Part One: The Beginning

In the beginning, there were people in Britain. This is about all that can be said with any certainty, though many scholars are working on the Stone Age cultures. According to J. Davies, there is evidence that people were living in Wales as early as 250,000 years ago. These pre-Celtic peoples were the builders of Stonehenge, the cairns and megaliths which dot the English and Welsh countryside, and were builders of hill forts. Not much is known of these folks, but it is generally accepted that it is their genetic stock which comprised the bulk of the population at the time of the arrival of the Celtic culture around 400-600 BC.

In the earlier part of the 20th century, most historians believed that the Celtic culture was brought by an invasion of the Celtic peoples from Gaul (the region now known as France) which supplanted the earlier peoples. Now, after new information from archeological and anthropologic studies, it is generally accepted that only a comparatively small group of Celts arrived in Britain and in one way or another, spread their culture throughout Britain and Ireland. Part of their culture was their language. Linguists have broken that language into P-Celtic and Q-Celtic.

P-Celtic was the language of the Britons and Q-Celtic the language spoken in Ireland and eventually Scotland (though that's another story!). Without getting too wrapped around your P's and Q's, suffice it to say that by the time the Romans came, all of Britain (with the exception of the Picts) was speaking P-Celtic and living a Celtic way of life.

What was the Celtic way of life? Essentially a tribal, pastoral life, led by a warrior class. The Celtic gods were worshipped, there were druids, and most folk lived either by scratch agriculture, or by caring for cattle or sheep. In the case of the land which eventually became Wales, there was far more reliance upon livestock than agriculture due to the geography of Wales.

To wrap up this posting, it is important to understand that the geography and climate of Wales has had a great impact upon its peoples. Agriculture was only possible in the river valleys and along the south coastal plain. transportation and communication were very difficult from one region to another and lead to the development of several different kingdoms, whioch we'll discuss at a later date. Also, due to the mountain ranges, the Welsh would look West for their trade/political/religious contacts for many years, so contact with Ireland would be important.

Some good places to start on the poetry are:
"Welsh Poems, Sixth Century to 1600", trans by Gwyn Williams (U of California Press, 1974. "The Earliest Welsh Poetry", trans by Joseph Clancy (London: St. Martin's Press, 1970).
It is possible to find the complete works of Dafydd ap Gwilym, Iolo Goch, "Y Gododdin", and others, but these will provide a nice introduction.

"Scratch agriculture": The most common concept of Celtic agriculture has been that the Celtic peoples used lighter plows than later folks (usually in comparison to the Anglo-Saxons) and thus preferred lighter, sandier soils for their agricultural purposes. Unfortunately, there are no plows from the pre-Roman period which have survived, and there are very, very few areas of Britain which were plowed by the Celtic peoples and not plowed by later farmers (you'd need a piece of land not plowed since the 5th C--they do exist, primarily in small areas of Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and along the Welsh border). What is believed is that they used a stick with possibly a metal end with which to break the ground, though this only made a small furrow and did not turn the earth over. This light plow could be drawn by several oxen, and based on the length of the arrangement and the number of oxen, one could go fairly deep (provided the ground was lighter and chalkier). A modern example might be the agriculture practiced in some of the third world nations of Africa today. For more info on agricultural practices, see: "Roman Britain and Early England" by Peter Hunter Blair (New York: WW Norton and Company, 1963). "Anglo-Saxon England and the Norman Conquest" by Henry Loyn (London: The Longman Press, 1962). Bear in mind that the majority of the Celtic peoples inhabiting what was to become Wales practiced animal husbandry rather than static agriculture.

Part Two: Rome

The Romans became interested in Britain after Julius Caesar had conquered Gaul. This interest was primarily defensive in nature (at least in the Roman's mind), as they were looking to discourage any raids on their newly conquered territories. Caesar tells us also "...he discovered that in almost all the wars with the Gauls assistance had been furnished to our enemy from that country [Britain]". Caesar made two landings, the first in 55 BC and the second a year later. He did not really accomplish much, other than to get some of the local leaders to agree to a treaty alliance. He also put Britain on the Roman map of future projects.

At this point, it would be very easy to get involved in the conquest of Britain by the Romans, which I do not really want to do, as it would take away the focus from Wales. Suffice it to say that the emporer Claudius conquered most of the land in the 40's AD, and that Agricola finished the job by 80 AD (at least up to the Forth-Clyde line in what is now Scotland). For some interesting reading on this, try the following: Gaius Julius Caesar "Gallic War" (there are numerous editions out) Tacitus "The Life of Gnaeus Julius Agricola" (my copy is in "The Complete Works of Tacitus" ed. by Moses Hadas, (New York: Random House for the Modern Library, 1942). Michael Grant, "The History of Rome" (New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1979).

To continue (using mostly John Davies "A History of Wales"), the main tribes in Wales during this time period were the Silures (ocuuppying SE Wales), the Demetae (SW Wales, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen), the Cornovii (Montgomery), the Deceangli (Aberconwy, Colwyn, Rhuddlan), the Ordovices (Anglesey, Caernarfonshire). The Romans defeated the power of the lowland tribes first , but the Silures were proving to be a thorn in their sides, so the began to isolate the tribes of Wales from the other tribes who were resisting (due to the geography of the uplands (known to historians as the "Highland Zone"), the tribes of this area generally had a difficult time in unifying themselves/cordinating activities). Roman legions first set themselves up on the Dee in 48 AD and later Ostorius Scapula would receive the submission of the Decleangi.

The main Welsh leader during this time was Cataractus (Caradog in Welsh) who originally belonged to the Catuvellauni, but later fled to the Silures when the Catuvellauni were defeated. A fort was erected in 49 AD near what is now Gloucester. Along with this fort and a network of others brought pressure to bear upon the Silures, which forced Cataractus to flee to the Ordovices. The Romans pursued and he was defeated in 51 AD, where his wife and children were also captured. Cataractus fled to the Brigantes, but their queen turned him over to the Romans, who took him to Rome and where he supposedly made the following speech: (From Tacitus, "Annals"): "Had my moderation in prosperity been equal to my noble birth and fortune, I should have entered this city as your friend rather than as your captive; and you would not have disdained to recieve, under a treaty of peace, a king descended from illustrious ancestors and ruling many nations. My present lot is as glorious to you as it is degrading to myself. I had men and horses, arms and wealth. What wonder if I parted with them reluctantly? If you Romans choose to lord it over the world, does it follow that the world is to accept slavery? Were I to have been at once delivered up as a prisoner, neither my fall nor your triumph would have become famous. My punishment would be followed by oblivion, whereas, if you save my life, I shall be an everlasting memoirial of your clemency." Tacitus tells us that Agrippina granted clemency to Cataractus and his family after this speech.

Moving along, resistance in Wales did not end with the defeat of Cataractus. The Silures were defeated by the 20th Legion in 52 AD. In 57 AD, the emporer Nero authorized a campaign to conquer all of Britain. In Wales, the main reistance was coming from Anglesey (Mona): "Now, however, Britain was in the hands of Suetonius Paulinus...He therefore prepared to attack the isle of Mona which had a powerful population and was a refuge for fugitives. He built flat-bottomed vessels to cope with shallows, and uncertain depths of the sea. Thus, the infantry crossed, while the cavalry followed by fording, or, where the water was deep, swam by the side of their horses. On the shore stood the opposing army with its dense array of armed warriors, while betweenthe ranks dashed women, in black attire like the Furies, with hair dishevelled, waving brands. All around, the Druids, lifting up their hands to heaven, and pouring forth dreadful imprecations, scared our soldiers by the unfamiliar sight, so that, as if theior limbs were paralysed, they stood motionless, and exposed to wounds. Then urged by their general's appeals and mutual encouragements not to quail before a troop of frenzied women, they bore the standards onwards, smote down all resistance, and wrapped the foe in the flames of his own brands. A force was set over the conquered, and their groves, devoted to inhuman superstitions, were destroyed."

The Romans were not a very nice people. This has gone on longer than I anticipated, but in a nut shell, the Romans proceded to establish major forts at Ista (Caerleon) and Deva (Chester), with smaller, but important forts at Maridunum (Carmarthen), and Segontium (Caernarfon). They developed a network of roads in a rectangular pattern with these four forts at the corners. There were other forts/centers along the way, but these four seem to be the most important.

Part Three: Rome (continued)

Even though the tribes had submitted to Rome by the 50's, the task of completing the conquest was a long and expensive process--something which would repeat itself through the ages. Rome undertook at least 13 campaigns between 48 and 79 AD. The Roman legions had not had to face a large scale resistance utilizing guerilla tactics based in mountainous terrain since the Samnite Wars in Italy (several hundred years previously). By utilizing such tactics, the Celtic peoples could pin down a much larger force with only a few men. In order to counter such an opponent, the Romans resorted to building a network of small camps linked by roads. Each camp would be able to subjugate a specific territory in its vicinity and could communicate easily with the next closest camp in case of emergency. Furthermore, by building and maintaining such camps, the Romans brought a permanent military presence to a specific area rather than relying on individual campaigns. I am going into this in detail, because it is this form of tactics that the English came to use nearly 1000 years later to subjugate Wales and is important in the understanding of the later Welsh military and political situation--the Welsh could lose a major campaign, but still maintain their resistance by retreating to the remote fastnesses of the mountains. There have been 35 of the above camps located by archeologists, with many being located in the lands of the Silures. In central Wales, every eastern-facing valley had its fort, and the Menai Straits (separating Anglesey from the mainland) had the powerful fort of Segontium guarding this strategic location. In terms of size, the forts at Chester and Caerleon could house up to 5,300 soldiers. That Rome had to invest in over 10,000 troops, not including those housed at the other smaller forts and camps, is an indication of the level of resistance in Wales.

To move along, by the end of the first century, most of Wales had been subjugated and some form of peace ensued. Villas were built, mines were exploited and civitae (towns) were encouraged. For the most part, the ruling classes abandoned the La Tene cultural trappings and adopted Roman ones, though aspects of La tene continued in the hands of the peasants. In terms of religion, with the armies of Rome (as opposed to Roman Armies--the armies being made up of various peoples from all over the Empire) came a variety of faiths. There were followers of the cult of Mithras in Caerleon. The old British religions still were active, with a temple built to Nodens (the god of healing) as late as 367 AD. Christianity came to Wales with the Romans, especailly after Christianity became the offical religion of the Empire. The above temple dedication to Nodens is the last vestige of offical pagan practice in Roman Wales. Afterwards, almost all of the upper classes had vecome Christian (at least in name), though the older traditions were maintained in some manner by the peasantry.

By the mid to late 300's, the situation in the Western Empire was starting to worsen. In 383, Magnus Maximus (the Macsen Wledig who shows up now and again in Welsh lore) began his campaign to unseat Gratian, the newest ruler of the West. Magnus drew his forces from Britain, marched south and was defeated on July 28, 388. Archeologists have confirmed that by 390, there were few, if any, Roman forces left in Britain. This brings us to the next phase in Welsh history, which will delineate Wales as a separate geographic entity (though by no means political) from the rest of Britain. This phase is also the fertile soil of legend.

Part Four: Pronouncation, Sources, Land and Society

Before marching forward into the Middle Ages, I feel it is necessary to discuss the sources from which we derive our knowledge of the period, as well as discussing the land forms which play such an important role in Welsh history. Along the way, I'll touch on some aspects of Welsh society for this time period.

Part Four, Chapter One: Pronouncation

Before starting all of this, I would like to take a few moments and offer a pronunciation guide for Welsh which might help some of you to get your tongues around such words as "Perfeddwlad". This is taken from "The Earliest Welsh Poetry", by Joseph Clancy (London: St. Martin's Press, 1970), pp 19-20, with some of my own additions.

The Welsh alphabet uses 28 letters: a,b,c,ch,d,dd,e,f,ff,g,ng,h,i,l,ll,m,n,o,p,ph,r,rh,s,t,u,w,y. In general, the consonants represent the same sound values as in English spelling, with these exceptions:
c: always the 'k' sound, never the 's' sound
ch: as in the Scottish 'loch'
dd: the sound represented by 'th' in 'breathe'; Welsh uses 'th' only for the sound in 'breath' (the dd=th is a longer sound).
f: equals the 'v' sound (as in 'of')
ff: English 'f' sound, as in 'off'
g: always the hard 'g' of 'guard'
ll: no English equivalent, sort of a 'tl' sound
ph: as in 'physics'
r: always trilled
rh: the trilled 'r' followed by an aspiration (imagine a Spanish speaker rolling the 'r' followed very closely by 'hh', so Rheged is pronounced 'Rrrrhheged')
s: always the sound of 'sea'.
The letter combination 'si' is used for the 'sh' sound in English, so the English 'shop' would be 'siop' in Welsh.

Welsh letters stand always for pure vowel sounds, never as in English for dipthongs.
As in English, vowel sounds can either be long or short. a: as in 'father' (long) and 'hot' (short) e: as in 'pale' (long) and 'pet' (short) i: as in 'green' (long) and 'grin' (short);
also the consonant sound represented by 'y' in English (like 'yard') is represented by the letter 'i' in Welsh (yard would be 'iard').
o: as in 'roll' (long) and 'cot' (short)
u: pronounced like the Welsh 'i' as explained above (think of the Welsh name 'Gruffudd'='Griffith' in English)
w: used as either a vowel or a consonant. As a consonant, it is like its English equivalent (like Owain); as a vowel, it takes the sound of 'oo', as in 'took' or 'tool' (think of 'Owain Glyn Dwr' = Owain Glendower)
y: in most monosyllables, like the Welsh 'i' (short), otherwise it's like the sound in English 'up'. However, when it stands alone (like the poem title "Y Gododdin"), it also sounds like the 'u' in 'up'(so 'Y Gododdin'= 'U Godothin'.)

The following are the Welsh dipthongs. The chief vowel comes first:
ae, ai, au: like English 'write'
ei, eu, ey: equals 'uh-ee'
aw: as in English 'prowl'
ew: the short Welsh 'e' followed by 'oo'
iw, yw: 'ee-oo'
wy: 'oo-ee', like calling a pig 'Soo-eee' (with the stress on the 'soo')
oe, oi, ou: like the English sound in 'oil'

IMPORTANT: The accent in Welsh is almost always placed on the second-to-last (penult) syllable (the stress is on the 'y' in Llywarch (lli wark) and the 'e' in Llywelyn (lli wel un)).

Part Four, Chapter Two: Sources

The sources for the early middle ages in Wales suck. This period is known as the Dark Ages primarily because historians are blundering around in the dark trying to figure out what happened. All joking aside, there really is little to go on, as the concept of writing history down became lost with the fall of Rome. This is a predicament which most historians, regardless of region, encounter for Western Europe. The Germanic tribes which swept the Western Empire away did not have a written tradition, their literature being mostly oral. Those peoples who were able to hold off the Germanic incursions also lost much of their written tradition, as the institutions which maintained literacy suffered severe blows. In all of the West, only Ireland really went the other direction after St. Patrick brought Christianity (and hence literacy) to the Irish, but that is another story. Here's what we do have for post-Roman Wales:

1. Gildas, "De Excidio Britanniae (Concerning the Fall of Britain)". Written around 540. This is what John Davies has to say about Gildas "Gildas is a splendid example of an irate cleric and what he offers is a sermon reviling his contemporaries, the kings of Britain, rather than a chronicle of his age. His Latin is characterized by a verbose opaqueness and he writes in a cryptic style with a host of biblical quotations." In other words, he was trying to be clever to a contemporary audience. Some things can be gleaned from Gildas, but it is a most unsatisfactory historical document.

2. "Historia Brittonum" attributed to Nennius, preserved in the Harleian manuscript (MS) 3859 and dated to 828. Unfortunately, this work is short, full of legend and psuedo-history, and not very accurate (though it is a hotbed for Arthurianism).

3. "Annales Cambriae" also found in the Harleian MS 3859, though may be contemporary as early as 768. This is a compilation of the yearly register of the monastary at St. David's in Dyfed (Pembroke). It begins in 447 and ends in 954. Unfortunately, each year is given only a few words, with the longest entry being three lines. Additionally, a compiler has been at it, so what has been added and what has been deleted will never be known.

4. "The Ecclesiastical History of the English People" by the Venerable Bede, written in 731. A very good historic document, though Bede did not like the Welsh, as they refused to accept the new dating of Easter determined by the Council of Whitby (this was a very big deal to Bede). Also, Bede was writing from a Northumbrian Saxon point of view, rather than from the Welsh.

5. "Brut y Tywysogyon (The Chronicle of the Princes)". Compiled at the Welsh monastary of Strata Florida around 1300. The original was in Latin, which was lost. We have the Welsh translation. The Brut begins in 681, with the death of Cadwalader (son of the famous Cadwallon) and ends with the death of Dafydd ap Gruffudd, brother to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (the Last Prince) in 1282. This exceptionally important document was a compilation of earlier annals. My own best guess is that the sources used for the compilation did not become contemporary until around 1000 (due to the verbosity of the entries).

6. "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle". Compiled in the 9th C, this is another key document. However, many historians have debated as to when the sources for this document became contemporary. Obviously, being the chronicle of Wessex, the Welsh are generally portrayed in the manner of enemies.

7. "The History of the Kings of Britain" by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Another work which leaves much to be desired, in terms of factual history. Written in 1136, Geoffrey was the source for the medieval writers of the Arthurian Legend. Otherwise, it is a rehash of Gildas and Nennius, with even more psuedo-history and Legend tossed in.

8. "The Kings Before the Norman Conquest" by William of Malmesbury. Written around 1145 by an English monk, this work is a bit more accurate than Geoffrey, especially since William had access to Bede and the AS Chronicle.

9. Welsh Literature: This varies from the "Mabinogion" to the poetry of Aneirin and Taliesin. Most of this work was compiled in written from in the 13th C, and as such, much of it is flawed in terms of what was originally written versus what the compiler wrote. The bulk of Aneiren's epic poem "Y Gododdin" was written in 598. Taliesin's work also is from the late 6th C, but its originality is much more dubious (see AOH Jarman's translation of "Y Gododdin"). Also included in this work is the "Mabinogion" taken from The White Book of Rhydderch, a 13th C compilation, these prose tales also may date back several centuries from the compilation. However, as with all pieces of literature, one must beware of what is poetic license and what is an actual representation of a particular time period. Did the writer set his work in a particular point in history to emphasize some point to the audience, or is he describing the actual societal situation of contemporary times?

10. Merlinic Prophecies. Not much in the way of historical help, but very important to the Welsh psyche. They are mentioned in nearly every Welsh work of importance. The concept of the Welsh as being the remnant of a great race who were very aware of their loss and the hope of one day regaining that loss are embodied in these. They can be found in the Black Book of Carmarthen, compiled around 1250.

11. Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales). I won't discuss Gerald for now, but will leave him until we get to the post-Norman period.

Part Four, Chapter Three: Land and Society

I think this is important stuff to know inorder to understand why the Welsh developed the way they did, as well as providing a geographic basis for future discussions. For the most part, i will be summarizing RR Davies' first chapter, 'Wales and the Welsh', from "Conquest, Coexistance and Change", augmented by David Walker's "Medieval Wales". For those of you not familiar with Prof. Davies' work, the first chapter should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in Welsh society, regardless of which time period you are looking at. Wonderful stuff!

In terms of land, the chief feature of Wales is the fact that the vast majority of the territory is above 600 feet in elevation. What this means in terms of agriculture and the growth of society is that the majority of the population will be centered in the river valleys and the coastal lowlands (the population fixing itself on the fertile, arable soil) and that those who were not living in these regions would most likely be practicing animal husbandry.

Due to the difficulties of communication and travel within Wales, the political sphere was decentralized into localities which were more important in terms of governance and identification than the larger political expressions. Additionally, there was no position of 'high king' or bretweald, as the Irish or Saxons were to have. Though wales itself was to be a well-known geopgraphic expression by the 13th C,outside of a common language and society, the people of Wales had no conception or inclination towards unity. Those few kings who were able to do so, only achieved their ends through force and their gains quickly were lost after their deaths.

from Davies, pg. 12: "Wales, therefore, was a geographically fragmented country, a land of contrasts national, regional, and local. In such a fragmented country it was the locality or district which was often the most meaningful and basic unit of loyalty and obligation. 'Gwlad' (plural, gwladoedd gwledydd) or 'bro' (pl broydd, brooedd) were the loose vernacular terms used to refer to such a distric. A gwlad might be a kingdom or a former kingdom; alternatively or additionally, it might coincide with the local subdivisions of 'cantref' (pl cantrefi = cantrev in English) or cwmwd (pl cymydau = commote in English) which came to figure prominently in the history of medieval Wales. Yet it is not its political or administrative identity which gave the gwlad its cohesion so much as the fact that it was a territorial unit shaped by geography, history, and sentiment, and one which contemporaries recognized and with which they could identify... "It was the region, large or small, which was often the most obvious focus of communal identity and loyalty for many of its inhabitants. Its boundaries demarcated the horizons of their social contacts and territorial claims, its mother church and its patron saint the focus of their religious affections, its traditions and lore the framework of their collective memories. This attachment to region was all the stronger in a world where political hegemonies and dynastic fortunes were so brittle..."

Prof. Davies states it better than I can, so pardon for the lengthy quote. Along with the regionality, one of the other factors which effected Welsh disunity, was the practice of partibility. What this means is that the inheritance of the father is divided equally amongst his sons. This has obvious ramifications for ruling dynasties, but was made worse by Welsh law which recognized the legitimacy of bastards. the 'Brut' is filled with the deaths and maimings of relatives by claimants to the thrones of the Welsh kingdoms.

What I would like to do next is something which is not often done in history texts. I would like to take you on a virtual orientation of medieval Wales. This will be brief, but I hope that it will make the future postings more accessible for those of you not familiar with the period. My only disclaimer is that I have never been to Wales myself, so any errors in what follows are due to my own misreading of the texts.

The mountains we have been discussiing are the Cambrian Mountains, a chain stretching from the southwest peninsula to the northeast of Wales. The mountain massif also extends to the mid south of Wales, but not all the way to the coast regions. Snowdon, in the northwest rises to an elevation of 3,560 fee. The chief river valleys are: The Conwy in the north; the Clwyd in the northeast; the Dee in the northeast with the Roman legionary city of Chester on its banks; The Mawddach and Dyfi in the west central region, both flowing into the Cardigan bay; the Teifi in the south-central west coast, also flowing into Cardigan Bay; the Tywi, flowing south into the Severn Sea, the Usk in the south east, the Wye, also in the southeast and which marks the southeastern border; and finally the Severn which begins in the central mountains and then wraps in a large loop through southeastern England before flowing into a massive estuary called the Severn Sea. The chief locations were Cardiff on the Severn Sea; Caerleon on the Usk; Dinfwr on the Tywi; Llandaff outside of Cardiff; Carmarthen in the southwest; St. David's on the extreme southwest peninsula; Cardigan on the Teifi; Caernarfon, on the Menai Straits separating Anglesey from the mainland; Bangor, on the north end of the Menai Straits. Politically, the following divisions were fairly consistant: Gwynedd (northwest); The Four Cantrevs (north east), consisting of Rhos, Tegeingl, Dyffryn Clwd, and Rhufoniog; Powys (East Central); Ceredigion (west central); Deheubarth (south west) consisting of the following sub-kingdoms: Dyfed, Cantref Mawr, Cantref Bychan, Gower (Deheubarth was in and out of existance several times); Brycheiniog (south east highlands); Morgannwg (south east coastal) and Gwent (extreme southeast).

Part Five: The Dark Ages I (400-600)

When we last left off with the historical narrative, the Roman legions had left Britain with Magnus Maximus, leaving the island undefended. Forwhat happened next, I'll be using William of Malmesbury's "The Kings Before the Norman Conquest" (originally written in the 12th C), as William does a good job of synthesizing Bede, Gildas and the AS Chronicle. I'll also draw from Walker's "Medieval Wales" and Lloyd. After the legions had left, the story of what happened in Britain becomes very unclear due to the lack of sources. Here's what happened according to the traditional accounts:

After the legions had left, the Picts and Scots (Irish colonizers in Scotland) set about to invade the former province at once. The Romano-Britons requested help from Rome, then ruled by Honorius, which twice extended its aid. However, the last time, the Romans informed the Britons that they could not come again "Accompanied by the tears of the miserable inhabitants" (William of M). The Scots and Picts make fresh attacks, the Britons are hard pressed. The leader of the Britons is Vortigern, "a man calculated neither for the field nor the council, but wholly given up to the lusts of the flesh, the slave of every vice, a charachter of insatiable avarice, ungovernable pride, unquenchable lust." (William of M). In other words, he's going to be the scapegoat. Seeing that the Britons are not militaristic enough to defeat their current enemies, Vortigern invited the Angles and Saxons from Germany to help defeat the Picts and Scots.

The Germans agree, and lead by Hengist and Horsa, set about to bring over a multitude of warriors, defeat the Picts and Scots, and start to settle in England. In the meantime, Hengist sends back to the old country for more men, as Britain offered "the prospect of advantage which it afforded to new adventurers." (WofM). Hengist then uses his daughter to entrap the lecherous Vortigern into bequething Kent to the Saxons.

The Angles and Saxons sought to increase their lands, but their arose another leader after Vortigern, Ambrosius, "the sole survivor of the Romans, who became monarch after Vortigern, quelled the presumptuous barbarians with the help of Arthur." (WofM). It is interesting to note that William makes the following statement, as a contemporary of Geoffrey of Monmouth: "This is that Arthur, of whom the Britons fondly fable even to the present day; a man worthy to be celebrated, not by idle fictions, but in authentic history." William credits Arthur with the victory of Mount Badon, which created a peace which lasted for some time. However the Angles and Saxons continued to pour forth from their homelands and the Britons were gradually forced back. So ends the legendary account.

This account does have some merit, in that it does reflect the gradualness of the conquest. Indeed, the names of the personas may be of real people, shrouded in myth. However, let me give my own take on what happened, which is a synthesis of the modern authors which I have read.

When the legions left, the Romano-Britons were by no means without the ability to defend themselves. First, the institutions of Rome survived and the early story was one of continuity rather than of a clean break when the legions left. There is evidence that the old villas continued to function in the agricultural sphere long after 400 AD. Additionally, the Romans also left a good base from which to make a defense, namely, Hadrian's Wall, and the Saxon Shore fortresses. Bede's account tries to establish a beginning point for the Anglo-Saxon penetration into Britain. The legend of Hengest and Horsa fits nicely into this, allowing Bede to establish a starting point for his chronology. However, what really happened (remember Bede was writing 300 years after the fact) might have been different.

My own opinion is that the original Saxons to come to Britain were members of the legions which occuppied Britain. The legions in the later days of the Empire were made up of large contingents of German troops, and it would not be a very long stretch for Saxon soldiers to have been sent to Britain. These soldiers may have then done what Hengest supposedly did: contacted their families in Old Saxony and Frisia to tell them of the opportunity. Additionally, another point of contact might have been the Saxon pirates which had long been a nuisance to trade in the North Sea.

Why did the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes leave their homelands? Two reasons are usually put forward. The first is that at this time period the sea was encroaching upon the land settled by the Saxons in Frisia (modern NW Germany/the Netherlands). As the sea encroached, a land-hunger developed amongst the peoples displaced, and Britain provided a perfect opportunity. It is interesting to note that East Anglia was one of the first places to be settled after Kent, and that it was very much like Frisia in the 5th C. The second reason was overpopulation, which has been considered the culprit in many a migration of peoples. This reason is disputed and probably will be for some time until (if ever) more accurate data is availible.

How great were the numbers? Well, one later Danish account describes the former land of the Angles as being a desert due to the lack of people which had formerly been there. Also given the large displacement which occurred, and that the take-over was so gradual (allowing for later generations from within conquered lands, as well as newcomers), the number was fairly significant. Right now, historians are busy arguing this question, so I won't go into detail until I see something new.

The final issue I'll deal with today is what happened to the Britons ho encountered the Germanic invader. This is a good question, for which there are several answers. Before going into those answers, let me offer Dave's Theory of the Ties Which Bind. This theory goes like this: People of the Middle Ages, especially the lower classes and the land-owning segments of the population were very conservative in their outlook. One did not move due to the ties of family and land. One's primary social grouping was the family, which in these times included an extended family which may also have included the clan. One had responsibilites within the family grouping which were extremely powerful, for one was defined by one's family, geneology and history. The Land was also a powerful tie. One's land usage/rights determined one's status within the clan/family group and was the chief form of wealth derivation. Finally, the traditions and lore of one's family unit were derived after centuries of being in the same spot. These were ties which were not broken easily (mind you, this is set for the agricultural Lowland Zone. Possibly substitute cattle/sheep for land in the Highland Zone). These ties become important when considering what happened to the Britons. Essentially, the individual was faced with the following options:
1. Stay and Fight, which might lead to death, slavery, or outlawry.
2. Stay and Assimilate, which might also lead to death, slavery or outlawry at the worst, the best would probably be some form of lower status within the new community.
3. Leave for Armorica: many took this route, and it hasd been proven that the settlers in Brittany came from the Western portions of Britain, notably Devon and Cornwall, but this may have been an option for some. However, as in most travel during this time, the psooibilities of dying on the road, either through starvation, fighting, or natural disaster were great. For a modern example, see what happened in the former Yugoslavia.
4. Leave for Wales, Cumberland, Strathclyde: I do not feel that this was all that great of an option, primarily because these areas lie within the Highland Zone, which would necessitate a change in the ways of life for any refugees, as well as being accepted within the new society. Maybe ther could have been an influx to the river valleys or the south of Wales, but not the mountainous areas. As to the answer, what really happened was probably a combination of the above.

In some of the laws of Kent, provisions are made for the Celtic speaking peoples and mention is made of the outlaws living in wood and mountain. however, ther are some ominous entries in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:
473: This year Hengest and Esc fought with the Welsh, and took immense booty. And the Welsh fled from the English like fire.
477: ...There they slew many of the Welsh; and some in flight they drove into the wood that is called Andred'sley.
490: This year Ella and Cissa beseiged the city of Andred, and slew all therein; nor was one Briton left there afterwards.
514: This year came the West-Saxons into Britain, with three ships, at the place that is called Cerdic's-ore. And Stuff and Wihtgar fought with the Britons and put them to flight.
577: This year Cuthwin and Ceawlin fought with the Britons and slew three kings, Commail, and Condida, and Farinmail, on the spot that is known as Derham, and took from them three cities, Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath.
591: this year there was a great slaughter of Britons at Wanborough;
607...And Ethelfrith led his army into Chester; where he slew an innumerable host of the Welsh...There were also slain 200 priests, who came thither to pray for the army of the Welsh (Bede puts the number at 1,200 monks from Bangor who came to pray. Only 50 escaped.)

For the most part, from here forward until the disappearance of Owain Glyn Dwr, the history of Wales and the Welsh will be a militant one.

Part Six: Dark Ages II (The Irish in Wales)

What I intend for today is to spend some time presenting J. E. Lloyd's chapter entitled 'The Brythonic Conquest of Wales' from his epic work "A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Present" (LOndon: Longmans, Green and Co, Ltd., first published in 1911, this edition in 1967). This chapter is based on the work of Sir John Rhys, and is also availible under Sir John's name in "Celtic Britain, Celtic Folklore (Oxford, 1901). On an aside, I need to mention that JE Lloyd is one of the few historians of this century who has put together a coherent account of medieval Wales prior to 800. One of the reasons for this is the lack of reliable sources (see my posting on the Sources), and that nowadays, most historians are afraid of going too far out on a limb, for fear of being shredded by their contemporaries. As an example, John Davies states: "It is difficult to know what to do with such intractable material. On the one hand, it has been argued that it is impossible to provide a coherent account of what happened in Britain between 400 and 600; on the other, there is the bold study of John Morris, "The Age of Arthur, in which the author extractsfrom the evidence as much meaning as possible; he was rewarded for his labors by a thirty-three page review in small print by 'Studia Celtica' in which he was accused of being mistaken on a heroic scale." havins said this, understand that as wonderful as Lloyd's work is, much is based on dated assumptions and shaky sources. That being said, I would still like to present the following material, as it is very intriguing.

Lloyd puts for the propostion that there was a very substantial settlement of Goidelic speaking peoples in Wales at the beginning of 5th C. he states: "Different opinions are held...with regard to the origin of the Goidelic element in the population of fifth-century Wales, but there is no room for doubt as to its existance. Welsh tradition has always maintained that the 'Gwyddelod' (Irish) preceded the Welsh in many parts of the country and has ascribed to them, under the name of 'Cytiau Gwyddelod" (Irishmen's huts), the round stone dwellings of which the ruins were once so common on the bare slopes of the Welsh hills." (pg. 111).

The other evidence for a Goidelic settlement is the gravestones which are inscribed with both ogham and Latin letters. For those of you who are unfamiliar with ogham, it is a form of writing which is made up of lines of various lengths. It is believed to have originated in southern Ireland. Each ogham letter additionally stands for a type of tree, leading most scholars to assume it was connected with the druids in some way. By Lloyd's time thrity inscriptions were availible in various parts of Wales, though over half of them were in Dyfed. Only two belong to North Wales, and we need to remeber this point when discussing the Welsh tradition below. What is intriguing is that many of the ogham stones bear Christian religious markings, which places their dates at the early 5th C. Most of the inscriptions were on tombstones, and bore such markings as "X, son of Y", though using the terms "maqqi" for son, "inigena" for daughter, and "avi" for grandson or descendant, such terms making it in Lloyd's mind to be conclusively Goidelic/Old Irish in nature.

The next piece in Lloyd's chapter discusses the Welsh traditions surrounding Cunedda. This is based around the triads, geneologies and the Historia Brittonum, which has the following entry: "King Maelgwn the Great was reigning among the British, in Gwynedd, for his ancestors, Cunedda, with his sons, to the number of eight, had come from the north, from the country of Manaw Gododdin, 146 years before Maelgwn reigned, and expelled the Irish from these countries, with immense slaughter, so that they never again returned to inhabit them." According to the geneologies found in the same MS as above, Maelgwn was the son of Cadwallon Lawhir (the Long0handed), the son of Einion Yrth (the Impetuous), the son of Cunedda. According to the tradition, Cunedda came fro a family line which lead back to Roman ancestors, that he bore the title of Gwledig, which Lloyd feels may make him the descendant of a Roman general. Addditionally, the Cunedda legend provides us with some name association. Cunedda's eight sons were (according to the 10th C orthography: Osmail, Rumaun, Dunaut, Ceretic, Abloyc, Enniaun Girt, Docmail, and Etern. The districts which preserved their names were : Rhufoniog, Dunoding, Aflogion (a cymwd of Lleyn), Dogfeiling (the cantref of Dyffryn Clwyd), Edeyrnion and Meirionydd. At the very least, the later princes and princelings connected their geneologies with these personas, thus connecting themselves with Cunedda, Gododdin, and Rome.

I'll conclude by stating that there are some loan words which probably originated from Goidelic, though these might have been assimilated from trade connections rather than from any goidelic element in Wales itself.

Part Seven: The Early Church

I'm pulling the following from JE Lloyd's work, as well as the article 'Medieval Wales and the Reformation' by Glanmore Williams. This is in "A History of Religion in Britain", ed by Sheridan Gilley and WJ Sheils (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1994. I'll also throw in some Bede, Gildas and Nennius.

Once again when dealing with the early history, we need to do a few things. First, we'll need to look back to the Roman occupation and we'll need to try to peg down what we know, based on the scanty sources, and then we'll try to figure out what went on based on local legend, archeological findings, inscriptions, etc.

First, what we know. Gildas (writing in 550) finally gives us something we can use. He states the following: "I shall, therefore, omit those ancient errors common to all the nations of the earth, in which, before Christ came in the flesh, all mankind was bound; nor shall I enumerate those diabolical idols of my country, which almsot surpassed in number those of Egypt, and of which we still see some mouldering away within or without the deserted temples, with stiff and deformed creatures as was customary. Nor will I call out upon the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers, which are now subservient to the use of men, but were once an abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind people paid divine honour." (I'm using a translation from JA Giles, "The English Chronicles", (London: George Bell and Sons, 1908). What is important about the above is that by Gildas' time, paganism was not the issue, but rather the problem was in the morality of the rulers of Wales, on which Gildas discusses at length, though at no time does he accuse them of paganism. Thus, we are able to start with the date of 550 and work backwards.

Christianity was most certainly brought to Wales by the Romans either through merchants or soldiers. There have been pieces of archeological evidence suggesting a rather early arrival, however nothing conclusive has been found (at least in the sources I'm using for this). What is clear, is that Christianity most certainly was present when Constantine made it the official religion of the Empire in the 4th C. The official version of Christianity was one set up in diocese with bishops. There most likely would have been bishops at the main legionary cities of Chester and Caerleon, and possibly some further in Wales itself.

After the legions left, Christianity continued in Wales, as evidence at Llantwit Major (the site of a Roman villa which continued operations after the legions departed), Caerwent (a Roman town), and the life of St. Germanus of Auxerre, who travelled to Britian to stamp out Pelagianism in the 5th C. By Gildas' time, we are no longer discussing missionary activities, but rather the influx of the monastic movement.

The period 500-700 is known as the 'Age of Saints', and it is during this time that the majority of Welsh saints around whom cults were established supposedly lived, and after whom many towns/establishments were named (the element 'Llan' means church in Welsh, hence Llandeilo means 'Church of Teilo' and Llantrisant means 'Church of the Three Saints'). The number of monastic establishments seems to have markedly increased in the period 550-650, and that period also is marked by a strong impetus to travel abroad. Some devotees went as far as to live in eremetic isolation at places such as the island of Caldey, off the Pembrokeshire coast or St. Seiriol's island off Anglesey. With the monastaries came education.

St. Illtud (475-525)founded a famous school at Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major) amongst the ruins of the aforementioned Roman villa. Among his disciples were reportedly St. Samson of Dol (for whom we have a 6th C vita), St. David, and Gildas himself. This propensity for education produced Asser, the biographer of Alfred the Great in the 10th C.

It should be noted at this point that after the Saxon invasion of Britain, the Welsh Church was in isolation from the mainstream development of the Church on the continent. Additionally, when St. Augustine established himself at Canterbury (late 6th C), the Welsh did not recognize his supremacy, and did not adhere to the new reckoning for Easter until well after the Synod of Whitby. During this time, the Welsh Church maintained strong contacts with the Irish Church, which may also explain the importance of the monastic communities within Welsh society.

In the meantime, the Welsh bishops retained their roles and in many cases were combined with the office of abbot in the chief monastaries. This occurred at St. David's and Llandeilo Fawr. "There was no incongruity in placing the seat of a bishopric in a monastary, no distinction of type was seen between the two communities; and there may have been no actual distinction between the two, particualarly by the ninth and tenth centuries" (Wendy Davies quoted by Glanmore Williams).

Additionally, before the Norman Conquest, it was common for sons to succeed their fathers to church offices andthe marriage of clerics was also fairly common. Prior to the Norman Conquest, there really were no parish churches, though a few pre-Norman chapels had been established. The number of bishops in Wales may have totalled as many as six, with seats at St. David's, Llandeilo Fawr, Llandabarn, Llandaff, Bangor and Llanelwy (St. Astaph's). The bishops at St. David's might have held some predominance, as Giraldus Cambrensis attempted to prove (he was arguing for an archbishopric to be established at St. David's in the 12th C, but more on that later), but the evidence is inconclusive.

Part Eight: Dark Ages III (600-800, Cadwallon to Rhodri Mawr)

-We'll start with the Battle of Chester in 610, in which the following is recorded in the Saxon Chronicle: "This year Ceolwulf fought with the South Saxons. And Ethelfrith led his army to Chester; where he slew an innumerable host of the Welsh; and so was fulfilled the prophecy of Augustine, wherein he saith--"If the Welsh will not have peace with us, they shall perish at the hands of the Saxons." There was also slain 200 priests (Bede records 1,200), who came thither to pray for the army of the Welsh. Their leader was called Brocmail, who with some fifty men escaped thence."

The period inaugurated by this battle is one in which Lloyd calls 'The Age of Isolation'. The Welsh refused to have peace with the Saxons, neither with their church nor with their kings. The Saxons on the other hand, wished nothing more than to continue to push the Welsh further west in order to complete their conquest and to eliminate a stubborn foe. However, the Welsh had one more fight left in them in the hopes of restoring Britain to their rule. Cadwallon ap Cadfan inherited the kingdom of Gwynedd, then only Mona and Arfon, from his father, whose tombstone has been found (the stone is now serving as the lintel of the south door in the church at Llangadwaladr in Anglesey, and reads "Catamanus rex sapientisimus opinatisimus omnium regum" "Catamanus (the Latinization of Cadfan) the most wise and renowned king of all kings").

Cadwallon gathered forces and made a determined attack upon Northumbria, then under the rule of Edwin. Why did he make this attack? Probably in revenge for the Saxon invasion which occured in the yaers following the Battle of Chester, in which Aethelfrith marched along the north coast of Wales all the way to Mona, burning and looting along the way. In a nutshell, Cadwallon crossed over into Northumbria, gained the support of Penda, the last pagan king of Mercia, and ravaged through the land. Edwin met Cadwallon at on the 12 October 633 at a place called Haethfelth (Hatfield Chase). Cadwallon was victorious and took Edwin's head. Bede record the following: "At this time there was a great slaughter both of the church and of the people of northumbria, one of the perpetrators being a heathen (Penda) and the other a barbarian (Cadwallon) who was even more cruel than the heathen. Now Penda and the whole Mercian race were idolators and ignorant of the name of Christ; but Caedwalla, although a Christian by name and profession, was nevertheless a barbarian at heart and disposition and spared neither women nor children. With bestial cruelty he put all to death by torture and for a long time raged through all their land, meaning to wipe out the whole of the English nation from the land of Britain." Whether or not Cadwallon meant to actually slay the whole of the English race is up for question. He may have actually been exacting the death price of those slain during Aethelfrith's earlier campaign, and likewise may have intended simply to destroy the power of Northumbria, which was growing very strong.

At any rate, Cadwallon defeated both Eanfrith and Osric, Edwin's successors in separate battles, before himself being killed in battle with Oswald, son of Aethelfrith (who later was made St. Oswald) at Denisesburn. Henceforth, every bold defender of Wales was hailed by the poets as a new Cadwallon, to include Owain Glyn Dwr.

Cadwallon was succeded by his son, Cadwaladyr (d. 681), who was of tender age at the time of his father's death. The struggle was carried on, however, and the Welsh most likely lent their support to Penda until in 655, Penda was defeated in battle with Oswy, king of Bernicia and the brother of Oswald (who had died at the hands of Penda). Oswy managed to gain the recognition of supremacy over at least the Gwynedd king. However Cadwalladyr apparently managed to regain some of the stature of gwynedd, but he is recorded as having died in Rome on pilgrimage.

The period which follows the death of Cadwalladyr is kind of fuzzy in terms of what we know from the sources. The Brut Y Tywysogion (Chronicle of the Princes) opens in 681, but is rather scanty in its entries. This was a period marked by fluctuations in the Welsh border, usually with the Welsh coming out on the short end. It is during this time that the area around the Wirral is colonised by the Saxons and the territory of Archenfield (Ergyng) in Hereford first comes into Saxon hands.

The next point to peg is the reign of Offa in Mercia (716-757). Offa was an exceptionally powerful monarch. He came to the title of bretwald (over-king, sort of like the Irish high-king, though with a bit more bite). Offa is important to Welsh history as he is credited with building Offa's Dike, the largest archeological monument in Britain. Offa's Dike is 150 miles long, of which about 80 miles worth of earthworks survive. It consists of a ditch about 6 feet deep and a rampart rising up to 25 feet above it to the east. It often rises to points 1400 feet above sea level. Offa's Dyke is odd in that it was a tremendous labor for any time period, but is given scant recognition in the contemproary sources. Asser mentions it in his Life of King Alfred, but other than this and a song, nothing else exists to praise this undertaking. Regardless, Offa's Dyke, which is meant to slow attacks from the Welsh mountains into Mercia, quickly became the demarcation of the boundary into Wales. In Welsh law, to go beyond the dyke was to go into exile.

Part 9: The Viking Age I

Offa died in 796, thus ending the reign of one of the greater opponents of the Welsh.

The first Viking raid in Wales was in 798 according to the Annales Cambriae. The Viking presence and associations with Wales are a fascinating topic and one which has yet to have any justice done to it. Prof. Loyn wrote a small, but very influential piece "The Vikings in Wales" in 1976, but other than this, there have been some articles/chapters devoted to the topic, but no full length study that I am aware of. However, once again we are dealing with a period for which source material is very sketchy. Loyn makes great use of place-name evidence, which we will discuss below.

The Brut y Tywysogion records the following:
795: Seven hundred and ninety-five was the year of Christ when the Pagans first came to Ireland, and Racline was destroyed.
798: The Saxons killed Caradog, king of Gwynedd.
812: A battle took place between Hywel and Cynan; and Hywel conquered.
815: Griffi son of Cyngen, son of Cadell, was slain, through the treachory of his brother Elisse; and Hywel subdued the isle of Mona and expelled his brother Cynan from Mona, killing many of his army.
817: And two years after that, Hywel was a second time driven from Mona; and Cynan, king of Gwynedd died; and the Saxons ravaged the mountains of Eyri. and took the kingdom of Rhufoniog.
823: The castle of Dyganwy was destroyed by the Saxons. And the Saxons took the kingdom of Powys into their possession.
850: Cyngen was strangled by the Pagans.
853: Mona was ravaged by the black Pagans.
870: Caer Alclut was demolished by the Pagans.
The point of the above entries is to show the following: Wales was being beseiged both from without and from within. The English had made a concerted effort in central Wales, even managing to subdue Powys for a brief period. In the meantime, the Welsh were fighting amongst themselves and the Viking presence was starting to be felt in the Irish Sea. It was becoming a very dangerous time for the region.

During this period, one of the great figures of Welsh history appears onthe scene, Rhodri Mawr. We know little of him, other than the references in the annals, some legends, geneologies, and references to his sons in Asser. Once again, I will be relying upon the work of JE Lloyd and John Davies. Upon the death of Hywel ap Rhodri Molwynog (the Hywel in the above annal) in 825, the direct male line of Gwynedd seems to have ended. Upon his death a certain Merfyn Frych (the Freckled) came to the royal seat of Aberffraw. Merfyn was supposedly descended from Llywarch Hen (of poetic fame) and according to bardic tradition was "from the land of Manaw", which either meant he was from the Isle of Man or was from the area which used to be the kingdom of Gododdin (or was descended from the royal house of Gododdin). At any rate, he was able to secure his hold on Gwynedd and in 844, passed the kingdom to his son, Rhodri.

Rhodri Mawr was able to do something which no other ruler in Wales had been able to do: forge a kingship which extended over much of Wales. he was able to accomplish this through some timely deaths of relatives and marriage alliances. In the end, when he died in 877, he was ruler over Gwynedd, Powys (through marriage allaince), and Seisyllwg (the southern cantrefi and Ceredigion, through the death of his brother-in-law). However, Rhodri earned his title of Mawr (the Great) through his victory over the Vikings in 856, during which he killed the Danish leader Gorm. This victory was celebrated throughout Western Europe, with a legthy poem by Sedulus Scotus, an Irish monk living in Carolingian Frankia.

Rhodri died in 877, while fighting the English. His kingdom was divided amongst his six sons, in accordance with Welsh tradition. Despite this failure of the Welsh to maintain unity, Rhodri's rule left a deep impression on the Welsh, not only for what he accomplished against the Vikings, but also in terms of the unification whcih he achieved. Once this achievement has been made, a precedent is set for future leaders, and one could say that it is the first step for a region to become a unified kingdom in permanence. Over the next 200 years, Wales would be unified three more times. Additionally, it would henceforward be a prerequisite of Welsh kings in Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth to demonstrate a pedigree which included Rhodri Mawr.

In 878 Alfred the Great of Wessex won a great victory over the Viking army. This victory enabled Alfred to regain authority in England for the English, as they had been suffering greatly at the hands of the Danes. However, not only did he gain control over Wessex, but also Mercia, where he inherited the unstable Welsh border and the ongoing conflict between English and Welsh in this area. Meanwhile, the sons of Rhodri had been attempting to expand their control over the areas of Wales which had not come under the control of their father. Additionally, Gwent and Glywysing were being threatened by Aethelred, earl of Mercia.

Asser, in his "Life of Alfred" records the following (Asser was a Welsh monk from St. David's who entered Alfred's service and was eventually made Bishop of Sherborne. This work was written in 893.): "At that time, and for a considerable time before then, all the districts of right-hand Wales (southern Wales) belonged to King Alfred and still do. That is to say, Hyfaidd, with all the inhabitants of the kingdom of Dyfedd, driven by the might of the six sons of Rhodri, had submitted himself to Alfred's royal overlordship. Likewise, Hywel ap Rhys (the king of Glywysing) and Brochfael and Ffyrnael (sons of Meurig and kings of Gwent), driven by the might and tyrannical behavior of Ealdorman Aethelred and the Mercians, petitioned King Alfred of their own accord, in order to obtain lordship and protection from him in the face of their enemies. Similarly, Elise ap Tewdwr, king of Brycheiniog, being driven by the might of the same sons of Rhodri, sought of his own accord the lordship of King Alfred. And Anarawd ap Rhodri, together with his brothers, eventually abandoned the alliance with the Northumbrians (from which he had got no benefit, only a good deal of misfortune) and, eagerly seeking alliance with King Alfred, came to him in person; when he had been received with honour by the king and accepted as a son in confirmation at the hand of a bishop, and showered with extravagent gifts, he subjected himself with all his people to King Alfred's lordship on the same condition as Aethelred and the Mercians, namely that in every respect he would be loyal to the royal will." Needless to say, this submission would play an important role in the future relations between Wales and England.

Part 10: The Viking Age II

With the events described last began a period of relative peace between the English and the Welsh. Alfred (d. 903) was succeeded by his son, Edward, known as 'the Elder', who was a very powerful king and who managed to continue pushing back the Danes who had settled the Danelaw in England. In Wales, Rhodri's grandson through Cadell, Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good) was able to once again unite Wales in the same manner as his gradsire.

By 918, Hywel had gained possession of Dyfed all of Seisyllwg, forming the kingdom of Deheubarth. It is also significnt that by this time , Hywel had already submitted to Edward the Elder, recognizing the Wessex king as his overlord. At this time, Hywel probably gained his nomen 'Dda' by journeying to Rome in 926--something unique in Welsh history, as only rulers who had been exiled or were near death had ever travelled to Rome.

Edward the Elder died in 924, succeeded by another powerful king, Athelstan. Athelstan continued his predecessor's efforts against the Danes, defeating the Scandinavians in battle. At about this time, Athelstan called the rulers of Wales together and gained their submission. Hywel Dda may have attended this gathering (but it looks like he was still on his way back from Rome--it's a very hazy time-period). Be that as it may, from 928-949, Hywel's name appears on every charter which has Welsh signatories. This is a clear indication that Hywel not only was in good stead with Athelstan, but appeared at his court on a number of occassions. Idwal Foeb ap Anarawd, another grandson of Rhodri was ruling Gwynedd at the time, and it appears that between the two of them, they were ruling all of Wales under the overlordship of Athelstan.

Athelstan died in 933, and was succeeded by his son, Edmund. Iwal apparently had had enough of the English overlordship, and in 942, attempted to break with the English king. Idwal and his brother, Elisedd met the English in battle and both were slain. Hywel took advantage of this stiuation by driving out the sons of Idwal, who should have inherited Gwynedd, and made himself the new ruler of all of Wales except for Morgannwg and Gwent. This act was confirmed by the English, with whom Hywel had maintained good relations.

To finish with Hywel, there are two points which need to be brought out. First, he was credited with having codified the laws of the Welsh. Whether or not he actually did this will probably be a mystery for some time to come, but all of the sources confirm his accredidation. For more on the laws of Hywel, see Ray's posting in his Celtic law series. Second, Hywel was one of the rist rulers of Wales who came to terms with the English and attempted to turn this to his own advantage. Hywel had learned the lesson that the lands of Mercia are very rich in resources and are close to the power base of the English kings. Though Wales offers many mountainous fastnesses where resistance can be carried out, it is perhaps a better course of action for a ruler in Wales to come to some form of terms with the English and make the best of the situation, for in the remaining years of Welsh independence, only Gruffudd ap Llywelyn and maybe Owain Gwynedd would be able to confidently meet the English in open battle.

Hywel Dda died in 949. He was unable to hand over the kingdom he had forged to his descendants, and once more Wales broke into North and South realms. What followed was a series of internicine battle between the sons of Idwal and the sons of Hywel. Not until 986 was peace restored when Meredudd ab Owain of Deheubarth (Hywel's grandson) invaded and defeated the rulers of Gwynedd, once more reuniting the two kingdoms. Meredudd ruled Wales for 13 years (986-999), during which he was able to maintain his hold over both Gwynedd and Deheubarth, though the Brut records some tough times:
988: And Mredudd, son of Owain, paid to the black Pagans a tribute of a penny for each person. And a great mortality took place among the men through famine.
991: Edwin, son of Einon, with Eclis the Great, a Saxon prince from the seas of the South, devastated all the kingdoms of Meredudd, to wit, Dyfed, and Ceredigion, and Gower, and Cydweli; and a second time took hostages from all the territory; and devastated Menevia a third time. And Meredudd hired Pagans willing to join him, and devastated Glamorgan...
999: Menevia was depopulated by the Pagans. And bishop Morgeneu was killed by them. And Meredudd, the most celebrated king of the Britains died. (Morgeneu was Bishop of St. David's. The bishops by long tradition did not eat meat. According to Giraldus Cambrensis, Morgeneu had been forced to eat meat or starve while in captivity. He died at the hands of the Vikings, after which his spirit was seen in Ireland, wailing and showing his wounds, with the pitiful cry "I ate meat and am become carrion.")
In 1018, Llywelyn ap Seisyll seized the throne of Gwynedd. He had married Angharad, the daughter of Meredudd ab Owain. Their son was named Gruffudd ap Llywelyn.

Part 11: Gruffudd ap Llywelyn

Grufudd, son of Llywelyn ap Seisyll and Angharad, the daughter of Meredudd ap Owain, was a hard and ruthless man in a hard and ruthless time. Wales not only was involved in the traditional internicine strife and battles against the Saxons, but also was being constantly raided and plundered by Viking and Hiberno-Norse pirates. In England, Cnute the Great was holding the throne as part of a sweeping Scandinavian empire which included not only England but Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Scottish Isles. Llywellyn ap Seisyll died in 1031 and the rule of Gwynedd was assumed by Iago, son of Idwal. The Brut y Tywysogion records :
1037: And then...the Pagans captured Meurug, son of Hywel. And Iago, king of Gwynedd was slain (by Gruffudd); and Gruffudd, son of Llywelyn, son of Seisyll, governed in his stead: and he, from beginning to end, pursued the Saxons, and the other nations, and killed and destroyed them, and overcame them in a multitude of battles. The first battle he fought at Rhyd y Groes on the Severn, where he was victorious. That year he depopulated Llandabarn, and obtained the government of South Wales, and dispossesed Hywel, son of Edwin, of his territory.
The battle mentioned above was the defeat of Leofric, Earl of Mercia near Welshpool. This victory did not secure Deheubarth for Gruffudd, though it did establish him as the leading man in the Welsh battles for supremacy. Powys had already come under Gruffudd's sway through his mother's blood lines, and the next step for Gruffudd was the rule of Dehuebarth. Gruffudd ap Rhydderch stood in his way. Here are the entries in the Brut for this series of events:
1039: And then...the action of Pen Cadeir took place, and Gruffudd overcame Hywel, and captured his wife, and took her to be his own wife.
1042: And then...Hywel, son of Edwin, meditated the devastation of Deheubarth accompanied by a fleet of the people of Ireland, and against him was opposed Gruffudd, son of Llywelyn. And after a cruel battle, and a vast slaughter of the army of Hywel and of the irish at Aber Tywi, Hywel fell and was slain, and Gruffudd was victorious.
1043: And exceeding treachory was practised by Gruffudd and Rhys, sons of Rhydderch, son of Iestin, against Gruffudd, son of llywelyn.
1045: And then...about seven score men of the family of Gruffudd (ap Llywelyn) fell, through the treachory of the men of Ystrad Tywi, and to avenge them, Gruffudd devastated Ystrad Tywi and Dyfed.
1047: All Deheubarth lay in waste.
1054: Gruffudd ap Llywelyn killed Gruffudd ap Rhydderch.. And after that Gruffudd ap Llywelyn raised an army against the Saxons, and arrayed his forces at Hereford; and against him the Saxons rose with a very great host, Reinolf being commander over them; and they met together, arranged their armies, and prepared to fight. gruffudd attacked them immediately with well-ordered troops, and after a severely hard fought battle, the Saxons, unable to bear the assault of the Britons, took to flight, and fell with a very great slaughter. Gruffudd closely pursued them to the fortress, which he entered, and depopulated and demolished the fortress, and burned the town; and from thence, with very great booty, he returned happily and victoriously to his own country.

The deaths of Hywel ap Edwin and Gruffudd ap Rhydderch allowed Gruffudd to become master over all of Deheubarth. He secured Glamorgan and Gwent a few years later, thus for the first and only time in Welsh history was the whole of Wales united under a Welsh leader (the Brut terms him "vrenhin y Brytanyeit"). Gruffudd has been treated differently by different historians. Giraldus considered him a tyrant, even though he was descended through Gruffudd's daughter, Nest. Walter Map, a 12th C author (and friend of Giraldus) passed along the following anecdote: when asked why he was so reasdy to kill his Welsh opponents, Gruffudd replied: "Talk not of killing. I only blun the horns of the progeny of Wales lest they should wound their dam." JE Lloyd, writing in 1911 showed some distaste for Gruffudd, and perhaps made a bigger deal out of the resistance of Gruffudd ap Rhydderch than was true. Gruffudd's activities also caused great concern in England, for he was the first Welsh ruler since Cadwallon who could influece events in England. The actions described above secured for him areas which had formerly been Welsh, but had long since been taken over by the English. After the battle of Hereford, Gruffudd had retaken Whitford and Hope, Bangor Is-coed and Chirk, Presteigne and Radnor. In England, Edward the Confessor, a weak and ineffective king, sat on the throne. Due to his weakness, the various earls of the kingdom had more power and were given free rein to do what they would. It was against one of these earls that Gruffudd had won the victory at Hereford. Here are the last few entries in the Brut for Gruffudd:
1056: And then, Magnus, son of Harold, king of Germany, came to England, and ravaged the dominions of the Saxons, Gruffudd king of the Britons, being conductor and auxiliary to him.
(Magnus Haroldsson was king of Norway and lead an army into England. He was later defeated by the English.)
1057: And then...Owain, son of Gruffudd, died.
1061 One year and one thousand was the year of Christ, when Gruffudd, son of Llywelyn, the head and shield, and defender of the Britons, fell through the treachory of his own men. The man who had hitherto been invincible, was now left in the glens of desolation, after taking immense spoils, and innumerable victoies, and countless treasures of gold and silver, and jewels and purple vestures.

The story needs some cleaning up. The Brut is off by two years for its recording of the dates and the above should be for 1063. What happened was that Harold Godwinson, earl of Wessex, led a forces over both land and sea against Gruffudd. He pursued Gruffudd from place to place, never able to get ahold of Gruffudd in battle. Gruffudd was taken by surprise at this expedition and was unable to muster a force large enough to defeat Harold. What seems to have happened, though is that Gruffudd was in the mountain fastnesses of Snowdonia, when he was murdered on 5 August 1063. The Ulster Chronicle states that he was killed by Cynan ap Iago, the son of Iago ap Idwal, whom Gruffudd had killed in 1039. The greatest victory of Gruffudd's reign was the recovery of lands long thought lost to the English. However, in antagonizing the English, he brought about his own end. This is a pattern which is true in the history of the English and Welsh: when the English kings were weak, the Welsh were able to take advantage of the situation, when the English kings were strong, the Welsh were on the defensive. However, perhaps the greatest failure of Gruffudd is the untimeliness of his death, for had he survived until 1066, the history of Wales might have been very different.

Part 12: The Normans

From the Welsh standpoint things are very confusing, so I'll probably gloss over events until we get to Rhys ap Tewder and Gruffudd ap Cynan. As usual, my sources are John Davies' "A History of Wales", RR Davies' "Conquest, Coexistance and Change", JE Lloyd's "A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest", and the "Brut y Tywysogion" (I am using the Rolls edition of 1860, which has not been edited for dating purposes. There is a 1950's version of the Brut, which RR Davies uses. This version has been cross referenced with some of the other contemporary chronicles for the purpose of aligning the dates. For the most part, the Rolls edition runs about 3 years behind what is generally accepted, as well as using some annoying translations (for example the 'ap' used to denote 'son of' in Welsh is always translated, and Deheubarth, which was a separate kingdom is always translated as "South Wales" which is misleading)).

Gruffudd ap Llywelyn was killed in 1063. Last time I mentioned the failures of his reign. Perhaps the greatest failure was in not overcoming the Welsh propensity for spinning into smaller kingdoms, and not uniting. Wales had been united in some form for every other generation after Rhodri Mawr, which might be an indication of some evolution towards a united kingdom. Unfortunately, the struglle which ensued upon Gruffudd's death was the worst of its kind in the history of Wales.

From John Davies: "The power of Bleddyn and Rhiwallon was challened by the sons of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn; they along with Rhiwallon were killed in a skirmish in 1070. In 1072, Maredudd ab Owain of Deheubarth was killed by Caradog ap Gruffudd of Gwynllwg, and in 1074 Caradog drove Cadwgan ap Meurig from Glamorgan and seized his kingdom. In 1075, Bleddyn was killed by Rhys, the brother of Maredudd ab owain, and Rhys in turn was killed in 1078 by Caradog ap Gruffudd. Bleddyn's kingdom passed to his cousin, Trahaern ap Caradog, but Trahaern was killed, along with Caradog ap Gruffudd, in the battle of Mynydd carn in 1081. The victors were Gruffudd ap Cynan of the senior branch of the royal house of Gwynedd and Rhys ap Tewdwr of the senior branch of the royal house of Deheubarth, branches to which the two kingdoms would henceforth remain loyal. By 1081, however, it seemed as if none of the kingdoms of Wales had much future."

In 1066, William the Bastard, son of Robert the Devil, Duke of Normandy defeated Harold Godwinson on the hill of Senlac outside of Hastings. The battle was hard fought (lasting eight hours, according to the sources), Harold was killed by an arrow through his eye. Along with Harold fell most of the prominent men of England. Thus began the Norman Conquest of England, and the course of French, English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish histories would be forever changed. Historians have spent many pages trying to answer the questions: how great the impact of the Norman conquest was; why they were successful; to what extent they were able to change the society of the common person; etc. What follows is my own spin, well within the boundaries of the commonly accepted.

1. Who were the Normans.

The Normans were a fusion of peoples. The area of Normandy had been partially settled by Norwegian and Danish settlers in the 9th C. The king of France had established a duchy in this territory when finally giving in to reality, and realizing he could not make the settlers go away. The settlers eventually were assimilated by the locals, adopting many of their ways and manner of speech. However, the Normans were different in that they were powerful in their duchy and had a wide influence outside of their lands. By the 13th C, they would have established themselves in England, Ireland, France, Sicily, and the Crusader kingdoms in the Holy Land. The descendants of the Normans would rule Scotland and partition Wales.

2. Why were they successful.

A. The Normans were successful primarily due to their military superiority. They had adopted the use of heavy cavalry and had perfected that use. By doing so, they would be able to win many a battle, though greatly outnumbered on the field. Additionally, the Normans were firm believers in castle-building. By building structures which would be dificult for the native peoples to take (lacking seige engines), they would be able to maintain their presence in a region and project that presence with a minimal amount of soldiers. The type of castle first utilized was the motte and bailey, which was a wooden fort on top of a man-made mound (see Braveheart for some reasonable examples).

B. The Normans maintained a semblance of unity through the strong inter-personal and familial ties which came with their brand of feudalism (I use the term for simplicity's sake, as it is currently not en vogue with historians). This form of feuldaism gave the lord of a manor control over the land and people working that land, thus binding the worker to the land. Obviously this is a form of agriculture which is agrarian in nature, and which would have to change to meet the needs of areas where dirt farming was not an option. This form of agriculture also allowed a small elite to have control over the larger body of people in an area, which just suited the Normans fine, as they could once more maximize the their small numbers in subjugating a land.

C. The Normans were firm believers in primogeniture--the inheritance went to the eldest legitimate son. While ther would be internal strife amongst themselves, there was nothing on the scale of the Welsh.

Back to the narrative. After defeating Harold, William moved north and finished squashing any Saxon resistance through some fairly brutal methods. This having been done, he set about to consolidate his new kingdom. One thing which became quickly clear to him was that the geography of Wales was not conducive to an easy Norman victory. Understanding that he did not have the time or resources to subjugate Wales immediately, he decided to establish some of his more powerful men in large earldoms along the Welsh border. William fitz Osern was established as earl of Herfordshire in 1069; a castle was built at Chester and entrusted to Hugh of Avranches in 1070; in 1071, Roger of Montgomery was established in Shrewsbury.

In each new earldom the earl was granted royal desmesne in the county and the control of the county town. In each case, the lands in the county were held in chief of the earl, not of the king. Each earl was given the licence, if not the command, to launch campaigns against the Welsh. South Wales would be the first region to be affectec by the Normans. This makes some sense in that the coastal plain of the Severn suited the Norman method of fighting and agriculture. William fitz Osbern only stayed on the marches until 1071, but in his short time on the scene, he managed to have a great impact. He built a line of castles from Wigmore to Chepstow, and established his followers in military commands and estates along this line. These sub-lieutenants would be given the detailed work of conquest, and they managed to excel at it.

By 1080, they had consolidated their hold on lowland Glamorgan, the valles of the Monnow and lower Usk, and along the coastal plain from Chepstow to Caerleon. By 1086, Kingdom of Gwent had been extinguished after more than 700 years. The advance in the south east somewhat faltered in 1075, when fitz Osbern's son rebelled against the king. The rebellion was crushed and fitz Osbern's lands were forfeited to the king. Another earl of Hereford would be established, but the forfeiture began a process of more direct involvement by the king which would continue in the future.

In the center, Roger of Montgomery was not idle. By 1070, he had consolidated his hold over Shrewsbury, and was ready to advance to the west beyong Offa's Dyke. First, he established the castle of Montgomery between the Dyke and the Severn. From Montgomery, Earl Roger moved along the river valley, establishing motte and baileys along the way. Asearly as 1073-4 they were able to cross the mountains and send expeditions into Ceredigion and Dyfed. By Roger's death in 1094, the prospects of full conquest in the center of Wales were very promising.

In the north, the valley of the Dee was fully exploited. Hugh od Avranches and his cousin, Robert of Rhuddlan made some very striking advances. From Chester, they over-ran Bangor Is-coed to Basingwerk. They proceeded up the coastline, established a castle at Rhuddlan (formerly a seat of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn), and subjugated Rhos and Rhufoniog. Robert of Rhuddlan then staked a claim on Gwynedd from the king for 40 pounds. The influx into the north continued, with a castle being established on Anglesey, and in 1092, a Norman was elected to the see of Bangor.

From the Welsh standpoint, the Normans were merely another player in the internicine wars which were consuming the native dynasties. However, the Welsh began to realize the extent of the threat. The lives of Gruffudd ap Cynan and Rhys ap Tewdwr demonstrate the resilincy of the native Welsh, and mark the beginnings of the Welsh resurgence and Norman retreat.

Part 13: The Welsh Resurgence

As we had discussed earlier, the Norman system of doing things was designed to maximize the power of a smallish elite. This may give the impression of Norman lords establishing their dominance over a native Welsh population. While this may be the case in a number of areas, what also was going on during this time (late 11th and early 12th C's) was the colonization of areas under Norman control and the establishment of manors using these colonists as labour. The colonization was the heaviest in south Wales along the Severn coast. Initially the colonists were English (Anglo-Saxon descent), but also Flemmings were brought in after their traditional homelands had been floded by the encroaching sea. The Brut has the following intriguing entries on this matter:
1080: The building of Cardiff began.
1105: ...A certain nation, not recognised in respect of origin and manners, and unknown as to where it had been concealed in the island for a number of years, was sent by king Henry into the country of Dyfed. And that nation seized the whole of the cantref of Rhos, near the efflux of the river called Cledyf, having driven off the people completely. This nation, as it is said, was derived from Flanders, the country whoch is situated nearest the Britons.

This colonization, both of Flemmings and English was perceived by the native Welsh as an extension of the ancient conflict with the Saxons. Much of what occurs on both sides in the following years has the tint of racial hatred on both sides.

In south Wales, after the dust settled from the internal disputes after the death of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, Rhys ap Tewdwr emerged in the prominent position amongst the Wlesh in Deheubarth. He, along with Gruffudd ap Cynan, was the benefactor of the battle of Mynydd Carn. From 1078, he managed to survive for 15 years in that position, despite repeated attempts to ouster him. Rhys also benefitted from an agreement struck with William the Conquerer in 1081.

William had not played a prominent role in Welsh affairs until 1081. Having more or less completed th e submission of England, Willaim decided to make a show of power in south Wales, not only to impress the natives but also to reaffirm roayl power to the Marcher lords. This was doneunder the guise of a pilgrimage to St. David's. During William's tour, he met with Rhys, and it seems that an agreement was struck, where Rhys accepted the overlordship of the king in return for recognition of Rhys' rights in Dehuebarth. However, Rhys was killed in 1093, in battle against the Normans who were establishing themselves in Brechniog, which may have been a breach of the agreement Rhys had made with the king.

However, William I had died and been replaced by his son, William Rufus, who apparently was willing to forgo the agreement of his father and allow the Marcher lords to continue their expansion. This stiuation was magnified by Rhys ap Tewdwr's death. The Brut has the following entry for 1093 (1091 in the Rolls edition): "One year and one thousand and ninety was the year of Christ when Rhys ap Tewdwr, king of Deheubarth, was killed by the French, who inhabited Brecheiniog; and then fell the kingdom of the Britons...the French came into Dyfed and Ceredigion, which they have still retained, and fortified the castles, and seized upon all the land of the Britons." The Normans consolidated thei hold on Gwent, pushed over the Usk into Glamorgan, and began their efforts in Builth, Radnor, Malienydd and Elfael. They converged by land and sea on south west Wales, establishing castles at Cardigan, Pembroke, and Rhydygors (near Carmarthen), as well as attacking Ystrad Tywi, Cydweli and Gower.

In 1092, William Rufus established Carlisle. Additionally, the king would make two separate forays into Wales, in 1095 and 1097, though these really accomplished very little (the Welsh warrior, Bad Weather, played a prominent role). The Welsh response to this came in what JE Lloyd terms "The Struggle at Its Height". However, while the Welsh managed to wind several signal victories against the Normans, forcing them to give up Cardigan and despoiling Pembroke in 1095, the southern Welsh did not find a strong leader until Rhys ap Gruffudd ap Rhys ap Tewdwr. In the north of Wales, the story was different.

Part 14: The Welsh Resurgence II

Of all the remarkable characters of history, Gruffudd ap Cynan ranks among the leaders in terms of living a life worth writing about. Someone actually did this, albeit about 40 years after his death. I'll be using this piece, "Historia Gruffudd vab Kenan" for what follows (from "A Medieval Prince of Wales: The Life of Gruffudd ap Cynan" trans by D. Simon Evans, Llanerch Press, 1990).

Gruffudd was the son of Cynan ap Iago, one of the claimants to the seat of Aberffraw. Gruffudd, however, also was of Hiberno-Norse origin, his mother being Ragnailt, daughter of Olaf, king of Dublin. This connection was to be very important to Gruffudd during his career. Additionally, Cynan was forced into exile, and was thereby raised in the house of his mother in Ireland.

In 1075, Gruffudd raised an army in Ireland, made up mostly of Hiberno-Norse, and captured Anglelsey and Arfon, the cantref lying across from the Menai Straits. the Historia records the following: "And when all those things had been done, urged by them he took a large host towards the cantref of merionnydd, where Trahearn his other oppressor was opposing him. And there was a battle between them in a narrow glen, the place called Gwaed Erw, or the Bloody Field, because of the battle which took place there. God gave victory over his enemies that day and many thousands fell on Trahearn's side; and hardly did he escape mournfully, and a few with him, from the battle. Gruffudd and his retinue pursued him over the plains and mountains as far as the borders of his own land. Because of that Gruffudd was exalted from that day forth, and deservedly acclaimed king of Gwynedd."

Gruffudd then made the mistake of over-extending himself. First, he marched to Rhuddlan castle, where he managed to win a victory over the Norman garrison. However, he was not done with the dynastic struggles. The three sons of Merwydd and the men of Llyn united against Gruffudd. In the meantime, Powys, under Gwrgenau, son of Seisyll, united with the men of Lynn and also opposed Gruffudd. In the ensuing battle of Bron-yr-erw, Gruffudd was defeated and forced back into exile.

Gruffudd returned for a second time from ireland, once again leading a force of Hiberno-Norse. This time he made an alliance with Rhys ap Tewdwr and was successful at the already mentioned battle of Mynydd Carn. However, the following occurred: "And as he (Gruffudd) was thus enjoying the use of his kingdom, Meirion Goch, his own baron, was stirred by the devil's arrow, accused him before Hugh, earl of Chester, and betrayed in this way. He arranged for the two earls from France, namely the Hugh mentioned above and Hugh earl of Shrewsbury, the son of Roger Montgomery, should come, along with a multitude of footsoldiers, as far as Y Rug in Edeirnion. The traitor then betrayed him with these words: 'Lord,' said he, 'two earls from the border greet thee and beseech thee to come safely with thy foreigners to talk to them as far as Y Rug in Edeirnion.' Gruffudd, beleiving these words, came as far as the place of his tenancy. And when the earls saw him, they captured both him and his retinue, and put him in the gaol of Chester, the worst of prisons for twelve years. His foreigners (the Hiberno-Norse), after they had been caught, had the thumb of the right hand of each of them cut off, and in that condition, let them go."

While Gruffudd languished in Hugh's jail, the two powerful Marcher lords made advances in Gwynedd, building castle along the way and consolidating their gains. Gruffudd then escaped and fled to Ireland once more. In 1094, Gruffudd made one more foray into Gwynedd. This time he had timed his attacks with the general revolts which were occurring in all parts of Wales. Gruffudd first regained Anglesey and then began to attack the mainland and reestablish his hold over Gwynedd. In 1098, the two Hugh's once more joined forces for an expedition into Gwynedd. They led a very powerful army of Normans across the northern coast of Wales, defeating any who dared to oppose them. Gruffudd, along with his son-in-law, Gadwgan ap Bleddyn were forced to flee first to Anglesey, and then back to ireland in the face of the Norman incursion.

Then, one of those most singular events occurred which changed the course of Welsh history. Magnus Barelegs, King of Norway, had been in the Irish Sea with the intent of establishing his son as the king of the Isle of Man, as well as affirming his sovereignity over the Lord of the Isles. Magnus wandered to the Anglesy coast, where the following took place: "However, the fleet which they had suddenly seen was owned by the king of Norway, whom God in his mercy had directed to Anglesey, in order to free the people beseiged by the foreignors; for they had called on their Lord in their suffering and grief, and God listened to them. After the king had been told through an interpreter what island it was, and who was master, what ravaging had been done, what pursuing, who were the pursuers, he shared their grief, and became angry, and approached the land with three ships. The French, however, fearful like women, when they saw that, fought with their corselets on, and sat on their horses as was their wont, and advanced towards the king and the force of three ships. The king and his force fearlessly fought against them, and the French fell down from upon their horses like fruit from fig trees, some dead, some wounded by the missiles of the men of Norway. And the king himself, unruffled from the prow of the ship, hit with an arrow Hugh, earl of Shrewsbury in his eye, and he fell humped back to the ground mortally wounded from his armed horse, beating upon his arms. And from that incident the French turned in flight, and presented their backs to the arrows of the men of Norway." After this event, the Normans retreated back to their castles and Gruffudd returned. Magnus would show up on the coast of Anglesey a few years later, but only to cut down some trees for his son's castle on Man.

In the years that followed, Gruffudd returned to Gwynedd, this time securing part of his hold on the kingdom, and then made a pact with Hugh, earl of Chester. Gruffudd did this, knowing he really could not defeat the Norman establishment yet, and needed some time to secure his power base. Hugh, Earl of Chester died in 1101, leaving his earldom in a minority holding of his son. Combined with the death of Hugh of Chester in 1098, and the forfeiture of Robert of Shrewsburyand his brother Arnulf of Pembroke, transformed the nature of the Norman conquest. With these four men out of the way, the imetus of the Norman advance was blunted, and in a surprising turn of events, they were eventually thrown back in the north, losing Caernarfon, Bangor, Degwanny, Rhuddlan and Basingwerk.

This brings us to the reign of Henry I, one of the most powerful kings in English history. Henry continued to secure the hold of the Normans in south Wales, establishing yet another colony of Flemmings in Haverfordwest, and bringing in more English. Henry, however, was not happy with the gains which Gruffudd ap Cynan had been making in Gwynedd, and launched an expedition against Gruffudd in 1114, where Gruffudd and Mereduth ap bleddyn of Powys made their submissions. Gruffudd's heroism in these years was that he simply survived. Gruffudd died in 1137, having secured the existance of Gwynedd, though with the submssion to Henry I, but set the stage for his son, Owain Gwynedd. Henry I's reign continued to be strong in Wales, Consolidating the hold of the English in the south, and gaining the submission of the north. By 1135, the Anglo-Normans (henceforward referred to as English, again) were in control of almost all of southern Wales, and Gruffudd ap Rhys, the son of Rhys ap Tewdwr, had been relegated to becomming a small land-holder of one of the major Marcher lords. The death of Henry I in 1135 opened up a new era of Welsh resurgence, known as "The Great Revolt".

Part 15: Owain Gwynedd and the Lord Rhys

Henry's death coincided with the rise to power of two of the most remarkable leaders in Welsh history, Owain Gwynedd and Rhys ap Gruffudd, as well as a pretty good one in Madog ap Meredudd. The period from 1135 to 1197 when these personages ruled Wales, is considered a Golden Age, as not only was the power of the native princes at its greatest since Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, but also because the literature, poetry, and patrimony were also greatly revived. It was during this time that some of the great Welsh poets were active, the texts of the Welsh law were first assembled in book form, and the great assemblies of Welsh poets and musicians (eisteddfod) were being held. However, despite this period's relative prosperity, the end was drawing near for the kingdom of Dehuebarth.

Rhys ap Gruffudd, otherwise known as the Lord Rhys, was the grandson of Rhys ap Tewdwr. His father had managed to regains some of the lost status of his kingdom after the great Anglo-Norman pushes of the late 11th C. Rhys (who reigned from 1155-1197), along with his three brothers began the long process of reconstituting the kingdom of Deheubarth. By 1155, this reconstitution was successful, largely due to the instability of the English, as King Stephen sat precariously upon the throne. Stephen's instability and the anarchy which enveloped English politics muted the power of the Marcher lords and allowed the Welsh to make substantial gains. By 1155 also, Rhys' brothers had died or been killed, leaving him as the sole heir to the seat of Dinefwr. However, Welsh rule in Deheubarth was never able to oust the Anglo-Normans from the south coast of Wales, leaving the kingdom in a very precarious position. Cardigan was gained and lost several times, and in 1145 Earl Gilbert of Pembroke recovered Carmarthen temporarily.

In Gwynedd, Owain Gwynedd, the son of Gruffudd ap Cynan, peacefully took the seat of Aberfraw in 1137 and reigned until his death in 1170. He consolidated his position very quickly (though with an on again, off again relationship with his brother, Cadwaladr) and began pushing back the Anglo-Norman positions. He was known more for his baility to lead men in batle, than cultural pursuits, and this he did very well, capturing Rhuddlan castle in 1167 and bringing Tegeingl back into the Welsh fold (which was followed with a successful Welsh colonization of the newly re-acquired lands). Owain also had his eye on Ceredigion, and after several posturings, the Lord Rhys and Owain came to an agreement whereby they divided Ceredigion amongst each other, with Rhys getting the lion's share.

In 1155, Henry II took the throne of England and quickly became one of its most powerful monarchs. Henry took an interest in subduing the resurgent Welsh princes, and in 1157 mounted a campaign into Wales. The Brut records the following:
1157: Henry, son of the empress, king of England, who was grandson of Henry, son of William the Bastard, brough an immense army into the champaign land of Caerleon, with the design of subjecting all Gwynedd to himself; and there he encamped. And then Owain, prince of Gwynedd, had called to him his sons and his strength and his army and his power, he encamped at basingwerk, having with him an immense host. And there he fixed an appaointment for battle with the king, causing dykes to be raised, with the design of fighting a pitched battle with the king. When the king heard of that he divided his army, and sent earls, many and innumerable barons, with a powerful number of armed troops along the strand towards the place where Owain was. And the king himself undauntedly, with armed troops...proceeded through the wood, called the Wood of Cennadlog...; and David and Cynan, sons of Owain, intercepted them in the trackless wood, and fought a severe battle with the king; who after many of his men were killed, scarcely escaped into the champaign lands again...And then the king collected his army together and proceeded to Rhuddlan in a rage. Then Owain encamped in fron of Llwyn Pina; and from thence harrassed the king day and night... {in the meantime, Henry had sent men to make a landing on Anglesey in the rear} ...on the following day there was a battle between them and the men of Mona. And in that battle the French, according to their accustomed manner, retreated, after many of them were killed, and others taken, and others drowned; and scarcely a few of them escaped to the ships, Henry, son of king Henry, and almost all the chief officers of the seamen, having been slain...
However, despite some success against the king, Owain adopted the course of of submitting to the king, accepting him as his overlord. Owain probably did this to prevent a further expedition and to get the angry king out of Gwynedd. Owain also delivered hostages to the king, which would play a part in the future. The following year, the Lord Rhys was subjected to much the same treatment by Henry II, and was also forced to submit (upon the advice of Owain Gwynedd) and give up hostages.

In 1163, the Lord Rhys once again revolted against the incursions and presuppositions of the English. Henry II came once more into Wales, forced Rhys to submit, but this time Henry had Rhys and his chief leaders pay homage to himself and his son. The Brut record the following:
1165: The ensuing year, when Rhys ap Gruffudd saw that the king fulfilled nothing of what he had promised, and that he could not thus submit honorably, he manfully entered the territory of Roger, earl of Clare...and dismantled and burned the castle of Aber Rheidiol...and reconquered for a second time the whole of Ceredigion, iterating slaughters and conflagrations against the Flemings, and taking form them many spoils. And after that, all the Welsh combined together to expel the garrison of the French altogether.

This time, the enraged Henry II prepared and mounted what was hoped to be the final blow to the recalcitrant Welsh princes. Forces were comandeered from the continent and from Scotland, a fleet was also summoned from Dublin "..proposing to destroy the whole of the Britons". However, this time, things went differently, as Owain Gwynedd and Madog ap Meredudd of Powys united with the Lord Rhys in their defiance assembling forces at Corwen in the Dee valley. Henry then made the serious tactical blunder of trying to march from Oswestry up the Ceiriog valley and across the Berwyn range, rather than follow the traditional coastal routes. "...And after remaining there a few days, he was overtaken by a dreadful tempest of the sky, and extraordinary torrents of rain. And when provisions failed him, he removed his tents and his army to the open plains of England; and full of extreme rage, he ordered the hostages, who had previously been long imprisoned by him, to be blinded; to wit the two sons of Owain Gwynedd...and the son of the Lord Rhys..." This defeat of Henry enabled Owain, Rhys and Madog to concentrate their efforts on building a sustained peace, though with some of the ususal disputes amongst their relations. This also allowed the Welsh to take the initiative once more, making some headway against the English who were on their borders.

The next time Henry came to Wales was in 1171. This time he was not on a punitive expedition, but on his way to ireland to establish his authority over the barons who had set themselves up there (many of whom were Marcher lords). This time, he made the Lord Rhys the justiciar over all of Deheubarth, and freed his son. This last visit of Henry II marks the end of an era in Welsh-English relations, for no king would return to Wales for almost 40 years. Owain Gwynedd died in 1170, and his son, David succeeded him. David took the opportunity to establish new relations with Henry II, further securing his position.

Part 16: Giraldus Cambrensis

Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales--he seems to have preferred the Latinization of his name) is a figure for whom many historians, myself included, have a love-hate relationship. He was a mover-and-shaker of his time in terms of politics, having personally met or had a relationship with English kings, popes, Welsh leaders and Marcher lords. He was remakably well educated, and provides a wealth of important insights into the people and land of his times. He was also biased, superstitious, not above writing harsh invectives, and rather egotistic. Be that as it may, Giraldus has left us some very valuable writings, and one cannot but admire his efforts to have the see of St. David's raised to an archbishopric.

Giraldus was born in 1145 at the castle of Manorbier in Pembroke. His forebears included both Welsh and Norman nobility, a fact which Giraldus makes us well aware of. Amongst his forebears were the promiscuous Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, who was married to the indomitable Gerald of Windsor (the Norman hero of the seige of the castle of Pembroke). Thus, he could include as his relatives the Lord Rhys and the FitzGerald family. He was educated at Paris, and was at home with Latin, French, and English. Giraldus only seems to have had a working knowledge of Welsh, but could not speak it fluently.

He chose an ecclesiastic career early in his life (or had it chosen for him, being the youngest of the de Barri sons). He developed a reputation as one of the leading ecclesiastics in south Wales, known (according to Giraldus) for his intelligence and forthrightness. At various times he was a member of the court of Henry II and accompanied a young Prince John (later to be king) to Ireland. He was offered several bishoprics which he refused, remaining an archdeacon of St. David's. Later in life, he was elected as bishop of St. David's, but refused to accept the primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury over the Welsh diocese. He later travelled to Rome and tried to convince the pope to make St. David's an archbishopric, an act which was denied and which made him many enemies. He ended his days in obscurity, possibly in London in 1223.

What Giraldus is most noted for are his writings, most notably the "Topography of Ireland", the "Conquest of Ireland", the "Description of Wales" and the "Itinerary Through Wales". Being that this posting of mine is about Wales, we will focus on the last two. Also, seeing that I need to be somewhat brief, I will include a number of excerpts from these two works, so that you may judge for yourself the quality and character of Giraldus. The following is taken from the Penguin Classics edition, translated by Lewis Thorpe, 1978.

On Writing History: "Among the pursuits which we should most admire, there are other things to be said in favor of the studious life. 'History,' says Seneca again, 'is the recording of past events, the testimony of the ages, the light of truth, a living memory, a guide for conduct and a reminder of what happened long ago.' [actually from Cicero, but Giraldus was quoting from memory] I find this sort of work the more attractive in that it seems to me to be more praiseworthy to write something worth quoting oneself than simply to keep quoting other people, and better to be admired by others for one's own compositions than to be a sound critic of what others have composed....What one owns must always perish, but what I have will always live."

On Writing in General: "Then there is the problem of choice of words and expressions, and of how to perfect one's style, if one wants to write well. It is one thing to set out the course of events in proper sequence, but you still have the difficult problem of deciding what words to use and how best to express what you want to say. Writing is an exacting business. First you decide what to leave out, and then you have to polish up what you put in. What you finally commit to parchment must face the eagle eye of many readers, and at the same time run the risk of meeting hostile criticism. The words one speaks fly off on the wind and are heard no more: you can praise or condemn, but it is soon forgotten. What you write down and then give to the world in published form is never lost: it lasts forever, to the glory or ignominy of him who wrote it."

On Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain": [Having just described a man who could see devils. The said devils would dance in glee whenever someone did something sinful.] "When he was harassed beyond endurance by these unclean spirits, Saint John's Gospel was placed on his lap, and then they all vanished immediately, flying away like so many birds. If the Gospel were afterwards removed and the 'History of the Kings of Britain' by Geoffrey of Monmouth put there in its place, just to see what would happen, the demons would alight all over his body, and on the book, too, staying there longer than usual and being even more demanding." [Giraldus, however, made copious use of Geoffrey's work, even including some of it in his defence of St. David's status to the pope.]

On the Welsh: "The Welsh people are light and agile. They are fierce rather than strong, and totally dedicated to the practice of arms. Not only the leaders but the entire nation are trained in war. Sound the trumpet for battle and the peasant will rush from his plough to pick up his weapons as quickly as the courtier fromthe court." "They plough the soil once in March and April for oats, a second time in summer, and then they turn it a third time while the grain is being threshed. In this way the whole population lives almost entirely on oats and the produce of their herds, milk, cheese and butter. They eat plenty of meat, but little bread." "They are passionatley devoted to their freedom and to the defence of their country: for these they fight, for these they suffer hardships, for these they will take up their weapons and willingly sacrifice their lives." "It is a remarkable fact that on many occasions they have not hesitated to fight without any protection at allagainst men clad in iron, unarmed against those bearing weapons, on foot against mounted cavalry. They are so agile and fierce that they often win battles fought against such odds." "The Welsh are given neither to gluttony nor to drunkenness. They spend little on food or clothes. Their sole interest in life consists of caring for their horses and keeping their weapons in good order, their sole preoccupation the defence of their fatherland and the seizing of booty." "If food is short or if they have non at all, they wait patiently for the next evening. neither hunger nor cold can deter them. They spend the dark and stormy nights in observing the movements of their enemies." "In Wales, no one begs. everyone's home is open to all, for the Welsh generosity and hospitality are the greatest of all virtues." "When they come together to make music, the Welsh sing their traditional songs, not in unison, as is done elsewhere, but in parts, in many modes and modulations. When a choir gathers together to sing, which happens often in this country, you will hear as many parts and voices as there are performers, all joining together in the end to produce a single organic harmony and melody in the soft sweetness of B-flat." "The Welsh value distinguished birth and noble descent more than anything else in the world. They would rather marry into a noble family than into a rich one. Even the common know their family tree by heart and can readily recite from memory the list of their grandfathers, great-grandfathers, great-great grandfathers, back to the sixth or seventh generation..." "The Welsh people rarely keep their promises, for their minds are as fickle as their bodies are as agile." "It is the habit of the Welsh to steal anything they can lay their hands on and live on plunder, theft and robbery, not only from foreigners and people hostile to them, but also from each other." "In war the Welsh are very ferocious when battle is first joined. They shout, glower fiercely at the enemy, and fill the air with fearsome clamor, making a high-pitched screech with their long trumpets. From their first fierce and headlong onslaught, and the shower of javelins whcih they hurl, they seem most formidable opponents. If the enemy resists manfully and they are repulsed, they are immediately thrown into confusion." "The Welsh people are more keen to own land and to extend their holdings than any other I know."

Giraldus' works are fairly availible, and for those of you who are interested I'd strongly recommend the works I mentioned above.

Part 17: The Early 13th Century

This time, well end the existance of Deheubarth and Powys as coherent kingdoms and follow the history of Gwynedd up to the beginning of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's reign. For simplicity's sake, I'll cover each kingdom, Deheubarth, Powys and Gwynedd separately.


Upon the death of the Lord Rhys in 1197, Dehuebarth self-destructed. Remeber that the Welsh custom of partibility, where each male child, both legitimate and bastards had equal rights to the inheritance. Rhys had 18 (!) children, 8 of which were legitimate. This brood quickly began to fight amongst itslef, bringing in the English when it was politically convenient. Much blood was spilled and stability was only brought to the region when either the king or the princes of Gwynedd intervened.

In 1216 a partition was devised in the hopes of divying up Deheubarth between three of the claimants, however this partition neither reflected reality nor was it adhered to. In 1240 a further partition occurred, but this just underscored the horrible position which the native Welsh then found themselves. RR Davies sums it up the best: "Deheubarth in the thirteenth century had become a collection of petty principalities, living by grace, or under the thumb, of either the king of England or the prince of Gwynedd. Its rulers strutted proudly on their little stages and the poets and chroniclers flattered their self-esteem by continuing to salute them as 'pillars of Wales', 'tormentors of England', 'defenders of the whole of Deheubarth and counsellors of the whole of Wales.' But in truth they were, in Sir John Edward Lloyd's crushing phrase, no more than 'puny chiefs'. So had eclipsed the majesty of Deheubarth which had shone so brightly in the days of the Lord Rhys." (p. 227). Some of these principalities would survive until the end of the 13th C, but then they were snuffed out by Edward I, for they could put up little effective resistance, nor could they aide Gwynedd in its time of need.


Much the same occurred in Powys. Upon the death of Madog ap Meredudd in 1160, Powys was divided into Northern and Southern Powys, led by southern Powys' leader, Gwenwynwyn ap Owain Cyfeiliog. Upon the death of the Lord Rhys, Gwenwynwyn began to flex his muscles a bit, raiding into England and meddling in the squablles of Rhys' sons. The Brut records:
1198 ...Gwenwynwyn meditated endeavoring the restoration of their ancient rights to the Welsh, their original property, and their boundaries. And when the princes of Wales had agreed with him thereon, he collected a vast army and proceeded to attack Pain's castle, and after he had fought against it, without projectiles and engines of war, for nearly three weeks, he was ignorant of the future issue.
The English army had overwhelmed the Welsh forces, thus destroying the credibility of Gwenwywyn in the eyes of the other Welsh princes. In October of 1208, King John humiliated Gwenwynwyn, by summoning him to Shrewsbury, stripping him of his lands, exacting hostages from him, and restored his inheritance on the most demeaning terms, including promises of perpetual service and of jurisdictional submission. In 1216, Gwenwynwyn was exiled by Llywelyn ap Iorweth of Gwynedd and did in exile.

After Gwenwynwyn's death Powys continued upon a course very similar to Deheubarth. The only difference was that English pressure along the frontier was not as great here as it was in southern Wales, and thus the conflicts amongst the princelings were not quite as brutal as they were in the south. However, like Deheubarth, these princelings survived only until the Edwardian Conquest, and they too were unable to provide any great help to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in the final days of native Welsh rule.

Before moving on to Gwynedd, I'd like to say a few words about this self-destruction of the two kingdoms. The Welsh had exhibited periods prior to this when the tendancy to subdivide was great, but there are probably two reasons why things were so bad at the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries. First, the pressure of the English barons on the native dynastic politics was very great, especially in southern Wales. The Lord Rhys really had pulled off a miracle in re-establishing the kingdom of Deheubarth and he tried to reinforce that bond through a myriad of marriage alliances and personal diplomacy, not only with the native Welsh, but with the English as well. This failed him in that his eldest son was not up to the task of putting down his brothers or of establishing himself as a strong leader. In Powys, the pressure was not as great, but it still was there and was just as effective as it was in the south in keeping Powys from coming into the hands of any one prince. The second factor was Gwynedd. Gwynedd was ruled by strong leaders throughtout this period. However, in times past when this scenario arose, the strong leader was able to make good on his strength and conquer large portions of Wales, uniting them under his rule. The princes in Gwynedd failed to do this primarily due to the English equation which had not existed in previous times. With the English johnny on the spot, with castles and supporting any of the various princelings, they kept the princes of Gwynedd in check. The best they could do was conquer part of Ceredigion, of which Cardigan Castle, the most important stronghold south of Aberystwyth, was in English hands permanently from 1199, and Aberystwyth was built as a royal castle by King John (of stone) in 1211.


Upon Owain Gwynedd's death in 1170, the kingdom was divided amongst his sons and the usual quarrels ensued. However, in 1194 Dafydd ap Owain and his brother Rhodri were defeated by two of their nephews in battle. One of the victors was Llywelyn ap Iorweth, and his rise to power quickly became meteoric. On 11July 1201, King John secured a formal agreement with Llywelyn, recognizing all of Llywelyn's rights and claims to Gwynedd, and conceding that if there were a dispute between the king and Llywelyn, that such a dispute would be resolved in accordance with Welsh law. In 1205, King John wed his illegitimate daughter, Joan to Llywelyn. Royal support enhanced Llywelyn's position, allowing him to further secure his position at home and to look to his interests in domestic disputes. However, Llywelyn would come very close to the disaster which would occur in 70 years later. In 1210, Llywelyn came into a dispute over several castles with the earl of Chester. Things gradually grew worse, and in 1211, King John, having just defeated the Scots, became very angry with his insubordinate Welsh prince and led two expeditions into Wales. The first of these expeditions failed, as Llywelyn retreated to the fastnesses of Snowdonia and King John's forces were starved in the remote regions. The Brut records: "And there the army was in so great a want of provisions, that an egg was sold for a penny halfpenny; and it was a delicious feast to them to get horseflesh, and on account of that the king returned to England..." In the same year, King John came once more into Gwynedd with a huge army, and this time the results were different. Llywelyn had to submit to the king and offer hostages. However, he survived intact. In 1212, once more John sent an army that was truly overwhelming with the clear intent of destroying Welsh power, but he was turned aside at the last moment by affairs elsewhere.

From this time forward, Llywelyn continueed to grow in power and prestige, continually reaffirming his status as the leader of the Welsh. However, as stated above, this was not done on the scale of Rhodri Mawr or Hywel Dda. Times were different and the English influence stronger. Llewlyn ap Iorweth died in 1240 and he was able to have his son Daffydd recognized as his successor. This was a true victory for Gwynedd, in that Llywelyn was able to break with the old tradition. Unfortunately, Dafydd's reign turned out to be weak and short, with Dafydd ap Llywelyn dying in 1247. Upon his death, the principality was divided amongst his two nephews 'by the counsel of the wise men of the land'. These two were Owain and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.

Part 18: The Last Prince

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd is one of the more discussed personages in medieval Welsh history. One is easily impressed by his advances in the early part of his career, dismayed at his inability to come to terms with the English, and saddened by his end. We need to back up a few years though, before we begin. The reason for this is to set up Edward I's attitude to Wales at this time. Why? Because Edward was an extremely judicious man, a king who was extremely jealous of his rights and one who used the law (or his interpretation of the law) to his own advantage. Edward is known to posterity as being one of the most litigious monarchs of the Middle Ages.

Dafydd ap Llywelyn ap Iorweth had to submit to Henry III in 1241. Part of this submission included the following terms: the surrender of the homages 'of all noble Welshmen' to Henry III (these homages had been given to Dafydd); the promise that he and his heirs would be faithful forever to the king and his heirs and that in the event of a breach of this oath of fealty, "his land would be forfeited to the king in perpetuity"(this is VERY important to what follows); and that if Dafydd died without an heir, the king would succeed to the principality in perpetuity. These concessions essentially amounted to a change of status for Gwynedd to the same level as one of the Marcher lords. Dafydd died during the rebellion of 1246-7. Among the leaders of this rebellion were Llywelyn and Owain ap Gruffudd.

Lywellyn had established his power in Dyffryn Clwyd and had attracted some of the advisors of his grandfather, Llywelyn ap Iorweth. While Dafydd was being humilaited and displaying his weakness on the seat of Aberffraw, Llywelyn was collecting dissatisfied leaders of the communities of Gwynedd. In this sense, it must be stated that Llywelyn seems to have been one of those rare figures who was charismatic as well as being successful in arms. men seemed to flock to him and he inspired loyalty amongst them. When Dafydd died in 1246, Llywelyn laid a claim to be his successor. At the time, Henry III had an army on the way and was doing a pretty good job of putting down the revolt. Llywelyn and his brother, Owain, had no choice but to conclude a treaty with the English king. This was the Treaty of Woodstock, of April 1247. This treaty put the homages of Llywelyn and Owain to the king in writing, and for the first time in the history of Wales, a specific military quota was established for Gwynedd. This treaty, as humiliating as it was, gave Llywelyn and Owain time to catch their breaths and establish themselves in the truncated Gwynedd.

In November of 1250, Llywelyn began to establish secret treaties with the other Welsh leaders. He first concluded a treaty with Gruffudd ap Madog of northern Powys, and then he and his brother established similar alliances with the princelings of southern Wales, promising to act together as 'sworn brothers'. However, before working with sworn brothers, Llywelyn had to take care of his real ones. Since 1253, disputes had arisen between the sons of Gruffudd, this time also including the younger brother, Dafydd, who was to remain a thorn in the side of Llywelyn for the rest of his life. The English, ever ready to take advantage of the Welsh family squabbles, wanted to set up a royal justiciar to settle the dispute (and thereby further establishing royal prerogative in the affairs of Gwynedd). However, Llywelyn preferred to settle the dispute on the battlesfield, which he did in the summer of 1255, where he decisively defeated his brothers at Bryn Derwin, establishing himself as the master of Gwynedd. This victory is important in that the following year the Welsh went on the offensive against the English. Here's the Brut's entry for 1256: "...Edward, son of king Henry, earl of Caerleon, came, in August, and after he had returned to England, the nobles of Wales came to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, having been robbed of their liberty, and made captives, and complainingly declared to him that they would rather be killed in war for their liberty, than suffer themselves to be trodden down by strangers in bondage. And Llywelyn was moved by their tears..." Edward's visit probably was aimed at securing the him ages of the local princelings, as well as collecting money from them (as was the custom in England).

In November 1256, Llywelyn, activated those secret alliances which he had been cultivating, and marched into mid-WEales. He captured Meirionydd and northern Ceredigion, as well as securing Builth and Gwrtheyrnion. In 1257-8, southern Powys was overrun, and the revolt spread to the southwest from Cemais to Gower. The English were unsuccessful in their attempts to stem the tide, with the sortie from Montgomery being defeated in and an expedition in south Wales led by Stephen Bauzan in June of 1257 was defeated and anhilated, "...they proceeded with a body fo men, and took the barons and the noble knights, and slew upwards of two thousand of the army...". Henry III began laying plans for a major expedition in 1258, however, the Wheel of Fortune was turning for the English king. In June, the domestic disputes which were to lead to the king's imprisonment at the hands of Simon de Montfort were beginning to take shape, and he had to leave off from the expedition into Wales. Llywelyn took full advantage of this situation.

Within a year, able to harness the intense resentment ot English rule, Llywelyn continued to make territorial gains, established alliances between himself and almost all of the other princelings, essentially establishing a confederacy with himself as the head. He was able to adopt the title of 'princeps Wallie', the first leader in Wales to do so. At this juncture, Llywelyn wanted more time to strengthen this confederation and secure his position as its head. He attmepted to gain a peace treaty with the English in 1258, even offering money to secure a seven-year truce. The English refused, and by January of 1260, Llywelyn had seized Builth from Roger Mortimer.

By 1261, Llywelyn had established his suzerainity over native Wales, being able to settle disputes and impose penalties. In November 1262, the truces ended, and Llywelyn was able to direct his attention to the middle March. Llywelyn was able to stem the influence of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore and to capture most of the lord's border castles. He then pushed through Brecon and the Usk valley to within a few miles of Abergavenny. The status quo fo 1240 had been reestablished and Henry III's gains of the 1240's had been erased. In the meantime, Llywelyn could now play a hand in English politics, supporting the Monfortian forces in their efforts against the king.

In 1263, at the Battle of Lewes, Henry and Edward were captured by Simon de Montfort. De Montfort then followed the policy of always keeping the king and his son close by his person and in forcing the king to sign and seal charters, agreements, and treaties drawn up by de Montfort. Llywelyn cut a deal with de Montfort (with an escape clause, in case de Montfort failed), where de Montfort recognized Llywelyn's title as Prince of Wales and aknowledging the gains Llywelyn had made since 1253. In exchange, Llywelyn agreed to pay 20,000 pounds over ten years (this is a staggering amount for the time).

However, any dealings with de Montfort proved fleeting, as he was killed at the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265, after a brilliant campaign by Edward. Edward was not of the mind to pursue any interests in Wales and concluded the Treaty of Montgomery on 25 September 1267. This treaty confirmed Llywelyn's title of Prince of Wales to him and his heirs, and the fealty and homages of all the Welsh barons of Wales were reserved to Llywelyn and his heirs. Llywelyn was expected to perform homage to Edward and fulfill the customary services which this entailed. Additionally, Llywelyn was to find a suitable place for his brother Dafydd, in accordance with Welsh law (where Dafydd would gain some part of the principality to hold as his own, but with fealty being given to Llywelyn. Llywelyn was also to pay 25000 marks in annual installments of 3,000 marks after an initial down payment of 5,000. These terms seem unfavorable on the surface, however, the fact that the English were finally willing to recognize that there existed a political entity of Wales on their border which was separate and sovereign to England is an important concession.

Llywelyn only had to recognize Edward as his lord to whom he would pay homage in order to secure peace with England and to possibly establish a continual Welsh polity. Llywelyn was to squander this opportunity. Tensions remained high in the March after 1267, and within native Wales, there were squabbles and infighting, as well as tests of Llywelyn's power. He was accused of being high-handed in his treatment of his Welsh confederates, however, when one considers that it is always difficult to establish a lasting confederacy built on quickly won gains, Llywelyn's actions seem reasonable.

Problems arose in 1272, Llywelyn began having difficulties with the powerful Marcher lords, Roger Montgomery of Wigmore, Humphrey Bohun, and Gilbert Clare (all familiar family names). Llywelyn was consistantly on the wrong end of these lords' attempts at gains. Llywelyn began to feel as if the Treaty of Montgomery were being renegged upon by the English and that the English were making a concerted effort to undermine his authority. By February 1274, Llywelyn was not making his annual payment, citing treaty breaches. Things were made worse by a plot against Llywelyn's life being exposed, with his brother Dafydd and Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn being the chief conspirators. Both fled to England, and were received by Edward (who was king by now).

Llywelyn responded by ravaging all of Gruffudd's lands. Dispite all of this, there seems (in my opinion) to have existed a state of mutual respect between Edward and Llywelyn. Yes, Edward tried to undermine his authority by looking the other way when the Marcher lords were making advances, and also looking for dissenters against Llywelyn. But given Edward's future record against the Scots, what ensued between Llywelyn and edward points to a certain level of amicability. Llywelyn felt that the breaches of the Treaty of Montgomery were sufficient enough or him to withhold his pledge of performing fealty to Edward. The first time was in January 1273. In 1274, he also absented himself from Edward's coronation, a serious breach of etiquette. He then failed to respond to 5 more summonses from December 1274-April 1276. In 1275, Edward went so far as to travel himself to Chester to receive Llywelyn's homage. Llywelyn stood him up.

This was a mistake of the first order. Llywelyn could have had his grievances redressed by the king at Chester, and perhaps something might have been done (the Marcher lords were not among Edward's favorites). To withhold a fealty to which he had agreed, set Llywelyn up as a rebellious vassal in the eyes of the king, who could also draw upon the historical precedent in claiming that right, as his father Henry III had acquired it from Dafydd ap Llywelyn. Additionally, Llywelyn chose as his bride Eleanor de Montfort, the daughter of Edward's antagonist Simon. Not a very astute political move if one wished peace with England. Llywelyn was proclaimed a rebel on 12 November 1276. By 9 November 1277, Llywelyn had suffered such a great defeat at the hands of Edward, he accepted the king's terms and performed the fealty which he should have in the first place. Edward secured such an overwhelming victory by turning loose the Marcher lords, who quickly made a number of strong advances.

Llywelyn's alliance began to fall apart, as he could not be everywhere at once and the local native princelings began to defect in the face of the strong Marcher push. By July of 1277, Edward showed up on the scene in Chester, he was planning the coup de grace on Gwynedd, without really worrying about the rest of Wales, the Marcher push being so succesful. Ceredigion had been overrun by 25 July, and Llywelyn ws isolated in Gwynedd. Edward methodically pushed forward, employing 1,80 axemen to clear the way from Flint to Rhuddlan. Edward drew on credit from Italian bankers and had truly mobilized the forces of his nation-state for this effort. It had become a David and Goliath confrontation. Llywelyn withdrew to the fastnesses of Gwynedd in Snowdonia, as his forebears had done. However this only prolonged the agony. On 9 November, he signed the Treaty of Aberconwy, where he submitted himself to the king, was forced to agree to an indemnity of 50,000 pounds for disobedience, swear fealty in private at Rhuddlan and in public at London, at the Christmas court, give hostages, reestablish Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn and his brother Dafydd, and forego the homages of his vassals to the king, except for five small landholders. However, even this was to escheat to the king upon Llywelyn's death.

Llywelyn was allowed to keep the title of Prince of Wales. Llywelyn's relations with Edward at this point take a minor up turn (they could hardly get much worse). Edward and his queen were present at Llywelyn's wedding in Worcester to Eleanor (who had been held against her will by Edward), and some cordial correspondences passed between them. Perhaps Edward still had respect for Llywelyn's ability and the successes of earlier years. Edward went so far as to declare at Llywelyn's wedding feast that he would "be benevolent and a friend to Llywelyn in all things". Llywelyn paid his debts most punctually, accepted Edward's judicial rulings. The end came rather unexpectedly for Llywelyn. Tension between the Welsh community and the English continued to run high after 1277. In march of 1282 all of Wales simultaneoulsy broke into rebellion, led by Dafydd ap Gruffudd, Llywelyn's brother.

Llywelyn really had no other option as Prince of Wales than to support the rebellion and to join it, as it was not only something of Dafydd's creation, but was a popular uprising as well. Edward responded with outrage and determination. The King announced his intention 'to repress the rebellion and the mailce of the Welsh' and 'to put an end finally to the matter that he has now commenced of putting down the malice of the Welsh.' Anglesey was assaulted by sea simultaneoulsy with a land push into Gwynedd. Once again edward mustered the might of all his holdings, both French and English, for the final effort. It was a struggle which the Welsh could not hope to win. Llywelyn decided to make a push into the Wye valley in order to begin a second front, rather than be pinned in in Gwynedd. On 11 December 1282, he was killed in a skirmish with the Mortimer clan within a few miles of Builth. Roger Lestrange sent the following dispatch: "Know, sir,...that Llywelyn ap Gruffudd is dead, his army broken, and all the flower of his men killed." Dafydd carried on the struggle until 25 April, 1283 when he too was killed and Welsh resistance ended. The Brut y Tywysogion makes its last entry in 1282, as it could no longer record the Chronicle of the Princes.

"For the death of all Britain, protector of Cynnllaith, Dead lion of Nancoel, breastplate of nancaw, Many a slippery tear scuds on the cheek, Many a flank gaping and crimson, Many a pool of blood round the feet, Many a widow crying aloud for him, Many a heavy thought goes errant, Many a fatherless child's abandoned, Many a homstead flecked from the fire's path, And many a looted wilderness yonder, Many a wretched cry, as once was at Camlan, Many a tear has run down the cheek: Since the buttress is down, gold-handed chieftain, Since Llywelyn is slain, my mortal wit fails me." from "The Lament for Llywelyn ap Gruffudd" by Gruffudd ap Yr Ynad Coch, 1282.

Part 19: The 14th Century

Edward I was not magnanimous in conquest. Here's what RR Davies tells us as to what happened: "Edward took particular delight in appropriating the residences of the Gwynedd dynasty, thereby making clear to all the definitiveness and finality of his conquest. In august, 1284 he set up his court in two of Llywelyn's favorite residences, Abergwynregyn and Caernarfon; he refurbished Llywelyn's hall at Aberconwy and converted it into a privy palace for his son as prospective prince of Wales; he dismantled another of Llywelyn's timber-framed halls at Ystumgwern and had it transported to the new inner ward of his castle at harlech; and he showed that sentiment could have no place in the vicot's heart by ordering the transfer of the abbey of Aberconwy--the favored Cistercian house of the Gwynedd dynasty and the resting place of Llywelyn the Great (ap Iorweth)--seven miles up the Conwy valley to Maenan to make room for his new castle and borough of Conway. With equal deliberateness he removed all the insignia of majesty from gwynedd; Llywelyn's gold coronet...was solemnly presented to the shrine of St. Edward at Westminster; the jewel or crown of King Arthur was an even more prized treasure; the matrices of the seals of Llywelyn, of his wife, and his brother Dafydd were melted down to make a chalice to be donated, appropriately enough, to Edward's new foundation of Vale Royal; the most precious religious relic in Gwynedd, the fragment of the True Cross known as Y Groes Naid, was paraded through London in May 1285 in a solemn procession on foot led by the king, the queen, the archbishop of Canterbury and fourteen bishops, and the magnates of the realm. Edward was thereby appropriating the historical and religious regalia of the house of Gwynedd and placarding to the world the extinction of its dynasty and the annexation of the principality to his Crown. He was to mete out exactly the same treatment to the kingdom of Scotland in 1296." (pp 355-6).

What happened to Wales politically can best be described as a parcelling out of the lands of the former native lords to the Marchers and the Crown. The Crown reserved to itself Ceredigion (Cardigan), Flintshire, Gwynedd (Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire), Anglesey, Builth and Carmarthenshire. Outside of these districts, the Marcher lords and friends of the King were rewarded with lands. The primary beneficiaries were the Mortimers, Bohuns, Clares, and later the Despensers. What is important about this settlement is that in the Crown lands, the king's justice prevailed, with the king's person being the final arbiter of disputes and issuer of charters. Within the lordships, the law of the March remained in effect--within each lordship, the lord was the final arbiter, the king's writ and justice were not held, and the lord was the issuer of charters. This obviously is a bad situation, which we will discuss below.

1. Apartheid: I'm going to use a modern term to help us visualize the situation within Wales during the 14th C. Essentially, there developed two Wales after the conquest, an English one and a Welsh one and power rested with the English. High ecclesiastic offices were held by Englishmen (the vast majority of whom could not speak Welsh), the major offices within the individual lordships were held by Englishmen, and all of the major lordships were held by Englishmen. There were some Welsh landholders, and some of these men (known as uchelwyr) were very impotant in maintaining the patronage of the poets and putting together the White Book of Rhydderch (from which the Mabinogion comes) and the Red Book of Hergest (one of the most important documents in Welsh literature). Be that as it may, the Welsh were exploited for every amount of money the lord or king could get out of them, there were penal laws passed off and on, some of which banned the speaking of Welsh. The Despensers were known as the "most grasping of men" in building a mini-empire from which they derived spectacular incomes. Even the Black Prince, son of Edward III, the hero of Crecy and Poitiers, was known to be exceptionally greedy in trying to squeeze money out of his estates.

2. Absenteeism: The Welsh situation really differs on this point with Ireland, in that no immigrant aristocracy established itself in Wales and developed attachments to the land. There would be no Anglo-Irish equivalent in Wales. Most lordships (and ecclesiatsic positions) were held in absentee by the lords--they would have some toady run their estate while they earned the income and dallied in affairs elswhere. They would show up only when they wanted to try to squeeze more money out of their lordship.

3. Soldiering: The Welsh WERE good at being soldiers, and the king and lords recognized this early on. Welsh bowmen and lancers were recruited and utilized to a great extent in the Scottish Wars of Independence and in the 100 Years War. The Welsh went with them because after the conquest and peace ensued, there was this huge body of men who had known nothing but war for generations, and who were seeking employment. The English kings could not but help to take advantage of this situation. This was to play into Owain Glyn Dwr's hands later, but more on that next time.

4. Economy: The 14th C is known for a general economic collapse throughout Europe, and Wales was not immune to this. There was a continent-wide famine in 1315-16, which may have been the result of climactic changes. However, the English being what they were, at such times, the lordships squeezed more money out of the native population whenever possible, even during famine years. Due to some murders of prominent lords/tax collectors, it became common policy for those gathering the wealth of the land to come and go under heavily armed escort. In the meantime, the lordships converted Wales to forms of economy which they felt best suited those areas. The uplands of Wales had long been pastoral in nature and the English took advantage of this by cultivating the wool industry (I mean they brought in lots of sheep and replaced cattle with sheep in the fields). Wales quickly became one of the chief producers of wool in England.

5. Plague: Wales was mot immune to the Black Plague (called Y Farwolaeth Fawr--the Great Mortality by the Welsh), which first came to Wales in the spring of 1349, and it penetrated every part of the country (though local legends had it that the plague was God's vengeance on the English, since it struck hardest at the populous settlements). There are few statistics or mortality rates to determine what the impact of the Plague was on the Wales, but what we do have indicates a massive death toll: In the manor of Cladicot on the Severn estuary, 36 out of 40 tenants died; in Degannwy (Caerns), the desmesne manor was totally emptied; and in the lordship of Dyffryn Clwyd, the register of the lord indicates that the mortality rate increased 14 times the normal in 1349. The Plague revisited Wales in 1361-2, 1369, and seven times after that before 1420. The 14th C was not a pleasant time to live. (The above figures are also from RR Davies).

So, to wrap this up, Wales was a place where the native population was being squeezed financially, was bereft of political power, and where the English controlled and ruled (mis-ruled) with the intent of maximizing their profits. Throw in the economic and social disasters of the 14th C, and you have a people truly prepared for revolt.

Part 20: The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr

The following will once more be derived from RR Davies "Conquest, Coexistance, and Change", John Davies, "A History of Wales", and for a primary source, I'll also be using the "Chronicle of Adam of Usk, 1377-1421".

Who was Owain Glyn Dwr?

Owain Glyn Dwr was a member of the uchelwyr, that strata of Welsh society which had done fairly well for itself after the conquest. Owain personally held lands in northeastern Wales, and was by the day's standards, one of the wealthier native Welshmen. His family seat was at Sycarth (Chirkland), where he was able to construct a very nice moated house, as well as having an estate in Merioneth where he drew some of his income from (which was about 120 pounds per year--in comparison, the large Mortimer estates were bringing in around 5-6000 pounds per year, so he wasn't rich by English standards, but wasn't exactly going poor either). Owain came from a fine pedigree, something which the poets of the day made much of. He could trace an ancestry which connected to the royal lines of Deheubarth and Powys. As such, he was a patron of the poets, rewarded for such patronage by a number of praise poems, especially from Iolo Goch. Owain was an accomplished soldier, having been involved in the campaigns against Scotland and France, and was known to be an avid hunter. His wife was a Hanmer, the daughter of a chief justice of the King's Bench. Based upon his pre-1400 activities and associations, it is an intriguing question as to why a person who was living a good life by the day's standards and had been essentially a country squire, should lead such a revolt.

The answer probably lies in the social tensions of the 14th C (discussed in Part 19) and that the poets and members of the native Welsh society saw Owain as the focus of native loyalty, especially after the death of Owain Lawgoch, who could claim direct descent from the royal line of Gwynedd, in 1378 at the hands of an English assassin. Be that as it may, here's what happened.

The tensions described in the previous posting exploded into a general revolt on 16 September 1400, when this country squire with the royal pedigree was proclaimed Prince of Wales by some of his followers at Glyndyfrdwy. Initially, Owain and his supporters (most notably his cousins Rhys and Gwilym ap Tudur) were making trouble in Anglesey and Caernarvonshire. The English king at the time was Henry IV, a man of incredible lust for power, Henry had only just recently usurped the crown from Richard II and committed regicide (1399). Adam of Usk states the following: "On the feast of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist (29 Aug) the king returned to England; while at Leicester he heard that Owen lord of Glendower, being put forward by the men of North Wales to be their prince, had risen up in rebellion and had seized numerous castles, and weas everywhere plundering and burning towns inhabited by the English who lived amongst them, and forcing the English to flee; so, assembling his young warriors, the king led his troops into North Wales, where he overcame them and put them to flight, leaving their prince to spend almost a year hiding away on cliffs and caverns with no more than seven followers." This outbreak could easily have been crushed by the king, but he failed to capture Owain. Additionally, the king made the woeful mistake of holding judicial inquiries in northern Wales, with the intent of imposing large fines on those communities which were found to have supported the rebellion. Additionally, Parliament passed several penal laws against the Welsh people which were very racial in nature (prohibition of Welshmen acquiring land in England or in English towns in Wales, Englishmen being protected from civil suits brought by Welshmen, etc.).

The king left Wales thinking that he was richer and had quashed the revolt. Instead, on Good Friday 1401, Gwilym and Rhys ap Tudur captured Conway Castle, one of the strongest castles in Wales by ruse. They then proceded to hold out for two months. At the same time, Owain came out of hiding, began making a series of raids and by the fall of 1401, he had established himself in north-west Wales well enough to threaten Harlech and Caernarvon castles. Additinally, they captured the Lord Reginald Grey, who had been a long-time enemy of Owain's, and ransomed him for 6,000 pounds. In October 1401, Henry IV returned to Wales on another punitive expedition. Adam of Usk has the following to say: "During the autumn Owen Glendower, supported by the whole of North Wales, Cardigan and Powis, continually assailed with fire and sword the Englsih living in those regions and the towns they lived in, especially the town of Welshpool. A great host of English therefore invaded the area, ravaging and utterly destroying it with fire, sword and famine, sparing niether children nor churches; even the monastary of Strata Florida, in which the king himself stayed, along with its church and choir, right up to the high altar, was converted into a stable, and was completely stripped of its plate; they carried off with them to England more than a thousand children, both boys and girls, whom they forced into service for them; and they left the countryside desolate. Yet Owain inflicted considerable losses on the English..." Things were starting to get very nasty.

In 1402, Owain pulled off a coup. Edmund Mortimer, one of the primary landholders of the March and in England, was captured by Owain's forces. Upon negotiations, Owain forged a marriage alliance between Edmund and his daughter, thus forging an alliance between the powerful Mortimer family and Glyn Dwr's revolt. Owain then extended the sphere of his military activity to the east and south-east of Wales, where he inflicted a severe defeat upon the English at Pilleth, and by the end of the summer had extended the revolt to Glamorgan and Gwent. In August 1402, a third royal expedition went into Wales from three directions, but failed miserably, most of the expedition being swamped in heavy rains. Around this time the following occurred: "Having been pardoned their lives, the people of Cardigan deserted Owain and returned, though not without great suffering, to their homes; they were nevertheless--even though the English had decreed that it should be suppressed--allowed to use the Welsh tongue... "Intending to lay seige at Caernarvon, Owain raised his standard, a golden dragon on a white field..."

1403 was an advantageous year for Owain. He extended his sway into south-west Wales, was laying seige to castles from Brecon to Aberystwyth, Beaumaris to Cardiff. In the meantime, Henry IV led yet another fruitless expedition into south Wales. Additionally, Owain was able to utilize the Mortimer alliance to secure another alliance with the Percy family, long a powerful family along the Scottish border. This was led by the earl of Northumberland's son, Hotspur. Despite Hotspur being killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury (21 July 1403), the alliance set the stage to embrace discontented elements within England against Henry IV. The other avenue of aid was to come from the French. In October 1403, forces from France and Brittany beseiged Kidwelly, and later that month, a French fleet showed up at Caernarfon and assaulted the castle. By combining the elements of dissatisfaction within England and bringing in the French, Owain was hoping to either force Henry IV to recognize his title, or to topple the English king.

1404 continued to see the rise of Owain's star. Effective English control of Wales was now limited to a few coastal strips, isolated castles, and some lowland areas. Harlech and Aberystwyth fell, Cardiff was burnt to the ground. Owain was able to summon a parliament of his own, in an attempt to demonstrate the legitimacy of his title and also to consolidate his position within native Wales. Additionally, the Bishops of Bangor and St. Astaph came over to Owain's side, thus giving him two experienced clerics. A formal alliance with France had been forged on 14 July 1404, which provided arms and money (but no troops yet). 1404 was Owain's best year.

1405 saw the turning of the tide. Domestic discord within England had been further enhanced, leading to the fleeing of the Lady Despenser in an attempt to bring the Mortimer heirs with herslef into exile in Wales. They were stopped, which was good for Henry, for the Mortimer heirs could claim a purer lineage to the English throne than he. During this year, the Tripartite Indenture was concluded, where Owain, the Mortimers and the Percies drew up an agreement which would divide England amongst the three of them. This was more of an act of fanatsy than reality, as the hopes of such an alliance bearing any fruit really had been destroyed at Shrewsbury (though see Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Part 1 for an interesting, though factually incorrect account. I rather thought Shakespeare did a good job of showing the rather mystic quality of Glyn Dwr and how the Welsh were perceived as being different.) In early August 1405 the French landed a sizeable force at Milford Haven, marched upon and captured Carmarthen, and speedily marched eastward to within eight miles of Worcester. Unfortunatley, this expedition petered out and the French disembarked from Wales. This was primarily due to the French and Welsh having troubles coordinating their activities and goals. (I'd give Adam of Usk's account, but he was in Rome by this time and offers little direct evidence). Owain's luck then began to turn. In 1405, he suffered a series of military defeats, one of which led to the capture of his brother-in-law and close supporter, John Hamner, and Owain's son.

In 1406, Owain declared for the Avignon papacy (to secure the French treaty), but this was of no avail, as the French were unable to muster any more hard support for Owain's revolt. Henceforward, he would have to go it alone, especially after the defeat and deaths of the earl of Northumberland and Lord Bardholf in 1407. Additionally, due to his defeats in the southeast, Gower, the Tywi vale, Ceredigion and Anglesey had all surrendered to the English and submitted.

In 1408, Harlech and Aberystwyth were recaptured. Owain Glyn Dwr's revolt continued to be active until 1415. Glyn Dwr himself was never captured and continued to lead raids from the mountains of Snowdonia, which prompted English travellers to always go with an armed escort. However, the glory days were gone, the people and land exhausted from 15 years of continual fighting. Owain disappears from history in 1415, leaving the Welsh to spin legends around his person and adding him to the pantheon of Welsh heroes.

"Old dreams are in that country of blessedness That have eased the terror of countless ages; All ancient hopes are alive forever; In that spot high purposes make progress; No loss of faith comes there to scorch it, Neither time of shame, nor breaking heart. "There's fire in every singing inspiration! Strength, confidence, relish to every endeavor! Energy for those who'd change things the better, And a basis always for wanting to hope! We do not grow old while that protects us--right custom It is, breath of life to the nation." In the distance, as a sweet Breathing, scarcely a whisper, The voice ended: from the winding Desolate lake, a grey mist spread: Slowly it widened, slowly, Till it fused the boat under it And hid it. Into the mist Like a phantom it vanished. Bedwyr, sadly, silently, To the battle turned again. (Thomas Gwynn Jones (1871-1949), from 'Arthur's Passing')

"God be praised who ne'er forgets me In my art so high and cold And still sheds upon my verses All the magic of red gold" Anonymous Irish poet, 10th Century

"Rain Outside" Anonymous Welsh poet, 12th C. Rain outside, drenches bracken; Sea shingle white, fringe of foam; Fair candle, man's discretion. Rain outside, need for refuge; Furze yellowed, hogweed withered; Lord God, why made you a coward? Rain outside, drenches my hair; The feeble plaintive, slope steep; Ocean pallid, brine salty. Rain outside, drenches the deep; Whistle of the wind over reed-tips; Widowed each feat, talent wanting.

Epilogue to Albun Mabon (a shepherd) by James Ceiriog Hughes 1832-87) Still the mighty mountains stand, Round them still the tempest roar; Still with dawn through all the land Sing the shepherds as of yore. Round the foot of hill and scar Daisies still their buds unfold; Changed the shepherds only are On those mighty mountains old. Passing with the passing years Ancient customs change and flow; Fraught with doom of joy or tears, Generations come and go. Out of tears' and tempests' reach Alun Mabon sleeps secure;-- Still lives on the ancient speech, Still the ancient songs endure.

The opening stanza from "Y Gododdin" for your pleasure: Man's mettle, youth's years, Courage for combat: Swift thick-maned stallions Beneath a fine stripling's thighs, Broad lightweight buckler On a slim steed's crupper, Glittering blue blades, Gold-bordered garments. Never will there be Bitterness between us: Rather I make of you Song that will praise you. The blood-soaked field Before the marriage-feast, Foodstuff for crows Before the burial. A dear comrade, Owain; Vile, his cover of crows. Ghastly to me that ground, Slain, Marro's only son. (From Joseph Clancy, "The Earliest Welsh Poetry")

Astanza of Armes Prydain, written in the 9th C: The Muse fortells they will come in hosts: Riches, prosperity, peace will be ours, Magnanimous reign, benevolent lords, And after disruption, all regions settled. Men bold in battle, wrathful, mighty, Keen in combat, unbudging bulwark, Warriors far as Caer Weir will rout foreign foes, Will bring celebration, devestation done, And concord of Welshmen and Dublin's men, Gaelic men of Ireland, Mona, and Scotland, Cornishmen and Clydesmen at one with us. Remnanats will the British be when they triumph. Long is it foretold, in time will come Monarchs possessing noble lineage, Northemn in pre-eminent place among them Amid the vanguard will launch the assault.

from "Winter and Warfare", anonymous, 9th or 10th C Wind piercing, hill bare, hard to find shelter; Ford turns foul, lake freezes. A man could stand on a stalk. Wave on wave cloaks countryside; Shrill shrieks from the peaks of the mountain; One can scarce stand outside. Cold the lake-bed from winter's blast; Dried reeds, stalks broken; Angry wind, woods stripped naked. Cold bed of fish beneath a screen of ice; Stag lean, stalks bearded; Short evening, trees bent over. Snow is falling, white the soil. Soldiers go not campaigning. Cold lakes, their colour sunless. Snow is falling, whit hoar-frost. Shield idle on an old shoulder. Wind intense, shoots are frozen. Snow is falling upon the ice. Wind is sweeping thick tree-tops. Shield bold on a brave soldier. Snow is falling, cloaks the valley. Soldiers hasten to battle. I go not, a wound stays me.

"The seed of the White Dragon shall be rooted up from our little gardens and what is left of its progeny shall be decimated. They shall bear the yoke of perpetual slavery and they will wound their own Mother with their spades and ploughshares." The Prophecis of Merlin as found in Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain".