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Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys
                         WAS OWAIN ap EDWIN REALLY A TRAITOR?
                                         Darrell Wolcott
        In the early or "traditional" histories of Wales, we are told that the eldest son of Edwin of Tegeingl was Owain called "Brawdr" or "traitor".  Citing no authentic source but injecting their own explanation of the terse events recorded in the Brut, a tale was fashioned which made Owain out to be a willing tool of the Normans in their early objections to the rise of Gruffudd ap Cynan in Anglesey.
        The tale is recounted by J.Y.W. Lloyd in his History of Powys Fadog in the following paragraph[1] (which we have not quoted verbatim, but summarized to eliminate extraneous interjections):
        The nobles of Mon revolted against their lawful prince, Gruffudd ap Cynan, and put themselves under the protection of Hugh, Earl of Chester.  The Princes Gruffudd ap Cynan and Cadwgan ap Bleddyn were obliged to flee to Ireland and the Normans made Owain, son of Edwin ap Gronwy of Tegeingl, a fictitious prince to reconcile the Cymry.  Owain, who thus became Prince of Gwynedd by siding with the enemies of his country, was called Owain Vradur, or the Traitor, in consequence.  He was the Prime Minister and father-in-law of Gruffudd ap Cynan who had married his daughter, Angharad.  He reigned but a short time, as Gruffudd returned at the end of two years and recovered possession of his territories.
         The Brut entries of 1098 and 1099 actually say no such thing; previous entries make it clear it was Cadwgan ap Bleddyn who was defending Gwynedd (read Anglesey) against military attempts by the Earl of Chester to recover the entire lordship for which his now-dead kinsman Robert of Rhuddlan had paid 40 pounds to rule[2].  At that time, there is no record that Gruffudd ap Cynan was anything more than a young wanna-be prince.  We suspect it was his "kingship" claim in 1098 which brought the combined armies of the Earls of Chester and Montgomery to Anglesey and forced the two Welshmen to flee to Ireland.  Far from being in the service of Gruffudd, Owain ap Edwin was the Lord of Tegeingl whose lands lay hard by Chester; he had established cordial relations with his powerful neighbor as a matter of survival.  When Robert of Rhuddlan died about 1093, it had been Owain to whom Earl Hugh had granted the governship of Gwynedd.  For several years, Cadwgan ap Bleddyn had held Anglesey and NOT as a sub-ruler for the Earl.  Two known attempts to dispossess Cadwgan militarily had failed and there is no evidence that Owain ap Edwin was involved in them. Anglesey was far from his own lands and he likely could have cared less whether the Earl was able to extend his control to that island; he simply governed whatever Welsh lands the Norman did control.  Thus, when the 1098 expedition cleared Cadwgan and his friend, Gruffudd, from Anglesey, it simply became another Welsh cantref held by the Earl and thus governed locally by Owain.
         It does seem clear that the leading men of Anglesey, while they had enjoyed the protection of Cadwgan for several years, were not willing to accept a new king who was not approved by Earl Hugh.  Cadwgan had never claimed to be king of anything except the portion of Powys where his paternal lands were located.  He had simply taken up residence in Anglesey during a break in its rule by the Norman Earl, where the fathers of its leading men had served under his father a generation ago.  The Brut account says one of the primary reasons he and Gruffudd fled to Ireland was fear of treachery by these men, but Cadwgan showed no such fear when the Normans attacked in 1094 and 1095.  Something had changed. We believe it was the emergence of Gruffudd ap Cynan, the current member of the Gwynedd royal family who was probably legally entitled to rule.  His family had been ousted from power in 1039 and, we think, several successive members of that family had tried and failed to regain rule. These include his father Cynan.  Under our timeline, Gruffudd attained "full age" in 1098 and likely proclaimed himself the rightful king.[3] 
         Nor do we think Gruffudd was then married to a daughter of Owain ap Edwin; his eldest sons were born between 1100 and 1105 and we would place his marriage after he returned from Ireland in 1099.  Lastly, Owain continued to govern all of mainland Gwynedd until he died in 1105.  Gruffudd ap Cynan was only granted the lordship of Anglesey upon his return to Wales and was still holding only that cantref as late as 1121.  The remainder of Gwynedd was apparently held by Gronwy ap Owain ap Edwin in 1114 and there is no reason to believe that Gruffudd ap Cynan ruled the entire kingdom until Gronwy and two of his brothers were slain in 1125.
         The "traitor" charge against Owain was not made during his lifetime, but hundreds of years later by writers who exhibited a strong bias toward the clan of Rhodri Mawr.  They cast pedigrees to support their incorrect belief that ALL the men who ruled either Gwynedd or Powys were either directly descended from Rhodri[4] or were mere usurpers.  It has taken scholars years to debunk those false claims. If a 12th century Welsh nobleman who acknowledged the military superiority of the Normans and ruled his lands with their consent and blessings can be called a traitor, we would nominate Gruffudd ap Cynan.  There is no record he ever opposed them militarily and many reports where he did their bidding.  Two come quickly to mind:
         In 1116, Gruffudd ap Rhys ap Tewdwr returned to Deheubarth as a grown man after having taken refuge in Ireland as a child when his father was killed.  When he made a claim to his father's old kingship (which was now being ruled by Normans), he was outlawed and being hunted.  He asked Gruffudd ap Cynan for asylum in Anglesey and was promised he would be received gladly.  But when King Henry I learned where the young man had fled, he asked Gruffudd ap Cynan to take him into custody and send him to England for imprisonment, or failing that, to just send him his head.  Immediately Gruffudd began asking his men where to find the younger Gruffudd, and friends of the latter warned him to "shun the presence of Gruffudd ap Cynan" until you know where he stands.  When horsemen could be seen approaching, Gruffudd ap Rhys took shelter in a church.  Gruffudd ap Cynan's men were ordered to drag him out but the prelates would not allow the sanctuary of the church to be violated.  The young man finally was able to flee back to Deheubarth, judging it a safer place to be.
         In 1121, King Henry I sent his army against Powys and its prince, Maredudd ap Bleddyn.  The men of Powys sent a messenger to Gruffudd ap Cynan asking him to unite with them because their joint armies could together hold off the king.  Gruffudd not only declined, but told the men of Powys if they fled into his lands he would attack them with his warband. 
          We suggest that like Gruffudd ap Cynan, Owain ap Edwin did the bidding of the English simply so he could peacefully enjoy his realm without constant war with them.  Virtually every other Welsh prince in that era did the same or was crushed[5]; keeping peace with England by acknowledging the king's overlordship had little or no effect upon their ability to rule their own lands and people.  Various Welsh kings had done the same ever since the days of Hywel Dda and Wessex King Athelstan[6].
         Owain became ill and died in 1105 as a man not yet 60 years old.  He had married a daughter of Ednowain Bendew, the man who held a lordship in Tegeingl contemporarily with Owain's father.  We believe Edwin and Ednowain were first cousins.[7]  His best-known sons were Gronwy, Rhiryd and Meilyr while another son, Llywarch, was killed in battle in 1118.  The Llewelyn ap Owain whose daughter Arddun married Iorwerth ap Madog[8] was, we think, a younger son. A daughter, Angharad, married Gruffudd ap Cynan ap Iago and was the mother of Owain Gwynedd and others.  It was probably another daughter, Annesta, who was mother to Einion ap Seisyllt of Meirionydd.[9] 
        An early citation calls Aldud yet another son of Owain ap Edwin, but there are reasons to believe he was an adopted, not a natural son. We suggest Aldud was not a male name at all, but a corrupt rendition of "alltud" meaning "a stranger" accepted into Wales with certain legally defined rights; one whose ancestry was not proven Welsh stock.
See our paper on Aldud ap Owain at the link shown below:
          Our research of the Tegeingl families indicates that Owain may also have been the father of Madog, a man whose father is often cited as "Ednowain Bendew II".  Refer to our papers on that man at:
          We will conclude this discussion by suggesting that Owain ap Edwin was, during his lifetime, a far more powerful ruler in north Wales than Gruffudd ap Cynan and that his family continued its domination there at least down to the era when the sons of Gruffudd reached adulthood.
[1] Vol 1, pp 91-92
[2] Cited in the Cheshire portion of the Domesday Book of 1086
[3] See the paper "Gruffudd ap Cynan - A New Prospective" at the link below:
where it is posited that the man of that name who emerged in 1098 was actually born near 1070 and was not the same Gruffudd who attempted to take rule in Gwynedd in 1075 and 1081.
[4] Among the very questionable pedigrees that emerged in the 1500's were the creation of a Llewelyn ap Merfyn ap Rhodri Mawr whose daughter, they claim, was the heiress of Powys and grandmother of Angharad ferch Maredudd who married both Llewelyn ap Seisyllt and Cynfyn ap Gwerystan.  We also first encounter a previously unknown Prawst ferch Elisedd ap Anarawd ap Rhodri Mawr, claimed to be the mother of Llewelyn ap Seisyllt.  By these devices, it was claimed that both the son of Llewelyn ap Seisyllt and the sons of Cynfyn owed their kingships to maternal descent from Rhodri Mawr.  It appears much more likely both Gruffudd ap Llewelyn ap Seisyllt and Bleddyn ap Cynfyn were descended from Powys families which ruled that kingdom even when Rhodri Mawr was alive.
[5] Rhys ap Tewdwr of Deheubarth, for example, also paid King William I 40 pounds to rule over south Wales.  His contemporary in Brycheiniog, Bleddyn ap Maenyrch, did not accept Norman overlordship and was slain in 1093.  Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd in Fferlys was forced to cede all his lands except Buellt, Ceri, Maelienydd and Elfael to William I to secure peace.  In upper Gwent, both Ynyr and Gwaethfoed survived only by marrying sons to daughters of the Norman conqueror Drew de Baladon.  Even Llewelyn the Great married a daughter of King John as one price of peace with England.
[6] Sometime between the years 927 and 931, the Welsh kings of Gwynedd, Deheubarth, Gwent, Glywyssing and Brycheiniog all submitted to the overlordship of Athelstan and paid him annual tributes of gold, silver and oxen.  Hywel Dda often attended his court and witnessed official documents issued by King Athelstan.
[7] This argument is made in the paper "Edwin of Tegeingl" at the link below:
[8] Citations in Dwnn ii, 304 & 325 show this ancestry for Arddun; to fit his suggested timeline for the family into which she married, Peter Bartrum attaches her to Llewelyn ap Owain ap Aldud ap Owain ap Edwin...incorrectly we think
[9] Dwnn i, 299 says the lady was a daughter of Gronwy ap "Einion" (sic) of Tegeingl, thus a sister of Edwin. But Einion ap Seisyllt was born c. 1110 or nearly 100 years too late to be the son of such a lady, while a daughter of Owain ap Edwin fits chronologically. See Note 4 to our paper "The Floruit of Einion ap Seisyllt" at the link below:
 The claim in Harleian Ms 1973, pp 70 & 77 that the wife of "Seisyllt of Meirionydd" was Isabel ferch Bradwen is either incorrect (such a lady would date from c. 1160) or refers to a Seisyllt who occurred a generation after Einion was born