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, 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 Read More…

King Edward I of England

“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 Read More…

Gwynedd after 1282

After the Treaty of Aberconwy in 1277 AD, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was reduced to lordship over a small area of land in Gwynedd, mostly west of the Conwy River.  Over the course of the 1282 war, he took back much of what he’d lost.  He was killed, however, on 11 December 1282, and all of Wales ultimately fell the forces of Edward I.  The map at right shows:    Green:  Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s principality    Blue:  Territories of Dafydd ap Gruffydd    Pink:  Territories ceded forever to the English Crown Read More…

The Dream of Welsh Independence

On December 11th, 1282, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was killed amidst the conflict with Edward I.  Less than a year later, his brother, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, was hung, drawn, and quartered and dragged throught he streets of Shrewsbury–as final payment for what Edward perceived as the ultimate betrayal.  The two men had been as close as brothers, once, and ended in epic hatred.  In further retribution, Edward  took all the signs of office–the true cross, the scepter, the crown–of the throne of Wales for himself.  And he made sure his son, Read More…

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 Heilin, Seneschal to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd RE:  Dafydd ap Gruffydd, traitorous weasel Summary of Facts: Prince Dafydd ap Gruffydd, brother of Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd has betrayed the Cause of Wales in the following manner: Read More…

An Iron Ring of Castles

During the late 1270’s and early 1280’s, particularly after the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Edward I began construction of a string of castles in Wales that circled the country.  The north, in Gwynedd, had always been a hotbed of Welsh resistance and resentment of English authority and it was there he built some of the most impressive of his monuments.  http://www.castlewales.com/edward1.html The three castles of north east Wales, from east to west, are Hawarden, Flint, and Rhuddlan. http://www.castlewales.com/wales_ne.html Hawarden was built before the conquest of Wales, and was the Read More…

Welsh Heraldry

Knights in the Middle Ages wore a coat of arms to distinguish themselves from one another in battle.  Within a given family individuals would have their own coats of arms, separate from each other and sometimes blending with another family, depending on the circumstances of marriage.  A family would also have crests and seals, which might or might not be the same as the coats of arms.  All are referred to as heraldic devices. “Generally the language of heraldry suggests its warlike origin. The term Coat of arms is derived Read More…

The Quest for Welsh Independence

When the Romans conquered Britain, the people they defeated were the Britons, the ancestors of the Welsh, a Celtic people who themselves had come to the island hundreds of years before. After the Romans marched away in 410 AD, the Saxon invaders overwhelmed the British in successive waves, pushing them west and resulting in a Saxon England and British Wales. When the next conquerors—the Normans—came in 1066 AD, they conquered England but they did not conquer Wales. Not yet. For the next two hundred years, power in Wales ebbed and flowed, split Read More…

Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn

Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn was a contemporary of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last Prince of Wales who died in 1282.  He was father to Owain, who with Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Llywelyn’s brother, conspired to murder Llywelyn in 1274. Gruffydd was born sometime before 1216, the date of his father’s death.   Llywelyn Fawr had driven the family from their lands in Powys and Gruffydd subsequently grew up in England.   “Gwenwynwyn seized Arwystli in 1197 when he was aligned with England. Following the marriage of Llywelyn Fawr and Joan of England in 1208, warfare broke out once more Read More…

Things Fall Apart–the End of an Independent Wales

Things Fall Apart is the name of an excellent book written in 1958 by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, describing his main character’s fall from grace where he loses his power, his family, and ultimately his life (he hangs himself).   It is an equally apt phrase for defining what happened in Wales immediately after the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd.  J. Beverley Smith writes:  “By the beginning of 1283, but not very long before, Llanrwst and Betws became bases for English operations in the upper Conwy valley, and it seems that a Read More…