Barri, Girald De
bishop david archbishop
BARRI, GIRALD DE, commonly called Ciraldus Cambrensis, an historian and ecclesiastic of the 12th and 13th centuries, was born at the castle of Maenor Pyrr near Pembroke, probably in 1147. By his mother he was descended from the princes of South Wales, and the De Barris were one of the most powerful Welsh families. Being a younger brother, and intended for the church, be was sent to St David's, and educated in the family of his uncle, the bishop of that see. When about twenty years of age lie was sent to the University of Paris, where he continued for some years, and, according to his own account, became an excellent rhetorician and lecturer. On his return in 1172 he entered holy orders, and was made archdeacon of Brecknock. Having observed with much concern that his countrymen the Welsh were very backward in paying tithes of wool and cheese, he applied to Richard, archbishop of Canterbury, and was appointed his legate in Wales for remedying this and other disorders. Barry excommunicated all, without distinction, who refused to compound matters with the church, and, in particular, delivered over bodily to the evil one those who withheld the tithes. Not satisfied with enriching, he also attempted to reform the clergy. He delated an aged archdeacon to the archbishop, for the unpardonable crime of matrimony ; and on his refusing to put away his wife he was deprived of his arehdeaconry, which was bestowed upon the zealous legate. On the death of his uncle, the bishop of St David's, la 1176, he was elected his successor by the chapter ; but this choice having been made without the permission and against the will of Henry II., Girald prudently declined to insist upon it, and went again to Paris to prosecute his studies. He speaks with exultation of the prodigious fame which he acquired by his eloquent declamations in the schools, and of the crowded audiences who attended them. Having spent about four years at Paris, he returned to St David's, where he found everything in confusion ; and on the temporary retirement of the bishop, which took place soon after, he was appointed administrator by the advice of the archbishop of Canterbury, and governed the diocese in that capacity till 1184, when the bishop was restored. About the same time he was called to court by Henry IL, appointed one of his chaplains, and sent into Ireland with Prince John, by whom he was offered the united bishoprics of Fernes and Leighlin. He would not accept them, and employed his time in collecting materials for his Topography of Ireland, and his history of the conquest of that island, which was completed in three books in 1187. In 1188 he attended Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, in his progress through Wales, preaching a crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land, - an employment in which he tells us, with his usual modesty, that he was far more successful than the primate, adding significantly, that the people were most affected with Latin sermons (which they did not understand), melting into tears, and coming in crowds to take the cross. On the accession of Richard I. in 1189, he was sent by that monarch into Wales to preserve the peace of the country, and was even joined in commission with William Long-champ, bishop of Ely, as one of the regents of the kingdom. He failed, however, to improve this favourable opportunity ; and having fixed his heart on the see of St David's, the bishop of which was very old and infirm, he refused the bishopric of Bangor in 1190, and that of Llandaff the year following. But in 1192 the state of public affairs became so unfavourable to Barri's interest at court that he determined to retire. He proceeded to Lincoln, where William de Monte read lectures in theology with great applause ; and here he spent about six years in the study of divinity, and in composing several works. At last the see of St David's, which had long been the object of his ambition, became vacant, and he was unanimously elected by the chapter, but met with so powerful an adversary in Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, that it involved him in a litigation which lasted five years, cost him three journeys to Rome, and ended in his defeat in the year 1203. Retiring from the world, he spent the last seventeen years of his life in studious privacy. His MSS. are preserved in the British Museum, the library at Lambeth, and the Bodleian Library.
Of his published works, the best known is his Itinerarium Cambrice, of which a translation, illustrated with annotations, and accompanied with a life of the author, was published by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, in two splendid quarto volumes, in 1806 The complete works are being published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, with full iutroductions, - Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, edited by J. S. Brewer and Mr Bullock, 6 vols., 1861-75 ; the seventh and last volume has not yet appeared.