Barry, Girald

, usually called Giraldus Cambren­sis, or Girald of Wales, was born at the castle of Mainaper, near Pembroke, in 1146. By his mother he was descended from the princes of South Wales and his father, William Barry, was one of the chief men of that principality. Being a younger brother, and intended for the cburch, he was sent to St. David’s, and educated in the family of the bishop of that see, who was his uncle. He acknowledges in his history of his own life and actions, that in his early youth he was too negligent and playful; but his uncle and his masters remonstrated with him so sharply, that he became diligent, and soon excelled his school-fellows. When about twenty years of age, he was sent to the university of Paris, where he continued for three years, acquiring great fame by his skill in rhetoric, and on his return he entered into holy orders, and obtained several benefices in England and Wales. Finding that the Welch were very reluctant in paying tidies of wool and cheese, he applied to Richard, archbishop of Canterburv, and was appointed his legate in Wales for rectifying that disorder, and for other purposes. He | executed this commission with great spirit, excommunicating all without distinction, who neglected to pay. He also informed against the old archdeacon of Brechin for being married, and procured him to be deprived of his archdeaconry, which was bestowed on this officious legate. In otherwise discharging the duties of this new office, he acted with great vigour, which involved him in many quarXels; but, according to his own account, he was always in the right, and always victorious. On his uncle’s death, he was elected by the chapter of St. David’s, bishop of that see, but he declined accepting it, owing to the informality of not applying to the king for his licence, although in reality he knew that the king, Henry II. would never have confirmed such an election, and did in fact express his displeasure at it, in consequence of which another person was chosen. Girald, however, was not reconciled to the disappointment, and determined to get rid of his chagrin by travelling, and studying for some time longer at Paris. Here he pursued the civil and canon law, and with his usual vanity he boasts what a prodigious fame he acquired, especially in the knowledge of papal constitutions, or decretals, as they are called. In 1179, he was elected professor of the canon law in the university of Paris; but rejected the honour, expecting more solid advantages in his own country. In 1180, he returned home through Flanders and England, and in his way stopped at Canterbury, where he emphatically describes (what may be well allowed him) the great luxury of the monks of that place. At length he got home, where he found the whole country in a flame, the canons and archdeacons of Menevia having joined with the inhabitants in driving out the bishop of that see, the administration of which was committed to our author, by the archbishop of Canterbury. Under this authority he governed the see of St. David’s for three or four years, and made wonderful reformations in it. The abdicated bishop, whose name was Peter, did not acquiesce in the conduct of his clergy, but by letters suspended and excommunicated the canons and archdeacons, uncited and unheard: and at length, Girald, not having power to redress them, resigned his charge to the archbishop, who absolved the excommunicated. Bishop Peter imputed his disgrace, or at least the continuance of it, to Girald; great contests arose, and appeals were made to Rome: but at length they were reconciled, and the bishop restored. | About the year 1184, king Henry II. invited Girald to court, and made him his chaplain, and at times he attended the king for several years, and was very useful to him in keeping matters quiet in Wales’. Yet though the king approved of his services, and in private often coinmended his prudence and fidelity, he never could be prevailed on to promote him to any ecclesiastical benefices, on account of the relation he bore to prince Rhees, and other grandees of Wales. In 1185, the king sent him to Ireland with his son John, in quality of secretary and privy-counsellor to the young prince: but the expedition did not meet with success, because earl John made use only of youthful counsels, and shewed no favour to the old adventurers, who were men experienced in the affairs of Ireland. While Girald thus employed himself in Ireland, the two bishoprics of Ferns and Leighlin fell vacant, which earl John offered to unite, and confer on him; but he rejected the promotion, and employed himself in collecting materials for writing his Topography and history of the conquest of Ireland, which he compiled and published a few years after. In the spring of the year 1186, John Comyn, archbishop of Dublin, convened a synod of his clergy, in Christ-church of that city, at which Girald was one of the preachers, but by the account of it in his life, it appears to have been a turbulent assembly. Having obtained great fame in Ireland, as he tells us himself, between Easter and Whitsuntide 1187, he returned to Wales, and employed all his time in writing and revising his Topography, to which, when he had put, the last hand, he took a journey to Oxford, and repeated it in a public audience of the university; and as it consisted of three distinctions, he repeated one every day of three successively; and in order to captivate the people, and secure their applause, the first day he entertained all the poor of the town, the next day the doctors and scholars of fame and reputation, and the third day the scholars of the lower rank, the soldiers, townsmen, and burgesses. In the year 1188, he accompanied Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, in a journey through the rough and mountainous parts of Wales, in order to preach up to the people the necessity of taking the cross, and engaging in an expedition in defence of the Holy Land. Here our author shews the vast success his eloquence met with, in persuading the greatest part of the country to engage in | this adventure, when the archbishop was able to do nothing. Girald himself took the cross at this time, and it afforded him the opportunity of writing his “Itinerarium Cambriae.” The same year he went over into France, in the retinue of king Henry If, which he did by the advice of the archbishop of Canterbury, and Ranulph de Glanville, chief-justice of England; but the king dying the year after, he was sent back by Richard I. to preserve the peace of Wales, and was even joined with the bishop of Ely, as one of the regents of the kingdom. After refusing one or two bishoprics, in hopes to succeed to St. David’s, which was his favourite object, this latter became vacant in 1198, and he was unanimously elected by the chapter. Yet here again he was disappointed, owing to the opposition of Hubert archbishop of Canterbury, and was involved in a contest, which lasted five years, during which he took three journies to Rome, and was at last defeated. Soon after this, he retired from the world, and spent the last seventeen years of his life in study, composing many of his writings. He was unquestionably a man of genius and learning, but as a historian, full of credulity and fable; and as a man, one of the most vain upon record. Ware, and the editor of the Biog. Britan­.nica, have given a long list of his manuscript works, which are in the Cotton and Harleian libraries in the British museum, the archbishop’s library at Lambeth, the Bodleian, Oxford, and the public library and Bene’t college library, Cambridge. Those printed are: 1. “Topographia Hibernioe,” Francfort, 1602, and in Holinshed, 2. “Historia Vaticinalis, de expugnatione Hiberniae,” Francfort, 1602, both published by Camden. 3. “Itinerarium Cambriae,” published with annotations by David Powel, 1585, 8vo. 4. “De laudibus Carnbrorum,” also published by Powel. 5. “Gemma Ecclesiastica,” Mentz, 1549, under the title of “Gemma animoe,” without the author’s name. 6. “Liber secundus de descriptione Wallise,” published by Wharton, in Anglia Sacra, part II. p, 447. Camden every where quotes Giraldus as an author of undoubted credit and reputation.

In 1806, sir Richard Colt Hoare, bart. published in two splendid quarto volumes, “The Itinerary of archbishop Baldwin through Wales, A. D. 1188, by Giraldus de Barri; translated into English, and illustrated with views, | annotations, and a life of Giraldus.” In this life, an elegant and elaborate composition, although the facts are not materially different from the preceding, yet the colouring is more highly favourable, and we refer with pleasure to it as a memoir in which the curiosity of the antiquary will be amply gratified. Sir Richard thus briefly sums up the character of Girald: “Noble in his birth, and comely in his person; mild in his manners, and affable in his conversation; zealous, active, and undaunted in maintaining the rights and dignities of his church; moral in his character, and orthodox in his principles; charitable and disinterested, though ambitious; learned, though superstitious. Such was Giraldus. And in whatever point of view we examine the character of this extraordinary man, whether as a scholar, a patriot, or a divine, we may justly consider him as one of the brightest luminaries that adorned the annals of the twelfth century.1

1

Leland. Tanner and Bale. Biog. Brit. Henry’s Hist, of Great Britain, vol. VI. Nicolson’s Historical Library. Cave, vol.11. —Saxii Onomasticon.