Today's excerpt is from the preface to Gerald of Wales' The Journey Through Wales and The Description of Wales, another work from which I will often be quoting because it is so fascinating.
Gerald was born at Manorbier in Wales and was of Normo/Welsh extraction. There's an excellent page on Wikipedia about his background http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_of_Wales
From what I have observed of Gerald, he was a tad self-important and nurtured grudges that he tended to pay back in pen and ink, thus fixing his opinions of certain people for future generations to read. After he was passed over for the bishopric of Saint David's, his ire turned upon the royal House of Anjou where he had served as a court chaplain and diplomat for many years.
'Since, among so many different sorts and conditions of men, my own particular choice is the pursuit of letters, by which I hope to please generations yet unborn. Life here below lasts a brief moment and is always in a state of flux. It is then, a pleasant thought that one's name will live for ever and that, having won the right to eternal fame, one will always be praised and honoured. It is a sure indication of an elevated mind to strive to achieve something which, even if it produces only hostility in this life, will ensure one's lasting glory after death.... I completely wasted my time when I wrote my Topography of Ireland for Henry II, King of the English, and the companion volume, my Vaticinal History, for Richard of Poitou, his son, and successor in vice, although I would prefer not to have to say it. But these princes had little or no interest in literature, and both were preoccupied with other matters.'
I was always under the impression that Henry II, at least, was a devotee of the written word, and I detect a decidedly miffed tone here! Gerald I suspect, was suffering from rejection letter syndrome. Henry II might have enjoyed reading, but Gerald of Wales wasn't one of their favourite authors!
Before next Medieval Monday, I hope to have a blog post up showing off my latest research work buys!