END OF THE POWYS DYNASTY
By Darrell Wolcott
Following the death of Brochwel ap
Aeddan, the succession to the kingship of Powys is clouded by a gap in the family pedigrees where three generations appear
to be omitted. Sufficient information can be gleaned from HLG 2 and 12 to closely date the men of the eleventh
century, exposing an obvious hole in the chronological sequence:
- (Aeddan ?)
- (Brochwal ?) Tudor
- (Selyf ?)
Gwerystyn Llywarch Gam
Gwrgi Ithel==Nest Rhys Sais
1080 Tangwre====Seisyllt Ednowain========Generys
I do not have sufficient information
to date Seisyllt ap Gwrgi, but Cynfyn ap Gwerystan was born c. 985/990. His daughter Nest would occur c. 1025
and her son Ednowain perhaps 1045. Thus Gwrgeneu ap Ednowain of c. 1085 is the age we should expect for a husband of
Gwledyr. In the other family shown, Tudor Trevor was born c. 900 , Llyddoca his eldest son c. 930 and Llywarch
Gam was born c. 960. Ednyfed follows at c. 995, Rhys Sais at c. 1025 and his daughter Generys about 1060. This
matches her with husband Ednowain of 1050, yielding the son Gwrgeneu at 1085. Our search for the names of the men who fill
the blank generations of our chart proceeds thusly:
By staying as close as possible
to the data which is disclosed in a chronologically deficient pedigree, we first look to the actual names cited as the father
of each man, beginning at the bottom. The Beli in Gwyn ap Gruffudd ap Beli is said to be the son of a Selyf ap Brochwel
ap Aeddan. If we insert those names into our chart at the indicated spot, we are left with an emended pedigree
which repeats that three-name block one after the other. Although it will be the subject of later studies of this family as
it wends it way down to the 15th century, I will only pause at present to say that the 3 name sequence of Selyf ap Brochwel ap Aeddan
is repeated 3 more times in the family. And each of those Selyf's named a son Beli who named a son Gruffudd who named
a son Gwyn. Each of the Selyf's (save the last) also named a son Aeddan, and it was that son who continued the
repeating sequence. We have seen many pedigrees which, like this one, omit sequences of names which seem to be duplicates.
While it was necessary
for dating purposes to portray the branch of the family found in the cited pedigrees, the men at the bottom were not
in the senior (kingly) line. An expanded chart will reflect the probably branches:
940 Cadell 943
Seisyllt  945 Selyf
1011 Gruffudd 1005
Bleddyn Ithel Maredudd
(Note: the Selyf born c. 945 had a second
son named Beli, whose son Gruffudd named a son Gwyn;it is that line of the family shown in our first chart.)
It would appear
that the Cadell ap Brochwel of this chart is the king of Powys whose daughter Nest was the mother of Cynfyn ap Gwerystan.
It was the brothers Rhiwallon and Bleddyn who took Powys from the sons of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn; we strongly suspect she was
appropriated by the medieval genealogists and inserted as the Nest ferch Cadell ap Brochwel they cite as the mother
of Rhodri Mawr. Since the present King Cadell had no sons, succession probably fell to the next eldest son of Brochwel.
There is no record that a Seisyllt ap Brochwel ever was a king and he may have predeceased Cadell, making Llewelyn
(eldest son of Seisyllt) the next Powys king.
When Llewelyn was slain in 1023,
his son Gruffudd was barely a teenager. Celtic kings were expected to be warriors and they never had a tradition
of child-kings. If we speculate that Llewelyn's cousin Aeddan also died prior to 1023 (he may even have fought
alongside Llewelyn and fell with him), the leading men of Powys were faced with a problem of succession. Surely
Gruffudd, in time, would be their king but one was required for the interim. Cynfyn ap Gwerystan was the maternal grandson
of former king Cadell and seemed a good choice. One might also speculate that he was told his approval would be
assured if he took to wife the widow of Llewelyn ap Seisyllt and became step-father to the edling, Gruffudd ap
Llewelyn. Cynfyn did, in fact, marry the widowed Angharad ferch Maredudd ap Owain and probably did serve as the interim
king of Powys. This likely was the basis of the claim laid by his sons in 1063; neither was yet old enough to
make such a claim when Gruffudd ap Llewelyn finally became king in 1039. However, it is known that Llewelyn had a brother
named Cynan who may have succeeded him, but he was killed in 1027 while young Gruffudd was still a teenager.
Thus the tenure of Cynfyn may have begun fours years later than we first said; in that case his marriage had already occurred since
Bleddyn was born of that union about 1025.
Gruffudd ap Llewelyn became
the king of Powys in 1039 and that year may mark the death of Cynfyn. He immediately launched a campaign against
Iago ap Cynan of Gwynedd, killing that king and annexing Gwynedd to Powys. Whether this was retaliation for a role Iago had
in the death of Llewelyn 16 years earlier, as some claim, or for Iago's role in a possible attack against Powys which killed
Cynfyn is a matter of conjecture. But over the next 24 years, Gruffudd managed to forcibly take control of every
kingdom in Wales and inflict much damage against the now-unified English nation to his east. In 1063, King Edward the
Confessor authorized Harold Godwinson to take a large army into Wales to bring Gruffudd to heel. With a unified ground
assult from the east and a naval blockade at his north, Gruffudd was trapped in his palace at Rhuddlan. As Harold
set about to scourge the lands of any who dared support Gruffudd, a contingent of his own men killed the King of all Wales
and brought his head to Harold to sue for peace.
indicate the brothers Bleddyn and Rhiwallon stood down to allow Harold's army to approach Rhuddlan, for which they were rewarded
thusly: Rhiwallon, the oldest, was given rule over Powys and Bleddyn received Gwynedd. The two surviving sons
of Gruffudd, then barely 20 years old, bided their time for another 6 years then sought their birthright on the battlefield in
Mechain. Both died either during, or as a direct result of, this clash with the sons of Cynfyn but not before they
had killed Rhiwallon. Thus Bleddyn assumed the kingships of both Gwynedd and Powys and the rule by the lineage of Brochwel
Ysgithrog at last was ended. We find no recorded attempts to regain the kingship by the descendants of the junior
branch of the family shown in our chart; thereafter it became the senior line of the now non-royal family.
 Hen Lwythau Gwynedd a'r Mars, a medieval manuscript containing pedigrees
of the chief non-royal families of north Wales, edited by P.C. Bartrum in the National Library of Wales Journal, vol xii,
 Brochwel is omitted in the HLG 2 pedigree. See Note 9 in our paper
entitled "Powys Succession After 823".
 Birthdate estimates of Cynfyn ap Gwerystan and Tudor Trevor are those
of Bartrum from the above source in Note 1, and concur with our own estimates.
 The ancestry of Seisyllt is nowhere recorded; we believe sufficient
evidence exists to place him in the Powys Royal Family and his conjectural assignment as a younger brother of Cadell ap Brochwel
fits what is known of his place in history.
 Refer to the discussion of that Nest in our paper entitled "Nest ferch
Cadell ap Brochwel".
 Brut y Tywysogyon cites the death of Llewelyn in 1023; Gruffudd was
born about 1010/12 according to most estimates.
 The edling was the heir-apparent, the person entitled to reign after
the King. According to the Laws of Hywel Dda, "it is right for him to be a son or nephew of the King."
 Cynfyn married the mother of Rhiwallon and Bleddyn after she was widowed
in 1023; we believe Rhiwallon was the older since he was given Powys after the death of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn, which was the
only kingdom his father claimed a paternal right to possess. Our estimate for the brother's birthdates is 1024 and 1025,
 No obit for Cynfyn is recorded. The Brut cites 1039 as the year Gruffudd
came to power and that would presumably occur at the death of the previous king. He would have been 28/29 years old, so 1039
was not the year he became an adult but see our paper "Minimum Age for Welsh Kingship in the 11th Century" elsewhere on this
 Rhuddlan lies at the mouth of the River Conwy at the Irish Sea; an
earlier attempt by Harold Godwinson to capture or kill him had failed when Gruffudd made his escape by sea.
 Mechain is a cantref in central Powys on the north edge of the present