Wales in the Late Middle Ages

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Wales in the Late Middle Ages covers the period from the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in late 1282 to the incorporation of Wales into the Kingdom of England by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542.

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd Prince of Gwynedd

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, sometimes written as Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, also known as Llywelyn the Last or Llywelyn Yr Ail, was Prince of Wales from 1258 until his death at Cilmeri in 1282. The son of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn Fawr and grandson of Llywelyn the Great, he was the last sovereign prince of Wales before its conquest by Edward I of England.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Kingdom of England Historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Contents

Death of Llywelyn

After the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, his brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd carried on resistance for a few months, but was never able to control any large area. He was captured and executed by hanging, drawing and quartering at Shrewsbury in 1283. King Edward I of England now had complete control of Wales. The Statute of Rhuddlan was issued from Rhuddlan Castle in north Wales in 1284. The Statute divided parts of Wales into the counties of Anglesey, Merioneth and Caernarvon, created out of the remnants of Llewelyn's Gwynedd. It introduced the English common law system, and abolished Welsh law for criminal cases, though it remained in use for civil cases. It allowed the King to appoint royal officials such as sheriffs, coroners, and bailiffs to collect taxes and administer justice. In addition, the offices of justice and chamberlain were created to assist the sheriff. The Marcher Lords retained most of their independence, as they had prior to the conquest. Most of the Marcher Lords were by now Cambro Norman i.e. Norman Welsh through intermarriage.

Dafydd ap Gruffydd Prince of Wales and last independent ruler of Wales

Dafydd ap Gruffydd was Prince of Wales from 11 December 1282 until his execution on 3 October 1283 by King Edward I of England. He was the last independent ruler of Wales.

Edward I of England 13th and 14th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Edward I, also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. Before his accession to the throne, he was commonly referred to as The Lord Edward. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved from an early age in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons. In 1259, he briefly sided with a baronial reform movement, supporting the Provisions of Oxford. After reconciliation with his father, however, he remained loyal throughout the subsequent armed conflict, known as the Second Barons' War. After the Battle of Lewes, Edward was hostage to the rebellious barons, but escaped after a few months and defeated the baronial leader Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. Within two years the rebellion was extinguished and, with England pacified, Edward joined the Ninth Crusade to the Holy Land. The crusade accomplished little, and Edward was on his way home in 1272 when he was informed that his father had died. Making a slow return, he reached England in 1274 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 19 August.

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".

King Edward I and rebellions

Harlech Castle was one of a series built by Edward I to consolidate his conquest. SDJ Harlech Castle Gatehouse.jpg
Harlech Castle was one of a series built by Edward I to consolidate his conquest.

King Edward I built a ring of impressive stone castles to consolidate his domination of Wales, and crowned his conquest by giving the title Prince of Wales to his son and heir in 1301. [1] Wales became, effectively, part of England, even though its people spoke a different language and had a different culture. English kings paid lip service to their responsibilities by appointing a Council of Wales, sometimes presided over by the heir to the throne. This Council normally sat in Ludlow, now in England but at that time still part of the disputed border area of the Welsh Marches. Welsh literature, particularly poetry, continued to flourish however, with the lesser nobility now taking over from the princes as the patrons of the poets and bards. Dafydd ap Gwilym who flourished in the middle of the fourteenth century is considered by many to be the greatest of the Welsh poets.

Prince of Wales British Royal Family Title

Prince of Wales was a title granted to native Welsh princes born in Wales before the 12th century; the term replaced the use of the word king. One of the last natural Welsh princes, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was killed in battle in 1282 by Edward I, King of England, whose son Edward was invested as the first English Prince of Wales in 1301.

Ludlow market town in Shropshire, England

Ludlow is a market town in Shropshire, England, 28 miles (45 km) south of Shrewsbury and 23 miles (37 km) north of Hereford via the main A49 road, which bypasses the town. With a population of approximately 11,000, Ludlow is the largest town in South Shropshire. The town is significant in the history of the Welsh Marches and neighbouring Wales.

The Welsh Marches is an imprecisely defined area along the border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods.

There were a number of rebellions including ones led by Madog ap Llywelyn in 1294-5 [2] and by Llywelyn Bren, Lord of Senghenydd, in 1316-18. In the 1370s the last representative in the male line of the ruling house of Gwynedd, Owain Lawgoch, twice planned an invasion of Wales with French support. The English government responded to the threat by sending an agent to assassinate Owain in Poitou in 1378. [3]

Madog ap Llywelyn was the leader of the Welsh revolt of 1294–95 against English rule. The revolt was surpassed in longevity only by the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr in the 15th century. Madog belonged to a junior branch of the House of Aberffraw and was a distant relation of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last recognised native Prince of Wales.

Llywelyn Bren, or Llywelyn ap Gruffudd ap Rhys or Llywelyn of the Woods (English), was a nobleman who led a revolt in Wales during the reign of King Edward II of England in 1316. The revolt would be the last serious challenge to English rule in Wales until the attempts of Owain Lawgoch to invade Wales with French support in the 1370s. Hugh Despenser the Younger's unlawful execution of Llywelyn Bren helped lead to the eventual overthrow of both Edward II and Hugh.

Owain Lawgoch Prince of Gwynedd and Wales

Owain Lawgoch, full name Owain ap Thomas ap Rhodri, was a Welsh soldier who served in Spain, France, Alsace, and Switzerland. He led a Free Company fighting for the French against the English in the Hundred Years' War. As the last politically active descendant of Llywelyn the Great in the male line, he was a claimant to the title of Prince of Gwynedd and of Wales.

The Black Death

The Black Death rapidly spread along the major European sea and land trade routes. Bubonic plague map.PNG
The Black Death rapidly spread along the major European sea and land trade routes.

The Black Death arrived in Wales in late 1348. What records survive indicate that about 30% of the population died, in line with the average mortality through most of Europe.

Black Death Pandemic in Eurasia in the 1300s

The Black Death, also known as the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Black Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The bacterium Yersinia pestis, which results in several forms of plague, is believed to have been the cause. The Black Death was the first major European outbreak of plague, and the second plague pandemic. The plague created a number of religious, social and economic upheavals which had profound effects on the course of European history.

Glyndŵr's rebellion

In 1400, a Welsh nobleman, Owain Glyndŵr, revolted against King Henry IV of England. Owain inflicted a number of defeats on the English forces and for a few years controlled most of Wales. Some of his achievements included holding the first Welsh Parliament at Machynlleth and plans for two universities. Eventually the king's forces were able to regain control of Wales and the rebellion died out, but Owain himself was never captured, betrayed nor tempted by Royal pardons. His rebellion caused a great upsurge in Welsh identity and he was widely supported by Welsh people throughout the country. [4]

Owain Glyndŵr Welsh rebel and prince


Owain ab Gruffydd, lord of Glyndyfrdwy, or simply Owain Glyndŵr or Glyn Dŵr, was a Welsh rebel who instigated a fierce and long-running yet ultimately unsuccessful war of independence with the aim of ending English rule in Wales during the Late Middle Ages. He was the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales.

Henry IV of England 15th-century King of England

Henry IV, also known as Henry Bolingbroke, was King of England from 1399 to 1413, and asserted the claim of his grandfather, Edward III, to the Kingdom of France.

Machynlleth town in Powys, Wales

Machynlleth, sometimes referred to colloquially as Mach, is a market town, community and electoral ward in Powys, Wales and within the historic boundaries of Montgomeryshire. It is in the Dovey Valley at the intersection of the A487 and the A489 roads. At the 2001 Census it had a population of 2,147, rising to 2,235 in 2011.

As a response to Glyndŵr's rebellion, the English parliament passed the Penal Laws in 1402. These prohibited the Welsh from carrying arms, from holding office and from dwelling in fortified towns. These prohibitions also applied to Englishmen who married Welsh women. These laws remained in force after the rebellion, although in practice they were gradually relaxed. [5]

Wars of the Roses

Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII Henry7England.jpg
Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII

In the Wars of the Roses over the English throne, which began in 1455, both sides made considerable use of Welsh troops. The main figures in Wales were the two Earls of Pembroke, the Yorkist Earl William Herbert and the Lancastrian Jasper Tudor. In 1485 Jasper's nephew, Henry Tudor, landed in Wales with a small force to launch his bid for the throne of England. Henry was of Welsh descent, counting princes such as Rhys ap Gruffydd (The Lord Rhys) among his ancestors, and his cause gained much support in Wales. Henry defeated King Richard III of England at the Battle of Bosworth with an army containing many Welsh soldiers and gained the throne as King Henry VII of England. [6]

Annexation to England

Under Henry VII's son, Henry VIII of England, the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542 were passed, annexing Wales to England in legal terms, abolishing the Welsh legal system, and banning the Welsh language from any official role or status, but it did for the first time define the Wales-England border and allowed members representing constituencies in Wales to be elected to the English Parliament. [7] They also abolished any legal distinction between the Welsh and the English, thereby effectively ending the Penal Code although this was not formally repealed. [8]

Notes

  1. Davies, R.R. Conquest, coexistence and change p. 386
  2. Moore, D. The Welsh wars of independence p.159
  3. Moore, D. The Welsh wars of independence p.164-6
  4. Moore, D. The Welsh wars of independence p.169-85
  5. Davies, J. A History of Wales p.199
  6. Williams, G. Recovery, reorientation and reformation pp. 217-26
  7. Williams, G. Recovery, reorientation and reformation pp. 268-73
  8. Davies, J. A History of Wales p.233

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References