Translated extracts from Welsh and Latin records: Introduction

Cardiff Records: Volume 5. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1905.

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'Translated extracts from Welsh and Latin records: Introduction', Cardiff Records: Volume 5, (Cardiff, 1905), pp. 281-283. British History Online [accessed 20 June 2024].

. "Translated extracts from Welsh and Latin records: Introduction", in Cardiff Records: Volume 5, (Cardiff, 1905) 281-283. British History Online, accessed June 20, 2024,

. "Translated extracts from Welsh and Latin records: Introduction", Cardiff Records: Volume 5, (Cardiff, 1905). 281-283. British History Online. Web. 20 June 2024,

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Translations from Printeo Latin and Welsh Records.

In compiling his materials for the present work, the Archivist found it necessary to take into account certain important historical documents which have been printed under the direction of the Master of the Rolls. In the case of one of these, which is in Welsh, and of seven in Latin, it seemed worth while to publish a translation of such portions as bear reference to the Cardiff district. I have accordingly translated them, for the benefit of those readers of the "Cardiff Records" who may not be familiar with the language of the originals.

The first is the Welsh Brut y Tywysogion, or "Chronicle of the Princes," my extracts from which range from 1043 to 1172. This chronicle was written by the learned monk, Caradoc of Llancarvan, and, according to the description given by the editors of the "Myvyrian Archaiology" (fn. 1) continues the history of the Kings of Britain and records "the events which happened amongst those Britons, who were still independent; but the supreme authority of whose government was divided, and vested in the hands of chiefs, who bore the less assuming titles of princes in the different regions of Wales." The version in the Archaiology differs from that of the Rolls Series, so both are drawn from here.

The agreement, dated 1126, between Robert Consul and Urban, Bishop of Llandaff, is one of the most interesting and important documents contained in the Liber Landavensis—that ecclesiastical scrap-book which is so indispensable to the local historian. There had been long disputes between the parties, as to the Bishop's territorial rights within the Lordship of Glamorgan; and they were settled by this deed. I have translated literally, leaving some of the archaic expressions in their antique obscurity; for a treatise would be needed to fully explain such significant terms as "the Bishop's Welshmen," "judgments of iron," or the Bishop's "legal dues." To compress much into a few words, the "men" of the Bishop and of the Earl were those who owed homage, fealty and suit of court to one or the other; and it was mainly upon these incidents of vassalship that the dispute turned. "Judgments of iron" (judicia ferri) were trials by combat, and the "judiciary pit of water," the place where capital sentence on women was carried out by drowning. The Bishop's "legal dues" (rectitudo) were the fees payable to him by the litigants in the trial by combat. The Earl seems to have founded the chapelry of Whitchurch, with the Bishop's sanction, but on the three principal feasts of the year the inhabitants of that village were to resort to their parish church of Llandaff. There is a mine of historical lore in this very noteworthy charter.

The extract from William of Malmesbury refers to the dispute between the Bishops of Llandaff and Saint David's about the boundary between their dioceses. The "Book of Llandaff" shows that similar contentions long existed between Llandaff and Hereford. This confusion was partly owing to racial differences between the Welsh and English, but chiefly to the peculiarly tribal, monastic and nonterritorial character of the old Welsh bishoprics.

The interesting story related by Giraldus Cambrensis, concerning the mysterious prophet who exhorted King Henry II. in Shoemaker Street, Cardiff, in the year 1172, furnishes one of the most picturesque episodes in our local history. The incident marks the movement in favour of Sunday's rest which was then in progress in many countries of Christendom.

The Abbey of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, had great possessions at Cardiff, granted to the Abbot and monks by various Lords of Glamorgan. From the entry of 1221, in the Annals of Tewkesbury, we learn that, previous to that year, they had a Priory at Cardiff; but the monks being then recalled to their abbey, the parish church of Saint Mary was thenceforth served by a secular priest, as vicar under the Abbot. The office of Prior of Cardiff was, however, continued.

Among the passages from the Papal Registers is one, of the year 1291, in which a Dominican bishop-elect of Llandaff objects to take upon himself that spiritual charge, on the ground that he knows hardly any Welsh. This case may be compared with the one cited ante, Vol. IV., pp. 166, 167.

The Taxatio Papae Nicholai, 1291, gives some useful particulars concerning the possessions of various ecclesiastical corporations, in and around Cardiff. The Cistercian Abbey of Caerleon had certain lands at Llystalybont paying quit rents to a small amount. It is probable that this land lay at Mynachdy ("the monastery") and was the site of some very ancient religious house of which no definite record remains.

Llewelyn Bren and his wife Lleici are the subject of a couple of extracts from Matthew Paris.

Further particulars of Church property are supplied by the Valor Ecclesiasticus of King Henry VIII., drawn up in 1535, when the bluff monarch had definitely decided that the Church was the King's and the fulness thereof. Note the headings: "My Bishopric of Landav," "My Archdeaconry of Landav," "My Prebend of Wharthacum." They are significant of great events.


  • 1. New ed. Gee. Denbigh, 1870, p. 385, i.