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Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys
                                    MAREDUDD ap OWAIN, KING of DEHEUBARTH
                                              By Darrell Wolcott
          Although Owain ap Hywel Dda lived until 988, he had turned over active rule of his kingdom to a son, Einion, about 975.  Owain spent his final years compiling his paternal and maternal pedigrees, now extant as Harleian Ms 3859.  Another son, Cadwallon ap Owain had died young in 966, while younger brothers of Einion ap Owain were Maredudd and Llywarch. [1]
         Einion, as acting king, was engaged in defending Deheubarth from both Saxon raids and from the leading men of Gwent; the latter probably battled over Gower, lands which had once been attached to Glywysing before the latter was incorporated into Glamorgan.  The Gwent brothers, Hywel and Iestyn ap Owain ap Morgan Hen, killed Einion in battle in 984 while his father was yet living, so he never became king in his own right.
         His younger brothers may have exercised joint rule until 987, when Llywarch was blinded...perhaps by orders from Maredudd [2].  When their father finally died the following year, Maredudd was officially installed as king of Deheubarth.  His nephews, the sons of Einion, were teens or younger and not yet eligible for kingship. [3] However, even before Maredudd succeeded to his father's crown, he was already a king...in Gwynedd.
          In 986, Maredudd had entered Gwynedd and, in battle, killed its king, Cadwallon ap Ieuaf ap Idwal Foel.  That man had taken the kingship of Gwynedd in 985 after his brother, Hywel ap Ieuaf, was killed by invading Saxons.  Several earlier men, all grandsons of Idwal Foel, had battled for the Gwynedd kingship and at least 4 of them had been killed in the effort. [4] Most historians attribute Maredudd's intervention in Gwynedd's affairs to a pure power grab as a neighboring king taking advantage of internal chaos.  We should like to propose another explanation.
         No extant sources identify the wife of Maredudd ap Owain, but do name a son and two daughters which he fathered.  We suggest he married a daughter of Elisedd ap Idwal Foel and was claiming Gwynedd as a cousin-by-marriage of the local contenders.  He was not yet the king of Deheubarth, but may have represented a granddaughter of Idwal Foel in seeking the Gwynedd kingship.  His rule in north Wales was punctuated by incursions from the Black Host of Scandinavian sea raiders.  In 987, Godfrey Haroldsson captured 2000 men of Anglesey and ravaged the island.  Maredudd was forced to ransom them at a penny per head, an admission that he had failed to protect his subjects and was unable to defeat Godfrey militarily.  One suspects he was upbraided by the sons of Meurig ap Idwal Foel, who had a better claim to rule Gwynedd, and agreed to ransom the hostages to forestall their rebellion.  When Owain ap Hywel Dda finally died in 988, Maredudd became king of Deheubarth while still holding Gwynedd. 
          In 992 while dividing his time between the two kingdoms, his nephew, Edwin, the eldest son of Einion, ravaged Deheubarth and took hostages.  The king hired a band of mercenaries to help free those hostages.  That same year, Maredudd's only legitimate son, Cadwallon, died as a pre-teen lad.  In 993, the hostages Maredudd had been given by the sons of Meurig ap Idwal Foel [5] managed to escape back to Gwynedd.  In 994, those men (Idwal and Elisedd ap Meurig) attacked Maredudd's men at Llangwm [6] and defeated him.  While one of his nephews, Tewdwr ap Einion, fell in that battle, Maredudd was able to return safely to Deheubarth.  But his kingship of Gwynedd was lost.
           By 998, Edwin ap Einion had already attained  full age for kingship and may have felt that Maredudd was merely an interim king serving during Edwin's youth and had proven to be ineffective in battle.  Einion had been the eldest son, and it was his lineage which was entitled to rule after the death of Owain ap Hywel Dda.  Was it mere good fortune that Maredudd died in 999 or did Edwin somehow arrange that?  Maredudd was a man in his low-to-mid 50's who had a young daughter still living at home, probably not more than 6 years old when he died.  We all know this lady as Angharad who married both Llewelyn ap Seisyll and Cynfyn ap Gwerystan of Powys.  But we have never been offered any cogent explanation for how her first marriage came about.  Our tentative identification of the wife of Maredudd ap Owain not only explains his claim to the kingship of Gwynedd but places his young daughter in the manor of Seisyll with the young Llewelyn:
                                     880  Idwal Foel
                                     925  Elisedd (a)
                                  l                                       l
                       960  Prawst                     960  daughter
                                 =                                     =
                   945  Seisyll of Powys      950  Maredudd ap Owain
            (a) Most would identify the father of Prawst as Elisedd, brother of Idwal Foel.  That man was killed in 942 and we believe any daughter of his would have been too old to marry Seisyll and to have borne Llewelyn c. 979.  Certainly, he could not have had a second daughter young enough to be the mother of Angharad ferch Maredudd ap Owain.  By our identifying him as a son of Idwal Foel, both daughters would be the right age for the above marraiges.
             At the death of Maredudd in 999, his nephew Edwin ap Einion claimed the kingship of Deheubarth.  There is reason to believe that Maredudd had a base son named Rhain, and that Edwin considered the children of Maredudd a threat to his rule.  While Rhain [7] managed to escape to Ireland, the widow and young daughter of Maredudd, it is reasonable to assume, fled Deheubarth and were taken in and given refuge by a sister, whose husband was a Powys baron.  Llewelyn ap Seisyll would have been a young man in his low 20's and, we think, was the designated edling of the Powys king...the ageing Cadell ap Brochwel who had no sons of his own. [8] The betrothal of that man with the heiress of a former Deheubarth king would have been considered a socially and politically important alliance.  And she was, under our scenerio, resident in the home of the parents of Llewelyn and was his first-cousin as well.  When they married c. 1010, their first son would not only be a future king of Powys, but have maternal ties to both the Gwynedd and Deheubarth royal dynasties.
        The cleric at Minevia who penned the Brut obituary of Mardudd called him "the most praiseworthy king of the Britons".  The record of his reign is one of war and famine in his lands and he seems to have had to buy, not fight, his way out of troubles both in Gwynedd and Deheubarth.  Perhaps this was praiseworthy to a pacifist monk.  Historian John Lloyd accepted this description rather reluctantly [9], but the earlier Dr. David Powell issued this opinion: "Maredudd, however, who had once conquered North Wales, and for a long time had got possession of South Wales.....was now obliged to relinquish the one, and was scarcely able to maintain the other". [10]  Modern writers have tended to compare his joint rule (for a while) of Gwynedd and Deheubarth with the political accomplishments of Hywel Dda, but we suspect an elderly orator alive in 999 might have said "I knew Hywel Dda, Hywel Dda was my friend.  You, Maredudd, are no Hywel Dda". 
          Unlike various other modern historians, we reject the notion that Maredudd had any sway at all in Powys.  It was then, and had been for centuries, ruled by the family descended from Cadell Ddyrnllwg and Brochwel Ysgithrog.  We also doubt that Brycheiniog was then deemed an appanage of Deheubarth, although modern historian Kari Maund suggested that possibility. [11]

[1] Dwnn i, 143 & 144 incorrectly give Owain ap Hywel Dda a son named Iestyn, but that Iestyn ap Owain was a grandson of Morgan Hen and a man of Gwent
[2] In his "History of Wales", Dr David Powell asserts that Llywarch was captured and blinded by Godfrey Haroldsson but there is no ancient authority for his statement.  The Brut entry for 987 does not say who was responsible for the act
[3] Einion's sons were Edwin, Tewdwr, Cadell and Idwallon.  Several citations claim another of his sons was Gronwy, father of Edwin of Tegeingl.  See the paper "The Ancestry of Edwin of Tegeingl" at the link below:
[4] Other grandsons of Idwal Foel dead by 986, were Custennin ap Iago, Hywel ap Ieuaf, Ionafal ap Meurig and Maig ap Ieuaf.  Grandsons still living in 986 were Owain ap Iago (expelled from Gwynedd with his father in 974) and two sons of Meurig: Idwal and Elisedd. 
[5] A new king of that era always required hostages from conquered men who did him fealty but were his potential threats for power
[6] While there were several places in Wales called Llangwm, we believe this battle occurred in the commote of Dinmael in Rhufoniog.
[7] Probably yet a toddler in 999, this man returned from Ireland in 1022 claiming to be a son of Maredudd and was accepted as such by the leading men of Deheubarth.
[8] We identify Seisyll as the next-eldest brother of Powys King Cadell ap Brochwel who, as a member of the Powys Royal Family, had been matched with a Gwynedd heiress.  See the paper "End of the Powys Dynasty" at the link below:
[9] J.E. Lloyd, "History of Wales", 1912 2nd edition, vol i, page 346.
[10] David Powell, "History of Wales", 1832 edition, page 57  This work, first published in 1584, purports to begin with an early text written by Caradog of Llancarvan in the 12th century and continued thereafter by Dr. Powell
[11] Kari Maund, "The Welsh Kings", 2000, page 58