Gerald was selected to accompany the Archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin of Forde, on a tour of Wales in 1188, the object being a recruitment campaign for the Third Crusade. His account of that journey, the Itinerarium Cambriae (1191) was followed by the Descriptio Cambriae in 1194. His two works on Wales remain very valuable historical documents, useful for their descriptions – however untrustworthy and inflected by ideology, whimsy, and his unique style – of Welsh and Norman culture. It is uncertain whether Gerald was a Welsh speaker; although he quotes Welsh proverbs and appears familiar with the language, he seems not to have been employed as an interpreter for the expedition.
Gerald visited and stayed at Strata Florida Abbey and he comments on certain aspects of this journey within the book I was reading, “A Journey through Wales”. I found this book most fascinating as it shows the great lengths that these monks and bishops went in order spread the word of god. It was vital that they portrayed their messages of religion and belief in the holy and divine god, that they travelled hundreds of miles across Wales.
Gerald who also wrote (of the Welsh) that “If they would be inseparable, they would be insuperable”, and that, unlike the English, who fight for power or for wealth, the Welsh patriots fight for their country. He had pleasant things to say about the poetic talents of his people, too;
“In their rhymed songs and set speeches they are so subtle and ingenious that they produce, in their native tongue, ornaments of wonderful and exquisite invention both in the words and the sentences… They make use of alliteration in preference to all other ornaments of rhetoric, and that particular kind which joins by consonancy the first letters or syllables of words.” – Gerald