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that your prophecy was false, for Edmund has left no son
to succeed him.' Soon it became known that the duchess
was about to give birth to a child. Robin Ddu was immedi-
ately set free and despatched to Pembroke. A son was born,
and they called his name Owen, by which name young Henry
Tudor was for many years known among the Welsh 1 ."

On the social life of Wales at this period the poets are
invaluable. They throw interesting light also on ecclesi-

1 The above is a brief summary of the tale which is given in full, in the
original text, in an appendix to this chapter. For an excursus on authori-
ties, other than those of Wales, see Appendix at the end of the book.


astical affairs. Lewis Glyn Cothi is trenchant in his satire
upon the friars and the travelling minstrels, though his
lampoon is often less robust than that of Guto'r Glyn. The
sale of indulgences, and even the papacy itself, come beneath
their scourge. " The Church is as impotent as the Govern-
ment," says Tudur Penllyn, " and armies have become
the instrument of the devil." Dice, chess, carol-singing,
cards, and dancing relieved the monotony of everyday life.
The " Life of Sir Rhys ap Thomas " in the Cambrian
-The Life Register (1795) is a work which has enjoyed

of sir Rhys much popularity, and has formed the basis of

ap Thomas." , r * , f , , ,

almost everything that has been written on
Wales during the second half of the fifteenth century.
The original manuscript appears to have been written in the
early part of the seventeenth century by one who claimed
some relationship to Rhys ap Thomas, in order, as he states,
to dash in pieces some false, forged traditions respecting
him. The writer traces the history of the family from the
time of Griffith ap Nicholas, the grandfather of Rhys.

The style is attractive, and characterised by unusual
dramatic power. The writer was familiar with the chronicles
of Hall and Holinshed ; in fact his account, when it deals
with the general events of history, is largely a reproduction
of Hall. He has also perused some of the fifteenth century
Welsh poets, but not critically ; for he presumes that they
give the literal truth and translates them accordingly. He
states, for example, that Griffith ap Nicholas possessed seven
strong castles, and that three great dukes with two other
great judges of the realm attempted and failed " to crush
and tread him under foot." These statements are a transla-
tion of an ode to Griffith by Gwilym ap Ieuan Hen 1 .

1 Gorchestion Beirdd Cymru, 142—4.

Saith gastell sy i'th gostiaw,
A saith lys y sy i'th law ;
Tri dug a brofes trwy dwng
A dau ustus dy ostwng;
Nes iddynt na'th ddiswyddaw
Dramwy ar draed dri raor draw.


The writer then proceeds to amplify. The three dukes
were " Richard, duke of York, Humphrey, duke of Bucking-
ham, and Henry, duke of Warwick, or rather Jasper, earl
of Pembroke, to whom he had just cause of quarrel because
Jasper took a liking to Griffith's castle of Cilgerran." It is
no doubt true that these lords had large interests in Wales ;
and further, that Griffith was actually engaged in strife with
Jasper's brother, Edmund. But Jasper's relations with the
family were friendly, and Griffith's sons fought with him
against the Yorkists at Mortimer's Cross ; while it is certain
that Cilgerran did not belong to Griffith ap Nicholas.

Moreover, the account given here of the attitude of
Griffith towards the rival houses of York and Lancaster is
seriously at variance with that given by Lewis Glyn Cothi ;
for it states that Griffith, having been found guilty of felony,
offered his services to the duke of York, and fought and died
at Mortimer's Cross. To this we shall return. There are
many adventurous tales which we have no means of verifying,
but they are of personal, rather than general interest. Some
of them, indeed, bear a striking resemblance to those con-
nected with other individuals at this period. Like Lord
Stanley, Rhys ap Thomas is required by Richard III to give
his son as a hostage ; while the story that Rhys, having
promised Richard that whoever, ill-affected to the state,
should dare to land in Wales where he (Rhys) had any
employments under his majesty " he must resolve with
himself to make his entrance and irruption over my bellie,"
and that, to verify his oath, he suffered Henry of Richmond,
on landing at Dale, to pass over his body — this story also
has its counterpart in the annals of Shrewsbury. The
author asserts, further, that Rhys was absolute in the neigh
bourhood of Milford Haven where Henry landed, that he
kept Carmarthen castle, that Richard required him to safe-
guard Milford Haven against foreign invasion, and that he
joined Henry at Dale, all of which are either contradicted
by known facts or unsubstantiated by independent evidence.


It would therefore be unsafe to take this work as a reliable

The recognised contemporary chroniclers have very little
English to say of Wales. Their references are few and

authorities. shadowy — the impressions of men who view
things from afar. There is not a single continuous record.
We have therefore to gather the sequence of events from
a mass of material drawn from such official documents as
the Rolls of Parliament, Rymer's Foedera, the Patent Rolls,
Acts and Proceedings of the Privy Council, the Deputy
Keeper's Reports, Inquisitiones post mortem, Statutes of the
Realm, the Paston Letters and other correspondence,
Municipal Records, and the original material to be found
in the publications of various societies. Such material,
though disconnected, is on the whole beyond suspicion, and
it is possible to obtain from them a tolerably clear idea of
the march of events 1 .


Extract from the MS. " History of Wales," by Ellis
Griffith, in the Mostyn Library.

Genedigaeth Henri ap yr Edmwnt a dreith ym mlaen hyn o lafur.
Yn y pryd a'r amser yr ydoedd brudiwr a bardd mawr o vewn tir
Gwynedd y neb a elwid Rhobin Ddu brydydd...yr hwn ynn hyn
o amser ynny blaen a ddywedasai i Syr William Gruffuth yr hwn
yn y cyfamser aoedd ben Siambyrlen o Wynedd i dygai Rishmwn
goron tyrnas lloygyr am iben or achos yngydrym ac ir marchog
gafel y gwirionedd o varwolaeth Iarll Ritsmwnt y vo a ddanvones
i gyrchu y bardd wrth yr hwn y dywed ef drwy ymravaelion eiriau
gwattwarus yn y modd yma. Aha Hrobin deg. Wele mor deg
i mae ych brudiau chwi ynn dyvod tydi a wnaethost i mi ac i lawer
dyn goelio i dygai Ritshmwnt goron y dyrnas. Megis ac i dangosais
di imi yn fynnych o amseroedd or blaen. Neithyr yrowan ir wyf

1 For an account of the original authorities of the period the reader is
referred to Historical Literature of the Fifteenth Century, Kingsford ; and
Ramsay, Lancaster and York.


i ynn gweled yn amlwg nad oes onid ffuent a chelwydd oth ymddi-
ddanau di. Or achos y dywed y prydydd drwy gythrudd a Hid ynn
y modd hwn. Serre pette iarll Richmwnt gwedi marw ag wedi
llosgi i gorff ef ac wedi boddi y lludw etto i mae i wraig ef yn feichiog
ar ettivedd mab, yr hwn a fydd brenin o loygyr or achos yma, megis
ac y mae'r chwedyl yn sathredig ymysg y Cymru, y vo a gedwis y
Siambyrlen y bardd megys ynn garcharor oni gavas ef wir wybodaeth
fod yr iarlles yn feichiog ac yna y vo a ollyngodd Robin yn hrydd
yr hwn o fewn ychydig o amser ynnol a gymerth i shiwrnai o Wynedd
i ddeheubarth. Ac ir oedd ef ynghastell Penvro pan oedd yr Iarlles
yn travaelio oi chlevyd ac wrth i gynghor ef i kymerth hi y Siambyr
o fewn y twr a dreithir uchod yn y lie y ganned iddi vab. Megis y
mae gwyr hen o Gymru yn dywedud a hennwyd ynni vedyddio
Ywain. Neithyr pan ir goshibion ddangos ir iarlles i henw ef y hi
a beris ir esgob droi i henw ef ai hennwi ef Henry neithyr val kynt
gwyr Cymru ai galwai ef Ywain yn vynnych no henri yr hwn wedi
i ddyvod ef mewn oedran affoes allan or deyrnas i dir ffrainck rhag
ofn brenin Edwart.



The rising of Owen Glyndwr in the first decade of the
century was in some respects the greatest social calamity
that the country ever experienced. The wide-spread ruin
of monasteries, and the relentless devastation of lands, were
the least among the evils which it brought in its train. In
the first place, Wales was for many years afterwards regarded
as an active volcano which might at any moment break
out in violent eruption.

Beware of Walys, Criste Jhesu mutt us kepe

That it make not oure childeis childe to wepe,

Ne us also, if it go his waye

By unwarenesse ; seth that many a day

Men have beferde of here rebellioun.

Loke wele aboute, for, God wote, we have nede 1 .

The English Government considered it necessary to
Results of maintain a considerable force of archers and

oi^ndwr's men-at-arms in the most disaffected districts,
rising. Apart from the castle garrisons at Carnarvon,

Harlech, Carmarthen and other royal strongholds, a force
of about a thousand men was stationed in the very heart
of the country, at Cymmer and Bala in Merionethshire,
and at Strata Florida in Carmarthenshire. Even when
England was being drained of its fighting men for the French
wars of Henry V, Wales could not be left without a guard

1 " The Libell of English Policye," circ. 1436, in Political Songs and
Poems, 11. 190. Rolls edition.

ch. n] THE PENAL LAWS 17

of nearly a thousand men 1 . In the eyes of patriotic Welsh-
men this military occupation served as a mark of abiding
captivity and national subjection.

Henry V, who had acquired an invaluable military
training in Wales during his youth, was statesman enough
to perceive that a disaffected Wales was a menace he could
not afford to ignore, or treat with indifference. And so,
being engrossed in plans of foreign conquest, he became
anxious for a complete reconciliation. Owen Glyndwr
himself was still, apparently, at large, and the possibility
of a renewal of active hostilities not altogether remote.
Thus, on the eve of the campaign of Agincourt in 1415,
just before the army embarked from France, David Howel,
a Welshman of note, was charged with complicity in the
conspiracy of the earl of Cambridge. In his confession
Cambridge stated that the earl of March, who was to replace
Henry V on the throne, was to be taken to Wales, and there
proclaimed king ; that the royal castles in Wales were to be
seized ; and that David Howel was to engineer a rising in
North Wales. David Howel's complicity in the affair could
not be proved ; for, in the following year, he complained
in parliament that he had been indicted of treason by one
John Eliot before the king's justices, and that Eliot did not
appear to support the charge 2 .

Aware of the intractable temper of his Welsh enemies,
the king sent repeated offers of pardon to Owen Glyndwr
or his representative. A few weeks before his departure for
France he sent Gilbert Talbot on a peaceful mission to Wales,
with authority to pardon any rebels who might be disposed
to submit. The following year Talbot went on a second
embassy of a similar nature, armed with power to negotiate

1 In 141 1 there were 300 men-at-arms, and 600 archers in these places.
In 1415, Strata Florida had 40 men-at-arms, and 80 archers; Cymmer
and Bala 300 men-at-arms and 60 archers each. Acts and Proceedings of
the Privy Council, II. 14-18, 37-38, III. 146.

2 Rymer's Foedera, ix. 300-1. Rot. Pari. 4 Henry V, 64-6, 102.
Appendix to Nicholas, Agincourt, 19. David Howel was accused ' sans
aucune manere de droit.' For his subsequent history see chap. III.

E. W. R. 2


with Owen's son Meredith, as Owen himself could not be
found 1 .

Moreover, it stands recorded that Henry gave instructions
for the rebuilding of some of the monasteries that had been
destroyed in the war. The abbey of Llanfaes in Anglesey
was to be restored, and at least two of the monks were to
be Welsh 2 .

HI The rising of Owen Glyndwr, in the second place, left
a bitter heritage of feud among the Welsh families them-
selves. Many of them had been opposed to Owen's action
from the beginning, and none more vehemently than David
Gam, whose daughter Gwladys became the mother of the
Herberts of Raglan. These loyalists were proscribed and
ruthlessly persecuted by what may with propriety be called
the patriots : their lands were devastated ; many were
imprisoned ; not a few escaped vengeance by enlisting for
the wars in France. For more than a generation frequent
complaints were made to Parliament that those who had
been loyal to the Government were the victims of ill-treat-
ment by Owen's partisans and those of their blood 3 . Some,
apparently, found refuge in the old Welsh custom of rhaith,
according to which three hundred men were required to
swear to the loyalty or innocence of the accused 4 . However,
the feud between patriot and loyalist was fiercely active
long after the accession of Henry VI 5 .

But blood-feuds and the establishment of a species of
martial law throughout the land were not the only or the

1 Rymer, ix. 283, 330. July 5, 1415, and February 24, 1416.

2 Rymer, ix. 147-8. July 3, 1414.

3 Rot. Pari. (1413-14) 1 Henry V. 10. " Plusieurs des dits
rebelles etaient encore en vie, et autres de sang prochain a ceux rebelles ou
leurs amis font graunde pursuite envers les loiaux lieges, surmettant en eux.
Us demandent haute amende. Les dits loiaux lieges sont grevousement
vexes en plusieurs parties et seigneurs de Galles, aucuns de eux par endite-
ments, acusements, ou empechements, et aucuns par menaces et distresses
prises, et aucuns par leurs corps prises et emprisonnes." See also, ibid.
1427, 329.

4 Rot. Pari. 141 3, 10. See also the complaint of William ap William
ap Griffith. Rot. Pari. 1439-42, 16.

5 Ibid. 1427.


least of the evil results of Glyndwr's rising. It produced
a code of penal laws which increased in severity until the
cataclysm of the Wars of the Roses swept away the old
order of things, and ushered in a new era of coalition and
prosperity. For many generations Welshmen were denied
the ordinary privileges of citizenship : they could not acquire
property in land within or near the boroughs ; they could
not serve on juries ; intermarriage between them and the
English was forbidden ; they could not hold office under the
Crown ; no Englishman could be convicted on the oath of
a Welshman 1 .

These protective walls, which sought to guard the
interests of English residents in Wales, could


who received not long withstand the assaults of social and
political storms. The peasant fought for a
path to freedom ; his lord hungered for more land ;
the artisan was rising to a position of independence ; the
merchant opened up new avenues of trade ; home and
foreign wars created a demand for Welsh soldiers ; in the
midst of all came a prolonged strife which finally shattered
the filigree of social distinctions between the two nations.
But while these forces were gathering strength the average
Welshman was grievously handicapped by the penal laws.
It would have been inexpedient, if not difficult, to withhold
citizenship from a Welshman of commanding local influence,
whose power and interests could be enlisted on the side of
order by granting him denizenship. This appears to have
been the position of Rees ap Thomas, a Cardiganshire

1 Que nulle homme Galeys desormes soit Justice, Chamberlain, Chaun-
celler, Seneschal, Resceivour, chief Forestier, Viscompt, eschetour, ne
conestable de chastel . . ; mais, soient angloys en mesmes les offices . . ;
Item que nulle homme Engloys par touz les partiez de Gales soit endite ou
attache par hatie et envie de Galoys,. .soit convict par enquest des Galoys
de nulle chose a luy surmys ; Item que nulle homme ne femme Engloys
se marient a nulle homme ne femme Galoys ; Item, que les Burges Englois
de Villes ne receveint nulle homme de demy sang del partie Galois destre
enfranchiez deinz leurs villes.

Ordinates Walliae. 2 Henry IV, March 18. Record of Carnarvon,
239, seq. See also " Statute of Wastours and Rymours " 4 Henry IV.


chieftain, who was admitted to the full rights of a citizen
in 1413, and was the first thus to be favoured, unless we carry
our history further back than the accession of Henry V,
Rees subsequently held an official position of some moment
in West Wales and received the alien priory of St Clear's 1 .
Some years later, Griffith ap Nicholas was granted the
privileges of Englishmen for similar reasons. To have made
him the victim of a harsh penal code would have been unwise,
perhaps dangerous. The same may be said of Griffith Dwnn
to whom, in 1421, Parliament granted the full liberties of
a loyal subject 2 . His family played a conspicuous part in
the politics of the second half of the century.

The penal laws, in that they forbade a Welshman to
hold or purchase lands in England, affected, more by chance
than by design, the civil rights of those who had migrated
from Wales to England before the passing of the statutes,
and had acquired a territorial interest there. But for their
petitions to parliament, we might never have suspected
their Welsh origin. Such was Lewis John, who is described
as having been born of a Welsh father and mother. He
had acquired a status in England as a freeman of the city
of London ; he possessed estates in Essex, and was Warden
of the Mint in London and Calais 3 . John Montgomery 4
and John Steward were Welshmen who found themselves
in the same difficulty. Both served with distinction at
Agincourt, and afterwards in Normandy. The rights of
such men were separately safeguarded by parliament on

1 In 1438 he was made Steward of Cardigan, Cantrefmawr, and Glyn-
cothi. In 1 44 1 he and a few others received the alien priories of St Clear's
and Llangenneth. In 1444 he received Gerardston, Cardiganshire. Rot.
Pari. iv. 6 ; and Cal. Pat. Rolls, passim.

2 Rot. Pari. (1413-37), 130.

3 Letters of Margaret of Anjou, 34. Rot. Pari. iv. 44-5.

4 Rot. Pari. iv. 45, Nicholas, Agincourt ; 379-85. Record Reports
(1885), 546, which state that John Montgomery was bailiff of Calais and
captain of Domfront. In 1430 he was on an embassy to the duke of

Proceedings, iv. 72, 324. Rymer, ix. 594-5 ; >:. 458, and passim.


It is beyond the scope of the present inquiry to follow
the careers of these men in detail, or investigate the extent
to which the people of Wales sought and found a larger
ambit of enterprise in the general affairs of the country. In
the Church they are represented by Reginald Pecock, the
most daring thinker of his age, and by the astute diplomatist
Philip Morgan, who became Bishop of Worcester and
Chancellor of Normandy. In war, no soldier of the day won
greater fame than Mathew Gough ; and but for his brilliance,
a host of lesser lights from Wales would burn more brightly.
Owen Tudor gave proof of courtly qualities by winning the
affection of Queen Catherine. Few mastered the shifts of
statecraft more successfully than William Herbert. Some
of these, on account of the eminence they achieved in the
Wars of the Roses, or the splendour in which they are
wreathed in contemporary Welsh literature, will appear often
in our story. Others, like Pecock and Philip Morgan, who
do not directly affect the story of Wales, have no claims upon
the present narrative.

To resume. Many obtained emancipation from civil
thraldom by their eminent services in the French wars ;
for example, David ap Thomas of Cardiganshire, in 1427,
for his unswerving loyalty to Henry V. In this instance
the liberation was not made hereditary 1 . A few years later
he was to suffer imprisonment for his adherence to Humphrey,
duke of Gloucester. In 1430, Rhys ap Madoc " born in
Wales " received denizenship at the special request of the
House of Commons for his sovereign heroism at Crevant
and Verneuil. He appears to have been in personal atten-
dance upon the duke of Bedford when the latter crossed
from France to England to compose the differences between
Cardinal Beaufort and the duke of Gloucester 2 . The yoke
next fell from the shoulders of Morgan Meredith. He

1 Rot. Pari. 1427, 325. Cal. Pat. Rolls, sub ann.

2 Rot. Pari. 1430-1, 372. Record Reports (1887). He received
protection to cross to France in the duke of Bedford's retinue on February
7, 1425-6.


marked his deliverance by a prosperous trade in barley
with the Netherlands, and later acquired some ascendancy
in the local affairs of Kent 1 . In 1432 the franchise was
bestowed upon Owen ap Meredith, who was probably the
romantic Owen ap Meredith ap Tudor, better known as
Owen Tudor 2 . There is a forbidding leanness about this
grant which betokens flagrant insincerity or

Owen Tudor. .... . . TT . , . .

intriguing suspicion. He could not become a
citizen or a burgess, nor hold a Crown office in any city,
borough, or market town. By a process of elimination we
infer that he could bear arms, acquire land, intermarry,
and serve on a jury. He might hold a household appoint-
ment, a fact of outstanding significance in his particular
case. As we shall see, he was already the husband of Queen
Catherine, though the fact was not generally known.

Another illuminating case is that of William ap William
ap Griffith, who described himself as " English on his mother's
side, being son to Joan, daughter of William Stanley, knight,
and part English on his father's side." His father, he
declared, had been loyal to the Crown against Owen Glyndwr,
and had been despoiled of his lands in consequence. Parlia-
ment gave a guarded assent to his request ; for William
was not to marry a Welsh wife, and he was not permitted
to hold any royal office in Wales 3 . Three years later,
however, these embarrassing restrictions were removed. The
Government became more liberal under Edward IV. In
1468 Morgan ap Meredith of Carnarvonshire, and one
David Canons, were enabled to become burgesses of any
Carnarvonshire boroughs, or of any other town in Wales and
the Marches, with freedom to hold office and carry arms 4 .

1 Record Reports (1887). January 5, 1442-3. He was on a commis-
sion to investigate disturbances in 1456. Proceedings of the Privy Council,
vi. 289. June, 1456. Also, Morgan Meredith of Carmarthen; 1441.
C.P.R., 560.

2 Rot. Pari. 10 Henry VI. 415. The relations between Owen and
Catherine are discussed fully in another chapter.

3 Rot. Pari, 1439, 16; and 1442, 45. See his pedigree in Dwnn, 11. 89.

4 Cal. Pat. Rolls, September 26, 1468, 107-8.


But of those that were formally emancipated by parlia-
Griffith ar merit the most aggressive was Griffith ap

Nicholas. Nicholas, a remarkable character who domin-

ated West Wales in the middle of the fifteenth century. No
reliable account of him is extant, for the spurious biographical
sketch in the Cambrian Register, which was written more
than a century and a half after his death, is a picturesque
web of fancy woven to embellish a family pedigree 1 . His
grandson was that Sir Rhys ap Thomas who is said to have
deceived Richard III by an ingenious piece of sophistry,
and who afterwards won a knighthood on Bosworth field.

Griffith was intensely national, and in his generous
patronage of the bards faithfully mirrors the Welsh aristo-
cracy of his day. He is the subject of many a panegyric in
contemporary poetry where, with pardonable poetic licence,
he is extolled as the autocrat of the south and the ruler of
the west from Carmarthen to Anglesey 2 . His home was
Newton, now Dynevor, near Llandilo, in Carmarthenshire.
He held the position of approver for the king in Dynevor
as early as 1425 ; so that he mu=t ^qve obtained release
from civic servitude before that date, althougn cut parlia-
mentary recognition of it was only recorded twenty years
afterwards. Moreover, he was farmer of the lordship of
Dynevor in 1440 3 .

A curious instance of the abduction of a woman of
property gives him a lurid ascendancy which is not sub-
stantiated by the little we know of him. Margaret, the
widow of Sir Thomas Maliphant, was journeying from
Pembrokeshire to London, when she was seized by an
unscrupulous adventurer Lewis Leyshon, who speciously

1 I refer to the account of him in the Life of Sir Rhys ap Thomas in
the Cambrian Register, 1795. The original MS. appears to have been
written in the early part of the reign of James I, as already stated, Ch. 1.

2 Lewis Glyn Cothi, 11, 1. See also Iolo MSS. 699, a poem by
Iorwerth Fynglwyd. Gorchestion Beirdd Cymru, 155, a poem by Gwilym

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