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: