Kingdom of Gwent

Last updated

Kingdom of Gwent

Teyrnas Gwent
5th century–c. 1075
(intermittently in union with Glywysing/in Morgannwg)
Medieval Wales.JPG
Medieval kingdoms of Wales, showing Gwent in the south-east
Capital Caerwent
Porth-is-Coed
Common languages Old Welsh
Religion
Celtic Christianity
GovernmentMonarchy
Historical era Middle Ages
 Formed after Roman withdrawal from Britain
5th century
 Various unions with Glywysing
6th century-c. 745
 Union in Morgannwg
(under Morgan Hen ab Owain)
942–974
 Union as part of Wales
(under Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, King of Wales)
c. 1055-1063
 Union in Morgannwg
1063-1074
 Norman conquest
1070-1090
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Roman SPQR banner.svg Roman Britain
Blank.png Morgannwg
Morgannwg Blank.png
Welsh Marches Blank.png
Today part of

Gwent (Old Welsh : Guent) was a medieval Welsh kingdom, lying between the Rivers Wye and Usk. It existed from the end of Roman rule in Britain in about the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century. Along with its neighbour Glywyssing, it seems to have had a great deal of cultural continuity with the earlier Silures, [1] keeping their own courts and diocese separate from the rest of Wales until their conquest by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. Although it recovered its independence after his death in 1063, Gwent was the first of the Welsh kingdoms to be overrun following the Norman conquest.

Contents

History

Establishment

The area has been occupied since the Paleolithic, with Mesolithic finds at Goldcliff and evidence of growing activity throughout the Bronze and Iron Age.

Gwent came into being after the Romans had left Britain, and was a successor state drawing on the culture of the pre-Roman Silures tribe and ultimately a large part of their Iron Age territories. It took its name from the civitas capital of Venta Silurum , perhaps meaning "Market of the Silures". In the post Roman period, the territory around Venta became the successor kingdom of Guenta, later Gwent, deriving its name directly from the town through the normal sound change in the Brythonic languages from v to gu. The town itself became Caerwent, "Fort Venta". [2]

Early Gwent

The medieval kingdom was traditionally[ citation needed ] taken to be the area between the Usk, the Wye, and Severn estuary. To the north, the area adjoined Ewyas and Ergyng (later known as "Archenfield"). According to one Old Welsh genealogy, the founder of the kingdom was Caradoc Freichfras.[ citation needed ] The earliest centre of the kingdom may have been at Caerwent, the Roman administrative centre, or perhaps Caerleon, formerly a major Roman military base. Welsh saints like Dubricius, Tatheus and Cadoc Christianized the area from the 5th century onwards. According to tradition, in about the 6th century Caradoc moved his court from Caerwent to Portskewett, perhaps meaning nearby Sudbrook. Other suggestions are that Gwent was founded by Erb, possibly a descendant of Caradoc, who may have been a ruler of Ergyng east of the Black Mountains who won control of a wider area to the south. [3]

A later monarch was the Christian King Tewdrig who was mortally wounded repelling a pagan Saxon invasion. His son Meurig may have been responsible for uniting Gwent with Glywysing to the west in the 7th century, through marriage. [3] It has been suggested that Meurig's son, Athrwys, may be the origin for King Arthur, although others consider this unlikely.

At times in the 8th century, Gwent and Glywysing appear to have formed a single kingdom. Gwent may also have extended east of the River Wye into areas known as Cantref Coch, which later became the Forest of Dean. [4] [5] Its eastern boundary later became established as the Wye, perhaps first determined by Offa of Mercia's dyke in the late 8th century, and certainly by Athelstan of England in 927. The area west of the River Usk was Gwynllŵg, which formed part of Glywysing.

Morgannwg

In 931, Morgan ab Owain of Gwent, later known as Morgan Hen (Morgan the Old), was one of the Welsh rulers who submitted to Athelstan's overlordship, and attended him at court in Hereford. However, Gwent remained a distinct Welsh kingdom. In about 942, Gwent and Glywysing were again temporarily united under the name of Morgannŵg by Morgan Hen, but they were broken up again after his death. In 1034 Gwent was invaded by Canute. [6]

Destruction

Gwent's existence as a separate kingdom again temporarily ended when Gruffydd ap Llywelyn won control of the area and Morgannŵg in 1055, so extending his rule over the whole of Wales. In 1056 Gruffyd ap Llywelyn campaigned from the vicinity of Monmouth with an army of Welsh, Saxons and Danes to defeat Ralph, Earl of Hereford, ravaging the surrounding countryside. [7] However, after Gruffydd's death in 1063, Caradog ap Gruffudd re-established an independent kingdom in Gwent under his father's 2nd cousin Cadwgan ap Meurig. [3] In 1065 the area was invaded by Earl Harold of Hereford, who attempted to establish a base at Portskewett, but it was razed to the ground by Caradog, and Harold - having by then been crowned King of England - was killed at the Battle of Hastings the following year. [2]

With the Norman invasion of Britain, the Normans sacked south-east Wales and parts of Gwent in response to Eadric's Herefordshire rebellion in alliance with the Welsh prince of Gwynedd (and Powys), Bleddyn ap Cynfyn. [8] King Maredudd of Deheubarth decided not to resist the Norman encroachment on Gwent and was rewarded with lands in England in 1070 [9] , at the same time as the chronicler Orderic Vitalis noted in his Historia Ecclesiastica that a Welsh king named "Caducan" (Cadwgan ap Meurig) suffered defeat in battle at the hands of William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford. [10] With the Norman invasion of Wales extending westwards, Caradog's area of control moved into Deheubarth to the west, and in 1074 Caradog took over control over what was left of the war-ravaged Kingdom from Cadwgan ap Meurig [10] .

Norman Lordships

By Caradog's death in 1081 most of Gwent had become firmly under Norman control. [3] The Normans divided the area, including those areas which they controlled beyond the River Usk, into the Marcher Lordships of Abergavenny, Caerleon, Monmouth, Striguil (Chepstow) and Usk. Welsh law as seen through Norman eyes continued, with Marcher lords ruling sicut regale ("like a king") as stated by Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester. [11]

The Normans lords freely built permanent stone castles, many originating from a network of earlier motte and bailey castles. The density of castles of this type and age is amongst the highest in Britain and certainly the rest of the Welsh Marches, with at least 25 castle sites remaining in Monmouthshire alone today. [12]

Conflict with the Welsh continued intermittently, although the Welsh Lord of Caerleon, Morgan ab Owain, grandson of King Caradog ap Gruffudd, was recognized by Henry II c. 1155 [13] , with Caerleon remaining, in welsh hands, subject to occasional struggles [14] , until William Marshal retook the castle in 1217 from Morgan ap Hywel. [13]

Legacy

Despite the extinction of the kingdom by 1091, the name Gwent remained in use for the area by the Welsh throughout this period and later centuries. It was traditionally divided by the forested hills of Wentwood (Welsh : Coed Gwent) into Gwent Uwch-coed ("beyond the wood") and Gwent Is-coed ("below the wood"). These terms were translated into English as Overwent and Netherwent, the entire area sometimes being known as "Wentland" or "Gwentland". [12] [15]

The Marcher Lordships were the basic units of administration for the next 450 or so years, until Henry VIII passed the Laws in Wales Act 1535. This Act abolished the Marcher Lordships and established the County of Monmouth, combining the Lordships east of the Usk with Newport (Gwynllŵg or Wentloog) and Caerleon to the west of it.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, writers again began using the name 'Gwent' in a romantic literary way to describe Monmouthshire. In the local government re-organisations of 1974/5, several new administrative areas within Wales were named after medieval kingdoms - Gwent, Dyfed, Powys, and Gwynedd. Gwent as a local government unit again ceased to exist in 1996, when replaced by the unitary local authorities of Newport, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Caerphilly (which included parts of Mid Glamorgan), and Monmouthshire. The name remains as one of the preserved counties of Wales used for certain ceremonial purposes, and also survives in various titles, e.g. Gwent Police, Royal Gwent Hospital and Coleg Gwent.

Related Research Articles

Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the King of Wales from 1055 to 1063. He was the son of King Llywelyn ap Seisyll and Angharad, daughter of Maredudd ab Owain. He was the great-great-grandson of Hywel Dda.

Monmouthshire (historic) historic county of the United Kingdom

Monmouthshire, also known as the County of Monmouth, is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales and a former administrative county. It corresponds approximately to the present principal areas of Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Torfaen, and those parts of Caerphilly and Cardiff east of the Rhymney River.

Kingdom of Powys Medieval kingdom in Wales

The Kingdom of Powys was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain. It very roughly covered the top two thirds of the modern county of Powys and part of today's English West Midlands. More precisely, and based on the Romano-British tribal lands of the Ordovices in the west and the Cornovii in the east, its boundaries originally extended from the Cambrian Mountains in the west to include the modern West Midlands region of England in the east. The fertile river valleys of the Severn and Tern are found here, and this region is referred to in later Welsh literature as "the Paradise of Powys".

Caerwent Human settlement in Wales

Caerwent is a village and community in Monmouthshire, Wales. It is located about five miles west of Chepstow and 11 miles east of Newport. It was founded by the Romans as the market town of Venta Silurum, an important settlement of the Brythonic Silures tribe. The modern village is built around the Roman ruins, which are some of the best-preserved in Europe. It remained prominent through the Roman era and Early Middle Ages as the site of a road crossing between several important civic centres. The community includes Llanvair Discoed. The village itself had a population of about 1,200.

Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, sometimes spelled Blethyn, was an 11th-century Welsh king. Harold Godwinson and Tostig Godwinson installed him as the ruler of Gwynedd on his father's death in 1063, during their destruction of the kingdom of Bleddyn's half-brother, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. He became king of Powys on his brother Rhiwallon's death in 1069. His descendants continued to rule Powys as the House of Mathrafal.

Gruffydd ap Rhydderch was a king of Gwent and part of the kingdom of Morgannwg in south Wales and later king of Deheubarth.

Caradog ap Gruffydd was a Prince of Gwent in south-east Wales in the time of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn and the Norman conquest, who reunified his family's inheritance of Morgannwg and made repeated attempts to reunite southern Wales by claiming the inheritance of the Kingdom of Deheubarth.

Maelienydd

Maelienydd, sometimes spelt Maeliennydd, was a cantref and lordship in east central Wales covering the area from the River Teme to Radnor Forest and the area around Llandrindod Wells. The area, which is mainly upland, is now in Powys. During the Middle Ages it was part of the region known as Rhwng Gwy a Hafren.

Venta Silurum town in the Roman province of Britannia or Britain

Venta Silurum was a town in the Roman province of Britannia or Britain. Today it consists of remains in the village of Caerwent in Monmouthshire, south east Wales. Much of it has been archaeologically excavated and is on display to the public.

Athrwys ap Meurig was a prince, and possibly king, of Gwent and Glywysing in Wales. He was the son of King Meurig ap Tewdrig and the father of the later king Morgan ab Athrwys. It is possible he died before his father Meurig and did not live to rule as king himself.

Glywysing kingdom in west Britain

Glywysing was, from the sub-Roman period to the Early Middle Ages, a petty kingdom in south-east Wales. Its people were descended from the Iron Age tribe of the Silures, and frequently in union with Gwent, merging to form Morgannwg.

This article is about the particular significance of the century 1101–1200 to Wales and its people.

Portskewett Human settlement in Wales

Portskewett is a village and community (parish) in Monmouthshire, south east Wales. It is located four miles south west of Chepstow and one mile east of Caldicot, in an archaeologically sensitive part of the Caldicot Levels on the Welsh shore of the Severn Estuary. The Second Severn Crossing passes overhead carrying the M4 motorway. The community includes Sudbrook, Crick and Leechpool.

This article is about the particular significance of the century 1001–1100 to Wales and its people.

Ewyas was a possible early Welsh kingdom which may have been formed around the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century. The name was later used for a much smaller commote or administrative sub-division, which covered the area of the modern Vale of Ewyas and a larger area to the east including the villages of Ewyas Harold and Ewyas Lacy.

Elfael

Elfael was one of a number of Welsh cantrefi occupying the region between the River Wye and river Severn, known as Rhwng Gwy a Hafren, in the early Middle Ages. It was divided into two commotes, Is Mynydd and Uwch Mynydd, separated by the chain of hills above Aberedw. In the late medieval period, it was a marcher lordship. However, after the Laws in Wales Act of 1535, it was one of the territorial units which went to make up the county of Radnorshire in 1536.

The England–Wales border, sometimes referred to as the Wales–England border or the Anglo-Welsh border, is the border between England and Wales, two constituent countries of the United Kingdom. It runs for 160 miles (260 km) from the Dee estuary, in the north, to the Severn estuary in the south. It has followed broadly the same line since the 8th century, and in part that of Offa's Dyke; the modern boundary was fixed in 1536, when the former marcher lordships which occupied the border area were abolished and new county boundaries were created.

Cadwgan ap Meurig was a medieval Welsh ruler who reigned over the petty kingdoms of Gwent and Morgannwg in the tumultuous years of dynastic struggle leading up to the Norman invasion of Wales.

Morgan ap Hywel was Lord of Gwynllwg in Wales from about 1215 until his death in 1245, and for many years laid claim to the lordship of Caerleon, which had been seized by the Earl of Pembroke. For most of his life he was at peace with the English, at a time when there were periodic revolts by Welsh leaders against their rule. He may have participated in a crusade between 1227 and 1231.

References

  1. Miranda Aldhouse-Green &al. Gwent In Prehistory and Early History: The Gwent County History, Vol.1. 2004. ISBN   0-7083-1826-6.
  2. 1 2 "South-East Wales in the Early Medieval Period". Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Raymond Howell, A History of Gwent, 1988, ISBN   0-86383-338-1
  4. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Monmouthshire"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 729.
  5. R. J. Mansfield, Forest Story, 1965
  6. Thomas Nicholas, Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County Families of Wales
  7. A Brief History of the Town of Monmouth Archived 5 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine . Accessed 11 January 2012
  8. Douglas, D. C., William the Conqueror, 1964: Eyre Methuen, London
  9. John Edward Lloyd (1911) A history of Wales from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest (Longmans, Green & Co.)
  10. 1 2 Orderic Vitalis (12th Century) Historia Ecclesiastica
  11. Nelson, Lynn H. (1966). The Normans in South Wales, 1070–1171. Austin and London: University of Texas Press.
  12. 1 2 Griffiths, Ralph A.; Hopkins, Tony; Howell, Ray (2008). The Gwent County History Vol.2: The Age of the Marcher Lords, c.1070-1536. University of Wales Press. ISBN   978-0-7083-2072-3.
  13. 1 2 Jenkins, Robert Thomas (1959), "MORGAN ap HYWEL", Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, retrieved 2016-04-12
  14. Jermyn, Anthony. "4: Caerleon Through the Centuries to the Year 2000 Archived 2013-06-20 at the Wayback Machine ". 2010 Accessed 13 Feb 2013.
  15. "Monmouthshire - William Camden's Britannia 1695 by Edmund Gibson translated by Edward Llwyd".