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A Decorated Letter, in Gerald of Wales, Conquest of Ireland

A Decorated Letter, in Gerald of Wales, Conquest of Ireland

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1220

Shelfmark: Royal MS 13 B VIII

Item number: f. 34v

Length: 27.3

Width: 17.4

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

Gerald of Wales was born at Monorbier castle, in Pembrokeshire, in 1146. He was educated at Gloucester and Paris, and became Archdeacon of Brecon in 1175. He visited Ireland in 1183, 1185, 1199 and again for about two years from 1204. A version of his text--which is largely concerned with the marvellous things he saw or heard about there--is known to have been read publicly in 1188. This manuscript was written perhaps at Lincoln, probably before Gerald's death in 1223, and it has been suggested that he personally supervised its writing and decoration. This manuscript was later owned by St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury.

The manuscript includes Gerald's 'Conquest of Ireland.' In the first preface, its beginning shown here, the author defends his simple, straightforward style, saying that he writes for the laity and for princes, "who have little learning," although he has seen the learned turn up their noses at his previous work, 'Topography of Ireland'.

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