Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales

410px-Arms_of_Dafydd_ap_Gruffydd.svgDafydd ap Gruffydd was the younger brother of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales who ruled portions of Wales, to a greater or lesser degree, since the death of his uncle (also named Dafydd) in 1246.  The younger Dafydd was born in 1238, at least a decade after Llywelyn.  This Dafydd spent the majority of his life in England, to which his family was forced to come when his father was imprisoned at the Tower of London by King Henry.  At the time, Llywelyn had refused to leave Wales with the rest of his family, and thus was on the spot, so to speak, when his uncle Dafydd died. The family itself, however, was not imprisoned, and Dafydd grew up as a close companion to Prince Edward himself, a fact which could explain much of his later behavior.

At that point, Dafydd ap Gruffydd was only 8 years old, and in no sense prepared to put forth a claim to his patrimony.  When later he did, Llywelyn refused, and the lands that he acquired were given to him by his older brother, Owain, who had split Gwynedd equally with Llywelyn.  In 1255, believing he deserved more, Dafydd conspired with Owain to gain control of all of Gwynedd for themselves and were defeated by Llywelyn in the Battle of Bryn Derwin.  Llywelyn imprisoned them both initially, but then accepted Dafydd back into his favor a year later and gave him lands in eastern Gwynedd centered around Denbigh,which Llywelyn had taken from the English during the Rising of 1256. Over the next five years, he brought Dafydd more and more into his confidence until suddenly, in 1263, Dafydd defected to the English (and Prince Edward). To this day historians have no idea why though various apologists for Dafydd have suggested that he was dissatisfied with what he’d acquired from Llywelyn for his five years of loyalty.

To say that Dafydd had a problematic relationship with Llywelyn is woefully understate the case. Llywelyn kept Owain Goch imprisoned until forced to release him in 1277, but he released Dafydd after Bryn Derwin and gave him lands, ultimately bowing to his younger brother’s rightful claim as a prince of Wales. He was also, throughout his life, Llywelyn’s sole heir, as Llywelyn never had a son in or out of wedlock. At the time, Llywelyn perceived Owain, the elder brother, as the greater threat.

From Brynne Haug:  “Dafydd’s choice to turn to Edward in 1263 and again in 1274 was self-serving in that he believed his chances better with the king than with Llywelyn. Llywelyn had little choice but to accept Dafydd back when he changed his mind: in 1267 Edward I stipulated it in the Treaty of Mongomery, and it was again a condition in 1277.”

What’s more, in late 1274, Owain ap Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn confessed to Anian, the Bishop of Bangor, a man, by the way, who was not an ally of Llywelyn and often opposed him, that he had conspired with Dafydd to assassinate Llywleyn, the attempt being thwarted by a snowstorm. As J. Beverly Smith writes:

“The fullest account comes from a letter which the dean and chapter of Bangor addressed to the archbishop of Canterbury in the spring of 1276. Much of the substance of the letter is, however, corroborated by two documents from the critical year itself and  by an entry in the Brut y Tywysogyon. The dean’s letter relates that Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn and his eldest son, Owain, plotted with Dafydd ap Gruffydd to kill Llywelyn.  The conspirators had agreed that  Dafydd should remain in his brother’s entourage until 2 February 1274 when Owain would bring armed men by night to accomplish the deed, but a snowstorm on the night in question confounded their plans.”

Gruffydd acknowledged his guilt and actually retained much of his lands. Owain was imprisoned, as hostage to his father’s good behavior. Dafydd’s part in the plot appears to have been unknown to Llywelyn until late in 1274, when Dafydd was called to account for his actions (which he denied). It was only after Dafydd fled to England that Owain confessed to the bishop the entire plan, and Llywelyn understood fully what had been intended (Smith 1998 p. 369-373). Given Dafydd’s behavior in the past and future, particularly his pride and unwillingness to take second to anyone, Smith argues that Dafydd was the true instigator of the conspiracy (p. 376).

What must have been  most aggravating to Llywelyn was that Dafydd was one of the impetuses for all of the wars against England:  in 1267 and 1277 when Dafydd fought against Llywelyn on the side of the English, and again in 1282, when he forced Llywelyn to throw his weight behind Dafydd himself after Dafydd launched an attack on Edward’s castles in Wales.

Whatever his motives, Dafydd did stay true to Wales after Llywelyn’s death. In June 1283, English soldiers captured Dafydd, took him to Shrewsbury, and, in October, executed him.  He was hung, drawn, and quartered, and his head displayed in the tower of London alongside Llywelyn’s.

Sources:

J. Beverly Smith, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd:  The Prince of Wales.

Brynne Haug, Captive Cymru: Llywelyn and Gwynedd in the Wars of King Edward.

Peniarth MS 20, The Chronicle of the Princes

The Vikings (Danes) in Ireland

Before I learned of the Danish role in the assassination of Anarawd, King of Deheubarth, I had no idea that the Danes had ever conquered parts of Ireland.

The Danes, as a group, were part of a vast migration of men of the North to other regions of the world, initially for plunder and eventually for settlement. Coming from regions that now make up Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, these men went a Viking, and created widespread settlements: to the south, in Normandy and Sicily; to the east into Russia; and to the west in England, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and the coast of Newfoundland.

The Dublin Danes were part of that tradition, and Ottar and Brodar were real people as described in The Viking Prince, both ruling Dublin in the mid-twelfth century. Brodar and Godfrid were part of an extensive lineage of rulership of Dublin called the Mac Torcalls, whose hegemony was briefly usurped by Ottar, but then reestablished. Scholarship is confused about some of the specifics, but it is clear that members of their clan ruled Dublin until the arrival of the Normans under the leadership of Richard de Clare (Strongbow) and ultimately King Henry, who defeated the Danes and expelled them from Dublin for good in 1171 AD.

The ruling family of Gwynedd, as led for most of the twelfth century by Owain Gwynedd, had both Danish and Irish ancestry. Through Gruffydd ap Cynan, Owain’s father, Prince Hywel is descended from both Sitric Silkbeard, King of Dublin; and Brian Boru, High King of Ireland.

The character Godfrid, Prince of Dublin, makes his first appearance in the Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mysteries in the first book, The Good Knight. He comes to Anglesey at the behest of Prince Cadwaladr of Gwynedd, but quickly realizes that the deal he’s made is not quite what he thought, and Cadwaladr is not worthy of his allegiance. He takes it upon himself to keep Gwen safe and gives her up to Gareth when he comes to Ireland in search of her.

He and Gareth grow to respect each other, and Godfrid returns to Gwynedd in The Fallen Princess, on a quest to find the Book of Kells, which has been stolen, and again in The Lost Brother, in search of allies in his conflict with Ottar of Dublin. In both instances, he ends up aiding Gareth and Gwen in their investigations.

It is the dispute with Ottar that, in the late 1140s, drives Godfrid and his brother, Brodar. They seek to overthrow Ottar, whom they believe usurped their father’s, and now Brodar’s, throne.

With the approach of the summer solstice and the coming thing, the great meeting of the Danes in Dublin, Godfrid is faced with a mystery of his own, which he must solve if his brother’s victory is ever to come to pass …

The Viking Prince is his story.
www.books2read.com/thevikingprince

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Gruffydd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd

One of the greatest kings of Gwynedd was Owain Gwynedd, but his father Gruffydd ap Cynan can equally lay stake to such a claim.  His rule was certainly eventful.

Gruffydd ruled in Wales on and off since he was a young man, in between his flights to Ireland when the English—or other Welsh barons—ousted him from Gwynedd.  Gruffydd’s grandfather had been the King of Gwynedd once upon a time, and Gruffydd had claimed the throne as its lawful heir.

But staking his claim hadn’t been easy.  That first time, Gruffydd landed on Anglesey with an Irish and Danish, not Welsh, force.  After he defeated Trahaearn, the man who’d usurped his throne, Gruffydd led his army eastwards to reclaim territories the Normans had taken over during the unrest.  Despite the prior assistance given to him by the Norman, Robert of Rhuddlan, Gruffydd attacked and destroyed Rhuddlan castle.

Unfortunately for Gruffydd’s tenure on the throne, tensions between Gruffydd’s Danish-Irish bodyguard and the local Welsh led to a rebellion not long afterwards in Ll?n.  Trahaearn, the previously ousted King of Gwynedd, took the opportunity to counter attack—with a helpful Norman force—defeating Gruffydd at the battle of Bron yr Erw.

Not giving up, six years later in 1081, Gruffydd allied himself with Rhys ap Tudur, Anarawd’s grandfather, and tried again.  This time with a combined Dane, Irish, and Welsh force, he and Rhys marched north from Deheubarth to seek Trahaearn and his allies from Powys. The armies of the two confederacies met, Gruffydd and Rhys emerged victorious, and Trahaearn and his allied kings were killed. Gruffydd was thus able to seize power in Gwynedd for the second time.

But then the Normans counter-attacked, lured Gruffydd into a meeting near Corwen, and captured him.  They imprisoned him for sixteen years.  He finally escaped in 1197 and led a third invasion from Ireland.  After some ups and downs, and with the timely intervention of King Magnus of Norway, Gruffydd stumbled to victory, came to terms with the Norman Earl of Chester, and began to consolidate his power.   By the time his three sons were of age, he’d been King of Gwynedd for twenty years and had negotiated a peace with King Henry of England, who’d tried twice to conquer Gwynedd and failed.

This was the kingdom Owain Gwynedd inherited and the one he strived to defend and expand.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruffydd_ap_Cynan  http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/gruffcgd.html

The Summer Solstice

June 21, 2018 is the summer solstice this year, celebrated at Stonehenge and across the globe, for the longest day of the year.  “Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning “sun” + “to stand still.” As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky.”  http://www.chiff.com/a/summer-solstice.htm

Within Welsh mythology, there is very little discussion of the solstices or what holidays were celebrated within the celtic/druid year.  This is not the case of Stonehenge, which archaeologists and historians have studied extensively.

“When one stands in the middle of Stonehenge and looks through the entrance of the avenue on the morning of the summer solstice, for example, the Sun will rise above the Heel Stone, which is set on the avenue. If one stands in the entrance and looks into the circle at dusk of that day, the Sun will set between a trilithon.”

http://www.unexplainedstuff.com/Places-of-Mystery-and-Power/Stonehenge.html

There are a couple of stone circles in Wales (more than a couple, but many are ruinous and not properly documented).  One, Bryn Cader Faner, is a small cairn 8,5m (28ft) wide and less than 1m (3ft) high, with fifteen thin slabs leaning out of the mass of the monument like a crown of thorns, near Porthmadog.

http://www.stonepages.com/wales/wales.html

A second is Carn Llechart near Swansea.  It “is one of the largest ring cairns in Wales. It is an unusual circle of 25 stones leaning slightly outwards and surrounding a central burial cist. Aubrey Burl in his “The Stone Circles of British Isles” wrote that such rings were thought to be the first stage of development of stone circles, but that these cairns, however, are almost certainly too late to provide such an ancestry. The reverse seems likely, that the existence of stone circles elsewhere impelled people to place tall stones around the bases of their own round cairns, a fusion of traditions resulting in monuments like spiky coronets. Such cairns may be seen on North and South Uist, and in Wales at Carn Llechart and Bryn Cader Faner.  The circle is 12m (40ft) in diameter, and the central cist has its east side stone and capstone missing. It seems that there is no entry to the circle and no trace of covering mound. A possible date for the site is the 2nd millenium BC.  In the area there are also a Neolithic burial chamber and some Bronze Age cairns.”  (http://www.stonepages.com/wales/wales.html),

Archaeologists are of the opinion that these stone circles have more to do with burial sites than worship, giving them less kinship to Stonehenge than one might think at first.  This site (http://www.geodrome.demon.co.uk/megalith/stone.htm), however, argues strongly for a similar rationale for stone circles in Wales, in which the author has documented the alignment of a number of stone circles.

When we were in Ireland in 2016, we found that many of the barrows, burials, and circles were oriented to the sun, either the winter and summer solstices or the spring equinox in particular.

Welsh Lesson Two

Taken from Basic Welsh: A Grammar and Workbook by Gareth King

Welsh Lesson Two: Nouns and noun plurals

 

Nouns are sorted by whether the word denotes man or woman

Tad – father              mam – mother

 

When the two vowels in a word are a/e: feminine

When the two vowels in a word are o/y: masculine

 

Masculine endings:                          Feminine endings:

-ad      -iad                                         -aeth            -as

-der     -did     -dod                            -en            -es

-dra                                                     -fa

-eb      -edd

-had

-I         -iant

-ni

-rwydd

-wch   -wr

-ydd    -yn

 

Plural endings:
-au      -iau

-on      -ion

-i

-od      -ed      -edd    -oedd  -ydd

-ys (English loanwords)

 

Exceptions:

Words that change internal vowels:

Corff/cyrff     pabell/pebyll

 

Words that change internal vowels and endings:

Braich/breichiau

 

Total exceptions:

Dail – leaves/foliage            deilen – leaf

Moch – pigs                          mochyn – pig

 

Exercise 1: Plural or Singular (circle the plural words)

Siopao

Cath

Teipiadur

Ysgolion

Parseli

Ffenest

Llyfr

Llyfrgelloedd

Stafell

Babanod

Papurau

Gwasanaeth

Cwpan

Geiriaduron

Desgiau

Posteri

Gardd

Coeden

Mochyn

Carped

Crysau

Rhagolygon

Cyfieithwyr

Golygydd

Mynyddoedd

Tywysoges

Bysiau

Goleuadau

Eglwysi

Dannedd

Pysgotwyr

Geiriau

Teigrod

Rhufeiniaid

Bwrdd

Llewod

Brechdanau

Undeb

Rhieni

Plenty

Dynion

Merch

Ffenestri

Olwynion

Llun

Dwr

Fforestydd

Potel

Papur

Llewod

Dramau

Cadeiriau

Pontydd

Tan

Cyfrifon

Nodiadur

Gorsafoedd

Planhigion

Tren

Tapiau

Rhaglenni

Bwydlen

Llaeth

Sanau

stori

 

Exercise 2: Assigning Gender (circle the feminine words)

Bwydlen

cyfieithydd

mynedfa

mochyn

Swyddogaeth

toriad

tywysoges

terfyniad

Plentyn

teyrnas

coeden

rhaglen

Methiant

gyrrwr

tawelwch

awel

Undeb

drygioni

swyddfa

llofruddiaeth

Heddwch

dwyieithrwydd

cyfreithiwr

meithrinfa

Gwaeledd

saesnes

priodas

stafell

 

Welsh Lesson One

Taken from Basic Welsh: A Grammar and Workbook by Gareth King

Welsh Lesson One: Identification Sentences

hwn               this                       hwnna                    that

y rhain          these                    y rheina              those

e/o                 he                             hi                       she

 

hwn               this person (m)                       hon                              this person (f)

hwnna          that person (m)                       honna                          that person (f)

hwnnw         that person who                        honno                         that person who is out of sight (m)                             is out of sight  (f)

 

dw i               I am

 

Pwy               who                              Beth                       what

ydy                is/are                       athrawon                teachers

enw               name                       enwau                       names

prifddinas     capitol                          llyfr                       book

plant             children

 

Query sentences are constructed such that the reply is created by replacing the pronoun in the initial question with the answer to that question.

Pwy dach chi?                                  Who are you?

Taran dw i                                         I am Taran

 

Pwy ydy hwnna?                               Who is that?

Dafydd ydy hwnna                           That is David

 

Pwy ydy’r rheina?                             Who are those people?

Athrawon ydy’r rheina.                   Those people are teachers.

 

Beth ydy prifddinas Ffrainc?          What is the capitol of France?

Paris ydy prifddinas Ffrainc.          Paris is the capitol of France.

 

Beth ydy enwau’r plant?                     What are the children’s names?

Mair a Sioned ydy enwau’r plant    The children’s names are Mair and Sioned.

 

Exercise 1:

Who is that (m)?

Who is this (f)?

What is that?

What are these?

Who are those?

What is this?

Who is this (m)?

Who is that (f)?

 

Exercise 2: Fill in the blanks (rheina, ‘r, pwy, ydy, beth, llyfr, ydy)

 

  1. __________ ydy honna?
  2. Beth ydy ______ rhain?
  3. Pwy __________ hwnna?
  4. _________ ydy hwn?
  5. ________ ___________ hwnna
  6. Pwy ydy’r ____________

 

Exercise 3: Match the sentences

Beth ydy’r rhain?                              Who are these?

Pwy ydy hon ?                                    Who is that?

Beth ydy hwn?                                  What is this?

Pwy ydy’r rhain?                               What are these?

Beth ydy hwnna?                              Who is this?

Pwy ydy honna?                               What is that?

 

King Edward’s complicated relationship with the Welsh

Sparked by a post yesterday, in which a historian commented that King Edward had a Welsh guard and didn’t ‘hate’ all Welsh as some people seemed to think, I feel compelled to comment.

First off, Edward was an English king who had the interests of the English crown and the English people first and foremost. He conquered all these countries from that position, with the idea that English law/church/language/culture (and that means Norman, really) was far superior to the barbaric north and west. That doesn’t mean he hated all Welshmen. A lot of what he did initially, in fact, was because he loved Dafydd, Llywelyn’s brother, in particular, and felt horribly betrayed by him when he started the rebellion in 1282.

And really, fine that he had a guard of Welshmen, but really, what were their choices? Nobody can prove or disprove that the Welsh did or did not like Edward, but back home, they were taxed to high heaven–deliberately to cripple them–their right to govern themselves was completely absent, and gradually their laws and way of life was disappearing. When Edward built all those castles, he ‘planted’ English towns next to them into which Welsh people were forbidden to live. He razed whole Welsh towns to the ground, including Aberconwy, where Llywelyn had a palace and one of the largest monasteries in Wales (Edward did the same 10 years later at Beaumaris). He proportioned out land to English lords, preventing the Welsh from herding their sheep and cattle (remember, herders were viewed as barbaric compared to farmers) and making a living.

This isn’t because Edward hated Welsh people, and any student of history knows that conquered people are exactly that–conquered. You didn’t see the Saxons murdering English kings either! The Saxons, in fact, were extraordinarily fortunate (after the initial conquest in 1066) in that they were the people at the forefront when the Normans came (like the Welsh/Britons had been when the Romans came) in that they were wholly coopted into the mythology of English superiority. Truly, the Romans had done the same thing to the Welsh back in 43 AD when they came, once resistance had been stamped out. It’s called being complicit in your own subjugation.

Here’s a Scottish example from my own family: My ancestor, Donald McKay fought FOR the English in the American revolution in one of the highland regiments. He was a McKay, from the nosebleed north, and returned home to discover that his lands had been ‘cleared’ by a rival clan that had allied with the English. The McKays were even protestant. Didn’t matter. Anyway, he came home to no land, no status, and no ability to earn a living. The English realized almost immediately that having all these displaced and resentful highlanders roaming Scotland was going to cause trouble, so they gave them land in Nova Scotia (New Scotland, heh), to get them out of their hair. It worked. Eventually Donald’s grandson made his way to Boston, and voila!

So did Edward ‘hate’ the Welsh. No. Did the Welsh ‘hate’ him? Many did, clearly, and perhaps some did not. And really, all through Welsh history, Welsh lords and men colluded with the English against their compatriots. But the fact that he had a Welsh guard and the Welsh fought for him against the Scots doesn’t indicate any kind of love either. Edward’s goal was to extract resources from the Welsh and subjugate their country. Of that there can be no question. I don’t see the point of arguing whether or not they loved him for it.

The Saxon Invasions

It is a matter of record that the ‘Saxons’ invaded Britain in the last years of the Roman occupation, and then in full force after the Romans left the island in 410 AD.  They marched away, seemingly without a backward glance, leaving the Britons–after 400 years of occupation–to fend for themselves. Map retrieved from: http://historiarex.com/e/en/225-anglo-saxon-invasions

From Gildas:

    From Britain envoys set out with their complaints, their clothes (it is said) torn, their heads covered in dust, to beg help from the Romans. … The Romans … informed our country that they could not go on being bothered with such troublesome expeditions; that Roman standards, that great and splendid army, could not be worn out by land and sea for the sake of wandering thieves who had no taste for war. Rather, the Britons should stand alone, get used to arms, fight bravely, and defend with all their powers their land, property, wives, children, and, more importantly, their life and liberty. Their enemies were no stronger than they, unless Britain chose to relax in laziness and torpor; they should not hold out to them for the chaining hands that held no arms, but hands equipped with shields, swords and lances, ready for the kill. This was the Romans’ advice.

http://www.ict.griffith.edu.au/wiseman/DECB/DECBps.html

These invaders, as the map to right shows, were not in fact all ‘Saxon’, but a combination of Jutes, Angles, Saxons, Franks, and Frisians, each hailing from a different region of the western coast of Europe.

The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were Germanic peoples.  From Wikipedia:   They were “originally a small tribe living on the North Sea between the Elbe and Eider Rivers in the present Holstein. Their name, derived from their weapon called Seax, a knife, is first mentioned by the Roman author Ptolemy (about 130).

In 3rd and 4th century Germany, great tribal confederations of the Alamanni, Bavarians, Thuringians, Franks, Frisians, and Saxons arose. These took the place of the numerous petty tribes with their popular tribal form of government. With the exceptions of the Saxons all these confederations were ruled by kings; the Saxons were divided into a number of independent bodies under different chiefs, and in time of war these chieftains drew lots. This leader the other chiefs followed until the war ended.

In the third and fourth centuries the Saxons fought their way victoriously towards the west, and their name was given to the great tribal confederation that stretched towards the west exactly to the former boundary of the Roman Empire, consequently almost to the Rhine. Only a small strip of land on the right bank of the Rhine remained to the Frankish tribe. Towards the south the Saxons pushed as far as the Harz Mountains and the Eichsfeld, and in the succeeding centuries absorbed the greater part of Thuringia. In the east their power extended at first as far as the Elbe and Saale Rivers; in the later centuries it certainly extended much farther. All the coast of the German Ocean belonged to the Saxons except that west of the Weser, which the Frisians retained.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Saxony

From then on, there are differing views about how rampant the Saxon spread was.  Certainly, it happened (language alone tells us that), but the exact timeline for the spread is not clear.  The Battle of Mt. Badon (whether or not fought by Arthur) is said to have occurred around 500 AD, which held back the Saxon tide for a generation.

After that, however, it was unstoppable.

 

Lancelot

Here’s the real deal on Lancelot:  In the Welsh tales, he doesn’t exist.  The only adultery that may or may not have occurred is between Gwenhwyfar and Modred and not by Gwenhywfar’s choice.

The French made him up.  There.  I said it.

“Sir Lancelot first appears in Arthurian legend in ‘Le Chevalier de la Charrette’, one of a set of five Arthurian romances written by the French poet Chrétien de Troyes (completed by Godefroy de Lagny) as a large collection of verses, c.1180 to 1240. Lancelot is characterised alongside other knights, notably Gawain, Kay, and Méléagant (or Meliagaunce) – a consistent rival and parallel anti-hero against Lancelot – and is already heavily involved in his legendary romance with Guinevere, King Arthur’s queen.

…Chrétien de Troyes composed ‘Le Chevalier de la Charrette’ at the request of the Countess Marie de Champagne, daughter of Louis VII of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine, then later the wife of Henry II of England. It was apparently written to foster the notion of the ‘Courts of Love’ as the principal settings for (adulterous) social relations rather than the spontaneous passion typified by the story of Tristan and Iseult. Like other courtly ladies of the day, Guinevere required a lover, and the literary Lancelot – a convenient and suitable hero – was pressed into service.”   http://www.arthurian-legend.com/more-about/more-about-arthur-6.php

In that context, it makes sense (though I still hate it–and hate it more that the Lancelot story has become the King Arthur story.  It is interesting to note that this author also makes the same observation I do in my rant (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/the-fictional-king-arthur-rant/) that “Lancelot is arguably as important a figure as Arthur himself. In French versions of the legend more attention is focused on Sir Lancelot than on King Arthur”.

“He is first introduced by Chrétien de Troyes and substantially enlarged by the Vulgate cycle. Malory furthers his prominence.

Lancelot is the son of the King of Benoic, Ban. He is carried away from this province of western France, by the Lady of the Lake. She raises him and presents him to Arthur‘s court upon his eighteenth birthday. His marshall prowess and inward nobility are soon apprehended by all. When not on the Quest, he meets with the Round Table and participates in the tournaments, often victoriously. He makes his home the northern castle of Joyous Gard, possibly Bamburgh, at the location of a British fort named Din Guayrdi.

Perhaps his most recognizable role is that of paramour to Arthur’s queen, Guinevere. Though the Queen’s treatment of him at court is aloof and disdainful, according to the tenets of courtly love, their love runs deep and is lasting, though stormy at times. Their love is also integral to Grail legend. While Lancelot is the guest of the Grail-keeper Pelles, Pelles contrives magically to have the knight sleep with his daughter Elaine in the guise of the Queen, whom he has led Lancelot to believe is in the area. Lancelot sleeps with Elaine and the result of their union is Galahad, the chosen Grail-knight. Upon reaching manhood, Galahad comes to court and many knights set forth on the Quest for the Grail. Lancelot himself is denied the Grail because of his aldultery. Ironically however, it is that love that conceived the knight that attains the Grail.”  http://www.pantheon.org/articles/l/lancelot.html

The one version of the Lancelot story that I find interesting is actually told by Norma Goodrich, who works with languages.  She claims that Lancelot is derived from a Scottish King Angus (with etymological detail of the transformation of the name).  She says that there was no adultery, which we already knew 🙂 http://www.amazon.com/King-Arthur-Norma-Lorre-Goodrich/dp/0060971827/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

 

 

What did medieval people drink?

What did medieval people drink? It wasn’t just alcoholic beverages, though alcohol was so commonly drunk at every meal that it was almost a food rather than a beverage.

Water–Yes, people drank water in the Middle Ages! https://io9.gizmodo.com/no-medieval-people-didnt-drink-booze-to-avoid-dirty-w-1533442326

All over the internet, sources say that water was not drunk in the Middle Ages due to impurities. Certain sources question that, in large part because people didn’t know where disease came from, so how would they have pinpointed water as the source of the problem?  Maybe because it didn’t taste good? Other sources indicate that water might not have been drunk often, but that it may have been more of a class thing, rather than a health issue. Poor people drank water, since they couldn’t afford wine or beer. Medieval people did have access to well water, which was a relatively clean source of water.

Regardless, while water was readily available, even if a person might choose wine, beer, or mead over water if he could. This is a list of possible water-based and non-alcoholic drinks that medieval people might have drunk:  http://mbhp.forgottensea.org/noalcohol.html

Milk–among the Celts and later the Welsh and English, milk was drunk as well as eaten in great quantity as cheese, butter, cream, etc. The Welsh in particular were herders of sheep, goats, and cattle, so milk was a widely available cheap (if not free) food for all classes of people, and an important source of protein. http://www.medieval-recipes.com/medieval-food/milk/

Wine–Wine was drunk all over France and the Mediterranean  where grapes were grown. It was less common in Britain where it would have had to have been imported. The wealthy did import it, however, and particularly as the centuries progressed, lords and kings would have drunk wine as a matter of course. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_wine

Mead–a common beverage in Wales made from fermented honey. Essentially, it is honey wine. The Welsh were herders, not farmers, so they didn’t grow grains in the same quantity as the English. I talk about what mead is here:  http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/what-is-mead/

Cider–a less common beverage, but derived from the fermentation of fruits, usually apples.  http://www.archiveofciderpomology.co.uk/origins_of_cider.htm

Beer— an alcoholic drink made from grain, water, and fermented with yeast. It is a generic term that includes other fermented beverages such as ale. Nowadays, beer includes hops, which weren’t added to beer until the 16th century. “Beer was the first alcoholic beverage known to civilization, however, who drank the first beer is unknown. Historians theorize that humankind’s fondness for beer and other alcoholic beverages was a factor in our evolution away from a society of nomadic hunters and gathers into an agrarian society that would settle down to grow crops (and apparently drink). The first product humans made from grain & water before learning to make bread was beer.” http://inventors.about.com/od/bstartinventions/a/beer.htm

“As the cultivation of barley spread north and west, brewing went with it. As time passed, the production of beer came under the watchful eye of the Roman Church. Christian abbeys, as centers of agriculture, knowledge and science, refined the methods of brewing. Initially in the making of beer for the brothers and for visiting pilgrims, later as a means of financing their communities. However, there was still very little known about the role of yeast in completing fermentationBeer brewing played an important role in daily lives. Beer was clearly so desired that it led nomadic groups into village life. Beer was considered a valuable (potable) foodstuff  and workers were often paid with jugs of beer.

By the fifteenth century, there was a record of hops used in Flemish beer imported into England, and by the sixteenth century hops had gained widespread use as a preservative in beer, replacing the previously used bark or leaves. Perhaps the most widely known event in brewing history was the establishment of German standards for brewers. The first of these regulations was the inspiration for the Reinheitsgebot of 1516 – the most famous beer purity law. This pledge of purity states that only four ingredients can be used in the production of beer: water, malted barley, malted wheat and hops. Yeast, though not included in this list, was acceptable, as it was taken for granted to be a key ingredient in the brewing process. The “Reinheitsgebot” was the assurance to the consumer that German beers would be of the highest quality in the world and acknowledges the European disdain for adding adjuncts such as corn, rice, other grains and sugars.”  http://www.alabev.com/history.htm

Ale–an alcoholic drink made from grain, water, and fermented with yeast. Certain web pages claim that what English people really drank in the Middle Ages wasn’t beer, but Ale, which is a drink without hops.

“Historically the terms beer and ale respectively referred to drinks brewed with and without hops. It has often now come to mean a bitter-tasting barley beverage fermented at room temperature. In some British usage, however, in homage to the original distinction, it is not now used except in compounds (such as “pale ale” (see below)) or as “real ale“, a term adopted in opposition to the pressurised beers developed by industrial brewers in the 1960s, and used of a warm-fermented unpasteurised beer served from the cask (though not stout or porter).

Ale typically has bittering agent(s) to balance the sweetness of the malt and to act as a preservative. Ale was originally bittered with gruit, a mixture of herbs (sometimes spices) which was boiled in the wort prior to fermentation. Later, hops replaced the gruit blend in common usage as the sole bittering agent.

Ale, along with bread, was an important source of nutrition in the medieval world, particularly small beer, also known as table beer or mild beer, which was highly nutritious, contained just enough alcohol to act as a preservative, and provided hydration without intoxicating effects. Small beer would have been consumed daily by almost everyone in the medieval world, with higher-alcohol ales served for recreational purposes. The lower cost for proprietors combined with the lower taxes levied on small beer led to the selling of beer labeled “strong beer” that had actually been diluted with small beer. For many medieval people, ale was healthier than the local drinking water, which was often contaminated by bacteria, whereas the ethanol in ale kills bacteria. In some places even children drank it.

Brewing ale in the Middle Ages was a local industry primarily pursued by women. “Brewsters,” as they were called, would brew in the homestead for both domestic consumption and small scale commercial sale. Brewsters provided a substantial supplemental income for families; however, only in select few cases, as was the case for widows, was brewing considered the primary income of the household. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ale

 

 

 

The Battle of Cymerau

The fortunes of the Welsh ebbed and flowed in the 13th century, but between 1255 (the Battle of Bryn Derwin when Llywelyn defeated his brothers, Dafydd and Owain) and 1277, they were on the rise.

One of the first important battles was that of Cymerau.

In September of 1256, Stephen Bauzan, Prince Edward’s officer in south-west Wales, brought a substantial force of men to Ystrad Tywi, located in the northern portion of Deheubarth at the base of the Cambrian Mountains.

Thus, on the eve of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s advance into Perfeddwlad, a force was arraigned against Maredudd ap Rhys Gryg, the Welsh lord of those lands. Llywelyn and Maredudd, eyeing each other with mutual concern about their own power and authority, struck an alliance, and perhaps this is the true impetus for Llywelyn’s foray east of the Conwy River. After he took all of Gwynedd under his control, he swept south, taking over all of Wales from the Dee River to the Dyfi, and then turning southwest towards Ystrad Tywi and taking all those lands for Maredudd.

Then, Llywelyn turned back east and drove towards Welshpool, through the lands of Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn in Powys. Further south, he took lands from Roger Mortimer, including Builth, initiating a lifelong animosity between the two men.  Llywelyn found himself in possession of almost the whole of Wales and the chroniclers realized he was cut from the same cloth as the great Kings of Wales who preceded him.  They began to speak of him in the same breath as his grandfather, Llywelyn Fawr.

All this activity forced Prince Edward to engage his Marcher barons–Mortimer, Bohun, Lestrange, Valence–none of whom was enthused about the idea of challenging Llywelyn. Edward was also short of funds. But he had no choice but to attempt a counter measure and try to wrest back some of the lands that Llywelyn had taken from him.

At Edward’s behest, Bauzan again set out (hard to see why Edward entrusted this mission with him, given the disaster of the previous year, but he did).  On 31 May 1257, he reached Llandeilo Fawr and camped. During the night, Maredudd ap Owain and Maredudd ap Rhys drew their forces close.  At dawn, they attacked in a shower of lances and arrows. For two days, the English cowered under the onslaught. Rhys Fychan, an ally of Edward and Prince Llywelyn’s nephew, who’d encouraged the whole endeavor, slipped away and made for Dinefwr.  This was the Welsh court of Maredudd ap Rhys Gryg, to which he thereby transferred his allegiance.

The next day, the English attempted to retreat to Cardigan, but at Coed Llathen the force lost many of its supplies.  Then, at Cymerau, the Welsh and English forces met openly on a battlefield. The Welsh so routed the English that 3000 men were recorded as having fallen.  It was an embarrassing and epic defeat for Edward.  Unfortunately for Llywelyn, his alliance with Maredudd ap Rhys Gryg was irrepairably damaged by his acceptance of Rhys Fychan back into the fold, and Maredudd defected again to the king before the year was out.

These details come from:

Marc Morris, A Great and Terrible King, Edward I and the Forging of Britain.

J. Beverley Smith, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd.

And Wikipedia has a great description here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cadfan#The_Battle_of_Cymerau