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Title: Owen Glyndwr and the Last Struggle for Welsh Independence - With a Brief Sketch of Welsh History
Author: Bradley, Arthur Granville
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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              OWEN GLYNDWR




          G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
                NEW YORK
        The Knickerbocker Press

            COPYRIGHT, 1901
          G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

   The Knickerbocker Press, New York

  Heroes of the Nations

  Evelyn Abbott, M.A.




Heroes of the Nations

A Series of Biographical Studies presenting the lives and work of
certain representative historical characters, about whom have gathered
the traditions of the nations to which they belong, and who have, in
the majority of instances, been accepted as types of the several
national ideals.

  12^o, Illustrated, cloth, each, $1.50
  Half Leather, gilt top, each, $1.75


      Miss Walker.



If this little book purported to be a biography in the ordinary sense
of the word, the scantiness of purely personal detail relating to its
hero might be a fair subject of criticism. But men of the Glyndwr type
live in history rather by their deeds, and the deeds of those they
lead and inspire. This is peculiarly the case with the last and the
most celebrated among the soldier patriots of Wales. Though so little
remains to tell us of the actual man himself, this very fact has
thrown a certain glamour and mystery about his name even in the
Principality. While numbers of well-informed Englishmen are inclined
to regard him, so far as they regard him at all, as a semi-mythical
hero under obligations to Shakespeare for such measure of renown and
immortality as he enjoys, if the shade of Henry the Fourth could be
called up as a witness it would tell a very different story. It is at
any rate quite certain that for the first few years of the fifteenth
century, both to England and to Wales, to friends and to foes, Owen
was in very truth a sufficiently real personality. What we do know of
him, apart from his work, might well suggest infinite possibilities to
the novelist and the poet. It is my business, however, to deal only
with facts or to record legends and traditions for what they are
worth, as illustrating the men and the time.

Glyndwr is without doubt the national hero of the majority of
Welshmen. Precisely why he takes precedence of warrior princes who
before his day struggled so bravely with the Anglo-Norman power and
often with more permanent success, is not now to the point. My readers
will be able to form some opinion of their own as to the soundness of
the Welsh verdict. But these are matters, after all, outside logic and
argument. It is a question of sentiment which has its roots perhaps in
sound reasons now forgotten. There are in existence several brief and
more or less accurate accounts of Glyndwr's rising. Those of Thomas,
written early in this century, and of Pennant, embodied in his well
known _Tours in Wales_, are the most noteworthy,--while one or two
interesting papers represent all the recent contributions to the
subject. There has not hitherto, however, been any attempt to collect
in book form all that is known of this celebrated Welshman and the
movement he headed. I have, therefore, good reason to believe that the
mere collection and arrangement of this in one accessible and handy
volume will not be unwelcome, to Welsh readers especially. Thus much
at least I think I have achieved, and the thought will be some
consolation, at any rate, if I have failed in the not very easy task
of presenting the narrative in sufficiently popular and readable
guise. But I hope also to engage the interest of readers other than
Welshmen in the story of Glyndwr and his times. If one were to say
that the attitude of nearly all Englishmen towards Wales in an
historical sense is represented by a total blank, I feel quite sure
that the statement would neither be denied nor resented.

Under this assumption it was thought well to attempt a somewhat fuller
picture of Wales than that presented by the Glyndwr period alone, and
to lead up to this by an outline sketch of Welsh history. The earlier
part, particularly, of this contains much contentious matter. But in
such a rapid, superficial survey as will fully answer our purpose
here, there has scarcely been occasion to go below those salient
features that are pretty generally agreed upon by historians. The kind
manner in which my _Highways and Byways of North Wales_ was received,
not only by English readers but by Welsh friends and the Welsh press,
makes me venture to hope that my presumption as a Saxon in making this
more serious excursion into the domain of Welsh history will be
overlooked in consideration of the subject dealt with.

A continuous intimacy of many years with the Glyndyfrdwy region begat
a natural interest in the notable personage who had once owned it, and
this gradually ripened into a desire to fill, however inadequately,
what seemed to me an obvious want. Before venturing on the task I took
some pains to ascertain whether any Welsh writer had the matter in
contemplation, and so far as information gathered in the most
authoritative quarters could be effective it was in the negative. As
this was at a time when the Welsh people were considering some form
of National memorial to Glyndwr, the absence both in fact and in
prospect of any accessible memoir of him overcame what diffidence on
racial grounds I had naturally felt and encouraged me in my desire to
supply the want.

A full list of the authorities I have consulted in the preparation of
this work would, I have reason to understand, be too ponderous a
supplement to a volume of this kind. Before noting any of them,
however, I must first acknowledge the very great obligations I am
under to Professor Wylie for his invaluable and exhaustive history of
Henry IV.; not merely for the information contained in the text of his
book, but for his copious notes which have been most helpful in
indicating many sources of information connected with the persons and
events of the time. The following are some of the chief works
consulted: Dr. Powell's translation of Humphrey Lloyd's _History of
Wales_ from the chronicle of Caradoc of Llancarvan, Ellis' original
letters, _Annales Cambriæ_, Rymer's _Fœdera_, Williams' _History of
Wales_, Warrington's _History of Wales_, Tyler's _Henry V._, Adam of
Usk, Matthew of Paris, Hardyng's and other chronicles, Giraldus
Cambrensis, the historians Carte, Walsingham, and Holinshed,
Bridgeman's _Princes of South Wales_, Lloyd's _History of the Princes
of Powys Fadog_, the Iolo MSS., Owen's _Ancient Laws and Institutions
of Wales_, _Archæologia Cambrensis_, the Brut, and, of course, the
Rolls series. Among living writers who have been helpful in various
ways and have my best thanks are Mr. Robert Owen, of Welshpool, the
author of _Powysland_, the Revd. W. G. Dymock Fletcher, of Shrewsbury,
who has made a special study of the neighbouring battle-field;
Professor Tout, who has published an interesting lecture on Glyndwr
and some instructive maps connected with the period; and Mr. Henry
Owen, the well known authority on Pembrokeshire and author of _Gerald
the Welshman_; nor must I omit a word of thanks to Mr. Owen Edwards,
whose kind encouragement materially influenced my decision to
undertake this book.

I am under most particular obligations to that well known Welsh
scholar, Mr. T. Marchant Williams, for suggestions and criticisms when
the book was still in manuscript, and also to my lamented friend, the
late Mr. St. John Boddington, of Huntington Court, Herefordshire, for
assistance of a somewhat similar nature.

I am also greatly indebted to Miss Walker, of Corwen, for several
photographic scenes in Glyndyfrdwy, which she most kindly took with an
especial view to reproduction in these pages, and to Messrs. H. H.
Hughes and W. D. Haydon, both of Shrewsbury, who rendered a like
service in the matter of Glyndwr's other residence at Sycherth.





    INTRODUCTION                                                     1

    The Romans in Wales--Cunedda--Christianity--Arrival of
    Saxons--Their Conquest of Severn Valley--The Latin and
    Welsh Churches--The Three Divisions of Wales--Arrival of
    Danes--Strathclyde Britons Occupy Vale of Clwyd--Howel
    Dda and His Laws--Growing Intercourse between Welsh and
    Saxons--Llewelyn I.--Griffith ap Llewelyn--Harold's
    Invasions of Wales--Arrival of Normans--William I. and
    William Rufus in Wales--Norman Conquest of Glamorgan--
    The Flemings Settle in Pembroke--Wars between Owen Gwynedd
    and Henry II.--Howel ap Owen Gwynedd--Dafydd ap Owen
    Gwynedd--Giraldus Cambrensis on the Welsh--Religious
    Awakening in the Twelfth Century--Powys and the English
    Power--Llewelyn the Great, 1195--King John's Invasion of
    Wales--Llewelyn recognised as Ruler of All Wales--Dafydd
    ap Llewelyn Succeeds--He Persecutes his Brother Griffith
    and Makes War on the English--Henry III. in Wales--
    Llewelyn ap Griffith, Last Prince in Wales--Long Struggle
    against Henry III. and Edward I.--Death of Llewelyn and
    his Brother Dafydd--Final Conquest of Wales--Edward I.
    Enacts Statutes of Rhuddlan, Builds Castles, and Provides
    for the Future Government of the Country--Wales between
    the Conquest and Glyndwr's Rising.


    BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE, 1359-1399                                 82

    Owen's Birth and Descent--His Youth--His Connection with
    Henry IV. and Richard II.--Sycherth--Glyndyfrdwy--


    GLYNDWR AND LORD GREY OF RUTHIN, 1400-1401                     110

    Lord Grey of Ruthin--Anglo-Welsh Towns--Owen's Unsuccessful
    Lawsuit--Contemptuous Treatment by the English Court--
    Bad Faith of Grey towards Owen--Griffith ap David--Grey
    Appeals for Aid against Welsh Insurgents--Grey's Attempt
    to Capture Owen--Owen Assumes the Leadership--Iolo
    Goch--Owen Raids Ruthin--The King Invades Wales but to
    no Purpose--The Prince of Wales Left in Command at
    Chester--Owen Winters at Glyndyfrdwy.


    OWEN AND THE PERCYS, 1401                                      135

    Hotspur in North Wales--Prince Henry--Conway Taken by
    the Welsh--Retaken by the English--Percy Acts against
    the Welsh--Owen Goes to Plinlimmon--War Carried to the
    South--Flemings of Pembroke Defeated by Glyndwr--Owen
    Triumphs in South Wales--King Henry again Invades
    Wales--The King in Cardigan--Invasion without Result--
    The English Army Retires to Shrewsbury--Owen and the
    Percys--Welsh Social Divisions--Owen Captures Grey at
    Ruthin--Grey Held to Ransom.


    THE KING AND HOTSPUR, 1402                                     163

    Portents--Bishop Trevor--Howel Sele--Mortimer Defeated
    at Pilleth, and Taken Prisoner--The King Refuses to
    Ransom Mortimer--Glyndwr in Carnarvonshire--Great
    Invasion of Wales by King Henry--Magic and Tempests
    Overwhelm the English Advance--Defeat of the Scots at
    Homildon--Hotspur and the King Dispute about Scottish
    Prisoners--Mortimer Invites His Radnor Tenants to Join


    THE BATTLE OF SHREWSBURY, 1403                                 185

    The King in Need of Money--Prince Henry at Shrewsbury--
    He Destroys Owen's Property--Letter from the Prince
    Concerning this--Glyndwr in the Vale of Towy--Victory of
    Anglo-Flemings near Carmarthen--Urgent Appeal for Royal
    Assistance from Brecon--Petitions for the Same from
    Herefordshire--The Welsh Overrun Western Herefordshire--
    Glyndwr at Carmarthen--He Consults a Soothsayer--The
    Plot of the Percys--Battle of Shrewsbury--Glyndwr's
    Connection with the Movement--He Appears in Flint--The
    King Prepares for the Invasion of Wales.


    OWEN AND THE FRENCH, 1403-1404                                 212

    Beleaguered Castles--The King Invades Wales--He Reaches
    Carmarthen and Hurries Home Again--Glyndwr Takes more
    Castles and harries Herefordshire--The French Land at
    Carmarthen--Anglesey--Carnarvon--Glyndwr Captures
    Harlech--He Calls a Parliament at Machynlleth--Davy
    Gam--Glyndwr Sends Ambassadors to Paris--Bishop Trevor
    Joins the Welsh--Herefordshire and the English Borders
    Ravaged--Urgent Appeals for Succour to the King--The
    Earl of Warwick Defeats Glyndwr--Glyndwr Gains a
    Victory--He Forces Shropshire to Make Terms--Owen's
    Court at Harlech--Iolo Goch.


    WELSH REVERSES, 1405                                           237

    Desolation of Wales--Owen's Methods of Warfare--Country
    Houses of the Period--Welsh Rural Life and Population--
    Glyndwr Not a Rebel--Lady Despencer and the Young Princes--
    Prince Henry's Letter on the Battle--Welsh Defeated at
    Mynydd-y-Pwll-Melyn--Owen's Brother Killed, and his Son
    Captured--The Percys Rise in the North--Depression among
    Owen's Followers--Landing of the French at Milford--The
    Allies March to Worcester--Battle of Woodbury Hill--
    Retreat of Franco-Welsh Army to Wales--King Henry
    Unsuccessfully Invades Wales--Cadogan of the
    Battle-axe--Departure of the French--Pembroke Makes
    Terms with Owen.


    THE TRIPARTITE INDENTURE, 1406                                 263

    The Tripartite Indenture--Defeat and Execution of Lord
    Percy and Bardolph--Owen's Letter from Pennal to the
    King of France--The Papal Schism--Owen's Star Waning--
    Anglesey--Dejection in the Vale of Towy--Glyndwr's
    Lonely Wanderings--The Valle Crucis Story--The
    Berkrolles' Story--Iolo Goch's Lament.


    ABERYSTWITH. OWEN'S POWER DECLINES, 1407-1409                  284

    Owen's Movements Vague--The King Failing in Health but
    Anxious to Enter Wales--Preparations for Siege of
    Aberystwith--The King Shrinks from Going to Wales--A
    General Pestilence--Prince Henry Leads a Large Force to
    Aberystwith--Terms of Surrender Arranged--Agreement
    Upset by Owen's Sudden Appearance--Fall of Aberystwith
    and Harlech--Death of Mortimer--Owen Sinks into a
    Guerilla Leader--Pardons and Punishments--Death in Paris
    of Bishop Trevor.


    LAST YEARS OF OWEN'S LIFE, 1410-1416                           300

    Harsh Laws Enacted against the Welsh--Davy Gam--A General
    Pardon Offered by Henry V.--Owen an Outlaw in the
    Mountains--Owen, Left Alone, Disappears from History--
    Henry V. Sends him a Special Pardon--Kentchurch or
    Monnington the Scene of Owen's Death--Some Remarks on
    his Policy.


    CONCLUSION                                                     310

    Wales after Glyndwr.


    THE BARDS                                                      333




    GLYNDWR'S MOUNT, GLYNDYFRDWY                        _Frontispiece_
        Copyright, Miss Walker.

    CAREW CASTLE                                                    40
        [From old print.]

    CORWEN AND PEN-Y-PIGIN, FROM THE DEE                            44
        Copyright, W. Davis.

    VALLE CRUCIS ABBEY                                              54
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    CONWAY CASTLE                                                   78
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    DOLGELLY AND CADER IDRIS                                        82
        Copyright, C. H. Young.

    HOLT CASTLE                                                     86
        [From old print.]

    POWYS CASTLE                                                    92
        [From an old engraving from painting by W. Daniells.]

    LLANGOLLEN AND DINAS BRÂN                                       96
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    SYCHERTH, FROM THE SOUTH                                       100
        Copyright, W. D. Haydon.

    RUTHIN CASTLE                                                  110
        [From old print.]

    AN OLD STREET, SHREWSBURY                                      120
        Copyright, J. Bartlett.

        Copyright, Miss Walker.

    INTERIOR CONWAY CASTLE                                         140
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

        Copyright, Miss Walker.

    LOOKING UP THE MAWDDACH FROM NANNAU                            166
        Copyright, C. H. Young.

        Copyright, C. H. Young.

    PILLETH HILL, RADNORSHIRE                                      176
        Copyright, R. St. John Boddington.

    SYCHERTH, FROM THE NORTH                                       186
        Copyright, H. H. Hughes.

    HAY                                                            190
        Copyright, Marion & Co.

    BATTLE-FIELD CHURCH, NEAR SHREWSBURY                           200
        Copyright, J. Bartlett.

    CARNARVON CASTLE                                               218
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    MACHYNLLETH                                                    220
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    OWEN'S COUNCIL HOUSE, DOLGELLY                                 224
        Copyright, C. H. Young.

    HARLECH                                                        232
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    CAERPHILLY CASTLE                                              244
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    MANORBIER CASTLE                                               262
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    ABERYSTWITH CASTLE                                             290
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    MONNINGTON COURT AND CHURCH                                    300
        Copyright, W. H. Bustin.

        Copyright, Mrs. Leather.

    PEMBROKE CASTLE                                                312
        [From a photograph.]
        Copyright, F. Frith & Co.

    KENTCHURCH COURT, WITH GLYNDWR'S TOWER                         314
        Copyright, W. H. Bustin.







The main subject of this book is the man whose memory, above that of
all other men, the Welsh as a people delight to honour, and that
period of Welsh history which he made so stormy and so memorable. But
having what there is some reason to regard as a well founded opinion
that (to the vast majority of English readers) the story of Wales is
practically a blank, it seems to me desirable to prepare the way in
some sort for the advent of my hero upon this, the closing scene of
Cambrian glory. I shall therefore begin with a rapid sketch of those
nine centuries which, ending with Glyndwr's rising, constitute roughly
in a political and military sense the era of Welsh nationality. It is
an audacious venture, I am very well aware, and more especially so
when brought within the compass of a single chapter.

Among the many difficulties that present themselves in contemplating
an outline sketch of Welsh history, a doubt as to the best period for
beginning it can hardly be included. Unless one is prepared to take
excursions into the realms of pure conjecture and speculation, which
in these pages would be altogether out of place, the only possible
epoch at which to open such a chapter is the Saxon conquest of
England. And I lay some stress on the word England, because the fact
of Wales resisting both Saxon conquest and even Saxon influence to any
appreciable extent, at this early period, is the keynote to its

       *       *       *       *       *

What the British tribes were like, who, prior to this fifth century,
lived under Roman rule in the country we now call Wales, no man may
know. We do know, however, that the Romans were as firmly seated there
as in most parts of Britain. From their strong garrisons at Chester,
Uriconium, Caerleon, and elsewhere they kept the country to the
westward quiet by means of numerous smaller posts. That their legions
moved freely about the country we have evidence enough in the metalled
causeways that can still be traced in almost every locality beneath
the mountain sod. The traces, too, of their mining industry are still
obvious enough in the bowels of the mountains and even beneath the
sea, to say nothing of surface evidence yet more elaborate. That their
soldiers fell here freely in the cause of order or of conquest is
written plainly enough in the names and epitaphs on mortuary stones
that in districts even now remote have been exposed by the spade or
plough. But how much of Christianity, how much of Roman civilisation,
these primitive Britons of the West had absorbed in the four centuries
of Roman occupation is a matter quite outside the scope of these
elementary remarks. Of civilisation beyond the influence of the
garrisons there was probably little or none. As regards Christianity,
its echoes from the more civilised parts of the island had probably
found their way there, and affected the indigenous paganism of the
mountains to an extent that is even yet a fruitful source of
disagreement among experts. Lastly, as it seems probable that the
population of what is now called Wales was then much more sparse in
proportion to the rest of the island than in subsequent periods, its
condition becomes a matter of less interest, which is fortunate,
seeing we know so little about it.

With the opening of the fifth century the Romans evacuated Britain. By
the middle of it the Saxon influx, encouraged, as every schoolboy
knows, by the Britons themselves in their weakness, had commenced.
Before its close the object of the new-comers had developed and the
"Making of England" was in full operation.

For these same conquered Britons many of us, I think, started life
with some tinge of contempt, mingled with the pity that beyond all
doubt they fully merit. Mr. Green has protested in strong terms
against so unjustifiable an attitude. He asks us to consider the
condition of a people, who in a fiercely warlike age, had been for
many generations forbidden to bear arms; who were protected by an
alien army from all fear of molestation, and encouraged, moreover, to
apply themselves zealously to the arts of peace. That men thus
enervated made a resistance so prolonged is the wonder, not that they
eventually gave way. If this nation, which resisted for a hundred
years, is a fit subject for criticism, what can be said of their
conquerors who, five centuries later, in the full enjoyment of warlike
habits and civil liberty, were completely crushed in seven by a no
more formidable foe?

While the pagan Saxons were slowly fighting their way across England
towards the Severn and the Dee, the country about and behind these
rivers had been galvanised by various influences into an altogether
new importance.

After the departure of the Romans, the Welsh tribes, less enervated
probably than their more Romanised fellow-countrymen to the east,
found in the Scots of Ireland rather than the Picts of the North their
deadliest foes. It was against these western rovers that the
indigenous natives of what for brevity's sake we are calling Wales,
relearnt in the fifth century the art of war, and the traces of their
conflicts are strewn thick along the regions that face the Irish Sea.
But while these contests were still in progress, three powerful tides
of influence of a sort wholly different poured into Wales and
contributed towards its solidity, its importance, its defensive power,
and its moral elevation.

[Sidenote: 400-500, Cunedda.]

(1) Out of the north, from Cumbria and Strathclyde, came the great
prince and warrior Cunedda, whose family seem to have taken
possession, with or without resistance, of large tracts of Wales,
Merioneth, Cardigan, and many other districts deriving their names in
fact from his sons. His progeny and their belongings became in some
sort a ruling caste; a faint reflection of what the Normans were in
later days to England.

Cunedda is said to have held his Court at Carlisle, and to have
wielded immense power in the north and north-west of Britain. If he
did not go to Wales in person he undoubtedly planted in it his
numerous and warlike offspring, who, with their following, are usually
regarded as the founders of the later tribal fabric of Wales, the
remote ancestors, in theory at any rate, of the Welsh landed gentry of
to-day; but this is a perilous and complex subject.

[Sidenote: Christianity.]

(2) In this century, too, came the first wave of a real and effective
Christianity, with its troops of missionaries from Brittany and
Ireland, in the front rank of which stand the names of St. David and
Germanus or Garmon, Bishop of Auxerre. The latter is generally
credited with the organisation of the Welsh Church, hitherto so vague
and undefined. It was, at any rate, during this period, that the
Church assumed definite territorial form, and that the Welsh diocese
and the Welsh parish, their boundaries roughly approximating to the
present ones, came into existence. Through the fifth, sixth, and well
into the seventh century, church building and religious activity of
all kinds flourished marvellously in Wales; while Christianity was
being steadily and ruthlessly stamped out over the rest of Britain by
the advancing pagans, native chieftains vied with foreign
ecclesiastics in building churches, cathedrals, and cells; and great
monastic houses arose, of which Bangor Iscoed, on the Dee, with its
two or three thousand inmates, was the most notable. The mountainous
region that in former days had been among those least influenced by it
was now the hope of the island, the seat of religious fervour, the
goal of the foreign missionary and the wandering saint.

[Sidenote: Arrival of the Saxons, 577.]

[Sidenote: British refugees in sixth century.]

(3) The third, and perhaps not the least powerful, factor in the
making of Wales was the advance of the Saxons. After their great
victory of Deorham they destroyed the British strongholds of Bath,
Gloucester, and Cirencester, and about the year 577, or 130 years
after their first landing in Britain, they appeared on the Severn. The
exact fate or disposal of the natives, whom with ceaseless fighting
they thus drove before them, is a matter of perennial controversy. The
ferocity of the conquerors, aggravated, no doubt, by the stubborn
resistance of the conquered, is a fact beyond all question and should
be emphasised, since its direful memories had much to do with the
inextinguishable hatred that was felt for so many centuries, and to a
certain degree is still felt, by many Welshmen towards their Saxon
foes. It may fairly be assumed that the extirpation (though the term
is much too strong) of the native stock was most marked in the eastern
parts of Britain, and that as the tide of conquest swept westward its
results in this particular were much modified. But however great the
slaughter or however considerable the native element that was retained
upon the soil by its conquerors, it is quite certain that the influx
of British refugees into Wales throughout the sixth century must have
been very large. Among them, too, no doubt, went numbers of men and
women of learning, of piety, and sometimes perhaps even of wealth, for
one need not suppose that every Briton waited to be driven from his
home at the spear's point.

[Sidenote: Cynddylan at Uriconium and Shrewsbury.]

A fierce onslaught in great force brought the invaders to the walls of
the Roman-British city of Uriconium, where Cynddylan, Prince of Powys,
with all the power of Central Wales, made a vain but gallant effort to
arrest the ruin:

    Cynddylan with heart like the ice of winter.
    Cynddylan with heart like the fire of spring.

He and his brothers were at length all slain, and his armies routed.
Uriconium or Tren was sacked, and higher up the valley the royal
palace at Pengwern, as Shrewsbury was then called, was destroyed.

These terrible scenes are described for us by Llywarch Hên, one of the
earliest British bards, himself an actor in them, who thus laments
over the wreck of Pengwern:

    "The Hall of Cynddylan is dark
    To-night, without fire, without bed;
    I'll weep awhile, afterwards I shall be silent.

    "The Hall of Cynddylan is gloomy
    To-night, without fire, without songs;
    Tears are running down my cheeks.

    "The Hall of Cynddylan, it pierces my heart
    To see it roofless, fireless;
    Dead is my chief, yet I am living."

or again, on the destruction of Tren:

    "The eagle of Pengwern screamed aloud to-night
    For the blood of men he watched;
    Tren may indeed be called a ruined town.

    "Slain were my comrades all at once
    Cynan, Cynddylan, Cyncraith,
    Defending Tren the wasted city."

In a few years the Saxons were beaten back, and Pengwern, with the
surrounding country, once more became British, and remained so till
the days of Offa, King of Mercia.

[Sidenote: Augustine and the Welsh bishops, 601.]

By the close of the sixth century Christianity had been introduced by
Augustine into the south-eastern corner of England, and there is no
more suggestive scene in Welsh history than the famous meeting of the
great missionary with the Welsh bishops on the banks of the Severn. It
accentuates in a striking manner the cleavage between the Eastern or
the Latin Church, and that of the West and of the Welsh. Augustine,
about the year 601, fresh from his victories over paganism among the
Kentish Saxons, and having journeyed far through still heathen
regions, approaches these Western Christians with a kindly but
somewhat supercilious and superior air. The seven Welsh bishops--or
so-called bishops, for the full development of the office as
understood later was not yet completed--were ready waiting for him on
the banks of the lower Severn. They were a deputation of the Welsh
Church, and, seeming already to scent patronage in the air, were fully
prepared to resent any sign of it in the Roman missionary. The latter,
it appears, knew very little about the Western Church, with its roots
in Ireland, Armorica, and Gaul, and what he did know he did not like.

The arrogance of Augustine fully justified the Welshmen's suspicions,
and he still further roused their indignation by hinting that they
should take their instructions and receive their consecration from
Canterbury, as representing Rome. Coming from a man who appeared to
them but the missionary bishop of a handful of recently converted
barbarians, this was a little too much for ecclesiastics who had
behind them three or four centuries of Christianity, and knew nothing
whatever of the Latin Church. Augustine, too, spoke disparagingly of
their customs, and with particular severity of the absence of celibacy
in their Church. This must have touched them to the quick, seeing that
numbers of the offices and benefices in the Western Church were more
or less hereditary, and that even saintship was frequently a matter of
family, the tribal sentiment being predominant. All these things,
together with their difference in Easter observance and in shaving the
head, horrified Augustine, and he spoke so freely as to put all hope
of combination out of the question. Indeed, the Welsh divines were so
offended that they refused even to break bread beneath the same roof
as the Roman saint. At a second conference Augustine, seeing he had
gone too far, proposed that, even if they could not conform to each
other's customs, they should at least combine in efforts to convert
the rest of England. Such endeavours did not commend themselves in the
least to the Welshmen. Whatever missionary zeal may have existed among
Welsh churchmen it did not include the slightest anxiety about the
souls of the accursed conquerors of Britain, the ruthless ravagers and
destroyers of their once civilised and Christian country. It is
probable that Augustine did not realise the fierce hate of the
despoiled Celt towards the Saxon. At any rate his patience at length
gave way, and as a parting shot he in effect told the Welshmen that
since they shewed themselves so criminally careless about Saxons'
souls, they should of a surety feel the prick of Saxon spears. This
random threat, for it could have been nothing more, was strangely
fulfilled within a few years' time, when the victory of the pagan
Ethelfred at Chester, which sundered the Britons of Wales from those
of North-Western England, culminated in the sacking of Bangor Iscoed
and the slaughter of twelve hundred monks.

[Sidenote: 601.]

This futile conference of 601 marks the beginning of the long struggle
of the Welsh or Ancient British Church to keep clear of the authority
of Canterbury, and it lasted for some five hundred years. Till the
close of the eleventh century the bishops of the four Welsh dioceses
were, as a rule, consecrated by their own brethren. St. David's
perhaps took rank as "primus inter pares" for choice, but not of
necessity, for there was no recognised Welsh metropolitan. Ages
afterwards, when Canterbury had insidiously encroached upon these
privileges, the Welsh clergy were wont to soothe their wounded pride
by the assurance that this transfer of consecration had come about as
a matter of convenience rather than of right. Long, indeed, before the
final conquest of Welshmen by Edward the First, their Church had been
completely conquered, anomalous though such an inverted process seems,
by Norman bishops. A Welshman, though his sword might still win him
political recognition and respect, had little more chance of Church
preferment in the thirteenth century than he had in the eighteenth or
the first half of the nineteenth. As early indeed as 1180 that
clerical aristocrat of royal Welsh and noble Norman blood, Giraldus
Cambrensis, pertinently asks the same question which from generation
to generation and from reign to reign through the Hanoverian period
must have been on every native churchman's tongue in the Principality,
"Is it a crime to be a Welshman?"

[Sidenote: The Latin and British Churches.]

There is no occasion to enlarge upon the subtle methods by which the
Norman Church anticipated the Norman sword in Wales. Sleepless
industry no doubt was one. Another was the agency of the newer
monasteries, filled with Norman, English, and foreign monks and for
the most part devoted to the Latin Church. Persistent denial of the
validity of St. David's in the matter of consecration may in time,
too, like the continuous drip of water on a stone, have had its effect
upon the Welsh, even against their better judgment. On one occasion we
know that some of their princes and nobles, stung by what they
regarded as excessive exactions on the part of the Church, stooped so
far as to throw in the faces of their prelates the taunt that their
consecration was invalid. Such an attitude did not tend to lighten the
immense pressure which was exercised in favour of the supremacy of
Canterbury; and long before Welsh princes had begun to take orders
from Norman kings, Welsh bishops were seeking consecration from
Canterbury, unless indeed their thrones were already filled by Norman

[Sidenote: Divisions of Wales.]

It is not only the ecclesiastical but also the secular divisions of
Wales, that in a great measure date from these fifth and sixth
centuries. The three chief Kingdoms, or Principalities, into which the
country was apportioned, stand out from these days with consistent
clearness till they are gradually broken into fragments by the Norman
power: On the north was Gwynedd; in the centre, Powys; on the south,
Deheubarth or South Wales. As St. David's was the premier see of the
four Welsh dioceses, so Gwynedd was even more markedly the first among
the three Welsh Kingdoms. Its ruler, when a sufficiently strong man to
enforce it, had a recognised right to the title of "Pendragon" and the
lip homage of his brother princes. When a weak one, however, filled
the precarious throne, any attempt to exact even such an empty
tribute would have been a signal for a general outbreak.

Gwynedd included the present counties[1] of Flint, Anglesey,
Carnarvon, and most of Merioneth, together with the northern part of

    [1] The present counties of Wales were not in existence as such
    till after the final conquest by Edward I. Even then, as we shall
    see, only six were created; the larger part of the Principality
    retaining its feudal lordships until the reign of Henry VIII.
    There were ancient subdivisions of the three Welsh Kingdoms ruled
    over by petty Princes owing allegiance to their immediate
    overlord; and their names still survive in those of modern
    counties or districts. Ceredigion, for instance, remains as
    Cardigan, Morganwg as Glamorgan, while the vale of Edeyrnion and
    the county of Merioneth still preserve the memory of two sons of
    the conquering Cunedda. But the units of old Welsh delimitation
    were the "Cantrefs" and the "Commotes," which even to this day are
    often used for purposes of description, as well as occasionally
    for ecclesiastical and political divisions. Of Cantrefs there
    would be something like three to the modern county, while each
    "Cantref" again consisted of two "Commotes."

[Sidenote: Powys.]

Powys cannot be so readily defined in a line or two, but, roughly
speaking, it was a triangle or wedge driven through Central Wales to a
point on the sea, with a wide base resting on the English border, the
present county of Montgomery representing its chief bulk. Its capital
was Pengwern or Shrewsbury, till the eighth century, when Offa, King
of Mercia, enraged at the inroads of the Welsh, gathered together his
whole strength and thrust them permanently back from the plains of
Shropshire to the rampart of hills along whose crests he made the
famous Dyke that bears his name. Thenceforward Mathraval, and
subsequently Welshpool, became the abode of the Princes of Powys.

[Sidenote: Deheubarth.]

The Southern Kingdom, or Deheubarth, was also something of a triangle,
but reversely placed to that of Powys, its point lying on the English
border, and its broad base stretching along the Irish Sea from the
mouth of the Dovey to the capes of Pembroke.

Of these three divisions, Powys, as will be obvious even from the
brief and crude description of its boundaries here given, had the
greatest difficulty in holding its own against both Saxon and Norman.
South Wales, on the other hand, was the thorniest crown, for it
included to a greater degree than the others semi-independent
chieftains, such as those of Morganwg and Cardigan, who were inclined
to pay their tributes and their homage only when their overlord, who
held his Court at Dynevor on the Towy, was strong enough to enforce

[Sidenote: Warfare in Wales.]

Thus for nearly seven centuries there were separate sources of strife
in Wales, and three distinct classes of warfare. First there came the
meritorious defence of the country against Saxon, Dane, and Norman, in
which, upon the whole, there was much creditable unanimity. Secondly,
during the lulls from foreign invasion, there was almost constant
strife between North and South, Powys holding as it were the balance
of power between them. Lastly there were the purely provincial
quarrels, when heady chieftains fell out with their superiors, as a
form of entertainment to which South Wales, as I have already
remarked, was peculiarly prone.

[Sidenote: Roderic divides Wales, 877.]

But, after all, it is not quite accurate to give such emphasis to the
existence and definition of the three Kingdoms till the death of
Roderic the Great in 877. Several kings had essayed with varying
success to rule all Wales, but it was Roderic who with scanty
foresight finally divided the country between his three sons, laying
particular stress on the suzerainty of Gwynedd. The prevalent custom
of gavelkind worked admirably, no doubt, in private life among the
primitive Welsh, but when applied to principalities and to ambitious
and bloodthirsty princelings the effect was usually disastrous. To
mitigate the dangers of his unwise partition, Roderic ordained a
scheme which would have proved of undoubted excellence if the practice
had only been equal to the theory. This was to the effect that if any
two of the Princes of Wales quarrelled, all three were to meet in
conclave in the wild pass of Bwlch-y-Pawl, through which the present
rough road from Bala to Lake Vyrnwy painfully toils. Here they were to
settle their difficulties peacefully; and as it was presumed that only
two would be parties to the quarrel, the third was to act as arbiter.
For some centuries after this we know very well that the successive
rulers of the three Kingdoms drenched Wales in blood with their
quarrels, but no tradition remains of a single conference at this wild
spot among the hills, where the infant Vyrnwy plunges down through
heathery glens and woods of birch and oak to the most beautiful
artificial lake perhaps in Christendom.

[Sidenote: Cadvan.]

The sins of omission must of necessity be infinite in dealing with so
vast a subject in so compressed a space, and sins of omission, if not
confessed in detail, sometimes affect the accuracy of the whole.
Something, for instance, ought to be said of the pastoral character,
even in these early days, of all Wales, except perhaps Anglesey and
West Carnarvon; of the tribal organisation and the laws of gavelkind;
of the domestic and family nature of the Church, whose minor benefices
at any rate were largely hereditary, and whose traditions were
intensely averse to centralisation. Among other things to be noted,
too, is that Cadvan, who flourished in the seventh century, is
generally regarded as the first genuine King of Wales, just as
Roderic, nearly three hundred years later, was the great

[Sidenote: 815. Saxons conquer Cornwall.]

Another important date is that of 815, when a Saxon victory in
Cornwall destroyed the last vestige of British independence in
England. For hitherto the Britons of Wales had by no means regarded
themselves as the mere defenders of the soil they occupied. Steeped in
the prophecies of Merlin and his contemporaries, which assured them of
the ultimate reconquest of the whole island of Britain, they still
cherished dreams which may seem to us by the light of history vain
enough, but in the opening of the ninth century they still fired the
fancy of a proud, romantic, and warlike race.

[Sidenote: Saxons made little way.]

Amid the conflicting evidence of rival chroniclers, Saxon and Welsh,
it is not often easy to select the victors in the long series of
bloody combats that continued throughout the centuries preceding the
Norman Conquest. Whatever victories the Saxons gained, they were not
much less barren than their defeats. Nominal conquests were sometimes
made of the more vulnerable districts, but they were not long
maintained. At the next upheaval such loose allegiance as had been
wrung from the provincial ruler was repudiated without a moment's
thought, and often indeed the Saxons beyond the border found
themselves in their turn fighting for hearth and home.

[Sidenote: The Danes, 890.]

In the ninth century the Danes appeared upon the scene. Though they
harried Wales from time to time, both in the interior and on the
coast, their doings in England were so incomparably more serious that
their Welsh exploits almost escape our notice. About the year 890,
Danish outposts were established beneath the Breiddon hills, that
noble gateway of mid-Wales, through which the Severn comes surging out
into the Shropshire plains. Hither four years later came that
formidable Danish leader, Hastings, with the Anglo-Danish forces of
East Anglia and the north behind him. King Alfred, who was in the
west, hastened to the scene and contributed to this strange spectacle
of Saxons and Cymry fighting side by side. A decisive victory at
Buttington, near Welshpool, rewarded their efforts, and though the
struggle between Dane and Saxon was of great service to Wales by
bringing a long immunity from the attacks of her hereditary foe, the
Danish name calls for little more notice in Welsh annals.

Seeing that vague dreams of reconquest still lingered among the Welsh,
England's difficulty, to apply a familiar modern aphorism, should
have been Cambria's opportunity. But readily as the three Welsh
Princes, when their common country was in danger, were accustomed to
combine, and efficiently as they raided in independent fashion across
the English border, cohesion for a serious aggressive movement was
almost hopeless. The moment that they were safe, they turned their
arms against each other. The whole history of Wales, from the days of
Roderic to those of Edward, with a few brief intervals, is one long
tale of bloody strife.

[Sidenote: No Saxon settlement.]

Nor were the Princes of Gwynedd, Powys, and Deheubarth always content
to fight their quarrels out alone. As time went on they grew more
accustomed to their Saxon neighbours, even if they did not love them
more. Occasional amenities became possible. Intermarriages between the
two aristocracies were not unknown, and when they had progressed thus
far a Prince of Powys would scarcely have been human if he had not
occasionally been tempted to call in Saxon aid against his powerful
rivals of Gwynedd or Deheubarth. But in spite of this dangerous game,
played often enough and in later Norman days so fatal, the soil of
Wales, so far as any serious occupation or dominion is implied,
remained inviolate throughout the whole Saxon period.

[Sidenote: Strathclyde Britons occupy the Vale of Clwyd.]

[Sidenote: Saxon settlement prevented by Strathclyde Britons.]

[Sidenote: Victory of Anarawd, 878.]

One very narrow escape from a permanent lodgment of Saxons, of which
the Welsh chronicle tells us, should not perhaps be passed over. It
occurred in the days when Anarawd, one of the sons of Roderic, was
ruling over North Wales, at the close of the ninth century. More than
a hundred years before, the Mercians, under Offa, had driven the Welsh
finally from Shropshire and pressed them back behind the famous Dyke,
whose clearly marked course still preserves the name of their warlike
monarch. The great Saxon victory on Rhuddlan March, at the mouth of
the Clwyd, had occurred soon afterwards, and the wail of the defeated
is still sounded in one of the most notable of Welsh airs. But Offa's
Dyke had been since then considerably overleaped, and the slaughter of
Rhuddlan had been long avenged. When the descendants of these same
Mercians poured once more into the pleasant country that lies upon the
north shore between Chester and the Conway, the invaders of the
"Perfeddwlad," as this region was then called (a term I shall use for
convenience throughout this chapter), proved too powerful for Anarawd.
He was driven back into Snowdonia and Anglesey, and the Saxons settled
down in the Vale of Clwyd and upon either side of it, with a
deliberation that, but for an opportune accident, would have probably
converted a large slice of North Wales into a piece of England for all
time. But just as the Strathclyde Britons in the days of Cunedda had
brought to Wales in the time of her need after the Roman departure a
valuable and warlike element, so their descendants, four centuries
later, came just in time to save what are now the Celtic districts of
Flint and northern Denbigh from becoming Saxon. These people, hard
pressed in north Lancashire, Cumberland, and even beyond, by Danes
and Saxons, decided to seek a new home, and their thoughts naturally
turned to Wales. They made overtures to Anarawd, begging that he would
grant them of his abundance sufficient territory for their needs. But
Anarawd's kingdom had, as we have seen, been sadly circumscribed, and
his homeless subjects from the east of the Conway were already on his
hands. A bright thought struck him, and he informed his Strathclyde
kinsmen that if they could reconquer the Perfeddwlad they were welcome
to it. Necessity, perhaps, nerved the arms of the wanderers, and the
Saxons, who, as Dr. Powell quaintly puts it, "were not yet warm in
their seats," were driven headlong out of Wales. The Mercians,
however, were not the kind of men to sit quietly down after such an
ignominious expulsion; they made vigorous preparations for taking
their revenge, and retrieving their fortunes and their honour. The
Strathclyde Britons sorely doubted their powers of resistance to the
great force which now threatened them, so, carrying all their cattle
and effects back again across the Conway, they begged Anarawd in his
own interest as well as in theirs to support them. The Prince of
Gwynedd rose nobly to the occasion and, joining all his forces to
those of his immigrant kinsmen, they met the returning Saxon invaders
near Conway, and in a pitched battle drove them back to the Dee with
prodigious slaughter, never to return. So the country between the two
rivers was preserved to the Cymric race and saved from becoming, as
for the moment looked extremely probable, another Cheshire or

Anarawd, however, could not rest content with his triumph over the
Saxons. As an illustration of the thirst for war that seems to have
been chronic with most of the Welsh Princes, it may be noted that,
with the Saxons vowing vengeance on his borders, he did not hesitate
to march into South Wales and make an unprovoked attack upon its
Prince, his own brother.

[Sidenote: Howel Dda, 940.]

But with the death of Anarawd and his brothers, various contingencies,
which need not detain us here, made Howel Dda, or Howel the Good, both
the heir and the acceptable ruler of all three provinces. His reign
was unique in Welsh annals, for it was not only long, but almost
peaceful. This excellent Prince turned his brilliant talents and force
of character almost entirely to the civil and moral elevation of his
people. He drew up his famous code of laws, which, as is sometimes
asserted, unconsciously influence the legal instincts of remoter Wales
even to this day. In the preparation of this great work he summoned
his bishops and nobility and wise men to meet him at Ty Gwyn on the
Towy, for it should be noted that this ruler of a temporarily united
Wales was in the first instance Prince of Deheubarth.

[Sidenote: The laws of Howel Dda enacted.]

Here this select assembly spent the whole of Lent, fasting and praying
for the Divine aid in their approaching task. Howel then picked out
from among them the twelve most capable persons, with the Chancellor
of Llandaff at their head, and proceeded to examine in exhaustive
fashion all the laws of the Cymry. Of these they eliminated the bad,
retained the good, and amended others to suit present requirements.
This new code was then ratified by the entire assembly before it
dispersed. Three copies were made, and it is significant of the change
already creeping over the Welsh Church, that Howel and his four
bishops are said to have journeyed to Rome and submitted one of them
to the Pope for his approval. The Laws of Howel Dda may be read to-day
by anyone with access to a reference library. The rights of every
class of person are herein clearly set forth, and the precise value of
each man's life according to his rank, and of every animal's hide and
carcase accurately defined. The tribal sanctity of land, too, is well
illustrated by a law forbidding the owner of an estate to mortgage it
to anyone but a kinsman. Books, harps, swords, and implements of
livelihood were exempted from distraint, while among livestock horses
were placed in the same category, as being necessary for defence.
Suits in connection with land could not be heard between February and
May, or between May and August, since these were the periods of
seed-time and harvest, while all cases touching inheritance were to be
heard by the King himself. The latter is pictured to us as sitting in
his judicial chair above the rest of the Court, with an Elder upon
either hand and the freeholders ranged upon his right and left.
Immediately below the King sat the Chief Justice of the Province, with
a priest upon one side of him and the Judge of the Commote upon the

[Sidenote: Value of articles fixed by Howel Dda.]

After hearing witnesses and taking depositions, the two judges and the
priest retired to consider the verdict. This done, the King took
counsel with them, and, if he agreed, delivered judgment himself. If
the case was too involved, however, for a satisfactory decision, the
matter was settled by the simple expedient of single combat. A fixed
price, as I have remarked, was set upon almost everything, both living
and inanimate. One is surprised, for instance, to find an apple tree
worth 60_d._, and a tree planted for shelter worth 24_d._, while a
coracle is only worth 8_d._ A salmon net is appraised at just double
the last amount, while a spade, again, is rated at a penny only.
Though the skin of an ox or hart is fixed at 8_d._ the near extinction
of the beaver is significantly shewn by its value of 120_d._ Dogs,
too, vary most curiously on the list. A common cur is held at 4_d._, a
shepherd dog at 60_d._, and the best sporting dogs at four times the
latter sum. There is special mention, too, of chargers, hunters,
roadsters, pack-horses, and draught-horses for carts and harrows.
Horses are not to be broken till their third year; while three rides
through a crowd is the legal test of "warranted broken." Cows and
mares, too, are prohibited from ploughing. We learn also in this
singular price-list the current value, among other things, of a
battle-axe, a bow with twelve arrows, a white-hilted sword, a shield
enamelled with blue and gold; of plaids, too, striped and chequered
stuffs, mantles trimmed with fur, robes, coats, hose, buskins, shoes,
gloves, caps, bonnets, girdles, and buckles.

There are stringent laws against cruelty to animals and in favour of
hospitality. Game laws existed of the strictest kind, classifying
every animal of the chase and dealing with the management of hounds,
and the etiquette of hunting. For their ardour in these pursuits, the
Welsh were distinguished among nations, not being surpassed even by
the Normans themselves.

The customs obtaining in the royal household are tabulated in Howel
Dda's code with extraordinary minuteness, and the duties of every
official, from highest to lowest, strictly defined; from the Chaplain,
Steward, Judge, and Master of the Horse down to the porter and
birdkeeper. The perquisites, it may be noted, of the Master of the
Horse are all colts under two years old, taken in war, and all gold
and silver spurs thus acquired; those of the porter, every billet of
wood he could snatch from a passing load, with one hand, as he held
the gate with the other, and any swine out of a herd that he could
lift breast high by its bristles only!

Of the bards there is so much to be said elsewhere that we need only
remark here that the duties of the Bardd Teulu, or Poet Laureate, were
to follow the army and sing the "Unbennaeth Prydain" or "Monarchy of
Britain" before, and if triumphant after, the battle; to perform at
all times before the Court, and also privately to the Queen, only in
so low a tone as not to disturb the King and his courtiers. This
illustrious functionary was valued at 126 cows.

A remarkable official was the "Crier of Silence," who beat a
particular pillar in the great hall with a rod when the noise became
excessive, and had for his perquisites the fines that were exacted for
any such undue boisterousness. Strangest by far of all was the King's
"footholder," whose duty it was to sit under the table at meals and
nurse his Majesty's foot, and to "scratch it when required."

Nor can we forget the "Pencerdd," the Chief of Song, who was of
popular election and presided at the Bardic Gorsedd held every third
year, and held only at Aberffraw in Anglesey, the royal residence of
Gwynedd; for the Eisteddfodau were held by all the Welsh Princes
apparently at will. The Pencerdd was expected to know by heart the
prophetic song of Taliesin. He lodged in the quarters of the heir
apparent, and was presented by the King with a harp and key.

[Sidenote: Renewed conflicts, 950.]

Howel the Good died about 950. With the divisions and disputes of his
sons and nephews Wales quickly lost its unanimity, and once more the
flame of war was lit from one end of the country to the other by these
foolish broilers, in attempts to despoil each other of their
respective portions. The question was at length settled for a while by
a great battle at Llanrwst, where the men of North Wales utterly
discomfited those of the South, pursuing them with fire and sword far
beyond the northern boundaries of Deheubarth.

[Sidenote: Growing intercourse between Welsh and Saxon.]

[Sidenote: Eadgar rowed by Welsh Princes on the Dee.]

Towards the close of the tenth century we begin to get glimpses of
those amenities between Cymry and Saxon, which a now common religion,
a common foe in the Danes, and considerable private intercourse, had
rendered inevitable. We find King Eadgar himself, for instance, at
Bangor, helping Iago ap Idwal, Prince of Gwynedd, against his nephew
Howel ap Ievan. Everything, however, being amicably arranged, the
Saxon King actually remains in friendly fashion at Bangor, and bestows
gifts and endowments upon its see. Finally the two recent disputants
return with Eadgar to Chester, and take an oar in that celebrated crew
of kinglets which rowed the Saxon monarch upon the Dee. Gwaithvoed,
Prince of Powys, who was invited to assist in this somewhat inglorious
procession, seems to have been the only one of the Welsh _Reguli_ who
refused the honour. "Tell the King," said Gwaithvoed, "I cannot row a
barge, and if I could, I would not do so, except to save a life,
whether king's or vassal's." On being pressed by a second messenger
from Eadgar, his brief answer was: "Say to the King, 'Fear him who
fears not death.'"

It is not easy to define the precise attitude of the Welsh Princes
towards the King of England as the Saxon period drew towards its
close. Though the ancient Britons had become crystallised into
Welshmen, the old tradition of the island as a whole with an "Emperor"
in London, and a general scheme of defence against foreign foes, was
not yet dead. The Saxons, though little loved, had become an accepted
fact, and there seems to have been no particular reluctance among the
Welsh princes to pay lip homage, when relationships were not too
strained, to the "King in London," and tribute, too, as representing
the ancient contribution to "the defence of the island."

[Sidenote: Llewelyn I., 1000.]

For the last hundred years prior to the Norman conquest, one follows
the bloody path of Welsh history in vain efforts to find some
breathing space, wherein rulers turned their attention to something
besides the lust of power and the thirst for glory. It was about the
year 1000 when the first of the three Llewelyns succeeded to the
throne of North Wales. Under a King whose title was absolutely
indisputable, and who possessed some force of character, it seemed as
if the sword was now for a season, at any rate, to remain undrawn. But
it was not to be; for in no long time the throne of South Wales fell
vacant, and there was, unhappily, no direct heir. So the nobles of the
Province, fearing, and with some reason, that Llewelyn would seize the
opportunity to attach the Southern Kingdom to his other dominions,
brought forward a creature of their own, a low-born adventurer, who
claimed to be of the royal lineage. This precipitated the catastrophe
which it was designed to prevent, and Llewelyn fell upon Deheubarth
with the whole force of Gwynedd. The fight lasted through a whole day,
and the slaughter was immense, but the Northerners again prevailed.

[Sidenote: Griffith ap Llewelyn.]

But there were also years of peace under Llewelyn ap Seisyllt, and of
conspicuous prosperity, so the chronicler tells us, in which "the
earth brought forth double, the people prospered in all their affairs,
and multiplied wonderfully. The cattle increased in great numbers, so
that there was not a poor man in Wales from the south to the north
sea, but every man had plenty, every house a dweller, every town
inhabited." Llewelyn fell ultimately before Carmarthen, and his throne
was seized by Iago ap Idwal, a collateral relative. He in turn was
quickly overthrown and slain by Llewelyn's warlike son Griffith, who
enjoyed what from a purely military point of view might be called a
successful reign.

The Danes at this time began again to make attacks on Wales, but were
defeated in Anglesey, and again in the Severn valley.

[Sidenote: Griffith ap Llewelyn attacks South Wales.]

Flushed with victory, and without a particle of excuse, Griffith now
turned upon South Wales, ravaged it with fire and sword, and drove out
its new Prince, Howel ap Edwy. Howel, however, came back with an army
of Danes and Saxons, so had times changed in Wales, but only to meet
with disaster and defeat at the hands of the vigorous Griffith. Yet
again the indomitable Howel returned with a fresh army to try his
luck, and so certain was he this time of victory that he brought his
wife to witness it. But again disaster overtook him, and his wife,
instead of sharing his triumph, was carried off to share his
conqueror's bed.

Thus rolls on the tumult and the turmoil of the old Welsh story. The
wonder is when and how the laws of the wise and peaceful Howel Dda
found scope for application, and we can only suppose that the partial
nature of these fierce struggles atoned in some measure for their
continuity. Yet through all this devastation Church property, of
which there was now a considerable amount and of a tangible kind,
seems to have been well respected. The Danes alone were regardless of
shrines and monasteries; and we hear of them at St. David's and
Llanbadarn and other sacred spots along the seacoast doing wild work.

[Sidenote: 1040.]

[Sidenote: Harold and Griffith.]

The twenty years preceding the battle of Hastings were busy years in
Wales, and the foremost name of that epoch in England came to be
perhaps more dreaded among the native Welsh than that of any other
Saxon since the days of Offa. But Harold, Earl of the West Saxons and
commander of the English armies, got much deeper into Wales than Offa
had ever succeeded in doing, and indeed came much nearer than any of
his predecessors to a conquest of the country. Griffith ap Llewelyn,
Prince of Gwynedd by right, and of all Wales by force, was, as we have
seen, no mean soldier. He was Harold's adversary, and the last Welsh
Prince to face the Saxon power. This, the final quarrel of five
centuries of strife, was, for a wonder, not of Griffith's seeking.

We have seen how greatly modified the cleavage between the two peoples
had by now become. Intermarriages had taken place in the higher ranks,
alliances had been formed, and Saxon influences in matters such as
land tenure and Church government had been sensibly felt beyond the
Severn and the Dee. So now, while the shadow of the Norman invasion
was hanging over unconscious England, Algar, Earl of Chester, falling
out with King Edward, did nothing particularly unusual when he fled
to the warlike son of the first Llewelyn, and tried to embroil him in
his quarrel. Griffith was peacefully hunting at his second residence
at Aber near Bangor, and had indeed made good use of a few years of
peace, but he was not the man to turn a deaf ear to any prospect of a
fight. The upshot was a very serious war, in which Griffith and his
ally were for a long time singularly successful. They defeated Edwin
of Mercia in a great battle near Welshpool; they afterwards took
Hereford, won a victory at Leominster, and penetrated as far as

[Sidenote: Harold in Wales.]

[Sidenote: Death of Griffith, 1061.]

A brief truce ensued with Harold, who had been opposing them, and then
the struggle began afresh. The tables were now completely turned.
Harold's memorable invasion of Wales took place, in which he was
assisted to success by the many enemies Griffith had made in his
high-handed annexation of Deheubarth. The Welsh Prince, after a
stirring reign of thirty-four years, perished during this campaign of
1061 at the hand of a hired assassin. His head, like that of many
another Welsh leader, was sent across the border in a basket, and
received at Gloucester by Harold with much demonstrative satisfaction.
The latter, in the meantime, had marched to the Conway, and afterwards
through South Wales. He had been victorious everywhere; and now
nominated fresh rulers to the vacant thrones of Gwynedd and
Deheubarth, under promise of vassalage to the English Crown.

The tenure of the three Welsh Princes was always complicated and,
indeed, liable to fluctuation with the balance of power, both in Wales
and across the border. In theory, Powys and South Wales owed lip
homage and a nominal tribute to the Prince of Gwynedd as "Pendragon."
The latter, on behalf of Wales, owed a similar service to the King of
England and, as I have mentioned before, was not inclined to dispute
it so long as his independence was respected. Harold's so-called
conquest only altered matters to the extent of making the three Welsh
provinces theoretically equal and individually vassals of the English
Crown. This paper arrangement would have probably remained a dead
letter or would have been maintained just so long as there was an arm
strong enough to maintain it. But a people were coming to eliminate
the Saxon as an aggressive power, and to take his place,--a people who
would not be satisfied with lip homage and occasional tribute.

[Sidenote: 1066. Welsh and Normans.]

The great struggle in England between Norman and Saxon seemed by the
mere force of contagion to set the Welsh Princes once more by the
ears. Some of them, however, in accordance with their generous
tradition of loyalty to the soil of the Britain they had lost, joined
the West Saxons in their resistance to this new and formidable foe.
Others essayed to make use in their domestic quarrels of the crafty
Norman, who was only too glad to get a finger so cheaply into the
Welsh pie.

The followers of William of Normandy, indeed, lost no time in turning
their attention to Wales. Within ten years of the battle of
Hastings,--almost immediately, that is to say, after the completion of
the conquest of England,--they began their marauding expeditions
across the border, and were not unnaturally surprised at finding
themselves confronted by a people so entirely different from those
they had just subdued. But these initial successes taught the Welsh
nothing, and they still continued their fatal internecine strife.

[Sidenote: The Normans in Wales.]

The first serious lodgments of the Normans were made at Montgomery,
where a baron of that name built the castle, whose fragments still
look down from their rocky throne upon the windings of the upper
Severn. Rhuddlan, at the mouth of the Clwyd, the site of an even then
ancient fortress, was next occupied and strengthened. Flushed with
their easy conquest of England, the Normans had already begun to
regard Wales as if it also belonged to them; and still the quarrelsome
Welsh chieftains continued to engage these formidable new-comers in
their disputes. At Chester, Hugh Lupus, its Earl of famous memory, and
the nephew of the Conqueror, held in secure confinement the person of
the Prince of Gwynedd whom he had seized by treachery. He then
proceeded to farm out the realm of the captive prince, but as he only
received £40 as rental the sum is more eloquent than any words would
be to express the nature of the hold he had won over it. It is more
than likely the contractors had a bad bargain even at that figure.

[Sidenote: Lupus, Earl of Chester, invades North Wales, 1075.]

In the conspiracy of 1075, when William was on the continent, many of
the Welsh nobles joined, and had consequently their share of the
hanging and mutilating that followed its discovery. Lupus, however,
marched an army through the North and built or rebuilt castles at
Bangor, Carnarvon, and Anglesey. He was closely followed by the
Conqueror himself, who with a large force proceeded with little
apparent opposition through the turbulent South, received the homage
of its king, Rhys ap Tudor, and its petty Princes, and then repaired
with great pomp to the cathedral of St. David's, at whose altar he
offered costly gifts. This kind of triumphal progress, as the Saxons
well knew, though the Normans had yet to learn the fact, did not mean
the conquest of Wales. King William in this single campaign seems to
have imbibed some respect for Welshmen, for he spoke of them on his
death-bed as a people with whom he had "held perilous conflicts."

Infinitely more dangerous to Welsh liberty was the experiment next
tried by a native Prince of acquiring Norman aid at the expense of
territory. The story of the conquest and settlement of Glamorgan is
such a luminous and significant incident in Welsh history, and was of
such great future importance, that it must be briefly related.

[Sidenote: Norman settlement in Glamorgan.]

[Sidenote: 1091.]

The present county of Glamorgan was represented, roughly speaking, in
ancient Wales by the subkingdom, or, to use a more appropriate term,
the lordship of Morganwg. It had acquired its name in the ninth
century through the martial deeds of its then proprietor, "Morgan
Fawr," or "Morgan the Great." Morganwg, though part of Deheubarth,
was at times strong enough to claim something like independence, and
indeed the uncertain relationships of the smaller chieftains of South
Wales to their overlord at Dynevor may well be the despair of any one
attempting to combine tolerable accuracy with unavoidable brevity. But
these remarks are only relevant for the purpose of emphasising the
comparative importance at all times in Wales of the country we call
Glamorgan; and this was due not only to its size and to its seacoast,
but to its comparative smoothness and fertility. In the year 1091, in
the reign of William Rufus, one Iestyn, a descendant of Morgan the
Great, was ruling over Glamorgan, and as he was upon anything but
friendly terms with his feudal superior, Rhys ap Tudor, Prince of
South Wales, he bethought him of calling in alien aid, a habit then
growing lamentably common among Welsh chieftains.

[Sidenote: Iestyn and Einion.]

[Sidenote: Fitzhamon.]

[Sidenote: William Rufus and Wales.]

[Sidenote: Marriages with Normans.]

[Sidenote: Turberville at Coity.]

The Saxons had ceased to exist as a military power, and the Normans
stood in their shoes. Iestyn knew nothing of Normans, but he had a
friend named Einion who was reputed to have had much experience with
them. To Einion, then, he repaired and promised him his daughter's
hand, which presumably carried with it something substantial, if he
would bring a band of Normans to his assistance in his dispute with
Rhys. Einion consented to be his intermediary and without much
difficulty secured the services of Robert Fitzhamon and twelve
knightly adventurers who served under him. The Normans in due course
arrived and rendered Iestyn invaluable assistance in resisting his
lawful sovereign. They then, so runs the chronicle, having received
their pay, quite contrary to Norman custom peacefully re-embarked at
Cardiff and weighed anchor for home. But Iestyn, before they had well
cleared the harbour, was injudicious enough to repudiate the promise
of his daughter to Einion, whereupon the exasperated princeling put to
sea, interviewed Fitzhamon, and persuaded him to return with his
friends and his forces and eject the faithless Iestyn from his rich
territory. One may well believe it did not take much to win over the
Normans to so attractive and congenial an undertaking. At any rate
they reversed their course with much alacrity, returned to Cardiff,
ejected Iestyn, and after some fighting, assisted by Einion's people,
divided the province among themselves, each building one or more great
castles, whose ruins are notable features in Glamorganshire scenery
to-day. The blood of Fitzhamon's knightly followers courses in the
veins of many an ancient family of South Wales, and one of them at
least is still directly represented in name as well as lineage. This
conquest must be placed among the earliest in Wales, and it became the
type of many future Norman settlements, though it was the outcome of
an incident, while the others were for the most part deliberately
planned. The reign of Rufus was memorable for these filibustering
expeditions. They were executed under the sanction of the King, who
found in them a cheap method of granting favours to his barons,
particularly those who had perhaps not come out so well as they could
have wished in the partition of England. They might, in short, take of
Wales as much as they could keep, subject only to holding what they
acquired as feudatories of the King. There will be more to say about
these Marcher barons later on. In the meantime, Brecheiniog, or
Brecon, had been also conquered by another Norman, Bernard de
Newmarch, with a similar band of followers, and secured by a similar
system of castle building. Montgomery and other points in North and
South Wales had been occupied, but they were for the most part purely
military outposts. The occupation of Brecon and Glamorgan by a Norman
aristocracy is a salient and permanent factor in Welsh history. This
does not, however, imply that such filibustering barons were allowed
to settle quietly down in their seats. Before the end of the reign,
indeed, they were driven out, and William Rufus himself, who marched
through Wales more or less upon their behalf, had, after all, to
retire discomfited: but they were soon back again. It was not wholly
by brute force that they held their own. Life would hardly have been
worth living upon such terms, and as a matter of fact, so far as one
can read between the lines of these old chronicles, there does not
seem to have been at first the same antipathy between Norman and
Welshman as had formerly existed between Saxon and Welshman. Marriages
carrying Welsh property with them seem to have been readily arranged.
A singular and romantic instance of this was in the matter of Coity
Castle, whose ruined walls still hold together near Bridgend, and of
the Turbervilles who even yet, after all these centuries, retain their
name and position in Glamorganshire. For Paine Turberville, one of
Fitzhamon's twelve knights, having been by some mischance forgotten in
the distribution of land, inquired of his chief where he was to look
for his reward. "Here are arms and here are men," replied Fitzhamon;
"go get it where you can." So Turberville went to Coity, which was
still unconquered, and summoned Morgan, the Welsh lord, to surrender
it into his hands. Whereupon Morgan came out leading his daughter, and
passing through the army, with his sword in his right hand, came to
Paine Turberville, and told him that if he would marry his daughter,
and so come like an honest man into his castle, he would yield it to
him; but if not, said he, "let not the blood of any of our men be
lost, but let this sword and arm of mine and those of yours decide who
shall call this castle his own." Upon that Paine Turberville drew his
sword, took it by the blade in his left hand and gave it to Morgan,
and with his right hand embraced his daughter. After settling matters
to the satisfaction of all parties he went to church and married her,
and so came to the lordship by true right of possession; and by the
advice of his father-in-law kept under his command two thousand of the
best of his Welsh soldiers.

Turberville, having now achieved so secure a position without the aid
of Fitzhamon, very naturally refused to pay him tribute or own him as
his overlord, but voluntarily recognised Caradoc, the son of the
dispossessed Iestyn, as his chief. This caused unpleasantness, but
Turberville, with his two thousand Welshmen and his father-in-law's
help, was too strong for Fitzhamon, and he had his way. It must not,
however, be supposed that these martial settlers as a class by any
means followed the example of the later Norman adventurers in Ireland,
and became "more Welsh than the Welsh themselves." They were too near
their King, at whose will they held their lands, and not far enough
removed from the centre of Anglo-Norman life, to throw off its
interests and lose touch with their connections. Nevertheless the
confusion of authority in South and Mid-Wales increased considerably
as time went on; for not only did Norman barons marry Welsh heiresses,
but occasionally a Welsh chieftain would win back a Norman-Welsh
lordship by marriage, and present the anomalous spectacle of a
Welshman holding Welsh land as a direct vassal of the King of England
in entire independence of his district Prince. But these occasional
amenities among the higher aristocracy but little affected the mass of
the Welsh people, who stood aloof with lowering and uncompromising

[Sidenote: Welsh and Norman.]

It was this intolerance of foreigners, bred in the bone and blood of
Welshmen, or this excessive patriotism, call it what you will, that
made possible their long and heroic resistance to the Norman yoke, and
for so long upheld the tottering thrones of their not always honest,
and always quarrelsome, Princes. They hugged their pedigrees and
cherished their bards, who in turn played with tireless energy upon
the chords of national sentiment and martial memories. No transfer of
land to Normans, whether due to the sword or to more peaceful methods,
was regarded as otherwise than temporary. As in parts of Ireland at
the present day, generations of occupation by an alien stock commanded
no respect beyond what belonged to the force of ownership. The
original owners might be long extinct in fact, but in the mind they
were the owners still. The Anglo-Saxon has a short memory; and is
practical even in matters of sentiment. Four or five generations are
sufficient to eliminate the memory of the humble or alien origin of
the _parvenu_, and are quite enough to fill his cup of social
reverence to the brim; perhaps fortunately so. The Celt, and
particularly the Welsh Celt, is fashioned differently. With him the
interloper remained an interloper far beyond his children's children,
and this mental attitude had much to do with the facility with which a
popular leader could at all times stir up strife in Wales, whatever
might be the odds against success.

We have seen, then, the first wedge of alien occupation driven into
this hitherto virgin refuge of the ancient British stock. For we must
remember that, in spite of continual warfare, the Saxons had made no
impression calling for notice in a brief survey like this. We must
remember, also, that the Norman settlements were wholly military. The
followers that came with these adventurers were just sufficient to
garrison their castles. They were but handfuls, and lived within or
under the protection of the Norman fortress: their influence upon the
blood of the country may, I think, be put aside with certain
reservations, as scarcely worth considering.

[Sidenote: 1105. Pembroke and the Flemings.]

The severance of half the present county of Pembroke from Wales in the
reign of Henry the First must by no means be passed over if one is to
get a proper idea of what was meant by Wales at the time when this
story opens. It was in this King's reign that a large body of Flemings
were flooded out in the Low Countries by a great inundation, and
despairing of finding a fresh home in their own crowded fatherland,
they applied to the King of England to allot them territory out of his
presumed abundance.[2] In their appeal the King saw another means of
putting a bridle on the Welsh, at no expense to himself, to say
nothing of the advantage of posing as a philanthropist. He granted
therefore to the Flemings just so much of the south-western promontory
of Wales as they could hold and conquer, together with the peninsula
of Gower, which juts out from the coast of modern Glamorgan. Pembroke
was the more important and populous colony of the two. The native
inhabitants, it may be presumed, were few in the twelfth century; at
any rate the Flemings had no difficulty in driving them inland and
forming a permanent settlement. There was no assimilation with the
natives; they were completely pushed back, and in a short time Normans
came to the assistance of the Flemings. The great castles of
Pembroke, Manorbier, Haverford-west, and Tenby were built, and
speaking broadly the south-western half of the modern county of
Pembroke became as Teutonic, and in time as English, as Wiltshire or
Suffolk. Continual fighting went on between the native Welsh and the
intruders, keeping alive the animosity between the two races and
laying the seeds of that remarkable cleavage which makes the county of
Pembroke present to-day an ethnological curiosity without a parallel
in the United Kingdom.

    [2] Some accounts say that Henry first received them in England,
    but got uneasy at the number which accumulated there and ordered
    them all into south-west Wales. Small lodgments of Normans and
    other aliens would seem to have preceded the Flemings.

    [Illustration: CAREW CASTLE.

The Flemings, as English subjects and constantly reinforced by English
arrivals, lost in time their nationality and their language, and
became as thoroughly Anglo-Saxon as the most fervent Salopian or the
most stolid Wiltshireman. They remain so, in a great measure, to this
very day. Intermixture with the Celtic and Welsh-speaking part of the
county has been rare. The isolated position of further Pembrokeshire
makes this anomaly still more peculiar, cut off as it is from England
by nearly a hundred miles of Welsh territory, and more particularly
when the fact is remembered that for centuries there has been no
religious or political friction to keep these two communities of a
remote countryside apart. Somewhat parallel conditions in Derry or
Donegal, though of much more recent origin, are far more explicable
owing to the civil strife and religious hatred which are or have been
rife there. Even so the mixture of Scotch-Irish Protestants with
Celtic Catholics has, I fancy, been much greater in Ireland than that
of the Anglo-Fleming Protestants of further Pembroke and of Gower
with their Welsh neighbours of the same faith "beyond the Rubicon" in
the same counties.

These conquests may, however, be regarded as constituting for some
time the extent of solid Norman occupation. The story of Wales is one
long tale of continuous attempts by Norman barons on the territory of
the Welsh Princes, varied by the serious invasions of English Kings,
which were undertaken either directly or indirectly on behalf of their
Norman-Welsh vassals. Upon the whole but slow headway was made.
Anglo-Norman successes and acquisitions were frequently wiped out, for
the time at any rate, by the unconquerable tenacity of the Welsh
people, while every now and again some great warrior arose who rolled
the whole tide of alien conquest, save always further Pembroke, back
again pell-mell across the border, and restored Wales, panting,
harried, and bloody, to the limits within which William the Norman
found it.

[Sidenote: 1156.]

[Sidenote: Henry II. and Owen Gwynedd.]

One of these heroic leaders was Owen ap Griffith, Prince of Gwynedd,
who arose in the time of Henry II. of England. Not only did he clear
North Wales of Normans, but he so ruthlessly harried Cheshire and the
Marches, and so frightened the Prince of Powys that the latter joined
the Norman-Welsh nobles in a petition to the King of England begging
him to come up in all haste with a strong force to their aid. Henry,
under whom England was rapidly recovering strength and cohesion, now
essayed that profitless and thorny path of Welsh invasion, which his
predecessors, Norman and Saxon, had so often trodden, and his
successors were so often and so vainly to tread.

[Sidenote: Henry II. defeated by Owen Gwynedd.]

[Sidenote: Rhys ap Griffith.]

[Sidenote: Henry II. again in Wales, 1166.]

[Sidenote: Battle of Crogen.]

[Sidenote: Henry returns to England.]

He marched with a large army to Chester and, being there joined by the
Prince of Powys and the Norman-Welsh barons, encamped on Saltney
Marsh. Owen with the forces of North Wales had come out to meet him as
far as Basingwerk, and as the vanguard of the royal army advanced
against the Welsh through the wooded defile of Coed Eulo the sons of
Owen fell suddenly upon it, and with great slaughter rolled it back
upon the main force. The King, then taking the seashore route, made
head for Rhuddlan at the mouth of the Clwyd. But near Flint, in
another narrow pass, he met with even a worse disaster. For here his
vanguard was again attacked, many of his knights and nobles slain, his
standard overthrown, and he himself in danger of his life. Eventually
he reached Rhuddlan, garrisoned it, came to terms with Owen, and went
home again. But there were two fierce and uncontrollable Princes now
in Wales: Owen himself, "Eryr Eryrod Eryri"--the "Eagle of the Eagles
of Snowdon"--and Rhys ap Griffith, the scarcely less warlike ruler of
South Wales. The period was one of continuous conflict in Wales and on
the border, and it ended in something like a national movement against
all the centres of Norman power, both royal and baronial, that were
sprinkled over the country. This was in 1165, and Henry, vowing
vengeance, advanced once more to the Welsh border. He had learnt
wisdom, however, in his former campaign, and moved cautiously to
Rhuddlan in order to make a preliminary investigation of the state of
affairs. It was evident that nothing but a great effort would be of
any avail; so returning to England he gathered a large army and sat
down at Chester. In the meantime Owen Gwynedd as suzerain or Pendragon
of Wales, with Rhys, Prince of Deheubarth, and even the two Princes of
vacillating Powysland, which had recently been split in half, and in
fact with the whole strength of the Cymry, raised the dragon standard
at Corwen on the Dee. The two armies met eventually upon the banks of
the Ceiriog, just beneath the hill where the Castle of Chirk, then
called Crogen,[3] now lifts its storied towers. The slopes of the
Welsh mountains, even to Snowdon itself, were in those days sprinkled
freely, if not thickly clad, with timber, and a feature of this
expedition was some two thousand woodcutters employed to open the
country for Henry's army and secure it against those ambuscades in
which the Welsh were so terribly proficient. But Owen Gwynedd came
down from the Berwyns this time to meet his foe and, as I have said, a
long and fierce battle was waged in the deep valley of the Ceiriog.
The Welsh were in the end forced to retreat, and recrossing the Berwyn
they took post again at Corwen, and, as tradition has it, on the lofty
British camp at Caer Drewyn on the north bank of the Dee. Henry
followed and sat down with his army on the high ridge of the
Berwyn, above Pen-y-pigin, the river flowing through what was then no
doubt a swampy valley between the two positions. It was the old story,
a wearisome enough one in the long strife between England and Wales.
Henry dared not advance in the face of the difficult country before
him and the Welshmen's superiority in hill and woodland fighting.
Moreover his provisions had run out, and to make matters worse the
weather broke up, so there was nothing to be done but to march his
great army home again. The Welsh Princes now attacked and destroyed
many of the King's castles in the North, and on the border recovered
Flint or Tegengle, which Henry had nominally annexed, and in the South
sorely pressed the Norman barons in Glamorgan, Brecon, and Gwent. But
the old madness of greed and jealousy which in Welsh Princes seemed
inseparable from success, now took possession of Rhys and Owen; they
turned on their late allies of Powys, fickle ones, no doubt, and
divided their inheritance between them.

    [3] This was a Welsh fortress on or near the site of the present
    castle, whose origin will be spoken of in another chapter.

      W. Davis.]

[Sidenote: Howel ap Owen Gwynedd.]

As for Owen Gwynedd, we must leave him and his deeds to the fame
which, wherever Welshmen congregate, endures for ever, and pass on to
a brief mention of his son Howel, who has earned immortality in a
curiously different field. Amid the passions and storms of that fierce
age in Wales, it is strange enough, not to find a poet-Prince, but to
find one singing in such strains as did Howel ap Owen Gwynedd. Warlike
ballads are readily conceivable in such an atmosphere as that in
which Howel lived, and of war and hunting he wrote. But he also wrote
sonnets, many of which are extant, to the yellow bloom of the furze,
the blossoms of the apple tree, the laugh of his bright-eyed sister,
to fields of tender trefoil, and to nightingales singing in privet
groves. He shared the fate of so many Welsh Princes and fell by the
dagger, the assassins being his half-brothers. Both he and his famous
father were buried in Bangor Cathedral.

It may be well to point out that one of the causes of this chronic
strife between the Welsh Princes, besides the prevalent custom of
gavelkind, was that of fostering out the children of the royal houses;
for when the inevitable struggle for the succession ensued, each
claimant was backed up and vigorously assisted by the whole interest
of the family in which he had been reared.

[Sidenote: Madoc ap Owen Gwynedd.]

[Sidenote: Madoc's colony in Mexico, 1169.]

To another son of Owen Gwynedd belongs a tale, notable in Welsh
tradition at any rate, if not in serious history. Madoc, who had for
his portion the country lying round the western base of Snowdon, found
the struggle for the possession of it perhaps too wearisome, for he
manned a small fleet and sailed out over the western seas for many
months till he discovered a strange country, good in all things for
the habitation of man. From this venture, so the legend runs, Madoc
returned, and, collecting a following of three hundred men in North
Wales, again safely crossed the Atlantic and there founded, in what is
supposed to have been Mexico,[4] a colony of Welshmen, from whom
sprang the royal dynasty of Montezuma.

    [4] If this were merely a fairy tale it would certainly be out of
    place here; but as regards the Welsh colony it has been considered
    not wholly unworthy of the attention of some serious ethnologists.
    It may further be remarked, without comment, that a comparatively
    modern and (in the vulgar sense) popular short history of Wales
    treats the whole story as authentic fact without even a suggestion
    of any legendary attributes! There we will leave it.

[Sidenote: Dafydd ap Owen Gwynedd, 1170.]

Dafydd, the usurping half-brother and murderer of the poet-Prince
Howel, had better luck than he deserved. King Henry, now bent on
making friends with the Welsh, particularly the North Welsh as being
the most formidable and homogeneous, gave him in marriage his sister
Emma and with her the rich barony of Ellesmere. Troops from South
Wales were already helping Henry in Ireland, and now Dafydd with a
large force of his own people crossed to Normandy to fight the battles
of his royal brother-in-law in that country. It is characteristic of
Welsh politics that while Dafydd was in France, the only one of his
brothers whom he had not killed or imprisoned took occasion to seize
Anglesey and the four Cantrefs that now make Carnarvonshire.

[Sidenote: Giraldus Cambrensis.]

Norman manners and customs seem about this time to have considerably
infected the Welsh aristocracy. That celebrated ecclesiastic and
author, Giraldus Cambrensis, comes upon the scene at this close of the
twelfth century, and has much to tell us out of the fulness of his
knowledge of Wales. He was of illustrious birth, half Welsh, half
Norman, and Archdeacon of Hereford, though his mere office by no means
suggests his importance, much less the importance he attributed to
himself. It is his entertaining descriptions of the Welsh life he knew
so well that have immortalised him, and his mixed blood would seem to
have endowed him with the impartiality which he professes. He was
violently opposed among other things to the encroachments of the
Norman Church in Wales; for the Pope, as I have stated, had now become
recognised as omnipotent, and Canterbury as the source of all
authority. Giraldus strove hard to get St. David's created an
Archbishopric, and to persuade the Pope to send thither his pallium,
the symbol of consecration. Though it is true he was himself burning
to be installed at St. David's, Giraldus probably reflected the
popular opinion of contemporary Welshmen in favour of recovering the
old independence of the Welsh Church. The Crusades were now at their
zenith, and Archbishop Baldwin undertook at this time his famous
progress through Wales on behalf of the holy cause. Giraldus
accompanied him as chaplain, interpreter, and friend on this
protracted tour, and, happily for us, as special reporter too. The
Archbishop's exhortations caused some passing enthusiasm throughout
the country, though the practical results do not seem to have been
considerable. Some say that Baldwin's main object was to hold high
mass in St. David's Cathedral, and so put the coping-stone, as it
were, on the annexation of the Welsh Church.

As regards the Crusades the Welsh in the Middle Ages do not seem to
have been great rovers or much given to doing business on great
waters; always, of course, excepting Madoc ap Owen Gwynedd, the
discoverer of America!

[Sidenote: Giraldus on the Welsh people.]

    "These people," says Giraldus, alluding to the Welsh, "are
    light and active, hardy rather than strong, and entirely bred
    up to the use of arms; for not only the nobles, but all the
    people are trained to war, and when the trumpet sounds the
    husbandman rushes as eagerly from his plough as the courtier
    from his Court. They live more on flesh, milk and cheese than
    bread, pay little attention to commerce, shipping, or
    manufacture, and devote their leisure to the chase and martial
    exercises. They earnestly study the defence of their country,
    and their liberty. For these they fight, for these they
    undergo hardships, and for these willingly sacrifice their
    lives. They esteem it a disgrace to die in bed, an honour to
    die on the field of battle."

    "Their arms and their coats of mail," he goes on to tell us,
    "are light, so also are their helmets, and shields, and
    greaves plated with iron. The higher class go to war on swift
    and well-bred steeds, but are ready at a moment's notice,
    should the nature of the ground require it, to fight on foot
    as do the mass of their people. In times of peace the young
    men by wandering in the dense forests and scaling the summits
    of the highest mountains inure themselves to the hardships of
    war when the necessity arrives."

They were addicted neither to gluttony nor drunkenness, and could
readily go for two days without food, eating in any case but twice a
day. They could lie out, moreover, all night in rain and storm, if an
enemy had to be watched, or an ambush to be laid. There were whole
bands of the better-born young men whose sole profession was arms, and
to whom free quarters were given upon all occasions. The Welsh among
other things were a clean-shaven race, reserving only their
moustaches, and keeping the hair of their head short. The teeth of
both sexes too were a special matter of pride. On this account they
even abstained from hot meats, and rubbed their teeth constantly with
green hazel till they shone like ivory. "They have powerful
understandings, being much quicker at their studies than other Western
nations, ready in speech and confident in expressing themselves, even
to the lowest class." Their love of high birth and long pedigrees was
then as now conspicuous, and the tribal system though rapidly
modifying under Saxon and Norman influences encouraged them to think
much of their ancestors, and to be quick in avenging insults to their
blood. This custom, indeed, was carried to such lengths, that the
Welshman's tendency to family quarrels, coupled with his sensitiveness
for the family honour, was neatly satirised by an old proverb which
affirmed that he "loved his brother better dead than alive."

[Sidenote: Giraldus on Welsh warfare.]

Giraldus, who may be regarded as a well-informed neutral in the
matter, criticises the injudicious manner in which war had hitherto
been prosecuted against his countrymen. He deprecates, for instance,
the use of heavy-armed soldiers and a profusion of cavalry, which the
active Welshmen in their mountain country are easily able to elude and
often to defeat. He declares that the only way to conquer Wales would
be by winter campaigns, when the leaves are off the trees and the
pastures withered. "Then," he writes, "English troops must be pushed
forward at all hazards, for even if the first are slaughtered any
number of fresh ones can be purchased for money; whereas the Welsh are
restricted in the number of their men." The question of commissariat,
the crux of all Welsh campaigns in those days, seems to have escaped
the notice of the clerical critic.

Having thus descanted on their virtues, Giraldus now assumes the
Anglo-Norman on the strength of his half blood, and enumerates their
weak points.

    "The Welsh are flighty," he tells us, "and readily undertake
    things which they have not the perseverance to carry out. They
    have little respect for oaths, and not much for the truth, and
    when a good opportunity occurs for attacking an enemy they
    regard neither truces nor treaties. In war they are very
    severe in their first attack, terrible by their clamour and
    looks, filling the air with horrid shouts and the deep-toned
    clangour of very long trumpets. Bold in the first onset they
    cannot bear a repulse, being easily thrown into confusion, as
    soon as they turn their backs. Yet though defeated and put to
    flight one day, they are ready to resume the combat on the
    next, neither dejected by their loss nor by their dishonour;
    easier in short to overcome in a single battle, than in a
    protracted war. Their great weakness after all," concludes
    Gerald, "lies in their internal jealousies. If they were
    inseparable, they would be insuperable, and above all, if
    instead of having three Princes they had but one, and that a
    good one!"

For their music this invaluable chronicler has nothing but
enthusiasm, dwelling upon the sweetness of their instruments, the harp
and the "crwth" (a primitive violin) in particular, and, above all, on
their habit of singing in parts, and not, as most other nations do, in

[Sidenote: Religious fervour in the twelfth century.]

[Sidenote: Abbeys.]

However distasteful the aggression of the Roman Church may have been
to the mass of the Welsh people in the twelfth century, this period
brought a great revival of religious fervour, even if it came largely
from alien sources. The rude churches of wood or wickerwork that five
and six centuries before had marked the dawn, not of Christianity, but
of organised Christianity, now gave place to solid and sometimes
beautiful specimens of early English or Norman art. Many of them, not
greatly altered by the restorer's touch, still stand amid the grandeur
of majestic mountains or the loneliness of surf-beaten shores, and
seem in consequence to speak more eloquently of these far-off,
mysterious times than their more imposing contemporaries, which are
set amid tame and commonplace surroundings. In the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries, too, the great Welsh abbeys were in their prime.
Valle Crucis, whose graceful ruins still defy the ages amid the
matchless beauties of the Vale of Llangollen, was the pride of Powys;
Ystradfflur (_Strata Florida_) in Cardigan shared with the Cistercian
House of Aber Conway the honour of recording and safeguarding the
chronicles of the Principality and of giving burial to her most
illustrious dead. In a wild Radnor valley stood the great Franciscan
abbey of Cwm Hir, while in the green meadows where the silver streams
of the Mawddach and the Wnion meet in the shadow of Cader Idris, you
may yet see the ivy clustering on the ruins of the once powerful
foundation of St. Illtyd. Some centuries older than any of these, the
most ancient of Welsh abbeys was still intact upon Ynys Enlli, the
remote island of Bardsey, and served the churches that were so thickly
sprinkled along the rugged coasts of Lleyn. It had been the "Rome of
the Cymry." Thousands of pilgrims had annually turned thither their
weary steps. It was accounted a good thing to go there, and still
better to die there; and though divided from the mainland by three
miles of water, whose tides rage with notorious violence, the dust of
"twenty thousand saints" lies, as all good Welshmen know, beneath the
sod of this narrow and stormy isle. These are but a few haphazard
examples of the centres of religion, which, amid the fierce passions
of the Celt and the restless greed of the Norman, struck at least one
peaceful note in nearly every Cambrian valley.

[Sidenote: Powys and the English power.]

[Sidenote: Norman encroachments.]

We are now within less than a century of the final overthrow of Welsh
independence. Enough has been said to show how gradually and with what
hard fighting the disintegration of Wales was brought about, and still
fiercer struggles were yet to come. The Princes of Powys, though
liable to fitful attempts at independence, had now virtually submitted
to the English King, and even ranged themselves at times against their
countrymen. North Wales was still intact, always excepting that
debatable land between the Dee and Conway, the Perfeddwlad, which was
lost and retaken more times than it would be possible to take account
of here. The great region of South Wales, however, from the edge of
Hereford to Cardigan Bay, presented a rare confusion of authority. One
scarcely ventures to touch the subject within such narrow limits as
ours must needs be. Hardly as they were sometimes beset, even to the
length of being driven from their lands and castles, the Norman
adventurers steadily ate up bit by bit the old Kingdom of Deheubarth.
Each man had just so much territory as he could win by the sword, and,
what was more important, only so much as he could keep by it. They all
held their lands, whose limits were but vaguely defined by charter or
title-deed, since they were undefinable, direct from the King of
England, and had by virtue of their office the right to sit in
Parliament, and to support the royal canopy at coronations with silver

[Sidenote: Wales in the thirteenth century.]

In their own domains they possessed absolute authority, so far as they
could exercise it, even over the lives of their tenants. Small towns
began to grow under the protection of their castle walls, and were
occupied by their retainers. Courts were established in each lordship,
and justice was administered to the Anglo-Norman minority after
English custom and to the Welsh majority after the custom of old Welsh
law, and in the native tongue. Let me repeat, I am but generalising.
The condition of Wales at the opening of the thirteenth century was
far too complex to admit of analytical treatment within such a brief
space as this. The exceptions to every rule were numerous. The King of
England himself, for example, owned many lordships and was represented
in them by a Justiciar or Bailiff, and sometimes this functionary was
actually a Welshman. Here and there again a Welsh noble held property
as a Norman Baron from the King while occasionally a Norman did
allegiance for his barony to a Welsh Prince, and posed as a Welshman.

    [Illustration: VALLE CRUCIS ABBEY.
      F. Frith & Co.]

[Sidenote: Landed system.]

The landed system of Wales in the Middle Ages is still more hopeless
for purposes of brief description. The indigenous tribal system, when
land was held in families, or "gwelis," by the descendants of a
privileged though perhaps a large class, had been steadily undergoing
modification since the later Saxon period,[5] and in all directions it
was honeycombed not only by encroaching Normans, with their feudal and
manorial land laws, and by the monastic houses, but long before the
twelfth century many Welsh princes and chieftains had felt the Saxon
influence, and had drifted into the manorial system, so far at least
as their own private possessions were concerned.

    [5] See Seebohm's _Tribal Wales_.

[Sidenote: Llewelyn the Great, 1195.]

With the close of the twelfth century the most illustrious of all
Welsh Princes, the only possible rival of Glyndwr, Llewelyn ap
Iorwerth, comes upon the scene as a beardless boy; and in connection
with this famous person it may fairly be said that though there was
plenty of fight left in the still unconquered moiety of South Wales,
and a little even in Powys, it is with Gwynedd that the interest of
the last century of Welsh resistance mainly rests. Son of Iorwerth the
broken-nosed, who, though the rightful heir of Owen Gwynedd, was
rejected on account of this disfigurement, Llewelyn the Great is
supposed with good reason to have been born in the castle of
Dolwyddelan, whose ruinous walls, perched high upon the wild
foot-hills of Moel Siabod, still look down upon the infant Llugwy as
it urges its buoyant streams through one of the most beautiful of
North Welsh valleys.

[Sidenote: Llewelyn marries King John's daughter.]

Nurtured amid the clash of arms, the boy was only twelve years old
when he asserted his right to the throne, and won it against his
Norman-loving uncle, Dafydd, whom we left, it will be remembered,
fighting in France. The young Prince, backed by a strong following in
North Wales, and by the arms of Powys, deposed his uncle and commenced
the long career which earned him that pre-eminent fame in warlike
deeds which attaches to his name. By the time he was of age he was
fully recognised as "Brenin holl Cymru," or Pendragon, by all that was
left of Wales. John, who now occupied the English throne, so fully
recognised the dawn of a new and formidable personal influence in his
tributary realm that he bestowed upon Llewelyn in marriage his
illegitimate daughter Joan, together with a handsome dower.

The first few years of the thirteenth century were fully occupied with
ceaseless strife between the Welsh Princes, their relatives, and the
Norman nobles settled in their midst. It will be sufficient to say
that Llewelyn, high-handed and autocratic, lost nothing of his
importance in such congenial work, and by 1209 had left his mark upon
the English borders so rudely that King John and his vigorous
son-in-law at length came to blows. The former, collecting a large
army, penetrated to the Conway River, behind which, in the mountains
of Snowdonia, Llewelyn with all his people and all his movables defied

[Sidenote: John invades Wales, 1209.]

[Sidenote: 1212.]

[Sidenote: Llewelyn sides with the barons against John.]

John, with whom went many of the nobles of Powys, sat down at Deganwy
Castle, one of the great strategic points of ancient Wales, and one
whose scanty ruins are familiar to visitors at Llandudno and Conway.
But the Welsh slipped behind them and cut off their supplies. Nor
could the King move forward, for across the river rose the grim masses
of the Snowdon mountains. His people were reduced to eating their
horses, disease was ravaging their ranks, and there was nothing for it
but to go back; so John returned to England with rage at his heart.
Nothing daunted he returned again to the attack, marching this time by
way of Oswestry and Corwen. He was now both more daring and more
fortunate, seeing that he succeeded in throwing a portion of his
forces into Bangor. This checkmated Llewelyn, and he sent his wife to
see what terms could be exacted from her father. His reply indicated
that the cession of the unfortunate Perfeddwlad, and a fine of twenty
thousand head of cattle was the least he could accept, and with these
terms the Welsh Prince complied. The latter condition was probably
inconvenient; the former was merely a question of might for the time
being. Any territorial arrangement with John was likely to be of only
temporary consequence, for that undesirable King was perpetually under
the ban of the Church, and had none too many friends. So in 1212, when
Pope Innocent absolved all John's feudatories from their allegiance,
it furnished an admirable excuse for Llewelyn to reoccupy the whole of
his ancient dominion of Gwynedd. When, two years later, John's own
barons rose against him, they formed an alliance with the powerful
Prince of Gwynedd, who captured Shrewsbury, and thereby contributed no
little to the pressure which caused the signing of Magna Charta.

Llewelyn subsequently swept through both Mid- and South Wales, sacking
and gutting many of the hated Norman castles, till he came to be
regarded in the South with as much devotion as in his own province.
Every dispute concerning territory or boundaries was submitted to his
judgment. Even the Flemings of Pembroke for the first time since their
occupation tendered their homage to a Welsh Prince.

[Sidenote: Llewelyn recognised by John as ruler of Wales.]

[Sidenote: Llewelyn's son rebels against him.]

But between the death of John and the accession of Henry III., the
nobles of England forgot their obligations to Llewelyn, while the
Marcher barons whose castles he had sacked were eager enough to turn
this indifference into hostility. The result of all this was that
Llewelyn found himself threatened by the whole power of England and
of Anglo-Norman Wales in the event of his refusal to abandon his
recent conquests. Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, wise in his generation, sought
a personal interview with the young King, his brother-in-law, at which
he undertook to do him homage; a formality which, I have more than
once observed, Welsh Princes had no reluctance upon principle in
conceding. On this occasion, moreover, Llewelyn's pride was fully
gratified. He was officially recognised as Prince of all Gwynedd, with
the second title of Lord of Snowdon, and his suzerainty over the other
divisions of Wales was formally acknowledged. We find him emphasising
this diplomatic triumph by granting that bone of contention, the
Perfeddwlad, to his son Griffith, and the latter with the fatuity so
common to his race returning this piece of parental affection by
laying violent hands on Merioneth, another district within his
father's Principality. This was a wholly outrageous proceeding and
Llewelyn, finding remonstrance unavailing, hastened eastward with a
strong force to chastise his incorrigible offspring. The latter was
quite prepared to fight, and we have the edifying picture of father
and son facing each other in arms in a cause wholly wanton, and as if
there were no such thing as Normans and Saxons, to say nothing of
South Welshmen, ever and always threatening their existence. A
reconciliation was happily effected, but when Llewelyn found himself
with most of the soldiery of his province around him in arms, the
temptation was too great, and throwing treaties to the winds, he fell
upon the English border and harried it from Chester to Hereford. Drawn
thence south-westwards by signs of restlessness on the part of that
ever-rankling sore, the Anglo-Flemish colony of Pembroke, he swept
through South Wales and fought a great battle on the confines of their
territory, which the fall of night found still undecided.

[Sidenote: Continuous war, 1234.]

From now onwards till 1234 there was little peace in Wales, and above
the ceaseless din of arms the star of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth shone with
ever increasing glory. Then came a confederation of Norman barons
against King Henry, who, turning for support to Llewelyn, entered into
a solemn league and covenant both with him and with his tributary
princes. It was so strong a combination that Henry shrank from coping
with it. It was the first occasion on which Anglo-Norman Barons and
Welsh Princes on an important scale had formed a treaty of alliance
with each other and, still more, had honourably observed it. Even more
singular perhaps was the outcome, when, Henry being forced to a
compromise, a Welsh Prince found himself in the unprecedented position
of being able to exact conditions for the great Norman feudatories of
Wales from a Norman King.

[Sidenote: Death of Llewelyn II., 1240.]

Llewelyn, having buried his wife Joan in the abbey of Llanfaes near
Beaumaris, himself died at Aber in the year 1240, after a stormy but,
judged by the ethics of the time, a brilliant reign of over half a
century. His triumphs were of course for the most part military ones.
But no Welsh Princes having regard to the decline of Cymric power had
ever accomplished quite so much. He had forced his authority upon all
Wales except the lordship Marches, but he had also been a sleepless
patriot, driving the English arms back and greatly weakening the
English influence throughout the whole Principality. With this scant
notice of a long and eventful reign we must take leave of the warlike
son of Iorwerth. He was buried at Aber Conway in the abbey he had
founded; but his stone coffin was removed in later days to the
beautiful church at Llanrwst, where amid the historic treasures of the
Gwydir Chapel it still recalls to the memory of innumerable pilgrims
"the eagle of men, who loved not to lie nor sleep, who towered above
the rest of men with his long red lance and his red helmet of battle
crested with a savage wolf, Llewelyn the Great."

[Sidenote: Griffith sent to the Tower by Henry III.]

Wales, though rapidly approaching the era of her political extinction,
was now so unusually strong and even aggressive that the English King
was compelled to watch the course of events there with a vigilant eye.
From the Welsh point of view it was of vital importance that
Llewelyn's successor in Gwynedd should be both acceptable to his
people and strong in himself. Unhappily he was neither, unless indeed
obstinacy may count for strength. Of Llewelyn's family two sons alone
concern us here. Griffith, the elder of these by a Welsh mother, has
been already alluded to as going to war in such wild fashion with his
father. Rightly or wrongly he was regarded as illegitimate, though
that circumstance, it may be remarked parenthetically, was not such a
vital matter in Old Wales. But his father's marriage with an English
King's daughter suggests the possibility of making too light of a
former and less distinguished alliance. Be that as it may, the younger
of the two, the son of the Princess Joan and nephew of Henry III.,
succeeded in seating himself on his father's throne, though not
without protest from the Welsh nobility who did not by any means
relish his English blood. Dafydd had all the English influence behind
him, while his close connection with the King seemed to make for
peace. But Griffith, the elder, in spite of his presumed illegitimacy,
was the popular candidate, and Dafydd did not improve his own position
by proceeding to strip his half-brother of his private property, and
immuring his person in Criccieth Castle. All Wales protested. The
Bishop of Bangor went so far as to excommunicate his temporal ruler,
and King Henry himself on his distant throne expressed unmistakable
disapproval of the whole business. But Dafydd cared neither for King
nor Bishop. To the former he replied that if Griffith were at liberty
there would be no peace in Wales, a possibility that seems by no means
remote when one considers the performances of this young man in his
father's lifetime. Henry was not to be thus put off, and approached
the Marches with a strong army. This unmistakable procedure and the
almost unanimous support it met with from the Welsh nobility
frightened Dafydd into a promise of submission. But the upshot of all
this was not precisely what Griffith's Welsh friends had expected. He
was released from Criccieth, it is true, but only to be transferred to
the Tower of London pending Henry's decision as to his ultimate fate.

[Sidenote: Death of Griffith.]

Much more important than this disposal of Griffith's person was the
extraction from Dafydd by his uncle of one of the most humiliating
treaties ever wrung from a Welsh Prince, a treaty which might well
cause his father, the great Llewelyn, to turn in his grave beside the
Conway. Every advantage that Llewelyn's strong arm had gained was
tamely abandoned by his unworthy son. The Princes of Powys and South
Wales were absolved from their oath of homage to the ruler of Gwynedd,
which Principality shrank once more to the banks of the Conway. In the
meantime Griffith with his young son Owen was left by Henry to
languish in the Tower, till, filled with despair, he made a bold bid
for freedom. Weaving ropes out of his bed-clothing he let himself down
by night from his prison window; but, being a corpulent man, his
weight was too much for such slender supports, and he fell from a
great height to the ground, breaking his neck upon the spot.

[Sidenote: Dafydd makes war on the English.]

[Sidenote: 1244.]

[Sidenote: Henry III. in Wales.]

The Welsh were greatly exasperated at the news, laying the death of
their favourite most naturally at Henry's door, and as the Marcher
barons had been encouraged of late in their aggressions and tyrannies
by the decline of Welsh strength, the time seemed ripe for another
general rising. Dafydd now came out as a warrior and a patriot leader,
and Wales rallied to his standard. He was, however, so appalled by
the memory of the awful oaths of allegiance he had sworn to his royal
uncle and the vengeance of Heaven he had invited in case of their
non-observance, that he sent secretly a sum of money to the Pope,--all
in fact he could scrape together,--begging for absolution. His
Holiness granted this readily enough and professed to recognise his
right to independence. But Henry, hearing of it, and disturbed by
these manœuvres of the Vicar of God, secretly forwarded twice the
amount of money sent by Dafydd to the Pope, who thereupon reversed all
his previous decisions. We do not hear whether the Welsh Prince got
his money back. He certainly got no value for it. So now in these
years of 1244-45 war raged once more throughout Wales and the Marches,
and Dafydd, though unendowed with his father's warlike talents,
nevertheless by his patriotic action regained the affection of his
people. Henry was busy in Scotland and it was nearly a year before he
could get to Wales in person; when he did, he pushed his way, with
only one brisk fight, to that time-honoured barrier, the Conway
estuary, and sat down with a large army of English and Gascons on the
green pastures around Deganwy Castle, where he gazed with inevitable
helplessness at the Welsh forces crowding on the marsh across the
river, or lining the outer ramparts of Snowdonia that frown behind it.
The troubles of King John, and even worse, befell his son. Matthew of
Paris has preserved for us a "letter from the front" written by a
knight, who gives a graphic description of the sufferings of the
army, not forgetting himself in the narration of them. Cold, sickness,
and hunger were their lot, varied by fierce skirmishes with the Welsh
and desperate fights over the English provision boats, which made
their way from Chester round the Orme's Head into the Conway. Aber
Conway Abbey was ruthlessly sacked by the English soldiery, much to
the regret, it should be said, of our "special correspondent" and
greatly to the rage of the Welsh, who in revenge slaughtered every
wounded Englishman they could lay hands on.

No definite result accrued from this war. Dafydd died a few months
after this amid the regrets of his people, whose affection had been
secured by his later deeds. He had atoned for his former pusillanimity
by the stubborn resistance which marked the close of his life. His
death made way for the last and, to Englishmen, the most illustrious
of all the long line of Welsh Princes.

[Sidenote: Sons of Griffith appointed to joint rulership of N. Wales.]

[Sidenote: Henry III. again in Wales.]

Dafydd left no heir. Strictly speaking, his legal successor was a
Norman, Sir Ralph Mortimer, who had married Gwladys, a legitimate
daughter of Llewelyn. Such a successor was of course out of the
question, and, as Henry abstained from all interference, the nobles of
North Wales naturally fell back on the illegitimate branch, that of
Griffith, who perished in the moat of the Tower of London. This
unfortunate Prince, whose body was about this time removed to Conway
and buried with great pomp, had three sons, Llewelyn, Owen, and
Dafydd. It would seem as if all past experiences were lost upon the
nobles of Gwynedd, since they were fatuous enough to appoint the two
elder of these Princes to the joint rulership of their province. The
partnership survived an English invasion which Henry made on hearing
that the chieftains of South Wales were calling on the new Princes of
Gwynedd to aid them, in the belief that a diversion would be
opportune. Once more the English appeared on the Conway. As usual, the
Welsh with their stock and movables had slipped over the river into
the impregnable wilds of Snowdonia, and the King returned as he went,
burning St. Asaph's Cathedral on his march. There was now peace in
Wales for some years; a lull, as it were, before the great conflict
that was to be the end of all things. But peace and plenty, in the
words of the chronicler, "begat war." For want of enemies the two
brothers turned their arms against each other. Owen, the younger, was
the aggressor in this instance, and he justly suffered for it, being
overcome by Llewelyn and immured for the rest of his life in the
lonely castle of Dolbadarn, whose ivy-mantled shell still stands by
the Llanberis lakes.

[Sidenote: Llewelyn III. (or ap Griffith).]

[Sidenote: 1257-58.]

Dafydd, the third brother, had supported Owen, and he, too, was seized
and securely confined. Llewelyn, now supreme in North Wales, becomes
the outstanding figure around which the closing scene of the long and
heroic resistance of the Welsh henceforth gathers. South Wales was in
a distracted state. The Lord Marchers and the King's Bailiffs, backed
by English support, had taken fresh heart from Welsh dissensions and
were pressing hardly on those native chieftains who did not side with
them. Every chieftain and noble in Wales whose patriotism had not been
tampered with now took up arms. Llewelyn was universally recognised as
the national leader, and the years 1257-58 were one long turmoil of
war and battle in every part of Wales. Llewelyn had cleared off all
recent aggression, fallen with heavy hand on the old settled barons,
and smitten the traitors among his fellow-countrymen hip and thigh. A
battle was fought on the Towy, which some chroniclers say was the
bloodiest ever engaged in between Welsh and English, to the worsting
of the latter and the loss of two thousand men.

[Sidenote: King Henry attacks Llewelyn.]

The Perfeddwlad had been granted to Prince Edward, then Earl of
Chester. His agents there had distinguished themselves, even in those
cruel times, for intolerable oppression. Llewelyn in his vengeance
swept Edward's new property bare from the Conway to the Dee. The
future conqueror and organiser of Wales was at this moment hardly
pressed. His Welsh friends, like the then Prince of Powys, were
heavily punished by Llewelyn and their lands laid waste. Edward sent
to Ireland for succour, but the Irish ships were met at sea by those
of Llewelyn and driven back. Henry now returned to his son's
assistance, and, drawing together "the whole strength of England from
St. Michael's Mount to the river Tweed," executed the familiar
promenade across the wasted Perfeddwlad, and experienced the familiar
sense of impotence upon the Conway with its well defended forts and
frowning mountains alive with agile spearmen.

Once again the tide of battle rolled back to the English border, and
the first serious punishment we hear of the Welsh receiving curiously
enough was at the hands of some German cavalry imported and led by
Lord Audley, whose large horses seem to have struck some terror into
the mountaineers. But this is a detail. Llewelyn may almost be said to
have repeated the exploits of his grandfather and reconquered Wales.
Even Flemish Pembroke had been forced to its knees. His followers to
the number of ten thousand had bound themselves by oath to die rather
than submit, and these, being picked men and inured to war, were a
formidable nucleus for the fighting strength of Wales to rally round.
The revolt, too, of Simon de Montfort against Henry was all in favour
of Llewelyn, who took the former's part and was able to render him
considerable personal service in the decline of his success.

[Sidenote: 1267. Llewelyn makes peace and is recognised by Henry as
Prince of all Wales.]

Through many years of intermittent strife and varying fortunes the
balance of power remained with Llewelyn, till in 1267 a peace was made
at Shrewsbury very greatly in his favour. By this agreement Henry in
consideration of a sum of money undertook to recognise Llewelyn as
Prince of all Wales and entitled to receive homage and fealty from
every prince and noble in the country save the sadly shorn
representatives of the old line of Deheubarth. But after two years'
enjoyment of this contract the King's death and the succession of the
strenuous Prince Edward threw everything once more into confusion.

[Sidenote: Llewelyn and Edward I., 1275.]

It is true that Edward, who was in the Holy Land fighting Turks, took
two years in finding his way home. But when he did so, in 1274, and
was crowned King he threw his father's treaty with Llewelyn to the
winds; an action for which, it is true, the latter gave him some
excuse by refusing to attend at his coronation, not from recusancy,
but from a well-grounded fear that his life would not be safe from
certain Anglo-Norman nobles whose territory he would have to pass

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Llewelyn's betrothed wife seized by the English.]

Now comes a passage in Llewelyn's stormy life that his admirers would
fain forget, since it records how for love of a woman he reversed the
indomitable front he had hitherto shown to the invading English, and
submitted almost without a blow to the dictation of the returned
Crusader, whom he had so often beaten of old in the Welsh Marches. It
was perhaps the memory of these former rebuffs that made the proud and
warlike Edward so vindictive towards Llewelyn. A weapon, too, was at
this moment placed in his hands which was to assist him in a manner he
had not dreamed of. The young daughter of the late Simon de Montfort,
to whom the Welsh Prince was betrothed and whom he is said to have
deeply loved, was sailing from France to become his bride. In anxiety
to escape the English, the ship that bore her unluckily ran among some
Bristol vessels off the Scilly Islands. The captains seized the
prospective bride and carried her at once to Edward, who was on the
point of invading Wales with two armies. Four years of peace had
doubtless weakened the strong Welsh league that had worked such
wonders against Henry III. Numbers of his old friends at any rate
failed to respond to Llewelyn's call. The Prince had now before him
the alternatives of immediate union with his betrothed, or of war and
chaos with a lukewarm or hostile South Wales and certainly a hostile
Powys added to the power of England.

[Sidenote: Llewelyn makes peace with Edward I.]

After being cooped up for some weeks in the Snowdon mountains by the
royal army, Llewelyn signed at length a treaty with Edward, the
conditions of which were as humiliating as if he had been crushed to
the earth by a series of disastrous battles, whereas he was in truth
the still recognised suzerain of all Wales. To put the case, or the
gist of it, briefly: all Wales except the Snowdon lordships (the
present Carnarvonshire) was to revert absolutely to the King of
England, Welsh and alien lords alike becoming his tenants. Even
Anglesey was to revert to the Crown in the event of Llewelyn's dying
without issue. Nothing was to be left of Welsh independence but the
"cantrefs," or lordships, constituting Snowdonia; and over this
remnant Llewelyn's heirs were to be graciously permitted to reign in
peace. The Prince's passion had proved greater than his patriotism;
the treaty was signed at Conway, and King Edward, who had advanced
unopposed to Cardiganshire, withdrew his troops.

[Sidenote: Llewelyn's marriage.]

"The force of love," says the chronicler, groaning over this
depressing episode, "does indeed work wonders." Llewelyn, not long
afterwards, was married in great pomp at Worcester in presence of the
whole Court of England, the King himself giving the bride away, and
the late ruler of all Wales and now lord merely of Snowdonia, with a
life interest in Anglesey, retired to the obscurity of his contracted
honours. Here, amid the Carnarvon mountains, he began ere long to feel
the prickings of conscience, and remorse for the weak part he had

Edward, too, kept open the wound by frequently summoning him to this
place or that on various pleas, and the Welsh Prince, dreading
treachery and remembering his father, Griffith's, fate, as constantly
refused to go without a guaranty of safety. The greater part of the
present counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan were already King's
ground. As forming part of the old Principality of South Wales, and
therefore not Marcher property, they had come to Edward. A county
court had before this been established at Carmarthen, and efforts to
make this territory shire ground had been feebly made, but they were
now vigorously renewed, and the Perfeddwlad was treated in savage
fashion. Ferocity was the distinguishing mark of all the servants of
Edward I.

[Sidenote: Cruelty of Edward's government, 1281.]

[Sidenote: Dafydd turns patriot.]

[Sidenote: Llewelyn and Dafydd unite for resistance.]

[Sidenote: Llewelyn rejects all terms.]

[Sidenote: Outside sympathy for Wales.]

From every part of Wales came the cry of despairing Welshmen ground to
powder by the insensate tyrannies of the King's Bailiffs and the Lord
Marchers, now left entirely to their own wild wills. Llewelyn's third
brother, Dafydd, who had played the part of King's friend and traitor
to his own people for most of his life, was rewarded by the Barony of
Denbigh. It was the year 1281 and the time was now ripe for the last
scene of the last act in this long, sanguinary struggle. Many of the
chieftains of Wales, thinking, as they had often thought before, that
death was preferable to the intolerable oppression from which the
country now suffered, approached Dafydd at Denbigh and assured him
that if he would even thus tardily be reconciled to his brother
Llewelyn and lead them, they would strike yet one more blow for
freedom. Dafydd, probably with their knowledge, was smarting under
some real or fancied slight from his patron, King Edward, though maybe
his heart was really touched at the extreme sufferings of his
countrymen. At any rate he played the man to an extent that more than
atoned for his unworthy past. Dafydd and his brother Llewelyn now met
at the former's castle upon the high rock of Denbigh, and there the
Welsh chieftains who had declared for death or freedom rallied to the
standard raised by the grandsons of Llewelyn the Great, and held upon
"the craggy hill in Rhos" the last formal council of either peace or
war that was to be recorded in the pages of Welsh history. The news of
the proposed rising had reached England before Llewelyn had left his
palace at Aber, and had caused some consternation. Edward and his
barons had regarded the Welsh question as settled, and thought that on
the death of the now pacified and uxorious Llewelyn the last vestige
of independence would quietly lapse. The Archbishop of Canterbury was
greatly distressed. He sent word to Llewelyn that he was coming to see
him for the love he bore to Wales, and without the King's knowledge;
and he then, in actual fact, travelled all the way to Aber and used
every argument, persuasive and coercive, he could think of to turn the
Welsh Prince from what seemed a mad and hopeless enterprise. He
threatened him with the whole physical power of England, the whole
spiritual power of Rome. Never did the last Llewelyn, or indeed any
Llewelyn, show a nobler front than on this occasion. For himself, he
was materially well provided for and beyond the reach of the
persecution that pressed upon most of his fellow-countrymen. But they
had called to him in their despair, and desperate as the risk might be
he had resolved to stand or fall with them. A schedule of conditions
was sent him from the English King and his council, under which
everything was to be overlooked, if only he and his people would
return to their allegiance. Among other things an English county, with
a pension of £1000 a year, was offered him in lieu of Snowdon.
Llewelyn replied with scorn that he wanted no English county, that his
patrimony was lawfully his own by virtue of a long line of ancestors;
that even if he himself were base enough to yield up the Snowdon
lordships, his subjects there would never submit to a rule that was
hateful to them and had brought such misery on their neighbours of the
Perfeddwlad. It was better, he declared, to die with honour than to
live in slavery; and it may perhaps be repeated to his advantage that
Llewelyn himself was only a sufferer so far as his proper pride was
concerned, though it is possible he felt some pricks of conscience
about the concessions made two years previously. At any rate he nobly
atoned for them. There is evidence that admiration for the gallant
stand made by this remnant of the Welsh was being kindled not only
across the seas but even among Englishmen themselves. "Even Englishmen
and foreigners," says Matthew of Paris, who was assuredly no Welshman,
"were touched with pity and admiration."

[Sidenote: Dafydd rejects Edward's terms.]

Prince Dafydd, who was offered his pardon on condition of immediately
repairing to the Holy Land, was equally stubborn, though perhaps the
temptation to be otherwise was not so great. He replied to the effect
that he had no intention of undertaking a Crusade at the dictates of
others. However admirable was this tardy patriotism, his past record
from that point of view was wholly dishonourable, for he had been
consistently a King's man. On the other hand, if, as was possibly the
case with many Welsh nobles, he had sincerely believed that submission
to English rule was the wisest thing for Welshmen, his abrupt
repudiation of the man whose favours he had sought and received is not
readily excusable. In this direction it is urged that the Anglo-Norman
garrisons in these first years of Edward's reign had made life so
intolerable that Dafydd was sufficiently touched by his countrymen's
sufferings to risk everything and join his gallant brother in so
forlorn a hope. "It was better for the kingdom at large that Wales
should be governed," wrote the brothers to Edward, "by her own
Princes, paying that homage to the King of England which they had
never refused, than by greedy strangers whose only thought was to
oppress her people, despoil her churches, and advance their own
private interests."

[Sidenote: Fighting on the Menai Straits.]

The fall of the curtain upon this remnant of Welsh independence was
now but a matter of a few months. Edward's answer to the Princes was
the despatch of a fleet to Anglesey, and of an army along the north
coast route, containing large numbers of Gascons, and even some
Spaniards. Edward himself went as far as Conway, meeting on the way
with a heavy repulse and considerable loss in what was soon to be
Flintshire. Dafydd, who was commanding in the north, was pushed into
Snowdonia. The English army in Anglesey bridged the Menai with boats,
and a strong detachment, crossing before the connection was complete,
encountered the Welsh near Bangor. The invaders, however, were all cut
off and slain in a fierce battle fought upon the shore, among them
being many barons, knights, and squires.

These successes could only delay the end and exasperate the inevitable
conquerors. Llewelyn, not wishing to be starved into surrender among
the Snowdon mountains, had gone south to rouse the new shire land of
Cardigan and Carmarthen, and the warlike Radnor tenants of the
Mortimers. The Earl of Gloucester with another English army had
meanwhile penetrated into South Wales and defeated a large force of
Welsh patriots at Llandilo in the valley of the Towy.

[Sidenote: Death of the last Llewelyn.]

[Sidenote: Llewelyn's head carried through London in triumph.]

Llewelyn came up, fighting his way through Cardiganshire, and had
reached Builth on the Wye, when, on December 11th, he met his fate.
The story of his death is too much confused, and there is no space
here for repeating the slightly varying versions of the tragedy, but
it seems quite clear that he was tempted away from the main body of
his army by treachery, and slain when he was without arms in his
hands. His head was struck off and despatched at once to King Edward
at Conway, who, receiving it with great joy, sent it immediately by
sea to his army in Anglesey. Thence the gruesome trophy was forwarded
to London, where crowds of people met it outside the city and placed
upon the gory brows a wreath of ivy in mockery of the old Welsh
prophecy that a Prince of Welsh blood should once more be crowned in
London. It was then fixed upon the point of a lance and carried in
triumph through the streets to the pillory, and from the pillory to
its final resting-place above the gate of the Tower.

[Sidenote: Capture and execution of Dafydd.]

Thus perished the last representative of the long line of Welsh
Princes that may be said to have had its rise with the sons of Cunedda
eight centuries before. The last dim spark of Welsh independence
flickered feebly for a few weeks, till the very recesses of Snowdonia,
for almost the first time in history, gave back their echoes to the
blast of English bugles, and the wild passes of Nant Francon and
Llanberis felt the tramp of alien feet. Dafydd found himself alone, a
hunted outlaw in the forests of the Vale of Clwyd. He was soon
captured and taken to Shrewsbury, where a Parliament was then sitting.
Llewelyn's remains had been treated with doubtful logic and poor
chivalry as a traitor. What treatment he would have met with at
Edward's hands as a prisoner we cannot know. But Dafydd could expect
nothing but the worst and he received it. He was tried as an English
baron at Shrewsbury and sentenced to be quartered, disembowelled, and
beheaded. His quarters were distributed among four English cities,
Winchester and York, it is said, quarrelling for the honour of his
right shoulder, while his head was sent to moulder by his brother's
over the gateway of the Tower of London. A story runs that while his
entrails were being burned his heart leaped from the flames and struck
the executioner who was feeding them.

[Sidenote: 1282. Edward settles the new government of Wales.]

[Sidenote: The Statutes of Rhuddlan.]

All resistance worthy of mention was now over in Wales. The six
centuries or thereabouts of its history as a separate nation in whole
or in part had closed. A new epoch was to open, and Edward was the man
to mark the division between the past and the future in emphatic
fashion. Hitherto, though statesmanlike in his views, he had been in
actual deed both cruel and unjust to Wales, and allowed his agents to
be still more so; but now that resistance was crushed he dropped the
warrior and tyrant and showed himself the statesman that he was. Most
of the Welshmen that had remained in arms received their pardons,
though a few took service abroad. The King exacted no sanguinary
vengeance, but followed, rather, the more merciful and practical
course of providing against the chance of his Welsh subjects requiring
it in future. He went to Wales with his Court and remained there for
nearly three years. He made Rhuddlan his principal headquarters,
rebuilding its ancient castle; and at Conway, Harlech, and Carnarvon,
besides some less formidable fortresses, he left those masterpieces of
defensive construction that have been the admiration of all subsequent
ages. From Rhuddlan in due course he issued the famous statutes called
by its name, which proclaimed at once the death-knell of Old Wales and
the fact of its territorial fusion with the realm of England. The
details of the settlement were laborious, and the spectacle of an
English Court spending in all nearly three busy years in Wales is
evidence of the thoroughness with which Edward did his work.

It is enough here to say that with the exception of modern
Denbighshire, which was left in lordships, Edward carved North Wales
into the present counties of Flint, Anglesey, Carnarvon, and
Merioneth. Powys and South Wales being honeycombed with Anglo-Norman
lordships and reconciled Welsh chieftains, he shrank probably from
disentangling a confusion that brought no particular danger to
himself, and from a course that would have embroiled him with the
whole feudal interest of the Marches.

    [Illustration: CONWAY CASTLE.
      F. Frith & Co.]

The still mainly Welsh districts, however, of Cardigan and
Carmarthen, he had already, as we have seen, formed into counties.
They were now, like those of the North, to be governed by lieutenants,
sheriffs, and justices, and in all things to resemble English
counties, except in the privilege of sending representatives to
Parliament. Wales was kept separate from England, however, in so far
as its immediate feudal lord was not the King of England, but the
King's eldest son; and the Principality of Wales at this time, it must
be remembered, meant only the royal counties.

[Sidenote: Edward's intentions just.]

Edward's laws for the conquered country were just and his intention
not ungenerous. He reduced the rentals hitherto due to the Welsh
Princes and listened patiently to the grievances of the people. He
enacted that both in counties and lordships the old Welsh laws should
be those of the Welsh so far as possible, and that justice should be
administered in both languages, and he sent the Archbishop of
Canterbury on a long visitation to take note of the destruction to
churches perpetrated during the recent wars, and to arrange for their

He was severe on the bards, it is true, but he did not slaughter them,
as an old fiction asserts. Their wandering avocations were sternly
repressed, and with the business that he had in hand it is not easy to
see what other course he could have taken with men whose trade then
chiefly consisted in recalling the wrongs of Wales and urging revenge.
The whole business was concluded by a great tournament at Nevin, on
the Carnarvon coast, which was attended by the flower of Welsh,
English, and Gascon chivalry.

[Sidenote: The King's return to London.]

When the King returned to London after his long absence, he went with
splendid ceremonial and a vast procession to the Tower and to
Westminster Abbey, causing the regalia of the exterminated Welsh
Princes and the skull of St. David to be borne before him. Nor must
one omit mention of the immortal but grim joke which tradition says
that he played upon the Welsh nobility before leaving the country. For
does not every schoolboy know how, having promised them a Prince who
was born in Wales and could speak no English, he sent Queen Eleanor to
Carnarvon for the birth of Edward the Second?

[Sidenote: 1295.]

A good deal can be said of the century that was to elapse before our
story opens, but not much that is of vital import. In 1295, thirteen
years after the conquest, Madoc ap Meredith, a connection of
Llewelyn's, made a last attempt to rouse the Welsh. It proved
abortive, but was serious enough to stop Edward from going to France,
and to take him down to Conway, where it is said that on a certain
occasion a high tide cut him off from his men, and nearly delivered
him into the hands of the insurgents.

[Sidenote: Wales through the fourteenth century.]

It would be too much to say that the next hundred years in Wales were
those of peace and prosperity. But by comparison with the past they
might not untruly be called so. No serious friction occurred between
the two races; while the long wars with France and constant broils
with Scotland engrossed the attention of the Welsh aristocracy, both
Norman and native. Nor, again, was it only the nobles and gentry that
found respite from their domestic quarrels in a combined activity upon
the unfortunate soil of France. Welsh soldiers as well as Welsh
gentlemen served by thousands in the armies of England, and few people
remember that about a third of the victorious army at Cressy were
Welshmen. This long companionship in arms and partnership in almost
unparallelled glories must have done something to lessen the
instinctive antipathy with which the two peoples had from time
immemorial regarded each other. Yet how much of the ancient enmity
survived, only requiring some spark to kindle it, will be evident
enough as I proceed to the main part of my story, and the doings of
the indomitable Welshman who is its hero.






                              "... At my birth
    The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes;
    The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds
    Were strangely clamorous to the frighted fields.
    These signs have marked me extraordinary,
    And all the courses of my life do show,
    I am not in the roll of common men."

In these famous lines the Glyndwr of Shakespeare, though not, perhaps,
a very faithful portrait of the true Glyndwr, tells us of those dread
portents which heralded his birth. Thus far, however, tradition rings
true enough in the lines of the great poet, and is even shorn of some
of the most fearsome details it has sent down to us through various
channels. Shakespeare's Glyndwr might, for instance, have told us,
what all Welshmen of his day were well assured of, that on that
memorable night the horses of Griffith Vychan, his father, were found
standing in their stables up to their fetlocks in blood; and how he
himself, while still an infant in his nurse's arms, was accustomed to
greet with demonstrations of delight the sight of a sword or spear and
allow those around him no peace till the deadly weapon was placed
in his baby hand.

    [Illustration: DOLGELLY AND CADER IDRIS.
      C. H. Young.]

There is great uncertainty as to the day, and some disagreement as to
the exact year, wherein old earth thus shook in labour with so heroic
a soul. This divergency of opinion extends over the period of ten
years, from 1349 to 1359. The evidence that seems to give the latter
date unquestionable preference will be alluded to shortly. In any case
the point to be noted is that the hero of this story, judged by the
standard of his time, was quite advanced in life when he began the
long and arduous undertaking that has made his name immortal, and
cherished by his countrymen as the most famous of all names in their
history. For there is no shadow of a doubt that if the Welsh people
were polled upon the subject, Owen Glyndwr would stand, by an
overwhelming majority, at the head of the list of national heroes.
Whether rightly or wrongly he holds the first place among Welsh
warrior patriots in the affections of his countrymen.

It was the fortune, as I have endeavoured to make plain in the
introductory chapter, of a long succession of Welsh chieftains, to
find themselves at the head of a people struggling desperately against
conquest and absorption. It is no wonder that with such opportunities
ever present, century after century, the list of those who seized them
and won distinction and some measure of success, and thereby preserved
their names to posterity, is no short one. It is not to the point that
the field of their exploits was a small one, and the people who
cherish their memory a small people,--so much more, rather, the
honour, seeing the odds against which they contended with such rare
tenacity; nor, again, is it to their discredit that English historians
have done as a rule scant justice to the vigour of the old Welsh
warriors. "Good wine needs no bush." The surface and the tongue of
Wales to-day are sufficient evidence to the vitality of its people and
their martial prowess in the days of old. Their heroes have happily
too long been dust to suffer in reputation at the hands of the modern
destroyer of historic ideals. But above them all, this last and most
recent of patriots, Owen ap Griffith Vychan of Glyndyfrdwy, distinctly
towers. Precisely why this should be is not readily explicable, and to
very many educated Welshmen the fact is not acceptable. But it is
unnecessary to advance here any reasons or theories for the particular
preference accorded to Glyndwr. Whether worthy or not, the fame is
his, and though, curiously enough, uncommemorated in marble, stone, or
brass, and recorded by the poet and historian in a fragmentary and
disconnected fashion, it is fame that seems to grow no dimmer with the
lapse of time. Genealogy has charms for few people, and Welsh
genealogy, to the Saxon who has not served some kind of apprenticeship
to it, is notoriously formidable. But there will be Welsh readers of
an assuredly more sympathetic turn of mind who, not having at their
fingers' ends, perhaps, the details of the national hero's origin,
will be not ungrateful for them.

Owen of Glyndyfrdwy, commonly called Owen Glyndwr, came of the
princely house of Powys, and was a direct descendant in the male line
of the celebrated Bleddyn ap Cynvyn, Prince of Powys, and for a short
time of Gwynedd also, whose reign almost exactly covered the period of
the Norman conquest of England. The second in descent from Bleddyn was
the last Prince of United Powys, and this was Madoc ap Meredith, who
died in 1159. Readers of the introductory chapter will remember that
Powys, between the upper millstone of Norman power and the nether one
of North Welsh patriotism, began to temporise and give way long before
the Edwardian conquest. Its Princes would have been more than mortal
if their politics had not been of an unsteady kind. They frankly
accepted the Norman as "Emperor in London" somewhat early, thus
accepting the inevitable, but could not resist the temptation when
Welsh affairs were prospering to break away to the national side.
While gaining at this cost some immunity from Norman greed and a
measure of semi-independence, the Powys Princes were not wholly
trusted by either party, and sometimes felt the vengeance of both. In
1159 Powysland fell in half; Powys Uchaf, or, roughly speaking,
Montgomeryshire, being given to Madoc's famous nephew, Owen Cyfeiliog,
warrior, poet, founder of Strata Marcella Abbey, and author of _The
Hirlâs Horn_; Lower Powys, or Powys Fadog, the country of the Dee and
Ceiriog, fell to Madoc's son, Griffith ap Madoc. This last was
followed by another Madoc, who in 1200 founded the splendid Abbey of
Valle Crucis, whose ruins, standing as they do in the loveliest nook
of the Vale of Llangollen, are justly celebrated as presenting one of
the most exquisite pictures of the kind in Britain. Beneath its
grass-grown aisles lies the dust of the chieftain of this line of
Powys. To a height of eight hundred feet above its crumbled walls and
gables, still graceful in their decay, springs an isolated cone-shaped
hill, on whose sharp crown stands a pile of ragged, splintered ruins
placed in weird, suggestive fashion against a background of sky. This
is Dinas Brân, the most proudly perched mediæval fortress in Wales,
perhaps in all Britain. Here in this eagle's nest, swung betwixt earth
and heaven, lived the Princes of Powys Fadog; and no more fitting
refuge could be imagined for men who, like them, had sometimes to look
eastward for their foes and sometimes to the west. It was in 1270,
close to the final conquest, that Madoc's son Griffith died, after
dividing his life between friendship with the English King and
repentant alliances with his own race. He had married Emma, daughter
of James, Lord Audley, who had done great service for Henry III.
against the Welsh with a body of German cavalry. The death of this
Griffith ap Madoc is the last event recorded in the Welsh Chronicle.
It is supposed that the monks of Conway and Ystradfflur, who
conjointly compiled it, could not bring themselves to put on record
the sad events of the next twelve years, the last years of Welsh
independence. Griffith's son, another Madoc, followed, and died in
seven years, leaving two young sons, and dividing his inheritance
between them. The elder, Llewelyn, had Dinas Brân with Yale and
Bromfield, while Griffith had Chirk and the territory attached to
it. The orphan boys, their father having been tenant _in capite_ of
Edward the First, became that monarch's wards. Edward, as was
customary, handed them over to the guardianship of two of his nobles,
selecting in this case the great Marcher barons, Warren and Roger
Mortimer. Trusteeships were not in those days, even under favourable
conditions, the thankless and unprofitable affairs they are now.
Warren had Llewelyn and Dinas Brân; Roger Mortimer, Griffith and
Chirk. A Welsh ward in the hands of a Norman Lord Marcher must have
been a lamb among wolves indeed; and as every one, no doubt, expected,
under conditions so painfully tempting, the two boys in due course
disappeared and were no more seen, while two magnificent castles arose
at Chirk and Holt respectively, with a view to securing to these
unjust stewards their ill-gotten territory. A black tale, which
posterity has accepted, crept steadily about, to the effect that a
deep pool in the Dee beneath Holt Castle could tell of a midnight
tragedy therein enacted. The two boys at any rate disappeared, and the
Earls, according to custom, succeeded to their estates. Nor is it very
likely that the King, who himself had a slice of them in that outlying
fragment of Flint still conspicuous on the map of England, asked many

    [Illustration: HOLT CASTLE.

It seems that such conscience as Earl Warren possessed was smitten
with compunction as years went on, and these twinges he thought to
allay by restoring a fragment of the property to the family he had so
outraged. When the King was sitting at Rhuddlan in 1282 the
remorseful Earl petitioned that the manors of Glyndyfrdwy on the Dee
beyond Llangollen and of Cynllaeth a few miles to the south of it,
should be restored to Griffith, an uncle of the two boys whose fate
weighed, let us hope, upon his soul.

In this manner Griffith succeeded to these estates and was known as Y
Baron Gwyn, or "the White Baron," Lord of Glyndyfrdwy in Yale, dying
about 1300. Fourth in direct descent from him and occupying the same
position was Owen Glyndwr's father, Griffith Vychan (_i. e._, "the
little" or "the younger"), the preceding owner having been a Griffith
too. To him succeeded Owen, as eldest son, holding his two manors,
like his fathers before him, direct from the King. On his mother's
side Owen's descent was quite as distinguished,--even more so if one
is to believe that his mother, Elen, was a great-granddaughter of
Catherine, the daughter of the last Llewelyn. Putting this aside,
however, as mere tradition, it will be enough to say that Griffith
Vychan's wife came from South Wales and was a daughter of Thomas ap
Llewelyn ap Rhys, a descendant of the Princes of Deheubarth, Lord of
Iscoede Vchirwen in Cardigan and of Trefgarn in the parish of Brawdy,
Pembrokeshire. He had two daughters, co-heiresses, the elder of whom,
Elen, married Owen's father, while the younger became the wife of
Tudor ap Gronow of Penmynydd, the grandfather of the famous Owen
Tudor. It will be seen, therefore, that Thomas ap Llewelyn was the
ancestor both of Glyndwr and of our present King.

Owen was actually born in the South Welsh home of his mother's family
and inherited property from her which no doubt added to his wealth and
consequence. Trefgarn Owen, Trefgarn West (or "_castel_"), still
exists as a farmhouse, and the tradition that Owen was born in it is
likely long to outlast the edifice itself. This event occurred
probably in the year 1359, in the heyday of the successful wars in
France, so that it is quite possible that Griffith Vychan may have
been among the crowd of Welsh gentlemen who followed the banners of
Edward the Black Prince across the Channel. This would quite account
for the presence of Owen's mother at such a time in the home of her
fathers; and as we know nothing of his childhood, it is perhaps
permissible to indulge in conjectures that have about them some
reasonable probability.

Of Owen's early manhood and domestic life, however, quite enough is
known to dissipate the notion engendered by Shakespeare, and but
faintly discouraged by English historians, that he was a wild Welsh
chieftain, a sort of picturesque mountaineer. On the contrary, he was
a man accustomed to courts and camps, and, judged by the standard of
his time, an educated and polished gentleman. The first actual record
we have of him is on September 3, 1386, when he gave evidence at
Chester as a witness in the greatest and most prolonged lawsuit that
had ever, in England, filled the public eye. This was the celebrated
case of Scrope and Grosvenor, the point in dispute relating solely to
a coat of arms. It lasted four years and nearly every prominent person
in the country at one time or another gave evidence. Among these
appears the name of "_Oweyn Sire de Glendore de age XXVII ans et
pluis_," also that of "_Tudor de Glindore_," his brother, who was some
three years younger than Owen, and fell ultimately in his service. Of
the nature of his evidence we know nothing. The entry is only valuable
as giving weight to the year 1359 as the most likely date of his

In the social economy of Wales, Owen's forbears, since they lost at
the Edwardian conquest, in the manner related, the chieftainship of
Powys Fadog, had been simply minor barons or private gentlemen of fair
estate. They had nothing like the official position, the wealth, or
the power of the Lord Marchers. Still they owed no allegiance, as did
many of the lesser nobility, to any great Marcher baron, but held
their estates in North Wales direct from the King himself. And we may
well suppose that with the long memories of the Welsh no Marcher
baron, no Mortimer, nor Gray, nor Talbot, whether in peace or war, was
in their eyes so great a man as simple Owen of Glyndyfrdwy, on whose
modest patrimony the vast estates of these interlopers encroached. As,
in the ancient tribal laws of Wales, it took nine generations for an
alien or servile family to qualify for admission to full rights, so it
was equally difficult to make a medieval Welshman realise that the
ejected landowners and princes of their own race were other than
temporary sufferers. They could not believe that Providence intended
to perpetuate so great an outrage. They recognised in their hearts no
other owner but the old stock, whatever the exigencies of the times
might compel them to do with their lips, and even their spears and
bows, while every vagrant bard and minstrel helped to fix the
sentiment more firmly in their breasts.

Owen himself, as a man of the world, had, of course, no such
delusions. No one, however, when the time was ripe, knew better than
he how to work upon the feelings of those who had. A family grievance
of his own, as we have shown, he might justifiably have nursed, but
there is no reason to suppose that he was on bad terms with the houses
either of Warren or Mortimer. Indeed, he is said to have been esquire
at one time to the Earl of Arundel. His local quarrels lay, as we
shall see, to the north and rested wholly on personal grounds, having
no relation whatever to the wrongs of his great-great-grandfather.

In the only signature extant of Owen previous to his assumption of
princely honours, we find him describing himself as "Oweyn ap
Griffith, Dominus de Glyn D'wfrdwy." To dwell upon the innumerable
ways in which his name and title were spelt by Norman and Celtic
writers, contemporary and otherwise, in times when writers' pens
vaguely followed their ears, would be, of course, absurd. The somewhat
formidable sounding name of Glyndyfrdwy simply means the Glen of the
Dwfrdwy or Dyfrdwy, which in turn is the original and still the Welsh
name for the river Dee. About the first syllable of this word
philologists have no scope for disagreement, "Dwr" or "Dwfr"
signifying water; but concerning the terminal syllable there is room
for some difference of opinion. It will be sufficient for us here to
say that the derivations which seem to the eye most obvious are not
so much in favour as that from "Diw," sacred or divine. This attribute
at any rate has been bestowed on the chief and most beautiful of North
Welsh rivers by English and Welsh poets from Spenser to Tennyson and,
according to the former, "by Britons long ygone."

In regard, however, to the pronunciation of the name of Owen's
patrimony, when I have said that the very natives of the historic
hamlet slur the name into something like Glyndowdy,--a rare luxury
among the Welsh,--it is not surprising that Anglo-Norman chroniclers
and others have made havoc of it with their phonetic spelling. Even
Welsh writers have been unsteady upon the point. And Owen of
Glyndyfrdwy probably figures under more designations than any hero who
ever lived: Glendour, Glindor, Glindore, Glendurdy, Glyndurdu, and
Glendowerdy, are but a few selected specimens.

English historians, with characteristic contempt of Welsh detail, have
selected the last and the most unlikely of them all. In his own
country Owen was generally known during his later life and ever since
his death as Glyndwr, the spelling to which I have adhered in these
pages. It may perhaps not be out of place to note that the Welsh "w"
is equivalent to a "ōō," and by a Welsh tongue the terminal "r" is,
of course, strongly marked.

    [Illustration: POWYS CASTLE.

Of the early youth of Glyndwr history tells us nothing, nor, again, is
it known what age he had reached when his father died and the estate
came into his possession. It is supposed that like so many Welshmen
of his time he went to Oxford; but this, after all, must be mere
surmise, though, judging by the bent of his life at that period, we
seem to have good grounds for it. In such case it is likely enough
that he took a leading part in the ferocious faction fights with which
the jealousies of English, Welsh, and Irish students so often
enlivened the cramped streets of medieval Oxford. It is quite certain,
however, that Owen went to London and became a student of the Inns of
Court, a course virtually confined in those times to the sons of the
wealthy and well-born. There is something very natural in the desire
of a large Welsh landowner of that time to familiarise himself with
English law, for the two codes, Welsh and English, to say nothing of
compromises between them, existed side by side over nearly all Wales,
and one can well understand the importance of some knowledge of
Anglo-Norman jurisprudence to a leading Welshman like Glyndwr, who
must have had much to do, both directly and indirectly, with both
kinds of courts. That he was no wild Welsh squire has been already
shown, and it was not unnatural that a youth of handsome person, high
lineage, and good estate should drift, when his law studies were
completed, into the profession of arms and to the English Court. Here
he soon found considerable favour and in course of time became squire
of the body, or "scutiger," not, as most Welsh authorities have
persisted, and still persist, to King Richard the Second, but to his
cousin of Bolingbroke, the future Henry the Fourth. This latter view
is certainly supported by the only documentary evidence extant, as
Mr. Wylie in his able and exhaustive history of that monarch points
out. "Regi moderno ante susceptum regnum," is the sentence in the
_Annales_ describing Glyndwr's position in this matter, and it surely
removes any doubt that Bolingbroke is the King alluded to. In such
case Owen must have shared those perils and adventures by land and sea
in which the restless Henry engaged. It is strange enough, too, that
men linked together in a relationship so intimate should have spent
the last fifteen years of their lives in a struggle so persistent and
so memorable as did these two. Bolingbroke began this series of
adventures soon after the loss of his wife, about the year 1390, and
we may therefore, with a fair probability of truth, picture Glyndwr at
that grand tournament at Calais where Henry so distinguished himself,
and poor Richard by comparison showed to such small advantage. He may
also have been present at the capture of Tunis, where English and
French to the wonder of all men fought side by side without friction
or jealousy; or again with Bolingbroke on his long journey in 1393 to
Jerusalem, or rather towards it, for he never got there. There were
adventures, too, which Owen may have shared, with German knights upon
the Baltic, and last, though by no means least, with Sigismund, King
of Hungary, at that memorable scene upon the Danube when he was forced
into his ships by the victorious Turks.

Yet the tradition is so strong that Glyndwr was in the personal
service of Richard during the close of that unfortunate monarch's
reign, that one hesitates to brush it aside from mere lack of written
evidence. Nor indeed does the fact of his having been Henry's esquire
constitute any valid reason for doing so. It is not very likely that,
when the latter in 1398 was so unjustly banished by Richard to an
uneventful sojourn in France, Glyndwr, with the cares of a family and
estate growing upon him, would have been eager to share his exile. On
the other hand, he must have been by that time well known to Richard,
and with his Pembrokeshire property and connections may well, like so
many Welshmen, have been tempted later on to embark in that ill-fated
Irish expedition which promised plunder and glory, but turned out to
be incidentally the cause of Richard's undoing. That this feckless
monarch possessed some peculiar charm and a capacity for endearing
individuals to his person seems tolerably evident, however strange.
That the Welsh were devoted to him we know, so that perhaps the
loyalty to Richard with which most Welsh writers credit Glyndwr arose
from such personal service rendered after the departure of Bolingbroke
for France. And it is quite possible that he went, as they assert,
with the King on that last ill-timed campaign which cost him his

Some declare that he was among the small knot of faithful followers
who, when his army abandoned the slothful Richard on his return to
Pembrokeshire from Ireland, rode across country with him to Conway,
where Salisbury in despair had just been compelled to disband his
freshly mustered Welshmen for lack of food and pay. If this is true,
Glyndwr, who most certainly never lost battles from sloth or timidity
when he became in one sense a king, must have witnessed with much
sympathy the lamentations of the faithful Salisbury:

    "O, call back yesterday, bid time return,
    And thou shalt have ten thousand fighting men;
    To-day, to-day, unhappy day too late,
    O'erthrows thy joys, friends, fortune, and thy state."

All this occurred in September of the year 1399. Henry, taking
advantage of Richard's absence, had landed, it will be remembered, at
Ravenspur in Yorkshire some two months earlier. He found discontent
with the existing state of affairs everywhere prevalent and the
recognised heir to the throne but lately dead. The situation was
tempting to a degree. Bolingbroke's first intention had almost
certainly aimed at nothing more than the recovery of his own immense
estates of which he had been most unjustly and unscrupulously deprived
by his royal cousin. But unexpected temptations confronted him. He was
met on landing by the Percys and soon afterwards by other great
nobles, who, from what motives it matters little, encouraged him to
seize the throne. To make a short story of a famous episode in English
history, Bolingbroke found himself by September, when Richard was
returning with fatal tardiness from Ireland, not indeed actually
crowned, but in full possession of London and other districts and
virtually acknowledged as King. In the same month he was heading a
triumphant march by way of Bristol at the head of a great and
gathering army towards North Wales, where Richard lay, as we have
seen, at Conway, helplessly wringing his hands and cursing the fate he
had brought upon himself.

      F. Frith & Co.]

According to the Welsh version, Glyndwr must have been present when
Percy, Earl of Northumberland, who in years to come was to be so
vitally bound up with his fortunes, entered the great hall of Conway
Castle, to all appearances a friendly and unarmed envoy of Henry of
Bolingbroke. We all remember his soft speech and how with the utmost
deference and humility he told King Richard that all his dear cousin
required of him was to ride back by his side to London and there
summon a Parliament, and bring to justice certain persons, who, for
the past few years, had been his evil counsellors. If Glyndwr was in
truth there, he must almost certainly have seen these two illustrious
personages commit that astounding piece of perjury and sacrilege in
Conway church, when they knelt side by side and swore before the altar
and upon the sacred elements that their intentions towards each other
were wholly friendly and without guile. He must then, too, have heard
King Richard, when scarcely off his knees, swear that if only he could
get his dear cousin of Bolingbroke into his hands he would put him to
such a cruel death it should be long spoken of even in Turkey. Perhaps
it was the memory of the spectacle that decided Glyndwr on certain
occasions in his after life to show a curious reluctance to "put his
trust in princes," however loyal in the abstract he might be to their
memory. If we follow the Welsh tradition, he saw this game of
duplicity to the bitter end and made one of the small band of
horsemen who crossed the estuary of the Conway in the dawn of an
autumn morning with the puling king on their way to Rhuddlan Castle,
whose ivy-mantled ruins still make such a charming picture amid the
meadows where the Clwyd winds its tidal course towards the sea. Long
before Richard got there, and while still surmounting the steep
headland of Rhos above Old Colwyn, he caught sight of the troops which
the crafty Northumberland had left there in concealment. It was too
late to retreat. The waves roared far beneath him and rocky crags
towered high above his head. He saw that he was undone and read in the
situation the black treachery he would have himself dealt out with
scant scruple to anyone lingering in the path of self-indulgence,
which he had so long trodden.

    "O that I were as great
    As is my grief, or greater than my name,
    Or that I could forget what I have been,
    Or not remember what I must be now."

Amid faces from which the friendly mask had already half fallen and
spears that may well have had an ominous glitter in his eyes, the
disheartened King passed on to Rhuddlan and from Rhuddlan to the
strong castle of Flint. Here in the morning came to him his cousin of
Bolingbroke, inquiring, among other things, whether he had broken his
fast, for he had a long ride before him. Whereat Richard demanded what
great army was that which darkened the sands of Dee below the castle
walls. Henry replied curtly that they were Londoners for the most
part, and that they had come to take him prisoner to the Tower, and
nothing else would satisfy them. If Glyndwr were indeed present it
must have been a strange enough sight for him, this meeting of his
former patron and his present master, under such sinister
circumstances, in the gloomy chambers of Flint Castle. If he were
still here it may be safely assumed that, like the rest of Richard's
escort, he went no farther. Even if he were absent, quietly hawking
and hunting at Glyndyfrdwy, there would be nothing irrelevant in
calling to the reader's recollection a famous episode, the chief
actors in which had so far-reaching an influence on the Welsh hero's
life; how all semblance of respect for the King's person was dropped;
how, mounted of design upon a sorry nag, he was led with many
indignities along the weary road to London and there made to read his
own abdication in favour of his captor and cousin; and how he was
hurried from fortress to fortress, till at Pontefract he ended his
misspent life in a manner that to this day remains a mystery--all this
is a matter of historic notoriety. Whether the unfortunate Richard
died of grief, failing health, and lack of attention, or whether he
was the victim of deliberate foul play, only concerns us here from the
fact of his name occurring so frequently in our story as a
rallying-cry for Henry's enemies, and from the mystery attaching to
the manner of his death being for years a genuine grievance among the
rank and file of the disaffected, and a handy weapon for their more
designing leaders.

How much of his life Glyndwr had so far spent in his native valleys
of the Dee or Cynllaeth it is impossible to guess. Perhaps at odd
times a good deal of it; seeing that he was now over forty, had found
time to marry a wife, a lady of the neighbourhood, by whom he had
become the father of a numerous family, and to win for himself great
popularity and a name for hospitality. The famous Welsh poet, Gryffydd
Llwyd, much better known by his bardic name of "Iolo Goch," or the Red
Iolo, was his constant friend and companion at this time, and became,
later on, the Laureate of his Court and of his cause. In the thick
volume which the extant works of Iolo fill he has left us a graphic
though somewhat fantastic picture of Glyndwr's domestic life. I have
already shown how the Welsh chieftain owned the two estates of
Glyndyfrdwy and Sycherth or Cynllaeth in his native district, while
from his mother he inherited property in Pembroke. The two former
places were near together. If the mountain fringes of Glyndyfrdwy,
which ran east and west, did not actually touch the Sycherth estate,
which ran north and south with the waters of the Cynllaeth brook,
there could have been little but the deep Vale of the Ceiriog to
divide them. There were mansions upon both estates, and, though
Glyndyfrdwy was the more important property, it was in the less
striking but still charming valley down which the Cynllaeth babbles to
meet the Tanat beneath the woodlands of Llangedwyn, that Sycherth or
Sychnant, the more imposing of Glyndwr's two houses, was situated.
This valley lies snugly tucked away behind the first ridge of hills
which rises abruptly behind Oswestry and so conspicuously marks the
Welsh frontier. It practically skirts the English border, and Offa's
Dyke trails its still obvious course along the lofty summit of its
eastern boundary. Scarcely anywhere, indeed, does the Principality
begin in a social sense with such striking abruptness. Once over the
hill from Shropshire, and within a short hour's drive from Oswestry,
and you are for every practical purpose in the heart of Celtic Wales.
Few travellers come this way, for it is on the road to nowhere that
the outside world takes count of, and few strangers but an occasional
antiquary ever see the well-defined and flat-topped tumulus on which
the manor house of the most famous of all Welshmen stood. It lies in a
meadow between a wooded hill and the Cynllaeth brook, not far from
Llansilin, and is very conspicuous from the road leading up the valley
to the little hamlet, whose churchyard holds the dust of another
famous Welshman, the seventeenth-century poet, Huw Morris. The inner
and the outer moat of Sycherth are still more or less perfect, and
there are even yet, or were not long ago, plain traces of stonework
beneath the turf. It will be well, however, to let Iolo, who was there
so much and knew it so well, tell us what it looked like in his time,
five hundred years ago.

    [Illustration: SYCHERTH, FROM THE SOUTH.
      W. D. Haydon.]

There was a gate-house, he says, a strong tower, and a moat. The house
contained nine halls, each furnished with a wardrobe filled with the
raiment of Owen's retainers. Near the house on a verdant bank was a
wooden building supported upon posts and roofed with tiles. Here were
eight apartments in which the guests slept. There was a church, too,
in the form of a cross, and several chapels. The mansion was
surrounded with every convenience and every essential for maintaining
a profuse hospitality: a park, warren and pigeon-house, mill,
orchards, and vineyard; a fish-pond well stocked with "gwyniads" from
Bala Lake, a heronry, and plenty of game of all sorts. The cook, Iolo
declares with much enthusiasm, was one of the very best; and the
hospitality of the establishment so unstinted that the office of gate
porter was a sinecure. Our bard indeed makes his poetic lips literally
smack over the good things beneath which Glyndwr's table groaned. Nor
does he forget his hostess:

    "The best of wives,
    Happy am I in her wine and metheglyn;
    Eminent woman of a knightly family,
    Honourable, beneficent, noble,
    Her children come forward two by two,
    A beautiful nest of chieftains."

Charming, however, as is the site of Sycherth, nestling beneath its
wooded hill and looking out towards the great masses of the Berwyn
Mountains, it would ill compare with that almost matchless gem of
Welsh scenery, where the vales of Edeyrnion and Llangollen meet among
the mantling woodlands and sounding gorges of Glyndyfrdwy. It is a
curiously apt coincidence that one of the most romantic spots in Wales
should have been the cradle of the man who is without doubt the most
romantic personage in Welsh history. Scarcely anyone, as I have said,
ever finds his way to Sycherth; but thousands of travellers every
summer follow by road or rail that delightful route which, hugging the
Dee from Ruabon almost to its source beyond Bala Lake, reveals new
beauties at every turn. Such being the case I would venture to ask any
intending traveller from Ruabon to Bala and Dolgelly to take special
note of a spot just five minutes to the westward of Glyndyfrdwy
station, where the wide torrent of the Dee, after clinging to the
railroad for some distance, takes a sudden bend to the north.
Precisely here, but perched high upon the other side of the railroad
and so nearly overhanging it as not to be readily visible, is a green
tumulus crowned by a group of windswept fir trees. This is locally
known as "Glyndwr's Mount," not because, as was probably the case at
Sycherth, it was erected as a foundation for the chieftain's
house,--since this one here is evidently prehistoric,--but merely from
the fact that the house stood at its foot. Vague traces of the house
are still visible beneath the turf of the narrow meadow that lies
squeezed in between the Holyhead Road on the upper side and the river
and railroad on the lower side.[6] Whether Sycherth was Owen's
favourite home in peace or not, Glyndyfrdwy was most certainly his
more natural headquarters in war, while in his own district. Both,
however, were burnt down by Prince Henry, as we shall see later on, in
one of his expeditions against the Welsh. As for the mound, it is a
notable landmark, being one of a series which are sprinkled along the
Dee valley in such fashion as to indicate beyond a doubt that if they
were indeed the tombs of dead warriors, they were also most admirable
signal-stations for living ones. But whatever the origin of this one
it had at any rate no connection with times so recent as those of
Glyndwr. The only surviving relic of that hero's residence is a long,
narrow oaken table of prodigious thickness, which is yet treasured in
a neighbouring farmhouse. A meadow below is still called "Parliament
field," while the massive old stone homestead of Pen-y-bont, half a
mile up the valley, contains a portion of the walls which formed, it
is believed, Glyndwr's stables, or, more probably, his farm buildings.
But as many of these local points will come up in the course of my
story, it is time to say something of the lady who, so entirely blest
in her earlier years, was to spend her later ones amid such stress and
storm, and to share so precarious a crown.

    [6] A friend of the writer, who lived to an advanced age, was told
    in his youth by old men in the neighbourhood that they could
    remember when there was a good deal of stonework to be seen lying
    about. Now, however, there is little to mark the spot but the
    suggestive undulations of the turf.

This lady bountiful of Sycherth and Glyndyfrdwy, so extolled by Iolo,
came of a notable Flintshire house. She was the daughter of Sir David
Hanmer of Hanmer, a family long settled in that detached fragment of
Flint known then as Maelor Seisnig, or "English Maelor." Sir David had
been appointed by Richard the Second one of the Justices of the King's
Bench and at the same time knighted. There are Hanmers even yet in
those parts; till comparatively lately there were still Hanmers of
Hanmer. More enduring than a human stock, there are monuments in stone
and brass that tell the story, common enough in England, of a family
that for centuries were great in their own district without ever
making their name a familiar one to the average British ear. The
Hanmers, too, were a fair specimen of many families in the Welsh
Marches who had both English and Welsh blood in their veins, and whose
sympathies were divided when social animosities took a warlike turn.
It was very much so indeed with the Hanmers when Glyndwr's war by
degrees forced everyone to take a side in self-defence. Of Glyndwr's
sons only two are directly mentioned, Griffith and Meredith, both of
whom we shall find fighting by his side, but at such an advanced stage
of the struggle that it seems probable they were but boys when
hostilities broke out. We hear dimly of three more, Madoc, Thomas, and
John. Of the daughters somewhat more is known; and they must for the
most part have been older, since it seems that three were married
before the troubles began. The eldest, Isabel, became the wife of a
Welshman, Adda ab Iorwerth Ddu. The second, Elizabeth, married Sir
John Scudamore of Kent Church and Holme Lacy in Herefordshire, whose
descendants still retain the name and the first of these historic
manors. Another, Janet, was given to John Crofts of Croft Castle in
the same county, and the youngest, Margaret, called after her mother,
took another Herefordshire gentleman, Roger Monnington of Monnington.
The most celebrated was the fourth daughter, Jane, whom we shall find
being united under romantic circumstances to her father's illustrious
captive and subsequent ally, Sir Edmund Mortimer. She it is, of
course, whom Shakespeare brings upon his stage and, in her song to
Hotspur and Mortimer,

    "Makes Welsh as sweet as ditties highly penned,
    Sung by a fair queen in a summer's bower."

The Commote of Glyndyfrdwy, which formed Owen's Dee property, lay in
the then newly formed county of Merioneth, though it was wedged in by
the Marcher lordships of Chirk, Bromfield, and Yale on the east; while
to the north, Denbighshire as yet having no existence, it touched the
Norman lordships of Ruthin and Denbigh in the Vale of Clwyd. But
Glyndwr held his estates direct from the King, having manor courts of
his own, and resorting in more important matters to the assize towns
of Dolgelly and Harlech. Corwen must have been actually on his
property but, though a notable gathering-spot in war time, it had no
corporate existence, and was probably even more insignificant in size
than the other Merioneth towns. The Welsh did not herd together in
towns or villages. Each individual or group of individuals dwelt on
their small homesteads scattered about the hillsides or cut out of the
forests which then covered so much of the country and had contributed
so greatly to its defence.

       *       *       *       *       *

Owen in his home life must have been something of an unique
personality. He was the equal in breeding and in knowledge of the
world of the great barons around him,--the Greys, Talbots, and
Charltons,--and of sufficient estate to be himself a grand seigneur.
Yet his hospitable house must have offered a remarkable contrast in
the eyes of the natives to the grim fortresses of Chirk, or Dinas
Brân, or Ruthin, whose owners' mission in life, so far as the Welsh
were concerned, was to make themselves unpleasant. Their claws, it is
true, had been considerably cut down by Edward the First, but the same
blood was there; and the habit of former years, which looked upon the
killing of a Welshman as a meritorious action, only wanted an
opportunity to reassert itself.

Owen's rent-roll was about two hundred pounds a year, and some slight
mental effort is required to realise that this was a very large one,
both actually when judged by the contemporary value of money, and
relatively as regards the financial standing of private landowners,
particularly in Wales, where this was low. Owen was probably one of
the richest native Welshmen of his day. Few if any in the north had
such an opportunity of showing the contrast between the simple and
profuse hospitality of a native aristocrat, and the stiff,
contemptuous solemnity of the lord of a Norman fortress. It was easy
enough for the descendant of Madoc ap Griffith to make himself popular
upon the banks of the upper Dee, and Owen seems to have added a desire
to do so to the personal magnetism that the whole story of his life
shows him to have possessed in a very high degree. All the bards of
his own time and that immediately following unite in this praise of
his hospitality. Amid much fanciful exaggeration, such for instance
as that which compares Sycherth to "Westminster Abbey and Cheapside,"
there is no doubt about the esteem and admiration in which Owen was
held by the Welsh and particularly by the bards who lived at free
quarters in his roomy halls. But all this began before he had any idea
of utilising his position and popularity in the manner that has made
him immortal. There is really no authority at all for making him a
follower of Richard. All Wales and Cheshire were indignant at the
King's deposition and treatment, and Glyndwr, even supposing his Irish
expedition to have been mythical, may well have shared this
indignation. But in such a case his antecedents were, from private
attachments, wholly Lancastrian. Not only had he been Bolingbroke's
squire, but his former master, the Earl of Arundel, had been a
pronounced foe of the late King. Discontent and turbulence were
brooding everywhere, but we have no reason to suppose that Glyndwr at
this date, the last year of the century, had any excuse whatever for
entering into dynastic quarrels. On the contrary, unless the story of
his recent connection with Richard be true, he had much reason to be
contented with Bolingbroke's accession. At this moment he was in all
probability living quietly at Sycherth, hunting deer amid the birchen
woods and bracken glades of the Berwyn and hawking in the meadows of
Llansilin. Amid all the pleasures, however, which filled his rural
life there rankled one deep and bitter grievance, and this concerned
the upland tract of Croesau that lay upon the north-western fringe of
his Glyndyfrdwy manor, over which he and his powerful neighbour,
Reginald Grey, Lord of Ruthin, had been falling out this many a long
day. The details of this quarrel, the primary cause of that decade of
strife which desolated Wales and profoundly influenced the reign and
embittered the life of Henry of Bolingbroke, must be reserved for
another chapter.






Reginald, Lord Grey, of Ruthin, the prime cause of all the wars that
devastated Wales and the English Marches throughout the first ten
years of the fifteenth century, was a typical Lord Marcher, and was
perhaps the worst of a fierce, unscrupulous, and pitiless class. His
ancestors had been in the Vale of Clwyd for over a hundred years. At
Edward's conquest the first Earl had been planted by the King at
Ruthin to overawe the Welsh of what is now northern Denbighshire and
of the two recently created counties of Flint and Carnarvon which lay
upon either side. There were other Lord Marchers and other English
garrisons between Chester and Carnarvon, but at the time this story
opens the Greys were beyond a doubt the most ardent and conspicuous
props of the English Crown. The great Red Castle at Ruthin, the
"Castell y Gwern Loch," had risen in Edward's time beside the upper
waters of the Clwyd, and its ample ruins still cluster round the
modern towers where the successors of the fierce Lord Marchers
exercise a more peaceful sway.

    [Illustration: RUTHIN CASTLE.

Around Ruthin Castle, as at Denbigh, Conway, and Carnarvon, a group of
English adventurers--soldiers, tradesmen, clerks, and gentlemen--had
gathered together and built for themselves habitations, aided by
favourable charters from the King, and still greater favours from
their lord, who leant upon their services in times of danger. They led
profitable, if sometimes anxious lives. Welsh and English alike
pleaded before the lordship courts, whose records may still be read by
the curious in such matters. Both Welsh and English laws,
theoretically at any rate, were administered within the lordship, but
as the Lord Marcher was, within his own domain, a law unto himself,
the state of affairs that existed at Ruthin and similar places was
complicated and is not immediately pertinent to this story. It will be
quite accurate enough for present purposes to describe Grey as
surrounded and supported by armed burghers and other dependents,
mainly but not wholly of English blood, while the mass of the Welsh
within his lordship, gentle and simple, remained obedient to his rule
from fear and not from love. I need not trouble the reader with the
limitations of his territory, but merely remark that it bordered upon
that of Owen.

Now, upon the wild upland between the Dee valley and the watershed of
the Clwyd, lay the common of Croesau, whose disputed ownership
eventually set Wales and England by the ears. This strip of land had
originally belonged to Owen's estate of Glyndyfrdwy. Lord Grey,
however, in Richard the Second's time, had, in high-handed fashion,
appropriated it to himself on the sole and poor excuse that it marched
with his own domain. Glyndwr, being at that time probably no match for
Grey at the game of physical force, possessed his fiery soul in
patience, and carried the dispute in a peaceful and orderly manner to
the King's court in London. Here the justice of his claim was
recognised; he won his suit and Lord Grey was compelled to withdraw
his people from the disputed territory, cherishing, we may well
believe, an undying grudge against the Welshman who, before the eyes
of all the world and in an English court of justice, had got the
better of him.

Now, however, a new King was upon the throne, and Owen apparently out
of favour. The opportunity was too good an one to be missed by the
grasping Norman, who, driving Owen's people off the disputed
territory, annexed it once more to his own estate. Glyndwr
nevertheless, whatever the cause may have been, proved himself even
under this further provocation a law-abiding person, and, refraining
from all retaliation, carried his suit once more to London and laid it
before the Parliament which Henry summoned in the spring of 1400, six
months after he had seized the throne. But Owen, though he had been
esquire to the King, was now wholly out of favour, so much so as
greatly to support the tradition that he had served the unfortunate
Richard in a like capacity. His suit was not even accorded the
compliment of a hearing, but was dismissed with contemptuous brevity.
Trevor, Bishop of St. Asaph, who was then about the King's person and
deeply in his confidence, protested in vain against the unjust and
ill-advised course. As a Welshman, familiar with the condition of his
own country, he solemnly warned the authorities against provoking a
man who, though of only moderate estate, was so powerful and so
popular among his own people.

The Bishop's pleadings were of no avail. "What care we for the
barefooted rascals?" was the scornful reply. The Welsh were in fact
already in an electrical condition. In spite of their general
discontent with English rule, they had been attached to Richard, and
with that strength of personal loyalty which in a Celtic race so often
outweighs reason, they resented with heartfelt indignation the
usurpation of Bolingbroke. They were very far from sure that Richard
was even dead. If he were, then Henry had killed him, which made
matters worse. But if in truth he actually still lived, they were
inclined to murmur as loudly and with as much show of reason at his
dethronement. Richard, it will be remembered, after having been
compelled publicly and formally to abdicate the throne, had been
imprisoned for a time in the Tower, and then secretly conveyed from
castle to castle till he reached Pontefract, where he ended his
wretched life. The manner of his death remains to this day a mystery,
as has been intimated already. Whether he was murdered by Henry's
orders or whether his weakened constitution succumbed to sorrow and
confinement or bad treatment, no one will ever know. But his body, at
any rate, was brought to London and there exposed in St. Paul's
Cathedral for the space of three days, that all the world might see
that he was in truth dead. The men of Wales and the North and West of
England had to take all this on hearsay, and were readily persuaded
that some trickery had been played on the Londoners and that some
substitute for Richard had been exposed to their credulous gaze. For
years it was the policy of Henry's enemies to circulate reports that
Richard was still alive, and, as we shall see in due course, his ghost
was not actually laid till the battle of Shrewsbury had been fought
and won by Henry. Indeed, so late as 1406 the old Earl of
Northumberland alleged, in a letter, the possibility of his being
alive, while even seven years after this Sir John Oldcastle declared
he would never acknowledge Parliament so long as his master, King
Richard, still lived.

Glyndwr, after the insults that he had received in London, returned
home, as may well be conceived, not in the best of tempers; Grey,
however, was to perpetrate even a worse outrage upon him than that of
which he had already been guilty and of a still more treacherous
nature. It so happened that at this time the King was preparing for
that expedition against the Scots which started in July, 1400. Among
the nobility and gentry whom he summoned to his standard was Glyndwr,
and there is no reason to assume that the Welshman would have failed
to answer the call. The summons, however, was sent through Lord Grey,
in his capacity of chief Marcher in North Wales; and Grey, with
incredibly poor spite, kept Owen in ignorance of it till it was too
late for him either to join the King's army or to forward an
explanation. Glyndwr was on this account credited at Court with being
a malcontent and a rebel; and as there had been some brawling and
turbulence upon the Welsh border the future chieftain's name was
included among those whom it was Grey's duty, as it was his delight,
to punish. There is no evidence that Owen had stirred. It is possible
he might have made himself disagreeable to Grey upon the marches of
their respective properties. It would be strange if he had not. There
is no mention, however, of his name in the trifling racial
disturbances that were natural to so feverish a time.

It seems pretty evident that if the malicious Lord Marcher had rested
content with his plunder and let sleeping dogs lie, Owen, and
consequently Wales, would never have risen. This ill-advised baron,
however, was by no means content. He applied for further powers in a
letter which is now extant, and got leave to proceed in force against
Owen, among others, as a rebel, and to proclaim his estates, having an
eye, no doubt, to their convenient propinquity in the event of

But before Owen comes upon the scene, and during this same summer, a
most characteristic and entertaining correspondence was being carried
on between the irascible Lord Grey and a defiant gentleman of North
Wales, Griffith ap Dafydd ap Griffith, the "strengest thief in Wales,"
Grey calls him, which is to say that he accuses him of carrying off
some horses from his park at Ruthin. The letters, which are in Sir
Thomas Ellis's collection, are much too long to reproduce, but they
show unmistakably and not without humour, the relations which existed
between Lord Grey and some of his Welsh neighbours, who, already
turbulent, were later on to follow Glyndwr into the field of battle.
The King, before starting for Scotland and before getting Grey's
letters, had commanded his Lord Marchers to use conciliation to all
dissatisfied Welshmen and to offer free pardons to any who were openly
defying his authority.

Griffith ap Dafydd, it seems, had been prominent among these restive
souls, but under a promise, he declares in his letter, of being made
the Master Forester and "Keyshat" of Chirkeland under the King's
charter, he had presented himself at Oswestry and claimed both the
pardon and the office. In the last matter his claim was scouted,
according to his own account, with scandalous breach of faith, and
even his bodily safety did not seem wholly secure from the King's
friends. He narrates at some length the story of his wrongs, and tells
Grey that he has heard of his intention to burn and slay in whatever
country he [Griffith] is in. "Without doubt," he continues "as many
men as ye slay and as many houses as ye burn for my sake, as many will
I burn and slay for your sake," and "doute not that I will have bredde
and ale of the best that is in your Lordschip." There is something
delightfully inconsequent in Griffith's method of ending this
fire-breathing epistle: "Wretten in grete haste at the Park of
Brunkiffe the XIth day of June. I can no more, but God kepe your
Worschipful estate in prosperity."

Grey of Ruthin was filled with wrath at this impudence and replied to
the "strengest thief in Wales" at great length, reserving his true
sentiments, however, for the conclusion, where he bursts into rhyme:
"But we hoope we shall do thee a pryve thyng: A roope, a ladder and a
ring, heigh in a gallowes for to heng. And thus shall be your endyng.
And he that made the be ther to helpyng. And we on our behalf shall be
well willing for thy letter is knowlechyng."

It is quite evident that the Greys had not lived, aliens though they
were, in the land of bards for five generations for nothing. Full of
wrath, and by no means free from panic, Grey writes off in all haste
to the young Prince Henry, who is acting as regent during his father's
absence in the north. He encloses a duplicate of his answer to the
"strengest thief in Wales" and advises the Prince of the
"Misgovernance and riote which is beginning heer in the Marches of
North Wales." He begs for a fuller commission to act against the
rebels, one that will enable him to pursue and take them in the
"Kyng's ground"; in the counties, that is to say, where the King's
writ runs, and not merely in the lordships which covered what are now
the counties of Denbigh and Montgomery. "But worshipful and gracious
Lorde, ye most comaunden the Kynge's officers in every Cuntree to do
the same." Grey goes on to declare that there are many officers, some
in the King's shires, others in the lordships of Mortimer at Denbigh
and of Arundel at Dinas Brân and in Powysland, that are "kin unto
these men that be risen, and tyll ye putte these officers in better
governance this Countrie of North Wales shall nevere have peese." He
enclosed also the letter of the "strengest thief," and begs the Prince
to read it and judge for himself what sort of people he has to face.
He urges him to listen carefully to the full tidings that his poor
messenger and esquire Richard Donne will give him, and to take counsel
with the King for providing some more sufficient means of curbing the
turbulent Welshmen than he now has at his disposal. "Else trewly hitt
will be an unruly Cuntree within short time."

About the same time similar despatches to the Prince sitting in
Council were flying across Wales penned by one of the King's own
officers, the Chamberlain of Carnarvon. These informed the
authorities, among other things, that the Constable of Harlech had
trustworthy evidence of a certain Meredith ap Owen, under whose
protection it may be mentioned Griffith ap Dafydd, Grey's
correspondent, lived, being in secret negotiation with the men of the
outer isles ("owt yles") of Scotland, "through letters in and owt,"
that these Scottish Celts were to land suddenly at Abermaw (Barmouth),
and that Meredith had warned his friends to be in readiness with
horses and harness against the appointed time. It was also rumoured
from this same source upon the Merioneth coast that men were buying
and even stealing horses, and providing themselves with saddles,
bows, arrows, and armour. "Recheles men of divers Countries," too,
were assembling in desolate and wild places and meeting privily,
though their councils were still kept secret, and by these means the
young men of Wales were being greatly demoralised.

No special notice seems to have been taken of these urgent warnings by
those whom the King during his absence in the north had left to guard
his interests. Tumults and disturbances continued both in Wales and on
the Marches throughout the summer, but nothing in the shape of a
general rising took place till the luckless Grey, armed perhaps with
the fresh powers he had sought for, singled out Glyndwr again as the
object of his vengeance. Glyndwr had shown no signs as yet of giving
trouble. His name is not mentioned in the correspondence of this
summer, although he was the leading and most influential Welshman upon
the northern Marches. He or his people may have given Grey some
annoyance, or been individually troublesome along the boundaries of
the property of which he had robbed them. But the Lord Marcher in all
likelihood was merely following up his old grudge in singling out Owen
for his first operations, though it is possible that, having regard to
the latter's great influence and the seething state of Wales, he
thought it politic to remove a man who, smarting under a sense of
injustice, might recommend himself for every reason as a capable
leader to his countrymen. One would have supposed that the "strengest
thief in Wales" would have claimed Grey's first attention, but
Griffith ap Dafydd, who dates his letter from "Brunkiffe,"[7] a name
that baffles identification, was very likely out of ordinary reach.
However that may be, the Lord of Ruthin, collecting his forces and
joining them to those of his brother Marcher, Earl Talbot of Chirk,
moved so swiftly and unexpectedly upon Owen that he had only just time
to escape from his house and seek safety in the neighbouring woodlands
before it was surrounded by his enemies. Whether this notable
incident, so fraught with weighty consequences, took place upon the
Dee or the Cynllaeth--at Glyndyfrdwy, that is to say, or at
Sycherth--is uncertain; conjecture certainly favours the latter
supposition, since Sycherth was beyond a doubt the most important of
Owen's mansions, as well as his favourite residence. Nearly all
historians have hopelessly confounded these two places, which are
seven or eight miles apart as the crow flies and cut off from each
other by the intervening masses of the Berwyn Mountains. Seeing,
however, that Pennant, the Welshman of topographical and archeological
renown, falls into this curious mistake and never penetrated to the
real Sycherth or seemed aware of its existence, it is not surprising
that most English and even Welsh writers have followed suit.

    [7] Possibly Brynkir near Criccieth.

It is of no importance to our story which of the two manors was the
scene of Owen's escape and his enemy's disappointment, but the attack
upon him filled the Welshman's cup of bitterness to the brim. It was
the last straw upon a load of foolish and wanton insult; and of a
truth it was an evil day for Grey of Ruthin, and for his master,
Henry, that saw this lion hunted from his lair; and an evil day
perhaps for Wales, for, though it gave her the hero she most
cherishes, it gave her at the same time a decade of utter misery and
clouded the whole of the fifteenth century with its disastrous

    [Illustration: AN OLD STREET, SHREWSBURY.
      J. Bartlett.]

Henry was very anxious to conciliate the Welsh. Sore and angry as they
were at the deposition of their favourite, Richard, the desultory
lawlessness which smouldered on throughout the summer would to a
certainty have died out, or remained utterly impotent for serious
mischief, before the conciliatory mood of the King, had no leader for
the Welsh been found during his absence in the north. Henry had beyond
question abetted his council in their contemptuous treatment of his
old esquire's suit against Grey. But he may not unnaturally have had
some personal grievance himself against Owen as a sympathiser with
Richard; a soreness, moreover, which must have been still further
aggravated if the tradition of his taking service under the late King
be a true one. Of the attachment of the Welsh to Richard, and their
resentment at Henry's usurpation, we get an interesting glimpse from
an independent source in the manuscript of M. Creton, a French knight
who fought with Richard in Ireland and remained for some time after
his deposition at the English Court. He was present at the coronation
of young Prince Henry as Prince of Wales, which took place early in
this year. "Then arose Duke Henry," he says, "the King's eldest son,
who humbly knelt before him, and he made him Prince of Wales and gave
him the land. But I think he must conquer it if he will have it, for
in my opinion the Welsh would on no account allow him to be their
lord, for the sorrow, evil, and disgrace which the English together
with his father had brought on King Richard."

The Welsh had now found a leader indeed and a chief after their own
heart. Owen was forty-one, handsome, brave, and, as events were soon
to prove, as able as he was courageous. Above all, the blood of Powys
and of Llewelyn ab Iorwerth flowed in his veins. He was just the man,
not only to lead them but to arouse the enthusiasm and stir up the
long-crushed patriotism of an emotional and martial race. He seems to
have stept at once to the front, and to have been hailed with
acclamation by all the restless spirits that had been making the lives
of the Lord Marchers a burden to them throughout the summer, and a
host of others who had hitherto had no thought of a serious appeal to
arms. His standard, the ancient red dragon of Wales upon a white
ground, was raised either at, or in the neighbourhood of, his second
estate of Glyndyfrdwy, possibly at Corwen, where many valleys that
were populous even then draw together, and where the ancient British
camp of Caer Drewyn, lifted many hundred feet above the Dee, suggests
a rare post both for outlook, rendezvous, and defence. Hither flocked
the hardy mountaineers with their bows and spears, not "ragged
barefoots," as English historians, on the strength of a single word,
_nudepedibus_, used by an Englishman in London, have called them in
careless and offhand fashion, but men in great part well armed, as
became a people accustomed to war both at home and abroad, and well
clad, as became a peasantry who were as yet prosperous and had never
known domestic slavery. From the vales of Edeyrnion and Llangollen;
from the wild uplands, too, of Yale and Bryn Eglwys; from the fertile
banks of the Ceiriog and the sources of the Clwyd; and from the
farther shores of Bala Lake, where beneath the shadow of the Arans and
Arenig Fawr population clustered thick even in those distant days,
came pouring forth the tough and warlike sons of Wales. In the van of
all came the bards, carrying not only their harps but the bent bow,
symbol of war. It was to them, indeed, that Glyndwr owed in great
measure the swift and universal recognition that made him at once the
man of the hour. Of all classes of Welshmen the bardic orders were the
most passionately patriotic. For an hundred years their calling had
been a proscribed one. Prior to Edward the First's conquest a regular
tax, the "Cwmwrth," had been laid upon the people for their support.
Since then they had slunk about, if not, as is sometimes said, in
terror of their lives, yet dependent always for their support on
private charity and doles.

But no laws could have repressed song in Wales, and indeed this period
seems a singularly prolific one both in poets and minstrels. They
persuaded themselves that their deliverance from the Saxon grip was at
hand, and saw in the valiant figure of Owain of Glyndyfrdwy the
fulfilment of the ancient prophecies that a Welsh prince should once
again wear the crown of Britain. Glyndwr well knew that the sympathy
of the bards would prove to him a tower of strength, and he met them
more than half way. If he was not superstitious himself he understood
how to play upon the superstition and romantic nature of his
countrymen. The old prophecies were ransacked, portents were rife in
sea and sky. The most ordinary occurrences of nature were full of
significant meaning for Owen's followers and for all Welshmen at that
moment, whether they followed him or not; and in the month of August
Owen declared himself, and by an already formidable body of followers
was declared, "Prince of Wales." His friend and laureate, Iolo Goch,
was by his side and ready for the great occasion.

    "Cambria's princely Eagle, hail,
    Of Gryffydd Vychan's noble blood;
    Thy high renown shall never fail,
    Owain Glyndwr great and good,
    Lord of Dwrdwy's fertile Vale,
    Warlike high born Owain, hail!"

Glyndwr would hardly have been human if he had not made his first move
upon his relentless enemy, Lord Grey of Ruthin. There is no evidence
whether the latter was himself at home or not, but Owen fell upon the
little town on a Fair day and made a clean sweep of the stock and
valuables therein collected. Thence he passed eastwards, harrying and
burning the property of English settlers or English sympathisers.
Crossing the English border and spreading panic everywhere, he invaded
western Shropshire, capturing castles and burning houses and
threatening even Shrewsbury.

The King, who had effected nothing in the North, was pulled up sharply
by the grave news from Wales and prepared to hasten southwards. By
September 3rd he had retraced his steps as far as Durham, and passing
through Pontefract, Doncaster, and Leicester arrived at Northampton
about the 14th of the same month. Here fuller details reached him, and
he deemed it necessary to postpone the Parliament which he had
proposed to hold at Westminster in September, till the beginning of
the following year, 1401. From Northampton Henry issued summons to the
sheriffs of the midland and border counties that they were to join him
instantly with their levies, and that he was proceeding without delay
to quell the insurrection that had broken out in North Wales. He wrote
also to the people of Shrewsbury, warning them to be prepared against
all attacks, and to provide against the treachery of any Welshmen that
might be residing within the town. Then, moving rapidly forward and
taking his son, the young Prince Henry, with him, he reached
Shrewsbury about the 24th of the month.

Henry's crown had hitherto been a thorny one and he had derived but
little satisfaction from it. The previous winter had witnessed the
desperate plot from which he only saved himself by his rapid ride to
London from Windsor, and the subsequent capture and execution of the
Earls of Salisbury, Kent, and Huntington, who had been the
ringleaders. From his unsteady throne he saw both France and Scotland
awaiting only an opportune moment to strike him. The whole spring had
been passed in diplomatic endeavours to keep them quiet till he was
sure of his own subjects. Isabella, the daughter of the King of France
and child-widow of the late King Richard, had brought with her a
considerable dower, and the hope of getting a part of this back,
together with the young Queen herself, had kept the French quiet. But
Scotland, that ill-governed and turbulent country, had been chafing
under ten years of peace; and its people, or rather the restless
barons who governed them, were getting hungry for the plunder of their
richer neighbours in the South, and, refusing all terms, were already
crossing the border. Under ordinary circumstances an English king
might have left such matters in the hands of his northern nobles. But
it seemed desirable to Henry that he should, on the first occasion,
show both to the Scotch and his own people of what mettle he was made.
He was also angered at the lack of decent excuse for their
aggressions. So he hurried northward, as we have seen, and having
hurled the invaders back over the border as far as Edinburgh, he had
for lack of food just returned to Newcastle when the bad news from
Wales arrived. He was now at Shrewsbury, within striking distance, as
it seemed, of the Welsh rebels and their arch-leader, his old esquire,
Glyndwr. Neither Henry nor his soldiers knew anything of Welsh
campaigning or of Welsh tactics, for five generations had passed away
since Englishmen had marched and fought in that formidable country and
against their ancient and agile foes. Henry the Fourth, so far as we
can judge, regarded the task before him with a light heart. At any
rate he wasted some little time at Shrewsbury, making an example of
the first Welshman of importance and mischievous tendencies that fell
into his hands. This was one Grenowe ap Tudor, whose quarters, after
he had been executed with much ceremony, were sent to ornament the
gates of Bristol, Hereford, Ludlow, and Chester, respectively. The
King then moved into Wales with all his forces, thinking, no doubt, to
crush Glyndwr and his irregular levies in a short time and without
much difficulty. This was the first of his many luckless campaigns in
pursuit of his indomitable and wily foe, and perhaps it was the least
disastrous. For though he effected nothing against the Welsh troops
and did not even get a sight of them, he at least got out of the
country without feeling the prick of their spears, which is more than
can be said of almost any of his later ventures. His invasion of
Wales, in fact, upon this occasion was a promenade and is described as
such in contemporary records. He reached Anglesey without incident,
and there for the sake of example drove out the Minorite friars from
the Abbey of Llanfaes near Beaumaris, on the plea that they were
friends of Owen. The plea seems to have been a sound one, for the
Franciscans were without doubt the one order of the clergy that
favoured Welsh independence. But Henry, not content with this,
plundered their abbey, an inexcusable act, and one for which in after
years some restitution appears to have been made. Bad weather and lack
of supplies, as on all after occasions, proved the King's worst
enemies. Glyndwr and his people lay snug within the Snowdon mountains,
and by October 17th, Henry, having set free at Shrewsbury a few
prisoners he brought with him, was back at Worcester. Here he declared
the estates of Owen to be confiscated and bestowed them on his own
half-brother, Beaufort, Earl of Somerset. He little thought at that
time how many years would elapse before an English nobleman could
venture to take actual possession of Sycherth or Glyndyfrdwy.

Upon November 20th a general pardon was offered to all Welsh rebels
who would come in and report themselves at Shrewsbury or Chester, the
now notorious Owen always excepted, and on this occasion Griffith
Hanmer, his brother-in-law, and one of the famous Norman-Welsh family
of Pulestone had the honour of being fellow-outlaws with their chief.
Their lands also were confiscated and bestowed on two of the King's
friends. It is significant, however, of the anxiety regarding the
future which Glyndwr's movement had inspired, that the grantee of the
Hanmer estates, which all lay in Flint, was very glad to come to terms
with a member of the family and take a trifling annuity instead of the
doubtful privilege of residence and rent collecting. The castle of
Carnarvon was strongly garrisoned. Henry, Prince of Wales, then only
in his fourteenth year, was left at Chester with a suitable council
and full powers of exercising clemency toward all Welshmen lately in
arms, other than the three notable exceptions already mentioned, who
should petition for it. Few, however, if any, seem to have taken the
trouble to do even thus much. And in the meantime the King, still
holding the Welsh rebellion as of no great moment, spent the winter in
London entertaining the Greek Emperor and haggling with the King of
France about the return of the money paid to Richard as the dower of
his child-queen, Isabella, who was still detained in London as in some
sort a hostage.

Parliament sat early in 1401 and was by no means as confident as Henry
seemed to be regarding the state of Wales, a subject which formed the
chief burden of their debate. Even here, perhaps, the gravity of the
Welsh movement was not entirely realised; the authorities were angry
but scarcely alarmed; no one remembered the old Welsh wars or the
traditional defensive tactics of the Welsh, and the fact of Henry
having swept through the Principality unopposed gave rise to
misconceptions. There was no question, however, about their hostility
towards Wales, and in the early spring of this year the following
ordinances for the future government of the Principality were

(1) All lords of castles in Wales were to have them properly secured
against assault on pain of forfeiture.

(2) No Welshman in future was to be a Justice, Chamberlain,
Chancellor, Seneschal, Receiver, Chief Forester, Sheriff, Escheator,
Constable of a castle, or Keeper of rolls or records. All these
offices were to be held by Englishmen, who were to reside at their

(3) The people of a district were to be held responsible for all
breaches of the peace in their neighbourhood and were to be answerable
in their own persons for all felons, robbers, and trespassers found

(4) All felons and evildoers were to be immediately handed over to
justice and might not be sheltered on any pretext by any lord in any

(5) The Welsh people were to be taxed and charged with the expense of
repairing and maintaining walls, gates, and castles in North Wales
when wilfully destroyed, and for refurnishing them and keeping them in
order, at the discretion of the owner, for a term not exceeding three
years, except under special orders from the King.

(6) No meetings of Welsh were to be held without the permission of the
chief officers of the lordship, who were to be held responsible for
any damage or riot that ensued.

The gifts called "Cwmwrth," too, exacted by collection for the
maintenance of the bards or minstrels, were strictly interdicted. Adam
of Usk, one of the few lay chroniclers of this period, was himself
present at the Parliament of 1401 and heard "many harsh things" to be
put in force against the Welsh: among others, "that they should not
marry with English, nor get them wealth, nor dwell in England." Also
that the men of the Marches "might use reprisals against Welshmen who
were their debtors or who had injured them," a truce for a week being
first granted to give them the opportunity of making amends.

      Miss Walker.]

It was much easier, however, to issue commands and instructions
than to carry them out. The King seems to have felt this, and leant
strongly towards a greater show of clemency. But there was sufficient
panic in parts of England to override the royal scruples or common
sense, and so far as intentions went the Welsh were to be shown little

Owen all this time had been lying quietly in the valley of the upper
Dee, preparing for still further endeavours. The short days and the
long nights of winter saw the constant passing to and fro of
innumerable sympathisers through the valleys and over the hills of
both North and South Wales, and a hundred harps, that had long been
faint or silent, were sounding high to the glories of the unforgotten
heroes of Old Wales. Mere hatred of Henry and tenderness for Richard's
memory were giving place to ancient dreams of Cambrian independence
and a fresh burst of hatred for the Saxon yoke. Owen, too strong now
to fear anything from isolated efforts of Lord Marchers, seems to have
held high festival at Glyndyfrdwy during the winter, and with the
assumption of princely rank to have kept up something of the nature of
princely state. With the exception of Grey to the north and the lords
of Chirk upon the east, it is probable that nearly everyone around him
was by now either his friend or in wholesome dread of his displeasure.

Shropshire was panic-stricken for the time. Hotspur was busy at
Denbigh, and Glyndwr, among his native hills, had it, no doubt, very
much his own way during the winter months, and made full use of them
to push forward his interests. His property, it will be remembered,
had been confiscated. But so far from anyone venturing to take
possession of Glyndyfrdwy, its halls, we are told, at this time rang
with revelry and song, while Owen, in the intervals of laying his
plans and organising his campaign for the ensuing summer, received the
homage of the bards who flocked from every part of the principality to
throw their potent influence into the scale. However much Glyndwr's
vanity and ambition may have been stirred by the enthusiasm which
surged around him, and the somewhat premature exultation that with
wild rhapsody hailed him as the restorer of Welsh independence, he
never for a moment lost sight of the stern issues he had to face, or
allowed himself to be flattered into overconfidence. Courage and
coolness, perseverance and sagacity, were his leading attributes. He
well knew that the enthusiasm of the bards was of vital consequence to
the first success of his undertaking. It is of little moment whether
he shared the superstitions of those who sang of the glorious destiny
for which fate had marked him or of those who listened to the singing.
It is not likely that a man who showed himself so able and so cool a
leader would fail to take full advantage of forces which at this early
stage were so supremely valuable.

He knew his countrymen and he knew the world, and when Wales was
quivering with excitement beneath the interpretation of ancient
prophecies bruited hither and thither and enlarged upon by poetic and
patriotic fancy, Glyndwr was certainly not the man to damp their
ardour by any display of criticism.

Already the great news from Wales had thrilled the heart of many a
Welshman poring over his books at the university, or following the
plough-tail over English fallows. They heard of friends and relatives
selling their stock to buy arms and harness, and in numbers that yet
more increased as the year advanced, began to steal home again, all
filled with a rekindled glow of patriotism that a hundred years of
union and, in their cases, long mingling with the Saxon had not
quenched. Oxford, particularly, sent many recruits to Owen, and this
is not surprising, seeing how combative was the Oxford student of that
time and how clannish his proclivities. Adam of Usk, who has told us a
good deal about Glyndwr's insurrection, was himself an undergraduate
some dozen years before it broke out, and has given us a brief and
vivid picture of the ferocious fights upon more or less racial lines,
in which the Welsh chronicler not only figured prominently himself,
but was an actual leader of his countrymen; "was indicted," he tells
us, "for felonious riot and narrowly escaped conviction, being tried
by a jury empanelled before a King's Judge. After this I feared the
King hitherto unknown to me and put hooks in my jaws." These
particular riots were so formidable that the scholars for the most
part, after several had been slain, departed to their respective

In the very next year, however, "Thomas Speke, Chaplain, with a
multitude of other malefactors, appointing captains among them, rose
up against the peace of the King and sought after all the Welshmen
abiding and studying in Oxford, shooting arrows after them in divers
streets and lanes as they went, crying out, 'War! war! war! Sle Sle
Sle the Welsh doggys and her whelpys; ho so looketh out of his house
he shall in good sooth be dead,' and certain persons they slew and
others they grievously wounded, and some of the Welshmen, who bowed
their knees to abjure the town," they led to the gates with certain
indignities not to be repeated to ears polite. We may also read the
names of the different halls which were broken into, and of Welsh
scholars who were robbed of their books and chattels, including in
some instances their harps.

It is not altogether surprising, therefore, that Welsh Oxonians should
have hailed the opportunity of Owen's rising to pay off old scores. We
have the names of some of those who joined him in an original paper,
in the Rolls of Parliament, which fully corroborates the notice of
this event; Howel Kethin (Gethin) "bachelor of law, duelling in
Myghell Hall, Oxenford," was one of them; "Maister Morres Stove, of
the College of Excestre," was another, while David Brith, John Lloid,
and several others are mentioned by name. One David Leget seems to
have been regarded as such an addition that Owen himself sent a
special summons that he "schuld com till hym and be his man." So
things in Wales went from bad to worse; Glyndwr's forces gaining
rapidly in strength and numbers, and actively preparing in various
quarters for the operations that marked the open season of 1401.





North Wales, as already mentioned, was being now administered by the
young Prince Henry, with the help of a council whose headquarters were
at Chester. Under their orders, and their most active agent at this
time, was Henry Percy, the famous Hotspur, eldest son of the Earl of
Northumberland. He was Justice of North Wales and Constable of the
castles of Chester, Flint, Conway, Denbigh, and Carnarvon, and had
recently been granted the whole island of Anglesey. Hotspur, for
obvious reasons, made his headquarters at the high-perched and
conveniently situated fortress of Denbigh, which Lacy, Earl of
Lincoln, had built at the Edwardian conquest. Its purpose was to
overawe the lower portion of the Vale of Clwyd, which had fallen to
Lacy's share at the great division of plunder that signalised the
downfall of the last of the Welsh native Princes. The lordship of
Denbigh, it may be remarked parenthetically, since the fact becomes
one of some significance later on, belonged at this time to the
Mortimers, into which famous family Henry Percy had married. The
latter, to whose house the King was under such great obligations, was
the leading exponent of his master's policy in Wales, both in matters
of peace and war, and had been sufficiently loaded with favours to at
least equalise the balance of mutual indebtedness between the houses
of Northumberland and Lancaster.

Shakespeare's fancy and dramatic instinct has played sad havoc in most
people's minds with the mutual attitude of some of the leading figures
of this stormy period. It has been sufficiently disproved by his
biographers, if not, indeed, by the facts of general history, that
Henry of Monmouth was no more the dissipated, light-headed trifler and
heartless brawler than was Glyndwr the half-barbarous and wholly
boastful personage that Shakespeare has placed upon his stage. The
King, it will be remembered, is depicted, in the play that bears his
name, as bewailing with embittered eloquence the contrast between the
characters of Hotspur and his own son, and making vain laments that
the infants had not been changed while they lay side by side in their
cradles. It is something of a shock to recall the fact that Henry
Percy was a little older than the distraught father himself, and a
contemporary, not of the Prince, but of the King, who was now about
thirty-five, and many years younger than Glyndwr.

Prince Henry, even now, though not yet fourteen, seems to have had a
mind of his own. He had, in truth, to face early the stern facts and
hard realities of a life such as would have sobered and matured a less
naturally precocious and intelligent nature than his. His youth was
not spent in frivolity and debauchery in London, but upon the Welsh
border, for the most part, amid the clash of arms or the more trying
strain of political responsibility, aggravated by constant want of
funds. One might almost say that Henry of Monmouth's whole early
manhood was devoted to a fierce and ceaseless struggle with Glyndwr
for that allegiance of the Welsh people to which both laid claim. In
later years, as we shall see, it was the tenacity and soldier-like
qualities of the Prince that succeeded where veteran warriors had
failed, and that ultimately broke the back of Glyndwr's long and
fierce resistance. The King, far from deploring the conduct or
character of his valiant son, always treated him with the utmost
confidence, and invariably speaks of him in his correspondence with
unreserved affection and pride. He was of "spare make," say the
chroniclers who knew him, "tall and well proportioned, exceeding the
stature of men, beautiful of visage, and small of bone." He was of
"marvellous strength, pliant and passing swift of limb; and so trained
to feats of agility by discipline and exercise, that with one or two
of his lords he could on foot readily give chase to a deer without
hounds, bow, or sling, and catch the fleetest of the herd."

Either from a feeling that Hotspur was too strong, or that popular
fervour had perhaps been sufficiently aroused to the north of the
Dovey, Glyndwr now turned his attention to the southern and midland
districts of the country. But before following him there I must say
something of the incident which was of chief importance at the opening
of this year's operations.

Conway will probably be more familiar to the general reader than any
other scene of conflict we shall visit in this volume, from the fact
of its being so notable a landmark on the highway between England and
Ireland. The massive towers and walls of the great castle which Edward
the First's architect, Henry de Elfreton, raised here at the conquest
of Wales, still throw their shadows on the broad tidal river that laps
their feet. The little town which lies beneath its ramparts and
against the shore is still bound fast within a girdle of high,
embattled walls, strengthened at measured intervals by nearly thirty
towers, and presenting a complete picture of medieval times such as in
all Britain is unapproached, while immediately above it, if anything
were needed to give further distinction to a scene in itself so
eloquent of a storied past, rise to heaven the northern bulwarks of
the Snowdon range. Here, in the early spring of this year, within the
castle, lay a royal garrison closely beset by the two brothers,
William and Rhys ap Tudor, of the ever famous stock of Penmynydd in
Anglesey. They had both been excluded from the King's pardon, together
with Glyndwr, among whose lieutenants they were to prove themselves at
this period the most formidable to the English power.

Conway Castle, as may readily be believed by those familiar with it,
was practically impregnable, so long as a score or two of armed men
with sufficient to sustain life and strength remained inside it. The
Tudors, however, achieved by stealth what the force at their command
could not at that time have accomplished by other means. For while the
garrison were at church, a partisan of the Glyndwr faction was
introduced into the castle in the disguise of a carpenter, and after
killing the warders he admitted William ap Tudor and some forty men.
They found a fair stock of provisions within the castle, though, as
will be seen, it proved in the end insufficient. The main body of the
besiegers retired under Rhys ap Tudor to the hills overlooking the
town to await developments. They were not long left in suspense, for
the news of the seizure of the castle roused Hotspur to activity, and
he hastened to the spot with all the men that he could collect. Conway
being one of Edward's fortified and chartered English towns, the
inhabitants were presumably loyal to the King. But Hotspur brought
five hundred archers and men-at-arms and great engines, including
almost certainly some of the primitive cannon of the period, to bear
on the castle. William ap Tudor and his forty men laughed at their
efforts till Hotspur, despairing of success by arms, went on to
Carnarvon, leaving his whole force behind, to try the effect of
starvation on the garrison.

At Carnarvon Henry Percy held his sessions as Justice of North Wales,
openly proclaiming a pardon in the name of his master the Prince to
all who would come in and give up their arms. From here, too, he sent
word in a letter, still extant, that the commons of Carnarvon and
Merioneth had come before him, thanking the King and Prince for their
clemency and offering to pay the same dues as they had paid King
Richard. He also declared that the northern districts, with the
exception of the forces at Conway, were rapidly coming back to their
allegiance. How sanguine and premature Hotspur was in this declaration
will soon be clear enough.

In the meantime much damage had been done to Conway town by both
besiegers and besieged. The latter seem to have overestimated the
resources they found within the castle, for by the end of April they
were making overtures for terms. William ap Tudor offered on behalf of
his followers to surrender the place if a full and unconditional
pardon should be granted to all inside. Hotspur was inclined to accept
this proposal, but the council at Chester and the King himself,
getting word of his intention, objected, and with justice, to such
leniency. So the negotiations drag on. The King in a letter to his son
remarks that, as the castle fell by the carelessness of Henry Percy's
people, that same "dear and faithful cousin" ought to see that it was
retaken without concessions to those holding it, and, moreover, pay
all the expenses out of his own pocket. In any case he urges that, if
he himself is to pay the wages and maintenance of the besieging force,
and supply their imposing siege train, he would like to see something
more substantial for the outlay than a full and free pardon to the
rebels who had caused it. It was the beginning of July before an
agreement was finally arrived at, to the effect that if nine of the
garrison, not specified, were handed over to justice, the rest
should be granted both their lives and a free pardon. The selection of
the nine inside the castle was made on a strange method, if method it
can be called. For the leaders, having made an arbitrary and privy
choice of the victims, had them seized and bound suddenly in the
night. They were then handed over to Percy's troops, who slaughtered
them after the usual brutal fashion of the time.

    [Illustration: INTERIOR CONWAY CASTLE.
      F. Frith & Co.]

A second letter of Henry Percy's to the council demonstrates
conclusively how seriously he had been at fault in his previous
estimate. This time he writes from Denbigh under date of May 17th,
pressing for the payment of arrears in view of the desperate state of
North Wales, and further declaring that if he did not receive some
money shortly he must resign his position to others and leave the
country by the end of the month. But Hotspur rose superior to his
threats; for at the end of May, at his own risk and expense, he made
an expedition against a force of Glyndwr's people that were in arms
around Dolgelly. He was accompanied by the Earl of Arundel and Sir
Hugh Browe, a gentleman of Cheshire. An action was fought of an
indecisive nature at the foot of Cader Idris, after which Percy
returned to Denbigh. Finding here no answer to his urgent appeal for
support, he threw up all his Welsh appointments in disgust and left
the country for the more congenial and familiar neighbourhood of the
Scottish border. For he held office here also, being joined with his
father in the wardenship of the Eastern Marches of Scotland.

Hotspur was even now, at this early stage and with some apparent
cause, in no very good humour with the King. It is certain, too, that
Glyndwr at this time had some special liking for the Percys, though
they were his open enemies, and it is almost beyond question that they
had a personal interview at some place and date unknown during the

Leaving North Wales in a seething and turbulent state, with local
partisans heading bands of insurgents (if men who resist an usurper
can be called insurgents) in various parts of the country, we must
turn to Owen and the South. Crossing the Dovey, Glyndwr had sought the
mountain range that divides Cardigan from what is now Radnorshire
(then known as the district of Melenydd), and raised his standard upon
the rounded summit of Plinlimmon. It was a fine position, lying midway
between North and South Wales, within sight of the sea and at the same
time within striking distance of the fertile districts of the Centre
and the South. Behind him lay the populous seaboard strip of
Ceredigion created at Edward's conquest into the county of Cardigan.
Before him lay Radnor, and Carmarthen, and the fat lordships of
Brycheiniog, to be welded later into the modern county of Brecon.
Along the Cardiganshire coast in Owen's rear a string of castles
frowned out upon the Irish Sea, held, since it was a royal county, by
the constables of the King, who were sometimes of English, sometimes
of Welsh, nationality. Inland, as far as the Herefordshire border, was
a confused network of lordships, held for the most part direct from
the King on feudal tenure by English or Anglo-Welsh nobles, and each
dominated by one or more grim castles of prodigious strength, against
which the feeble engines and guns of those days hurled their missiles
with small effect. Some of these were royal or quasi-royal property
and looked to the Crown for their defence. The majority, however, had
to be maintained and held by owners against the King's enemies,
subject to confiscation in case of any deficiency in zeal or
precaution. Ordinarily impregnable though the walls were, the
garrisons, as we shall see, were mostly small, and they were incapable
of making much impression upon the surrounding country when once it
became openly hostile and armed.

South Wales had as yet shown no great disposition to move. Some riots
and bloodshed at Abergavenny had been almost the sum total of its
patriotic activity. Now, however, that the Dragon Standard was
actually floating on Plinlimmon and the already renowned Owen, with a
band of chosen followers, was calling the South to arms, there was no
lack of response. The bards had been busy preparing the way on the
south as well as on the north of the Dovey. In the words of Pennant:

    "They animated the nation by recalling to mind the great
    exploits of their ancestors, their struggles for liberty,
    their successful contests with the Saxon and Norman race for
    upwards of eight centuries. They rehearsed the cruelty of
    their antagonists, and did not forget the savage policy of the
    first Edward to their proscribed brethren. They brought before
    their countrymen the remembrance of ancient prophecies. They
    showed the hero Glyndwr to be descended from the ancient race
    of our Princes, and pronounced that in him was to be expected
    the completion of our oracular Merlin. The band of minstrels
    now struck up. The harp, the 'crwth,' and the pipe filled up
    the measure of enthusiasm which the other had begun to
    inspire. They rushed to battle, fearless of the event, like
    their great ancestry, moved by the Druids' songs, and scorned
    death which conferred immortality in reward of their valour."

Glyndwr now fell with heavy hand upon this southern country, crossing
the headwaters of the Severn and the Wye, and pressing hard upon the
Marches of Carmarthen. The common people rose on every side and joined
the forces that acted either under his leadership or in his name.
Those who did not join him, as was certainly the case with a majority
of the upper class at this early period, had to find refuge in the
castles or to fly to safer regions, leaving their property at the
mercy of the insurgents. But a battle was fought at the opening of
this campaign on the summit of Mynydd Hyddgant, a hill in the
Plinlimmon group, that did more, perhaps, to rouse enthusiasm for
Glyndwr than even the strains of the bards or his own desolating

The Flemings in Wales at that time were not confined to Western
Pembroke, but had still strong colonies below Carmarthen, in the
Glamorgan promontory of Gower, and some footing in South
Cardiganshire. Whether they had actually felt the hand of Glyndwr upon
their borders, or whether they deemed it better to take the
initiative, they at any rate collected a force of some fifteen hundred
men, and marching northward to the Cardigan mountains, surprised the
Welsh leader as he was encamped on the summit of Mynydd Hyddgant, with
a body of less than five hundred men around him. The Flemish strategy
was creditable, seeing that it was carried out by slow-witted and
slow-footed lowlanders against nimble mountaineers and so astute a
chieftain. Owen found himself surrounded by a force thrice the number
of his own, and either death or capture seemed inevitable. As the
latter meant the former, he was not long in choosing his course, and
putting himself at the head of his warriors he attacked the Flemings
with such fury that he and most of his band escaped, leaving two
hundred of their enemies dead upon the mountain slope. This personal
feat of arms was worth five thousand men to Owen. It was all that was
wanted to fill the measure of his prestige and decide every wavering
Welshman in his favour.

For this whole summer Glyndwr was fighting and ravaging throughout
South and Mid-Wales. The lands of the English as well as of those
Welshmen who would not join him were ruthlessly harried. Stock was
carried off, homesteads were burned, even castles here and there were
taken, when ill-provisioned and undermanned. New Radnor under Sir John
Grendor was stormed and the sixty defenders hung upon the ramparts by
way of encouragement to others to yield. The noble abbey of Cwmhir
too, whose ruins still slowly crumble in a remote Radnorshire valley,
felt Glyndwr's pitiless hand, being utterly destroyed. His animosity
to the Church was intelligible, though for his method of showing it
nothing indeed can be said. The Welsh Church, though its personnel was
largely native, was, with the exception of the Franciscan order,
mostly hostile to Glyndwr and upon the side of the English Government.
Bards and priests, moreover, were irreconcilable enemies. The latter
had in some sort usurped the position the former had once held, and
now the patron and the hero of the bards, who were once more lifting
up their heads, was not likely to be acceptable to the clergy. This,
however, would be a poor excuse for an iconoclasm that would set a
Welsh torch to noble foundations built and endowed for the most part
with Welsh money.

Glyndwr in the meantime swept down the Severn valley, burning on his
way the small town of Montgomery, and coming only to a halt where the
border borough of Welshpool lay nestling between the high hills
through which the Severn rushes out into the fat plains of Shropshire.

The great Red Castle of Powys, then called "Pole," overlooked in those
days, as it does in these, the town it sheltered. The famous
Shropshire family of Charlton were then, and for generations
afterwards, its lords and owners. From its walls Glyndwr and his
forces were now driven back by Edward Charlton with his garrison and
the levies of the neighbourhood, which remained throughout the war
staunch to its lord and the King. The repulse of Owen, however, was
not accomplished without much hard fighting and the destruction of all
the suburbs of the town.

But these sallies from castles and walled towns could do little more
than protect their inmates. Mid- and South Wales literally bristled
with feudal castles containing garrisons of, for the most part, less
than a hundred men. These scattered handfuls were unable to leave
their posts and act in unison, and when the abandonment of North Wales
by Hotspur gave further confidence to those who had risen, or would
like to rise, for Glyndwr, the greater part of South Wales fell into
line with the Centre and the North. From the border to the sea Owen
was now, so far as the open country was concerned, irresistible. Nor
was it only within the bounds of Wales that men who were unfriendly to
Glyndwr had cause to tremble. The rapid progress of his arms had
already spread terror along the border, and created something like a
panic even in England. The idea of a Welsh invasion spread to
comparatively remote parts, and urgent letters carried by hard-riding
messengers went hurrying to the King from beleaguered Marchers and
scared abbots, beseeching him to come in person to their rescue.

All this happened in August. As early as the preceding June, when
Conway was in Welsh hands, the King had meditated a second invasion in
person, and had issued summonses to the sheriffs of fourteen counties
to meet him at Worcester, but the approaching surrender of Conway and
the optimistic reports from Wales that met him as he came west turned
him from his purpose. There was no optimism now; all was panic and the
King was really coming. The Prince of Wales in the meantime was
ordered forward with the levies of the four border counties, while the
forces of twenty-two of the western, southern, and midland shires were
hurriedly collected by a proclamation sent out upon the 18th of

One reads with constant and unabated surprise of the celerity with
which these great levies gathered from all parts of the country to the
appointed tryst, fully equipped and ready for a campaign. One's
amazement, however, is sensibly modified as the narrative proceeds and
discovers them after a week or two of marching in an enemy's country
reduced to their last crust, upon the verge of disaster and
starvation, and leaving in their retiring tracks as many victims as
might have fallen in quite a sharp engagement.

By the opening of October the King and Prince Henry had entered Wales
with a large army. The proclamation of September the 18th, calling out
the forces of England, had stated that the greater part of the
able-bodied men of Wales had gone over to Owen. Now, however, as this
great host pushed its way to Bangor, as had happened before, and would
happen again, not a Welshman was to be seen. On every side were the
sparse grain-fields long stripped of their produce, the barns empty,
the abundant pastures bare of the small black cattle and mountain
sheep with which in times of peace and safety they were so liberally
sprinkled. On the 8th of October the army was at Bangor, on the 9th at
Carnarvon, whose tremendous and impregnable fortress John Bolde
defended for the King with about a hundred men. Still seeing no sign
of an enemy, they swept in aimless fashion round the western edges of
the Snowdon mountains (for the route through them, which was even then
a recognised one, would have been too dangerous), arriving in an
incredibly short space of time in Cardiganshire, where the King called
a halt at the great and historic abbey of Ystradfflur or Strata

The weather for a wonder favoured the English, and we might be excused
for giving our imagination play for a moment and painting in fancy the
gorgeous sight that the chivalry of half England, unsoiled by time or
tempests or war, with its glinting steel, its gay colours, its
flaunting pennons, shining in the October sun, must have displayed as
it wound in a long, thin train through those familiar and matchless
scenes. The great Cistercian house of Ystradfflur had shared with
Conway in olden days the honour of both making and preserving the
records of the Principality. Around the building was a cemetery shaded
by forty wide-spreading and venerable yew trees. Beneath their shade
lay the bones of eleven Welsh Princes of the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries and perhaps those of the greatest Welsh poet of the age,
Dafydd ab Gwilim. Henry cared for none of these things. He allowed the
abbey to be gutted and plundered, not sparing even the sacred vessels.
He turned the monks out on to the highway, under the plea that two or
three of them had favoured Owen, and filled up the measure of
desecration by stabling his horses at the high altar.

Meanwhile, Owen and his nimble troops began to show themselves in
Cardiganshire, harrying the flanks and rear and outposts of the royal
army, cutting off supplies, and causing much discomfort and
considerable loss, including the whole camp equipage of the Prince of

Henry did his best to bring Owen to action, but the Welsh chieftain
was much too wary to waste his strength on a doubtful achievement
which hunger would of a certainty accomplish for him within a few
days. An eminent gentleman of the country, one Llewelyn ab Griffith
Vychan of Cayo, comes upon the scene at this point and at the expense
of his head relieves the tedium of this brief and ineffectual campaign
with a dramatic incident. His position, we are told, was so
considerable that he consumed in his house no less than sixteen casks
of wine a year; but his patriotism rose superior to his rank and
comforts. He offered to guide the royal troops to a spot where they
might hope to capture Owen, but instead of doing this he deliberately
misled them, to their great cost, and openly declared that he had two
sons serving with Glyndwr, and that his own sympathies were with them
and their heroic leader. He then bared his neck to the inevitable axe
of the executioner, and proved himself thereby to be a hero, whose
name, one is glad to think, has been rescued from oblivion.

The King, having attended to the mangling and quartering of this
gallant old patriot, crossed the Montgomery hills with his army and
hurried down the Severn valley, carrying with him, according to Adam
of Usk, a thousand Welsh children as captives. Beyond this capture,
he had achieved nothing save some further harrying of a land already
sufficiently harried, and the pillaging of an historic and loyal

Arriving at Shrewsbury before the end of October he disbanded his
army, leaving behind him a Wales rather encouraged in its rebellious
ways than otherwise, Glyndwr's reputation in no whit diminished, and
his own and his Marchers' castles as hardly pressed and in as sore a
plight as when he set out, with so much pomp and circumstance, less
than a month before. It must have been merely to save appearances that
he issued a pardon to the "Commons of Cardigan," with leave to buy
back the lands that had been nominally confiscated. He was also good
enough to say that on consideration he would allow them to retain
their own language, which it seems he had tabooed; this, too, at a
time when the life of no Englishman in Cardigan was safe a bowshot
away from the Norman castles, when the Welsh of the country were
practically masters of the situation and Glyndwr virtually their

Still Henry meant well. Since he was their King, his manifest duty was
to reconquer their country for the Crown, and this was practically the
task that lay before him. But then again this is precisely what he did
not seem for a long time yet to realise. He was a good soldier, while
for his energy and bodily activity one loses oneself in admiration.
But he persistently underrated the Welsh position and gave his mind
and his energies to other dangers and other interests which were far
less pressing. And when he did bend his whole mind to the subjection
of Glyndwr, his efforts were ill-directed, and the conditions seemed
to be of a kind with which he not only could not grapple but which his
very soul abhorred. It remained, as will be seen, for the gallant son,
whose frivolity is popularly supposed to have been the bane of his
father's life, by diligence as well as valour, to succeed where the
other had ignominiously failed.

Lord Rutland was now appointed to the thorny office of Governor of
North Wales, while the Earl of Worcester, a Percy and uncle to
Hotspur, was left to face Glyndwr in the southern portion of the
Principality. The winter of 1401-2 was at hand, a season when Owen and
his Welshmen could fight, but English armies most certainly could not
campaign. The castles in the Southern Marches were put in fighting
trim, revictualled and reinforced. The chief of those in the interior
that Glyndwr had now to face were Lampeter, Cardigan and Builth,
Llandovery and Carmarthen, while upon the border the massive and
high-perched towers of Montgomery and Powys looked down over the still
smoking villages by the Severn's bank, and girded themselves to stem
if need be any repetition of such disaster. Owen seemed to think that
his presence in the North after so long an absence would be salutary;
so, passing into Carnarvonshire, he appeared before its stubborn

But John Bolde had been reinforced with men and money, and, joined by
the burghers of the town, he beat off Glyndwr's attack and slew three
hundred of his men. This was early in November. All North Wales but
the castles and the walled towns around them, where such existed, was
still friendly to Owen. The chief castles away from the English
border, Criccieth, Harlech, Carnarvon, Conway, Snowdon (Dolbadarn),
Rhuddlan, and Beaumaris, complete the list of those in royal keeping
and may be readily reckoned up, unlike those of South Wales, whose
name was legion; while Denbigh and Ruthin were the only Marcher
strongholds, apart from those which were in immediate touch with Salop
and Cheshire. Now it so happened that, before most of the events
narrated in this chapter had taken place, before, indeed, Hotspur had
retired in such seeming petulance from North Wales during the
preceding summer, he had contrived a meeting with Glyndwr. The scene
of the interview is not known; that it occurred, however, is not
merely noted by the chroniclers, but Glyndwr's attitude in connection
with it is referred to in the State papers. A council called in
November, while Owen was making his attempt on Carnarvon, has upon its
minutes, "To know the king's will about treaty with Glyndwr to return
to his allegiance seeing his good intentions relating thereto." In the
interview with Percy, Owen is said to have declared that he was
willing to submit, provided that his life should be spared and his
property guaranteed to him. Later in the year, as a well-known
original letter of the period affirms, "Jankyn Tyby of the North
Countre bringeth letteres owt of the North Countre to Owen as thei
demed from Hen^r. son Percy."

In answer Owen expressed his affection for the Earl of Northumberland
and the confidence he felt in him. The King was then informed of the
proceedings, and with his consent a messenger was sent from Earl Percy
to Mortimer, whose sister, as Hotspur's wife, was his daughter-in-law.
Through the medium of Mortimer, soon to become so closely allied to
Glyndwr, the latter is reported to have declared his willingness for
peace, protesting that he was not to blame for the havoc wrought in
Wales, and that he had been deprived of his patrimony, meaning no
doubt the northern slice of Glyndyfrdwy which Grey, after being
defeated at law, had annexed by force, with connivance of the King's
council. He added that he would readily meet the Earl of
Northumberland on the English border, as was required of him, but that
he feared outside treachery to his person, as a man who had made such
a host of enemies may well have done. He also declared that, if he
came to Shropshire, the Commons would raise a clamour and say that he
came to destroy all those who spoke English. That Hotspur had seen
Glyndwr earlier in the summer is distinctly stated by Hardyng, who was
Hotspur's own page. The fact that Percy did not take the opportunity
to treacherously seize the Welsh chieftain was afterwards made one of
the grievances urged by the King when he had other really serious ones
against his old comrade. It may well, however, be suspected that some
of these mysterious overtures in which the Percys and Mortimer figured
so prominently contained the germs of the alliance that followed
later between Glyndwr and the two great English houses.

      Miss Walker.]

No such suspicions, however, were as yet in the air, and Glyndwr
retired, with his captains and his bards, into winter quarters at
Glyndyfrdwy. Here, through the short days and long nights, the sounds
of song and revelry sounded in the ancient Welsh fashion above the
tumbling breakers of the Dee. The very accessibility of the spot to
the strong border castles showed the reality at this time of Owen's
power. The great pile of Chirk was not a dozen miles off, Dinas Brân
was within easy sight, and the Arundels, who held them both, were no
less mighty than the Greys who lay amid the ashes of Ruthin across the
ridges to the north. But the whole country towards England, to Wrexham
upon the one hand and to Oswestry on the other, and even to Ellesmere
and that detached fragment of Flint known then as "Maelor Saesnag,"
was in open or secret sympathy with what had now become a national
movement. More men of note, too, and property were with Owen this
winter. The rising in its origin had been markedly democratic. The
labour agitations that during the century just completed had stirred
England, had not left Wales untouched. There, too, the times had
changed for the lower orders. The Norman heel pressed more heavily
upon them than it did upon their native masters, who were often on
friendly terms and connected by marriage with the conquerors'
families, while the very fact that Norman feudal customs had grown so
general made it harder for the poor. The Welsh gentry as a class had
hitherto fought somewhat shy of the Dragon Standard. Many, especially
from South Wales, had fled to England. Now, however, everyone outside
the immediate shelter of the castles had to declare himself for Owen
or the King. And at this moment there was not much choice,--for those,
at any rate, who set any store by their safety.

To make matters worse for Henry, the Scots had again declared war in
November, and in December Glyndwr made a dash for the great stronghold
of Harlech. This was only saved to the King, for the time being, by
the timely despatch of four hundred archers and one hundred
men-at-arms from the Prince of Wales's headquarters at Chester. Owen,
however, achieved this winter what must have been, to himself at any
rate, a more satisfactory success than even the taking of Harlech, and
this was the capture of his old enemy, Reginald, Lord Grey of Ruthin.

It was on the last day of January, according to Adam of Usk, that
Glyndwr crossed the wild hills dividing his own territory from that of
Grey, and, dropping down into the Vale of Clwyd, appeared before
Ruthin. There are several versions of this notable encounter. All
point to the fact that Owen exercised some strategy in drawing his
enemy, with the comparatively small force at his command, out of his
stronghold, and then fell on him with overpowering numbers.

An old tale recounts that the Welsh leader drove a number of stakes
into the ground in a wooded place and caused his men to hang their
helmets on them to represent a small force, while the men themselves
lurked in ambush upon either side; and that he caused the shoes of his
horses to be reversed to make Grey think that he had retreated. The
fight took place, according to one tradition, close to Ruthin; another
declares that Brynsaithmarchog ("the hill of the seven knights"), half
way to Corwen, was the scene of it. But this is of little moment to
other than local antiquaries. Grey's force was surrounded and cut to
pieces; that haughty baron himself was taken prisoner, and carried off
at once, with a view to making so notable a captive secure against all
attempt at rescue, to the Snowdon mountains. The tables were indeed
turned on the greedy and tyrannical Lord Marcher who had been the
primary cause of all this trouble that had fallen upon Wales and
England. Glyndwr would not have been human had he not then drained to
the last drop the cup of a revenge so sweet, and Grey was immured in
the castle of Dolbadarn, whose lonely tower, still standing between
the Llanberis lakes and at the foot of Snowdon, is so familiar to the
modern tourist. His treatment as a prisoner, amid the snows of those
cold mountains, was not indulgent, if his friends in England are to be
believed. But such a captive was too valuable to make experiments upon
in the matter of torture or starvation. Owen regarded him as worth
something more than his weight in gold, and gold was of infinite value
to his cause. So he proceeded to assess Grey's ransom at the
formidable sum of ten thousand marks, no easy amount for even the
greater barons of that time to realise.

The King was greatly distressed when he heard of his favourite's fate
and pictured him as chained to the wall in some noisome dungeon in the
heart of those dreary mountains, at the thought of which he shuddered.
Rescue was impossible, for the very frontiers of Wales defied him,
while the heart of Snowdonia, the natural fortress of the Welsh
nation, was at that time almost as far beyond the reach of his arm as
Greenland; moreover he had the Scots just now upon his hands.

Grey's captivity lasted nearly a year. Greatly concerned in the matter
though the King was, it was not till the following October that he
appointed a commission to treat with Glyndwr for his favourite's
ransom. This commission consisted of Sir William de Roos, Sir Richard
de Grey, Sir William de Willoughby, Sir William de Zouche, Sir Hugh
Hals, and six other less distinguished people. Glyndwr agreed to
release his prisoner in consideration of ten thousand marks, six
thousand to be paid within a month, and hostages, in the person of his
eldest son and others, to be delivered to him as guaranty for the
remaining four thousand. The Bishop of London and others were then
ordered to sell the manor of Hertleigh in Kent, and Grey was to be
excused for six years from the burdensome tax then laid on absentee
Irish landowners amounting to one-third of their rentals. These
payments left him, we are told, a poor man for life. His Ruthin
property had been destroyed by Glyndwr himself, and the latter's
triumph was complete when the Lord Marcher had to make a humiliating
agreement not to bear arms against him for the rest of his life.
Hardyng, the rhyming chronicler, does not omit this notable incident:

    "Soone after was the same Lord Grey in feelde
    Fightyng taken and holden prisoner,
    By Owayne, so that him in prison helde,
    Tyll his ransome was made and finance
    Ten thousand marke, and fully payed were dear
    For whiche he was _so poor than all his lyfe
    That no power he had to werr ne strife_."

An unfounded, as well as quite improbable, tradition has found its way
into many accounts, which represents Owen as compelling Grey to marry
one of his daughters.

While these stirring events were taking place, Glyndwr's thoughts and
his correspondence were busy travelling oversea. He was sending
letters both to the King of Scotland and the native chieftains of
Ireland, soliciting their aid. At this time, too, a certain knight of
Cardiganshire named David ap Tevan Goy, who for twenty years had been
fighting against the Saracens, with various Eastern Christians, was
sent on Owen's behalf by the King of France to the King of Scotland.
He was captured, however, by English sailors and imprisoned in the
Tower of London.

Glyndwr's own messengers were equally unfortunate, for letters he sent
to Robert of Scotland and the Irish chieftains were seized in Ireland
and their bearers beheaded. Adam of Usk has fortunately left us a copy
of them. Glyndwr had as yet no chancellor or secretary at his side
that we know of. And, indeed, being a man of the world and a
well-educated one, it may safely be assumed that he wrote these
letters himself. We have so little from his own hand; his personality
is in some respects so vague and shadowy; his deeds and their results
comprise such a vast deal more of the material from which the man
himself has to be judged than is usually the case, that one feels
disinclined to omit the smallest detail which brings him, as an
individual, more distinctly to the mind. I shall therefore insert the
whole text of the captured letters. The first is to the King of
Scotland, the second to the lords of Ireland.

    "Most high and Mighty and redoubted Lord and Cousin, I commend
    me to your most High and Royal Majesty, humbly as it beseemeth
    me with all honour and reverence. Most redoubted Lord and
    Sovereign Cousin, please it you and your most high Majesty to
    know that Brutus, your most noble ancestor and mine, which was
    the first crowned King who dwelt in this realm of England,
    which of old times was called Great Britain. The which Brutus
    begat three sons; to wit, Albanact, Locrine, and Camber, from
    which same Albanact you are descended in direct line. And the
    issue of the same Camber reigned loyally down to Cadwalladar,
    who was the last crowned King of the people, and from whom I,
    your simple Cousin am descended in direct line; and after
    whose decease, I and my ancestors and all my said people have
    been and still are, under the tyranny and bondage of mine and
    your mortal enemies, the Saxons; whereof you most redoubted
    Lord and very Sovereign Cousin, have good knowledge. And from
    this tyranny and bondage the prophecy saith that I shall be
    delivered by the help and succour of your Royal Majesty. But
    most redoubted Lord and Sovereign Cousin, I make a grievous
    plaint to your Royal Majesty, and most Sovereign Cousinship,
    that it faileth me much in soldiers, therefore most redoubted
    Lord and very Sovereign Cousin, I humbly beseech you kneeling
    upon my knees, that it may please your Royal Majesty to send
    me a certain number of soldiers, who may aid me and withstand,
    with God's help, mine and your enemies, having regard most
    redoubted Lord and very Sovereign Cousin to the chastisement
    of this mischief and of all the many past mischiefs which I
    and my ancestors of Wales have suffered at the hands of mine
    and your mortal enemies. And be it understood, most redoubted
    Lord and very Sovereign Cousin that I shall not fail all the
    days of my life to be bounden to do your service and to repay
    you. And in that I cannot send unto you all my business in
    writing, I send these present bearers fully informed in all
    things, to whom be pleased to give faith and belief in what
    they shall say to you by word of mouth. From my Court, most
    redoubted Lord and very Sovereign Cousin, may the Almighty
    Lord have you in his keeping."

The letter to the Irish lords runs thus:

    "Health and fulness of love most dread Lord and most trusty
    Cousin. Be it known unto you that a great discord or war hath
    arisen between us and our and your deadly enemies, the Saxons;
    which war we have manfully waged now for nearly two years
    past, and henceforth mean and hope to wage and carry out to a
    good and effectual end, by the grace of God our Saviour, and
    by your help and countenance. But seeing that it is commonly
    reported by the prophecy, that before we can have the upper
    hand in this behalf, you and yours, our well beloved Cousins
    in Ireland must stretch forth thereto a helping hand,
    therefore most dread Lord and trusty Cousin, with heart and
    soul we pray you that of your horse and foot soldiers, for the
    succour of us and our people who now this long while are
    oppressed by our enemies and yours, as well as to oppose the
    treacherous and deceitful will of those same enemies, you
    despatch to us as many as you shall be able with convenience
    and honour, saving in all things your honourable State, as
    quickly as may seem good to you. Delay not to do this by the
    love we bear you and as we put our trust in you, although we
    be unknown to you, seeing that, most dread Lord and Cousin, so
    long as we shall be able to manfully wage this war in our
    borders, as doubtless is dear to you, you and all the other
    Chiefs of your land of Ireland will in the meantime have
    welcome peace and calm repose. And because, my Lord Cousin,
    the bearers of these presents shall make things known to you
    more fully by word of mouth, if it please you, you shall give
    credence to them in all things which they shall say to you on
    our behalf, and you may trustfully confide to them whatsoever
    you will, dread Lord and Cousin, that we your poor cousin
    shall do. Dread Lord and Cousin, may the Almighty preserve
    your reverence and Lordship in long life and good fortune.

    "Written in North Wales on the twenty-ninth day of November





As if the world of Britain were not already sufficiently excited, the
spring of 1402 opened with tremendous portents. In the month of
February a comet with its fiery streaming tail, "a terror to the
world," broke across the heavens and set all Europe trembling. The
bards of Wales rose with one voice to the occasion, headed by Iolo
Goch, who recalled the fiery star that heralded the birth of Arthur,
and even that other one which guided the Magi to our Saviour's cradle.

The fiery shapes, too, that "lit the front of heaven" at Owen's birth
were recalled again with a fresh outburst of enthusiasm, and the tail
of this particular comet, which Adam of Usk saw by day as well as by
night, while travelling towards Rome, curled up at times, in the eyes
of credulous Welsh patriots, into a dragon's shape, the badge of Welsh
nationality. Englishmen beheld it pointing at one time towards Wales,
at another towards Scotland, and read in these mysterious changes
portents for the coming year. Thunder-storms of terrific violence
swept over the country. At Danbury, says Holinshed, while the people
were in church, lightning struck the roof and destroyed the chancel,
and while the storm was at its height the devil entered the sacred
building, dressed as a Franciscan friar (one of Owen's well-wishers,
it will be remembered), and leaped three times over the altar from
right to left; then, turning black in the face, he rushed down the
aisle, actually passing between a man's legs, and leaving an
overpowering smell of sulphur in his track. The man's legs were black
ever after, so that there was no doubt about the nature of the
visitant! Other weird things happened in various parts of the country,
which do not concern our story, except to show how strained were men's
imaginations in a year which after all proved fruitful enough of

Whatever faith Owen may have had in his own magical art, he at any
rate did not waste time just now in incantations or in interpreting
the prophecy, but swept down the Vale of Clwyd, making on his way a
final clearance of Grey's desolated property. With much significance,
read by the light of his future relations with the Mortimers and
Percys, he spared the lordship of Denbigh, though its owners were
still his open enemies. Descending the Vale, however, he fell upon
Saint Asaph with merciless hand, destroying the cathedral, the
bishop's palace, and the canon's house. Trevor was at this time the
bishop,--the same, it will be remembered, who warned Henry and his
council against exasperating Owen and the Welsh; he had from the first
gone over to the new King, had prominently assisted at the deposition
of Richard, and had since held many conspicuous offices. He was now a
ruined man, an enforced exile from his diocese, and he must have
derived but poor consolation from reminding his English friends of the
accuracy of his prophecy. He came of the great border House of Trevor,
and, among other things, built the first stone bridge in Wales, which
may yet be seen stemming with five massive arches the turbulent
torrents of the Dee at Llangollen. In the meantime he was a pensioner
on the King, but he will appear later in a character of quite another
sort. An entry of £66, paid to him at this time in lieu of his losses,
appears on the Pell Rolls.

No danger just now threatened from the English border nor, on the
other hand, did any help come to Glyndwr from Ireland or the North.
There was indeed something of a lull in Wales throughout this spring,
unless perhaps for those unfortunate Welshmen who held back from
Glyndwr's cause and yet ventured to remain in the country. They, at
any rate, had not much peace.

To this date is assigned the well-known story of Glyndwr and his
cousin Howel Sele, that gruesome tragedy which has invested the
romantic heights of Nannau with a ceaseless interest to generations of
tourists, and many more generations of Welshmen, and has seized the
fancy of the romancist and the poet. Now Nannau, where Vaughans have
lived for many centuries, enjoys the distinction of being the most
elevated country-seat in Wales, being some eight hundred feet above
Dolgelly, which lies at the base of the beautiful grounds that cover
the isolated hill on whose summit the present mansion stands. It is
famous also, even in a region pre-eminent for its physical charms, for
the surpassing beauty of its outlook, which people from every part of
Britain come annually in thousands to enjoy. To the south the great
mass of Cader Idris rises immediately above, with infinite grandeur.
To the west the Barmouth estuary gleams seaward through a vista of
wood and mountain. To the north the valley of the rushing Mawddach
opens deep into the hills, while to the eastward, where the twin peaks
of the Arans fill the sky, spread those miles of foliage through which
the crystal streams of the Wnion come burrowing and tumbling seawards.
Nature showed even a wilder aspect to Glyndwr and the then lord of
Nannau as they took their memorable walk together upon these same
heights five centuries ago.

At that time there stood in the meadows beneath, near the confluence
of the Wnion and the Mawddach, the noble abbey of Cymmer, whose
remains are still a conspicuous object in the landscape. Howel Sele
was by no means an admirer or follower of his cousin Owen, and if
latterly he had not dared openly to oppose him, he had at least held
back; his relationship to the chief alone saving him, no doubt, from
the punishment meted out to others who were less prudent, or less
faint-hearted. The worthy abbot of Cymmer, however, for some motive of
his own, or perhaps in a genuine spirit of Christianity, endeavoured
to promote a better understanding between the relatives, and so far
succeeded that Owen consented to come and visit Howel in peaceful
fashion, bringing with him only a few attendants.

      C. H. Young.]

The meeting took place and an amicable understanding seemed assured.
During the course of the day the two men, so runs the tale, went for a
stroll in the park, Howel, at any rate, carrying his bow. He was
celebrated for his prowess as a marksman, and Owen, catching sight of
a buck through the trees, suggested that his cousin should give him an
exhibition of his skill. Howel, falling in apparently with the
proposal, bent his bow, and having feigned for a moment to take aim at
the deer swung suddenly round and discharged the arrow full at Owen's
breast. The latter, either from singular forethought or by great good
luck, happened to have a shirt of mail beneath his tunic, and the
shaft fell harmlessly to the ground. The fate of Howel was swift and
terrible. Accounts differ somewhat, but they all agree in the
essential fact that neither his wife and family nor his friends ever
set eyes upon the lord of Nannau again. It is supposed that the two
men and their attendants forthwith engaged in deadly combat, Glyndwr
proving the victor, and consigning his cousin to some terrible fate
that was only guessed at long afterwards. In any case, he at once
burnt the old house at Nannau to the ground, and its remains, Pennant
tells us, were yet there in his day,--a hundred years ago. For more
than a generation no man knew what had become of the ill-fated Howel,
but forty years afterwards, near the spot where he was last seen, a
skeleton corresponding to the proportions of the missing man was
found inside a hollow oak tree, and it is said that there were those
still living who could and did explain how the vanquished Howel had
been immured there dead or alive by Glyndwr. The old oak lived on till
the year 1813, and collapsed beneath its weight of years on a still
July night, a few hours after it had been sketched by the celebrated
antiquary, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, who tells us it then measured
twenty-seven feet in girth. It had been an object of pious horror for
all time to the natives of the district, and was known as the "hollow
oak of demons," and dread sounds were heard issuing from its vast
trunk by all who were hardy enough to venture near it after nightfall.
Sir Walter Scott, who once visited Nannau, remembered the weird story
and the haunted oak when he was writing _Marmion_:

    "All nations have their omens drear,
    Their legends wild of love or fear;
    To Cambria look--the peasant see
    Bethink him of Glyndowerdy,
    And shun the spirit's Blasted Tree."

      C. H. Young.]

But while Glyndwr was having things pretty much his own way in Wales
throughout the spring of 1402, King Henry was in truth in great
anxiety. To add to his cares and trouble he was much concerned with
endeavours to secure a husband for his daughter Blanche, and a wife
for himself in the person of Joanna of Brittany. For the lavish
expenditure inseparable from these royal alliances he had to squeeze
his people, and they were in no condition to be squeezed, to say
nothing of the fact that his captains and soldiers and garrisons in
Wales were in a state of pecuniary starvation, and here and there in
actual want of food. All this awakened much discontent and there were
serious riots in many places. A plot of which the friars, chiefly
represented by Glyndwr's friends the Franciscans, were the leaders,
was discovered and crushed with much hanging and quartering. Even
Henry's loyal subjects of London turned mutinous and their juries
refused to convict the priests. The aid, however, of a packed jury in
Islington was invoked, who excused themselves for some manifestly
outrageous decisions with the naïve but unanswerable plea that if they
did not hang the prisoners they would be hanged themselves. The report
was still sedulously bruited abroad that Richard was alive, and, if
anything, the idea gained ground; while, to complete the distress of
the King, the Scots were waging open war upon him in the North, and
proving perhaps better allies to Glyndwr than if they had responded to
that warrior's appeals and landed in scattered bands upon the coast of
Wales. The Percys, however, the King's "faithful cousins," confronted
the Scots and were a host in themselves. He despatched his daughter
Blanche and her hardly extracted dower to Germany, and a terrible
example was made of the friars. Glyndwr and the condition of Wales one
can hardly suppose he underestimated, but he permitted himself, at any
rate, to shut his eyes to it.

Henry's dream, since mounting the throne, had been an Eastern crusade.
So far, however, his own unruly subjects and neighbours had allowed
him but little breathing time, and he had been splashed with the mud
of almost every county in England and Wales; but now he had gone to
Berkhampstead, his favourite palace, to rest and dream of that
long-cherished scheme of Eastern adventure.

    "So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
    Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
    And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
    To be commenced in strands afar remote.
    No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
    Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood;
    No more shall trenching war channel her fields,
    Nor bruise her flowerets with the armed hoofs
    Of hostile paces."

But the month of June was not yet out, when all at once there came
upon the King at Berkhampstead "a post from Wales laden with heavy
news," which shattered all dreams of Palestine and turned his
unwilling thoughts once more to the stormy hills whence came this
urgent message.

Late in May, Glyndwr had again left North Wales and with a large force
made his way through the present counties of Montgomery and Radnor,
and fallen on the as yet unravaged border of Hereford. Now it so
happened that among the districts which here suffered the most were
those belonging to the young Earl of March, the rightful heir to the
throne, and on that account kept secure under lock and key by Henry.
This child, for he was nothing more, was descended from Lionel, Duke
of Clarence, third son of Edward the Third. His title to the throne
stood next to that of Richard, who had himself officially named him as
his heir. Henry, sensible of his dangerous claim, kept the boy and his
brother under his own charge, leaving their estates in Denbigh and the
South Wales Marches to be administered by their uncle, Edmund
Mortimer, who was still a young man and not without renown as a
soldier. Mortimer and other Lord Marchers had been notified in good
time to raise the forces of the border counties and march out to meet
the Welsh.

They met upon the border in a narrow valley at Pilleth near Knighton,
and the result was wholly disastrous to the English. The Welsh on this
occasion were led by Rhys ap Gethin, one of Owen's most formidable
captains, and they utterly overthrew Mortimer's army, driving it down
the narrow valley of the Lugg below Pilleth hill where escape was
difficult, and slaying eleven hundred men, among whom were great
numbers of knights and gentlemen. Mortimer himself was captured, and
it was said, with how much truth does not appear evident, that many of
Mortimer's troops, who were his tenants, and Welshmen, turned their
arms against their own side and made a bloody day still bloodier. The
story of the outrages of the Welsh women upon the bodies of the slain
is a familiar topic of dispute and not a very savoury one.[8] In
regard to Owen's new captive, Mortimer, as the uncle and
representative of the rightful heir to the throne, he was of much more
actual importance than Grey of Ruthin. But the Welsh chieftain had no
personal grudge against the handsome and gallant young soldier who had
fallen into his hands by the ordinary fortune of war. Indeed, as we
know, he had a kindly feeling for the Percys and the Mortimers; so
much so that some of the King's most ardent friends, as well as Henry
himself, strongly hinted that Sir Edmund was no unwilling prisoner,
and that it was not wholly the chances of war which had placed him in
Owen's hands. Mortimer's relations with Glyndwr later on might lend
plausibility to such suggestions; but it is difficult to suppose that
had the former wished earlier for an alliance with Owen, he would have
chosen such an unnecessarily bloody and risky manner of effecting it.
Moreover Henry had reason to misrepresent Mortimer's sentiments, for
the question of the hour was his ransom. There can, I think, be little
doubt that Mortimer was at first as unwilling a prisoner as Grey. He
and Owen may have soon developed a personal liking for each other, but
that is of little importance. Mortimer at any rate seems to have been
sent to Snowdon, or possibly to Owen's small prison at Llansantffraid
in Glyndyfrdwy, which totters even now in extreme decay upon the banks
of the Dee; and ransom no doubt was regarded as the ordinary outcome
of the affair by all parties, except the King. For it soon became
evident that Henry, not unwilling to see a possible rival in durance
vile and safe out of the way, was going to oppose all overtures for
his ransom.

    [8] Some thirty years ago the farmers of the district drove their
    ploughs into the old sod which from time immemorial had covered
    the long, steep slope of Pilleth hill, or Bryn Glâs. In turning it
    up they came upon masses of human bones all collected in one spot,
    which indicated without a doubt the burying-place of the battle of
    1402. The space was withdrawn from cultivation and a grove of
    trees was planted on it, which have now grown to a large size and
    form a prominent object in the valley.

Hotspur, Mortimer's brother-in-law, waxed hot and angry, as of late he
had been apt to do with the King, but he was far away in the North
looking after the Scottish invaders. He now wrote to Henry that it was
a strange thing, seeing the great concern he had showed for Grey of
Ruthin, that he should act thus towards a subject who was of even
greater consequence, and moreover his (Percy's) brother-in-law.
Getting no satisfaction, according to Leland, who quotes from an old
chronicle, the fiery Hotspur went southward himself to Henry and
demanded in no gentle terms the right to ransom his wife's brother. To
this demand the King replied that he would not strengthen those who
were his enemies by paying money to them. Hotspur retorted warmly
"that the King owed it to those who had risked their lives upon his
account, to come to their aid when in peril." The King rejoined
angrily, "You are a traitor; you would succour the enemies of myself
and my kingdom." "I am no traitor," said Percy, "but faithful and
speak in good faith." The King then drew his sword; whereupon Hotspur,
exclaiming, "Not here, but on the field of battle," left the royal
presence, as it happened, for ever.

This famous interview is practically endorsed by the rhymer Hardyng,
Hotspur's personal attendant:

    "Sir Henry sawe no grace for Mortimer,
    His wife's brother; he went away unkende
    To Berwyk so, and after came no nere,
    Afore thei met at Shrowesbury in fere
    Wher then thei fought for cause of his extent,
    He purposed had Mortimer his coronement."

Hardyng in the preceding verse gives two other reasons for the
defection of the Percys, and though our story has not yet reached that
notable crisis, the lines may perhaps be quoted here:

    "The King hym blamed for he toke not Owen,
    When he came to him on his assurance,
    And he answered then to the King again,
    He might not so kepe his affiaunce,
    To shame himself, with such a variaunce
    The King blamed him for his prisoner,
    Th' Erle Douglas, for cause he was not there."

This distinct statement from such an authority that Hotspur had met
Glyndwr, referring of course to the previous year in Wales, should be
conclusive, though it is not creditable to Henry's honour that he
should throw in Hotspur's face the fact of his having failed to act
treacherously towards the Welshman. The reference to the Earl of
Douglas will become plain shortly.

The victory of Pilleth had caused great enthusiasm among the Welsh,
and made a particularly marked impression upon the southern and
south-eastern districts, where the Norman baronial houses were strong,
and where even the Welsh "gentiles" had by no means as yet given an
eager welcome to Owen's dragon standard with its accompaniment of
flaming torches and pitiless spears. Hundreds of hitherto half-hearted
Welshmen now joined Glyndwr, who, flushed with victory and strong in
its prestige, turned fiercely upon Glamorgan and went plundering,
burning, and ravaging his way through that fair county, taking little
reck of the score or two of Norman castles so strong in defence but at
this time so powerless for offence. He fell on Cardiff and destroyed
the whole town, saving only the street where stood a religious house
of his friends, or at any rate Henry's enemies, the Franciscans.
Turning eastward he then sacked and burnt the bishop's palace at
Llandaff, stormed Abergavenny Castle, and destroyed the town.

Leaving his friends to hold the country he had so effectually roused,
we next find him in the North, investing the three castles of
Carnarvon, Harlech, and Criccieth, and reminding those who in his
absence may have faltered in their allegiance that such an attitude
was a costly one. Rhys and William ap Tudor from the small stone
manor-house in Anglesey that gave a dynasty to Britain are with him
again, though the latter, it will be remembered, had sought and gained
at Conway the pardon of the King. Robert ap Meredydd of Cefn-y-fan and
Gesail-Gyferch near Criccieth, was another trusty henchman of Glyndwr.
But Robert's brother Ievan ap Meredydd stood for the King, and was one
of the few men in West Carnarvonshire who did so. He was now in
Carnarvon Castle, joint governor with John Bolde, and his brother was
outside with Owen,--a little bit of family detail for which, though
of no great importance, one is thankful amid the bloody and fiery
chaos in which such a vast amount of personality lies forgotten and

It was not long after this that Ievan died in Carnarvon, but so
completely occupied was the surrounding country by Owen's forces and
sympathisers, that they had to bring his body round by sea to his old
home and bury it secretly in his own parish church of Penmorfa, where
his dust still lies. His brother Robert, though he held by Glyndwr
throughout most of his long struggle, eventually received the royal
pardon, and succeeded to the estates. But even his attachment to the
Welsh chieftain had not in any way atoned for his brother's
opposition, or averted the inevitable fate which overtook the property
of all Glyndwr's opponents. Both Cefn-y-fan and Gesail-Gyferch were
burnt this year to ashes. At the former the conflagration was so
prodigious, says an old local legend, that the ruins smoked and the
coals glowed for two whole years afterwards. Gesail-Gyferch was
rebuilt by Robert and may be seen to-day, much as he made it, between
the villages of Penmorfa and Dolbenmaen. Its owner, when the war was
over, married, and had a host of children, from whom innumerable Welsh
families are proud to trace their descent. If this gossip about the
sons of Meredydd and about Howel Sele may seem too parenthetical, it
serves in some sort to illustrate the severance of families and the
relentless vengeance which Glyndwr himself executed upon all who
opposed him.

      R. St. John Boddington.]

In the meantime, while Glyndwr was besieging the castles upon the
Carnarvon and Merioneth coast, his great opponent Henry was being
sorely pressed. The battle of Pilleth and Mortimer's captivity had
raised a storm among those who had been the King's friends, and worse
things seemed in the air. Prince Thomas, his second son, who was
acting as viceroy in Ireland, was reduced by want of money to sore
straits, while forty thousand Scotsmen, with numerous French allies in
their train, were far outnumbering any forces the Percys unaided could
bring against them. But with all this the King was burning to crush
Owen and chastise the Welsh, and it was from no want of will or vigour
that he had for so many weeks to nurse his wrath. Richard, Earl de
Grey, had been left in charge of the South Wales Marches, while the
Earl of Arundel was doing his best to keep order north of the Severn.
On July 23rd the King was at Lilleshall, in Shropshire. Provisions,
arms, and men were pouring into Welshpool, Ludlow, and Montgomery,
Hereford, Shrewsbury, and Chester. Money was scarcer than ever, and
had to be borrowed in every direction from private individuals. Henry
himself was riding restlessly from Shropshire to Lincoln, from Lincoln
to Nottingham, and again from Nottingham to his favourite post of
observation at Lichfield.

At last all was ready; the reduction of Wales was for once the
paramount object of the King's intentions. Three great armies were to
assemble on August the 27th at Chester, Shrewsbury, and Hereford under
the commands of the Prince of Wales, the King himself, and the Earl
of Warwick respectively. After much delay this mighty host, numbering
in all by a general consensus of authorities one hundred thousand men,
prepared to set itself in motion.

It was the first week of September when it crossed the border. The
troops carried with them fifteen days' provisions, a precaution much
exceeding the ordinary commissariat limitations of those times, but
prompted by the bitter memories of three futile and painful campaigns,
and more than ever necessary owing to the devastated condition of
Wales. With such an army, led by the King himself, England might well
think that the Welsh troubles were at an end.

Owen's character as a magician had been firmly established this long
time in Wales. His power of eluding the King's armies, to say nothing
of his occasional victories, and still more of the way in which the
elements had seemed to fight for him, had given him even throughout
England something of a reputation for necromancy. The practical mind
of Henry himself had been disturbed by the strange rumours that had
reached him, coupled with his own experiences of that implacable and
irrepressible foe who claimed the power of "calling spirits from the
vasty deep," and of being outside "the roll of common men."

If the English had hitherto only half believed that Owen was a wizard,
they were in less than a week convinced that he was the very devil
himself, against whom twice their hundred thousand men would be of
slight avail. Never within man's memory had there been such a
September in the Welsh mountains. The very heavens themselves seemed
to descend in sheets of water upon the heads of these magnificent and
well-equipped arrays. Dee, Usk, and Wye, with their boisterous
tributaries that crossed the English line of march, roared bank-high,
and buried all trace of the fords beneath volumes of brown tumbling
water, while bridges, homesteads, and such flocks as the Welsh had not
driven westward for safety were carried downwards to the sea. In these
days of rapid travel it seems incredible that so overwhelming and, for
the times, well-found a host, could be beaten in less than a fortnight
without striking a blow. It is an object-lesson in medieval warfare
worth taking to heart and remembering. Night after night the soldiers
lay in the open, drenched to the skin, and half starved on account of
the havoc wrought upon their provisions by the weather. The thunder
roared, we are told, with fearful voice and the lightning flashed
against inky skies, above the heads of that shivering, superstitious
host, at the will, it seemed to them, of the magic wand of the
accursed Glyndwr. Numbers died from exposure. The royal tent was blown
flat, and Henry himself only escaped severe injury by being at the
moment in full armour.

The King, Hardyng tells us,

    "Had never but tempest foule and raine
    As long as he was ay in Wales grounde;
    Rockes and mystes, winds and stormes, certaine
    All men trowed witches it made that stounde."

How far the English armies penetrated on this memorable occasion we
do not know; but we do know that by the 22nd of September, just a
fortnight after they had first crossed the border, there was not an
Englishman in Wales outside the castles, while the King himself, a day
or two later, was actually back at Berkhampstead, striving, in the
domestic seclusion of his own palace, to forget the unspeakable
miseries of his humiliating failure. Where Owen distributed his forces
through this tempestuous September, there is no evidence; except that,
following the inevitable tactics of his race before great invasions,
he certainly retired with his forces into the mountains. It was not
even necessary on this occasion to fall upon the retreating enemy. But
when one reads of the Welsh retiring to the mountains, the natural
tendency to think of them huddling among rocks and caves must be
resisted. The Welsh mountains, even the loftiest, in those days were
very thickly sprinkled with oak forests, and in the innumerable
valleys and foot-hills there was splendid pasture for large herds of
stock. There must have been plenty of dwellings, too, among these
uplands, and the Welsh were adepts at raising temporary shelters of
stone thatched with heather.

Owen now might well be excused if he really began to think himself
chosen of the gods. At any rate he was justified in the proud boast
that Shakespeare at this time puts into his mouth:

    "Three times hath Henry Bolingbroke made head
    Against my power. Thrice from the banks of Wye
    And sandy-bottomed Severn have I sent
    Him bootless home, and weather-beaten back."

Shakespeare is accurate enough so far, but he is sadly astray when he
makes the news of Mortimer's capture and the defeat of Pilleth reach
Henry upon the same day as the victory of Percy over the Scots at
Homildon. The former was fought in the previous June, whereas the
latter took place while Henry was in the very throes of his struggle
with the Welsh elements and Owen's art magic. In fact the news of the
crushing defeat of the Scots reached him at the moment of his arrival
at home, after his disastrous campaign, and might well have afforded
him much consolation, unless perchance the contrast between his own
luckless campaign and that of Hotspur tempered his joy and galled his

This same battle of Homildon, or Humbledon, near Wooler, exercised
considerable influence upon the affairs of Owen. I have already
remarked that forty thousand Scots, having with them many French
knights and gentlemen, were across the border. They were commanded by
Earl Douglas, who had most of the chivalry and nobility of Scotland at
his back. There was no particular excuse for the invasion; it was a
marauding expedition, pure and simple, on an immense scale, and it
swept through Northumberland and Durham almost unopposed, for the
forces of Percy were too inadequate for even his venturous spirit to
offer battle.

Laden with the spoils of two counties the Scots turned their faces
homeward entirely satisfied with their luck. Unfortunately for them,
they elected to divide their forces, ten thousand men, including the
commander and all the choice spirits of the army, taking a separate
route. As these latter approached the Scottish border they found their
path barred by Hotspur, who had slipped round them, with a slightly
superior force. They would have been glad enough to get home with
their booty, but Percy gave them no option; they had nothing for it
but to fight.

The result of the battle was disastrous to the Scots. The English
archers broke every effort they made to get to close quarters, and
finally routed them with scarcely any assistance from the men-at-arms.
An immense number were slain; five hundred were drowned in the Tweed;
eighty noblemen and knights, the flower of their chivalry, including
the Earl of Douglas himself, were captured. A goodly haul for Percy in
the shape of ransom! But it was these very prisoners and this very
question of ransom that filled Hotspur's cup of bitterness against the
King and brought about his league with Glyndwr. The congratulations
which went speeding northward from Henry to his "dear cousin" were
somewhat damped by instructions that the Scottish prisoners were on no
account to be set at liberty or ransomed, but were in fact to be
handed over to himself--contrary to all custom and privilege. Large
sums were already owing to Percy for his outlay in North Wales on the
King's behalf, and he was sullen, as we know, at the King's neglect of
his brother-in-law Mortimer, still lying unransomed in Owen's hands.
He was now enraged, and his rage bore fruit a few months later on the
bloody field of Shrewsbury. Nor did Henry see the face of one of his
prisoners till they appeared in arms against him, as the price of
their liberty, upon that fateful day.

The close of this year was marked by no events of note; marriage bells
were in the air, for the King was espousing Joanna of Brittany, and
Mortimer, now embittered against Henry, allied himself with Glyndwr's
fortunes and married his fourth daughter, Jane.

Mortimer's alliance was indeed of immense value to Glyndwr. He was not
only the guardian and natural protector of the rightful heir to the
throne, his nephew, but he was a possibly acceptable candidate
himself, in the event of a fresh shuffling of the cards. He had
moreover large possessions and castles in the South Wales Marches, and
in the Vale of Clwyd, whose occupants would now be irrevocably
committed to the Welsh cause.

The monk of Evesham tells us that the marriage was celebrated with the
greatest solemnity about the end of November, though where the
ceremony took place we do not know. A fortnight afterwards Mortimer
wrote to his Radnor tenants this letter in French, which has been
fortunately preserved and is now in the British Museum:

    "Very dear and well-beloved, I greet you much and make known
    to you that Oweyn Glyndwr has raised a quarrel of which the
    object is, if King Richard be alive, to restore him to his
    crown; and if not that, my honoured nephew, who is the right
    heir to the said crown, shall be King of England, and that the
    said Oweyn will assert his right in Wales. And I, seeing and
    considering that the said quarrel is good and reasonable,
    have consented to join in it, and to aid and maintain it, and
    by the grace of God to a good end, Amen. I ardently hope, and
    from my heart, that you will support and enable me to bring
    this struggle of mine to a successful issue. I have moreover
    to inform you that the lordships of Melenyth, Werthresson,
    Rayadr, the Commote of Udor, Arwystly, Keveilloc, and Kereynon
    are lately come into our possession. Wherefore I moreover
    entreat you that you will forbear making inroad into my said
    lands, or doing any damage to my said tenantry, and that you
    furnish them with provisions at a certain reasonable price, as
    you would wish that I should treat you; and upon this very
    point be pleased to send me an answer. Very dear and
    well-beloved, God give you grace to prosper in your
    beginnings, and to arrive at a happy time. Written at Melenyth
    the 13th day of December.

    "Edmund Mortimer.

    "To my very dear and well-beloved John Greyndor, Howell
    Vaughan, and all the gentles and commons of Radnor, and

    [9] Presteign.

This note was no doubt chiefly aimed at Sir John Greyndor, or Grindor,
who guarded the King's interests and commanded several castles at
various times. It was the last incident of moment in the year 1402.






The opening of the year 1403 was a time full of promise for Owen's
cause. The western castles by whose capture he set such store were
hard pressed. Llandovery in the Vale of Towy had been reduced;
Llandeilo Fawr, close by, burnt. The noble castle of Dynevor, which
had been the royal seat of the Princes of South Wales, was in
difficulties, and a descent on the southern shores of England by the
French was once more looked for. The Scots, too, had again plucked up
their courage, and threatened to give trouble. King Henry was begging
or demanding loans from all sorts and conditions of men, that he might
be enabled to hold his own against the Welsh, the Scots, and the
French. His affairs in truth were anything but prosperous. The Prince
of Wales, however, was at his post at Shrewsbury, though pressing for
men and money. He informs his father that Glyndwr is preparing to
invade England, and Henry communicates the disquieting news to his
council, though this is somewhat later, since in May the Prince is
writing urgent letters for relief. In these he declares that his
soldiers will remain no longer with him unless they are paid, and that
Glyndwr is levying all the power of North and South Wales to destroy
the Marches and the adjoining counties of England. The Prince goes on
to say: "If our men are withdrawn from us we must retire to England
and be disgraced forever. At present we have very great expenses, and
we have raised the largest sum in our power to meet them from our
little stock of jewels." This, it may perhaps be again remarked, is
the London roué and trifler of popular fancy!

    "Our two castles of Harlech and Lampadarn are besieged and we
    must relieve and victual them within ten days, and besides
    that protect the March around us with one-third of our forces.
    And now since we have fully shown the state of these
    districts, please to take such measures as shall seem best to
    you for the safety of these same parts. And be well assured we
    have fully shown to you the peril of whatever may happen here
    if remedy be not sent in time."

Reinforcements of some kind must have reached the ardent young soldier
very soon. For within a week or two he exercised a most signal piece
of vengeance against Glyndwr and apparently without opposition. This
was no less than the complete destruction of Sycherth and Glyndyfrdwy,
while Owen was busy upon the Merioneth coast. As all we know of this
interesting affair is from the Prince's own pen, I cannot do better
than quote in full the letter by which he communicated the news to
his father and his council. The original is preserved in the
British Museum, and is in the French language. It is dated May 15th,
no year unfortunately being affixed. Some difference of opinion as to
the latter detail exists, but this year (1403), the latest of those in
dispute, seems to me the likeliest.

    [Illustration: SYCHERTH, FROM THE NORTH.
      H. H. Hughes.]

    "Very dear and entirely well beloved, we greet you much from
    our whole heart, thanking you, very dearly for the attention
    you have paid to everything needful that concerned us during
    our absence, and we pray of you very earnestly the continuance
    of your good and kind disposition; as our trust is in you. By
    way of news that have here occurred, if you wish to hear of
    them, we have among other matters been lately informed that
    Owen de Glyndowrdy has assembled his forces, and those of
    other rebels adhering to him in great number; purposing to
    commit inroads, and in case of any resistance being made to
    him by the English, to come to battle with them, for so he
    vaunted to his people. Wherefore we took our forces and
    marched to a place of the said Oweyn well built, which was his
    principal mansion, called Saghern [Sycherth], where we thought
    we should have found him, if he had an inclination to fight in
    the manner he had said, but on our arrival there, we found
    nobody; and therefore caused the whole place to be burnt, and
    several other houses near it belonging to his tenants. We
    thence marched straight to his other place of Glyndowerdy to
    seek for him there and we caused a fine lodge in his park to
    be destroyed by fire, and laid waste all the country around.
    We there halted for the night and certain of our people
    sallied forth into the country, and took a gentleman of the
    neighbourhood who was one of the said Oweyn's chief captains.
    This person offered five hundred pounds for his ransom to
    preserve his life, and to be allowed two weeks for the purpose
    of raising that sum of money; but the offer was not accepted
    and he received death, as did several of his companions, who
    were taken the same day. We then proceeded to the Commote of
    Edeyrnion in Merionethshire, and there laid waste a fine and
    populous country; thence we went to Powys, and there being a
    want of provender in Wales for horses, we made our people
    carry oats with them and pursued our march; and in order to
    give you full intelligence of this march of ours and of
    everything that has occurred here, we send to you our well
    beloved esquire, John de Waterton, to whom you will be pleased
    to give entire faith, and credence in what he shall report to
    you touching the events above mentioned. And may our Lord have
    you always in his holy keeping. Given under our Seal at
    Shrewsbury the 15th day of May."

If, as I think, 1403 is the right year to which we should assign this
letter, it may seem strange that Glyndwr should have left his estates
to their fate. On the other hand, Sycherth, or Saghern as the Prince
calls it, actually touched Offa's Dyke and the English border, while
Glyndyfrdwy, as I have before noted, was within sight of Dinas Brân,
the grim outpost of English power. Glyndwr's attention had been
largely devoted to South Wales and was now bent on securing those
great castles on the Merioneth and Carnarvon coast, which with their
sea connections threatened him perpetually in his rear. Above all, his
aspirations had now soared to such a height and the stake he was
playing for was so great it is not likely that the loss of a couple
of manor-houses and a few other buildings was of much import to him.
If he won his cause, they were of no moment at all. If, on the other
hand, he lost it, all was over; they would certainly be no longer his.
A want of local knowledge has led many historians astray in the matter
of these manors of Glyndwr's, and they have repeated each other's
mistakes, ignoring the Cynllaeth property, and only transferring the
name of its much larger house to the banks of the Dee. Even Pennant
falls into the error, and is probably responsible for that of many of
his successors.

This is the more curious in view of Prince Henry's letter, distinctly
stating that he first destroyed Owen's principal mansion at that point
and naturally so, as it would be the first in his path on the direct
route from Shrewsbury, following the valleys of the Vyrnwy and the
Tanat, and then up the Cynllaeth brook, where Sycherth lies. Prince
Henry's failure to spell the name of Owen's residence intelligibly is
of no moment whatever, and is almost lucid compared to some of the
Norman attempts to render Welsh names into English.

Sir Henry Ellis and others who, though realising that Owen had two
separate properties, are not familiar with the district, fall back on
Leland, who alludes to Rhaggat, the present seat of the Lloyds, as
having been "a place of Glyndwr's," and explain Prince Henry's
"Saghern" in that manner. Rhaggat, beyond a doubt, whatever dwelling
may then have stood there, was the property of Glyndwr, seeing that it
was on his Glyndyfrdwy estate and less than two miles up the Dee from
his Glyndyfrdwy house. But the Prince would have had to pass by the
latter to reach Rhaggat, reversing the stated order of his operations,
whereas his short campaign as described by himself took the objects of
his attack, Sycherth, Glyndyfrdwy, and the Vale of Edeyrnion in due
order. These are matters, it is true, rather of local than of general
interest. Still as the locality is one which great numbers of
strangers visit for its beauty, I may perhaps be pardoned for entering
somewhat minutely into these details.

While the Prince was thus doing his best upon a small scale near the
border, and sore distressed for money to pay his men, the castles of
Harlech, Criccieth, Conway, Carnarvon, and Rhuddlan were hard pressed.
Being in the royal counties, they were held and manned at the royal
charge and were feeling to the full the pinch of poverty. Owen,
entirely satisfied with the prospect of their speedy reduction, moved
south about the time that the Prince was wasting his property on the
Cynllaeth and the Dee. We hear of him in piteous letters for aid, sent
by Jankyn Hanard, the Constable of Dynevor Castle, on the Towy, to his
brother--Constable of Brecon, who was in but little better plight. In
this correspondence the writer declares that Glyndwr dominates the
whole neighbouring country with 8240 spears at his back; that Rhys
Gethin, the victor of Pilleth, is with him, also Henry Don, Rhys Ddu,
and Rhys ap Griffith ap Llewelyn, the son of that gallant gentleman of
Cardiganshire who made such a cheerful sacrifice of his head, it will
be remembered, two years before, when King Henry was at Strata
Florida, trying in vain to come to blows with Owen.

    [Illustration: HAY.
      Marion & Co.]

"There is great peril for me," continues the panic-stricken Constable,
"for they [Glyndwr's soldiers] have made a vow that they will all have
us ded therein; wherefor I pray thee that thou wilt not boggle us, but
send to us warning within a short time whether we schule have any help
or no." The garrison, he reports, are fainting, in victuals and men,
and they would all be glad enough to steal away to Brecon, where the
castle is in a better state for holding out. "Jenkin ap Llewelyn,
William Gwyn, Thomas ap David, and moni other gentils be in person with
Owen." He tells also of the capture of Carmarthen just effected by
Glyndwr,--both town and castles,--with a loss of fifty men to the
defenders. A second letter, written early in July, a few days only
after the first one and from the same frightened commandant, describes
Glyndwr as still halting in his mind as to whether or no he should burn
Carmarthen. It goes on to relate how Owen and most of his army moved
forward to the great castle of Kidwelly, which stood upon the seacoast
near the mouth of the Towy, some ten miles distant.

But in the meantime the Anglo-Flemings from Western Pembroke and Gower,
of all districts in Wales the most hostile to a Cymric revival, were
coming up again in strong force, under their lord and governor, Thomas
Earl Carew. Glyndwr halted on July 9th at St. Clear's and opened
negotiations with Carew, influenced probably by the view that Western
Pembroke with its sturdy Teutonic stock, and line of impregnable
castles, would prove more difficult to conquer and to hold than the
effort was worth. While pourparlers were proceeding, he sent forward
seven hundred men, to discover if it were possible to get to the rear
of the Anglo-Flemish force, but they were cut off to a man and killed.
This was the most serious loss the Welsh had yet sustained. Carew,
however, did not follow up his advantage, and Glyndwr, who, we are
told, had much booty stored in what was left of Carmarthen, made his
headquarters there for several days.

It is impossible to follow Owen step by step through the hurly-burly of
ruin, fire, and slaughter which he created during this summer in South
Wales. It would be wearisome work, even if we could track his steps
from castle to castle, and from town to town with accuracy. But there
is ample enough evidence of his handiwork and of the terror he spread,
in the panic-stricken correspondence that came out of the Marches from
all sorts of people during these months, and which anyone may read
to-day. We hear from time to time of his lieutenants, of Rhys Gethin,
the Tudors, and many others, but no name in the minds of men ever seems
to approach that of the dread chief, who was the life and organiser of
every movement. Whether Owen is present in person at a siege or a
battle or not, it is always with his enemies, "Owen's men," and "Owen's
intentions," "Owen's magic, ambition, and wickedness"; and at the
terror of his name nervous people and monks were trembling far into the
midland counties. An invasion of England was thoroughly expected at
various times during 1403, and such a visit from a warrior who could
call at will the lightning and the tempest to his aid, and whose track
was marked by a desolation, so it was rumoured, more pitiless than even
medieval ethics approved of, was a terrible eventuality. In the eastern
counties men were informed for certain that he was soon to be at
Northampton, while the monks of St. Albans hung a supplication upon the
chancel wall to the Almighty God to spare them from Glyndwr.

John Faireford, Receiver of Brecon, writes urgently to the authorities
of the county of Hereford, telling them how all the gentry of
Carmarthen had now risen treasonably against the King, and how his
friend, the Constable of Dynevor, was in vain appealing to him for
help; how Owain Glyndwr with his false troops was at Llandover, the men
of that castle being assured to him, and the Welsh soldiers all lying
around the castle at their ease; and again how Glyndwr was on his march
to that very town of Brecon for the destruction of the same, "which God
avert." Faireford begs them to rally all the counties round and to
prepare them at once for resisting these same rebels with all haste
possible for the avoiding of greater peril. "And you will know," writes
he, "that all the Welsh nation, being taken a little by surprise, is
adhering to this evil purpose of rebellion, and if any expedition of
cavalry can be made be pleased to do that first in these Lordships of
Brecon and Cantref Sellys."

Within a few days a letter from the same hand is forwarded to the King

    "My most noble and dread Lord, I have received at Brecon
    certain letters addressed to me by John Skidmore, the which
    enclosed within this letter, I present unto your high person
    by the bearer of these, that it may please your gracious
    lordship to consider the mischief and perils comprised in
    them, and to ordain thereupon speedy remedy for the
    destruction and resistance of the rebels in those parts of
    South Wales, who are treacherously raised against you and your
    Majesty, so that your castles and towns and the faithful men
    in them be not thus ruined and destroyed for lack of aid and
    succour. And besides, may it please your lordship to know that
    the rebels of this your lordship of Brecon, together with
    their adherents, are lying near the town of Brecon doing all
    the mischief they can to its town and neighbourhood, and they
    purpose, all of them together, to burn all pertaining to the
    English in these same parts if they be not resisted in haste.
    The whole of the Welsh nation are by all these said parties
    conformed in this rebellion, and with good will consent
    together as only appears from day to day. May it please your
    royal Majesty to ordain a final destruction of all the false
    nation aforesaid, or otherwise all your faithful ones in these
    parts are in great peril."

The sheriff of Hereford had been warned by the King to proceed against
Brecon with the forces of his county, and relieve the siege. This he
reports later, that he has done with some success; slaying 240 of the
Welsh, though with what loss to himself he refrains from mentioning.
This diversion seems in no way to have relieved the general situation;
for after describing the fight at Brecon he goes on to state that

    "these same rebels purpose again to come in haste with a
    great multitude to take the town (which God avert) and to
    approach to the Marches and counties adjoining to the
    destruction of them, which force we have no power to resist
    without your most earnest aid and succour, and this greatly
    displeases us by reason of the grievous costs and labours
    which it will be needful for us to sustain. In reference to
    which matters, our most dread and sovereign Lord, may it
    please you to ordain speedy remedy, which cannot be as we deem
    without your gracious arrival in these parts for no other hope

This appeal is signed "your humble lieges the Sheriffs, Knights,
Esquires, and Commons of your County of Hereford." Hugh de Waterton
follows in the same alarmist strain:

    "For the honour of God and the preservation of your estate and
    honour may it please your Highness to have this in your
    remembrance and soon to cause to commit to such an array of
    sufficient persons, knights, and esquires, as shall be willing
    to give their whole diligence and trouble for the protection
    of your honour in the preservation of your faithful lieges and
    the punishment of your rebels, or otherwise the only thing
    that can be said, is, it is likely you will find all in
    confusion which God avert."

Then follows William de Beauchamp writing to the same purpose in a
long, rambling letter to the King. Lastly Richard Kingeston, Archdeacon
of Hereford and Dean of Windsor and general administrator for the King
on the Southern Marches, within the same period of panic, appeals
direct to his Majesty.

In one of these missives he says:

    "From day to day letters are arriving from Wales by which you
    may learn that the whole country is lost unless you go there
    as quick as possible. Be pleased to set forth with all your
    power and march by night as well as by day, for the salvation
    of those parts. It will be a great disgrace as well as damage
    to lose in the beginning of your reign a country which your
    ancestors gained and retained so long; for people speak very
    unfavourably; ..."

This is signed "Your lowly creature, Richard Kingeston," with a
postscript added, "And for God's love, my liege Lord, think on

The second letter, written somewhat later, contains the following:

    "There are come into our country more than four hundred of the
    rebels of Owen and they have captured and robbed within your
    county of Hereford many men and beasts in great number as
    Miles Walter the bearer of these presents will more fully tell
    you by mouth than I can write to you at present, to whom may
    it please you to give your faith and credence in that on which
    he shall inform you for the preservation of your said county
    and of all the country around."

The said Miles Walter, moreover, is

    "the most valiant man at arms in Herefordshire or the Marches
    as he has served his Majesty well and lost all that he hath.
    He begs for a hundred lances and six hundred archers at once
    until your most gracious arrival for the salvation of us all;
    for, my most dread Lord, you will find for certain that if
    you do not come in your own person to await your rebels in
    Wales you will not find a single gentleman that will stop in
    your said county [Hereford], and leave naught that you do not
    come, for no man that may counsel you to the contrary. This
    day the Welshmen suppose that and trust that you will not come
    there and therefore for God's love make them false men.... For
    salvation of your shire and Marches trust you naught to any

    "Written at Hereford in very great haste.

    "Your humble creature and continual orator."

I have somewhat tried the reader's patience, perhaps, with such a
multiplication of extracts all sounding the same note; but in dealing
with scenes so scanty of all record save the bare detail of siege and
slaughter, it seems to me that human voices, full of the fears and
alarms of the moment, coming to us out of this almost forgotten
period, have more than ordinary value. Glyndwr, too, at this moment
steps out of his armour and gives us one of those brief glimpses of
the man within, which one so eagerly grasps at. To what extent he was
himself imbued with the superstition that surged around him and so
conspicuously centred upon his own name, must always be a matter of
curiosity. That he was very far from a sceptic, however, he gives us
conclusive proof; for while lying at Carmarthen after settling matters
with Carew, he was seized with a desire to consult a soothsayer; and
acting upon this he sent for a certain Welshman out of Gower, whose
reputation for forecasting future events, and "skill in interpreting
the Brut," was great. Hopkyn ap Thomas was the name of this prophet of
Gower, and when Owen demanded what the future had in store for himself
and his cause, the local wise man showed himself at any rate no
sycophant, though a false prophet, as it so turned out. For he boldly
informed the Welsh leader that within a short time he would be taken
prisoner under a black banner between Carmarthen and Gower.

But all this earlier period of the summer, while Glyndwr was marching
this way and that throughout South Wales, now repelling the Flemings
on the west, now ravaging the English border on the east, matters in
England closely connected with his own fortunes were quickly ripening
for one of the most critical events of this period of English history.
The Prince of Wales, after his brief raid on Sycherth and Glyndyfrdwy,
had remained inactive at Shrewsbury, unable from lack of means to move
the levies of the four border counties, who remained in whole or part,
and somewhat discontented, beneath his banner. The Pell Rolls show a
note for July 17th, of the sum of £8108 for the wages of four barons,
20 knights, 476 esquires, and 2500 archers. The King, who had been by
no means deaf to the frantic appeals which had come pouring in upon
him from Wales, had fully intended to act upon them in person. He was
always as ready, however, to answer a summons from the North as he was
reluctant to face the truth in the West. Wales had been virtually
wrested from him by Glyndwr, and he had ample warning that the latter
was even preparing for an invasion of England, where there existed a
growing faction, wearied by his ceaseless demands for money, which
produced so little glory and so much disgrace.

But once again he turned from scenes that for a long time had been a
standing reproach, both to himself and England, and started for the
North. Even if he had been only bent on assisting the Percys in
stemming a threatened invasion of the Scots, one might well suppose
that the virtual loss of what was a considerable portion of his
dominions near home, together with an equally imminent invasion from
that quarter, would demand his first attention. But there is not even
this much to be said. The King cherished aspirations to be another
Edward the First; he had already achieved a precarious footing in
Scotland and made grants of conquered territory across the border to
English subjects, always providing, of course, they could maintain
themselves there. One has the strange picture of an otherwise sensible
and long-headed monarch accepting perennial defeat and defiance in
Wales, while straining after the annexation of distant territories
that were as warlike as they were poor. The Percys had in fact for the
past few months been playing at war with the Scots, and deceiving
Henry, while laying plans for a deep game in quite another part of
Britain. The King, stern and at times even cruel towards the world in
general, was astonishingly complacent and trustful towards that
arch-plotter, the Earl of Northumberland, who in defiance of his
master, though in strict accord with equity, had kept his hold upon
the Scottish prisoners of Homildon; answering the King's letters of
remonstrance in light and even bantering vein. But now all trace of
ill-feeling would seem to have vanished, as Henry and his forces, on
July 10th, rest for a day or two at Higham Ferrers, on their way to
the assistance of the Percys; not to stem an invasion of the Scots,
but to further the King's preposterous and ill-timed designs upon
their territory. But this mad project was nipped in the bud at the
Northamptonshire town in a manner that may well have taken Henry's
breath away and brought him to his senses.

He has just informed his council that he has received news from Wales
telling him of the gallant bearing of his beloved son, and orders
£1000 to be paid to his war chest. He then proceeds to tell them that
he is on his way to succour his dear and loyal cousins, the Earl of
Northumberland and his son Henry, in the conflict which they have
honourably undertaken for him, and as soon as that campaign shall have
ended, with the aid of God he will hasten to Wales. The next day he
heard that his "beloved and loyal cousins" were in open revolt against
him, and, instead of fighting the Scots, were hastening southwards
with all their Homildon prisoners as allies and an ever gathering
force to join Glyndwr.

What was the exact nature of this alliance, whose proclamation fell
upon the King like a thunderclap, can only be a matter of conjecture.
There are whispers, as we know, of messages and messengers passing
between Glyndwr and Mortimer on the one hand and the Percys on the
other, this long time. That they intended to act in unison there is,
of course, no doubt. Shakespeare has anticipated by some years and
used with notable effect the famous "Tripartite Alliance," which was
signed by Glyndwr, Mortimer, and the Earl of Northumberland at the
Dean of Bangor's house at Aberdaron on a later occasion. One regrets
that in this particular he is not accurate, for the dramatic effect,
which as a poet he had no reason to resist, is much more telling
before the field of Shrewsbury than it can be at any subsequent time.

      J. Bartlett.]

The well-known scene, where Glyndwr, Mortimer, and Hotspur stand
before an outspread map of England, and divide its territory between
them, is probably to thousands of Englishmen their only distinct
vision of the Welsh chieftain as an historical character. But though
this formal indenture, as we shall see, was entered into much later,
there is no doubt that some very similar intention existed even now in
the minds of the allies. Glyndwr's reward was obvious. As to the
throne of England, Richard's ghost was to be resuscitated for the
purpose of creating enthusiasm in certain credulous quarters and among
the mob; but the young Earl of March was the real and natural
candidate for the throne. Edmund Mortimer, however, stood very near to
his young nephew. He was Hotspur's brother-in-law, and who could tell
what might happen? He had the sympathy of the Welsh, not only because
his property lay in their country, but because he could boast the
blood of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, to say nothing of his intimate
connection with the Welsh hero himself. The Earl of Northumberland
may have had some understanding with regard to northern territory,
such as he bargained for in later years, but of this we know nothing.
It was an ill-managed affair in any case, and it is probable that the
conditions in case of victory were loosely defined.

The King had reached Lichfield when the astounding news burst upon him
that he was betrayed, and that he had not only to fight Glyndwr and
the Scotch, but to wrestle with the most powerful of his subjects for
his crown. Glyndwr was, of course, in the secret, but plans had
miscarried, or messengers had gone astray. Without wearying the reader
with proofs and dates, it will be sufficient to recall the fact that
on July 12th Owen was negotiating with Carew, and for the next few
days his hands and head were busily at work before the castle of
Dynevor. He had at that time no thought of leaving South Wales, and
this was within four or five days of the great fight at Shrewsbury,
nearly a hundred miles off, which poets and romancists have painted
him, of all people, as cynically regarding from the safe vantage-point
of a distant oak tree!

Henry, prompt in an emergency and every inch a soldier when outside
Wales, lost not a moment. He had with him but a moderate force, mostly
his loyal Londoners. The Prince of Wales was near Shrewsbury with his
recent reinforcements, and quickly summoned. Urgent orders were sent
out to the sheriffs of the home counties, and on Friday, July 20th, in
the incredibly short space of five days, the King and Prince entered
Shrewsbury with an army of nearer thirty than twenty thousand men.
They were just in time, for that same evening Hotspur (for his father
had been detained in Northumberland by illness) with a force usually
estimated at about 15,000, arrived at the city gates, only to find to
his surprise the royal standard floating from the castle tower, and
the King already in possession. It was then late in the afternoon and
Hotspur led his army to Berwick, a hamlet three miles to the
north-west of Shrewsbury. Though his father was not present, his
uncle, Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, had lately joined him, having
stolen away from the side of Prince Henry, whose chief adviser he had
lately been. The Scottish Earl Douglas, who had been his prisoner at
Homildon, was now his ally, having, together with his comrades in
misfortune, purchased liberty in this doubtless congenial fashion.
Percy had left Northumberland with 160 followers. His force had now
grown, as I have already remarked, to something like 15,000 men.

The County Palatine of Chester, always turbulent and still faithful to
Richard's memory, was most strongly represented in his ranks, and its
archers were among the best in England.[10] Numbers, too, of Glyndwr's
supporters from Flint and the Powys lordships joined his standard, and
Richard's badge of the White Hart was prominent on their shields and
tunics. But Hotspur had assuredly reckoned on meeting Glyndwr, and now
where was he? He had certainly never counted on being stopped by the
King with a superior force upon the borders of Wales. He had now no
choice but to fight, and even Hotspur's fiery spirit must have drooped
for a moment when he counted the odds.

    [10] It had been made a military Palatinate by William the
    Conqueror, with the special object of coercing North Wales. Having
    lapsed to the Crown in Richard's time, that King had leaned
    greatly in his difficulties on its warlike and independent
    population. The latter with its military efficiency had developed
    a corresponding arrogance and local pride, and Richard had been
    the last object of its provincial devotion.

The morning of the 21st broke and there was still no Glyndwr and no
alternative but battle; so, marching his troops to Heytely or Bull
field, a short three miles to the north of Shrewsbury on the Wem road,
he drew them up in order of battle, near the place where the church
that was raised above their graves now stands.

Hotspur for the moment was depressed. He had just discovered that the
hamlet where he had spent the night was called Berwick, and a
soothsayer in the North had foretold that he should "fall at Berwick,"
meaning, of course, the famous town upon the Tweed. The coincidence
affected Percy and showed that if Glyndwr was superstitious so also
was he; for, turning pale, he said: "I perceive my plough is now
drawing to its last furrow." But the most lion-hearted soldier in
England soon shook off such craven fears and proceeded to address his
men in a speech which Holinshed has preserved for us: a spirited and
manly appeal which we must not linger over here. The King was
curiously slow in moving out against his foes, and even when, after
noontide, he had drawn up his formidable army in their front, he gave
his faithless friends yet one more chance, sending the Abbot of
Shrewsbury to offer them good terms even at this eleventh hour, and it
was certainly not fear that prompted the overture. Hotspur was touched
and inclined to listen, but his hot-headed or mistrustful uncle of
Worcester overruled him, even going himself to the King's army and
using language that made conciliation impossible. It must have been
well into the afternoon when the King threw his mace into the air as a
signal for the bloodiest battle to open that since the Norman conquest
had dyed the soil of England.

With such a wealth of description from various authors, more or less
contemporary, it is not easy to pick out in brief the most salient
features of this sanguinary fight. It will be sufficient to say that
the shooting of Percy's Cheshire archers was so terrific at the
opening of the battle that the royal army was thrown into confusion
and only saved from rout by the valour and presence of mind of the
King, who rallied his shaken troops and bore upon the smaller forces
of his enemy with irresistible pressure; that the desperate charges of
Hotspur and Lord Douglas, cleaving lanes through their enemy as they
sought the King's person, were the leading personal features of a
fight where all were brave. The valour of the young Prince Henry, too,
seeing how prominent a figure he is in our story, must be recorded,
and how, though badly wounded by an arrow in the face, he resisted
every effort to drag him from the field and still sought the spot
where the fight was fiercest and the dead thickest. The courage and
coolness of the King, too, whose crown and kingdom were at stake,
shone brightly in the deadly mêlée, where his standard was overthrown,
its bearer slain, and the Constable of England, Lord Stafford, killed
at his feet. Hotspur, who had fought like a lion with a score of
knightly opponents, fell at length, pierced by a missile from some
unknown hand; and before sunset his army was in full flight. The
slaughter was tremendous, and lasted far into the dark hours; for it
is curiously significant that as an early moon rose over that bloody
field, its face was quickly hidden by an eclipse that may well have
excited the already strained imaginations of so superstitious an age.
About four thousand men lay dead upon the field, among them two
hundred knights and gentlemen of Cheshire alone, who had followed
Percy. The Earl of Worcester and Lord Douglas were both captured, the
former receiving a traitor's death. The corpse of the gallant Hotspur,
after being buried by a kinsman, was dug up again and placed standing
upright between two millstones in Shrewsbury market-place, that all
men might know that the fierce Northumberland whelp, the friend of
Glyndwr, was dead. His quarters were then sent, after the manner of
the time, to decorate the walls of the chief English cities, the
honour of exhibiting his head over the gates being reserved for York.

[Sidenote: Under Henry's patronage.]

The more illustrious dead were buried in the graveyards of Shrewsbury.
The rest were, for the most part, huddled into great pits adjoining
the spot where the old church, that was raised under Henry's patronage
as a shrine wherein masses might be said for their souls, still lifts
its grey tower amid the quiet Shropshire fields.[11]

    [11] Battle-field Church, which now serves a small parish, is
    probably the only instance in England of a church erected over the
    burial-pits of a battle for the purpose of saying masses for the
    victims of a great slaughter, and that now does duty as a parish
    church. The fabric has had periods of dilapidation and been much
    restored, but a good part of the walls is original. There was a
    college originally attached to it, but all trace of this has
    disappeared. My first visit to the battle-field was in company
    with the Rev. Dymock Fletcher, well known as a Shropshire
    antiquary, who has published an interesting pamphlet on this

And all this time Glyndwr, in far Carmarthen, was in total ignorance
of what a chance he had missed, and what a calamity had occurred. If
Hotspur had been better served in his communications, or fate in this
respect had been kinder, and Glyndwr with 10,000 men had stood by the
Percys' side, how differently might the course of English history have
run! It is fortunate for England, beyond a doubt, that Hotspur fell at
Shrewsbury and that Glyndwr was not there, but from the point of view
of his after reputation, one cannot resist the feeling that a great
triumph upon the open plains of Shropshire, in an historic fight,
would have set that seal upon Glyndwr's renown which some perhaps may
think is wanting. Reckless deeds of daring and aggression are more
picturesque attributes for a popular hero. But Glyndwr's fame lies
chiefly in the patience of his strategy, his self-command, his
influence over his people, his tireless energy, his strength of will,
and dogged persistence. He had to do a vast deal with small means: to
unite a country honeycombed with alien interests, to fight enemies at
home and beyond the mountain borders of his small fatherland, and to
struggle with a nation that within man's memory had laid France
prostrate at its feet. Private adventures and risky experiments he
could not afford. A great deal of statecraft fell to his share. His
efforts for Welsh independence could not ultimately succeed without
allies, and while he was stimulating the irregular military resources
of the Principality, and making things safe there with no gentle hand,
his mind was of necessity much occupied with the men and events that
might aid him in the three kingdoms and across the seas. His
individual prowess would depend almost wholly on tradition and the
odes of his laureate, Iolo Goch, if it were not for his feat against
the Flemings when surrounded by them on the Plinlimmon Mountains:

    "Surrounded by the numerous foe,
    Well didst thou deal the unequal blow,
    How terrible thy ashen spear,
    Which shook the bravest heart with fear.
    More horrid than the lightning's glance,
    Flashed the red meteors from thy lance,
    The harbinger of death."

But Glyndwr's renown, with all its blemishes, rests on something more
than sword-cuts and lance-thrusts. He had been three years in the
field, and for two of them paramount in Wales. Now, however, with the
rout and slaughter of Shrewsbury, and the immense increase of strength
it gave to Henry, a crushing blow had surely been struck at the Welsh
chieftain and his cause. Numbers of Owen's people in Flint and the
adjoining lordships, cowed by the slaughter of half the gentry of
sympathetic Cheshire, and their own losses, came in for the pardon
that was freely offered. The King had a large army, too, on the Welsh
border, and the moment would seem a singularly propitious one for
bringing all Wales to his feet, while the effect of his tremendous
victory was yet simmering in men's minds. But Henry was too furious
with the Percys for cool deliberation. The old Earl had not been
absent from the field of Shrewsbury from disinclination, but from
illness; and he was now in the North stirring up revolt upon all
sides. But the ever active King, speeding northward, checkmated him at
York in such a way that there was no option for the recusant nobleman
but to throw himself at his injured prince's feet and crave
forgiveness. It is to Henry's credit that he pardoned his ancient
friend. Perhaps he thought the blood of two Percys was sufficient for
one occasion; so the old Earl rode out of York by the King's side,
under the festering head of his gallant son, on whom he had been mean
enough to throw the onus of his own faithlessness, and was placed for
a time out of mischief at Coventry.

By the time, however, that Henry came south again the battle of
Shrewsbury, so far as Wales was concerned, might never have been
fought. Glyndwr's confidence in the South was so great that he had
himself gone north to steady the men of Flint and the borders in their
temporary panic. His mission seems to have been so effective that by
the time the King was back it was the town of Chester and the
neighbouring castles that were the victims of a panic. An edict issued
by Prince Henry, who lay recovering from his wound at Shrewsbury,
ordered the expulsion of every Welshman from the border towns, the
penalty for return being death. Strenuous efforts were again made to
stop all trade between England and Wales, but it was useless; a
continuous traffic in arms and provisions went steadily on, the goods
being exchanged for cattle and booty of all kinds in which Owen's
mountain strongholds now abounded. On the Welsh side of Chester,
hedges and ditches were hastily formed as a protection against
invasion, and watchers were kept stationed night and day along the
shores of the Dee estuary.

It was the 8th of September when Henry arrived from the north and
prepared at Worcester for his long-deferred expedition against
Glyndwr. He first issued formal orders to the Marcher barons to keep
their castles in readiness against assault and in good repair!--a
superfluous warning one would have thought, and not devoid of irony,
when addressed to men who for a year or two had just managed to
maintain a precarious existence against the waters of rebellion that
surged all round them. Henry was at his very wits' end for money, and
all those in his interest were feeling the pinch of poverty. It so
happened that at this juncture the Archbishop of Canterbury was
attending the Court at Worcester, and the sight of his magnificent
retinue aroused dangerous thoughts in the minds of the barons around
the King, who had spent so much blood and treasure in his service and
were now sorely pinched for want of means. The same ideas occurred to
Henry, if indeed they were not suggested to him, and in no uncertain
voice he called upon the Church for pecuniary aid against Glyndwr. The
Archbishop took in the situation and sniffed spoliation in the air. At
the bare idea of such intentions he grew desperate, and with amazing
courage bearded the King himself, swearing that the first man who laid
a finger on church property should find his life no longer worth
living and his soul for ever damned. The King was forced to soothe the
excited cleric, who in later and calmer moments came to the conclusion
that it would be perhaps prudent for the Church to offer some
pecuniary assistance to the Crown. This was ultimately done, and the
sum contributed was about enough to pay the expenses of one of the
forty or fifty castles that were gradually falling into Owen's hands.

In the meantime, Glyndwr had invaded Herefordshire, penetrating as far
as Leominster, and had compelled that county to make special terms
with him and pay heavily for them too. The King, however, had now
everything in train for a general advance through South Wales. What he
did there and what he left undone must be reserved for another






King Henry's fourth expedition against Glyndwr, in spite of all the
talk, the preparations, the hard-wrung money grants, the prayers and
supplications for aid, will make but scant demands upon our space. He
spent some days at Hereford, issuing orders for stores to be forwarded
to the hard-pressed castles of South Wales from the port of Bristol,
though it is obvious that only some of them could be relieved by sea.
The names of a few of these may interest Welshmen. They were
Llandovery, Crickhoell, Tretower, Abergavenny, Caerleon, Goodrich,
Ewyas Harold, Usk, Caerphilly, Ewyas Lacy, Paines, Brampton Bryan,
Lyonshall, Dorston, Manorbier, Stapleton, Kidwelly, Lampeter, Brecon,
Cardiff, Newport, Milford, Haverford-west, Pembroke, and Tenby.

The King left Hereford about the 15th of September and he was seated a
few days later among the ruins of Carmarthen, the very centre of the
recent wars and devastations. Glyndwr and his people were, of course,
nowhere to be seen, nor did the King show any disposition to hunt for
them. He remained about two days at Carmarthen, and contented himself
with issuing all kinds of orders, proclamations, pardons, and
confiscations, which were for the most so much waste paper. Leaving
behind him the Earl of Somerset with an inefficient garrison and no
money to pay them, he then faced about, and made the best of his way
back again, arriving at Hereford within four days. When one recalls
Edward the First, who considered nearly three years of personal
residence none too short a time in which to establish order in Wales,
which was at that time by no means so wholly hostile as now, the
feebleness of Henry's Welsh policy strikes one with singular force.
Had he been his cousin Richard or an Edward the Second, a man sluggish
in war and a slave to luxury, the explanation would be simple enough;
but though his Court was extravagant, almost culpably so, the King
himself was an energetic, serious-minded soldier, and a man of affairs
rather than of pleasure. One might well have supposed, after the
decisive victory at Shrewsbury, and the firm grip on the throne which
the destruction of his domestic enemies gave to the King, that
Glyndwr's hour had at last come.

It is almost wearisome to tell the same old tale of "scuttle," the
same trumpeting forth of orders to captains and governors of castles
and Marcher barons to do, with scant men and means, what their master
had so conspicuously flinched from with the power of England, such as
he had made it, at his command. It is needless to say that the King's
homeward tracks through Wales were obliterated, when his back was
turned, like those upon sand, before the returning tide of Owen and
his Welshmen, who had swept through Glamorgan and were pressing
Cardiff, even while Henry was still travelling homewards. He had
hardly reached London before he received piteous letters from the
chiefs of the garrison that had been left at Carmarthen, begging him
to send the Duke of York there with strong reinforcements or they were
lost men, and protesting that in no case could they stay there a day
longer than the stipulated month, for their men would not stand by

Glyndwr had received some sort of consolation from the French for the
blow struck at his English allies on the plains of Shrewsbury. Their
corsairs had been harrying the shores of England throughout the
summer. Plymouth, Salcombe, and other places had been raided, while
flotillas were even now hovering round the coast of Wales, in the
interests of Owen. Herefordshire, which had received the
long-looked-for King with such unbounded joy in September, and hailed
him as its deliverer, was, in October, in as bad a plight as ever, for
Glyndwr's men had again poured over the borders. And though the King
with his thousands had come and gone like a dream, the people of
Hereford and Gloucester were now glad enough to welcome the Duke of
York with nine hundred spearmen and archers. The Courtenays with a
force of Devonshire men had been ordered across the Severn sea to
relieve Cardiff, but this they failed in doing, as now not only that
fortress, but Caerphilly, Newport, Caerleon, and Usk fell into Owen's

The number of men that Glyndwr had with him at various times is
difficult to estimate. Now and then contemporary writers quote the
figures. In South Wales lately it will be remembered he had nearly ten
thousand. In Carmarthen at another time the number from an equally
credible source is estimated at thirty thousand. His spearmen were
better than his archers. The Welsh archers, till the Union and the
wars with France, had used short bows made generally of twisted twigs
and formidable only at a close range. Archery, however, in its highly
developed state must have become familiar by this time, through the
co-operation of the Welsh in the French wars. The Welsh spears were
exceptionally long, and the men of Merioneth had a special reputation
for making efficient use of them. They were all, however, eminently
light troops, though equipped with steel caps, breastplates, and often
with greaves. "In the first attack," says Giraldus Cambrensis, "the
Welsh are more than men, in the second less than women," and he knew
them well. But their want of staunchness under repulse, he takes care
to tell us, was temporary. They were a people well-nigh impossible to
conquer, he declares, from the rapidity with which they recovered from
defeat and the tenacity with which they returned, not always
immediately, but sooner or later, to the attack, refusing to
acknowledge ultimate defeat, and desperately attached to liberty.
Glyndwr had practically no cavalry. Horses were very widely in use,
perhaps ponies still more so, amid the mediæval Welsh, and their
gentry and nobility went mounted to war from the earliest times. But
it is likely that in Wales itself, at any rate, all ranks did their
actual fighting on foot.

Of the disposition of Glyndwr's forces and their personnel beyond a
few of his captains we know little. It seems almost certain that the
men of the South for the most part fought in the south, and those of
the North in the north. If he had a nucleus of soldiers that followed
him in his rapid movements from one end of the Principality to the
other it was a comparatively small one. In every district he had
trusted leaders who looked after his interests, and on his appearance,
or at his summons, rallied their followers to battle, and upon their
own account made the lives of the beleaguered Saxons in their midst
intolerable. By this time, however, and indeed before it, every man
who was not a professed subject of the descendant of Llewelyn and of
Madoc ap Griffith, had fled Wales, except those who were swelling the
population of the ill-victualled and closely beleaguered castles.
Glyndwr had before him many a doughty Anglo-Norman warrior, under
walls well-nigh impervious to anything but starvation, whose crumbling
shells on many a Welsh headland and hilltop still wake memories of the
past and stir our fancy.

Lord Audley was at Llandovery, Sir Henry Scrope at Langhame, John
Pauncefote held Crickhowl, and James Berkeley, Tretower. At
Abergavenny was a Beauchamp, at Goodrich a Neville. The splendid pile
of Caerphilly, whose ruins are the largest in Britain, was in the
charge of a Châtelaine, Lady Despencer. The noble castle of Manorbier,
where Giraldus was born, in that of Sir John Cornwall, while the Earl
of Warwick was at Paines, and a Charlton, of course, at Welshpool.

About the same time, some French companies were landing in Carmarthen
to add further to the woes of Henry in Wales; and for the comfort of
Glyndwr. The King himself was entering London, and to show how little
the people of one end of the country sometimes realised what was
actually happening at the other, the citizens, who were always his
particular friends, gave him quite an enthusiastic reception. It
should, however, be remembered that the Londoners had been in great
force at Shrewsbury, and the triumphs of that bloody fight were still
ringing in men's ears.

It was not till two years after this that the great French effort was
made on Owen's behalf, of which we shall hear in due course, but even
now a few hundred Bretons, as already related, had found their way to
Wales. They flinched from the great Pembroke castles and, adventuring
upon their own account, crept round the coast of Lleyn and made an
attempt upon Carnarvon. A very short stay before that matchless pile
of Norman defensive art sufficed upon this occasion for the invaders,
though soon afterwards they landed and joined Glyndwr in its
investment. The island of Anglesey in the meantime, cut off from the
rest of Wales by the castles and "English towns" of Conway and
Carnarvon, and its own almost equally formidable stronghold of
Beaumaris, had for the moment given in to English reinforcements from
Chester, and accepted the freely offered pardon of the Prince of
Wales. It is a singular fact that, while so many of Glyndwr's
soldiers, headed by the Tudors, came from Anglesey and near the close
of his wars 2000 of its inhabitants were actually in arms, no battle
or even skirmish took place there, so far as we know, during the whole
period of these operations.

But Carnarvon, now at this date, January, 1404, was as a matter of
fact in a lamentable condition as regards defenders. The garrison had
declined to less than thirty men, and there are letters in Sir Henry
Ellis's collection showing the desperate state to which this and other
castles were reduced. It seems at the first sight incredible that such
a handful of men could hold so great a fortress against serious
attacks. The walls and defences of Carnarvon Castle are to-day much
what they were in the times of Glyndwr. It is perhaps almost necessary
to walk upon its giddy parapets, to climb its lofty towers, in order
to grasp the hopelessly defiant front such a fortress must have shown
to those below it before the time of effective artillery: the deep
moat upon the town side, the waters of the harbour a hundred feet
below the frowning battlements upon the other, the huge gateway from
which the portcullis grinned and the upraised drawbridge swung.
Twenty-eight men only were inside when Owen with a force of his own
people and the French threw themselves against it. The besiegers
had engines, "scowes," and scaling ladders, but the handful of
defenders were sufficient, for the time being at any rate, to hurry
from point to point, and frustrate all attempts to surmount the lofty
walls, though these attempts, no doubt, were made at many points
simultaneously. The Constable John Bolde was away, but one Parry, his
deputy, was in command. It was urgent that a message should be sent to
Chester, acquainting Venables, the governor, of their desperate
situation. Not a man, as may well be believed, could be spared, so a
woman was despatched to take the news by word of mouth, for few dared
in those days to carry letters.

    [Illustration: CARNARVON CASTLE.
      F. Frith & Co.]

Harlech was in an equally bad plight, its defenders being reduced to
twenty-six, but it was as impregnable as Carnarvon, and much smaller.
The garrison had been so mistrustful of their governor's fidelity that
they had locked him up. During January their numbers were reduced to
sixteen, but they still held manfully out against the Welsh under
Howel Vychan. They eventually succeeded in sending word across the bay
to Criccieth, and to Conway also, of their condition. Conway had been
urgently petitioning the King and assuring him that 400 more men would
suffice to hold the castles till the spring, but that then "when the
rebels can lie out which they cannot now do" a far greater number
would be required; but the King either could not or would not
understand. Harlech, grim and grey on its incomparable rocky perch,
required fewer defenders even than the rest. The sea then swept over
the half-mile strip of land, the "Morfa Harlech," that now lies dry
beneath it, and lapped the base of the lofty rock on whose summit the
great Edward's remotest castle still stands defiant of the ages.[12]

    [12] That ships could reach the gate at the foot of the rock of
    Harlech is undoubted. What course the water took or how much of
    the Morfa was actually under water is a matter of uncertainty.

Henry had issued orders that these sea-girt castles should be looked
to by his navy. But Henry's admirals seem to have had as little liking
for Welsh seas as the King himself had for Welsh mountains, though
happily some Bristol sailors appear to have done their best to supply
the deficiency. Glyndwr, however, was determined to have Harlech
without loss of further time. Coming there from Carnarvon he parleyed
with the garrison, and offered terms which all but seven accepted.
What became of this uncompromising minority it would be hard to say,
but at any rate Owen entered into possession and there is good reason
to suppose that he planted his family here and made his headquarters
upon the historic rock where Brân the Blessed and a long line of less
shadowy Welsh chieftains had dwelt, ages before the rearing of these
Norman towers.

    [Illustration: MACHYNLLETH.
      F. Frith & Co.]

Later on we hear of his summoning a parliament to Harlech, but during
this year the first of these legislative assemblies that he called
together met at Machynlleth, as being unquestionably a more convenient
rendezvous for Welshmen in general. Hither came "four persons of
sufficient consequence" out of each "Cantref" (the old unit of
division in Wales), to take counsel for future action and to gather
around the throne, upon which they had now seated a crowned Prince
of their own race. One of the Welsh gentlemen, however, who attended
this historic parliament, came with very different intentions, and
this was David ap Llewelyn ap Howel, otherwise known as Davy Gam, or
"squint-eyed Davy," a landowner near Brecon and the scion of a family
distinguished both then and for long afterwards, his great-grandfather
having fought at Crecy and Poitiers. He himself was a short,
long-armed man with red hair and a cast in his eye. In youth he had
been compelled to fly from Brecon for killing a neighbour, and indeed
he seemed to have enjoyed all his life a somewhat sinister reputation
for recklessness and daring. Flying to England he was received into
the household of John of Gaunt, where he grew up side by side with
Henry of Bolingbroke and was entirely devoted to his service. Henry,
when he came into power, had restored Gam to his property and position
in Brecon, and moreover bestowed upon him Crown appointments in South
Wales. Glyndwr had a brother-in-law named Gam, which has given rise to
some confusion, but Davy was at any rate no relation to the Welsh
chieftain, though, both having been in Henry's household, it is
probable they knew each other well.

Gam had hitherto and naturally been a staunch King's man; he now,
however, feigned conversion and attended the parliament at Machynlleth,
not to do homage to Owen, but to kill him. The almost certain death to
which he exposed himself in case of success prompts one to something
like admiration for so single-minded and fearless an avenger. But his
intentions were by some means discovered and his rash project nipped in
the bud. He was seized and doomed to the cruel fate which the nature of
his crime made inevitable. Old friends and relatives, however, were in
strength at Machynlleth and successfully interceded for his life.
Perhaps Glyndwr was induced to this act of clemency by the reflection
that imprisonment for an indefinite period, as practised by himself and
others at that time, was a worse punishment than torture and death to a
man of spirit. Whether the captive lay in the dungeons of Dolbadarn
under Snowdon, at Harlech, or in the still surviving prison house
(Cachardy Owen) at Llansantffraid-Glyndyfrdwy, we do not hear. He
probably tasted the sweets of all of them and must indeed have spent a
miserable time in those later years when Owen was himself at bay in the
mountains and more or less of a fugitive.

But Davy was freed eventually, though only just before the final
disappearance of Glyndwr, and lived to fight at the King's side at
Agincourt together with his son-in-law Roger Vychan, where both fell
gloriously on that memorable day. He is said to have been knighted on
the field while dying and to be moreover the original of Shakespeare's
Fluellin, and to have made the memorable reply to Henry V. when
returning from a survey of the vast French hosts just before the
battle: "There are enough to kill, enough to take prisoners, and
enough to run away."

When next Glyndwr went campaigning through Brecon he took the
opportunity of burning his would-be murderer's mansion of Cyrnwigen. A
well-known tradition relates how, while the flames were leaping high
around the devoted homestead, Owen addressed David Gam's bailiff who
was gazing disconsolately at the scene, in an _englyn_, which by some
means has found its way down to posterity and is well known in Wales.
Seeing that it is the only instance we have of so great a patron of
bards breaking out himself into verse, I venture to print it here.
There have been various translations; this is one of them:

    "Canst thou a little red man descry,
      Looking around for his dwelling fair?
    Tell him it under the bank doth lie,
      And its brow the mark of a coal doth bear."

No special effort was made this spring from England to break Glyndwr's
power or to relieve the castles. While some of Owen's captains were
hovering on the Marches, the chief himself, having dismissed his
parliament, moved with his principal councillors to Dolgelly.
Tradition still points out the house at Machynlleth where gathered the
first and almost the only approach to a parliament that ever met in
Wales. It stands nearly opposite the gates of Plâs Machynlleth, an
unnoticeable portion of the street in fact, a long low building now in
part adapted to the needs of a private residence, and having nothing
suggestive about it but the thickness of its walls. The chief outcome
of this conference at Dolgelly of "sufficient persons" from all over
Wales, was a much more formal and serious overture to the French King
than the letters of 1402. Glyndwr had now fully donned the mantle of
royalty and wrote to the King of France as a brother and an equal,
proposing to make an offensive and defensive alliance with him.

The ambassadors chosen for the conduct of this important business were
Griffith Yonge, doctor of laws, Owen's Chancellor, and his own
brother-in-law, John Hanmer. The instrument is in Latin, "Dated at
Dolgelly on the 10th day of May 1404 and in the fourth year of our
principality," and begins: "Owen by the grace of God, Prince of
Wales," etc. The two Welsh plenipotentiaries crossed the sea without
misadventure and were received in a most friendly manner at Paris by
the French King. His representative, the Count de la Marche, signed
the treaty upon July 14th, together with Hanmer and Yonge, at the
house of Ferdinand de Corby, Chancellor of France, several bishops and
other notabilities being present. By this instrument Glyndwr and the
French King entered into a solemn league and covenant to assist each
other against all the attacks of Henry of Lancaster (Charles had never
yet recognised him as King) and his allies. The Welshmen signed the
document on behalf of "our illustrious and most dread Lord, Owen,
Prince of Wales." The treaty was ratified on the 12th of January
following at Llanbadarn near Aberystwith. The seal which Glyndwr now
used in all his transactions represents the hero himself, with a
biforked beard, seated on a chair, holding a sceptre in his right hand
and a globe in his left, and has recently been adopted as the
corporate arms of Machynlleth. Nor should it be overlooked that Owen
sent a list of all the chief harbours and roads of Wales to Charles,
while the latter in return loaded the Welsh ambassadors with presents
for their master, including a gilded helmet, a cuirass, and sword, as
an earnest of his promised help.

      C. H. Young.]

About the same time as the departure of Owen's mission to France, he
wrote another letter, which is extant. It is not of much importance,
except as an illustration of the confidence he felt at this time in
his ultimate success. It is addressed to "our dear and entirely well
beloved Henry Don," urging his co-operation, and concluding with the
remark: "Their sway is ending and victory coming to us, as from the
first, none could doubt God had so ordered."

Among other signs of Glyndwr's increased importance this year, was the
coming over to his cause of that Tudor Trevor, Bishop of St. Asaph,
who it will be remembered had warned the King and his council against
despising Owen's peaceful appeal for justice against Grey of Ruthin,
and urgently protested against those ill-fated and misplaced sneers at
the "barfoots."

It was Trevor's cathedral at St. Asaph, of course, and its precincts,
which Glyndwr had so ruthlessly burned in 1402. The Bishop had since
then been not only supported by grants from the English exchequer, but
had well earned them by much serious official work in the King's
service. Whether his Welsh blood warmed at the prospects of a revived
Cambrian independence or whether ambition was the keynote of his
actions, no one may know. At any rate it was not want or neglect at
the hands of the King that drove him back into the arms of Owen. The
latter gave him a cordial welcome, and it must be said for Trevor that
through good and ill he proved faithful to his new master's cause.
Militant clerics were common enough in those times. Trevor, with the
martial instincts of the great border race from which he sprang, and
whose history is written deep for centuries beside the Ceiriog and the
Dee, had been in the thick of the fight at Shrewsbury beneath the
King's banner. He now followed Glyndwr both in the council and in the
field, dying eventually in Paris, a fugitive and an exile, in the year

All through this spring Owen's followers on the borders were making
life upon the English side intolerable. Bonfires were laid ready for
the match on every hill. The thirty towers and castles that guarded
Shropshire were helpless to stem the tide. The county was again laid
waste to the very walls of Shrewsbury and many of the population fled
to other parts of England for a livelihood. Archdeacon Kingeston at
Hereford once again takes up his pen and paints a lamentable picture:

    "The Welsh rebels in great numbers have entered Archenfield [a
    division of the county] and there they have burnt houses,
    killed the inhabitants, taken prisoners and ravaged the
    country to the great dishonour of our King and the
    unsupportable damage of the country. We have often advertised
    the King that such mischief would befall us, we have also now
    certain information that within the next eight days the rebels
    are resolved to make an attack in the March of Wales to its
    utter ruin, if speedy succour be not sent. True it is indeed
    that we have no power to shelter us except that of Lord
    Richard of York and his men, which is far too little to defend
    us; we implore you to consider this very perilous and pitiable
    case and to pray our Sovereign Lord that he will come in his
    Royal person or send some person with sufficient power to
    rescue us from the invasion of the said rebels. Otherwise we
    shall be utterly destroyed, which God forbid; whoever comes
    will as we are led to believe have to engage in battle, or
    will have a very severe struggle with the rebels. And for
    God's sake remember that honourable and valiant man, the Lord
    Abergavenny [William Beauchamp], who is on the very point of
    destruction if he be not rescued. Written in haste at
    Hereford, June 10th."

A fortnight later the dread of Owen's advance was emphasised by Prince
Henry himself, who was still, in conjunction with the Duke of York, in
charge of the Welsh wars.

"Most dread and sovereign Lord and Father, at your high command in
your other gracious letters, I have removed with my small household to
the city of Worcester, and may it please your Royal Highness to know
that the Welsh have made a descent on Herefordshire, burning and
destroying the county with very great force, and with a supply of
provisions for fifteen days." The Prince goes on to say that the Welsh
are assembled with all their power, and to save the county of
Hereford he has sent for all sorts of considerable persons (mentioned
by name) to meet him at Worcester. In conjunction with these he tells
the King he will "do to the utmost of his little power," and then
comes the inevitable want of money and the impossibility of
maintaining troops in the field or meeting the expenses of the
garrisons. Another letter from the same hand a few days afterwards
warned the King still more urgently of the pressing danger and
declared how impossible it was to keep his troops upon the frontier
without pay or provisions.

There is no evidence that these strong representations brought any
satisfaction to the anxious writers. The sieges of those castles not
yet taken Owen continued to prosecute with vigour, while his captains
continued to desolate the border counties. Glyndwr was much too
skilful a strategist to undertake a serious expedition into England.
The cause of Richard and Mortimer, which would have been his only
war-cry, had been shattered, so far as England was concerned, at
Shrewsbury. All Glyndwr wanted was Wales, and at present he virtually
possessed it. He felt confident now, moreover, of substantial
assistance from the French King, and when that arrived he might
perhaps take the initiative seriously against Henry on behalf of his
son-in-law's family. Nor is there any doubt but that he was greatly
indebted for the extraordinary position he had achieved to the chronic
impecuniosity of his enemy, and perhaps indeed to his own reputation
for magic art. Who can say?

One brief and spirited campaign, however, distinguished this summer,
or more probably the late spring of 1404, for the actual date is
uncertain. It was undertaken by a strong force which Beauchamp, Earl
of Warwick, led right through the present county of Montgomery.
Glyndwr threw himself across the Earl's path at Mynydd-cwm-du ("the
black mountain hollow"): a fierce battle ensued, in which the Welsh
were defeated and were so closely pressed that Owen's banner was
captured and he himself very nearly taken. Warwick does not seem to
have followed up his advantage; on the contrary, Glyndwr, rallying his
men, followed the Earl back to the Herefordshire border whither the
usual lack of provender had sent him, and there turned the tables on
his enemy, beating him badly in a pitched battle at Craig-y-dorth. The
scene of this second encounter is on the road between Chepstow and
Monmouth, near Trelog common.

Early in August, 1404, the Shropshire Marches were so sorely pressed,
and the English defences so worn out, that the council were compelled
to listen to the urgent appeals of the Salopians and grant the people
of that county leave to make terms with Owen on their own account and
pay him exemption money. The same privilege had also to be extended to
Edward de Charleton, Lord of Powys, who from his "Castle de la Pole"
(Welshpool) made a truce with the Welsh. It is worthy of note that the
people of Welshpool, though practically all of Welsh blood, stood by
their lord and resisted Owen throughout the whole of the struggle. For
this reason Charleton gave them a fresh charter immensely enlarging
the boundaries of the borough, which to this day occupies the unique
position of extending over something like twenty thousand acres.

Towards the end of August, King Henry was forced once more to turn his
attention to Wales. The scandal and the danger were growing grievous.
So he held a council at Tutbury, the minutes of which are significant.
Eight bishops, eighteen abbots and priors, nineteen great lords and
barons, and ninety-six representatives of counties, we are told,
attended it. The news was here confirmed that the French had equipped
sixty vessels in the port of Harfleur and were about to fill them with
soldiers and proceed to Owen's assistance. It was decided, however,
that since the King was not at present able to raise an army
sufficiently imposing for his high estate, he should remain at Tutbury
till the meeting of Parliament in October. As campaigning against Owen
even in the summer season had sufficient horrors for the King, the
logic of deferring the expedition till November can only be explained
by sheer lack of money. At least one would have supposed so if Henry
had not burked the whole question, turned his back once more on his
lost and desolated province, and hastened to the North.

Prince John, the King's second son, was now joined with Prince Henry
in the titular Governorship of the South Wales Marches, and the royal
brothers were voted two thousand five hundred archers and men-at-arms.
How many of these they got is another story, of which we have no
certain knowledge. For a fortnight it was all they could do to hold
their own as they pushed slowly through to the relief of Coity Castle
(now Oldcastle Bridgend), which was being bravely defended by Sir
Alexander Berkrolles.

With the exception of the chronic pressure on the still resisting
castles, this autumn and winter was comparatively quiet in Wales, for
the excellent reason that Owen had it all his own way. Aberystwith had
fallen soon after Harlech; and those of my readers who are familiar
with the wave-washed situation of the ruins of the later Norman castle
which still mark the site of the ancient palace of Cadwallader, may
well wonder why a spot so accessible from a score of English seaports
should have been abandoned to its fate. The tower and monastery of
Llanbadarn, too, hard by, became a favourite resting-place of Owen's
at this time, and it was here he ratified this winter his treaty with
the King of France. But as his family and that of Mortimer would
appear to have made Harlech their headquarters, and as later on he
summoned his second parliament to that historic spot, it is more than
likely that the late autumn and winter months saw the old castle the
gathering-point of the bards, and the rallying-place of Owen's
faithful captains--a court, in fact, and one more adequately housed by
far than that other one at the mansion on the Dee, since reduced to a
heap of ashes. As one wanders to-day amid the grim walls of Harlech
and presses the soft turf that centuries of sun and showers and sea
mists have spread over what was once the floor of its great
banqueting hall, the scenes that it must have witnessed in this winter
of 1404 are well calculated to stir the fancy and captivate the
imagination. Death and battle have been in ancient times busy enough
around the rock of Harlech and upon the green slopes of the Ardudwy
Mountains that from high above its grey towers look out upon the sea.
From the days of Brân the Blessed, the first Christian Prince, whose
fortress, Twr Bronwen, men say, stood upon this matchless site, till
those of the fighting Maelgwyn, King of Gwynedd, when the coasts of
Wales were strewn with the victims of plague and battle, it was a
notable spot. From Colwyn ap Tangno, the fountainhead of half the
pedigrees in North-west Wales, till forty years after Glyndwr's time,
when, in the Wars of the Roses, David ap Sinion made that celebrated
defence against Lord Herbert which inspired the writing of the
stirring and immortal march, Harlech was a focus of strife, the
delight of the bard, the glory of the minstrel. Of all Welsh castles,
save the fragment of Dinas Brân,--and that is indeed saying much,--it
is the most proudly placed; and the great medieval fortress, still in
its exterior so perfect, is well worthy of its site. Amid a pile of
mountains to the north Snowdon lifts its shapely peak; far westward
into the shining sea stretches the long arm of West Carnarvon,
throwing up here and there its shadowy outstanding peaks till it fades
into the dim horizon behind which Ireland lies. As the eye travels
southward, the lofty headlands of Merioneth give way to the fainter
capes of Cardigan, and upon the verge of sight in clear weather the
wild coast of Pembroke, its rugged outline softened by distance, lies
low between sea and sky.

    [Illustration: HARLECH.
      F. Frith & Co.]

Those to whom such things appeal will see much that is appropriate in
the gathering of Glyndwr, his bards, his warriors, his priests, his
counsellors, at Harlech during this winter which perhaps marked the
high-tide of his renown. His wife, "the best of wives," with the fair
Katherine, wife of Mortimer, was here, and a crowd of dames, we may be
well assured, whose manors were not at that time, with their husbands
in the field, the safest of abodes for lonely females. Owen's three
married daughters were not here, for the Scudamores, Monningtons, and
Crofts, whose names they bore, being Herefordshire men, were all upon
the other side. Edmund Mortimer, of course, was present, and it is
strange how a soldier of such repute and of so vigorous a stock should
have sunk his individuality so absolutely in that of his masterful
father-in-law. Glyndwr's two elder sons, now grown to man's estate,
Griffith and Meredith, and his own younger brother, Tudor, who was
soon to fall, with his brother-in-law, John Hanmer, just returned from
his French mission, complete the family group that we may be fairly
justified in picturing at Harlech, assembled round the person of their
now crowned Prince. Rhys Gethin, the victor of Pilleth and the terror
of the South Wales Marches, was probably there, and the two Tudors of
Penmynydd, whom from first to last several thousand men had followed
across the Menai from the still unmolested fields of Anglesey. Yonge
the Chancellor, too, fresh from France, Llewelyn Bifort, whom, with
the consent of the Avignon Pope, Owen had nominated to the wasted
estate and the burnt cathedral of Bangor, and Bishop Trevor of St.
Asaph, most eminent of them all, were at Harlech beyond a doubt.
Robert ap Jevan of Ystymtegid in Eivioneth was most probably there,
with Rhys Dwy, "a great master among them," who was executed in London
eight years later, and last, but by no means least, Owen's faithful
laureate, Griffith Llwyd, or "Iolo Goch," who, among all the bards
that had tuned their voices and their harps to Owen's praise and been
stirred to ecstasy by his successes, stood first and chief.

Glyndwr had in truth no cause to complain of his chief bard, who was a
veteran in song when war came to stimulate him to patriotic frenzy,
and the stirring tones in which he sang of his Prince's deeds were
echoed by every native harp in Wales.

    "Immortal fame shall be thy meed,
    Due to every glorious deed,
    Which latest annals shall record,
    Beloved and victorious Lord,
    Grace, wisdom, valour, all are thine,
    Owain Glyndowerdy divine,
    Meet emblem of a two-edged sword,
    Dreaded in war, in peace adored.

    "Loud fame has told thy gallant deeds,
    In every word a Saxon bleeds,
    Terror and flight together came,
    Obedient to thy mighty name;
    Death in the van with ample stride
    Hew'd thee a passage deep and wide,
    Stubborn as steel thy nervous chest
    With more than mortal strength possessed."

Though a metrical translation may be unsatisfactory enough to the
Celtic scholar, this rendering will not be without interest to English
readers as giving the sense, at any rate, of words addressed to
Glyndwr by the man nearest to his person. The fourteenth century was
the halcyon period of Welsh song; Dafydd ap Gwylim, the greatest of
all Welsh love-poets, was still alive in Glyndwr's youth, while Gutyn
Owen was almost a contemporary. Welsh poetry had attuned itself, since
the Edwardian conquest had brought comparative peace in Wales, to
gentler and more literary themes. The joys of agriculture and country
life, the happiness of the peasant, the song of birds, the murmur of
streams, and, above all, the gentler passions of human nature had
supplanted to a great extent the fiercer notes of martial eulogies,
the pæans of victory, and the plaintive wails over long-past but
unforgotten defeats. It is strange, too, that this flow of song should
have signalised a century when the profession of a wandering minstrel
was in Wales for the first time ostracised by law.

But the old martial minstrelsy was not dead. The yearning of the
soldier and the man of ancient race to emulate the deeds or the
supposed deeds of his predecessors, and to be the subject after death
of bardic eulogy in hall or castle, was still strong. It helped many a
warrior to meet with cheerfulness a bloody death, or with the memory
of heroic deeds performed to sink with resignation at the hands of
disease or old age into the cold grave.






Glyndwr was now, by the lowest estimate, in his forty-sixth year. For
that period, when manhood began early, and old age, if it came at all,
came quickly, he certainly carried his years with remarkable
lightness. Who can say, however, with what feelings he surveyed his
handiwork? From end to end, with almost the sole exception of Anglesey
and Carnarvonshire and western Pembroke, Wales lay desolate and
bleeding. Owen's hands were red, not only with the blood of Saxons,
but with that of old friends and even kinsmen. Red ravage had marked
his steps, and there were few parts of the country that he had not at
some time or other crossed and recrossed in his desolating marches.
Carnarvonshire and western Merioneth and the Plinlimmon Mountains were
full of booty, stock, and valuables brought from Norman-Welsh
lordships and from beyond the English border. The admirers of Glyndwr
would fain believe, and there is something to be said for the theory,
that passion and revenge had no part in the havoc which the Welsh hero
spread throughout his native land, but that it was due to a deliberate
scheme of campaign by which the country was to be made not only too
hot, but too bare, to hold the Saxon.

It would be waste of words to speculate on motives that can never be
divulged and schemes that have left no witnesses. We have at any rate
to face tradition, which counts for much. And this places Glyndwr in
the eyes of most Welshmen, with all his ravagings and burnings, on a
pedestal above the greatest and most patriotic of their older
Princes--above Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, above the last Llewelyn, the son
of Gryffydd, above Owen Gwynedd. The cool-headed student may be much
less enthusiastic. But he will also call to mind the ethics of war in
those days, and then perhaps remember that even in modern conflicts,
whose memories stand out with conspicuous glory, there has been no
very great improvement on the methods of Glyndwr. The Carolinian who
preferred King George to Washington and Congress--and King George
after all was at least no usurper--suffered neither more nor less than
the Welshmen of Glamorgan or Carmarthen or Merioneth who from prudence
or inclination preferred Bolingbroke to Glyndwr. Wars of this type
have ever been ferocious. The Anglo-Americans of the eighteenth
century were a civilised and peaceful people; Glyndwr lived at a time
when war was a trade, ravage its handmaid, and human life of but small

It is quite possible to overestimate the effect upon a country in
those days of even the most merciless treatment. The torch was not the
instrument of irreparable loss that it would have been if applied with
equal freedom only a hundred and fifty years later. Outside the feudal
castles and the great ecclesiastical foundations, there were few
permanent structures of much value either in England or Wales. It was
late in the century with which we are dealing before the manor-house
and grange of the yeoman or country gentleman became buildings of the
style with which careless fancy is apt to associate their names. It is
salutary sometimes to leave the ordinary paths of history and refresh
one's mind with the domestic realities of olden days as they are shown
to us by writers who have given their attention to such humble but
helpful details. The ordinary English manor-house of Glyndwr's time
was a plain wooden building,[13] with an escape-hole in the thatched
roof for the smoke, a floor covered with rushes, and filthy from lack
of change, with bare boards laid on rude supports doing duty as
tables. A little tapestry sometimes relieved the crudeness of the bare
interior where such a crowd of human beings often gathered together.
Here and there an important person built for himself a compromise
between a manor and a castle, Glyndwr himself being an instance to the
point. The average manor-houses of Wales, the abodes of the native
gentry, were certainly no more, probably less, luxurious, and not
often--though some were even then--built of stone. As for the
peasantry, their dwellings in either the England or Wales of that time
were mere huts of mud, wood, or wattle, and were often, no doubt, not
worth the trouble of destroying.

    [13] Mr. Denton, in his _England of the Fifteenth Century_, allows
    no more than four, and usually only three rooms, to an average
    manor-house: one for eating in, with a second, and perhaps a
    third, for sleeping; a fire in the centre of the first.

The Welsh of those days, unlike the English, did not group themselves
in villages. Each man not an actual servant, whether he were gentleman
or small yeoman, lived apart upon his property or holding. If we
eliminate the present towns, the country must have been in most parts
almost as thickly populated as it is now. A valuable survival, known
as the _Record of Carnarvon_, a sort of local doomsday book, dating
from the thirteenth century, may be seen to-day, and it gives very
detailed information as to the persons, manors, and freeholds of that
country, and some idea of how well peopled for the times was even the
wildest part of wild Wales. Prince Henry, it will be remembered,
speaks of the Vale of Edeyrnion as a fine and populous country.
Giraldus Cambrensis, in his graphic account of his tour with
Archbishop Baldwin in the twelfth century, gives the same impression.
Still the destruction of such buildings as the mass of its people
lived in, even if they were destroyed, was of no vital consequence.
The loss of a year's crop was not irreparable, particularly in a
country where sheep and cattle, which could often be driven away, were
the chief assets of rural life. Glyndwr, to be sure, did what few
other makers of war, even in Wales, had done, for he destroyed some
of the chief ecclesiastical buildings. He burnt, moreover, several of
the small towns and dismantled many castles. "Deflower'd by Glindor"
is a remark frequently in the mouth of old Leland as he went on his
immortal survey not much more than a hundred years later.

The term "rebel," as applied to Glyndwr and those Welshmen who
followed him, is more convenient than logical. However bad a king
Richard may have been, the Welsh had never wavered in their allegiance
to him. However excellent a monarch Henry might have made if he had
been given the chance, he was at least an usurper, and a breaker of
his word. London and parts of England had welcomed him to the throne.
The Percys and innumerable other Englishmen who then and at various
other times conspired against him were rebels beyond a doubt. But the
Welsh had never even been consulted in the _coup d'état_ by which he
seized the crown. They had never recognised him as king nor sworn
allegiance. To them he was simply an usurper and the almost certain
assassin of their late King. If Richard were alive, then Henry could
not be their lawful sovereign. If, on the other hand, he had been done
to death, which either directly or indirectly he surely had been, then
the boy Earl of March, as all the world knew, should be on the throne.
Henry of Monmouth, too, being the son of an usurper, could not
possibly be Prince of Wales. The place was vacant, and the opportunity
for electing one of their own race and blood was too good to be
missed. Whatever historians may choose to call Glyndwr, he was
logically no rebel in a period when allegiance was almost wholly a
personal matter. His enemies, whom he hunted out of Wales or pent up
in their castles, were, on the other hand, from his point of view,
rebels and traitors in recognising the authority and protection of an
usurper. The Welsh people owed no allegiance to the English, but to
the King of England and Wales, to whom for the protection of the isle
of Britain, as the old tradition still ran, they paid a sum of £60,000
a year. In their eyes, as in those of many persons in England and of
most in Europe, Henry was Henry of Lancaster, not King of England. The
Welsh tribute, it is hardly necessary to say, had dwindled, since the
rising of Glyndwr, to insignificant proportions, while the war
expenses it entailed, together with this loss of income, was one of
the chief causes of that impecuniosity which prevented Henry from ever
really showing of what stuff as a ruler he was made.

The chief incident of the early part of the year 1405 was a nearly
successful plot to carry off from the King's keeping the young Earl of
March, the rightful heir to the crown, and his brother. Being nephews
of Sir Edmund Mortimer, the attempt to bring them to Glyndwr's
headquarters in Wales and to the protection of their uncle was a
natural one. The King, who was spending Christmas at Eltham, had left
the boys behind him at Windsor, under the charge of Hugh de Waterton,
Constable of the Castle. Their domestic guardian was the widow of the
Lord Despencer and sister of the Duke of York, who at this time, it
will be remembered, was in joint charge with Prince Henry of Welsh
affairs. The Despencers had been Norman-Welsh barons for some
generations, their interests at this time lying for the most part in
what is now Monmouthshire, and though ostensibly hostile, they had old
ties of blood and propinquity with the house of Mortimer. This
Christmas witnessed one of the many plots against the King's life, but
with these we have nothing to do, except in so far that the moment was
regarded as being a favourable one for making an effort to get hold of
the two royal boys. How unstable were Henry's friends for the most
part may be gathered from the fact that the Duke of York, his trusted
representative in Wales, was himself privy to the scheme.

To Lady Despencer was entrusted the chief part in this dangerous work.
As sister to the Duke of York, she was in the King's eyes above all
suspicion. When the latter had left Windsor for Eltham she caused a
locksmith secretly to make false keys, and by means of these, with the
connivance of some servants, she contrived to get her two wards safely
out of the castle precincts, taking with her at the same time her own
son. Horses and attendants were ready in waiting, and the whole party
pushed for the West with all the expedition of which they were
capable. They had passed through Berkshire before the King heard the
news of their escape. When it reached him, however, no time was lost.
Sending out swift messengers upon the track of the fugitives he
himself at once hastened to Windsor. The pursuers were just in time
and overtook the illustrious fugitives in Gloucestershire within a
day's ride of the security which Mortimer and Glyndwr's people were
waiting to afford them in Wales. A lively brush, not without slaughter
on both sides, signalised the meeting, but the lady and the boys were
captured and conveyed back to London. Lady Despencer then revealed the
plot to murder the King, denouncing her brother, the Duke of York, as
a leading conspirator. This was not a sisterly action, and the Duke
loudly denied all knowledge of such dastardly intentions. At this the
lady, whose private reputation was not all that it should have been,
waxed indignant and clamorously demanded a champion to maintain her
declaration with lance and sword. Whereupon a gentleman named William
Maidstone flung down his glove to the Duke in the very presence of the
King. The challenge was accepted, but, the Duke being apparently of
corpulent build and the challenger both at a physical advantage and of
no distinction, the romantic combat never took place. Perhaps the King
wished to get the Duke into his hands without loss of time, for he
seized him and sent him to the Tower instead of into the lists. He was
soon, however, as an illustration of how forgiving Henry could at
times be, pardoned and reinstated to the full in all his honours. His
sister, however, whose tenants were nearly all supporters of Glyndwr,
was stripped of her property. But they, too, were eventually restored,
and their feudal superior, who made no little stir in her time, lies
buried amid the ruins of the old abbey at Reading. The unfortunate
locksmith who had made the keys had both his hands chopped off.

    [Illustration: CAERPHILLY CASTLE.
      F. Frith & Co.]

The castles of Caerleon, Caerphilly, Newport, and Usk had fallen,
and in the manuscripts collected by Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams),
who flourished in the last century, an apparently contemporaneous
though anonymous writer, has somewhat to say about Glyndwr in Morganwg
or Glamorgan. He tells how Owen came to Cardiff, "destroyed it and won
the castle," demolishing at the same time the castles of Penllan,
Llandochau, Flemington, Dunraven of the Butlers, Tal-y-fan,
Llanblethian, Llangeinor, Malefant, and Penmark, and burning many
villages the men of which would not join him. "The country people
collected round him with one accord and demolished houses and castles
innumerable, laid waste and quite fenceless the lands, and gave them
in common to all." The manuscript goes on to say how Glyndwr "took
away from the rich and powerful and distributed the plunder among the
weak and poor." Many of the higher orders of chieftains had to fly to
England under the protection and support of the King. A bloody battle
took place at Bryn Owen (Stallingdown) near Cowbridge, between Glyndwr
and the King's men. The latter were put to flight after eighteen
hours' hard fighting, "during which the blood was up to the horses'
fetlocks at Pant-y-wenol, that separates both ends of the mountain."
Here beyond a doubt was a fulfilment of one of the dread portents that
attended Owen's birth, when the horses, it will be remembered, in his
father's stable were found standing with the blood running over their
feet. There is no date to this anonymous but evidently sincere and
suggestive narrative, or rather the date assigned to the event is
evidently an error. The matters here spoken of belong to 1403, or
1404, in all probability, though they can only be inserted
parenthetically as one of those scraps of local Welsh testimony from
the period itself that have an interest of their own.

The year 1405 opened with reports that the renowned Rhys Gethin was to
cross the English border with a large force. Prince Henry, now
eighteen years of age, with an experience of war under difficulties
and of carking cares of state such as has fallen to the lot of few men
so young, prepared to make ready for him. Short of men and money, the
young soldier had long begun to show of what mettle he was made and to
give evidence of the ability that was eventually to do more to arrest
the resistance of Glyndwr than all the combined efforts of Lord
Marchers and their royal master.

Rumour on this occasion proved true, for Rhys, passing through
Glamorgan with eight thousand men and skirting Abergavenny, attacked
the border town of Grosmont, in the valley of the Monnow, and burnt it
to the ground. Grosmont had hitherto been a flourishing place, but it
never recovered from the blow then dealt it. In Camden's time the
remains of streets and causeways could be traced beneath the turf of
the surrounding fields in evidence of its vanished glories. To-day it
is a picturesque and peaceful village crowning a high ridge, from
which a glorious prospect can be enjoyed of the vale of the Monnow
with the sparkling river hurrying downwards between lofty hills to
meet the Wye. A simple street, and that a short one, is all that
remains, while an old town hall speaks eloquently of its departed
importance. A cruciform church of great age with an octagonal tower
and spire springing from the centre lends force to the tradition of
Grosmont's former glories. Above all, the walls of the Norman castle,
whence issued Prince Henry's gallant band, still stand hard by the
village, their reddish stonework half hidden amid a mass of ivy and
the foliage of embowering trees; the moat half full of the leaves of
many autumns, the ramparts green with the turf of ages; a quiet enough
spot now but for the song of birds and the tumble of the river upon
its rocks three hundred feet below. It was here that Glyndwr's forces
met with their first serious disaster upon the border, for the Prince,
together with Gilbert Talbot and Sir Edward Newport, sallying out of
the castle, attacked Rhys Gethin and inflicted upon the Welsh a severe
and bloody defeat, completely routing them with a loss of eight
hundred men left dead upon the field. It is especially stated in some
accounts that no quarter was given, and only one prisoner taken alive
and spared for ransom, of whom Prince Henry, in a letter to his father
which is worth transcribing, speaks as "a great chieftain."

    "My most redoubted and most Sovereign Lord and father, I
    sincerely pray that God will graciously show His miraculous
    aid towards you in all places, praised be He in all His works,
    for on Wednesday the eleventh of this present month of March,
    your rebels of the parts of Glamorgan, Morgannok, Usk,
    Netherwent, and Overwent, assembled to the number of eight
    thousand men, according to their own account, and they went
    on the same Wednesday, in the morning, and burnt a part of
    your town of Grossmont within your Lordship of Monmouth and
    Jennoia [_sic_]. Presently went out my well beloved cousin the
    Lord Talbot and the small body of my household, and with them
    joined your faithful and valiant knights William Newport and
    John Greindor, the which formed but a small power in the
    whole; but true it is indeed that victory is not in the
    multitude of people, and this was well proved there, but in
    the power of God, and there by the aid of the blessed Trinity,
    your people gained the field, and vanquished all the said
    rebels, and slew of them by fair account in field, by the time
    of their return from the pursuit, some say eight hundred,
    others a thousand, being questioned upon pain of death;
    nevertheless whether it were one or the other I will not
    contend, and to inform you fully of all that has been done, I
    send you a person worthy of credit therein, my faithful
    servant the bearer of this letter, who was at the engagement
    and performed his duty well, as he has always done. And such
    amends has God ordained you for the burning of your houses in
    your aforesaid town, and of prisoners were none taken except
    one, a great chief among them, whom I would have sent to you
    but he cannot yet ride at ease.

    "Written at Hereford the said Wednesday at night.

    "Your most humble and obedient son,


Glyndwr, as soon as he heard of the disaster on the Monnow, pushed up
fresh forces under his brother Tudor to meet the fugitives from
Grosmont, with a view to wipe out, if possible, that crushing defeat.
What strength they got, if any, from Rhys Gethin's scattered army
there is no evidence, but in less than a week they encountered the
Prince himself advancing into Wales with a considerable force, and at
Mynydd-y-Pwll-Melyn, in Brecon, received a defeat more calamitous than
even that of Grosmont. Fifteen hundred of the Welsh were killed or
taken prisoners. Among the slain was Owen's brother Tudor himself; and
so like the chief was he in face and form that for some time there was
much rejoicing, and the news was bruited about that the dreaded
Glyndwr was in truth dead. The spirits of the English were sadly
damped when the absence of a wart under the left eye, a distinguishing
mark of Glyndwr, proclaimed that their joy was premature, and that it
was the dead face of his younger brother on which they were gazing.
Among the prisoners, however, was his son Gryffydd, who was sent by
the Prince to London and confined in the Tower, statements of money
allowed for his maintenance there appearing from time to time on the
Rolls. Gryffydd's (Griffin he is there called) fellow-prisoner is Owen
ap Gryffydd, the son probably of the valiant Cardiganshire gentleman
whom Henry quartered in 1402. A year later the young King of Scotland,
whose life was safer there, no doubt, than in his own country, was the
companion of Glyndwr's son. The Iolo manuscript before mentioned tells

    "In 1405 a bloody battle attended with great slaughter that in
    severity was scarcely ever exceeded in Wales took place on
    Pwll Melin; Gryffyth ap Owen and his men were taken and many
    of them imprisoned, but many were put to death when captured,
    whereupon all Glamorgan turned Saxon except a small number who
    followed their lord to North Wales."

These two severe defeats were a great blow to Owen's prestige. They
caused numbers of his adherents in South Wales to fall away and to
seek that pardon which the King, to do him justice, was at all times
very free in extending to Welshmen. Indeed, it would almost seem as if
he himself secretly recognised the fact that they had much justice on
their side and were rebels rather in name than in actual fact.

About the time of the second of these two victories over the Welsh,
the King, encouraged no doubt by such successes, began making great
preparations for a personal expedition against Glyndwr. His activity
in other parts, for the North was always simmering, had been
prodigious. He now arrived at Hereford early in May, full of
determination to support in person the zeal so lately aroused in his
hard-worked constables and lieutenants, and once and for all to
suppress the accursed magician who for five years had so entirely got
the better of him.

But Glyndwr previous to these defeats had sent emissaries to the
North. Three of his immediate councillors were in Northumberland in
secret conclave with its crafty and ill-advised Earl. The King, it
will be remembered, had not only forgiven Percy but had restored to
him all his confiscated estates. That he was prepared again to risk
the substance for the shadow (to say nothing of committing an act of
ingratitude that even for those days was indecent) is conclusive
evidence that his dead son, Hotspur, was not the evil genius his
father had with poor spirit represented him to be when craving mercy
from the King. Glyndwr, however, had nothing to do with the old Earl's
conscience when for the second time he seemed anxious for an alliance.
Bishop Trevor, with Bifort, Glyndwr's Bishop of Bangor, and David
Daron, Dean of Bangor, were now all in the North intriguing with
Northumberland. In the early days of the Welsh rising Glyndwr seemed
to have some personal and even sentimental leaning towards the Percys.
There was nothing of that, however, in his present attitude, which was
purely a business one, seeing that the French, as he thought, and
rightly so, were on the point of coming to his assistance, and the
North about to rise in arms against Henry. Even the loss of men and of
his own prestige, entailed by the defeats of Grosmont and Pwll-Melyn
and the falling away of Glamorgan, might be much more than
counterbalanced. The first mutterings of the outbreak came from York,
but they were loud enough to pull the King up at Hereford and start
him at full speed for Yorkshire. Once more his sorely tried servants
in Wales had to do as best they could without him, though some
compensation in the way of men and supplies was sent to their relief.
It is not within my province to follow Henry's operations this summer
in the North, but it is necessary to our narrative to state that Percy
escaped from York only just in time, having refused the really
magnanimous conditions of pardon that the King sent on to him. He
fled to Scotland, taking with him his fellow-conspirator, Earl
Bardolph, and Glyndwr's three emissaries, Trevor, Bifort, and David
Daron. Another Welshman of Owen's party, however, who has not been
hitherto mentioned, Sir John Griffith, was caught at York and
executed. Many persons besides Percy were implicated in the plot,
Archbishop Scrope for one, whose execution, with many accompanying
indignities, sent a thrill of horror throughout Britain and Europe;
Judge Gascoine's courageous refusal to sentence the prelate being, of
course, one of the familiar incidents of the reign. For the second
time the Percy estates were confiscated, while the suppression of the
revolt and the punishment of the rebels kept the King lingering for a
long time in the North. At the end of July he received the serious
news that the French had landed in South Wales, and, hurrying
southward, reached Worcester about the 10th of August, to find Glyndwr
with some ten thousand Welshmen and nearly half as many French within
nine miles of that city.

We must now return to Wales and to the earlier part of the summer,
that we may learn how this transformation came about within so short a
time. After Glyndwr's two defeats in March, and the subsequent panic
among the men of Glamorgan and no doubt also among those of Gwent and
parts of Brycheiniog, the chieftain himself with a following of tried
and still trusty men went to North Wales. Welsh historians, following
one another, paint most dismal pictures of Owen this summer,
representing him as a solitary wanderer, travelling incognito about
the country, sometimes alone, sometimes with a handful of faithful
followers, now lurking in friends' houses, now hiding in mountain
caverns, but always dogged by relentless foes. All these things he did
in after years with sufficient tenacity to satisfy the most
enthusiastic lover of romance. That his condition can have come to
such a pass in the summer of 1405 is too manifestly absurd to be worth
discussion. He had received, it is true, a blow severe enough to
discourage the localities near which it happened, and probably to
frighten a good many of his friends in other parts. It is possible,
too, some may have sued secretly for pardon. But when we consider that
in March all Wales except certain castles was faithful, and that his
troops were attacking the English border when repulsed; that in May
the King and his lieutenants were only preparing to invade Wales; that
no operations of moment were so far as we know executed during the
early summer against the Welsh; and finally that in July Glyndwr met
the French at Tenby with ten thousand men behind him, it is quite
incredible that 1405 can have been the season in which he spent months
as an outcast and a wanderer. We may, I think, take it as certain that
Glyndwr's star had not yet sensibly declined, and that what he had
recently lost might well be considered as more than cancelled by the
appearance in Milford Bay of 140 French ships full of soldiers.

While the coming of the French was still an uncertainty, it is
probable that there was considerable depression even among Owen's
immediate followers. But neither he nor they were cherishing it in
caves and solitudes. On the contrary, another parliament, similarly
constituted to the former one at Machynlleth, was summoned to Harlech.
Of the result of its deliberations we know nothing, but a letter of
the period suggests that Glyndwr was not wholly without thought of
making terms in case of the non-arrival of the French. At the same
time this is not quite in keeping with the stubborn resistance that in
after years, when all hope had fled, he maintained with such heroic
fortitude. Two of the county representatives, at any rate, who came to
Harlech on this occasion were trimmers or worse. David Whitmore and
Ievan ap Meredydd were supposed to represent his interests in Flint,
but we are told that, before departing for the West, they held private
communication with Sir John Stanley, who was in charge of the
important castle of Hope for the King. To be brief, they went as spies
rather than as supporters, and with the intention of keeping the
English informed of what took place. But it was now already summer and
while this season was still at its height, the event which Glyndwr was
hoping and looking for took place.

The French had made many attempts in the preceding year to reach
Wales; a few, as we know, touched the coast, and lent some slight
assistance at Carnarvon and elsewhere. Now, however, a more successful
effort and upon an infinitely larger scale was made, and 140 ships
found their way from Brest to Milford without any mishap save the loss
of their horses from lack of fresh water. The number of troops
carried by this fleet is variously estimated at from about 3000 to
12,000 men. Madame De Lussan, the French historian of the period, is
very definite so far as she goes, for without mentioning the grand
total she states that there were among them 800 men-at-arms, 600
crossbows, and 1200 foot-soldiers, all picked troops. But then, again,
the French "man-at-arms" of the period included a squire, a page, and
three archers, so that the entire French force probably numbered from
4000 to 5000 men. The command was nominally in the hands of Jean de
Rieux, Marshal of France, but the Sire de Hugueville was the leading
spirit, not only in the inception but also in the conduct of the
enterprise. He had actually sold to the Church his large estate of
Agencourt near Montdidier, and devoted the proceeds to the adventure
which he had so much at heart. There seems at any rate to have been no
stint of money in the undertaking, for it is particularly noted what
bravery of apparel and fine trappings distinguished this French army
when it landed at Milford Haven. The fleet left Brest on July 22nd and
arrived early in August in excellent condition, with the exception, as
I have said, of the horses, which had all been thrown overboard.
Glyndwr in the meantime had heard that the French were on the sea,
and, moving down into Pembrokeshire with 10,000 men, he joined forces
with them almost immediately upon their landing.

There was no time to be lost and the united armies turned first to
Haverford-west, an Anglo-Flemish centre of some importance. The town
was soon taken and burnt, but the great Norman castle proved
altogether too hard a task even for so large a force. So, falling
back, Glyndwr and his French allies marched to Tenby, laying waste the
Flemish settlements, though they had to look helplessly on while an
English fleet attacked the French ships and destroyed fifteen of them.
Thence under Glyndwr's guidance the army moved on to Carmarthen, which
surrendered without much resistance. Glamorgan, it will be remembered,
had fallen away from its allegiance to the Welsh cause, so Glyndwr
took it on his route towards England and gave the backsliders of that
unfortunate county some experience of his relentless methods. Passing
on thence through Herefordshire in a fashion of which we know nothing
but may readily guess, the allied forces entered Worcestershire and
arrived within nine miles of the capital of that county just as King
Henry reached it.

As early as the beginning of July, when the King first heard of the
intended French invasion, he had issued proclamation to the sheriffs
of several counties to be in readiness with their forces, and it was
these that must now have been his chief support at Worcester. On his
way south he had issued another summons to the forces of Herefordshire
and the lower counties to muster at the city of Hereford. It was now
about the middle of August, and without more delay he marched his army
out from Worcester to meet the formidable combination that had
penetrated so far into his kingdom.

The spot where Glyndwr and Hugueville encamped their forces was an
old British fort on the summit of Woodbury hill and is still known as
Owen's camp. Pennant visited it and made careful notes and
observations. It covers, he says, about twenty-seven acres and is
surrounded by a single foss. The hill itself is lofty and of an oblong
form. One end is connected with the Abberly hills, which, with this
one of Woodbury, form a crescent, the hollow between constituting an
ideal arena for a battle-ground.

When the King arrived he proceeded to take up his position on the
northern ridge, and the two armies lay for eight days, both so
admirably placed that each feared to give advantage to the other by
moving out and risking so great a stake in the gage of battle.
Skirmishing, however, went on daily in the valley below. The brave
spirits of either army descended into the arena and performed
individual deeds of arms between and in sight of both camps. "They had
a fine slope," says Pennant, "to run down, the Welsh having a hollowed
way as if formed especially for the purpose."

Some four or five hundred men in all fell during this week of
desultory skirmishing, including some French knights of note. One
might well have looked, at this crisis, for some decisive and fierce
fight like that of Shrewsbury, which should live in history. Never had
Glyndwr penetrated so far into Saxon territory; never before had ten
thousand Welshmen threatened Worcester as invaders; never since
England had become a united country had a hostile French army sat
down in its very heart as this one was now doing.

But the King at any rate showed his wisdom in not venturing on a
battle. He had ample provisions behind him and was gathering strength.
Glyndwr and Hugueville, on the other hand, had wasted the country on
their route, and they were running short of food. Yet even if Glyndwr
had struck at once and gained a victory, it is quite certain that with
his friends in the North already crushed he would not have been able
with what was left of his fifteen thousand or so Welsh and French, to
affect in any way the fortunes of England by merely capturing
Worcester, and would have himself been in imminent danger. Moreover,
as the King clung to the top of the hill and had perhaps nearly as
many men with him as the enemy, the risk attending an attack would
have been still greater. The Franco-Welsh army, too, had a good deal
of booty among them, which to most of the individuals composing it was
probably a leading item for consideration.

When his enemies struck their camp and commenced their backward march
to Wales, the King essayed to follow them, and found it no easy task
in a region already twice traversed by a hungry and hostile army. He
took some provisions with him, but after eighteen waggon-loads of
these had been captured by Glyndwr's hungry soldiers he gave up his
barren attempts to harass their rapid march. Hall's account of this
campaign does not tally with the account of the invaders, as is
perhaps natural, and he probably drew to some extent on his
imagination when he described Henry's pursuit in such curiously
quaint language:

    "From hills to dales," he writes, "from dales to woodes, from
    woodes to marshes, and yet he could never have them at an
    advantage. A worlde it was to see his quotidian removings, his
    busy and painful wanderings, his troublesome and uncertayne
    abiding, his continual mocian, his daily peregrenacion in the
    desert fells and craggy mountains of that barrenne infertile
    and depopulate country."

But the Franco-Welsh army was soon deep in the heart of Wales, and
Henry, having given up the pursuit in much more summary fashion than
Hall would have us believe in the face of dates, was concentrating his
forces at Hereford. Prince Henry had already done something to harass
the march of the Welsh through Monmouth. Sir John Grendor was
negotiating with Owen's supporters in the valley of the Usk. Sir John
Berkrolles still held the great castle of Coity with the utmost
difficulty, and the Bristol captains who had enabled Harlech to hold
out so long were now ordered down the Bristol channel with supplies
for the still beleaguered garrisons of South Wales.

On September 10th Henry with a large force commenced his fifth
invasion of Wales. The reader, wearied no doubt by the chronicle of
these futile endeavours, might now well look for some tangible result,
some crushing blow. There is nothing, however, but the old, old story
to tell. The King entered Glamorgan and succeeded in relieving the
single castle of Coity; he then turned tail, and the Welsh at once, as
in every case but one, when there was no need for it, sprang upon his
back. Besides his spears and arrows Glyndwr once more worked with his
magic wand. The heavens descended and the floods came and soaked and
buffeted the hapless monarch and his still more wretched and
ill-provisioned troops. Every river ran bank-high and every brook was
in flood; and the clumsy carts that carried the commissariat were
captured by Glyndwr's men or whirled away in the rapids. The old story
of 1402 was repeated in the autumn of 1405. The royal army on their
return had to cross the valley of the Rhondda, where the national
cause, though more than once suppressed, was always vigorous and
responded to its famous war-cry, "Cadwgan, whet thy battle-axe." This
valley runs from the westward into the Taff at Pontypridd and is now
astir with the hum of grimy industry and bright with the flare of
forges. It was then a hive of fighting stock-farmers fired with a
great enthusiasm for Glyndwr.

    "There was a certain Cadwgan," says the old Iolo manuscript
    already quoted, "who was a leader among the men of the valley
    and a doughty henchman of Glyndwr, and when it became
    necessary for him to call the people to battle he used to
    march up and down the valley whetting his axe. So when Owen
    came to Glyn Rhondda he would say, 'Cadwgan, whet thy
    battle-axe,' and the moment he was heard to do so all living
    persons collected about him in military array and from that
    day to this the battle shout of Glyn Rhondda has been
    'Cadwgan, whet thy battle-axe.'"

By October 1st the King was back at Worcester. It would be of little
profit to relate the various orders he gave for resisting and
pacifying the Welsh, nor yet to give the names of the various Lord
Marchers whom he ordered to proceed upon expeditions with small
forces, where he himself had failed with large ones. One is not
surprised to find that Owen and his French allies had Wales for the
most part to themselves and were unmolested during the winter. The
greater part of the French, however, returned home again before
Christmas, some seventeen hundred remaining, for whom Glyndwr found
comfortable quarters. He seems to have been greatly disappointed at
the departure of the others, as well as at the conduct of those who
remained. The alliance, indeed, proved unsatisfactory to both parties.
The French individually counted on booty as their reward, whereas they
found for the most part a plundered and ravaged country. It is
possible, too, there may have been some racial friction between the
Welsh and their French allies. At any rate the latter, as one of their
old chroniclers remarks, did not do much bragging when they got home
to Brittany, nor did those who remained in Wales conduct themselves by
any means to the satisfaction of Glyndwr, but were altogether too much
given up to thoughts of plundering their friends. Upon the whole their
motives were too obvious and the prospect of further assistance from
them not very cheering.

Western Pembroke in the meantime (Little England beyond Wales),
finding itself cut off from all assistance, in spite of the girdle of
splendid castles by which it was protected, began to find Glyndwr at
last too much for it. The earldom was in abeyance and Sir Francis
À'Court was governor of the county and known as Lord of Pembroke. He
called together the representatives of the district, who solemnly
agreed to pay Glyndwr the sum of £200 for a truce to last until the
following May. So Pembroke, having humbled itself and in so doing
having humbled England, which had thus failed it in its hour of need,
had peace. And Glyndwr, still supreme, but not without some cause for
depression, returned to Harlech to take counsel with his friends and
prepare for a year that promised to be exceptionally fruitful of good
or ill.


    [Illustration: MANORBIER CASTLE.
      F. Frith & Co.]





During the lull of this winter of 1405-6 messengers were going
backwards and forwards between Harlech and Scotland.

The chief event of the early part of the new year was the signing of
that Tripartite Indenture which I have already spoken of as being so
often attributed to the period before the battle of Shrewsbury. Pity,
for the sake of dramatic effect, that it was not, and as Shakespeare
painted it! Hotspur was then alive and the power of the Percys at its
height, while Mortimer had not tarnished the splendour of his house
and dimmed such measure of reputation as he himself enjoyed, by
sinking his individuality in that of his wife's strenuous father.
Glyndwr alone was greater than he had then been, though the zenith of
his fortunes had been reached and he was soon to commence that long,
hopeless struggle against fate and overwhelming odds that has caused
men to forget the ravager in the fortitude of the hero.

Northumberland had outworn, as we have seen, the King's marvellous
forbearance, and was now a fugitive in Scotland with Bardolph, whose
estates, like his own, had been confiscated, and whose person, like
Northumberland's, was urgently wanted by Henry. The old Earl had lost
his nerve and had taken alarm at certain indications on the part of
the Scots that they would not object to hand him over to Henry in
exchange for the doughty Lord Douglas who had been held in honourable
captivity since the battle of Shrewsbury. Fearing this he and Bardolph
took ship from the western coast for France. But either by prior
agreement with Glyndwr or on their own initiative they rounded the
stormy capes of Lleyn and, turning their ships' prows shorewards,
landed in the sandy and sequestered cove of Aberdaron.

Aberdaron is to this day the Ultima Thule of Wales. It was then a
remote spot indeed, though in times long gone by, when pilgrims crept
in thousands from shrine to shrine along the coasts of Lleyn to the
great abbey, "The Rome of the Welsh," on Bardsey Island, it had been
famous enough. It was not alone its remoteness that recommended this
lonely outpost, flung out so far into the Irish Sea, to the two
fugitives and irrepressible conspirators. David Daron, Dean of Bangor,
a friend of Glyndwr, had been with them in the North as one of his
commissioners and seems to have remained longer than his colleagues
with Percy. At any rate he was Lord of the Manor of Aberdaron and had
a house there to which he welcomed his two English friends. The object
of the latter was not merely to fly to France but to stir up its King
to renewed efforts against Henry. Glyndwr, too, as we shall see, had
been sending messengers to France, and the impending meeting at
Aberdaron might be fruitful of great results.

It is an easy run by sea of twenty miles or so from Harlech to the
farther capes of Lleyn where the romantic island of Bardsey,
sanctified by the bones of its twenty thousand saints, lifts its head
to an imposing height above the waves. To Aberdaron, just short of the
farthest point of the mainland, then came Glyndwr, bringing with him
Mortimer and no doubt others of his court. It was on February 28,
1406, that the meeting took place when the somewhat notable _Indenture
of Agreement_ was signed by the three contracting parties. The date of
this proceeding has been by no means undisputed, but of all moments
this particular one seems the most likely and has the sanction of the
most recent and exhaustive historians of the period.

The bards had been prolific and reminiscent during this quiet winter,
and there seemed special call as well as scope for their songs and
forecasts. The ancient prophecies of Merlin that were never allowed to
slumber, regarding the future of Britain and the Welsh race, were now
heard as loudly as they had been before the battle of Shrewsbury,
interpreted in various ways in uncouth and strange metaphor. Henry was
the "mouldwharp cursed of God's own mouth." A dragon would come from
the north and with him a wolf from the west, whose tails would be tied
together. Fearful things would happen upon the banks of the Thames and
its channel would be choked with corpses. The rivers of England would
run with blood. The "mouldwharp" would then be hunted out of the
country by the dragon, the lion, and the wolf, or, in other words, by
Glyndwr, Percy, and Mortimer. He would then be drowned and his kingdom
divided between his three triumphant foes.

Who framed the Indenture is not known; perhaps Glyndwr himself, since
he had been a barrister in his youth and was certainly a ready penman.
The chronicler tells us that the contracting parties swore fidelity to
each other upon the gospels before putting their names to the
articles, and then proceeds to give what purports to be the full text
of the latter in Latin, of which the following is a translation.

    "This year the Earl of Northumberland made a league and
    covenant and friendship with Owyn Glyndwr and Edmund Mortimer,
    son of the late Earl of March, in certain articles of the form
    and tenor following: In the first place that these Lords,
    Owyn, the Earl, and Edmund shall henceforth be mutually
    joined, confederate, united and bound by the bond of a true
    league and true friendship and sure and good union. Again that
    every one of these Lords shall will and pursue, and also
    procure, the honour and welfare of one another; and shall in
    good faith, hinder any losses and distresses which shall come
    to his knowledge, by anyone whatsoever intended to be
    inflicted on either of them. Every one also of them shall act
    and do with another all and every of those things, which ought
    to be done by good true and faithful friends to good, true and
    faithful friends, laying aside all deceit and fraud. Also, if
    ever any of the said Lords shall know and learn of any loss or
    damage intended against another by any persons whatsoever, he
    shall signify it to the others as speedily as possible, and
    assist them in that particular, that each may take such
    measures as may seem good against such malicious purposes; and
    they shall be anxious to prevent such injuries in good faith;
    also they shall assist each other to the utmost of their power
    in the time of necessity. Also if by God's appointment it
    should appear to the said Lords in process of time that they
    are the same persons of whom the Prophet speaks, between whom
    the Government of the Greater Britain ought to be divided and
    parted, then they and every one of them shall labour to their
    utmost to bring this effectually to be accomplished. Each of
    them, also, shall be content with that portion of the kingdom
    aforesaid, limited as below, without further exaction or
    superiority; yea, each of them in such proportion assigned to
    him shall enjoy liberty. Also between the same Lords it is
    unanimously covenanted and agreed that the said Owyn and his
    heirs shall have the whole of Cambria or Wales, by the
    borders, limits and boundaries underwritten divided from
    Lœgira, which is commonly called England; namely from the
    Severn Sea as the river Severn leads from the sea, going down
    to the north gate of the city of Worcester; and from that gate
    straight to the Ash tree, commonly called in the Cambrian or
    Welsh language Owen Margion, which grows on the highway from
    Bridgenorth to Kynvar; thence by the highway direct, which is
    usually called the old or ancient way, to the head or source
    of the river Trent: thence to the head or source of the river
    Mense; thence as that river leads to the sea, going down
    within the borders, limits and boundaries above written. And
    the aforesaid Earl of Northumberland shall have for himself
    and his heirs the counties below written, namely,
    Northumberland, Westmoreland, Lancashire, York, Lincoln,
    Nottingham, Derby, Stafford, Leicester, Northampton, Warwick,
    and Norfolk. And the Lord Edmund shall have all the rest of
    the whole of England, entirely to him and his heirs. Also
    should any battle, riot or discord fall out between two of the
    said Lords (may it never be) then the third of the said Lords,
    calling to himself good and faithful counsel, shall duly
    rectify such discord, riot and battle; whose approval or
    sentence the discordant parties shall be held bound to obey.
    They shall also be faithful to defend the kingdom against all
    men; saving the oak on the part of the said Owyn given to the
    most illustrious Prince Charles by the Grace of God King of
    the French, in the league and covenant between them made. And
    that the same be, all and singular, well and faithfully
    observed, the said Lords Owyn, the Earl, and Edmund, by the
    holy body of the Lord which they now steadfastly look upon and
    by the holy gospels of God by them now bodily touched, have
    sworn to observe the premises all and singular to their
    utmost, inviolably; and have caused their seals to be mutually
    affixed thereto."

Little, however, was to come of all this. Earl Percy and Bardolph,
after spending some two years partly under Glyndwr's protection and
partly in France, found their way back to Scotland and in the spring
of 1408 played their last stake. Their fatuous attempt with a small
and ill-disciplined force of countrymen to overturn Henry's throne was
easily defeated at Bramham Moor in Yorkshire by the sheriff of that
county, and their heads and limbs were suspended from the gateways of
various English cities as a testimony to the dismal failure which the
great house of Percy had made of its persistent efforts to depose the
King it had created.

Glyndwr for his part was neither now, nor yet to be at any future
time, in a position to help his friends outside Wales. His power had
passed its zenith, though its decline is not marked by any special
incidents in this year 1406. Much the most interesting event to be
noted by the student of his career and period, at this turning-point
of his fortunes, is a letter he wrote to the King of France, almost
immediately after his return from the rendezvous with Northumberland
and Bardolph. His headquarters in the early spring of this year seem
to have been at Machynlleth, for the letter in question was written
from Pennal, a village about four miles from this ancient outpost of
Powys. Before touching, however, on the main object of this memorable
communication, it will be well to recall the fact that the remnants of
the French invaders of the previous year were just leaving Wales, to
the great relief of Owen. But his disappointment at the nature of the
help the French King had sent on this occasion by no means discouraged
him from looking in the same direction for more effectual support.

It was now the period of the Papal Schism. For nearly thirty years
there had been two rival popes, the one at Rome, the other at Avignon,
and Catholic Europe was divided into two camps, the countries who
adhered to the one spiritual chief professing to regard the followers
of the other as heretics unfit to breathe the air of this world and
without hope of pardon in the next. The Christian Church was shaken
to its foundations and degenerated into an arena of venomous strife.
Nor was this only a war of words, beliefs, interdicts, and sacerdotal
fulminations, for 200,000 lives are said to have been lost over this
squabble for the vicarship of Christ. Pious men deplored the
lamentable state to which those who should have been the upholders of
religion had reduced it. France, of course, in common with Spain,
maintained the cause of her own Pope. England held to the Roman
Pontiff, but even apart from the Lollard element, which was now
considerable, regarded the wearisome dispute with a large measure of
contemptuous indifference. Scotland as a matter of course took the
opposite side to England. There was no sentiment about "the island"
among the Anglo-Normans who lived north of the Tweed and who had
resisted successfully every attempt of their kinsmen on the south of
it to include them in their scheme of government. They were all aliens
alike so far as those who had power were concerned, and would not have
understood, probably, that strange sort of lingering loyalty to the
soil that in spite of everything still survived among the remnant of
the Britons. Glyndwr, of course, had acted directly against this
ancient theory, but mercenary soldiers were now such a feature of
military life that the importation of these Frenchmen was perhaps of
less significance, more particularly as foreign troops were
continually serving in England in the pay of various kings. Now,
however, as a bait to the French King and to quicken his interest in
his cause, Glyndwr offered to take Wales over to the allegiance of
the Avignon Pope. In this Pennal letter Owen dwells at some length
upon the details of the elections of the rival popes which the French
King himself had sent over to him, and he excuses himself for
following the English lead in the past and adhering to the Roman
Pontiff on the score of not having hitherto been properly informed
regarding the rights and wrongs of this same election. He
recapitulates the promises made to him by the King if he would
acknowledge Benedict XIII. and not his rival, Gregory XII.

After holding a council of the "princes of his race," prelates, and
other clergy he had decided to acknowledge the Avignon Pope. He begs
the King of France, as interested in the well-being of the Church of
Wales, to exert his influence with the Pope and prevail upon him to
grant certain favours which he proceeds to enumerate:

In the first place, that all ecclesiastical censures pronounced either
by the late Clement or Benedict against Wales or himself or his
subjects should be cancelled. Furthermore that they should be released
from the obligation of all oaths taken to the so-called Urban and
Boniface lately deceased and to their supporters. That Benedict should
ratify ordinations and appointments to benefices and titles (_ordines
collatos titulos_) held or given by prelates, dispensations, and
official acts of notaries, "involving jeopardy of souls or hurt to us
and our subjects from the time of Gregory XI." Owen urges that Menevia
(St. Davids) should be restored to its original condition as a
Metropolitan church, which it held from the time of that saint
himself, its archbishop and confessor, and under twenty-four
archbishops after him, whose names, beginning with Clind and ending
with the significantly Anglo-Saxon patronymic of Thompson, are herein
set forth. Formerly, the writer goes on to say, St. Davids had under
it the suffragan sees of Exeter, Bath, Hereford, Worcester, Leicester
(now transferred to Coventry), Lichfield, St. Asaph, Bangor, Llandaff,
and should rightly have them still, but the Saxon barbarians
subordinated them to Canterbury. In language that in later centuries
was to be so often and so vainly repeated, he represents that none but
Welsh-speaking clergy should be appointed, from the metropolitan down
to the curate. He requests also that all grants of Welsh parish
churches to English monasteries or colleges should be annulled and
that the rightful patrons should be compelled to present fit and
proper persons to ordinaries, that freedom should be granted to
himself and his heirs for their chapel, and all the privileges,
immunities, and exemptions which it enjoyed under their predecessors.
Curiously significant, too, and suggestive, is the point he makes of
liberty to found two universities, one for North and one for South
Wales. Indeed this is justly regarded as one of many bits of evidence
that Owen was not merely a battle-field hero, an avenging patriot, an
enemy of tyrants, but that he possessed the art of constructive
statesmanship had he been given the opportunity to prove it. The
educational zeal that does so much honour to modern Wales is fond of
pointing to Glyndwr as the original mover in that matter of a Welsh
national university which has so recently been brought to a
successful issue. King Henry in this letter is naturally an object of
special invective, and Owen prays that Benedict will sanction a
crusade in the customary form against the usurper Henry of Lancaster
for burning down churches and cathedrals, and for beheading, hanging,
and quartering Welsh clergy, including mendicant friars, and for being
a schismatic. The writer would appear by this to have unladen his
conscience of the burden of the smoking ruins of Bangor and St. Asaph
and of many, it is to be feared, less noteworthy edifices. Indeed, we
find him earlier in his career excusing himself for these sacrilegious
deeds and putting the onus of them on the uncontrollable fury of his
followers. But the verdict of posterity has in no way been shaken by
these lame apologies. Finally he asks the French King to make interest
with Benedict for plenary forgiveness for his sins and those of his
heirs, his subjects, and his men of whatsoever nation, provided they
are orthodox, for the whole duration of the war with Henry of

    [14] This letter, which covers many folio pages, has never been
    printed. It is in indifferent Latin with the usual abbreviations.
    In the matter of making and elucidating copies of it at the Record
    Office, Mr. Hubert Hall gave me some valuable assistance, as also
    did Mr. C. M. Bull.

This document, a transcript of which is in the Record Office, is
preserved at Paris among the French government archives and has
attached to it by a double string an imperfect yellow seal, bearing
the inscription, "Owenus Dei Gratia princeps Walliæ." It is dated the
last day of March in the year of our Lord 1406 and "the sixth of our
reign." The original is endorsed with a note in Latin to the effect
that the above is the letter in which Owen, Prince of Wales,
acknowledged obedience to "our Pope."

This year was not a stirring one in Wales. France, to whom Owen was
appealing, was in no condition, or at any rate in no mood, to try a
serious fall with England. The policy of pin-pricks, to adapt a modern
term to the more strenuous form of annoyance in practice in those
times, had been pursued with tolerable consistency since the first
year of Henry's reign, and the most Christian King had never yet
recognised his rival of England as a brother monarch. Richard the
Second's child-Queen and widow, Isabel, had, after much haggling, been
restored by Henry to France, but that portion of her dower which,
according to her marriage settlement, should have been returned with
her, was unobtainable. She was married to the Duke of Orleans's eldest
son, aged eleven, the greater portion of her dower being a lien on
Henry of England for the unpaid balance of the sum above alluded to,
an indifferent security. International combats had been going merrily
on in the Channel and piratical descents upon either coast were
frequent. But this, of course, was not formal war, though a French
invasion of England had been one of the chief nightmares of Henry's
stormy reign. Internal troubles in France, however, now began somewhat
to relax the strained nature of the relationship with England, and
Owen's chances of Gallic help grew fainter. His son Griffith, or
Griffin, was a prisoner in Henry's hands; he had been committed to
the Tower, and by an irony of fate was under the special charge of one
of that powerful family to whom his father's old captive, Reginald
Grey of Ruthin, belonged. This gentleman, Lord de Grey of Cedmore, so
the Issue Rolls of the reign inform us, was paid the sum of three and
fourpence a day for Griffin, son of Owen de Glendowdy, and Owen ap
Griffith ap Richard, committed to his custody. Another companion in
captivity for part of the time, of this "cub of the wolfe from the
west," strange to say, was the boy-king of Scotland, who, like most
monarchs of that factious and ill-governed country, was probably
happier even under such depressing circumstances than if he were at
large in his own country, and his life most certainly was much safer.

The Rolls during all these years show a constant drain on the
exchequer for provisions and money and sinews of war for the
beleaguered Welsh castles. Here is a contract made with certain
Bristol merchants, mentioned by name, for sixty-six pipes of honey,
twelve casks of wine, four casks of sour wine, fifty casks of wheat
flour, and eighty quarters of salt to be carried in diverse ships by
sea for victualling and providing "the King's Kastles of Karnarvon,
Hardelagh, Lampadarn, and Cardigarn." Here again are payments to
certain "Lords, archers and men-at-arms to go to the rescue of Coity
castle in Wales." The rate of pay allowed to the soldiers of that day
for Welsh service is all entered in these old records and may be
studied by the curious in such matters.

    "To Henry, Prince of Wales, wages for 120 men-at-arms and 350
    archers at 12d. and 6d. per day for one quarter of a year
    remaining at the abbey of Stratflur and keeping and defending
    the same from malice of those rebels who had not submitted
    themselves to the obedience of the Lord the King and to ride
    after and give battle to the rebels as well in South as in
    North Wales £666.13.4." Again, in the same year: "To Henry
    Prince of Wales, for wages of 300 men-at-arms and 600 archers
    and canoniers and other artificers for the war who lately
    besieged the castle of Hardelagh [Harlech]."

From the latter of these extracts, which are quoted merely as types of
innumerable entries of a like kind, it will be seen that cannons were
used, at any rate in some of these sieges, and it is fairly safe to
assume that those used against Glyndwr were the first that had been
seen in Wales.

As the year 1406 advanced, the star of Owen began most sensibly to
wane. He was still, however, keeping up the forms of regal state along
the shores of Cardigan Bay, and we find him formally granting pardon
to one of his subjects, John ap Howel, at Llanfair near Harlech. The
instrument is signed "per ipsum Princepem," and upon its seal is a
portrait of Owen bareheaded and bearded, seated on a throne-like
chair, holding a globe in his left hand and a sceptre in his right.
Among the witnesses to the instrument are Griffith Yonge, Owen's
Chancellor, Meredith, his younger son, Rhys ap Tudor, and one or two
others. There is much that is hazy and mysterious about the events of
this year, but in most parts of Wales one hears little or nothing of
any shifting of the situation or any loosening of the grip that
Glyndwr's party had upon the country. An armed neutrality of a kind
probably existed between the Royalists in those towns and castles that
had not fallen and the purely Celtic population in the open country,
which had long before 1406 been purged of the hostile and the
half-hearted of the native race, and purged as we know by means of a
most trenchant and merciless kind.

    "While quarrels' rage did nourish ruinous rack
      And Owen Glendore set bloodie broils abroach,
    Full many a town was spoyled and put to sack
      And clear consumed to countries foul reproach,
    Great castles razed, fair buildings burnt to dust,
    Such revel reigned that men did live by lust."

Old Churchyard, who wrote these lines, lived at any rate much nearer
to Glyndwr's time than he did to ours, and reflects, no doubt, the
feeling of the border counties and of no small number of Welshmen
themselves who were involved in that ruin from which Wales did not
recover for a hundred years. In this year 1406, say the Iolo
manuscripts, "Wales had been so impoverished that even the means of
barely sustaining life could not be obtained but by rewards of the
King," referring, doubtless, to the Norman garrisons. "Glamorgan,"
says the same authority, "turned Saxon again at this time though two
years later in 1408 they were excited to commotions by the extreme
oppressions of the King's men," and when Owen returned once more to
aid them, their chiefs who had forsaken his cause burnt their barns
and stack-yards, rather than that their former leader and his people
should find comfort from them. They themselves then fled, the
chronicler continues, to England or the extremities of Wales, where in
the King's sea-washed castles they found refuge from Owen's vengeance
and were "supported by the rewards of treason and strategem."

More serious, however, than Glamorgan, bristling as it was with Norman
interests and Norman castles and always hard to hold against them, the
powerful and populous island of Anglesey in the north and the Vale of
the Towy in the south fell away from Glyndwr. Sheer weariness of the
strife, coupled perhaps with want of provisions, seems to have been
the cause. It was due certainly to no active operations from the
English border. Pardons upon good terms were continually held out in
the name of Prince Henry and the King throughout the whole struggle to
any who would sue for them, always excepting Owen and his chief
lieutenants, though even his son, as we have seen, was well treated in
London. Anglesey was threatened all the time by the great castles of
Conway, Carnarvon, and Beaumaris, which held out steadily for the
King. Though there was no fighting in the island it is not unnatural
that Glyndwr's supporters from thence, being cut off from their homes,
which were liable to attacks by sea even when the castles were
impotent, were among the first to give in. The strength of the
following which he gathered from beyond the Menai is significant of
the ardour of national enthusiasm in this old centre of the Princes of
Gwynedd, no less than 2112 names of Anglesey men being submitted at
one time in this year for pardon. It is possible that these
backsliders did not all go home empty-handed, but that a fair amount
of plunder from the sack of Marcher castles and the ravage of Marcher
lands found its way back with them. However that may be, a royal
commission was opened at Beaumaris on November 10th of this year 1406
for the granting of pardons and the assessment of fines to be paid
therefor. There is a list still extant in manuscript of the whole two
thousand-and-odd names. It will be sufficient to notice, as a point
not without interest, that the six commotes of Anglesey paid £537.7.0.
in fines upon this account. The goods of those slain in battle were
forfeited to the King, to be redeemed at prices ranging from 2s. for a
horse to 4d. for a sheep. A few were outlawed, among whom was David
Daron, Dean of Bangor, at whose house the Tripartite Convention was
signed early in the year, while Bifort, Bishop of Bangor, Owen's agent
as he might almost be called, together with the Earl of
Northumberland, was naturally excluded from purchasing his pardon.
Henceforward we hear little of Anglesey in connection with Owen,
though the remaining years of his resistance are so misty in their
record of him that it would be futile to attempt a guess at the part
its people may or may not have played in the long period of his

The defection of Ystrad Towy, the heart and life of the old South
Welsh monarchy and always a great source of strength to Owen, must
have been still more disheartening, but it seems likely that the
submission of his allies between Carmarthen, Dynevor, and Llandovery
was of a temporary nature. Mysterious but undoubtedly well-founded
traditions, too, have come down concerning the movements of Glyndwr
himself during the latter part of this year. He is pictured to us as
wandering about the country, sometimes with a few trusty followers,
sometimes alone and in disguise. This brief and temporary withdrawal
from publicity does not admit of any confusion with the somewhat
similar circumstances in which he passed the closing years of his
life. All old writers are agreed as to this hiatus in the midst of
Glyndwr's career, even when they differ in the precise date and in the
extent of his depression. One speaks of him as a hunted outlaw, which
for either the year 1405 or 1406 is of course ridiculous. Another,
with much more probability, represents him as going about the country
in disguise with a view to discovering the inner sentiments of the
people. A cave is shown near the mouth of the Dysanni between Towyn
and Llwyngwril, where during this period he is supposed to have been
concealed for a time from pursuing enemies by a friendly native. Upon
the mighty breast of Moel Hebog, over against Snowdon, another
hiding-place is connected with his name and with the same crisis in
his fortunes. A quite recently published manuscript[15] from the
Mostyn collection contains a story to the effect that when the abbot
of Valle Crucis, near Llangollen, was walking on the Berwyns early one
morning he came across Glyndwr wandering alone and in desultory
fashion. The abbot, as head of a Cistercian foundation, was
presumably unfriendly to the chieftain whose iconoclasms must have
horrified even his friends the Franciscans. There is nothing of
interest in the actual details of this chance interview. The fact of
Glyndwr being alone in such a place is suggestive and welcome merely
as a little bit of evidence recently contributed to the strong
tradition of his long wanderings. The abbot appears from the narrative
to have been anything but glad to see him and told him that he had
arisen a hundred years too soon, to which the Welsh leader and Prince
made no reply but "turned on his heel and departed in silence."

    [15] _A Soldier of Calais._

A much fuller and better-known story, however, of this mysterious
period of Glyndwr's career survives in the Iolo manuscripts. Sir
Laurence Berkrolles of St. Athan was a famous scion of that
Anglo-Norman stock who had carved up Glamorganshire in Henry the
First's time. He had inherited the great castle and lordship of Coity
from his mother's family, the Turbervilles, whose male line had only
just failed after three centuries of such occupation as must have made
men of them indeed. Sir Laurence, it need hardly be remarked, had
experienced a stormy time for the past few years, battling for his
patrimony with Glyndwr's sleepless legions. There was now a lull,
presumably in this year 1406, and Sir Laurence was resting in his
castle and rejoicing doubtless in the new sense of security to which
Glamorgan had just settled down. Hither one day came a strange
gentleman, unarmed and accompanied by a servant, and requested in
French a night's lodging of Sir Laurence. The hospitable Marcher
readily assented and placed the best that the castle afforded before
his guest, to whom he took so great a fancy that he ended in begging
him to prolong his stay for a few days. As an inducement he informed
the traveller that it was quite possible he might in such case be
fortunate enough to see the great Owen Glyndwr, for it was rumoured
that he was in that neighbourhood, and he (Sir Laurence) had
despatched his tenants and servants and other men in his confidence to
hunt for Owen and bring him in, alive or dead, under promise of great

"It would be very well," replied the guest, "to secure that man were
any persons able to do so."

Having remained at Sir Laurence's castle four days and three nights
the stranger announced his intention of departing. On doing so he held
out his hand to his host and thus addressed him:

"Owen Glyndwr, as a sincere friend, having neither hatred, treachery,
or deception in his heart, gives his hand to Sir Laurence Berkrolles
and thanks him for his kindness and generous reception which he and
his friend (in the guise of a servant) have experienced from him at
his castle, and desires to assure him on oath, hand in hand, and hand
on heart, that it will never enter his mind to avenge the intentions
of Sir Laurence towards him, and that he will not, so far as he may,
allow such desire to exist in his own knowledge and memory, nor in the
minds of any of his relations or adherents." Having spoken thus and
with such astonishing coolness disclosed his identity, Glyndwr and
his pseudo-servant went their way. Sir Laurence was struck dumb with
amazement, and that not merely in a metaphorical but in a literal
sense, for the story goes on to say that he lost the power of speech
from that moment! Glyndwr's faithful laureate, Iolo Goch, strengthens
the tradition of his master's mysterious disappearance at this time by
impassioned verses deploring his absence and calling on him to return
to his heartbroken poet:

    "I saw with aching heart
    The golden dream depart;
    His glorious image in my mind,
    Was all that Owain left behind.
    Wild with despair and woebegone
    Thy faithful bard is left alone,
    To sigh, to weep, to groan.

    "Thy sweet remembrance ever dear,
    Thy name still ushered by a tear,
    My inward anguish speak;
    How could'st thou, cruel Owain, go
    And leave the bitter tears to flow
    Down Gryffydd's furrowed cheek?"






Little is known of Owen's movements during the first half of the year
1407. Entries here and there upon the Rolls indicate that no
improvement so far as the general peace of Wales was concerned had
taken place, whatever there may have been in Henry's prospects of
ultimately recovering his authority there, prospects which now wore a
much brighter look. For though Glyndwr and his captains were still
active in the field, there nevertheless runs through all the scant
scraps of news we now get of him an unmistakable note of depression on
the part of his friends, with proportionate confidence on that of his
enemies. Prince Henry was still Lieutenant of the Marches of South
Wales, in addition to his hereditary jurisdiction, such as it now was,
over the royal counties. A great effort was in contemplation, in view
of Owen's failing strength, to put a complete end to the war. Pardons
were freely offered to his supporters, and even urged, upon the most
lenient terms, and the Marcher Barons, who were inclined at times,
when not personally in danger, to forget the conditions on which they
held their lands, were sternly forbidden to leave their castles.
Things had not been going well in France; Calais had been hard pressed
and the great English possessions in the South had been lamentably
reduced in extent. Edward the Third is computed to have reigned over
six million subjects to the north of the Pyrenees, a population much
greater than that of England and Wales combined. Henry had but a
fraction left of this kingdom, and that fraction most unsteady in its
devotion. He had been several times on the very point of making a
personal attempt to repair his failing fortunes beyond the Channel.
But his health was beginning even thus early to fail, and his nerves
were completely unstrung. He had made up his mind, however, to lead
one more expedition against Owen, now that the chances seemed so much
more favourable than on former occasions. From even this, however, it
will be seen that he ultimately flinched, and it was perhaps well that
he did so. His son and the captains round him understood Welsh warfare
much better than Henry. The rush of great armies through Wales had
failed hopelessly as a means of coercing it, and would fail again. The
steady pressure of armed bands upon Owen's front and flanks, and
liberal terms to all who deserted him, were the only methods of
wearing out the resources of this stubborn patriot, and they were
already succeeding. That he was himself pressing hard upon
Pembrokeshire, however, just at this time is evident from the orders
which were issued for forwarding arms and provisions for the defence
of the royal castles in that county, the recipient being Sir Francis
À'Court, the King's constable there. Aberystwith castle, however, was
to be the chief point of the Prince's attack this autumn, and his
father, as I have said, was expected to take part in an expedition
that came to be associated with much éclat.

An impression not altogether easy to account for, that the fall of
this great castle would prove the final blow to Owen's resistance, got
abroad, and there was a great rush of knights and nobles to take part
in the ceremony. A picked force of 2400 archers and men-at-arms was
told off for the service, and an entry in the Issue Rolls notes the
sum of £6825 as being set aside for their pay over the period of six
months beginning in June. This was a strong nucleus for an expedition
that could be supplemented by the levies of the border counties and
the spare strength of the local Marcher barons. Aberystwith Castle
occupies a site of much distinction, placed upon a bold promontory
projecting into the sea. Its ruins still survive as one of the
innumerable witnesses to Cromwell's superfluous vandalism, and afford
a favourite lounge to summer visitors at the popular Welsh
watering-place. But the first castle built on Norman lines was erected
in the twelfth century by Gilbert de Strongbow, the earliest Norman
adventurer in this district. A centre for generations of Norman-Welsh
strife, dismantled and restored again and again by contentious
chieftains, it was finally rebuilt by Edward I.; and what Cromwell
and time's destroying hand have left of it dates chiefly from that
luminous epoch in Welsh history. Not many of those, perhaps, who
loiter amidst its lifeless fragments are aware that in the season of
1407 it was the object of quite a fashionable crusade on the part of
the chivalry of England, well supplied with every requisite of siege
warfare that the primitive science of the period could provide.

Harlech was at this time the headquarters of Glyndwr's family,
including Edmund Mortimer, but to localise Glyndwr himself becomes now
more difficult than ever. Since Carmarthen and most of South Wales had
forsaken their allegiance, his energies must have been still more
severely taxed in keeping up the spirit and directing the movements of
his widely scattered bands. We heard of him lately raiding through
Pembroke and threatening the Flemish settlements. Merioneth and
Carnarvon in the North were still faithful, and we can well believe
that the great castles of Aberystwith and Harlech, lying midway
between the remnant of his southern followers and those of the North,
were in some sort the keys to the situation. Aberystwith, in which
Glyndwr had placed a strong garrison under a trusty captain, seemed
so, at any rate, to the English. Great guns were sent all the way from
Yorkshire to Bristol, to be forwarded thence by sea to the coast of
Cardigan, while ample stores of bows and arrows, bowstrings, arblasts,
stone-shot, sulphur, and saltpetre were ordered to be held in
readiness at Hereford. Woods upon the banks of the Severn were to be
cut down and the forest of Dean to be picked over for trees, out of
which was to be contrived the siege machinery for the subjugation of
hapless Aberystwith. A troop of carpenters were to sail from Bristol
for the devoted spot and erect scaffolds and wooden towers upon a
scale such as had not been before witnessed at any of the innumerable
sieges of this Welsh war. Proclamations calling out the great nobility
of western England and the Marches to meet the King and Prince at
Hereford were sent out. Owen, as well as Aberystwith and Harlech, was
to be crushed, and the King himself, with the flower of his chivalry,
was to be there to witness the closing scene. How far off even yet was
the final extinction of Owen, no one then could have well imagined.

But a temporary check came to these great preparations. The King, as
he had shrunk from crossing the Channel, now shrank from crossing the
Welsh border. A pestilence, somewhat more severe than those which were
almost chronic in the country in those days, swept over the island and
was more virulent in the West than elsewhere. It may have been this
that for a time suspended operations. Strange to say, too, the Richard
myth was not quite extinct, for during this summer bills were found
posted up about London proclaiming that he was "yet alive and in
health, and would come again shortly with great magnificence and power
to recover his kingdom." But neither pestilence nor the vagaries of
the King nor false rumours of the dead Richard were allowed to
permanently unsettle the Aberystwith enterprise. Fighting in Wales had
by no means been a popular or fashionable pastime, when there was no
territory to be won or to be defended. It was poor sport for the
heavy-armed sons of Mars of that period, all athirst for glory, this
tilting over rough ground at active spearmen who melted away before
their cumbrous onslaught only to return and deal out death and wounds
at some unexpected moment or in some awkward spot. But now whole
clouds of gay cavaliers, besides men scarred and weather-beaten with
Welsh warfare, gathered to the crusade against Aberystwith. French
wars just now were at a discount, not because the spirit was
unwilling, but because the exchequer was weak, so, the supply of
fighting knights and squires being for the moment greater than the
demand, Prince Henry reaped the benefit of the situation in his march
through South Wales.

But the bluest blood and the most brilliant equipment were futile in
attack against castles that nature and Edward the First had combined
to make invulnerable. The guns and scaffolds and wooden towers were
all there but they were powerless against Aberystwith and the brave
Welshmen who, under Owen's lieutenant, Rhys ap Griffith ap Llewelyn,
defended it. The King's particular cannon, weighing four and one half
tons, was there, which, with another called the Messenger, shook the
rock-bound coasts, striking terror, we may well fancy, into the
peasants of that remote country and proving more destructive to those
behind it than those before, for we are told that it burst during the
siege, a common thing with cannons of that day, dealing death to all
around. Once an hour, it is usually estimated, was the greatest
rapidity with which these cumbrous pieces could be fired with safety,
and we may well believe that the moment of explosion must have been a
much more anxious one, seeing how often they burst, to their friends
beside them than to their foes hidden behind the massive walls of a
Norman castle. The Duke of York was there, and the Earl of Warwick,
who, two years previously, had defeated Glyndwr in a pitched battle
and was eager, no doubt, to meet him again. Sir John Grendor, too, was
present, no courtier, but a hero of the Welsh wars, and Sir John
Oldcastle, a typical border soldier, who became Lord Cobham and was
ultimately hunted down as a Lollard at Welshpool and burned by Henry
V.; while Lord Berkeley commanded the fleet and managed the siege
train. It was not known at Aberystwith, either by the Welsh or the
besiegers, where Owen was. He could not readily trust himself in
castles, besieged both by land and sea, and run the risk of being
caught like a fox in a trap. He bided his time, on this occasion, as
will be seen, and arrived precisely at the right moment. Prince Henry
found the castle impregnable to assault, and there was nothing for it
but to sit down and reduce it by starvation. The only hope of the
garrison lay in Owen's relieving them, and with such an army before
them the possibility of this seemed more than doubtful. Provisions
soon began to fail, and in the middle of September Rhys ap Griffith
made overtures and invited seventeen of the English leaders within the
castle to arrange a compromise. One of these was Richard Courtney
of the Powderham family, a scholar of Exeter College, Oxford, and
Chancellor of the University. Mass was said by this accomplished
person to the assembled Welsh and English leaders, after which they
received the sacrament and then proceeded to draw up an agreement
which seems a strange one. By it the Welsh undertook to deliver up the
castle on November 1st if Glyndwr had not in the meantime appeared and
driven off the besiegers. Till that date an armistice was to continue.
Those of the garrison who would not accept these terms were to be
turned out to take their chance; the rest were to receive a full
pardon at the capitulation. The abbot of Ystradfflur, who, though a
Cistercian, had taken Owen's side, and three Welsh gentlemen, were
given up as hostages.

    [Illustration: ABERYSTWITH CASTLE.
      F. Frith & Co.]

The Prince and his nobles were doubtless glad enough to get away from
so monotonous a task in so remote a spot, though their return to
England was hardly a glorious one. No one seems to have expected Owen,
and only five hundred soldiers were left in camp at the abbey of
Ystradfflur, some fifteen miles off, to insure the proper fulfilment
of the agreement when November should come round. Parliament was to
meet and did meet at Gloucester in October, and the King himself, so
much importance did he attach to Aberystwith, still talked of
returning with his son to receive its surrender at the appointed time.
But neither the royal progress nor the surrender became matters of
fact, for during October Owen slipped unexpectedly into the castle
with a fresh force, repudiated, as indeed he had a right to
repudiate, the agreement, and branded as traitors to his cause those
who had made it, which was hard. The five hundred royal soldiers at
Ystradfflur had shrunk in numbers and relaxed in discipline, and had
at any rate no mind to encounter Owen, who remained in possession of
the west coast and its castles throughout a winter which so far as any
further news of him is concerned was an uneventful one. In the
meantime the Parliament which sat at Gloucester for six weeks in the
autumn was greatly exercised about Welsh affairs. Wales had returned
no revenue since Glyndwr first raised his standard, and the sums of
money that had been spent in vain endeavours to crush his power had
been immense. The feeling was now stronger than ever that taxation for
this purpose, one that brought no returns either in glory or plunder,
had reached its limit, and that it was high time the nobles whose
interests lay in Wales should take upon themselves for the future the
heavy burden of Welsh affairs.

One incident occurred at this Parliament which had some significance
and was not without humour. The Prince of Wales was publicly thanked
for his services before Aberystwith almost upon the very day when,
unknown, of course, to him and to those at distant Gloucester, Owen
had slipped into the castle about which so much stir was being made,
upset the whole arrangement, and turned the costly campaign into an
ignominious failure. It is significant, too, that the Prince, after
acknowledging the praises of his father and the Parliament, kneeled
before the former and "spake some generous words" concerning the Duke
of York, whose advice and assistance "had rescued the whole expedition
from peril and desolation." This looks as if Owen's people had not
allowed the return journey of the Prince and his friends and his even
still large force to be the promenade that was expected. It may well
indeed have been the ubiquitous Glyndwr himself from whom the sagacity
of the Duke delivered them in the wilds of Radnor or Carmarthen.
Though Aberystwith and Harlech were safe for this winter, the Prince,
with a deliberation perhaps emphasised by chagrin at his failure, made
arrangements for a second attempt to be undertaken in the following

The winter of 1407-1408 was the most terrible within living memory. It
is small wonder that no echo of siege or battle or feat of arms breaks
the silence of the snow-clad and war-torn country. Birds and animals
perished by thousands, for a sheet of frozen snow lay upon the land
from before Christmas till near the end of March. Yet outside Wales
even so cruel a winter could not still all action. For Glyndwr's old
ally, Northumberland, selected this, of all times and seasons, for
that last reckless bid for power which has been before alluded to, and
with Bardolph and Bifort, Owen's Bishop of Bangor, went out across the
bitter cold of the Yorkshire moors, the first two of them, at any
rate, to death and ruin. Bifort, however, seems to have got away and
carried the nominal honours of his bishopric for many years.

The opening of summer in 1408 found Owen still active and dangerous.
No longer so as of old to the peace of England and to Henry's
throne,--that crisis had passed away,--but he was still an
unsurmountable obstacle to the good government of Wales. We know this
rather from the anxiety to subdue him manifested this year by the
King's council to the exclusion of all other business, than from any
detailed knowledge of his actions. Of these one can guess the general
tenor, and the necessary sameness of a guerilla warfare somewhat
mitigates the disappointment natural at the lack of actual detail. One
gathers from the brief but, from one point of view, significant
entries in the public records how entirely demoralised most of the
country still remained. Here is an order to prevent supplies being
sent to the rebels; there a caution to keep the bonfires in Cheshire
or Shropshire ready for the match; there again are notes of persons
becoming surety for the good behaviour of repentant Welshmen, or Lord
Marchers trying to come again to terms with their rebellious Cymric
tenants. Panic-stricken letters, however, came no more from
beleaguered castles, nor do the people of Northampton any longer quake
in their beds at the name of Glyndwr, though the border counties, and
with good cause, feel as yet by no means wholly comfortable.

    "In 1408," says the Iolo manuscript, "the men of Glamorgan
    were excited to commotion by the extra oppression of the
    King's men; many of the chieftains who had obtained royal
    favour burnt their stacks and barns lest Owen's men should
    take them. But these chieftains fled to the extremity of
    England and Wales, where they were defended in the castles
    and camps of the King's forces and supported by the rewards of
    treason and stratagem. Owen could not recover his lands and
    authority because of the treachery prevalent in Anglesey and
    Arvon, which the men of Glamorgan called the treason of the
    men of Arvon."

All this is sadly involved, but one treasures anything that has a
genuine ring about it in connection with this shadowy year. Arvon, it
may be remarked, is the "cantref" facing the submissive Anglesey, and
no doubt the royal castle of Carnarvon was able by this time to
exercise an intimidating influence on that portion of the country.

Prince Henry's commission as Lieutenant of both North and South Wales
was again renewed; and, gathering his forces at Hereford in June, he
again moved on towards the stubborn castle of Aberystwith, making
Carmarthen, the old capital of South Wales, his base of operations.
Aberystwith this time held out till winter, when it at last fell, the
garrison meeting with no harsher treatment than that of ejection
without arms or food. Harlech, which Gilbert and John Talbot had by
the throat, with a thousand well-armed men and a big siege train,
resisted even longer. The Welsh this time were able to utilise the
sea, which in those days beat against the foot of the high rock upon
which the castle stands, a rock now removed from the shore by half a
mile or more of sandy common. Glyndwr, too, was now able to move
freely from one beleaguered fortress to another. Both of them held out
with singular valour and tenacity, attacking the provision boats
which came from Bristol for the besieging armies, and disputing every
point that offered an opportunity with sleepless vigilance and
tireless energy. Edmund Mortimer died either during the siege or
immediately after the surrender, of starvation some writers say,
though privation would perhaps be a more appropriate and likely term.
Mortimer's wife and three girls, with a son Lionel, together with that
"eminent woman of a knightly family," Glyndwr's own consort, fell into
the King's hands with the capture of Harlech, and seem to have been
taken to London in a body.

There is something pathetic about this wholesale termination of Owen's
domestic life, in what for that period would be called his old age.
One longs, too, to know something about it. How Margaret Hanmer
deported herself under the reflected glories of her lord. Whether
indeed she saw much of him, and if so, where; whether she was a
stout-hearted patriot and bore the trials and the uncertainties of her
dangerous pre-eminence with proud fortitude, or whether she wept over
the placid memories of Sycherth and Glyndyfrdwy, and deplored the
fortune that had made her a hero's wife and a wanderer. She had three
married daughters to give her shelter in Herefordshire. Let us hope
that she found her way to one of them, as her husband did years later
when the storms of his life were over. As for the Mortimers, that
branch of the family was entirely wiped out. The children died, and
the gentle Katherine, who had married so near the throne of England,
soon followed them and lies somewhere beneath the roar of London
traffic in a city churchyard. One account places the capture and
removal to London of Glyndwr's family at a later period, but as the
interest in this is chiefly a matter of sentiment, the precise date is
of no special moment.

The lines were now rapidly tightening round Owen. The English
government, by this time fairly free from foreign complications,
showed a vigilance in Wales which it would have been well for it to
have shown in former years, when the danger was much greater. Owen, on
his part, relapsed gradually into a mere guerilla leader, though the
hardy bands that still rallied round him and scorned to ask for pardon
were still so numerous and formidable that it was with difficulty the
King could prevent some of the Marcher barons even now from purchasing
security against his attacks. Talbot with bodies of royal troops still
remained as a garrison in Wales. It is curiously significant, too, and
not readily explicable, that in this year 1409 the town of Shrewsbury
closed her gates against an English army marching into Wales and
refused them provisions. It looks as if even the honest Salopians,
tired of keeping guard against the ubiquitous Glyndwr, had thus late,
and for the second time in the war, made some sort of terms with him.
We find also Charleton, Lord of Powys, about this time granting
pardons to those of his tenants who had been "out with Glyndwr," while
he was rewarding his more faithful lieges in the borough of Welshpool
by an extension of their corporation limits to an area of twenty
thousand acres, an unique distinction which that interesting border
town enjoys to this day.

Meanwhile it must not be supposed that the royal party treated all
Welsh captives with the leniency we have seen at Aberystwith, Harlech,
and elsewhere. Rhys Ddu, a noted captain of Glyndwr's, and Philip
Scudamore, a scion of that famous Herefordshire family into which the
Welsh leader's daughter had married, were taken prisoners while
raiding in Shropshire and sent to London and placed in the Tower,
where several Welsh nobles had been this long time languishing. Rhys
was taken to the Surrey side of the river by the Earl of Arundel,
tried, and handed over to the sheriff, who had him dragged upon a
hurdle to Tyburn and there executed. His quarters, like those of many
Welsh patriots before him, were sent to hang over the gates of four
English cities, and his head was affixed to London Bridge. Ten Welsh
gentlemen were under lock and key at Windsor Castle. They were now
handed over to the Marshal and kept in the Tower till heavy ransoms
were forthcoming. But Henry's treatment of his Welsh enemies was upon
the whole the reverse of vengeful, and he was wise in his generation.
His wholesale pardons to men wearied with years of war in a cause now
so utterly hopeless were infinitely more efficacious against that
implacable foe who would not himself dream of asking terms. Owen, too,
on his part had many prisoners, hidden away in mountain fastnesses,
chief of whom was the hapless David Gam, whom my readers will almost
have forgotten. Nine of these, we are told by one writer, his
followers hung, greatly to their leader's chagrin, since he wanted
them for hostages or for exchange.

The Avignon Pope had done Owen little good. A certain religious
flavour was introduced into the martial songs of the bards, and Owen's
native claims to the leadership of Wales were now supplemented by
papal and ecclesiastical blessings from this new and very modern fount
of inspiration. But everything ecclesiastical at Bangor was in ashes,
the torch, it will be remembered, having been applied by Glyndwr
himself. The royal bishop, Young, had years before fled to England and
was now enjoying the peaceful retirement of Rochester. Owen's bishop,
Bifort, as we have seen, was a wandering soldier. The more vigorous
Trevor, who came back to Owen in 1404, was at this time in France,
making a last effort, it is supposed, to interest the French King in
Glyndwr's waning cause. But death overtook him while still in Paris,
and he lies buried in the chapel of the infirmary of the Abbey de St.
Victor beneath the following epitaph:

    "Hic jacet Reverendus in Christo Pater Johannes Episcopus
    asaphensis in Wallia qui obiit A.D. 1410 die secundo mensis
    aprilis cujus anima feliciter requiescat in pace. Amen."






Of the last six years of Owen's life, those from 1410 to 1416, there
is little to be said. His cause was hopelessly lost and he had quite
ceased to be dangerous. Wales was reconquered and lay sick, bleeding,
and wasted beneath the calm of returning peace. Thousands, it is to be
feared, cursed Glyndwr as they looked upon the havoc which the last
decade had wrought. The unsuccessful rebel or patriot, call him what
you will, has far more friends among those yet unborn than among his
own contemporaries, above all in the actual hour of his failure. Of
this failure, too, the Welsh were reminded daily, not only by their
wasted country and ruined homesteads but by fierce laws enacted
against their race and a renewal on both sides of that hatred which
the previous hundred years of peace had greatly softened.

      W. H. Bustin.]

Men born of Welsh parents on both sides were now forbidden to purchase
land near any of the Marcher towns. They were not permitted to be
citizens of any borough, nor yet to hold any office, nor carry armour
nor any weapon. No Welshman could bind his child to a trade, nor bring
him up to letters, while English men who married Welsh women were
disfranchised of their liberties. In all suits between Englishmen and
Welshmen the judge and jury were to be of the former race, while all
"Cymmorthau," or gatherings for mutual assistance in harvest or
domestic operations, were strictly forbidden.

These laws were kept on the statute books till the real union of Wales
and England in Henry the Eighth's time, but gradually became a dead
letter as the memory of the first ten bloody years of the century grew
fainter. Glyndwr, however, believed in the justice of his cause, and
if he expressed remorse for the methods which he had used to uphold
it, we hear nothing of such apologies. That he showed the courage of
his convictions in heroic fashion no one can gainsay. That men could
be found to stand even yet in such numbers by his side is the most
eloquent tribute that could be paid to his personal magnetism. He had
lost all his castles, unless indeed, as seems likely, those grim
towers of Dolbadarn and Dolwyddelan in the Snowdon mountains were left
to him. He became henceforward a mere outlaw, confined entirely to the
mountains of Carnarvon and Merioneth, between those fierce and rapid
raids which we dimly hear of him still making upon the Northern
Marches. His old companions, Rhys and William ap Tudor, who had been
with him from the beginning, were in the King's hands, and were about
this time executed at Chester with the usual barbarities of the
period. The elder was the grandfather of Owen Tudor, and consequently
the ancestor of our present King. David Gam was still a prisoner in
Owen's hands till 1412, when the King entered into negotiations for
his release through the agency of Llewelyn ap Howel, Sir John Tiptoft,
and William Boteler. What terms were made we know not; an exchange was
in all likelihood effected, seeing how many of Owen's friends were in
captivity. David's liberation, however, was by some means successfully
accomplished, and he lived to fight and fall by the King's side at
Agincourt, being knighted, some say, as he lay dying upon that
memorable field.

When, in 1413, Prince Henry came to the throne, he issued a pardon to
all Welsh rebels indiscriminately, not excepting Glyndwr. But,
obstinate to the last, the old hero held to his mountains, refusing to
ask or to receive a favour, striking with his now feeble arm, whenever
chance offered, the English power or those who supported it. When
Henry IV. succumbed to those fleshly ills which constant trouble had
brought upon his once powerful frame, Glyndwr was still in the field
and royal troops still stationed in the Welsh mountains to check his
raids. Tradition has it that he was at last left absolutely alone,
when he is supposed to have wandered about the country in disguise and
in a fashion so mysterious that a wealth of legend has gathered around
these wanderings.

    "In 1415," says one old chronicler, "Owen disappeared so that
    neither sight nor tidings of him could be obtained in the
    country. It was rumoured that he escaped in the guise of a
    reaper bearing a sickle, according to the tidings of the last
    who saw and knew him, after which little or no information
    transpired respecting him nor of the place or name of his
    concealment. The prevalent opinion was that he died in a wood
    in Glamorgan; but occult chroniclers assert that he and his
    men still live and are asleep on their arms in a cave called
    Ogof Dinas in the Vale of Gwent, where they will continue
    until England is self-abased, when they will sally forth, and,
    recognising their country's privileges, will fight for the
    Welsh, who shall be dispossessed of them no more until the Day
    of Judgment, when the earth shall be consumed with fire and so
    reconstructed that neither oppression nor devastation shall
    take place any more, and blessed will he be who will see that

Carte says that Owen wandered down to Herefordshire in the disguise of
a shepherd and found refuge in his daughter's house at Monnington.

It is quite certain that in 1415, Henry V., full of his French schemes
and ambitions, and with no longer any cause to trouble himself about
Wales, sent a special message of pardon to Glyndwr. Perhaps the young
King felt a touch of generous admiration for the brave old warrior who
had been the means of teaching him so much of the art of war and the
management of men, and who, though alone and friendless, was too proud
to ask a favour or to bend his knee. Sir Gilbert Talbot of Grafton, in
Worcestershire, was the man picked out by Henry to accomplish this
gracious act. Nothing, however, came of it immediately. Perhaps the
great campaign of Poitiers interfered with a matter so comparatively
trifling. But on the King's return he renewed it in February, 1416,
commissioning this time not only Talbot but Glyndwr's own son,
Meredith, as envoys. Whether or no it would have even now and by such
a channel been acceptable is of no consequence, as the old hero was
either dead or in concealment. Common sense inclines to the most
logical and most generally accepted of the traditions which surround
his last years, namely, the one which pictures him resting quietly
after his stormy life at the home of one or other of his married
daughters in Herefordshire. Monnington and Kentchurch both claim the
honour of having thus sheltered him. Probably they both did, seeing
how near they lie together, though the people of the former place
stoutly maintain that it is in their churchyard his actual dust

At Kentchurch Court, where his daughter Alice Scudamore lived with her
husband, and which still belongs to the family, a tower of the
building is even yet cherished as the lodging of the fallen chieftain
during part at any rate of these last years of obscurity. The romantic
beauty of the spot, the survival of the mansion and of the stock that
own it, would make us wish to give Kentchurch everything it claims,
and more, in connection with Glyndwr's last days. Above the Court,
which stands in a hollow embowered in woods, a park or chase climbs
for many hundred feet up the steep sides of Garaway Hill, which in its
unconventional wildness and entire freedom from any modernising touch
is singularly in keeping with the ancient memories of the place. The
deer brush beneath oaks and yews of such prodigious age and size that
some of them must almost certainly have been of good size when Thomas
Scudamore brought Alice, the daughter of Owen of Glyndyfrdwy, home as
a bride; while just across the narrow valley, through which the waters
of the Monnow rush swift and bright between their ruddy banks, the
village and ruined castle of Grosmont stand conspicuous upon their
lofty ridge. It must in fairness to the claims of Monnington be
remembered that Grosmont was not precisely the object upon which
Glyndwr, if he were still susceptible to such emotions, would have
wished his fading eyesight to dwell long, since of all the spots in
Wales (and it is just in Wales, the Monnow being the boundary)
Grosmont had been the one most pregnant, perhaps, with evil to his
cause. For it was the defeat of Glyndwr's forces there that may be
said to have broken the back of his rebellion. And as we stand upon
the bridge over the Monnow midway between England and Wales, the still
stately ruins of the Norman castle that must often have echoed to
Prince Henry's cheery voice crown the hill beyond us; while behind it
the quaint village that rose upon the ashes of the town Glyndwr burnt,
with all its civic dignities, looks down upon us, the very essence of
rural peace.

Glyndwr's estates had long ago been forfeited to the Crown and granted
to John, Earl of Somerset. Soon after his death Glyndyfrdwy was sold
to the Salusburys of Bachymbyd and of Rûg near Corwen, one of the
very few alien families that in a peaceful manner had become
landowners in North Wales before the Edwardian conquest. It is only
recently indeed that there has ceased to be a Salusbury of Rûg. Owen's
descendants, through his daughters, at any rate, are numerous. A few
years after his death, Parliament, softening towards his memory,
passed a special law for the benefit of his heirs, allowing them to
retain or recover a portion of the proscribed estates. In consequence
of this, Alice Scudamore made an effort to recover Glyndyfrdwy and
Sycherth from the Earl of Somerset apparently without success, so far
as the former went, in view of the early ownership of the Salusburys.

Of Griffith, the son who was so long a prisoner in the Tower in
company with the young King of Scotland, we hear nothing more. But of
Meredith this entry occurs in the Rolls of Henry V., 1421: "Pardon of
Meredith son of Owynus de Glendordy according to the sacred precept
that the son shall not bear the iniquities of the father." To another
daughter of Glyndwr, probably an illegitimate one, Gwenllian, wife of
Phillip ap Rhys of Cenarth, the famous bard, Lewis Glyncothi, wrote
various poems, in one of which he says: "Your father was a potent
prince, all Wales was in his council."

No intelligent person of our day could regret the failure of Glyndwr's
heroic effort. That Welshmen of the times we have been treating of
should have longed to shake off the yoke of the Anglo-Norman was but
human, for he was not only a bad master, but a foreigner and wholly
antipathetic to the Celtic nature. At the same time, the geographical
absurdity, if the word may be permitted, of complete independence was
frankly recognised by almost every Welsh patriot from earliest times.
The notion of a suzerain or chief king in London, as I have remarked
elsewhere, was quite in harmony with the most passionate of Welsh
demands. Glyndwr perhaps had other views; but then the kingdom that he
would fain have ruled, if the Tripartite Convention is to be relied
on, stretched far beyond the narrow bounds of Wales proper and quite
matched in strength either of the other two divisions which, under
this fantastic scheme, Mortimer and Percy were respectively to govern.
What was undoubtedly galling to the Welsh was the spectacle of a
province to the north of the island, consisting, so far as the bulk of
its power and civilisation was concerned, of these same hated
Anglo-Normans, not only claiming and maintaining an entire
independence on no basis that a Celt could recognise, but trafficking
continuously with foreign enemies in a fashion that showed them to be
destitute of any feeling for the soil of Britain beyond that part
which they themselves had seized. To the long-memoried Welshman it
seemed hard, and no doubt illogical, that these interlopers, one
practically in blood and speech and feeling with their own oppressors,
should thus be permitted to set up a rival independence within the
borders of the island, while they on their part were forced to fuse
themselves with a people who could not even understand their tongue
and with whom they had scarcely a sentiment in common. It is difficult
not to sympathise with the mediæval Welshman in this attitude or to
refrain from wondering at the strange turn of fortune that allowed the
turbulent ambition of some Norman barons to draw an artificial line
and create a northern province, which their descendants, if they
showed much vigour in its defence, showed very little aptitude for
governing with reasonable equity.

      Mrs. Leather.]

Glyndwr, it is true, had thrown off the old British tradition and had
called in foreigners from across the sea, as Vortigern to his cost had
done nearly a thousand years before. He had also adopted a French
Pope. Neither had done him much good, and Welshmen were soon as ready
as ever to fight their late brief allies for the honour of the island
of Britain. But Glyndwr from an early period in his insurrection had
kept the one aim, that of the independence of his country, dream
though it might be, consistently in view. No means were to be
neglected, even to the ruining of its fields and the destruction of
its buildings, to obtain this end. How thoroughly he carried out his
views has been sufficiently emphasised; so thoroughly, indeed, as to
cause many good Welshmen to refrain from wholly sharing in the
veneration shown for his memory by the bulk of his countrymen. There
can be but one opinion, however, as to the marvellous courage with
which he clung to the tree of liberty that he had planted and watered
with such torrents of human blood, till in literal truth he found
himself the last leaf upon its shrunken limbs, and that a withered
one. In the heyday of his glory his household bard and laureate
wrote much extravagant verse in his honour, as was only natural and in
keeping with the fancy of the period and of his class. But the Red
Iolo himself, in all likelihood, little realised the prophetic ring in
the lines he addressed to his master on the closing of his earthly
course, though we, at least, have ample evidence of their prescience:

    "And when thy evening sun is set,
    May grateful Cambria ne'er forget
    Its morning rays, but on thy tomb
    May never-fading laurels bloom."





As I have led up to the advent of Glyndwr with a rough outline of
Welsh history prior to his day, I will now cast a brief glance at the
period which followed. English people have a tendency to
underestimate, or rather to take into small consideration, the wide
gulf which, not only in former days, but to some extent even yet,
divides the two countries. They are apt to think that after the
abortive rising of Glyndwr, provided even this stands out clearly in
their minds, everything went smoothly and Wales became merely a
geographical expression with an eccentric passion for maintaining its
own language. As, in the introduction to this book, I had to solicit
the patience of the general reader and crave the forbearance of the
expert for an effort to cover centuries in a few pages, so I must
again put in a plea for another venture of the same kind--briefer, but
none the less difficult.

The ruin left by Glyndwr's war was awful. It was not only the loss of
property, the destruction of buildings, the sterilisation of lands,
but the quarrels and the blood-feuds which the soreness of these
years of strife handed down for generations to the descendants of
those who had taken opposing sides. And then before prosperity had
fairly lifted its head, before bloody quarrels and memories had been
forgotten, the devastating Wars of the Roses were upon the country,
and it was plunged once more into a chaos not much less distracting
than that in which the preceding generation had weltered.

Though, by a curious turn of events, she ultimately gave to England a
Lancastrian king, Wales most naturally favoured the House of York.
Edmund Mortimer, uncle to the young Earl of March, had shared the
triumphs and the perils of Glyndwr's rising. The blood of Llewelyn ap
Iorwerth flowed in the veins of the Mortimers, and their great estates
lay chiefly in Wales and on the border. The old antagonism to
Bolingbroke's usurpation, and the sympathy with Richard and his
designated heir that half a century before accompanied it, were still
remembered. The Yorkists, however, had no monopoly of Wales,--Welsh
knights had fought victoriously in France under Henry V., and Marcher
barons of Lancastrian sympathies could command a considerable
following of Welshmen. The old confusion of lordship government still
retained half Wales as a collection of small palatinates. Once more
the castles that Glyndwr had left standing echoed to the bustle of
preparation and the stir of arms, and felt the blows of an artillery
that they could no longer face with quite the composure with which
they had faced the guns of Henry the Fourth. It was not so much the
actual damage that was done, for this war was not so comprehensive,
but rather the passions and faction it aroused among the Welsh gentry
of both races, though this new faction no longer ran strictly upon
racial lines. Nor, again, was it the amount of blood that was shed,
for this compared to Glyndwr's war was inconsiderable, but the legacy,
rather, of lawlessness that it left behind. Sir John Wynne of Gwydir,
in the invaluable chronicle which he wrote at his home in the Vale of
Conway during the reign of Elizabeth, draws a graphic picture of North
Wales as Henry the Seventh found it. Sir John's immediate forbears had
taken a brisk hand in the doings of those distracted times, and there
were still men living when he wrote who had seen the close of the
chaos with their own eyes, and whose minds were stored with the
evidence of their fathers and grandfathers. Harlech in these wars
stood once more a noted siege. It was held for the Lancastrians by a
valiant Welshman against the Herberts, who made a somewhat celebrated
march through the mountains to besiege it. The stout defence it
offered inspired the music and the words of the Welsh national march,
"Men of Harlech,"--as spirited an air of its kind, perhaps, as has
ever been written. The Vale of Clwyd, the garden of North Wales, was
burnt, says Sir John, "to cold coals." Landowners who had mortgaged
their estates, he goes on to tell us, scarcely thought them worth
redeeming, while the deer grazed in the very streets of Llanrwst. For
two or three generations the country was infested by bands of robbers
who found refuge in the mountains of Merioneth or the wild uplands
of the Berwyn Range, and fought for the privilege of systematically
plundering and levying blackmail on the Vale of Conway and the richer
meadows of Edeyrnion. Sir John's grandfather found it necessary to go
to church attended by a bodyguard of twenty men armed to the teeth.
"The red-haired banditti of Mawddy" kept the country between the Dovey
and Mawddach estuaries and inland nearly to Shropshire in a state of
chronic terror. The Carnarvon squires cherished blood-feuds that
almost resembled a vendetta, laid siege to one another's houses, and
engaged in mimic battles of a truly bloodthirsty description. The
first Wynne of Gwydir left West Carnarvonshire and preferred to live
among the brigands of the Vale of Conway rather than among his own
relatives, since he would "either have to kill or be killed by them."
To try and combat these organised bands of robbers, Edward IV.
instituted, in 1478, the Court of the President and Council of the
Marches of Wales, with summary jurisdiction over all breakers of the
peace--provided always that they could catch them! The legal machinery
of the lordships was wholly ineffectual, for though each petty monarch
had the power of life and death, the harbouring of thieves and outlaws
became a matter purely of personal rivalry and jealousy.

    [Illustration: PEMBROKE CASTLE.
      F. Frith & Co.]

But this epoch of Welsh history ended with the advent of the Tudors,
which is in truth an even more notable landmark than the so-called
conquest of Edward I. Wales since that time had been governed as a
conquered country, or a Crown province--she had been annexed but not
united, nor had she been represented in Parliament, while outside the
Edwardian counties justice was administered, or more often not
administered, by two or three score of petty potentates. One must not,
however, make too much of what we now call union and patriotism.
Cheshire had been till quite recently an independent earldom, with
similar relations to the Crown as the lordship, say, of Ruthin or of
Hay. As regards national feeling, it is very doubtful if the
sentiments that had animated the heptarchy had been eradicated from
that turbulent palatinate who boasted the best archers in England and
were extremely jealous of their licentious independence.

      W. H. Bustin.]

But it was a pure accident that in the end really reconciled the Welsh
to a close union with the hated Saxon. Steeped as they were in
sentiment, and credulous to a degree of mysticism and prophecy, and
filled with national pride, the rise of the grandson of Owen Tudor of
Penmynydd to the throne of Britain was for the Cymry full of
significance. The fact, too, that Henry was not merely a Welshman but
that he landed in Wales and was accompanied thence by a large force of
his fellow-countrymen to the victorious field of Bosworth was a
further source of pride and consolation to this long-harassed people.
It would be hard indeed to exaggerate the effect upon Wales and its
future relationship with England, when a curious chain of events
elevated this once obscure princeling to the throne of England. It was
strange, too, that it should be a Lancastrian after all whose
accession caused such joy and triumph throughout a province which had
shed its blood so largely upon the opposing side. The bards were of
course in ecstasies; the prophecy that a British prince should once
again reign in London--which had faded away into a feeble echo,
without heart or meaning, since the downfall of Glyndwr--now
astonished with its sudden fulfilment the expounders of Merlin and the
Brut as completely as it did the audience to whom they had so long
foretold this unlikely consummation. Not for a moment, however, we may
well believe, was such a surprise admitted nor the difference in the
manner of its fulfilment. But who indeed would carp at that when the
result was so wholly admirable? It is not our business to trace the
tortuous ways by which fate removed the more natural heirs to the
throne and seated upon it for the great good of England as well as of
Wales the grandson of an Anglesey squire of ancient race and trifling

That the first Tudor disappointed his fellow-countrymen in some of
their just expectations, and behaved in fact somewhat meanly to them,
is of no great consequence since his burly son made such ample amends
for the shortcomings of his father. The matrimonial barbarities of
Henry the Eighth and his drastic measures in matters ecclesiastical
have made him so marked a personage that men forget and indeed are not
very clearly made to understand what he did for Wales, and
consequently for England too.

By an Act of Parliament in 1535 the whole of the Lordship Marcher
system was swept away, and the modern counties of Denbigh,
Montgomery, Monmouth, Glamorgan, Brecon, and Radnor were formed out of
the fragments. It is only possible to generalise within such compass
as this. The precise details belong rather to antiquarian lore and
would be out of place here. It will be sufficient to say that the
Welsh people of all degrees, after waiting with laudable patience for
their first King to do something practical on their behalf, petitioned
Henry the Eighth to abolish the disorders under which half their
country groaned and to grant that representation in Parliament as yet
enjoyed by no part of the Principality, and without which true
equality could not exist. The King appointed a commission to carry out
their wishes. The sources from which the new counties took their
names, though following no rule, are obvious enough. Glamorgan, the
old Morganwg, had been practically a County Palatine since Fitzhamon
and his twelve knights seized it in Henry the First's time, that is to
say, the inferior lordships were held in fealty, not each to the King
as elsewhere, but to the heirs of Fitzhamon, who for many generations
were the Clares, Earls of Gloucester, having their capital at Cardiff,
where higher justice was administered. Pembroke was something of the
same sort, though the Flemish element made it differ socially from
Glamorgan. Nor must it be forgotten that that promontory of Gower in
the latter palatinate was a Flemish lordship. But Pembroke was the
actual property of the Crown and its earls or lords were practically
constables. The rest of the Marches (for this term signified all Wales
outside the Edwardian counties) had no such definitions. That they
followed no common rule was obvious enough. Brecon took its name from
the old lordship of Brecheiniog that Bernard de Newmarch had founded
in Henry the First's time. The old Melynydd, more or less, became
Radnor, after its chief fortress and lordship. Montgomery derived its
shire name from the high-perched castle above the Severn, Monmouth
from the town at the Monnow's mouth. Large fragments of the Marches,
too, were tacked on to the counties of Hereford and Shropshire, the
Welsh border as we know it to-day being in many places considerably
westward of the old line. All the old lordship divisions with the
privileges and responsibilities of their owners were abolished, and
the castles, which had only existed for coercive and defensive
purposes, began gradually from this time to subside into those hoary
ruins which from a hundred hilltops give the beautiful landscape of
South Wales a distinction that is probably unmatched in this
particular in northern Europe. County government was uniformly
introduced all over Wales and the harsh laws of Glyndwr's day, for
some time a dead letter, were erased from the statutes. Parliamentary
representation was allotted, though only one knight instead of two sat
for a shire and one burgess only for all the boroughs of a shire; and
the two countries became one in heart as well as in fact. Till 1535
the eldest son of English Kings, as Prince of Wales, had been all that
the name implies. Henceforth it became a courtesy title; and one may
perhaps be allowed a regret, having regard to the temperament of a
Celtic race in this particular, that our English monarchs have allowed
it to remain so wholly divorced from all Welsh connection. The last
actual Prince of Wales was Henry the Eighth's elder brother Arthur,
who died at the then official residence of Ludlow Castle a few weeks
after his marriage with Catherine of Aragon.

This reminds me too that one peculiarity remained to distinguish the
administration of Wales from that of England, namely that famous and
long-lived institution, the "Court of the Marches." This has already
been mentioned as introduced by Edward the Fourth, who was friendly to
Wales, for the suppression of outlaws and brigands. It was confirmed
and its powers enlarged by Henry the Eighth's Act, and with
headquarters at Ludlow, though sitting sometimes at Shrewsbury and
Chester, it was the appeal for all important Welsh litigation. Nor was
it in any sense regarded as a survival of arbitrary treatment. On the
contrary, it was a convenience to Welshmen, who could take cases there
that people in North Yorkshire, for instance, would have to carry all
the way to Westminster. For a long time, curiously enough, its
jurisdiction extended into the counties of Worcester, Gloucester,
Hereford, and Salop. It consisted of a president and council with a
permanent staff of subordinate officials. The presidency was an office
of great honour, held usually by a bishop or baron of weight in the
country, associated with the two justices of Wales and that of
Chester. The arrangement seems to have caused general satisfaction
till the reign of William the Third, when the growth of industry and
population made it advisable to divide Wales into circuits.

The petitions addressed from the Welsh people to Henry praying for
complete fusion with England are instructive reading. Marcher rule at
the worst had been infamously cruel, at the best inconvenient and
inequitable. It was a disgrace to the civilisation of the fifteenth
century, which is saying a great deal. To bring criminals to justice
was almost impossible when they had only to cross into the next
lordship, whose ruler, being unfriendly perhaps to his neighbour, made
it a point of honour to harbour those who defied him. The still
martial spirit of the Welsh found vent when wars had ceased in petty
quarrels, and with such a turbulent past it did them credit that they
recognised how sorely even-handed justice was wanted among them.

Lordship Marchers themselves were too often represented by deputies,
and something like the abuses that were familiar in Ireland in more
recent times owing to middlemen added to the confusion. According to
local custom the humbler people of one lordship might not move eight
paces from the road as they passed through a neighbouring territory.
The penalty for transgression was all the money they had about them
and the joint of one finger. If cattle strayed across the lordship
boundary they could be kept and branded by the neighbouring lord or
his representatives.

In the aforesaid petitions sent up to Henry VIII. the petitioners
dwell upon their loyalty to the throne and the unhappy causes that
had alienated them from it in the past. They remind him of how they
fought in France for Edward III., and of their loyalty to Richard II.,
which was the sole cause, they declare, of their advocacy of Glyndwr.
They indignantly declare that they are not "runaway Britons as some
call us," but natives of a country which besides defending itself
received all those who came to it for succour at the period alluded
to. Resenting the imputation of barrenness sometimes cast on their
country, they declare that "even its highest mountains afford beef and
mutton, not only to ourselves, but supply England in great quantity."
They recall the fact that they were Christians while the Saxons were
still heathen. They combat those critics who describe their language
as uncouth and strange and dwell on its antiquity and purity. If it is
spoken from the throat, say these petitioners, "the Spanish and
Florentines affect that pronunciation as believing words so uttered
come from the heart." Finally, with presumably unconscious satire,
they allude to the speech of the northern part of the island as "a
kind of English."

Henry accomplished these great reforms in the teeth of the baronial
influence of the whole Marches, and if the slaughter of the Wars of
the Roses had made his task somewhat easier, he should have full
credit for achieving a piece of legislation whose importance as an
epoch-marking event could hardly be exaggerated, not only as affecting
Wales but the four powerful counties that adjoined it.

To create and organise six new counties out of chaos, to enfranchise
and give representation to twelve, to permanently attach one of the
three tributary kingdoms to the British Crown, is a performance that
should be sufficient to lift the reign of a monarch out of the common
run. Every schoolboy is familiar with the figure of Henry VIII.
prancing in somewhat purposeless splendour on the Field of the Cloth
of Gold. But who remembers the assimilation of Wales to England which
was his doing?

Wales, though small in population, was numerically much greater in
proportion to England than is now the case. To-day she is a twentieth,
then perhaps she was nearly a seventh, of the whole. It was of vital
importance that her people should be satisfied and well governed. The
accession of the Tudors and the common sense of their second monarch
achieved without difficulty what might have been a long and arduous

The palmy days of Elizabeth saw Wales, like England, advance by leaps
and bounds. The native gentry, the tribesmen, the "Boneddigion,"
always pressing on the Norman aristocracy, now came again in wholesale
fashion to the front. The grim castle and the fortified manor
developed into the country house. Polite learning increased and the
upper classes abandoned, in a manner almost too complete, the native
tongue. The higher aristocracy, taking full and free part in English
life, became by degrees wholly Anglicised, and the habit, though very
gradually, spread downwards throughout the whole gentry class. The
Reformation had been accepted with great reluctance in Wales. The
people were conservative by instinct and loyal to all such constituted
authorities as they held in affection. They would take anything,
however, for that very reason, from the Tudors, and swallowed, or
partly swallowed, a pill that was by no means to their liking. In
Elizabeth's time the Bible and Prayer-Book were translated into Welsh,
which marked another epoch in the history of Wales much greater than
it at first sounds. It was not done without opposition: the desire in
official circles to stamp out the native language, which became
afterward so strong, had already germinated, and it was thought that
retaining the Scriptures and the Service in English would encourage
its acquisition among the people. The prospects, however, in the
actual practice did not seem encouraging, and in the meantime the
souls of the Welsh people were starving for want of nourishment. The
Welsh Bible and Prayer-Book proved an infinite boon to the masses of
the nation, but it did more than anything else to fix the native

Wales readily transformed its affection for the Tudors into loyalty
for the Stuarts. The Church, too, was strong--the bent of the people
being averse to Puritanism, and indeed nowhere in Britain did the
survivals of popery linger so long as among the Welsh mountains. Even
to-day, amid the uncongenial atmosphere that a century of stern
Calvinism has created, some unconscious usages and expressions of the
peasantry in remoter districts preserve its traces. The Civil War
found Wales staunch almost to a man for the King. There were some
Roundheads in the English part of Pembroke, as was natural, and a few
leading families elsewhere were found upon the Parliamentary side.
Such of the castles as had not too far decayed were furbished up and
renewed the memories of their stormy prime under circumstances far
more injurious to their masonry. Harlech, Chirk, Denbigh, Conway, and
many others made notable defences. The violent loyalty of Wales
brought down upon it the heavy hand of Cromwell, though himself a
Welshman by descent. The landed gentry were ruined or crippled, and
the prosperity of the country greatly thrown back. It is said that the
native language took some hold again of the upper classes from the
fact of their poverty keeping them at home, whereas they had been
accustomed to flock to the English universities and the border grammar
schools, such as Shrewsbury, Chester, or Ludlow. Welsh poetry and
literature expended itself in abuse of that Puritanism which in a
slightly different form was later on to find in Wales its chosen home.
But in all this there was of course little trace of the old
international struggles. The Civil War was upon altogether different
lines. The attitude of Wales was, in fact, merely that of most of the
west of England somewhat emphasised.

Smitten in prosperity, the Principality moved slowly along to better
times in the wake of England, under the benevolent neutrality of the
later Stuarts and of William and Anne. It still remained a great
stronghold in outward things, at any rate, of the Church, and kept
alive what Defoe, travelling there in Anne's reign, calls "many
popish customs," such as playing foot-ball between the services on
Sunday, and retiring to drink at the public house, which was
sometimes, he noted, kept by the parson, while even into the
eighteenth century funeral processions halted at the crossroads and
prayed for the soul of the dead. The Welsh landowning families were
numerous and poor, proud of their pedigrees, which unlike the
Anglo-Norman had a full thousand years for genealogical facts or
fancies to play over. At the beginning of the eighteenth century there
were very few wealthy landowners in Wales who stood out above the
general level, which was perhaps a rude and rollicking one. There was
no middle class, for there were neither trade nor manufactures worth
mentioning, and little shifting from one class to another. Hence the
genealogy was simple, and consequently, perhaps, more accurate than in
wealthier societies. The mixture of English blood over most of the
country was almost nil among the lower class, and not great even among
the gentry.

The peasantry still submitted themselves without question to their own
social leaders, and the latter, though they had mostly abandoned their
own language, still took a pride in old customs and traditions, were
generous, hospitable, quarrelsome, and even more addicted to convivial
pleasures than their English contemporaries of that class. Defoe was
at a cocking match in Anglesey and sat down to dinner with forty
squires of the island. "They talked in English," he says, "but swore
in Welsh." That the Welsh gentleman of the present day, unlike his
prototype of Scotland or Ireland, shows no trace worth mentioning of
his nationality is curious when one thinks how much farther removed he
usually is in blood from the Englishman than either. It should be
remembered, however, that there were no seats of learning in Wales
such as Ireland and Scotland possessed. The well-to-do young Welshman
went naturally to England for his education, even in days when
difficulties of travelling were in favour of even indifferent local

Surnames became customary in Wales about the time of the Tudor
settlement; previously only a few men of literary distinction had
adopted them, such as Owen Cyfylliog, Prince of Upper Powys, Dafydd
Hiraethog, etc. The inconvenience of being distinguished only by the
names of his more recent ancestors connected by "ab" or "ap" was found
intolerable by the Welshman and his English friends as life got more
complex. It is said that Henry VIII. was anxious for the Welsh
landowners to assume the name of their estates in the old Anglo-Norman
fashion, and it is a pity his suggestion was not followed, in part at
any rate. But the current Christian name of the individual was adopted
instead and saddled for ever on each man's descendants. So a language
full of euphonious place-names and sonorous sounds shows the paradox
of the most inconveniently limited and perhaps the poorest family
nomenclature in Europe.

In 1735, just two hundred years after its complete union with England,
began the movement that was in time to change all Wales, I had almost
said the very Welsh character itself. This was the Methodist revival.
All Welshmen were then Church people. The landed families for the most
part supplied the parishes with incumbents, grouping them no doubt as
much as possible so as to create incomes sufficient for a younger son
to keep a humble curate and ruffle it with his lay relatives over the
bottle and in the field. The peasantry may have been cheery and happy,
but they were sunk in ignorance. They seem, however, to have been good
churchgoers--the old instinct of discipline perhaps surviving--but the
spiritual consolation they received there was lamentably deficient,
and the Hanoverian régime was making matters steadily worse. Its
political bishops rarely came near their Welsh dioceses. All the
higher patronage was given to English absentees, for the poor Welsh
squires could be of little political service and had no equivalent
wherewith to pay for a deanery or a canon's stall. To be a Welshman,
in fact, was then, and for more than a century later when the landed
class had nearly ceased to enter the Church, of itself a bar to
advancement. The mental alertness and religious fervour, however, of
the Welsh people had only lain dormant under circumstances so
discouraging, and were far from dead. They presented a rare field for
the efforts of the religious reformer, though it seems more than
likely that the beauty and ritual of an awakened Anglican Church would
have appealed to their natures more readily even than the eloquence of
the Calvinistic school that eventually led them captive. The Welsh
people were imaginative, reverential, musical. Their devotion to the
old faith in both its forms was sufficiently shown by the pathetic
fidelity with which they clung to their mother churches till, both
physically and mentally, they tumbled about their ears.

The Methodist revivalists of the eighteenth century were, as everyone
knows, for the most part Churchmen. Many of them were in orders,
valiant and devoted men, who not only preached in the highways and
hedges, but founded schools all over Wales, whose peasantry at that
time were almost without education. They suffered every kind of
persecution and annoyance from the Church, while the country clergy
headed mobs who treated them with physical violence. No effort was
made to meet this new rival upon its own grounds,--those of
ministerial energy and spiritual devotion,--but its exponents were met
only with rotten eggs. The bishops were not merely absentees for the
most part, but from 1700 to 1870 they were consistently Englishmen,
ignorant of the Welsh tongue, and regarded in some sort as agents for
the Anglicising of Wales. Men who with some exceptions were destitute
of qualifications for their office found themselves in positions that
would have taxed abilities of the highest order and all the energies
of a modern prelate. The holders of Welsh sees laid neither such
slender stocks of ability nor energy as they might possess under the
slightest contribution on behalf of Welsh religion. With the funds of
the Church, however, they observed no such abstention, but saddled the
needy Welsh Establishment with a host of relatives and friends. As for
themselves, with a few notable exceptions they cultivated a dignified
leisure, sometimes at their palaces, more often in London or Bath. One
prelate never saw his diocese at all, while another lived entirely in
Cumberland. With the Methodist revival one could not expect them to
sympathise, nor is it surprising that their good wishes were with the
militant pot-house parsons who were in favour of physical force. One
must remember after all, however, that this was the Hogarthian period;
that in all these features of life England was at its worst; and that
the faults of the time were only aggravated in Wales by its aloofness
and its lingual complications. The Welsh Methodist, it is true, did
not formally leave the Church till 1811, but by that time Calvinism
had thoroughly taken hold of the country, and the Establishment had
not only made no spiritual efforts to stem the tide, but was rapidly
losing even its social influence, as the upper classes were ceasing to
take service in its ranks. The Welsh parson of indifferent morals and
lay habits had hitherto generally been of the landowning class. Now he
was more often than not of a humbler grade without any compensating
improvement in morals or professional assiduity. The immense
development of dissent in Wales during the last century is a matter of
common knowledge. The purifying of the Welsh Church and clergy in the
latter half of it and the revival of Anglican energy within the last
quarter are marked features of modern Welsh life. We have nothing to
do here with the probabilities of a success so tardily courted. But it
is of pertinent interest to consider the immense changes that have
come over Wales since, let us say, the middle of the Georgian period;
and by this I do not merely mean those caused by a material progress
common to the whole of Great Britain. For there is much reason to
think that the character of the Welsh peasantry has been steadily
altering, particularly in the more thoroughly Welsh districts, since
they fell under the influence of Calvinistic doctrines. There is much
evidence that the old Welshman was a merry, light-hearted person, of
free conversation and addicted to such amusements as came in his way;
that he still had strong military instincts,[16] and cherished feudal
attachments to the ancient families of Wales even beyond the habit of
the time among the English. This latter instinct has died hard,
considering the cleavage that various circumstances have created
between the landed gentry and the peasantry. Indeed it is by no means
yet dead.

    [16] Recent events have demonstrated that this spirit is still far
    from extinct.

The drift of the native tongue, too, since Tudor times has been
curious. Its gradual abandonment by the landed gentry from that period
onwards, with the tenacity with which their tenants for the most part
clung to it, is a subject in itself. The resistance it still offers in
spots that may be fairly described as in the very centre of the
world's civilisation is probably the most striking lingual anomaly in
Europe. Its disappearance, on the other hand, in regions intensely
Welsh is worthy of note. Radnorshire, for instance, penetrating the
very heart of the Principality, populated almost wholly by Cymry,
forgot its Welsh before anyone now living can remember. Bits of
Monmouth, on the other hand, long reckoned an English county, still
use it regularly. It is the household tongue of villagers in Flint,
who can see Liverpool from their windows, while there are large
communities of pure Celts in Brecon and Carmarthen who cannot even
understand it.

The great coal developments in South Wales have wholly transformed
large regions and brought great wealth into the country, and replaced
the abundant rural life of Glamorgan and its ancient families, Welsh
and Norman, with a black country that has developed a new social life
of its own. Slate quarrying has proved a vast and profitable industry
among the northern mountains, while thousands of tourists carry no
inconsiderable stream of wealth across the Marches with every
recurring summer. But neither coal-pits, nor quarries, nor tourists
make much impression on the Welsh character such as it has become in
the North, more particularly under the influence of Calvinism, and
very little upon the language which fifty years ago men were
accustomed to regard as doomed.

The history of Welsh land since the time of the Tudor settlement is
but that of many parts of England. Wales till this century was
distinguished for small properties and small tenancies. There were but
few large proprietors and few large farmers. In the matter of the
former particularly, things have greatly altered. The small squires
who lived somewhat rudely in diminutive manor-houses have been
swallowed up wholesale by their thriftier or bigger neighbours, but
the general and now regretted tendency to consolidate farms scarcely
touched Wales, fortunately for that country. Save in a few exceptional
districts it is a land of small working farmers, and in most parts the
resident agricultural labourer as a detached class scarcely exists.

Few countries in the world contain within the same area more elements
of prosperity and happiness than modern Wales, and fewer still are so
fortunately situated for making the most of them. Coal, iron, slate,
and other minerals in great abundance are vigorously exported and give
work and good wages to a large portion of the population. In the rural
districts a thrifty peasantry are more widely distributed over the
soil, to which they are peculiarly attached, than in almost any part
of Britain, and occupied for the most part in the more hopeful and
less toilsome of the two branches of agriculture, namely, that of
stock-breeding. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, there are ready
facilities for the trader, the sailor, or the fisherman. The romantic
scenery of the country is another valuable asset to its people and
brings an annual and certain income that only one small corner of
England can show any parallel to. Education is in an advanced state,
while the humbler classes of society have resources due to their taste
for music and their sentiment for their native language, which have no
equivalent in English village life.

Even those strangely constituted minds that like to dig up racial
grievances from the turmoil of the Middle Ages, when right and might
were synonymous words the world over, and profess to judge the
fourteenth century by the ethics of the nineteenth, must confess that
the forced partnership with England has had its compensations. The
reasonable Welshman will look back rather with much complaisance on
the heroic and prolonged struggle of his ancestors against manifest
destiny, remembering always that the policy of the Norman kings was an
obvious duty to themselves and to their realm.

Had the Ireland of that day, with its larger fighting strength and
sea-girt territory, possessed the national spirit and tenacious
courage of Wales, who knows but that she might have vindicated her
right to a separate nationality by the only test admissible in
mediæval ethics, that of arms? Geography at any rate in her case was
no barrier to an independent existence, and there would have been
nothing illogical or unnatural in the situation. But geography
irrevocably settled the destiny of Wales, as it eventually did that of
Scotland. If the conditions under which Wales came into partnership
were different and the date earlier, that, again, was partly due to
its propinquity to the heart of England. Yet with all these centuries
of close affinity to England, the Welsh in many respects--I had almost
said in most--have preserved their nationality more successfully than
the Celts of either Ireland or the North, and in so doing have lost
nothing of such benefits as modern civilisation brings.





The Bards as a class were so deeply interwoven with the whole life of
ancient Wales and, though long shorn of most of their official glory,
played so prominent a part in the rising of Glyndwr, that it seems
desirable that a chapter touching on the subject should be included in
this book. Within such limits the subject can only be treated in the
most general and elementary manner. Yet such treatment is excusable
from the fact that the slenderest and most inefficient description of
Welsh song and Welsh singers must contain matter unknown to most
English readers. I imagine that few of these would resent being asked
to divest their minds of the time-honoured notion that the teaching of
the Druids was nothing but a bloodthirsty and barbarous superstition.
At any rate, Bardism and Druidism being practically the same thing,
one is obliged to remind those readers who may never have given the
matter any attention at all, that among the ancient Britons of the
Goidel stock who inhabited most of Wales and the West previous to the
Cymric immigration, Druidism was the fountain of law, authority,
religion, and, above all, of education. The Druids, with their three
orders, were a caste apart for which those who were qualified by good
character and noble birth to do so, laboriously trained themselves.
They decided all controversies whether public or private, judged all
causes, from murder to boundary disputes, and administered both
rewards and punishments. Those who ventured to defy them were
excommunicated, which was equivalent to becoming moral and social

The three orders were known as Druids, Bards, and Ovates. The first
were priests and judges, the second poets; the third were the least
aristocratic, practised the arts and sciences, and were, moreover, a
probationary or qualifying order through which candidates for the
other two, who were on the same level of dignity, had to pass. As
everyone knows, there was an Arch-Druid of the Isle of Britain who had
his sanctuary in Anglesey. But it is a matter of much less common
knowledge how close was the connection between the Druids and
Christianity in the Roman period and even afterwards. The Romans, with
conquest foremost in their minds, most naturally aimed at the native
rulers of the people and made these bardic orders the objects of their
special attack. Their slaughter on the banks of the Menai as described
by Tacitus, and the destruction of the Sacred Groves of Mona, are
among our familiar traditions.

The Druid orders fled to Ireland, Brittany, and elsewhere. But in
time, when the Romans, strong in their seats, grew tolerant, the
exiles returned and quietly resumed, in West Britain at any rate,
something like their old positions.

When Christianity pushed its way from the West into the island, the
bardic orders, unable to resist it, seem by degrees to have accepted
the situation and to have become the priests of the new faith, as they
had been the custodians and expounders of the old. This transition was
the less difficult seeing that the Druids preached all the ordinary
tenets of morality, and the immortality of the soul. To what extent
the early Christianity of western Britain was tainted with the
superstition of the Druids is a question upon which experts have
written volumes, and it need not detain us here. A notable effort was
made in the fourth century to merge Christianity, so to speak, in the
old British faith, and Morgan or Pelagius, "seaborn," of Bangor Iscoed
was the apostle of this attempted reaction. He left the island about
A.D. 400, and his converts in what we now call Wales were numerous and
active. The movement is historically known as the "Pelagian heresy"
and has some additional importance from the number of ecclesiastics
that came from over the sea for the purpose of denouncing it.

But all this is rather the religious than the secular side of Bardism,
the leading feature of whose teaching in pre-Roman days had been the
committal to memory of its literature, both prose and verse. Writing
was discountenanced, as the possession of these stores of learning
thus laboriously acquired were a valuable asset of the initiated.
Three was the mystic number in the recitation of all axioms and
precepts, for many of these were committed to writing later on in the
seventh and tenth centuries, and are now familiar as the Welsh

The bards, as a lay order, remained of great importance. In the laws
of Howel Dda (tenth century) the royal bard stands eighth among the
officers of the State. The fine for insulting him was six cows and
twenty silver pennies. His value was 126 cows, his land was free, and
he had the use of a house. His noblest duty was to sing "The Monarchy
of Britain" at the head of his chieftain's army when victorious. The
number of songs he had to sing to the King and Queen respectively
during the social hours was clearly defined, as were his claims upon
each. Among the latter was a specified portion of the spoils of war, a
chessboard made from the horn of a sea-fish from the King, and a ring
from the Queen. It was the business of the bards, moreover, to
preserve genealogies, and they were practically tutors to the rising
generation of the aristocracy. Every family of position in Wales had
its domestic bard, while below these there were a great number of
strolling minstrels who visited the dwellings of the inferior people,
from whom they exacted gifts of money ("cymmorthau") as well as free

In treating of individual and well-known bards one naturally turns for
a beginning to the sixth century, when that famous quartet, Taliesin,
Merddyn, Aneurin, and Llywarch Hên, flourished. Several poems either
actually their work or purporting to be so are extant. To linger over
a period so dim, however great the names that adorn it, would be out
of place here. That all four were great kings of song in their time is
beyond doubt. The legends that distinguish them are comparatively
familiar: how Taliesin was found floating in a leather bottle in
Prince Elphin's salmon weir near Aberdovey, how Merddyn as a boy
astonished the advisers of Vortigern and became his good angel, and
how Llywarch Hên, at a hundred and fifty years of age, witnessed the
slaughter of the last of his four-and-twenty sons in battle against
the Saxons. His poem on the death of Cynddylan, Prince of Powys,
seizes the imagination, not so much from the description the
poet-warrior gives of the death of his friend and his own sons in a
decisive combat which he himself took part in, but from the almost
certain fact that from the top of the Wrekin he saw the Saxons destroy
and sack Uriconium ("the white town"), whose ruins are such a striking
feature among the sights of Shropshire.

From these four giants until 1080 there is little left whereby to
judge of the merits of the bards, and no great record of their names.
That they sang and played and gave counsel and kept genealogies is
beyond question, but it was not till after the Norman conquest of
England that they began to leave much behind them in the way of
written documents.

When Prince Griffith ap Kynan returned from Ireland to Wales and the
poet Meilir arose to sing his triumphs and good qualities, a new era
in bardic history may be said to have commenced. The intellectual and
religious revival that distinguished the twelfth century in Western
Europe was conspicuous in Wales. The bards were no longer singing
merely of battles, but of nature and kindred subjects, with a delicacy
that showed them to be men of taste and culture. In the twelfth,
thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, in spite of war and conquest,
the age was a golden one in Welsh song. Between eighty and ninety
bards of this period have left poems behind them as a witness of their
various styles and merits, while there are no literary remains
whatever of very many who are known to have been quite famous in their
day. Thousands, too, of popular songs must have existed that the
jealousy of the composers or, more probably, the price of parchment
consigned to oblivion.

    "When the literary revival of this period reached Wales, its
    people," says Mr. Stephens in the _Literature of the Kymri_,
    "were better prepared than their neighbours for intellectual
    effort." "An order of bards existed, numerous and well
    disciplined; a language in all its fullness and richness was
    in use among all classes of people, and as a necessary
    consequence their literature was superior, more copious, and
    richer than that of any contemporaneous nation. The fabulous
    literature so prized by others was in no great repute, but
    gave way to the public preference for the more laboured and
    artistic productions of the bards."

Several Welsh Princes of commanding character and unusual ability came
to the front in the long struggle with the Norman power, and were no
unworthy sources of bardic inspiration. Many of them aspired
themselves to literary as well as martial fame, of whom Owain
Cyfeiliog, Prince of Upper Powys, was the most notable. Poetry was in
high repute. Eisteddfodau were held periodically with much ceremony
and splendour, and were sometimes advertised a year in advance, not
only throughout Wales but in Ireland and other portions of the British
Islands. Not poetry alone but literature generally and music, of
course, both vocal and instrumental, were subjects of competition,
while Rhys ap Tudor, a long-lived and distinguished Prince of South
Wales, revived, after a sojourn in Brittany, the system of the Round
Table. To Englishmen the long list of bards who adorned the period
between the Norman arrival and Glyndwr's rising would be mere names,
but even to those who may only read the works of the most notable in
translations, they are of great interest if only as a reflection of
life and thought at a time when England and English were still almost

Gwalchmai, the son of a distinguished father, Meilir, already
mentioned, was among the first of the revived school, whose work is
regarded by Celtic scholars as of the first quality. His love of
nature is prominent in many of the poems he has left:

    "At the break of day, and at evening's close,
    I love the sweet musicians who so fondly dwell
    In dear, plaintive murmurs, and the accents of woe;
    I love the birds and their sweet voices
    In the soothing lays of the wood."

Owain Gwynedd was the hero-king of Gwalchmai's day. His repulse of an
attack made by Henry the Second's fleet under the command of an
unpatriotic Prince of Powys in Anglesey is the subject of the bard's
chief heroic poem:

    "Now thickens still the frantic war,
    The flashing death-strokes gleam afar,
    Spear rings on spear, flight urges flight,
    And drowning victims plunge to-night
    Till Menai's over-burthened tide,
    Wide-blushing with the streaming gore,
    And choked with carnage, ebbs no more;
    While mail-clad warriors on her side
    In anguish drag their deep-gash'd wounds along,
    And 'fore the King's Red chiefs are heap'd the mangled throng."

Owain Cyfeiliog, a Prince of Powys in the end of the twelfth century,
though a noted warrior, is a leading instance of a royal bard. His
chief poem, _The Hirlâs Horn_ (drinking-cup), is famous wherever Welsh
is spoken:

    "This horn we dedicate to joy;
    Then fill the Hirlâs horn, my boy,
    That shineth like the sea,
    Whose azure handles tipped with gold
    Invite the grasp of Britons bold,
    The sons of liberty."

This is one of the longest poems of the twelfth century. The scene is
the night after a battle, and the Prince with his warriors gathered
round him in the banqueting-hall sends the brimming cup to each of his
chieftains successively and enumerates their respective deeds. A
leading incident in the poem is when Owen, having eulogised the
prowess of two favourite warriors in glowing terms, turns to their
accustomed seats, and, finding them vacant, suddenly recalls the fact
that they had fallen in the battle of the morning:

    "Ha! the cry of death--And do I miss them!
    O Christ! how I mourn their catastrophe!
    O lost Moreiddig--How greatly shall I need thee!"

A most suggestive poem by another Prince is a kind of summary of his
progress through his dominions from the Ardudwy mountains,

    "Fast by the margin of the deep
    Where storms eternal uproar keep,"

to the hills above Llangollen where he proposes "to taste the social
joys of Yale." This is Howel, the illegitimate son of Owain Gwynedd,
who seized and held for two years his father's kingdom. Though so
strenuous a warrior, his poems are rather of love and social life. He
sings with much feeling of the joys of Wales; her fair landscape, her
bright waters and green vales, her beauteous women and skimming
seagulls, her fields clothed with tender trefoil, her far-reaching
wilds, and plenteousness of game. Himself a successful stormer of
castles, there is something richly suggestive in the action of a man
laying down the torch and bloody sword and taking up the pen to
describe his havoc:

    "The ravens croaked and human blood
    In ruddy streams poured o'er the land;
    There burning houses war proclaimed;
    Churches in flames and palace halls;
    While sheets of fire scale the sky,
    And warriors 'On to battle!' cry."

Then the author wholly changes his mood:

    "Give me the fair, the gentle maid,
    Of slender form, in mantle green;
    Whose woman's wit is ever staid,
    Subdued by virtue's graceful mien.
    Give me the maid, whose heart with mine
    Shall blend each thought, each hope combine;
    Then, maiden fair as ocean's spray,
    Gifted with Kymric wit's bright ray,
    Say, am I thine?
    Art thou then mine?
    What! silent now?
    Thy silence makes this bosom glow.
    I choose thee, maiden, for thy gifts divine;
    'Tis right to choose--then, fairest, choose me thine."

There is much misunderstanding as to the fashion in which the bards
were treated by Edward the First. During war the leading minstrels
were naturally identified with the patrons whose banners they followed
and whose praises they sang; but the statement that they were put to
death as bards rests on wholly secondary authority and seems doubtful.
Stringent laws were certainly made against the lower order of
minstrels who wandered homeless through the country, but they seem to
have been devised as much for the protection of the common people, who
were called on to support them, as against the men themselves, who
were regarded by the authorities as mendicants and idlers. The
superior bards, who kept strictly to the houses of the great, were
probably not often interfered with. These, though they had regular
patrons and fixed places of abode, made extended tours from time to
time in which there seems to have been no special distinction between
North and South Wales. The hatred of the bards towards England was a
marked feature of their time, and was so consistent that though many
Welsh princes, in their jealousy, lent their swords, as we have seen,
to the invader, no bards, so far as one knows, turned against their
countrymen. For generations they prided themselves in being
intellectually superior to the Saxon. They also saw, after the Norman
conquest, the English race despised and held down by their conquerors,
and a species of serfdom in use among the Saxons which had no
prototype in their own country. The ordinary bards, however, had
beyond all doubt sacrificed much of their old independence and become
the creatures of their patrons and ready to sell their praises for
patronage. Even the respectable Meilir confesses:

    "I had heaps of gold and velvet
    From frail princes for loving them."

Llewelyn the Great, the second, that is to say, of the three
Llewelyns, aroused the enthusiasm of Bardic literature and was the
subject of much stirring eulogy:

    "None his valour could withstand,
    None could stem his furious hand.
    Like a whirlwind on the deep,
    See him through their squadrons sweep.
    Then was seen the crimson flood,
    Then was Offa bathed in blood,
    Then the Saxons fled with fright,
    Then they felt his royal might."

Dafydd Benvras, the author of this stanza, left many poems, and later
on Griffith ap Yr Ynad Goch wrote what is regarded as among the finest
of Welsh odes, on the death of the last Llewelyn, laying the blame of
that catastrophe on the wickedness of his countrymen:

    "Hark how the howling wind and rain
    In loudest symphony complain;
    Hark how the consecrated oaks,
    Unconscious of the woodman's strokes,
    With thundering crash proclaim he's gone,
    Fall in each other's arms and groan.
    Hark! how the sullen trumpets roar.
    See! how the white waves lash the shore.
    See how eclipsed the sun appears,
    See! how the stars fall from their spheres,
    Each awful Heaven-sent prodigy,
    Ye sons of infidelity!
    Believe and tremble, guilty land.
    Lo! thy destruction is at hand."

After the Edwardian conquest in 1284 the note of the bards sensibly
softened and attuned itself much more generally to love and nature.
The song-birds particularly were in great request as recipients of
poetic addresses and confidences.

    "And thou, lark,
    Bard of the morning dawn,
    Show to this maid
    My broken heart."

While the same singer, Rhys Goch, describes thus the light tread of
his ladylove:

    "As peahens stride in sun-ray heat,
    See her the earth elastic tread;
    And where she walks, neath snow-white feet
    Not e'en a trefoil bends its head."

The latter part of the 14th century was extremely prolific in poetry
which, with some notable exceptions, is regarded rather as showing a
good general level than as producing any masterpieces. Dafydd ap
Gwilym, the Welsh Ovid, is of course a striking exception. Over 250 of
his poems are preserved, while Lewis Glyncothi, Gutyn Owain, Iolo
Goch, Glyndwr's bard, and two or three more have left behind them
something like 300 others. Dafydd ap Gwilym, who was buried at Strata
Florida, holds one of the highest places in Cymric literature. It is
as a love poet that he is chiefly distinguished, but his love of
nature and his own beautiful country finds sole expression in many of
his productions. His ode to Fair Glamorgan, written from "the heart of
wild, wild Gwynedd," asking the summer to be his messenger, is
regarded as one of his best. In translation it is interesting as a
contemporary picture, though a poetic one, of the richest Welsh

    "Radiant with corn and vineyards sweet,
    And lakes of fish and mansions neat,
    With halls of stone where kindness dwells,
    And where each hospitable lord
    Heaps for the stranger guest his board,
    And where the generous wine-cup swells,
    With trees that bear the luscious pear,
    So thickly clustering everywhere.
    Her lofty woods with warblers teem,
    Her fields with flowers that love the stream,
    Her valleys varied crops display,
    Eight kinds of corn and three of hay;
    Bright parlour with her trefoiled floor!
    Sweet garden, spread on ocean shore."

Quotations have already been made in the body of this book from Iolo
Goch's ode to Glyndwr, and throughout the Wars of the Roses Lewis
Glyncothi, Gutyn Owain, and Tudor Aled continued to sing of
contemporary events.

The leading charge against Cymric poetry is that it is too prone to
elaborate the mere art of versification at the expense of fire and
animation. Alliteration was of course the chief method of ornament,
though the rhyming of the terminal syllable was by no means always
ignored. But, speaking generally, skill in the arrangement of words
according to certain time-honoured conventions occupied more than an
equitable share in the making of Welsh verse. A tendency to put mere
sound above feeling and emotion did much to cramp it, and often forced
it into mannerisms and affectations that would rather destroy than
enhance the intrinsic merits of a composition.

    "Beyond all rhetorical ornaments," says Giraldus Cambrensis,
    "they preferred the use of alliteration and that kind more
    especially which repeats the first letters or syllables of
    words. They made so much use of this ornament in every
    finished discourse that they thought nothing elegantly spoken
    without it."

Mr. Stephens, by way of illustration, points out poems by the greater
bards which from the first line to the last commence with the same
letter. He also attributes the extraordinary elaboration in structure
with which fashion was prone to cumber Welsh poetry to a desire for
increasing the difficulties of composition and in consequence the
exclusiveness of the bardic order. It is not surprising that in a
country where war was the chief business of life it should be by far
the favourite subject of the minstrel, particularly when one remembers
that the celebration of his employer's exploits or intended exploits
was the chief source of the domestic poet's livelihood. The wars of
Glyndwr stirred again the old fighting note which after the Edwardian
conquest had given way in a great measure to gentler themes. The old
laws against the bards, enunciated by Edward I., now for long a dead
letter, were renewed, but after this final submission of Wales it is
doubtful if they continued to have much meaning, particularly amid the
chaos of the ensuing Wars of the Roses, when the bards most certainly
did their full share of singing.

I have said nothing of the music which both in early and mediæval
Wales played such a prominent part in the national life. The harp was
always the true national instrument, though the pipe or bagpipe was
well known and in frequent use; but it was never really popular, as
in Ireland and Scotland, and this was surely a valuable testimony to
the superior culture of the Welsh musicians. Griffith ap Kynan, King
of North Wales about 1100, already mentioned, introduced it into the
Eisteddfod as the result of his Irish education. The pipes had
hitherto been forbidden, and the result at the celebrated Eisteddfod
at Caerwys was that Griffith's prize of a silver pipe went to a
Scotsman. The Welsh, in short, despised the instrument. Lewis
Glyncothi has left an amusing satire on a piper. He finds himself in
Flint at an English marriage, where the guests would have none of him
or his harp, but "bawled for Will the Piper, low born wretch" who
comes forward as best he may, "unlike a free enobled man."

    "The churl did blow a grating shriek,
    The bag did swell, and harshly squeak,
    As does a goose from nightmare crying,
    Or dog crushed by a chest when dying,
    This whistling box's changeless note
    Is forced from turgid veins and throat;
    Its sound is like a crane's harsh moan,
    Or like a gosling's latest groan."

Giraldus, half Welshman himself, writing after his extended tour
through Wales, about 1200, with Archbishop Baldwin, says:

    "The strangers who arrived in the morning were entertained
    until evening with the conversation of young women and with
    the music of the harp, for in this country almost every house
    is provided with both. Such an influence had the habit of
    music on the mind and its fascinating powers, that in every
    family or in every tribe, they esteemed skill in playing on
    the harp beyond any kind of learning. Again, by the sweetness
    of their musical instruments they soothe and delight the ear.
    They are rapid yet delicate in their modulation, and by the
    astonishing execution of their fingers and their swift
    transitions from discord to concord, produce the most pleasing

The part-singing of the Welsh seems also to have greatly struck
Giraldus in contrast to the unison in which he heard the musicians of
other nations perform.

To draw the line between the bard and musician would be of course
impossible. Many writers of verse could only declaim; some could sing
to their own accompaniment. The mass of musicians, how ever, we may
take it, belonged to the lower grade of wandering bards, who played
first, as we have seen, upon the national instrument, the harp, as
well as upon the pipe and "crwth" (a kind of rude violin).

The tone of morality was certainly not high among the mediæval Welsh
bards. They had long lost all touch with the order of the priesthood,
and indeed monks and poets had become almost as a matter of course
inimical to one another. The latter, too, maintained a steady hatred
of the Saxon that was almost creditable, seeing how often their
masters, for the sake of interest or revenge, took up arms against
their fellow-countrymen.

It is sufficiently difficult merely to touch, and that in the
slightest manner, so vast a subject as this. In recognising the
insufficiency of such an attempt, I am almost thankful that the
period of Glyndwr and the succeeding turmoil of the Wars of the Roses
puts a reasonable limit to my remarks. For it goes without saying that
when Wales settled down under the Tudors to its happy and humdrum
existence, the martial attitude of the bards as feudal appanages and
national firebrands altogether ceased. Welsh poets hereafter were
private individuals, their song ceased for the most part to be of war;
nor was the Saxon or the Lloegrian any longer an object of invective.
The glory of this new United Britain to which they belonged was not
without its inspiration, but it has been by no means a leading note in
Welsh verse, which, speaking generally, has since in this particular
sung upon a minor key.





    Aber, 60, 72

    Aberdaron, 201, 264-269

    Aberffraw, 25

    Abergavenny, 143

    Abergavenny, Lord of, 227

    Aberystwith, 231, 284-293

    À'Court, Sir Francis, 262, 286

    Adam of Usk, 130, 133, 150, 156, 159, 163

    Albans, St., 193

    Anarawd, 20

    Anglesey, 70, 71, 75, 127, 135, 217, 218, 279

    Anne, Queen, 323

    Arundel, Earl of, 99, 177, 298

    Arvon, cantref of, 295

    Asaph, St., 66

    Audley, Lord, 68, 86, 216

    Augustine, St., 8, 9, 10

    Avignon Pope, the, 234, 269-271, 299


    Baldwin, Archbishop, 48

    Bangor, 57, 75, 148, 299

    Bangor Iscoed, 6

    Bardolph, Earl, 252, 264, 268

    Bards, the, 123, 134, 143, 163

    Bardsey, Isle of, 53

    Barmouth, 118

    Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, 195, 229, 290

    Beaufort, Earl, 128

    Beaumaris, 279

    Berkeley, James, Lord, 290

    Berkhampstead, 170, 180

    Berkrolles, Sir A., 231

    Berkrolles, Sir Laurence, 281-283

    Berwick, 203, 204

    Bifort, Llewelyn, 234, 251, 252, 279, 299

    Blanche, Princess, 168, 169

    Bleddyn ap Cynvyn, 85

    Bolde, John, 148-152, 219

    Bramham Moor, battle of, 268

    Brân the Blessed, 232

    Brecon, 36, 142, 193, 194, 221, 317

    Breiddon Hills, 17

    Bristol, 212;
      sailors of, 220, 287, 288

    Brith, David, 134

    Bromfield, Lordship of, 106

    Browe, Sir Hugh, 141

    Bryn Owen, battle of, 245

    Brynsaithmarchog, 157

    Builth, 152


    Cader Idris, 141

    Cadvan, King, 16

    Cadwallader, 231

    Cadwgan of the battle-axe, 260

    Caer Drewyn, 122, 144

    Caerleon, 2, 215, 245

    Caerphilly, 215-217, 245

    Canterbury, Archbishop of, 73, 79

    Cardiff, 214, 215, 316

    Cardigan, 5, 71, 79, 142, 149, 152

    Carew, Thos., Earl, 191, 192, 202

    Carmarthen, 28, 71, 79, 142, 152, 191, 192, 197, 198, 212-217, 256, 287

    Carnarvon, 78, 86, 128, 139, 148, 190, 247

    _Carnarvon, Record of_, 240, 287, 301

    Carte, 303

    Charles, King of France, 224, 225

    Charltons, the, 146, 217, 229, 230, 297

    Cheshire, 315

    Chester, 1, 28, 32, 43, 44, 135, 140, 143, 144, 177, 203, 210, 302, 318

    Chirk, 44, 87, 106, 155, 323

    Clares, the, 316

    Clear's, St., 191

    Clwyd, Vale of, 18-20, 77, 135, 312

    Coed Eulo, 43

    Coity Castle, 37, 231, 259, 260, 275

    Colwyn, 98

    Colwyn ap Tangno, 232

    Conway, 52, 61, 64-66, 75-78, 97, 98, 138-140, 218, 219, 323

    Cornwall, conquest of, 16

    Cornwall, Sir John, 217

    Corwen, 44, 106, 122

    Courtenay, Richard, 291

    Courtenays, the, 214

    Craig-y-dorth, battle of, 229

    Creton, M., 121

    Criccieth Castle, 62, 190, 219

    Croesau Common, 111

    Crofts, 104

    Cunedda, 5

    Cwm Hir Abbey, 53, 145

    Cymmer Abbey, 166

    Cynddylan, 7

    Cynllaeth, 88

    Cyrnwigen, 223


    Dafydd ap Griffith, 71, 72, 74, 76

    Dafydd ap Gwilim, 149, 235

    Dafydd ap Llewelyn, 61-65

    Dafydd ap Owen Gwynedd, 47

    Dafydd ap Sinion, 232

    Danbury church, 164

    Danes, the, 17, 28

    Daron, David, Dean of Bangor, 251, 252, 264, 279

    David, St., 5

    David's, St., 12, 28, 33, 48, 80

    Dean, Forest of, 287

    Dee River, 88, 91, 122

    Defoe, 323, 324

    Deganwy Castle, 57, 64

    Deheubarth, description of, 14

    Denbigh, 72, 118, 135, 141, 323

    Denbigh County, 78

    Deorham, 6

    Despencer, Lady, 217, 242-244

    Dinas Brân, 86, 87, 107, 118

    Dolbadarn Castle, 66, 157, 301

    Dolgelly, 141, 223

    Dolwyddelan, 56, 301

    Don, Henry, 190, 225

    Doncaster, 125

    Douglas, Lord, 181, 182, 203-206, 264

    Dovey, the, 142, 143

    Durham, 125

    Dynevor Castle, 185, 190, 202

    Dysanni River, 280


    Eadgar, King, 26

    Edeyrnion, Vale of, 102, 123, 240

    Edinburgh, 126

    Edward I., 67, 69-71, 75, 78, 79, 213

    Edward II., 80

    Edward III., 285

    Edward IV., 313

    Einion, 34, 35

    Eleanor, Queen, 80

    Elen, Glyndwr's mother, 88

    Elfreton, Henry de, 138

    Elizabeth, Queen, 321

    Elizabeth Scudamore, 105

    Ellis, Sir Henry, 189

    Eltham, palace of, 242

    Emma, wife of Dafydd ap Owen Gwynedd, 47

    Emma, wife of Lord Audley, 86

    Ethelfred, King, 10


    Faireford, John, 193

    Fitzhamon, 35-37, 316

    Flemings, the, 40, 41, 144, 145

    Flint, 43, 45, 78, 98, 99, 330

    France, Charles, King of, 224, 225, 299

    Franciscans, their plot, 169


    Gam, Davy, 221-223, 298, 302

    Gascoine, Judge, 252

    Giraldus Cambrensis, 11, 47-52, 215

    Glamorgan, 33-35, 175, 214, 245, 246, 251, 252, 259, 277, 278,
        303, 316-330

    Gloucester, Earl of, 75, 291, 318

    Glyncothi, Lewis, 306

    Glyndwr, his birth, and legends connected with it, 82, 83;
      as a popular hero, 84;
      descent, 87, 88;
      place of birth, 89;
      first recorded appearance, 90;
      his designation, 91;
      his youth, 92, 93;
      esquire to Bolingbroke, 94;
      supposed adherence to Richard II., 95, 99;
      home life, 100-103;
      wife and family, 104, 105;
      estate and hospitality, 106, 107;
      quarrel with Grey of Ruthin, 112;
      refused a hearing, 113;
      further persecution by Grey, 114, 115;
      attacked by Earls Grey and Talbot and escapes, 120;
      heads the Welsh forces, 122;
      supported by the bards, 123;
      declared Prince of Wales, 124;
      eludes King Henry's forces, 127;
      excluded from pardon, 128;
      winters at Glyndyfrdwy, 131, 132;
      attitude towards Hotspur and Prince Henry, 135, 136;
      turns his army southwards, 138;
      occupies Plinlimmon, 142, 143;
      gains a victory at Mynydd Hyddgant, 144;
      ravages South and Mid-Wales, 145, 146;
      creates panic in England, 147;
      frustrates Henry's second invasion, 149, 150;
      all-powerful in Wales, 151;
      goes to Carnarvon, 152;
      meeting with Hotspur, 153, 154;
      winters again at Glyndyfrdwy, 155;
      attempts the capture of Harlech, 156;
      captures Grey and ransoms him, 156-158;
      sends letters to Scotland and Ireland, 159, 160;
      destroys St. Asaph, 164;
      adventure with Howel Sele, 165-168;
      leaves North Wales, 170;
      battle of Pilleth and capture of Edmund Mortimer, 171, 172;
      devastates Glamorgan, 175;
      his doings in Carnarvonshire, 176;
      attacks west coast castles, 177;
      established reputation as a magician, 178;
      baffles Henry's third attempt to crush him, 180;
      marries his daughter to Mortimer, 183;
      his affairs prospering, 185;
      invests west coast castles, 188;
      his houses at Sycherth and Glyndyfrdwy destroyed by Prince
          Henry, 186-188;
      activity in South Wales, 190;
      captures Carmarthen, 191;
      checked by Carew, 192;
      creates alarm in England, 193;
      consults a soothsayer, 197;
      meditates invasion of England, 198;
      collision with the Percys, 201;
      causes of his absence from battle of Shrewsbury, 202;
      visits North Wales, 209;
      invades Herefordshire, 211;
      baffles Henry again, 211-214;
      takes border castles, 215;
      receives aid from the French, 217;
      his Anglesey troops, 218;
      attacks Carnarvon, 218;
      captures Harlech, 220;
      holds a parliament at Machynlleth, 221;
      arrests Davy Gam, 222;
      holds a council at Dolgelly, 223;
      sends envoys to the King of France, 224;
      letter to Henry Don, 225;
      active on the Marches, 226;
      defeat at Mynydd-cwm-du and victory at Craig-y-dorth, 229;
      holds court at Llanbadarn and Harlech, 231-234;
      situation in 1405, 237-242;
      attempt to carry off the young Earl of March, 242;
      victory at Pant-y-wenol, 245;
      defeat at Grosmont, 247;
      defeat at Pwll-Melyn and death of his brother, 249;
      sends envoys to the North, 250;
      his supposed wanderings, 252, 253;
      summons a parliament to Harlech, 254;
      meets his French allies at Tenby, 255;
      marches to Worcester, 256-258;
      retreats to Wales, 259;
      his magic art again, 260;
      dissatisfied with the French, 261;
      secures exemption money from Pembroke, 262;
      signs the tripartite indenture at Aberdaron, 264-268;
      his famous letter to the King of France, 269-273;
      his fortunes sensibly waning, 276;
      traditions of his wanderings, 280-283;
      movements uncertain, 284;
      relieves Aberystwith, 291;
      still active but no longer the same terror to England, 294;
      loses Harlech and Aberystwith, 295;
      his family captured, 296;
      his fortunes sink, 300;
      relapses gradually into a mere outlaw, 302;
      legends concerning his wanderings, 303;
      offered pardon by Henry V., 303;
      claims of Monnington and Kentchurch as scene of his death, 307;
      estimate by Welshmen of his position, 308

    Glyndwr's Mount, 103

    Glyndyfrdwy, 88, 91, 100, 104, 106, 120, 122, 128, 131, 186-190, 198

    Gower, 197

    Grendor, Sir John, 145, 184, 259, 290

    Grenowe ap Tudor, 127

    Grey, Reginald, Earl of Ruthin, 109-124, 154-159, 172, 173

    Grey, Richard, Earl de, 177

    Griffith ap Dafydd, 115-118

    Griffith ap Llewelyn I., 28, 30, 31

    Griffith ap Llewelyn II., 53, 68

    Griffith ap Madoc, 85-87

    Griffith, Sir John, 252

    Griffith, son of Glyndwr, 165, 233, 249, 275, 306

    Griffith y Baron Gwyn, 88

    Grosmont, 246, 247, 304

    Gutyn, Owen, 235

    Gwenllian, illegitimate daughter of Glyndwr, 306

    Gwent, 303

    Gwynedd, description of, 13


    Hall, 258, 259

    Hanard, Jankyn, 190

    Hanmer, family of, 104, 105

    Hanmer, Griffith, 128

    Hanmer, John, 224

    Hardyng, Chronicle of, 154-159, 173, 174, 179

    Harlech, 78, 156, 186, 190, 219, 220, 231-233, 262, 275, 287,
        288, 293, 295, 296, 323

    Harold, 29

    Haverford-west, 41, 255

    Hebog, Moel, 280

    Henry I., King, 40

    Henry II., King, 42-45

    Henry III., 59-66

    Henry IV., 93, 94, 121, 125-131, 136-140, 147-151, 154, 157, 158,
        168-170, 177-181, 185, 200-207, 210-214, 230, 241-244, 256-261,
        278, 284-292, 298, 302

    Henry VII., 314

    Henry VIII., 315, 319, 325

    Henry, Prince, 117, 121, 125, 128, 135-137, 148, 185-190, 198,
        202, 205, 210, 227, 240-247, 259, 276, 278, 284-295, 302,

    Herbert, Lord, 232

    Hereford, 193-195, 212-214, 226, 250, 251, 256, 257, 287, 288, 295, 317

    Heytely field, 204

    Higham Ferrers, 200

    Hoare, Sir R. C., 168

    Holinshed, 164, 204

    Holt Castle, 87

    Homildon, battle of, 181, 182

    Hopkyn ap Thomas, 198

    Hotspur, 131, 135-137, 139-142, 153, 154, 181, 182, 203-207

    Howel ap Edwy, 28

    Howel ap Owen Gwynedd, 45, 46

    Howel Dda, 21-24

    Howel Sele, 165-168

    Howel Vychan, 219

    Hugueville, Sire de, 255-258


    Iago ap Idwal, 28

    Iestyn, 38

    Innocent, Pope, 58

    Iolo Goch, 100-102, 124, 163, 208, 234, 283, 309

    Iolo Morganwg MSS., 245, 281, 294

    Isabel, daughter of Glyndwr, 105, 129

    Isabella of France, 126


    Janet Crofts, Glyndwr's daughter, 105

    Jevan ap Meredith, 254

    Joan, wife of Llewelyn II., 56, 60, 62

    Joanna of Brittany, 168, 183

    John, King, 56, 57

    John ap Howel, 276


    Katherine, wife of Edmund Mortimer, 233, 296

    Kentchurch, 304

    Kidwelly, 191

    Kingeston, Archdeacon, 195, 196, 226, 227


    Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, 135

    Lampadarn, 186, 275

    Lampeter, 152

    Leget, David, 134

    Leicester, 125

    Leland, 189

    Leominster, 211

    Lichfield, 177, 202

    Lilleshall, 177

    Lincoln, 177

    Lionel, son of Edmund Mortimer, 296

    Llanbadarn, 28, 224, 231

    Llandilo, 76, 185

    Llandovery, 152, 185

    Llanfaes Abbey, 60

    Llangollen, 102, 123, 280

    Llanrwst, 25, 61, 312

    Llansantffraid, 172

    Llansilin, 101, 127

    Llewelyn ap Griffith, last Prince of North Wales, 65-72

    Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, 55-60

    Llewelyn ap Madoc, 86, 87

    Llewelyn ap Seisyllt, Prince of North Wales, 27, 28

    Llewelyn of Cayo, 150

    Lleyn, promontory of, 53, 217

    Lloid, John, 134

    Llywarch, Hên, 7

    London, 80

    Ludlow, 177, 318

    Lupus, Hugh, Earl of Chester, 32, 33

    Lussan, Mme. de, 255


    Machynlleth, 220-225, 269

    Madoc ap Griffith, 85

    Madoc ap Meredith, 80

    Madoc ap Owen Gwynedd, 46

    Maelgwyn, Prince of Gwynedd, 232

    Maidstone, 244

    Manorbier Castle, 41, 47

    March, Earl of, 170, 242

    Margaret Monnington, Glyndwr's daughter, 105

    Matthew of Paris, 74

    Melynydd, 317

    Meredith, son of Glyndwr, 105, 233, 276, 304, 306

    Meredith ap Owen, 118

    Merioneth, 78, 215, 287, 301, 313

    Milford, 254, 255

    Monmouth, 259, 317, 330

    Monnington, 104, 303-305

    Monnow River, 246

    Montgomery, 32, 146, 177, 317

    Morgan of Coity, 37

    Mortimer, Earl of, 87

    Mortimer, Sir Edmund, 106, 170-172, 183, 184, 200, 201, 232, 242,
        287, 296

    Mortimer, Sir Ralph, 65

    Mynydd-cwm-du, battle of, 229

    Mynydd-Hyddgant, battle of, 144


    Nannau, 165-168

    Nevin tournament, 80

    Newcastle, 126

    Newmarch, Bernard de, 36

    Newport, 215, 245

    Newport, Sir Edward, 247

    Northampton, 125, 193, 294

    Northumberland, Earl of, 199, 200, 201, 209, 251, 252, 264-269, 279

    Nottingham, 177


    Offa, King of Mercia, 8, 13, 19

    Ogof Dinas, 303

    Oldcastle, Sir John, 290

    Oswestry, 101, 116

    Owen ap Griffith, 65, 66

    Owen Cyfeiliog, 85

    Owen Gwynedd, 42-45

    Oxford, 133, 134


    Pant-y-wenol, 245

    Pauncefote, John, 216

    Pembroke, 40, 41, 262, 316

    Pengwern, 7

    Penmynydd, 138, 314

    Pennal, 269

    Pennant, 143, 257

    Perfeddwlad, the, 54, 57, 67, 71

    Pilleth, battle of, 171, 181

    Plinlimmon, 142, 143

    Pontefract, 99, 125

    Powys, description of, 14

    Powys Castle, 146

    Pulestone, 128


    Radnor, 142, 317, 329

    Radnor, New, 145

    Rhondda valley, 260

    Rhuddlan, 19, 32, 43, 78, 190

    Rhys ap Gethin, 171, 190, 233, 246, 247

    Rhys ap Griffith, 289

    Rhys ap Jevan, 234

    Rhys ap Tudor, 33

    Rhys Ddu, 298

    Rhys Dwy, 234

    Richard II., 93-99, 121, 203

    Rieux, Jean de, 255

    Robert ap Jevan, 234

    Roderic the Great, 15, 16

    Rûg, 306

    Ruthin, 106, 107, 110, 111, 156

    Rutland, Lord, 152


    Salisbury, Earl of, 95, 96

    Salusburys of Rûg, 305

    Scott, Sir Walter, 168

    Scrope, Archbishop, 252

    Scrope, Sir Henry, 216

    Scrope and Grosvenor trial, 89

    Scudamore, Alice, 104, 304

    Scudamore, Philip, 298

    Shakespeare, 181

    Shrewsbury, 7, 58, 68, 77, 125-128, 177, 198-202, 297, 318

    Shrewsbury, Abbot of, 205

    Shrewsbury, battle of, 203-209

    Shropshire, 226, 229, 317

    Simon de Montfort, 68

    Skidmore, 194

    Snowdon, 70, 76, 128, 158, 172, 222

    Somerset, Earl of, 306

    Stafford, Lord, 206

    Stanley, Sir John, 254

    Stove, Morres, 134

    Strata Florida Abbey, 149, 152, 291

    Strathclyde, 19, 20

    Strongbow, Gilbert de, 286

    Sycherth, 100-103, 120, 128, 188, 190, 198, 306


    Talbot, Earl of, 120

    Talbot, Gilbert, 247, 295, 303

    Tenby, 41, 256

    Thomas, Prince, 177

    Thomas ap Llewelyn, 80

    Towy, Vale of, 278, 279

    Towyn, 280

    Trefgarn, 89

    Tren, 8

    Trevor, Bishop of St. Asaph, 113, 164, 165, 225, 226, 234, 249, 299

    Tripartite Indenture, 201

    Tudor, Glyndwr's brother, 90, 218, 233, 249

    Tudor, Owen, 314

    Tudor, William and Rhys, 138-140, 233, 252

    Turberville, 38

    Tutbury, 230


    Uriconium, 2, 7

    Usk, 215, 245


    Valle Crucis Abbey, 52, 85, 280

    Vychan, Griffith, Glyndwr's father, 82, 88, 89

    Vychan, Roger, 222


    Warren, Earl, 87

    Warwick, Earl of, 178

    Waterton, Hugh de, 195, 242

    Welshpool, 146, 177, 217, 229, 290, 297

    Whitmore, David, 254

    William III., 323

    William Rufus, 34

    William the Conqueror, 33

    Winchester, 77

    Windsor Castle, 298

    Woodbury hill, 257

    Worcester, 210, 227, 228, 252, 256, 278

    Worcester, Percy, Earl of, 152, 205, 206

    Wynne, Sir John, of Gwydir, 312, 313


    Yale, Lordship of, 106

    Yonge, Griffith, 224, 234

    York, 77, 206, 251

    York, Duke of, 214, 227, 242, 244, 290, 293


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Transcriber's Note

The author uses some extensive variations in the spelling of proper
nouns. This is sometimes variation between Welsh and English, or
sometimes within either the Welsh or the English. Except where there
was a definite error or clear prevalence of one form over another,
these variations are preserved as printed. Those which have been
amended are as follows:

    Page ix--Geraldus amended to Giraldus--... Giraldus Cambrensis
    on the Welsh ...

    Page x--Plimlimmon amended to Plinlimmon--... Owen Goes to
    Plinlimmon ...

    Page xv--VALLEY amended to VALLE--VALLE CRUCIS ABBEY

    Illustration facing page 54--VALLEY amended to VALLE--VALLE

    Page 189--Sagherne amended to Saghern--... and explain Prince
    Henry's "Saghern" in that manner.

    Page 217--Despenser amended to Despencer--... was in the
    charge of a Châtelaine, Lady Despencer.

    Page 226--Kingston amended to Kingeston--Archdeacon Kingeston
    at Hereford once again takes up his pen ...

    Page 293--Bardolf amended to Bardolph--... and with Bardolph
    and Bifort, Owen's Bishop of Bangor, ...

    Page 317--Brecheniog amended to Brecheiniog--Brecon took its
    name from the old lordship of Brecheiniog ...

The author explicitly thanks a W. D. Haydon for photographs used in
the book, however the List of Illustrations references this person as
W. D. Hayson. The List of Illustrations and the credit under the
photograph have both been amended, as the transcriber found other
photographs attributed to Haydon, but none to Hayson.

Page 267 mentions Lœgira. This is probably an error for Lœgria, but
as it is part of an extended quotation, is preserved as printed.

Minor punctuation errors have been repaired. Hyphenation usage has
been made consistent.

The following amendments have been made:


    CASTLE 290

    Page 52--Florada amended to Florida--... Ystradfflur (_Strata
    Florida_) in Cardigan ...

    Page 91--Dwrfdwy amended to Dwfrdwy--... simply means the Glen
    of the Dwfrdwy or Dyfrdwy, ...

    Page 107--repeated 'the' deleted--... to make himself popular
    upon the banks ...

    Page 121--depositition amended to deposition--... for some
    time after his deposition at the English Court.

    Page 222--Glynwdr amended to Glyndwr--When next Glyndwr went
    campaigning ...

    Page 224--intrument amended to instrument--By this instrument
    Glyndwr and the French King ...

    Page 297--viligance amended to vigilance--... showed a
    vigilance in Wales ...

    Page 298--Aberyswith amended to Aberystwith--... we have seen
    at Aberystwith, Harlech, and elsewhere.

    Page 308--decendants amended to descendants--... which their
    descendants, if they showed much vigour ...

    Page 353--Glyncothe amended to Glyncothi--Glyncothi, Lewis,

    Page 355--Holinshead amended to Holinshed--Holinshed, 164, 204

    Page 355--Llandovey amended to Llandovery--Llandovery, 152,

The index entries for Sir John Cornwall, Doncaster, and Lichfield,
were out of order. They have been moved to the correct place. Note also
that Elizabeth Scudamore is listed in the index under E, while Alice
Scudamore and Philip Scudamore are listed under S. These have been
preserved as printed.

The frontispiece illustration has been moved to follow the title page.
Other illustrations have been moved where necessary so that they are
not in the middle of a paragraph.

Credits in the List of Illustrations were originally set as footnotes.
The transcriber has instead put the appropriate credit below each item.

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