The next MEMORI research seminar will take place on Thursday November 12 at 5.15, in 2.48.
Prof. Ceri Davies, of Swansea University, will be delivering a paper on the early modern antiquarian and historian, Sir John Prise, whose Historiae Britannicae Defensio was a major rebuttal to the criticisms directed against Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae by the Anglo-Italian humanist, Polydore Vergil.
Sir John Prise was an influential lawyer and administrator during the reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Queen Mary I. In the 1530s he was brought under the aegis of Thomas Cromwell, to whose family he became connected by marriage, and was appointed visitor and commissioner for the dissolution of monasteries in England and Wales. The experience made him acutely aware of the wealth of manuscripts contained in these religious houses, and alone among the commissioners he set about saving material from their libraries. In 1546 he was responsible for the printing of Yny lhyvyr hwnn, the earliest printed book in the Welsh language.
His Latin Historiae Britannicae Defensio is notable not only for its author’s knowledge of British antiquity, founded on years of study of manuscript and other sources including – most importantly for Prise – material in Welsh, but also for the range of its learning, its lucid Latinity and the forensic quality of its argumentation.
Ceri Davies is Emeritus Professor of Classics at Swansea University, where he taught until his retirement in 2011. He has written extensively, in English and Welsh, on the reception of Greek and Latin literature in Wales and especially on Welsh writers of Latin in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Among his publications are Rhagymadroddion a Chyflwyniadau Lladin, 1551–1632 (a volume of translations into Welsh of Latin prefatory literature, 1980), Latin Writers of the Renaissance (Writers of Wales Series, 1981), Welsh Literature and the Classical Tradition (1995), John Davies o Fallwyd (2001) and the edited volume, Dr John Davies of Mallwyd: Welsh Renaissance Scholar (2004). He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, and has been Leverhulme Research Fellow (2001–2002) and Visiting Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford (2008–2009).