'The History of the Bards'Iolo began work on 'The History of the Bards' in August 1795. It would have been his magnum opus, had he ever completed it.
Several plans of the proposed volume survive, and despite superficial differences between them, they reveal that 'The History of the Bards' was to be a comprehensive exegesis of Bardism. Iolo intended to include dissertations on the following subjects: the Welsh language, the origin of letters among the Welsh, the bardic alphabet, the origin and principles of the bardic institution, theology and mythology, various triads (religious, ethical, philosophical, historical and Moelmutian), the introduction of Christianity and its effects on Bardism, the ancient principles of government and law of the Welsh, the national manners of the Welsh, and Welsh music.
Several incomplete drafts of 'A Short Account of the Ancient British Bards' survive, and these provide a more elaborate account of 'Bardism' than that supplied by William Owen Pughe in Heroic Elegies (1792). See also his drafft essay on the Welsh language which was also planned for 'The History of the Bards', 'Plan of the Analytical Dissertation on the Welsh language by E.W.' Click to see digitized pages of one of Iolo's manuscript which includes material intended for 'The History of the Bards', NLW 13107B: Gathering the Jewels. Much of the fabricated bardic material which was published in the second and third volumes of The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales (1801-07) had originally been intended for 'The History of the Bards'.