George Thomas Orlando Bridgeman.

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countrymen and the death of William fitz Baldwyn, an
able and active knight who had founded the castle of
Khyd-y-Gors, rose against their conquerors and threw off
the Norman yoke. The English troops who were sent
into Gwent to reduce them to obedience were met, on
their return from a fruitless expedition, by a party of
Welsh, and slain at a place called Celli Darvog. 4

During the year 1095 the star of the Welsh was in the

l Carte's History of England, vol. I, p. 466, compared with, the Brut-y-Tywysogion,
Walter de Hemingburgh, and Florence of Worcester. The Saxon Chronicle also
implies that at this juncture Hugh, Earl of Shrewsbury, was unsuccessful against
Wales. 2 Brut-y-Tywysogion. 3 Carte's History of England, p. 466 ; Florence of
Worcester, Vol. II, p. 39 ; Walter de Hemingburgh, Vol. I, p. 28. 4 Gwentian Chronicle.


ascendant, and sundry other successful expeditions against
their enemies are recorded in the chronicle of the Princes;
but in the following year the tide of victory had turned
in favour of the Normans ; and from this time forward
we find the power of the latter gradually increasing,
though not without encountering repeated checks from
the Welshmen, who made many a gallant effort to recover
the ground which they had lost. In Gwyneth the
English, under the Earls of Shrewsbury and Chester, not
only regained their former footing but appear to have
temporarily reduced the whole of North Wales to their
subjection, forcing Griffith ap Cynan and Cadogan ap
Blethin, the most powerful of the Welsh chieftains, to
escape to Ireland. Their fellow-countrymen at the same
time probably recovered their possessions from the Welsh
in Dyvet and Cardigan. To this same period we
may ascribe the re-conquest of Brecknock by Bernard de
Newmarch. This Bernard was assisted by Roger de
Newburgh, and their victory extended to Gower, which
was subsequently held by Roger and his descendants
under the superior lordship of Brecknock. 1 The commots
of Kidwelly and Carnwallyon were likewise subdued by
Maurice de Londres, and added to the lordship of Ogmore
which he held under Fitz Hamon. So that three only of
the four cantreds of Istrad Tywi (i.e. the Vale of Towy
or Carmarthenshire) now remained under Welsh rule,
together with a portion of Cardigan : and even these
territories, as we shall see, were further reduced before
the final conquest of Wales. The Normans strengthened
their hold upon their newly acquired possessions by
erecting castles of stone as places of defence against their
enemies ; for before that time the castles in Wales
were only built of wood. 2

The year 1097 was marked by the return from Ireland
of Griffith and Cadogan, who, after making their peace
with the victorious Normans, were allowed to hold a
portion of Cambrian territory. Cadogan ap Blethin had
Cardigan and a part of Powys made over to him, and
Griffith ap Cynan had Mona or the Isle of Anglesey. 3

William Rufus died on August 2, 1100, and Henry
succeeded to the English throne. The rebellion of Robert

I Jones' History of Brecknockshire. 2 Gwentian Chronicle. 8 Brut-y-Tywysogion.


de Belesme, the great Earl of Shrewsbury, in the year
1102, in which he was joined by his brother Arnulph
Earl of Pembroke and other magnates of the Marches,
effected some changes in the tenure of lands in South
Wales, and served to increase the power of the Welsh
Princes, whose alliance was eagerly sought by both King
and Earl.

Cadogan seems to have thrown in his lot with the
Norman Earl. His brother Jorwerth was won over to
the King's allegiance by the bribe of a large grant of
territory, to be held during the King's life without
homage or payment no less than Powys, Cardigan, and
the half of Dyvet which had been forfeited by Arnulph
de Montgomery. The other half of Dyvet had been
bestowed upon Richard fitz Baldwin together with Istrad
Ty wi, Kidwelly, and Gower j 1 from which we may infer
that the lords of these commots had taken part with
Belesme. After this time we hear no more of Arnulph in
connection with the earldom of Pembroke. He was forced
to relinquish his lands to the King and to purchase his
life at the price of banishment from the country. Jorwerth
ap Blethin now made peace with his brother Cadogan and
surrendered to him Cardigan and a part of Powys : but
King Henry, having no more need of his services, " took
Dyvet and the castle from him, and gave them to a cer-
tain knight named Saer; and Istradtywi, Kidwelly, and
Gower, he granted to Howel ap Grono." 2 At this time
the King granted divers castles and lordships in Wales to
his English followers; 3 and in the same year Grono, son of
Res ap Tudor, died in the King's prison in London. 4 This
is the first we hear of the sons of Res ap Tudor after the
death of their father. Grono's misfortune probably
followed quickly upon the attainment of his majority.

In the following year (1104) the castle of Rhyd-y-Gors
was restored by Richard fitz Baldwin ; and Howel son of

1 The Brut places this grant in the year 1100 ; but we are obliged to add about a
year or two at this period to the dates of the record edition of the Brut to make them
agree with those of other historians. Perhaps it may have been in the year 1101 that
the grant was made, for there is some probability that Henry was on the' Welsh border
in that year, though no chronicle records it. A charter date'd at Hereford seems most
likely to have passed in that year ; (Ex inf. Rev. R. Eyton.) 2 Brut-y-Tywysogion,
C.D. We are not informed whether Istradtywi, Kidwelly, and Gower were at this time
forfeited by Richard fitz Baldwin, or whether, as is more probable, they had been
taken from him by Cadogan. 3 Powel's Hist, of Wales. 4 Gwentian Chronicle.


Grono, to wliom King Henry had previously committed
the custody of Istradtywi and Rhyd-y-Gors, was driven
from his lands; "upon which he collected spoils, by
burning and laying waste nearly all the districts, and
killing many of the Normans who were returning home.
He also raised the country on every side, and re-possessed
it, and the castle remained undisturbed, and its garrison
within it. In that interval King Henry expelled the
knight Saer from Pembroke, and granted the custody of
the castle with all its boundaries to Gerald the Steward,
who had been the Steward under Ernulph." 1

In the following year, 1 105-6, the same Howel ap Grono
was treacherously delivered to the Normans and put to
death. 2

The next remarkable event connected with South
Wales is the permanent settlement of the colony of
Flemings in the cantred or hundred of Rhos in Pem-
brokeshire. Some of their countrymen had already
settled in this country in the days of William the con-
queror, and we find them established about Downton at
the period of the Domesday survey. 3 An eruption of the
sea into Flanders compelled the inhabitants to emigrate
in great numbers. Many of the wanderers sought refuge
in England and were allowed to inhabit the borders of
Scotland. Shortly afterwards, about the year 1107-8,
the King removed this colony to the Welsh border, and
gave the Flemish refugees permission to settle in Rhos,
in the neighbourhood of Haverfordwest and Tenby, which
they were to take possession of for themselves. 4 And
Gerald, the Steward, at this time rebuilt the castle of
Pembroke in a place called Cengarth Bychan, where he
brought his household stuff and settled with his family. 5

Soon afterwards the audacious rape of Nest, the wife
of this Gerald de Windsor and daughter of Res ap Tudor,
by her kinsman Owen son of Cadogan ap Blethin, set the
country in a blaze and served to complicate the affairs of

l Bmt-y-Tywysogion. 2 Brut-y-Tywysogion compared with general history.
8 Wright's History of Ludlow, p. 45. 4 The date of this immigration and settlement
is differently given by the historians. The author of the Welsh Chronicle places it in
1105 or 1106 ; Holinshed in 1107 ; Powel in 1108 ; Florence of Worcester and Carte
in 1111. 6 Brut-y-Tywysogion; Towel's Hist, of Wales. Mr. Clark conjectures that
it was not the castle of Pembroke but that of Carew which Gerald built (Earls and
Castles of Pembroke.)


South Wales. Cadogan, unable or unwilling to sacrifice
his son to the revenge of those whom he had so deeply
wronged, was forced to flee the country. Before many
months had elapsed, however, he was permitted to return
to Cardigan after paying a heavy fine to the King and
binding himself to have no dealings whatever with his
son. It may, perhaps, have been the King's intention to
entrap him into a breach of faith. At any rate, his son
Owen's behaviour soon afforded a ready pretext for
depriving him again of his territory and placing him
under surveillance. He was once more restored to his
liberty in the year 1110, when the King gave him the
land of Powys and consented to receive his son Owen to
his peace ; but his connection with the land of Cardigan
had now for ever ceased, and he came to a violent end
soon after. During the period of Cadogan's incarceration
the King sent for Gilbert de Clare, and made him an
offer of all the lands of Cadogan in case he could win
them for himself. The King's offer was joyfully accepted,
and Gilbert, having raised an army for the purpose,
landed in Cardiganshire and soon brought to his subjec-
tion the whole of that country j 1 where he built two
castles, one opposite to Llanbadarn near the efflux of the
river Ystwyth, and the other near to Aberteivi at the
place called Dingeraint (Cilgerran ?) where Roger de
Montgomery (or his son Robert de Belesme) had before
founded a castle. 2

1 Brut-y-Tywysogion. * Ibid.



Although the events of the few years last recorded are
not immediately connected with the personal history of
the descendants of Res ap Tudor Mawr, it was necessary
to relate them at some length in order to enable the
reader to follow the great changes which had taken place
in the government of South Wales since the death of that
Prince, and to realize the position of his son Griffith in
his struggles for the recovery of his inheritance.

It was after the return of Henry I. from Normandy,
in 1115, that we first hear of Griffith, the son of Res ap
Tudor, who in his youth had gone with some of his rela-
tives into Ireland, where he remained until he grew up
to manhood. He was sent for from thence by his brother-
in-law Gerald, steward of Pembroke Castle, who had
married his sister Nest the daughter of Res ap Tudor.
" And he passed about two years, sometimes with Gerald,
at other times with his kindred ; sometimes in Gwyneth ;
sometimes wandering from place to place. At length he
was accused to the King ; and it was represented that the
hearts of all the Britons were with him, in contempt of
the royal title of King Henry. And when Griffith ap
Res heard of those reports he determined on going to
Griffith ap Cynan to endeavour to save his life; and
having sent messengers, the other promised that he would
receive him with great pleasure if he came. After Griffith
ap Res heard that, he and his brother Howel went to
him. This same Howel had been in the prison of Ernulph,
son of Roger, lord of Castle Baldwyn (Montgomery), to
whom King William had given a part of the territory of
Res ap Tudor ; and subsequently this Howel had escaped
in a maimed state, with broken limbs, out of the prison." 1

The brothers, with their attendants, were kindly
received by the Prince of Gwyneth. But when the King
heard that Griffith ap Res had repaired to Griffith ap

l Brut-y-Tynrysogion.


Cynan, he summoned the latter to his court at London
and despatched an honourable retinue to conduct him
thither. The Prince obeyed the summons, and after
being honourably entertained at the King's court and
loaded with rich gifts, he was induced to betray his
friend by the promise that he should hold his lands free,
and that he should receive the King's assistance and sup-
port. Accordingly he returned to Gwyneth under a
pledge to secure Griffith ap Res, and send him alive to
the King, or if this could not be effected, to kill him, and
send to him his head. It appears, however, that, in a fit
of drunkenness, he talked of his treacherous engagement,
at the King's palace, in the hearing of one of Gerald's
relations, who immediately despatched a speedy messenger
to Gerald with the information. Nest lost no time in
sending the intelligence to her brothers in Gwyneth ;
which reached them just in time to enable them to escape
from the horsemen who were sent by their faithless host
to take them. They immediately fled to Aberdaron
and placed themselves under the protection of the
church ; and when Griffith ap Cynan heard that they
had taken refuge there, he sent to force them from
thence ; but the clergy would not suffer the sanctuary of
the church to be violated. While the contention was
pending between them, a ship from Dyvet came to Enlli,
with sailors, who took Griffith ap Res and his brother on
board, and thus enabled them to reach the vale of Towy
in safety. 1

The situation of Griffith at this period was not an
enviable one. On his return from Ireland to his native
country he had found the Normans in possession, not
only of Glamorgan, Gwent, and Brecknock, but also of
Dyvet, Cardigan, Gower, Kidwelly, and Carnwallyon.

1 Brut-y-Tywysogion ; i.e. the Strata Florida version, being that published by the
Record commission in 1860; compared with the Gwentian version, published by the
Cambrian Archseological Association in 1863, which at this period gives a fuller account
than the former. It would seem that the Welsh history recorded by Caradoc (or who-
ever may have been the original compiler of the Brut-y-Tywysogion) was carried no
further than the period which we have now reached. For at this period (ascribed to
th year 1113 in the chronicle before us, but in reality about A.D. 1116) we observe in
the Strata Florida version a remarkable change in the spirit of the writer. We may
assume, from the contemptuous language in which he speaks of the Welsh exploits, that
the continuator of the chronicle at this period was a Norman monk having no sympathy
with the Welsh nation. _ This unfriendly tone towards the Welsh continues for about
15 or 20 years, after which the narrative is taken up again by a moro friendly hand.


I imagine that the cantrev Bychan was likewise held at
this time by the Normans, so that little besides the can-
trev Mawr remained in possession of the native lords
of South Wales ; and even this was under the govern-
ment of chieftains nominated by the English King. 1

From this unhopeful state of affairs did Griffith gradu-
ally raise himself to a position of power and eminence.
Adversities seem to have drawn forth his talents, and
though the Welsh chronicle (which was penned at this
time by an unfriendly hand) makes light of his early
exploits, we must assign to him a high place amongst the
defenders of his country.

Being now delivered from the treacherous hospitality
of the Prince of North Wales, he was forced, for the
defence of his own life, to bid open defiance to the King.
When he reached Istrad Tywi he began to arm himself;
and many of his countrymen resorted to him and placed
themselves under his command. With these irregular
forces he attacked the English outposts, and ravaged the
borders of Dy vet and Cardigan.

In the following year (1116) he renewed his desultory
warfare, which he commenced by sacking and burning
the castle near Arberth. 2 From thence he proceeded to
Llanymddyvri [Llandovery] and attacked the castle of
Richard fitz Ponz, to whom King Henry had given
Cantrev Bychan; but here he met with a repulse
from the garrison, which was aided by Meredith
ap Rytherch ap Caradoc, who held the stewardship of
Cantrev Bychan under Richard fitz Ponz : and Griffith
could only kill some of the defenders, burn the out-
work of the castle, and ravage the lands of Richard
fitz Ponz. 3 He also made an incursion into the land of
Gower which he laid waste, although he was unable to
accomplish more than the destruction of the outer works
of the castle of Abertawy (or Swansea). His many
successes raised his credit among his countrymen, who
now flocked to him in great numbers in the hope of

l To thi we may add a portion of Nether Gwent which was retained by Welsh
lords, who made Caerleon their capital. 2 Brut-y-Tywysogion. The castle of Arberth,
now called Narberth, was in the ancient commot of Penrhyn-yr-Eleys and in the
cantrcd of Arberth in Dyvet (or Pembrokeshire). It formed the head of a lordship
which was assigned to Stephen Perrot by Arnulph do Montgomery in the reign
of King William II. (Lewi*' Top. Die.) 3 Gwentian Chronicle.



seeing the British kingdom once more restored. The
English also were roused to a more strenuous effort for
the defence of their possessions, and summoned to their
assistance those of the Welsh nobles who had received
their lands to hold under the King, viz., Owen ap Caradoc
ap Rytherch, to whom he had given a portion of the
Cantrev Mawr, Meredith ap Rytherch, and Rytherch
ap Tudor with his sons Meredith and Owen. These
declared themselves true to the English allegiance and
undertook the defence of the castle of Carmarthen, which
was committed to them in turn for a fortnight at a time.
Bledri ap Cedivor was in like manner appointed to keep
the castle of Robert Langan (or the crook-handed) at

Griffith now turned his attention to the castle of Car-
marthen, and after sending spies to reconnoitre he soon
found an opportunity of approaching it whilst it was-
under the custody of Owen ap Caradoc. His attack was
conducted by night. " And when Owen and his com-
panions heard the noise and shouting of the men coming
near, he and his companions suddenly arose from the
house they were in, and, going towards the place where
he heard the shout, he advanced forwards himself before
the troop, supposing his companions to be close behind
him ; but they, leaving him alone, had fled, and thus he
was slain there;" 1 whereupon Griffith entered the
castle, burned the outer ward, and, leaving the tower,
returned to the vale of Towy with great spoil.

Florence of Worcester, in speaking of the spring of
the year 1116, relates that Griffith ap Res took booty,
and burned the castles in Wales, because King Henry
would not give to him any of his father's land. 2 The
Gwentian version of the Brut informs us that a great
mortality took place among the English in that year, so
that the King could not procure men at his need. There
was also a pestilence among the cattle which caused great
dearth in England but did not extend to Wales. The
King's absence in Normandy at this juncture would have
also proved favourable to the operations of the Welsh
Prince. 3 "At that time the Flemings came a second

l Brut-y-Tywysogion. 2 Florence of Worcester, Vol. II, pp. 68-9. 3 Henry -went
to Normandy in March, 1116, and was absent till November, 1120.


time to England, on account of the sea destroying their
lands, where the sea flood had demolished the sand hills
years previously ; and the king, being in want of men to
withstand the irruptions of Griffith ap Res, sent to his
castellans and officers, and the Normans and Welsh who
were well affected to him, with a command to receive the
Flemings and give them means of subsistence, under
condition that they should take arms when required by
the King and those faithful to him. And so it was ; and
those strangers had Roos, in the district of the Headland
of Dyved, and settled there as loyal men to the king ;
and he placed English among them to teach them the
English language, and (adds the chronicler) they are now
English, and the plague of Dyved and South Wales on
account of their deceit and lies, in which they exceeded
any settlers in any part of the island of Britain." 1

Griffith's next exploit was directed against the lords of
Kidwelly and Gower. Having first destroyed a castle
in Gower, and slain many of the garrison, he took the
castle of Kidwelly from William de Londres, and ravaged
his territory, from whence he returned home again
loaded with spoils.

After these fresh successes, the leading men of Cardigan,
namely, Cedivor ap Grano, Howel ap Jdnerth, and
Trahaern ap Ithel, being of his kindred, came to him
and offered to receive him as their Prince. And, with
their assistance, Griffith not only demolished many castles
and took great spoils, but also regained a portion of the
lands and territories of his father in those parts. The
Welshmen who had submitted to the Norman rule suddenly
rose in his favour, killed numbers of the English settlers
in the land of Cardigan, and destroyed and pillaged their
houses. " And when the King heard that, he sent to
Owen ap Cadogan, called in South Wales the Traitor,
and Llywarch ap Trahaern ap Ithel, and promised them
gifts and honourable privileges to go against Griffith ap
Res ; and Owen and Llywarch went at the King's request.
And when Gerald, steward of the castle of Pembroke,
heard of the arrival of Owen in Cardigan, calling to mind
what Owen had done to his wife Nest, he meditated

l Gwentian Chronicle.


revenging that injury, and went with his men against
Owen and his men ; and early in the onset Owen was
slain with an arrow. And so it happened to him for the
injuries he had done to the Welsh nation." 1

About that time Griffith entered Cardigan Iscoed and
attacked and destroyed the castle of Port Gwythain, which
had been built by Gilbert fitz Richard, and slew the garri-
son. Then he subjugated the country around as far as
Penwedic ; and won the castle of Ystrad Peithell, which
belonged to .Ralph the steward of Gilbert. He afterwards
assaulted the castle of Aberystwith, where however he
met with a severe repulse and was obliged to retire
with loss. Griffith with his forces had encamped for the
night at a place called Glasygrug, about a mile from
Lanbadarn, purposing to besiege the castle of Aberystwith
on the morrow : but for want of necessary provisions for
his army he was tempted to violate the sanctuary of the
church by taking some cattle which belonged to the
religious there. The following morning Griffith and his
kinsmen, Rytherch ap Tudor and his sons Meredith and
Owen ap Rytherch, indiscreetly sallied forth from their
tents without putting their troops in array, until they
came to Ystrad Antarron, which was opposite the castle.
The castle was situated on the top of a hill that shelved
down to the river Ystwyth, and over the river was a
bridge. Griffith, having encamped on Pendinas hill, 2
opposite to the castle, passed the morning in preparing
engines and devising means to effect a breach in the walls,
so that in the words of the chronicle "the day glided
away until it was afternoon." Then the Normans, seeing
their hesitation, sent out some archers to skirmish with
them, in the hopes of drawing them to the bridge, where
the mailed cavalry might suddenly attack them and cut
them off. Ralph, the steward, who had custody of the
castle, had privately sent to Strat Meyric, another of the
castles which had been erected by Earl Gilbert, his lord,
from whence he received reinforcements in the night.
But the Welsh, not knowing the strength of the garrison,
fell into the trap which was laid for them and indiscreetly
ran down to attack the archers at the bridge. " And as

1 G-wentian Chronicle. 2 Meyrick's Cardigan.


the one party was pressing on, and the other shooting, a
mailed knight rushed violently to the bridge ; and some
of Griffith's men carne to oppose him on the bridge. He
essaying to attack them, his horse broke his neck, and
the horse being wounded fell down ; and then they all
with spears endeavoured to kill him, but his coat of mail
protected him, until some of his party came and dragged
him away. And when he got up he fled ; and when his com-
panions saw him flee, they also all fled, and the Britons
pursued them almost to the declivity of the mountain.
The rear body however did not pursue, but without
seeking either bridge or ford they took to flight. When
the Normans from the top of the mountain observed
these fleeing, they attacked the advanced body and
killed as many as they could find ; and the throng of
people was scattered about the country on every side,

Online LibraryGeorge Thomas Orlando BridgemanHistory of the princes of South Wales → online text (page 3 of 31)