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White Book of Rhydderch

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White Book of Rhydderch




The White Book of Rhydderch (Welsh: Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) is one of the most notable and celebrated manuscripts in Welsh. Written in the middle of the fourteenth century (ca. 1350) 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.

What was one manuscript has now been bound as two separate volumes and are known as Peniarth MS 4 and Peniarth MS 5. Peniarth MS 4 contains the Welsh tales now collectively known as the Mabinogion, and Peniarth MS 5 (the first part of the original manuscript) contains Christian religious texts in Welsh, mostly translated from Latin.

The White Book was copied in the mid-fourteenth century, most probably for Rhydderch ab Ieuan Llwyd (ca. 1325-1400) from Parcrhydderch in the parish of Llangeitho in Ceredigion. Rhydderch, who came from a family with a long tradition of literary patronage, held posts under the English Crown but was also an authority on native Welsh law. The hands of five scribes have been identified in the manuscripts, very likely working in Strata Florida Abbey, not far from Rhydderch's home.


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