Penllyn (cantref)

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Medieval commotes of Wales Wales.medieval.cymydau.jpg
Medieval commotes of Wales

Penllyn (head of the lake i.e. Bala Lake or Llyn Tegid) was a medieval cantref originally in the Kingdom of Powys but annexed to the Kingdom of Gwynedd. It consisted of the commotes (cymydau) of Edeyrnion, Dinmael, Penllyn is Treweryn and Penllyn uwch Treweryn (is signifying 'below' and uwch 'above' the River Tryweryn).

Bala Lake lake in Gwynedd, Wales

Llyn Tegid, also known in English as Bala Lake, is a lake in Gwynedd, Wales. The name Tegid may be related to Welsh teg, meaning "fair". It was the largest natural body of water in Wales before its level was raised by Thomas Telford to help support the flow of the Ellesmere Canal. It is 3.7 miles (6.0 km) long by 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide. The River Dee runs through it and the waters of the lake are deep and clear. The town of Bala sits at its north-eastern end and the narrow gauge Bala Lake Railway runs for 3 miles (4.8 km) along the lake's south-eastern shore, and continues south-westward to the village of Llanuwchllyn.

Cantref medieval Welsh land division

A cantref was a medieval Welsh land division, particularly important in the administration of Welsh law.

Kingdom of Powys kingdom in mid 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 the 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".

On the north and west it bordered Gwynedd (the cantrefi of Tegeingl, Rhufoniog, Dunoding and Meirionydd); it bordered the Powys cantrefi of Maelor, Mochnant and Cyfeiliog on the east and south. [1]

Tegeingl Welsh cantref

Tegeingl, in English; Englefield, was a cantref in north-east Wales during the mediæval period. It was incorporated into Flintshire following Edward I of England's conquest of northern Wales in the 13th century.

Rhufoniog former hundred, in Wales

Rhufoniog was a small sub-kingdom of the Dark Ages Gwynedd, and later a cantref in medieval Wales.


Dunoding was an early sub-kingdom within the Kingdom of Gwynedd in north-west Wales that existed between the 5th and 10th centuries. According to tradition, it was named after Dunod, a son of the founding father of Gwynedd - Cunedda Wledig - who drove the Irish settlers from the area in c.460. The territory existed as a subordinate realm within Gwynedd until the line of rulers descended from Dunod expired in c.925. Following the end of the House of Dunod, it was split into the cantrefi of Eifionydd and Ardudwy and fully incorporated into Gwynedd. After the defeat of the kingdom of Gwynedd in 1283 and its annexation to England, the two cantrefi became parts of the counties of Caernarfonshire and Meirionnydd respectively. It is now part of the modern county of Gwynedd within a devolved Wales.

After the death of Madog ap Maredudd, the last Prince of the whole of Powys, and his eldest son and heir in 1160, the kingdom was divided between his surviving sons Gruffydd Maelor, Owain Fychan and Owain Brogyntyn, his nephew Owain Cyfeiliog and his half-brother Iorwerth Goch. [2] Penllyn was inherited by Owain Brogyntyn; Edeyrnion had been the home of his mother (who was not married to his father) and he may also have been raised there.

Madog ap Maredudd King of Powys

Madog ap Maredudd was the last Prince of the entire Kingdom of Powys, Wales and for a time held the Fitzalan Lordship of Oswestry.

Owain Fychan prince

Owain Fychan ap Madog (c.1125-1187). Styled Lord of Mechain Is Coed and one of the sons of Madog ap Maredudd. His mother was Susanna, daughter of Gruffudd ap Cynan.

Owain Brogyntyn prince

Owain Brogyntyn ap Madog was the third and illegitimate son of king Madog ap Maredudd, the last king of a united Kingdom of Powys. He was the son of Madog by the daughter of the Maer du or "black mayor" of Rûg in Edeyrnion however some sources cite his mother as Susanna making him legitimate instead. He was the brother of Gruffydd Maelor the ancestor of Owain Glyndŵr. Presumably Owain Brogyntyn would have been raised by his mother at Rûg in Edeyrnion. He was acknowledged by his father and granted by him the lordship of Edeyrnion and also Dinmael. It is quite possible that he inherited some of these lands through his maternal grandfather, the Maer Du, which were confirmed and perhaps extended by his father the king of Powys. At some point he also came into possession of Castle Brogyntyn on the English borders at Selattyn close to Oswestry.

The military skill and strength of Madog had prevented Gwynedd from asserting hegemony over Powys, but following Madog's death, it was able to force Owain Brogyntyn to become a vassal. Penllyn was thus annexed to Gwynedd.

Hegemony form of government in which a leader state rules over a number of subordinate states

Hegemony is the political, economic, or military predominance or control of one state over others. In ancient Greece, hegemony denoted the politico-military dominance of a city-state over other city-states. The dominant state is known as the hegemon.

Vassal person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe

A vassal is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch, in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support by knights in exchange for certain privileges, usually including land held as a tenant or fief. The term is applied to similar arrangements in other feudal societies.

Following the eventual defeat of Gwynedd by English forces, and the consequent Statute of Rhuddlan, it became part of Merionethshire

The Statute of Rhuddlan, also known as the Statutes of Wales or as the Statute of Wales, provided the constitutional basis for the government of the Principality of Wales from 1284 until 1536. The Statute introduced English common law to Wales but also permitted the continuance of Welsh legal practices within the Principality. The Statute was superseded by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 when Henry VIII made Wales unequivocally part of the "realm of England".

Merionethshire historic county of Wales

Merionethshire or Merioneth is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales, a vice county and a former administrative county.

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Edeirnion or Edeyrnion is an area of the county of Denbighshire and an ancient commote of medieval Wales in the cantref of Penllyn. According to tradition, it was named after its eponymous founder Edern or Edeyrn. It was included as a Welsh territory of Shropshire in the Domesday Book.


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Mochnant, a name translating as "the rapid stream", was a medieval cantref in the Kingdom of Powys.


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  1. Rees, William (1951). An Historical Atlas of Wales from Early to Modern Times. Faber & Faber.
  2. Ashley, Mike (2012). The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens. Hachette.