Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle overlooks the Menai Strait on Anglesey in north Wales and was built by King Edward I in 1295 as part of his Iron Ring of Castles, a series of castles built around Gwynedd to control the Welsh. Beaumaris itself was begun in response to a rebellion led by Madog ap Llywelyn. In order to build Beaumaris, Edward destroyed a Welsh llys (palace), along with the entire Welsh town of Llanfaes, which was the most important trading port in Gwynedd at the time. The people were moved inland to Newburgh, and English settlers were brought in to populate Beaumaris. The English crown spent a total of 15,000 pounds on the castle, but it was never finished, the work finally being abandoned in 1330. Key features to visit within the castle are the many passages within the walls, the numerous Read more…

Welsh Foundations of The American Revolution

Wales never had an Independence Day, although it has been inching towards more autonomy for the last twenty years. Welsh people, however, had a huge impact on the founding of the United States and its revolution. Thomas Jefferson writes in his autobiography: “The tradition in my father’s family was that their ancestor came to this country from Wales, and from near the mountain of Snowdon, the highest in Gr. Br.” Other founders with Welsh ancestry (some only rumored) include Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island and its religious freedom, William Penn, Sam and John Adams, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, and Benedict Arnold and up to a third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (http://www.flint.umich.edu/~ellisjs/Davies.PDF). Personally, I find this unsurprising, and it explains a great deal about the willingness of the founders of the United States to stand Read more…

Welsh Independence (part . . . 227?)

A reader of this blog, Joe, asked me a question the other day.  He said:  “I was recently listening to the audio version of “The Economist” and heard an article about the Welsh vote on devolution. One of the article’s lead sentences was (I’m paraphrasing) : “On a cold day in Cardiff, it’s hard to catch any talk of devolution, and even harder to find anyone who cares much about it”. Do you agree with this assessment? And if so, do you think there’s a historical or cultural aspect to why some people in Wales feel they way they do? (I’m curious because, if I lived in Wales, I think I would be very likely to have a strong opinion on the matter.) —————– I think that the perspective on Welsh devolution varies according to where an individual lives (including Read more…