George Thomas Orlando Bridgeman.

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some having their cattle with them, others having left
everything, endeavouring to save their lives ; so that the
whole country was left a desert." 1

In the following year (1117) Robert de Caen, Earl of
Gloucester, was sent against Griffith ; but l i when he came to
the vale of Towy he w r as deserted by nearly all the Welsh
in his army ; who would nolftake up arms, on behalf of a
foreigner, to oppose a lawful Prince, a Welshman of un-
mixed lineage ; " 'so Robert was obliged to return home
Avithout accomplishing anything. 2

In the meantime Griffith ap Res, having retreated to
the wilds of Ystradtywi, held the English at defiance ;
and Henry, wearied at length with his ineffectual
attempts to conquer him, was under the necessity of con-
cluding a peace with him, about the year 1122, by which
he ceded to Griffith a considerable portion of his father's
territories to be held free. These lands are thus enumer-
ated in the Gwentian Chronicle " Ystrad Tywi, Cantref
Penwedic, in Cardigan, the cantreds [and commots ?] of
CaerAvcdros, Cantref Bychan, Caethinawc, Caeaw, My-
fennydd, and others." 3 It would thus appear that the

1 Brut-y-Tywysopion. 2 Gwentian Chronicle, which however places these events at
too early a date. The occurrence of these two years are thus shortly alluded to by
Florence of Worcester, " Griffinus flitia Re verno tempore [an. 1116] in Walonia
prtedam tgit, ct castcUa incendit, quoniam rex Anglia; Heinrinu particulam de terra
patn's sui ei dari noluit." 3 This passage does not occur in the Record Edition of the


greater portion of Carmarthenshire (all indeed except the
South Eastern Cantrev) as well as the upper portion of
Cardiganshire together with the more Southern commot
of Caerwedros were made over to Griffith by this treaty.
But such a truce was not likely to be kept any longer
than suited the King's convenience ; and we are not sur-
prised to hear that a few years afterwards Griffith was
ejected from his lands on the accusation of the Normans
who dwelt in those parts. Griffith demanded to be
informed of the ground of complaint against him, but
could get no answer. He now prepared for a vigorous
defence of his rights, and, calling Howel ap Meredith and
the men of Brecknock to his assistance, he expelled the
Normans and Flemish from his territories with as little
bloodshed as possible. After which he despatched an
embassy to the King under the safe conduct of the Bishop
of St. David's to ascertain the cause of his offence ; to
which he received no reply ; but he was allowed to
remain in peace and quietness for some time afterwards. 1
We are not informed how these engagements affected the
tenure of the Welsh Prince's lands in Cardiganshire, but
it is probable that he lost at this period the footing he
had previously gained there.*

We hear no more of Griffith ap Res until after the
death of Henry I, which took place on Dec. 2, 1135.
On the accession of Stephen, we are told that the King
sent a summons to Griffith to attend him without delay
in London to answer some complaints which had been
preferred against him. 2 But Griffith tired of such vague
accusations treated the summons with contempt, and
took prompt measures to chastise the foreign settlers who
had thus repeatedly endeavoured to involve him with the
English court. Accordingly he proceeded to North
Wales to procure assistance from his f ather-in-law Griffith
ap Cynan, Prince of North Wales ; and during his
absence " his wife Gwenllian, a woman of an high spirit,
collected her friends and with her sons entered Cydweli,
the land which the ancestors of Maurice de Londres had
ravished from her family. Gruffudd ab Llywelyn, who
commanded for Maurice, and was an enemy to Gruffudd,

1 Gwentian Chronicle. 2 Ibid.


met Gwenllian, and a bloody scene ensued, wherein
Gwenllian and her son Morgan were defeated and slain,
and her son Maelgwn made prisoner. The place where
this battle was fought is, to this day, called Maes
Gwenllian, Gwenllian's Field." 1 This is probably the
battle which is stated by Florence of Worcester to have
been fought at Guher (Gower) in which five hundred and
sixteen were slain on one side and the other, and their
bodies left on the field to be horribly torn to pieces and
devoured by the wolves. This battle, he tells us, was
followed by a very great invasion of the Welshmen,
attended, far and wide, with a vast destruction of churches,
towns, growing crops, and cattle, the burning of castles
and other fortified places, and the slaughter, dispersion,
and sale into foreign parts, of innumerable men
both rich and poor ; amongst whom, on xvii. Kal. Mali
(April 15, 1136), perished the noble and amiable
Richard fitz Gilbert, whose body was conveyed to
Gloucester and honourably interred. 2 The Brut informs
us that Owen (Gwyneth) and Cadwalader, the sons of
Griffith ap Cynan, assisted Griffith in this expedition,
and that they destroyed the castles of Walter de Bek and
Richard de la Mere, and the castles of Aberystwith,
Dinerth, andCaerwedros, after which they returned home. 3
Before many months had elapsed the sons of Griffith ap
Cynan a second time invaded the land of Cardigan with
an army of about 6000 infantry and 2000 well armed
cavalry. 4 They were joined by Griffith ap Res and
other magnates of South Wales, who subdued the whole
country as far as Cardigan, and driving out the foreigners

1 York's Royal Tribes of Wales, p. 35. 2 Florence of Worcester, vol. II, p. 97.
This Richard fitz Gilbert was the eldest son and heir of Gilbert fitz Richard, the con-
queror of Cardigan, and was also elder brother of Gilbert Strongbow, afterwards made
Earl of Pembroke. Richard fitz Gilbert was succeeded by his son Gilbert who became
Earl of Hertford. 3 Brut-y-Tywysogion, Annales Cambriae, and Gwentian Chronicle.
Giraldus Cambrensis relates a feat of chivalry which greatly redounds to the honour of
an English knight at this distressing period. The widow of Richard fitz Gilbert, who
is described as a " lady of singular beauty, was left in a castle attended by many female
attendants, distant from every friend, and surrounded by the Welsh, who menaced her
with every possible indignity. The poor Countess and her damsels had already felt
each horror by anticipation, when they were unexpectedly relieved by the romantic
gallantry of Milo fitz Walter, who, encouraged by King Stephen, and accompanied by
a few chosen warriors, rode night and day to the beleagured fortress, and although he
found it environed by numbers of Welsh, brought away the ladies inviolate." This
lady was the daughter of Ranulph le Meschin (I) Earl of Chester. Castell Caerwedroi
(or the Bloody Fort) was situated near Llwyndafydd, in the Pariah of Llandysilio Gogo,
where a moted tumulus itiUe marks the site (Jones' Hist. Wales). * Brut-y-Tywysogion.


replaced the old inhabitants in their lands and possessions.
In the meantime King Stephen had sent Baldwin de
Clare, the brother of Richard fitz Gilbert, with a well
appointed army to put down the insurrection. But he
got no further than the castle of Brecknock, where he
heard that the Welsh were coming in strong force to
resist him, having blocked up the roads with trees which
they had felled for the purpose ; and Baldwin, seized
with fear, after wasting much time in listless idleness and
exhausting all his stock of provisions, made an igno-
minious retreat to England. 1 The entire force of the
Normans and Flemings in Wales and the Marches was
now brought together, to oppose the victorious Welshmen,
under Stephen constable of Cardigan, Robert fitz Martin,
Pain fitz John, and the sons of Gerald. 2 A great battle
ensued which was fought at Cardigan in the second week
of October, 1136, 3 in which an English contemporary his-
torian informs us that the slaughter of human life was so
great that, besides the men who were led away into cap-
tivity, there remained 10,000 captured women, whose
husbands, with countless little ones, had been partly
drowned in the water, partly consumed in the flames,
partly slain with the sword. And it was a truly miserable
sight to behold when the bridge over the river Teuwi
[Teivy]had been broken down and a bridge for those who
passed over was formed by human corpses, or a shocking
pile of horses drowned at that place. 4 " The valour of
the Welsh on this occasion," says Lord Lyttelton, " seemed
to be raised above its usual pitch under the conduct of those
Princes by whom they were commanded. The English
were routed, and flying to their castles were so hotly pur-
sued that great numbers of them were drowned in the river
Teivy by the breaking down of a bridge over which they
were passing, besides 3000 who were killed in the battle
and flight, and many more were taken prisoners ; inso-
much that from the time when the Normans first entered
Wales they had never suffered so great a defeat, nor had
their arms been so disgraced in any other country." 5

1 Gesta Regis Stephani, p. 12. 2 Brut-y-Tywysogion and Annales Cambrise com-
pared with Eyton's Ant. of Shropshire, and Gesta Regis Stephani, pp. 15, 16.
a Florence of "Worcester, vol. II, p. 97. * Ibid. 5 History of Henry 11, vol. II, p, 60.


After this the King was compelled to relinquish his
efforts to subdue them and left them for a while to them-
selves in the hope that when peace was restored they
might quarrel over the spoil, and turn their arms against
each other. 1 In the meantime Griffith ap Res pursued
his advantage by conquering the land of Ros (in Pem-
brokeshire). 2

When the conquest of the land of Cardigan was com-
pleted it was divided among the confederates ; and after
this series of triumphs the Prince of South Wales appointed
a grand festival to be held at his palace in Ystrad Tywi,
to which he invited all the Princes and Nobles of Wales
and the Marches. For the entertainment of the guests
he assembled the sages of the country, whom he appointed
to hold disputations ; and he brought together the chief
bards and musicians of every district to display their
skill in vocal and instrumental music. To these were
added scenic representations, feats of skill, and athletic
sports. This festival continued forty days, after which
the guests were dismissed and the bards and players
liberally rewarded according to their deserts. 8

This interval of relaxation being over, Griffith applied
himself with diligence to the most important affairs of
state. Assisted by a counsel of wise and learned men,
whom he had convened for the purpose, he revised the
existing laws, and established some new regulations for
the government of the country, appointing a court to be
held in every cantrev, and a subordinate court in every
conimot for the greater accommodation of the people
and the more expeditious despatch of business. Having
concluded these arrangements he died universally
lamented by his subjects, and leaving behind him the
character of being "the bravest, wisest, most merciful,
beneficent, and just of all the Princes." 4 He is described,
in another edition of the Chronicle of the Princes, as " the
light and strength and greatness of the men of South
Wales." 5 Florence of Worcester places his death about
April, or May, 1137, and attributes it to the treachery of

l Gesta Regis Stephani. 2 Annales Cambriae. 3 Eees' South Wales, p. 234 (The
author quotes from Myfyrian Archaeology, Vol. II, p. 558). * Eees' South Wales
(from Myfyrian Arch. Vol. II, p. 558). 6 Brut-y-Tywysogion, p. 161. I would refer
my readers to Lord Lyttelton's life of Henry II, Vol. II, p. 64, for a highly interesting
and descriptive account of the manners and customs of the Welsh at this period.



his wife. 1 It was soon followed by the death of his
father-in-law, Griffith ap Cynan, Prince of North Wales.
Giraldus Cambrensis tells a story of Griffith ap Res which
will serve to illustrate the credulity of the times. He
was returning 1 from the King's Court, riding in company
with Milo, Earl of Hereford, the Lord of Brechinioc
(Brecknock), and Pain fitz John, the Lord of Ewyas, by
the shore of the lake Brechinioc, in a time of frost when
the lake was covered with waterfowl of various kinds.
Milo alluded to an ancient Welsh saying, to the effect
that if the natural Prince of the country should come to
this lake and order the birds to sing, they would imme-
diately obey him, and jestingly proposed that Griffith
should prove his descent by this ornithological experi-
ment. Griffith, who was richer in wit than in gold, and
who had lost none of his dignity with the diminution of
his inheritance, retorted that, as Milo and Fitz John
were now in possession of the country, they ought to
try first. They agreed ; and having failed to induce
the wildfowl to acknowledge them, Griffith, feeling
himself bound by their importunity to try his fortune in
turn, immediately dismounted from his horse, and fell up-
on his knees towards the east, as though he were about
to engage in a duel, then humbly prostrating himself, and
lifting his eyes and hands towards Heaven, he engaged in
earnest prayer. After which he rose from his knees and,
signing himself with the cross, he openly exclaimed "
Almighty God who knowest all things, O Lord Jesu
Christ, declare Thy power this day. Seeing that Thou
hast caused me to derive my lineal descent from the native
Princes of Wales, in Thy name I command these birds to
proclaim it." Upon which all the birds, each after its
own kind, immediately began to call and cry out, striking
the water with their wings. All the bystanders were
astonished and confounded; and the Earl and Pain
returned to the King's court with all haste and related to
him the singular occurrence. Whereupon the King, after
listening to their story, exclaimed " By the death of Christ "
(his usual oath) "it is not so much to be wondered at;

1 Florence of Worcester, Vol. II, p. 98. " Rex Wali<e Griffinus, fillus Res, dolo con-
jugis su<e cireumventus, defungitur." If this be so she must have been a second wife,
or perhaps a concubine, for his wife Gwcnllian was killed in 1136.


for although by our great power we have inflicted much
injury upon this people, they are well known to have an
hereditary right to these lands." Giraldus informs us
that this incident occurred in the time of King Henry
I., and that, although Griffith nominally held the rank
and title of Prince of South Wales under the English
King, he was then in possession of but one commot only
(which he describes as the fourth part of a cantrev)
namely that of Kaoc (Caeo) in Cantrefmaur. 1

By his wife Gwenllian, daughter of Griffith ap Cynau,
Griffith ap Res had six sons, Morgan, Maelgon, Anarawd,
Cadell, Meredith, and Res ; and, according to the heralds,
also six daughters, Gwenllian, Sioned, Ales, Marred,
Arthyn, and Gladys. 2

i Itinerarium Cambria;, Record Edition, p. 34. According to the usual divisions of
Caermarthen the commot of Caeo was tn the Cantrev Bychan, hut there was another
division under which the Cantrev Mawr embraced what are usually known as th
Cantrers Mawr and Bychan. 2 Her. Vis. Wai., Vol. II, p. 99.



It is doubtful whether Griffith ap Res held any part of
Cardigan at the time of his death. At any rate his sons
were not allowed to enter into possession of this portion
of the ancient dominions of their ancestors ; but the
rightful succession in Wales had been so often interrupted
that the heirs were seldom suffered to enter upon their
inheritance without having to contend with the most
powerful of their kindred or neighbours. Shortly after
the death of Griffith ap Res, however, we find Owen
Gwyneth and Cadwalader, the sons of Griffith ap Cynan,
in possession of the land of Cardigan, which they held
against the Norman claimants.

Of the sons of Griffith, Morgan was slain at the battle
of Maes Gwenllian in 1136, being then but a youth;
Maelgon was taken prisoner by the English at the same
time, and probably died in captivity, since we hear no
more of him. Anarawd married the daughter of his
cousin Cadwalader ap Griffith ap Cynan, and fell by the
hand of his father-in-law, in 1142-3, 1 leaving a son
Eineon who was murdered in his bed by one of his own
retainers about the year 1163. 2 The quarrel between
Cadwalader and his son-in-law was caused by Anarawd's
taking the part of his brother Res, which was distasteful
to Cadwalader. 3 The three remaining brothers Res,
Cadell, and Meredith, jointly contended for their rights
against the Princes of North Wales and their common
enemy the Normans.

The first we hear of these Princes, after the death of
Anarawd, is about the year 1 145 4 whenGilbertde Clare had

1 & 2 Powel' s Contin. of Welsh. Chron. 8 Gwentian Chronicle. 4 On Sunday
Feb. 2, 1141, was fought the famous battle of Lincoln. Eanulph le Meschin,
Earl of Chester, and Robert de Caen, Earl of Gloucester, here defeated and took
prisoner the Usurper Stephen. The victory was in great measure owing to the
intrepidity of a Welsh contingent, raised by the Earl of Chester, probably in North
Wales, while the Earl of Gloucester's Fitz Hamon inheritance will have enabled him
to augment the force by his resources in South Wales. These Welsh soldiers,
Ordericus (who finished his books in the very year 1141) tells us were led by two of
their own Kings, whom he calls "Mariadoth'' and "Kaladrius." I tako these to
have been Meredith ap Griffith ap Res and Cadwalader ap Griffith ap Cynan.

Other illegitimate children
by various concubines.


come with great power into South Wales and repaired the
castles of Carmarthen and Mabuchtryd. Not long after-
wards Res ap Griffith ap Res and his brothers Cadell
and Meredith reduced the castle of Dynevor which
Earl Gilbert had built ; and further took the castle of
Carmarthen with the help of Howel ap Owen. From
thence the brothers proceeded to Llanstephan, 1 where the
foreigners were again defeated, and the castle taken from
them and committed to the keeping of Meredith ; " where-
upon all the Flemings and Normanes inhabiting that
countrie all about, gathered their powers togithir,
and their captaines were the sonnes of Gerald, and
William de Hay, who laid siege to the same castell upon
the sudden. But Meredyth ap Gruffyth, to whose
custodie the castell was committed, encouraged his men
to fight and to defend the place, and that which lacked
in him of strength (for he was young in years) he supplied
in courage and discretion. He suffered his enemies to
scale the wals, and, when the ladders were full, he gave
the watchword, and his souldiours did manfullie with
engines overturne all the ladders, and maimed a great
number of armed men and tried souldiours, and put the
rest to flight." 2

In the year 1147 we find the three sons of Griffith ap
Res attacking the castle of Gwys, 3 which likewise fell
into their hands. 4

In 1150 Cadell ap Griffith, having fortified the castle
of Carmarthen, led his forces to Kidwelly 5 where he

1 Llanstephan Castle is iu Carmarthenshire, 8 miles S.S.W. of Carmarthen, in the
present hundred of Derllys (Lewis' Top. Dictionary). 2 Powel's Hist. 3 Castell Gwys
or Wiston is in the modern hundred of Dungleddau eo. Pembroke, 5 miles E.N.E. from
Haverfordwest. It derived its name from its first Norman or Flemish possessor, Gwys
or Wyz, who made it the head of his Barony of Dungleddau. The daughter of his
grandson Sir Philip Gwys married Gwrgan ap Blethin, a Welsh chieftian, from whom
descended the family of Wogan, in whose possession this place remained till the present
generation, when, in default of issue male, the estates of this ancient family were
divided among co-heiresses ; and the castle and Barony of Wiston were subsequently
purchased by the Earl of Cawdor. 4 Powel compared with the Brut, &c.
6 Kidwelly or Cydweli is a district in Carmarthenshire 9 miles south of Carmarthen.
The district was first won from the Welsh by William, de Londres, one of the twelve
knights who accompanied Fitzhamon in his conquest of Glamorgan. Having again
fallen into the hands of the Welsh it was recaptured by Maurice de Londres, who is said
to have built the castle. About the year 1116 the town and fortress were surprised and
taken by Griffitlrap Res, who retained possession only for a short time; and it was sub-
sequently the scene of his intrepid wife's misfortunes. After various fortunes the castle
and lordship of Kidwelly became the property of Henry Earl of Lancaster by hie mar-
riage with the great granddaughter of Maurice de Londres, and so became vested in the
crown in the time of Henry VII, who granted them to the celebrated Res ap Thomas.


ravaged the country and took great spoil. After his
return he joined his forces with those of his brothers
Meredith and Res, and entering Cardigan they won from
Howel ap Owen Gwyneth the part called Is Aeron, 1 or
the country south of the river Aeron.

They subsequently directed their forces against the castle
of Llanrhystyd ; 2 and after a longand toilsome attack they
gained the fortress and slew all the defenders. They then
took possession of the castle of Ystrad Meuric, 3 in which they
placed a garrison ; after which they returned to the vale
of Towy with a very great spoil of corn, cattle, and other
goods, 4 having apparently subjugated the whole of
Cardigan with the exception of one castle at Pengwern
in Llanvihangel.

In the following year, 1151-2, while Cadell ap Griffith
was hunting in Dyvet, some of the Englishmen of Gower
set an ambush to kill him ; and having attacked him, and
put his companions to flight, they fell upon him ; but he,
being a brave and powerful man, maintained his post,
and having killed some of his foes, he forced the others
to fly : but he received a severe wound in the conflict, of
which he languished for a long time. When his brothers

On the attainder of Griffith, grandson of Res ap Thomas, they reverted to the crown, and
were purchased in 1630 by the Earl of Carbery, from whom they have passed to the Earl
of Cawdor, their present owner. The lordship, honour, and liberty of Kid welly comprises
the commots of Carnwallyon, Iscennen, and Kid welly, and contains 16 parishes. It thus
forms the South- Western portion of the county, being bounded by the river Towy on the
North, the little river Cennen and Glamorganshire on the East, and the Sea on the South.

1 Towel compared with the Brut. 2 Llanrhystyd Castle I take to have been one of two
castles in the commot of Anhunog, south of Aberystwith in Cardiganshire. This part of
Cardiganshire had been held by Cadwalader, the son of Griffith ap Cynan, who rebuilt th
castle of Llanrhystyd in 1149 and gave over his portion of Cardigan to his son Cadogan
(Brut-y-Tywysogion corrected as to the date). 8 Ystrad Meuric Castle was in
the parish of Yspytty Ystwith in Cardiganshire, about 13 miles South-Eat from
Aberystwith. It was built by Gilbert de Clare, was partly destroyed by the Princes
of North Wales when they invaded Cardigan in 1136, and repaired and fortified on its
recapture by the sons of Griffith. In 1168 it was taken by Earl Roger de Clare ; but it
was retaken in 1184 by Maelgon ap Res who in 1194 gave it to Anarawd his brother,
as a ransom for the liberation of two of his brothers, Howel Sais and Madoc, who had
been captured by Anarawd. It did not long remain in possession of the latter, for in
1198 Maelgon retook it, and retained it till the year 1207, when despairing of being
able to defend it against Llewelyn ap Jerwerth, Prince of North Wales, he rased it to
the ground ; since which time it does not appear to have been rebuilt (Meyrick's
Cardiganshire, p. 311. Lewis' Top. Die.) 4 Gwentian Chronicle. The account of
thee exploits is given somewhat differently in the Record Edition of the Brut, where
it is stated that " Cadell and Meredith and Res, the son* of Griffith ap Res, took the
whole of Cardigan from Howel ap Owen except one castle that was at Pengwern in
Llanvihangel. And, after that, they conquered the castle of Llanrhystud, after long
fighting with it. And subsequently Howel ap Owen obtained that castle by force and
burned it, after killing the garrison wholly. It was but a short time after that when
Cadell, Meredith, and Res repaired the castle of Ystrad Meuric."


Meredith and Res heard of it, they entered Gower with
their forces, and demanded that the ambuscaders should

Online LibraryGeorge Thomas Orlando BridgemanHistory of the princes of South Wales → online text (page 4 of 31)