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The History and Topography of Ireland (Classics) [Paperback]

Gerald of Wales , John O'Meara
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

30 Sep 1982 Classics
Gerald of Wales was among the most dynamic and fascinating churchmen of the twelfth century. A member of one of the leading Norman families involved in the invasion of Ireland, he first visited there in 1183 and later returned in the entourage of Henry II. The resulting Topographia Hiberniae is an extraordinary account of his travels. Here he describes landscapes, fish, birds and animals; recounts the history of Ireland's rulers; and tells fantastical stories of magic wells and deadly whirlpools, strange creatures and evil spirits. Written from the point of view of an invader and reformer, this work has been rightly criticized for its portrait of a primitive land, yet it is also one of the most important sources for what is known of Ireland during the Middle Ages.

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The History and Topography of Ireland (Classics) + The History of the Kings of Britain (Classics) + Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney (Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (30 Sep 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444230
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 372,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Gerald of Wales was born c.1145 in Pembrokeshire. He died in obscurity, possibly in Lincoln in 1223. He wrote seventeen books, all of them in Latin, and was well-connected to the Royal Family of his day.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Medieval account of Ireland 19 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gerald came from an aristocratic family of Norman descent that took part in the invasion of Ireland in the 12C. He subsequently visited there several times and wrote about the history, geography and legends of the island in this book. The legendary element is perhaps the most interesting, such as the belief that barnacle geese grew from rocks in the sea. There's a werewolf story, too.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 23 Feb 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Have you ever seen a medieval map? People had only the vaguest idea of the world they lived in - and when men such as Gerald of Wales set out to gather information they very often had to rely on what local people told them (as did Herodotus over 1000 years earlier). So of course Gerald's History and Topography of Ireland is going to be riddled with factual errors - if you want to find out about the history and geography of Ireland you should look at modern maps, produced by satellites, and modern histories, written by scholars with hundreds of thousands of documents at their fingertips. Books written in the eleventh century tell you what people thought THEN, in the eleventh century, and are as such fascinating journeys into the early medieval mindset. Myths mingle with facts as the locals tell Gerald about things that matter to them, and really brings home history - in a way that reading of battles and kings doesn't. It tells you about daily lives and what people thought - we are really quite amazingly lucky that books such as these have survived a thousand years to tell us what life was like then.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for class 4 Aug 2010
By Jay C - Published on
Interesting primary resource for the 12th century. Had to read this for my history class and of all the books that were on the list, I'm glad I chose this one. Some tall tales and funny accounts but not a bad read to have to do a paper on.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The History and Topography of Ireland Review 16 Sep 2012
By CrimsonArtist - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This item was great. It was in perfect condition and is exactly what I wanted. It shipped and came in on time. Very pleased with this purchase.
8 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed medieval account of Ireland 24 Nov 1998
By A Customer - Published on
I found the chapters relating ot the topography of Ireland to be seriously flawed and containing inaccurate descriptions of the rivers and areas of Ireland. However it does give a very good idea of the mindset of the early Norman invaders in their conquest of Ireland and offers some to moder day readers humourous rhetorical accounts of native Irish tribal behaviour.
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