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Llywelyn the Great

Llywelyn the Great

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Llywelyn the Great full name Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, (c. 1172 11 April 1240) was a Prince of Gwynedd
Kingdom of Gwynedd
Gwynedd was one petty kingdom of several Welsh successor states which emerged in 5th-century post-Roman Britain in the Early Middle Ages, and later evolved into a principality during the High Middle Ages. It was based on the former Brythonic tribal lands of the Ordovices, Gangani, and the...

 in north Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and eventually de facto ruler over most of Wales. By a combination of war and diplomacy he dominated Wales for forty years.

During Llywelyn's boyhood, Gwynedd was ruled by two of his uncles, who split the kingdom between them, following the death of Llywelyn's grandfather, Owain Gwynedd
Owain Gwynedd
Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd , in English also known as Owen the Great, was King of Gwynedd from 1137 until his death in 1170. He is occasionally referred to as "Owain I of Gwynedd"; and as "Owain I of Wales" on account of his claim to be King of Wales. He is considered to be the most successful of...

, in 1170. Llywelyn had a strong claim to be the legitimate ruler and began a campaign to win power at an early age. He was sole ruler of Gwynedd by 1200, and made a treaty with King John of England
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

 that year. Llywelyn's relations with John remained good for the next ten years. He married John's natural daughter Joan
Joan, Lady of Wales
Joan, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon was the wife of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales and Gwynedd and effective ruler of most of Wales.-Early life:...

, in 1205, and when John arrested Gwenwynwyn ab Owain
Gwenwynwyn ab Owain
Gwenwynwyn ab Owain Cyfeiliog was the last major ruler of mid Wales before the completion of the Norman English invasion.- Lineage :...

 of Powys
Powys
Powys is a local-government county and preserved county in Wales.-Geography:Powys covers the historic counties of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, most of Brecknockshire , and a small part of Denbighshire — an area of 5,179 km², making it the largest county in Wales by land area.It is...

 in 1208, Llywelyn took the opportunity to annex southern Powys. In 1210, relations deteriorated and John invaded Gwynedd in 1211. Llywelyn was forced to seek terms and to give up all lands east of the River Conwy but was able to recover them the following year in alliance with the other Welsh princes. He allied himself with the barons who forced John to sign the Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 in 1215. By 1216, he was the dominant power in Wales, holding a council at Aberdyfi that year to apportion lands to the other princes.

Following King John's death, Llywelyn concluded the Treaty of Worcester with his successor, Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

, in 1218. During the next fifteen years, Llywelyn was frequently involved in fights with Marcher
Welsh Marches
The Welsh Marches is a term which, in modern usage, denotes an imprecisely defined area along and around the border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods...

 lords and sometimes with the king, but also made alliances with several major powers in the Marches. The Peace of Middle in 1234 marked the end of Llywelyn's military career as the agreed truce of two years was extended year by year for the remainder of his reign. He maintained his position in Wales until his death in 1240, and was succeeded by his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn
Dafydd ap Llywelyn
Dafydd ap Llywelyn was Prince of Gwynedd from 1240 to 1246. He was for a time recognised as Prince of Wales.- Descent :...

.

Genealogy and early life


Llywelyn was born about 1173, the son of Iorwerth ap Owain
Iorwerth Drwyndwn
Iorwerth ab Owain Gwynedd , meaning "the broken-nosed", was the eldest legitimate son of Owain Gwynedd and his first wife Gwladys ferch Llywarch. He married Marared ferch Madog. His son Llywelyn the Great eventually united the realm and became known as Llywelyn Fawr and is one of Wales's most...

 and the grandson of Owain Gwynedd
Owain Gwynedd
Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd , in English also known as Owen the Great, was King of Gwynedd from 1137 until his death in 1170. He is occasionally referred to as "Owain I of Gwynedd"; and as "Owain I of Wales" on account of his claim to be King of Wales. He is considered to be the most successful of...

, who had been ruler of Gwynedd until his death in 1170. Llywelyn was a descendant of the senior line of Rhodri Mawr and therefore a member of the princely house of Gwynedd. He was probably born at Dolwyddelan
Dolwyddelan
Dolwyddelan, Welsh language : 'the meadow of Gwyddelan', is a village and community in Conwy county borough, north Wales, on the main A470 road between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Betws-y-Coed...

 though not in the present Dolwyddelan castle, which was built by Llywelyn himself. He may have been born in the old castle which occupied a rocky knoll on the valley floor. Little is known about his father, Iorwerth Drwyndwn, who died when Llywelyn was an infant. There is no record of Iorwerth having taken part in the power struggle between some of Owain Gwynedd's other sons following Owain's death, although he was the eldest surviving son. There is a tradition that he was disabled or disfigured in some way that excluded him from power.

By 1175, Gwynedd had been divided between two of Llywelyn's uncles. Dafydd ab Owain
Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd
Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd was Prince of Gwynedd from 1170 to 1195. For a time he ruled jointly with his brothers Maelgwn ab Owain Gwynedd and Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd....

 held the area east of the River Conwy
River Conwy
The River Conwy is a river in north Wales. From its source to its discharge in Conwy Bay it is a little over long. "Conwy" is sometimes Anglicized as "Conway."...

 and Rhodri ab Owain
Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd
Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd was prince of part of Gwynedd, one of the kingdoms of medieval Wales. He ruled from 1175 to 1195.On the death of Owain Gwynedd in 1170, fighting broke out among his nineteen sons over the division of his kingdom...

 held the west. Dafydd and Rhodri were the sons of Owain by his second marriage to Cristin ferch Goronwy ab Owain. This marriage was not considered valid by the church as Cristin was Owain's first cousin, a degree of relationship which according to Canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 prohibited marriage. Giraldus Cambrensis
Giraldus Cambrensis
Gerald of Wales , also known as Gerallt Gymro in Welsh or Giraldus Cambrensis in Latin, archdeacon of Brecon, was a medieval clergyman and chronicler of his times...

 refers to Iorwerth Drwyndwn as the only legitimate son of Owain Gwynedd. Following Iorwerth's death, Llywelyn was, at least in the eyes of the church, the legitimate claimant to the throne of Gwynedd.

Llywelyn's mother was Marared, occasionally anglicised to Margaret, daughter of Madog ap Maredudd
Madog ap Maredudd
Madog ap Maredudd was the last Prince of the entire Kingdom of Powys, Wales and for a time held the Fitzalan Lordship of Oswestry.Madog was the son of Maredudd ap Bleddyn and grandson of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn. He followed his father on the throne of Powys in 1132...

, prince of Powys
Powys
Powys is a local-government county and preserved county in Wales.-Geography:Powys covers the historic counties of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, most of Brecknockshire , and a small part of Denbighshire — an area of 5,179 km², making it the largest county in Wales by land area.It is...

. There is evidence that, after her first husband's death, Marared married in the summer of 1197, Gwion, the nephew of Roger Powys of Whittington Castle
Whittington Castle
Whittington Castle is a castle in northern Shropshire, England, owned and managed by the Whittington Castle Preservation Fund. The castle was originally a motte-and-bailey castle, but this was replaced in the 13th century by one with buildings around a courtyard whose exterior wall was the curtain...

. She seems to have pre-deceased her husband, after bearing him a son, David ap Gwion, and therefore there can be no truth in the story that she married into the Corbet
Corbet (surname)
Corbet is a surname, and may refer to* Brady Corbet, American actor* Christian Cardell Corbet, Canadian painter and sculptor* Denys Corbet, Guernsey poet* Freda Corbet, British politician* Miles Corbet, English MP and Regicide...

 family of Caus Castle
Caus Castle
Caus Castle is a hill fort and medieval castle in the civil parish of Westbury in the English county of Shropshire. It is situated up on the eastern foothills of the Long Mountain guarding the route from Shrewsbury, Shropshire to Montgomery, Powys on the border between England and Wales.- History...

 (near Westbury, Shropshire
Westbury, Shropshire
Westbury is a village and parish in Shropshire, England. It lies 8 miles west of the town of Shrewsbury, very close to the Wales-England border.During the Roman settlement of Britain it was an outpost of Wroxeter....

) and later, Moreton Corbet Castle
Moreton Corbet castle
Moreton Corbet Castle is an English Heritage property located near the village of Moreton Corbet, Shropshire, England. It is a Grade I listed building. The ruins are from two different eras: a medieval stronghold and an Elizabethan era manor house...

.

Rise to power 1188–1199


In his account of his journey around Wales in 1188 Giraldus Cambrensis mentions that the young Llywelyn was already in arms against his uncles Dafydd and Rhodri;
In 1194, with the aid of his cousins Gruffudd ap Cynan
Gruffudd ap Cynan ab Owain Gwynedd
Gruffudd ap Cynan ab Owain Gwynedd was the grandson of Owain Gwynedd a famous king of Gwynedd and ruler of most of Wales in the 12th century. The longer patronymic form of his name is usually used to distinguish him from the earlier and better-known Gruffudd ap Cynan, king of Gwynedd.He was born...

 and Maredudd ap Cynan
Maredudd ap Cynan ab Owain Gwynedd
Maredudd ap Cynan was the grandson of Owain Gwynedd, a king of Gwynedd and ruler of most of Wales in the 12th century.Maredudd is known to have fought alongside his brother Gruffudd against his uncle Hywel in 1170 and later fought on the side of his cousin Llywelyn ab Iorwerth between 1194–1197 in...

, he defeated Dafydd at the battle of Aberconwy
Battle of Aberconwy
The Battle of Aberconwy was fought in 1194 between the forces of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth and Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd for control of Gwynedd. Llywelyn's victory allowed him to claim the title of prince of Gwynedd and, in turn, prince of Wales; ejected from his lands, Dafydd went to live in England and...

 at the mouth of the River Conwy. Rhodri died in 1195, and his lands west of the Conwy were taken over by Gruffudd and Maredudd while Llywelyn ruled the territories taken from Dafydd east of the Conwy. In 1197 Llywelyn captured Dafydd and imprisoned him. A year later Hubert Walter
Hubert Walter
Hubert Walter was an influential royal adviser in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries in the positions of Chief Justiciar of England, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor. As chancellor, Walter began the keeping of the Charter Roll, a record of all charters issued by the...

, Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, persuaded Llywelyn to release him, and Dafydd retired to England where he died in May 1203.

Wales was divided into Pura Wallia, the areas ruled by the Welsh princes, and Marchia Wallia
Welsh Marches
The Welsh Marches is a term which, in modern usage, denotes an imprecisely defined area along and around the border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods...

, ruled by the Anglo-Norman barons. Since the death of Owain Gwynedd in 1170, Rhys ap Gruffydd
Rhys ap Gruffydd
Rhys ap Gruffydd or ap Gruffudd was the ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth in south Wales. He is commonly known as The Lord Rhys, in Welsh Yr Arglwydd Rhys, but this title may not have been used in his lifetime...

 had made the southern kingdom of Deheubarth the strongest of the Welsh kingdoms, and had established himself as the leader of Pura Wallia. After Rhys died in 1197, fighting between his sons led to the splitting of Deheubarth between warring factions. Gwenwynwyn ab Owain
Gwenwynwyn ab Owain
Gwenwynwyn ab Owain Cyfeiliog was the last major ruler of mid Wales before the completion of the Norman English invasion.- Lineage :...

, prince of Powys Wenwynwyn
Powys Wenwynwyn
Powys Wenwynwyn or Powys Cyfeiliog was the southern portion of the former princely state of Powys which split following the death of Madog ap Maredudd of Powys in 1160...

, tried to take over as leader of the Welsh princes, and in 1198 raised a great army to besiege Painscastle
Painscastle
Painscastle is a castle in Powys in mid Wales and also a village which takes its name from the castle. It lies between Builth and Hay-on-Wye, approximately 3 miles from the Wales-England border today.- Early history:...

, which was held by the troops of William de Braose, Lord of Bramber
William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber
William de Braose, , 4th Lord of Bramber , court favourite of King John of England, at the peak of his power, was also Lord of Gower, Abergavenny, Brecknock, Builth, Radnor, Kington, Limerick, Glamorgan, Skenfrith, Briouze in Normandy, Grosmont, and White Castle.-Lineage:William was the most...

. Llywelyn sent troops to help Gwenwynwyn, but in August Gwenwynwyn's force was attacked by an army led by the Justiciar
Justiciar
In medieval England and Ireland the Chief Justiciar was roughly equivalent to a modern Prime Minister as the monarch's chief minister. Similar positions existed on the Continent, particularly in Norman Italy. The term is the English form of the medieval Latin justiciarius or justitiarius In...

, Geoffrey Fitz Peter
Geoffrey Fitz Peter, 1st Earl of Essex
Geoffrey Fitz Peter, Earl of Essex was a prominent member of the government of England during the reigns of Richard I and John. The patronymic is sometimes rendered Fitz Piers, for he was the son of Piers de Lutegareshale, forester of Ludgershall.-Life:He was from a modest landowning family that...

, and heavily defeated. Gwenwynwyn's defeat gave Llywelyn the opportunity to establish himself as the leader of the Welsh. In 1199 he captured the important castle of Mold
Mold, Flintshire
Mold is a town in Flintshire, North Wales, on the River Alyn. It is the administrative seat of Flintshire County Council, and was also the county town of Clwyd from 1974 to 1996...

 and was apparently using the title "prince of the whole of North Wales" . Llywelyn was probably not in fact master of all Gwynedd at this time since it was his cousin Gruffudd ap Cynan who promised homage to King John for Gwynedd in 1199.

Consolidation 1200–1209


Gruffudd ap Cynan died in 1200 and left Llywelyn the undisputed ruler of Gwynedd. In 1201 he took Eifionydd
Eifionydd
Eifionydd is an area in north-west Wales covering the south-eastern part of the Llŷn Peninsula from Porthmadog to just east of Pwllheli. The Afon Erch forms its western border. It now lies in Gwynedd....

 and Llŷn
Llŷn Peninsula
The Llŷn Peninsula extends into the Irish Sea from north west Wales, south west of the Isle of Anglesey. It is part of the modern county and historic region of Gwynedd. The name is thought to be of Irish origin, and to have the same root Laigin in Irish as the word Leinster...

 from Maredudd ap Cynan on a charge of treachery. In July the same year Llywelyn concluded a treaty with King John of England. This is the earliest surviving written agreement between an English king and a Welsh ruler, and under its terms Llywelyn was to swear fealty and do homage to the king. In return, it confirmed Llywelyn's possession of his conquests and allowed cases relating to lands claimed by Llywelyn to be heard under Welsh law
Welsh law
Welsh law was the system of law practised in Wales before the 16th century. According to tradition it was first codified by Hywel Dda during the period between 942 and 950 when he was king of most of Wales; as such it is usually called Cyfraith Hywel, the Law of Hywel, in Welsh...

.

Llywelyn made his first move beyond the borders of Gwynedd in August 1202 when he raised a force to attack Gwenwynwyn ab Owain of Powys, who was now his main rival in Wales. The clergy intervened to make peace between Llywelyn and Gwenwynwyn and the invasion was called off. Elise ap Madog, lord of Penllyn, had refused to respond to Llywelyn's summons to arms and was stripped of almost all his lands by Llywelyn as punishment.

Llywelyn consolidated his position in 1205 by marrying Joan
Joan, Lady of Wales
Joan, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon was the wife of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales and Gwynedd and effective ruler of most of Wales.-Early life:...

, the natural daughter of King John. He had previously been negotiating with Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni....

 for leave to marry his uncle Rhodri's
Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd
Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd was prince of part of Gwynedd, one of the kingdoms of medieval Wales. He ruled from 1175 to 1195.On the death of Owain Gwynedd in 1170, fighting broke out among his nineteen sons over the division of his kingdom...

 widow, daughter of Ragnald
Ragnald III of the Isle of Man
Ragnall I Haraldsson , referred to in some texts as Reginald, was ruler of the Isle of Man for a brief period in 1164....

, King of Mann and the Isles. However this proposal was dropped.

In 1208 Gwenwynwyn of Powys fell out with King John who summoned him to Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council...

 in October and then arrested him and stripped him of his lands. Llywelyn took the opportunity to annex southern Powys and northern Ceredigion
Ceredigion
Ceredigion is a county and former kingdom in mid-west Wales. As Cardiganshire , it was created in 1282, and was reconstituted as a county under that name in 1996, reverting to Ceredigion a day later...

 and rebuild Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth is a historic market town, administrative centre and holiday resort within Ceredigion, Wales. Often colloquially known as Aber, it is located at the confluence of the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol....

 castle. In the summer of 1209 he accompanied John on a campaign against King William I of Scotland
William I of Scotland
William the Lion , sometimes styled William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough", reigned as King of the Scots from 1165 to 1214...

.

Setback and recovery 1210–1217


In 1210 relations between Llywelyn and King John deteriorated. J.E. Lloyd suggests that the rupture may have been due to Llywelyn forming an alliance with William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber
William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber
William de Braose, , 4th Lord of Bramber , court favourite of King John of England, at the peak of his power, was also Lord of Gower, Abergavenny, Brecknock, Builth, Radnor, Kington, Limerick, Glamorgan, Skenfrith, Briouze in Normandy, Grosmont, and White Castle.-Lineage:William was the most...

, who had fallen out with the king and had been deprived of his lands. While John led a campaign against de Braose and his allies in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, an army led by Earl Ranulph of Chester
Ranulph de Blondeville, 4th Earl of Chester
Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester and 1st Earl of Lincoln , known in some references as the 4th Earl of Chester , was one of the "old school" of Anglo-Norman barons whose loyalty to the Angevin dynasty was consistent but contingent on the receipt of lucrative favours...

 and Peter des Roches
Peter des Roches
Peter des Roches was bishop of Winchester in the reigns of King John of England and his son Henry III. Roches was not an Englishman, but a Poitevin.-Life:...

, Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

, invaded Gwynedd. Llywelyn destroyed his own castle at Deganwy
Deganwy
Deganwy is a village in Conwy County Borough in Wales with a population of 3,700. It is in a more English-speaking region of North Wales, with only 1 in 4 residents speaking Welsh as a first language...

 and retreated west of the River Conwy. The Earl of Chester rebuilt Deganwy, and Llywelyn retaliated by ravaging the earl's lands. John sent troops to help restore Gwenwynwyn to the rule of southern Powys. In 1211 John invaded Gwynedd with the aid of almost all the other Welsh princes, planning according to Brut y Tywysogion
Brut y Tywysogion
Brut y Tywysogion is one of the most important primary sources for Welsh history. It is an annalistic chronicle that serves as a continuation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae. Brut y Tywysogion has survived as several Welsh translations of an original Latin version, which has...

"to dispossess Llywelyn and destroy him utterly". The first invasion was forced to retreat, but in August that year John invaded again with a larger army, crossed the River Conwy and penetrated Snowdonia
Snowdonia
Snowdonia is a region in north Wales and a national park of in area. It was the first to be designated of the three National Parks in Wales, in 1951.-Name and extent:...

. Bangor
Bangor, Wales
Bangor is a city in Gwynedd, north west Wales, and one of the smallest cities in Britain. It is a university city with a population of 13,725 at the 2001 census, not including around 10,000 students at Bangor University. Including nearby Menai Bridge on Anglesey, which does not however form part of...

 was burnt by a detachment of the royal army and the Bishop of Bangor
Bishop of Bangor
The Bishop of Bangor is the Ordinary of the Church in Wales Diocese of Bangor.The diocese covers the counties of Anglesey, most of Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire and a small part of Montgomeryshire...

 captured. Llywelyn was forced to come to terms, and by the advice of his council sent his wife Joan to negotiate with the king, her father. Joan was able to persuade her father not to dispossess her husband completely, but Llywelyn lost all his lands east of the River Conwy. He also had to pay a large tribute in cattle and horses and to hand over hostages, including his illegitimate son Gruffydd, and was forced to agree that if he died without a legitimate heir by Joan all his lands would revert to the king.

This was the low point of Llywelyn's reign, but he quickly recovered his position. The other Welsh princes, who had supported King John against Llywelyn, soon became disillusioned with John's rule and changed sides. Llywelyn formed an alliance with Gwenwynwyn of Powys and the two main rulers of Deheubarth, Maelgwn ap Rhys
Maelgwn ap Rhys
Maelgwn ap Rhys was prince of part of the kingdom of Deheubarth in south west Wales.Maelgwn was the son of Rhys ap Gruffydd by his wife Gwenllian ferch Madog, daughter of Madog ap Maredudd prince of Powys. He appears in the historical record for the first time helping at the siege of Tenby in 1187...

 and Rhys Gryg
Rhys Gryg
Rhys Gryg , real name Rhys ap Rhys, also known as Rhys Fychan was a Welsh Prince who ruled part of the Kingdom of Deheubarth.- Lineage :...

, and rose against John. They had the support of Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni....

, who had been engaged in a dispute with John for several years and had placed his kingdom under an interdict
Interdict (Roman Catholic Church)
In Roman Catholic canon law, an interdict is an ecclesiastical censure that excludes from certain rites of the Church individuals or groups, who nonetheless do not cease to be members of the Church.-Distinctions in canon law:...

. Innocent released Llywelyn, Gwenwynwyn and Maelgwn from all oaths of loyalty to John and lifted the interdict in the territories which they controlled. Llywelyn was able to recover all Gwynedd apart from the castles of Deganwy and Rhuddlan
Rhuddlan Castle
Rhuddlan Castle is a castle located in Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, Wales. It was erected by Edward I in 1277 following the First Welsh War.-Construction:Rhuddlan was planned as a concentric castle...

 within two months in 1212.

John planned another invasion of Gwynedd in August 1212. According to one account, he had just commenced by hanging some of the Welsh hostages given the previous year when he received two letters. One was from his daughter Joan, Llywelyn's wife, the other from William I of Scotland, and both warned him in similar terms that if he invaded Wales his magnates would seize the opportunity to kill him or hand him over to his enemies. The invasion was abandoned, and in 1213 Llywelyn took the castles of Deganwy and Rhuddlan. Llywelyn made an alliance with Philip II Augustus
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

 of France, then allied himself with the barons who were in rebellion against John, marching on Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council...

 and capturing it without resistance in 1215. When John was forced to sign Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

, Llywelyn was rewarded with several favourable provisions relating to Wales, including the release of his son Gruffydd who had been a hostage since 1211. The same year Ednyfed Fychan
Ednyfed Fychan
Ednyfed Fychan , full name Ednyfed Fychan ap Cynwrig, was a Welsh warrior who became seneschal to the Kingdom of Gwynedd in Northern Wales, serving Llywelyn the Great and his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn...

 was appointed seneschal of Gwynedd and was to work closely with Llywelyn for the remainder of his reign.

Llywelyn had now established himself as the leader of the independent princes of Wales, and in December 1215 led an army which included all the lesser princes to capture the castles of Carmarthen
Carmarthen
Carmarthen is a community in, and the county town of, Carmarthenshire, Wales. It is sited on the River Towy north of its mouth at Carmarthen Bay. In 2001, the population was 14,648....

, Kidwelly
Kidwelly Castle
Kidwelly Castle is an Norman castle overlooking the river Gwendraeth and the town of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales.The present remains of the castle include work from about 1200 to about 1476. Created as a defence against the Welsh, the castle fell to the Welsh several times in the twelfth...

, Llanstephan
Llansteffan Castle
Llansteffan Castle is a castle overlooking the River Tywi as it enters Carmarthen Bay near the village of Llansteffan in Carmarthenshire, Wales.- Prehistoric site :...

, Cardigan
Cardigan Castle
Cardigan Castle is a castle located in Cardigan, Ceredigion, Wales.-History:The first motte-and-bailey castle was built a mile away from the present site, probably about the time of the founding of the town by Roger de Montgomery, a Norman baron....

 and Cilgerran
Cilgerran Castle
Cilgerran Castle is a 13th-century ruined castle located in Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire, Wales, near Cardigan.The castle is a National Trust property, in the guardianship of Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments Executive Agency....

. Another indication of his growing power was that he was able to insist on the consecration of Welshmen to two vacant sees that year, Iorwerth as Bishop of St. David's and Cadwgan as Bishop of Bangor.

In 1216, Llywelyn held a council at Aberdyfi
Aberdyfi
Aberdyfi , or Aberdovey is a village on the north side of the estuary of the River Dyfi in Gwynedd, on the west coast of Wales....

 to adjudicate on the territorial claims of the lesser princes, who affirmed their homage and allegiance to Llywelyn. Beverley Smith comments, "Henceforth, the leader would be lord, and the allies would be subjects". Gwenwynwyn of Powys changed sides again that year and allied himself with King John. Llywelyn called up the other princes for a campaign against him and drove him out of southern Powys once more. Gwenwynwyn died in England later that year, leaving an underage heir. King John also died that year, and he also left an underage heir in King Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 with a minority government set up in England.

In 1217, Reginald de Braose
Reginald de Braose
Reginald de Braose was one of the sons of William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber and Matilda, also known as Maud de St. Valery and Lady de la Haie. Her other children included William and Giles....

 of Brecon and Abergavenny, who had been allied to Llywelyn and married his daughter, Gwladus Ddu, was induced by the English crown to change sides. Llywelyn responded by invading his lands, first threatening Brecon
Brecon
Brecon is a long-established market town and community in southern Powys, Mid Wales, with a population of 7,901. It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powys, it remains an important local centre...

, where the burgesses offered hostages for the payment of 100 marks, then heading for Swansea
Swansea
Swansea is a coastal city and county in Wales. Swansea is in the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county area includes the Gower Peninsula and the Lliw uplands...

 where Reginald de Braose met him to offer submission and to surrender the town. He then continued westwards to threaten Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest is the county town of Pembrokeshire, Wales and serves as the County's principal commercial and administrative centre. Haverfordwest is the most populous urban area in Pembrokeshire, with a population of 13,367 in 2001; though its community boundaries make it the second most populous...

 where the burgesses offered hostages for their submission to his rule or the payment of a fine of 1,000 marks.

Treaty of Worcester and border campaigns 1218–1229


Following King John's death Llywelyn concluded the Treaty of Worcester with his successor Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 in 1218. This treaty confirmed him in possession of all his recent conquests. From then until his death Llywelyn was the dominant force in Wales, though there were further outbreaks of hostilities with marcher lords, particularly the Marshall family and Hubert de Burgh, and sometimes with the king. Llywelyn built up marriage alliances with several of the Marcher families. One daughter, Gwladus Ddu
Gwladus Ddu
Gwladus Ddu, , full name Gwladus ferch Llywelyn was a Welsh noblewoman who was a daughter of Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd and married two Marcher lords....

, was already married to Reginald de Braose
Reginald de Braose
Reginald de Braose was one of the sons of William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber and Matilda, also known as Maud de St. Valery and Lady de la Haie. Her other children included William and Giles....

 of Brecon and Abergavenny, but with Reginald an unreliable ally Llywelyn married another daughter, Marared, to John de Braose
John de Braose
John de Braose , known as Tadody to the Welsh, was the Lord of Bramber and Gower.-Re-establishment of the de Braose dynasty :John re-established the senior branch of the de Braose dynasty....

 of Gower
Gower Peninsula
Gower or the Gower Peninsula is a peninsula in south Wales, jutting from the coast into the Bristol Channel, and administratively part of the City and County of Swansea. Locally it is known as "Gower"...

, Reginald's nephew. He found a loyal ally in Ranulph, Earl of Chester, whose nephew and heir, John the Scot
John de Scotia, 9th Earl of Huntingdon
John of Scotland , Earl of Huntingdon and 7th Earl of Chester , sometimes known as "the Scot", was an Anglo-Scottish magnate, the son of David of Scotland, Earl of Huntingdon by his wife Matilda of Chester, daughter of Hugh de Kevelioc.John married Elen ferch Llywelyn, daughter of Llywelyn the...

, married Llywelyn's daughter Elen
Elen ferch Llywelyn
Elen ferch Llywelyn was the daughter of Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd in north Wales by Lady Joan, daughter of King John of England....

 in about 1222. Following Reginald de Braose's death, Llywelyn also made an alliance with the powerful Mortimer family of Wigmore when Gwladus Ddu married Ralph de Mortimer
Ralph de Mortimer
Ranulph or Ralph de Mortimer was the second son of Roger de Mortimer and Isabel de Ferrers of Wigmore Castle in Herefordshire...

.

Llywelyn was careful not to provoke unnecessary hostilities with the crown or the Marcher lords; for example in 1220 he compelled Rhys Gryg to return four commote
Commote
A commote , sometimes spelt in older documents as cymwd, was a secular division of land in Medieval Wales. The word derives from the prefix cym- and the noun bod...

s in South Wales to their previous Anglo-Norman owners. He built a number of castles to defend his borders, most thought to have been built between 1220 and 1230. These were the first sophisticated stone castles in Wales; his castles at Criccieth
Criccieth Castle
Criccieth Castle is a native Welsh castle situated on the headland between two beaches in Criccieth, Gwynedd, in North Wales, on a rocky peninsula overlooking Tremadog Bay...

, Deganwy, Dolbadarn
Dolbadarn Castle
Dolbadarn Castle is a fortification built by the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great during the early 13th century, at the base of the Llanberis Pass, in North Wales. The castle was important both militarily and as a symbol of Llywelyn's power and authority. The castle features a large stone keep,...

, Dolwyddelan and Castell y Bere
Castell y Bere
Castell y Bere is a native Welsh castle near Llanfihangel-y-pennant in Gwynedd, Wales. Constructed by Llywelyn the Great in the 1220s, the stone castle was intended to maintain his authority over the local people and to defend the south-west part of the princedom of Gwynedd...

 are among the best examples. Llywelyn also appears to have fostered the development of quasi-urban settlements in Gwynedd to act as centres of trade.

Hostilities broke out with William Marshal
William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke was a medieval English nobleman, and the son of the famous William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke.-Early life:William was born in Normandy probably during the spring of 1190...

, Earl of Pembroke, in 1220. Llywelyn destroyed the castles of Narberth and Wiston, burnt the town of Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest is the county town of Pembrokeshire, Wales and serves as the County's principal commercial and administrative centre. Haverfordwest is the most populous urban area in Pembrokeshire, with a population of 13,367 in 2001; though its community boundaries make it the second most populous...

 and threatened Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle is a medieval castle in Pembroke, West Wales. Standing beside the River Cleddau, it underwent major restoration work in the early 20th century. The castle was the original seat of the Earldom of Pembroke....

, but agreed to abandon the attack on payment of £100. In early 1223 Llywelyn crossed the border into Shropshire
Shropshire
Shropshire is a county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. It borders Wales to the west...

 and captured Kinnerley
Kinnerley
Kinnerley is a small village in Shropshire, England.The village was a stop on the now defunct Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway, that ran from 1866 to 1960. The village today has a school, a church, a shop and a pub . It is small village separating neighbouring villages Dovaston and Pentre and...

 and Whittington
Whittington, Shropshire
Whittington is a village in north west Shropshire, England.The civil parish of Whittington has a population of 2,490 as of the 2001 census. The village of Whittington is in the centre of the parish, and two smaller villages, Hindford to the north-east and Babbinswood to the south, are also within...

 castles. The Marshalls took advantage of Llywelyn's involvement here to land near St David's
St David's
St Davids , is a city and community in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Lying on the River Alun on St David's Peninsula, it is Britain's smallest city in terms of both size and population, the final resting place of Saint David, the country's patron saint, and the de facto ecclesiastical capital of...

 in April with an army raised in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and recaptured Cardigan and Carmarthen without opposition. The Marshalls' campaign was supported by a royal army which took possession of Montgomery
Montgomery, Powys
The historic county town of Montgomery in Powys, Wales lies just three miles from the English border in the Welsh Marches. It is best known for its castle, Montgomery Castle, begun in 1223, and its parish church, begun in 1227. However its origins go back much further, as seen by the Celtic Iron...

. Llywelyn came to an agreement with the king at Montgomery in October that year. Llywelyn's allies in south Wales were given back lands taken from them by the Marshalls and Llywelyn himself gave up his conquests in Shropshire.

In 1228 Llywelyn was engaged in a campaign against Hubert de Burgh, who was Justiciar
Justiciar
In medieval England and Ireland the Chief Justiciar was roughly equivalent to a modern Prime Minister as the monarch's chief minister. Similar positions existed on the Continent, particularly in Norman Italy. The term is the English form of the medieval Latin justiciarius or justitiarius In...

 of England and Ireland and one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. Hubert had been given the lordship and castle of Montgomery
Montgomery, Powys
The historic county town of Montgomery in Powys, Wales lies just three miles from the English border in the Welsh Marches. It is best known for its castle, Montgomery Castle, begun in 1223, and its parish church, begun in 1227. However its origins go back much further, as seen by the Celtic Iron...

 by the king and was encroaching on Llywelyn's lands nearby. The king raised an army to help Hubert, who began to build another castle in the commote
Commote
A commote , sometimes spelt in older documents as cymwd, was a secular division of land in Medieval Wales. The word derives from the prefix cym- and the noun bod...

 of Ceri. However in October the royal army was obliged to retreat and Henry agreed to destroy the half-built castle in exchange for the payment of £2,000 by Llywelyn. Llywelyn raised the money by demanding the same sum as the ransom of William de Braose, Lord of Abergavenny, whom he had captured in the fighting.

Marital problems 1230


Following his capture, William de Braose decided to ally himself to Llywelyn, and a marriage was arranged between his daughter Isabella and Llywelyn's heir, Dafydd ap Llywelyn. At Easter 1230 William visited Llywelyn's court. During this visit he was found in Llywelyn's chamber together with Llywelyn's wife Joan. On 2 May, De Braose was hanged; Joan was placed under house arrest for a year. The Brut y Tywysogion chronicler commented: "that year William de Breos the Younger, lord of Brycheiniog, was hanged by the lord Llywelyn in Gwynedd, after he had been caught in Llywelyn's chamber with the king of England's daughter, Llywelyn's wife".

A letter from Llywelyn to William's wife, Eva de Braose, written shortly after the execution enquires whether she still wishes the marriage between Dafydd and Isabella to take place. The marriage did go ahead, and the following year Joan was forgiven and restored to her position as princess.

Until 1230 Llywelyn had used the title princeps Norwalliæ 'Prince of North Wales', but from that year he changed his title to 'Prince of North Wales and Lord of Snowdonia', possibly to underline his supremacy over the other Welsh princes. He did not formally style himself 'Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

' although as J.E. Lloyd comments "he had much of the power which such a title might imply".

Final campaigns and the Peace of Middle 1231–1240


In 1231 there was further fighting. Llywelyn was becoming concerned about the growing power of Hubert de Burgh. Some of his men had been taken prisoner by the garrison of Montgomery and beheaded, and Llywelyn responded by burning Montgomery, Powys
Montgomery, Powys
The historic county town of Montgomery in Powys, Wales lies just three miles from the English border in the Welsh Marches. It is best known for its castle, Montgomery Castle, begun in 1223, and its parish church, begun in 1227. However its origins go back much further, as seen by the Celtic Iron...

, New Radnor
New Radnor
New Radnor is a village in Powys, mid Wales. It was the original county town of Radnorshire. The population today is around 400, a higher than normal proportion of which are pensioners...

, Hay
Hay-on-Wye
Hay-on-Wye , often described as "the town of books", is a small market town and community in Powys, Wales.-Location:The town lies on the east bank of the River Wye and is within the Brecon Beacons National Park, just north of the Black Mountains...

 and Brecon
Brecon
Brecon is a long-established market town and community in southern Powys, Mid Wales, with a population of 7,901. It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powys, it remains an important local centre...

 before turning west to capture the castles of Neath
Neath
Neath is a town and community situated in the principal area of Neath Port Talbot, Wales, UK with a population of approximately 45,898 in 2001...

 and Kidwelly
Kidwelly
Kidwelly is a town in Carmarthenshire, west Wales, approximately north-west of the main town of Llanelli.It lies on the River Gwendraeth Fach above Carmarthen Bay. The town is twinned with French village St Jacut de la Mer.-History:...

. He completed the campaign by recapturing Cardigan castle. King Henry retaliated by launching an invasion and built a new castle at Painscastle
Painscastle
Painscastle is a castle in Powys in mid Wales and also a village which takes its name from the castle. It lies between Builth and Hay-on-Wye, approximately 3 miles from the Wales-England border today.- Early history:...

, but was unable to penetrate far into Wales.

Negotiations continued into 1232, when Hubert was removed from office and later imprisoned. Much of his power passed to Peter de Rivaux
Peter de Rivaux
Peter de Rivaux or Peter de Rivalis was an influential Poitevin courtier at the court of Henry III of England. He was related to Peter des Roches, being a nephew ....

, including control of several castles in south Wales. William Marshal had died in 1231, and his brother Richard
Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke was the brother of William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, whom he succeeded to the Earldom of Pembroke and Lord Marshal of England upon his brother's death on 6 April 1231....

 had succeeded him as Earl of Pembroke. In 1233 hostilities broke out between Richard Marshal and Peter de Rivaux, who was supported by the king. Llywelyn made an alliance with Richard, and in January 1234 the earl and Llywelyn seized Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council...

. Richard was killed in Ireland in April, but the king agreed to make peace with the insurgents. The Peace of Middle, agreed on 21 June, established a truce of two years with Llywelyn, who was allowed to retain Cardigan and Builth. This truce was renewed year by year for the remainder of Llywelyn's reign.

Arrangements for the succession


In his later years Llywelyn devoted much effort to ensuring that his only legitimate son Dafydd
Dafydd ap Llywelyn
Dafydd ap Llywelyn was Prince of Gwynedd from 1240 to 1246. He was for a time recognised as Prince of Wales.- Descent :...

 would follow him as ruler of Gwynedd and amended Welsh law as followed in Gwynedd. Llywelyn's amendment to Welsh law favoring legitimate children in a Church sanctioned marriage mirrored the earlier efforts of the Lord Rhys, Prince of Deheubarth in designating Gruffydd ap Rhys II
Gruffydd ap Rhys II
Gruffydd ap Rhys II was a prince of Deheubarth in south-west Wales.- Lineage :He was the son of Rhys ap Gruffydd and grandson of Gruffydd ap Rhys....

 as his heir over those of his illegitimate eldest son Maelgwn ap Rhys
Maelgwn ap Rhys
Maelgwn ap Rhys was prince of part of the kingdom of Deheubarth in south west Wales.Maelgwn was the son of Rhys ap Gruffydd by his wife Gwenllian ferch Madog, daughter of Madog ap Maredudd prince of Powys. He appears in the historical record for the first time helping at the siege of Tenby in 1187...

. In both cases, by favoring legitimate children born in a Church sanctioned marriage would facilitate better relations between their sons and the wider Anglo-Norman polity and Catholic Church by removing any "stigma" of illegitimacy. Dafydd's older but illegitimate brother, Gruffydd
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fawr
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the first born son of Llywelyn the Great . His mother Tangwystl probably died in childbirth.-Hostage:...

, was therefore excluded as the primary heir of Llywelyn, though would be given lands to rule. This was a departure from Welsh custom, which held that the eldest son was his father's heir regardless of his parent's marital status.

In 1220 Llywelyn induced the minority government of King Henry to acknowledge Dafydd as his heir. In 1222 he petitioned Pope Honorius III
Pope Honorius III
Pope Honorius III , previously known as Cencio Savelli, was Pope from 1216 to 1227.-Early work:He was born in Rome as son of Aimerico...

 to have Dafydd's succession confirmed. The original petition has not been preserved but the Pope's reply refers to the "detestable custom... in his land whereby the son of the handmaiden was equally heir with the son of the free woman and illegitimate sons obtained an inheritance as if they were legitimate". The Pope welcomed the fact that Llywelyn was abolishing this custom. In 1226 Llywelyn persuaded the Pope to declare his wife Joan, Dafydd's mother, to be a legitimate daughter of King John, again in order to strengthen Dafydd's position, and in 1229 the English crown accepted Dafydd's homage for the lands he would inherit from his father. In 1238 Llywelyn held a council at Strata Florida Abbey
Strata Florida Abbey
Strata Florida Abbey Flowers. Ystrad corrupts into Strata, while Fflur is the name of the nearby river. After the region around St. David's was firmly occupied by the Norman Marcher lordship of Pembroke by the early 12th century, with St...

 where the other Welsh princes swore fealty
Fealty
An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas , is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath-taker before God.In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between...

 to Dafydd. Llywelyn's original intention had been that they should do homage to Dafydd, but the king wrote to the other rulers forbidding them to do homage. Additionally, Prince Llywelyn arranged for his son Dafydd to marry Isabella de Braose, eldest daughter of William de Braose. As William de Braose had no male heir, Llywelyn strategized that the vast de Braose holdings in south Wales would pass to the heir of Dafydd with Isabella.

Gruffydd was given an appanage
Appanage
An apanage or appanage or is the grant of an estate, titles, offices, or other things of value to the younger male children of a sovereign, who would otherwise have no inheritance under the system of primogeniture...

 in Meirionnydd and Ardudwy but his rule was said to be oppressive, and in 1221 Llywelyn stripped him of these territories. In 1228 Llywelyn imprisoned him, and he was not released until 1234. On his release he was given part of Llŷn to rule. His performance this time was apparently more satisfactory and by 1238 he had been given the remainder of Llŷn and a substantial part of Powys.

Death and the transfer of power


Joan died in 1237 and Llywelyn appears to have suffered a paralytic stroke the same year. From this time on, his heir Dafydd took an increasing part in the rule of the principality. Dafydd deprived his half-brother Gruffydd of the lands given him by Llywelyn, and later seized him and his eldest son Owain
Owain Goch ap Gruffydd
Owain ap Gruffudd, , , was brother to Llywelyn the Last and Dafydd ap Gruffudd and, for a brief period in the late 1240s and early 1250s, ruler of part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd .- Lineage :Owain was the eldest son of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn and the grandson of Llywelyn the Great...

 and held them in Criccieth Castle
Criccieth Castle
Criccieth Castle is a native Welsh castle situated on the headland between two beaches in Criccieth, Gwynedd, in North Wales, on a rocky peninsula overlooking Tremadog Bay...

. In 1240 the chronicler of Brut y Tywysogion records: "the lord Llywelyn ap Iorwerth son of Owain Gwynedd, Prince of Wales, a second Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

, died having taken on the habit of religion at Aberconwy, and was buried honourably."

Llywelyn died at the Cistercian abbey of Aberconwy
Aberconwy Abbey
Aberconwy Abbey was a Cistercian foundation at Conwy, later transferred to Maenan near Llanrwst and in the 13th century was the most important abbey in North Wales....

, which he had founded, and was buried there. This abbey was later moved to Maenan near Llanrwst
Llanrwst
Llanrwst is a small town and community on the A470 road and the River Conwy in Conwy County Borough, Wales. It takes its name from the 5th century to 6th century Saint Grwst, and the original parish church in Cae Llan was replaced by the 12th-century church....

, and Llywelyn's stone coffin can now be seen in Llanrwst parish church. Among the poets who lamented his passing was Einion Wan:

King Edward I and his English army had completed the conquest of Snowdonia and terminated the rule of the Welsh princes. On 18 January 1283 the capture of Dolwyddelan Castle gave Edward the control of the Conwy valley and he moved to Conwy in March of
1283. Here the monastery of Aberconwy, the spiritual heart of Gwynedd and the burial place of Llywelyn the Great, was destroyed and a new home for the monks was built at Maenan some 8 miles away. All that remained was the unfinished abbey church, St Mary and All Saints, which was to become the parish church of the new town, which it still remains.
Dafydd succeeded Llywelyn as prince of Gwynedd, but King Henry was not prepared to allow him to inherit his father's position in the remainder of Wales. Dafydd was forced to agree to a treaty greatly restricting his power and was also obliged to hand his half-brother Gruffydd over to the king, who now had the option of using him against Dafydd. Gruffydd was killed attempting to escape from the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 in 1244. This left the field clear for Dafydd, but Dafydd himself died without issue in 1246 and was eventually succeeded by his nephew, Gruffydd's son, Llywelyn the Last
Llywelyn the Last
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd or Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf , sometimes rendered as Llywelyn II, was the last prince of an independent Wales before its conquest by Edward I of England....

.

Historical assessment


Llywelyn dominated Wales for over forty years, and was one of only two Welsh rulers to be called "the Great", the other being his ancestor Rhodri the Great
Rhodri the Great
Rhodri the Great was King of Gwynedd from 844 until his death. He was the first Welsh ruler to be called 'Great', and the first to rule most of present-day Wales...

. The first person to give Llywelyn the title "the Great" seems to have been his near-contemporary, the English chronicler Matthew Paris
Matthew Paris
Matthew Paris was a Benedictine monk, English chronicler, artist in illuminated manuscripts and cartographer, based at St Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire...

.

John Edward Lloyd
John Edward Lloyd
Sir John Edward Lloyd , was a Welsh historian, the author of the first serious history of the country's formative years, A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest, 2 vols...

 gave the following assessment of Llywelyn:
Among the chieftains who battled against the Anglo-Norman power his place will always be high, if not indeed the highest of all, for no man ever made better or more judicious use of the native force of the Welsh people for adequate national ends; his patriotic statemanship will always entitle him to wear the proud style of Llywelyn the Great.


David Moore gives a different view:
When Llywelyn died in 1240 his principatus of Wales rested on shaky foundations. Although he had dominated Wales, exacted unprecedented submissions and raised the status of the prince of Gwynedd to new heights, his three major ambitions a permanent hegemony, its recognition by the king, and its inheritance in its entirety by his heir remained unfulfilled. His supremacy, like that of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the ruler of all Wales from 1055 until his death, the only Welsh monarch able to make this boast...

, had been merely personal in nature, and there was no institutional framework to maintain it either during his lifetime or after his death.

Children


Llywelyn married Joan, natural daughter of King John of England, in 1205. Llywelyn and Joan had three identified children in the records but in all probability had more as Llywelyn children were fully recognise during his marrage to Joan whilst his father in law King John was alive. The identity of the mother of some of Llywelyn's children before this union is uncertain, but the following are recorded in contemporary or near-contemporary records. He was survived by nine children.
  • Dafydd ap Llywelyn
    Dafydd ap Llywelyn
    Dafydd ap Llywelyn was Prince of Gwynedd from 1240 to 1246. He was for a time recognised as Prince of Wales.- Descent :...

     (c. 1215–1246), son by Joan, Princess of Wales.
  • Elen ferch Llywelyn
    Elen ferch Llywelyn
    Elen ferch Llywelyn was the daughter of Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd in north Wales by Lady Joan, daughter of King John of England....

     (c. 1207–1253), daughter of Joan, Princess of Wales. M. John Earl of Huntington m. 2nd Robert de Quincy
  • Susanna ferch Llywelyn, d after Nov 1228 daughter of Joan. Henry III King of England granted the upbringing of "L. princeps Norwallie et Johanna uxor sua et…soror nostra Susannam filiam suam" to "Nicholao de Verdun et Clementie uxori sue" by order dated 24 Nov 1228[273]. Her birth date is estimated on the assumption that Susanna was under marriageable age, but older than an infant, at the time.


other children



  • Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
    Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fawr
    Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the first born son of Llywelyn the Great . His mother Tangwystl probably died in childbirth.-Hostage:...

     (c. 1196–1244), a son by Tangwystl Goch (d. c. 1198).


  • Tegwared ap Llywelyn, a son by Crysten (not mentioned in most sources.)
  • Marared ferch Llywelyn (died after 1268), married John de Braose
    John de Braose
    John de Braose , known as Tadody to the Welsh, was the Lord of Bramber and Gower.-Re-establishment of the de Braose dynasty :John re-established the senior branch of the de Braose dynasty....

     and Sir Walter de Clifford. Had issue by both husbands.
  • Gwladus Ddu
    Gwladus Ddu
    Gwladus Ddu, , full name Gwladus ferch Llywelyn was a Welsh noblewoman who was a daughter of Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd and married two Marcher lords....

     (c. 1206–1251)
  • Angharad ferch Llywelyn
    Angharad ferch Llywelyn
    Angharad ferch Llywelyn was a daughter of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of Wales. The identity of her mother is uncertain; but several later genealogical sources give Llywelyn's consort Joan, Lady of Wales as her mother. She is almost absent from contemporary records, however she is mentioned in...

     (c. 1212-1256), married Maelgwn Fychan.
  • Helen ferch Llywelyn (before 1230-after 16 Feb 1295) who married firstly Máel Coluim II, Earl of Fife, son of Duncan Macduff of Fife & his wife Alice Corbet. She married secondly (after 1266) Domhnall I, Earl of Mar
    Domhnall I, Earl of Mar
    Domhnall I Earl of Mar - Domhnall mac Uilleim - was the seventh known Mormaer of Mar, ruling from 1276 until his death somewhere between 1297 and 1302....

    , son of William, Earl of Mar & his first wife Elizabeth Comyn of Buchan. Helen and Domhall's daughter, Isabella of Mar
    Isabella of Mar
    Isabella of Mar was the first wife of Robert the Bruce and the grandmother of Robert II of Scotland, founder of the royal House of Stuart...

    , married Robert, the Bruce, King of Scots. Isabella had one child by the King of Scots, Marjorie Bruce
    Marjorie Bruce
    Marjorie Bruce or Marjorie de Brus was the eldest daughter of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots by his first wife, Isabella of Mar, and the founder of the Stewart dynasty. Her marriage to Walter, High Steward of Scotland gave rise to the House of Stewart...

    , who was the mother of the first Stewart monarch
    House of Stuart
    The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

    , Robert II of Scotland
    Robert II of Scotland
    Robert II became King of Scots in 1371 as the first monarch of the House of Stewart. He was the son of Walter Stewart, hereditary High Steward of Scotland and of Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I and of his first wife Isabella of Mar...

    .


Little is known of Llywelyn's mistress, Tangwystl Goch, except that she was the daughter of Llywarch "Goch" of Rhos. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fawr
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the first born son of Llywelyn the Great . His mother Tangwystl probably died in childbirth.-Hostage:...

 (c. 1196–1244) was Llywelyn's eldest son and known to be the son of Tangwystl. He married Senena, daughter of Caradoc ap Thomas of Anglesey
Anglesey
Anglesey , also known by its Welsh name Ynys Môn , is an island and, as Isle of Anglesey, a county off the north west coast of Wales...

. Their sons included Llywelyn ap Gruffydd
Llywelyn the Last
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd or Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf , sometimes rendered as Llywelyn II, was the last prince of an independent Wales before its conquest by Edward I of England....

, who for a period occupied a position in Wales comparable to that of his grandfather, and Dafydd ap Gruffydd
Dafydd ap Gruffydd
Dafydd ap Gruffydd was Prince of Wales from 11 December 1282 until his execution on 3 October 1283 by King Edward I of England...

 who ruled Gwynedd briefly after his brother's death. According to eary modern genealogies, Llywelyn had another son, Tegwared ap Llywelyn, by a woman named Crysten.

Family tree


Cultural allusions


A number of Welsh poems addressed to Llywelyn by contemporary poets such as Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr
Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr
Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr , in English also known as Kendall, was the court poet of Madog ap Maredudd, Owain Gwynedd , and Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd, and one of the most prominent Welsh poets of the 12th century.Cynddelw began his career as court poet to Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys...

, Dafydd Benfras and Llywarch ap Llywelyn (better known under the nickname Prydydd y Moch) have survived. Very little of this poetry has been published in English translation.

Llywelyn has continued to figure in modern Welsh literature. The play Siwan
Siwan (play)
Siwan is the title of a play written in the Welsh language by Saunders Lewis, first produced in 1956. The first English language translation of the play appeared in 1960....

 (1956, English translation 1960) by Saunders Lewis
Saunders Lewis
Saunders Lewis was a Welsh poet, dramatist, historian, literary critic, and political activist. He was a prominent Welsh nationalist and a founder of the Welsh National Party...

 deals with the finding of William de Braose in Joan's chamber and his execution by Llywelyn. Another well-known Welsh play about Llywelyn is Llywelyn Fawr by Thomas Parry
Thomas Parry (author)
Sir Thomas Parry was a Welsh author and Academic. He was Librarian of the National Library of Wales from 1953 to 1958, and Principal of the University College of Wales Aberystwyth from 1958 to 1969. The Thomas Parry Library located on Aberystwyth University's Llanbadarn Campus was named in his...

.

Llywelyn is the main character or one of the main characters in several English-language novels:
  • Raymond Foxall (1959) Song for a Prince: The Story of Llywelyn the Great covers the period from King John's invasion in 1211 to the execution of William de Braose.
  • Sharon Kay Penman
    Sharon Kay Penman
    Sharon Kay Penman is an American historical novelist, published in the UK as Sharon Penman. She is best known for the Welsh Princes trilogy and the Plantagenet series. In addition, she has written four medieval mysteries, the first of which, The Queen's Man, was a finalist in 1996 for the Best...

     (1985) Here be Dragons
    Here be dragons
    "Here be dragons" is a phrase used to denote dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the medieval practice of putting sea serpents and other mythological creatures in uncharted areas of maps.-History:...

    is centred on the marriage of Llywelyn and Joan. Dragon's Lair (2004) by the same author features the young Llywelyn before he gained power in Gwynedd. Llywelyn further appears in Penman
    Sharon Kay Penman
    Sharon Kay Penman is an American historical novelist, published in the UK as Sharon Penman. She is best known for the Welsh Princes trilogy and the Plantagenet series. In addition, she has written four medieval mysteries, the first of which, The Queen's Man, was a finalist in 1996 for the Best...

    's later novel Falls the Shadow.
  • Edith Pargeter
    Edith Pargeter
    Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM , also known by her nom de plume Ellis Peters, was a British author of works in many categories, especially history and historical fiction, and was also honoured for her translations of Czech classics; she is probably best known for her murder mysteries, both...

     (1960–63) "The Heaven Tree Trilogy" features Llywelyn, Joan, William de Braose, and several of Llywelyn's sons as major characters.
  • Gaius Demetrius (2006) Ascent of an Eagle tells the story of the early part of Llywelyn's reign.


The story of the faithful hound Gelert
Gelert
Gelert is the name of a legendary dog associated with the village of Beddgelert in Gwynedd, northwest Wales. The story of Gelert is a variation on the well-worn "Faithful Hound" folk-tale motif, which lives on as an urban legend...

, owned by Llywelyn and mistakenly killed by him, is also considered to be fiction. "Gelert's grave" is a popular tourist attraction in Beddgelert
Beddgelert
Beddgelert, or in older English spelling often Bedgellert, is a village and community in the Snowdonia area of Gwynedd, Wales. It is reputed to be named after the legendary hound Gelert. Population 617.- History:...

 but is thought to have been created by an 18th-century innkeeper to boost the tourist trade. The tale itself is a variation on a common folktale motif
The Brahmin and the Mongoose
The Brahmin and the Mongoose is a folktale from India, and "one of the world's most travelled tales". It describes the rash killing of a loyal animal, and thus warns against hasty action. The story underlies certain legends in the West, such as that of Llewellyn and his dog Gelert in Wales, or...

.

Primary sources

  • Hoare, R.C., ed. 1908. Giraldus Cambrensis: The Itinerary through Wales; Description of Wales. Translated by R.C. Hoare. Everyman's Library. ISBN 0-460-00272-4
  • Jones, T., ed. 1941. Brut y Tywysogion: Peniarth MS. 20. University of Wales Press
    University of Wales Press
    The University of Wales Press was founded in 1922 as a central service of the University of Wales. It publishes academic journals and around sixty books a year in the English and Welsh languages, based around a core of six subjects: History; Political Philosophy and Religious Studies;Welsh and...

    .
  • Pryce, H., ed. 2005. The Acts of Welsh rulers 1120–1283. University of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-1897-5

Secondary sources

  • Bartrum, P.C. 1966. Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts. University of Wales Press.
  • Carr, A. D. 1995. Medieval Wales. Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-54773-X
  • Davies, Rees
    Rees Davies
    Sir Robert Rees Davies CBE , was a noted Welsh historian.He was born in Merionethshire, and educated at Bala grammar school. He was bilingual in Welsh and English. He received a First in his degree from University College, London, where he later returned as a lecturer...

     1987. Conquest, Coexistence and Change: Wales 1063–1415 Clarendon Press. ISBN 0198217323
  • Lloyd, John. E.
    John Edward Lloyd
    Sir John Edward Lloyd , was a Welsh historian, the author of the first serious history of the country's formative years, A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest, 2 vols...

     1911. A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest. Longmans, Green & Co..
  • Lynch, F. 1995. Gwynedd (A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales series). HMSO. ISBN 0117015741
  • Maund, K. 2006. The Welsh Kings: Warriors, Warlords and Princes. Tempus. ISBN 0-7524-2973-6
  • Moore, D. 2005. The Welsh wars of independence: c.410-c.1415. Tempus. ISBN 0-7524-3321-0
  • Powicke, M. 1953. The Thirteenth Century 1216–1307 (The Oxford History of England). Clarendon Press.
  • Remfry, P.M., Whittington Castle and the families of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Peverel, Maminot, Powys and Fitz Warin (ISBN 1-899376-80-1)
  • Stephenson, D. 1984. The Governance of Gwynedd. University of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-0850-3
  • Williams, G. A. 1964. "The Succession to Gwynedd, 1238–1247" Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies XX (1962–64) 393–413
  • Weis, Frederick Lewis. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America before 1700, lines: 27-27, 29A-27, 29A-28, 132C-29, 176B-27, 177-7, 184A-9, 236-7, 246-30, 254-28, 254-29, 260-31
  • Professor T. Jones-Pierce, "Aber Gwyn Gregin", Caernarvonshire Historical Society Transactions (volume 23, 1962)

External links