Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Prince of Wales

A Plea from Sian Ifan

Are we now such a cowed and servile nation that we will suffer silently the indignity of seeing the 'union jack rag'  blatently and triumphantly draped across the towns of our nation in celebration of English royalist events such as this wedding and an oncoming jubilee in 2012? Or, have we got just about enough pride to carry out the briefest of gestures such as the displaying of the Owain Glyndŵr 'Four Lions Rampant' as a means of illustrating to the English State and their royalty that we are still here and that we are still loyal to Owain Glyndŵr's cause for Welsh freedom - which is in continuence. Can all genuine Welsh patriots make this most basic of protest or, have you all forgotten and abandoned what Glyndŵr and his fellow Cymry fought and sacrificed for?

Turbulent Wales

           A history of Owain Glyndwr - The Last True Prince of Wales

Owain Glyndwr was born in Sycharth, in the county of Powys, around the year 1350 into an Aristocratic Welsh family, and,as such, was well educated, studying Law at the Inns of Court, London, and also serving as a soldier in the English army.
  He owned a mansion at Sycharth, near Llangedwyn in Powys,where he initially had a good life with his wife and children.
  The Welsh people were not treated well by the English, and resentment towards them had been brewing all over Wales for many years.
  Owain's sense of Welsh identity was fired after a dispute with his English neighbour, Lord Grey of Rhuthin, ( a close friendof the English King, Henry IV ) regarding a tract of common land.
  It would appear that the King's failure to judge fairly in this dispute was a key factor in Owain Glyndwr's decision to revolt, and on September 16th. 1400, he began a mission to gain independence for the Welsh people that would last some 16 years.
  He successfully led an army against the town of Rhythin ( where he was proclaimed Prince of Wales by his supporters . He was in fact a direct descendant of the Princes of Powys and the Dehenbarth, so therefore had good claim to the title ) and followed up by attacking Rhuddlan, Flint, Holt, Oswestry and Welshpool, and soundly defeated Henry IV's army at Hyddgen, near Pumlumon ( "The five Peaks", in Ceredigion ) in the summer of 1401, and then marched triumphantly into southern Wales . 
  In response, Henry raised a huge army, marching from Worcester, to capture Owain and crush the uprising. He  arrived in the Llandovery area and co-ersed a local landowner, Llywelyn ap Gryffydd Fychan of Caeo into his service to assist him in finding Glyndwr's camp.
   Llywelyn was a man in his mid 60's , and was well known as a generous host to all, and was loved by his people. He had two sons serving with Glyndwr's army, and he was determined never to betray his Country or principles. He led the English King and his army through the uplands of Deheubarth on a wild goose chase , wasting several weeks,  allowing Owain to make his escape to Gwynedd and consolidate a position of strength.
  Henry eventually lost patience, and Llywelyn was forced to admit his loyalty to Glyndwr and his passionate desire for independance and freedom for Wales. He was well aware of the consequences of his actions, and was prepared to undergo the ultimate sacrifice so that others could continue the struggle for freedom.
   He was dragged to Llandovery where, at the gallows in front of the castle gates, he was publicly disembowelled and dismembered ( Hung,Drawn and quartered, the same fate that later came to William Wallace, of "BraveHeart" fame ).
   His remains were preserved with salt , and sent to other Welsh towns for exhibition as a deterent to any patriots thinking of opposing the will of the English King, but ironically, this sadistic act did the exact opposite.
   Hundreds of ordinary people joined the uprising for Welsh independance, and many exiles returned home to join Owain Glyndwr's army. Many English castles were captured and , in 1404, Owain Glyndwr held Wales' first Parliament in Machynlleth - signing international recognition treaties with both France and Scotland.
   In 1404-1405 he captured the castles of Aberystwyth and Harlech, and his authority was accepted by almost the whole of Wales. After these successes however, his fortunes changed, and he suffered defeats at Grosmont castle and Pwllmelyn, near Usk.
  Glyndwr sent an appeal to the French for help in a letter written at Pennal, near Machynlleth. This letter survives  today, and is kept in the French National Archives, although there is a facsimile copy on display at Pennal Church.
  Owain Glyndwr continued his struggle until he was cornered  in 1409 at his last castle, Harlech . None of the details of the siege survive, but he somehow managed to escape. However, his wife, two daughters and a grandchild were captured and imprisoned in London until their deaths.
 It is believed that he lived his remaining years with his son-in-law, Sir John Skydmore, at Kenturch in Herefordshire.
 In 1415, he refused the offer of a Royal Pardon, and there is much speculation as to the whereabouts of his final resting place.
The building at Machynlleth where he held the first Welsh Parliament is now a visitor centre,  open to the public, and there have been some requests that September 16th. , the date Glyndwr was proclaimed Prince of Wales, should be designated a national day.
A memorial stands near the ruins of Llandovery castle ( at the rear of the car park) to the bravery and self-sacrifice of Llywelyn ap Gryffydd Fychan, of Caeo, Wales' "BraveHeart".    

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