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Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
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Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                          THE BRIEF LIFE OF GRUFFUDD AP MAREDUDD
                                         By Darrell Wolcott
           Maredudd ap Bleddyn was probably the youngest son of the former king of Powys, having grown up in the shadow of his older brothers Cadwgan and Iorwerth.  Even after the those men were slain in 1111, Maredudd was not chosen to rule his father's lands.  A nephew, Owain ap Cadwgan, was a man in his late 20's while Maredudd was then approaching 50 years of age.  But when Owain was killed in 1116, it left no other grandsons of Bleddyn yet old enough for kingship[1] and Maredudd finally assumed the reins of power.  
          Back in his younger days, Maredudd had taken to wife Hunydd, daughter of Eunydd ap Morien of Dyffryn Clwyd[2]; the latter was a second cousin of Maredudd and had been an officer in his father's warband.  By that lady, Maredudd had sired three sons: Gruffudd, Madog and Hywel [3].  By the time Maredudd finally became king of Powys, those sons had reached the early stages of manhood.  Although we have no certain way of knowing which was the elder son, Gruffudd was the first to come to the attention of the authors of the Brut.  Immediately after the death of Owain ap Cadwgan, we are told that Einion ap Cadwgan and Gruffudd ap Maredudd joined together to oust Uchdryd ap Edwin from his lands[4].  
         We doubt such an adventure would have been undertaken by these young cousins (men yet in their low 20's) without at least the tacit approval of Maredudd and perhaps even at his direction.  The action has all the elements of a future king-to-be demonstrating his military prowess as well as his chrisma in attracting other young noblemen to his banner.  His brother, Madog, is nowhere mentioned in this expedition and may have been yet a teen whose role in the campaign was subordinate to his elder relatives.  Gruffudd and Einion met with total success, burning Uchdryd's castle at Cymer in Meirionydd.  While some of the defenders fled, others switched allegiance and joined up with the victors.  The young men went on to seize all of Uchdryd's lands: Meirionydd, Cyfeiliog and Penllyn.  Gruffudd's share was Cyfeiliog while Einion took Meirionydd, each sharing half of Penllyn.
          In 1121, King Henry I invaded Powys and, we are told, was so impressed by the daring and skill of Maredudd's warband (perhaps led by Gruffudd) that he called a truce and suggested a peace treaty, which Maredudd readily accepted, as did the sons of his late brother Cadwgan.  But in 1124, a new threat arose in Powys.  Ithel ap Rhiryd ap Bleddyn, a hot-tempered nephew who had both warred against Owain ap Cadwgan and been an ally of Uchdryd ap Edwin, was released from the prison where King Henry had held him for a number of years.  He demanded a share of Powys and the other lands now controlled by Maredudd.  At first, he was denied any land at all.  But a year later, it appears Maredudd sent for him to work out an acceptable resolution to his claims.
         Instead, the Brut reports tersely that "Gruffudd ap Maredudd slew Ithel ap Rhiryd in the presence of his [Gruffudd's] father".  Again, there is no mention of Gruffudd's brothers, Madog and Hywel, although those men were now past 20 years old.  We take this as further indication that Gruffudd was the elder son and was being groomed by his father to be his successor.  But three short years later, we are told Gruffudd died.  There is no report of any accident or illness, but neither was he reported as "slain".  He was, most likely, less than 35 years old and missed the opportunity to become king by only four years; his father Maredudd died in 1132 and his eldest remaining legitimate son,  Madog, succeeded him.
          Gruffudd left two young sons, Owain (to later be called Owain Cyfeiliog, probably to distingish him from another contemporary Owain ap Gruffudd who was called Owain Gwynedd) and Meurig.  They were but half-brothers, each having a different mother, and we can't be sure which was the oldest.  The mother of Meurig, according to the extant pedigrees[5], was Iwera ferch Iago ap Gruffudd ap Cynan while Owain's mother is cited as Gwerfyl ferch Gwrgeneu ap Hywel (or Hoedliw) ap Ieauf ap Cadwgan ap Elystan[6].  Such a Gwerfyl would occur about 1110 and fit nicely as a consort of Gruffudd ap Maredudd only if she were descended from the c. 955 Elystan of Powys[7].  We hesitate to call her his wife for two reasons: the pedigree only makes her the mother of his son Owain while other pedigrees also make her the mother of Cadfan ap Cadwaladr ap Gruffudd ap Cynan.[8] That man was given his father's lands in Ceredigion in 1149 (during the life of his father) and there is no known precedent for such a grant to a teenage son.  Thus, we would place Cadfan's birth in or before 1128 and reject the assumption that Cadwaladr took a widowed Gwerfyl as a wife or mistress after Gruffudd ap Maredudd died in 1128.  And if Cadfan had been born to Gwerfyl prior to the time she bore Owain, would a king-in-waiting actually marry a lady who had already borne a child with another man?  Perhaps so if he deemed the alliance with the bride's family of great importance.  After all, Gruffudd seems to have already fathered a child himself by a mistress.  But it is equally as likely that Gwerfyl numbered among those well-born ladies of that age whose choice was to bear sons for important men rather than take a husband.[9] 
     This brings us to the second chrolonogical problem.  The mistress, Iwera, is cited as a daughter of Iago ap Gruffudd ap Cynan[10].  And a very old pedigree[11] tells us that among the children of Gruffudd ap Cynan were "Iago and his sister Yslani who married Hwfa ap Ithel Felyn".  Taken as it stands, this would date Iago to c. 1100/1110 (about the time the better known sons of Gruffudd ap Cynan were born) because Hwfa ap Ithel Felyn was born near 1095 and requires a wife born c. 1105/1110.  But a Iago born that late could not have fathered Iwera early enough for her to bear a child before 1128; indeed a daughter of such a Iago could barely have been born herself by that date.  We should date the Iago who was father to Iwera nearer to 1075/1080, permitting Iwera to be born c. 1105/1110 and bear the child Meurig between 1119 and 1128.  Accordingly, we would identify Iago as the son of Gruffudd ap Cynan, nephew of Iago, one of the victors at Mynydd Cairn in 1081 who disappeared from history immediately thereafter[12].  Probably born in Ireland where that Gruffudd ap Cynan had been born to Cynan ap Idwal, this Iago may have come to Wales in 1099 with his father's namesake Gruffudd ap Cynan ap Iago.  We further suspect the birthname of his daughter was not Iwera, this merely being a nickname to denote she was a lady from Ireland[13].  And if Iago was born c. 1080 and Yslani, wife of Hwfa, was born c. 1110, they could not have been siblings.  Perhaps the original pedigree had read "Yslani his daughter" which the medieval genealogists emended to "his sister" on the grounds both must date from the same generation as Owain Gwynedd and the other sons of the only Gruffudd ap Cynan they believed existed.  The relationships in the following charts show a reasonable timeline in which Meurig and Owain could have been sired by Gruffudd ap Maredudd before his death in 1128:
                         975  Idwal ap Elisedd
                     l                                     l
         1005  Iago                     1014  Cynan
                     l                                     l
         1035  Cynan                 1041  Gruffudd     Bleddyn  1025
                     l                                     l                 l
        1070  Gruffudd                1075  Iago        Maredudd  1065
                     l                                    l                 l
      1105  Cadwaladr             1110  Iwera==/==Gruffudd  1095
              (next chart)                                 l
                                                   1127  Meurig
                                       985  Cadwgan*
         1005  Iago                1015  Ieuaf           
                   l                               l                     
        1035  Cynan           1045  Hoedliw/Hywel        Bleddyn  1025
                   l                               l                             l
      1070  Gruffudd        1080  Gwrgeneu              Maredudd  1065
                   l                               l                             l
    1105  Cadwaladr====/===Gwerfyl========Gruffudd  1095
                                     l             1110        l                
                      1128  Cadfan                 Owain Cyfeiliog  1125
        *This is Cadwgan ap Elystan of Powys, not Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd of Buellt.
           In 1149, Madog ap Maredudd, then king of Powys, gave the commote of Cyfeiliog to his nephews Owain and Meurig.  The first thing we find significant about such a gift is it would have reduced the amount of lands which his own sons stood to inherit.  Providing for the children of one's deceased brother was most unusual and we suspect it fulfilled a deathbed request of his father.  Madog may have been made the heir to Maredudd's kingship only if he promised to raise his brother's young sons at court and give them land of their own when they reached adulthood.  And secondly, the year 1149 may have been when this was attained.
           It might be significant that both children of Gwerfyl were given their own lands in the same year, 1149.  If one grant occurred early that year and the other near its close, both men may have turned 21 in 1149 and been born within 10/11 months of each other.  In fact, we are told that Madog ap Maredudd gave Cyfeiliog to his nephews "towards the end of the year". But we don't know in which month Cadfan received his father Cadwaladr's portion of Ceredigion. Nor is there any assurance that age 21 meant anything in terms of "adulthood" in the 12th century.  We have previously noted that royal sons appear to have been required to be around 28 years old before elevation to kingship[14]; the age of eligibility to own their own lands may have been much less, even as early as age 14 when legal childhood ended.  But both Cadfan and Owain were over 14 and under 28 in the year 1149.
           Since it was Owain ap Gruffudd ap Maredudd (now called Owain Cyfeiliog to distinguish him from Owain ap Gruffudd ap Cynan who was called Owain Gwynedd) who alone ruled Cyfeiliog in the second half of the twelfth century, what became of his brother Meurig?  The Brut last mentions him in 1156, saying he "escaped from his prison".  We are not told whether his unknown offense was against England or his brother, nor what he did after gaining his freedom.  He simply vanished from history.  Certain medieval pedigrees[15] claim Owain and Meurig had a third brother, Rhiryd Foel. But the wife and daughter assigned to him date his birth to c. 1160 and so he was more likely the son of Meurig. Certainly he was not included among the named nephews of Madog who were given Cyfeiliog in 1149. 
          Although we don't claim Gruffudd ap Maredudd to have been a significant figure of twelfth-century Powys, this brief biography provides a place to examine in some detail the ladies by whom he had sons, both of whom also occur in a study of the sons of Gruffudd ap Cynan.

[1] Ithel ap Rhirid ap Bleddyn was probably the eldest of these and may have reached sufficient years to be elevated to kingship, but he was apparently being held in prison by Henry I of England for unspecified crimes; his release is reported in 1124
[2] For whom see "Eunydd son of Gwenllian at the link below:
[3] ABT 8(f); Maredudd also had base sons Iorwerth Goch and Dafydd, both appearing to be younger than Gruffudd, Madog and Hywel.
[4] Uchdryd was the son of Iwerydd ferch Cynfyn and thus a first cousin of Cadwgan ap Bleddyn.  The latter had given him the lordship of Cyfeiliog and other lands upon the condition he faithfully serve Cadwgan and his sons.  But after the death of Owain ap Cadwgan, the other sons claimed he "thought nothing of them"
[5] Peniarth Ms 128 pp 381a
[6] ABT 8g as copied into Peniarth Ms 131
[7] See the papers "The Enigmatic Elystan Glodrydd" and "Unofficial History of Elystan of Powys" for evidence there was a second man named Cadwgan ap Elystan who lived in Powys, at the links below:
[8] ABT 3a, which lists the sons of Cadwaladr ap Gruffudd ap Cynan, reads "Cadfan ap Cadwaladr, unfam oedd ag Owain Cyfeiliog.  Some writers have read this to be saying that the mother of Cadfan "was descended from Owain Cyfeiliog" and others as "the wife of Cadfan was a daughter of Owain Cyfeiliog".  But a strict translation would read "with the same mother as Owain Cyfeiliog", i.e. Gwerfyl ferch Gwrgeneu. It is the latter meaning accepted by Peter Bartrum in his "Welsh Genealogies AD 300-1400"
[9] Another example is the daughter of Brochwel ap Bledrus who possibly bore Iorwerth ap Bleddyn and Sandde ap Caradog Hardd; many early rolls include a tax on men whose daughters "are led astray by men" so the practice must not have been uncommon
[10] See note 5
[11] ABT 5b; the marriage of Yslani is also cited in HLG 5b
[12] Refer to other papers on this site where we posit two separate men called Gruffudd ap Cynan, one a nephew of Iago and the other a grandson of Iago, at the links below:
[13] The Welsh word for Ireland is Iwerddon; the female names Iwerydd and Iwera may have merely been nicknames to denote a lady born in Ireland, with their birthnames thus obscured
[14] See the paper on this site "Minimum Age for Welsh Kingship in the Eleventh Century" at the link below:
[15] Peniarth Ms 176, pp 240