Session 63: Ystafell 3
Cymru'r oesoedd canol ac yn fuan wedyn / Medieval and Early Modern Wales

Chair: Dafydd Johnston

Gwenllian ferch Gruffudd ap Cynan, and the significance of the battle of Cedweli

Byron Tomos Huws

An attempt to recover the life, reputation and historical significance of Gwenllian ferch Gruffudd ap Cynan in fact and fiction, and to propose a date for and the circumstances surrounding the battle of Cedweli.

Giraldus Cambrensis tells us in 97 words or just three and a third tweets, that, as fact, Gwenllian led an army of Deheubarth against the Normans at Cedweli. He names the Norman commanders and her fate at the end of the battle. This would make her the only woman to have led a British army in battle in the last 1000 years. Such a brief reference is not a great deal to go on but his words are pregnant with detail and authenticity. Giraldus was well connected, highly educated and intensely interested in the history of his native part of Britain, the territories of the Cymru, and especially his native Deheubarth from his privileged position as a Cambro-Norman, a status of which he was proud. But put into the context of what we know of the history of the time and her contemporaries, and even a second battle reference, a great deal more can be said of the historical Gwenllian and the battle in which she perished. Factual references may not be the only source for recovering her story. There may be further clues hiding in the literature of the period which have never before been connected to her story.

‘Cymro glân o waed coch cyfran’: the cymricization of a medieval English settler family in early modern Wales

Sadie Jarrett
Prifysgol Bangor

The Salesburys of Rhug and Bachymbyd were one of the many English families attracted to the new garrison towns of north Wales following the 1282/3 Edwardian Conquest. They settled in the marcher lordships of Denbigh and Dyffryn Clwyd, an area particularly interesting for its strong English administration and the concurrent flourishing of a Welsh cultural renaissance. Despite their origins as medieval English settlers, the Salesburys became a prominent early modern Welsh gentry family, portraying themselves as pure Welshmen. Using the family’s extensive estate paper collections, family correspondence, and Welsh praise poetry, this study examines how the Salesburys transformed their sense of identity. It looks at evidence of Welsh identity in the family before the so-called Acts of Union, particularly bardic patronage, and assesses how the family responded to the legal and political restrictions on the native Welsh. The paper finds that the Salesburys’ intermarriage with native Welsh families enabled the Salesburys to engage with their culture. As a Welsh family, the Salesburys gained power and authority in their local area, limiting the effects of the English government’s restrictive policies towards the Welsh. As a result, this paper provides a valuable case study of how the settler population responded to the Welsh culture of their locality. It undermines the narrative of Wales’ Anglicization after the Conquest and demonstrates how and why English settlers absorbed native Welsh culture.

Ailystyried yr 'History of Owen Glendower'
The ‘History of Owen Glendower’: a reconsideration

Gruffydd Aled Williams

Testun hanesyddol o'r ail ganrif ar bymtheg, yr 'History of Owen Glendower' (a gyhoeddwyd yn 1775 o dan y teitl 'Memoirs of Owen Glendowr' [sic]) yw pwnc y papur hwn.  Ar wahan i'r hanes a geir yng nghronicl llawysgrif Peniarth 135 yn llaw Gruffudd Hiraethog, dyma'r hanes naratif estynedig cynharaf ynghylch Owain a'i wrthryfel i oroesi.  Yn y papur ystyrir awduraeth y gwaith. a dadogwyd ar Robert Vaughan o'r Hengwrt (1592?-1667) a hefyd ar ei gyfaill Dr. Thomas Ellis (1625-73), Is-Brifathro Coleg Iesu, Rhydychen a Rheithor Dolgellau (1666).  Tafolir sylwadau ysgolheigion o'r ugeinfed ganrif ynghylch ei awduraeth, gan ystyried eu dilysrwydd a'u cysondeb a thystiolaeth y ffynonellau llawysgrif lle digwydd y testun; dadleuir hefyd fod tystiolaeth fewnol y gwaith ei hunan yn ystyriaeth allweddol o ran pennu ei awduraeth.  Ceisir olrhain y ffynonellau hanesyddol y seiliodd yr awdur neu'r awduron y gwaith arnynt, ac ystyrir pa mor ddibynadwy yw'r gwaith yng ngoleuni ffynonellau eraill, ynghyd a natur a gogwydd y portread o Owain a'i wrthryfel a geir ynddo. Yn olaf ystyrir ei ddylanwad ar yr hanes am Owain a'i wrthryfel a gyhoeddwyd gan Thomas Pennant yn ei gyfrol A Tour in Wales (1778).

The subject of this paper is a seventeenth-century historical text, the ‘History of Owen Glendower’ (entitled ‘Memoirs of Owen Glendowr’ [sic] when published in 1775). Apart from the account preserved in the Peniarth MS. 135 chronicle in the hand of Gruffudd Hiraethog, this is the earliest extant extended narrative history of Owain and his revolt. The paper considers the authorship of the work, which has been ascribed to both Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt (1592?–1667) and his friend Dr. Thomas Ellis (1625–73), Deputy Principal of Jesus College, Oxford and Rector of Dolgellau. The opinions of twentieth-century scholars regarding the work’s authorship will be revisited and evaluated, and their consistency with the evidence of the manuscript sources considered; it will also be argued that the internal evidence of the work is important in determining authorship. An attempt will be made to trace the historical sources utilized by the work’s author or authors, and its reliability will be considered in the light of other sources, as will the nature and degree of objectivity of its portrayal of Owain and his revolt. Lastly, the work’s influence on the famous account of Owain and his revolt published by Thomas Pennant in A Tour in Wales (1778) will be considered.