Bible in Welsh

Contributed by St Fagans National History Mus

The Welsh Bible - published in 1588

The most important book ever to have been published in Welsh. It was foundation of modern Welsh literatureThe publication of the bible in Welsh in 1588 marked a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the language. The Acts of Union with England of 1536 and 1542 had denied Welsh official status and decreed that the English bible and Book of Common prayer should be used. Why did things change? International politics are the key. The Reformation had swept across Europe but was by no means secure. The battle of ideas between Protestants and Catholics continued. Making and keeping Wales a Protestant country would be easier with a bible in a language that the people could understand, so in 1563 Queen Elizabeth's parliament decreed that a bible should be published in Welsh. This was no small task. The man responsible for the 1588 bible was William Morgan - born in Ty Mawr at Wybrant above the Conwy Valley (the house is still there in the care of the National Trust). Morgan worked from Greek and Hebrew originals and the bible was a linguistic and literary triumph. It was the cornerstone of modern Welsh literature and revised in 1620, it was widely used until the end of the 20th century. It is largely responsible for the extent that Welsh survives today.

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