The Great Hall

What do the physical remains of the Great Hall at Nevern Castle tell us about its appearance and use at the time of Archbishop Baldwin’s reputed visit in 1188?

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The Lord Rhys’ Oath

The broken oaths of the Lord Rhys would have put him at risk of eternal damnation, according to the tenets of the 12th century. Dr Robert Anthony In 1191, Gerald of Wales, man of God, was outraged by the behaviour of his kinsman, the Lord Rhys: After besieging [Nevern Castle] with a force of armed men, Rhys ap Gruffudd captured [it] from his own son-in law … William FitzMartin … in direct contravention of a whole series of oaths which he had sworn in person on the most precious of relics to the effect that William should be left in peace and security in his castle. In Gerald’s eyes, the offence was made worse, and another oath broken, by Rhys handing the Castle to his own son Gruffudd, ‘a cunning, artful man’ who, Rhys had sworn, would never be permitted to hold it. Gerald makes it plain that these oaths were sworn by Rhys in person following the accession of Richard I in 1189—Henry II’s death having marked the end of an interlude of peace maintained between Rhys and the old king. The oath-taker was Rhys’s son-in-law, William FitzMartin, and it is likely that the oath was sworn at Nevern… Continue reading The Lord Rhys’ Oath

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Was Nevern really a borough?

Were there really 18 burgage plots within the castle? Can we believe the claim by George Owen, 16th/17th century antiquarian and lord of Cemais, that Nevern was once a borough, with special privileges?Dr Rob Anthony explains, and examines the evidence. “The town of Nevern, being some time a borough & having a portreeve & courts belonging to it, is now decayed & become rural and the privileges discontinued. It consists of 18 burgages & takes the name of the river Nevern that passes by the town.” Even although no modern historian to date has been able to identify the manuscript on which he based his claim, George Owen of Henllys, antiquarian and lord of Cemais, in his Second Booke of the Description of Penbrokeshire (1600), seemed to be certain of his facts. In his Description of Wales (1194), Gerald of Wales was unimpressed by the Welsh practice (he claimed) of not living in towns or villages, but only in huts of wattle in the remote countryside. This may be an exaggeration but it is true that, in 12th century Wales, houses of stone were vanishingly rare: the construction, by the Lord Rhys (Rhys ap Gruffudd, Prince of Deheubarth) in the… Continue reading Was Nevern really a borough?

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Archbishop Baldwin 1188

Dr Robert Anthony Monday, 28 March 1188: it is not often in medieval history that an event can be dated with such precision, especially when concerning Wales, and we have Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), scholar, canon of St David’s and Archdeacon of Brecon, to thank for this. The event in question is described in his book: The Journey Through Wales (1191), an account, almost in diary form (although with lavish digressions), of the six week mission to south and north Wales by Baldwin Archbishop of Canterbury to preach the Cross in support of the Third Crusade. Baldwin & Gerald Archbishop Baldwin, of humble origins, was a scholarly ex-monk from Exeter. According to Gerald, he was an eloquent preacher but not an effective leader of the Church. Baldwin enjoyed the company of the tall, handsome, extrovert, self-confident Gerald – and recognised the advantage of being accompanied by a man who had been born in Manorbier Castle (1145/6) of Anglo-Norman William de Barri and Angharad, daughter of Nest and granddaughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of south Wales. In short, Gerald knew, or was related to, everyone – Anglo-Norman or Welsh – who might be of consequence in furthering Baldwin’s efforts… Continue reading Archbishop Baldwin 1188

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