Full text: "Grenzgänger"

some English centres such as Oxford, Northampton or Lincoln and, above all, Paris: 
throughout the Middle Ages, Welsh students in search of advanced education had to 
go to England or the Continent.1 s That they were numerous by 1169 is suggested by 
Henry II’s punitive ordinance of that year expelling ‘all the Welsh in the schools in 
England’.15 16 How many Welsh students subsequently returned to Wales in the twelfth 
century is unknown, but to judge by the growing number of references from the 
middle of the century to clerics in Wales bearing the title of magister, some certainly 
did.17 In addition, a number of Welsh clerics had ecclesiastical careers in England 
before returning to Wales. Thus Urban, bishop of Llandaff 1107-34, had spent time 
at the church of Worcester before his consecration, while Alexander, archdeacon of 
Bangor by 1188, had been a cleric in Thomas Becket’s household, acting as the 
archbishop’s cross-bearer.18 Such mobility across borders in the ecclesiastical world 
was of course common in medieval Europe: in the twelfth century, for example, John 
of Salisbury had ended his career as bishop of Chartres, while Peter of Blois had 
served as a curial clerk in Sicily earlier in his life before entering the service of 
Henry II in England, where Peter held the archdeaconry of Bath.19 
Giraldus is an important source for another aspect of cross-border movement by 
churchmen. One of the principal complaints he made about two bishops of St 
David’s, namely Peter de Leia (1176-98) and his successor Geoffrey of Henlow 
(1203-14), was their habit of abandoning their church in Wales and travelling around 
religious houses in England in search of hospitality.20 He claimed that they did this 
for up to three or four months a year, allegedly provoking Walter Map to quip that 
the bishop of St David’s had more suffragan bishops, abbots and priors than any 
church in England!21 Indeed it was Peter’s preference for life in England which 
provided Giraldus with the opportunity to administer his diocese in the early 1180s. 
He likewise complained that Bishop Alan of Bangor in Gwynedd in north-west 
Wales (1195-6) ‘fled to exile and banishment in England’ and that his successor, 
15 Gwilym Usher, Welsh Students at Oxford in the Middle Ages, in: Bulletin of the Board of 
Celtic Studies 16 (1954-6) pp. 193-8; Rhys Williams Hays, Welsh Students at Oxford and 
Cambridge Universities in the Middle Ages, in: Welsh History Review 4 ( 1968-9) pp. 325- 
61. 
16 D. Whitelock, M. Brett and C. N. L. Brooke (eds.), Councils and Synods with Other 
Documents Relating to the English Church. J. A.D. 871-1204, 2 vols., Oxford 1981, 2 p. 
938 (c. 8). 
17 Huw Pryce, Native Law and the Church in Medieval Wales, Oxford 1993, p. 76 and n. 21. 
18 David Crouch, Urban: First Bishop of Llandaff, in: Journal of Welsh Ecclesiastical History 
6 (1989) p. 3; Lloyd (as n. 3) 2 p. 562. 
19 Cary J. Nederman (ed. and trans.), John of Salisbury: Policraticus, Cambridge 1990, pp. 
xvi-xvii; Egbert Tiirk, Nugae Curialium: le règne d’Henri II Plantagenêt (1145-1189) et 
l’éthique politique, Geneva 1977, Chapter 4. 
20 Giraldus, Opera 1 pp. 43-4, 54, 322; 3 pp. 161,320-1, 351 ; Yves Lefèvre, R. B. C. Huy¬ 
gens and Michael Richter (eds.), Giraldus Cambrensis: Speculum Duorum, or, A Mirror of 
Two Men, trans. B. Dawson, Cardiff 1974, pp. 208-9, 212-15. 
21 Giraldus, Opera 3 p. 15. 
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