Welsh Journals

Search over 450 titles and 1.2 million pages

CYLCHGRAWN LLYFRGELL GENEDLAETHOL CYMRU THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF WALES JOURNAL VOLUME VI. Summer, 1950 NUMBER 3. GERALD THE WELSHMAN'S ITINERARY THROUGH WALES AND DESCRIPTION OF WALES n An Appreciation and Analysis II. THE DESCRIPTION OF WALES (PLATE VI. 6) §1. We have seen that Gerald's Itinerary through Wales has no plan apart from what plan is imposed upon it by the route of that memorable journey. The account of the Archbishop's mission serves as a mere peg whereon Gerald hangs everything that is of interest to himself and that can in any way be more or less loosely connected with Wales and her people. And therein lies the peculiar charm of the book. His- torical events, portents and prodigies, folk-tales and personal prejudices, prophetic dreams, reminiscences, descriptions of persons and places, quotations from classical authors and the Church Fathers, anecdotes of every description-all these jostle one another and rub shoulders most engagingly in the pages of the Itinerary. At the same time they combine to form an intimate picture of Wales and her inhabitants in the year 1188. And what was true of Wales in 1188 may be taken as being generally true of it during the whole of the mediaeval period. Princes might come and go, the Norman marcher lords might consolidate their hold on the country, castles be built and razed to the ground and be built again, but Wales and her people remained substantially the same till the close of the Middle Ages. In the Itinerary, however, Gerald nowhere writes directly of the country and its people. For an objective study of Wales and the Welsh we must turn from the Itinerary to Gerald's other work on Wales, his shorter and more philosophical treatise, The Description of Wales.! Of the two works, Gerald seems to have regarded the Itinerary as the more im- portant. Three editions of it were issued,2 and the additions and omissions in the second and third show that Gerald was continually revising it, in the main adding