Tag Archives: Normans

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The Revolt of 1136

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Warfare was nearly constant in Wales both before and after the Norman conquest.  Of course, the Normans didn’t actually conquer Wales–only parts of it–until the final defeat of Llywelyn in 1282.

In the years since 1066, however, the native Welsh princes and kings had lost out to the conquering Normans.  Deheubarth, the southwestern region of Wales, was flatter and more accessible than the northern areas, and had been of particular interest to the conquerers.  They had successfully overrun much of it by 1136, but in that year, the time was ripe for rebellion:

“By 1136 an opportunity arose for the Welsh to recover lands lost to the Marcher lords when Stephen de Blois displaced his cousin Empress Matilda from succeeding her father to the English throne the prior year, sparking the Anarchy in England.

The usurption and conflict it caused eroded central authority in England. The revolt began in south Wales, as Hywel ap Maredudd, lord of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire), gathered his men and marched to the Gower, defeating the Norman and English colonists there at the Battle of Llwchwr.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwenllian_ferch_Gruffydd

One of the lords of Deheubarth, Gruffydd ap Rhys, saw an opportunity to regain what he’d lost in the last few years and journeyed to meet with Gruffydd ap Cynan of Gwynedd, his father-in-law, to enlist his aid in the revolt.

Gruffydd ap Rhys left his wife, Gwenllian (Gruffydd ap Cynan’s daughter), at home to hold the fort (so to speak).

But Maurice of London and other Normans took Gruffydd’s absence as an opportunity to lead raids against the Welsh. Needing to defend her lands, Gwenllian raised an army, which was then routed near Kidwelly Castle.  The Normans captured Gwenllian and beheaded her.  Two of her sons, Morgan and Maelgwyn, also died (one slain in battle, one captured and executed).

When the two Gruffydds heard about Gwenllian’s death and the revolt it inspired in Gwent, Gwenllian’s brothers, Owain and Cadwaladr, invaded Deheubarth, taking Llanfihangel, Aberystwyth, and Llanbadarn.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwenllian_ferch_Gruffydd

Following these events, the Battle of Crug Mawr occurred in October, 1136.  “At Crug Mawr, two miles outside Cardigan, the Welsh forces were confronted by Norman troops drawn from all the lordships of South Wales. The Normans were led by Robert fitz Martin, lord of Cemais; Robert fitz Stephen, constable of Cardigan Castle; and William and Maurice fitz Gerald, uncles of Gerald of Windsor.

After some hard fighting, the Norman forces were put to flight and pursued as far as the River Teifi. Many of the fugitives tried to cross the bridge, which broke under the weight, with hundreds said to have drowned, clogging the river with the bodies of men and horses. Others fled to the town of Cardigan, which however was taken and burned by the Welsh though Robert fitz Martin successfully managed to defend and hold the castle; it was the only one to remain in Norman hands at the end of the rebellion.”  http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/1530079

Unfortunately, both Gruffydd ap Rhys (of Deheubarth) and Gruffydd ap Cynan (of Gwynedd) died in 1137, the former in battle or otherwise irregular circumstances, and the latter of old age.  Anarawd succeeded to his father in Deheubarth and Owain to Gwynedd.

The Chronicle of the Princes (the Red Book of Hergest) has this to say:

“And after joining battle, with cruel fighting on every side, the Flemings and the Normans took to flight, according to their usual custom. And after some of them had been killed, and others burned, aand the limbs of the horses of others broken/ and others taken captive, and the greater part, like fools, drowned in the river, and after losing about three thousand of their men, they returned exceedingly sorrowful to their country. After that, Owain and Cadwalader returned, happy and rejoicing, to their country, having obtained the victory honourably/ with an immense number of prisoners, and spoils, and costly garments and arms.”

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Simon de Montfort

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Simon de Montfort led a rebellion, successful for a time, against King Henry III of England, and paid the ultimate price at the battle of Evesham, falling in defeat to the forces of Edward (at the time, Prince of England).

“Simon de Montfort was born in France in about 1208. His father was a large landowner, but when he died he left his land to Simon’s older brother Amaury. The de Montfort family had owned land in England in the past and Amaury suggested that Montfort should visit Henry III in to see if the land could be reclaimed.

Montfort arrived in England in 1230. Henry liked Simon, was sympathetic to his claim and gave him back his family lands. The king also agreed that Montfort should become the new earl of Leicester. In return, Montfort promised to pay a fee of £100 and to supply sixty knights in time of war.

The new earl of Leicester also agreed to become the king’s steward, which involved him in organizing ceremonial functions. This pleased Montfort as it enabled him to meet most of the rich and influential people in England. As he was short of money Montfort hoped that this would help him to meet a rich widow.”  http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/NORmontfort.htm

Simon married King Henry’s sister–a scandal at the time since the King opposed the marriage and she was the richest widow in England.

“What instigated the rebellion of 1258? Henry had been king for forty-two years, and had proven himself to be a very poor ruler. He was wholly incompetent, a poor governor, resisted Magna Carta, and repeatedly denied the barons their rightful position as his counselors. The rebellion of the barons against Henry was not instigated by Simon alone. At the beginning of the baronial movement, Simon was merely one of many dissatisfied barons, and could hardly have been regarded as their “leader.” As a result, no strictly contemporary account casts Simon as the sole leader, or even as one of the more prominent leaders in 1258. 

While Simon was one of the sworn signers of the 12 April Confederacy, which began the revolutionary movement, he was also one of the twenty-four authors of the Provisions of Oxford, a member of the fifteen-man privy council, and sat on other committees, as too did the earls of Gloucester, Hereford, and Norfolk, Roger Mortimer, John fitz Geoffrey, Peter de Montfort, and the Bishop of Worcester. . . .

“As 1263 began, the barons grew increasingly dissatisfied with Henry and his “leadership.” As in 1261, a large number of barons organized and approached Simon, asking for his support in a rebellion. He was reluctant to join, but did so at the request of Gilbert de Clare, son of the deceased Richard of Gloucester. The barons’ disgust soon turned to rage, with Louis IX of France’s issuance of the Mise of Amiens. Louis had been cast in the role of arbitrator of the dispute between Henry and Simon over the Provisions of Oxford. As was to be expected, Louis sided with Henry, and “freed him from obedience to the Provisions, which, (he) stated, ran directly against the holy and royal rights of kingship.” The Mise of Amiens proved to be the spark needed to begin the Battle of Lewes. With this battle, Henry’s forces were defeated, he was imprisoned, and his son and heir to the throne, Edward, was taken hostage to ensure Henry’s good behavior. After the battle, Simon became the de facto head of the English government.  Simon ruled England in Henry’s name for the next fifteen months.” http://www.triviumpublishing.com/articles/simondemontfort.html

Montfort recognized Llywelyn ap Gruffydd as the Prince of Wales in 1265 and held him enough of a friend to offer Llywelyn his daughter in marriage, but he’d been unlucky in battle, and in the end, the rising star of Prince Edward couldn’t be stopped.   Edward, who’d actually joined the barons against his father back in 1259 had switched back before the armed conflict began, and now took advantage of the barons’ weakness and pugnacity.  By the end, he convinced all but a very few to come over to his side, whether with cajolery, righteous anger, or outright bribes.

The last battle at Evesham is described in detail here:  http://www.simondemontfort.org/battle_of_evesham.htm

and with the map here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/herefordandworcester/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8364000/8364476.stm

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Gruffydd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd

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The Fourth HorsemanOne of the greatest kings of Gwynedd was Owain Gwynedd, but his father Gruffydd ap Cynan can equally lay stake to such a claim.  His rule was certainly eventful.

Gruffydd ruled in Wales on and off since he was a young man, in between his flights to Ireland when the English—or other Welsh barons—ousted him from Gwynedd.  Gruffydd’s grandfather had been the King of Gwynedd once upon a time, and Gruffydd had claimed the throne as its lawful heir.

But staking his claim hadn’t been easy.  That first time, Gruffydd landed on Anglesey with an Irish and Danish, not Welsh, force.  After he defeated Trahaearn, the man who’d usurped his throne, Gruffydd led his army eastwards to reclaim territories the Normans had taken over during the unrest.  Despite the prior assistance given to him by the Norman, Robert of Rhuddlan, Gruffydd attacked and destroyed Rhuddlan castle.

Unfortunately for Gruffydd’s tenure on the throne, tensions between Gruffydd’s Danish-Irish bodyguard and the local Welsh led to a rebellion not long afterwards in Ll?n.  Trahaearn, the previously ousted King of Gwynedd, took the opportunity to counter attack—with a helpful Norman force—defeating Gruffydd at the battle of Bron yr Erw.

Not giving up, six years later in 1081, Gruffydd allied himself with Rhys ap Tudur, Anarawd’s grandfather, and tried again.  This time with a combined Dane, Irish, and Welsh force, he and Rhys marched north from Deheubarth to seek Trahaearn and his allies from Powys. The armies of the two confederacies met, Gruffydd and Rhys emerged victorious, and Trahaearn and his allied kings were killed. Gruffydd was thus able to seize power in Gwynedd for the second time.

But then the Normans counter-attacked, lured Gruffydd into a meeting near Corwen, and captured him.  They imprisoned him for sixteen years.  He finally escaped in 1197 and led a third invasion from Ireland.  After some ups and downs, and with the timely intervention of King Magnus of Norway, Gruffydd stumbled to victory, came to terms with the Norman Earl of Chester, and began to consolidate his power.   By the time his three sons were of age, he’d been King of Gwynedd for twenty years and had negotiated a peace with King Henry of England, who’d tried twice to conquer Gwynedd and failed.

This was the kingdom Owain Gwynedd inherited and the one he strived to defend and expand.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruffydd_ap_Cynan  http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/gruffcgd.html

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The Kingdoms of France

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You might ask, and reasonably so, why a blog about medieval Wales would be posting about the kingdoms of France in the Middle Ages.

France_1154_EngThe main reason is that it’s hard to understand the Norman conquest of England (and Wales and Scotland), without reference to the fact that they were Norman.  That means, they came from the Kingdom of Normandy, a region on the north coast of France.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_of_Aquitaine

‘France’ wasn’t ‘France’ as we know it today until after the Edwardian period. As the map dating from 1154 to the right shows, the King of France controlled a relatively small portion of the country. Edward I was the Duke of Aquitaine, whose lands are comparable in size to what the King of France held. The dispute of the control of France and these kingdoms, in fact, was one of the primary causes of the 100 Years War between Edward III of England and Philip VI of France.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_VI_of_France

The map also shows a few other relevant regions referenced in my books, most recently, The Fourth Horseman. Anjou, the region ruled by Geoffrey, Empress Maud’s husband, is in red, Blois, the region King Stephen’s family controlled, is in the south of what was then France and within the jurisdiction of the French King. It isn’t any wonder, then, that the English/Norman kings remained so focused on France, straddling the English Channel for so many years after they conquered England. Those were their ancestral lands and they wanted power in France–and to oppose the French king. This is one reason that conquering Wales fell so far down their list of things to do. Compared to the rich lands of France, their mountains and isolated land was not very appealing. Conquering Wales, until the rule of Edward I, was almost an afterthought.

 

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The Normans in Wales (Chepstow Castle)

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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, his discipline did not and he himself died on the battlefield.  http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/william-the-conqueror.htm

That was only the beginning, however, and it would be another six years before England was truly conquered.  http://www.britannia.com/history/monarchs/mon22.html

Wales, however, took a bit longer.  The Welsh fought what amounted to a guerilla war for over 150 years against the Norman/French aggressors.  Although the documentation of this war is mostly on the English side, it is interesting reading from the perspective of the Welsh.

In the Chroncile of the Princes (from the Red Book of Hergest), it becomes clear that there is a form of schizophrenia  at work when the authors discuss the coming of William the Bastard in 1066, his claiming of the kingship, and then his subsequent reign.  On one hand, the Chronicle states:

“And that William defended the kingdom of England in a great battle, with an invincible hand, and his most noble army.” (1066)

“And then, the Bastard, prince of the Normans, and king of the Saxons, the Britons, and the Albanians, after a sufficiency of the glory and fame of this transient world, and after glorious victories, and the honour acquired by riches, died; and after him William Rufus, his son reigned.” (1085)

In between these entries, the Chronicle states:  “the French ravaged Ceredigion and Dyfed” (1071); “a second time the French devestated Ceredigion” (1072) These notes indicate the conquering of south Wales by that same king.  Things start to really get bad, however, in the years after William of Normandy’s death.

“One year and one thousand and ninety was the year of Christ, when Rhys, son of Tewdwr, king South Wales, was killed by the French, who inhabited Brecheiniog; and then fell the kingdom of the Britons.  . . . two months after that, about the calends of July, the French came into Dyved and Ceredigion, which they have still retained, and fortified the castles, and seized upon all the land of the Britons.”

Even at this point, I was still wondering ‘did the French (meaning other than the Normans) sail from France and conquer Wales? How did I miss that?’ And then I realized that by ‘French’ the authors did mean ‘Normans’, who’d conquered England–the same group whose king they’d eulogized three pages before.

For in 1095, the Chronicle states: “And then, the second time, William, king of England, assembled innumerable hosts, with immense means and power, against the Britons. And then the Britons avoided their impulse, not confiding in themselves, but placing their hope in God, the Creator of all things, by a fasting and praying and giving alms, and undergoing severe bodily penance. For the French dared not penetrate the rocks and the woods, but hovered about the level plains. At length they returned home empty, without having gained anything; and the Britons, happy and unintimidated, defended their country.”

Thus begins the long, unhappy saga of the ‘French’ conquest of Wales.

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Brecon Castle

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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 lands.  The Chronicle of the Princes (Red Book of Hergest version) says (for 1093)  “the French devastated Gower, Cydweli, and the Vale of Tywi; and the countries remained a desert.”

The lands had been occupied since before the Romans came, as Pen-y-crug hillfort, or Caer Coch, sits to the northwest of the castle.  http://www.wisdomofrhiannon.co.uk/Brecon.html

Brecon Castle was much fought over.  From Newmarch, the castle passed to the Braose dynasty.  King John seized it from William de Braose, who was in rebellion, in 1207 and William’s son Reginald recaptured it during the Magna Carta war.  In 1241, it passed to the Earls of Hereford, the Bohuns.  (Welsh Castles, Adam Pettifer, p. 8).

During the Barons war of 1263-65, both Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and the Bohuns allied themselves with Simon de Montfort.  Humphrey de Bohun ruled Brecon at the time.  He had been the guardian of Gilbert de Clare, but when Clare switched back to King Henry’s side, Clare took it upon himself to capture Brecon Castle from his former guardian in 1264.  In 1265, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd took it from Clare (but note, didn’t give it back to Bohun).  By then, things had begun to fall apart for Montfort.  Soon he was dead, along with the Earl of Hereford’s son, Humphrey. (Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, J. Beverely Smith, 1990)

Llywelyn lost control of those lands with the treaty of 1277, although he was much besieged through the 1270s.  (ibid p. 358)

Of the castle itself, it is set between the Honddu and Usk Rivers.  “There were two entrances as well as the postern gate. The main gate faced west and overlooked the Usk. It was approached across a drawbridge and probably guarded by two semi-circular towers and the usual great door and portcullis. From the town direction the castle was also guarded by a drawbridge on the site of the present bridge which crosses the Honddu. These gates were joined by the encircling curtain wail. which enclosed the whole area of the castle. Within these outer defences the most imposing building was the great Hall; this was the social centre of the castle and the Lordship where the Lords of Brecon held court when in the area. (The surviving medieval halls at Christ College – across the river from the castle – give a good idea of what it must have looked like inside. The private apartments of the Lord were next to the Hall. There are references to other rooms and buildings in the medieval documents. For example the Constable and the Receiver (of taxes and dues) had their own chambers. There was a chapel, exchequer, kitchen, harness tower, stable and porter’s chamber. The well was described as being 30 feet deep. These buildings suggest that the castle was more like a bustling town than the romantic, military fortress of imagination. People from the surrounding Lordship came to the courts held at the castle, they paid their dues to the exchequer, they pleaded for privileges or came with supplies of food, timber and other necessaries.”  http://www.castlewales.com/brecon.html

The castle is mostly destroyed now and parts of it have been turned into a hotel.  The only plan is above, from Speed, 1610:  http://www.breconcastle.co.uk/brecon-castle-history.asp

Brecon Castle plays an important role in my After Cilmeri series.

 

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A Medieval Siege

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Besieging a castle was a far more common form of warfare than a fight on an open battlefield.  Sieges had the element of surprise and required fewer men than battle too, such that a ruler could beseige a castle with his enemy inside, while freeing other forces to wage war elsewhere.

The goal in beseiging a castle was not to destroy it, but to take it, since castles were pawns in the great game of controlling land.  They were usually heavily fortified and defended, so a beseiger had several options when he was on the outside looking in:

1)  to starve/wait them out

2)  harassment and trickery

3)  a straight assault

Often, attackers employed all three tactics at various times.  The defenders, on the other hand, hoped and prayed for relief.  As Saladin says in Kingdom of Heaven “One cannot maintain a seige with the enemy behind”.  The hope was that a beseiged castle would be rescued by allies, and if they’d had warning of the seige, would have sent messengers out of the castle before their enemy closed in around them.

Castles in Wales that were beseiged:

Dolforwyn:  “Dolforwyn stands on a wooded hill overlooking the fertile Severn valley, a scene so peaceful today that it is hard to picture it as one of political animosity or military action. It was built between 1273-77 by Llywelyn the Last as a forward position in his territory, and overlooking the English lordship of Montgomery. This rectangular castle crowns a ridge along the Severn valley, and was obviously designed to act as a sentinel over Llywelyn’s south-eastern frontier. Its initial construction led Edward I to write to Prince Llywelyn in 1273, forbidding him to build the castle. The prince replied, with a masterpiece of ironic politeness, that he did not require the king’s permission to raise a stronghold in his own principality. Dolforwyn was, however, taken by Roger Mortimer after a fortnight’s siege in 1277.”

Hawarden:  “Hawarden’s most significant role in the struggle for Welsh independence came in 1282 when it was attacked by Llywelyn’s brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd. Angered by King Edward’s seeming lack of respect, Dafydd staged a night siege on the stronghold in the month of March [Palm Sunday]. Although he succeeded in capturing the castle and its constable, Roger Clifford, Dafydd’s actions forced his brother Llywelyn to become involved in another rebellion against the crown. By the end of the year Llywelyn had been killed, and Dafydd was on the run, only to be captured and executed the following year. Hawarden Castle was retaken by the English king, never again to be the target of a Welsh uprising.”

Harlech:  “Harlech Castle played a key role in the national uprising led by Owain Glyndwr. After a long siege, it fell to his forces in 1404. The castle became Glyndwr’s residence and headquarters, and one of the two places to which he is believed to have summoned parliaments of his supporters. It was only after a further long siege in 1408 that Harlech was retaken by English forces under Harry of Monmouth, later Henry V.

Sixty years later, during the War of the Roses, the castle was held for the Lancastrians until taken by Lord Herbert of Raglan for the Yorkist side. It was this prolonged siege which traditionally gave rise to the song Men of Harlech.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz9_ELpil9w

Helpful links:

http://www.castles-of-britain.com/castlest.htm

http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/bachrach1.htm

The Medieval Siege”  by Jim Bradbury

And because no post on medieval sieges is complete without it . . . I give you my son’s trebuchet:

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Viking Raids

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Last year a story came out about 51 headless Vikings unearthed at a site in Weymouth, England.  http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/science/03/12/viking.olympics/index.html

“On Friday, officials revealed that analysis of the men’s teeth shows they were Vikings, executed with sharp blows to the head around a thousand years ago. They were killed during the Dark Ages, when Vikings frequently invaded the region.”

Researchers have dated the remaines to the period between 890 and 1030 AD, postulating that it was a raiding party that was executed once it was caught too far from its boats.

During this period, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were well established in England.  Weymouth would have been in Wessex, one of the primary and most powerful kingdoms at the time.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1257333/Decapitated-Viking-skeletons-Weymouth-ditch.html

Kings of the period include Alfred the Great (871-899), Edward (899-924), and Aethelstan, credited with being the first King of England.

The Anglo-Saxons themselves had a long history of raids, which is how they settled in Britain in the first place.  Britain was relatively free of raids from 600-800 AD, once the Anglo-Saxons conquered all but Wales and portions of Scotland.  A new wave of Vikings (from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark) began with the raiding of Lindisfarne, England in 793 AD, however, and continued up until the Norman conquest in 1066.  http://www.thenagain.info/webchron/WestEurope/VikingRaids.html

One of the reasons that King Harold Godwinson lost to William the Norman was because he’d had to fight off a raid by Harald Hardrada (Norway) at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in late September, and then had to march his exhausted men to Hastings to face William, who’d landed unopposed on September 28.

It is important to note that the Normans (or ‘Northmen’) were also Vikings–just ones that had settled for a generation or two in Normandy after conquering it in the 10th century.

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Gerald of Wales

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Gerald of Wales was born in in Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire (Dyfed), South Wales in 1145 or 1146. His father was a Norman Knight, William de Barri. His mother was Angharad, granddaughter of Princess Nest, a princess of Deheubarth.  She was the half Welsh – granddaughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales (on her mother’s side) her father being a Norman Knight Gerald of Windsor.  Consequently Gerald was three quarters Norman, one quarter Welsh.  http://www.caerleon.net/history/Gerald/index.htm

From: http://www.caerleon.net/history/Gerald/index.htm

One of the primary reasons we remember Gerald of Wales is for his journey through Wales with Archbishop Baldwin in 1188 AD, during the reign of King Henry II of England. On one hand, in his numerous writings, he spoke of the Welsh as evil, sinful, incestuous, and dishonest (and definitely didn’t have good things to say about the continuance of a Welsh law, separate from English law), but at the same time, he supported their continued quest for freedom from England.  Over the centuries, the Welsh  have had very few supporters in that regard.

Gerald of Wales, Giraldus Cambrensis, Gerald the Welshman, Gerallt Cymro, he is called: Master Gerald de Barry, Gerald the Marcher, Gerald the Archdeacon, Gerald Bishop-elect of St. Davids, he more often called himself. His many names reflect the long and multi-faceted career of one of the most fascinating figures of the Middle Ages. Descended from Norman Marcher barons, and Welsh princes, Gerald was by turns scholar, churchman and reformer, courtier, diplomat and would-be crusader; Marcher propagandist, agent of English kings, champion of the Welsh church, hunted outlaw and cathedral theologian. He was also a naturalist, gossip and indefatigable traveller, but above all a most prolific writer and a tireless self-publicist. From his seventeen surviving books, therefore, we know a great deal about this determined, irascible, self-righteous and utter fearless man; more, in fact, than about any other inhabitant of early medieval Wales.”  http://www.castlewales.com/gerald.html

During the period in which Gerald wrote, Wales was recovering from the death of Prince Owain Gwynedd, one of the most powerful princes in Welsh history.  The Prince had been at odds with King Henry II of England since 1157, when Henry had invaded Wales.  The disputes continued until Owain’s death in 1170, at which point his lands were fought over by his children, of which he had at least 13.  By 1188, his lands were split between his sons, Dafydd and Rhodri, and it wasn’t until his grandson, Llywelyn ap Iowerth (child of Owain’s eldest, legitimate son) took the throne of Wales that the country was united under a single ruler again.

From the “Description of Wales“, Gerald has this to say about their perennial quest to throw off the English yoke:

“The English are striving for power, the Welsh for freedom; the English are fighting for material gain, the Welsh to avoid a disaster; the English soldiers are hired mercenaries, the Welsh are defending their homeland. The English, I say, want to drive the Welsh out of the island and to capture it all for themselves. The Welsh, who for so long ruled over the whole kingdom, want only to find refuge together in the least attractive corner of it, the woods, the mountains and the marshes. . . .

An old man living in Pencader . . . who had joined the King’s forces against his own people, because of their evil way of life, was asked what he thought of the royal army, whether it could withstand the rebel troops and what the outcome of the war would be. ‘My Lord King,’ he replied, ‘this nation may now be harassed, weakened and decimated by your soldiery, as it has so often been by others in former times; but it will never be totally destroyed by the wrath of man, unless at the same time it is punished by the wrath of God. Whatever else may come to pass, I do not think that on the Day of Direst judgment any race other than the Welsh, or any other language, will give answer to the Supreme Judge of all for this small corner of the earth.'” (p 274)