Tag Archives: map

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Shades of Time Map (spoilers!)

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This is a map that shows the locations in Shades of Time in the After Cilmeri series!

Thanks to my geographer husband for making it!

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Jews in Medieval England

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Jews in Medieval England

I’m updating this post, in large part because of a comment a reader left about my use of the word ‘pogrom’ in Footsteps in Time, having not heard the word before. A ‘pogrom’ is defined as: “An organized, often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group, especially one conducted against Jews.”  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Pogrom

Jews lived in England during the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods, but not as an organized community. This page states:  “When William the Conqueror arrived in England in 1066, he encouraged Jewish merchants and artisans from northern France to move to England. The Jews came mostly from France with some from Germany, Italy and Spain, seeking prosperity and a haven from anti-Semitism. Serving as special representatives of the king, these Jews worked as moneylenders and coin dealers. Over the course of a generation, Jews established communities in London, York, Bristol, Canterbury and other major cities. They generally lived in segregated areas by themselves.”

From the charter by King John (1201), for which he received 4000 marks:  “John, by the grace of God, &c. Know that we have granted to all the Jews of England and Normandy to have freely and honourably residence in our land, and to hold all that from us, which they held from King Henry, our father’s grandfather, and all that now they reasonably hold in land and fees and mortgages and goods, and that they have all their liberties and customs just as they had them in the time of the aforesaid King Henry, our father’s grandfather, better and more quietly and more honourably.”  http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/kingjohn-jews.html

This goodwill, if it ever existed, had disintegrated by the time of Edward I of England (1239-1307).  As a king, he casts a long shadow over the thirteenth century and historians have generally viewed him favorably, in large part because they view his reign as good for England as a country (meaning he was stubborn, vibrant, and never backed down from a fight), if not anyone else.  But one of his most heinous acts, in addition to conquering Wales, was the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290.

Edward, and his father before him, began with a series of pogroms designed to reduce their ability to secure a livelihood. He and his predecessors encouraged the Jews to become physicians, merchants, bankers, and traders but they were not allowed to own land. Through apprenticeship and education, which was of supreme importance to the Jewish community, many Jews accumulated a great deal of wealth, in disproportion to their routinely uneducated gentile counterparts. Of course, this engendered animosity among gentiles, who saw only the wealth, and not the effort to attain it.

Map of Jewish expulsions and resettlement areas in Europe. 1100-1500: http://fcit.usf.edu/HOLOCAUST/gallery/expuls.htm.

This did not stop the gentiles from borrowing money from the Jews, however, and Edward allowed the Jews in England to charge interest on loans. In turn, Edward would exact huge taxes from them.  As the taxes became more burdensome, it forced them to both raise the interest rates which they charged their debtors, and to call in those loans when taxed to excess. If the Jews refused to pay Edward, they were punished. In 1278, Edward arrested 600 Jewish men upon charges of coin clipping and hanged 270 of them. Edward then claimed their wealth for himself, to the tune of over 16,000 pounds. http://www.jewishhistory.org.il/history.php?startyear=1270&endyear=1279

That equaled 10% of the annual income of the entire realm. The money Edward took from the Jews compensated for the huge expenses involved in defeating Prince Llywelyn of Wales (see how this is all interconnected?).

Once Edward had taken all their money, he had no more use for them, and began to pass more laws restricting their activities. They had to wear specific clothing and badges, could not own land, practice money lending, join any guild or business, or pass on their assets to their children. In 1290, Edward completed his pogrom against the Jews and expelled them from England (although a few paid bribes in order to be allowed to stay). England is the first country in Europe to do this, though France and Germany follow suit in short order.

Which is why Spain had so many to persecute 200 years later during the Spanish Inquisition. And why, by 1935, millions of Jews lived in Poland, which welcomed them after the Black Death.

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The Roman Conquest of Britain

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The Roman Conquest of BritainWhen the Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD, they crossed in three divisions, under the command of Aulus Plautius.  The ships are thought to have traveled from Boulogne to what is now Richborough, on the east coast of Kent.

The Romans operated on a shock and awe type of warfare and eleven tribes of southeast Britain surrendered to Claudius.  The Romans moved west and north from there,  establishing their new capital at Camulodunum.

It wasn’t until late in 47 AD that the new governor of Britain, Ostorius Scapula, began a campaign against the tribes of modern day Wales.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_conquest_of_Britain

“The ever-pugnacious Caratacus – the Caradog of Welsh legend – moved north to carry on the fight in the territory of the Ordovices in Anglesey and Caernarfon. There, in 51AD, he was defeated and his family captured.”

Later, the Silures defeated the forces sent against them in 52AD, and the grip of the Romans on their new British territory remained a troubled one. Fresh campaigns in 57 and 60AD struck deep into Welsh territory.

The latter campaign was directed at the seat of druidical power in Wales, the Isle of Anglesey. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, the legionnaries doffed their clothes and swam naked across the Menai Straights to do battle with the druid-led Celts.”  .”   http://www.britainexpress.com/wales/history/roman-invasion.htm

“The novelty of the fight struck the Romans with awe and terror. They stood in stupid amazement, as if their limbs were benumbed, riveted to one spot, a mark for the enemy. The exhortations of the general diffused new vigor through the ranks, and the men, by mutual reproaches, inflamed each other to deeds of valor. They felt the disgrace of yielding to a troop of women, and a band of fanatic priests; they advanced their standards, and rushed on to the attack with impetuous fury. The Britons perished in the flames, which they themselves had kindled. The island fell, and a garrison was established to retain it in subjection. The religious groves, dedicated to superstition and barbarous rites, were leveled to the ground. In those recesses, the natives [stained] their altars with the blood of their prisoners, and in the entrails of men explored the will of the gods.”  http://www.bukisa.com/articles/37180_the-roman-invasion-of-wales#ixzz1GzLHSv8g

Just when it looked as if the Romans would be able to subdue the Welsh tribes, a revolt by the Iceni in Norfolk broke out, led by their queen, Boudicca (Boadicea). The Roman forces were diverted, and the Welsh territory remained under very tenuous Roman control for several years.”   http://www.britainexpress.com/wales/history/roman-invasion.htm

Despite this great victory on Anglesey, the Romans continued to have difficulties with the people of northwest Wales.  This is evidenced by the number of military installations in the area and the lack of villas.

“Throughout the second half of the 4th century the Empire became increasingly unstable; barbarian attacks on the borders increased, and it seems that the legions were gradually withdrawn from Wales to counter threats on the continent.

By 390AD there were probably no Roman troops remaining within the borders of Wales. In the next few decades most of the legionnaries in England followed and Brittania was esentially undefended.

The Irish saw their chance; in 405 pirates under Nial ravaged the western coast, and may have precipitated a fresh influx of Irish settlers.”  http://www.britainexpress.com/wales/history/roman-invasion.htm

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Offa’s Dyke

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In 780 AD, King Offa of Mercia was at the height of his authority.  Prior to his rule, in 750 AD, King Eliseg (immortalized by Eliseg’s Pillar near Llangollen) had swept the Saxons out of the plains of Powys.  Offa, in turn, attacked Powys in 778 and 784, and tradition states that he built the dyke, sometime (or throughout) his reign.  Prior to this, Aelthelbald, King of Mercia, had built ‘Wat’s Dyke’, which extends from the Severn Valley northwards towards the estuary of the Dee (A History of Wales, John Davies p. 62).

There is a quote from George Borrow, from Wild Wales, that “it was customary for the English to cut off the ears of every Welshman who was found to the east of the dyke, and for the Welsh to hang every Englishman whom they found to the west of it”.  This is potentially apocryphal, but indicates the significance of this man-made border between the two countries.

One of the biggest mysteries about Offa’s Dyke, in addition to when it was built, is why?  It was a huge undertaking to construct the earthwork, 150 miles in length, up to 65 feet wide and 8 feet high in places, along the entire length of the border between what is now England and Wales.  It clearly wasn’t made to keep the Welsh out of England, or to protect the Saxons in Mercia–since it was never defended.  Both English and Welsh kingdoms appeared to have a hand in determining where to build it, since it runs to the east of Wat’s Dyke when they are parallel, and in Gwent in particular, leaves lowlands to Wales to the east of natural features it might normally have followed.  It was dug, however, “with the displaced soil piled into a bank on the Mercian (eastern) side. Where the earthwork encounters hills, it goes to the west of them, constantly providing an open view from Mercia into Wales.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offa’s_Dyke  The prevailing opinion to date was that Offa built it as a sign of authority and power–as a means of saying, to a certain extent, ‘after this wall, here be dragons.’

I, personally, like the theory that Offa’s Dyke is a Roman construction:

The Roman historian Eutropius in his book, Historiae Romanae Breviarium, written around 369, mentions the Wall of Severus, a structure built by Septimius Severus who was Roman Emperor between 193 and 211:

Novissimum bellum in Britannia habuit, utque receptas provincias omni securitate muniret, vallum per CXXXIII passuum milia a mari ad mare deduxit. Decessit Eboraci admodum senex, imperii anno sexto decimo, mense tertio. Historiae Romanae Breviarium, viii 19.1

He had his most recent war in Britain, and to fortify the conquered provinces with all security, he built a wall for 133 miles from sea to sea. He died at York, a reasonably old man, in the sixteenth year and third month of his reign.

However, this site, http://www.cpat.org.uk/news/oldnews/offaro.htm explains why this is unlikely. “The evident dislocation of Offa’s Dyke from the currently recognised pattern of early 3rd century military sites in the Welsh borders. This includes the legionary fortresses at Chester in the north and Caerleon in the south, other forts such as those at Leintwardine, Caersws and Forden Gaer, and a road system of which some elements are still in use today as parts of the modern, A5, A39 and A41 routes. The alignment of Offa’s Dyke shows no tangible geographical association or functional integration with this network. Indeed, it is in any case very hard to see what possible purpose such an undertaking could have served in Roman occupied western Britain, especially when the surviving Dyke is actually not a 130 mile complete frontier but is only spread discontinuously over that approximate length with extensive unexplained gaps (80 miles of earthwork are known).”

Furthermore, Ian Bapty, Offa’s Dyke Archaeological Management Officer with CPAT states:  “the attribution of the Dyke to Offa by Asser in his late 9th century ‘Life of Alfred’, echoed by the tradition of the ‘Offa’s Dyke’ name itself which can be documented back as far as the 13th century, has been accepted as correct by Anglo-Saxon scholars. ‘Offa’s Dyke is an extraordinary survival from our Anglo-Saxon past’ says Ian Bapty ‘and extraordinary exactly because it is Anglo-Saxon and as such sheds crucial light on a key period of our history when the modern political geography of Britain was beginning to appear. While we can perhaps associate descriptions of the ‘missing’ wall of Severus with somewhat confused and secondarily derived later accounts of Hadrian’s Wall – which was much rebuilt in the time of Severus – we surely cannot backdate Offa’s Dyke to Roman times, and to do so would be to miss the real significance and historical impact of this amazing earthwork’.

‘Ultimately I’d be ready to wager my granny on the fact that Offa’s Dyke is Anglo-Saxon and not Roman!’ says Ian ‘although I’d also have to be say that I’d be keeping granny firmly out of the stakes when it comes to betting on most other aspects of our understanding of the Dyke, including key issues such as exactly why it was built, how it was built, and what it’s original appearance and total extent was. I think it is the process of trying to answer these questions which may throw up some real and lasting revelations concerning not just Offa’s Dyke itself, but the very origins of Welsh and English culture and society’.”  http://www.cpat.org.uk/news/oldnews/offaro.htm

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The Celts in Wales

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Atlas_of_Albania#/media/File:1000BC_Migrations_Europe.png

The Irish, Welsh, and Scots all have a Celtic ancestry, but they settled their respective regions before the Roman conquest of Britain.  There is an amazing amount of debate as to the origin of the Celts:  were they Phoenician?  stocky and dark?  tall and blonde?  as culturally cohesive as the label suggests?   The standard theory is that the Celts were an Indo-European group that gradually migrated across Europe and Asia, with an identifiable, distinct culture by 750 BC.  As a group, they were well-known to the Greeks and Romans.  The map to the right shows the migrations of the celtic (or proto-celtic) groups around 1000 BC.   Note the expansion of the Celts in particular between 500 and 200 BC into the British Isles.  The Welsh tribes in particular consisted of the Ordovices, the Deceangli, the Gangani, the Demetae, and the Silures. http://archaeology.suite101.com/article.cfm/archaeology_and_the_celts

“History tells us that there were two main Celtic groups, one of which is referred to as the ‘lowland Celts’ who hailed from the region of the Danube. These people left their native pastures around 1200 BC and slowly made their way across Europe, founding the lake dwellings in Switzerland, the Danube valley and Ireland. They were skilled in the use of metals and worked in gold, tin and bronze. Unlike the more familiar Celtic strain these people were an agriculturally oriented race, being herdsmen, tillers and artificers who burned rather than buried their dead. They blended peacefully with the megalithic people among whom they settled, contributing powerfully to the religion, art, and customs they encountered as they slowly spread westwards. Their religious beliefs also differed from the next group, being predominately matriarchal.

The second group, often referred to as the ‘true’ Celts, followed closely behind their lowland cousins, making their first appearance on the left bank of the Rhine at the commencement of the sixth century BC. These people, who came from the mountainous regions of the Balkans and Carpathians, were a military aristocracy. Reputed to love fighting for the sake of it they were frequently to be found among the mercenaries of the great armies of those early times. They had a distinct class system, the observance of which constituted one of their major racial features. These were the warlike Celts of ancient history who sacked Rome and Delphi, eventually marching victoriously across much of Europe and the British Isles.”  http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/history.html

The Celts had arrived in Britain and Ireland by 400 BC, super-imposing upon whatever native peoples were already there.  The Celts in these regions, then, were on the fringes of Celtic culture, not their heart, which was centered in Northern Europe, particularly in what is now Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

“Archaeological investigation of settlements shows that many people in the Iron Age lived in hilltop enclosures  or hillforts defended by one or more banks and ditches. The inner bank would have been topped by a wooden palisade or occasionally a stone wall.

Within the enclosure people lived in round houses often with porches over the single doorway. The houses were made usually with wattle and daub walls, wooden roofs thatched with straw or reeds and with clay or earth floors. In some areas where stone was plentiful the house walls were built of stone. This is true of north Wales at such hillforts as Moel-y-Gaer. Often the houses had a central fireplace and sometimes a clay oven for baking bread. The grain for the bread was ground on rotary querns. The smoke would have escaped through the thatch. A wooden loom might be found in some houses where people wove cloth from wool or flax.”  http://www.cpat.org.uk/educate/leaflets/celts/celts.htm

A ‘new’ theory, which isn’t necessarily knew and might make equal or more sense, is that the Celts actually originated on the fringes of Europe–in Ireland–migrated east around 2000 BC, and then swept back again 1500 years later. A recent find supports this idea:

“The DNA evidence based on those bones completely upends the traditional view,” said Barry Cunliffe, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Oxford who has written books on the origins of the people of Ireland.

DNA research indicates that the three skeletons found behind McCuaig’s are the ancestors of the modern Irish and they predate the Celts and their purported arrival by 1,000 years or more. The genetic roots of today’s Irish, in other words, existed in Ireland before the Celts arrived.

“The most striking feature” of the bones, according to the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal, is how much their DNA resembles that of contemporary Irish, Welsh and Scots. (By contrast, older bones found in Ireland were more like Mediterranean people, not the modern Irish.)

Radiocarbon dating shows that the bones discovered at McCuaig’s go back to about 2000 B.C. That makes them hundreds of years older than the oldest artifacts generally considered to be Celtic — relics unearthed from Celt homelands of continental Europe, most notably around Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

For a group of scholars who in recent years have alleged that the Celts, beginning from the middle of Europe, may never have reached Ireland, the arrival of the DNA evidence provides the biological certitude that the science has sometimes brought to criminal trials.

“With the genetic evidence, the old model is completely shot,” John Koch, a linguist at the Center for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University of Wales.

The senior author of the DNA research paper, Dan Bradley of Trinity College Dublin, was reluctant to weigh in on the cultural implications, but he offered that the findings do challenge popular beliefs about Irish origins.

“The genomes of the contemporary people in Ireland are older — much older — than we previously thought,” he said.

over the last decade, a growing number of scholars have argued that the first Celtic languages were spoken not by the Celts in the middle of Europe but by ancient people on Europe’s westernmost extremities, possibly in Portugal, Spain, Ireland or the other locales on the western edges of the British Isles.

Koch, the linguist at the University of Wales, for example, proposed in 2008 that “Celtic” languages were not imports to the region but instead were developed somewhere in the British Isles or the Iberian Peninsula — and then spread eastward into continental Europe.

His doubts about the traditional view arose as he was studying inscriptions on artifacts from southern Portugal. The inscriptions on those artifacts strongly resembled the languages known as Celtic, yet they dated as far back as 700 B.C. This placed Celtic languages far from the Celt homelands in the middle of Europe at a very, very early date.

“What it shows is that the language that became Irish was already out there — before 700 B.C. and before the Iron Age,” Koch said. “It just didn’t fit with the traditional theory of Celtic spreading west to Britain and Iberia.”

***

The second line of argument arises from archaeology and related sources.

Numerous digs, most notably in Austria and Switzerland, have traced the outlines of the Celts. The artifacts offer evidence going back as far as about 800 B.C. The ancient Greeks and Romans also left written accounts of the Celts, and probably knew them well — the Celts sacked Rome around 390 B.C. and attacked Delphi in Greece in 279 B.C.

It seemed plausible that this group that had invaded Rome had invaded Ireland as well, and in the standard view, it was this people that eventually made it to Ireland.

For decades, however, archaeologists and other scholars have noted just how flimsy the evidence is for that standard account and how broad, nonetheless, is the application of the word.

In 1955, an Oxford professor, J.R.R. Tolkien, better known as the author of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” novels, described the popular understanding of “Celtic” in a celebrated lecture: “‘Celtic’ of any sort is … a magic bag into which anything may be put, and out of which almost anything may come…. Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason.”

Moreover, in recent years, some archaeologists have proposed that the traditional story of the Celts’ invasion was, in a sense, exactly wrong — the culture was not imported but exported — originating on the western edge of Europe much earlier than previously thought and spreading into the continent.

In a 2001 book, Cunliffe, the Oxford scholar, argued on the basis of archaeological evidence that the flow of Celtic culture was opposite that of the traditional view — it flowed from the western edge of Europe, what he calls “the Atlantic zone” — into the rest of the continent. In many places of the Atlantic zone, he notes, people were buried in passages aligned with the solstices, a sign that they shared a unified belief system.

“From about 5,000 B.C. onwards, complicated ideas of status, art, cosmology were being disseminated along the Atlantic seaways,” Cunliffe said, and that culture then spread eastward.

“If we’re right, the roots of what is known as ‘Celtic’ culture go way way back in time,” Cunliffe said. “And the genetic evidence is going to be an absolute game-changer.”

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/17/a-mans-discovery-of-bones-under-his-pub-could-forever-change-what-we-know-about-the-irish/

 

Other Hillforts to visit:

Caer Drewyn (near Corwen)
Moel Fenlli on the Clwydian Hills
Gaer Fawr (near Welshpool), Powys
Ffrydd Faldwyn (Montgomery), Powys
Roundton Hill (near Churchstoke), Powys
Castell Tinboeth, Radnor (also the site of a medieval castle)
Castell Dinas Bran (near Llangollen–also the site of a medieval castle)

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The Conquests of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth

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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 long career he succeeded, by constant warfare, by tactful yielding under pressure and by masterly resilience the moment that pressure was relieved, in bringing under his control most of Pura Wallia. When he died in 1240, full of honor and glory, he left a principality which had the possibility of expanding into a truly national state of Wales. There was a moment when an independent Wales seemed about to become a reality.”  http://www.castlewales.com/llewelyn.html

The Chronicle of the Princes (Ystrad Fflur edition) details the events of the 13th century in more detail than virtually any other contemporary source, particularly from a Welsh perspective, albeit one written by monks.   Llywelyn’s conquests are treated with some detail and give insight into the kind of ‘constant warfare’ to which the above quote refers:

1211 In this year Llywelyn ab Iorwerth led frequent attacks against the Saxons, harassing them cruelly. And because of that, John, king of England, gathered a mighty host and made for Gwynedd, planning to dispossess Llywelyn and to destroy him utterly. And the king came as far as Chester and to the castle of Degannwy. And there the host suffered lack of food to such an extent that an egg was sold for a penny-halfpenny; and they found the flesh of their horses as good as the best dishes. And because of that the king having lost many of his men, returned in shame to England without having fulfilled aught of his mission. And he returned again in August, and with him a host which was greater and fiercer.  And Llywelyn, being unable to suffer the king’s rage, sent his wife, the king’s daughter, to him by the counsel of his leading men to make peace with the king on whatever terms he could. And after he had accepted safe conduct to go to the king and to come away from him free, he went to the king and was reconciled to him. And then all the princes of Wales made peace with the king, except the two sons of Gruffudd, son of Yr Arglwydd Rhys. And the king with great joy and victory returned to England.  And he commanded Falkes, sheriff of Cardiff, to take all the host of Glamorgan and Dyfed with him to force the sons of Gruffudd ap Rhys to yield or else to drive them from all the kingdom. And Rhys and Owain, being unable to counter such great might as that, sent messengers to Falkes to draw up peace for them; for there was no place for them to flee in all of Wales. And Rhys and Owain went to the king under safe conduct of Falkes; and the king received them into reconciliation and into peace.

1212 In this year Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, prince of Gwynedd, being unable to bear the injuries which the men from the new castles were inflicting upon him, made a solm pact with the princes of Wales, namely, Gwenwynwyn, Maelgwn ap Rhys, Madog ap Gruffudd Maelor, Maredudd ap Rhobert. And he rose up against the king, and by the end of two months, he laid seige to all the castles which the king had built in Gwynedd, and took them all except two, Degannwy and Rhuddlan.  And three leaders of gentle birth from Wales were hanged in England, namely, Hywel ap Cadwallon, Madog ap Maelgwn, Meurig Barach.  And Pope Innocent the Third absolved three princes, namely, Llywelyn ab Iorwerth and Gwenwynwyn and Maelgwn ap Rhys, from the oath and allegiance they owed to the king of England. And he enjoined upon them, for the remission of their sins, to direct friendly endeavour and action against the iniquity of that king. And he interdicted the churches for five years in all England and Wales, except for the territory of those three princes and those who were leagued with them.

1213 In this year John, king of England, went to the archbisho of Canterbury to do penance. And he recalled the archbishop and the bishops and the clerics who had gone into exile because of the interdict on the churches. And he swore, too, that he would restore everything that he had taken from the Church.  And Llywelyn ab Iorwerth took the castle of Degannwy and the castle of Rhuddlan, and he gained possession of them.

The included map shows the lands Llywelyn Fawr controlled directly (yellow) and those belonging to his client princes (gray) circa 1271 AD.

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The Irish in Wales

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The Irish, Welsh, and Scots all have a Celtic ancestry, but they settled their respective regions before the Roman conquest of Britain.  There is an amazing amount of debate as to the origin of the Celts:  were they Phoenician?  stocky and dark?  tall and blonde?  as culturally cohesive as the label suggests?   The standard theory is that the Celts were an Indo-European group that gradually migrated across Europe and Asia, with an identifiable, distinct culture by 750 BC.  As a group, they were well-known to the Greeks and Romans.

http://archaeology.suite101.com/article.cfm/archaeology_and_the_celts

The Celts had arrived in Britain and Ireland by 400 BC, super-imposing upon whatever native peoples were already there.  The Celts in these regions, then, were on the fringes of Celtic culture, not their heart, which was centered in Northern Europe, particularly in what is now Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

http://www.knowth.com/the-celts.htm

The links between Wales and Ireland continued to hold through the Roman conquest and the years after.  There is strong evidence of a continued Irish presence in Wales, particularly on the west coast of Wales.  The rulers of Dyfed were of Irish descent into the 7th century–and there is also evidence of repeated raids from Ireland to Wales.

According to Thomas:

“… both Irish and Welsh sources portrayed it as a tribal migration of the Irish Dessi or Deisi headed by their own king and, from the Irish viewpoint, a suitable ‘expulsion’ saga was adduced. The direct line of Irish rulers of Welsh Dyfed went on into the 7th and 8th centuries. An interesting mix arose; by 400 Irish and British were fully differing languages, and additionally Christians from both nations used different scripts (Latin and Ogham) for their memorials. Irish never replaced British in Wales the way it did in Scotland, but relative numerical strengths do not necessarily explain why; less obvious factors could be involved.”

http://www.islandguide.co.uk/history/ogham.htm

Within Welsh mythology, the Irish play a significant role as well.  Taliesin sings of himself:  I have been with Bran in Ireland.  This is in reference to the tale of Bran the Blessed who obtains a magical cauldron from Cerridwen (in disguise as a giantess).  She had been expelled from a lake in Ireland. The cauldron can resurrect the corpse of dead warriors placed inside it (this scene is believed to be depicted on the  Gundestrup cauldron):

http://www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/Gundestrup/kauldron.html.

Bran gives his sister Branwen and her new husband Matholwch — the King of Ireland, and not to be confused with Math ap Mathonwy, the King of Gwynedd — the cauldron as a wedding gift, but when war breaks out Bran sets out to take the valuable gift back. He is accompanied by a band of a loyal knights with him, but only seven return home.   A similar tale is told in Taliesin’s poem, the Spoils of Annwn about King Arthur’s descent to the Underworld.

In the Middle Ages, there was much back and forth between the rulers of Wales and the rulers of Ireland.   Not only did they share ancestry and blood, but retreated one to the other at various times when they were driven out of their own kingdom (in the case of Gwynedd, due to usurpers or the Normans). In one specific case, Owain Gwynedd’s father, Gruffydd ap Cynan, claimed ancestry to both the Norse kingdom of Dublin and to the Celtic High Kings of Ireland:

“According to the Life of Gruffudd ap Cynan, Gruffudd was born in Dublin and reared near Swords, County Dublin in Ireland. He was the son of a Welsh Prince, Cynan ap Iago, who was a claimant to the Kingship of Gwynedd but was probably never king of Gwynedd, though his father, Gruffudd’s grandfather, Iago ab Idwal ap Meurig had ruled Gwynedd from 1023 to 1039. When Gruffudd first appeared on the scene in Wales the Welsh annals several times refer to him as “grandson of Iago” rather than the more usual “son of Cynan”, indicating that his father was little known in Wales. Cynan ap Iago seems to have died while Gruffudd was still young, since the History describes his mother telling him who his father was.

Gruffudd’s mother Ragnhild was the daughter of Olaf of Dublin, son of King Sigtrygg Silkbeard and a member of the Hiberno-Norse Uí Ímhair dynasty.[1] Through his mother, who appears in the list of the fair women of Ireland in the Book of Leinster, Gruffudd claimed relationships with many of the leading septs in Ireland. His great-great grandparents on his mother’s side include the High King of Ireland, Brian Bóruma, and the King of Dublin and King of Northumbria, Olaf Cuarán, and Gormflaith.[1]

During his many struggles to gain the kingship of Gwynedd, Gruffudd received considerable aid from Ireland, both from the Hiberno-Norse at Dublin, but also those at Wexford, and also from Muircheartach Ua Briain.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruffudd_ap_Cynan

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Maps from the Books!

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A reader suggested I post the maps from the books on my web page, which is a really good idea.

This is the main map for the After Cilmeri Series:

Daughter of Time map

 

For Cold My Heart. It is much the same, except I use the old name for Aber, which is Garth Celyn:

Cold My Heart Map

 

The Last Pendragon Saga:

The Last Pendragon Map

The Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mysteries. Carreg Cennen from The Bard’s Daughter is not shown, but it forms a triangle with Dinefwr and Dryslyn:

The Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mysteries Map

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wales has a tradition of religious dissent, dating back to the Dark Ages (see my posts on the Pelagian Heresy and Religious Nonconformity in Wales). Welsh people took advantage of the opening up of the new world very early on, seeing an opportunity for religious, political, and economic freedom that had been closed to them in Britain for centuries. The captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, was Welsh.

Puritanism did not flourish in Wales, however, and only small groups of dissenters ever got established. It may be that a significant percentage of Welsh Puritans, Quakers (later in the 17th century) and nonconformists came to the New World (which is one reason America proved so rebellious, since now the rebels were all congregated in one place).  Notable Welsh founding fathers include William Penn and Roger Williams early on, and later Thomas Jefferson, Sam and John Adams, Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin.

The American holiday of Thanksgiving officially celebrates the ‘first Thanksgiving’, after the pilgrims who had survived that first winter in Plymouth invited their Indian neighbors to dine.  Or so the story goes.

An audio discussion is available here:  http://www.plimoth.org/education/olc/index_js2.html

“The people who comprised the Plymouth Colony were a group of English Protestants who wanted to break away from the Church of England. These ‘separatists’ initially moved to Holland and after 12 years of financial problems, they received funding from English merchants to sail across the Atlantic to settle in a ‘New World.’ A ship full of 101 men, women and children spent 66 days traveling the Atlantic Ocean, intending to land where New York City is now located. Due to the windy conditions, the group had to cut their trip short and settle on what is now called Cape Cod.

Settling and Exploring
The Puritans knew that winter was coming and decided to gather provisions. They took anything they could find, including Wampanoag supplies. The Wampanoag kept a close watch on them and thought they were a disrespectful bunch for stealing all their goods.

One day, the settlers had a visit from Samoset, a leader from the Abenaki people, who brought Tisquantum (better known as Squanto) with him. Squanto was a Wampanoag man who had experience with other settlers and knew English. Squanto helped the settlers grow corn and use fish to fertilize their fields. After several meetings, a formal agreement was made between the English and the native people and they joined together to protect each other from other tribes in March of 1621.

The Celebration
One day that fall, four settlers were sent to hunt for food for a harvest celebration. The Wampanoag people heard their gunshots and alerted their leader, Massasoit, who thought the English might be preparing for war. Massasoit visited the English settlement with 90 of his men to see if the war rumor was true. Soon after their visit, the Native Americans realized the gunshots were harmless and that the English were only hunting for the harvest celebration. Massasoit sent some of his own men to hunt deer for the feast and for three days, the English and native men, women and children ate together. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat …”  http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/history/first-thanksgiving/

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The Black Death in Wales

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The Black Death is generally understood to have been caused by the flea on a rat that appeared in Europe from Asia, having come from the steppes.  The Black Death came in three forms:  bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic, all caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis.    These three forms had a mortality rate of 30-75%, 90-95%, and 100% respectively.

http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/fleas/bdeath/Black.html

Skip Knox writes:  ‘The Black Death erupted in the Gobi Desert in the late 1320s. No one really knows why. The plague bacillus was alive and active long before that; indeed Europe itself had suffered an epidemic in the 6th century. But the disease had lain relatively dormant in the succeeding centuries. We know that the climate of Earth began to cool in the 14th century, and perhaps this so-called little Ice Age had something to do with it.  Whatever the reason, we know that the outbreak began there and spread outward. While it did go west, it spread in every direction, and the Asian nations suffered as cruelly as anywhere. In China, for example, the population dropped from around 125 million to 90 million over the course of the 14thc.’

While the Black Death arrived in Italy in 1347, it didn’t reach Wales until early 1348 or 1349, probably carried from southern England.  In general, the best guess is that the plague killed 1/3 the population of Europe, and there is no reason to think Wales was any different, except that it was more rural, still, than much of Europe.  The weather had grown colder in the last 100 years, however, and with the pressure of the English conquest and the subsequent altered social makeup of Wales, more displacement and death may have occurred there than in other places.

The following is a map of the spread of the plague:  http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/fleas/bdeath/Path.html 

Mike Ibeji writes:  ‘The plague in Wales and the Marches were as pitiless as elsewhere. At Whitchurch, an inquest into the death of one John le Strange revealed that John had died on 20th August 1349. His oldest son, Fulk, died 2 days before the inquest could be held on 30th August. Before an inquest could be held on Fulk’s estate, his brother Humphrey was dead too. John, the third brother, survived to inherit a shattered estate, in which the 3 water mills which belonged to him were assessed at only half their value ‘by reason of the want of those grinding, on account of the pestilence.’ His land was deemed worthless because all its tenants were dead ‘and no-one is willing to hire the land.’

Jean Geuthin, a Welsh poet who himself was dead by 1349 wrote at the time:  ‘We see death coming into our midst like black smoke, a plague which cuts off the young, a rootless phantom which has no mercy or fair countenance. Woe is me of the shilling in the arm-pit; it is seething, terrible, wherever it may come, a head that gives pain and causes a loud cry, a burden carried under the arms, a painful angry knob, a white lump. It is of the form of an apple, like the head of an onion, a small boil that spares no-one. Great is its seething, like a burning cinder, a grievous thing of an ashy colour. It is an ugly eruption that comes with unseemly haste. It is a grievous ornament that breaks out in a rash. The early ornaments of black death.’

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The First Crusade

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The Crusades, Christendom’s attempts to win back the Holy Land and Jerusalem, began in 1095 with the First Crusade.  The Muslims had taken Jerusalem in 1076.

Pope Urban incited the Christians of Medieval Europe with the words: “Christians, hasten to help your brothers in the East, for they are being attacked. Arm for the rescue of Jerusalem under your captain Christ. Wear his cross as your badge. If you are killed your sins will be pardoned.”

The Crusaders had to follow an overland route to Constantinople, where they gathered in preparation for moving south to Palestine. By 1097, after a brutal journey to reach it, nearly 10,000 people had gathered in Constantinople.  http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/cru2.htm

The Crusaders encountered little resistance for the most part, and reached Jerusalem by June 7, 1099.  They began their attack on the 13th, and by the 17th, had slaughtered every Muslim in the city.  They established the Kingdom of Jerusalem and held it for nearly 100 years.

By 1187, however, “Saladin had enough of broken treaties, renegade Crusader Princes’ (see Reginald of Chatillon) attacking Arab caravans and the harassment of his people. Saladin’s army started a march on Jerusalem. His army met up with King Guy [de Lusignon] at the Horns of Hattin on July 4th, 1187. Guy was poorly advised. He was greatly outnumbered but he attacked, and after a long, bloody battle, was taken prisoner. Balian of Ibelin was also captured at this time, but begged permission to return to Jerusalem to look after his ailing wife, the former wife of Amaury. Saladin wasn’t heartless, and allowed Balian to go.

Balian arrived in Jerusalem to find chaos. He placed himself in charge, as he was the highest ranking officer. He then proceeded to fortify the city in preparation for a possible siege. Saladin arrived at the Mount of Olives on September 26th. Balian held the city till September 30th, when he and Saladin finally agreed to come to terms and Balian surrendered the city to Saladin. The Crusaders left the city of Jerusalem, their capitol, to the armies of Saladin, thirty days later.”  http://www.medievalcrusades.com/kingsofjerusalem.htm

An associated aspect of the Crusades was the attack on European Jews along on the way.  One account of a massacre in Germany reads:  “As soon as the enemy came into the courtyard they found some of the very pious there with our brilliant master, Isaac ben Moses. He stretched out his neck, and his head they cut off first. The others, wrapped by their fringed praying­shawls, sat by themselves in the courtyard, eager to do the will of their Creator. They did not care to flee into the chamber to save themselves for this temporal life, but out of love they received upon themselves the sentence of God. The enemy showered stones and arrows upon them, but they did not care to flee, and [Esther 9:5] “with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter, and destruction” the foe killed all of those whom they found there. When those in the chambers saw the deed of these righteous ones, how the enemy had already come upon them, they then cried out, all of them: “There is nothing better than for us to offer our lives as a sacrifice.” [The outnumbered Jews had no chance to win: Emico is reported to have had about 12,000 men.]

The women there girded their loins with strength and slew their sons and their daughters and then themselves. Many men, too, plucked up courage and killed their wives, their sons, their infants. The tender and delicate mother slaughtered the babe she had played with, all of them, men and women arose and slaughtered one another. The maidens and the young brides and grooms looked out of the Windows and in a loud voice cried: ‘Look and see, O our God, what we do for the sanctification of Thy great name in order not to exchange you for a hanged and crucified one….'”  http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1096jews-mainz.html

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Maps of Wales

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Both topography and geography change over time.  Geologically, Wales hasn’t changed much in 2000 years, but the topography has, from mining, from the building of villages and cities, and from the wholesale cutting–and then replanting–of forests.  As evidenced by the loss of the location of many of the Roman roads, transportation routes change over time.  What used to be on a major pathway across the country is now in a desolate, hard-to-reach area.

As one example, in Powys, in the 19th century, the leader of Birmingham City Council set about finding a clean water supply for the City.  He identified the Elan and Claerwen Valleys as having the best potential for water storage with ample water (72 inches a year), narrow downstream valleys, impermeable bedrock, and a higher altitude eliminating the need for pumps.

“An Act of Parliament was passed for the compulsory purchase of the area and in 1893 the building work began. Over 100 occupants of the Elan Valley had to move, only landowners received compensation payments. Many buildings were demolished, among them 2 manor houses, 18 farms, a school and a church (which was replaced by the corporation as the Nantgwyllt Church).  A railway line was constructed to transport the workers and thousands of tonnes of building material each day and a village of wooden huts was purpose built to house many of the workers on the site of the present Elan Village.”  http://www.rhayader.co.uk/index.php/rhayader/aboutdetail/the_surrounding_area/

It is maps that can clarify these changes.  These are administrative maps dating from the time of Rhodri the Great (900s AD), to the 13th century AD under Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, to modern administrative jurisdictions:

Then there are maps of important castles in Wales.  This one is from the fabulous castlewales.com web page (http://www.castlewales.com/native.html).

It doesn’t have Aber Garth Celyn on it or Aberffraw, both of which were destroyed after 1282, though it does have Deganwy.  My assumption is that this map may be old–and it is an important point that what is mapped can reveal as much about the map maker as the place he/she is mapping:

This map shows similar information, and also doesn’t include King Edward’s castles (King Edward ruled Wales after the murder of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last Prince of Wales, in December of 1282).  It’s from the Welsh government site (cadw.wales.gov.uk):

This is Roman road map (for construction between 44-410 AD) of Wales (not very good–the paper Ordnance Survey map is far better).  What this map doesn’t show as clearly is that many of the modern roads do not follow the Roman roads–whether because of the differences is in road building techniques or because the relative importance of various destinations has changed.  This is particularly evident with the Roman road that went from Tomen y Mur through Dolwyddelan  to Caerhun.  There’s not even a track that follows that exact route anymore.  There’s also evidence indicating that another road not on this map ran south from St. Asaph through Ruthin and connected with the road running from Caer Gai to Chester.  Another ran south from Caer Gai to Caersws, and connected to the roads at Castell Collen.

http://www.britainexpress.com/wales/history/roman-forts.htm

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