Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Gerald of Wales

Gerald of Barrie, Giraldus Cambrensis
c. 1146 – c. 1123

Gerald of Wales was a prominent medieval writer and clergyman who lived during the twelfth century. He was born around 1146 in Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales, into a noble Welsh-Norman family. Gerald played a significant role in chronicling various aspects of medieval life, including history, politics, religion, and culture.

Gerald of Wales is perhaps best known for his extensive literary works, which provide valuable insights into the social, religious, and political landscape of his time. Among his numerous writings, several works touch upon Arthurian themes and legends, although his contributions to Arthurian literature are not as extensive as those of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

One of Gerald’s notable works is Topographia Hibernica (The Topography of Ireland), written around 1188, which offers a detailed account of his travels through Ireland. While this work primarily focuses on Irish geography, customs, and people, Gerald also mentions various legends and folklore associated with the island, including references to King Arthur and his knights.

In addition to Topographia Hibernica, Gerald authored several other works that touched upon Arthurian themes indirectly. His Itinerarium Cambriae (Journey Through Wales) describes his travels throughout Wales and discusses Welsh history and culture, occasionally referencing Arthurian sites and legends.

Furthermore, Gerald of Wales was closely associated with the court of Henry II of England and served as a royal clerk and chaplain. His connections to the English monarchy likely influenced his perspectives on Welsh and British history, including the Arthurian legends.

While Gerald’s contributions to Arthurian literature may not be as central as those of Geoffrey of Monmouth or later writers like Thomas Malory, his works provide valuable glimpses into the medieval reception and interpretation of Arthurian themes. Through his writings, Gerald of Wales helped shape the evolving narrative of King Arthur and contributed to the enduring legacy of Arthurian legend in British literature and culture.

Gerald of Wales is believed to have been buried in the cathedral of St. David’s in Pembrokeshire, Wales. St. David’s Cathedral held significant religious and cultural importance in medieval Wales, and it is fitting that Gerald, a prominent clergyman and chronicler of Welsh history, would be laid to rest there.

However, the exact location of Gerald’s burial within the cathedral is uncertain. Despite his historical significance, no elaborate monument or marker commemorating his grave has been identified. Nevertheless, St. David’s Cathedral remains an important site for those interested in Gerald of Wales and his contributions to medieval literature and history.