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Parents and Children of the Lord Rhys

                       REFUGEES FROM STRATHCLYDE COME TO GWYNEDD
                                            By Darrell Wolcott
 
THE BACKGROUND:
 
         In the year 937, the Danish ruler of Dublin, Olaf Guthfrithson, decided to challenge Wessex King Aethelstan for Northumbria.  His father, Guthfrith mac Olaf, and uncle, Sitric Caech, had been ousted from Northumbria in 927 by King Aethelstan, and Olaf believed he could succeed where his elders had failed.  He received the support of Constantine II, King of Alba (some say his father-in-law) and King Owain ap Dyfnwal of Strathclyde, for his war against Aethelstan.  It is not known exactly how Constantine II persuaded Owain to join this venture, since the Celts of Strathclyde were more closely aligned socially with the Welsh than with their Irish and Pict neighbors.  And the Welsh could be expected to support Aethelstan since they had long since sought the protection of the Wessex kings as their overlord.
 
         When Aethelstan assembled an army, said to number 100,000 men, to defend Northumbria, it is not known how many Welshmen were in that number.  One should expect, however, that the Aethelstan army included parts of the warbands of Kings Idwal Foel of Gwynedd, Hywel Dda of Deheubarth, and Morgan Hen of Morgannwg.  Those men were then in their mid-to- late 50's and one doubts they would have personally led their armies, but may have attended the coming battle as rear-echelon advisors to Aethelstan.
 
         Olaf Guthrithson sailed from Dublin with 615 ships loaded with men to join his allies in northern Britain and together they marched south to meet Aethelstan's army, which was moving north from Mercia. There is no consensus among historians as to where the armies finally met for battle, but contemporary sources called it "the Battle of Brunanburh" and say the loss of lives numbered in the tens of thousands. It was hailed as a great victory for Aethelstan, with Olaf fleeing back to Ireland and Constantine II back home to Alba, both admitting they had been thoroughly defeated. Owain ap Dyfnwal of Strathclyde may have also survived the battle, but the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that a son of his was killed.  Owain either died or abdicated soon after because his eldest son, Dynfwal II, is said to have given fealty to Aethelstan before that king died in 939. [1]
 
          There are no contemporary reports concerning any Welsh casualties at this battle, so you may be wondering why we include it in our research of Ancient Wales. When actual sources fail to explain how and why subsequent known events occurred, we try to posit a scenerio to explain them.  Return with us for a moment, to the days which preceded the massive battle at Brununburh in 937.
 
           We suggest that King Aethelstan had called his Welsh allies to court and advised them that a battle over Northumbria was imminent, that among the opposition would be the Danes of Dublin, the men of Alba and the men of Strathclyde.  While he understood that the Welsh had both friends and relatives among the royal families of at least two of those three groups, he needed and expected their support for his army.  He would not insist that they actively target the men who might be a part of their extended families, but they must fight anyone on the opposing side who lined up facing them on the battlefield.
 
            Following this meeting, we posit that Idwal Foel of Gwynedd arranged a covert meeting with King Owain of Strathclyde, who assured him that he only sided against Aethelstan because King Constantine of Alba asked him to do so.  He asked Idwal to "take the fight to the Irish and Picts" and he would try to avoid attacking the Welsh units as much as possible.  In return, he offered his youngest son, Dafydd, then in his early 20's, as a hostage for his good faith and because he wanted at least one son to be spared from the coming war. For himself, Owain promised that if he should survive, he intended to abdicate his crown to his eldest son, Dyfnwal.
 
          Not only do we later find Dafydd ap Owain in Gwynedd, but Dynfwal emerged as the new Strathclyde king who gave his fealty to Aethelstan within a year of the battle.  While there is no obit recorded for Owain, he likely died in retirement.  Dyfnwal was, in 943,  required to give hostages to Wessex king Edmond. He gave his two youngest sons, one named Blegoryd and the youngest whose name is not known.  In 945, King Edmund invaded Alba and, apparently to warn Strathclyde not to take sides in the matter, ordered the blinding of these hostages, one a boy about 9 and the other perhaps 7 years old. [2]  They were then returned to their father in maimed condition.  Dyfnwal subsequently had two more children, a son Owain in 946 and a daughter, Tangwystl in 947.
 
         After Dyfnwal had ruled Strathclyde in relative peace (and probably under the over-lordship of the Alba kings) for the next 15 years, about the year 960 [3] he abdicated in favor of his eldest son and relocated to Gwynedd.  He brought with him his eldest blinded son, Blegoryd, now about age 24, and his 13 year old daughter, Tangwystl.  Nothing is known of the fate of the other blinded son.  Thus, after a space of some 23 years, Dyfnwal ap Owain was able to reunite with his younger brother, Dafydd.
 
        Idwal Foel was dead by this time, but had apprised his sons, Iago and Ieuaf, of his 937 deal with Owain of Strathyclyde.  If those sons were not themselves present, they were told about it when Idwal released Dafydd ap Owain from his hostage status, found the young man a suitable wife and granted the couple a tract of Gwynedd land for their home.  In 960, Ieuaf ap Idwal Foel had a daughter who was about 15 years old and unmarried, possibly due to some birth defect which made her extremely unattractive to men.  She would make a great wife, however, for a blind man and was given in marriage to Blegoryd, together with a small manor owned by Ieuaf.  About the year 965, they had a son whom they named Aeddan.
 
        Dyfnwal's young daughter, Tangwystl, was given in marriage to Gronwy ap Tudor Trefor [4], the son of the Lord of the March which borders Mercia.  Tudor had been another of the Welsh lords who had accompanied Wessex king Aethelstan at Brunanburh and had shared Idwal Foel's empathy with their Strathclyde friends.  Thus ends our posited scenario.

SUBSEQUENT EVENTS:
   
        Two years after Brunanburh, King Aethelstan died and was succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund.  In 939, Olaf Guthfrithson returned to Northumbria and, with no real opposition, claimed its kingship.  He ruled, either alone, or jointly with his close relatives, until 944, when King Edmund finally drove the Danes out.  The "glorious achievement" of King Athelstan proved to be a Pyrrhic victory.  Northumbria was not absorbed permanently into England until after 954.
 
        In or near the year 971, Gronwy ap Tudor Trefor died, leaving his wife, Tangwystl, and a young daughter, Gwen.  The widow and her child, we believe, were taken into the home of Gwrydr Hir of Tegeingl by Gwrydr's wife, Arddun, a sister of Gronwy.  About 14 years later, Gwen was married to Cuhelyn ap Ifor of Buillt, and they had a son named Elystan later called "Glodrydd". [5]
 
        In 1003, Gwynedd king Cynan ap Hywel ap Ieuaf was killed, possibly by a cousin, Idwal ap Elisedd ap Meurig ap Idwal Foel. We think Idwal ap Elisedd did succeed Cynan as king of Gwynedd, but that he died in 1017. There were no men descended from Idwal Foel who were yet old enough for kingship, so the leading men of Gwynedd chose the son of Hywel's sister, a first-cousin of Cynan, as their new king.  Thus Aeddan ap Blegoryd ruled until 1018, when he and all his sons were slain by Llewelyn ap Seisyll of Powys. [6]
 
        Dafydd, the younger brother of Dyfnwal ap Owain, married an unnamed lady of Gwynedd and had sons Dafydd and Gwyn.  Gwyn had a son, Dyfnwal, who had sons Blegoryd and Cadifor. [7]  Nothing more is known of this branch of the family.  But Dafydd ap Dafydd had a son Gwyn who is described in several pedigrees as "gwelw gwinffrwd du taris o Fon" which we would read as "with a pale white stream flowing over the black earth of Anglesey". This Gwyn had a son named Dyfnwal, whose son, Cadifor, [8] is found in the pedigrees of two later families  Gwyn had a second son named Rhun, whose son was Ithel. [9]

PEDIGREE EVIDENCE:
 
       Cadifor ap Dyfnwal ap Gwyn ap Dafydd ap Dafydd ap Owain" is cited in Pen. 138, 166 which is mentioned as pedigree (3) for "#34 - Cadifor ap Dyfnwal and Rhun ap Dyfnwal" in Bartrum's "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs". [10] 
 
       Pen 131, 210 cites the mother of Maredudd archdeacon, a base son of Lord Rhys, as the "daughter of Dafydd Fras ap Rhydderch ap Cadifor ap Dyfnwal".  Bartrum would edit that pedigree by deleting all names following Dafydd Fras, while our initial view was that it may have been a family descended from Cadifor Fawr, since the only Cadifor ap Dyfnwal we knew about was a man younger than Lord Rhys. [11]  With our discovery of the Gwynedd "Dafydd ap Owain" from Strathclyde, we find this Pen 131 citation a perfect fit. None of the men in this family prior to the year 1110 are found in Bartrum's charts:

 
                                     875  Owain ap Dyfnwal, King of Strathclyde
                                                  l
                                     915  Dafydd, relocated to Gwynedd in 937
                                                  l
                                     950  Dafydd
                                                  l
                                      980  Gwyn
                                                  l
                                   1015  Dyfnwal
                                                  l
                                   1045  Cadifor
                                                  l
                                 1075  Rhydderch
                                                  l
                                  1110  Dafydd Fras
                                                  l
                                   1145  daughter=====/====Lord Rhys  1123
                                                                     l
                                                       1160 Maredudd, archdeacon
 
    Dwnn i, 230 and Dwnn ii, 49 & 50 all cite "the wife of Meurig Goch ap Gruffudd ap Cadifor ap Selyf" was "Lleuci ferch Gruffudd ap Rhys ap Rhydderch ap Cadifor ap Dyfnwal".  Again, those citations, as written, fit the timeline of our new family perfectly:

                                                                                                       Dyfnwal  1015
                                                                                       l
                                                                                  Cadifor  1045
                                                                                       l
                                       1055  Selyf  [12]               Rhydderch  1075
                                                    l                                  l
                                      1090  Cadifor                          Rhys  1105 
                                                    l                                  l
                                      1122  Gruffudd                    Gruffudd  1135
                                                    l                                  l
                                   1152  Meurig Goch=========Lleuci  1165

NOTES:
[1]  We claim no expertise as to the history of England, Scotland or the Vikings.  The data recited in the opening paragraphs of this paper was taken from modern secondary sources.
[2]  Our sources only relate that two sons of Dyfnwal, king of Strathclyde, were blinded in 945.  The name and estimated ages of those sons is our suggestion.
[3]  This date, and the claim that Dyfnwal relocated to Gwynedd, is merely our belief based upon our identification of Blegoryd and Tangwystl as his children.
[4]  Dwnn ii, 307 cites the marriage of Gronwy ap Tudor Trefor to "Tangwystl ferch Dyfnwal"  but does not name the father of this Dyfnwal.  Edward Hamer, in his "Parochial Account of Llangurig" (Montgomeryshire Collections, vol ii, page 265) said this was Dyfnwal ap Alan ap Alser ap Tudwal Gloff, but such a man would occur near 965, a full generation too late to father this Tangwystl. We date her birth to c. 947 and identify her as a daughter of Dyfnwal ap Owain of Strathclyde, he born c. 905.
[5] For the sources of Gwen's marriage and child, see our paper "The Unofficial History of Elystan of Powys" at the link below:
[6]  ByT 1018 but no source confirms that Aeddan held the Gwynedd kingship.  No source mentions who ruled Gwynedd between 1003 and the reign of Llewelyn ap Seisyll, nor the date when the reign of the latter began.
[7]  Pen 138, 463 cites this Blegoryd ap Dyfnwal, while Pen 122, 93 & 98; Pen 132, 132 and Pen 140,49 cite this Cadifor ap Dyfnwal
[8]  This Cadifor ap Dyfnwal is cited in Pen 138, 366
[9]  This Rhun ap Dyfnwal is cited in Pen 133, 208 and Pen 138, 379 & 619
[10] National Library of Wales Journal, vol XIII, No. 2, page 113
[11]  Cadifor ap Dyfnwal ap Tudor, born c. 1140, descended from Tudwal Gloff, who served militarily for the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth. 
[12]  For the dating of this family, see our paper "Selyf, Brennin Dyfed" at the link below:
http://www.ancientwalesstudies.org/id261.html