Episode 9: Gerald of Wales: Medieval Adaptation to Terrain and Enemy

Professor Matthew Strickland joins Beatrice and Paul to discuss Gerald of Wales, royal clerk and chaplain to King Henry II of England in 1184. In times when the Norman rulers of the British Isles relied on clerics as civil servants, Gerald (c. 1146 – c. 1223), of mixed Welsh-Norman descent, furnished exceptional analytical surveys of Wales and Ireland.

From Gerald’s surveys, we get invaluable insights into how war was fought in these remote parts of Europe – “irregular” compared with what was happening on the Continent, making best use of terrain and of the regular armies’ logistic problems.

Gerald of Wales or Geraldus Cambrensis (Latin) had studied in Paris and travelled widely in Western Europe, which enabled him to observe and articulate what was particular about Wales and Ireland, including warfare. His writings on the topography and peculiarities of both countries were presented to the Angevin kings. Professor Matthew Strickland runs the prestigious War Studies programme at the University of Glasgow. He specialises on European medieval warfare in the Age of Chivalry, and his publications include the seminal War and Chivalry: The Conduct and Perception of War in England and Normandy, From the 11th to 13th Centuries (Cambridge University Press, 1986).

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Beatrice Heuser

Senior Associate Fellow

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Paul O’Neill

Director, Military Sciences

Military Sciences

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