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Gerald of Wales (c. 1146 – c. 1223), also known asGerald de Barry, Gerallt Gymroin Welsh or Giraldus Cambrensis in Latin, archdeacon of Brecon, was a medieval clergyman and chronicler of his times. Born ca. 1146 at Manorbier Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales, he was of mixed Norman and Welsh descent; he is also known as Gerald de Barri.
Gerald was son of William FitzOdo de Barry (or Barri), the common ancestor of the Barry family in Ireland and one of the most powerful Anglo-Norman barons in Wales at that time.[1] He was a maternal nephew of David fitzGerald, the Bishop of St David's and a grandson of Gerald de Windsor (alias FitzWalter),[2] Constable of Pembroke Castle, and Nest the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr. Through their mother, Angharad, Gerald and his siblings were closely related to Angharad's first cousin, Rhys ap Gruffydd, the Lord Rhys (Yr Arglwydd Rhys), and his family.
Gerald received his initial education at the Benedictine house of Gloucester, followed by a period of study in Paris from ca 1165-74, where he studied the trivium. He was employed by Richard of Dover, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on various ecclesiastical missions in Wales, wherein he distinguished himself for his efforts to remove supposed abuses ofconsanguinity and tax laws flourishing in the Welsh church at the time. He was appointed archdeacon of Brecon, to which was attached a residence at Llanddew. He obtained this position by reporting the existence of the previous archdeacon's mistress; the man was promptly fired. While administrating this post, Gerald collected tithes of wool and cheese from the populace; the income from the archdeaconry supported him for many years. Upon the death of his uncle, the Bishop of St David's, in 1176, the chapter nominated Gerald as his successor. St David's had long-term aims of becoming independent of Canterbury, and the chapter may have thought that Gerald was the man to take up the cause. Henry II of England, fresh from his struggle with Thomas Becket, promptly rejected Gerald, possibly because his Welsh blood and ties to the ruling family of Deheubarth made him seem like a troublesome prospect, in favor of one of his Norman retainers Peter de Leia. According to Gerald, the king said at the time: "It is neither necessary nor expedient for king or archbishop that a man of great honesty or vigor should become Bishop of St. David's, for fear that the Crown and Canterbury should suffer thereby. Such an appointment would only give strength to the Welsh and increase their pride".[3] The chapter acquiesced in the decision; and Gerald, disappointed with the result, withdrew to the University of Paris. From ca 1179-8, he studied and taught canon law and theology. He returned to England and spent an additional five years studying theology. In 1180, he received a minor appointment from the Bishop of St. David's, which he soon resigned because of corruption he saw in the administration.


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