Brother Cadfael Characters
1141-1144 A.D.

Brother Cadfael


Oliver de Bretagne

Sheriff Hugh Beringar 1

Sheriff Hugh Beringar 2-3

Sheriff Hugh Beringar 4

Abbot Heribert

Abbot Radulfus

Avice of Thornbury

Brother Oswin

Prior Robert Pennant

Brother Jerome

Brother Cadfael
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 to England.

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. .

Abbot Heribert
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.

Abbot Radulfus
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
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.

Brother Jerome
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.

1.1 One Corpse Too Many
When the castle in Shrewsbury is captured by King Stephen, the defenders loyal to Empress Maud are hung. But when Cadfael prepares the bodies for burial, he discovers that a murderer has attempted to hide his victim among the many other victims.

The reordering of the book order to allow this episode to come first meant that Hugh Beringar, a continuing character, could be introduced as the Under Sheriff immediately. In the four episodes of this first Series, Hugh is shown consistent with the books' characterization of him - a firm and trusting friend of Cadfael. Hugh's wife does not appear again. Nor is Cadfael shown as godfather to Hugh's son. Losing these relationships allows the show to focus on Cadfael's conflicts with Hugh, rather than on their great friendship.

1.2 Sanctuary Sparrow
When a minstrel is cheated of his fee for entertaining at a wedding, it is assumed by the guests that he is guilty of the attack that evening on the father of the groom. To save himself, the minstrel dashes into the monastery chapel and claims the 40 days of sanctuary allowed by the law.

Consistent with the books, Cadfael shows an independence of spirit from the rules of his order, which allows him to accept and comfort the minstrel when the boy confesses to Cadrael that he sinned with the maid of the wedding house behind the monastary's altar. Romance is a staple of the Cadfael series, almost always ending happily with a little help from Cadfael.

1.3 Leper of St. Giles
A young squire is falsely accused of theft by his lord, when what he wants to steal is his lord's about-to-be bride. The girl is the granddaughter of a famous knight with whom Cadfael fought before the wallls of Jerusalem. While the boy is hidden by a leper in the monastery leper house, Cadfael has to sort out the mess, and save the young girl from a poorly arranged marriage by her uncaring guardians. The bridegroom's sudden death stops the wedding, but the young squire may be facing a gallows rather than the arms of his now free love.
1.4 Monkshood
Richildis, widowed, remarries because of the promise that her son will become heir to her proposed husband's estate. But a fight between stepfather and stepson results in the revoking of his promise, and a contract made with the monastery that they will receive the estate in exchange for lifetime care of the husband and wife. That would seem to settle the matter, but the formal contract signing is delayed when the abott is called away. And then permanently halted when the husband is poisoned with monkshood of Cadfael's own manufacture.

Impelled by pride to look into the poisoning, Cadfael is shocked to realize that Richildis is one of the women from his own past.

2.1 Virgin in the Ice
A bitter snow storm has Cadfael worried about his assistant, Brother Oswin. With good reason, as it turns out. Oswin returns near death from a beating and stabbing received from outlaws taking advantage of the confusions of war. In fevered sleep, he talks of a woman who lay in his arms. This woman turns out to be the nun whom Cadfael found encased in the ice of a stream, violated and murdered. To protect Brother Oswin, Cadfael must solve the nun's murder, as well as find and protect the young sister and brother with whom the nun was traveling.

In this quest his path is made easier by Oliver de Bretagne, a Crusader who was the children's uncle's man, and who is determined to bring the children back himself. A chance conversation between Cadfael and Oliver shows Cadfael that besides the title Brother, he has another title to claim.

2.2 Devil's Novice
The sudden appearance at the monastery of a new novice worries Cadfael, since there is obviously bad blood between the boy and the father who leaves him there. A less likely monk Cadfael would be hard pressed to find. Cadfael assumes that the boy has decided to take holy orders because the girl he loves is about to marry the brother he loves. But a messenger from Bishop Henry comes to interview the boy about a religious diplomat who disappeared after breaking his travels at the boy's home. It isn't long before the boy is in prison, charged with the diplomat's murder.
2.3 Morbid Taste for Bones
3.1 Rose Rent
3.2 St. Peter's Fair
3.3 Raven in the Foregate
4.1 Holy Thief
4.2 Potter's Field
4.3 Pilgrim of Hate

Episode Guide
Episode Guide
IMDb Movie Database
Derek Jacobi (Cadfael) Filmography
Sean Pertwee (Sheriff Hugh 1st) Filmography
The late Sue Feder's Ellis Peters site
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Captures from Episodes
Cadfael's Herbarium Yahoo Group
Wonderful Cadfael gems

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