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C. F. CLAY, Manager

ILcinfcott: FETTER LANE, E.C.




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St John's College, Cambridge

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at the University Press



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AS its title suggests, the present volume is an attempt to
■**■ examine the struggle between Lancaster and York from
the standpoint of Wales and the Marches. Contemporary
chroniclers give us vague and fragmentary reports of what
happened there, though supplementary sources of informa-
tion enable us to piece together a fairly consecutive and
intelligible story.

From the first battle of St Albans to the accession of
Edward IV the centre of gravity of the military situation
was in the Marches : Ludlow was the chief seat of the duke
of York, and the vast Mortimer estates in mid- Wales his
favourite recruiting ground. It was here that he experienced
his first serious reverse — at Ludford Bridge; it was here,
too, that his son Edward, earl of March, won his way to
the throne — at Mortimer's Cross. Further, Henry Tudor
landed at Milford Haven, and with a predominantly Welsh
army defeated Richard III at Bosworth. For these reasons
alone unique interest attaches to Wales and the Marches in
this thirty years' war; and it is to be hoped that the
investigation will throw some light on much that has
hitherto remained obscure.



I have ventured to use contemporary Welsh poets as
authorities ; this has made it necessary to include a chapter
on their value as historical evidence. It was thought
necessary, also, to give some account of the state of things
in Wales during the first half of the fifteenth century, and
of the part played by Welshmen in the last phases of the
Hundred Years' War with France.

I am deeply indebted to Prof. J. E. Lloyd, M.A., of
Bangor University, for revising the proofs and for much
salutary criticism; and to Mr J. Alban Morris of Cardiff
for placing at my disposal his transcript of the manuscript
History of Wales, by Ellis Griffith, in the Mostyn Library.
The index has been compiled mainly by Mr T. L. Horabin
of the Board of Trade.

H. T. E.

January 10, 1915.



I. The Historical Value of Contemporary Welsh
Literature ......

II. The Penal Laws .....

III. Wales and the French Wars— Mathew Gough

IV. Herbert and Tudor .....

V. The Campaign of Ludford ....

VI. Mortimer's Cross .....

VII. The War in Wales .....

VIII. Warwick and Herbert — Banbury

IX. The Return of Jasper Tudor — The Council of

the Prince of Wales ....

X. Henry Earl of Richmond, and the March to

Bosworth ......

List of original Authorities











The Vaughans of Bredwardine
The Tudors and Pulestons
Pedigree of David ap Einon
The Herberts
The Mansels

Family of Griffith ap Nicholas
The Dwnns .

J 45

Battle of Mortimer's Cross
Battle of Banbury
Wales and the Marches

To face page 126

„ „ 180

. at end



In the course of the present narrative, an endeavour will
be made to show that Wales and the border counties exercised
a more formidable and decisive influence than is generally
believed, upon the course of the struggle between Lancaster
and York. The history of the period has been thickly
overgrown with the moss of tradition, romance, and myth,
most of which accumulated during the sixteenth and seven-
teenth centuries. A great deal of the fiction was clearly
invented to inflate family pride ; some was due to a literal
interpretation of purely rhetorical passages in the panegyrics
of the poets. It is needless to say that such material,
except what can be shown to have a foundation of truth,
or at least of strong probability, is worthless as historical
evidence. Yet, it has held sway for many centuries, and
has given rise to considerable confusion. It will be essential
to our purpose to rely exclusively upon original documents
and contemporary sources of information. Amongst these
will be included certain Welsh records which have been
hitherto, and are still to a large extent, unexplored fields
of historical research. The greater part of this material is
in manuscript, scattered broadcast in public and private
libraries. Some of it is already in print, but in many
different publications, and consequently most inaccessible
to the average student.

In so far as events were recorded at all in Wales during
the second half of the fifteenth century, that function was

E. w. R. I


performed by the poets. Their chief interest, admittedly,
is literary and linguistic. Nevertheless, the student of
history may reasonably inquire what may be
their title to credence, what reliance can be
placed upon them, and with what abatements their
presentation of persons and events should be accepted as

Let it at once be granted that these men did not profess
Their to write down facts, dry and ungarnished.

limitations. History would have gained much, and literature
lost little, if the bards, instead of writing historical poems,
had recorded their information in the form of annals or
chronicles. But they were primarily poets, not chroniclers.
As poets, they necessarily employ the artifices of their craft.
They exaggerate ; they invent ; they draw upon their
armoury of rhetoric. They colour, and frequently distort,
facts to suit the exigencies of the occasion, and in the interests
of those whose patronage they solicited. Their information
is often garbled.

Further, those portions of their writings which have any
value for the historian are not poems descriptive of events
and actions. They are odes and elegies for the glorification
of individuals, and only incidentally admit descriptive
narrative. The fabrications of rhetoric, therefore, are not
absent. There is little minuteness of detail ; rarely any
chronology or geography. Genealogies are plentiful, but of
family rather than of general interest. There is an amplitude
of vague, hazy allusions, which were doubtless perfectly
intelligible to that generation ; to us they are shades of
a vanished past.

Lastly, they are prejudiced, especially against the Saxon.
Many of their poems were written under the sting of humilia-
tion, when the wounds of defeat were still open and sore.
Invective not infrequently descends to vilification. In this
respect the poetry of the period cannot be paralleled at any
epoch in the history of the literature of Wales.


This feature in the poets, however, has its value for the
National historian ; for it reveals the deep chasm which

prejudices. separated the two nations. Its most outspoken
exponent was Lewis Glyn Cothi, who could rarely hide
his invincible repugnance to the name of Saxon. It detracts
considerably from the historical value of his testimony that
he was himself a victim of persecution at the hands of
English residents in Wales. He tells us that, having made
preparations for taking up his abode in Chester, he was
unceremoniously expelled from the city, and his belongings
looted by the inhabitants. His fiercest attacks were delivered
when his feelings were thus embittered by personal affront,
or by such a national disaster as that at Edgecote. The
same applies, though in a lesser degree, to the lambent
sarcasm of Guto'r Glyn. He had occasion to journey
through many parts of England, visiting among other places
Warwick, Stafford and Coventry. When he reached the
north of England, he experienced a very hostile disposition
towards his language and country. However, his weapons
are not poisoned, though his threats are generally well-

These two are not the only poets that bear witness to
the estrangement between the nations. Ieuan Deulwyn,
smarting beneath the exclusion of his countrymen from civil
rights, implores Sir Richard Herbert " to lock the door of
privilege against the Saxon."

Chwi a ellwch a'ch allwydd
Roi clo ar sais rhag cael swydd.

Dafydd Llwyd appeals to Jasper Tudor to bring to an end

the days of official intolerance, and warns his countrymen

against " putting their faith in the signet of the Saxon."

But we are not surprised to find such bitterness in the poet

when we know that he was the friend of Griffith Vaughan,

who was brutally murdered by Lord Grey of Powys, in 1447.

Some of Tudur Penllyn's lines are equally acrid, and were

also largely the outcome of personal injury. The poets'

1 — 2


invective was thus sharpened on a whetstone of disappoint-
ment, injustice, oppression, and cruelty ; their anger burned
fiercely ; yet the dregs of passion are of little value, for
serious history cannot be built on diatribes.

Whatever pretensions to historical verity these poets may
The poets- title have must rest mainly on their close acquaint-
to credence. anceship with some of the chief politicians of
the day. This enabled them to obtain information at first-
hand from the actors themselves. This is the most that can
be said on behalf of chroniclers in general, few of whom
were actual eye-witnesses of the events they describe.
The majority can claim no more than that they were con-
temporary. The Welsh poet, on the other hand, was a
welcome guest at the homes of the gentry, whom he visited
at regular intervals.

Lewis Glyn Cothi's home was situated in the valley of
the Cothi, in Carmarthenshire. Close by lay Newton, the
home of his patron, Griffith ap Nicholas, who dominated
West Wales in the middle of the century. He was intimate
with the Herberts of Raglan, and with the Vaughans of
Bredwardine and Tretower. At times we catch glimpses of
him in Chester, Flint, Anglesey. His list of patrons, in fact,
includes every contemporary Welshman of note. Ieuan
Deulwyn, another Carmarthenshire poet, was a native of
Kidwelly. He also dedicated several odes to the Herberts.
Guto'r Glyn came from the neighbourhood of Llangollen,
in the valley of the Dee. He was as ubiquitous as Lewis
Glyn Cothi, and not less in demand as a household bard.
Dafydd Llwyd and Tudur Penllyn lived in Merionethshire,
on terms of friendship with the garrison at Harlech. There
are strong grounds for the belief that Robin Ddu, the
swarthy bard of Anglesey, met Owen Tudor when the latter
withdrew to Wales after his escape from Newgate.

It is to be observed, moreover, that the poets may have
obtained access to the chief English politicians. Humphrey,
duke of Gloucester, as earl of Pembroke, and for many years


chief justice either of North Wales or of the South, had
occasion to pay several visits to the country. He was an
ardent patron of letters. But though there appears to be
no evidence in his voluminous correspondence with men of
letters that he ever came into close touch with Welsh literary
circles, Lewis Glyn Cothi alludes to him in terms of sympathy
and admiration. The early promotion of Reginald Pecock,
apparently a native of West Wales, was due to the influence
and patronage of Humphrey. Griffith ap Nicholas, the
patron and neighbour of Lewis Glyn Cothi, together with
a large number of other Welshmen, was in the duke's
retinue when he appeared at the parliament of Bury, in


In their writings these poets show abundant traces that
they were alive to the march of events. It was

Their J ..... . r

sources of an essential part of their business to get infor-

mation, and turn it to account. It is impossible
to avoid the conviction that Lewis Glyn Cothi derived the
raw material for his vivid description of the battle of
Edgecote directly from some of the Herberts or the
Vaughans, or their associates in that murderous fight. In
his ode to Thomas ap Roger, who was among the slain,
it is not difficult to discern what is intrinsically improbable,
or what is palpably the product of the poet's imagination.
When the poet asserts that the greatest carnage on that day
took place under his hero's standard, we are inclined to
ascribe it to a natural anxiety to magnify and applaud.
Even the professed historian cannot always avoid the
artifices of eloquence ; and fifteenth century chroniclers
are rarely impartial. But in this ode there are undoubted
germs of truth. A basis of fact underlies the amplifications
and excesses of rhetoric. The statements that part of the
Welsh army cut its way through the ranks of the northerners,
that Thomas ap Roger fought against desperate odds with
a broken lance, that the combatants amidst the clash and
clangour of battle shouted, some for Edward, others for king


Harry, some for Herbert, others for Warwick, have a note
of probability and truth. Facts are hard to hide ; fabrica-
tion is not always easy. It is not strange, therefore, that
the above description is in many ways substantiated by Hall,
the Tudor chronicler. Guto'r Glyn's realistic version of the
campaign against Harlech castle by the Herberts in 1468 is
also a valuable piece of historical evidence which it would
be fastidious to ignore. Briefly, and divested of its trappings,
it amounts to this. One division of the attacking army
advanced along the coast of North Wales, leaving a trail
of devastation and ruin ; another advanced from the south ;
Harlech offered but a feeble resistance — " By a Herbert it
could be obtained for the asking " ; and the army numbered
about nine thousand, an estimate which, as we shall
see, is corroborated by Hall, and roughly by the Issue

It has always been assumed that William Herbert, earl
of Pembroke, was a steady Yorkist. Lewis Glyn Cothi
implies the contrary, and further research has proved con-
clusively that he was correct. The editor of the only edition
of the poet failed to appreciate this fact, and consequently
became enmeshed in a tangle of contradictions. The same
poet observes that the sons of Griffith ap Nicholas were on
the side of Lancaster, and William of Worcester agrees with
him. We must therefore dismiss as worthless the idle story
of the family biographer in the Cambrian Register, though
that document has been credited by so distinguished an
authority as James Gairdiner, and has been the favourite
resort of generations of less responsible writers.

One important function of the fifteenth century Welsh
poet should not be overlooked. He was an

The poets r .

as national instrument in the hands of the leader of the
moment to advertise prospective political move-
ments, sometimes openly, at other times in enigma.

Prophecies there are in plenty, the pardonable efferves-
cence of a seething nationalism. But it would be a


mistake to regard these futurist proclamations as the
forecasts of partisans, destitute of foundation, and un-
warranted in fact. In one of his poems Lewis Glyn Cothi,
apprehensive for the cause of Margaret and her son Edward,
alludes to Jasper Tudor's search for assistance in France
and Brittany, his forthcoming return to Wales by sea, and
his probable landing at Milford Haven about the Feast of
St John. No date is given ; but the facts coincide with the
movements of Jasper Tudor during the few months which
immediately preceded the battle of Mortimer's Cross. For
Prophecy ' Jasper actually obtained help abroad ; he came
and fact. ^y sea . ^he footle took place in the first week

in February. Now the Feast of St John the Evangelist
would be December 27, and the few intervening weeks would
enable Jasper to gather his forces and reach Mortimer's Cross,
in Herefordshire, by February.

Similarly, there are copious references to the prospective
invasion of Henry of Richmond in 1485, which we cannot
entirely ignore as vague and unreliable prophecy. It is a
curious coincidence that the cherished belief of the medieval
Welsh sage, that a Welshman would one day ascend the
throne of Britain, found its fulfilment in the person of
Henry Tudor.

It has been said — and this is the prevailing modern view —
_. . , that " during the civil war there was but one

The title °

'Wars of rose, the white rose of York, there was no

Lancastrian rose : the red rose of the House of
Tudor first appeared on Bosworth Field." This may be true
of England ; it is not true of Wales. The red rose of the
Tudors had appeared in Wales long before it blossomed in
splendour on Bosworth field. From the very beginning of
the war the Tudors made Wales their special sphere of action.
Edmund, earl of Richmond, came here early in 1456, and
made Pembroke and Tenby his headquarters. On his death
the same year, his place was taken by his brother Jasper,
earl of Pembroke. From then till 1485 the history of the


war in Wales is largely a record of the movements and the
schemes, the failures and the successes of Jasper.

It is not surprising, therefore, that contemporary Welsh
literature should contain frequent allusions to the family
device. One or two instances shall suffice. In an ode to
Owen Tudor, written soon after the battle of Mortimer's
Cross, Robin Ddu, the Anglesey poet, while bewailing his
hero's death, transfers his hopes to Jasper, and prophesies
" the victory of the red dragon over the dishonoured white."

Draig wen ddibarch yn gwarchae
A draig goch a dyr y cae.

Although in this couplet the play between " red " and
" white " is unmistakable, the " dragon " as a substitute
for " rose " may not seem convincing. However, the same
poet in a poem written during the exile of the Tudors, looks
forward hopefully to the time when " red roses will rule in
splendour " :

Rhos cochion mewn rhwysg uchel.

Guto'r Glyn, in an ode to Roger Kynaston, composed shortly
after the return of Edward IV, plays upon the conflict
between a " rose of silver " and " a rose of gold." The rose
is also a favourite emblem with Dafydd Llwyd, a warm
associate of Jasper. The white rose of York, too, had
its adherents. Lewis Glyn Cothi, exultant in praise of
Sir William Herbert's prowess in the north of England,
describes how " he triumphed with white roses " :

A oresgynodd a'i ros gwynion.
But as the white rose is acknowledged to have been a device
of the Yorkists, it is unnecessary to enlarge on this point.
The poets, moreover, were not ill-informed on events
The French m F ranc e, in which hosts of Welshmen took an
wars - active share ; but their information is largely of

local interest only. How they obtained their knowledge
is not altogether a matter of conjecture. A constant
stream of warriors passed to and fro between the two
countries. Scores of French prisoners were at various


times lodged in the royal castles of North Wales. On the
conclusion of the war, although a few like John Edward,
who had married a French wife, became subjects of the king
of France, the majority returned to their native land with
tales of plunder and adventure.

Guto'r Glyn voices the consternation with which the
news of Mathew Gough's capture was received in Wales, and
urges the collection of a ransom to redeem him. Lewis Glyn
Cothi hints at the same warrior's exploit at the battle of
Formigny in 1450, when, at the head of his men, he cut his
way through the French lines to safety ; and we see no
reason to reject the same writer's statement that Gough's
life on that occasion was saved by Gwilym Gwent. His
death on London Bridge, while endeavouring to save the
city from Cade's rebels, sent the nation into mourning, a fact
which is curiously corroborated by William of Worcester in
a quaint Latin couplet 1 .

The Anglesey poet already referred to appears to be our
earliest authority for the romance of Owen Tudor and
Catherine, the widowed queen of Henry V. Robin Ddu
was in close touch with the Tudors and the chief families
of North Wales. It is possible, probable even, that he got
his information from Owen Tudor himself. The version in
Stowe, which is the one generally accepted, is substantially
the same, but of a later date.

Enough has now been said to show at least that these

writers cannot altogether be ignored by the

Indt P h° e ets student of the history of the latter half of the

dynastic fifteenth century. But after all, the supreme

wars. J

importance of the poets lies in another direction.
It is not theirs to record facts. It is theirs to give expression
to the debates and the promptings of the nation's soul. And
if we are to seek in them an accurate interpretation of popular
feeling, the dynastic question as such had no meaning in
Wales. Not one of them holds a brief to buttress either

1 See p. 62.


Lancaster or York. They sing the glory of a Tudor or a
Herbert according as each rises to eminence, and bids fair
to become a national leader. Nor can it be said that they
exposed themselves to a charge of apostacy if their panegyrics
thus alternated between the one and the other. They were
consistent in their nationalism. To them Herbert and Tudor
were nationalists, not party leaders. Lewis Glyn Cothi saw
in Edward IV a descendant of Gwladys the Dark, daughter
of Llywelyn the Great ; and he appeals to him, " a royal
Welshman," to rid them of oppression, and ameliorate the
condition of the peasant. Similarly, Henry of Richmond
found in Wales enthusiastic support not because he repre-
sented the claims of Lancaster, but because he was the
grandson of Owen Tudor.

No leader of dazzling pre-eminence had arisen in Wales
since Owen Glyndwr. " Those who are awake know that
Wales has long since fallen into a deep sleep, and awaits
an embraving champion."

Cysgu 'roedd Cymru medd sawl a'i gwyl
Yn hir heb flaenawr fau ragorawl.

These are the words of Lewis Glyn Cothi who knew the
Their nation's pulse better than any of his contem-

nationaiism. poraries. The wars of Owen Glyndwr had left
the country bruised, and shackled by an oppressive penal
code. The people were restive, and in the second half of
the century became animated by a profound, sustained
passion to rid themselves of the incubus of alien officials.
They were no longer inspired by false hopes of an independent
nationality. That ideal had perished. Yet Wales a nation
was as virile a principle as in the days of the last Llywelyn ;
and to advocate it was the touchstone of true worth in her
leaders. The poets tuned their harps to blazon the nation's
name, and to proclaim the chieftain best fitted to deliver
them from bondage.

The first of such men was Griffith ap Nicholas. He
died about the time that Jasper Tudor came to Wales. In


Jasper the poet saw two important qualifications for
leadership : he was related by birth to the reigning sovereign,
Henry VI ; and he was the son of Owen Tudor. Accordingly,
all were urged to unite beneath his standard. Not in vain ;
a fact which is forcibly exemplified by the campaign of
Ludford. When Jasper's cause waned, the mantle of
leadership was transferred to William Herbert, whose star
rose rapidly above the horizon after the battle of Mortimer's
Cross. After the death of Herbert at Edgecote, in 1469,
the poets centre their hopes once more in Jasper and his
young nephew, Henry of Richmond.

In some poems the prospective saviour of his country
is designated " Owen the Deliverer." That this belief in
" Owen " was not a delusion finds curious illustration in
the Welsh Tudor chronicler, Ellis Griffith, whose History of
Wales is still in manuscript only, in the library of Lord
Mostyn. For the general history of the period under con-
sideration this history must be consulted with caution. In
many respects it is worthless. The following story, however,
is interesting and suggestive.

" William ap Griffith was a chieftain of North Wales.
Deeply disappointed by the death of Edmund Tudor, earl
of Richmond, before a son had been born to him, he threw
his bard, Robin Ddu, into prison, exclaiming angrily : ' You
made me believe that a scion of the House of Owen would
one day restore us the crown of Britain. You now perceive

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Online LibraryHowell Thomas EvansWales and the wars of the Roses → online text (page 1 of 22)