Robert Williams.

A biographical dictionary of eminent Welshmen, from the earliest times to the present, and including every name connected with the ancient history of Wales .. online

. (page 20 of 70)
Online LibraryRobert WilliamsA biographical dictionary of eminent Welshmen, from the earliest times to the present, and including every name connected with the ancient history of Wales .. → online text (page 20 of 70)
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his translation of the British Chronicle into Latin, but because it con-
tains many &bulous and trifling stories, several authors have consider-
ed the whole a fiction. That however is not the case, for we have the
original Brut still in existence. The history of the work is curious ;
Walter Mapes, archdeacon of Oxford, a diligent enquirer after the an-
tiquities of his nation, while journeying in Armorica, met with a his-
tory of Britain written in Welsh, a circumstance easy to be accounted
for from the frequent intercourse which had existed between the two
countries, and the language having less dissimilarity than we could
now expect to find after so many centuries of non-intercourse. Of
this work the archdeacon says at the end of the copy printed in the
Myvyrian Archaiology, "I Walter archdeacon of 03cford turned this
book out of Welsh into Latin, and in my old age I turned it the second
time out of Latin into Welsh." It is most probable that Geoffrey
made use of the archdeacon's version, to which he made considerable
additions, and his translation from the numerous omissions may be
considered more elegant than correct. It is this remodelled work
which the archdeacon retranslated into Welsh, and which is the
second Chronicle printed in the Myvyrian Archaiology, under the
name of Brut Gruffydd ab Arthur. The style of this is more laboured/
and the narrative more diffuse, and it agrees very closely with Geoff-
rey's translation. The original Brut, called Brut Tysilio, was trans-
lated by the Rev. Peter Roberts, 4to. London, 1811. Several editions
of Geoffrey's history are extant in Latin, the earliest is in 4to. printed
by Ascensius, at Paris, in 1608 ; reprinted, 4to. 1617. It was also
printed by Commeline, at Heidelberg, in folio, 1687, among the '^Re-
ram Britannicarum Scriptores vetustiores et prscipui." A translation
of it into English was published in London, 1718, in 8vo. by Aaron
Thompson, of Queen's College, Oxford ; and another edition revised
by Dr. Giles, 8vo. London, 1842. Copies of the work in MS. are also
preserved in many great libraries, and several of an age very near his
time are preserved among the MSS. of the Old Royal Library in the
British Museum ; one formerly belonging to the Ubraiy of Mai^gam
Abbey is believed to be the best.

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GERAINT, the son of Elidr, according to the Welsh Bruts, snc-
ceeded Rhun the son of Peredur on the throne of Britain, m the fifth
century, B. C. (Myv. Arch. ii. 164.)

GERAINT, the son of Erbin ab Cystennyn Gromen, was a prince
of the Britons, who inhabited Dy vnaint or Devon. He is recorded in the
Triads as one of the three "Uyngesawg," or naval commanders of the
Isle of Britain, the other two being Gwenwynwyn the son of Nav,
and March the son of Meirchion, each of these had six score ships, and
six score men in each ship. (My v. Arch. ii. 68.) He fell fighting
valiantly under Arthur against the Saxons, at the battle of LJongborth,
in A. D. 530, and we have a beautiful Elegy on him composed by
Llywarch H6n, which is printed in the Myvyrian Archaiology, and
also in Owen's "Heroic Elegies of Llywarch H^n," 8vo. London,
1792. He is mentioned by Aneurin in terms of high praise in the
Gododin. (Myv. Arch. i. 13.) Geraint ab Erbin is also considered
one of the Welsh saint?, and it is said that there was a church dedi-
cated to him at Caer Fawydd, or Hereford. His sons, Cyngar, Selyv,
lestyn, and Cado, were also saints, and members of the college of St.
Garmon. Geraint is the hero of the second Mabinogi, published by
Lady Charlotte Guest. There were two other princes of the same
name, one of whom, Geraint or Gerennius, king of Cornwall, kindly
entertained St. Teilaw, who fled from the pestilence which desolated
Wales, in the reign of Maelgwn Gwynedd, and was alive in A. D. 689.
(See the particulars in the Liber Landavensis.) The third Geraint is
mentioned in the Saxon Chronicle, as being at war with Ina, about
A. D. 710.

GERAINT (HIR,) the son of Cymanon or Gemeirnon Hen, is re-
corded in the Triads as one of the three "anhuol varchogion," or ple-
beian knights, of the court of Arthur, whose transcendent wisdom,
and generosity, and other excellent qualities entitled them to its privi-
leges notwithstanding their origin. The other two were Eithew and
Coleddog. (Myv, Arch. ii. 16, 74.)

GERAINT (VARDD GLAS,) a poet and grammarian, who
flourished about A. D. 900. He is the author of a Welsh Grammar,
which was preserved among the MSS. in Rhaglan Castle, before it was
destroyed in the wars of the Commonwealth. No copy of the original
work is supposed to be now in existence, but it was made use of by
Einion and Edeym in the compilation of their grammars, though to
what extent cannot now be ascertained. Of his poetical works a few mo-
ral pieces are all that remain. Dr. Owen Pughe suggests that Geraint
was the same person as Asser Menevensis, which is probable enough
when it is considered that Asser (azure) may be a translation of Bardd
Gifts, or Gifts y Gadair, which were the usual appellations of Geraint.

GERAINT (VEDDW,) or the drunken, was a prince of Essyllwg,
or Siluria, who is recorded in the Triads as havmg set the com on fire
far and near in a fit of intoxication, so that a famine ensued in his

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GER W Y N — GILDAS. 1 65

country. For this reason he is joined to Gwrtheym and Seithenyn
as one of the three ''camveddwon/' or arrant drunkards of the Isle of
Britain. (My v. Arch. ii. 64.)

GERW YN, a saint who flourished in the fifth century. In one ac-
count he is called the son of Brychan, while others with greater pro-
bability state him to be the son of Brynach Wyddel by Corth the
daughter of Brychan. He had three sisters, Mwynen, Gwennan, and
Gwenlliw. He settled in Cornwall, where he founded a church, and
he was slain in the isle of Gerwyn.

GILBERT, the son of Cadgyfiraw, a chieftain who lived in the sixth
century. He is recorded in the Triads as one of the three "ysgymmydd
aereu,"4or blocks of slaughter of the Isle of Britain. The other two
were Morvran ail T^id, and Gwgan Cleddyvrudd. (My v. Arch. ii. 6.)

GILDAS (ALBANIUS,) otherwise called Gildas Sapiens, was the
son of Caw, a king of the Northern Britons. He early devoted him-
self to religion, and according to Bale was a disciple of St. Padrig. He
was employed in Ireland to preach the Gospel for some time, and had
the government of the school at Armagh. Having understood that his
brother Howel had been slain by king Arthur in battle, he returned
to Britain, and made his peace with the king about A. D. 508, and be-
came his chaplain. He was then persuaded by the abbot St. Cattwg
to superintend the school at Llangarvan, which he undertook for one
year without reward. He then withdrew to the island of Echni,
(Liber Landavensis, 380.) which he soon left, being terrified by the in-
cursions of the pirates of Orkney, and he betook himself to Glaston-
bury, near which he founded a church on the banks of the river Ax,
and dedicated it to the Holy Trinity, where he spent the remainder
of his life in solitude. He is called, in the prophecies of Merlin, the
preacher of Ireland, from his great success in converting numbers in
that country to Christianity. He died on the 29th of January, 512.
He wrote, according to Bale, 1, Commentarii Evangeliorum, 2, Depri'
mis Hafntatoribus InmkB. 3, VerstLS Vaticiniorum, 4, De Sexto cog'
noscendo, 5, Super eodem Sexto, 6, Regum Britannorum Historia, 7,
j/ie Victoria AurelH Ambrosii, 8, Acta Oermani et Lujdj and many
other pieces. Geoffrey of Monmouth quotes the books of the Victory
of AureUus Ambrosius, and of the Miracles of St. Gannon, and St. Lu-
pus, in his History, and they seem to have been extant in his time.
He also says that Gildas translated the laws of Dyvnwal Moelmud,
out of British into Latin, but that king Alfred translated them into
Anglo-Saxon. It is also very probable ihat this Gildas was the author
of the Welsh Chronicle, known by the name of Brut Tysilio.

GILDAS (BADONICUS,) flourished in the sixth century. He
went from Britain to Ireland, about the year 566, upon the invitation
of Amirach, the son of Setnai, king of Ireland. He had preached the
gospel there but a short time, when his patron Amirach was slain in
battle, A. D. 568 or 569, according to the Annals of Ulster, and he re-

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turned to his native country, where he died in the following year, in
the fiftieth of his age. He wrote, according to Bale, 1, De Eweidio
Britannia, 2, Condones Mordentes, 3, Historia Quadam. 4, De Im^
mortalitate Animce; and some other treatises. Ponticus Virunnius
says in his History that Gildas wrote QuoBdam Librot Epigrammatdn;
and Poema Cambrm dictum^ and in the end of that book plainly dis-
tinguishes him &om the other Gildas, called Albanius, who wrote de
VicUtria Aurdii Amhrosiu Bale however ascribes these to a much
older Gildas, whom he calls Gildas Cambrius. (See also appendix in
Roberts's Translation of the Welsh Chronicles.) There is some reason
for supposing that Aneurin the celebrated bard was also called Gildas.
(See Aneurin.) But that he was not the author of the epistle under
that name is evident, for while Aneurin in the Gododin laments the
disastrous issue of the battle of Cattraeth, owing to the intoxica-
tion of the chiefs, he dwells largely upon the praises of his heroes, and
always maintains kindly feelings towards his countrymen ; while the
reputed works of Gildas are written in the most hostile spirit, and are
full of misrepresentations in order to depreciate the chapter of the
Britons. The Rev, Peter Robei'ts has satisfactorily proved from in-
ternal evidence, that the works attributed to Gildas are forgeries of
later date, which, though ancient, and framed to pass as the genuine
works of the real Gildas, could not have been written by a Briton.
Modem writers seem inclined to suppose that there was but one Gil-
das, but it is evident that there were more than one, for we read of
Gildas Albanius, Gildas Sapiens, Gildas Badonicus, Gildas Historicus^
Gildas Cambrius, and Gildas Q,uartus, though it may be impossible
now to assign to the true author the different works which bear the
name of Gildas. "What is printed of the works of Gildas, was first
published by Polydore Virgil, whose imperfect and corrupt text was
reprinted at Paris in the "Bibliotheca Patrum," in 1610. The second
edition of this work was published in the *'Opus Historiarum nostro
Ssculo convenientissimum," at Basel, 8vo. 1541 ; again in a separate
form, 12mo. London, 1568 ; and Basel in the same year; and Paris|,
1576; and afterwards &om a better manuscript by Gale, in his *' Re-
rum Anglicarum Scriptores Veteres," 3 vols, folio, 1684 — 7. There
is also an Englbh translation entitled *'A Description of the state of
Great Britain, written eleven hundred years since." 12mo. London,
1652. The last edition is by Dr. Giles, 8vo, London, 1841.

GIRALDUS (DE BARRI,) generaUy called Cambrensis, was de-
scended from an illustrious lineage, being the fourth son of William
de Barri, a person of high distinction, by Angharad daughter of Nest
who was the daughter of Rhys ab Tewdwr, prince of South Wales.
He was bom in the year 1146, at the castle of Maenor Pyr, in Pem-
brokeshire, and at an early age he showed such indications of literary
talent and religious feeling, that his father determined to educate him
for the church, and his uncle, David Fitzgerald, then bishop of St.

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David's^ undertook the chai*ge. He continued under his core until his
twentieth year, when he went to Paris, and remained there for three
years, giving lectures on rhetoric and the helles lettres, and heing
pointed out hy the doctors of the university as a pattern to the young
men of his age. On returning to England about 1172, he entered holy
orders, and soon obtained preferment, being appointed a canon of He-
reford, and rector of Chesterton, in Oxfordshire ; but his love for his
native country induced him to settle in Wales, where he distinguished
himself by his zeal for the church, and detected several abuses which
prevailed in the diocese of St. David's. Having stated his complaints
to the archbishop of Canterbury, he was by him appointed his legate in
Wales for the purpose of rectifying abuses. The archdeacon of Bre-
con having been deprived for his immorality, Giraldus was appointed
to that archdeaconry, and on the death of his uncle, the canons of St.
David's elected Giraldus to succeed him, which the king objected to
with this high encomium, 'Uhat it was neither expedient nor necessary
to elect too upright or active a man to the vacant see of St. David's, as
such a choice might prove detrimental to the cathedral church of Can-
terbury, or even to the crown of England." Giraldus then returned
to Paris, where he distinguished himself by his eloquent declamation
in the schools, and was o£Fered the professorship of Canon Law in that
university. After a residence of some duration he returned to Wales,
and found the diocese of St. David*s in great confusion, and the bishop,
Peter de Leia, compelled to leave his episcopal residence, owing to dis-
putes which had arisen between him and the Welsh ; upon this he was
appointed administrator of the diocese. In 1185, he was selected by
king Henry to be the preceptor of his son John, whom he accompa-
nied to Ireland as secretary, and he was offered the bishoprics of Ferns
and Leighlin, which he refused, as he did the archbishopric of Cashel,
at a subsequent period. During his residence in Ireland, he was dili-
gent in collecting materials for his two works, the Topography and
Conquest oflrelandy which he completed after his return to Wales. In
1187, he accompanied Baldwin, in the celebrated tour through Wales^
for the preaching of the Crusade, the most interesting result of which is
to be found in his Itinerary^ describing the country he traversed, and
containing much interesting information respecting the manners of the
Welsh in that age. In 1189, Giraldus attended Henry to France, and
on his return to England after the death of that monarch, he was de-
puted to regulate matters in Wales, where some disturbances had oc-
curred, and king Richard appointed him coadjutor to William de
Longchamp, in the regency of the kingdom, on his departure to the
holy land. Giraldus was next offered the bbhoprics of Bangor and
Llandaff, both of which he declined. He next resided at Lincoln for
six years, where he devoted himself to the study of theology, and here
wrote several of his works. In 1198, on the death of Peter de Leia^
he was again elected by the chapter of St. David's, but the jealousy of

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the archbishop of Canterbury prevented his obtaining the favourite
aim of his whole life. Not willing to yield without a struggle, he
went to Rome, and for five years he withstood the encroachment of
the archbishop ; failing however of success, he passed the remainder of
his life in revising his numerous works, and when the bishopric was
offiered to him on dishonourable terms in 1215, he refused it; and he
ended his distinguished career in 1220, at the age of 74, and was buried
in the cathedral. In whatever point of view we examine the character
of this extraordinary man, whether as a scholar, a patriot, or a divine,
he may justly be considered as one of the brightest luminaries of the
twelfth century. A catalogue of his works has been preserved, as
drawn up by himself, but it is not complete ; it contains nineteen dif-
ferent works. 1 , Chronographia et Cosmographia Metrica. 2, Topo-
graphia Hibemica. 8, Expugnatio Hibemis. 4. De Legendis Sanc-
torum. 6, Vita Sti. Davidis. 6, Vita Sti. Caradoci. 7, Vita Sti.
Ethelberti. 8, Vita Sti. Remigii. 9, Vita Sti. Hugonis. 10, Liber de
Promotionibus et Persecutionibus Gaufredi, Ebor. Abpi. 11. Symbo-
lum Electorum. 12, Liber Invectionum. 13, Speculum Duorum
Commonitorium et Consolatorium. 14, Gemma Ecclesiastica. 15,
Itinerarium Cambriie. 16, Cambric Topographia. 17, De Fidei
Fructu, &c. 18, De Principis Instructione. 19, De Gestis Giraldi
laboriosis. In addition to these, it appears that he wrote also the Life
of Henry Ih the Acts of king John, an English Chronicle, the Praises
of Wales, and a metrical Epitome of his Cambrian Topography:
besides several others of inferior interest. His works relating to Ire-
land were published by Camden, at Frankfort, in 1602, and those
having reference to Wales by Dr. Powell, in 1586, and by Wharton, in
his ''Anglia Sacra," where may likewise be found his book *'De Gestis
Giraldi." The most valuable edition is that by Sir Richard Hoare,
4to. London, 1806, who also published a translation with notes in two
splendid 4to. volumes in the same year. This contains also a full
memoir of his life, and an ample account of his works and the places
where the different manuscripts are deposited.

GLANAWG, the lord of a fine district which was overflowed in the
time of his son Helig, about the commencement of the sixth century.
This extensive district is known by the name of the Lavan Sands, be-
tween Caernarvonshire and Anglesey.

GLEISI AR, a chieftain of the Northern Britons, who lived towards
the close of the fifth century.

GLEWLWYD (GAVAELVAWR,) which may be translated the
Hoary Hero with the large grasp, is remarkable as being one of the
three who escaped from the battle of Camlan, A. D. 542, which he
was enabled to do by reason of his superior strength and stature, for
no one could stand before him, but fled out of his way. According to
the Triads he and Morvran ab Tegid, and Sandde Bryd Angel, were
the only three who escaped. (Myv. Arch. ii. 70.)

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GLINAU (AIL TARANJ a character mentioned in t|^e ancient
"Welsh romances.

GLYNDWRDU, (Owen,) or as he is generally called Owen Glen-
dower, or Owen Glyndwr, or as he wrote it himself Glendourdy, was
horn in the year 1349. He was descended by the mother's side from
Llywelyn, the last sovereign prince of Wales, his father, Gruffydd
Vychan, who was lord of Gl}'ndwrda, in Merionethshire, and Cyn-
llaith, in Denbighshire, having married Helen, daughter of Eleanor
G6ch, who was the daughter of Catherine, the daughter of prince
Llywelyn. He received a liberal education, and entered at the Inns of
of Court in London, where he studied until he became a barrister. It
is probable that he quitted his profession, for we find that he was ap-
pointed squire of the body to Richard II. whose fortunes he followed to
the last, and he was taken with him in Flint castle. When the king's
household was finally dissolved, he retired with full resentment of his
sovereign's wrongs to his patrimony in Wales. He had been knighted
by king Richard, and was married early in life to Margaret, daughter
of Sir David Hanmer, of Hanmer, in Flintshire, one of the justices of
the king's bench ; by her he had five sons, Gruffydd, Madoc, Mered-
ydd, Thomas, and John, and five daughters; most of the sons fell
during the war in the field of battle. His resentment against the
usurper was aggravated by his private wrongs. Reginald lord Grey
de Ruthin, whose lordship adjoined his own, had by force taken pos-
session of a certain common, called Croesau, which Glyndwrdu in the
former reign had recovered from him by course of law. Owen laid the
case before parliament, but Henry espousing the cause of Lord Grey,
his suit was dismissed. This injury was aggravated by another, Regi-
nald purposely detained the writ that had been issued to summon
Owen and the other barons to join Henry lY. in his expedition against
the Scots. Lord Grey misrepresented the absence of Owen to the king
as an act of wilful disobedience, and afterwards treacherously took pos-
session of his lands, under the pretence of forfeiture. More temperate
measures were recommended by John Trevor, bishop of St. Asaph,
who knew well the feelings of the Welsh towards the king, and the
influence and abilities of Owen; but his advice was rejected, and he
was told there could be no fear about such a barefooted rabble. The
Welsh, who were strongly attached to the cause of Richard II. thought
the present a favourable opportunity for freeing themselves from the
oppressive yoke of the English, and they rose up in arms, and chose
Glyndwrdu for their chief, both on account of his attachment to the
king, and his hereditary claim to the Principality of Wales. That this
was the fact, is corroborated by the circumstance of no personal men-
tion bemg miade of Owen Glyndwrdu, in king Henry's first proclama-
tion against the rebellion of the Welsh, dated September 19, 1400. In
the summer of 1400, he attacked the estates of his enemy lord Grey,
and seized upon his lands. As soon as the news reached Henry, he


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sent lord Talbot, and lord Grey, to reduce him, and their attack upon
his hoiye was so sudden, that he escaped with difficulty. He next
marched upon the town of Ruthin, which he pillaged and burnt to
the ground, at the time a fair was held there. His proceedmgs caused
so much alarm to the king, that he resolved to march against him in
person. In September, 1400, a proclamation was issued from North-
ampton, commanding the lieutenants of Warwickshire, Leicestershire,
and eight other counties to assemble forces^ and join the regular army
at Coventry. A grant was also made of Glyndwrdu's estates to the
king's brother, John earl of Somerset. The king then advanced to
Anglesey, and plundered the Franciscan monastery of Llanvaes, slew
some of the monks, and took the rest away with him ; but he after-
wards r^ored them to liberty, taking care however to place English-
men in their room, as the Franciscans were well known to have been
firm adherents to the cause of Owen. Henry at last withdrew hb
army, not being able to follow Owen, who retreated with his troops
to the mountains of Snowdon. At the suggestion of prince Henry a
free pardon was offered to the Welsh of several counties, which brought
over to the king's authority ^hirty-two of the principal adherents;
but Glyndwrdu's army was, nevertheless, receiving constant additions
by the great resort of his countrymen, not only from every part of
Wales, but also from England, whither they had removed for the sake
of education, or were engaged and settled in various professions. In
the summer of 1401, Glyndwrdu marched to Fumlumon, which he
made the base of his future operations, and thence proceeded to lay
waste the surrounding country. He sacked Montgomery, burned the
suburbs of Welsh Pool, destroyed Abbey Cwmhir, and took the caatle
of Radnor, where he beheaded the garrison to the number of sixty.
The Flemings, who had been planted in Pembrokeshire, suffered so
much from him that they raised a force of 1500 men, and marched so
expeditiously, that they surrounded Owen and his forces, on Mynydd
Hyddgant, before he was aware of their approach. Hemmed in on
every side, he broke through their ranks, and 200 of the Flemings lay
dead on the field. Henry alarmed at his success led another army into
Wales, and destroyed the abbey of Ystrad Flur, in Cardiganshire, and
ravaged the country ; but he was obliged to make a disgraceful retreat,
his army being exhausted by famine and disease. Another expedition
in the same year, commanded by the king in person, met with the same
success. In 1402, the occurrence of a comet was interpreted by the
bards as an omen most favourable to Owen, and their predictions in-
stilled spirit into the minds of his countrymen. His next action was
fought against lord Grey, whom he took prisoner, and kept long in
captivity, nor did he give him his liberty until he had paid the large
ransom of 10,000 marks, and bound himself to observe a strict neutra-
lity; and immediately after his release, for his better security, he
married Jane, the third daughter of Owen. Being now freed from

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his English enemies, Owen turned his arms against those of his country-

Online LibraryRobert WilliamsA biographical dictionary of eminent Welshmen, from the earliest times to the present, and including every name connected with the ancient history of Wales .. → online text (page 20 of 70)