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rother Cadfael, born Cadfael ap Meilyr ap Dafydd in the year 1080 in a place called Trefriw, Gwynedd, Wales. As a child, he entered the service of a Shrewsbury wool merchant where he learnt his trade until the death of his master. He courted a Richildis Gurney, but he left her to travel to the Holy Land, vowing to return from the Crusades to marry her.

He was at the fall of Antioch, and settled in the town with the other crusaders. He met Mariam, a young Syrian, their love lasted one year, then Cadfael was forced to leave her to take part in the siege of Jerusalem. He was just 20 years old when Jerusalem fell, serving as a man-at-arms under the force of Robert of Normandy. Before leaving, he returned for a brief while to Mariam, before finally sailing off. Unknown to him, this brief encounter lead to a son. As a sailor, he travelled around the Mediterranean, visiting places such as Turkey and Italy.

Finally, some 26 years later, he returned to England. By this time, Richildis had married another. Cadfael had grown tired of his wandering existance and, at the age of 40, a chance encounter with a Benedictine Prior finally pointed out to him the direction his life would now take. He decided to join the Benedictine Monks at the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury.

It is there that he tended the herb gardens of the monastery, using his collected knowledge of plants and herbs to cultivate medicines and tonics to help the other monks and the people of the nearby areas.


Written by SteveC