Thursday, December 22, 2016


Having come more to terms with the Welsh royalty I've decide to push on with it so here goes:

When Owain Gwynedd died in 1180, strong leadership in Wales passed to the south to Rhys Ap Gruffyedd in Deheubarth.  Henry 11, who was in international ecclesiastical trouble over the murder of Beckett, was glad to confirm the suzerainty of Rhys over all those territories which a generation earlier, had been under Norman sway.  The king actually appointed the Welshman as his regent (Justiciar) in south Wales (including Ceredigion and Dyfed - Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire), making all lesser chieftains vassals of Rhys, who was called The Lord Rhys from this time.  This high status lasted for 17 years, until the death of Henry II in 1189 but the Anglo-Welsh understanding faded in the reign of Richard I, and with the death of Rhys another period of fragmentation seemed imminent.

Rescue came from Gwynedd, where LLYWELYN AP IORWERTH 1194-1240, later known as Llywelyn the Great, was reasserting a central control of the territory after the fratricidal chaos that followed the death of his grandfather Owain Gwynedd.  By 1201 he had established his own position as lord of West Gwynedd, and he had status enough for King John to propose a treaty with him.  By 1204 he was controlling far more territory and, in return for homage to the English king, had taken John's illegitimate daughter Joan in marriage.  He then took over Powys (which had slipped away from Gwynedd in the years of anarchy), and even Credigion.  By 1210 John was finding his son-in-law far too powerful for a feudal vassal, and moved against him with military force.  His total achievement, however, was that he united all Wales against himself.  In 1215, the year of Magna Carta - which restored, even to the Welsh, many privileges that had been taken from them during the years of war - Llywelyn moved against the royal castles in South Wales and took every garrison-point except Pembroke and Haverfordwest.  Even Glamorgan was held by an English ally, the rebelling Earl of Essex.  Llywelyn became in strict truth Ruler of All Wales.

There were later adjustments, disagreements, and the incessant private battles of ambitious English barons and jealous Welsh lords.  A peace was patched up, and was maintained for 15 years, under which Llywelyn was  recognised a Ruler of Wales by the mystic title Prince of Aberffraw and Lord of Snowdon.

He died in 1240 and was briefly succeeded by his second son DAVID 1240-1246.   David's successor was his nephew LLYWELYN AP GRUFFYDD 1246-1281, later to be known as Llywelyn the Last.  The death of Llywelyn the Great had caused the partition of his hereditary territories in Gwynedd.  Llywlyn the Last gradually built them up again.  Then, by active military measures against King Henry III and combined military diplomatic action against the Welsh chiefs, he reasserted his authority over the rest of Wales so successfully that in 1258, with only one Welsh lord not paying homage to him, he declared himself Prince of Wales with the utmost justification.  By the Treaty of Pipton, 19 July, 1265, this title was recognised by Simon de Monfort in the name of King Henry III (whom he was holding prisoner at this time of civil war).  In addition, Simon agreed that his daughter Eleanor should be married to Llywelyn (she was 13 years old at the time ad Llywelyn was about 40.  The marriage was celebrated by proxy ten years later in 1275, and consummated only in 1278.  Eleanor died in childbirth in 1282.

Almost immediately after the pact at Pipton, de Montfort was killed at the battle of Evesham.  Llywelyn fought on, and finally concluded the Treaty of Montgomery, 26 September, 1278, wehreby King Henry III, in return for homage, granted Llywelyn fresh lands, and confirmed in him and his heirs the title of Prince of Wales.

A small section next week will see us finished with the Welsh royalty and in the new year we will be back with English royalty which, to me anyway, is a wee bit easier to follow especially now are getting to the kings with whom most of us are vaguely familiar.


  1. Hari OM
    Crikey, this again chimed with a BBC Wales show I watched on iPlayer today which is called 'Coming Home' - a Welsh version of Who Do You Think You Are; the star under scrutiny was Ioan Gruffydd the actor. Very interesting, but the ultimate thing was that through his father's line he is a direct descendent of... Henry III !!! That shocked him, as he had at least hoped it would he LLywellyn. From that point, the family stayed in Wales, so deep roots, but still. Anyway, it's fascinating to me that this should have coincided with your post today - it actually helped me keep track here! YAM xx

  2. Glad I was able to assist once again.
    We saw a Who Do You Think You Are a while back of an Englishman (forget who) and he was descended way back from royalty too. It was of course explained to him that as the early kings were all supposedly descended from God then he too must be descended from God. It was said in good humour and he looked even more astonished at that comment then his being descended from royalty.
    Wales draws to an end next week so hope you will enjoy that too. xx