Legendary History Prior to 1st Century BC
Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees
The Bartrum "Welsh Genealogies"
Bartrum's "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs"
A study in charting medieval citations
The Evolution of the "Padriarc Brenin" Pedigree
Generational Gaps and the Welsh Laws
Minimum Age for Welsh Kingship in the Eleventh Century
The Lands of the Silures
Catel Durnluc aka Cadell Ddyrnllwg
Ancient Powys
The Royal Family of Powys
The Royal Family of Gwynedd
The 5 Plebian Tribes of Wales
Maxen Wledig of Welsh Legend
Maxen Wledig and the Welsh Genealogies
Anwn Dynod ap Maxen Wledig
Constans I and his 343 Visit to Britain
Glast and the Glastening
Composite Lives of St Beuno
Rethinking the Gwent Pedigrees
The Father of Tewdrig of Gwent
Another Look at Teithfallt of Gwent
Ynyr Gwent and Caradog Freich Fras
Llowarch ap Bran, Lord of Menai
Rulers of Brycheiniog - The Unanswered Questions
Lluan ferch Brychan
The Herbert Family Pedigree
Edwin of Tegeingl and his Family
Angharad, Heiress of Mostyn
Ithel of Bryn in Powys
Idnerth Benfras of Maesbrook
Henry, the Forgotten Son of Cadwgan ap Bleddyn
The Muddled Pedigree of Sir John Wynn of Gwydir
The Mysterious Peverel Family
The Clan of Tudor Trevor
The Other "Sir Roger of Powys"
Ancestry of Ieuaf ap Adda ap Awr of Trevor
The Retaking of Northeast Wales
Hedd Molwynog or Hedd ap Alunog of Llanfair Talhearn
"Meuter Fawr" son of Hedd ap Alunog
The Medieval "redating" of Braint Hir
Aaron Paen ap Y Paen Hen
Welsh Claims to Ceri after 1179
The Battle of Mynydd Carn
Trahaearn ap Caradog of Arwystli
Cadafael Ynfyd of Cydewain
Maredudd ap Robert, Lord of Cedewain
Cadwgan of Nannau
Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
What Really Happened in Deheubarth in 1022?
Two Families headed by a Rhydderch ap Iestyn
The Era of Llewelyn ap Seisyll
Cynfyn ap Gwerystan, the Interim King
The Consorts and Children of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn
The 1039 Battle at Rhyd y Groes
The First Wife of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn
Hywel ap Gronwy of Deheubarth
The Brief Life of Gruffudd ap Maredudd
Owain Brogyntyn and his Family
The Other Gwenwynwyn
Eunydd son of Gwenllian
Sandde Hardd of Mortyn
The Floruit of Einion ap Seisyllt
The Enigmatic Elystan Glodrydd
The Unofficial "History" of Elystan of Powys
Cowryd ap Cadfan of Dyffryn Clwyd
Owain ap Cadwgan and Nest ferch Rhys - An Historic Fiction?
The "sons" of Owain ap Cadwgan ap Bleddyn
The Betrayal by Meirion Goch Revisited
Gwyn Ddistain, seneschal for Llewelyn Fawr
The Men of Lleyn - How They Got There
Trahaearn Goch of Lleyn
Einion vs Iestyn ap Gwrgan - The Conquest of Glamorgan
The Royal Family of Glamorgan
Dafydd Goch ap Dafydd - His Real Ancestry
Thomas ap Rhodri - Father of Owain "Lawgoch"
The "Malpas" Family in Cheshire
Einion ap Celynin of Llwydiarth
Marchweithian, Lord of Is Aled, Rhufoniog
Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
Bradwen of Llys Bradwen in Meirionydd
Ednowain ap Bradwen
Sorting out the Gwaithfoeds
Three Men called Iorwerth Goch "ap Maredudd"
The Caradog of Gwynedd With 3 Fathers
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
The Legendary Kingdom of Seisyllwg
The Royal Family of Ceredigion
Llewelyn ap Hoedliw, Lord of Is Cerdin
The Ancestry of Owain Glyndwr
Welsh Ancestry of the Tudor Dynasty
Gruffudd ap Rhys, the Homeless Prince
The Children of Lord Rhys
Maredudd Gethin ap Lord Rhys
The 'Next Heir' of Morgan of Caerleon
Pedigree of the ancient Lords of Ial
The Shropshire Walcot Family
Pedigree of "Ednowain Bendew II"
Pedigree of Cynddelw Gam
                                           By Darrell Wolcott
         Since the role of king of a Celtic tribe required a man capable of defending its territory, and since the rule of primogeniture was not practiced, the Welsh kingdoms did not recognize child kings.  But at what age was an otherwise eligible heir deemed old enough to become the king?
          All we are told in the old laws of Hywel Dda is that a son of noble birth, on his 14th birthday, was sent by his father to his "lord" who thereafter was responsible for the boy's education and maintenance.[1]  We also find that the son does not receive a share of his family lands until his father dies, at which point he ascends to his father's status as an uchelwr...a land-owning nobleman.  We are not told of any earlier point where the young man becomes free to leave the bed and board of the lord and establish an independent household.
           The manuscript[2] which alleges that at age 21, a man is entitled to land from his lord in exchange for his military service is of medieval authorship; it may refer to knight's fees granted by the Norman feudal system, but is of no assistance in determining the law or custom of eleventh century Wales.  Our examination of actual examples, while anecdotal rather than written evidence, shows men did not take a wife and begin a family while their father was still alive.[3]  We have thus assumed young men were still in service to the lord until they ascended to the privileges of their father.
          The only evidence seen in the old laws that sons of the ruling or royal family were treated differently is found in the "edling", the young man declared next to rule after the present king.  That boy, whether a son or nephew of the king, was an official member of the king's household.  But this "heir apparent" did not always succeed to the kingship immediately upon the king's death, although he might have later on when he attained "full age".   If no eligible successor was yet of the required age, the leading men of the tribe named an interim king...typically a man maternally related to the royal family.[4]
         We begin assembling our anecdotal evidence with the death of Llewelyn ap Seisyllt in 1023.  It appears that an interim king had to be chosen to rule Powys and Gwynedd.  His son, Gruffudd, was yet a child and his mother remarried Cynfyn ap Gwerystan.  By 1033, a representive of the royal family in Gwynedd reclaimed it's kingship in the person of Iago ap Idwal.  And Gruffudd ap Llewelyn became king of Powys in 1039.  Our question is why those years?  Did they perhaps represent the earliest either man had attained the requisite age to become king?
         Our reconstruction of the timeline for the pedigrees of the Gwynedd and Powys families points to a birthdate c. 1005 for Iago and 1011 for Gruffudd.  Admittedly either date might vary a couple years, but both men appear to have ascended to kingship around age 26/30 and certainly not as young as age 21.
          Gruffudd would likely have taken a wife shortly after becoming king, bearing children by 1040/41. When he was killed in 1063, he left sons Ithel and Maredudd.  But neither of those sons staked a claim to his kingdom until 1069.  Again, were they forced to wait until the elder of them had attained a minimum age?  Even then, was it particularly wise for them to challenge Rhiwallon and Bleddyn, the sons of Cynfyn who in 1063 had divided Powys and Gwynedd between them with the blessing of King Edward the Confessor?
          Cynan, son of Iago, would have (under our timeline) attained full age about 1063. Is it only a coincidence that was the year Gruffudd ap Llewelyn was killed, or was Cynan required to act then if he wanted to restore rule of Gwynedd to his lineage?  Certain Irish annals actually name him as Gruffudd's killer.[5]  In any event, we are told the sons of Cynfyn took rule in both Powys and Gwynedd; any reign of Cynan was short indeed.
          One could posit from the examples of Iago, Gruffudd, the sons of Gruffudd and the son of Iago, that not only was an heir required to attain a minimum age to become king, say 28,  but was actually required to stake his claim at that time or forfeit his right.  We cite other examples which tend to support this requirement in our paper relating to Gruffudd ap Cynan in the eleventh century.[6]
          An incident wholly unexplained by modern historians occurred in 1042 when the Brut noted that Gruffudd ap Llewelyn was "captured" by the "men of Dublin".  Two years later, he is reported attacking Hywel ap Edwin and killing him; clearly his confinement was brief and did not affect his ability to retain and expand his kingdom. We would note that when Gruffudd took power in 1039 by killing Iago ap Idwal of Gwynedd, a surviving member of that family named Cynan fled to Ireland.  If that man attained "full age" in 1042, could the Brut entry be a record of his attempt to remove Gruffudd and restore Gwynedd to its dynastic family?  If so, his coup was short-lived.  Unfortunately, history is silent as to why Gruffudd was seized or how he escaped. But the timeline we posit for the Gwynedd family does include a Cynan brother of Iago born c. 1014.[7]
        It is not our purpose here to argue that age 28 was precisely the time a man attained "full age", but we have selected that number as both fitting the approximate age when rightful heirs staked their claim and one other consideration: for the first 14 years of his life, a male was considered a child; perhaps the next 14 years was devoted to his education and training under his lord. Only when that apprenticeship was completed, we suspect, was he eligible to wield the powers of kingship.
[1]  Aneurin Owen "Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales", 1841, vol i, pp 203
[2]  ibid vol ii, pp 211 the "Anomalous Laws" attributed to the 16th century
[3]  See "Generational Gaps and the Welsh Laws" elsewhere on this site
[4]  Examples include: Cadafael ap Cynfeddw who succeeded Cadwallon ap Cadfan in 634 when Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon was a yet a child, and who may have been the son of Cadfan's sister; and Cynfyn ap Gwerystan who succeeded Llewelyn ap Seisyllt in 1023 when Gruffudd ap Llewelyn was underage, and who was maternal grandson of former king Cadell ap Brochwel.
[5]  Annals of Loch Ce and Annals of Ulster call Gruffud's killer "son of Iacoib" while British Library Ms Add. 30512 (an Armagh manuscript) says "Channan mac Iacco"
[6] See "History of Gruffudd ap Cynan - A New Perspective" elsewhere on this site
[7] ibid, we posit a Cynan ap Idwal born c. 1014 as a brother of Iago ap Idwal and as father to "Gruffudd nephew of Iago"