display | more...

This is how the story goes;

... during the military expedition which king Henry II made in our days against south Wales, an old Welshman at Pencader, who had faithfully adhered to him, being desired to give his opinion about the royal army, and whether he thought that of the rebels would make resistance, and what would be the final event of this war, replied,

This nation, O King, may now, as in former times, be harassed, and in a great measure weakened and destroyed by your and other powers, and it will also prevail by its laudable exertions, but it can never be totally subdued through the wrath of man, unless the wrath of God shall concur. Nor do I think that any other nation than this of Wales, nor any other language, whatever may hereafter come to pass, shall on the day of severe examination before the Supreme Judge, answer for this corner of the earth.

This incident, if it can be described as such, was recorded by Giraldus Cambriensis in his Descriptio Kambriae (A Description of Wales) written in the twelfth century ("our days"). The words of the "Old Man of Pencader" (as he has became known) are quoted in almost every book that has ever been written on the subject of Wales, whatever the nationality of the author, and have therefore achieved a certain fame.

Many doubt (as I do) that there ever was an 'Old Man of Pencader' possessed of such eloquence, and that the whole episode was more likely the product of Gerald's fertile imagination. Despite this, everyone quotes the passage, and everyone remembers the words. Irrespective of whether the Old Man existed or not, his words express a certain truth about the Welsh character, capturing that quality of defiance and stubborn resistance that was so evident at the time and has remained so ever since, as well as emphasising the singular importance of language to the Welsh sense of identity.

There is, so I have read, a memorial plaque in the village of Pencader itself that now commemorates this incident.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.