Giraldus Cambrensis

Giraldus Cambrensis (SYLVESTER), archdeacon of Brecon and titular bishop of Menevia. or St. David's, was born at Pembroke, Wales, in 1146. He finished his education in Paris, and in 1175 was appointed by Richard, archbishop of Canterbury, as his legate for Wales, and was soon after made archdeacon of Brecon. In the following year he was elected bishop of Menevia, but king Henry II refused to confirm the election. He then returned to Paris, where, as he says himself, in his De rebus a se gestis, he passed for the most learned person in jurisprudence, and was offer the professorship of canon law, which he declined. He afterwards administered for a while the affairs of the bishopric of Menevia, and in 1184 became court preacher of Henry II. He accompanied Henry's son John as adviser in the expedition against Ireland, and in 1188 accompanied archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury on a tour through Wales, for the purpose of organizing a crusade. Richard I appointed him legate of Wales, but at the fall of the latter he returned to his studies. He was again elected bishop of St. David's, but failed again to be recognized as such. He "passed the last seventeen years of his life in study, revising his former literary works and composing others, of which he has himself given a copious index. In the midst of these occupations he received once more an offer of the bishopric of St. David's, and would have met with no opposition from the court; but, from the dishonorable terms on which it was offered, he refused the ecclesiastical dignity which had so long been the object of his earnest wishes. He died at St. David's in the seventy-fourth year of his age, and was buried in the cathedral church, where his effigy still remains upon an altar-tomb beneath an ornamental arch. Giraldus appears to have been an upright and able man. As an ecclesiastic he was zealous, active, and fearless in maintaining the rights and dignities of his Church; but he was, at the same time, honest and disinterested. As a scholar he was learned, and as a collector of historical materials diligent, far beyond the measure of his age. As a historian, however, he was full of credulity, and as a man, as his works prove, one of the vainest upon record. Giraldus has himself given a catalogue of his works, as well as a long history of his actions, both printed by Wharton. Other lists will be found in Fabricius, Bibliotheca Med. et Inf. Latinitatis (edit. Patav. 4to, 1754), 3:62, and in the notes to his life in the Biogr. Britan. (ed. 1778), 1:640; 642, 644. Sir Richard Colt Hoare has given a full account of such MSS. of his works as exist in the several libraries in the British Museum, in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth, at Benet (Corpus Christi) College, in the public library at Cambridge, and in the Bodlian. Those printed are, Itinerarium Cambrice (Lond. 1585, 8vo), and in Camden's Anyl. Norm., etc., Script. (Francof. 1602, fol.), page 818-878: Topographia Hiberniae (Camden, ut sup.), p. 692-754:- Expugnatio Hibernice (ibidem), pages 755-813: — Descriptio Cambrie (ibid.), pages 879-892. Several short pieces by Giraldus are printed in the second volume of Wharton's Anglia Sacra. The Gemma Ecclesiastica, published at Mentz in 1549, without the author's name, under the title of Gemma Animce, is ascribed to Giraldus. Sir Richard Colt Hoare, in 1806, published the Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales, translated into English, and illustrated with views, annotations, and a life of Giraldus (2 volumes, 4to)." A new edition, Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, is now publishing, under the direction of the master of the rolls, edited by J.F. Dimock; 5 volumes, were issued up to 1868. See Wharton, Anglia Sacra, 2:457-513; Fabricius, Bibliotheca Med. et Inf. Latinitatis; Engl. Cyclopedia, s.v. Barry; Biog. Britannica, s.v. Barri; Herzog, Real- Encykloadie, 5:164; Wright, Biog. Brit. Literaria, Anglo-Norman Period, pages 380-97.

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