His picture comes from the Peniarth Manuscript. He is obviously a monk from Medieval Wales, which means he worked as an academic as well as in the church. And probably as a lawyer.
Our monk had no name. But now he does.
A monk and a lawyer? Yes, this was normal in Medieval Times. Monks were learned in the law of their country, in our case the Laws of Wales. And they were learned in the law of most of Europe, which had a single legal system which still exists today. This was the Canon Law of the Catholic Church. We in Wales inherited this law, in the laws which govern the Church in Wales, our Eglwys yng Nghymru.
Two of these church-lawyers played a big role in laying the foundations of Wales today.
When Hywel Dda, King of all Wales, wanted to re-cast the laws of Wales he knew he needed an assembly of the people. What we would now call a Convention. But Hywel Dda also needed people who knew the law well. He picked Blegwryd. Not only was he Wales’ leading lawyer. He was Bishop of Llandaff.
When Owain Glyndwr planned the Wales of the future he put his plan in the Pennal Letter of 1406, and sent it to the French King. But who actually wrote this plan, and provided the shape of the Wales which Owain Glyndwr ruled from Harlech? Another church lawyer – Gruffydd Yonge. He fought for Wales after the end of Glyndwr’s War of Independence. He attended the Council of Constance, one of the great summit meetings of Europe, like Versailles after WW1. He was Bishop of Bangor.
Reverend Professor Thomas Glyn Watkin QC is in this tradition. He held a post in the Diocese of Bangor. As the Lord Chancellor of England (and Wales) told us he was “involved centrally in establishing and building the legislative drafting capacity of the Welsh Government – in both English and Welsh – in the initial years of primary legislative devolution for Wales”. Many suspect that the Reverend Professor could have written this law in Latin as well.
As a tribute, and as Convention.cymru functions in the informal world of the 2020s, our monk has been named – Watcyn.