Gerald of Wales or Giraldus Cambrensis
or Gerald of Wales was born in 1145 of Norman and Welsh extraction, in Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, South Wales. He was the
great-grandson of Rhys ap Tewdwr, the Prince of South Wales on his mother's side, and the son of William de Barri, a
Giraldus was by turns scholar, courtier, diplomat and would-be crusader; Marcher
propagandist, agent of English kings, champion of the Welsh church, hunted outlaw and cathedral theologian. He was also a
naturalist, a gossip and an indefatigable traveller, but above all a most prolific writer and a tireless self-publicist. From his
seventeen surviving books, therefore, we know a great deal about this determined, irascible, self-righteous and utter fearless
man; more, in fact, than about any other inhabitant of early medieval Wales.
His ultimate desire in life was to be consecrated as Bishop of St. David's, without having to acknowledge
the supremacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and then to have the Pope elevate his bishopric into the Archbishopric of St.
David's. Although, in his long life, he was never able to satisfy this ambition, it was not for want of effort, as he focused
all his considerable energies toward it from the late 1170's through the early days of the reign of King John.
He was offered, but refused to accept, four other bishoprics in Ireland and Wales and, thus had to content himself
with the lesser post of Archdeacon of Brecon. Because of his Norman blood and connection with Welsh royalty, Giraldus was
well acquainted with those in power, and had many opportunities to serve at the highest levels of twelfth century society. No
doubt, it was in connection with that service that he was at Glastonbury in 1190 to witness the uncovering of a grave, said to
be that of King Arthur. He wrote two accounts of this event which are given below. He is generally regarded to be a reliable
historian and there is no reason to doubt that he did witness the opening of a grave at the Abbey.
Giraldus' Accounts of the Exhumation of Arthur's Grave at Glastonbury