The Description of Wales
Geraldus Cambrensis

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The Description of Wales

FIRST PREFACE to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury

I, who, at the expense of three years' labour, arranged, a short
time ago, in three parts, the Topography of Ireland, with a
description of its natural curiosities, and who afterwards, by two
years' study, completed in two parts the Vaticinal History of its
Conquest; and who, by publishing the Itinerary of the Holy Man
(Baldwin) through Cambria, prevented his laborious mission from
perishing in obscurity, do now propose, in the present little work,
to give some account of this my native country, and to describe the
genius of its inhabitants, so entirely distinct from that of other
nations. And this production of my industry I have determined to
dedicate to you, illustrious Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, as
I before ascribed to you my Itinerary; considering you as a man no
less distinguished by your piety, than conspicuous for your
learning; though so humble an offering may possibly be unworthy the
acceptance of a personage who, from his eminence, deserves to be
presented with works of the greatest merit.

Some, indeed, object to this my undertaking, and, apparently from
motives of affection, compare me to a painter, who, rich in
colours, and like another Zeuxis, eminent in his art, is
endeavouring with all his skill and industry to give celebrity to a
cottage, or to some other contemptible object, whilst the world is
anxiously expecting from his hand a temple or a palace. Thus they
wonder that I, amidst the many great and striking subjects which
the world presents, should choose to describe and to adorn, with
all the graces of composition, such remote corners of the earth as
Ireland and Wales.

Others again, reproaching me with greater severity, say, that the
gifts which have been bestowed upon me from above, ought not to be
wasted upon these insignificant objects, nor lavished in a vain
display of learning on the commendation of princes, who, from their
ignorance and want of liberality, have neither taste to appreciate,
nor hearts to remunerate literary excellence. And they further
add, that every faculty which emanates from the Deity, ought rather
to be applied to the illustration of celestial objects, and to the
exultation of his glory, from whose abundance all our talents have
been received; every faculty (say they) ought to be employed in
praising him from whom, as from a perennial source, every perfect
gift is derived, and from whose bounty everything which is offered
with sincerity obtains an ample reward. But since excellent
histories of other countries have been composed and published by
writers of eminence, I have been induced, by the love I bear to my
country and to posterity, to believe that I should perform neither
an useless nor an unacceptable service, were I to unfold the hidden
merits of my native land; to rescue from obscurity those glorious
actions which have been hitherto imperfectly described, and to
bring into repute, by my method of treating it, a subject till now
regarded as contemptible.

What indeed could my feeble and unexercised efforts add to the
histories of the destruction of Troy, Thebes, or Athens, or to the
conquest of the shores of Latium? Besides, to do what has been
already done, is, in fact, to be doing nothing; I have, therefore,
thought it more eligible to apply my industry to the arrangement of
the history of my native country, hitherto almost wholly overlooked
by strangers; but interesting to my relations and countrymen; and
from these small beginnings to aspire by degrees to works of a
nobler cast. From these inconsiderable attempts, some idea may be
formed with what success, should Fortune afford an opportunity, I
am likely to treat matters of greater importance. For although
some things should be made our principal objects, whilst others
ought not to be wholly neglected, I may surely be allowed to
exercise the powers of my youth, as yet untaught and unexperienced,
in pursuits of this latter nature, lest by habit I should feel a
pleasure in indolence and in sloth, the parent of vice.

I have therefore employed these studies as a kind of introduction
to the glorious treasures of that most excellent of the sciences,
which alone deserves the name of science; which alone can render us
wise to rule and to instruct mankind; which alone the other
sciences follow, as attendants do their queen. Laying therefore in
my youth the foundations of so noble a structure, it is my
intention, if God will assist me and prolong my life, to reserve my
maturer years for composing a treatise upon so perfect, so sacred a
subject: for according to the poet,

"Ardua quippe fides robustos exigit annos;"
"The important concerns of faith require a mind in its full

I may be permitted to indulge myself for a short time in other
pursuits; but in this I should wish not only to continue, but to

But before I enter on this important subject, I demand a short
interval, to enable me to lay before the public my Treatise on the
Instruction of a Prince, which has been so frequently promised, as
well as the Description of Wales, which is now before me, and the
Topography of Britain.

Of all the British writers, Gildas alone appears to me (as often as
the course of my subject leads me to consult him) worthy of
imitation; for by committing to paper the things which he himself
saw and knew, and by declaring rather than describing the
desolation of his country, he has compiled a history more
remarkable for its truth than for its elegance.

Giraldus therefore follows Gildas, whom he wishes he could copy in
his life and manners; becoming an imitator of his wisdom rather
than of his eloquence - of his mind rather than of his writings -
of his zeal rather than of his style - of his life rather than of
his language.

SECOND PREFACE to the same

When, amidst various literary pursuits, I first applied my mind to
the compilation of history, I determined, lest I should appear
ungrateful to my native land, to describe, to the best of my
abilities, my own country and its adjoining regions; and
afterwards, under God's guidance, to proceed to a description of
more distant territories. But since some leading men (whom we have
both seen and known) show so great a contempt for literature, that
they immediately shut up within their book-cases the excellent
works with which they are presented, and thus doom them, as it
were, to a perpetual imprisonment; I entreat you, illustrious
Prelate, to prevent the present little work, which will shortly be
delivered to you, from perishing in obscurity. And because this,
as well as my former productions, though of no transcendent merit,
may hereafter prove to many a source of entertainment and
instruction, I entreat you generously to order it to be made
public, by which it will acquire reputation. And I shall consider
myself sufficiently rewarded for my trouble, if, withdrawing for a
while from your religious and secular occupations, you would kindly
condescend to peruse this book, or, at least, give it an attentive
hearing; for in times like these, when no one remunerates literary
productions, I neither desire nor expect any other recompense. Not
that it would appear in any way inconsistent, however there exists
among men of rank a kind of conspiracy against authors, if a
prelate so eminently conspicuous for his virtues, for his
abilities, both natural and acquired, for irreproachable morals,
and for munificence, should distinguish himself likewise by
becoming the generous and sole patron of literature. To comprise
your merits in a few words, the lines of Martial addressed to
Trajan, whilst serving under Dioclesian, may be deservedly applied
to you:

"Laudari debes quoniam sub principe duro,
Temporibusque malis, ausus es esse bonus."

And those also of Virgil to Mecaenas, which extol the humanity of
that great man:

"Omnia cum possis tanto tam clarus amico,
Te sensit nemo posse nocere tamen."

Many indeed remonstrate against my proceedings, and those
particularly who call themselves my friends insist that, in
consequence of my violent attachment to study, I pay no attention
to the concerns of the world, or to the interests of my family; and
that, on this account, I shall experience a delay in my promotion
to worldly dignities; that the influence of authors, both poets and
historians, has long since ceased; that the respect paid to
literature vanished with literary princes; and that in these
degenerate days very different paths lead to honours and opulence.
I allow all this, I readily allow it, and acquiesce in the truth.
For the unprincipled and covetous attach themselves to the court,
the churchmen to their books, and the ambitious to the public
offices, but as every man is under the influence of some darling
passion, so the love of letters and the study of eloquence have
from my infancy had for me peculiar charms of attraction. Impelled
by this thirst for knowledge, I have carried my researches into the
mysterious works of nature farther than the generality of my
contemporaries, and for the benefit of posterity have rescued from
oblivion the remarkable events of my own times. But this object
was not to be secured without an indefatigable, though at the same
time an agreeable, exertion; for an accurate investigation of every
particular is attended with much difficulty. It is difficult to
produce an orderly account of the investigation and discovery of
truth; it is difficult to preserve from the beginning to the end a
connected relation unbroken by irrelevant matter; and it is
difficult to render the narration no less elegant in the diction,
than instructive in its matter, for in prosecuting the series of
events, the choice of happy expressions is equally perplexing, as
the search after them painful. Whatever is written requires the
most intense thought, and every expression should be carefully
polished before it be submitted to the public eye; for, by exposing
itself to the examination of the present and of future ages, it
must necessarily undergo the criticism not only of the acute, but
also of the dissatisfied, reader. Words merely uttered are soon
forgotten, and the admiration or disgust which they occasioned is
no more; but writings once published are never lost, and remain as
lasting memorials either of the glory or of the disgrace of the
author. Hence the observation of Seneca, that the malicious
attention of the envious reader dwells with no less satisfaction on
a faulty than on an elegant expression, and is as anxious to
discover what it may ridicule, as what it may commend; as the poet
also observes:

"Discit enim citius meminitque libentius illud
Quod quis deridet, quam quod probat et veneratur."

Among the pursuits, therefore, most worthy of commendation, this
holds by no means the lowest rank; for history, as the moral
philosopher declares, "is the record of antiquity, the testimony of
ages, the light of truth, the soul of memory, the mistress of
conduct, and the herald of ancient times."

This study is the more delightful, as it is more honourable to
produce works worthy of being quoted than to quote the works of
others; as it is more desirable to be the author of compositions
which deserve to be admired than to be esteemed a good judge of the
writings of other men; as it is more meritorious to be the just
object of other men's commendations than to be considered an adept
in pointing out the merits of others. On these pleasing
reflections I feed and regale myself; for I would rather resemble
Jerome than Croesus, and I prefer to riches themselves the man who
is capable of despising them. With these gratifying ideas I rest
contented and delighted, valuing moderation more than intemperance,
and an honourable sufficiency more than superfluity; for
intemperance and superfluity produce their own destruction, but
their opposite virtues never perish; the former vanish, but the
latter, like eternity, remain for ever; in short, I prefer praise
to lucre, and reputation to riches.



Of the length and breadth of Wales, the nature of its soil, and the
three remaining tribes of Britons

Cambria, which, by a corrupt and common term, though less proper,
is in modern times called Wales, is about two hundred miles long
and one hundred broad. The length from Port Gordber (1) in
Anglesey to Port Eskewin (2) in Monmouthshire is eight days'
journey in extent; the breadth from Porth Mawr, (3) or the great
Port of St. David's, to Ryd-helic, (4) which in Latin means VADUM
SALICIS, or the Ford of the Willow, and in English is called
Willow-forde, is four days' journey. It is a country very strongly
defended by high mountains, deep valleys, extensive woods, rivers,
and marshes; insomuch that from the time the Saxons took possession
of the island the remnants of the Britons, retiring into these
regions, could never be entirely subdued either by the English or
by the Normans. Those who inhabited the southern angle of the
island, which took its name from the chieftain Corinaeus, (5) made
less resistance, as their country was more defenceless. The third
division of the Britons, who obtained a part of Britany in Gaul,
were transported thither, not after the defeat of their nation, but
long before, by king Maximus, and, in consequence of the hard and
continued warfare which they underwent with him, were rewarded by
the royal munificence with those districts in France.


Of the ancient division of Wales into three parts

Wales was in ancient times divided into three parts nearly equal,
consideration having been paid, in this division, more to the value
than to the just quantity or proportion of territory. They were
Venedotia, now called North Wales; Demetia, or South Wales, which
in British is called Deheubarth, that is, the southern part; and
Powys, the middle or eastern district. Roderic the Great, or
Rhodri Mawr, who was king over all Wales, was the cause of this
division. He had three sons, Mervin, Anarawt, and Cadell, amongst
whom he partitioned the whole principality. North Wales fell to
the lot of Mervin; Powys to Anarawt; and Cadell received the
portion of South Wales, together with the general good wishes of
his brothers and the people; for although this district greatly
exceeded the others in quantity, it was the least desirable from
the number of noble chiefs, or Uchelwyr, (6) men of a superior
rank, who inhabited it, and were often rebellious to their lords,
and impatient of control. But Cadell, on the death of his
brothers, obtained the entire dominion of Wales, (7) as did his
successors till the time of Tewdwr, whose descendants, Rhys, son of
Tewdwr, Gruflydd, son of Rhys, and Rhys, son of Gruffydd, the
ruling prince in our time, enjoyed only (like the father) the
sovereignty over South Wales.


Genealogy of the Princes of Wales

The following is the generation of princes of South Wales: Rhys,
son of Gruffydd; Gruffydd, son of Rhys; Rhys, son of Tewdwr;
Tewdwr, son of Eineon; Eineon, son of Owen; Owen, son of Howel Dda,
or Howel the Good; Howel, son of Cadell, son of Roderic the Great.
Thus the princes of South Wales derived their origin from Cadell,
son of Roderic the Great. The princes of North Wales descended
from Mervin in this manner: Llewelyn, son of Iorwerth; Iorwerth,
son of Owen; Owen, son of Gruffydd; Gruffydd, son of Conan; Conan,
son of Iago; Iago, son of Edoual; Edoual, son of Meyric; Meyric,
son of Anarawt (Anandhrec); Anarawt, son of Mervin, son of Roderic
the Great. Anarawt leaving no issue, the princes of Powys have
their own particular descent.

It is worthy of remark, that the Welsh bards and singers, or
reciters, have the genealogies of the aforesaid princes, written in
the Welsh language, in their ancient and authentic books; and also
retain them in their memory from Roderic the Great to B.M.; (8) and
from thence to Sylvius, Ascanius, and AEneas; and from the latter
produce the genealogical series in a lineal descent, even to Adam.

But as an account of such long and remote genealogies may appear to
many persons trifling rather than historical, we have purposely
omitted them in our compendium.


How many cantreds, royal palaces, and cathedrals there are in Wales

South Wales contains twenty-nine cantreds; North Wales, twelve;
Powys, six: many of which are at this time in the possession of
the English and Franks. For the country now called Shropshire
formerly belonged to Powys, and the place where the castle of
Shrewsbury stands bore the name of Pengwern, or the head of the
Alder Grove. There were three royal seats in South Wales:
Dinevor, in South Wales, removed from Caerleon; Aberfraw, (9) in
North Wales; and Pengwern, in Powys.

Wales contains in all fifty-four cantreds. The word CANTREF is
derived from CANT, a hundred, and TREF, a village; and means in the
British and Irish languages such a portion of land as contains a
hundred vills.

There are four cathedral churches in Wales: St. David's, upon the
Irish sea, David the archbishop being its patron: it was in
ancient times the metropolitan church, and the district only
contained twenty-four cantreds, though at this time only twenty-
three; for Ergengl, in English called Urchenfeld, (10) is said to
have been formerly within the diocese of St. David's, and sometimes
was placed within that of Landaff. The see of St. David's had
twenty-five successive archbishops; and from the time of the
removal of the pall into France, to this day, twenty-two bishops;
whose names and series, as well as the cause of the removal of the
archiepiscopal pall, may be seen in our Itinerary. (11)

In South Wales also is situated the bishopric of Landaff, near the
Severn sea, and near the noble castle of Caerdyf; bishop Teilo
being its patron. It contains five cantreds, and the fourth part
of another, namely, Senghennyd.

In North Wales, between Anglesey and the Eryri mountains, is the
see of Bangor, under the patronage of Daniel, the abbot; it
contains about nine cantreds.

In North Wales also is the poor little cathedral of Llan-Elwy, or
St. Asaph, containing about six cantreds, to which Powys is


Of the two mountains from which the noble rivers which divide Wales

Wales is divided and distinguished by noble rivers, which derive
their source from two ranges of mountains, the Ellennith, in South
Wales, which the English call Moruge, as being the heads of moors,
or bogs; and Eryri, in North Wales, which they call Snowdon, or
mountains of snow; the latter of which are said to be of so great
an extent, that if all the herds in Wales were collected together,
they would supply them with pasture for a considerable time. Upon
them are two lakes, one of which has a floating island; and the
other contains fish having only one eye, as we have related in our

We must also here remark, that at two places in Scotland, one on
the eastern, and the other on the western ocean, the sea-fish
called mulvelli (mullets) have only the right eye.

The noble river Severn takes its rise from the Ellennith mountains,
and flowing by the castles of Shrewsbury and Bridgenorth, through
the city of Worcester, and that of Gloucester, celebrated for its
iron manufactories, falls into the sea a few miles from the latter
place, and gives its name to the Severn Sea. This river was for
many years the boundary between Cambria and Loegria, or Wales and
England; it was called in British Hafren, from the daughter of
Locrinus, who was drowned in it by her step-mother; the aspirate
being changed, according to the Latin idiom, into S, as is usual in
words derived from the Greek, it was termed Sarina, as hal becomes
SAL; hemi, SEMI; hepta, SEPTEM.

The river Wye rises in the same mountains of Ellennith, and flows
by the castles of Hay and Clifford, through the city of Hereford,
by the castles of Wilton and Goodrich, through the forest of Dean,
abounding with iron and deer, and proceeds to Strigul castle, below
which it empties itself into the sea, and forms in modern times the
boundary between England and Wales. The Usk does not derive its
origin from these mountains, but from those of Cantref Bachan; it
flows by the castle of Brecheinoc, or Aberhodni, that is, the fall
of the river Hodni into the Usk (for Aber, in the British language,
signifies every place where two rivers unite their streams); by the
castles of Abergevenni and Usk, through the ancient city of
Legions, and discharges itself into the Severn Sea, not far from

The river Remni flows towards the sea from the mountains of
Brecheinoc, having passed the castle and bridge of Remni. From the
same range of mountains springs the Taf, which pursues its course
to the episcopal see of Landaf (to which it gives its name), and
falls into the sea below the castle of Caerdyf. The river Avon
rushes impetuously from the mountains of Glamorgan, between the
celebrated Cistercian monasteries of Margan and Neth; and the river
Neth, descending from the mountains of Brecheinoc, unites itself
with the sea, at no great distance from the castle of Neth; each of
these rivers forming a long tract of dangerous quicksands. From
the same mountains of Brecheinoc the river Tawe flows down to
Abertawe, called in English Swainsey. The Lochor joins the sea
near the castle of the same name; and the Wendraeth has its
confluence near Cydweli. The Tywy, another noble river, rises in
the Ellennith mountains, and separating the Cantref Mawr from the
Cantref Bachan, passes by the castle of Llanymddyfri, and the royal
palace and castle of Dinevor, strongly situated in the deep
recesses of its woods, by the noble castle of Caermarddin, where
Merlin was found, and from whom the city received its name, and
runs into the sea near the castle of Lhanstephan. The river Taf
rises in the Presseleu mountains, not far from the monastery of
Whitland, and passing by the castle of St. Clare, falls into the
sea near Abercorran and Talacharn. From the same mountains flow
the rivers Cleddeu, encompassing the province of Daugleddeu, and
giving it their name one passes by the castle of Lahaden, and the
other by Haverford, to the sea; and in the British language they
bear the name of Daugleddeu, or two swords.

The noble river Teivi springs from the Ellennith mountains, in the
upper part of the Cantref Mawr and Caerdigan, not far from the
pastures and excellent monastery of Stratflur, forming a boundary
between Demetia and Caerdigan down to the Irish channel; this is
the only river in Wales that produces beavers, an account of which
is given in our Itinerary; and also exceeds every other river in
the abundance and delicacy of its salmon. But as this book may
fall into the hands of many persons who will not meet with the
other, I have thought it right here to insert many curious and
particular qualities relating to the nature of these animals, how
they convey their materials from the woods to the river, with what
skill they employ these materials in constructing places of safety
in the middle of the stream, how artfully they defend themselves
against the attack of the hunters on the eastern and how on the
western side; the singularity of their tails, which partake more of
the nature of fish than flesh. For further particulars see the
Itinerary. (12)

From the same mountains issues the Ystuyth, and flowing through the
upper parts of Penwedic, in Cardiganshire, falls into the sea near
the castle of Aberystuyth. From the snowy mountains of Eryri flows
the noble river Devi, (13) dividing for a great distance North and
South Wales; and from the same mountains also the large river Maw,
(14) forming by its course the greater and smaller tract of sands
called the Traeth Mawr and the Traeth Bachan. The Dissennith also,
and the Arthro, flow through Merionethshire and the land of Conan.
The Conwy, springing from the northern side of the Eryri mountains,
unites its waters with the sea under the noble castle of Deganwy.
The Cloyd rises from another side of the same mountain, and passes
by the castle of Ruthlan to the sea. The Doverdwy, called by the
English Dee, draws its source from the lake of Penmelesmere, and
runs through Chester, leaving the wood of Coleshulle, Basinwerk,
and a rich vein of silver in its neighbourhood, far to the right,
and by the influx of the sea forming a very dangerous quicksand;
thus the Dee makes the northern, and the river Wye the southern
boundary of Wales.


Concerning the pleasantness and fertility of Wales

As the southern part of Wales near Cardiganshire, but particularly
Pembrokeshire, is much pleasanter, on account of its plains and
sea-coast, so North Wales is better defended by nature, is more
productive of men distinguished for bodily strength, and more
fertile in the nature of its soil; for, as the mountains of Eryri
(Snowdon) could supply pasturage for all the herds of cattle in
Wales, if collected together, so could the Isle of Mona (Anglesey)
provide a requisite quantity of corn for all the inhabitants: on
which account there is an old British proverb, "MON MAM CYMBRY,"
that is, "Mona is the mother of Wales." Merionyth, and the land of
Conan, is the rudest and least cultivated region, and the least
accessible. The natives of that part of Wales excel in the use of
long lances, as those of Monmouthshire are distinguished for their
management of the bow. It is to be observed, that the British
language is more delicate and richer in North Wales, that country
being less intermixed with foreigners. Many, however, assert that
the language of Cardiganshire, in South Wales, placed as it were in
the middle and heart of Cambria, is the most refined.

The people of Cornwall and the Armoricans speak a language similar
to that of the Britons; and from its origin and near resemblance,
it is intelligible to the Welsh in many instances, and almost in
all; and although less delicate and methodical, yet it approaches,
as I judge, more to the ancient British idiom. As in the southern
parts of England, and particularly in Devonshire, the English
language seems less agreeable, yet it bears more marks of antiquity
(the northern parts being much corrupted by the irruptions of the
Danes and Norwegians), and adheres more strictly to the original
language and ancient mode of speaking; a positive proof of which
may be deduced from all the English works of Bede, Rhabanus, and
king Alfred, being written according to this idiom.


Origin of the names Cambria and Wales

Cambria was so called from Camber, son of Brutus, for Brutus,
descending from the Trojans, by his grandfather, Ascanius, and
father, Silvius, led the remnant of the Trojans, who had long been
detained in Greece, into this western isle; and having reigned many
years, and given his name to the country and people, at his death
divided the kingdom of Wales between his three sons. To his eldest
son, Locrinus, he gave that part of the island which lies between
the rivers Humber and Severn, and which from him was called
Loegria. To his second son, Albanactus, he gave the lands beyond
the Humber, which took from him the name of Albania. But to his
youngest son, Camber, he bequeathed all that region which lies
beyond the Severn, and is called after him Cambria; hence the
country is properly and truly called Cambria, and its inhabitants
Cambrians, or Cambrenses. Some assert that their name was derived
from CAM and GRAECO, that is, distorted Greek, on account of the
affinity of their languages, contracted by their long residence in
Greece; but this conjecture, though plausible, is not well founded
on truth.

The name of Wales was not derived from Wallo, a general, or
Wandolena, the queen, as the fabulous history of Geoffrey Arthurius
(15) falsely maintains, because neither of these personages are to
be found amongst the Welsh; but it arose from a barbarian
appellation. The Saxons, when they seized upon Britain, called
this nation, as they did all foreigners, Wallenses; and thus the
barbarous name remains to the people and their country. (16)

Having discoursed upon the quality and quantity of the land, the
genealogies of the princes, the sources of the rivers, and the
derivation of the names of this country, we shall now consider the
nature and character of the nation.


Concerning the nature, manners, and dress, the boldness, agility,
and courage, of this nation

This people is light and active, hardy rather than strong, and
entirely bred up to the use of arms; for not only the nobles, but
all the people are trained to war, and when the trumpet sounds the
alarm, the husbandman rushes as eagerly from his plough as the
courtier from his court; for here it is not found that, as in other

"Agricolis labor actus in orbem,"

returns; for in the months of March and April only the soil is once
ploughed for oats, and again in the summer a third time, and in
winter for wheat. Almost all the people live upon the produce of
their herds, with oats, milk, cheese, and butter; eating flesh in
larger proportions than bread. They pay no attention to commerce,
shipping, or manufactures, and suffer no interruption but by
martial exercises. They anxiously study the defence of their
country and their liberty; for these they fight, for these they
undergo hardships, and for these willingly sacrifice their lives;
they esteem it a disgrace to die in bed, an honour to die in the
field of battle; using the poet's expressions, -

"Procul hinc avertite pacem,
Nobilitas cum pace perit."

Nor is it wonderful if it degenerates, for the ancestors of these
men, the AEneadae, rushed to arms in the cause of liberty. It is
remarkable that this people, though unarmed, dares attack an armed
foe; the infantry defy the cavalry, and by their activity and
courage generally prove victors. They resemble in disposition and
situation those conquerors whom the poet Lucan mentions:

- "Populi quos despicit Arctos,
Felices errore suo, quos ille timorum
Maximus haud urget leti metus, inde ruendi
In ferrum, mens prona viris, amimaeque capaces,
Mortis et ignavum rediturae parsere vitae."

They make use of light arms, which do not impede their agility,
small coats of mail, bundles of arrows, and long lances, helmets
and shields, and more rarely greaves plated with iron. The higher
class go to battle mounted on swift and generous steeds, which
their country produces; but the greater part of the people fight on
foot, on account of the marshy nature and unevenness of the soil.
The horsemen as their situation or occasion requires, willingly
serve as infantry, in attacking or retreating; and they either walk
bare-footed, or make use of high shoes, roughly constructed with
untanned leather. In time of peace, the young men, by penetrating
the deep recesses of the woods, and climbing the tops of mountains,
learn by practice to endure fatigue through day and night; and as
they meditate on war during peace, they acquire the art of fighting
by accustoming themselves to the use of the lance, and by inuring
themselves to hard exercise.

In our time, king Henry II., in reply to the inquiries of Emanuel,
emperor of Constantinople, concerning the situation, nature, and
striking peculiarities of the British island, among other
remarkable circumstances mentioned the following: "That in a
certain part of the island there was a people, called Welsh, so
bold and ferocious that, when unarmed, they did not fear to
encounter an armed force; being ready to shed their blood in
defence of their country, and to sacrifice their lives for renown;
which is the more surprising, as the beasts of the field over the
whole face of the island became gentle, but these desperate men
could not be tamed. The wild animals, and particularly the stags
and hinds, are so abundant, owing to the little molestation they
receive, that in our time, in the northern parts of the island
towards the Peak, (17) when pursued by the hounds and hunters, they
contributed, by their numbers, to their own destruction."


Of their sober supper and frugality

Not addicted to gluttony or drunkenness, this people who incur no
expense in food or dress, and whose minds are always bent upon the
defence of their country, and on the means of plunder, are wholly
employed in the care of their horses and furniture. Accustomed to
fast from morning till evening, and trusting to the care of
Providence, they dedicate the whole day to business, and in the
evening partake of a moderate meal; and even if they have none, or
only a very scanty one, they patiently wait till the next evening;
and, neither deterred by cold nor hunger, they employ the dark and
stormy nights in watching the hostile motions of their enemies.


Of their hospitality and liberality

No one of this nation ever begs, for the houses of all are common
to all; and they consider liberality and hospitality amongst the
first virtues. So much does hospitality here rejoice in
communication, that it is neither offered nor requested by
travellers, who, on entering any house, only deliver up their arms.
When water is offered to them, if they suffer their feet to be
washed, they are received as guests; for the offer of water to wash
the feet is with this nation an hospitable invitation. But if they
refuse the proffered service, they only wish for morning
refreshment, not lodging. The young men move about in troops and
families under the direction of a chosen leader. Attached only to
arms and ease, and ever ready to stand forth in defence of their
country, they have free admittance into every house as if it were
their own.

Those who arrive in the morning are entertained till evening with
the conversation of young women, and the music of the harp; for
each house has its young women and harps allotted to this purpose.
Two circumstances here deserve notice: that as no nation labours
more under the vice of jealousy than the Irish, so none is more
free from it than the Welsh: and in each family the art of playing
on the harp is held preferable to any other learning. In the
evening, when no more guests are expected, the meal is prepared
according to the number and dignity of the persons assembled, and
according to the wealth of the family who entertains. The kitchen
does not supply many dishes, nor high-seasoned incitements to
eating. The house is not furnished with tables, cloths, or
napkins. They study nature more than splendour, for which reason,
the guests being seated in threes, instead of couples as elsewhere,
(18) they place the dishes before them all at once upon rushes and
fresh grass, in large platters or trenchers. They also make use of
a thin and broad cake of bread, baked every day, such as in old
writings was called LAGANA; (19) and they sometimes add chopped
meat, with broth. Such a repast was formerly used by the noble
youth, from whom this nation boasts its descent, and whose manners
it still partly imitates, according to the word of the poet:

"Heu! mensas consumimus, inquit Iulus."

While the family is engaged in waiting on the guests, the host and
hostess stand up, paying unremitting attention to everything, and
take no food till all the company are satisfied; that in case of
any deficiency, it may fall upon them. A bed made of rushes, and
covered with a coarse kind of cloth manufactured in the country,
called BRYCHAN, (20) is then placed along the side of the room, and
they all in common lie down to sleep; nor is their dress at night
different from that by day, for at all seasons they defend
themselves from the cold only by a thin cloak and tunic. The fire
continues to burn by night as well as by day, at their feet, and
they receive much comfort from the natural heat of the persons
lying near them; but when the under side begins to be tired with
the hardness of the bed, or the upper one to suffer from cold, they
immediately leap up, and go to the fire, which soon relieves them
from both inconveniences; and then returning to their couch, they
expose alternately their sides to the cold, and to the hardness of
the bed.


Concerning their cutting of their hair, their care of their teeth,
and shaving of their beard

The men and women cut their hair close round to the ears and eyes.
The women, after the manner of the Parthians, cover their heads
with a large white veil, folded together in the form of a crown.

Both sexes exceed any other nation in attention to their teeth,
which they render like ivory, by constantly rubbing them with green
hazel and wiping with a woollen cloth. For their better
preservation, they abstain from hot meats, and eat only such as are
cold, warm, or temperate. The men shave all their beard except the
moustaches (GERNOBODA). This custom is not recent, but was
observed in ancient and remote ages, as we find in the works of
Julius Caesar, who says, (21) "The Britons shave every part of
their body except their head and upper lip;" and to render
themselves more active, and avoid the fate of Absalon in their
excursions through the woods, they are accustomed to cut even the
hair from their heads; so that this nation more than any other
shaves off all pilosity. Julius also adds, that the Britons,
previous to an engagement, anointed their faces with a nitrous
ointment, which gave them so ghastly and shining an appearance,
that the enemy could scarcely bear to look at them, particularly if
the rays of the sun were reflected on them.


Of their quickness and sharpness of understanding

These people being of a sharp and acute intellect, and gifted with
a rich and powerful understanding, excel in whatever studies they
pursue, and are more quick and cunning than the other inhabitants
of a western clime.

Their musical instruments charm and delight the ear with their
sweetness, are borne along by such celerity and delicacy of
modulation, producing such a consonance from the rapidity of
seemingly discordant touches, that I shall briefly repeat what is
set forth in our Irish Topography on the subject of the musical
instruments of the three nations. It is astonishing that in so
complex and rapid a movement of the fingers, the musical
proportions can be preserved, and that throughout the difficult
modulations on their various instruments, the harmony is completed
with such a sweet velocity, so unequal an equality, so discordant a
concord, as if the chords sounded together fourths or fifths. They
always begin from B flat, and return to the same, that the whole
may be completed under the sweetness of a pleasing sound. They
enter into a movement, and conclude it in so delicate a manner, and
play the little notes so sportively under the blunter sounds of the
base strings, enlivening with wanton levity, or communicating a
deeper internal sensation of pleasure, so that the perfection of
their art appears in the concealment of it:

"Si lateat, prosit;
- - ferat ars deprensa pudorem."
"Art profits when concealed,
Disgraces when revealed."

From this cause, those very strains which afford deep and
unspeakable mental delight to those who have skilfully penetrated
into the mysteries of the art, fatigue rather than gratify the ears
of others, who seeing, do not perceive, and hearing, do not
understand; and by whom the finest music is esteemed no better than
a confused and disorderly noise, and will be heard with
unwillingness and disgust.

They make use of three instruments, the harp, the pipe, and the
crwth or crowd (CHORUS). (22)

They omit no part of natural rhetoric in the management of civil
actions, in quickness of invention, disposition, refutation, and
confirmation. In their rhymed songs and set speeches they are so
subtle and ingenious, that they produce, in their native tongue,
ornaments of wonderful and exquisite invention both in the words
and sentences. Hence arise those poets whom they call Bards, of
whom you will find many in this nation, endowed with the above
faculty, according to the poet's observation:

"Plurima concreti fuderunt carmina Bardi."

But they make use of alliteration (ANOMINATIONE) in preference to
all other ornaments of rhetoric, and that particular kind which
joins by consonancy the first letters or syllables of words. So
much do the English and Welsh nations employ this ornament of words
in all exquisite composition, that no sentence is esteemed to be
elegantly spoken, no oration to be otherwise than uncouth and
unrefined, unless it be fully polished with the file of this
figure. Thus in the British tongue:

"Digawn Duw da i unic."
"Wrth bob crybwyll rhaid pwyll parawd." (23)

And in English,

"God is together gammen and wisedom."

The same ornament of speech is also frequent in the Latin language.
Virgil says,

"Tales casus Cassandra canebat."

And again, in his address to Augustus,

"Dum dubitet natura marem, faceretve puellam,
Natus es, o pulcher, pene puella, puer."

This ornament occurs not in any language we know so frequently as
in the two first; it is, indeed, surprising that the French, in
other respects so ornamented, should be entirely ignorant of this
verbal elegance so much adopted in other languages. Nor can I
believe that the English and Welsh, so different and adverse to
each other, could designedly have agreed in the usage of this
figure; but I should rather suppose that it had grown habitual to
both by long custom, as it pleases the ear by a transition from
similar to similar sounds. Cicero, in his book "On Elocution,"
observes of such who know the practice, not the art, "Other persons
when they read good orations or poems, approve of the orators or
poets, not understanding the reason why, being affected, they
approve; because they cannot know in what place, of what nature,
nor how that effect is caused which so highly delights them."


Of their symphonies and songs

In their musical concerts they do not sing in unison like the
inhabitants of other countries, but in many different parts; so
that in a company of singers, which one very frequently meets with
in Wales, you will hear as many different parts and voices as there
are performers, who all at length unite, with organic melody, in
one consonance and the soft sweetness of B flat. In the northern
district of Britain, beyond the Humber, and on the borders of
Yorkshire, the inhabitants make use of the same kind of symphonious
harmony, but with less variety; singing only in two parts, one
murmuring in the base, the other warbling in the acute or treble.
Neither of the two nations has acquired this peculiarity by art,
but by long habit, which has rendered it natural and familiar; and
the practice is now so firmly rooted in them, that it is unusual to
hear a simple and single melody well sung; and, what is still more
wonderful, the children, even from their infancy, sing in the same
manner. As the English in general do not adopt this mode of
singing, but only those of the northern countries, I believe that
it was from the Danes and Norwegians, by whom these parts of the
island were more frequently invaded, and held longer under their
dominion, that the natives contracted their mode of singing as well
as speaking.


Their wit and pleasantry

The heads of different families, in order to excite the laughter of
their guests, and gain credit by their sayings, make use of great
facetiousness in their conversation; at one time uttering their
jokes in a light, easy manner, at another time, under the disguise
of equivocation, passing the severest censures. For the sake of
explanation I shall here subjoin a few examples. Tegeingl is the
name of a province in North Wales, over which David, son of Owen,
had dominion, and which had once been in the possession of his
brother. The same word also was the name of a certain woman with
whom, it was said, each brother had an intrigue, from which
circumstance arose this term of reproach, "To have Tegeingl, after
Tegeingl had been in possession of his brother."

At another time, when Rhys, son of Gruffydd, prince of South Wales,
accompanied by a multitude of his people, devoutly entered the
church of St. David's, previous to an intended journey, the
oblations having been made, and mass solemnised, a young man came
to him in the church, and publicly declared himself to be his son,
threw himself at his feet, and with tears humbly requested that the
truth of this assertion might be ascertained by the trial of the
burning iron. Intelligence of this circumstance being conveyed to
his family and his two sons, who had just gone out of the church, a
youth who was present made this remark: "This is not wonderful;
some have brought gold, and others silver, as offerings; but this
man, who had neither, brought what he had, namely, iron;" thus
taunting him with his poverty. On mentioning a certain house that
was strongly built and almost impregnable, one of the company said,
"This house indeed is strong, for if it should contain food it
could never be got at," thus alluding both to the food and to the
house. In like manner, a person, wishing to hint at the avaricious
disposition of the mistress of a house, said, "I only find fault
with our hostess for putting too little butter to her salt,"
whereas the accessory should be put to the principal; thus, by a
subtle transposition of the words, converting the accessory into
the principal, by making it appear to abound in quantity. Many
similar sayings of great men and philosophers are recorded in the
Saturnalia of Macrobius. When Cicero saw his son-in-law, Lentulus,
a man of small stature, with a long sword by his side: "Who," says
he, "has girded my son-in-law to that sword?" thus changing the
accessary into the principal. The same person, on seeing the half-
length portrait of his brother Quintus Cicero, drawn with very
large features and an immense shield, exclaimed, "Half of my
brother is greater than the whole!" When the sister of Faustus had
an intrigue with a fuller, "Is it strange," says he, "that my
sister has a spot, when she is connected with a fuller?" When
Antiochus showed Hannibal his army, and the great warlike
preparations he had made against the Romans, and asked him,
"Thinkest thou, O Hannibal, that these are sufficient for the
Romans?" Hannibal, ridiculing the unmilitary appearance of the
soldiers, wittily and severely replied, "I certainly think them
sufficient for the Romans, however greedy;" Antiochus asking his
opinion about the military preparations, and Hannibal alluding to
them as becoming a prey to the Romans.


Their boldness and confidence in speaking

Nature hath given not only to the highest, but also to the
inferior, classes of the people of this nation, a boldness and
confidence in speaking and answering, even in the presence of their
princes and chieftains. The Romans and Franks had the same
faculty; but neither the English, nor the Saxons and Germans, from
whom they are descended, had it. It is in vain urged, that this
defect may arise from the state of servitude which the English
endured; for the Saxons and Germans, who enjoy their liberty, have
the same failing, and derive this natural coldness of disposition
from the frozen region they inhabit; the English also, although
placed in a distant climate, still retain the exterior fairness of
complexion and inward coldness of disposition, as inseparable from
their original and natural character. The Britons, on the
contrary, transplanted from the hot and parched regions of Dardania
into these more temperate districts, as

"Coelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt,"

still retain their brown complexion and that natural warmth of
temper from which their confidence is derived. For three nations,
remnants of the Greeks after the destruction of Troy, fled from
Asia into different parts of Europe, the Romans under AEneas, the
Franks under Antenor, and the Britons under Brutus; and from thence
arose that courage, that nobleness of mind, that ancient dignity,
that acuteness of understanding, and confidence of speech, for
which these three nations are so highly distinguished. But the
Britons, from having been detained longer in Greece than the other
two nations, after the destruction of their country, and having
migrated at a later period into the western parts of Europe,
retained in a greater degree the primitive words and phrases of
their native language. You will find amongst them the names Oenus,
Resus, AEneas, Hector, Achilles, Heliodorus, Theodorus, Ajax,
Evander, Uliex, Anianus, Elisa, Guendolena, and many others,
bearing marks of their antiquity. It is also to be observed, that
almost all words in the British language correspond either with the
Greek or Latin, as [Greek text which cannot be reproduced], water,
is called in British, dwr; [Greek text], salt, in British, halen;
[Greek text], eno, a name; [Greek text], pump, five; [Greek text],
deg, ten. The Latins also use the words fraenum, tripos, gladius,
lorica; the Britons, froyn (ffrwyn), trepet (tribedd), cleddyf, and
lluric (llurig); unicus is made unic (unig); canis, can (cwn); and
belua, beleu.


Concerning the soothsayers of this nation, and persons as it were

There are certain persons in Cambria, whom you will find nowhere
else, called Awenddyon, (24) or people inspired; when consulted
upon any doubtful event, they roar out violently, are rendered
beside themselves, and become, as it were, possessed by a spirit.
They do not deliver the answer to what is required in a connected
manner; but the person who skilfully observes them, will find,
after many preambles, and many nugatory and incoherent, though
ornamented speeches, the desired explanation conveyed in some turn
of a word: they are then roused from their ecstasy, as from a deep
sleep, and, as it were, by violence compelled to return to their
proper senses. After having answered the questions, they do not
recover till violently shaken by other people; nor can they
remember the replies they have given. If consulted a second or
third time upon the same point, they will make use of expressions
totally different; perhaps they speak by the means of fanatic and
ignorant spirits. These gifts are usually conferred upon them in
dreams: some seem to have sweet milk or honey poured on their
lips; others fancy that a written schedule is applied to their
mouths and on awaking they publicly declare that they have received
this gift. Such is the saying of Esdras, "The Lord said unto me,
open thy mouth, and I opened my mouth, and behold a cup full of
water, whose colour was like fire; and when I had drank it, my
heart brought forth understanding, and wisdom entered into my
breast." They invoke, during their prophecies, the true and living
God, and the Holy Trinity, and pray that they may not by their sins
be prevented from finding the truth. These prophets are only found
among the Britons descended from the Trojans. For Calchas and
Cassandra, endowed with the spirit of prophecy, openly foretold,
during the siege of Troy, the destruction of that fine city; on
which account the high priest, Helenus, influenced by the prophetic
books of Calchas, and of others who had long before predicted the
ruin of their country, in the first year went over to the Greeks
with the sons of Priam (to whom he was high priest), and was
afterwards rewarded in Greece. Cassandra, daughter of king Priam,
every day foretold the overthrow of the city; but the pride and
presumption of the Trojans prevented them from believing her word.
Even on the very night that the city was betrayed, she clearly
described the treachery and the method of it:

" - tales casus Cassandra canebat,"

as in the same manner, during the existence of the kingdom of the
Britons, both Merlin Caledonius and Ambrosius are said to have
foretold the destruction of their nation, as well as the coming of
the Saxons, and afterwards that of the Normans; and I think a
circumstance related by Aulus Gellius worth inserting in this
place. On the day that Caius Caesar and Cneius Pompey, during the
civil war, fought a pitched battle in Thessalia, a memorable event
occurred in that part of Italy situated beyond the river Po. A
priest named Cornelius, honourable from his rank, venerable for his
religion, and holy in his manners, in an inspired moment
proclaimed, "Caesar has conquered," and named the day, the events,
the mutual attack, and the conflicts of the two armies. Whether
such things are exhibited by the spirit, let the reader more
particularly inquire; I do not assert they are the acts of a
Pythonic or a diabolic spirit; for as foreknowledge is the property
of God alone, so is it in his power to confer knowledge of future
events. There are differences of gifts, says the Apostle, but one
and the same spirit; whence Peter, in his second Epistle, writes,
"For the prophecy came not in the old time by the will of man, but
men spake as if they were inspired by the Holy Ghost:" to the same
effect did the Chaldeans answer king Nebuchadonazar on the
interpretation of his dream, which he wished to extort from them.
"There is not," say they, "a man upon earth who can, O king,
satisfactorily answer your question; let no king therefore, however
great or potent, make a similar request to any magician,
astrologer, or Chaldean; for it is a rare thing that the king
requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the
king, except the Gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh." On this
passage Jerome remarks, "The diviners and all the learned of this
world confess, that the prescience of future events belongs to God
alone; the prophets therefore, who foretold things to come, spake
by the spirit of God. Hence some persons object, that, if they
were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they would sometimes
premise, "Thus saith the Lord God," or make use of some expression
in the prophetic style; and as such a mode of prophesying is not
taken notice of by Merlin, and no mention is made of his sanctity,
devotion, or faith, many think that he spake by a Pythonic spirit.
To which I answer, that the spirit of prophecy was given not only
to the holy, but sometimes to unbelievers and Gentiles, to Baal, to
the sibyls, and even to bad people, as to Caiaphas and Bela. On
which occasion Origen says: "Do not wonder, if he whom ye have
mentioned declares that the Scribes and Pharisees and doctors
amongst the Jews prophesied concerning Christ; for Caiaphas said:
"It is expedient for us that one man die for the people:" but
asserts at the same time, that because he was high priest for that
year, he prophesied. Let no man therefore be lifted up, if he
prophesies, if he merits prescience; for prophecies shall fail,
tongues shall cease, knowledge shall vanish away; and now abideth,
faith, hope, and charity: these three; but the greatest of these
is Charity, which never faileth. But these bad men not only
prophesied, but sometimes performed great miracles, which others
could not accomplish. John the Baptist, who was so great a
personage, performed no miracle, as John the Evangelist testifies:
"And many came to Jesus and said, Because John wrought no signs,"
etc. Nor do we hear that the mother of God performed any miracle;
we read in the Acts of the Apostles, that the sons of Sheva cast
out devils in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preached; and in Matthew
and Luke we may find these words: "Many shall say unto me in that
day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy
name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful
works? and then I will profess unto them, I never knew you." And
in another place, John says: "Master, we saw a certain man casting
out devils in thy name, and forbade him, because he followeth not
with us." But Jesus said: "Forbid him not; no man can do a
miracle in my name, and speak evil of me; for whoever is not
against me, is for me."

Alexander of Macedon, a gentile, traversed the Caspian mountains,
and miraculously confined ten tribes within their promontories,
where they still remain, and will continue until the coming of
Elias and Enoch. We read, indeed, the prophecies of Merlin, but
hear nothing either of his sanctity or his miracles. Some say,
that the prophets, when they prophesied, did not become frantic, as
it is affirmed of Merlin Silvestris, and others possessed, whom we
have before mentioned. Some prophesied by dreams, visions, and
enigmatical sayings, as Ezechiel and Daniel; others by acts and
words, as Noah, in the construction of the ark, alluded to the
church; Abraham, in the slaying of his son, to the passion of
Christ; and Moses by his speech, when he said, "A prophet shall the
Lord God raise up to you of your brethren; hear him;" meaning
Christ. Others have prophesied in a more excellent way by the
internal revelation and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as David
did when persecuted by Saul: "When Saul heard that David had fled
to Naioth (which is a hill in Ramah, and the seat of the prophets),
he sent messengers to take him; and when they saw the company of
the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing at their head, the
Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also
prophesied; and he sent messengers a second and again a third time,
and they also prophesied. And Saul enraged went thither also; and
the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied
until he came to Naioth, and he stripped off his royal vestments,
and prophesied with the rest for all that day and all that night;
whilst David and Samuel secretly observed what passed." Nor is it
wonderful that those persons who suddenly receive the Spirit of
God, and so signal a mark of grace, should for a time seem
alienated from their earthly state of mind.


Their love of high birth and ancient genealogy

The Welsh esteem noble birth and generous descent above all things,
(25) and are, therefore, more desirous of marrying into noble than
rich families. Even the common people retain their genealogy, and
can not only readily recount the names of their grandfathers and
great-grandfathers, but even refer back to the sixth or seventh
generation, or beyond them, in this manner: Rhys, son of Gruffydd,
son of Rhys, son of Tewdwr, son of Eineon, son of Owen, son of
Howel, son of Cadell, son of Roderic Mawr, and so on.

Being particularly attached to family descent, they revenge with
vehemence the injuries which may tend to the disgrace of their
blood; and being naturally of a vindictive and passionate
disposition, they are ever ready to avenge not only recent but
ancient affronts; they neither inhabit towns, villages, nor
castles, but lead a solitary life in the woods, on the borders of
which they do not erect sumptuous palaces, nor lofty stone
buildings, but content themselves with small huts made of the
boughs of trees twisted together, constructed with little labour
and expense, and sufficient to endure throughout the year. They
have neither orchards nor gardens, but gladly eat the fruit of both
when given to them. The greater part of their land is laid down to
pasturage; little is cultivated, a very small quantity is
ornamented with flowers, and a still smaller is sown. They seldom
yoke less than four oxen to their ploughs; the driver walks before,
but backwards, and when he falls down, is frequently exposed to
danger from the refractory oxen. Instead of small sickles in
mowing, they make use of a moderate-sized piece of iron formed like
a knife, with two pieces of wood fixed loosely and flexibly to the
head, which they think a more expeditious instrument; but since

"Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures,
Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus,"

their mode of using it will be better known by inspection than by
any description. The boats (26) which they employ in fishing or in
crossing the rivers are made of twigs, not oblong nor pointed, but
almost round, or rather triangular, covered both within and without
with raw hides. When a salmon thrown into one of these boats
strikes it hard with his tail, he often oversets it, and endangers
both the vessel and its navigator. The fishermen, according to the
custom of the country, in going to and from the rivers, carry these
boats on their shoulders; on which occasion that famous dealer in
fables, Bleddercus, who lived a little before our time, thus
mysteriously said: "There is amongst us a people who, when they go
out in search of prey, carry their horses on their backs to the
place of plunder; in order to catch their prey, they leap upon
their horses, and when it is taken, carry their horses home again
upon their shoulders."


Of the antiquity of their faith, their love of Christianity and

In ancient times, and about two hundred years before the overthrow
of Britain, the Welsh were instructed and confirmed in the faith by
Faganus and Damianus, sent into the island at the request of king
Lucius by pope Eleutherius, and from that period when Germanus of
Auxerre, and Lupus of Troyes, came over on account of the
corruption which had crept into the island by the invasion of the
Saxons, but particularly with a view of expelling the Pelagian
heresy, nothing heretical or contrary to the true faith was to be
found amongst the natives. But it is said that some parts of the
ardent doctrines are still retained. They give the first piece
broken off from every loaf of bread to the poor; they sit down to
dinner by three to a dish, in honour of the Trinity. With extended
arms and bowing head, they ask a blessing of every monk or priest,
or of every person wearing a religious habit. But they desire,
above all other nations, the episcopal ordination and unction, by
which the grace of the spirit is given. They give a tenth of all
their property, animals, cattle, and sheep, either when they marry,
or go on a pilgrimage, or, by the counsel of the church, are
persuaded to amend their lives. This partition of their effects
they call the great tithe, two parts of which they give to the
church where they were baptised, and the third to the bishop of the
diocese. But of all pilgrimages they prefer that to Rome, where
they pay the most fervent adoration to the apostolic see. We
observe that they show a greater respect than other nations to
churches and ecclesiastical persons, to the relics of saints,
bells, holy books, and the cross, which they devoutly revere; and
hence their churches enjoy more than common tranquillity. For
peace is not only preserved towards all animals feeding in
churchyards, but at a great distance beyond them, where certain
boundaries and ditches have been appointed by the bishops, in order
to maintain the security of the sanctuary. But the principal
churches to which antiquity has annexed the greater reverence
extend their protection to the herds as far as they can go to feed
in the morning and return at night. If, therefore, any person has
incurred the enmity of his prince, on applying to the church for
protection, he and his family will continue to live unmolested; but
many persons abuse this indemnity, far exceeding the indulgence of
the canon, which in such cases grants only personal safety; and
from the places of refuge even make hostile irruptions, and more
severely harass the country than the prince himself. Hermits and
anchorites more strictly abstinent and more spiritual can nowhere
be found; for this nation is earnest in all its pursuits, and
neither worse men than the bad, nor better than the good, can be
met with.

Happy and fortunate indeed would this nation be, nay, completely
blessed, if it had good prelates and pastors, and but one prince,
and that prince a good one.



Having in the former book clearly set forth the character, manners,
and customs of the British nation, and having collected and
explained everything which could redound to its credit or glory; an
attention to order now requires that, in this second part, we
should employ our pen in pointing out those particulars in which it
seems to transgress the line of virtue and commendation; having
first obtained leave to speak the truth, without which history not
only loses its authority, but becomes undeserving of its very name.
For the painter who professes to imitate nature, loses his
reputation, if, by indulging his fancy, he represents only those
parts of the subject which best suit him.

Since, therefore, no man is born without faults, and he is esteemed
the best whose errors are the least, let the wise man consider
everything human as connected with himself; for in worldly affairs
there is no perfect happiness under heaven. Evil borders upon
good, and vices are confounded with virtues; as the report of good
qualities is delightful to a well-disposed mind, so the relation of
the contrary should not be offensive. The natural disposition of
this nation might have been corrupted and perverted by long exile
and poverty; for as poverty extinguisheth many faults, so it often
generates failings that are contrary to virtue.


Of the inconstancy and instability of this nation, and their want
of reverence for good faith and oaths

These people are no less light in mind than in body, and are by no
means to be relied upon. They are easily urged to undertake any
action, and are as easily checked from prosecuting it - a people
quick in action, but more stubborn in a bad than in a good cause,
and constant only in acts of inconstancy. They pay no respect to
oaths, faith, or truth; and so lightly do they esteem the covenant
of faith, held so inviolable by other nations, that it is usual to
sacrifice their faith for nothing, by holding forth the right hand,
not only in serious and important concerns, but even on every
trifling occasion, and for the confirmation of almost every common
assertion. They never scruple at taking a false oath for the sake
of any temporary emolument or advantage; so that in civil and
ecclesiastical causes, each party, being ready to swear whatever
seems expedient to its purpose, endeavours both to prove and
defend, although the venerable laws, by which oaths are deemed
sacred, and truth is honoured and respected, by favouring the
accused and throwing an odium upon the accuser, impose the burden
of bringing proofs upon the latter. But to a people so cunning and
crafty, this yoke is pleasant, and this burden is light.


Their living by plunder, and disregard of the bonds of peace and

This nation conceives it right to commit acts of plunder, theft,
and robbery, not only against foreigners and hostile nations, but
even against their own countrymen. When an opportunity of
attacking the enemy with advantage occurs, they respect not the
leagues of peace and friendship, preferring base lucre to the
solemn obligations of oaths and good faith; to which circumstance
Gildas alludes in his book concerning the overthrow of the Britons,
actuated by the love of truth, and according to the rules of
history, not suppressing the vices of his countrymen. "They are
neither brave in war, nor faithful in peace." But when Julius
Caesar, great as the world itself,

"Territa quaesitis ostendit terga Britannis,"

were they not brave under their leader Cassivellaunus? And when
Belinus and Brennus added the Roman empire to their conquests?
What were they in the time of Constantine, son of our Helen? What,
in the reign of Aurelius Ambrosius, whom even Eutropius commends?
What were they in the time of our famous prince Arthur? I will not
say fabulous. On the contrary, they, who were almost subdued by
the Scots and Picts, often harassed with success the auxiliary
Roman legions, and exclaimed, as we learn from Gildas, "The
barbarians drove us to the sea, the sea drove us again back to the
barbarians; on one side we were subdued, on the other drowned, and
here we were put to death. Were they not," says he, "at that time
brave and praiseworthy?" When attacked and conquered by the
Saxons, who originally had been called in as stipendiaries to their
assistance, were they not brave? But the strongest argument made
use of by those who accuse this nation of cowardice, is, that
Gildas, a holy man, and a Briton by birth, has handed down to
posterity nothing remarkable concerning them, in any of his
historical works. We promise, however, a solution of the contrary
in our British Topography, if God grants us a continuance of life.

As a further proof, it may be necessary to add, that from the time
when that illustrious prince of the Britons, mentioned at the
beginning of this book, totally exhausted the strength of the
country, by transporting the whole armed force beyond the seas;
that island, which had before been so highly illustrious for its
incomparable valour, remained for many subsequent years destitute
of men and arms, and exposed to the predatory attacks of pirates
and robbers. So distinguished, indeed, were the natives of this
island for their bravery, that, by their prowess, that king subdued
almost all Cisalpine Gaul, and dared even to make an attack on the
Roman empire.

In process of time, the Britons, recovering their long-lost
population and knowledge of the use of arms, re-acquired their high
and ancient character. Let the different aeras be therefore
marked, and the historical accounts will accord. With regard to
Gildas, who inveighs so bitterly against his own nation, the
Britons affirm that, highly irritated at the death of his brother,
the prince of Albania, whom king Arthur had slain, he wrote these
invectives, and upon the same occasion threw into the sea many
excellent books, in which he had described the actions of Arthur,
and the celebrated deeds of his countrymen; from which cause it
arises, that no authentic account of so great a prince is any where
to be found.


Of their deficiency in battle, and base and dishonourable flight

In war this nation is very severe in the first attack, terrible by
their clamour and looks, filling the air with horrid shouts and the
deep-toned clangour of very long trumpets; swift and rapid in their
advances and frequent throwing of darts. Bold in the first onset,
they cannot bear a repulse, being easily thrown into confusion as
soon as they turn their backs; and they trust to flight for safety,
without attempting to rally, which the poet thought reprehensible
in martial conflicts:

"Ignavum scelus est tantum fuga;"

and elsewhere -

"In vitium culpae ducit fuga, si caret arte."

The character given to the Teutones in the Roman History, may be
applied to this people. "In their first attack they are more than
men, in the second, less than women." Their courage manifests
itself chiefly in the retreat, when they frequently return, and,
like the Parthians, shoot their arrows behind them; and, as after
success and victory in battle, even cowards boast of their courage,
so, after a reverse of fortune, even the bravest men are not
allowed their due claims of merit. Their mode of fighting consists
in chasing the enemy or in retreating. This light-armed people,
relying more on their activity than on their strength, cannot
struggle for the field of battle, enter into close engagement, or
endure long and severe actions, such as the poet describes:

"Jam clypeo clypeus, umbone repellitur umbo,
Ense minax ensis, pede pes, et cuspide cuspis."

Though defeated and put to flight on one day, they are ready to
resume the combat on the next, neither dejected by their loss, nor
by their dishonour; and although, perhaps, they do not display
great fortitude in open engagements and regular conflicts, yet they
harass the enemy by ambuscades and nightly sallies. Hence, neither
oppressed by hunger or cold, nor fatigued by martial labours, nor
despondent in adversity, but ready, after a defeat, to return
immediately to action, and again endure the dangers of war; they
are as easy to overcome in a single battle, as difficult to subdue
in a protracted war. The poet Claudian thus speaks of a people
similar in disposition:-

"Dum percunt, meminere mali: si corda parumper
Respirare sinas, nullo tot funera censu
Praetercunt, tantique levis jactura cruoris."


Their ambitious seizure of lands, and dissensions among brothers

This nation is, above all others, addicted to the digging up of
boundary ditches, removing the limits, transgressing landmarks, and
extending their territory by every possible means. So great is
their disposition towards this common violence, that they scruple
not to claim as their hereditary right, those lands which are held
under lease, or at will, on condition of planting, or by any other
title, even although indemnity had been publicly secured on oath to
the tenant by the lord proprietor of the soil. Hence arise suits
and contentions, murders and conflagrations, and frequent
fratricides, increased, perhaps, by the ancient national custom of
brothers dividing their property amongst each other. Another heavy
grievance also prevails; the princes entrust the education of their
children to the care of the principal men of their country, each of
whom, after the death of his father, endeavours, by every possible
means, to exalt his own charge above his neighbours. From which
cause great disturbances have frequently arisen amongst brothers,
and terminated in the most cruel and unjust murders; and on which
account friendships are found to be more sincere between foster-
brothers, than between those who are connected by the natural ties
of brotherhood. It is also remarkable, that brothers shew more
affection to one another when dead, than when living; for they
persecute the living even unto death, but revenge the deceased with
all their power.


Their great exaction, and want of moderation

Where they find plenty, and can exercise their power, they levy the
most unjust exactions. Immoderate in their love of food and
intoxicating drink, they say with the Apostle, "We are instructed
both to abound, and to suffer need;" but do not add with him,
"becoming all things to all men, that I might by all means save
some." As in times of scarcity their abstinence and parsimony are
too severe, so, when seated at another man's table, after a long
fasting, (like wolves and eagles, who, like them, live by plunder,
and are rarely satisfied,) their appetite is immoderate. They are
therefore penurious in times of scarcity, and extravagant in times
of plenty; but no man, as in England, mortgages his property for
the gluttonous gratification of his own appetite. They wish,
however, that all people would join with them in their bad habits
and expenses; as the commission of crimes reduces to a level all
those who are concerned in the perpetration of them.


Concerning the crime of incest, and the abuse of churches by
succession and participation

The crime of incest hath so much prevailed, not only among the
higher, but among the lower orders of this people, that, not having
the fear of God before their eyes, they are not ashamed of
intermarrying with their relations, even in the third degree of
consanguinity. They generally abuse these dispensations with a
view of appeasing those enmities which so often subsist between
them, because "their feet are swift to shed blood;" and from their
love of high descent, which they so ardently affect and covet, they
unite themselves to their own people, refusing to intermarry with
strangers, and arrogantly presuming on their own superiority of
blood and family. They do not engage in marriage, until they have
tried, by previous cohabitation, the disposition, and particularly
the fecundity, of the person with whom they are engaged. An
ancient custom also prevails of hiring girls from their parents at
a certain price, and a stipulated penalty, in case of relinquishing
their connection.

Their churches have almost as many parsons and sharers as there are
principal men in the parish. The sons, after the decease of their
fathers, succeed to the ecclesiastical benefices, not by election,
but by hereditary right possessing and polluting the sanctuary of
God. And if a prelate should by chance presume to appoint or
institute any other person, the people would certainly revenge the
injury upon the institutor and the instituted. With respect to
these two excesses of incest and succession, which took root
formerly in Armorica, and are not yet eradicated, Ildebert, bishop
of Le Mans, in one of his epistles, says, "that he was present with
a British priest at a council summoned with a view of putting an
end to the enormities of this nation:" hence it appears that these
vices have for a long time prevailed both in Britany and Britain.
The words of the Psalmist may not inaptly be applied to them; "They
are corrupt and become abominable in their doings, there is none
that doeth good, no, not one: they are all gone out of the way,
they are altogether become abominable," etc.


Of their sins, and the consequent loss of Britain and of Troy

Moreover, through their sins, and particularly that detestable and
wicked vice of Sodom, as well as by divine vengeance, they lost
Britain as they formerly lost Troy. For we read in the Roman
history, that the emperor Constantine having resigned the city and
the Western empire to the blessed Sylvester and his successors,
with an intention of rebuilding Troy, and there establishing the
chief seat of the Eastern Empire, heard a voice, saying, "Dost thou
go to rebuild Sodom?" upon which, he altered his intention, turned
his ships and standards towards Byzantium, and there fixing his
seat of empire, gave his own propitious name to the city. The
British history informs us, that Mailgon, king of the Britons, and
many others, were addicted to this vice; that enormity, however,
had entirely ceased for so long a time, that the recollection of it
was nearly worn out. But since that, as if the time of repentance
was almost expired, and because the nation, by its warlike
successes and acquisition of territory, has in our times unusually
increased in population and strength, they boast in their turn, and
most confidently and unanimously affirm, that in a short time their
countrymen shall return to the island, and, according to the
prophecies of Merlin, the nation, and even the name, of foreigners,
shall be extinguished in the island, and the Britons shall exult
again in their ancient name and privileges. But to me it appears
far otherwise; for since

"Luxuriant animi rebus plerumque secundis,
Nec facile est aequa commoda mente pati;"

And because

"Non habet unde suum paupertas pascat amorem, . . .
Divitiis alitur luxuriosus amor."

So that their abstinence from that vice, which in their prosperity
they could not resist, may be attributed more justly to their
poverty and state of exile than to their sense of virtue. For they
cannot be said to have repented, when we see them involved in such
an abyss of vices, perjury, theft, robbery, rapine, murders,
fratricides, adultery, and incest, and become every day more
entangled and ensnared in evil-doing; so that the words of the
prophet Hosea may be truly applied to them, "There is no truth, nor
mercy," etc.

Other matters of which they boast are more properly to be
attributed to the diligence and activity of the Norman kings than
to their own merits or power. For previous to the coming of the
Normans, when the English kings contented themselves with the
sovereignty of Britain alone, and employed their whole military
force in the subjugation of this people, they almost wholly
extirpated them; as did king Offa, who by a long and extensive dyke
separated the British from the English; Ethelfrid also, who
demolished the noble city of Legions, (27) and put to death the
monks of the celebrated monastery at Banchor, who had been called
in to promote the success of the Britons by their prayers; and
lastly Harold, who himself on foot, with an army of light-armed
infantry, and conforming to the customary diet of the country, so
bravely penetrated through every part of Wales, that he scarcely
left a man alive in it; and as a memorial of his signal victories
many stones may be found in Wales bearing this inscription:- "HIC

To these bloody and recent victories of the English may be
attributed the peaceable state of Wales during the reigns of the
three first Norman kings; when the nation increased in population,
and being taught the use of arms and the management of horses by
the English and Normans (with whom they had much intercourse, by
following the court, or by being sent as hostages), took advantage
of the necessary attention which the three succeeding kings were
obliged to pay to their foreign possessions, and once more lifting
up their crests, recovered their lands, and spurned the yoke that
had formerly been imposed upon them.


In what manner this nation is to be overcome

The prince who would wish to subdue this nation, and govern it
peaceably, must use this method. He must be determined to apply a
diligent and constant attention to this purpose for one year at
least; for a people who with a collected force will not openly
attack the enemy in the field, nor wait to be besieged in castles,
is not to be overcome at the first onset, but to be worn out by
prudent delay and patience. Let him divide their strength, and by
bribes and promises endeavour to stir up one against the other,
knowing the spirit of hatred and envy which generally prevails
amongst them; and in the autumn let not only the marches, but also
the interior part of the country be strongly fortified with
castles, provisions, and confidential families. In the meantime
the purchase of corn, cloth, and salt, with which they are usually
supplied from England, should be strictly interdicted; and well-
manned ships placed as a guard on the coast, to prevent their
importation of these articles from Ireland or the Severn sea, and
to facilitate the supply of his own army. Afterwards, when the
severity of winter approaches, when the trees are void of leaves,
and the mountains no longer afford pasturage - when they are
deprived of any hopes of plunder, and harassed on every side by the
repeated attacks of the enemy - let a body of light-armed infantry
penetrate into their woody and mountainous retreats, and let these
troops be supported and relieved by others; and thus by frequent
changes, and replacing the men who are either fatigued or slain in
battle, this nation may be ultimately subdued; nor can it be
overcome without the above precautions, nor without great danger
and loss of men. Though many of the English hired troops may
perish in a day of battle, money will procure as many or more on
the morrow for the same service; but to the Welsh, who have neither
foreign nor stipendiary troops, the loss is for the time
irreparable. In these matters, therefore, as an artificer is to be
trusted in his trade, so attention is to be paid to the counsel of
those who, having been long conversant in similar concerns, are
become acquainted with the manners and customs of their country,
and whom it greatly interests, that an enemy, for whom during long
and frequent conflicts they have contracted an implacable hatred,
should by their assistance be either weakened or destroyed. Happy
should I have termed the borders of Wales inhabited by the English,
if their kings, in the government of these parts, and in their
military operations against the enemy, had rather employed the
marchers and barons of the country, than adopted the counsels and
policy of the people of Anjou and the Normans. In this, as well as
in every other military expedition, either in Ireland or in Wales,
the natives of the marches, from the constant state of warfare in
which they are engaged, and whose manners are formed from the
habits of war, are bold and active, skilful on horseback, quick on
foot, not nice as to their diet, and ever prepared when necessity
requires to abstain both from corn and wine. By such men were the
first hostile attacks made upon Wales as well as Ireland, and by
such men alone can their final conquest be accomplished. For the
Flemings, Normans, Coterells, and Bragmans, are good and well-
disciplined soldiers in their own country; but the Gallic soldiery
is known to differ much from the Welsh and Irish. In their country
the battle is on level, here on rough ground; there in an open
field, here in forests; there they consider their armour as an
honour, here as a burden; there soldiers are taken prisoners, here
they are beheaded; there they are ransomed, here they are put to
death. Where, therefore, the armies engage in a flat country, a
heavy and complex armour, made of cloth and iron, both protects and
decorates the soldier; but when the engagement is in narrow
defiles, in woods or marshes, where the infantry have the advantage
over the cavalry, a light armour is preferable. For light arms
afford sufficient protection against unarmed men, by whom victory
is either lost or won at the first onset; where it is necessary
that an active and retreating enemy should be overcome by a certain
proportional quantity of moderate armour; whereas with a more
complex sort, and with high and curved saddles, it is difficult to
dismount, more so to mount, and with the greatest difficulty can
such troops march, if required, with the infantry. In order,
therefore, that

"Singula quaeque locum teneant sortita decenter,"

we maintain it is necessary to employ heavy-armed and strong troops
against men heavily armed, depending entirely upon their natural
strength, and accustomed to fight in an open plain; but against
light-armed and active troops, who prefer rough ground, men
accustomed to such conflicts, and armed in a similar manner, must
be employed. But let the cities and fortresses on the Severn, and
the whole territory on its western banks towards Wales, occupied by
the English, as well as the provinces of Shropshire and Cheshire,
which are protected by powerful armies, or by any other special
privileges and honourable independence, rejoice in the provident
bounty of their prince. There should be a yearly examination of
the warlike stores, of the arms, and horses, by good and discreet
men deputed for that purpose, and who, not intent on its plunder
and ruin, interest themselves in the defence and protection of
their country. By these salutary measures, the soldiers, citizens,
and the whole mass of the people, being instructed and accustomed
to the use of arms, liberty may be opposed by liberty, and pride be
checked by pride. For the Welsh, who are neither worn out by
laborious burdens, nor molested by the exactions of their lords,
are ever prompt to avenge an injury. Hence arise their
distinguished bravery in the defence of their country; hence their
readiness to take up arms and to rebel. Nothing so much excites,
encourages, and invites the hearts of men to probity as the
cheerfulness of liberty; nothing so much dejects and dispirits them
as the oppression of servitude. This portion of the kingdom,
protected by arms and courage, might be of great use to the prince,
not only in these or the adjacent parts, but, if necessity
required, in more remote regions; and although the public treasury
might receive a smaller annual revenue from these provinces, yet
the deficiency would be abundantly compensated by the peace of the
kingdom and the honour of its sovereign; especially as the heavy
and dangerous expenses of one military expedition into Wales
usually amount to the whole income among from the revenues of the


In what manner Wales, when conquered, should be governed

As therefore this nation is to be subdued by resolution in the
manner proposed, so when subdued, its government must be directed
by moderation, according to the following plan. Let the care of it
be committed to a man of a firm and determined mind; who during the
time of peace, by paying due obedience to the laws, and respect to
the government, may render it firm and stable. For like other
nations in a barbarous state, this people, although they are
strangers to the principles of honour, yet above all things desire
to be honoured; and approve and respect in others that truth which
they themselves do not profess. Whenever the natural inconstancy
of their indisposition shall induce them to revolt, let punishment
instantly follow the offence; but when they shall have submitted
themselves again to order, and made proper amends for their faults
(as it is the custom of bad men to remember wrath after quarrels),
let their former transgression be overlooked, and let them enjoy
security and respect, as long as they continue faithful. Thus, by
mild treatment they will be invited to obedience and the love of
peace, and the thought of certain punishment will deter them from
rash attempts. We have often observed persons who, confounding
these matters, by complaining of faults, depressing for services,
flattering in war, plundering in peace, despoiling the weak, paying
respect to revolters, by thus rendering all things confused, have
at length been confounded themselves. Besides, as circumstances
which are foreseen do less mischief, and as that state is happy
which thinks of war in the time of peace, let the wise man be upon
his guard, and prepared against the approaching inconveniences of
war, by the construction of forts, the widening of passes through
woods, and the providing of a trusty household. For those who are
cherished and sustained during the time of peace, are more ready to
come forward in times of danger, and are more confidently to be
depended upon; and as a nation unsubdued ever meditates plots under
the disguise of friendship, let not the prince or his governor
entrust the protection of his camp or capital to their fidelity.
By the examples of many remarkable men, some of whom have been
cruelly put to death, and others deprived of their castles and
dignities, through their own neglect and want of care, we may see,
that the artifices of a crafty and subdued nation are much more to
be dreaded than their open warfare; their good-will than their
anger, their honey than their gall, their malice than their attack,
their treachery than their aggression, and their pretended
friendship more than their open enmity. A prudent and provident
man therefore should contemplate in the misfortune of others what
he ought himself to avoid; correction taught by example is
harmless, as Ennodius (29) says: "The ruin of predecessors
instructs those who succeed; and a former miscarriage becomes a
future caution." If a well-disposed prince should wish these great
designs to be accomplished without the effusion of blood, the
marches, as we before mentioned, must be put into a state of
defence on all sides, and all intercourse by sea and land
interdicted; some of the Welsh may be stirred up to deadly feuds,
by means of stipends, and by transferring the property of one
person to another; and thus worn out with hunger, and a want of the
necessaries of life, and harassed by frequent murders and
implacable enmities, they will at last be compelled to surrender.

There are three things which ruin this nation, and prevent its
enjoying the satisfaction of a fruitful progeny. First, because
both the natural and legitimate sons endeavour to divide the
paternal inheritance amongst themselves; from which cause, as we
have before observed, continual fratricides take place. Secondly,
because the education of their sons is committed to the care of the
high-born people of the country, who, on the death of their
fathers, endeavour by all possible means to exalt their pupil; from
whence arise murders, conflagrations, and almost a total
destruction of the country. And, thirdly, because from the pride
and obstinacy of their disposition, they will not (like other
nations) subject themselves to the dominion of one lord and king.


In what manner this nation may resist and revolt

Having hitherto so partially and elaborately spoken in favour of
the English, and being equally connected by birth with each nation,
justice demands that we should argue on both sides; let us
therefore, at the close of our work, turn our attention towards the
Welsh, and briefly, but effectually, instruct them in the art of
resistance. If the Welsh were more commonly accustomed to the
Gallic mode of arming, and depended more on steady fighting than on
their agility; if their princes were unanimous and inseparable in
their defence; or rather, if they had only one prince, and that a
good one; this nation situated in so powerful, strong, and
inaccessible a country, could hardly ever be completely overcome.
If, therefore, they would be inseparable, they would become
insuperable, being assisted by these three circumstances; a country
well defended by nature, a people both contented and accustomed to
live upon little, a community whose nobles as well as privates are
instructed in the use of arms; and especially as the English fight
for power, the Welsh for liberty; the one to procure gain, the
other to avoid loss; the English hirelings for money, the Welsh
patriots for their country. The English, I say, fight in order to
expel the natural inhabitants from the island, and secure to
themselves the possession of the whole; but the Welsh maintain the
conflict, that they, who have so long enjoyed the sovereignty of
the whole kingdom, may at least find a hiding place in the worst
corner of it, amongst woods and marshes; and, banished, as it were,
for their offences, may there in a state of poverty, for a limited
time, perform penance for the excesses they committed in the days
of their prosperity. For the perpetual remembrance of their former
greatness, the recollection of their Trojan descent, and the high
and continued majesty of the kingdom of Britain, may draw forth
many a latent spark of animosity, and encourage the daring spirit
of rebellion. Hence during the military expedition which king
Henry II. made in our days against South Wales, an old Welshman at
Pencadair, who had faithfully adhered to him, being desired to give
his opinion about the royal army, and whether he thought that of
the rebels would make resistance, and what would be the final event
of this war, replied, "This nation, O king, may now, as in former
times, be harassed, and in a great measure weakened and destroyed
by your and other powers, and it will often prevail by its laudable
exertions; but it can never be totally subdued through the wrath of
man, unless the wrath of God shall concur. Nor do I think, that
any other nation than this of Wales, or any other language,
whatever may hereafter come to pass, shall, in the day of severe
examination before the Supreme Judge, answer for this corner of the


[The text of the footnotes has been removed from this version of
the eText until their copyright status can be ascertained.]


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