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Parents and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                    THE CHILDREN OF RHODRI MAWR
                                                 By Darrell Wolcott
 
         The earliest manuscripts which attempt to list the children of Rhodri Mawr are Jesus College Ms 20 and Hengwrt Ms 33, both probably composed in the early 13th century. [1]  The former mentions Cadell, Merfyn, Anarawd, Aeddan, Meurig and Nest as children by Angharad; and Tudwal and Elisse as sons by "a different woman".[2]  The latter source lists only sons, and includes Anarawd, Cadell, Meurig, Merfyn, Tudwal, Gwriad and Gwydelig.  One of 9 men, who copied Hengwrt 33 before it was lost, added a Rhodri Fychan to the list. [3]
 
        According to another pedigree [4] from Hengwrt 33, the mother of the sons of Rhodri Mawr was Angharad ferch Meurig ap Dyfnwal of Ceredigion and she is the Angharad mentioned above.  No sources, ancient or modern, have named, or suggested an identity, for the "other woman" who bore sons Tudwal and Elisse. The birth sequence of the children is not known, so we shall discuss them in alphabetical order:
 
1.  Aeddan is wholly unknown to history and occurs in no other extant source.  If he actually existed, he died young,  He was not named in the other 13th century manuscript.
 
2.  Anarawd was the eldest of those sons who survived Rhodri [5], and succeeded him as King of Gwynedd.  He married Angharad ferch Sitric of Ireland [6], the latter probably an uncle of Sitric Caoch, the grandfather of Sitric Silkbeard.
 
3.  Cadell was probably the second-eldest son who survived Rhodri Mawr.  He apparently married a lady who was the sister of Llywarch ap Hyfaidd, King of Dyfed, and likely relocated to south Wales after the death of his father. [7]
 
4.  Elisse is called a uterine brother of Tudwal, but is wholly absent from other extant sources.  He likely died young,   
 
5.  Gwriad may or may not belong in this list.  The Annales Cambriae, in reporting the battlefield death of Rhodri Mawr, says "his son Gwriad" died with him. All versions of the Brut, however, say it was "his brother Gwriad" who was killed with Rhodri.  Hengwrt 33 [8] describes a Gwriad, son of Rhodri, who had a son named Gwgan.  We believe none of the sons of Rhodri were yet married when their father was killed, the eldest being perhaps 28 years old.  The Gwgan ap Gwriad ap Rhodri mentioned by this source, was killed in 957.  If he were a grandson of Rhodri Mawr, his father, Gwriad, could not have been born later than 879, which would make Gwgan nearly 80 years old when he was killed.  We believe this Gwgan was actually Gwgan (920) ap Gwriad (890) ap Rhodri (860) ap Gwriad (830) ap Merfyn Frych (790) and that it was the c. 830 Gwriad, brother of Rhodri Mawr, who died with that man.  We doubt Rhodri Mawr ever had a son named Gwriad, but if he did, he must have died young.
 
6.  Gwydelog is unknown to history or to any other ancient source. If he ever existed, he must have died young.
 
7.  Merfyn is usually thought to have been the youngest of the sons who survived Rhodri's death, and who were birthed by Angharad.  No wife is cited for him, but he did have a son, Tryffin.  There is no early source associating Merfyn with Powys;  instead his descendants [9] are placed in Lleyn, a part of Gwynedd. [10]  An obit notice in 904 says Merfyn ap Rhodri was slain, but one version of the Brut says the slain man was "the son of Merfyn". [11]  Since neither occur again in historical accounts, we assume both Merfyn and Tryffin were intended by the obit notice. 
 
8.  Meurig might have been Rhodri's eldest son, saving only Anarawd. We are told [12] that he died from a fall from his horse.  We assume this occurred in the lifetime of Rhodri, when Meurig was yet a teen.  The accident occurred in the commote of Mefenydd, Uwch Aeron in Ceredigion.  This was possibly during a visit to his uncle, King Gwgan ap Meurig, brother of Angharad, his mother. 
 
9.  Nest, the only known daughter [13] of Rhodri Mawr, married Owain ap Hywel of Glywysing, and was the mother of Morgan Hen. [14] This suggests she was born c. 865 and given in marriage by her father shortly before his death in 878.
 
10.  Rhodri Fychan is the least credible name in the child-list, being cited by a single copyist of Hengwrt Ms 33.  We suggest he existed only in the mind of Thomas ap Ieuan ap Deicws, the author of Peniarth Ms 127, who wrote in the first-quarter of the 16th century. Perhaps he reasoned that the elder Rhodri was called "Mawr" simply to distinguish him from a same-named son.
 
11.  Tudwal was the uterine brother of Elisse and was born c. 865.  He was 10/15 years younger than the 3  half-brothers who survived the death of Rhodri Mawr.  Said to have been yet too young to be on the battlefield when his father was slain (under age 14), he did take part in the 881 Battle of the Conwy which was called "the avenging of Rhodri".  He suffered a knee injury in the latter battle which left him lame.  On that account, we are told that "his brothers gave him lands in Uchelocoed, Gwynedd". [15]   This would not have been necessary had Tudwal received a brother's share of his father's lands, the implication being that Tudwal was NOT born in wedlock.  He probably married Elen, the daughter of Aleth ap Bleddri, brother of the king of Dyfed. [16] She may have been a younger first-cousin of the lady that his half-brother, Cadell, married.  Very early families in Dyfed, Ceredigion, Anglesey and Rhufoniog trace their ancestry to Tudwal the Lame (Gloff).
 

NOTES:
[1] Extant manuscripts are 16th century copies, but the latest men named in the pedigrees were born prior to the year 1200, which suggests the original could not have been written earlier than the first quarter of the 13th century.  Furthermore, had the original been written at some later period, well-known sons of these cited men would surely have been included.
[2]  JC Ms 20, 20
[3]  ABT 7(a) The copy in Peniarth Ms 127 added the extra name
[4]  ABT 6(j); JC 20, 20 & 21
[5]  According to Brut y Tywysogyon, Rhodri Mawr was killed in battle in 878 and we suggest that was the same year that Anarawd turned 28 years old
[6]  Dwnn ii, 100
[7]  Nothing at all about Cadell, save his obit, is cited in ancient manuscripts.  His relocation to south Wales is merely inferred due to what is known of his son, Hywel Dda, and the fact that his mother had been a sister of the King of Ceredigion.
[8]  ABT 7(r)
[9]  ABT 7(o)
[10] We think the only family who descended from Merfyn was through a non-cited daughter, who married (after Merfyn's death), a man named Llewelyn . They had a daughter, Angharad, who married Owain ap Hywel Dda.  Pen 135, 331 cites that marriage, and calls Llewelyn a son of Merfyn rather than a son-in-law.
[11] The Red Book of Hergest version of the Brut is the outlier as to the identity of the slain man or men.
[12] ABT 7(p)
[13]  Llanstephan Ms 187, 230 written in the 17th century claims that a daughter of Rhodri Mawr married Einion ap Bleuddud and was the mother of St. Llewelyn.  We discussed and rejected that claim as chronologically impossible in our paper on Ancient Powys, at the link below:
[14] JC 20, 20 but in a somewhat chaotic sentence structure.
[15] ABT 7(q) but "above the woods in Gwynedd" fails to identify any specific land.  Based upon the known location of the Hedd ap Alunog branch of his family, many believe Tudwal had received lands in the Royal forests of Uwch Aled, Rhufoniog which overlooked the Elwy River and was perhaps 5 miles south of Abergele in Rhos.
[16] His marriage is not cited in any ancient source, but a pedigree of the Owen Family of Glansevern, included in the 1834 work by John Burke, "History of the Commoners" (vol iv, page 381), claims that Tudwal Gloff married "Helen daughter of Aleth, King of Dyfed".  Such a marriage into the line of the kings of Dyfed fits both chronologically and geographically with what is known about Tudwal and his family. His nephew, Hywel Dda, certainly married into that family, and we think Tudwal's half-brother Cadell did the same.  The male name "Aleth" occurs frequently in early families descended from Tudwal, but is not seen in any other Welsh families.