NOT one of the law books bearing the name of Howel Dda, which have come down to us from the Welsh medieval age, is older than the last quarter of the twelfth century, that is, about 250 years after Howel's death. The earliest of all, the Peniarth MS. 28, is written in Latin with many Welsh terms, phrases, and short passages left untranslated. Next to this comes the Peniarth MS. 29 (MS. A), sometimes known as the Black Book of Chirk, and written in Welsh about 1200. Neither of these professes to be the original codex of the White House, nor does that claim appear to be made by any MS. of the laws now extant.
These Welsh medieval law books bear so strong a general resemblance to one another that it can hardly be doubted but that they are all based on some one ultimate original, which, in our present state of information, we may suppose to have been a 'Book of the White House'. Those written in Welsh, however, certainly fall into three distinct classes, each of which begins with its own peculiar type of preface. They may be distinguished as follows : —
(a) Those which refer exclusively to the King of
- For a full account of this and other Peniarth MSS., see Report on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language, vol. I, Pts. II and III, by Dr. J. Gwenogfryn Evans, printed for the Historical Manuscripts Commission.
- Lleuyr e Ty Guyn mentioned in the thirteenth-century Pen. MS. 30. See Report on MSS. in Welsh I. 361, note. viii.