THE MARCH OFWALES: A QUESTION OF TERMINOLOGY TERMINOLOGY has often attracted and fascinated historians. Terms such as Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment and numerous others have found wide usage although much time is spent defining, re- defining and rejecting such labels. Marchia Walliae is a term well known and used by historians--on occasion even in translation when the text does not warrant it-but what actually lies behind its use?1 Perhaps the acid test is whether terminology was contemporary: that would give it greater validity than labels applied with the often dangerous distortions of hindsight. This article explores the terminology applied to the lands between England and Wales and particularly the historiography of the term Marchia Walliae in the Angevin period (1155-1216). May we correctly write of a historical March or is it merely a historical construct that conveniently serves the historian's purpose? Historians seem confident in their use of the term and in its meaning, but contemporary usage was slow to develop and, very likely, its meaning was slower to develop and was never precise. In 1215 Magna Carta, that milestone in so many aspects of medieval history, gave official recognition, for the first time, to the existence of the law of the March and in so doing recognized that the March was a jurisdictionally separate area, distinct from both England and Wales, and carried with it the implied geographical division. Marchia Walliae had come of age! R. R. Davies provides a good definition of the term march as 'a broad zone on or beyond the frontiers of a country or an ill defined and contested district between two countries'.2 With reference to the March 1 See, for example, J. Appleby (ed.), Chronicle of Richard of Devizes (Nelson Parallel Texts, 1963), p. 66; M. Chibnall (ed.), Ecclesiastical History of OrdericVitalis, (Oxford, 1969-80), IV, p. 124. I am grateful to Professor R. Griffiths and Mrs S. Hewson who read the early drafts of the article. 2 Lordship and Society in the March of Wales, 1282-1400 (Oxford, 1978), p. 15.