The National Pageant of Wales(2009) by Hywel Teifi Edwards.
Edwardians all gotten up in medieval flummery! Could any subject for a book make me happier?
In 1909 a cast of 5000 got together in Cardiff's Sophia gardens to enact the history of Wales in a pageant. Gentry topped the bill with Owain Glyndŵr being played by Viscount Tredegar, a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade and Lady Bute appearing as 'Dame Wales' (a popular newspaper cartoon figure ) .The 'Chief Ruffian' was played by the Chief of Police. School children hopped about dressed as fairies and 500 rugby players engaged in a "realistic onslaught on Cardiff Castle".Several years in the planning, the event made a loss, during what was a wet July....but let's skip that part.
This book jollies along at a good pace; full of fascinating photographs and ephemera; giving not only an account of the Welsh pageant but placing it into the wider context of the early 20th Century pageant phenomena sweeping Britain.Edwards also tackles the question of Welsh pride or the lack there of. Cardiff had only just been declared a city and its 'worthies' wanted to stand up and define their place in the Empire.There had been few positive narratives of Welsh history and this was a widely publicised attempt to construct one. Ultimately it tells us more about the Edwardians than any other historical period and many of those boys playing at being knights, would die in the trenches of the First World War.