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 among Welsh kings and princes, Marcher barons (Norman lords who carved out mini-kingdoms for themselves on the border between England and Wales), and the English kings.
Through it all, the Welsh maintained their right to independence—to be governed by their own laws and their own kings.
The ending came on December 11th, 1282, when Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last Prince of Wales, was killed on a snowy hillside, the end of a thirty year conflict with Edward I, King of England. Less than a year later, his brother, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, was hung, drawn, and quartered and dragged through he streets of Shrewsbury, the first man of standing to die that particular death—practice for the murder of Scot patriot William Wallace in similar fashion twenty years later (along with hundreds of other Scots, including three brothers of Robert the Bruce).
In further retribution, Edward took all the signs of the Welsh principality—the true cross, the scepter, the crown—for himself. And he made sure that his son, Edward II, was born at Caernarfon Castle (in 1284), so that Edward could name him the Prince of Wales. The heir to throne of England has been called the Prince of Wales ever since.
It has been 729 years since 1282. Is that too long a time to remember? A 2007 BBC poll reported that 20% of the people of Wales backed independence, while 70% did not; this is in comparison to Scotland, where 32% of the population supported independence from England.
This brutal history prompted me to write, my After Cilmeri series which follow the adventures of two teenagers who travel back in time to the thirteenth century and save Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s life. In my books, the Welsh people maintain their independence and never succumb to Edward I, nor fall under the heel of the English boot.
The practical side of Welsh independence, after all this time, would be very different from the idea of it, no matter how appealing. Could Wales be self-sufficient? England has exploited its natural resources for over 700 years. How much is left? And if Wales isn’t going to rely on exports, than what … tourism? On March 3, 2011, Wales voted for more powers for their assembly.
The Welsh Assembly, according its web page, has three tasks: “The Assembly has three key roles: representing Wales and its people; making laws for Wales; and holding the Welsh Government to account.” http://www.assemblywales.org/abthome/role-of-assembly-how-it-works.htm To see what aspects of government for which the Assembly is responsible: http://www.assemblywales.org/abthome/role-of-assembly-how-it-works/governance-of-wales.htm