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                                 KINGSHIP OF GWYNEDD - 1170 TO 1175
                                                By Darrell Wolcott
          The kingship succession in Gwynedd, following the death of Owain Gwynedd in 1170, has been glossed over by historians, leaving us with the impression that he was replaced by Dafydd, the eldest son of his second wife. This man, most would imply, ruled sometimes alone and sometimes sharing rule with his younger brother, Rhodri.  We were prompted to take a closer look at the sources when we found that, using our timeline, neither of those brothers were yet old enough for kingship in 1170.
          After the death of the Gwynedd interim king, Trahaearn ap Caradog, in 1081, the Normans took control of Gwynedd under the governance of Robert of Rhuddlan.  At this time, Tegeingl, which since c. 900 had been ruled by Powys, was added back to Gwynedd.  When that man died c. 1093, Earl Hugh Lupus of Chester gave local rule of Gwynedd to Owain ap Edwin of Tegeingl.   But former Lord of Anglesey, Cynan ap Iago, with the aid of the Powys man, Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, excluded Norman rule from that island cantref by military force.
          In 1098, young Gruffudd ap Cynan ap Iago turned 28 years old and laid claim to the kingship of all Gwynedd by birthright.  The Norman response brought a sufficient army to Anglesey to require Gruffudd and his protector, Cadwgan, to flee to Ireland.  The leader of Cadwgan's warband was Uchdryd ap Edwin, the brother of Owain (the man governing Gwynedd for the Normans).  Uchdryd was able to negotiate a truce which permitted Gruffudd and Cadwgan to return to Wales, and to the king's favor, in 1099.  After pledging their fealty to the English crown, Gruffudd would be permitted to hold the Lordship of Anglesey, Cadwgan would leave Anglesey and receive the Lordship of Ceredigion and both men would take wives approved by the king.  Cadwgan married a daughter of Picot de Say of Clun in Shropshire (then called Salop).  Gruffudd married a daughter of Owain ap Edwin, she chosen by the king in order that the two Welshmen now holding local rule in Gwynedd, would be one big extended family and less likely to contest each other for full Gwynedd rule.
          Owain ap Edwin died in 1105 and his son, Gronwy, was appointed to assume the governance of mainland Gwynedd.  About 1109, Gronwy married a Gwynedd lady from the Marchudd ap Cynan clan in Rhos, and about 1114, he had a daughter named Cristyn.  The status in Gwynedd was altered in 1125 by Cadwallon, a younger son of Gruffudd ap Cynan.  Probably acting for his father, Cadwallon made an unexpected strike which killed Gronwy ap Owain and two of his brothers, allowing Gruffudd ap Cynan to take control of all Gwynedd.  Seven years later, Cadwallon was killed by cousins, Cadwgan ap Gronwy and Einion ap Owain, to avenge the death of Gronwy and his brothers.

          In 1127, King Gruffudd ap Cynan held a dynastic wedding ceremony at court [2], in which he sought to ally Powys with Gwynedd as a nationalistic action to let their Norman overlord know they were still a Welsh nation.  Owain, his eldest son and designated successor to the kingship of Gwynedd, would wed Gwladys ferch Llywarch ap Trahaearn [3] of the southern Powys dynasty of Arwystli, while his niece, Cristyn ferch Gronwy ap Owain ap Edwin, would marry Hywel ap Maredudd [4], an in-wedlock son of the Powys king.  Both ladies were in that 13/14 year old range when noble Welsh ladies were expected to marry, while both bridegrooms were in the traditional 26/28 year old range.  This melding of dynasties can be charted as:
         ARWYSTLI     GWYNEDD                      TEGEINGL                        POWYS
   1005 Caradog      1005 Iago                    1020 Edwin
                 l                       l                                  l
  1035 Trahaearn:  1035 Cynan                  1050 Owain                       Bleddyn 1025
                 l                       l                    ________l_________                l
                 l                       l                    l                              l                l
   1070 Llywarch   1070 Gruffudd ===Angharad 1085  1080 Gronwy   Maredudd 1065
                     l                                             l                                                 l                    l
    1113 Gwladys===========Owain Gwynedd 1100      1114 Cristyn===Hywel 1101         

          The offspring of these marriages began in 1128 when Owain, and wife Gyladys, produced a son whom they named Iorwerth [5], while Hywel ap Maredudd and Cristyn had a son, Maredudd [6].   
          For his part, Hywel went through the motions of being a good father to his child and kind to his wife, although close friends would describe the relationship as more than a bit artificial. At subsequent Christmas visits or attendances at festivals, Cristyn confided to her favorite cousin, Owain Gwynedd, that her marriage was a sham.  And that her husband was no longer considered kingly material by her, but all Owain could do was encourage her to hang tough, raise her boy into a real man and hope for the best.  Her brother-in-law, Gruffudd ap Maredudd, had died suddenly in 1128 [7], promoting Hywel to 2nd in line for the Powys kingship.
          In 1132, Powys king Maredudd ap Bleddyn died [8] and was succeeded by his son, Madog. Madog's wife was Susanna, a base daughter of Gruffudd ap Cynan [9] and thus another sister of Owain Gwynedd and first-cousin of Cristyn.  His brother, Hywel, was given no role at court.
          In Gwynedd, King Gruffudd ap Cynan finally died in 1137 [10] and Owain became the new king.  Owain's wife, Gwladys, had given him two sons, neither born with the looks or vigor of their father.  It was disappointing to Owain, but he also had four base sons who did resemble him.  His wife attempted another pregnancy, at his urging, in 1134, which resulted in a healthy daughter but a seriously ill wife.  She  finally died about 1141. The new daughter, Gwenllian, would later marry the other Owain ap Gruffudd in north Wales, the one called Owain Cyfeiliog, son of Gruffudd ap Maredudd [11].   
          There were no more children produced by Hywel and Cristyn, and they, in 1142, turned their son over to his uncle Madog for his mandatory training at age 14.  Hywel, later that same year, was found murdered. [12] Cristyn was taken in by King Madog, her brother-in-law, at the request of his wife, Cristyn's cousin.  Soon, however, friends of Cristyn were elated to learn that she and her also widowed cousin, Owain Gwynedd, planned to wed and had told the clergy to butt out.  In rapid order, Cristyn gave him 4 children: Angharad (1142), Dafydd (1143), Rhodri (1145) and Cadwallon (1147). [13]
          Owain Gwynedd finally died in 1170, having exceeded the normal allotment of years granted to most Welsh nobles.   Dafydd was but 27 and Rhodri 25 when Owain died, neither yet old enough for Welsh kingship. His eldest living base son, Hywel, had long since been designated the king's choice, so his coronation was held in early December of 1170.
          Later that same month, King Hywel and his personal bodyguard were confronted at Pentraeth, in the commote of Dindaethwy on Anglesey, by a group of young men led by Dafydd ap Owain Gwynedd, and Hywel was struck dead.[14]  Dafydd likely had acted on advice of clergy because, according to their theology, Hywel was an illegitimate child and should not be king of a Christian tribe. Dafydd immediately called upon the tribe's leading men to select his half-brother, Maelgwn, as their new king.  While Iorwerth had been Owain's eldest in-wedlock son, his serious birth defect disqualified him from kingship.  Maelgwn was the next-oldest born-in-wedlock child, and was soon installed as the new king.[15]  He was a man without charisma, neither a good soldier nor a born leader, qualities Dafydd was happy he lacked.  He'd do fine as a caretaker king until he and his brother came of age, at which time, who in their right mind would object to expelling Maelgwn?  He then chose to honor his mother's wish that her sons rule Gwynedd jointly, so waited for his brother to turn 28, which he did in 1173.
          The Brut entry for 1173 gives all the credit to Dafydd, but we suggest Rhodri was present when Maelgwn was confronted and forced to flee Anglesey for shelter in Ireland. He was then allowed the revenues of the Lordship of Anglesey upon the condition that he remain in exile.
          No coronation was held by the tribe's leading men, but Rhodri moved into the king's court in Aberffraw while Dafydd set up court at Rhuddlan in Tegeingl on the east shore of the River Clwyd.  The Conwy River, however, would be the dividing line between the two Gwynedds ruled by the brothers.  They agreed to give their eldest base half-brother, Cynan, the Lordships of Meirionydd, Llyn, Eifionydd and Ardudwy, and to confirm the disqualified Iorwerth as Lord of Nant Conwy.
          The following year, the rewards of kingship in Gwynedd were increased by three events. (1)  Cynan ap Owain died [16] about age 47 when his eldest sons were yet teenagers, so all the Lordship revenues formerly received by Cynan were now paid directly to the king. (2) Maelgwn ap Owain attempted to return from Ireland, but was quickly imprisoned [17]and stripped of his Lord of Anglesey revenues.  (3)  Iorwerth ap Owain was killed in his brother's uprising [18] and thus the Lordship of Nant Conwy reverted to the king.
          In 1175, Dafydd's mother, Cristyn, died [19] at the age of 61. For the first time ever, son Dafydd was free to act against his mother's wishes, and he claimed all of Gwynedd for himself.  He imprisoned his younger brother, Rhodri, and negotiated a marriage with Emma, half-sister of King Henry II, [20] to elevate his status among the European kings.  It availed him little because, that same year, Rhodri was freed by the leading men of Gwynedd-west-of-the-Conwy, who then joined with him to chase Dafydd back to his eastern half of Gwynedd. [21] The dual reigns of Dafydd and Rhodri continued unchanged for the next 18 years.

[1]  Most of the following summary of events can be found in the Brut and has already been discussed in various earlier papers on this site.  We elected not to include source footnotes within the summary since it is merely background material to the story of Gwynedd between 1170 and 1175.
[2] The two marriages described here appear to have taken place in the year 1127 and involve close relatives of the king, but it is only our suggestion that a joint ceremony was held at court.
[3] ABT 2(a)
[4] Pen. 127, 116; Pen. 131, 86   
[5]  ABT 2(a)
[6]  Pen. 127, 116
[7]  ByT 1128
[8]  ByT 1132
[9]  ABT 5(a)
[10] ByT 1137
[11] ABT 2(a)
[12] ByT 1142; also see our paper on Hywel ap Maredudd at the link below:
[13] ABT 2(b)
[14] ByT 1170
[15] No source mentions Maelgwn being king, but ByT 1173 says his brother, Dafydd, drove him from Anglesey to Ireland
[16] ByT 1174 which calls Cynan "prince of Gwynedd", but it was Maelgwn whom Dafydd seized and imprisoned
[17] ByT 1174
[18] Neither the date nor cause of Iorwerth's death is anywhere cited.  See our paper on Iorwerth Drwyndwn at the link below:
[19] No obit is recorded for Cristyn.  We suggest Dafydd only turned against his uterine brother, Rhodri, after their mother died.
[20] ByT 1175
[21] ByT 1175