Marginal Drawings Of A Spider, A Wolf, And A Fox, In Gerald of Wales's 'History And Topography Of Ireland'
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
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.
Ireland has no reptiles, Gerald says, but it does have harmless spiders, leeches, and frogs. Gerald says that, according to Bede, the only harmful animals in Ireland are foxes and wolves. To these, Gerald says, he would add mice, because they eat so much grain and clothing.