Welsh history

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    The rule of Henry III (1216 - 1272) and its impact on Wales.

    On 19th October 1216 on the death of King John of England, his son Henry III acceded to the throne. As he was only nine years old, he was placed under the guardianship of William Marshal, who also served as regent of the kingdom until the end of Henry's minority in 1226. The politics of Wales at this time had been influenced by Henry's relations with Llywelyn Fawr.

    Initially, after Llywelyn had taken control of Gwynedd in 1194, his relations with John were cordial and in 1201, Llywelyn signed the first agreement to be signed by both a Welsh leader and an English king. Llywelyn strengthened his position when he married John's daughter Joan.

    However, in 1210 when Llywelyn attacked lands belonging to the powerful Earl of Chester an ally of King John. John marched into the heart of Gwynedd and conflict was only avoided when Joan interceded with her father. But when King John faced a revolt by his Barons in 1214, Llywelyn allied with them and in 1215 conquered the castles of Carmarthen and Cardigan and marched an army over the border to capture the English stronghold at Shrewsbury. John and the rebel barons negotiated a potential peace treaty, the Magna Carta, but in practice, neither side complied with its conditions and the war soon settled into a stalemate. The King became ill and died on the night of 18 October, leaving the nine-year-old Henry III as his heir.

    1216 - Llywelyn allied himself with the powerful Marcher Baron Reginald de Breos, and his power extended now into south and central Wales. At a meeting at Aberdovey, he created a system of government which ended the warring among the Welsh Princes and they recognised him as their overlord. This was a very considerable achievement and offered the prospect of unity and peace for the Welsh under their own ruler.

    1218 - The revolt of the barons in England had come to an end and Llywelyn paid homage to the English king on behalf of the other Welsh leaders.

    1228 - Llywelyn Fawr captured the Marcher Lord Will de Braose, and subsequently acquired lands in Brecknock, Radnor, Abergavenny and Buellt.

    1240 - Llywelyn Fawr died and his son Dafydd became Prince of Gwynedd, but the political scene was changing, Llywelyn Fawr had always accepted oaths of homage from the other Welsh princes, however, King Henry III of England would only allow them to swear the lesser oath of fealty to Dafydd. Dafydd also imprisoned his brother Gruffydd who he regarded as a threat.

    1241 - King Henry III, with the support of Gruffydd's wife, Senena invaded Gwynedd. forcing Dafydd to submit and sign the terms of surrender of the "Treaty of Gwerneigron", which included the handing over of Mold Castle, Lower Powys, Meirionydd, Buellt Castle & Ellesmere. He also had to release Gruffydd into Henry's custody, who imprisoned him in The Tower of London, using the threat of his release as a means of forcing Dafydd to keep the terms of the treaty.

    1244 - Gruffydd died from a fall while trying to escape from the Tower of London. This freed Dafydd's hands, and he entered into an alliance with other Welsh princes including Gruffydd's son Llywelyn, to attack English possessions in Wales and regain lost lands. Dafydd also began diplomacy with Pope Innocent IV, the result of which was recognition by the Vatican of his right to rule over North Wales and he was for a time recognised as Prince of Wales.

    1245 - The Pope however soon needed England's support in his dispute with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick, and withdrew his protection from Wales. Henry reacted by sending an army to invade Gwynedd, but he couldn't cross the river Conwy and in October, with their supply lines being ambushed by the Welsh, the English withdrew.

    1246 - Dafydd died suddenly in the royal home at Abergwyngregyn, he was succeeded by his nephew, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd.

    1247 - TREATY OF WOODSTOCK - Llywelyn and his brother Owain came to terms with King Henry. Gwynedd was divided with Llywelyn and Owain gaining control of Gwynedd Uwch Conwy, the part of Gwynedd west of the River Conwy and Henry himself taking control of Gwynedd Is Conwy, east of the river.

    1255 - BATTLE OF BRYN DERWIN - Llywelyn's brothers, Owain and Dafydd formed an alliance against him, but Llywelyn defeated and captured both of them, thereby becoming sole ruler of Gwynedd Uwch Conwy.

    1256 - Llywelyn crossed the River Conwy, accompanied by his brother, Dafydd and took control of most of Gwynedd.

    1257 - At the Battle of Cadfan, the forces of Henry III of England were roundly defeated, in the Tywi Valley, Carmarthenshire. Henry's army arrived near Carmarthen before marching towards Dinefwr Castle near Llandeilo, which they intended to take from Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and restore to their ally Rhys Fychan. However unbeknown to the English, Rhys had come to an agreement with Llywelyn, which left them without a guide in hostile and unfamiliar territory. It is reported that 2000 of Henry's army were killed and many nobles taken hostage.

    1258 - The barons of England rebelled against Henry III and Llywelyn maintained close relations with their leader, Simon de Montfort. He began using the title Prince of Wales, which the English Crown refused to recognise.

    1263 - Dafydd switched his allegiance to King Henry.

    1264 - Simon de Montfort became the "uncrowned King of England" after defeating King Henry and his son Edward (the future Edward I) at the Battle of Lewes.

    1265 - TREATY OF PIPTON - established an alliance between Llywelyn and de Montfort in which, in exchange for 30,000 marks, there would be a permanent peace and Llywelyn's right to rule Wales would be acknowledged. However, de Montfort although boosted by Welsh infantry was defeated and killed at the Battle of Evesham and power restored to King Henry. Llywelyn responded by capturing Hawarden Castle and routing Roger Mortimer's army in Brycheiniog in order to gain a bargaining position with King Henry.

    1267 - TREATY OF MONTGOMERY - marked an important milestone in the history of medieval Wales, as it was the first time that a King of England(Henry III) had recognised a Welsh ruler (Llywelyn ap Gruffydd) as Prince of Wales, with the right to receive homage from the other Welsh princes and lords.

    1272 - Henry III died and Edward I becomes King of England. Relations between England and Wales were to deteriorate, culminating in the death of Llywelyn in 1282 and the annexation of Wales by Edward I.

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    Born on this day 1832 at the 'Ancient Druid' inn, Hollybush, in the parish of Bedwellty.

    James James, the man who composed the music of the Welsh national anthem, 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau'.

    James, a talented harpist and musician moved with his family to Pontypridd in 1847, where he helped his father, Evan James, run a woollen factory. According to tradition the melody for 'Hen Wlad fy Nhadau' (originally named ‘ Glanrhondda') came to him one day as he walked along the river bank. His father then wrote the lyrics.

    The oldest existing version of the song is dated 1856 and was first performed in Maesteg at Tabor Methodist Chapel. In 1858, ‘ Hen Wlad fy Nhadau ’ was entered for competition at the national eisteddfod in Llangollen and was immediately very popular. In 1899, the singer Madge Breese made the song the first known recording in the Welsh language and in 1905, it became the world's first national anthem sung before a sporting event when the Welsh rugby team defeated the New Zealand All Blacks. There is a memorial to Evan and James in Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd.

    The man responsible for this beautiful national anthem of Wales.

  • That is such a stirring anthem! I never knew who wrote it, and enjoyed reading about James James and his father.


    (Because of the strong tradition, apparently started by Wales, of teams and fans lustily singing their national anthems at sports events, it is especially striking to see, as in this video, players who know not one word!)