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Medieval Sourcebook:
Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales):
The Commerce of Ireland, 1187

Produce and Commerce of Ireland:

The island is rich in pastures and meadows, honey and milk, and also in wine, although not in vineyards. Bede, indeed, among his other commendations of Ireland, says, "that it does not lack vineyards"; while Solinus and Isidore affirm, "that there are no bees." But with all respect for them, they might have written just the contrary, that vineyards do not exist in the island, but that bees are found there. Vines it never possessed, nor any cultivators of them. Still, foreign commerce supplies it with wine in such plenty that the want of the growth of vines, and their natural production, is scarcely felt. Poitou, out of its superabundance, exports vast quantities of wine to Ireland, which willingly gives in return its ox-hides and the skins of cattle and wild beasts. Like other countries, it has bees producing honey, and I think it would flow from their cells more abundantly, if the increase of the swarms were not checked by the bitter and poisonous yews with which the woods of the island abound; or rather if the violent winds, and the moisture of the climate, in Ireland, did not disperse the swarms of so minute an animal, or cause them to perish.


From: Giraldas Cambrensis, trans. T. Forester, rev. T. Wright, (London; G. Bell & Sons, 1894), p. 21, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 102-103.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, September 1998


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