'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night': the Pre-Reformation church in Wales

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In his seminal article ‘Wales and the Reformation’ Glanmor Williams famously described the Reformation as ‘the dog that hasn’t barked’.2 In this reference to the ‘curious incident’ in the Sherlock Holmes short story ‘Silver Blaze’, Glanmor was of course pursuing his life-long battle against the idea (prevalent among Welsh historians of the earlier twentieth century) of the Anglican church in Wales as a failure and of the period since the Reformation as one dominated by the heroic figures of recusancy and Protestant nonconformity. Their view was most powerfully articulated by O. M. Edwards: ‘Mute, suffering Wales, apathetic while the world around was awakening to a brighter morning, suspected by rulers who thought that its very patriotism was tinged with a smouldering rebellion, betrayed by the reformers whose selfishness and insolence had brought the spirit of the Reformation in a degraded form to its mountains.’3

As well as expressing my gratitude to Robert Armstrong, Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin and the other participants in the Dublin symposium, I am grateful to the British Academy for funding the work on probate records discussed below.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChristianities in the Early Modern Celtic World
EditorsTadhg Ó hAnnracháin, Robert Armstrong
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-30635-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-30634-0 , 978-1-349-45509-6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2014


  • Wales
  • reformation
  • religion


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