Picture of Gerald of Wales

Gerald of Wales

places mentioned

Book 2, Ch. 1: The inconstancy and instability of this nation

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Of the inconstancy and instability of this nation, and their want of reverence for good faith and oaths

These people are no less light in mind than in body, and are by no means to be relied upon. They are easily urged to undertake any action, and are as easily checked from prosecuting it - a people quick in action, but more stubborn in a bad than in a good cause, and constant only in acts of inconstancy. They pay no respect to oaths, faith, or truth; and so lightly do they esteem the covenant of faith, held so inviolable by other nations, that it is usual to sacrifice their faith for nothing, by holding forth the right hand, not only in serious and important concerns, but even on every trifling occasion, and for the confirmation of almost every common assertion. They never scruple at taking a false oath for the sake of any temporary emolument or advantage; so that in civil and ecclesiastical causes, each party, being ready to swear whatever seems expedient to its purpose, endeavours both to prove and defend, although the venerable laws, by which oaths are deemed sacred, and truth is honoured and respected, by favouring the accused and throwing an odium upon the accuser, impose the burden of bringing proofs upon the latter. But to a people so cunning and crafty, this yoke is pleasant, and this burden is light.

Gerald of Wales, The Description of Wales (Oxford, Mississippi, 1997)

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