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Legendary History Prior to 1st Century BC
Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees
The Bartrum "Welsh Genealogies"
Bartrum's "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs"
A study in charting medieval citations
The Evolution of the "Padriarc Brenin" Pedigree
Generational Gaps and the Welsh Laws
Minimum Age for Welsh Kingship in the Eleventh Century
The Lands of the Silures
Catel Durnluc aka Cadell Ddyrnllwg
Ancient Powys
The Royal Family of Powys
The Royal Family of Gwynedd
The 5 Plebian Tribes of Wales
Maxen Wledig of Welsh Legend
Maxen Wledig and the Welsh Genealogies
Anwn Dynod ap Maxen Wledig
Constans I and his 343 Visit to Britain
Glast and the Glastening
Composite Lives of St Beuno
Rethinking the Gwent Pedigrees
The Father of Tewdrig of Gwent
Another Look at Teithfallt of Gwent
Ynyr Gwent and Caradog Freich Fras
Llowarch ap Bran, Lord of Menai
Rulers of Brycheiniog - The Unanswered Questions
Lluan ferch Brychan
The Herbert Family Pedigree
Edwin of Tegeingl and his Family
Angharad, Heiress of Mostyn
Ithel of Bryn in Powys
Idnerth Benfras of Maesbrook
Henry, the Forgotten Son of Cadwgan ap Bleddyn
The Muddled Pedigree of Sir John Wynn of Gwydir
The Mysterious Peverel Family
The Clan of Tudor Trevor
The Other "Sir Roger of Powys"
Ancestry of Ieuaf ap Adda ap Awr of Trevor
The Retaking of Northeast Wales
Hedd Molwynog or Hedd ap Alunog of Llanfair Talhearn
"Meuter Fawr" son of Hedd ap Alunog
The Medieval "redating" of Braint Hir
Aaron Paen ap Y Paen Hen
Welsh Claims to Ceri after 1179
The Battle of Mynydd Carn
Trahaearn ap Caradog of Arwystli
Cadafael Ynfyd of Cydewain
Maredudd ap Robert, Lord of Cedewain
Cadwgan of Nannau
Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
What Really Happened in Deheubarth in 1022?
Two Families headed by a Rhydderch ap Iestyn
The Era of Llewelyn ap Seisyll
Cynfyn ap Gwerystan, the Interim King
The Consorts and Children of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn
The 1039 Battle at Rhyd y Groes
The First Wife of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn
Hywel ap Gronwy of Deheubarth
The Brief Life of Gruffudd ap Maredudd
The Other Gwenwynwyn
Eunydd son of Gwenllian
Sandde Hardd of Mortyn
The Floruit of Einion ap Seisyllt
The Enigmatic Elystan Glodrydd
Cowryd ap Cadfan of Dyffryn Clwyd
Owain ap Cadwgan and Nest ferch Rhys - An Historic Fiction?
The "sons" of Owain ap Cadwgan ap Bleddyn
The Betrayal by Meirion Goch Revisited
Gwyn Ddistain, seneschal for Llewelyn Fawr
The Men of Lleyn - How They Got There
Trahaearn Goch of Lleyn
Einion vs Iestyn ap Gwrgan - The Conquest of Glamorgan
Dafydd Goch ap Dafydd - His Real Ancestry
Thomas ap Rhodri - Father of Owain "Lawgoch"
The "Malpas" Family in Cheshire
Einion ap Celynin of Llwydiarth
Marchweithian, Lord of Is Aled, Rhufoniog
Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
Bradwen of Llys Bradwen in Meirionydd
Ednowain ap Bradwen
Sorting out the Gwaithfoeds
Three Men called Iorwerth Goch "ap Maredudd"
The Caradog of Gwynedd With 3 Fathers
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
The Legendary Kingdom of Seisyllwg
The Royal Family of Ceredigion
Llewelyn ap Hoedliw, Lord of Is Cerdin
The Ancestry of Owain Glyndwr
Gruffudd ap Rhys, the Homeless Prince
The Children of Lord Rhys
Maredudd Gethin ap Lord Rhys
The 'Next Heir' of Morgan of Caerleon
Pedigree of the ancient Lords of Ial
The Shropshire Walcot Family
Pedigree of "Ednowain Bendew II"
Pedigree of Cynddelw Gam
                           THE FIRST WIFE OF BLEDDYN AP CYNFYN
                                            By Darrell Wolcott
 
          Bleddyn was the Powys man, son of an interim king and half-brother of King Gruffudd ap Llewelyn, who "took the sovereignty of the land of Powys from the lineage of Brochwel Ysgithrog, which was contrary to right". It was the male descendents of Bleddyn who became the Second Royal Dynasty of Powys; he himself had descended from the noble, but non-royal, family headed by Cassanauth Wledig of the 5th century. 
 
          Most authorities agree that Bleddyn had children by 3 different ladies, but identify only two of them.  Haer ferch Blaidd Rhudd [1] is cited as the mother of Maredudd ap Bleddyn, while a daughter of Brochwel y Moelwyn [2] was the mother of Iorwerth ap Bleddyn.  Some medieval writers assumed Maredudd was the eldest son since the Powys kingship was continued through his descendants for over 150 years.
 
          Among the papers of Welsh Herald Lewis Dwnn was an old book called Llyfr Achau (literally "genealogy book") of unknown date and authorship.  It was included by the editor of his pedigree collection which was published in two volumes in 1866, and forms the first 64 pages of volume ii.  On page 10 is a section called "Plant Bleddyn" which reads:
 
                 Maredudd o Haer ferch Gyllyn [3]
 
                 Llywarch )
                 Cadwgan )  o wraig arall
 
                 Madog )
                 Rhiryd  )  o wraig arall
 
                 Iorwerth  o'r pedwyrydd wraig
 
           In fact, Maredudd was the youngest son who did not become king until after all his brothers were dead.  The 4 sons shown by a "second wife" were actually by Bleddyn's first wife, and Iorwerth was not by a "third wife" but by a mistress.  So who was his first wife and why has her identity been lost to history?
 
           We can't answer either question by reference to ancient sources, but our analysis of recorded events and other cited marriages during his era leads us to believe she was a Deheubarth lady, the unmentioned daughter of Hywel ap Edwin ap Einion.  This Hywel was king of Deheubarth when Gruffudd ap Llewelyn rose to power in 1039 as the king of Powys.  Gruffudd invaded Deheubarth in 1039 and again in 1041, seeking to oust Hywel and take the kingdom once held by both his mother's father and his own father.  While he was not fully successful until he finally killed Hywel in 1044, he did manage to capture Hywel's wife in the 1041 expedition.  Elsewhere, we identified that lady as Ealdgyth, daughter of Earl Leofrig of Mercia. [4]
 
          Hywel apparently had no sons; when Gruffudd was killed in 1063, it was the sons of Hywel's brother Owain who became the new kings of Deheubarth. [5]  Hywel was born c. 1005 and first came to power in 1033 [6]; he probably married shortly afterward.  To assume that he and Ealdgyth had birthed no children at all for the 7/8 years they were married is to suggest one of them was sterile.  One of the highest priorities of a Welsh king was to marry and father a son to carry on his dynasty.  Lifetimes of 11th century Welsh kings were often short, so they wasted no time getting about the production of heirs.  One would think that if a wife had not produced ANY child within 4/5 years, the king would put her aside and find a lady who could do so.  However, if his wife had proven fruitful by delivering one or more daughters, he might continue trying for a son a bit longer.  We suggest Ealdgyth had given Hywel at least one daughter, who was yet a toddler in 1041 and seldom out of her mother's sight.  In this case, she would have kept the child with her when Gruffudd captured her and took her home to his manor at Rhuddlan.  And if she'd had more than one daughter, the oldest would scarcely be past age 7; all would have been at their mother's side when she was captured.
 
           We posited elsewhere that Gruffudd took Ealdgyth, not as a wife or mistress, but as a hostage. [7] Her father was a powerful man in Mercia, the English earldom which bordered Powys, and had previously sent his brother to assist Ealdgyth's husband in his 1039 battle with Gruffudd. [8]  By holding Leofrig's daughter (and her babies) as his hostages, housing them in his manor as honored guests, with all the respect and honor due a lady of her breeding, Gruffudd might expect to greatly reduce the chances that Mercia would interfere militarily with his plans to rule all Wales, by force when required.
 
          We would further suggest that when the youngest daughter reached puberty (about 1052/53) and was eligible to take a husband, that Gruffudd sent Ealdgyth home to her father as he had previously assured Leofrig he would do.  It was, we say, during this period when Gruffudd first met Aelfgar, the eldest son of Leofrig.  In 1055, Aelfgar was outlawed when false charges were brought against him by the Godwin clan.  Aelfgar had fled to Ireland, gathered some mercenaries and landed in Wales to seek assistance from Gruffudd.  Had he and Gruffudd been strangers before that landing, we doubt his entourage could have come ashore without a fight.
 
          We also suggest that the daughter of Ealdgyth who turned 14 in 1052 was given by Gruffudd to his youngest half-brother, Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, as his wife.  It is also possible that another daughter, perhaps a year or two older, was earlier given as wife to Gruffudd's other half-brother, Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn. [9]
 
          Between 1053 and 1060, we think Bleddyn had 4 sons and 2 daughters by this half-Welsh, half Saxon lady.  The sons were Llywarch, Cadwgan, Madog and Rhiryd while the daughters were Gwenllian and Denys.  We believe this wife died before 1064, and Bleddyn then married Haer, who bore him Maredudd and a daughter, Hunydd.   Perhaps between the time he was widowed and when he remarried, Bleddyn had Iorwerth by a willing mistress. [10]
 
         It may have been the mixed ancestry of his first wife which caused early writers to avoid identifying her, or even purge those sources which did.  The matriarch of the Second Powys Dynasty, one might argue, simply had to be of pure Welsh blood; evidence to the contrary would not be welcomed.
 
         We present this chart showing our identification of Bleddyn's first wife:
 
                                                    Einion  940
                                                        l
                 990 Earl Leofrig               Edwin  975
                 ________l______                l
                 l                      l                l
    1017  Aelfgar      1020  Ealdgyth===Hywel  1005     Cynfyn  985
                                                  l                           l
                                     1038  daughter=========Bleddyn 1025
            _________________________________l___________
            l              l            l              l             l               l
        Madog      Rhiryd   Cadwgan   Llywarch  Gwenllian     Denys
         1053       1054       1055         1058        1057        1056
 
            Madog and Rhiryd were killed in 1088 during a raid into Deheubarth.  Llywarch married but no children or obit date are known.  Cadwgan ruled Powys until his death in 1111.  Gwenllian married Caradog ap Gruffudd of lower Gwent, while Denys married Iestyn ap Gwrgan of Glamorgan.
 
             One final reason for believing that Bleddyn ap Cynfyn had married a Deheubarth princess is found in his obit.  In 1075, he was murdered by Rhys ap Owain ap Edwin.  He did not fall in battle, but according to his obit, his death was accomplished by guile and treachery.  We suggest he laid claim to rule in Deheubarth and arranged a meeting with Rhys ap Owain to discuss the matter, who agreed to receive him in peace.  But without warning, Rhys killed him.  While one might argue that Bleddyn's claim was merely through his mother [11], his sons invasion of Deheubarth in 1088 seems to have been to stake a claim via their mother.  If our identification is correct, she had been born into the ruling branch of the family, while Rhys ap Tewdwr (the king in 1088) descended from a cousin branch which had never before held kingship.[12]
 

NOTES:
[1] ABT 1(d)
[2] ABT 8(c)
[3] ABT 8(b) calls Haer "ferch Gillyn ap Y Blaidd Rrudd".  Peter Bartrum would delete the "ap" to accord with those citations which make her the daughter of Blaidd Rhudd. We think Blaidd Rhudd had a son named Cyllin, a brother of this Haer.
[4] See the paper "The 1039 Battle at Rhyd y Groes" elsewhere on this site
[5] These nephews of Hywel were Maredudd ap Owain (1063-1072) and Rhys ap Owain (1072-1078)
[6] Rhydderch ap Iestyn of Dyfed ruled Deheubarth from 1023 to 1033, when he was reported slain by the Irish.  He was probably a first-cousin by marriage of Edwin ap Owain ap Hywel Dda, who was named king in 1023 because Hywel ap Edwin was yet a teenager,  By 1033, Hywel was "of full age" for kingship.
[7] See the paper "The Consorts and Children of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn" elsewhere on this site
[8] op cit Note 4 for the story of Eadwine, brother of Earl Leofrig, coming to Deheubarth to aid Hywel ap Edwin and being killed by Gruffudd ap Llewelyn
[9] While two daughters are cited for Rhiwallon, older brother of Bleddyn, no wife is ever named for him.  We think it possible the two sons of Cynfyn married two sisters who had grown up as hostages at the Powys royal manor
[10) This lady from Twrcelyn in Anglesey was a daughter of Brochwel y Moelwyn ap Aelan, a Gwynedd nobleman.  Angharad ferch Brochwel y Moelwyn is elsewhere cited as the mother of Sandde Hardd.  It is quite possible this is the same lady who was mother to Iorwerth ap Bleddyn, and that she was not married to the father of either child.  We see some evidence to indicate a few well-born Welsh ladies never married, but instead bore children for various men of Lord rank or above.  Thus, Iorwerth ap Bleddyn was either a half-brother of Sandde Hardd or they were first-cousins...sons of sisters.
[11] Bleddyn's mother was Angharad ferch Maredudd ap Owain ap Hywel Dda; Maredudd was king of Deheubarth until his death in 999
[12] Rhys ap Tewdwr was the grandson of Cadell ap Einion ap Owain ap Hywel Dda; whether by early death or other disqualification, neither Cadell nor Tewdwr ever held kingship.  Deheubarth kings were of the line of Cadell's brother, Edwin.