Eleanor (Elinor) de Montfort

Eleanor (Elinor in Welsh) de Montfort (1252-1282) was the wife of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last Prince of Wales.  She was the daughter of Simon de Montfort, who was killed in the Battle of Evesham by the forces of Edward I when she was only thirteen.  Her mother, Eleanor of Leicester, was the youngest daughter […]

The Rising of 1256

I bet you didn’t know there was a Welsh Rising of 1256 did you? This date, even more than the Battle of Bryn Derwin in 1255, is the point at which Llywelyn ap Gruffydd began to assert his authority in Wales beyond Gwynedd and to place himself squarely in the forefront as the inheritor of […]

Betrayal in the Belfry at Bangor

“And there was effected the betrayal of Llywelyn in the belfry of Bangor by his own men.” —Brut y Tywysogyon, Peniarth manuscript 20. (Chronicle of the Princes) This comment is sandwiched between the description of the defeat of the English at the Menai Straits on November 6th, and the death of Llywelyn on December 11th, […]

Llywelyn ap Iorwerth Takes the Throne

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 […]

Historiography of the Welsh Conquest

Thank you to Brynne Haug for the next installment of her essay on the conquest of Wales. The following video is of our visit in May 2014 to Caernarfon Castle, the centerpiece of King Edward’s conquest of Wales. ___________ While there has been some measure of historical debate on the benefits and detriments of the […]

The Conquests of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth

Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, born around 1172, was the grandson of Owain Gwynedd and ruled Wales from the late 12th century (certainly by 1200) to his death in 1240 AD.  He married Joanna (Joan), the eldest (albeit illegitimate) daughter of King John of England. Llywelyn “proved to be the greatest and most constructive Welsh statesman of the Middle Ages. In his […]

Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales

Dafydd 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, thirteen years after Llywelyn.  This Dafydd spent the majority of his life […]

Memo to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s Staff

I unearthed this from my archives and thought I’d share.  Too bad this isn’t a deleted scene from Footsteps in Time 🙂 _____________________ Breaking News! A historic document has been found in the archives at the University of Bangor in Wales! Read on for the full text! 18 November 1282 To:  All Welsh Staff From:  Goronwy ap […]

The Normans in Wales (Chepstow Castle)

William the Bastard (William the Conquerer, William the Norman) won his first battle for the conquest of England at Hastings in October of 1066.  He defeated the army of King Harold Godwinson, who’d force-marched his men from Stamford Bridge after defeating an invasion by King Hardrada of Norway.  Harold’s forces almost held, but in the end, […]

Brecon Castle

Brecon Castle was begun in 1093 by Bernard de Newmarch, when (as my book ‘Welsh Castles’ puts it) ‘he established his lordship of Brecon.’  The Normans had only come to Britain in 1066 and it was a wild time on the borders between England and Wales as they tried to gain control over the Welsh […]

The Death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd

It has been over 700 years since Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s death on 11 December 1282.  J. Beverley Smith writes: “Intimations of treachery, of breach of faith, are so often conveyed darkly, and no chronicle, nor any other source, provides the unequivocal teestomny which might enable us to unravel the threads in the various accounts of […]

Aberystwyth Castle

Aberystwyth Castle, located on the west coast of Wales, is one of the few large castles in Ceredigion proper.  To the east is mountainous terrain and it guards the entire north/south coast of Wales.  A fort has existed in the area since prehistoric times, and over the centuries, different peoples have added to, knocked down, […]