Gerald of Wales’s ‘The Journey Through Wales’: Reinstating the Greatness of the Welsh Nation–By Thari Zweers

The works of Gerald of Wales, one of the most well-known and prolific Welsh writers, have been misunderstood by many critics.[1] This is especially true of Gerald’s Welsh works, the Journey Through Wales and the Description of Wales. The convoluted narrative structure of these works has complicated interpreting them properly and extracting meaning from them. This essay aims to explain why Gerald chose to write his Welsh works in this way, focusing primarily on the Journey as my exemplar and referencing the Description when necessary. I furthermore intend to answer the question of whether, in the Journey, Gerald was in favour of Welsh rebellion against the English rulers or not. Some critics have argued that Gerald “had been a loyal supporter of English royal politics, especially when they had been directed against Wales” at the time that the Welsh works were composed (Richter 65), yet a closer reading of the Journey proves otherwise. This study presents a re-examination of the Welsh works’ narrative structure as a travelogue written in the paratactic style and as a pilgrimage narrative through which Gerald’s support of the Welsh becomes clear. Gerald was in favour of Welsh independence from England, both nationally and spiritually. In the Journey, Gerald has made use of its narrative structure to convey this message.

1. The implications of different perspectives on discourse — I: Ethnography

The Journey has often been misinterpreted by previous critics, such as Lewis Thorpe and Robert Bartlett (see endnote 1). Most importantly, it has been wrongly classified as a piece of ethnographic writing with an Anglo-Norman expansionist agenda, which has obfuscated the work’s meaning. This frequent misinterpretation of the Journey can be attributed to the work’s perceived lack of a clear narrative structure, as “most of its readers [have seen the Journey] as a chatty, episodic travel narrative, a repository of great charm but little intellectual ambition” (Otter 130). This more negative view of the Journey is also reflected by Michael Richter, who dryly comments that “the treatise suffers from some imbalance” (Richter 64). This “imbalance” relates to the work’s many anecdotes that intersperse the actual travel account and which can make it quite difficult to read at times. The order in which the anecdotes are related further adds to the work’s unintelligibility, as it is often unclear how they relate to one another. For instance, in chapter one of the first book, an account of how a local church was attacked is followed by an account of how two large pools suddenly burst their banks upon the death of Henry I. These two instances do not seem, at least at first glance, to have much in common with each other apart from their miraculous content, something with which Gerald clearly had a fascination. Regardless of the seemingly illogical connections between these anecdotes, however, they do make up the bulk of the work and therefore appear to be of importance to Gerald.

The Journey also includes anecdotes about the various features and customs of the Welsh people, and these offer a possible explanation of why this work comprises so many anecdotes. For the episodic nature of the Journey would correspond with the narrative structure of ethnographic writing: “[The narrative form of the Journey] lent itself naturally to observations on local history and topography, and Gerald also crammed in various stories and notes on the customs of the inhabitants — methods of warfare and divinatory practices, for example” (Bartlett 181). Indeed, it seems quite natural to comment on the practices and habits of the people one encounters when writing an account of a journey. The Journey consequently contains many comments on the apparent customs of the Welsh, which Gerald seemingly does not depict very positively. As in most of the eleven instances in which he specifically identifies a feature of the Welsh, these references mainly focus on what Gerald calls the “vicious habit of the country” (Journey 200). Gerald hereby refers to the Welsh people’s apparent proneness to incestuous sexuality, their incessant feuds, fratricides and their hot-blooded temper. Robert Bartlett attributes the harshness of these descriptions to Gerald’s supposed negative intentions towards the Welsh. Bartlett categorises Gerald as one of a group of Anglo-Norman writers, who wrote from an Anglo-Norman expansionist perspective. According to Bartlett, this group used invective discourse to describe the natives of the colonised land as barbarians in order to justify the Anglo-Norman colonial expansion (Bartlett 158).[2]

From Bartlett’s point of view, Gerald’s comments on the feuds and fratricides among the Welsh thus take on special significance, as Bartlett considers these comments as confirmation that Gerald also promotes an Anglo-Norman expansionist agenda. Gerald is for instance in line with other Anglo-Norman expansionist writers when he states that the English would be most secure of their victory over the Welsh, if the dispersion and disunity between the various Welsh tribes were to continue (Bartlett 162-163). Gerald takes note of this in his Description as well, in which he expresses his exasperation at the Welsh refusal to see the error of their ways, for it would bring them prosperity to reach this realisation: “through their natural pride and obstinacy, they will not order themselves as other nations do so successfully, but refuse to accept the rule and dominion of one single king” (Description 273). According to Gerald, this will be their major downfall, unless they manage to mend their ways. In this respect then, Bartlett is correct in seeing the Journey as a type of ethnographic writing belonging to Anglo-Norman expansionist discourse as described above.

Yet, Bartlett cites more features of this Anglo-Norman discourse and Gerald’s depiction of the Welsh in his work does not comply with them. One feature Bartlett stresses is that religion was used as the main justifying principal of expansion in this type of literature (Bartlett 167). Gerald definitely rejected one aspect of the spirituality of the Welsh with regards to the sanctity of marriage. For one of the main tenets of Welsh sexuality allegedly was the committing of incest and adultery, both of which Gerald highly disapproves of. This is most clearly exemplified in chapter eight of the second book, which he dedicates almost entirely to two anecdotes: one in which incest leads to excommunication and the other in which adultery results in the loss of all goods for the illegitimate children. He further stresses his disapproval by concluding: “This shows how much those who commit adultery and incest are displeasing in the eyes of God” (Journey 194). Yet Gerald does not reject Welsh Christianity as fully unwholesome, as is evinced by the following passage in chapter two of book I: “The common people, and the clergy, too, […] have such a reverence for […] relics of the saints, that they are more afraid of swearing oaths upon them and then breaking their word than they are upon the Gospels” (Journey 87). Even though this comment sounds slightly sarcastic, Gerald also notes the power and the beauty of these relics in the same chapter, thus validating this aspect of Welsh spirituality. Despite the fact that Gerald considered Welsh Christianity to be a little simplistic, he also perceived a pure spiritual zeal behind it. Gerald moreover argues that Welsh Christianity could accomplish great things for its country if only it was performed properly, as will be discussed below.

The Journey and the Description both display Gerald’s benign intent towards the Welsh and his interest in their well-being. The reason that this is only properly expressed in a number of instances could be because of Gerald’s double allegiance to both the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh which may have left him unable to fully articulate his opinions. At the time, Gerald was a cleric in the service of the English crown, and he might have placed himself in a difficult position, had he voiced his partiality for the Welsh more forcibly and more often. For, as Michael Richter notes: “It is likely that [Gerald] was chosen as a companion [of Archbishop Baldwin] not so much because he was archdeacon of Brecon, but as a loyal supporter of the crown and as a friend of Baldwin” (Richter 7). Gerald was clearly considered a loyal supporter of the crown, and he wanted it to stay that way. On the other hand, Gerald does not hesitate to articulate his feelings when it comes to the English approach to Christianity. He for instance reports on the treatment of the abbey church of Llanthony by the English in chapter three, book I. Gerald attributes the spiritual decay the church has suffered to the maltreatment of the English: “This was formerly a happy, a delightful spot, most suited to the life of contemplation, a place from its first founding fruitful and to itself sufficient. Once it was free, but it has since been reduced to servitude, through the boundless extravagance of the English […]” (Journey 98). This quote can moreover be read as metaphor for Anglo-Welsh relations, in which Wales is represented by the church of Llanthony, as Wales is similarly subjected to a loss of its freedom through the hands of the Anglo-Norman expansionists. Gerald further strengthens this accusation by adding that the daughter house established in Gloucester had no regard for the practices as performed in Llanthony and its vow of poverty. This grievous fact prompts the following remark from Gerald: “There in Gloucester men strive for earthly possessions, but here in Llanthony let them rather turn their minds towards the promise of eternal bliss” (Journey 100). In this account, Gerald puts the spirituality of the English in opposition with Welsh spirituality. Gerald thus not only tries to promote monastic reform in which the clergy have to become moderate again, but he also argues that the Welsh clergy are better at spiritual moderation than the English men in Gloucester.

This partiality for the Welsh also stands out more clearly when one compares Gerald’s treatment of the Welsh with his treatment of the Irish in the Topography of Ireland and the Conquest of Ireland (his two works which, formally at least, bear the biggest resemblance to the Journey and the Description). The Topography and the Conquest are clearly part of the expansionist discourse Bartlett describes. This becomes clear upon the comparison of the Irish and the Welsh works. For even though there are definite attributes of the Welsh that Gerald does not approve of, on the whole, his depiction of them is not as brutally bestial as his portrayal of the Irish. The Irish for instance are described as regularly having sex with animals. John Brannigan notes the distinct usage of language that Gerald employs upon describing this behaviour: “To write that a bizarre sexual practice of performing intercourse with cattle is ‘a particular vice of that people’ is to claim the authority to represent that people as they really are” (123). Brannigan notes that Gerald actually equates the Irish to the beasts with which they supposedly have sex by claiming that having sex with animals is something that is specifically done by the Irish alone. Laura Ashe furthermore relates one particular event from the Conquest in which the bestial barbarity of the Irish is even more demonstrably depicted, as Gerald reports of one of the Irish leaders, Diarmait Mac Murchada, that he “gnawed at the nose and cheeks” of the head of one his more loathed enemies. Ashe furthermore states that this barbaric representation of the Irish “is no more than typical of Gerald’s representations of the Irish” (173). Gerald’s portrayal of the Welsh on the other hand is far less condemning. Even though Gerald also describes the Welsh’s failings, such as their incestuous and adulterous tendencies, Gerald is also emphatic about their strengths, such as their spiritual purity. Most importantly, in the Welsh works, Gerald also asserts the Welsh’s possibility of redemption and he intricately details how the Welsh could achieve this. This displays a strong sympathy for the Welsh that Gerald did not display towards the Irish in his works on Ireland. This difference between the treatment of the Welsh and the treatment of the Irish thus makes Gerald’s positive treatment of the Welsh more significant, as it clearly showcases Gerald’s preferment of the Welsh.

Moreover, what is highly significant in the case of Gerald’s portrayal of the Irish is the fact that his family and the class of the Anglo-Norman Marcher knights were first sent to conquer lands in Ireland, before more involvement came from the English themselves.[3] The success of this conquest could greatly alter the position of the Marcher knights within the insular communities, as they would have more grounds to appropriate as their homeland without continuous qualms about their mixed descent (Ashe 173). The reason that Gerald depicted the Irish in harsher and more critical words than the Welsh is therefore less difficult to understand and it suits an Anglo-Norman expansionist discourse. This discourse does not apply to his treatment of the Welsh in the Journey and the Description, however, which is not only more mild, but in many aspects a vindication of the Welsh, as Gerald argues in favour of their pure spirituality and their ancestral right to the Welsh land, as I shall demonstrate below.

Bartlett’s insistence on only recognising the possibility of an expansionist discourse directed against the Welsh in the narrative of the Journey actually leads him to overlook some of the instances in which Gerald betrays his sympathy towards the Welsh. In one of these instances, Gerald expressly identifies himself with the Welsh, as he discusses the fictive loss of Wales as an independent archbishopric: “That was how [the loss of the pallium] came about, through indolence or poverty, or more probably as the result of the coming of the English to our island and the never-ending wars with the Saxons, that we Welshmen lost forever the honour which we had once enjoyed” (Journey 162, my emphasis). In this passage, Gerald overtly connects himself to the Welsh and juxtaposes himself to the English. What is more, Gerald actually blames the English for the loss of Welsh ecclesiastical autonomy in this passage, which might account for their slight divergence from the Christian path. Chapter 11 in book I contains another instance in which Gerald takes a stand in favour of the Welsh, as he sighs: “if only Wales could find the place which it deserves in the heart of its rulers or at least if those put in charge locally would stop behaving so vindictively and submitting the Welsh to such shameful ill-treatment” (Journey 142). Here Gerald not only refers to the English presence in Wales, but also to the Welsh aristocracy who are again reminded that their feuds should end for the common good of their own people.

In conclusion, the way in which the narrative structure of this text is approached determines what elements stand out more clearly. Bartlett’s classification of the two Welsh works as belonging to the category of ethnographic works written by writers of the Anglo-Norman expansionist movement clearly does not account for the complexities of the text. It is therefore better to approach the work from a different angle that allows for alternative interpretations. Monika Otter provides an angle through which this might be done and which can be expanded to suit the Journey’s examination as a travelogue and as belonging to the genre of the pilgrimage narrative. Otter argues that the Journey was written in a ‘paratactic’ style[4] which, in combination with the work’s travelogue format, allows for different ways in which intertextual connections and associations can be made within the text (Otter 131). Her examination of this kind of style in the Journey allows Gerald’s sympathy towards the Welsh to be more easily recognisable in the text, and redirects Bartlett’s focus on Gerald’s supposed colonial hostility towards more fruitful interpretations.

2. The implications of different perceptions on discourse – II: Pilgrimage narrative

Through Otter’s interpretive model of the Journey, the work is more easily identifiable as a travelogue in the genre of the pilgrimage narrative. For Otter claims that the paratactic style encourages a different kind of reading from usual narrative structures. As the paratactic style not only allows its readers to see the connections between different episodes on the vertical level – meaning from one episode to the next – but also on the horizontal level. This horizontal level does not just consider the anecdotes in one consequential order, but rather sees them as occurring all at the same time and on the same level. Different episodes across the wider length of the work can thus be connected to one another, making broader thematic interpretations of the work possible (Otter 131). This leads Otter to conclude that the Journey above all intends to convey a conciliatory message, yet Otter fails to fully make the connection with the Journey as a pilgrimage narrative. This final step is vital to the interpretation of the Journey’s message of spiritual reform and its support of Welsh freedom.

Otter’s argument is worth examining, however, as it does provide a model with which to identify the Journey as a travelogue. Otter demonstrates her theory by looking at chapter 11 from book I which contains two stories that deal with the subject of revenge and hostage taking, the first ends peacefully, the second one does not. The first story is about a prisoner of the earl of Haverfordwest, who takes the earl’s children hostage and thus manages to bargain his way to freedom (Journey 142). The second story concerns an occurrence in France, in which a blind prisoner manages to escape his imprisonment and then takes the only son of his captor hostage and demands that his captor castrates himself in order to save his son. The earl at first tries to deceive the prisoner because of his blindness, but in the end he has to succumb to the prisoner’s wishes who then changes his mind and commits suicide, taking the child with him (Journey 142-143). Otter sees “numerous echoes” of these two stories in chapter 11 itself and in the rest of the work. She names more stories in which revenge and hostage taking occur in some way and that the stories clearly advocate resolving these issues in a peaceful manner that benefits both parties involved. In the same chapter that archbishop Baldwin cures a blind woman (echoing the blind prisoner), Gerald comments on the vengeful nature of the Flemings, who rule certain parts of Wales (the Welsh have been taken hostage by the Flemings) and the hostage taking of the body of the saintly hermit Caradog (Otter 136-137). She sees even more stories of vengeance in the rest of the book. According to Otter, these stories all “point in similar directions to ‘add up to’ a consistent picture of Gerald’s political interest: he is troubled by the English occupation of Wales; while he will not come down clearly in favour of one side or the other, his allusive, elliptical technique allows him to explore many facets of the problem, while at the same time dissuading arrogance or violence on either side and advocating at least a truce and a minimum of mutual respect” (Otter 138). Otter sees in Gerald the wish for reconciliation by linking these various stories together. Yet Gerald clearly argues more strongly in favour of the Welsh and does not merely encourage reconciliation between the Welsh and English parties. For Gerald argues against the English occupation of Wales.

Even though the connections that Otter makes sometimes seem slightly tenuous, she has brought together the works’ various aspects under the aegis of one common theme. Yet Gerald’s opinion appears too strongly in favour of the Welsh to really be described as moderate as Otter does. Otter hints, however, at other ways in which the study of the Journey‘s literary format may yield other results: “Stephen Nichols observes that the itinerary format has meaning in and of itself: the [Journey] chronicles a Crusade-preaching campaign, which is implicitly compared to the Crusade itself; it is, in fact, described as a kind of dry run for a Crusade” (Otter 131). The final step in this interpretation of the Journey is thus also to identify it as a pilgrimage narrative. For through this perspective, the narrative of the Welsh works has more to do with the retaking of land and property. The intention of the Third Crusade was to retake Jerusalem, which can be paralleled with the possibility of retaking Welsh land for the Welsh. Mary B. Campbell provides a rubric with which some of the components of a Christian pilgrimage narrative can be identified: “Like an archaeologist, the Christian pilgrim is looking for the past, but it is a past made up of singular events and personalities, individual epiphanies, incarnations, and martyrdoms” (Campbell 19).

The episodic structure of Gerald’s work contains all of these elements. Gerald thus treats Wales as similar to Jerusalem. This treatment is strengthened by Gerald’s frequent references to the actual preaching of the Crusade. Gerald even describes one instance in which the party of archbishop Baldwin dismantles and rehearses the coming journey to Jerusalem on foot (Journey 184-185), which quite literally transposes the mission of the Third Crusade unto the Welsh land. At the end of the Journey, Gerald moreover provides an account of how the Third Crusade failed, due to the ‘coldness’ of the current Christian faith (Journey 208). Gerald often indicates, however, that the Welsh mission does not need to fail, as long as the Welsh do penance for their sins. The Welsh can thus regain their rightful land by again soliciting and obtaining the help of God. Gerald would thus see the fulfilment of two of his ideals: Wales being free once more, and the religion of the Welsh people being free from sin.

3. The fulfilment of Christian and Welsh ideals combined

Chapter two of book I most clearly demonstrates how Gerald saw the issue of Welsh freedom and the issue of sinless religion as interconnected. This chapter contains an anecdote that proves that the Welsh are the true and proper rulers of Wales. The anecdote concerns Gruffydd, son of Rhys ap Tewdwr, who was lord of a part of Wales that he held in tenure from king Henry I. The anecdote tells how Gruffydd was travelling together with two English lords who were in service of the king when they came upon a lake. One of these men was joking about Gruffydd’s noble bloodline and stated that: “‘There is an old saying in Wales […] that, if the rightful ruler of the land comes to this lake and orders the birds there to sing, they all burst into song”‘ (Journey 94). After both of the English gentlemen tried their luck to no avail, it was Gruffydd’s turn. Gruffydd knelt down on the ground in prayer and then:

When his prayer was finished, he stood up, marked his face and his forehead with the sign of the Cross and said in a loud clear voice: ‘Almighty and omnipotent God. Jesus Christ our Lord, show Your miraculous power to us here today. If You have ordained that I should descend in direct line from the five princes of Wales, make these birds declare it in Your name.’ Immediately all the birds, each according to his kind, beat the water with their wings and began to sing with one accord and to proclaim him master. (Journey 95)

Of course, the two lords were surprised and they quickly returned to the king’s court, who did not appear to be as amazed as they were: “I am not the slightest bit surprised. It is we who hold the power, and so we are free to commit acts of violence and injustice against these people, and yet we know full well that it is they who are the rightful heirs to the land” (Journey 95). In this passage, the king makes a clear distinction between rightful inheritance and unjust power. This anecdote showcases how the hypocrisy of the unjust power of the English crown can be exposed if the Welsh appeal to God, who will thereby appoint them as the true heirs of the land. The true ruling class of Wales is entirely established through their ancestry (Powell 176-177). In this anecdote, Gerald obviously acknowledges the importance and actual power of Welsh genealogies. The fact that the two lords in fact mock Gruffydd’s claim tells the reader of their ignorance and their disregard for Welsh customs. Their ignorance is also displayed in the fact that they both do not address the true source of power, which is God, whereas Gruffydd clearly does. Gruffydd gains his success through this combination of having the correct genealogy and of being pious. The two lords show the fakery of English rule, as they fail to acknowledge God’s role in gaining true rule over Wales. This is a clear a message to Gerald’s Welsh readers: be free from sin and claim the Welsh land as your own as you belong here by right.

The final chapter of the Description likewise contains an anecdote with this message. In the final chapter, Gerald relates a prophecy told by an old Welsh man who had joined the English army. The man supposedly joined them because his own people had been living in sin. Upon being asked the question which army would eventually win the war, the old man states the following:

“My Lord King,” he replied, “this nation may now be harassed, weakened and decimated by your soldiery, as it has often been by others in former times; but it will never be totally destroyed by the wrath of man, unless at the same time it is punished by the wrath of God. Whatever else may come to pass, I do not think that on the Day of Direst Judgement any race other than the Welsh, or any other language, will give answer to the Supreme Judge of all for this small corner of the earth.” (Description 274)

According to Robert Rouse, Gerald clearly argues in this passage that Wales will again be restored to Welsh rule in the future and that Gerald is in favour of this (Rouse 47). What is more, Gerald quite literally restates the message of the passage with Gruffydd. The old man’s reply is proof of Gerald’s attitude that the Welsh can indeed regain their country, if they properly return to the Christian faith. The old man can be seen as a just punisher who believes that his country and his fellow countrymen must at this time bear punishment for their sins through human hands, but that they will only be truly defeated if they also incur the wrath of God. Gerald is thus consistent throughout the Welsh works in his argument that the Welsh are the true rulers of Wales and that they need only be pious in order to reclaim it.

This is furthermore demonstrated by Gerald’s inclusion of many accounts of incubi and succubi in the Welsh works, whose appearances often cause prophesies. Victoria Flood argues that Gerald shows distrust of the seditious actions of the Welsh in these instances that relate demonic prophesies (Flood 39-40). Yet this argument should be rejected, as Gerald does not seem to express distrust against the Welsh in the prophecy passages, but instead uses them to advocate in favour of the Welsh. Most importantly, the final prophesy by the old man in the Description should obliterate all doubt about where Gerald’s heart truly lies. What is more, Gerald gives credence to the prophesies of Merlin, the prophesier who was most of all connected with devilish seditiousness (Dobin 37-38). In chapter two of the second book, a prophesy by Merlin dictates that the king who is to conquer Ireland cannot walk across the stone Llech Lafar without being harmed. Upon encountering this stone, king Henry II challenged this prophesy by walking over it and remaining unharmed. Gerald, however, displays hope that Henry II will indeed fail in his expansionist attempts as he next has someone say: “‘You are not the king who is to conquer Ireland,’ he said, ‘Merlin was not talking about you at all'” (Journey 168). Even though this prophesy clearly is about the king’s expansionist intent with regards to Ireland and not Wales, the hope of his failure and that there will be a future king who might actually be harmed by the stone can clearly be discerned.

Thus, Gerald’s hope that the future of the Welsh and of Wales will be better than the present is maintained throughout the Welsh works. Taking into account the parallel that Gerald draws between the Third Crusade and the narrative of the recapture of Wales for the Welsh, the last exhortation in the Journey takes on a special significance. Gerald’s final prayer holds a double meaning:

May He who is alone ‘the way, the truth, and the life,’ the way without offence, the truth without shadow of doubt, the life without end, teach their ‘hands to war’ and their ‘fingers to fight;’ and direct their journeyings, their lives and every act into the way of truth, together with the whole body of God’s elect, to the glory of His name and the palm of faith which He Himself planted. Amen. (Journey 209)

Even though the direct meaning of this prayer is related to the hoped for future success of another mission to the Holy Land, Gerald’s earlier parallel with the Third Crusade also enables the interpretation that it is also directed at the Welsh. In this interpretation, the final prayer would incite the Welsh into continuing the battle against the expansionist invaders. The fact that this final entreaty comes in the form of a prayer, again stresses that whatever the Welsh want to accomplish, they must do this within the proper bounds of Christianity. If they stay true to their pure religion, they will fend off the hypocritical rule of the English and recover the truth – a word that Gerald uses three times in this passage – namely that they are the true rulers of the Welsh country.

4. Conclusion

Even though Gerald’s Welsh works contain many criticisms of the Welsh and their customs, the final judgment is a benign exhortation that they acknowledge their spiritual errors and renounce them. The fact that Gerald wrote this work with this intention clearly showcases his belief in the Welsh capability of achieving this goal. Gerald linked the wishes he had for Wales to his wishes for ecclesiastic and monastic reform: arguing that the Welsh could regain their land if they returned to the proper performance of the Christian religion. The Journey’s unusual format of a travelogue in the paratactic style actually allows for the parallels and consistency in the anecdotes to be recognised more easily. Gerald moreover made use of the genre of pilgrimage narrative in order to be able to convey his true feelings about Welsh independence in a forceful, but subtle way. By connecting the Welsh struggle for independence to the mission of the Third Crusade, Gerald further stressed the justness of this cause. Critics therefore need to appreciate Gerald’s works once more and to liberate them from misconceptions about his allegiances and his narrative structures.

Thari Zweers

Thari Zweers is a graduate student in the Department of English Literature and Culture at the University of Groningen, specializing in the English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with a specific focus on the works of John Gower (1330-1408). She is interested in the trilingual nature of England’s medieval literary culture, translingual and transnational literary cultures, and the interrelation between socio-political literature and its context.


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[1] Most important among which is for instance Lewis Thorpe, who not only talks disparagingly of Gerald’s talents but has also misinterpreted the meaning and the origin of many of the quotations that can be found in Gerald’s works, which Georgia Henley demonstrates very strongly (Henley 1-52). Another important critic of Gerald’s capabilities is Robert Bartlett, who furthermore has failed to acknowledge any form of support for the Welsh in Gerald’s Welsh works and has insisted on only seeing a “hostile” position supposedly taken up by Gerald (Bartlett 158). This study will argue otherwise.

[2] Rhonda Knight (Knight 75) and Michael Richter (Richter 67) support this theory. This essay will focus on Bartlett, however, for he provides a framework with which to test his theory.

[3] The Anglo-Norman Marcher knights were a group of nobles who were appointed by the King of England to maintain the border between England, Wales and Ireland. They were a group that often formed a separate satellite society within both the English and the native Celtic cultures and could in many instances be regarded as a hybrid form between the two cultures, not only culturally but also genetically through for instance intermarriages (Bartlett 1-3, Ashe 166-180).

[4]Paratactic style: meaning the employment of parataxis in which a writer makes use of short sentences and which generally favours an episodic narrative.