Thursday, 10 December 2009

Honouring Llywelyn - Cilmeri 11th December 1282


(by Peter N. Williams Ph.D.)
For many who do more than just love Wales, Cilmeri is its most hallowed and saddest spot, for it is here, in a quiet meadow just outside the town of Builth Wells (Llanfair ym Muallt) that Welsh-born native prince Llewelyn the Last (Llewelyn ap Gruffudd) was slain. To understand the significance of Cilmeri, we must turn back in history to the Edwardian Conquest of Wales during the latter part of the l3th Century.

The ambition of King Edward was to unite the whole of the island of Britain under his kingship, and this meant he had ultimately to conquer Wales and Scotland. Prince Llewelyn had somehow manage to form a unified Wales under his leadership, but faced formidable problems in holding together all the quarrelsome parts of his kingdom. This mean that Edward's task was much easier than perhaps expected, considering the early defeats that the Welsh armies inflicted upon the invading English, not used to fighting in mountainous terrain. There was much resistance to Llewelyn's authority among many of the minor Welsh princes (forever quarreling among themselves) as well as from the semi-independent lords of the Marches.

It was therefore not too difficult for Edward's much larger armies to eventually wear away the forces of Llywelyn through attrition and to impose harsh restrictions upon the Welsh leader. At the Treaty of Aberconwy in l277, Llewelyn was forced to accept humiliating terms and to give up most of his recently acquired lands keeping only Gwynedd west of the Conwy River. Edward followed up his successes by building English strongholds around the perimeter of what remained of Llewelyn's possessions and strong, easily defended castles were erected at Flint, Rhuddlan, Aberystwyth, and Builth, garrisoned by large detachments of English immigrants and soldiers.

Though Edward was now firmly in control of his Welsh territories, yet Prince Llewelyn was not yet finished. During a period of peace between the two leaders, his wedding to Elinor at Worcester was honored by the attendance of the English king. It was a period in which the Welsh leader bided his time and pondered his options. When the people of Wales, under his brother Dafydd, eventually rose in a massive revolt at the loss of control over their customs and their law and the restrictive and oppressive English rule, Llewelyn was the unanimous choice to lead their cause:

"The gentlefolk of Wales, despoiled of their liberty and their rights, came to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and revealed to him with tears their grievous bondage to the English; and they made known to him that they preferred to be slain in war for their liberty than to suffer themselves to be unrighteously trampled upon by foreigners." (Brut y Tywysogion, l256).

At first, Llywelyn's revolt was successful, the castles of Builth, Aberystwyth and Ruthin falling into his hands, and a large English force was utterly destroyed in the Menai Straights in Gwynedd. Edward was forcedto devote the whole of his kingdom's resources to deal with the "malicious, accursed" Welsh, yet it was a mere chance encounter in a meadow at Cilmeri that ended the Welsh dream.
At Cilmeri, in the quiet green meadow on the road from Builth Wells to Llandovery, you will see a tall granite monolith. At first glance, It looks like one of the ancient standing stones erected thousands of years ago by our neolithic ancestors, yet a closer inspection reveals it to be a monument erected in l956 to the memory of Prince Llywelyn "our last ruler." (Ein Lliw Olaf).

Llywelyn, separated from his army, found himself in a minor skirmish in which he was killed by an English knight unaware of the Welsh prince's identity. Upon discovery, Llewelyn's head was sent to London for display as that of a traitor. Edward's troubles with the rebellious Welsh, for all practical purposes were at an end. Henceforth, Wales was to live under an alien political system, playing a subordinate role as an integral part of the kingdom of England. A poignant ballad by modern Welsh songwriter and nationalist Dafydd Iwan expresses the grief of the Welsh nation at the loss of their beloved Llewelyn: "Collir Llywelyn, colli'r cyfan"(losing Llewelyn is losing everything). Cilmeri is indeed holy ground.

727 years later, those who, as nationalists, desire to be free of dependency on Britain and English cultural and economic dominance, and restore their legitimate rights to self-government, both in Scotland and Wales, and in Cornwall,  are in fact traitors to the constitution of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They are still rebelling against the Act of Incorporation if 1535/6 and the Act of Union of 1707. They are not, however,  traitors to their own nations but rather patriots who seek restitution of national rights of sovereignty.

England (renamed Britain) has no wish to let go of control of its former neighbouring colonies despite its policy of devolution, which is seen as regional devolution rather than national devolution. Thus, Britain does not wish to publicise commemorations such as Cilmeri or recognise and develop for tourism Welsh and Scottish battlegrounds. It would prefer that history is forgotten at home, yet remembered for overseas campaigns and victories (Trafalgar for example, or Waterloo).

In recent times a lid has been kept on devolving too many law-making powers to the Scottish parliament and the Welsh Assembly and the introduction of LCOs is an example of limiting the effectiveness of the Welsh Assembly and of delaying measures already approved within Wales to be brought into law. Many smaller countries than Wales and Scotland govern themselves responsibly and effectively. The denial of powers of governance and the reluctance to transfer authority to England's colourful Celtic neighbors is nothing short of megalomania.

More on Cilmeri:

From the Ministry of Injustice - on Devolution:


kerdasi amaq said...

The struggle for Independence is more than regaining sovereignty lost: it's turning into a stuggle for National survival.

The most important weapon that can be brought to bear: is the pound sterling!

Jobs, housing and business opportunities for nationally minded people: is what it's all about.(build up the vote)

To those who give their allegiance to the English Crown: let the English take care of their own!

sea story said...

Following Chancellor of the Exchequer Alastair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report to Parliament on 9th December, the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London pointed out that the political ring-fencing of the ‘schools’n’ospitals’ sacred cows would mean that all other British Government Departments will soon be facing ‘severe cuts’. The Institute said that in real terms, the ‘cuts’ would average 19.2%, and would affect defence expenditure, higher education, transportation and housing (2) .

Over the next five years, the Chancellor plans to borrow an extra £707 billion – piled on top of the state’s existing debt, so that by the end of 2013-2014, the British Government will be crippled with debts of around £1.5 trillion, more than Britain’s current total annual output.

British Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will have contracted by 4.75% this year in real terms (and no-one really knows the real rate of inflation, which is much higher than officially reported), while the country’s debts are ballooning. The official (Darling) assumption that the UK’s annual growth rate will have reverted to around 3.5% by 2011, on which his projections of the debt schedule are based, are considered to be ridiculous by respected observers and by the International Monetary Fund, so the fiscal and financial shambles is likely to be far worse than has been officially predicted (3).