Full text: "Grenzgänger"

material resources which Wales lacked.77 The situation had been different in the early 
Middle Ages; in the late ninth century the Welshman Asser was employed by King 
Alfred as part of the king’s attempt to revive learning in Wessex, returning to his 
native church of St David’s for six months of each year, and Welsh books were 
imported into Anglo-Saxon libraries in the following century.78 However, by the 
twelfth century Wales was far more peripheral than England to the new intellectual 
culture centred on the schools of northern France,79 Thus it was that the works in 
which Giraldus most self-consciously identified himself with Wales, the autobiogra¬ 
phical De Rebus a Se Gestis, the De Jure et Statu Menevensis Ecclesie, and the De 
Invectionibus, were written in the English cathedral town of Lincoln. 
Yet during his years in Lincoln Giraldus’s connections with Wales were not re¬ 
stricted to writing about the past. He remained in touch with the diocese of St 
David’s, primarily as a result of the (somewhat irregular) arrangement made in 1203 
with the approval of Pope Innocent III, whereby Giraldus had resigned his arch¬ 
deaconry of Brecon to his nephew, Gerald, younger son of his brother Philip de 
Barri.80 The nephew, aided and abetted by William de Capella, a tutor provided by 
Giraldus, was accused by his uncle of betrayal and in particular of depriving Giraldus 
of various revenues to which, according to the agreement, he was entitled.81 The 
result was that Giraldus not only wrote to condemn the nephew and his tutor, to¬ 
gether with Bishop Geoffrey of St David’s, but sent messengers and even agricultural 
labourers and gardeners to Brecon to try to protect his interests there.82 * Giraldus 
remained concerned to improve standards in the Welsh Church, and urged Arch¬ 
bishop Stephen Langton to visit, or send deputies, to Wales every two or three years 
to eliminate its barbarous mores Even if most of his time was spent in England, 
Giraldus could not forget about Wales and, above all, sought in his writings to justify 
his actions as bishop-elect of St David’s. 
How, in conclusion, should we assess the significance of Giraldus as Grenzgänger? 
In important respects his career illustrates the kinds of cross-border connections 
which resulted from Norman settlement and domination in Wales. As a Marcher he 
was a subject of the English king and identified with English and French culture, 
even if his family appears to have held no substantial lands in England. In addition 
77 Cf. Richter, Giraldus (as n. 6) p. 94. 
8 W. H. Stevenson (ed.), Asser’s Life of King Alfred, new impression, Oxford 1959, pp. 64- 
5 (c. 79); David N. Dumville, English Square Minuscule Script: The Background and 
Earliest Phases, in: Anglo-Saxon England 16 (1987) pp. 159-61. 
79 Cf. Denis Bethell, English Monks and Irish Reform in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, 
in: T. D. Williams (ed.), Historical Studies 8 (1971) pp. 111-35; Davies, Domination (as n. 
3) pp. 18-20. 
80 Giraldus, Opera 3 p. 325; Lefèvre et al., Speculum Duorum (as n. 20) pp. 256-7. 
81 Ibid, passim. 
82 Ibid. pp. 2-5. 
81 Giraldus, Opera 3 pp. 113-14. 
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