Heywood, 1641

Merlin writing his prophecies from The life of Merlin. (Image from Heywood, 1641)

Students at Hogwarts collect and trade Famous Wizard Cards. The ace in the pack is Carmarthen-born Merlin, the most famous magician ever.

Merlin first hit the headlines with a little building job he did for Vortigen, King of the Britons. Apparently HRH owned a property at risk of collapse through subsidence and thought the best way to fix the problem would be to sacrifice a local peasant - Merlin. Unsurprisingly the young wizard wasn‘t keen and proposed a different solution, the eviction from a cave beneath the building of a couple of quarrelling dragons whose endless fighting was undermining its foundations. Problem solved and neck saved, Merlin explained that one of the dragons was Celtic and the other Saxon.

The incident is recorded in the History of the Kings of Britain, originally compiled in the twelfth century by Welsh cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth. The RBLA has an abridged copy of the work, published in 1585 and written by Italian Ludovico Pontico Virunio for a prominent Venetian family of economic migrants who were originally from the British Isles.

The volume also contains the first printed edition of the Description of Wales by Giraldus Cambrensis, and his Itinerary, a journal of his tour through the country as a recruiting sergeant for the Crusades. It was edited by David Powell, a leading figure of the Welsh Renaissance, and is an immensely important source for the study of Welsh history.

Colt Hoare, 1806

Giraldus Cambrensis. (Image from Colt Hoare, 1806)

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