Core Details

Actor type: Person
Full Name: Gerald of Wales
Notes: Gerald of Wales (also known as Geraldus Cambrensis) was a medieval churchman, scholar, diplomat and theologian. Born at Manorbier Castle in 1145, he was three parts Norman and one part Welsh and is probably best known for his books The Journey Through Wales and The Description of Wales. The first is a travel diary of a preaching tour he undertook in 1188 in which he accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin, to gain support and recruit men for the Third Crusade. The second is a description of the geography of Wales and its social conditions in the last years of the reign of Henry II. Both are valuable source books for the history of the 12th century. Gerald was also a great self-publicist as evidenced from the many references to himself in his writings. However, his books are witty and observant and still eminently readable today. Not surprisingly he was fulsome in his praise of Manorbier and its Castle (“In all the broad lands of Wales, Manorbier is the most pleasant place by far”). Sadly, he never realised his ambition to become Bishop of St Davids and then to persuade the Pope in Rome to appoint him as Archbishop of Wales (a role which didn’t exist at the time). He fought with great courage for this, refusing offers of four bishoprics in Wales & Ireland, preferring to remain as Archdeacon of Brecon, if he could not realise his grand design. He died in 1223, nearly eighty years old. Reference: Preface from “Gerald of Wales” (Penguin Classic edition).