Family Tree of the Royal House of Wales

In general, marriages between the well-born in the Middle Ages were arranged–daughters in particular were essentially sold off in order to cement alliances, concentrate wealth, or gain allies.  That is not to say that sons were any better off, since they too were not marrying for love.  They, however, for the most part had more leeway on whether or not they were faithful to their wives, and certainly had more freedom in general.  Perhaps the most startling example of an arranged marriage that cements an alliance is when Isabella de Braose married Dafydd ap Llywelyn, the son of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales, after her father, William, had been hung by Llywelyn for sleeping with Joanna, his wife. The families trees of the Gwynedd indicate how closely linked the Welsh princes were to the Marcher lords and to the Kings of England Read more…

Robin Hood (2010) movie review

Since I’m a sap for anything medieval, I knew I would probably enjoy Ridley Scott’s, Robin Hood, even if his movies are generally too violent for my taste.  I have to say that I liked the movie more than I thought I would.  He refrained from his usual slo-mo blood spray as the hero kills another man (or dies himself), for which I was grateful.  In summary, the movie follows Robin from France, where he was in King Richard’s army on the way home from the Holy Land, to England, where he falls into an impersonation of the dead heir to the Locksley lands.   To be fair, Robin did impersonate the poor dead Sir Locksley initially, but he approached the dead man’s family on the up-and-up.  Meanwhile, John, now King John as Richard died in a final siege in France on Read more…

Jews in Medieval England

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, Read more…

The Conquests of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth

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 Read more…