, (which Rhys, son of 
Gruffydh, had lately built) for the purpose of his deliver- 
ance. 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 

The church of Luel, 4 in the neighbourhood of Brecheinoe 
(Breckinid), 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 man- 
ner 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 super- 
stitious 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 Lly wel, 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 Breck- 
nock, by the name of Trecastl 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 ab- 
hor the great and enormous excesses which, from ambitious 
usurpation of territory, have arisen amongst brothers and 
relations in the districts of Melenyth, Elvein, and Warth- 
renion, situated between the Wye and the Severn. 



HAVING crossed the river Wye, we proceeded towards Brec- 
heinoc, 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. torn. v. p. 72. 

2 Hay. A pleasant market-town on the southern banks of the rive* 
Wye, over which there is a bridge. It still retains some marks of ba- 
ronial 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 Nor- 
man 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 123 1, by Henry II., and that it wai 
refortified by Henry III, 


some amongst tbe 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 Aber- 
hodni ; 2 and every place where one river falls into another 
is called Aber in the British tongue. Landeu signifies the 
church of Grod. 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 occur- 
rences 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, 8 
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 appro- 
priated 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 Nor- 
man knight, who, in the year 1090, obtained by conquest the lordship 
of Brecknock. 

8 Jestyn ap Gurgant was lord of the province of Morganwe, or Gla- 
morgan, 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 OL South Wales was afterwards completely sub- 

4 This little river rises near the ruins of Blanllyfni castle, between 
Llangoree pool and the turnpike road leading from Brecknock to Aber 
ptveimy, and empties itself 12 to the river Usk, near Glasbury. 


it into the Wye, opposite Grlasbyry, 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. 

3 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 skin in 1033, and Howel in 1043. 

3 William de Breusa, or Braose, has been mentioned in the Vatici- 
nal History ; he was by extraction a Norman, and had extensive pos- 
sessions 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 Here- 
ford, he gained a rich inheritance in Brecknock, Overwent, and 
G-ower. He left issue two sons : William and Philip : William mar- 
ried Maude de Saint Wallery, arid 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 wit hh older 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 attri- 
bute of G-od, 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 G-od'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 Yalery, observed all these things: 
a prudent and chaste woman ; a woman placed with pro- 


priety 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 endea- 
vouring to take some young pigeons from a nest, in the 
church of Saint David of Lhanvaes, 1 adhered to the stone 
pn which he leaned, through the miraculous vengeance, per- 
haps, 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 offer- 
ings, 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 Breck- 
nock, on the great road leading from thence to Trecastle. " The par- 
oche of Llanvays, Llan-chirch-Vais extra, ac si diceres, extra muros. 
Tt standeth betwixt the river of Uske and Tyrtorelle brooke, that is, 
about the lower ende of the town of Brekenok " Leland, It in. torn. v. 
p. 69. 

2 David Fitzgerald was promoted to the see of Saint DavidV in 
Ili7, 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 incau- 
tiously 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 dis- 
played by the psalter of Quindreda, sister of St. Kenelm, 3 
by whose instigation he was killed ? On the vigil of the 
gaint, 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, Q.uendreda 
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 by 
the prayers of the brotherhood, and having shown signs of 
sincere contrition, he was at length liberated from the mira- 
culous bond. That book was held in great veneration ; be- 
cause, when the body of St. Kenelm was carried forth, and 
the multitude cried out, " He is the martyr of G-od ! truly he 
is the martyr of Grod!" Quindreda, conscious and guilty of 
the murder of her brother, answered, " He is as truly the 
martyr of Grod as it is true that my eyes be on that psalter ;" 
for, as she was reading the psalter, both her eyes were mira- 
culously 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 j 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 eye- 
sight, and lingered the remainder of his days in darkness. 

A similar circumstance concerning the horn of St. Patrick 8 
(not golden indeed, but of brass [probably bronze], which 

1 The antiquary will recognize in this description the well- known pe* 
culiarities of a Roman torques. St. Kyrauc, 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 Mer- 
thyr Cynawg, or Cynawg the Martyr, near Brecknock, which is dedi- 
cated to his memory. 

2 This miracle relating to the horn is related by Giraldus in hia To- 
pography of Ireland. 


lately was brought into these parts from Ireland) excites ou* 
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 venge- 
ance 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) con- 
tracts 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 * led the life of a hermit at 

1 St. Elwitus. In Welsh, Illtyd, which has heen latinized into Iltu- 
tus, as in the instance of St. Iltutus, the celebrated disciple of Germa- 
nus, 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- 
llltyd, 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 


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 be- 

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 trans- 
muted into Anne ; by whom he had children, one of whom, 
named Mahel, a distinguished soldier, was thus unjustly de- 
prived of his paternal inheritance. His mother, in violation 

in the ground, and supporting a fourth, placed in a declining posture 
upon the top, and evidently of the same construction with what is else- 
-where 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 charac- 
ters, slightly scratched with the point of some sharp instrument, but 
without any seeming order, the playful handiwork, perhaps, of those 
who from curiosity hare visited the hermit's cell. A rude, upright 
etone 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 cen- 
tury 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 

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 Con- 
queror 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, Kobert 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 as- 
cribed to him in the priory church at Brecknock. 

3 Brecheiuoc, now Brecknockshire, had three cantreds or hundreds, 
and eight comots. 1. Cantref Selef with the comota of Selef and Tra- 
hayern. 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 Eaulff Llvwel, and Cerrig 

Howel. .Towel'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 asser- 
tions 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 con- 
nected. 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 legiti- 
mate 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 Mabel ; 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 inherit- 
ance, 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 Dm 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 Over- 
went 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 Ber- 
nard 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 
evo, in 1144, and was buried in the chapter-house of Lauthoni, near 


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 gra- 
tify 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 ssevissima tune est 

Cum stimulos animo pudor admovet. 

collige, quod vindicta 

Nemo magis gaudet quam fcemina. 

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 attack- 
ing 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 Mar- 
garet, daughter to Llewelyn, prince of Wales, and widow of John de 

2 Brendlais, or Brynllys, is a small village on the road between Breck- 
nock and Hay, where a stately round tower marks the site of the an- 
cient castle of the Cliffords, in which the tyrant Mahel lost his life. 


with a lamentable voice, " 0, 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 over- 
throw." 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 Bre- 
cheynawc dicta est, pars Demetise South- Wallise," 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 G-arthmathrin. 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, suc- 
ceeded, upon the death of his father, about the beginning of the fifth 
century, to the government of G-arthmathrin, the name of which he 
changed to Brycheinog, which it still bears amongst the Welsh inhabi- 
tants, 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 his- 
tory 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 seve- 
ral churches. Besides his daughters, the Cambrian Biography enume- 
rates 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 in- 
eluded in the ordinary lists, is said to have been a daughter of Bry- 
chan, and sister to St. Canoe, 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 there- 
abouts 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 ves- 
tiges of this building may still be traced, and an aged yew tree, with e 
well at its foot, marks the site near which the chisel formerly stood. 


in ancient times the ruler of the province of Brechei- 
noc, and from him it derived this name. The British histo- 
ries 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 begin- 
ning 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 i 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 walk- 
ing, and arranging the threads for the web ; another, aa 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 country- 
men vulgarly supposing that the beasts are consoled to work more re 
gularly and patiently by such a lullaby. 


This country sufficiently abounds with grain, and if there 
is any deficiency, it is amply supplied from the neighbour- 
ing parts of England ; it is well stored with pastures, woods, 
and wild and domestic animals. River-fish are plentiful, sup- 
plied 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 Ambrosias, as being found in great numbers 
in the rivers near Milan ; " What," says he, " is more beau- 
tiful to behold, more agreeable to smell, or more pleasant to 
taste ?" The famous lake of Brecheinoc supplies the coun- 
try 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 
R>ees 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 king- 
dome 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 after- 
wards 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 Gruf- 
fyth 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 


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 re- 
turn from the king's court, passed near this lake, which 
at that cold season of the year was covered with water- 
fowl of various sorts, being accompanied by Milo, earl 
of Hereford, and lord of Brecheinoc, and Payn Fitz- 
John, lord ef 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 ad- 
dressed 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, per- 
ceiving 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, pros- 
trate 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, svho 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 

distinguished as the bravest, the wisest, the most merciful, liberal, and 
just, of all the princes of Wales. By his wife Grwenlhian, the daughter 
of GrufFyth ap Conan, he left a son, commonly called the lord Khjs, 
who met the archbishop at Radnor, as is related in the first chapter of 
this Itinerary. 

1 This cantref, which now bears the name of Caeo, is placed, accord- 
ing to the ancient divisions of Wales, in the cantref B) chan, or little 
hundred, and not in the Cantref Mawr, or great hundred. A village 
between Llanbedr in Cardiganshire and Llandovery in Caermarthen- 
shire, still bears the name of Cynvil Gaeo, and, from its picturesque 
ituation arid 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, beat- 
ing the water with their wings, began to cry aloud, and pro- 
claim him. The spectators were astonished and confounded; 
and earl Milo hastily returning with Payn Fifcz- John to 
court, related this singular occurrence to the king, who is 
said to have replied, " By the death of Christ (an oath Iw 
was accustomed to use), it is not a matter of so much won- 
der; 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 * (according to the testimony of the inhabit- 
ants) is celebrated for its miracles ; for, as we have be- 
fore observed, it sometimes assumed a greenish hue, so in 
our days it has appeared to be tinged with red, not univer- 
sally, 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 gra- 
dual 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 oi 
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 Caer- 
marthenshire, over which the turnpike road formerly passed from Tre- 
eaatle to Llaadovery, and from which the river Usk derive* its source, 


the principa. 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 tem- 
perate. Towards the east are the mountains of Talgarth 
and Ewyas. 2 The natives of these parts, actuated by con- 

1 Cadair Arthur. This mountain is now called, by way of eminence, 
the Van, or the height, but more commonly, by country people, Ban- 
nau 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 Breck- 
nock, 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 be* 
tveen the inhabitants of these neighbouring districts, were perhaps th 

A A 


tinual enmities and implacable hatred, are perpetually en- 
gaged in bloody contests. But we leave to others to de- 
scribe the great and enormous excesses, which in our time 
have been here committed, with regard to marriages, di- 
vorces, and many other circumstances of cruelty and op- 



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 dis- 

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 

Cof the present hundred of Talgarth, and the hundred of Crick- 
el, and the other extending into Herefordshire), which was stronglj 
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 Llamlaif, called Cwtta Cyfarwdd o Forgannwg, or a brief history of 
Glamorgan, in which Ystradwy and Ewyas are called the " two sleeves 
of G-went Vwchcoed :" and Mr. Owen, in his Archaeology, gives a copy 
of this document in the Welsh language. 

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 Ewyaa 
as forming a part of the boundaries of Brecknockshire, takes the oppor- 
tunity 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, &c. ; 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. 


cipline, 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 bene- 
factions from Hugh de Laci, and gained the consent of Anselm, arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, these same hermits founded a magnificent monas- 
tery 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 conse- 
crated 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 ad- 
vice and relief on behalf of his distressed brethren, and by the advice 
and assistance of that prelate the monks removed to the neighbour- 
hood 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 Glou- 
cester, 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 
cf Worcester, and Robert Betun bishop of Hereford, and dedicate* 
to the Virgin Mary. 


frequent, the winds boisterous, and the clouds in winter al- 
most 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, nnd to their mother's 1 lap, 
soon regain their long-wished-for health. For as my Topo- 
graphical History of _reland 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, be- 
hold 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. 3 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 in- 
temperance 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 ver6 diei quasi inter primam et tertiam super 
montium cacumina vix emergens, et sereno tempore, corpus hie 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 

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 para- 
lytic 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 quali- 
ties 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 ianate 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 Eoger 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. Eoger, 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 
*oli tiers could nowhere be found ; ' upon which, the prince, in a jocu- 
lar 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 so- 
licit the Lord that this place might never attain great posses- 
sions. 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 oners 
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 in- 

1 Walter de Laci came into England with William the Conqueror, 
and left three eons, Eoger, 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, Eobert, 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 Eufus, 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 hus- 
band 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 kuights' 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. 


ceased 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 Here- 
ford ; 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 de- 
lights; 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 dis- 
pensation, corrupted by gluttony and indulgence an order 
which in its original state of poverty was held in high es- 
timation. 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 nx 
bounds to prosperity, was introduced ; for as Seneca says, 
" Too great happiness makes men greedy, nor are their de- 
sires 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, 
Nee facile est sequa commoda mente pati ; 

And again: 

Creverunt opes et opum furiosa cupido, 
Et cum yossideant pkirirna, plura petunt/' 


And also the poet Horace : 

" scilicet improbse 

Crescunt divitise, tamen 

Curtse nescio quid semper abest rel. 
Crescentem sequitur cura pecuniam 
Majorumque fames.*' 

To which purpose the poet Lucan says : 

O vitse tut a facultas 

Pauperis, angustique lares, o munera nondam 
Intellecta Deum !" 

And Petronius : 

Non bibit inter aquas nee poma fugacia carpit 

Tantalus infelix, quern sua vota premunt. 
Divitis hie magni facies erit, omnia late 

Qui tenet, et sicco concoquit ore famem." 

The mountains are full of herds and horses, the wood* 
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 jus- 
tice with law-suits, and the senate with complaints. Con- 
cerning 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 

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

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

So that the scripture seems to be fulfilled concerning these 
men, " Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's 
clothing, but inwardly they are- ravenous wolves." But 1 


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 per- 
form these acts of hospitality. However, to repress and 
remove from this sacred Order the detestable stigma of am- 
bition, 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 be- 
fore 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 
Kichard, 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, hypo- 
crite (said the king), to thy verie face ; for all the world knoweth I 
have not one daughter.' ' I lie no \ (said the priest), for thou hast three 
daughters : one of them is called Pride, the second Covetousiiess, and 


man, by whom Q-od in these our days has wrought many signs 
in the kingdom of France. This man had among other things 
said to the king ; ''You have three daughters, namely, Pride, 
Luxury, and Avarice ; and as long as they shall remain with 
you, you can never expect to be in favour with God." To 
which the king, after a short pause, replied : " I have already 
given away those daughters in marriage : Pride to the Tem- 
plars, 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 sur- 
rounded by lofty mountains, not stony or rocky, but of a 
soft nature, and covered with grass, Parian stones are 
frequently found there, and are called free-stones, from the 
facility with which they admit of being cut and polished ; 
and with these the church is beautifully built. It is also 
wonderful, that when, after a diligent search, all the stones 
have been removed from the mountains, and no more can be 
found, upon another search, a few days afterwards, they re- 
appear 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 soli- 
tary wood ; yet in a few years you will find them in posses- 
sion 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 mean- 
ing 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 

the third Lecherie.' With that the ting '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 Leche- 
rie : 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.' " 


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 as- 
sistance, 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 or- 
dained 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 satis- 
fied 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 concern- 
ing 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 pur- 
suits, 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 tl is opportunity of 
boring at his love of literature, religion, and mediocrity. 


riches of Croesus ; happy and contented with that medio- 
crity, which I prize far beyond all the perishable and transi- 
tory 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, per- 
haps, 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 Crick - 
howel,) 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 Consta- 
ble'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 un- 
even 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 mar- 
gin 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 inclu- 
eum," 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 reve- 
rend 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 themo- 
tives. Their object (as our author tells us) was to preach the crusade 


monastery of Lanthoni, inclosed by its mountains, on our 
left. The castle of Abergevenni is so called from its situa- 
tion 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 AVallingford, 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 

in Wales, and rouse the spirit ot the natives to support the banners of 
the cross. To do this effectually, it was necessary to explore the inte- 
rior 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 TJsk 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 ad- 
dress, 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. 

1 In the vale of the Q-ronwy, about a mile above Pont Escob, there 
is a wood called Coed Bias, 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 possum predictum ; all con- 
spire 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 natu- 
rally give that road the preference, as expecting safety amongst his own 
tenants. The river Gronwy Fawr has itu source in the parish of Llane- 
liew, from whence, descending rapidly through a deep and rocky chan- 
nel, it pursues a southward course, varying occasionally to humour the 


him and his attendants, though much against their will, owl 
proceeded on his journey unarmed; from too great a pre- 
position of the mountains ; and divides Brecknockshire from the ad- 
joining 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 rood- 
?oft admirably carved in wood), from whence it takes a sudden turn to 
the westward, and is soon afterwards joined by another stream, called the 
Q-ronwy-fechan, or smaller Groriwy. 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 ad- 
vancement in honour and possessions. On the death of the Conqueror, 
favouring the cause of Robert (Jurthose, he rebelled against William 
Rufus, but when that king appeared in arms before his castle at Tun- 
bridge, 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 man- 
ner already related. Brian de Wallingford, called also Brien Fitz- 
Count, and Brien de Insula, received from his uncle, Hamelin, eldest 
son of Dru de Ealadun, 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 in- 
heritance, 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 consi- 
derable 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 unfortu- 
nately 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 ; Ber- 
tha, married to Philip de Braose, lord of Builth, had the lordship of 
Brecknock, Upper-Went, and Gower : and Lucia, who married Her 


sumption 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 precipi- 
tate, and inconsiderate rashness will not await the advice of 
the leader. 

A sermon having been delivered at Abergevenni, 2 and 

bert, eon of Henry Fitz-Herbert, chamberlain to king Henry I., and 
afterwards to king Stephen, received the forest of Dean and other lands 
in England. 

1 Tibicinem praevium habens et praecentorem cantilenas notulis alter- 
natim in fidicula respondentem. 

z 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 hi 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 per- 
petrated 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 Hoi- 
Unshed. " 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 re- 
ceived 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 to- 
wards 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, torn. 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 
Herefordise Ranulphus Poerius machinator;" and he afterwards en- 
deavours 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 de 


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 re- 
plied, "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 
Kanulf 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 prseda bonos." 

Tor after seven years of peace and tranquillity, the sons and 
grandsons of the deceased, having attained the age of man- 
hood, took advantage of the .absence of the lord of the castle 
(Abergevenni), and, burning with revenge, concealed them- 
selves, with no inconsiderable force, during the night, within 
the woody foss of the castle. One of them, named Sisillus (Sit- 
sylt) son of Eudaf, on the preceding day said rather jocularly 
to the constable, " Here will we enter this night," pointing 

precate the smiling villain, who, in the very moment when he pretended 
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 panegy- 
rist, 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. 


nut to him a certain angle in the wall where it seemed the 
lowest ; but since 

" Kidendo 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 Grod, the crime was punished in the 
very place where it had been committed. A short tima 
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 G-went 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 arte- 
ries 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 con- 
fessed, and received extreme unction before he died. And, 
indeed, many events concur to prove that, as those who 
respect the priesthood, in their latter day& enjoy the satis- 

1 Landinegat, or the church of St. Dingad, is now better known by 
th0 name of Dingatstow, or Dfnastow, a village near Monmouth. 

B B 


faction 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 suffer- 
ings 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 Yenta 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 Vente- 
land, extending from Chepstow to Newport on one side, and to Aber- 
gavenny on the other; the latter of which, he says, "maketh the 
cumpace of Hye Venteland." He adds, "The soyle of al Yenteland is 
of a darke reddische yerth ful of slaty stones, and other greater of the 
game color. The countrey is also sura what montayneus, and Welle 
replenished with woodes, also very fertyle of corne, but men there study 
more to pastures, the which be well inclosed." Leland, Itin. torn. v. p. 6. 
Ancient Gvrentland is now comprised within the county of MonmouUt. 


of the saddle which is called the aha, 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 op- 
posite hip, which fixed him on both sides to his seat. What 
more could be expected from a balista ? Tet 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 calcu- 
lated 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 ac- 
companied us through his diocese, were signed with the 
cross ; Alexander archdeacon of Bangor 3 acting as inter- 
preter to the Welsh. It is remarkable that many of the 
most notorious murderers, thieves, and robbers of the neigh- 
bourhood were here converted, to the astonishment of the 
spectators. Passing from thence through Caerleon, and leav- 
ing 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 pre- 
sent town. There are still the remains of a large castle on an eminence, 
which overlooks the town, and of a priory, adjoining to the parisli 

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 Gloucester- 
shire, between the rivers Severn and Wye. It contains about thirtv 
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 ter- 
rible by reason of its shades and cross-ways, that it rendered the in- 
habitants barbarous, and emboldened them to commit many outrages. 
In the reign of Henry VI., they so annoyed the inhabitants of tha 



and on this side the Severn, and which amply supplies Grlou 
cester 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 splen- 
dour may yet be seen ; immense palaces, formerly ornamented 
with gilded roofs, in imitation of Roman magnificence, in- 
asmuch as they were first raised by the Roman princes, and 
embellished with splendid buildings ; a tower of prodigious 
size, remarkable hot baths, relics of temples, and theatres, 
all inclosed within fine walls, parts of which remain standing. 
You will find on all sides, both within and without the cir- 
cuit of the walls, subterraneous buildings, aqueducts, under- 
ground passages ; and what I think worthy of notice, stoves 
contrived with wonderful art, to transmit the heat insensibly 
through narrow tubes passing up the side walls. 

Julius and Aaron,* after suffering martyrdom, were buried 

banks of the Severn with their robberies, that an act of parliament wag 
made on purpose to restrain them. The oak of this forest was so con- 
siderable, 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. 

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 stonewalls 
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 .' ' 

8 According to what is probably a mere legend, when the perse- 
cution of the emperor Dioclesian raged against the Christians through- 
out the whole empire, a certain man, named Amphibalus, illustrious 
for his virtues and learning, having crossed the sea, came to Verula- 
mium, 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 con- 


in this city, and had each a church dedicated to him. After 
Albanus and Amphibalus, they were esteemed the chief pro- 
tomartyrs 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, bis 
associate, and ennobled with an order of canons ; and the 
third distinguished as the metropolitan of Wales. Amphi- 
balus, 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 arch- 
bishop 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 : 

" Nee mihi de facili fieri persuasio posset, 
Quod frustra tan turn dederit natura nitorem 
Saxis, quodque suo flierit flos hie sine fructu." 

Xor can I be easily persuaded that nature hath given such 
splendour to the rocks in vain, and that this flower should 

vert to Christianity. Anxious, however, for the safety of his guest, Al- 
banus 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 mordent 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. 

1 G-ouldcliffe, or G-oldcliff, 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 
1., gave it to the abbey of Bee, 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 pene- 
trate 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 inatten- 
tion, which the diligence of posterity will bring to light ; for, 
as necessity first taught the ancients to discover the con- 
veniences of life, so industry, and a greater acuteuess of 
intellect, have laid open many things to the moderns ; as the 
poet says, assigning two causes for these discoveries, 

" labor omnia vincifc 

Improbus, et duris urgens in rebus egestas." 

It is worthy of observation, that there lived in the neigh- 
bourhood of this City of Legions, in our time, a Welshman 
named Melerius,who, under the following circumstances, ac- 
quired 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 pi ace, 
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 aifairs 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 rut the 
place with his finger. Being questioned how he could gain 


Bueb 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 in its 
place, they instantly reappeared in greater numbers, and re- 
mained 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 Mele- 
rius, who, being asked how he knew this circumstance, said, 
that a demon came to him disguised as a hunter, and, ex- 
ulting 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-mar- 
gel, 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 Cjveilioc, prince 
of Powys, and Dugdale to Madoc, the son of Gruffydh, giving for his 
authority the original grants and endowments of this abbey. Accord- 
ing 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 tc 
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 conjec- 
tural signs, may foretel future by past events, so by insi- 
dious treachery and contrivance, added to exterior appear- 
ances, he may sometimes be able to discover the interior 
workings of the mind. 

At the same time there was in Lower G-went 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 comfort- 
able words of Melerius : " Eear 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 be- 
sieged 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 re- 
ceived 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 lie 
soon after died of the same wound. Thus does that arch- 
enemy favour his friends for a time, and thus does he at 
l&st reward them. 


In all these singular events it appears to me most won- 
derful that he saw those spirits so plainly with his carnal 
eyes, because spirits cannot be discerned by the eyes of mor- 
tals, 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 Avail, " Mane, Techel, Phares," that is, weighed, num- 
bered, divided ; who in the same night lost both his king- 
dom 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 de- 
praved 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 Bacban, falls into the sea, many 
persons were induced to take the cross. Having passed 
the river Eemni, we approached the noble castle of Caer- 
dyf, a situated on the banks of the river Taf. 3 In the neigh- 

1 Newport (in the Latin of Giraldus, Noviisburgus) is a borough 
town, on the banks of the Usk, with the ruins of an ancient castle. 

2 Caerdiff, i. <?., 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 mas- 
sive 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 build- 
ings. A fine specimen, however of its Norman architecture is still pre- 
served 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 bis Description of Wales, Book i. chap. 5. 


bourliood of Newport, which is in the district of Grwentluc, 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 Byd 
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 fora 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 
Hug, 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 
Hesse. The soile bv 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 come. And this low ground is from 
the causey or highway that goit from Newport to Pont Kemny by south 
to the Severne se. The north side of the same highway is stille higher 
and higher to the northe." Leland, Jtin. 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 Wi^ke." (Leland.) 
At first it bears the appearance of a mountain torrent, but on approach- 
ing 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 ri^er, 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 Middl* 


Xant 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 he ful- 
filled. 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 Bri- 
tons 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 Eobert, 1 who, be- 
sides that castle, possessed by hereditary right all the pro- 
vince of G-wladvorgan, 2 that is, the land of Morgan, had a 

1 Eobert Fitz-IIamon, earl of Astremeville, in Normandy, came into 
England with William the Conqueror ; and, by the gift of William 
Eufus, obtained the honour of Gloucester, which had been the inhe- 
ritance of Brictric, a Saxon ; who, having incurred the displeasure ol 
Maude, the Conqueror's wife, by refusing her in marriage, was dispos- 
sessed 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 Tewkes- 
buvy, 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 Eobert, who was 
advanced to the earldom of Gloucester by the king, his father. He is' 
*aid 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 men- 
tioned by Giralclus, who succeeded him in his titles and honours ; 
Eoger, bishop of Worcester, who died at Tours in France, A.D. 1179; 
liamon. who died at the siege of Toulouse, A.D. 1159 ; and Philip. 

2 The Coychurch Manuscript quoted by Mr. Williams, in his His- 
tory of Monmouthshire, asserts that Morgan, surnamed Mwyn-fawr, or 
the Gentle, the son of Athrwy (the celebrated Arthur), not having 
been elated to the chief command of the British armies, upon lii* 


dispute with one of his dependants, whose name was Ivor 
the Little, 1 being a man of short stature, but of great cou 
rage. This man was, after the manner of the "Welsh, owner 
of a tract of mountaiuous 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 defi- 
ance 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 com- 
pensation of additional property ; for, as the poet observes, 

" Spectandum est semper ne inagna 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 re- 
turn 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 

father's death retired from Caerleon, and took up his residence in Gla- 
morganshire, 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 littel 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. 

1 Cui nomen Yvorus agnomen Modicus erat. Explained in the mar- 
gin of the folio edition of Giraldus by Yvorus Bach. 

- St. Piranus, otherwise called St. Kiaran, or Hran, 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 alter 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. Tke place of his retirement 


fair complexion, with a round tonsure and meagre counte- 
nance, 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 G-od 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 pre- 
paration 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 Mer- 
cros, 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 lan- 
guage 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 

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. 

1 So called from a parish of that name in Glamorganshire, situated 
between Monk If ash 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 tue 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 sous, was 
continued till the time of his decease. This monarch, 
through divine mercy (for God is more desirous of the con- 
version 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 Prin- 
eipis Instructione." 

Not far from Caerdyf is a small island situated near the 
shore of the Severn, called Barri, from St. Baroc, 1 who for- 
merly 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 de- 
tained 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, accord- 
ing 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 ishvid, says, "The pas- 
aage into Barrey isle at iul se is a flite shot ver, as much as the 




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 cele- 
brated 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 Morgan.* 
This monastery, under the direction of Conan, a learned 

Tamise is above the bridge. At low water, there is a broken causey to 
go over, or els over the shalow stream elet 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 Caerdiif. 

1 William de Salso Marisco. 

2 The see of Llandaff is pretended to have been founded by the Bri- 
tish 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, discretum, et honestum," presided over the see of 
LlandaiF at this time, and received the archbishop and his attendants on 
their journey through Wales. 

3 From Llandaff, our crusaders proceeded towards the Cistercian mo- 
nastery of Margan, passing on their journey near the little cell of Bene- 
dictines at Ewenith, or Ewenny, whose embattled towers and anti- 
quated appearance would, in modern days, naturally attract the atten- 
tion 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 

4 The Cistercian monastery of Margan, justly celebrated for the ei- 
tcnsive charities which its members exercised, was founded A.D. 1147, by 
Robert earl of Gloucester, who died in the same year, nrid was buried 


and prudent abbot, was at this time more celebrated for it* 
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 per- 
sons, 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 en- 
deavoured 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 unani- 
mous 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 sud- 
denly to ripen, more than a month before the usual time of 
harvest : thus, divine Providence supplied the brotherhood 

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 wa* 
entire, and was accurately drawn and engraved by his orders. 


and the numerous poor with sufficient nourishment until 
autumn. By these and other signs of virtues, the place 
accepted by G-od began to be generally esteemed and vene- 

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 no- 
tice. 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 testi- 
mony of so great and extraordinary a deed. A dog, of all 
animals, is most attached to man. and most easily dis- 
tinguishes 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 sa,ke of plunder. 
The murderer, concealed by the darkness of the morning, 
escaped into another part of the city ; the corpse lay un- 
buried ; a large concourse of people assembled ; and the dog, 
with bitter bowlings, lamented his master's fate. The mur- 
derer, 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, 

c c 


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 vic- 
torious 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 com- 
mitted many atrocious acts of depredation on the neighbour- 
ing herds and flocks. I shall take this opportunity of men- 
tioning 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 endeavour- 
ing 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 com- 
mence, we forded over the river Avon, having been consider- 
ably delayed by the ebbing of the sea ; and under the guid- 
ance 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 bag- 
gage 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* 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 

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 Eichard de Grainville, or Greenefeld, and 
Constance, his wife, for the safety of the souls of Eobert, earl of Glou- 
cester, Maude, his wife, and William, his son. Eichard de Grainville 
was one of the twelve Norman knights who accompanied Eobert Fitz* 

cc 2 


approaching again to the district of St. David's, and leaving 
the diocese of Landaf (which we had entered at Aberge- 
venny) 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 cf those parts, named Eotherch 
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. 

Hamon, and assisted him in the conquest of Glamorganshire. He re- 
ceived, 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 ab- 
bey was at first inhabited by monks of the order of Savigny, or Fratres 
Grisei, who became afterwards Cistercians, or Monachi Albi. Notwith- 
standing the original donation to Savigny, we do not find that this reli-> 
gious 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, stand- 
ing in the ripe of Neth, semid to me the fairest abbay of al Wales."- 
Leland, Itin. torn. v. p. 14. The remains of the abbey and of the ad- 
joining 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 areBome remains of its ancient castle, of which history 
has left the following memorial. Its original construction may be attri- 
buted to Kichard de Grainville ; it was besieged A.D. 1185 for the second 
time, and held out manfully till an army came from England to its re- 
lief, put to flight the Welsh who had besieged it, and burned a large 
machine which they had erected against it. 


Entering the province called Goer, 1 we spent the night 
at the castle of Sweynsei, 2 which in Welsh is called Aber- 
tawe, 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 de- 
prive 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 bit- 
terly, 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 pe- 

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 clau- 
sit." His son Koger succeeded to his earldom, and is said by Dugdale 
(History of Warwickshire, p. 304) to have been the conqueror of Gow- 
herland 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 
'as, that it was built by Henry de Beaumont, earl of Warwick, and that 
in the year 1113 it was attacked by Gruifydd ap Rhys, but without suc- 
cess. This castle became afterwards a part of the possessions of tha 
ee of St. David's, and was rebuilt by bishop Gower. 


nance, and in addition to my former gift, I will equal the 
Bum from the residue of my tenths." The archbishop, smi- 
ling at his devout ingenuity, embraced him with admira- 

On the same night, two monks, who waited in the arch- 
bishop'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 con- 
cealed himself under the hollow bank of a river, After 
fasting in that situation for two days, two little men oi 
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 shoul- 
ders 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 inconstan- 
cies ; they had no form of public worship, being strict 
lovers and reverers, as it seemed, of truth. 


The boy frequently returned to our hemisphere, some- 
times 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 he reached 
the door of his father's house, but not unpursued, and was 
entering it in a great hurry, his foot stumbled on the thres- 
hold, 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, con- 
founded 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 alle- 
viated 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 think- 
ing, 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 con- 
cerning 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 Ityui ; and Dur also; in 
the British language, signifies water. When they wanted salt 
they said, Halgein ydorum, bring salt : salt is called X in 
Greek, and Halen 'in British, for that language, from the 
^ength of time which the Britons (then called Trojans, and 


afterwards Britons, from Brito, their leader) remained ID 
Greece after the destruction of Troy, became, in many in- 
stances, similar to the Greek. 

It is remarkable that so many languages should cor- 
respond in one word, aX 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 aXg in Greek is called Sal 
in Latin, spi semi \irra, 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 res- 
pect prevail against the lord of nature." These things, 
therefore, and similar contingencies, I should place, accord- 
ing 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 nrst crossed the river Lochor, 

1 Lochor, or Llwchwr, was the Leucarum mentioned in the Itinera- 
ries, and the fifth Roman station on the Via Julia. This small village 
is situated on a tide-river bearing the same name, which divides tho 
counties of Glamorgan and Caermarthen, and over which there is a 
ferry. "Lochor river partith Kidwelli from West Goweriande.'*- - 
Itin. ton,, 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 Grruftydh son of lihys, then prince of South 
Wales, was en gaged in soliciting assistance from North Wales, 
his wife Grwenliana (like the queen of the Amazons, and a 
second Penthesilea) led an army into these parts; but she was 
defeated by Maurice de Loudres, 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 abovementioned Maurice had a forest in that neighbour- 
hood, 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 
nocks 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 hus- 
band, 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 inilys 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 Kid- 

a Cydweli. was probably so called from cyd, a junction, and wyl, a 
flow, or gushing out, being situated near the junction of the rivers Gwen- 
draeth fawr and fychan ; but Leland gives its name a very singular de- 
rivation, and worthy of our credulous and superstitious author Giral- 
dus. " 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 Vawr and Vendraith Vehan. Vendraith 
Vawr is half a mile of." Leland, I tin. torn. 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 ol 
G-wenllian ; 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.,Bhys, the son of Gruffydh, took these two castles by 
assault ; then, having laid waste, by fire and sword, the pro- 
vinces of Penbroch and Eos, 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 Ca- 
delh, 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 Llaug- 
harne ; it protected the western entrance of the river Tave, which ia 
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 Caermarthen shire and Glamorganshire 
is singularlyintersected by tide rivers the Tave at Llaugharne, the Tywy 
at Llanstephan, the two Gwendraeths at Cydweli, the Lochor andTawy 
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 itine- 
raries. 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 


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 
rUer Tyvvy, surrounded by woods and pastures, and was 
strongly inclosed with wall's of brick, part of which are still 
standing ; having Cantref Mawr, the great cantred, or hun- 
dred, 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 Ty wy, 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 vas- 

doubt that it is derived simply from the Roman name Muridunum. 
When we consider the many and repeated reverses of fortune which 
Caennardyn 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. 

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 Cardi- 
ganshire, 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. 


sals, within the comot of Caeo, in the Cantref Mawr. 
Dinevor, on the other side of the river Tywy, in the Can- 
tref Bychan, or the little cantred, there is a spring which, 
like the tide, ebbs and flows twice in twenty-tour hours. 1 
Not far to the north of Caermardyn, namely at Pencadair, 2 
that is, the head of the chair, when Rhys, the s >n of Gruf- 
fydh, was more by stratagem than force compelled to sur- 
render, 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, arid 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 in- 
accessible 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 iarre as Peneadayr, beside 
Brecknock, where Kees 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 Ar- 
chaeology, I find it mentions Pencadair in South Wales only, not near 

, 3 Alba Domus was called in Welsh Ty Gwyn ar Dav, or the White 
House on the river Tav. In the liistory of the primitive British 


of the murder of a young Welshman, who was devout, y has- 
tening to meet him ; when turning out of the road, he or* 
dered 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, 
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 Kdmish 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 An- 
glia Sacra . " Anno 1143 ducti sunt monachi ordinis Cisterciensis qui 
ruodo sunt apud Albam Landam, in West Walliam, per Bernardum 
episcopum." Leland, in his Collectanea, says, " Whitland, abbat. Cis- 
tert., Rhesus filius Theodori princeps Suth Wallise primus furidator ;" 
and in his Itinerary, mentions it as a convent of Bernardynes, "which 
yet stondeth." About the year 117], 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 Narbertb. 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, extend- 
ing 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 ! 
2 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 ; I ut the artificial tumulus on which the citadel 
was placed, arid other broken ground, mark its ancient sie. 


were oil the following day signed with the cross at Alba 
Domus, as a punishment for their crime. Having traversed 
three rivers, the Tat', then the Cledheu, under Lanwadein, 1 
and afterwards another branch of the same river, we at 
length arrived at Haverford. This province, from its situa- 
tion between two rivers, has acquired the name of Dau- 
gledheu, 2 being enclosed and terminated, as it were, by two 
swords, for cledhue, in the British language, signifies a sword. 



A SEEMON having been delivered at Haverford 3 by the 
archbishop, and the word of Glod 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 sum- 
mit 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 tur- 
bulence 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 hal- 
lowed 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 moun- 
tain, 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 be- 
twixt the 2 Gleves caullid Kollell, i. e. cultellus." And again, alluding 
to the latter rivulet, he says, " betwyxt the 2 Gleves by Harfordwest ia 

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. torn. v. p. 27, 28. 
The annotator, Dr. Powel, in his notes on this chapter, confounds Hul- 
phord, or Haverford, with Aberdaugledheu, or Milford Haven. 

8 Haverford, now called Haverfordwest, is a considerable town on 
the mer Cledheu, with an ancient castle, three churches, and some mo- 
nabti : remains. ' Havevfordwest lordship, which is in Roselande, hath 


tne 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 imme- 
diately 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 

the waullid town of Haverford and eastel : the water of Mylford Haven 
devidith the lordship from Penbrooke." Leland, It in. torn. v. p. 26. 
The old castle (now used as the county gaol), from its size and 
commanding situation, adds greatly to the picturesque appearance ot 
this town. 

1 By the title of archidiaeonus Menevensis, which Giraldus here 
applies to himself, the reader might suppose him to have been arch- 
deacon of St. Darid's, whereas he was only archdeacon of Brecon, ia 
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 
r 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 secu- 
rity 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, recol- 
lected 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 suf- 
fered 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 secon4 
blow was given, and the lord of the castle asserting that the 
greatest pains were at his heart, the blind man expressing 
Iris disbelief, again carried the boy to the summit of th 
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 hej 
" 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, precipi- 
tating 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 Oaradoc, led a pious and re- 
cluse 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 hare 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 Eos, 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 memo- 
rial : " 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 hare 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 Penbroke&hire, 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 con- 
sisted 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 countri- 
woman, sithens which time their numbers so increased, thtit the realme 
of England was sore pestered with them ' r whereupon king Henrie die- 
vised to place them in Penbroieshirev as well as to avoid them oia>t of 
the other parts of England, as afeo 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 1 
there, they valiantlie resisted their enimies, and made verie iharpe 
warres upon them, sometimes with g,ain% and sometime* with losae." 

D D 


portion of all his brothers, and the paternal inheritance. 
It happened that Bichard, being overtaken by a violent 
storm of rain, turned aside to the hermit's cell ; and being 
unable to get his hounds near him, either by calling, coaxing, 
or by offering them food, the holy man smiled ; and making 
a gentle motion with his hand, brought them all to him 
immediately. In process of time, when Caradoc' had 
happily completed the course of his existence, Tankard, 
father of Richard, violently detained his body, which by his 
last will he had bequeathed to the church of St. David ; 
but being suddenly seized with a severe illness, he revoked 
his command. When this had happened to him a second 
and a third time, and the corpse at last was suffered to be 
conveyed away, and was proceeding over the sands of Ni- 
wegai towards St. David's, a prodigious fall of rain inun- 
dated 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 unin- 
jured 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 un- 
fortunately lost two favourite greyhounds, which had been committed 
to his care, that prince, in a fury, threatened his life ; upon which Ca- 
radoc 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 Eos, where 
he died in 112i, 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 her- 
mitage was situated in the parish of Haroldstone, near the town of 
Haverfordwest, whose church has St. Ismael for its patron, and pro- 
bably near a place called Poorfield, the common on which Haverford- 
west 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 afore- 
said 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, dis- 
sembling, earnestly demanded the cause of her smiling, and 1 
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 com- 
mission 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 igno- 
miny 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 ex- 
ternal signs; shame and sorrow urging her by turns, and 
manifesting themselves, now by blushes, now by pale- 
ness, 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 

i 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 blade- 
bone 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 Tartars,. 


cleaned; who, observing for a short time the lines and 
marks, exclaimed, " Unhappy cattle, that never was multi- 
plied ! unhappy, likewise, the owner of the cattle, who never 
had more than three or four in one flock !" Many persons, 
a year an da 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 Manders, 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 per- 
son 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 inspec- 
tion 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 per- 
forming. 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 sestuary. 
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 Giral- 

1 Arnulph, younger son of Koger de Mountgomeiy, did his homage 
for Dyvet, and is said, by our author, to have first erected a slender for- 
tress with stakes and turf at Pembroke, in the reign of king Henry I. t 
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. 


chis 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 pru- 
dence 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, hav- 
ing 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 solicit- 
ing 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 Eng- 
land 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 sur- 
name of Windsor from his father's office, and was ancestor to the 
lords Windsor, who haye 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 rounty ot 
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 Griifin : be 
died about the vear 1116. 


an illustrious progeny of both sexes ; and by whose mean 
both the maritime parts of South Wales were retained by 
the English, and the walls of Ireland afterwards stormed, 
as our Yaticinal 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 
solicit ude, 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 grati- 
tude 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 car- 
ried 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 sit- 
uated on a rock overhanging a branch of Milford Haven. It still pre- 
serves much of its Norman character ; the lofty round tower, with an 
arched roof of stone, is a most grand and conspicuous object, reai'ing 
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 at- 

2 Maenor Pyrr, now known by the name of Manorbeer, is a small 


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 
Bummit of a hill extending on the western side towards the 
Bea-port, having on the northern and southern sides a fine 
fish-pond under its walls, as conspicuous for its grand ap- 
pearance, 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. Prom 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 sup- 
plied with corn, sea-fish, and imported wines ; and what is 
Preferable to every other advantage, from its vicinity to Ire- 
ind, 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 

village on the sea coast, between Ten by and Pembroke, with the re- 
maining shell of a large castle. Our author has given a far-fetched ety- 
mology to this castle and the adjoining island, in calling them the man- 
sion and island of Pyrrhus : a much more natural and congenial con- 
jecture may be made in supposing Maerior 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 war- 
fare 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 thii 


of the province of Demetia ; and the place I have just de- 
scribed, 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 hia 
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 gar- 
ments, much to the loss of the owner of the house and hia 
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 in- 
stances. 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 pro- 
tected by the crucifix, or the holy water, on devoutly enter- 
ing the house, were equally subject to the same insults. 
From whence it appears that things pertaining to the sacra- 
ments, 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 Oriel- 
ton, A.D. 1612. 

u 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 in- 
dicated 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." Prom 
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 
aays, " 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 Prance, 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 it- 
self 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 failing upon a privy." An event worthy of note, 
happened in our time in France. During a contention bo- 


tween some monks of the Cistercian order, and a certaia 
knight, about the limits of their fields and lands, a violent 
tempest, in one night, utterly destroyed and ruined the cul- 
tivated grounds of the monks, while the adjoining territory 
of the knight remained undamaged. On which occasion he 
insolently inveighed against the fraternity, and publicly as- 
serted 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 Peubroch, 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 pre- 
vious 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 deter- 
mined should be done, whether pleasing or displeasing to 

1 There are two churches in Pembrokeshire called Staekpoole, one of 
which, called Staekpoole Elidor, derived its name probably from the 
Elidore de Stakepole mentioned in this chapter by Giraldus. It con- 
tains several ancient monuments, and amongst them the effigies of a 
cross-legged knight, which has bee.; for many years attributed to th 
aforesaid Elidore. 


his master or mistress (for, as we have said before, he knew 
all their secrets), lie 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 dis- 
covery, he was summoned the next morning before the 
master of the house and his lady, and, receiving his dis- 
charge, delivered up the keys, which he had held for up- 
wards of forty days. Being earnestly interrogated, at his 
departure, who he was ? he answered, " That he was be- 
gotten 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 con- 
tracted a great familiarity with him. Conversing one day 
with the archbishop about ancient histories and unknown 
events, on w r hich topic he most frequently heard him with 
pleasure, it happened that when the subject of their dis- 
course 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 com- 
ing, was much diminished ; insomuch that they were dis- 
persed 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 ques- 
tions by turns, and form conjectures ; and having waited 
some time (for he was expected to return soon), the arch- 
bishop ordered some of his attendants to call him, but he 
was sought for in vain, and never re-appeared. Soon after- 
wards, 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 circum- 


stance 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 
Borne, on account of some business of his master's (mean- 
ing 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 diver- 
sion of hawking, he accidentally saw a noble falcon perched 
upon a rock. Gromg 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 be- 
coming 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 
cliffs ; 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, Griraldus, son of 
William, revenged his death by a too severe retaliation on 

1 Bamaey 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 
iutle harbour of Solvach, situated in a deep and narrow cove, siu> 
rounded by high rocks. 


the men of Eos. "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 impas- 
sable, 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 con- 
sumed 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 paat 
was the metropolitan, city of Wales, though now, alas ! re- 
taining more of the name than of the omen, 1 yet I have not 
forborne to weep over the obsequies of our ancient and un- 
doubted 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 res- 
pective names to this present day. 



WE are informed by the British histories, that Dtibricius, 
archbishop of Caerleon, sensible of the infirmities of age, or 
rather being desirous of leadingr 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 trans- 
lated 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 quum ominis.'' Being a man of extra- 
ordinary reading, and conversant with the works of the Greek and 
Roman writers, he may have perhaps borrowed this expression from 
Plautus. who in his ply 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, &c. (Dordalus) Si te emam, rnihi quo- 
que Lucridem conndo fore te. Plautua Delphini, torn. ii. p> 27. Actus 
ir., 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 tem- 
pests, 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 re- 
tired 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 " Hie etenira angulus est supra Hibernicum mare remotissimus ; 
terra saxosa, sterilis, et infcocunda ^ nee silvis vestita, nee fluminibus 
distincta, nee pratis ornata ;. ventis solum et procellis semper exposita." 
Such is the dreary and well-pictured account given by Griraldus 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 accom- 
modations has driven away many an inquisitive tourist and antiquarian. 
Although, in the language of the poet, 

"Menevia plorat 

Curtatos niitrse 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 E. 
C. H ) We have now an admirable history of the cathedral and see of 
St. David's, by E. A. Freeman, Esq., and the Eev. Basil Jones. Ac- 
cording 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 wore 
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 Pem- 
brokeshire 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 Darid, or St. David's, 
after his name. 


away ;" for David was remarkable for his sanctity and reli- 
gion, 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 be- 

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, Cledauc, Anian, Euloed, Ethelmen, Elauc, Malscoed, 
Sadermen, Catellus, Sulhaithnai, Nonis, Etwal, Asser, Ar- 
thuael, Sampson. In the time of Sampson, the pall was 
translated from Menevia in the following manner : a dis- 
order 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 hoiy 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 atten- 
dants 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 sig- 
nify 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 
"Armoricse civitates Universis civitatibus quse oceanum attingunt, 
quseque Gallorum consuetudine Armoricse appellantur." Ctesar^ Com' 
men/, 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 Constaii- 
tine 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 Borne, 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 col- 
lar 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 it 
fastened to the upper garment with three golden pins. Cressy, 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 sub- 
jugation 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 profes- 
sion or submission being made to any other church. 

Prom the time of Sampson to that of king Henry I,, 
nineteen bishops presided over this see : Kueliu, Bodherch, 
Elguin, Lunuerd, JSergu, 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, 
Jevau (who was bishop only one night), Argustel, Morgen- 
ueth, Ervin, Tramerin, Joseph, Bleithud, Sulghein, Abra- 
ham, Wilfred. Since the subjugation of Wales to the pre- 
sent 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 man- 
date, were consecrated at Canterbury ; as also G-eoffrey, 
prior and canon of Lanthoni, who succeeded them in the 
reign of king John, and was preferred to this see by the in- 
terest 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 Bright- 
ley, in Devonshire, from whence they were removed to Ford, in thj 
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 
Been in the English History of Bede, who says that " Augus- 
tine, 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 im- 
mediately returned, and treated him and his statutes with 
contempt, publicly proclaiming that they would not acknow- 
ledge him for their archbishop ; alleging, that if he now re- 
fused 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 confi- 
dent was he of his just right, that he sometimes caused the 
cross to be carried before him during his journey through 

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 Here- 
ford or Worcester at the time of Augustine. 


malady under which all the English sent hither seem to 
labour), he alienated many of the lauds of his church with- 
out either advantage or profit, and disposed of others so in- 
discreetly 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 ex- 
perience 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 unpro- 
ductive 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 con- 
cerning the name, size, and quality of which we have treated 
in our Vaticinal History. 2 Henry II., on his return from Ire- 
land, 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, Eobert 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 ia 
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* 

* 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 em- 
barked 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, a 
Welsh woman threw herself at the king's feet, and made a 
complaint against the bishop of the place, which was ex- 
plained to the king by an interpreter. The woman, imme- 
diate 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 Mer- 
lin, " 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 Mene- 
via." 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 indig- 
nantly inveighed against the prophet : " Who will here- 
after give credit to the lying Merlin ?" A person standing 

1 Lechlavar, so called from the words in Welsh, L16c, a itone, and 
Llavar, loquacious. 


by, and observing what had 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 con- 
quered, 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 Eng- 
land, who was called Rufus, and who had penetrated 
far into Wales, on seeing Ireland from these rocks, is re- 
ported 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 Grod 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 hap- 
pened on a certain day, when the brethren of the church were assem- 
bled together, that a general complaint was made of the want of clean 
and pure water for the performance of mass and other religious solem- 
nities ; for the river Aiun, 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 
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 morn- 
ing before the high altar of the church of St. David, and 
enjoined to the archdeacon (Giraldus) the office of preach- 
ing to the people, hastened through Cemmeis 1 to meet 
prince Khys 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 infi- 

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 Pem- 
brokeshire ; 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 HenUys, lord of Kemeys, published in the second vo- 
lume of the Cambrian Register, 1796, we find that the county of Pem- 
broke 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 Gruf- 
fydh, 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, lie 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. 

4 There is a place in Cemmaos now called Tre-liflan, i. e. Toad's town j 
ana over a chimney-piece in the house ihere is a figure of a toad sculp- 
tured in marble, said to have been brought from Italy, and intended 
probably to confirm and commemorate this tradition of Giraldua. 


nite 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 Prese- 
leu mountains, 1 was warned for three successive nights, by 

1 Preseleu, Preselaw, Prescelly, Presselw. The topography of the 
Preseieu mountains is thus accurately described in the manuscript be- 
fore mentioned : " The cheefest and principall mountaine of this 
sheere is Percelley, which is a long ridge or ranck of uiountaines run- 
ning 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 inhabi- 
tants 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 Kernes, within which lordship it standeth, yet in 
divers parts thereof claymed to be the landes of divers particular per- 
sons, and this name of Percelley is a genus, as Cotteswald is in Glouces- 
tershire, divers particular places therein having special and proper 
names. Cwmkerwyn is the highest pointe or peake of this mountaiue, 
and is the nrst and cheefest. Jand-omrke that mariners doe make at sea. 


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. Obey- 
ing 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, 3 

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 coine to the sight of any other land, by reason 
the sea shores is so lowe j 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 seene the tract of an ancient 
way now cleare out of use j 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 mon- 
tis, a loco qui dicitur Wyndy-pete indirecte versus orientem usque ad 
Blaenvanon, et sic descender) do usque ad Ecclesiam Albam, Meline 
Trefthey, Perketh, Kiven, et Kilgwyn, &c.' " 

1 St. Bernacus is said, by Cressy, to have been a man of admirable 
sanctity, who, through devotion, made a journey to Eome ; 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 5 one of which, called Llan- 
vernach, or the church of St.Bernach, is situated on the eastern side of the 
Prescelley mountain ; and I have been informed that there is a redun- 
dant spring, called St. Bernard's Well, under the same range of moun- 
tains 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. 

a 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 pa- 
rish church, is the site of a large castle, undoubtedly the one alluded 
to by Giraldus. On the southern side of the churchyard is a curioua 
mncient cross mentioned by Camden, richly decorated in divers com* 


in our days. Rhys, son of Gruffydh, 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 so- 
lemnly sworn, by the most precious relics, that his indem- 
nity and security should be faithfully maintained, and, con- 
trary to his word and oath, gave it to his son G-ruffydh ; 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, G-ruffydh, 
and bestowed upon the man in the world he most hated, 
his brother Malgon. Rhys, also, about two y