Murder and Mayhem in the Early Middle Ages

It is common knowledge among anyone who’s spent time wandering the history of Wales that murder and mayhem among the ruling families for power was common. David Walker (Medieval Wales, 1990) writes:  “Early entries in the Welsh Annales are brief in the extreme, but there are hints of ugly deeds.  In 814, Griffri ap Cyngen was slain by the treachery of his brother; in 904, Merfyn ap Rhodri of Gwynedd was killed by his own men; in 969 Ieuaf ab Idwal of Gwynedd was seized by his brother Iago and imprisoned; Read More…

William de Braose and The Red Wedding

In the Game of Thrones, ‘the red wedding’ (not to ruin it for anyone) is a massacre of epic proportions. While the author, Martin, says he based the scene on real events in Scotland, Wales had a similar incident, sad to say, this one on Christmas Day. Here is the entry from Wikipedia which is accurate as far as events go: “In 1175, William de Braose carried out the Abergavenny Massacre, luring three Welsh princes and other Welsh leaders to their deaths. His principal antagonist was a Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, of Castell Arnallt near Llanover in Read More…

Who was Guinevere?

Guinevere, or Gwenhwyfar in Welsh, was King Arthur’s wife. That’s pretty much all that we know about her conclusively (bearing in mind that we can hardly be conclusive about King Arthur’s existence, either–see my posts here: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/all-about-king-arthur/). She is first named in the Welsh story of Culhwch and Olwen, a tale about a hero connected with Arthur and his warriors.  We have two manuscripts: a complete version in the Red Book of Hergest, ca. 1400, and a fragmented version in The White Book of Rhydderch, ca. 1325. It is the longest of the surviving Welsh Read More…

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 the tragic happening in the vicinity of Builth.  It was alleged at the time, or shortly afterwards, in the most explicit statement we have, that the prince’s decision to venture into the area was influenced Read More…