Chronicle of the Princes

Reference: Peniarth MS 20

The Peniarth 20 manuscript includes several different texts, Y Bibl Ynghymraec, Brut y Tywysogion, Myrddin a Gwenddydd and Gramadeg Barddal.

Y Bibyl ynghymraec

The first text in the manuscript, 'Y Bibl ynghymraec', (The Bible in Welsh) is a translation of a part of Promptuarium Bibliae. This is a summary of the world's history between the creation and the martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul. It concentrates on religious history with very few references regarding what was happening in the secular world. The majority of the text is taken from the historical books of the Bible but there is also some material from the Apocrypha and authors such as Josephus and Orosius.

Brut y Tywysogion

'Brut y Tywysogion' (The Chronicle of the Princes) is a translation of a lost Latin work, the Cronica Principium Wallie. The Cronica, in turn, was based on the annales that were kept by churches and monasteries. In contrast to the simple factual style of the annales, the author of the Cronica used an elegant and graceful style turning bare facts into a literary creation. The 'Brut' begins with the death of Cadwaladr Fendigaid in 682, where Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'Brut y Brenhinedd' (History of the Kings of Britain) ends, and finishes with the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282. The 'Brut' is one of the most important sources about the history of Wales before the conquest by Edward I. Due to the large number of references to Strata Florida in the 'Brut', it can be assumed that the original version was created there.

There are two main versions of 'Brut y Tywysogion', the version in the Red Book of Hergest that is kept at the Bodleian Library, Oxford and the Peniarth 20 version. The Peniarth 20 text is fuller and more correct.

It is not known who was responsible for creating the 'Brut', but the evidence suggests that he was a Welshman as he made considerable use of Welsh proverbs and sayings. Like Gildas, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Gerald of Wales he considers the troubles of the Welsh to be a punishment for their sins.

In Peniarth 20 two or three later copyists added the entries for the years 1282-1332 to the main text. After the text was copied, it is evident that another individual who is referred to as the 'early editor' read the manuscript in detail. A number of other manuscripts contain the Peniarth 20 version of 'Brut y Tywysogion' text partly or in its entirety including the Black Book of Basingwerk that is also in the Library's collections.

Myrddin a Gwenddydd

The next text in Peniarth 20 is a poem in the form of a conversation entitled 'Kyvoesi Myrddin a Gwenddydd' (The prophecy of Myrddin and Gwenddydd). The poem is a dialogue between Merlin and his sister Gwenddydd.

A bardic grammar

The manuscript finishes with a bardic grammar. This is a summary of the instructions taught to pupils in the bardic schools. It begins by discussing the use of syllables in Welsh. It continues by dealing with parts of speech and syntax before discussing poetic measures. It ends with a series of 'trioedd cerdd'.

Further Reading

  • J. E. Lloyd, The Welsh Chronicles. London : Humphrey Milford, 1928.
  • Thomas Jones (ed.), Brut y Tywysogyon or The Chronicle of the Princes : Peniarth Ms 20 version. Caerdydd : Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru, 1952.
  • Thomas Jones (ed.),Brut y Tywysogyon : Peniarth MS 20. Caerdydd : Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru, 1941.
  • Thomas Jones (ed.), Brut y Tywysogyon : or The chronicle of the princes : Red Book of Hergest version. Cardiff, 1955.
  • G. & T. M. Charles Edwards, 'The continuation of Brut y Tywysogion in Peniarth 20' in T. Jones & E. B. Fryde (eds), Essays and Poems Presented to Daniel Huws. Aberystwyth, 1994, 293-305.
  • Thomas Jones (ed.), Y Bibyl Ynghymraec, sef cyfieithiad Cymraeg Canol o'r 'Promptuarium Bibliae'. Caerdydd, 1940.
  • Thomas Jones, Brut y Tywysogion. Caerdydd, 1953.
  • G. J. Williams a E. J. Jones, Gramadegau'r Penceirddiaid. Caerdydd, 1934.