|Brother Cadfael was the Welsh son
of a serf who fought in the Crusades under Robert of Normandy.
Comfortable in the role of a Crusader, Cadfael stayed on for many years - first as a fighter, then as sea captain, before returning
It was upon his return that he discovered within himself a genuine vocation that took him
into the monastery at Shrewsbury, near the border with his native Wales. Obedience will always be his most difficult vow. Unable to resist being drawn into
the affairs of the world, he relies for his salvation on the eventual priestly ordination of his dearly loved helper in the herbarium, Brother
Mark, to eventually take holy orders and hear his confession. At the time of the stories, Cadfael has been
a Benedictine brother for about twenty years.
Before Cadfael left for the Holy Land, he promised to marry Richaldis, but the years he spent in the East drove his fiancee from his
mind. Upon his return, he was relieved to learn she had married after waiting eight years for him.
Cadfael has loved many women, including the Syrian widow Mariam.
With a deep respect for the knowledge of plants and healings he gained in the east, Cadfael is at peace in
the small world of his herbarium and private garden. He ferments a special wine for the guests who visit
his workshop, and loves the hours he spends with his plants and his potions. It's this knowledge that
makes him so popular with the townspeople of Shrewsbury, and he ministers to monk and lay person alike.
Derek Jacobi, who plays Cadfael, was knighted in 1994.
He is well known for his role of Claudius, in I, Claudius.
Before leaving for the Crusade, Richaldis and Cadfael exchanged private vows to marry on his return.
But his return is delayed by a busy life, and numerous loves. Over the years, Cadfael simply forgot her. Eventually Richalis married a good man and
had a son and daughter. The daughter married a carpenter in Shrewsbury, and has a happy family.
A landowner without legitimate heirs convinces Richaldis to marry him by promising to will his estate to
the son, then breaks his promise.
When Richaldis and Cadfael meet again, Richaldis believes that it was her marriage that caused Cadfael
to enter a monastery, and Cadfael is too kind to disabuse her of that romantic notion.
Oliver de Bretagne
Oliver de Bretagne represents the perfect knight. He has embraced the Christian faith but holds his Muslim mother
high in honor, even though his birth is illegitimate. He is knowledgeable in many of the same areas as
his father, including medicinal use of herbs, which he learned from his mother. Adept at fighting, he
also shares his father's sense of honor. Although Oliver appears only once in the Cadfael episodes, he appears
in two others of the books, The Holy Thief and Cadfael's Penance.
Cadfael is thrilled and grateful to God to discover that he leaves a son in the world.
Oliver was played by Robert Cavanah.
Sheriff Hugh Beringar
The Hugh of the books is a man who is Cadfael's equal. They trust one another completely, and share
secrets, including Cadfael telling of having a son. This deep friendship appears best in the first
four episodes of Cadfael, but seems lost when the actor changes in the second season. As part of their
friendship, Cadfael becomes godfather to Hugh and Adeney's son, a position that gives Cadfael many opportunites
to leave the monastery, when the walls close in too tightly.
Hugh is King Stephen's man, but can balance his obligations as sheriff with his respect for those who
choose the side of the Empress Maud.
Hugh was played by three different actors -
Sean Pertwee, Anthony Green,
and Eoin McCarthy.
Abott Heribert is an old man, easy in his role and loose in his interpretation of the rules for
his flock. Cadfael shares with his brothers a respect and affection for this man, who can easily lay off
the role of Abott and return to the role of Brother.
Peter Copley, who plays Abott Heribert, started in acting playing
a waiter in 1937. The productions in which he appeared included The Fighting Pimpernel, The Sword and the Rose,
the 1954 episodes of Sherlock Holmes, Callan, Dr. Who, Miss Marple, Poirot, Lovejoy and Oliver Twist.
Abott Radulfus was a lucky choice for the monastery, considering how many positions were filled with the
merely ambitious. He has been out in the world enough to recognize Cadfael's worth, and to give him the
room Cadfael needs to protect the monastery from scandal or dishonor.
Terrence Hardiman, who plays Abott Radulfus, has an extensive
career, appearing in Inspector Morse, Poirot and Young Indiana Jones.
Avice of Thornbury
The mistress of a hard nobleman, Avice saw another side of the man and cared about him through all the comfortable
years they were together. Upon his marriage and death, Avice realizes that she is too old to continue
her career as mistress, and chooses for herself a nunnery, where her abilities will give her room to rise. Practical, unashamed
of her past, and warmly affectionate toward the others of her nunnery, who have given her the name Sister Magadalena,
Avice is someone who can be counted on to understand Cadfael's lapses of monastic obedience and respect
his compassion for those who need help. She organizes the protection of her nunnery when the war between
King Stephen and Empress Maud spills over to her area, and Cadfael is mightily impressed with her character,
as well as with her abilities.
Sarah Badel, who plays Avice of Thornbury has an extensive
career dating back to 1968.
Brother Oswin grows through the books from a bumbling and over-confident young helper, to a more mature
and skilled brother. Cadfael has a deep affection for Oswin, as well as for Oswin's predecessor, Brother Mark.
Mark Charnock, who plays Brother Oswin, played
Marlon Dingle for 8 years in the British series "Emmerdale Farm".
Prior Robert Pennant
Every series loves a villain, and Prior Robert is Cadfael's. Arrogant and ambitious, he is devastated that
the abott's position goes to Abott Radulfus, rather than to himself. It's his wish to increase the
importance of the monastery in which he serves that is behind his quest for the relics of a saint to put
on their altar.
Michael Culver, who plays Prior Robert has an extensive
history of roles dating back to 1961.
If Prior Robert is the nobleman living the life of a monk, Brother Jerome, the sub-prior, is the sniveling
tattletale always looking for ways to curry favor and rise up on Jerome's skirts. Where Prior Robert can
show some balance of character, Brother Jerome is consistently slime. On one occasion when a novice
chokes him, Abott Radulfus inquires about his health and learns that he will be mute for two weeks. Without
any emphasis or humor, Radulfus notes that there was some good that came out of the affair, at least.
Julian Firth, who plays Brother Jerome, also
appeared in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Shadowlands, and Agent Cody Banks 2.