Powys Digital History Project

The medieval church 2
The Norman overlords 


The drive for reform
Although some of these newly created priories - like the Priory of St Johns in Brecon (below) eventually broke away from control of an English or French mother house, they heavily depended on the protection of the local Norman lordship and recruitment from foreign houses and from Anglo-Norman settlers in Wales.
The Norman overlords were determined to extend recent reforms in northern Europe to their new dominions in Wales, and they set about this task with some zeal. The clas at Llandudoch on the Teifi estuary, for example, was swept away by the Norman lord of Cemais and a new Benedictine house was founded on the site with a complement of thirteen monks from Tiron.
The Welsh saints to whom monasteries were dedicated were often replaced with more widely accepted saints, as at Glasbury where St Peter replaced St Cynidr, or supplemented as at Llandrinio or St Davids itself.

Imposing new standards
Outside the Norman lordships Welsh ecclesiastical traditions survived as at the clas at Llandinam and in the many references to Welsh hermits like Wechelen the hermit of Llowes in Radnorshire. The growing presence of new ‘foreign’ houses in Wales and the Norman control of the dioceses, however, brought the native ecclesiastical organisations under pressure to reform. By 1150 Wales had been divided into four clearly defined dioceses, and the bishops were quick to harness older Welsh traditions to their newly acquired authority. More importantly for Wales this new authority allowed the bishops to accelerate the development of an ecclesiastical hierarchy and parish structure across Wales. Synods and provincial councils, supported by visitations like those of Gerald of Wales, began to impose standards of clerical behaviour, and the consistory courts imposed the church’s expectations regarding morality onto the local population.

There are 5 main pages on the medieval church in Wales. Use the box links below to view the other pages. 

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