Welsh Resistance in South Wales - Sarah Woodbury

Welsh Resistance in South Wales

The theme of this video is Welsh Resistance in South Wales.

Deheubarth was a kingdom in South and West Wales, one of several along with Gwent and Morgannwg. It was one of the major kingdoms during the age of Welsh independence, beginning with the ascension of Hywel Dda in 934. While certain scholars claim that Deheuabarth was conquered by the Normans in 1093, after which the Welsh were ‘allowed’ to hold certain lands only, that isn’t a perspective that would necessarily be shared by the Welsh themselves.

With the coming of the Normans, the subsequent centuries were characterized by conflict. The power of the Kings of Deheubarth, like in Powys and Gwynedd, ebbed and flowed over the decades, in large part depending upon the skills of the leader at the time and the resolve of the Normans they opposed. Starting in the early 12th century, the kingdom was ruled by a dynasty begun by Gruffydd ap Rhys and his sons, Anarawd, Cadell, Maredudd, and Rhys.

Early castles were built by the Normans specifically to counter the power of Deheubarth. These include Kidwelly, Llansteffan, Wiston, and Cilgerran, all of which were players in the conflicts in the 12th century. Sometimes these Norman lords were even allied with their Welsh counterparts, especially during the time of King Stephen. For example, Cadell captured Llansteffan from Maurice FitzGerald, and then allied with the Norman lord to take Wiston Castle from King Stephen.

The Welsh built castles too, and the heart of the Welsh resistance centered in the Brecon Beacons with three castles: Dinefwr, the seat of the Kings of Deheubarth, Dryslwlyn, and Carreg Cennen.

Even after the death of the Lord Rhys, the Norman Marcher lords continued to build castles, and were resisted by the Welsh. Castell Goch, Cardiff, and Caerphilly, for example, were all built to defend Marcher lord holdings in south Wales. In turn, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales in the late 13th century, burned Caerphilly in the early days of its construction. He also attacked Cilgerran and Llansteffan, all in an attempt to diminish Norman power in South Wales.

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