Serving Church and State: the Careers of Medieval Welsh Students

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Reading the chronicle of Adam Usk one could get the distinct impression that being Welsh proved to be a great disadvantage to ecclesiastical promotion in the later Middle Ages, especially during and after the Glyndŵr rebellion in the first decades of the fifteenth century. In failing to be promoted to a bishopric Adam complains of the ‘violent and vociferous objections’ made against him and the ‘envy of the English’ which led to disastrous consequences: ‘I was humiliated, and spent the next four years undergoing dreadful hardships, condemned to suffer like an exile by land and sea, stripped of all my benefices and goods, reduced to the depths of poverty, and forced like Joseph to live amongst strangers whose language I did not know …’. Undoubtedly, suspicions were sometimes harboured against Welshmen; the political and social situations of fourteenth and fifteenth-century Wales could make matters difficult for the Welsh, at no time more so than the time of Adam Usk. This is however by no means the complete picture. In reality, there were ample opportunities for Welsh clerics to have highly successful careers within the ecclesiastical and political life of the late Middle Ages. This article aims to illuminate these careers and explore the essential role of the universities in furthering Welshmen's prospects in England.

The emergence of the universities from the twelfth century onwards was a significant development for many aspects of medieval society, with these new institutions fulfilling an essential role in the life of the period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Fifteenth Century XI: Concerns and Preoccupations
EditorsLinda Clark
Place of PublicationWoodbridge
PublisherBoydell & Brewer
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)978-1-84383-757-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameThe Fifteenth Century
ISSN (Print)1479-9871


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