The Good Knight When was Owain Gwynedd born?  Here’s the truth:  no idea.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Like Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, nobody seems to have recorded the date Owain Gwynedd was born, or even the year.  This is fine as far as it goes, because we can make some general estimates.  The problem arises when the birthdays for his many, many children haven’t been recorded either.  Nor his siblings.  Nor the dates of his marriages.

My go-to-guide, John Davies History of Wales doesn’t discuss birthdays or ages, probably because he knows it’s fraught with difficulties, but many web sources try.  For example, here’s one huge root of the problem, the Wikipedia entry, citing a book by John Edward Lloyd  A history of Wales from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest (Longmans, Green & Co.) written in 1911.  This has Owain born c. 1100, and a long list of his offspring  (

Now, if you make the mistake of clicking on some of those links, for example, Iorwerth ab Owain Gwynedd, the eldest son of Owain’s first wife, Gwladys, you find that this same 1911 source has him born in 1145 while neither Rhun nor Hywel get birthdays.  As they were full grown men by 1143, when Hywel is tasked with rousting his uncle Cadwaladr out of Ceredigion, you have to think he’s at least 20 at the time.  While Owain might have had mistresses and wives concurrently, among the Welsh princes, that was actually uncommon.  In addition, there is no mention in the annals of any sons of Owain Gwynedd but Rhun (who died in 1146) and Hywel until the 1150s.

Click on Dafydd ab Owain GwyneddOnce again, no birthday, but he is first mentioned in the annals in 1157, which means at the latest, he was born in 1143/44, since Welsh boys became men at the age of fourteen.  Obviously, we now have a problem, since this 1911 source has the eldest son of Owain’s first wife being born in 1145, and the eldest son of his second wife born a year earlier.

It gets worse.  The Castles of Wales site, normally very reliable, has Owain Gwynedd born as late as 1109.  If this is true, however, then for Hywel to be  20 in 1143, than he would have to been fathered by Owain at the precocious age of 14, and his elder brother Rhun even earlier.  Not impossible, but . . .

Furthermore, Citing The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens (by Mike Ashley, Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. New York, 1998), elsewhere on the site, it makes the claim that Owain was born c. 1100 (so I give them a pass on that), but now Dafydd, the eldest son of his second wife Cristina, was born in c. 1135.

Deeper into a search, the EBK site reports that Owain’s father, Gruffydd, married Angharad in 1195 (when he was 40) and had three sons (Cadwallon, Owain, Cadwaladr) and some daughters, including the youngest, Gwenllian.  Fine. But it is Gwenllian who elopes with the much, much older Gruffydd ap Rhys in 1113.  Whoa.  Note that the particular entry on Gwenllian, which actually has citations, not all of which I have access to, has her born c 1197, which by necessity must push all these other dates back into the earlier 1190s to make any of this work.

Here’s a hilarious family tree, showing the problem of not analyzing what you’re reading.  It actually shows this first son of the first wife being born after the second son of the second wife (Rhodri this time).  I’d love to find those sources.