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Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Parents and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                             IORWERTH DRWYNDWN
                                                  By Darrell Wolcott
 
          Owain Gwynedd. born c. 1100, was the eldest son of Gruffudd ap Cynan ap Iago, the king of Gwynedd who died in 1137.  About 1127, Owain was married to Gwladys (1113) ferch Llywarch (1070) ap Trahaearn (1035 ap Caradog (1005) of the Arwystli dynasty. [1] He already had numerous children born to various mistresses, but in c. 1128, a son, Iorwerth, was born to his wife.  These parents' joy was abruptly dampened when they discovered their new son had a disfiguring birth defect.  His entire nose was missing and his nostrils were mere holes in his face. For his entire life he would bear the nickname "Drwyndwn", meaning "broken nose".
 
          His affliction did not prevent him from living a fairly normal life, but certainly did narrow the number of friends, both male and female, who would voluntarily linger in his presence. He was pleasant enough to be around just so long as you didn't have to look at his face.  While he received the same education and military training as his siblings, finding him a wife proved to be difficult.  Over in Powys, king Madog ap Maredudd had a final daughter, Marged, about 1142 when he was approaching age 45.  Due to some unknown physical defect, her father had a similar problem finding a husband for her.
 
WIFE OF IORWERTH:
 
          About 1160, Owain had discussed with Madog the idea of mating their "rejects" but Madog had declined unless Owain would confer a Lordship on Iorwerth to assure the solvency of the resulting new family unit. But Owain had no Gwynedd lordships not already held by qualified leading men in his service, and Madog died before any lordship openings occurred. At last, about 1168, the Lord of Nant Conwy, Nefydd Hardd, died leaving only teenage sons. Reopening talks with now king Gruffudd Maelor of Powys, it was agreed the long-proposed marriage between Iorwerth and Marged would proceed if Owain would grant the Nant Conwy lordship to Iorwerth, together with an appropriate manor in that commote.  Thus, the 40 year old bachelor, Iorwerth Drwyndwn, was wed to Marged ferch Madog, the 26 year old maiden sister of Gruffudd Maelor. [2]

CHILD OF IORWERTH:
 
          This marriage produced a single child [3], a son named Llewelyn. The year of this birth has been an often-asked but never satisfactorily answered question. The earliest report of the approximate birth date of Gwynedd king Llewelyn ap Iorwerth is found in the journal written by Gerald of Wales following his 1188 "tour through Wales".  He said that in 1188, Llewelyn "was then only about twelve years old".  This would place his birth date in 1176 or late 1175.  However, in the same sentence, Gerald claimed Llewelyn had already "began to attack his two uncles, Dafydd and Rhodri".[4]
 
          Anyone (and that includes Gerald) familiar with Welsh laws knows that, in this era, 12 year old males were still children, living at the bed and board of their parents. Their formal training as warriors did not even begin until their 14th birthday. We can, however, believe that Llewelyn may have already begun the attack on his uncles in 1188 since he is known to have engaged one of them in open warfare just 6 years later. [5] We would suggest the strong possibility that the words of Gerald, written in Latin, actually said "circa XIX" which, due to wear, blurring or age of the manuscript, was translated as "XII".  If he were actually 19 years old in 1188, he clearly could have begun his campaign for recognition as the legitimate heir to the crown of Gwynedd.  And he would have been born c. 1169.
 
          Professor John Lloyd, whose classic work outlining the history of Wales was the first scholarly approach to the subject, believed that Llewelyn ap Iorwerth was born in 1173,  [6] and that date is now appended to most modern biographies of the man.  He tells us in a footnote that his source was the 1890 book by John Rhys and J.G. Evans "Text of the Bruts from the Red Book of Hergest".  However, the claim was not actually in the text of any Brut, but in a manuscript titled "From Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu to King John".  This tract calculates the period which occured between various events, and claims the space between the death of Owain Gwynedd (1170) and the birth of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth was two and a half years.  We wonder if Professor Lloyd ever read the brief review which author J.G. Evans gave that manuscript in his Preface to this book.  Evans had introduced the tract as "a very inferior style of writing in the 15th century" [7]  His review of its content was brief and curt: "It is a waste of time to inquire into worthless compilations of this kind" [8] and added that if you like that sort of thing, "more could be found in Hengwrt Mss 5 and 319 which have further entries down to the year 1463".  If one wishes to argue that Llewelyn was born in 1173, the source used by Lloyd will not bolster your case.

 
          In our papers, we tend to estimate birthdates by chronological analysis.  This involves looking at factors such as:
 
             1. About when were his parents born, and was this child known to be the eldest or not?
 
             2.  About when was his wife born, and was this the first marriage for both?
 
             3.  Over what date range were his children born?
 
             4.  Are there historically known dates when he was party to a grant, appeared on a tax roll, was a combatant in battle, or when he was made a Lord or chosen as a king?
 
             5.  Were there atypical factors involved which would alter the application of social normals?
 
          Owain Gwynedd was almost certainly born, within 2 years plus or minus, in 1100.  Iorwerth was his first child by his first wife, Gwladys ferch Llywarch ap Trahaearn.  She was born c. 1113.  This tends to place the birth of Iorwerth at c. 1128.  He married Marged ferch Madog ap Maredudd, king of Powys.  She was born c. 1140/1145.  Llewelyn was their first child.  We should expect their first child to be born before 1160.  However, Llewelyn had a base son prior to his marriage, in c. 1194. [9]  This argues for his own birth to have been near 1170.  This means that his parents most likely did NOT marry at a typical age for that era: as early as 28 for a man and near 13 for a lady.
 
          When we couple that data with the approximate date when Llewelyn first claimed the kingship of Gwynedd (c. 1197), we estimate his birth as having been in 1169.  In all our research on Welsh kings, we have never encountered a single man who lodged a kingship claim prior to age 28.

DEATH OF IORWERTH:
 
          When his father died in 1170, Iorwerth had received his fair share of the estate, probably land located in Nant Conwy, and was permitted to retain his revenues as Lord of that commote. He had always known that he could not be confirmed as a Welsh king due to his "broken nose", and could be expected to support his younger brother, Maelgwn, for that honor should anything happen to Owain's designated "edling", his eldest living base son, Hywel.   Something did happen to Hywel; he was killed by half-brother Dafydd, the eldest son of Owain's second wife, the same month he had been named king. [10]  Dafydd was not yet of "kingship" age, so Iorwerth's uterine brother, Maelgwn, was chosen as Gwynedd's king. But in 1173, both Dafydd and his natal brother, Rhodri, had become of sufficient age for kingship, and they forced Maelgwn into exile in Ireland,  The following year, Iorwerth joined with a group of Maelgwn supporters who sought to restore him to the kingship. [11]
   
          Ancient sources are mostly silent as to when and where Iorwerth died, but most contemporary writers claim he died in battle at a time when his son was yet a small child. The unreliable Wikipedia claims:
 
            "He was killed in battle at Pennant Melangell, in Powys, during the wars deciding the succession following the death of his father."
 
          The Wikipedia footnote says this information was taken from "Lloyd 1959, p. 417".  But what Professor Lloyd wrote was that (1) there is a local tradition that Iorwerth's tombstone is in the churchyard of Pennant Melangell, but (2) a contemporary elegy by the bard, Seisyll Bryffwrch, said his grave was in Llandudclud, a church in Penmachno, Nant Conwy;  He added that the effigy seen in Pennant Melangell is of much later date than the 12th century, and seems to commemorate a 13th century descendant of Rhiryd Flaidd.  We would add the observation that any battles, between the sons of Owain Gwynedd over succession to the kingship of Gwynedd, would NOT have taken place in Powys.
 
          We suggest Iorwerth was killed in 1174 when he and others attempted to restore Maelgwn to the kingship, and were opposed by their half-brothers, Dafydd and Rhodri.
 
HIS WIDOW AND CHILD:
 
          We have suggested that young Llewelyn ap Iorwerth was about 5 years old when his father was killed.  Normally a Welsh widow of this era would be taken in by some close family member, at least until a new husband could be found for her.  But the family of Marged ferch Madog was Powysian and she knew her child would, in a few years, have a birthright claim to the kingship of Gwynedd.  She resolved to raise him in Gwynedd and appealed to other Gwynedd barons who had opposed the coup carried out by her late husband's half-brothers.  We think it was Iarddur ap Cynddelw, the first of that name, who found a solution for her.  His eldest son, Maelog, was near the age of Marged, had young sons of his own, and had recently become widowed.  This Maelog was also a man of imperfect body and was called "Crwm" (meaning bent or curved) due to hyperkyphosis which gave him a "humpback".  We suggest they married and their children were raised at Maelog's manor in Crueddyn [12]
 

NOTES:
[1]  ABT 2a
[2]  ABT 1b which calls the lady "Marvred" and which Bartrum spells "Marared" in his index to "Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts"
[3]  See our paper on Adda ap Iorwerth at the following link:
[4]  Gerald of Wales, :The Journey Through Wales:, Book II, chapter 8
[5] ByT 1194 relates a battle where Dafydd ap Owain Gwynedd was driven to flight by Llewelyn and his allies: Rhodri ap Owain Gwynedd and the two sons of Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd.
[6] John E Lloyd "The History of Wales", 1912, 2nd edition, page 587
[7] Rhys and Evans "Text of the Bruts in Red Book of Hergest", 1890, page 32
[8] ibid, page 405
[9] ByT 1221; Mostyn 117, 1 
[10] ByT 1170
[11] ByT 1174 records the event but does not name Iorwerth as Maelgwn's ally
[12] See our paper on Maelog Crwm at the link below: