Caradog of Llancarvan (DNB00)

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CARADOG of Llancarvan (d. 1147?), Welsh ecclesiastic and chronicler, was, as his name indicates, probably either born at or a monk of the famous abbey of Llancarvan in the vale of Glamorgan. He was apparently one of the brilliant band of men of letters that gathered round Earl Robert of Gloucester, the bastard son of Henry I. Caradog was a friend of Geoffrey of Monmouth, who at the conclusion of his famous ‘British History,’ which ends with Cadwaladr Vendigaid, says: ‘The princes who afterwards ruled in Wales I committed to Caradog of Llancarvan, for he was my contemporary. And to him I gave the materials to write that book’ (Hist. Brit. bk. xii. ch. xx.) Caradog's chief work was a sort of continuation of Geoffrey's fictions from the beginning of really historical times down to his own day. In its original form Caradog's chronicle is not now extant. There exist, however, several Welsh chronicles going down to much later times than Caradog's which profess to be derived from that author's work. The English compilation known as Powel's ‘History of Cambria,’ first published in 1584, also claims in its earlier part to be based on Caradog. That Caradog wrote a chronicle is clearly proved, and there is therefore every probability that the later chroniclers used his as their basis. It is, however, more likely that Caradog wrote his work in Latin than in Welsh. The relation of Caradog to the early part of the ‘Bruts’ must, however, be determined purely on internal evidence; and for such minute investigations a better editing of them is needed than has been given by Mr. Williams ab Ithel in the Rolls edition of the ‘Brut y Tywysogion.’ Mr. Aneurin Owen has pointed out, however, that the ‘Brut’ changes its style and tone in a very remarkable way about 1120. The entries, which had since 1100 been very copious, suddenly became meagre, and the English sympathies of the earlier writer are exchanged for a patriotism that warmly favours the Welsh. Such partiality as that of the earlier writer would naturally come from Caradog, and the date of the change of style increases the probability of it.

Caradog is also said to have written ‘Commentarii in Merlinum,’ ‘De situ orbis,’ and ‘Vita Gildæ’ (Bale, Script. Brit. Cat. p. 196). Of the two former nothing is known. The old life of Gildas, published by Mr. Stevenson for the English Historical Society, is probably the latter work. Mr. Stevenson denies that Caradog wrote it, but Mr. T. Wright (Biog. Brit. Lit., Anglo-Saxon period, p. 119) has shown reasons for believing him to be its author. The work is not of very great value or authenticity.

Pits says that Caradog was an elegant poet, and an eloquent rhetorician as well as a considerable historian. He says he flourished about 1150. Gutyn Owain, a Welsh bard and herald of the fifteenth century, says that Caradog died in 1156. As Geoffrey of Monmouth speaks in the past tense in his reference to him, it is more probable that he died before 1147, the latest possible date for the publication of the ‘Historia Brittonum.’ It is very improbable that he is the same as his contemporary Caradog the hermit.

[Bale's Script. Brit. Cat. pp. 195–6; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 215; Owen's Introduction to the Gwentian Brut (Cambrian Archæological Association); Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit. Anglo-Saxon period, p. 119, Anglo-Norman period, p. 166–7; Stevenson's Gildas (Eng. Hist. Soc.), Preface, pp. xxvii–xxx.]

T. F. T.