The Physicians of Myddfai
The Physicians of Myddfai were pioneers of modern medicine through herbalism in the twelfth century. This was a time of influx of new ideas and learning that inspired and gave momentum to the Gothic era. Contrary to the prevalent view that medieval times were a time of darkness, it was in fact a period of immense cultural importance, with the first universities being founded and monastic schools established. A range of new knowledge became available through translation, including medical texts.
Myddfai was one such centre that flowered as a consequence of this new knowledge. In about 1177 AD the Welsh prince Lord Rhys (1132 – 1197) ruler of the kingdom known as Deheubarth in South Wales was instrumental in sponsoring the monasteries of Talley and Strata Florida. As the name of the latter – meaning the “Layers of Flowers” – suggests, these abbeys also flourished as schools and hospitals of herbal medicine.
Rhiwallon being the most able practitioner became the eminent personal physician to Lord Rhys at Dinefwr. Rhiwallon was assisted by his three sons, Cadwgan, Griffith and Einon. In return, they were rewarded with land around Myddfai and gaining the emminent accolade Meddygon Myddfai – The Physicians of Myddfai.