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Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
Bradwen of Llys Bradwen in Meirionydd
Ednowain ap Bradwen
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Parents and Children of the Lord Rhys

                               CYNFYN AP GWERYSTAN, THE INTERIM KING
                                                 By Darrell Wolcott
 
           When he was born c. 985, there was no expectation Cynfyn would ever become a king.  His ancestors had been among the leading men of Powys for hundreds of years, but the kingdom had been ruled by another ancient family which was still in power.  His father had married the daughter, and only child, of King Cadell ap Brochwel II.  But Cadell had brothers and nephews eligible to rule after his death; seldom did a Welsh kingship descend through female lines, and never if their was an eligible qualified male heir.  But such a circumstance appears to have occurred in 1023, when the existing king died (or was killed) fairly early in his life and at a time when both his son and other qualified males in the Royal Family were too young for kingship. [1]
 
          Cynfyn's father, Gwerystan ap Gwaithfoed of Powys, was a great-grandson of Lles Llyddog, the warrior who led the early 10th century expedition to evict a colony of Danes who had settled in North Wales. [2] He is sometimes called Lord of Cibwyr in Gwent [3], but his manor was actually Cwybr near Rhuddlan in Tegeingl. Having descended from Lles Llyddog, it is possible Gwerystan served as penteulu for King Cadell, particularly if an earlier marriage had made him the king's cousin:
 
                          855  Lles Llydog           850  Selyf I
                                        l                              l
                          885  Gwynnog           880  Aeddan II
                       _________l_____                     l
                      l                         l                     l
       915  Gwaithfoed     925  daughter(a)==Brochwel  910
                      l                                      l
                      l                           940  Cadell
                      l                                     l
         955  Gwerystan====== ====Nest  970
                                         l
                             985  Cynfyn     
 
           (a) No wife is anywhere cited for Brochwel, nor such a daughter for Gwynnog, but a marriage like the one charted would have made Gwerystan a first-cousin of Cadell and eligible to lead the king's warband.  As such, he may have been rewarded with the hand of Cadell's only child...a marriage which IS cited in the sources [4]   
 
           Cynfyn is known to have had a wife prior to his 1023 marriage to Angharad ferch Maredudd ap Owain, the widow of Powys king Llewelyn ap Seisyll.  We suggest the leading families of Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth were friends, and sometimes military allies, of Sitric Silkbeard of Dublin during the period 990-1042.  We know that his grandson, also called Sitric, married a sister of Rhys ap Tewdwr of Deheubarth [5], and that his granddaughter, Rhanillt, married Cynan ap Idwal of Gwynedd and was mother of the first Gruffudd ap Cynan.[6]  And we know that in the year 1000, Irish king Brian attacked Sitric Silkbeard and evicted him from Dublin...a defeat he overcame in 1014 by killing Brian and retaking Dublin. [7] We suggest a young Cynfyn ap Gwerystan brought a group of Powys men to assist Sitric, and took home a daughter of that Irish king as his wife:
 
                                       920  Olaf Cuaran, ob 981
                                                        l
                                    960  Sitric Silkbeard, ob 1042
                     ___________________l________
                     l                                                 l
       1000  daughter                              995  Olaf [8]
                    =                   ________________l_________
        985  Cynfyn ap           l                    l                        l
              Gwerystan           l                    l                        l
                            1025  Nest   1026  Rhanillt      1030  Sitric
                                      =                   =                       =
                        1011  Gruffudd  1014 Cynan       1045  Nest 
                                    ap                  ap                    ferch
                                Llewelyn           Idwal                Tewdwr
 
       NOTES:  The name "Sitric" is also rendered "Sigtrygg" and "Olaf" as "Afloed".  The marriage shown for Cynfyn is only a guess and nowhere cited, as is the marriage for Gruffudd ap Llewelyn.  Several early sources match Rhanillt with Cynan but call him Cynan ap Iago, a later man born c. 1035.  This Cynan was a younger brother of Iago.  The final marriage in our chart is also cited by several sources; Sitric and Nest ferch Tewdwr ap Cadell were the parents of Eidio Wyllt.
 
            It appears that Cynfyn and the Irish princess had three daughters, and that she probably did not survive her final childbirth.  These daughters were:
 
           a.  Efa, born c. 1018, who married Llewelyn ap Coel [9], the man later chosen as penteulu for King Gruffudd ap Llewelyn and thereafter known as Llewelyn Aurdorchog.
 
           b.  Nest, born c. 1020, who married Ithel ap Coel, brother of Llewelyn, and who probably served Gruffudd ap Llewelyn as trainer and handler of the Royal hunting hounds. [10]
 
           c.  Iwerydd, born c. 1022.  This was likely not her birthname, but a nickname to denote her Irish mother, who may have died during this birth.  She was given in marriage to Edwin of Tegeingl [11] about 1050, but probably had a first unknown husband.
 
            When Powys King Llewelyn ap Seisyll died, or was killed, in 1023, we suggest Cynfyn was named interim king during the minority of the young heir, Gruffudd ap Llewelyn...then about 12 years old.  It may have been a condition of that appointment that Cynfyn marry the widow of Llewelyn and become the step-father of the future king.  He did marry Angharad, and together they had 3 known children:
 
            a.  Rhiwallon, born c. 1024, who was elevated to king of Powys after the death of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn
 
            b.  Bleddyn, born c. 1025, who was made king of Gwynedd after Gruffudd's death in 1063, and additionally king of Powys when Rhiwallon was killed in 1069
 
            c.  Unnamed daughter, born c. 1026, who married Gwrgan ap Ithel of Glamorgan, and was mother to all of Gwrgan's children except Efa, who was the only child by his first wife. [12]
 
            For the first 10 years of his reign, Powys is not mentioned in Brut entries, the conclusion being that there was neither internal unrest nor conflicts with neighboring kingdoms.  It is likely that Cynfyn was a caretaker monarch who refrained from making waves.  The picture is less clear after 1033.  Iago ap Idwal of Gwynedd came of full age and now held its kingship.  Did Cynfyn agree to step aside for Iago or was it necessary for the Gwynedd heir to take his birthright by force?  That question is not answered directly by the Brut chronicler, but there is reason to suggest Powys and Gwynedd were on friendly terms in 1033.  Not only was Iago elected king of Gwynedd, but he was given a Powys lady for his wife [13]:
       
                                                        915  Cynwrig (a)
              913  Meurig (b)                         _____l________
                         l                                  l                       l
             945  Elisedd                    950  Pyll             Gweirydd  945
                         l                                  l                       l
             975  Idwal                    985  Gwyar               Coel (c)  975
                        l                                   l                       l       
           1005  Iago===========Afandreg           Llewelyn  1005
                                                           1020                  (d)
 
              (a)  son of Cynddelw Gam ap Elgudy, the Powys warrior who aided Lles Llyddog in expelling the Danish squatters from northeast Wales
              (b) son of Idwal Foel ap Anarawd, king of Gwynedd
              (c)  married a sister of King Llewelyn ap Seisyll of Powys and Gwynedd
              (d)  led the warband of King Gruffudd ap Llewelyn after 1039 and was called Aurdorchog (with the gold torque).  About the same year of Iago's marriage, Llewelyn married the eldest daughter of Cynfyn of Powys
 
              The estimated ages of Iago and Afandreg also point to the year 1033 as the date they were married.  The Powys heir, Gruffudd ap Llewelyn, was about age 21 and still waiting to attain "full" age when he'd be eligible for kingship.  His time arrived in 1039, and we think Cynfyn stepped down so Gruffudd could take his rightful place as king of Powys.  It isn't known if Gruffudd had developed a personal dislike for Iago, or if he simply believed Gwynedd belonged to him since his father had ruled it.  But Gruffudd's first recorded act as king was to kill Iago and seize Gwynedd.  Others have speculated that Iago may have been complicit in the death of Llewelyn ap Seisyll, and Gruffudd was simply taking his revenge.  We think Iago was only a teenager when Llewelyn died and doubt that he, or anyone from Gwynedd, killed him. 
 
           If we were to posit a scenerio in which Gruffudd ap Llewelyn had a personal animus against Iago, it would develop along the following lines:
 
           If Cynfyn had refused to quit the throne of Gwynedd when Iago came of age in 1033, Iago might have battled for his birthright and killed Cynfyn.  Among the Powys barons who may have also died supporting Cynfyn was Gwyar ap Pyll, whose daughter Iago captured and took as his wife.  The remainder of the Powys royal family fled to Ireland for their safety where Gruffudd ap Llewelyn and his entourage were given refuge by Sitric Silkbeard.  That Irish king, about 1039, gave his eldest grand-daughter as wife for the Powys heir, and troops to support Gruffudd's return to Wales.  After being confirmed as the new king of Powys, his first order of business was to kill Iago and seize Gwynedd, both to revenge his step-father Cynfyn and to restore rule over Gwynedd which his father had held.
 
           We are not told when Cynfyn died nor in what manner, so no one really knows whether Iago's killing broke an extended period of peace between Powys and Gwynedd or if Iago had earlier warred against Powys.  The only reason to suspect the Powys royalty had to flee to Ireland is the oral tradition that the first wife of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn was an Irish lady [14].  
 

NOTES:
[1] A chart showing the men of the Powys Royal Family living in 1023 is shown in the paper "The 1039 Battle at Rhyd y Groes" at the link below:
[2] See the paper "The Retaking of Northeast Wales" at the link below:
[3] This error in the residence of Cynfyn was first published in Iolo Morganwg's forgery now called the Gwentian Brut; an English language version of that fake Brut was published at the end of the 1864 edition of Archaeologia Cambrensis
[4] Dwnn i, 310, 319, 326; Dwnn ii, 54, 249
[5] Dwnn i, 224
[6] Refer to the paper "Gruffudd ap Cynan - A New Perspective" at the link below:
[7] R.F. Foster "The Oxford History of Ireland", paperback edition, 1992, p 38 and Gwyn Jones "A History of the Vikings", 1968, p 397
[8] While this man is cited as the father of Rhanillt and Sitric by Welsh sources, an Irish historian might offer valid reasons why his name may not be Olaf/Afloed
[9] J.Y.W. Lloyd "History of Powys Fadog", 1882, Vol II, p 346
[10] HLG 2, b,c
[11] ByT 1116
[12] Mostyn Ms 212B, 117 as "daughter of Cynfyn"; other sources call her Angharad, Iwerydd or Gwerfyl.  We refer here to the Gwrgan ap Ithel ap Idwallon born c. 1008
[13] ABT 6(i)
[14] See "The Consorts and Children of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn" at the link below: