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Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles

Celts of Cymru

 

Cernyw / 'Kingdom of Mid-South Wales' (Romano-Britons)

FeatureWith the expulsion of Roman officials in AD 409 (see feature link), Britain again became independent of Rome and was not re-occupied. The fragmentation which had begun to emerge towards the end of the fourth century now appears to have accelerated, with minor princes, newly declared kings, and Roman-style magistrates all vying for power and influence while also facing the threat of extinction at the hands of the various barbarian tribes which were encroaching from all sides.

FeatureIn the west, largely in what would become modern Wales, this process seems to have started earlier and taken place more quickly. Even by the start of the fifth century it is apparent that several territories had emerged here. The process seems to have been triggered by the reorganisations of Magnus Maximus in the late fourth century (see feature link), with what later tradition would claim as the creation of the 'kingdoms' of 'North Wales', 'South Wales', and 'Mid-South Wales'.

That 'Kingdom of Mid-South Wales' as it was known in later traditional materials seems more often to have been known as Cernyw in its early days. A small territory, according to tradition it was founded out of a western chunk of the former Silures territory, around AD 437 by Eugenius, another son of the influential Magnus Maximus. This was the most Romanised area of late Roman Wales, and many early rulers bore Romanised names (which are shown ahead of the later Welsh forms of their names in the text below).

However, if the territory which was assigned to Eugenius had a Romanised name, it has long been lost. Instead it was known only as the 'Kingdom of Mid-South Wales' by later chroniclers. It may have been formed of Cernyw itself with the addition of Ewyas, but the apparent separation of Ewyas around 440 could have been the reason for Cernyw to appear as a principality in its own right. Prior to that it may have been more of a protectorate or a frontier zone in the style of the Saxon Shore.

Despite the legend which claims that the death of Eugenius was due to a ferocious battle with a giant it is likely, given his geographical position, that he died in battle against Irish raiders. Cernyw was situated to the west of Gwent (which was created out of part of old Ewyas), and its name is often confused with the Corniu of western Dumnonia (later Cornwall). The root name is a common one, with 'cern' meaning 'horn', and also being part of the deity name 'Cernunnos'. Possibly in this instance the 'horn' is the Gower peninsula of southern Wales.

By the time Claudius (Glwys in Welsh) came to power, Cernyw had certainly shrunk to the area which formed the later and better attested kingdom of Glywyssing, and was renamed as such in Glwys' honour. The earliest form of the name may have been 'Glywyssion', or perhaps 'Glywyssiog', but Glywyssing is the medieval name, and its modern version is Glywysg.

The hill fort of Dinas Powis (or Dinas Powys in its later form) lay within Cernyw's territory. It also lay in a more-or-less straight alignment with the hill fort of Brent Knoll across the Bristol Channel, plus Glastonbury Tor and Cadbury Castle. They may have formed part of a chain of communications before the coming of the Romans.

Roman Canterbury

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Hywel George and Edward Dawson, from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, from Roman Britain: A New History, Guy de la Bédoyère, from History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from A History of the English Church and People, The Venerable Bede (Leo Sherley-Price translation - revised by R E Latham), from Atlas of British History, G S P Freeman-Grenville (Rex Collins, London, 1979), from Geography, Ptolemy, from Welsh Genealogies AD 300-1400, Peter Bartrum, from A History of Wales, John Davies, 1994, from Wales and the Britons, 350-1064, T M Charles-Edwards (Oxford University Press, 2013), and from External Links: Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof, and Liber Pontificalis (The Book of the Popes), available via the Internet Archive.)

fl c.383 - c.440

Eugenius / Owain Finddu 'Black Lips'

'King of Mid-South Wales'. Son of Magnus Maximus.

c.383

FeatureEugenius, son of Magnus Maximus (at least, according to later claims, and see feature link for more), is placed in command of the southern-central section of late Roman Britain's westernmost coast, in what is the equivalent to the later Mid-South Wales region. This is claimed as being part of the reorganisations of Magnus Maximus prior to his expedition into Gaul to claim the imperial title.

Magnus Maximus coin
Two sides of a coin issued in Britain under the command of Magnus Maximus, which would have remained in circulation until at least the second decade of the fifth century

FeatureHe and his successors have been given Welsh names by later chroniclers (Owain Finddu in his case, 'Owain' from 'Eugenius' and 'Finddu' from the later Welsh 'black lips'), but it is much more likely that during their own lifetimes they bear Latinised names and conduct themselves as Romans. Some elements of the life of Eugenius may later be incorporated into the Arthurian stories (see feature link).

c.420

Immediately prior to Vortigern's apparent rise to power as the leader of the governing council of Britain, the country is subjected to raids along its coastline. In the west, Irish raiders sail up the Severn to seize a large amount of booty in the form of corn, cattle, and anything else they can grab, including sons and daughters.

They are also credited with kidnapping the young St Patrick from the College of Theodosius (at Llantwit Major, which would place the raid within the territory of 'Mid-South Wales', in the region of Gorfynedd).

Around the same period in time, another set of Irish raiders have already become established in Dyfed. One of their number, Anlach, marries Marchel, whom Welsh works describe as the 'heiress of Garthmadrun'. Her status as 'heiress' would suggest that Garthmadrun is a parcel of territory which has been assigned to her from a larger territory, most likely the 'Kingdom of Mid-South Wales'. Her son converts Garthmadrun into Brycheiniog.

Gwrtheyrnion
The history of Guorthegirnain - later Gwrtheyrnion - in central Wales prior to the early modern period is shrouded in mist, with only a few brief glimpses of half-seen events

c.430

By this time, although Ewyas may still form part of the territory of 'Mid-South Wales' under the 'protector', Eugenius, it appears to fall under Vortigern's control, now the most powerful man in Britain (and traditionally held to be the brother-in-law of Eugenius).

He grants the territory to his eldest son, Vortimer, and a new principality emerges in the form of Gwent. According to tradition it is Eugenius himself who renames the remainder of his territory as Cernyw (around 437), but it may also be a later recognition of the loss of the eastern territory, perhaps under the successor to Eugenius, his son Marius.

c.440

Despite apparently holding the territory under his command in relative safety for up to forty years, Eugenius meets his end in battle, probably against Irish raiders. His son, Marius, succeeds him in ruling what is now in the process of becoming a principality of Cernyw, rather than a possible protectorate or Romanised territory.

In some literature, Cadell Ddyrnllwg of the Paganes is claimed to be responsible for sending 'out a branch into Glywyssing' (Glywyssing being the later name for Cernyw), which would suggest that he places a family member in command there.

Map of Britain AD 450-600
This map of Britain concentrates on British territories and kingdoms which were established during the fourth and fifth centuries AD, as the Saxons and Angles began their settlement of the east coast (click or tap on map to view full sized)

It seems an unlikely claim given the hereditary nature of the succession in Cernyw, but perhaps the line of succession here has been manipulated to show a direct descent from the greater figure of Eugenius.

fl c.440 - c.450s

Marius / Mor

Son. Protector of Cernyw in the Roman sense, not a king.

c.443

Dumnonia is divided by Constantine Corneu, with the main kingdom going to his son Erbin. Cornubia is governed as a sub-kingdom by Erbin's younger brother, Merchion. The Latin form of his name is probably Marcianus, which is linked to Marius of Cernyw.

However, there seems to be no sign in Cernyw of a son called March or Mark (who certainly seems to have existed later in Cornubia), so perhaps the two are separate figures who have been linked by mistake.

c.450s

Congar / Cyngar

Son. Apparently emigrated to Armorica and ruled Cornouaille.

fl c.460

Solor

Brother. 'King' of Cernyw. The first to assume this rank?

c.470s?

Claudius succeeds to the kingdom, although he is better known by the later Welsh version of his name, Glwys Cernyw, or even St Glwys. He may have been born in Caer Gloui (due to the similarity between the names), and is commonly believed to be the source of the origin of Cernyw's better-known name of Glywysyg.

Nemausus (Nimes)
Times were tough in the mid-fifth century, and Britain's resources were not what they had once been, what with barbarians at the door and withdrawal from the fading Roman empire, so Caer Gloui's amphitheatre had to be made defendable (Nemausus (Nimes) amphitheatre is shown here as an example)

Glywyssiog of Cernyw (Romano-Britons)

FeatureThe expulsion of Roman officials in AD 409 (see feature link), meant that Post-Roman Britain struggled on without support from continental Europe. In the west, largely in what would become modern Wales, the end of national unity seems to have started earlier and taken place more quickly. Several territories emerged, with later tradition claiming the creation of 'North Wales', 'South Wales', and 'Mid-South Wales'.

The 'Mid-South Wales' territory soon became better known - or was always known - as Cernyw, a name which may have referred to the Gower peninsula. The 'Mid-South Wales' label is certainly a medieval invention, with even the concept of a Wales not existing in the fourth century AD. Cernyw was a Romanised territory which offered a degree of continuation from the pre-Roman Silures control of the region. The apparent separation of Ewyas around 440 is probably what caused Cernyw to appear as a principality in its own right. Prior to that it may have been more of a protectorate or a frontier zone in the style of the Saxon Shore.

By the time Claudius (Glwys in Welsh) came to power at a point in the second half of the fifth century, Cernyw had certainly shrunk to the area which formed the later and better attested principality of Glywyssing, and was renamed as such in Glwys' honour. The earliest form of the name may have been Glywyssion, or perhaps Glywyssiog, meaning 'the followers of Glwys' or 'Glwys' people', but Glywyssing is the medieval name, and its modern version is Glywysg.

While studying the naming conventions for many of the smaller Welsh kingdoms, Heather Rose Jones agrees with the idea that 'Glywyssing' originates from 'Glywys' which itself has the root 'Gly-' from Glevum plus the Welsh derivative '-wys' of the Latin suffix '-ensis', roughly meaning 'the inhabitants of a region'. This delivers the meaning of Glywyssing as 'the land of the inhabitants of the land of Glevum' suggesting perhaps that residents from Glevum ended up in Cernyw and the Gower in the dark years before the victory of Mons Badonicus.

However, Jones is of the opinion that Glwys himself is a later invention to account for the principality's name, which would suggest that Glevum conquered or secured control of the Cernyw region, perhaps under the leadership of Claudius, and founded its own state there: 'Gly-wys' or 'Glevum's people'.

The principality comprised three main regions, probably created with the same borders as their preceding Roman cantrefi: Gwynllg (in the far eastern area), Penychen (the centre), and Gorfynedd (the westernmost section). The customs and traditions of the region's people would have been part-Roman and part-Silures, a Romano-British mixture which was perhaps similar as in regions such as Caer Baddan or Ebrauc.

Roman Canterbury

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Hywel George and Edward Dawson, from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, from Roman Britain: A New History, Guy de la Bédoyère, from History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from A History of the English Church and People, The Venerable Bede (Leo Sherley-Price translation - revised by R E Latham), from Atlas of British History, G S P Freeman-Grenville (Rex Collins, London, 1979), from Geography, Ptolemy, and from External Links: Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof, and Liber Pontificalis (The Book of the Popes), available via the Internet Archive.)

fl c.470s?

Claudius / Glewisus / Glwys Cernyw

Son. Ruler of Glywyssing. Principality renamed after him.

c.470s?

Claudius succeeds to the principality, although he is better known by the later Welsh version of his name, Glwys Cernyw, or even St Glwys. He may have been born in Caer Gloui (due to the similarity between the names), and is commonly believed to be the source of the origin of Cernyw's better-known name of Glywysyg.

He supposedly marries Gnawl, daughter of Ceretic of Ceredigion, and the couple have twenty sons and one daughter. That daughter, Dyfwn, marries Meurig ap Caradog of Gwent, sowing the seeds of later unity between the two principalities. Claudius may also be the source of the Arthurian character of Sir Cligés.

Arthurian romances
Sir Cligés is one of the less well-known knights of the round table, a poor knight because of his generosity who is rewarded by Uther Pendragon for his kindly ways and selflessness

c.480

Upon the death of Claudius, the principality is divided between his three sons. This is highly traditional Celtic practice, but it often serves to weaken territory, laying it open to piecemeal conquest, increased raiding, or internecine conflict. In this case, the principality of Glywyssiog is divided into its three constituent regions, Gwynllg, Penychen, and Gorfynedd.

Edeligion, Gorfynedd, Gwynllg, & Penychen (Glywyssiog) (Romano-Britons) (Wales)

The British post-Roman principality of Glywyssiog was a late fifth century personal renaming of Cernyw, which itself had grown out of the Roman-created territory of 'Mid-South Wales'. The principality comprised three main regions, probably created with the same borders as their preceding Roman cantrefi.

Gwynllg (or Gwynllwg) formed the far eastern part of Glywyssiog (which would be better known as the medieval Glywyssing), bordering Gwent and generally (although not entirely) divided from it by the River Usk (Brythonic Isca, just like the one flowing through Dumnonia), and with a capital at Allt Wynllyw on Stow Hill (in Newport). It was known in later stories as the cantred (cantref) of Wentloog (a later Anglicised form of Gwynllg, which has a very similar sound).

Penychen formed the central region of Glywyssiog, being divided from Gwynllg by Afan Elerch (the River Elerch or Eleirch), otherwise known as the Greater Rumney, which was ruled from Nant Pawl. Gorfynedd was the westernmost section, involving territory which included the Gower peninsula which was ruled from Llaniltud Fawr (Llantwit Major) and which had suffered an Irish raid around AD 420.

The three regions were often ruled almost as separate principalities, or sub-kingdoms, with one of the three rulers fulfilling the role of nominal overlord. In this period, however, they were fully independent of one another, being ruled by the three sons of Claudius of Glywyssiog.

Their names appear to reflect a decline in the Romanisation of the region and a return to more traditional values. A fourth region is also claimed, that of Edeligion, which was ruled by another son of Claudius and which was located in the very east of Glywyssing. It appears to have been short-lived and was probably quickly absorbed into Gwynllg.

Roman Canterbury

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Hywel George, Dave Hayward, and Edward Dawson, from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, from Roman Britain: A New History, Guy de la Bédoyère, from History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from A History of the English Church and People, The Venerable Bede (Leo Sherley-Price translation - revised by R E Latham), from Atlas of British History, G S P Freeman-Grenville (Rex Collins, London, 1979), from Geography, Ptolemy, and from External Links: St Catwg's Church, and Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof, and Liber Pontificalis (The Book of the Popes), available via the Internet Archive.)

c.480 - 523

St Gundleus / Gwynlliw Farfog / Woolos

Claudius' eldest son. Ruled Gwynllg. Overlord of Glywyssing.

c.480

Gundleus of Gwynllg (later known as Gwynlliw Farfog, 'the warrior'), holds court at Caerfule (Castrum Buleum) in 'the area of Newport'. Despite an early life which is reputed to be filled with warring and piracy, in later life he founds the church of Gwynlliw in Newport, which is consecrated in the name of St Mary and is later incorporated into St Woolos Cathedral of the Celtic Church in Newport (Woolos is an English approximation of his name). He marries the daughter of Brychen of Brycheiniog, thereby sealing good relations with his northern neighbour.

Brecon Beacons
The fluctuating fortunes of the principality of Brycheiniog took place in the dramatic landscape of the Brecon Beacons in south-eastern Wales

c.480 - c.540

Pawl ('Perphirius / Porphyrius'?)

Brother. Ruled Penychen. Left the principality to his nephew.

c.496

FeatureArthur seemingly commands the defence of Mons Badonicus against a confederation of Saxon and Jutish warriors which is most likely led by Ælle of the Suth Saxe (see feature link). The British victory grants them a generation of relative peace and consigns the South Saxons to subsequent obscurity. All building and repair work on major new defensive works probably comes to an end with the victory.

fl c.500

'Mad' Marcianus / Merchwyn Vesanus

Brother. Ruled Gorfynedd.

fl c.480 - 500?

Edelig

Brother. Ruled Edeligion.

523

The death of Gundleus of Gwynllg in this year (although the year 500 is given as an alternative) sees his son, Catocus, succeed him. Better known as St Cadwg (or Catwg - the spelling is variable) he travels widely and becomes one of the greatest of Welsh saints.

He is supported by an Irish monk who may or may not be the Patrick who has been working so hard in Ireland itself (although most likely not, as Patrick seems entirely to be a fifth century figure). More locally, the territory or perhaps sub-kingdom of Edeligion receives little mention in tradition, so its ruler probably dies relatively early. Edeligion becomes part of Gwynllg and is soon forgotten.

Map of Britain AD 550-600
At the start of this period, the Angle and Saxon kingdoms on the east and south coasts were firmly established. Many of the rapidly-formed Romano-British territories in those areas had been swept away in the late fifth century (click or tap on map to view full sized)

During his own lifetime, Edelig is notable for one action, that of donating land to St Cybi so that two churches can be founded, at Llangybi-on-Usk and Llanddyfrwyr-yn-Edeligion, after the prince tries and fails to have the saint ejected from the principality.

523 - 580

Catocus / St Cadwg Ddoeth 'the Wise'

Son of Gundleus. Ruled Gwynllg & Penychen. Killed.

Madge / St Maches

Sister. A humble shepherdess, killed by sheep robbers c.520.

c.540

The death of the heirless Pawl of Penychen sees his principality pass to his nephew, Catocus. If the medieval 'invention' of Pawl is one and the same as the earlier-named Perphirius then he is in fact the father of St Paul Aurelian who is to find success as the first bishop of Leon in Brittany.

With Catocus benefiting from this 'removal' from the succession, the young prince is therefore able to unite the eastern and central parts of Glywyssing, although it appears that they retain their names, perhaps while the third region, Gorfynedd, remains independent.

St Cadwg Ddoeth
St Cadwg Ddoeth was arguably the most famous of Glywyssing's sons from this period, although his death at the hands of 'Saxons' perhaps raises more questions than it answers

580 - c.755

FeatureAccording to tradition (in the form of the 'Lives' of the saints), Catocus has no heirs when he is killed during a raid by the 'English' while he is church-building in Calchwynedd (using the term 'English' is certainly a later insert or amendment).

As a leading light of the British Church, he has been elected abbot of a large body of monks in what is traditionally known as Beneventum (Bannaventa) in Calchwynedd. During the enemy raid (meaning Angles or Saxons) he is run through with a spear, presumably by the Ciltern Saetan or Middil Engle.

It is one of the few more accurately datable events in the kingdom (if indeed it can be placed here - most sources state that the murder takes place 'near Weedon', which is only 7.5 kilometres from the then-ruins of Beneventum). The 'Lives' also state that Catocus had been living amongst Saxons in the area in order 'to console the native Christians who had survived the massacres of the pagan invaders'.

Leicestershire countryside
Modern Leicestershire formed the heartland of the territory of the Middle Angles, which was populated by a mixture of Angles and Saxons, the latter probably a relic of Roman settled mercenary groups

Catocus leaves his joint principality of Gwynllg & Penychen to his uncle by marriage, Meurig, ruler of Gwent which borders him to the east. It is possible that, soon after, Meurig also gains Gorfynedd, as he is named as ruler of Gower, which falls within this region as the westernmost part of Glywyssing.

The principality remains part of Gwent until Rhys ap Ithel of Gwent rules it as a separate state (or perhaps a sub-kingdom). The medieval form of Glywyssing is born.

Glywyssing (Wales)
AD 745 - c.930

The end of political connections with Rome in AD 409 meant that Post-Roman Britain struggled on alone. In the west the end of national unity seems to have started earlier and taken place more quickly. Several territories emerged, with later tradition claiming the creation of 'North Wales', 'South Wales', and 'Mid-South Wales'.

The 'Mid-South Wales' territory was a Romanised area which offered a degree of continuation from the pre-Roman Silures control of the region. It was better known as Cernyw, or at least it was after the mid-fifth century separation of Ewyas from it. By the time Claudius (Glwys in Welsh) came to power at a point in the second half of the fifth century, Cernyw seems to have reached an area of territory which formed the later and better attested medieval principality of Glywyssing, and it was renamed as such in Glwys' honour: seemingly as Glywyssiog.

The principality comprised three main regions, which had probably formed out of the preceding Roman cantrefi. Gwynllg (or Gwynllwg) formed its dominant far eastern part. Formal division of the overall principality into its three constituent territories seems to have taken place in the late fifth century. These were handed out to three branches of the same royal family.

During the course of the sixth century, Glywyssiog was reunited in stages, but perhaps only after it had been gained through inheritance by the ruler of neighbouring Gwent, which lay to the immediate east of the principality. Gwent managed to hold onto it as part of a greatly enlarged single principality for around two centuries, but old habits died hard and Glywyssing was hived off in the mid-eighth century as a junior or sub-kingdom for Rhys, one of the sons of Ithel ap Morgan. Thereafter it seems to have remained relatively stable throughout the remainder of the eighth century and into the ninth.

The Glywyssiog name is explained above. Its later appearance as 'Glywyssing' seems curious, appearing to be a mix of Welsh and English. The '-iwg' suffix for Gwent when it was temporarily renamed to 'Gwerthefyriwg' seems to suggest that it encompassed the land or the people of Gwerthefyr, this being the name of the ruling prince who was the source of the renaming.

This suffix would appear to be similar in terms of purpose and pronunciation as the '-iog' suffix which was used in another nearby kingdom, that of Brycheiniog. Could this suffix have been replaced by the English '-ing' in some Welsh places such as Glywyssing? It seems possible.

Rhuddlan Castle in Wales

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Hywel George and Edward Dawson, from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, from Roman Britain: A New History, from History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from Atlas of British History, G S P Freeman-Grenville (Rex Collins, London, 1979), from Geography, Ptolemy, from Welsh Genealogies AD 300-1400, Peter Bartrum, from A History of Wales, John Davies, 1994, from Wales and the Britons, 350-1064, T M Charles-Edwards (Oxford University Press, 2013), and from External Link: Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof.)

745 - 775

Rhys ap Ithel

Son of Ithel ap Morgan of Gwent.

fl c.780?

Meyryg ap Rhys

Son. Killed.

c.785?

According to tradition, Meyryg ap Rhys is a man of great cruelty. Despite founding a castle at Caerleon upon Usk and another at a place called Meigen cil Ceincoed, near the River Elerch or Romney, he is launched to his death from a high cliff by some of his own nobles for daring to molest the daughter of one of them.

View Map of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms AD 700
By AD 700, the former Britons, their post-Roman civilisation having collapsed to a very large extent, had transformed in just two centuries into the Early Welsh, their language changing considerably to reflect their increasing isolation (click or tap on map to view full sized)

c.785 - c.825?

Arthfael Hen 'the Old' ap Rhys

Brother. m Braustud, dau of Glowd ap Pasgen of Builth.

c.825 - c.830

The name Arthfael is particularly telling. The first part is clearly in honour of Arthur, the late fifth century hero of the Britons, while the second, 'fael', means 'servant. People had been, and remain, so impressed with Arthur that this servant name which is usually used in relation to deities has been coined from his.

Following this Arthfael's death, Glywyssing is apparently taken back into Gwent, probably during the reign of Ithael of Gwent. However, this is a brief change. Arthfael's son, Rhys, soon appears to gain control of his birthright.

fl c.830s

Rhys ap Arthfael

Son.

c.840 - 886

Hywel ap Rhys

Son.

848

Ithael of Gwent is killed in battle against Elisedd ap Tewdr of Brycheiniog, perhaps sparking a feud which soon draws in Glywyssing's ruling prince, Hywel ap Rhys, who himself is the father or cousin of Ithael (the precise connection here is confused and uncertain).

856 - 886

In this period, Hywel himself comes into conflict with Elisedd ap Tewdr of Brycheiniog, over the districts of Ystrad Yw (Crickhowell, now in southern Powys but seemingly inside the border of Brycheiniog in the ninth century) and the remnant of Ewyas (adjoining Ystrad-Yw, Gwent had succeeded to Ewyas before its subsequent division as Ergyng and then its loss to the Mercians by the ninth century).

Offa silver penny
Shown here is a silver penny which is in very good condition, being issued during Offa's reign while he cemented the kingdom's western borders against the Welsh principalities

The territories are claimed by Hywel as the rightful possession of Glywyssing (although the claim seems dubious, as only its eastern neighbour, Gwent, could lay any realistic claim to Ewyas, and Hywel's familial relationship to Gwent's still extant kings should not change this).

Brycheiniog has already transferred its claim to those lands to Cadell, 'King of South Wales' (probably Cadell ap Rhodri of Seisyllwg, who also holds Builth), so Hywel is forced to relinquish his right to them and has to set the boundary of his principality at Ystrad Yw.

It is here that boundary stones have been raised and the town and castle of Cerrig Hywel (Gerrig Hywel, or 'the stones of Hywel') has been constructed. The latter is later considered to be in Brycheiniog. This forms the boundary between Hywel and Cadell during the former's lifetime.

881

FeatureOne 'Edryd Long-Hair' leads a Mercian army into Gwynedd, but is defeated by the sons of Rhodri Mawr at the Battle of the Conwy. The Annales Cambriae (see feature link) refer to this as 'revenge by God for Rhodri'.

Rhodri Mawr
There never was a king of Wales (a Germanic title, while the Welsh used the Latin princeps) but Rhodri Mawr perhaps came closest to achieving the reality of either, uniting all of the Welsh principalities under his control but then undoing the process by ensuring that they were divided amongst his sons upon his death

Welsh historian Thomas Charles-Edwards equates 'Edryd Long-Hair' with Æthelred, his intention being to re-impose Mercian overlordship in the Welsh principalities, but this setback ends that hope as far as he is concerned. He does however continue to exercise overlordship over Glywyssing and Gwent in the south-east.

886 - c.930

Owain ap Hywel

Son. Ruler of Glywyssing & Gwent (from about 920).

896

Vikings have been wintering at Quatford (near Bridgnorth), but in the spring of this year they ravage the principalities of Brycheiniog and Gwent, and the Gwynllg region of Glywyssing. Asser records that Elisedd of Brycheiniog requests help from Alfred of Wessex, but another reason for this may also be due to pressure from Anarawd ap Rhodri, the powerful ruler of Gwynedd and Deheubarth who is keen on expanding his areas of control.

c.920s - c.930

Rule of the principality of Gwent appears to pass to Owain ap Hywel shortly before his death (not to be confused with the later Owain ap Hywel of Deheubarth). Then in 927 it becomes tributary to Æthelstan of the West Saxon united English kingdom along with Glywyssing itself.

Valley of the River Severn
The Vikings found quarters at Quatford in Mercia, occupying a commanding position over the valley of the River Severn (just half a mile from the view shown here), and building a burgh which may have formed the basis of the later Norman castle

By about 930 it seems to be ruled by Morgan Hen Fawr, which makes him over-king of all of Glywyssing and Gwent under the new name of Morgannwg (modern Glamorgan), while his two brothers rule sub-kingdoms within former Glywyssing.

Morgannwg / Glamorgan (Wales)
c.AD 930 - 1093

From the early fifth century AD Post-Roman Britain struggled on without external support. Several territories quickly emerged in the west, with later tradition claiming the creation of 'North Wales', 'South Wales', and 'Mid-South Wales'. The last of these offered a degree of continuation from the older Silures control of the region, being better known as Cernyw. In the late fifth century it was renamed in honour of its then-ruler, Glwys, in the form of Glywyssiog.

The principality comprised three main regions, which had probably formed out of the preceding Roman cantrefi, with Gwynllg (or Gwynllwg) as its dominant far eastern part. The principality was reunited in stages in the sixth century but perhaps only after control had been gained by the ruler of neighbouring Gwent, which lay to the immediate east of the principality. Gwent managed to keep control for around two centuries until an independent Glywyssing emerged.

The year 950 was a dramatic one for Wales. The country was left divided by the death of Hywel Dda of Deheubarth, over-king of all Wales (or perhaps even a high king in the ancient tradition). While Hywel's sons, Owain, Rhun, Rhodri, and Edwyn, took possession of his estates in South Wales, Iago and Ieuaf, the sons of Idwal Foel, seized North Wales as their birthright (Gwynedd and Powys). The two sides disagreed strongly over the break-up of a united Wales, but the joint ruling princes of Gwynedd were strong enough to enforce their will.

Glywyssing, which had retained its own ruling princes even during the reign of Hywel Dda, continued to govern itself independently. However, a change of dynasty now produced a change of name. After succeeding his father as ruler both of Glywyssing and Gwent around 930, the 'adventurer', Morgan 'the Old and the Great', renamed his combined territories in his own image, as Morgannwg. The old cantrefi of Gwynllg, Penychen, and Gorfynedd were retained, but Gwent soon removed itself from this union following Morgan's death, or perhaps even before it.

Rhuddlan Castle in Wales

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Hywel George, from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, from Roman Britain: A New History, from History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from Atlas of British History, G S P Freeman-Grenville (Rex Collins, London, 1979), from Geography, Ptolemy, from Wales and the Britons, 350-1064, T M Charles-Edwards (Oxford University Press, 2013), from Welsh Genealogies AD 300-1400, Peter Bartrum, from A History of Wales, John Davies, 1994, and from External Link: Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof.)

c.930 - 974

Morgan Hen Fawr 'Old & Great'

Ruler of Morgannwg (former Glywyssing & Gwent).

928 - 934

Griffith / Gruffydd ap Owain

Brother. Ruler of Gower (Gwyr, formerly within Gorfynedd).

c.930 - 950

Cadogan / Cadwgan ap Owain

Brother. Ruler of 'West Glywyssing'.

c.955 - c.970

Gwent appears to regain its independence from Morgannwg, either around 955 with the accession of Noe ap Gwriad or about 970 when Arthfael becomes ruler there.

The period is highly confusing when it comes to working out just who is ruling in Morgannwg, with power apparently being shared by brothers on occasion but also with some individuals being mentioned by some sources and not by others, leading to conflicting dating. Gwrgan (below) especially is a mysterious figure, given a long reign (where he is shown) and fathering the principality's last ruler.

Glamorgan rams head pottery vessel
This thirteenth century pottery vessel was unearthed in the Vale of Glamorgan and is thought to indicate a thriving local craft, one which may have antecedents in Morgan's time

974 - c.983

Owain ap Morgan

Son of Morgan.

c.983? - c.990

Ithel Ddu ap Owain

Son. Co-ruler or prince in Owain's place? Not always shown.

994 - 1030

Gwrgan

Not in all lists and rule is uncertain.

Neiniad ap Gwaithfoed?

Son-in-law. m Eva ferch Gwrgan (Eva daughter of Gwrgan).

c.990 - 1000

Rhys ap Owain

Son of Owain.

c.990 - c.1015

Hywel ap Owain

Brother, co-ruler. Retained role under Rhydderch ap Iestyn.

c.990 - c.1015

Iestyn / Jestyn ap Owain

Brother and co-ruler.

c.1015 - 1033

Rhydderch ap Iestyn

Son. 'King of South Wales' (1023). Slain by Irish, no details.

c.1015 - c.1043

Hywel ap Owain

Uncle and continued co-ruler since circa 990.

1023

Deheubarth has long been under the dominion of Gwynedd, but when Llywelyn ap Seisyll of Gwynedd dies unexpectedly, Rhydderch ap lestyn seizes the throne of Deheubarth by force, albeit holding onto it briefly before he is forced out.

Gwynedd
The mountains of North Wales provided a powerful refuge for the rulers of Gwynedd in times of trouble and a wonderfully scenic backdrop to Cunedda's victories over the Irish raiders who were plaguing the region in the late fourth century

1033 - 1055

Gruffydd ap Rhydderch

Son. 'King of South Wales' (1045-1055). Killed in battle.

1045 - 1055

Gruffydd ap Rhydderch is able to seize Deheubarth from the overlordship of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Gwynedd and hold onto it for a decade until the tables are turned. With this act he controls all of South Wales, perhaps using the title of 'King of South Wales' to emphasise his sudden greatness. During the very same period - 1045-1055 - Hywel ap Owain's son Meurig rules Gwent.

1055 - 1063

Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Gwynedd invades and conquers the principality, along with neighbouring Gwent, subjugating them both and drawing them directly under his control along with Deheubarth as part of a united Wales.

Following his death, united Wales breaks up, and independent control of Morgannwg and Gwent is re-established. Morgannwg is seized and reunited (yet again) with Gwent as the greater Morgannwg which had been created by Morgan Hen Fawr around 930 (repeating more than one previous such merging since the principalities had been formed).

Rhuddlan Castle
Rhuddlan Castle was the seat of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn at the time of his death in 1063 at the hands of his own people, with his head being sent to King Edward the Confessor of England

1063 - 1074

Caducan / Cadwgan ap Meurig

'King of Greater Morgannwg' (Glywyssing & Gwent). Deposed.

1063 - 1074

Caradoc / Caradog ap Gruffydd

Son of Gruffydd ap Rhydderch. Vassal of Gwent.

1074

Caradoc manages to overthrow Cadwgan and seize control of Morgannwg (Glywyssing and Gwent combined), which he rules for the remainder of his life. Control of Gwent is passed to his successor, Iestyn ap Gwrgan.

1074 - 1081

Caradoc / Caradog ap Gruffydd

Seized throne of Greater Morgannwg (Glywyssing & Gwent).

1081

Attempting to emulate the achievements of his father and grandfather and become ruler of south Wales, Caradoc drives Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr of Deheubarth from his throne. He is immediately faced by the threat of that prince returning in alliance with Gruffydd ap Cynan, who is pursuing his own claim for the throne of Gwynedd.

Gruffydd also gains the cooperation of his nemesis in Gwynedd, Trahaern ap Caradog, and Meilir ap Rhiwallon of Powys. Caradoc is killed at the Battle of Mynydd Carn, as are Trahaern and Meilir, allowing Gruffydd to seize his birthright in Gwynedd and Rhys to regain Deheubarth.

Castell Nos in Glamorgan
Castel Nos, a medieval fortress, was built above the forest to the east of Maerdy in Glywyssing by the Welsh lords of Meisgyn, descendants of the last king of Morgannwg

1081 - 1093

Iestyn / Jestyn ap Gwrgant

Son of Gwrgan. Last ruling prince of Morgannwg.

1081

With a base of operations which is believed to be at Dinas Powis, to the south of Cardiff, Iestyn ap Gwrgant gains the throne of Morgannwg following the death in battle of Caradoc.

1090

Morgannwg (and its eastern constituent, Gwent) is conquered by the Normans under Robert Fitzhamon, lord of Gloucester, given them control all of south-eastern Wales. The lowlands of Morgannwg (Glywyssing) become a lordship under Norman knights and their descendants, while a separate lordship is established in Gower. The mountainous inland regions remain unconquered.

1093 - ?

Caradog ap Iestyn

Eldest son. First lord of Afan.

1093

With the death of Iestyn in the mountains, any claim of a surviving independent principality now ends. Iestyn's eldest son does not pursue his own claim to the lost throne, instead accepting the Norman conquest as a fait accompli.

He is allowed to retain lands between the River Neath and the River Afan, with the title 'Lords of Afan' being applied to his descendants. The mountainous regions remain unconquered for some time afterwards, but no attempts to reclaim the principality are launched from there. The lords of Meisgyn, descendants of the last ruling prince of Morgannwg, remain in command of the mountain above Maerdy, upon which they build Castell Nos.

Medieval Stow Hill
Medieval Newport was greatly expanded under its new Norman masters but Norman rule in Wales could be extremely harsh

The last of the native 'Princes of Wales' are killed in 1282, ending Welsh independence. The Morgannwg region is reformed as the county of Glamorgan after the marcher lordships are abolished in 1535 by Henry VIII of England. In 1644 the earldom of Glamorgan is created, and survives to this day, as does the lordship of Gower (the title is still used by the dukes of Beaufort).

 
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