Posts for : March 2010

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Man’s Inhumanity to Man 0

Man was made to mourn: A Dirge, by Robert Burns

Many and sharp the num’rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And Man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, -
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

The following article from March 14, details the attacks in Lagos, Nigeria, which is one of the most war torn countries in Africa.  It begins:

“Nigerians woke last Sunday, to the news that more than 400 people of Dogo Nahawa community in Jos south area of Plateau state had been sent to their early graves by rampaging invaders.

News of the attack spread like wildfire creating panic in parts of Jos North, which had earlier in January, witness another round of the orgy of violence that has now become and existential reality in the state.

The panic-stricken Jos north saw traders and shop owners locking up their stall in wait for what follows next. But as measures were being forcefully taken to ensure that the attack does not spread to other parts of the state, residents of the Dogo Nahawa, were either crying their eyes out or still picking up their dead.

For them, it was an attack that had broken the peace of the community and left wounds that will take decades to heal.”    http://allafrica.com/stories/201003150005.html

I cut and pasted the first 3 paragraphs of the article and then just changed a few words . . . imagine such an article, if newspapers existed 1000 years ago:

“The Cymry (the Welsh) woke last Sunday, to the news that more than 400 people of Bangor community in Gwynedd had been sent to their early graves by rampaging Viking invaders.

News of the attack spread like wildfire creating panic in parts of Gwynedd, which had earlier in January, witness another round of the orgy of violence that has now become and existential reality in the cantref.

The panic-stricken Welsh saw traders and shop owners locking up their stall in wait for what follows next. But as measures were being forcefully taken to ensure that the attack does not spread to other parts of the state, residents of Bangor, were either crying their eyes out or still picking up their dead.

For them, it was an attack that had broken the peace of the community and left wounds that will take decades to heal.” 

Man’s inhumanity to man seems to defy the passage of time . . .

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Senana, Mother of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd

Senana, by all appearances, had to have been quite a woman.  She was the daughter of Caradog ap Thomas ap Rhodri ap Owain Gwynedd, the great king of Gwynedd during the twelfth century.  Her husband was the illegitimate son of Llywelyn Fawr, the great Prince of Wales.

Llywelyn Fawr ruled Wales with a strong hand, and as his death approached, he made a fateful choice:  that Dafydd, his legitimate son through his wife, Joanna, herself an illegitimate daughter of the King John of England,  would rule after him.  In so choosing, he put Wales on a course for inevitable conflict.

Llywelyn Fawr died in 1240 and Gruffydd immediately began agitating for his own power.  By 1241, Dafydd had imprisoned him in Criccieth Castle, along with his eldest son, Owain.  Senana pleaded first with Dafydd to free her husband and son, and when Dafydd refused to bend, went herself to Shrewsbury where King Henry of England was holding court, to ask him to intercede with Dafydd.  King Henry agreed.  What’s more, she got him to write up a charter dividing Gwynedd into two equal portions, one for Dafydd and one for Gruffydd, and thus indicating his proper patrimony.

Senana then gathered her family together (all except Llywelyn who was free and at sixteen, an adult) and went with them to England.

Unfortunately for her, King Henry immediately threw Gruffydd and Owain into the Tower of London.  On March 1, 1244, Gruffydd made a rope out of sheets and attempted to lower himself down from a high window. The sheets broke and Gruffydd fell to his death.

Senana, then, was left alone in England with Owain and her two younger sons, Dafydd and Rhodri.  At that point, she did not return to Wales, but stayed under the protection of the King of England, who still held Owain captive, although less confined then his father.  In so doing, she left Llywelyn alone in Wales beside Prince Dafydd, such that when he died unexpectedly and without an heir in 1246, Llywelyn alone was there to take the reins.  That is not to say she wasn’t proud of him for doing so.   He had carved some lands for himself out of what could have been his father’s.  The history books do not record her thoughts–it is only later, when Llywelyn refused to share power and lands with his brothers, that Senana fought for their rights against him.

Purportedly, Owain, was allowed to hotfoot it to Wales as soon as the news hit that his uncle was dead.  It served the English crown’s purposes to foster dissension among the Welsh royal brothers, but he’d lost six years–years in which Llywelyn had wooed supporters and proven himself a war leader.

And then, in 1252, when Dafydd was fourteen and now a man by the standards of Wales, Senana returned to Wales to try to help him establish his own lands.  At first Dafydd was under the tutelage of Llywelyn, but then Owain gifted him a small portion of land, which Llywelyn had not, thus uniting the two brothers against him.  This is the last mention of their mother in the historical records.

(Llywelyn ap Gruffydd.  J. Beverly Smith.  Cardiff:  University of Wales Press)