Bective Abbey

Bective Abbey was located within Norman controlled Ireland, called The Pale, which was the area around Dublin conquered by the Normans starting in 1171, and is the source of the phrase, ‘beyond the pale’. If something is beyond the pale, it is unacceptable or unseemly. In other words, here be dragons. Bective Abbey, and Trim Castle which is not too far away, are located on the River Boyne, which in some eras formed the barrier between Norman and Irish controlled Ireland—though Trim is on the inner bank and Bective on the outer. Dan: Does that mean it wasn’t always a Norman abbey? It was founded in 1147 by the king of the Irish Kingdom of Meath. I’m not pronouncing his name because I would only butcher it. It was a ‘daughter house’ of Mellifont Abbey, located close to Drogheda, and Read more…

Tintern Abbey Ireland

? The Tintern Abbey in Wales has been referred to as ‘Tintern major’ and the abbey in Ireland as “Tintern of the vow” Dan: It can’t be a coincidence they have the same name. It isn’t, anymore than New York is name for ‘York’ in England. In this case, both abbeys were founded by the Norman Lord of Chepstow. In the case of the Tintern Abbey in Wales, that was Walter de Clare, and that abbey will the subject of a video coming up. Tintern Abbey in Ireland was founded by William Marshal, who was a later Lord of Chepstow, and named the Irish Tintern after the Tintern Abbey in Wales. As we talked about last week, William Marshal married Isabel de Clare, daughter of Richard de Clare, who made himself Lord of Leinster by marrying the daughter of Diarmait, Read more…

Clonmines

Clonmines is one of my favorite spots in Ireland and one we were not supposed to go to. Sshh! We were driving beside the road and said, “what is that!” and we just had to see it. It turned out to be a medieval town, established by William Marshal, the great knight and Lord of Leinster, as an alternative port to one already established. What’s incredible about Clonmines is the way it is so intact. One of the things we remarked upon as we were traveling throughout the country was how few medieval sites there were. Clearly there is a variety of reasons for this, which I won’t go into today. Clonmines survival may in part be due to the fact that it is on private land. To be perfectly frank, we trespassed, if inadvertently, to take these pictures. The Read more…

St. David’s Cathedral

St. David, or Dewi Sant in Welsh, was one of the original saints of Wales in the 6th century, along with St. Kentigern and Gwenffrewi. St. David’s Cathedral has always been Norman, but it stands on the site of a monastery Dewi Sant founded around 500 AD. Like the other saints we talked about earlier in this season of videos, he was known for miracles, the most famous of which was the rising up of a hill on the spot where he was preaching. His symbol is the leek, which is why Welsh soldiers in the middle ages were known to go into battle with a leek pinned to their clothing and the leek remains a national symbol of Wales. Such was the renown of the monastic community, even hundreds of years after David’s death, that King Alfred is said Read more…

Westminster Palace

Today, Westminster Palace is the seat of the British government. “The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its tenants, the Palace lies on the Middlesex bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. Its name, which derives from the neighbouring Westminster Abbey, may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex that was destroyed by fire in 1834, and its replacement New Palace that stands today. For ceremonial purposes, the palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Westminster No floor plans of what Westminster Palace looked like in the middle ages still exist, but we do know a few things: “When William the Conqueror’s son, William Rufus, came to the throne in Read more…

How did Latin get into English?

It was the Romans right? Well, ultimately, but not necessarily because they conquered Britian in 43 AD. The Romans controlled Britain from 43 AD to when they marched away in the beginning of the 5th century.  During that time, they built roads, towns, forts, and established a government.  Upon their departure, the ‘dark ages’ consumed Britain, with the assistance of several invading groups (Angles, Saxons, Jutes, plus Picts, Scots, Irish). The people who lived in Britain at the time were Celtic and spoke a language that eventually became what we know today as Welsh.  As the story goes, these invading groups pushed the Britons into Wales until a real wall (Offa’s Dyke) permanently created a barrier between them. Latin had been spoken by the Romans, of course, and had entered the Welsh language as a result.  “These borrowed words are Read more…

Anglo-Saxon Law (to 1066)

Anglo-Saxon law didn’t come to an end with the coming of William of Normandy in 1066, but it was definitely changed. Norman law was based in feudalism and heavily influenced by the Church.  Anglo-Saxon law had been developed over a long period of time and while influenced by Christianity in later centuries, was more egalitarian.  It was based on a system of courts, the main one being the ‘hundred court’.  “The hundred court met every four weeks, in the open if possible and usually at a prominent local landmark that gave its name to the hundred. The king’s reeve usually presided over the court. It had many functions, and was a mixture of parish council business meeting, planning enquiry, and magistrates’ court.  . . Edward the Elder decreed that the hundred courts were to judge the worthiness of every law-suit and Read more…