The French at Fishguard: Fact, Fiction and Folklore* by Richard Rose It is a very great honour to be invited to address the Cymmrodorion Society and I think that no one can do so for the first time without some degree of nervousness. However, I must say that my anxiety before a London audience tonight is as nothing to the terror I would feel if I were foolish enough to utter some of the heresies contained in my notes anywhere in West Wales, but especially in Fishguard. I might then find Amazonian women, armed with pitchforks and wearing red shawls and tall black hats, to be far from legendary beings. When I began to prepare this talk last September I realised that the subject of the French invasion at Fishguard had been occupying my mind for a con- siderable time, in fact for more than forty years. In 1959, when I was twelve years old, my grandfather died leaving a large collection of old books, some of which later came my way. Amongst them was a little volume printed in 1803, called 'Johnson's Dictionary in Miniature.' At the front was an engraved portrait of Dr Johnson, looking exceedingly grumpy, then followed the Dictionary in tiny type and at the back was a little section entitled, A Chronology of the Most Remarkable Events that have occurred during the French Revolution from 1789 to 1799. I then knew vaguely about the French Revolution, having seen the film of A Tale of Two Cities' which had aroused in me a very unhealthy curiosity about the guillotine and how it worked. With this sanguinary interest I read through the little Chronology in the back of the Dictionary, looking for violent events and finding them in abundance. Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793 and, according to the book, 'a mournful silence pervaded Paris'. War with Great Britain followed almost immediately on 1 February and on 7 August Mr Pitt was 'declared by a decree of the Convention an enemy to the human race.' Marie Antoinette was guillotined on 16 October and through the next few months I followed the course of the Terror with fascination. I was very pleased when I read the entry for 28 July 1794; 'Robespierre and his party guillotined amongst universal execrations,' though I had to refer to Dr Johnson for the meaning of execrations. From there onwards I gained a confused impression Based with later research on a lecture given to the Honourable Society at the British Academy on 15 January 2002. In the chair: Brigadier Rolph James, CBE, President of the Pembrokeshire Society.