Rhodri the Great

Last updated
Rhodri ap Merfyn
King of Gwynedd
Rhodri Mawr.png
King of Gwynedd
Reign844 – 873 or 877 (disputed)
Predecessor Merfyn Frych
Successor Anarawd ap Rhodri
King of Powys
Reignc.856 – 873 or 877
Predecessor Gorm the Old
Successor Merfyn ap Rhodri
King of Seisyllwg
Reignc.871 – 873 or 877
Successor Cadell ap Rhodri
Spouse Angharad ferch Meurig
Issue Anarawd ap Rhodri
Cadell ap Rhodri
Merfyn ap Rhodri
Tudwal ap Rhodri
House Gwynedd
Father Merfyn Frych
Mother Nest ferch Cadell
One reconstruction of the extent of Rhodri's domain at its height.
.mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}
Gwynedd, Rhodri the Great's principality
Combine to form Morgannwg Wales 844-78 (Rhodri the Great).svg
One reconstruction of the extent of Rhodri's domain at its height.
  Gwynedd, Rhodri the Great's principality
  Combine to form Morgannwg

Rhodri ap Merfyn (c. 820 – 873/877/878), popularly known as Rhodri the Great (Welsh : Rhodri Mawr), succeeded his father, Merfyn Frych, as King of Gwynedd in 844. Rhodri annexed Powys c. 856 and Seisyllwg c. 871. He is called "King of the Britons" by the Annals of Ulster. In some later histories, he is referred to as "King of Wales", although the title is anachronistic and his realm did not include southern Wales.

Contents

Lineage and inheritance

Rhodri was the son of King Merfyn Frych, [1] who had claimed Gwynedd upon the extinction of Cunedda's male line. [2] Rhodri then inherited the realm after his father's death around 844. [1] Merfyn hailed from "Manaw" which may either refer to the Isle of Man or Manau, the ancestral homeland of all Gwynedd's kings since Cunedda. [2]

According to later genealogies, his mother or grandmother was Nest ferch Cadell of the ruling dynasty in Powys, and Rhodri inherited the kingdom through his uncle Cyngen and then the rule of the southern realms on the death of Gwgon, Rhodri's brother-in-law. [1] Although surviving texts of Welsh law expressly forbid inheritance along the maternal line, Nest and Rhodri's supposed inheritance was later used to justify Gwynedd's annexation of Powys after the c. 855 death of Cyngen ap Cadell in preference to Cyngen's other heirs. [3]

Similarly, Rhodri's marriage to Angharad ferch Meurig was used to explain his supposed inheritance of her brother Gwgon's kingdom of Ceredigion after that king's death in 872 [lower-alpha 1] via a principle of jure uxoris that does not survive in our sources for Welsh law.[ citation needed ]

Reign

Now the master of much of modern Wales, Rhodri faced pressure both from the English and, increasingly, from Vikings, called the "black gentiles" [lower-alpha 2] in the Welsh sources. [1] The Danish are recorded ravaging Anglesey in 854. In 856, Rhodri won a notable victory and killed their leader Gorm.

The Chronicle of the Princes records two victories by Rhodri in 872: the first at a place given variously as Bangolau, [4] Bann Guolou, [5] or Bannoleu, [6] where he defeated the Vikings on Anglesey "in a hard battle" [4] and the second at Manegid [4] or Enegyd [7] where the Vikings "were destroyed".

The Chronicle of the Princes records his death occurring at the Battle of Sunday on Anglesey in 873; [4] the Annals of Wales record the two events in different years [5] [6] and Phillimore's reconstruction of its dates places Rhodri's death in 877. [5] According to the Chronicle, Rhodri and his brother Gwriad were killed during a Saxon invasion (which probably would have been under Ceolwulf of Mercia, given that the Wessex forces under Alfred the Great were fighting Vikings in East Anglia at the time). The Annals record no great details of the death, but where the B text calls Gwriad Rhodri's brother, [6] the A text has him as Rhodri's son instead. [5] It is likely he was killed in battle given that all the sources call his son Anarawd's victory over the Mercians at the Battle of the Conwy a few years later "God's vengeance for Rhodri".

Succession

Rhodri died leaving at six sons to share his land among themselves. The traditional account is that his eldest, Anarawd, became king of Gwynedd and the head of the subsequent House of Aberffraw. [lower-alpha 3] Another, Cadell, was given Ceredigion [lower-alpha 4] . Cadell's family was later known as the House of Dinefwr, [1] after its base of operations was moved by Cadell's son, Rhodri's grandson, Hywel Dda to Dyfed following another (supposed) inheritance via Hywel's marriage to Elen ferch Llywarch. Hywel's wide domain, later known as Deheubarth, briefly eclipsed Gwynedd under his immediate heirs before fracturing. [8]

A fourth son, possibly too young to have been considered for the first division of Rhodri's lands, took part in Anarawd's 881 revenge victory over the Mercians and, wounded there, became known to history as Tudwal the Lame, a condition disqualifying him from rule under Cyfraith Hywel, Welsh customary law.

Children

See also

Notes

  1. The mergere of the Latin text is normally translated "drowned" but in fact also simply means "buried".
  2. I.e., pagans.
  3. The House of Aberffraw produced Gruffudd ap Cynan and Llywelyn the Great
  4. Cadell killed his brother Merfyn to claim Powys as well[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Owain Gwynedd</span> King of Gwynedd

Owain ap Gruffudd 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 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 to distinguish him from the contemporary king of Powys Wenwynwyn, Owain ap Gruffydd ap Maredudd, who became known as Owain Cyfeiliog.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of Gwynedd</span> Kingdom in northwest Wales, 401–1216

The Kingdom of Gwynedd was a Welsh kingdom and a Roman Empire successor state that emerged in sub-Roman Britain in the 5th century during the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of Powys</span> 400s–1160 kingdom in east-central 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 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".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cynan Dindaethwy</span> King of Wales, King of the Britons

Cynan Dindaethwy or Cynan ap Rhodri was a king of Gwynedd in Wales in the Early Middle Ages. Cynan was the son of Rhodri Molwynog and ascended to the throne of Gwynedd upon the death of King Caradog ap Meirion in 798. His epithet refers to the commote of Dindaethwy in the cantref Rhosyr. Unlike later kings of Gwynedd, usually resident at Aberffraw in western Anglesey, Cynan maintained his court at Llanfaes on the southeastern coast. Cynan's reign was marked by a destructive dynastic power struggle with a rival named Hywel, usually supposed to be his brother.

Merfyn Frych, also known as Merfyn ap Gwriad and Merfyn Camwri, was King of Gwynedd from around 825 to 844, the first of its kings known not to have descended from the male line of King Cunedda.

Anarawd ap Rhodri was a King of Gwynedd, referenced as "King of the Britons" in the Annales Cambriae.

Cyngen ap Cadell or also (Concenn), was King of Powys from 808 until his death in 854 during a pilgrimage to Rome.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Gwynedd</span>

The House of Gwynedd is the Royal house of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, in Medieval Wales, and is divided between the House of Cunedda and the House of Aberffraw.

Elisedd ap Cyngen ap Cadell

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Dinefwr</span> Royal house of Wales

The Royal House of Dinefwr was a cadet branch of the Royal House of Gwynedd, founded by King Cadell ap Rhodri, son of Rhodri the Great. Their ancestor, Cunedda Wledig, born in late Roman Britain, was a Sub-Roman warlord ​who founded the Kingdom of Gwynedd during the 5th century, following the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain. As Celtic Britons, the House of Dinefwr was ruling before the Norman conquest, having to fight with their neighbors such as the Celtics, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, before struggling with the Normans afterwards. Many members of this family were influential in Welsh history, such a Hywel Dda, who codified Welsh law under his rule, and achieved the important title of King of the Britons, or Lord Rhys, Prince of Wales, who rebelled against Richard the Lionheart, and became one of the most powerful Welsh leaders of the Middle ages.

Nest ferch Cadell was the daughter of Cadell ap Brochfael, an 8th-century King of Powys, the wife of Merfyn Frych, King of Gwynedd.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Aberffraw</span> Welsh royal lineage

The Royal House of Aberffraw was a cadet branch of the Kingdom of Gwynedd originating from the sons of Rhodri the Great in the 9th century. Establishing the Royal court of the Aberffraw Commote would begin a new location from which to rule Wales. The cadet branch achieved the recognised titles of Prince of Wales, King of Wales and were sometimes named King of Aberffraw.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Mathrafal</span>

The Royal House of Mathrafal began as a cadet branch of the Welsh Royal House of Dinefwr, taking their name from Mathrafal Castle, their principal seat and effective capital. They effectively replaced the House of Gwertherion, who had been ruling the Kingdom of Powys since late Roman Britain, through the politically advantageous marriage of an ancestor, Merfyn the Oppressor. His son, King Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, would join the resistance of the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, against the invasion of William the Conqueror, following the Norman conquest of England. Thereafter, they would struggle with the Plantagenets and the remaining Welsh Royal houses for the control of Wales. Although their fortunes rose and fell over the generations, they are primarily remembered as Kings of Powys and last native Prince of Wales.

Angharad ferch Meurig was a 9th-century Welsh noblewoman. She was the wife of Rhodri the Great of Gwynedd, and mother of Anarawd, Cadell ap Rhodri, and Merfyn.

Gwgon ap Meurig was a 9th-century king of Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi in southwest Wales.

Gwriad ap Elidyr or Gwriad Manaw was a late-8th century figure in Wales. Very little is known of him, and he chiefly appears in the historical record in connection to his son Merfyn Frych, King of Gwynedd from around 825 to 844 and founder of the Merfynion dynasty.

This article is about the particular significance of the century 801–900 to Wales and its people.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "RHODRI MAWR ('the Great') (died 877), king of Gwynedd, Powys, and Deheubarth". Dictionary of Welsh Biography . National Library of Wales.
  2. 1 2 "MERFYN FRYCH (died 844), king of Gwynedd". Dictionary of Welsh Biography . National Library of Wales.
  3. "CYNGEN (died 855), prince | Dictionary of Welsh Biography". biography.wales. Retrieved 2022-06-02.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Archæologia Cambrensis: "Chronicle of the Princes", p. 15. Accessed 27 Feb 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Harleian MS. 3859. Op. cit. Phillimore, Egerton. Y Cymmrodor 9 (1888), pp. 141–83. (in Latin)
  6. 1 2 3 The Annals of Wales (B text), p. 10.
  7. The Chronicle of the Saxons. Op. cit. Archæologia Cambrensis, Vol. IX (1863), 3rd Ser.
  8. "HYWEL DDA (Hywel the Good) (died 950), king and legislator". Dictionary of Welsh Biography . National Library of Wales.
  9. 1 2 3 Llancarfan, Caradoc (1860). Williams, John (ed.). Brut y Tywysogion. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts.
  10. "ANARAWD ap RHODRI (died 916), prince". Dictionary of Welsh Biography . National Library of Wales.
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Gwynedd
844–878
Succeeded by
Preceded by King of Powys
855–878
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prince of Seisyllwg
by Jure uxoris

872–878
Succeeded by