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Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys
                                            By Darrell Wolcott
          Most students of Welsh history recognize these men as Llewelyn Fawr, the Gwynedd king who ruled from about 1197 to 1240, and the Ednyfed who served as that king's seneschal and chief advisor. Most also know that Ednyfed was the direct paternal ancestor of England's King Henry VII and the Tudor Dynasty.  But few know what other relationships they shared nor when their friendship began.
          The following tale is often repeated in modern biographies of Ednyfed Fychan:
           "Ednyfed is said to have first come to notice in battle, fighting against the Earl of Chester, who had attacked King Llewelyn at the behest of King John of England.  Ednyfed cut off the heads of three English Lords in battle and carried them, still bloody, to Llewelyn, who commanded him to change his family arms to display three heads in memory of the feat." [1]
          This sounds exactly like someone writing in the 16th century would have tried to explain the arms which were assigned to Ednyfed Fychan.  As we seek to show in this paper, the two men were quite likely friends since childhood and almost certainly close friends long before Llewelyn became king.  The arms usually assigned to Ednyfed were "gules, between a chevron ermine, 3 Englishmen's heads proper".  However, his 9th century ancestor, Marchudd ap Cynan, was assigned "gules, a Saracen's head couped proper".  Since several citations [2] actually describe the heads on the Ednyfed arms as "Saracens", it would seem a much more ancient event was behind the selection of these arms.  Actually, neither man bore the arms during their lifetime; the arms were assigned in the mid-13th century to hundreds of Welsh patriarchs and heroes. [3]

          This chart shows the cited relationship where the mother of Ednyfed Fychan was a first cousin of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth.  The possibility that the charted mistress of Owain Gwynedd was also a blood relative of Cynwrig ap Iorwerth (charted as the son-in-law of her daughter) will be discussed presently.
          According to the ABT 9b citation, Hwfa was the son of Cynwrig (995) ap Rhiwallon (965) ap Dyngad (935) ap Tudor Trefor (900).  Such a Hwfa would be about 100 years too old to marry a base daughter of Owain Gwynedd, so there must be about 3 male generations missing from the pedigree.  After a thorough review of all children cited as sons or daughters of a "Cynwrig ap Rhiwallon" who descended from Dyngad ap Tudor Trefor, we make him Hwfa (1120) ap Cynwrig (1090) ap Rhiwallon (1060) ap Dyngad (1025) ap Cynwrig (995) ap Rhiwallon (965) ap Dyngad (930) ap Tudor Trefor (900). [5]
          Perhaps we can add some light to the manner in which this Hwfa impacted the family of Ednyfed Fychan by simply pondering the question "Why was Ednyfed called "Fychan"?  As far as we can learn from the early pedigree manuscripts, there was no other male named Ednyfed in his immediate family.  Yet within his parent's social circle, it had been necessary to call their son "Fychan" to distinguish him from some older person also named Ednyfed.
          We suggest that a couple events occurred which are not mentioned by either the historians or the pedigree collectors.  The first is that Hwfa and his wife, Gwenllian, had a son about 1153. We posit that Angharad, their first child, had a younger brother named Ednyfed.
          The second event occurred after Angharad ferch Hwfa married Cynwrig ap Iorwerth and shortly after she bore a son they named Ednyfed . We think Hwfa was killed in the Battle of Corwen (1165), leaving a widowed wife with a 12 year old son.  We posit Cynwrig and Angharad took her mother into their home, together with her young son (Angharad's brother).  We doubt Cynwrig agreed to do this solely to accommodate his nearly brand-new mother-in-law, but suggest the lady (Gwenllian ferch Owain Gwynedd) was also his blood relative.  No citations identify the mistress by whom Owain Gwynedd sired the base daughter, Gwenllian, but she might well have been a daughter of Gwgan ap Idnerth ap Edred, thus the aunt of Cynwrig.  If born c. 1110, such a lady would have been as suitable a candidate as all the other mistresses who bore children for the Gwynedd king-to-be. Her daughter would have been not only Cynwrig's mother-in-law but also his first-cousin.
          To differentiate between Angharad's brother and her son, both whom were named Ednyfed, and both of whom now lived in the same nuclear family (under our suggested scenerio), the recently born boy was called Ednyfed Fychan. [6]

                   1070  Gwgan                                                               
                       l                 l  1110
       1100 Iorwerth    daughter ====/====Owain Gwynedd  1100
                    l                                 l   
                    l               1134  Gwenllian=====Hwfa ap Cynwrig 1120
                    l                        ___________l__________
                    l                        l                                      l 
     1135 Cynwrig======Angharad  1150               Ednyfed  1153
             1165  Ednyfed Fychan
            (the persons in red are posited but nowhere cited)

          Ednyfed Fychan spent his childhood with his parents at their manor, Brynffanugl, located near Abergele in Rhos.  His legal childhood ended about 1179 when he reached his 14th birthday.  Like all noble Welsh boys, he was turned over to his father's Lord for a period of mandatory training.  The Lord of Rhos was Llywarch Goch ap Iorwerth, who had just assumed that office following the death of his father. It was at Llywarch's manor in Rhos where a young Ednyfed Fychan grew into manhood.
          Llewelyn ap Iorworth was but 5 years old when his father was killed in battle. [8] His mother remarried and took her son to live with a step-father, Maelog Crwm, at that man's manor in Creuddyn. [9] While both subjects of this paper, after 1174, resided less than 10 miles apart, there is no evidence they actually knew each other when toddlers. But when Llewelyn turned 14 in 1183, and reported for training at the manor of the Lord of Rhos, one of his bunkmates was the 18 year old Ednyfed Fychan. If the boys had not previously known of their "cousin" relationship, or had thought little about it since their parents did not habitually visit one another, they did know now. While Llewelyn was more highly regarded since he was a potential future heir for the kingship, Ednyfed Fychan was probably the more educated, book-wise, of the two.  He was a natural for the role of "big-brother", and the two soon became best friends.
          By the year 1190, both men had advanced from "trainee" to "cadre" status, assisting in the training of the younger boys.  This older group of young men were housed apart from the teenagers as they began to learn to become self-sufficient men. That year Llewelyn, now age 21, received his inheritance of the Nant Conwy lands which his deceased father had owned.
          Soon thereafter, Ednyfed's father died of old age, and Ednyfed also became a noble land owner. These men's apprenticeship with the Lord of Rhos legally ended as they became "uchelwrs", having finally advanced from their prior status as merely "potential noblemen".  Ednyfed began constructing his own manor, called Llys Euryn, at Llandrillo yn Rhos.  This was necessary because his youngest brother, by Welsh law, had inherited his father's living quarters at Brynffannugl.  As the only son, Llewelyn now held his father's former home.  The two men stayed in touch as Llewelyn spent much of his time visiting the various Lords in Gwynedd, seeking support for a future kingship claim.  Ednyfed often accompanied him, and he deferred thoughts of marriage until he had sufficient individual accomplishments to merit a highly-regarded nobleman's daughter.
          In 1193 at age 24, Llewelyn visited his former Lord, Llywarch Goch of Rhos, to discuss his role at court, should Llewelyn become king. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the child he'd known since she was 3 years old, had grown into a lovely 13 year old lass.  Tangwystl ferch Llywarch Goch used to flirt with him back when she was a precocious 10 year old, and now she had the assets of a woman with which to tempt him. When this visit with her father ended for Llewelyn, young Tangwystl was pregnant with his child. [10]
          She delivered a son, Gruffudd, in 1194 and wanted more.  Her father told Llewelyn that now that his daughter was the mother of his child, that he should look after her keep and she should leave her father's bed and board. Such an arrangement was not compatible with Llewelyn's political ambitions, so he asked Ednyfed Fychan to take the lady and child into his home and gave permission to Ednyfed to consider the lady as his own mistress.  The following year, Tangwystl delivered a daughter, Gwenllian, fathered by Ednyfed.  Over the next 10 years, she would bear him 4 more children, and even managed (about 1202) to deliver a daughter, Gladys Ddu, for her first lover.
          About 1195, Lord Rhys of Deheubart, offered Ednyfed Fychan a natural daughter to be his wife.  He married this Gwenllian [11] and she gave him 4 children between 1195 and 1200.  For a couple years, Ednyfed maintained separate chambers in his manor to house his wife and his mistress.  However, when Llewelyn finally was elevated to king of Gwynedd in 1197, he remedied this problem for Ednyfed.  The new king gave Tangwystl a tract of land called Dinas Cadfael in Is Aled, Rhufoniog.  The land had been owned by Hoedliw ap Ithel ap Cadwgan ap Ystrwyth, but escheated to the king when the owner died without heirs.  Tangwystl resided there with her widowed mother until the latter died, then sold it to her brother, Cynan ap Llywarch Goch. [12]

          When Llewelyn finally reached the age of eligibility for kingship, he had the support of most of the leading men of Gwynedd to depose King Dafydd, his uncle. [13] His other uncle, Rhodri, had earlier helped him weaken Dafydd by reducing his holdings to 3 castles. [14] Now in his early 50's, Rhodri was ready to step aside as king of the western half of Gwynedd, and did so when Llewelyn took Dafydd prisoner. [15] He was set free only after he agreed to be exiled from all Gwynedd. Dafydd later died in England in 1203. [16]
          While the new king brought his old friend Ednyfed Fychan to his court, he could not install him as his seneschal and chief advisor because that office was deemed hereditary and had long been held by Gwyn ap Ednowain (descended from Collwyn ap Tangno) and his ancestors.  Finally, in 1215, Gwyn died without sons of his own, so Ednyfed Fychan was appointed to that office. [17]  Ednyfed outlived Llewelyn by 6 years and after Ednyfed's death in 1246, his son Gronwy filled the office of seneschal for the Gwynedd king. When Gronwy died in 1256, Ednyfed's youngest son, Sir Tudor, became the seneschal.

[1]  Taken from the Wikipedia entry for Ednyfed Fychan as it read on June 20, 2022
[2]  Pen 128, 202 & 339; Pen 138, 108b; Pen 139, 113; Pen 148, 266; Pen 268, 230
[3]  A man descended from Hedd ap Alunog named Cynwrig ap Cowryd (born c. 1185) was among the men who assigned these arms during the period 1235/1250. He is cited as "Ddewis Herod" which literally means "to select coats of arms" 
[4]  ABT 9(a)   
[5]  See our paper on "Cynwrig ap Rhiwallon" at the link below:   
[6]  Our explanation is merely an exercise of logic and is nowhere cited in old manuscripts
[7]  Most of the following discussion is mere conjecture to provide a reasonable explanation for the results, which are recorded.  Our assertions assume that both men followed typical Welsh customs, as they existed during their lifetime
[8]  See our paper on Iorwerth Drwyndwn at the following link:
[9]  See our paper on Maelog Crwm at the link below:
[10] See our paper on Tangwystl ferch Tangwystl at the link below:
[11] Pen 131, 99 & 121
[12] Survey of Denbigh, page 128.  Also see Bartrum's note 2 on his chart "Llywarch Howlbwrch 1"
[13] See our paper on the Kingship of Gwynedd 1170-1175 at the link below:
[14]  ByT 1194
[15] ByT 1197
[16] ByT 1203
[17] J.E. Lloyd, "History of Wales", 2nd Edition, 1912, page 684