Scene 1: Gerald sets out for Rome and meets Pope Innocent privately

Novella: I am Novella. When I delivered lectures for my father at Bologna, I became deeply interested in the celebrated case of Gerald before the Papal Court. We all knew about it.

The Bishop of St Davids, Peter de Leia, died in 1198. So the Canons of St Davids elected Gerald as Bishop. But the Archbishop of Canterbury, Hubert Walter, wanted Geoffrey the Prior of Llanthony instead. Hubert did not want Welshmen as bishops in Wales. And so he opposed Gerald’s election. Hubert had form: he had just appointed a new Bishop of Bangor, an Englishman who was not elected by its people. When Hubert rejected Gerald, the Canons of St Davids and Gerald appealed to the Papal Court: the highest court in all Christendom.

But before he set out for Rome, Gerald went to see his brother Philip for encouragement. Sister Bettina, do explain what his brother Philip said? Like Gerald, Philip seems to envision!

Bettina: Brother, said Philip, it is a difficult matter on which you enter, very costly, full of peril, as you contend not only against the Archbishop of Canterbury, but against the King and all of England. Yet if you fight for God and the dignity of St Davids, not for greed of earthly pomp, you may safely take up this labour, since in truth you’ll be rewarded here or in heaven.

But be warned: the ancient enemy, the hater of good desires, the devil who roams like a lion at night, will place many impediments in your path, and God will suffer that to be done, whether for your proving or your purging. And so when many evils assail you, despair not, but recall how the Apostles who preached Christ and salvation, were no less afflicted by adversities, enduring chains, scourging, prisons, and wounds - and death: for Christ’s sake.

(Direction: As Novella speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to sit on the forward seats)

Novella: So Gerald, and two clergy from St Davids, a Canon and a Vicar, set out for Rome, 14 August 1199. Gerald took with him his books. One cleric died; the other returned home ill. So when Gerald travelled through France, he was joined by two other clergy from St Davids.

They crossed the Alps, passed hastily through Italy, and came to Rome about the Feast of St Andrew – 30 November 1199. Pope Innocent III was in the second year of his papacy. He had studied canon law at Bologna. He invited Gerald to meet privately at the Lateran Palace.

Gerald: Holy Father, it is a great honour to meet privately. It approaches Christmas. So I bring you gifts. I give you not pounds but books – all of which I have written myself!

Innocent: Ah, libros, not libras: such wit! Giraldus, it is my honour to meet you. Your books are famed, especially Gemma ecclesiastica – for I too studied canon law – Bologna – a little after you were at Paris. I will keep these books - at my bedside. The Cardinals too will want to borrow them - but I’ll not part with the Gemma! Too much in it on how to govern clergy.

But to business. Like the Cardinals, I have received a letter from Hubert, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Please read it. Canterbury makes very grave accusations against you and your election at St Davids. This appeal before my Court will be no easy matter to prosecute.

Gerald (having read it): He writes rather as an Arch-adversary than as an Arch-bishop, sparing truth nor modesty. If it were only thus he hurt me. He blocks my consecration.

Innocent: Indeed. Do you wish then to answer these letters in full Court, knowing the task?

Gerald: I do so desire, if it please your Excellency.

Innocent: So be it. Answer them in full Consistory. But let us wait till after Christmas. For we have much to celebrate – and you have much to prepare for your causes before the Court. I bid you a happy Christmas – I have your books – and you have your causes. God bless you.

(Direction: As Bettina speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to their seats in the semi-circle)

Scene 2: The Papal Court – St Davids Decree and Canterbury’s Letter

Bettina: January arrives - 1200 – the Papal Court opens. Innocent is assisted by his cousin, Cardinal Hugolinus, a famed canonist who had studied at Paris, and later Pope Gregory IX.

Innocent: As Pontiff and President of this Court, I declare the Papal Consistory in session to hear and determine two causes: the election to and the status of the See of St Davids, Wales. The questions for the Court are whether Archdeacon Giraldus has been canonically elected as Bishop of St Davids - if yes, whether I should consecrate him as such; and whether I should declare the diocese of St Davids as the Metropolitan See of Wales and its bishop, Archbishop of Wales independent of, not subject to, the Metropolitan See and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Hugolinus: Holy Father, they are indeed the issues before your Court. As you know, the Canons of St Davids wrote to you setting out their Decree in relation to these matters.

Innocent: Thank you Cardinal Hugolinus. Please read the Decree to this Court.

Hugolinus: The Decree of the Canons of St Davids reads thus:

“To the most reverend Father and Lord, Innocent, by the grace of God, High Pontiff, the Chapter of the Cathedral of St Davids send their greeting and their homage of devotion.

We have at length in our Church canonically with one accord elected our Archdeacon Master Gerald as Bishop of St Davids. By common consent of the clergy and of all the people we demanded him over all others chosen by the King of England and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the officers of the King, with violent intrusion against our election and our privileges, desired to set over us a stranger, wholly ignorant of our native tongue and the customs of our country. But we demanded Gerald as our Bishop.

The Archbishop has repeatedly refused our demands, and we could not approach him by reason of the snares that were on all sides set for us. We therefore appeal to your protection and with one accord have sent to you Gerald, that you may confirm and consecrate him, our Elect, a man well-lettered, discreet and honourable, born in lawful wedlock of noble lineage, who will be of great advantage to our Church of St Davids in things temporal and spiritual.

We entreat you earnestly with supplication that, deigning to lay the hand of consecration upon him, you will of your fatherly love apply remedies to those matters which our clerks, whom we have sent with him, shall make known to your Holiness on our behalf concerning the former dignity and liberty of our Church, which has been destroyed by the lay power as a punishment for our sins. May your Paternity fare well in the Lord for many a year to come!”

Innocent: Thank you. Giraldus?

Gerald: Much obliged, Holy Father. As I shall argue, the Decree is firm canonical evidence for my two causes. Also, the ‘stranger’ to whom that Decree refers is Geoffrey, the Prior of Llanthony. It was Geoffrey whom Canterbury desired to have as bishop of St Davids. Since then, the Canons have written to your Holiness again. I understand you have their Letter.

Innocent: We do, thank you. Cardinal Hugolinus, please read the Letter.

Hugolinus: The Letter of St Davids’ Canons: “If it shall have come to your hearing, High Pontiff, that Geoffrey, Prior of Llanthony has been consecrated Bishop and set over us by the Archbishop of Canterbury, know well, this has been done contrary to our election and will. For from the beginning when our See was vacant we have demanded and still demand of your fatherly love that Master Gerald should be consecrated, whom we have already canonically elected, being willing, by the grace of God and of yourself, to agree to no other. So constantly we have appealed to your protection, that no man may presume to do anything to the prejudice of our Church and to this election canonically made with the assent of the clergy and people of this country. May your Paternity fare well always and be a blessing to all”.

Innocent: Now, Archdeacon Giraldus, while you appear here in person, the Archbishop of Canterbury does not – nor is he represented before us. So we must rely on a letter he sent to this Court. Cardinal Hugolinus, do read Canterbury’s letter. Then you Giraldus may reply.

Hugolinus: The letter of Archbishop Hubert of Canterbury against Archdeacon Giraldus:

“Most Holy Father, I do not think that you are ignorant that the Church of Canterbury is the Mother and Metropolis of the Church of St Davids and the other Churches of all Wales. This is testified in writing by you and your predecessors – Popes Adrian, Alexander and Celestine.

None the less, a certain Archdeacon of the Church of Mynyw, Gerald, a Welshman by nation and kinsman of many magnates of Wales, has procured his election to the Bishopric of St Davids by three Canons only. These (it is said) he induced to elect him in a manner far from right or seemly, though none of the other Canons gave their assent. Yet he, relying on such a nomination, has not sought or waited for confirmation by myself, to whom first he should have had recourse. Instead, Gerald usurped the name and authority of Elect. He removed from the altar in the cathedral the seal of the Chapter - without its consent – so that he could draw up documents to use as evidence that he was the Bishop-Elect of St Davids”.

“God knows”, writes Canterbury, “had I believed Gerald a fit person, called to office after canonical election, I would have bestowed on him the boon of confirmation and consecration, if he had been willing to seek either one or both at my hands. But he had little confidence in the validity of his election. So he unlawfully disregarded me and made off to the Holy See, so that by false testimonies he may deceive you who know not the manner of his election”.

Innocent: Giraldus – I hope you are taking a serious note!

Hugolinus: May I continue? “But you know, Holy Father, that oral witness deserves more credence than written evidence. The witnesses we shall call will refute the written evidence. I write this, not (as God knows) through any personal enmity against this Welshman, but in my zeal for justice to prevent you being deceived as to lay your hand of consecration on him.

We desire this for if the Archdeacon is consecrated by you, Holy Father, he would not be content with this. But he would extend his efforts to more ambitious and nefarious schemes. For on the pretext of consecration by you, he would irreverently seek exemption from the jurisdiction of the Church of Canterbury and sow the seeds of perpetual dissension between the Welsh and the English for all time to come. For the Welsh, being sprung by unbroken succession from the original stock of the Britons, boast that all Britain is theirs of right.

Wherefore, if the barbarity of that wild and unbridled nation had not been restrained by the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom this race has thus far been subject as being within his Province, this people would by continual or at least by frequent rebellion have broken from their allegiance to the King, whereby the whole of England must have suffered disquietude. May the most High long preserve your life and security”. There the letter ends Holy Father.

Innocent: Much obliged Hugolinus. So, Canterbury’s letter. Giraldus, what say you?

Gerald: Holy Father, it is characteristic of the inborn insolence of dogs that, if they cannot bite, they bark without ceasing. So, to defend my reputation, I say that the Archbishop, to dissuade you from hearing me, has composed this letter in the form of an invective. With God’s help, I will refute his accusations by argument and the living voices of witnesses.

Innocent: A fine opening. What are your arguments?

Gerald: First, I question his claim that Popes Adrian, Alexander, and Celestine ‘confirmed’ in writing that St Davids and all Welsh churches are subject to Canterbury. He does not begin with Popes more remote in time, but only with the moderns. These three occasions to which Archbishop Hubert refers were not papal ‘confirmations’ of the subjection of St Davids to Canterbury but rather ‘donations’ of St Davids from the Popes to the See of Canterbury. But these things require special treatment at the appropriate time. I will deal with them later.

Innocent: To be clear. This first matter concerns the status of St Davids, not your election.

Gerald: Indeed. Second, by calling me ‘a Welshman by nation’, he openly says, ‘Because he is born in Wales, he cannot be a bishop in Wales’. This is preposterous. On this basis, no Englishman should be appointed as a bishop in England, or Frenchman in France, or Italian in Italy. Very well! Let Canterbury appoint bishops in Wales who are ignorant of its language, and you will find excellent preachers! Evidently not! The Welsh can be bishops!

Hugolinus: Agreed! Obviously, being Welsh is not a canonical bar to episcopacy!

Gerald: Third, he says I am kinsman to many Welsh magnates. True. But it is for you to consider whether my nobility in itself should prejudice my case to be Bishop of St Davids. I see no prohibition in canon law against those of noble birth becoming elected as a bishop.

Innocent: Again: quite right.

Gerald: Four: he claims that I ‘procured’ my election as Bishop by the voice of three Canons only and I did so ‘in a manner far from right or seemly’. This is a lie. Perhaps he thought that to write a lie was different from speaking a lie. Perhaps to save his conscience that is why he qualified his statement by adding the words ‘it is said’ that only three Canons voted for me.

The point it this. All Wales knows, and no small part of the west of England too, the people and clergy desired me as their bishop. Even the King of England recalled me to St Davids when Bishop Peter de Leia died. But if I had been so eager as to desire St Davids unjustly, I would have returned in haste to break in through the wall rather than the door. Nor is it likely I would have done so at the expense of my reputation or for the 20 marks St Davids brings, when I was already receiving 100 marks at that time. What a poor merchant I’d have been!

Innocent: Your next point?

Gerald: Fifth, the claim that I was elected by only three Canons. He implies the others were unwilling to elect me. But at St Davids we have almost as many English Canons as Welsh. Why has Canterbury not sent one of these other Canons to testify against me here? He has sent none, because he could not find even one. That is because no Canon voted against me.

Sixth, he claims that I forcibly carried off the seal of our Chapter to forge documents attesting to my election. But our Church knows, the whole of Wales knows, our clergy know who took part in the election and are here before you today as my witnesses, and God Himself knows, that this is a lie! And I pray God might correct this liar by striking him with His vengeance!

Hugolinus: Calm, please, Giraldus.

Gerald: So: which of these is the more worthy of belief? The letter of the Archbishop? It is clearly kindled from jealousy and fear, designed simply to defame me, and sent with no-one here to represent him. Or the decree and letter of the Chapter of St Davids, and the living voices of our clerks here before you, all of whom with one voice cry aloud in my favour?

Innocent: I am grateful to you Giraldus. Very helpful. You have brought the issues to a head for us. But I would know too of what you think of Canterbury’s claim you are unfit to serve.

Gerald: I confess my insufficiency. I’m unfit to rule even a small parish! But for my fitness, look to the weight of authority that is the Decree of St Davids. After all, Canterbury refuses to call this election canonical when it was made by the mother church and womb of all churches in Wales and with the consent and applause of the people, as required by canon law.

Hugolinus: You are correct. Consent is at the heart of the canon law on episcopal elections.

Gerald: Indeed it is. Next, Archbishop Hubert uses a juristic argument against me. Namely, that ‘oral witness deserves more credence than written evidence’. But along with the written evidence of the Decree and letter of St Davids’ Chapter, I have brought witnesses who are present here. If written evidence without oral does not deserve credence, then no credence should be given to his letters on their own, since he does not produce any witnesses here.

Innocent: Thank you. Understood. Now, you said you would return to the status issue.

Gerald: I did. His conclusion. Here the Archbishop contradicts himself. He writes that if your Grace consecrates me, I would not be content but seek to exempt St Davids from the jurisdiction of Canterbury. He sees this as ‘nefarious’. He does not say that I should actually seek to champion the rights of my Church and to revive its ancient dignity. Rather, under the cloak of the word ‘exemption’ he attempts to cast a veil over our rights and ancient dignity.

But, Holy Father, how clearly he here reveals the rancour of his heart and the tinder that has kindled his hatred. From the outset he has opposed me. And thus he contradicts himself. He said earlier that he would have gladly bestowed confirmation or consecration or both on me. But ever since he has feared that I would champion the rights of St Davids, he would never confer either on me or allow another to do so. Except perhaps on condition that I give under duress a solemn oath, such as his predecessors used to exact from us, that I do not champion the rights of St Davids - Mother Church of Wales - against the alien Church of Canterbury.

Hubert Walter himself, climbed from the Deanery of York to the Bishopric of Salisbury and then to the supreme glory of Canterbury, by chance rather than by skill, by fortune rather than by virtue. He was Chief Justiciar to the King of England. It is said he aspires to be the Pope.

Hugolinus: That, to my mind, Holy Father, is not material to our issues.

Innocent: I agree. Please keep to the point, Giraldus.

Gerald: Finally, Canterbury tries to fortify his case by dragging in the King of England as his ally. He says, had not the Welsh Church been subject to the English Church, the Welsh would ‘by continual or at least by frequent rebellion have broken from their allegiance to the King’.

As if the King of England with his great forces could not subdue that little nation of Wales by the power of his material sword, without borrowing the spiritual sword of Canterbury as aid.

And yet Canterbury has often wielded the spiritual sword over the Welsh. The Princes of Wales often complain to your Holiness that, when the Welsh meet their enemy in battle to defend their country and its freedom, they are excommunicated against all law spiritual. Two years ago the Chief Justiciar mustered the English to give battle to the Welsh at Painscastle. Hubert gathered the clergy and excommunicated every Welshman arrayed against them. About 3,000 Welsh were killed. When he received this news, Hubert ordered the bells to be publicly rung and the ‘Te Deum laudamus’ to be chanted, like a good shepherd giving thanks to God that he had sent down to Hell the souls of so many of his sheep! He’s a ravening wolf!

Hugolinus: Again, Archdeacon Giraldus, how is this material to your two causes?

Innocent: I think Hugolinus, that Archdeacon Giraldus is painting for us a picture about the injustices which the subjection of St Davids to Canterbury has visited on the people of Wales.

Gerald: Precisely, Father. Indeed, I am descended from both nations. From the Normans of the March, who defend England’s borders against the Welsh. And from the Princes of Wales who defend the Welsh, their lands and liberties, against the English. Yet I hate injustice by whichever nation committed. And what is more unjust than to subject a people, rooted in the faith of their mother Church of St Davids from old, to a later church, Canterbury - set up to convert their next-door-neighbours to Christ: pagan Saxons who’d ousted Christian Britons?

Hugolinus: Please explain, Giraldus, for the benefit of this Court and its records.

Gerald: Put briefly: it was Pope Eleutherius, by the ministry of Fagan and Duvianus, in the days of Lucius, King of the Britons, who planted the faith of Christ in the island of the Britons. This was long before the coming of the Saxons, who remained pagan to the time Pope Gregory sent Augustine to convert them to Christianity. The point is this: St Davids was already the Mother Church of Wales well before Augustine was sent to Canterbury.

Innocent: Is this the nub of the matter of the dignity of St Davids, Giraldus?

Gerald: Your Holiness, it is a key part of the evidence for its Metropolitan status.

Innocent: We will need to hear further submissions on this issue. Giraldus, please sum up in relation to the letter from Hubert of Canterbury as to your election as Bishop of St Davids?

Gerald: If I have forced entry into St Davids as its bishop, as the Archbishop of Canterbury alleges, may God chastise me. But if I have received this episcopal burden in purity and piety according to God’s will, and this according to due canonical form, then I ask your approval.

Thus, Lord, do I reply to Canterbury’s letter and refute all in it that might move you or your brethren to hold against me. If your good pleasure allow, I implore you, that the Decree of St Davids, their letter of testimony, and the voices of my witnesses may be given a hearing, so that, when all things have been fully debated in your presence, the truth may be revealed.

Innocent: I have heard both sides: one by letter, one by oral argument based on a recognised written canonical form, the Decree. I now retire to consider. I will issue a decision - whether to hear your witnesses present here, and on the matter of St Davids’ status - in due course.

Hugolinus: I declare this hearing of the Papal Court closed.

Scene 3: In Camera at the Papal Palace – The Papal Register

(Direction: As Novella speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to the forward seats)

Novella: Well, the first public hearing was over. Gerald and the two clerics from St Davids could but wait. But that evening, the Pope asked Gerald to meet privately at the papal palace. Mark you: this was a standard inquisitorial procedure – to interrogate a party in camera.

Innocent: Greetings Giraldus. I want to talk about the Metropolitan rights of St Davids. I ordered the Papal Register to be brought to me. Here it is. It sets out all the Metropolitan Churches which are under the Pontiff, kingdom by kingdom, with the Sees subject to them.

Here, England. I quote: “The Metropolitan Church of Canterbury has subject to it the following Churches: Rochester, London”, etc. Then, after a rubric, entitled “Concerning Wales”: “In Wales there are the Churches of St Davids, Llandaff, Bangor and St. Asaph”.

See, here is the Church of Mynyw St Davids listed with the rest. It is subject to Canterbury!

Gerald: Nay: St Davids and the other Welsh churches are not listed in the Latin the same way as the English ones. The English ones are listed in the accusative case: as objects. The Welsh churches are in the nominative case. In other words, this is simply a list of the dioceses in Wales. That is all it is. If the Welsh churches, after the red, were listed in the accusative, they might be understood as churches subject to Canterbury. But they are not so listed. See?

Innocent: Point taken. You did well to note that. There is another point in your favour. The rubric - Wales is special: the red ink is never used in the Papal Register unless there is a transition, either from kingdom to kingdom or from one Metropolitan Church to another. This strongly suggests that there was a time when St Davids was not subject to Canterbury. True?

Gerald: Yes. For the English, some of Wales is in the Kingdom of England. They say Wales is not a Kingdom in itself. This misunderstands Welsh polity. Wales is a nation of Princes.

Innocent: You may be sure, then, of one thing, Giraldus: our Papal Register is not against you. So: does St Davids have any ‘Privileges’ dealing with the rights which it claims?

Gerald: Once, St Davids had an abundance of ‘Privileges’. But since it is in a corner of Wales on the Irish Sea, it was often plundered by pirates coming in long ships from the Isles of Orkney, and left desolate and almost in ruins. Its books and privileges, its vestments, its phylacteries and its treasures were carried off – and its clergy were sometimes slain.

Innocent: How and why had St Davids been deprived of its dignity as Mother Church?

Gerald: Its status as the Metropolitan Church went into abeyance when Samson, the last Archbishop of Mynyw, fled to Dol in Brittany to escape the plague. Then England pounced.

Innocent: How much time has elapsed since your Samson left St Davids for Brittany?

Gerald: It happened around 597, when Pope Gregory sent Augustine to England.

Innocent: You say it is over five hundred years since St Davids was the seat of an Archbishop! Then the Archbishops of Canterbury are safe by long prescription. We both know, by canon law, long prescription – continuous usage – has force of law. Surely five hundred years of metropolitical authority over St Davids is enough? And what happened to the cloak my predecessor would have given to the Archbishop of St Davids - the pallium?

Gerald: Your objection is valid, Holy Father. St Davids originally held the pallium. But in Augustine’s day the pallium was transferred from St Davids to Canterbury. About fifty years ago, Bishop Bernard of St Davids urged Pope Innocent II to recognise St Davids as a Metropolitan church. Next he urged Pope Lucius II. And then Pope Eugenius III, at which point Bernard seems to have recovered the pallium for St Davids – but then he lost it again.

But let us put the pallium to one side. As to our Metropolitan rank, the facts of the case are clear. Down to the time of King Henry I of England, who tried to subdue Wales and placed the Welsh Church under the English Church, the Church of Mynyw kept its Metropolitan right intact, save for the pallium. Like the Scottish Church, it was subject only to Rome.

Innocent: There is nothing new in a See owing no submission to any Metropolitan. Lucca or Pavia are examples. Their Prelates, though only Bishops, had the pallium and were subject directly to Rome. How many years have elapsed since King Henry’s violence against Wales?

Gerald: Seventy years or more. Your prescription point. Canon law requires ‘unchallenged’ usage. Canterbury’s claim over St Davids has often been contested. No prescription arises.

Innocent: Mm. If all this can be proved, the Metropolitan status of St Davids will be secured. You must write all this down and deliver to us all the evidence to substantiate these claims.

(Direction: As Novella speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to their seats in the semi-circle)

Novella: So the evening at the papal palace ended. And Gerald applied himself to the task which the Pope had set for him. Seven days later, Gerald appeared before the Papal Court.

Scene 4: The Papal Court - Proof of St Davids Metropolitan Status

Hugolinus: The Papal Court opens in the matter of St Davids.

Innocent: Greetings Giraldus. I understand you have proof of St Davids’ Metropolitan status.

Gerald: I do. I have prepared a formal deposition which I have given to Cardinal Hugolinus.

Innocent: Thank you. Hugolinus, please read it.

Hugolinus: “When Fagan and Duvianus had converted Britain to Christianity, these isles were divided into five Metropolitan Provinces: Caerleon, Canterbury, London, York - and, in Scotland, St Andrews. Each of these five provinces had dioceses, each with its own bishop.

When Augustine came from Pope Gregory to convert the Saxons, he divided England into two provinces, Canterbury and York. But in Wales, Dubricius, Archbishop of Caerleon, gave way to St David himself and the Metropolitan See of Caerleon was transferred to Mynyw.

This transference had been foretold by the Welsh prophet Merlin: ‘Mynyw shall be invested with the pallium of Caerleon’. There were twenty-five successive Archbishops of Wales.

Next, the Venerable Bede in his Historia Ecclesiastica makes no mention of any Churches of either Wales or Scotland being subject to Canterbury. When Augustine arrived, he asked the Welsh Bishops for help to convert the Saxons. They refused and publicly declared that they would not have him for their Archbishop. And there is no evidence the Welsh Church was ever subject to Canterbury down to the time when Henry I became King of England in 1100”.

Gerald: These facts are from authentic documents. And there are still in Wales many old men who have seen the days when the Church of Wales owed no allegiance save to Rome.

Hugolinus: But what precisely is the benefit to Rome if St Davids is free of Canterbury?

Gerald: First, it will honour Rome if the Church of Wales (like the Church of Scotland) is directly subject to it, with St Davids as its mother church as it used to be and still should be.

Second, Wales is ready to pay to Rome St Peter’s Pence, each house in Wales contributing, as is done in England, which will generate an annual revenue of two hundred or more marks.

Third, the Church of Wales will pay to Rome the ‘great tithe’ which is levied on all flocks, herds, horses, and all movable property. This would come to more than three thousand marks.

Innocent: Since your opponent, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is expected to appear before this Court, we will give you the audience which you seek when he comes – to hear more fully about St Davids’ status and your election. Justice shall not be refused you, Elect of Mynyw.

Gerald falls to his knees.

Gerald: My Lord, these words seem to have the force of a confirmation of my election.

Innocent (smiling): I called you ‘Elect’ because others call you ‘Elect of Mynyw’. But the Pope may call no man ‘Elect’ in all seriousness before the election itself has been confirmed.

Hugolinus: This hearing of the Papal Court is closed.

Scene 5: The Papal Court - Buongiovanni appears for Canterbury

Bettina: Then came what Gerald had feared. Before Easter 1200, a clerk of the Archbishop of Canterbury - a Lombard called Buongiovanni - brought gifts to Rome, as is the established ecclesiastical custom, from the Archbishop to the Pope. After this, the Papal Court sat again.

Hugolinus: Buongiovanni, are you a clerk of the Archbishop of Canterbury and do you come to this Court on his behalf to speak in the matter of the election to and status of St Davids?

Buongiovanni: I am. But I represent the Archbishop only in the matter of the election.

Hugolinus: Do you have any special mandate against Archdeacon Giraldus?

Buongiovanni: I do not. But my Lord bids me say this. Four persons were nominated for the See of Mynyw. One was this Archdeacon. The King rejected him. My Archbishop then made the Prior of Llanthony, Geoffrey, Bishop of St Davids. But Geoffrey has since resigned. So St Davids’ Canons (at London) elected Walter, Abbot of St Dogmaels. The King then assented.

Innocent: When was this done?

Buongiovanni: A little before Christmas last year, Holy Father.

Innocent: But the Archdeacon was then at this Court. An appeal was pending at my Court. Your Archbishop knew that. Has Canterbury confirmed Walter of St Dogmaels’ election?

Buongiovanni: Silence.

Hugolinus: We insist on an answer, Buongiovanni.

Buongiovanni: I have not been instructed by the Archbishop to answer this question. But I do believe that the election was not displeasing to my Lord the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Innocent: Let’s be clear. You cannot testify that Canterbury confirmed Walter’s election.

Buongiovanni: Mmm - correct, Holy Father.

Innocent: I see. We have heard enough for today. We will resume tomorrow for my decision.

Bettina: All who heard these words of Pope Innocent thought that Gerald would very soon receive his promotion to bishop. And so the Cardinals offered him their congratulations.

In point of fact, the Pope was well-disposed toward Gerald; for he saw that Gerald was fit to be the Bishop of St Davids, with his personal character, with his rich store of learning, with his high birth, and with his striving so valiantly against such powerful, wealthy adversaries.

But Canterbury had anticipated the Court might favour Gerald. So he instructed his clerk Buongiovanni that, if this should occur, he must speak privately with the Cardinals. This he did. For the purpose of justice, Canterbury would raise in England and send a great sum of money to the Church of Rome and persuade others to do the same to express his - goodwill.

And so, on the following day, the Court opens for the Pope’s judgment.

Scene 6: The Papal Court – The Pope’s Judgment: Two Commissions of Enquiry

Innocent: I have reached a decision. The evidence available is limited. The Decree of the Chapter of St Davids, its letter of testimony, and the oral evidence from Giraldus, claim that Giraldus was elected as Bishop of St Davids and that, since, Canterbury has made Geoffrey of Llanthony, its Bishop. Canterbury by letter refutes the election of Giraldus. Giraldus has responded. We heard from the clerk of Canterbury, Buongiovanni, that Geoffrey resigned as Bishop of St Davids and its Canons then elected Walter of St Dogmaels. But Buongiovanni cannot assure us that Canterbury confirmed Walter’s election. This happened whilst Giraldus was before this Court. I therefore declare any action taken against Giraldus while his case was sub judice here, null and void. Given the evidential uncertainties arising from all this, I also order establishment of a Papal Commission to enquire into the validity of the election of Giraldus. I shall appoint the judges from England, who must act justly and lawfully. And no further action is to be taken in this matter of any election until the Commission reports to me.

Buongiovanni, do you wish to say anything on behalf of Canterbury?

Buongiovanni: I have not been instructed to say anything, Holy Father – thank you.

Innocent: What of you, Giraldus?

Gerald: Holy Father, needless to say, I accept your judgment. I pray God the Commission for the election will act without fear and favour. However, there is also the matter of the status of St Davids as Metropolitan church. Therefore, I humbly request another, second Commission to investigate St Davids’ metropolitical status and its freedom from the See of Canterbury.

Innocent: That is the second element of my judgment. A Commission cannot be granted to enquire into so difficult a question. There are three reasons. I hold that insufficient evidence has been adduced as to the privileges of St Davids. Nor could we find anything conclusive in our Register. Nor have we discovered in our records that status has ever been raised before.

None the less, I grant you, Giraldus, the administration of the Diocese of St Davids in things temporal and spiritual, so long as the See remains without a canonical bishop. As you well know, Giraldus, according to the law of the church, you will exercise the de facto authority of a bishop in the Diocese of St Davids, but you will not do so qua bishop de iure canonico.

Gerald: Holy Father, I am saddened. If I cannot have a Commission on the status of St Davids, I care nothing about being its administrator. Would you grant me brief access to the Register of Pope Eugenius? It contains relevant letters as I have explained to you in camera.

Innocent: Of course, Giraldus, willingly.

Hugolinus hands the Register to Giraldus who studies it briefly.

Innocent: Archbishop, have you found the relevant document?

Gerald: I have Your Holiness.

Hugolinus: Giraldus, did you not hear what the Pope calls you?

Giraldus: I did not, Cardinal. I suppose His Holiness called me Archdeacon.

Hugolinus: Nay, in truth, he saluted you as Archbishop.

Gerald, bowing to Innocent: I hope this is a good omen. But a little way to go, I think.

Gerald hands back the Register to Hugolinus.

Innocent: Cardinal Hugolinus, please read the relevant passage.

Hugolinus: The words of Pope Eugenius in a letter to Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury:

“Our venerable brother Bernard, Bishop of St Davids, came before us and claimed that the Church of St Davids was once Metropolitan. He humbly demanded that we should restore it to that rank. You, Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, claimed that Bernard had withdrawn the obedience due to you as his lawful Metropolitan, though beforehand he had obeyed you. But Bernard denies having rendered any such obedience. You then produced two witnesses who testified that Bernard after his consecration, professed obedience to Canterbury both in speech and writing. Therefore, after hearing the arguments of both parties, making diligent inquiry concerning them, examining the witnesses, and taking counsel, we order that Bernard should, as justice demands, render obedience to you, Canterbury, as his lawful Metropolitan”.

However, Father, Eugenius’ Register continues: “In the meantime, since we desire every Church and ecclesiastic to keep the dignity that is their just due, we have fixed a day next year, for both you Theobald and Bishop Bernard to discover the truth about the status of St Davids and its liberty, so that we may, under God, decide what is just. Dated 29 June 1147”.

Innocent: The case is made out. The Register raises sufficient doubt. I grant a further Commission to enquire into St Davids’ status. Hugolinus, set up the Commission forthwith.

Gerald: Holy Father, I am obliged. Would you now also issue the letters of administration in order for me to carry out my duties as administrator of St Davids while the See is vacant?

Innocent: But, Giraldus, you refused the office of administrator – it was ‘nothing’ to you, you said - when you might have had it. So why should you have it now that you desire it?

Gerald: My words were intemperate. If a father should offer his son bread, and the son in his folly and insolence refuse it, is he therefore to be deprived of bread for the rest of his life?

Innocent, after pondering a little: I appoint Giraldus administrator of St Davids. My notary will make out the letters of administration, and letters commending Giraldus to the Princes, clergy and people of Wales, to the King of England, and to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Hugolinus: This session of the Papal Court is closed.

Novella: Gerald then left Rome. Canterbury learned the Pope had made him St Davids’ administrator, ordered a Commission, annulled acts taken against Gerald, and forbidden any action pending the Commission. So, fearing St Davids’ Canons might support Gerald further, he asked them if they would elect the Abbot of Whitland if the need arose! A third bite of the cherry! That Abbot’s sons, his cousins, and other confederates were Canons of St Davids.

On his return to St Davids, Gerald told the Canons about the Commissions for his election and St Davids’ status. The Canons showed no joy at his success nor for his labours in Rome.

Gerald was bowed but not cowed. He found various letters which were so vital for St Davids to become the Metropolitan seat of an Archbishop with ecclesiastical authority over all Wales independent of Canterbury. He took them to the Papal Commission. But King John thundered against him with violent threats. The Commission prevaricated. So then Gerald decided on a second appeal to the Pope, braced himself for another arduous journey, and set out for Rome.



Bettina: Gerald arrived in Rome on 4 March 1201, three days after St David’s Day. At the Court were two clerks sent by Canterbury. Both were Canons of St Davids. The principal was Reginald Foliot, to whom Canterbury promised St Davids, in time, if he opposed Gerald in both suits, as to his election and as to the status of St Davids. He was assisted by Andrew.

Scene 1: The Papal Court – Reginald Foliot appears against Gerald

Hugolinus: This Papal Court opens its second session in the matter of St Davids, Wales.

Innocent: Last year Giraldus appeared in person. Canterbury sent a letter and then a clerk, Buongiovanni, to represent him in the matter of the election of Giraldus, but not in the matter of the status of St Davids. I instructed two Commissions: one to investigate whether Giraldus was validly elected. The other to enquire into the Metropolitan rank of St Davids. But both Commissions were inconclusive. Today we have two more clerks from Canterbury. Speak.

Foliot: I am Reginald Foliot, Canon of St Davids and the proctor both for Walter of St Dogmaels, newly elected Bishop of St Davids, and for the Chapter of Canons of St Davids.
I am assisted by Andrew, proctor for Canterbury in the suit as to the election of Giraldus.

Innocent: Which of you is Canterbury’s proctor in the St Davids status suit?

Foliot: Neither of us, Holy Father. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s letters instructing my assistant to represent him on that issue were stolen from him at Parma where he was robbed.

Hugolinus: What! Why were those letters taken and not the others?

Foliot: We cannot explain it Holy Father. Pure chance.

Innocent and Hugolinus sigh their frustration.

Innocent: Most unsatisfactory. The status suit must not go on any longer. I will consider it on the information I already have. But we must continue with the election suit of Giraldus. Last year our main focus was on the documentary evidence. Let us now focus on oral evidence.

Gerald: I produce here my witnesses.

Foliot: We have brought no witnesses, Holy Father. As a result, we demand that the status suit be adjourned. This will enable us to produce witnesses from England to attend this Court.

Innocent: I will decide on an adjournment in due course. In the meantime, I shall appoint two Cardinals to hear the parties as to the election. I will then give judgment as to both the suits.

Bettina: Appearing before the two Cardinals, Gerald set out precisely the day and hour of his election in June 1199. Reginald Foliot said that Walter of St Dogmaels had been elected a little before Christmas 1199. However, the Cardinals reminded them that if two elections have occurred, the first election trumps the second; this on the basis of the maxim prior in tempore, potior in iure – the earlier in time is the stronger in law. Canterbury’s clerk, Andrew then said Foliot was mistaken, and that Walter was elected before Gerald: in January 1199!

So the Cardinals ordered both parties to prepare written statements as to the dates of those elections as they had just presented them orally - word for word. They warned Foliot to repeat in his statement that Walter was elected a little before Christmas, that is, after Gerald.

A month later, both parties appeared again before the Cardinals. Gerald’s statement was read out first and agreed exactly with what he had said a month before. Foliot’s statement now claimed there were two approvals of Walter – one by the Canons before Gerald’s which passed the election to Canterbury who then elected Walter; and the King had confirmed it!

One Cardinal said Foliot has changed his evidence. The other said Foliot might simply have forgotten what he had said a month before. So the Cardinals admitted Foliot’s statement.

Gerald then produced five witnesses to prove his election, including its date. Also many from Wales on pilgrimage in Rome at the time appeared before the Cardinals and testified for Gerald. The Cardinals wrote their report of the proceedings and submitted it to Innocent.

A few days later, the Court reopens and the Pope gives his decision.

Scene 2: The Papal Court – Judgment: Renewing the Commissions of Enquiry

Innocent: In the suit as to the Metropolitan status of St Davids, I condemn the Archbishop of Canterbury to pay all Giraldus’ costs. This is because the Archbishop has failed to defend the suit – his proctor offered neither argument nor evidence in relation to this matter. As a result, I am still in no position to pass a definitive sentence as to St Davids’ status. Accordingly, I order the same Commission of judges in England to take evidence on the claim that St Davids is Metropolitan. This time it must not fail for lack of witnesses or for lapse of time. Once I have its report, I will fix a day, in November next year, whereon both parties must appear before this Court. There is a condition. Neither party shall attend if Giraldus does not come to this Court with evidence of the support of all or the majority of the Chapter of St Davids.

Novella: This condition favoured Canterbury. The Pope knew that by Canterbury’s threats and bribes the Canons might not support Gerald. Then he gave judgment in the election suit.

Innocent: In the suit as to the election, I grant the adjournment requested by Canterbury to enable production of witnesses from England. But I will not receive these witnesses in this Court in the absence of Giraldus. So I shall fix a day to hear those witnesses and Giraldus for next year. I must add, however, that if we could decide according to our conscience without regard to the allegations made, we should grant no adjournment. And you, brother Giraldus, see to it that you return here on the appointed day - for in truth, unless we hear something very different, you shall depart not for consecration, but already consecrated. Finally, since Canterbury, though summoned in both suits, has only been represented in one (as to election), I condemn the Archbishop to pay half the costs of Giraldus in relation to that election suit.

Hugolinus: This session in the matter of St Davids is concluded.

Scene 3: The Commissions of Enquiry in England

Bettina: Gerald returned to St Davids. The Canons refused to support him. The English Chief Justiciar declared him an enemy of the realm and deprived him of his episcopal lands. His supporters’ property was also confiscated. Canons Foliot and Osbert, Archdeacon of Carmarthen, were complicit in this. On St Davids Day 1202, Gerald excommunicated them for disobeying the Pope. He met the Commission at Worcester: to no avail. The Commission summoned Gerald to Carmarthen. He refused to go: the senior judge (acting in the absence of the chief judge, the Bishop of Ely) had delegated the enquiry into St Davids’ status to his own clerks and not those commissioned by the Pope - and without reserving the final decision to the named papal commissioners. So Gerald appealed on this matter to the Pope in Rome.

The Commission met then at Brackley under the Bishop of Ely, its president. Some Canons of St Davids testified they had never elected Gerald as Bishop. Others were too afraid to attend. The Commission adjourned. It met next at Bedford in July but postponed listening to Gerald’s witnesses till September in order to hear both suits (election and status) at St Albans. Further public proclamations forbade the people of St Davids to harbour or help Gerald. On the long road to St Albans, Gerald heard of the imprisonment of several of his supporters.

Novella: At St Albans the Bishop of Ely tried to persuade Gerald to abandon the case. Gerald refused and offered various solutions, which Canterbury rejected. Walter appeared, claiming to be Bishop of St Davids. Gerald questioned his ability to read. The Commission asked him to read a text. He declined. It recorded this in its report to the Pope. But the Commission refused to hear Gerald’s witnesses. So he appealed to the Pope on this issue too. And by the authority committed by the Pope, before the Commissioners themselves, Gerald imposed further sentences of excommunication on those who’d confiscated his property as St Davids’ administrator. He departed. Then the Commission charged him to pay his opponents’ costs.

Gerald set off for Rome. Hearing of this, the Justiciar and Archbishop issued another order, forbidding Gerald, and any who helped him, to cross the Channel. This violated the papal letters of protection. The Commission was due on 19 October 1202 to deliver its report to both parties in London before the Archbishop of Canterbury. But Gerald did not attend for fear of capture. He and his companions hid near Dover for eight days. There his associates brought him the report of the Papal Commission. Then he sailed to Gravelines. In Flanders Gerald was robbed. He passed over the Alps with two Canons of Llandaff he had brought. At Bologna, they abandoned him. He arrived in Rome 4 January 1203. He went to see the Pope. Innocent welcomed him with a kiss. A day was appointed for the third session of the Court.


Scene 1: The Papal Court – Preliminary Matters

Hugolinus: The Papal Court opens its third session in the causes of Giraldus of St Davids.

Innocent: Giraldus, please proceed.

Gerald: I beseech your Holiness, to hear with patience and diligence a long story full of our wrongs and losses. Last year, you charged your Commission to enquire into my election as Bishop of St Davids and the Metropolitan status of that See. You also forbad anyone to prevent the Commission carrying out its enquiry. I will show how Canterbury disobeyed you.

With benefits and blandishments he enticed to himself St Davids’ Canons who had supported me in both my suits. He has frightened them from me by threats and spoliation of their goods.

We shall prove by witnesses that Canterbury has despised your command, raged against our cause, and used against us the secular power of the King. Let your apostolic severity curb his insolence and pride, so that other Prelates may learn from the example of his chastisement.

I also present to you letters from the Princes of Wales, with their seals attached, and by which they in common on behalf of the whole of the Church of Wales support this cause of action.

Innocent: I shall not read these now, but I shall digest them in my own chamber. Likewise the report of my Commission, the arguments at St Albans, and this fresh evidence now given.

Hugolinus: Before you do, may it please your Holiness to resolve a case currently before your Chamberlain? A Welsh monk, Golwen, accuses Gerald of stealing his horse in Wales. Gerald has the horse here in Rome. Gerald admits that his supporters took from Golwen a small, feeble horse, scarce able to carry Golwen. That Golwen deserted his monastery at St Dogmaels, carrying false relics. He says Gerald excommunicated him. The Chamberlain impounded the horse, examined it, and reports it is very unlike the horse Golwen described.

Innocent (laughing): I order that this horse be restored to Archdeacon Giraldus - and I order Golwen to hold his peace. There, Giraldus, another victory. We shall resume tomorrow.

Hugolinus: The Papal Court is closed.

Scene 2: The Maidens’ Fountain

(Direction: As Novella speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to the forward seats)

Novella: That evening, the Pope went to the Maidens’ Fountain near his palace. He often walked there to rest and think. When the palace bell heralded his going forth, Gerald and his comrades followed the Pope. Sitting by the fountain, he asked Gerald to come to him alone.

Innocent: The horse, Giraldus. I am not naïve. I know well that Canterbury used Golwen to discredit you. Ha ha! Are these the only sort of testes Canterbury can bring against you?!

Gerald: Very droll, Father. Never did such worthless witnesses appear in this Court nor so many bribed. I would that you knew them as thoroughly as do we. Their guiles are relentless.

Innocent: You know how to handle a theme. You will need all your diligence to handle all the treatises that they will fling against you and all your prudence to answer their charges.

Gerald: My Lord, if we are to find grace in your eyes and just examination from your judges, we shall, God willing, bring all their falsehoods to nought by simply telling the truth of it.

Innocent: That has been and is your task – as with any who appear before the Papal Court.

Gerald: We both know, that if all else fails them, they draw strength from the inexhaustible fountain of money and treasure at Canterbury. This is the sole refuge and solace on which all their hopes of victory are stayed: wealth! But he who tramples underfoot the gold offered him, he who counts and values all gold as worth no more than sea-weed, then he shall never be induced by English bronze or silver to deviate from the straight path of equity and truth.

Innocent: That’s the spirit! Care nothing for their boastfulness, but watch diligently over your suit, as we have told you. For the inflexible justice of the Roman Court will always be administered in accordance with the deserts of the case and not the persons of the parties. But now, I’ve heard some rumours about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Latin. Is it any good?

Gerald: His Latin: terrible! At a recent Synod in England, he began: ‘Understand, all you who are present in this holy Synod - in isto sacro synodo’. Someone shouted ‘A! A!’. The Archbishop corrected himself: ‘in ista sacra synoda’. So another cried ‘O! and A!’ The Archbishop corrected himself again - ‘in isto sacro synoda’. Still wrong! As you know, the correct Latin is ‘in ista sacra synodo’. He misunderstood his hecklers. As you can see, terrible, terrible, Latin; the Archbishop had every single ending wrong, Holy Father!

Innocent: Ah! What fun! Nor is he a canon lawyer. Some say he was at Bologna: bunkum!

(Direction: As Novella speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to their seats in the semi-circle)

Novella: The evening passed happily. But next day, a new advocate for the Archbishop of Canterbury appears in Court. The famous canonist John of Tynemouth. The stakes had been raised. He had also appeared for Canterbury before the Commission when it met at St Albans.

Scene 3: The Papal Court – John of Tynemouth appears against Gerald

Hugolinus: The Papal Court is open in the matter of Giraldus Cambrensis.

Innocent: Let us first hear from counsel for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Tynemouth: Holy Father, I am John of Tynemouth. An Englishman, a cleric and a canon lawyer. I taught canon law at Oxford. I am of the household of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Giraldus was never elected Bishop of St Davids. Nor was he ever qualified to be a bishop. And he has been cruel in his administration of St Davids. Before your very Commission at St Albans, he excommunicated all the Canons of St Davids who would not support him in either of the suits he brings before this Court. This wicked abuse of authority deserves censure!

Hugolinus: That is a serious accusation. Foliot, you are a Canon of St Davids. Is this true?

Foliot: This is true, Holy Father.

Innocent: It may or may not be. The point is that Archdeacon Giraldus had authority from us, and the power so to do as papal administrator. Surely you agree that he had the authority?

Foliot remains silent.

Innocent: Giraldus: what say you? Is their silence not in your favour?

Gerald: It is Holy Father.

Innocent: Is it true that you excommunicated all the Canons who would not support you?

Gerald: In truth, I did excommunicate Foliot, and the other Archpirate, Osbert, Archdeacon of Carmarthen. The Archbishop used both of them to corrupt all the Canons at St Davids. From the beginning, they rebelled against your command and refused to obey me in my custodianship of St Davids - which you had lawfully committed to my charge. And when they and other Canons continued thus, I excommunicated them for contumacy, for breaking the terms of the excommunication. But I did not, as Tynemouth asserts, excommunicate Foliot and Osbert at St. Albans; I did that earlier, and I reported it to the judges at St Albans.

Innocent: Both sides are agreed then. Giraldus, you declared that you excommunicated them and they have confessed it. I need to think on the implications of this. We shall now adjourn.

Hugolinus (as the court rises): Gerald: stick to that plea. If your opponents are lawfully excommunicate, then as excommunicates, their right to proceed against you may be in doubt.

Bettina: It was looking good for Gerald. Leaving Court, a Spanish advocate said to him: ‘Be of good courage: Justice and the Pope are on your side’. But his opponents trusted in the purse not piety. That same night, they gave the Pope’s Chamberlain two hundred pounds as a first instalment. And to each Cardinal they gave separate gifts and promised much more.

The following day, Gerald addressed the Court in relation to the assertion of Canterbury that Walter of St Dogmael had been elected Bishop of St Davids before his own election.

Gerald: Holy Father, Walter’s election did not occur before mine. Canterbury’s letter, read here two years ago, mentioned no election before mine. Had it occurred, he would not have forgotten it, especially if he had approved it. Nor could his clerk Buongiovanni testify that Canterbury had confirmed Walter’s election. Again, even if the Archbishop forgot to mention the election in his letter, he would assuredly not have forgotten it when he sent his clerk.

Innocent: Giraldus, that is all a matter of record in this Court.

Gerald: Indeed. Also, last year, you ordered both parties to appear before the two Cardinals. Foliot said that Walter was elected just before Christmas 1199, six months after me, but he changed this in a written statement saying Walter was elected before me, in January 1199.

Innocent: But the two Cardinals allowed Foliot’s written statement in their report to me.

Gerald: Another point. It is a custom in England - a bad one – that once elected bishop and the King assents, the bishop-elect immediately assumes the temporalities of the See before confirmation by the Archbishop. If Walter was elected before me, he would have assumed St Davids administration on royal assent. But Walter did not have it till a little before Christmas, because till then Geoffrey of Llanthony had it. Therefore, Walter was not elected before me.

Innocent: I see. Walter and Peter could not both have been Bishop.

Gerald: Precisely. Also, after my election, the Archbishop, by letters from himself and the Chief Justiciar, ordered the Canons of St Davids to elect Geoffrey of Llanthony. But if he had previously elected Walter of St Dogmaels, he would not have needed to appoint Geoffrey. This is all why the Canons of St Davids passed the Decree read two years ago in this Court.

Then we have another account. The Archbishop is supposed to have ordered St Davids Canons to bring him letters ratifying their election of Walter. Three Canons went, but without letters. They could not provide letters, because there had been no election before mine. Then we heard that they asked Canterbury to elect Walter himself, instead of St Davids Chapter!

Innocent: It is indeed a very complicated business, Giraldus.

Gerald: I summarise. At no time before or after my election did the Canons of St Davids or Canterbury elect or confirm the election of Walter. I recognise that these arguments are of a rhetorical character, based on inference and probability, presumptions rather than proofs. Nonetheless they deserve far greater credence than the confusions of Canterbury’s claims.

Innocent: I understand that. Shall we turn to your witnesses? First, we must determine whether they are acceptable and credible witnesses. You must make out a case for them.

Gerald: I have three witnesses. Two are my supporters - Nicholas the Elder and Hugh the Servant. One is an opponent - Archdeacon Osbert. Listen to them for the following reasons.

On Bishop Peter’s death in 1198, St Davids Chapter listed four candidates for the See. The order of preference was: first, myself; second, Walter; third, Peter, Abbot of Whitland; last, Foliot. They sent the names to the Archbishop. He wanted me taken off the list and proposed two new candidates: Geoffrey of Llanthony, and a Cistercian, Alexander. St Davids Canons wanted neither. Hubert ordered them to hold an election in King Richard’s presence. Four Canons went to London. Chief Justiciar Fitz Peter also proposed Geoffrey and Alexander. The Canons wanted their first choice: me. But Richard was in France. One of our Canons went there to obtain his consent. But Richard was killed at Chalus and died in April 1199 before he was found. The Canons returned to St Davids where they elected me in June 1199. It was then Canterbury ordered the Canons to elect Geoffrey of Llanthony; hence the appeal.

Nicholas and Hugh will testify they went with the Canon to France to ask Richard to consent to my election. Osbert will testify that four Canons went to London and one went to France.

Holy Father, the point is this. If Canterbury had elected Walter before my election, or if he was asked by the Canons to elect Walter, Canterbury would not have asked the Canons to go from Wales to England and then to France for royal consent. It would have been fruitless.

Innocent: Thank you, Giraldus. We shall determine whether to admit these three witnesses.

Hugolinus: This session of the Papal Court is closed.

(Direction: As Novella speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to the forward seats)

Novella: The representatives of Canterbury were worried. It was near Easter. As a last resort, with a bow that never misses its mark in the Papal Court, they offered more bribes: to the Chamberlain and Counsellors, to the Pope and Cardinals. It is rumoured that Canterbury spent eleven thousand marks in bribes. The Pope had warned Gerald of Canterbury’s wealth. Even Cardinal Hugolinus, whom Gerald considered to be a friend, received money from Canterbury. Hugolinus also advised Gerald to have another private audience with the Pope.

Scene 4: In Camera at the Papal Palace – Gerald and Tynemouth compromise

Innocent: Giraldus, welcome.

Gerald: Holy Father, you have shown me great honour throughout, almost as my advocate in all of the hearings. I ask your counsel as a spiritual adviser: what do you think I should do?

Innocent: If you speak against their witnesses and they speak against you, there may be no end to the causes. The hot weather will soon be upon us here in Rome. The heat is dangerous to people of your country. But if you renounce producing witnesses and instead deliver written evidence, then by God’s grace, we will quickly dispatch this whole business. And you must not fear that we shall ever consent to fail you in your legal rights by applying our law. To expedite matters, and to help us both, I have asked John of Tynemouth to join us here.

Gerald: What! Tynemouth! How can he help me!

Innocent: Calm yourself. I may have both parties present when I sit in camera. Come.

Tynemouth (standing): Holy Father, I shall get directly to the point. I have been instructed by Canterbury to offer Giraldus a monetary settlement. For the choice is simple: a speedy settlement or a dangerous delay in the summer heat - and the danger it might bring to life.

Gerald: What do you mean, Tynemouth? Should I fear for my life?!

Tynemouth is silent.

Innocent: Rome in summer, Giraldus. It is a dangerous place. You must listen.

Gerald (sighing): I am more use to St Davids alive. I am weary. Very well. I will not produce witnesses. But I will not accept Canterbury’s bribe - ever! Once more, Canterbury insults me!

Tynemouth: Nor shall I produce witnesses. I make this decision with joy.

Innocent: I accept your two renunciations. I need not adjudicate on the matter of witnesses. I shall dispose of the two suits on the basis of all the information that is already in my hands.
Nor shall I consider further, Giraldus, your excommunication of those who opposed you!

Gerald: The excommunications! I imposed them lawfully. What of my reputation?

Innocent: Your reputation is unsullied in every respect, Giraldus, believe me.

Gerald: Nay, my Lord, I love my reputation far more than I love being Bishop of St Davids.

Innocent: Brother, from the beginning we have commended your honesty and commend it still. Nor have we ever heard anything that was not good concerning you save from your adversaries; and they do not deserve credence. He whom we defend needs no other defence.

(Direction: As Bettina speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to their seats in the semi-circle)

Bettina: So, Holy Week being almost arrived, the suits were adjourned and a vacation was ordered to draw up the judgment. At Easter Gerald visited the Pope. Innocent told him that he should not be afraid, that nothing should stand in the way of his promotion save some plea put forward by his opponents. But, also, he had received letters directed against Gerald at the instigation of Canterbury, both from the King of England and his nephew Otho, King of the Germans, with whom the Pope at that time had a special alliance. The Papal Court favoured both Kings: Otho because of his hopes for the Empire; John because of his gifts of gold, and hopes of more to come. Gerald understood perfectly what the Pope was hinting at. At this the Pope shook his head and smiled, with a glance at Cardinal Hugolinus who was sitting at his side. A few days after Easter the Papal Court opened again with the Pope and Cardinals.

Scene 5: The Papal Court – The Pope’s Judgment

Innocent: Both parties, Giraldus of St Davids and Tynemouth for Canterbury, decided before me in camera to produce no further witnesses in these two causes. As such, I need not decide on admitting them. Nor shall I address the matter of excommunication and its implications for both parties. I therefore move to the judgment of this Court in the matter of St Davids.

Archdeacon Giraldus has appealed to this Court in two suits: to confirm his election, and to consecrate him, as Bishop of St Davids; and to recognise the Metropolitan status of St Davids and its freedom from the See of Canterbury. The respondent is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This has been a difficult case. The Court has sat on three occasions over three years to hear it.
We have heard a great many submissions, much argument, and very many conflicting claims.

I deal first with the suit in the matter of the election of a bishop. Two candidates emerge as possible Bishops-Elect of St Davids: Walter of St Dogmaels; and Archdeacon Giraldus.

As to Walter, it is propounded that after the death of Bishop Peter Leia, Canterbury in 1199 ordered the Canons of St Davids to send him letters from their Chapter ratifying that they had chosen Walter as bishop. But since the assent of King Richard, being at that time abroad, was not known, they instead gave their votes to pass the election into the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury who was about to go abroad to join the King. And the Archbishop with royal assent elected Walter whilst the Archbishop was in Normandy. But under canon law it is the duty of the Canons to elect the bishop - they cannot delegate that election to another. The Canons of St Davids conferred upon the Archbishop that which they had no authority to confer. Canon law is clear: nemo dat quod non habet – nobody can give what he does not have. I hold, therefore, that the election thus made by the Archbishop was no election. As such I declare the purported election of Walter of St Dogmaels whenever made null and void.

As to Giraldus it is propounded that, after Bishop Peter Leia’s death, almost all the Canons of St Davids met and, by common and unanimous assent, in June 1199 they all elected Giraldus. But Canterbury refused to recognise it and appointed Geoffrey of Llanthony who at some point resigned. The Canons passed a decree supporting Giraldus who appealed here. But since it was still at that point in doubt whether the purported election of Walter was valid, and they elected Giraldus before that doubt was resolved, we cancel Giraldus’ election also.

Archdeacon Giraldus, the judgment goes against both parties. I would hear from you.

Gerald: This judgment is founded on a lie contrived by my opponents! As though it were certain that Walter was elected before me. To boot, they were perjured witnesses whom I had excommunicated under your papal authority! Ah! The chances of litigation! Hazards all! Especially when great Prelates and great Princes are involved and wealth liberally deployed!

Innocent: You do not mince your words, Giraldus. We have become accustomed to that.

The second suit: the Metropolitan status of St Davids. I order that a Commission be granted. If, Giraldus, you prove before the Commission that the Canons of St Davids had ever given their assent to the suit for the status of their Church, and afterwards had been caused to desert you by violence or spoliation of their goods, you shall be admitted again here. The suit should proceed in conformity with the same Commission which made the investigation last year.

Gerald: Father, the same Commissioners? They will produce the same report!

Innocent and Hugolinus confer in whispers.

Innocent: Very well. I therefore order: the judges must be chosen, not as before from the Bishops of the Province of Canterbury, but from Bishops from the northern Province of York.

Tynemouth: But Father, the See of St Davids is in the Province of Canterbury.

Innocent: Nemo judex in sua causa. It is a fundamental of the canon law that none shall be a judge in his own cause, Tynemouth! They teach that in Bologna and Paris. Not in Oxford?

Brother Giraldus, thrice to Rome! Your toil and courage are much to be commended. You have fought against Kings and Prelates of power and wealth. You have done so for your own right and that of your Church. And it must needs be that God will reward you for what you have done, if your intent was in truth such as I believe it to have been. And we have sustained you in your efforts without stint of our good will by giving you the custody of St Davids.

Gerald: Let Him who searches men’s hearts and knows the secrets of their minds, judge my intent. I have laboured here solely out of my zeal for God and for our Church. Though I have been robbed of my hope of the Bishopric, I have still struggled on. And since no-one has remuneration for my toil, it must needs be that God, who leaves no good work without its recompense, will give me my reward. And the custody of the See you committed to me was more burdensome than profitable, since the Archbishop has thrown all things into confusion.

Hugolinus: Giraldus, please, we must proceed now to the matter of costs.

Innocent: I adjudge that one half the costs of these hearings must be paid by Archdeacon Giraldus – in the sum of sixty marks; and one half by Canterbury, sixty marks likewise.

Novella: John of Tynemouth then tried to persuade the Pope to change the mandate of the Commission to make it easier to challenge Gerald. He also asked the Pope to write to Canterbury saying that it was not his fault that the suit as to status had not been extinguished. The Pope refused both. I have the distinct feeling Innocent did not much like Tynemouth.

Bettina: Such is life. But, given that the Pope had invalidated both elections, Tynemouth himself wrote to the Archbishop advising him to hold a new election before Gerald returned to St Davids. However, Gerald then spoke to the Pope who in turn wrote letters of protection.

He wrote one each to the Bishops of Ely and Worcester requiring them to instruct the Canons of St Davids to elect a Bishop within two months of receiving the letter, stipulating too that their vote must be unanimous. Innocent also mandated the Archbishop of Canterbury to confirm that election, whatever the result. The letter also provided that, if the Canons of St Davids failed to elect, the Bishops of Ely and Worcester had to choose a Bishop and have him consecrated by Canterbury. But the Archbishop must not make the person so chosen by them to take an oath to oppose Gerald in any suit concerning the status of St Davids as a Metropolitan See. All of the letters which Innocent wrote were entered in the Papal Register.

(Direction: As Novella speaks, Innocent and Gerald move to the forward seats)

Novella: Gerald now had to borrow in order to pay the court costs of sixty marks. He used money-lenders from Bologna – and the interest they charged equalled the sum borrowed!

Finally, Gerald went to see Pope Innocent to take his leave before departing for Wales.

Scene 6: Gerald and Innocent say farewell

Gerald: The time is now come, Holy Father, that I should return to my own country – where I will stay for the rest of my life. I do not take leave of Your Holiness in the hope of returning to Rome. I am come to bid a last farewell to you and I shall never more return to your Court.

Innocent: God forbid! What will happen then to the dignity of the Church of Mynyw? I am sure you will not abandon the suit concerning its standing and its freedom from Canterbury.

Gerald: He who brought to nought the suit concerning my election and altered for the worse the original form of the Commission on the status of St Davids, putting it in the hands of judges from the Province of York, once and for all has extinguished that suit also. I cannot cling to empty clouds. Had you consecrated me Bishop of St Davids, I would have sought above all things the profit of my Church, poor and pillaged as it is and rich only in the remembrance of its former dignity. But in seeking its Metropolitan status I have got nothing for myself but immeasurable toil and torment that shall be with me while my life endures.

Innocent: Brother, God has provided better for you than you hope; for God has snatched you from great disquietude in protracted litigation. He has reserved you for far greater things.

Gerald: I know that so pure and pious an intent as mine - to profit our Church - will have its reward from God, if not in time, at least in eternity. My own brother Philip so counselled me.

Innocent: Farewell. And, Gerald, by the way, thank you for the books.


Lyndwood: Gerald left Rome. At Bologna his creditors pressed him every day to repay their money. Gerald sought out the scholars of Bologna. But they would not help. And so there seemed nothing left for Gerald but to surrender himself to his creditors, in fear that, if he could not pay so large a sum, he would be a ruined man and a prisoner for the rest of his life. But God is merciful. His creditors allowed him to repay the loan after he returned to Wales.

So Gerald set out for France. He came to Châtillon-sur-Seine. Canterbury’s John of Tynemouth had already passed through that town, where he was briefly detained, and Tynemouth had warned its Castellan that Gerald would arrive there soon. He advised the Castellan to look out for a tall man with shaggy eyebrows. Thinking Gerald was English and a supporter of the King of England, the Castellan put Gerald under house arrest. But when Gerald explained to him that he was Welsh and had been at the Papal Court fighting a case against Canterbury and the English King, he was released. On departing, he told the Castellan that if he had known his eyebrows would lead to his arrest, he would have removed them!

Gerald returned safely to St Davids. Here he found Geoffrey of Llanthony as its new Bishop! There is in this cathedral of St Davids not only the resting place of Gerald himself, but also a statue of Gerald – there is a bishop’s mitre at his feet. It was in the mix of the purity of canon law and the mire of politics that Pope Innocent declined to raise the mitre to Gerald’s head.

Gerald spent the rest of his days peacefully, travelling - to Ireland, to Rome as a pilgrim - and writing his many books, including his accounts of his three hearings before Innocent at the Papal Court. Throughout them he deploys his great learning of canon law. He died in 1223.

Hubert Walter died two years after the hearings, in 1205. The monks of Canterbury chose their man as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. King John chose his. So Pope Innocent appointed a third, Stephen Langton. John refused. Innocent placed all England under an interdict: no church services, baptisms, marriages, burials! But still John refused. Innocent excommunicated him. This removed the king’s subjects from their allegiance to John. So he then backed down. Langton succeeds Hubert as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Déjà vu? And so Gerald dedicated his book on the rights and status of St Davids to Stephen Langton!

Innocent died in 1216. His cousin, Hugolinus, was elected Pope in 1227, as Gregory IX. John of Tynemouth became Archdeacon of Oxford; he died two years before Gerald. Gerald never became a canonist at Bologna, to which he had once aspired. But another Cymro, the famous Johannes Gallensis (John of Wales), born about the time Gerald died, did teach there.

Like our Novella and Bettina, the first female canonists, Gerald was also a man of vision. On 31 March 1406, Owain Glyndŵr wrote to King Charles V of France seeking support to make the Welsh Church independent from Canterbury. And, irony of ironies, it was on 31 March 1920, that the Church in Wales finally achieved its independence from the English Crown and the Province of Canterbury, paradoxically as a result of the King in Parliament enacting the Welsh Church Act 1914. And in the Church in Wales today, the Archbishop of Wales is elected from the bishops of its dioceses – which means that sometimes the Bishop of St Davids is the Archbishop of Wales with that diocese, St Davids, as the Metropolitan See!

So, what Gerald sought in his two suits did come to pass. As Gerald himself had predicted: ‘I do not think that on the Day of Direst Judgment any race other than the Welsh, or any other language, will give answer to the Supreme Judge of all for this small corner of the earth’.

In 1123 Pope Calixtus decreed that two pilgrimages to St Davids were worth one to Rome. When Gerald was a boy, building sand-churches on the beach at Manorbier, he made a pilgrimage to St Davids, where his uncle was Bishop. This first visit changed his life. He saw what a special place it was. As his extraordinary life unfolded, for sure, his love for the place deepened. That one pilgrimage to St Davids was, indeed, worth three pilgrimages to Rome.