Erase Me Not (The Paradisi Chronicles)

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Announcement! I have written a book!
I realize that isn’t news, but what is news is the book I’ve written, which I have told nobody about until today …

A year ago, seven authors (including me) came together to write individual books set in a shared fictional world. We shared ideas, hammered out a backstory, drew maps, adapted technology, designed cities, and invented new species. Then we wrote stories about the people and places of this new world we’d created. We wrote in different styles, in different genres, and in different forms, In fact, we had so much fun that we have opened up this world to any other author who would like to write their own stories and add to the Paradisi Chronicles canon. (our FB page is here:; our web page is here:

The Paradisi Chronicles:
In the last decades of the twenty-first century, ten families, seeking to escape an increasingly devastated Earth, focus their power and wealth on building spaceships that will allow a select few to leave Earth and colonize the world they call New Eden. Here, on their new home in the Paradisi System, these Founding Families hope to avoid the environmental and political disasters that were destroying Earth. But they find that the world they claim for their own is already inhabited, and the Ddaerans, although human in their appearance, possess abilities that the Founders and their descendants find both intriguing and frightening …

My book is called Erase Me Not, and it’s a sci-fi/fantasy with suspense and romance and adventure and all the usual things I write about except set on New Eden, some two hundred years in the future. There’s even some Welsh thrown in for good measure because, you know, that’s how I roll:

erasemenotcoverblogAs a descendant of one of the Founding Families of the colony of New Eden, Abby has lived a privileged existence–up until the moment she wakes up in a rent-by-the-hour hotel room in the worst sector of New Seattle with no memory of how she got there. Friends and family are suddenly strangers, and the only memories in her head can’t be hers.

When the authorities accuse her of working for the Resistance movement and have evidence to prove it, Abby enlists her only friend, Raman, for help. Their quest takes them into the dark underbelly of the brave new world her family founded and reveals a far-reaching conspiracy which threatens not only Abby’s life, but the very foundations of New Eden.

The book is available for preorder on Amazon  and all Amazon stores (it releases September 1).


The Welsh founders of the United States

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Wales never had an Independence Day, although it has been inching towards more autonomy for the last ten years. Welsh people, however, had a huge impact on the founding of the United States and its revolution. Thomas Jefferson writes in his autobiography:

“The tradition in my father’s family was that their ancestor came to this country from Wales, and from near the mountain of Snowdon, the highest in Gr. Br.”

Other founders with Welsh ancestry (some only rumored) include Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island and its religious freedom, William Penn, Sam and John Adams, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, and Benedict Arnold and up to a third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (

Personally, I find this unsurprising, and it explains a great deal about the willingness of the founders of the United States to stand up to England.

One key to whether or not a name originates in Wales is if the last name is a ‘first’ name (e.g. Adam, Madison, Henry, Arnold, Jefferson, Williams). A very common such name in Wales now is “John”. Another less well-known founder, Richard Morris, was dubbed the “Financier of the American Revolution” by George Washington.;

And then, if the Welshness of certain American influenced the American Revolution, according to John Davies, later Welsh-Americans returned the favor. He states:

“Welsh Nationalism was a concept born in Cincinnati, where Michael D. Jones was a Congregational minister in the 1840s. To be Welsh in Wales was to be from Carmarthenshire or Anglesey or Glamorgan or Denbighshire. To be Welsh in America was to be from Wales. Periodicals and newspapers in Wales were local- Y Gwladgarwr serving Aberdare and much of the south, Y Fanerserving Denbigh and much of the north and so on. Welsh periodicals in America served the Welsh in their entirety . . .

And not only were the Welsh as a nation invented in America. So also were almost all the causes that have been central to our endeavor over the last two centuries.

As Gwyn Alf Williams has shown in his brilliant books on Madog and Beulah, late eighteenth century Welsh radicalism, religious as well as political, was largely borrowed from the American Enlightenment. In the early nineteenth century, the temperance and teetotal movements were directly inspired by the American example, and the leaders of the movement to disestablish the Anglican Church in Wales looked to the American separation of church and state as their model.

The victory of the North in the Civil War was interpreted in Wales as the triumph of a democratic people over a decadent landed aristocracy, an inspiration to those who launched an attack upon Welsh landlordism in the 1870s and 1880s.

The 1880s also saw the emergence of a republican movement, much to the distress of Queen Victoria. Thomas Gee, the editor of Baner ac Amerserau Cymru, described republican rallies with enthusiasm. American flags were carried, he noted, and the crowd shouted the names of American Presidents.”


Reading Group Guide to The Good Knight

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Many readers over the years have asked for a reading group guide to my books. I am happy to announce that I now have one to The Good Knight!


tgk cover blogThe Good Knight

By Sarah Woodbury

Reading Group Guide

  1. Gwen is a young woman living in twelfth century Wales, a time nearly eight hundred years before the present. How does Gwen’s behavior play into or defy stereotypes about medieval women? Do you think her portrayal is realistic?  How do you think she would behave differently had she not been raised by an itinerant bard?  Consider her relationship with her family, with her social “superiors” (lords, knights, princes, etc.), and her participation in traditionally “masculine” spheres, such as her intelligence work for Prince Hywel, or her active role in the murder investigation.
  1. Women in this story (and in medieval period in general) are almost unilaterally seen as social inferiors. How then do women gain and exercise power?  Are there avenues of influence accessible to them which are unavailable to men?  Or, are they merely pawns in masculine political games?  Consider the examples of Gwen, Cristina (King Owain’s betrothed), and Elen (Hywel’s and Rhun’s sister).
  1. What is the difference between honor and morality? What does his honor mean to Gareth, and why is it so important him?  Does being honorable make you a good person?  Consider the example of Cadwaladr’s lieutenant, Maredudd (Chapter Twenty-Five).  What does Maredudd’s honor mean to him?  Does it mean something different than it does to Gareth?
  1. Also in Chapter Twenty-Five, Rhun and Hywel each take the life of one of Cadwaladr’s soldiers in cold blood. What does this say about them as princes?  What does this say about them as human beings?  Was it pragmatic? Was it ethical? Did this act make you see them differently?
  1. What does it mean to be a good nobleman in 12th-century Wales? Must one be a good person to be a good noblemen?  Are there times when the two are mutually exclusive? Consider the character of Owain Gwynedd, compared to that of Cadwaladr.  Is Owain a good king?  Why, or why not?   Is there an argument to be made that Cadwaladr is a good nobleman, or at least an effective one?  Is there a difference?
  1. What role does regional prejudice play in the political conflicts portrayed in this book? For instance, what do the Welsh think of the English?  What do the Danes think of the Welsh?  Do you think prejudice exists even within different Welsh regions (e.g. Gwynedd and Deheubarth)?  Is there any difference along class lines in this matter (i.e. do lords share the prejudices of peasants)?
  1. Why do you think the dialogue in this book is written in a colloquial style (meaning familiar)? Does the dialogue remind you of the way you would speak? Why do you think the author chose to eschew the “thee” and “thou” style of speech which is often used in portrayals of medieval speech?
  1. What does this story say about the benefits and problems with the way power is structured in the Middle Ages? Are there problems that arise from the concentration of power into a few hands?  How does someone like Gareth, who gained power through effort and personal valor, use power differently from someone like Owain Gwynedd, who was born to it?
  1. Why does Owain Gwynedd continually forgive his brother, Cadwaladr, and let him off? Do you feel like Cadwaladr consciously abuses this blind spot? What motivation leads Cadwaladr to repeatedly violate his brother’s trust, and why does Owain seem not to care?  What does this say about the importance of family among 12th century lords?
  1. What was Cristina trying to accomplish in telling Cadwaladr that Gwen is carrying Hywel’s child?  Why was it plausible to him?  When Hywel and Gareth hear of this, what do their reactions say about them as people?  Given Hywel’s reputation, do you think Gareth believes Hywel’s denials?



Celtic Life Interview

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This month’s issue of Celtic Life has an interview with me :)

With two historian parents, author Sarah Woodbury couldn’t help but develop an interest in the past. She began writing historical-romance fiction when the stories in her head overflowed and demanded she let them out. Recently we spoke with her about her passion and profession.

What are your own roots?
My roots are in England, Scotland, and Wales. From Scotland, my most famous ancestor is my multiple great-grandfather, Donald McKay, the Boston Clipper Ship builder. He was a Highland McKay from Thurso, whose father had fought for the British during the American Revolution, but then came home to find that his family lands had been ‘cleared’. He accepted land in Nova Scotia, and then Donald moved to Boston as a young man. From Wales, my ancestors come through—among others—my umpteenth great grandfather, William Woodbury, who self-identified as a Welshman when he arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1628. I am also descended from a host of Morgans, Thomas’, Kemries, Johns, Rhuns etc.  The line I’ve researched most successfully descends from Llywelyn ap Ifor born around 1300.  Six generations later, Sir John Morgan (1448) was knighted. One of my readers kindly researched my ancestry back all the way to the Lord Rhys (d. 1197) and Hywel Dda of Deheubarth. Woodbury is, of course, a very Saxon name, and those roots lie in Somerset.

Why are those roots important to you?
Family history is, in many ways, the stories we tell about ourselves—those key moments in our family’s past that inspire us today. While I can take no credit for the choices of my ancestors, I can both learn from them and be inspired by them.

What inspired you to become a writer?
I had stories in my head that I wanted to tell. It took probably ten years to work up the courage to tell them. I had been a creative child, but around the age of 12, committed myself to the endeavor of school, to the point that I received my Ph.D. in anthropology in 1995 when I was 27. I had four children along the way, and it was really working with them and seeing their creativity that encouraged me to once again tap into my own.

Read the rest here …


Guardians of Time is here!


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GOT blogChristmas 1292. Time travel has meant many things to Meg, David, and Anna over the years, but regardless of the circumstances, it has always been about saving lives: their own, their family members’, their friends’.

This time, it’s a combination of all three.

Guardians of Time is the ninth novel in the After Cilmeri series.

It is available at Amazon US and all Amazon stores, iBooks, Kobo, Google PlaySmashwordsand Nook.


The Statute of Wales

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King Edward I issued the Statute of Wales (sometimes referred to as the Statute of Rhuddlan) in 1284 as part of his program of subjugating Wales to English law.  For Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, and his people, being able to live under Welsh law had been a primary concern and one of the most compelling reasons to war with England.  Edward, knowing this, saw to it that the Welsh laws were overthrown, and this act was not repealed for centuries.  It was comprehensive and complete–the most comprehensive any King issued during the middle ages  (Bowen 1908).

To download your own copy:

This site states:  “At the Statute of Rhuddlan, 1284, Wales was divided up into English counties; the English court pattern set firmly in place, and for all intents and purposes, Wales ceased to exist as a political unit. The situation seemed permanent when Edward followed up his castle building program by his completion of Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech. In 1300, Edward made his son (born at Caernarfon castle, in that mighty fortress overlooking the Menai Straits in Gwynedd) ‘Prince of Wales.'”

In summary, the Statute instated these laws:

1.  Wales was annexed to the Crown of England

2.  Divided Wales into counties and appointed officers, controlled by the King

3.  Created the office of “Sheriff” and regulated the matter of the courts, abrogating Welsh law in this matter.

4.  Created laws regarding debt, laws, and attorneys, inquests, pleas, trials, and juries, all in accordance with English common law.

5.  Established laws of dower for women (for which there was no formal arrangement under Welsh law)   and inheritance, according to English common law.  He specifically forbade ‘bastards’ to inherit, as had been customary under Welsh law.


The Holy Grail and Dinas Bran


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That King Arthur got mixed up with Jesus Christ can’t be too surprising, given the myth-making that went into the King Arthur story.  Rumor has it that Bran, for whom the castle, Dinas Bran, was named, was Joseph of Arimithea’s son-in-law.  Legend has it that after Jesus’ death, Joseph brought the Cup of Christ from Israel to Britain.  It does seem unlikely, doesn’t it?

But that is what the ‘Holy Grail’ is, that King Arthur’s knights go in search of:  “The Holy Grail of Christian legend is the vessel given by Christ to his disciples to sup from at the Last Supper. Later, it is said to have been given to his grand-uncle, St. Joseph of Arimathea, who used to collect Christ’s blood and sweat whilst he hung upon the Cross.”

Dinas Bran, in turn, is the “site of an ancient Iron-Age hill-fort, believed to have been the home of the Kings of Powys, well into the 8th century. It is particularly associated with King Elisedd of Eliseg’s Pillar fame. The castle is, however, named for King Bran Fendigaid (the Blessed), a Celtic God known from both Welsh and Irish mythology who was later mortalized into a monarch of North Wales.”

“Much of the information available about Bran the Blessed strongly suggests that at least part of his legend entered into later Arthurian romance. His Magic Cauldron is probably that sought by King Arthur in the Welsh poem, the “Spoils of the Annwfn”.  As in Bran’s Irish tale, Arthur travels to the Celtic Otherworld and, like the Welsh tale, only seven men survive. The vessel was later reborn as the Holy Grail, the cup of plenty or cornucopia found in mythology from across the Globe. The wound to Bran’s foot, inflicted by a poisoned spear, which caused his lands to fail is echoed in that of the Arthurian Grail guardian, known as the Grail or Fisher King.

His latter title may be related to Bran’s association with rivers and river-crossings (such as those he encountered in Ireland). His castle was Corbenic or Castell Dinas Bran, both names deriving from the word Raven or Crow. The Fisher King, like Bran’s head, could feast with his followers indefinitely and his forename was said to be Bron (or Brons) in the so-called Didot Perceval: clearly a transformation of Bran. Here, he is given a wife, Anna, the daughter of St. St. Joseph of Arimathea, probably through confusion with his grandmother, Beli Mawr’s wife, Anu. Bran may also be the original of other Arthurian characters like Brandegorre, Bran de Lis, Brandelidelin or Ban of Benoic.”

It was Joseph of Arimathea who gave his tomb to Christ upon his death and (again, legend has it) first brought Christianity to Britain aroun 63 AD, along with the cup.

“During the late 12th century, Joseph became connected with the Arthurian cycle, appearing in them as the first keeper of the Holy Grail This idea first appears in Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie, in which Joseph receives the Grail from an apparition of Jesus and sends it with his followers to Britain. This theme is elaborated upon in Boron’s sequels and in subsequent Arthurian works penned by others. Later retellings of the story contend that Joseph of Arimathea himself travelled to Britain and became the first Christian bishop in the Isles.”

Glastonbury Tor claims this too, but we know that can’t be true :)


Llywelyn ap Iorwerth Takes the Throne


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Upon the death of Owain Gwynedd in 1170 AD, his eldest son, Hywel, purportedly a most capable man, succeeded to the rulership of Gwynedd.  In Wales, all sons, regardless of their legitimacy, can inherit, provided their father had acknowledged them.  This should have been the case with Hywel.

As I wrote in this post, the downside of this enlightened approach to illegitimacy is that it divided the kingdom between all the heirs and fostered animosity among brothers over their portion of their inheritance.  Such was the case when Owain Gwynedd overcame his brothers to take the throne, such was the case many years later after the death of Llywelyn Fawr, and such was the case in 1170.

Thus, Dafydd ap Owain Gywnedd conspired with his mother (Owain Gwynedd’s second wife, Cristina) and brother Rhodri to usurp the throne from Hywel, the eddling, whom his father had chosen to succeed him.  Dafydd drove Hywel out of Gwynedd and ultimately defeated him at the battle of Pentraeth.  After the untimely and suspicious deaths of most of Dafydd’s other brothers, Dafydd eventually ruled most of Gwynedd and parts of Wales all by himself from 1174.

Llywelyn ap Iorwerth was born in 1172, at the remote castle of Dolwyddelan, south of Mt. Snowdon.

Iorwerth, Llywelyn’s father, was the eldest legitimate son of Owain Gwynedd, by his first wife Gwladys.  He seems not to have taken part in the upheaval among the brothers and perhaps it had something to do with his disfigurement (he is nicknamed Iowerth Drwyndwn ‘broken nose’).   He married Marared, daughter of Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys.   Thus, Llywelyn was grandson to Owain Gwynedd and of a powerful lineage on both sides.

“The infant prince, being a potential menace to the power of his father’s half-brothers in Gwynedd , probably grew up in Powys under the protection of his maternal relatives. Following an obscure period of apprenticeship in arms (he entered the turbulent arena of northern politics at a very tender age), he combined with his cousins, the sons of Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd, and in 1194 defeated his uncle, Dafydd I, seizing from him a share in the government of Perfeddwlad, which in 1197, he transformed into sole rulership. With the capture of Mold in 1199 he promised to become a leader of the calibre and vision of Owain Gwynedd; in fact, between 1199 and 1203 , he restored the undivided sovereignty of his grandfather over the whole of Gwynedd , including Merioneth and Penllyn .”  In 1194, he was only 22.


King Edward I of England


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“The English have a lot to answer for.”

One of my graduate professors said this in reference to Africa (and I in no way mean to absolve the US of what IT has to answer for, and acknowledging that historically I am as much English as Welsh), but I think of it now whenever I think of Edward I.

Because I’m a Welshophile.

At the same time, history should not judge the man by 21st century standards.  That said, Edward I should be remembered for the following, both ‘good’ and bad’:

1239:  born 17 June

1254:  married Eleanor of Castille (he was 15, she 9)

1265:  Defeated Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham

1270:  Joined the 9th crusade to the Holy Land

1274:  Returned to England to take up the throne (Henry III, his father, had died in 1272)

1275-1290:  Codified existing statues into a more cohesive system of law, some of which was based in the Magna Carta.

1277-1282:  War against the Welsh

The official web site of the British monarchy says:  “Llywelyn maintained that the rights of his principality were ‘entirely separate from the rights’ of England; he did not attend Edward’s coronation and refused to do homage. Finally, in 1277 Edward decided to fight Llywelyn ‘as a rebel and disturber of the peace’, and quickly defeated him. War broke out again in 1282 when Llywelyn joined his brother David in rebellion.

Edward’s determination, military experience and skilful use of ships brought from England for deployment along the North Welsh coast, drove Llywelyn back into the mountains of North Wales. The death of Llywelyn in a chance battle in 1282 and the subsequent execution of his brother David effectively ended attempts at Welsh independence.”  Ha.

1283:  Hanged, drew, and quartered Prince Dafydd ap Gruffydd in Shrewsbury, first man of standing to die in such a fashion, thus ending all hopes of an independent Wales (see above).

1290:  Expelled the Jews from England (

1296:  Began war with Scotland

1305:  Hanged, drew, and quartered William Wallace in London

1307:  Died 7 July

Another pro-Edward page says:  “Edward’s character found accurate evaluation by Sir Richard Baker, in A Chronicle of the Kings of England: He had in him the two wisdoms, not often found in any, single; both together, seldom or never: an ability of judgement in himself, and a readiness to hear the judgement of others. He was not easily provoked into passion, but once in passion, not easily appeased, as was seen by his dealing with the Scots; towards whom he showed at first patience, and at last severity. If he be censured for his many taxations, he may be justified by his well bestowing them; for never prince laid out his money to more honour of himself, or good of his kingdom.”


Dolbadarn Castle

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Dolbadarn Castle is only 6 1/2 miles as the crow flies from the Menai Straits, and yet, the topography of the area is such that it was built by Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) to guard the mountain pass from Caernarfon to the upper Conwy Valley.  ‘Its position at the tip of Llyn Padarn allowed the garrison to blockade anyone’s movement through that part of the north, then as now a main link to the rest of Wales. The military worth of the spot was evidently recognized as early as the 6th century but surviving masonry dates no earlier than the 1200’s.’

Llywleyn Fawr built the castle in the early 13th century and it was one of the last defenses of Dafydd ap Gruffydd–Llywleyn Fawr’s grandson–in 1283 after Edward had defeated Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Dafydd’s brother (Paul Davis, Castles of the Welsh Princes, p. 42).  It was then abandoned.


A visit to Google Earth reveals that the Castle sits on a crest above a slight valley, overshadowed by the enormous mountains behind it.  ‘The site is a narrow outcrop of rock with steep falls on all sides, especially the east, where there is a sheer drop to Llyn Padarn’ (Adrian Pettifer, Welsh Castles, p. 33).  It is likely that some kind of Roman road passed through the area on its way into the mountains, as traces remain of a temporary Roman camp further up the road, once it turns east to Betws-y-Coed.

According to Pettifer, the keep at Dolbadarn, which is the most well preserved piece of it, ‘vies with the gatehouse at Criccieth as Llywelyn the Great’s finest piece of castle architecture’.   All three floors had fireplaces and toilets, even the basement.  The outer walls were high enough to conceal the roof of the upper floor and protect it from being fired by missles (Pettifer, p. 34).

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd kept his elder brother, Owain, at Dolbadarn, for 20 years, before he was released in 1277 as part of the Treaty of Rhuddlan.  An old man by then, Llywelyn provided for him the cantref of Llyn, in which he died sometime before December, 1282 (Smith, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, p. 441).

Dolbadarn Castle was last used by Owain Glyndwyr to hold prisoners during his uprising against the English crown in the 1400s.

*Thanks to Stephen Colbert’s, Better Know a District


Senana, Mother of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd

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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)


The First Welsh Parliament

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The first Welsh parliament was established by Owain Glyndwr (Owain Glendower) in 1404 in Machynlleth, a small town on the northwest coast of Wales, not far from Harlech Castle, which was his seat.

“In 1404, Glyndwr assembled a parliament of four men from every commot in Wales at Machynlleth, drawing up mutual recognition treaties with France and Spain.”

The Owain Glyndwr Centre exists now on the site of the building where this was established and Owain was crowned Prince of Wales.


“Glyndwr was a member of the dynasty of northern Powys and, on his mother’s side, descended from that of Deheubarth in the south. The family had fought for Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the last war and regained their lands in north-east Wales only through a calculated association with the powerful Marcher lords of Chirk, Bromfield and Yale and the lesser family of Lestrange. They thus rooted themselves in the Welsh official class in the March and figured among its lesser nobility …

In 1399-1400 Glyndwr ran up against his powerful neighbor, Reginald de Grey, Lord of Ruthin, an intimate of the new king, Henry IV. The quarrel was over common land which Grey had stolen. Glyndwr could get no justice from the king or parliament. This proud man, over forty and grey-haired, was visited with insult and malice. There are indications that Glyndwr made an effort to contact other disaffected Welshmen, and when he raised his standard outside Ruthin on 16 September 1400, his followers from the very beginning proclaimed him Prince of Wales.

The response was startling and may have even startled Glyndwr himself. Supported by the Hanmers, other Norman-Welsh Marchers and the Dean of St Asaph, he attacked Ruthin with several hundred men and went on to savage every town on north-east Wales. There was an immediate response from Oxford, where Welsh scholars at once dropped their books and flocked home. Even more dramatic was the news that Welsh laborers in England were downing their tools and heading for home. The English Parliament at once rushed ferociously anti-Welsh legislation on to the books. Henry IV marched a big army right across north Wales, burning and looting without mercy. Whole populations scrambled to make their peace. Over the Winter, Glyndwr, with only seven men, took to the hills …

For the Welsh, it was a Marcher rebellion and a peasant’s revolt which grew into a national guerrilla war. The sheer tenacity of the rebellion is startling. Few revolts in contemporary Europe lasted more than some months; no previous Welsh war had lasted much longer. This one raged in undiminished fury for ten years and did not really end for fifteen.”

“In the early 15th Century the Welsh were fired by anti-English feeling after much of the country had been subjected to centuries of their rule and Glyndwr mobilised this national sentiment  … Backed by French military aid, Glyndwr took Carmarthen and Cardiff in 1403 from the English and Harlech and Aberystwyth in 1404.”

“In 1404, to demonstrate his seriousness as a ruler, Owain held court at Harlech and appointed the brilliant Gruffydd Young as his Chancellor. Soon afterwards, he called his first Parliament (or more properly Cynulliad or “gathering”) of all Wales at Machynlleth where he was crowned Prince of Wales and announced his national programme. He declared his vision of an independent Welsh state with a parliament and separate Welsh church. There would be two national universities (one in the south and one in the north) and return to the traditional law of Hywel Dda. Senior churchmen and important members of society flocked to his banner. English resistance was reduced to a few isolated castles, walled towns and fortified manor houses …

Shades of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, who had planned to divide up England and Wales between himself, Simon de Montfort, and Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century, “Owain demonstrated his new status by negotiating the “Tripartite Indenture” with Edmund Mortimer and Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. The Indenture agreed to divide England and Wales among the three of them. Wales would extend as far as the rivers Severn and Mersey including most of Cheshire,Shropshire and Herefordshire. The Mortimer Lords of March would take all of southern and western England and the Percys would take the north of England.[7] Although most historians have dismissed the terms of the Indenture as being highly ambitious and fanciful, R. R. Davies noted that certain internal features underscore the rootedness of Glynd?r’s political philosophy in Welsh mythology: in it, the three men invoke prophecy, and the boundaries of Wales are defined according to Merlinic literature.”

A timeline for the revolt is here:


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