|King of All Wales|
|Predecessor||Gruffudd ap Cynan|
|Successor||Rhys ap Gruffydd|
|King of Gwynedd|
|Predecessor||Gruffudd ap Cynan|
|Successor||Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd|
|Died||23 or 28 November 1170 (aged 69–70)|
|Spouse||Gwladus ferch Llywarch, Cristin ferch Goronwy|
|Father||Gruffudd ap Cynan|
|Mother||Angharad ferch Owain|
Owain ap Gruffudd (c. 1100 – 23 or 28 November 1170) was King of Gwynedd, North Wales, from 1137 until his death in 1170, succeeding his father Gruffudd ap Cynan. He was called "Owain the Great" (Welsh : Owain Mawr) and the first to be styled "Prince of Wales". He is considered to be the most successful of all the North Welsh princes prior to his grandson, Llywelyn the Great. He became known as Owain Gwynedd (Middle Welsh : Owain Gwyned, "Owain of Gwynedd") to distinguish him from the contemporary king of Powys Wenwynwyn, Owain ap Gruffydd ap Maredudd, who became known as Owain Cyfeiliog.
Owain Gwynedd was a member of the House of Aberffraw, the senior branch of the dynasty of Rhodri the Great. His father, Gruffudd ap Cynan, was a strong and long-lived ruler who had made the principality of Gwynedd the most influential in Wales during the sixty-two years of his reign, using the island of Anglesey as his power base. His mother, Angharad ferch Owain, was the daughter of Owain ab Edwin of Tegeingl. Owain Gwynedd was the second son of Gruffydd and Angharad. His elder brother, Cadwallon, was killed in fighting in Powys in 1132.
Owain is thought to have been born on Anglesey about the year 1100. By about 1120 Gruffydd had grown too old to lead his forces in battle and Owain and his brothers Cadwallon and later Cadwaladr led the forces of Gwynedd against the Normans and against other Welsh princes with great success. His elder brother Cadwallon was killed in a battle against the forces of Powys in 1132, leaving Owain as his father's heir. Owain and Cadwaladr, in alliance with Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth, won a major victory over the Normans at Crug Mawr near Cardigan in 1136 and annexed Ceredigion to their father's realm.
On Gruffydd's death in 1137, Owain inherited a portion of a well-established kingdom, but had to share it with Cadwaladr. In 1143 Cadwaladr was implicated in the murder of Anarawd ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth, and Owain responded by sending his son Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd to strip him of his lands in the north of Ceredigion. Though Owain was later reconciled with Cadwaladr, from 1143, Owain ruled alone over most of north Wales. In 1155 Cadwaladr was driven into exile.
Owain took advantage of the Anarchy, a civil war between Stephen, King of England, and the Empress Matilda, to push Gwynedd's boundaries further east than ever before.In 1146 he captured Mold Castle and about 1150 captured Rhuddlan and encroached on the borders of Powys. The prince of Powys, Madog ap Maredudd, with assistance from Earl Ranulf of Chester, gave battle at Coleshill, but Owain was victorious.
All went well until the accession of King Henry II of England in 1154. Henry invaded Gwynedd in 1157 with the support of Madog ap Maredudd of Powys and Owain's brother Cadwaladr. The invasion met with mixed fortunes. Henry's forces ravaged eastern Gwynedd and destroyed many churches thus enraging the local population. The two armies met at Ewloe. Owain's men ambushed the royal army in a narrow, wooded valley, routing it completely with King Henry himself narrowly avoiding capture.The fleet accompanying the invasion made a landing on Anglesey where it was defeated. Ultimately, at the end of the campaign, Owain was forced to come to terms with Henry, being obliged to surrender Rhuddlan and other conquests in the east.
Forty years after these events, the scholar Gerald of Wales, in a rare quote from these times, wrote what Owain Gwynedd said to his troops on the eve of battle:
"My opinion, indeed, by no means agrees with yours, for we ought to rejoice at this conduct of our adversary; for, unless supported by divine assistance, we are far inferior to the English; and they, by their behaviour, have made God their enemy, who is able most powerfully to avenge both himself and us. We therefore most devoutly promise God that we will henceforth pay greater reverence than ever to churches and holy places."
Madog ap Maredudd died in 1160, enabling Owain to regain territory in the east. In 1163 he formed an alliance with Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth to challenge English rule. King Henry again invaded Gwynedd in 1165, but instead of taking the usual route along the northern coastal plain, the king's army invaded from Oswestry and took a route over the Berwyn hills. The invasion was met by an alliance of all the Welsh princes, with Owain as the undisputed leader. However, apart from a small melee at the Battle of Crogen there was little fighting, for the Welsh weather came to Owain's assistance as torrential rain forced Henry to retreat in disorder. The infuriated Henry mutilated a number of Welsh hostages, including two of Owain's sons.
Henry did not invade Gwynedd again and Owain was able to regain his eastern conquests, recapturing Rhuddlan castle in 1167 after a siege of three months.
The last years of Owain's life were spent in disputes with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, over the appointment of a new Bishop of Bangor. When the see became vacant Owain had his nominee, Arthur of Bardsey, elected. The archbishop refused to accept this, so Owain had Arthur consecrated in Ireland. The dispute continued, and the see remained officially vacant until well after Owain's death. He was also put under pressure by the Archbishop and the Pope to put aside his second wife, Cristin, who was his first cousin, this relationship making the marriage invalid under church law. Despite being excommunicated for his defiance, Owain steadfastly refused to put Cristin aside. Owain died in 1170, and despite having been excommunicated was buried in Bangor Cathedral by the local clergy. The annalist writing Brut y Tywysogion recorded his death "after innumerable victories, and unconquered from his youth".
He is believed to have commissioned The Life of Gruffydd ap Cynan , an account of his father's life. Following his death, civil war broke out between his sons. Owain was married twice, first to Gwladus ferch Llywarch ap Trahaearn, by whom he had two sons, Maelgwn ab Owain Gwynedd and Iorwerth Drwyndwn, the father of Llywelyn the Great, then to Cristin, by whom he had three sons including Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd and Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd. He also had a number of illegitimate sons, who by Welsh law had an equal claim on the inheritance if acknowledged by their father.
Owain had originally designated Rhun ab Owain Gwynedd as his successor. Rhun was Owain's favourite son, and his premature death in 1146 plunged his father into a deep melancholy, from which he was only roused by the news that his forces had captured Mold castle. Owain then designated Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd as his successor, but after his death Hywel was first driven to seek refuge in Ireland by Cristina's sons, Dafydd and Rhodri, then killed Hywel at the battle of Pentraeth when he returned with an Irish army. Dafydd and Rhodri split Gwynedd between them, but a generation passed before Gwynedd was restored to its former glory under Owain's grandson Llywelyn the Great.
According to legend, one of Owain's sons was Prince Madoc, who is popularly supposed to have fled across the Atlantic and colonised America.
Altogether, the prolific Owain Gwynedd is said to have had the following children from two wives and at least four mistresses:
Owain is a recurring character in the Brother Cadfael series of novels by Ellis Peters, often referred to, and appearing in the novels Dead Man's Ransom and The Summer of the Danes . He acts shrewdly to keep Wales's borders secure, and sometimes to expand them, during the civil war between King Stephen and Matilda, and sometimes acts as an ally to Cadfael and his friend, Sheriff Hugh Beringar. Cadwaladr also appears in both these novels as a source of grief for his brother. Owain appears as a minor character in novels of Sharon Kay Penman concerning Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine (When Christ and His Saints Slept and Time and Chance). Her focus with respect to Owain is on the fluctuating and factious relationship between England and Wales.
He also appears in the Sarah Woodbury 'Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mystery Series' of books.
Rhys ap Gruffydd or ap Gruffudd was the ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth in south Wales from 1155 to 1197. Today, he is commonly known as The Lord Rhys, in Welsh Yr Arglwydd Rhys, although this title may have not been used in his lifetime. He usually used the title "Proprietary Prince of Deheubarth" or "Prince of South Wales", but two documents have been discovered in which he uses the title "Prince of Wales" or "Prince of the Welsh". Rhys was one of the most successful and powerful Welsh princes, and, after the death of Owain Gwynedd of Gwynedd in 1170, the dominant power in Wales.
Gruffudd ap Cynan, sometimes written as Gruffydd ap Cynan, was King of Gwynedd from 1081 until his death in 1137. In the course of a long and eventful life, he became a key figure in Welsh resistance to Norman rule, and was remembered as King of all Wales. As a descendant of Rhodri Mawr, Gruffudd ap Cynan was a senior member of the princely House of Aberffraw.
The Kingdom of Gwynedd was a Roman Empire successor state that emerged in sub-Roman Britain in the 5th century during the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain.
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 northern 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".
Rhys ap Tewdwr was a king of Deheubarth in Wales and member of the Dinefwr dynasty, a branch descended from Rhodri the Great. He was born in the area which is now Carmarthenshire and died at the battle of Brecon in April 1093.
Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd was Princess consort of Deheubarth in Wales, and married to Gruffydd ap Rhys, Prince of Deheubarth. Gwenllian was the daughter of Gruffudd ap Cynan (1055–1137), Prince of Gwynedd and Angharad ferch Owain, and a member of the princely Aberffraw family of Gwynedd. Gwenllian's "patriotic revolt" and subsequent death in battle at Kidwelly Castle contributed to the Great Revolt of 1136.
Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd, Wales Prince of Gwynedd in 1170, was a Welsh poet and military leader. Hywel was the son of Owain Gwynedd, prince of Gwynedd, and an Irishwoman named Pyfog. In recognition of this, he was also known as Hywel ap Gwyddeles. Hywel was also known as the Poet Prince for his bardic skills.
Madog ap Maredudd was the last prince of the entire Kingdom of Powys, Wales and for a time held the Fitzalan Lordship of Oswestry.
Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd was the third son of Gruffudd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd, and brother of Owain Gwynedd.
Maredudd ap Bleddyn was a prince and later King of Powys in eastern Wales.
Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr, was the court poet of Madog ap Maredudd, Owain Gwynedd, and Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd, and one of the most prominent Welsh poets of the 12th century.
This article is about the particular significance of the century 1101–1200 to Wales and its people.
This article is about the particular significance of the century 901–1000 to Wales and its people.
The history of Gwynedd in the High Middle Ages is a period in the History of Wales spanning the 11th through the 13th centuries. Gwynedd, located in the north of Wales, eventually became the most dominant of Welsh principalities during this period. Distinctive achievements in Gwynedd include further development of Medieval Welsh literature, particularly poets known as the Beirdd y Tywysogion associated with the court of Gwynedd; the reformation of bardic schools; and the continued development of Cyfraith Hywel. All three of these further contributed to the development of a Welsh national identity in the face of Anglo-Norman encroachment of Wales.
The House of Aberffraw is a historiographical and genealogical term historians use to illustrate the clear line of succession from Rhodri the Great of Wales through his eldest son Anarawd.
Anwyl of Tywyn are a Welsh family who claim a patrilinear descent from Owain Gwynedd, King of Gwynedd from 1137 to 1170 and a scion of the royal House of Aberffraw. The family motto is: Eryr eryrod Eryri, which translates as "The Eagle of the Eagles of Snowdonia." The family lives in Gwynedd and speak Welsh.
The Battle of Ewloe was a battle fought in July 1157 between a large army led by Henry II of England and an army led by the Welsh prince Owain Gwynedd.
Cadwallon ap Gruffydd was the eldest son of Gruffudd ap Cynan, king of Gwynedd.
Cadet branch of the House of GwyneddBorn: c. 1100 Died: 23 or 28 November 1170
Gruffudd ap Cynan
| Prince of Gwynedd |
Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd