Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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CARADOG of LLANCARFAN ( fl. 1135 ), man of letters .

He is best known from the reference at the end of ‘ The History of the Kings of Britain ’ by Geoffrey of Monmouth . Writing about 1135 , Geoffrey allows Caradog to use as literary material the story of the kings who ruled in Wales after 689 , when he closes his detailed narrative, and similarly gives leave to William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon to recite the history of the English kings . The conjunction of names shows that Caradog was a Welshman of the time who had some literary reputation. But there is nothing to show that he ever carried it the programme thus indicated for him. That he did so in the earlier annals of ‘ Brut y Tywysogion ’ was not asserted until the 16th cent ; the internal evidence, indeed, tells strongly against such an assumption.

So far as can be gathered, his real activity lay in a quite different direction. At the end of a life of Gildas in a 12th. cent. Cambridge manuscript, Caratoc of Nancarban (the correct form, which became Llan carfan under foreign influence) declares himself in Latin verse to be the author and the same couplet occurs in a recently discovered life of Cadog . The latter, concerned with the patron saint of Llancarfan , would come naturally from a writer who drew his origin from that sanctuary; the former also shows intimate knowledge of the place and its traditions, but is signalized also by a warm interest in the abbey of Glastonbury , which suggests that Caradog , after the misfortunes which befell Llancarfan under Norman rule, migrated to a more hospitable dime across the Bristol Channel .

Nothing is otherwise known of the details of his career; that he died in 1156 rests at present upon no better authority than David Powel 's Historie , 1584 .

Sources:

  • J. E. Lloyd, ‘The Welsh Chronicles’ in Proceedings of the British Academy , xiv;
  • J. S. P. Tatlock in Speculum a journal of mediaeval studies , Cambridge, Mass. Medieval Academy of America , xiii, 139-52;
  • Antiquity , xix, 94-5.

Author:

Sir John Edward Lloyd, D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A. (1861-1947), Bangor

Published date: 1959