What is important about the text’s account of ancient Irish history? What is its purpose?
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The ancient history of the Irish people has been depicted throughout the text. Through the eyes of the author, the reader is in a position to understand the early beginnings of the Irish people and also appreciate the fact that the group has transformed immensely over the centuries. One important development in the text is the origin and composition of the Irish people beginning from the pre-historic times, the migration era, and finally, how they settled on the island. Hence, it can be confirmed that the text illuminates the deeper history and topography of Ireland, especially with respect to the social and religious life of the Irish people. The text also serves the purpose of illustrating the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish people. Gerald of Wales is quite emphatic that in spite of their several primitive ways of life, the Irish people were superb in the art of music and playing musical instruments.
How does Christianity inform the narrative? What, according to Gerald of Wales, has been the nature of the Church in Ireland?
It is prudent to mention that the history of the Irish people has a solid background in Christianity. The narrative begins by expounding the origin of the Irish people from the days of Noah and the biblical flood. Were it not for the floods, Noah’s granddaughter (Cesara) could not have taken the bold step to flee away from the wrath zone and settle on the island. Hence, it is clear that the aspect of Christianity was the main impetus behind the history of the Irish people. The nature of the Church in Ireland has been questionable owing to the old and outlandish practices. For example, the church in Ireland survived for a very long time without an installed bishop. In addition, baptism and offertories were never practiced at all by the church in Ireland. Gerald of Wales observes that the church remained backward in several aspects.
How does the text depict the land?
The text depicts the land as a center of controversy through which a number of both physical and psychological battles were fought, won, and lost at the same time. For example, the conflict between Heberus and Herimon led to the death of the former. The land missed for a long time the much-needed bond of peace.
How does the text depict the Irish people? What types of words and concepts does Gerald of Wales deploy? Identify as many examples as possible.
To begin with, most Irish people have never been baptized. They have not heard the teachings of the faith. Moreover, pastors are negligent of their duties. Dominion and kingship are confirmed in a new and outlandish manner. The clergy is ordained as a beast hence should have bestial intercourse with an animal (mare). There is also a lot of wickedness in the new way of making treaties. The Irish people do not undergo proper nursing care as expected since they leave everything to nature. Fields are used as pastures even though they are not taken care of since they have been left in poor conditions. The author says, “this is a filthy people, wallowing in a vice.” God’s church is not attended with due reverence, while incest has never been avoided by the Irish people. Another area of permittivity is the manner in which they carry the ax like staff in hand. There were no archbishops in Ireland until Papiro arrived. The bishops just consecrated themselves. The only commendable diligence found in the people of Ireland was their mastery of musical instruments. They had quick and lively movements in their musical pieces coupled with pleasant and sweet melodies.
In what context does the text invoke ancient empires?
The king of the Britons was known as Gurguintius. He ruled a major empire in Britain and was deemed to be a very powerful personality. From the text, Ireland was occupied by Basclenses courtesy of King Gurguintius. Belinus has also been mentioned in the text as a noble character. This implies that he was instrumental in one of the ancient empires. Belinus father also conquered some kingdoms during his helm in the kingship. Hence, ancient empires have been invoked in the text through the aforementioned examples.
“The Irish people from the first time of its coming and the reign of its first king, Herimon, until the times of Gurmundus and Turgesius, during which peace and tranquility were for some time upset and destroyed – and again from their deaths to our own times, remained free and unconquered by any attack of foreign peoples, until, invincible king, by you, and your courageous daring in these our days it has at length been subjugated” (pp. 123-4).
Provide the necessary context to explain and unpack the meaning of this passage
From the text, it is vivid that the Irish people remained largely peaceful throughout their history. They lived as a cohesive society. It was not until recently that the outer world began to interfere with the affairs of the Irish people in the pretext of transforming their social status. The passage also attempts to exemplify the fact that the primitive nature of the Irish people was a major asset towards peace, love, and unity in society regardless of how the world perceived them.
How should a historian interpret and evaluate this text?
To begin with, a historian should interpret and evaluate this text from an objective point of view. Besides, the text should be understood from the religious perspective and not necessarily as an epitome of the entire lifestyle of the Irish people. A historian should evaluate the text from a religious approach and eventually make conclusions based on the religious aspects per se. Dismissing the Irish people as an under-civilized group may be unfair and subjective.