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date: 23 October 2019

Giraldus Cambrensis [Gerald de Barri, Gerald of Wales]locked

  • Andrew Hughes
  • , revised by Andrea Budgey


[Gerald de Barri, Gerald of Wales]

(b Manorbier, c1146; d ?Lincoln, c1223). Welsh-Norman ecclesiastic and author. Educated in arts and canon law at Paris, he was archdeacon of Brecon from about 1175 to 1203; from 1184 to 1194 he was also in royal service. After visits to Ireland in 1183 and 1185–6 he wrote a Topographia Hibernica (c1187) and Expugnatio Hibernica (c1188). Likewise, after his travels around Wales in 1188 he wrote Itinerarium Kambriae (1191) and Descriptio Kambriae (1194). His later works include the largely autobiographical De rebus a se gestis (c1204). His writing is characterized by fascination with detail, vigorous expression of personal opinion and a fondness for controversy and debate.

Both the Topographia and the Descriptio contain passages referring to music which have been variously translated and interpreted by scholars musicologically untrained or nationalistically motivated, but which have latterly been subjected to more critical examination. The extent of Giraldus's musical training is unknown, so the accuracy of his use of musical terms is not certain, but the passages are nonetheless a unique source of information about the music that they describe. He stated (...

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Journal of Musicology
The New Oxford History of Music (Oxford, 1954-90)
Musical Quarterly
Journal of the American Musicological Society