Thomas Wiliems (born in Ardda'r Mynaich in Arllechwedd, Wales possibly on 20 April 1545 or 1546; died in or before 13 August 1623) was a Welsh-language antiquarian.
Wiliems's mother was Catherine, the illegitimate daughter of Meredydd ab Ifan of the Wynn family, and Wiliam ap Tomos ap Gronwy. Wiliems was brought up in the parish of Trefriw, Arllechwedd Isaf, Caernarfonshire, and is likely that Wiliems was educated in the Wynn family's own school (like William Morgan, who translated the Welsh Bible). The renaissance brought unprecedented interest in education to Wiliems's generation, and had a clear effect on his life. He attended Brasenose College, Oxford for a time, but clear records of his studies there are lacking because of confusion with other similarly named students, and it seems he did not take a degree. Rather he was ordained as an Anglican priest, serving as a curate for Trefriw from c. 1573. Accordingly, he was generally known to his contemporaries as Syr ('Sir') Thomas Wiliems, because this was the usual title for priests in Welsh at the time. However, Wiliems became a recusant, converting to Roman Catholicism, after which he worked as a physician (drawing on his extensive book-learning: qualifications as such were not required at the time). As a Catholic, Wiliems was denied access to printing, which perhaps helps to explain the focus of his scholarly activities on manuscript production.
He died before August 13, 1623, at which time his uncle Sir John Wynn of the neighbouring Gwydir Castle, inscribed his name on the manuscript of Wiliem's dictionary's as its owner. Notes in Wiliems's manuscripts suggest he turned to Catholicism; he was certainly charged on that score at Bangor in 1607.
Wiliems is best known for producing a Latin-Welsh dictionary in manuscript form (National Library of Wales, Peniarth 228), apparently between 4 May 1604 and 2 October 1607. He worked towards this by keeping a kind of commonplace book (Peniarth MS 188), which he systematised by essentially taking the Dictionarium Linguae Latinae et Anglicanae (1587) by Thomas Thomas, the first printer of Cambridge University, and adding Welsh to it. This was completed in 1607 and entitled Thesaurus Linguæ Latinæ et Cambrobritannicæ or Trysawr yr iaith Laidin ar Gymraec, ne'r Geiriadur coheddocaf a'r wiriathaf o wir aleitiaith Vrytanæc, sef heniaith a chyphredin iaith yn y Brydain, ar Latin yn cyfateb pob gair. Wedy dechreu i scriuenu 4. Maij 1604.According to the prologue, Wiliems spent 30 years gathering material, and did so in order to promote the Welsh language, which was being spoken less and less by his contemporaries.
The dictionary was not published during Wiliems's lifetime, despite the efforts of Wiliems's friend John Edwards (of Plas Newydd, Chirk), who got part way through making a neater manuscript copy (Brogyntyn MSS 9 and 10). Wiliems left the manuscript of the dictionary to Sir John Wynn, who passed it to John Davies of Mallwyd, asking that Davies publish it, giving recognition to the author and a dedication to Sir John himself.John was already undertaking a Welsh-Latin dictionary and in the event published an abbreviation of Wiliems's Latin-Welsh dictionary in the second part of his own, which emerged as Antiquae Linguae Britannicae ... Dictionarum Duplex in 1632.
According to Bishop Humphrey Humphreys, Wiliems compiled ‘a pretty large Herbal in Latin, Welsh and English’. It is now lost, unless parts survive, copied by Thomas Evans, in Cardiff MS 2.973; but Wiliems certain consulted Llanstephan MS 10 and BL, Add. MS 14913 (containing Meddygon Myddfai ). He seems to have translated the Trattato del sacramento della penitenza by Vincenzo Bruno SJ into Welsh, and compiled a collection of Welsh proverbs (surviving, in another's hand, in Mostyn MS 204).
Wiliams's family connections meant that he knew the owners of some of Wales's most important medieval manuscripts, and he began transcribing manuscripts already by the age of twenty-one. His copying included:
It is rumoured that Wiliems was involved in the Gunpowder plot and, in warning his relative John Wynn not to go to the State Opening of Parliament in 1605, was responsible to either a smaller or greater extent for the suspicions which ultimately caught Guy Fawkes. This story is the basis for a short historical novel written for children by Gweneth Lilly, entitled Treason at Trefriw (Gomer Press, 1993).
The Red Book of Hergest is a large vellum manuscript written shortly after 1382, which ranks as one of the most important medieval manuscripts written in the Welsh language. It preserves a collection of Welsh prose and poetry, notably the tales of the Mabinogion and Gogynfeirdd poetry. The manuscript derives its name from the colour of its leather binding and from its association with Hergest Court between the late 15th and early 17th century.
The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, is the national legal deposit library of Wales and is one of the Welsh Government sponsored bodies. It is the biggest library in Wales, holding over 6.5 million books and periodicals, and the largest collections of archives, portraits, maps and photographic images in Wales. The Library is also home to the national collection of Welsh manuscripts, the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, and the most comprehensive collection of paintings and topographical prints in Wales. As the primary research library and archive in Wales and one of the largest research libraries in the United Kingdom, the National Library is a member of Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL).
The White Book of Rhydderch is one of the most notable and celebrated surviving manuscripts in Welsh. Mostly written in southwest Wales in the middle of the 14th century it is the earliest collection of Welsh prose texts, though it also contains some examples of early Welsh poetry. It is now part of the collection of the National Library of Wales, having been preserved in the library at Hengwrt, near Dolgellau, Gwynedd, of the 17th century antiquary Robert Vaughan, who inherited it from the calligrapher John Jones and passed it to his descendants. The collection later passed to the newly established National Library of Wales as the Peniarth or Hengwrt-Peniarth Manuscripts.
Cader Idris is a mountain in the historic county of Meirionnydd, Wales. It lies at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park near the town of Dolgellau. The peak, which is one of the most popular in Wales for walkers and hikers, is composed largely of Ordovician igneous rocks, with classic glacial erosion features such as cwms, moraines, striated rocks, and roches moutonnées.
Peredur son of Efrawg is one of the Three Welsh Romances associated with the Mabinogion. It tells a story roughly analogous to Chrétien de Troyes' unfinished romance Perceval, the Story of the Grail, but it contains many striking differences from that work, most notably the absence of the French poem's central object, the grail.
The Wales Book of the Year is a Welsh literary award given annually to the best Welsh and English language works in the fields of fiction and literary criticism by Welsh or Welsh interest authors. Established in 1992, the awards are currently administered by Literature Wales, and supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Government and the Welsh Books Council.
Ystorya Adaf is the most commonly accepted title of a medieval Welsh translation of the Latin text Historia Adam, a version of the popular "Legend of the Rood". The Ystorya Adaf should not be confused with Ystorya Adaf ac Eua y wreic, a Welsh translation of an Old Testament Midrash text, Vita Adae .
Meredydd Evans, known colloquially as Merêd, was a collector, editor, historian and performer of folk music of Wales written in the Welsh language. His award-winning recordings of his own unaccompanied vocal performances and his published editions in collaboration with his American-born wife Phyllis Kinney helped to preserve Welsh musical legacy and promote it worldwide.
Gwyn Morgan is a Welsh-language author.
Brenhinoedd y Saeson is the medieval title of three Middle Welsh annalistic chronicles known from three 14th-century manuscripts recording events from 682 to the English conquest of Wales in 1282. The title Brenhinoedd y Saeson is found only in the rubric to the earlier of the two surviving manuscripts of version S: the other two texts are commonly known as Brut y Tywysogion, but this title is found only in manuscripts of the late 16th century and cannot be considered authentic.
Brut y Brenhinedd is a collection of variant Middle Welsh versions of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Latin Historia Regum Britanniae. About 60 versions survive, with the earliest dating to the mid-13th century. Adaptations of Geoffrey's Historia were extremely popular throughout Western Europe during the Middle Ages, but the Brut proved especially influential in medieval Wales, where it was largely regarded as an accurate account of the early history of the Celtic Britons.
Siôn Dafydd Rhys, in Latin Joannes David Rhaesus, also called John David Rhys, or John Davies, was a Welsh physician and grammarian. He wrote the first Welsh grammar in Latin, published in 1592.
Claf Abercuawg is the modern title of a 32-stanza medieval Welsh englyn-poem. According to Jenny Rowland, 'most critics would classify it among the most sophisticated and moving all the early englynion poems'; it is 'the classic example' of meditative, lyric, at least implicitly religious, early Welsh poetry.
John Gwilym Jones was a Welsh dramatist, novelist, short-story writer, drama director, academic and critic, considered a pre-eminent figure in those fields. In particular, he is widely acknowledged to be one of the two greatest 20th-century Welsh playwrights, along with Saunders Lewis; of his many plays, Hanes Rhyw Gymro (1964), Ac Eto Nid Myfi (1976) and Yr Adduned (1979) are considered masterpieces. Almost all of his work was written in the Welsh language. A writer in the modernist tradition, he is credited with introducing Brechtian techniques, stream-of-consciousness narrative and Freudianism to Welsh literature. Creative writers such as Kate Roberts and John Rowlands owed him a profound debt, and a whole generation of critics were influenced by his work as a teacher of Welsh literature.
"The Poet's Burial for Love" or "The Poet's Burial" is a Welsh-language love poem in the form of a cywydd in which the poet foresees his own death from unrequited love. It was formerly attributed to the 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, but in 1952 was rejected from the canon of his works by Dafydd's editor, Thomas Parry and is now widely considered to be a 15th-century poem of uncertain authorship. The poem has nevertheless remained very popular with translators and it continues to appear in anthologies, including Thomas Parry's own Oxford Book of Welsh Verse.
"The Ruin" is a cywydd by the 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, widely seen as the greatest of the Welsh poets. In it the poet, considering a ruined house and remembering the love-affair he once conducted there, reflects on the transience of all worldly pleasures. "The Ruin" is commonly supposed to have been written in Dafydd's old age. It has been called one of his most poignant poems, and it was included in The Penguin Book of Welsh Verse, The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse, The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse in English and The Longman Anthology of British Literature.
"The Poet and the Grey Friar" is a satirical poem in the form of a traethodl by the 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, widely seen as the greatest of the Welsh-language poets. In it he relates an imaginary conversation with a Franciscan friar in which, rejecting the ascetic philosophy of the friar, he sets out a defence of love, poetry and the worldly life. It was included in The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse and The Penguin Book of Welsh Verse.
"The Snow" is a 14th- or 15th-century Welsh-language poem in the form of a cywydd evoking a landscape which, to the poet's chagrin, is covered with snow. It has been described as an imaginative tour de force. Manuscripts of the poem mostly attribute it to Dafydd ap Gwilym, widely seen as the greatest of the Welsh poets, though some name Dafydd ab Edmwnd or Ieuan ap Rhys ap Llywelyn as the author. Modern literary historians have differed as to whether it is indeed by Dafydd ap Gwilym, but the two most recent editions of his poems have rejected it. The poem has nevertheless remained popular with translators and it continues to appear in anthologies, including Thomas Parry's own Oxford Book of Welsh Verse and Gwyn Jones's Oxford Book of Welsh Verse in English.
"The Woodland Mass" or "The Mass of the Grove" is a poem in the form of a cywydd by the 14th-century bard Dafydd ap Gwilym, widely seen as the greatest of the Welsh poets. It is one of his most popular works. Sometimes seen as blasphemous, it presents a woodland scene in which a thrush, sent by the poet's lover, and a nightingale officiate at a Mass celebrating both God and sexual love. "The Woodland Mass" is an example of a common type of medieval Welsh poem in which some bird or beast is used as a llatai or love-messenger, though this poem is unusual in that the message is sent to Dafydd rather than by him.
"The Mirror" is a poem in the form of a cywydd by the 14th-century bard Dafydd ap Gwilym, widely seen as the greatest of the Welsh poets. The poem describes how Dafydd, languishing with lovesickness for an unnamed Gwynedd woman, is appalled by the wasted appearance of his face in the mirror. "The Mirror" can be grouped with several other of Dafydd's poems, possibly early ones, set in Gwynedd, or alternatively with the many poems in which he expresses his love for a woman he calls Morfudd. It has been called "perhaps Dafydd's greatest masterpiece in the genre of self-deprecation".