, 94:1

Political Implications in Medieval Services Celebrating St David of Wales



This article is an exercise in dealing with circumstantial evidence of an unusual kind, from the Latin liturgy of the medieval Church. A selection of texts from the Office of St David of Menevia in south-west Wales is considered in a historical context. These texts are interpreted in order to identify inferences that only become clear by reading between the lines and viewing the texts in their proper perspective. In particular, attention is directed to the absence of a medieval archbishopric in Wales, to claims in Rhygyfarch’s Life of St David to that title by the diocese of St Davids and to the conquest of Wales by the Normans. The subjugation of the Welsh by force was a gradual process that took place over 200 years. A close reading of these liturgical texts reveals powerful political undertones to a conflict between Bishop Thomas Bek of St Davids and the archbishop of Canterbury, John Pecham, in the late thirteenth century. In recognition of this, the most likely date for the composition of the proper office in given.


Medieval Latin liturgy Welsh history Textual analysis Rhygyfarch 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Academy of Music, Norges musikkhøgskoleOsloNorway
  2. 2.ÅsNorway

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