17th of June in 1210 king John set sail from Milford Haven to land
near Waterford in Ireland for a military campaign against the Earl
Marshall, Earl Hugh of Ulster, his brother Walter Lacy and William
de Broes. he returned by way of Fishguard on the 26th August. Here
he met with Maelgwyn ap Rhys, who's castle protected the northern
approach to what was now the royal port of Fishguard. When the meeting
was over and agreement had been reached on several topics, the king
left for his homeward journey via Carmarthen and Bristol.
events now began to take place in west Wales. Rhys Gryg on the 8th
of September with the help of royal troops, despite the warning
he had received from Llywelyn, attacked the Castle of Llandovery
belonging to Rhys and Owain ap Gruffudd. The garrison soon surrendered
to the superior force. As September turned into November king John
restored Gwenwynwyn to kingdom of Powys. When Maelgwyn ap Rhys received
the the news he had long waited for, he advanced north with the
intentions of engaging the two young allies of the prince of Gwynedd.
and Owain ap Gruffudd however, were not as naive in the ways of
war as they had been months previously. When Maelgwyn settled into
a night camp just north of Cilcennin, accompanied with a highly
mobile force of over five hundred men the two princes struck with
devastating results. Maelgwyn just managed to escape with his life,
his nephew Cynan ap Hywel and chief counselor, Gruffydd ap Cadwgan
were captured and six hundred of his men were killed. The result
of the action, nothing in the overall picture of west Wales but
it did result in king John strengthening Builth castle and increasing
the size of the garrison station there. Now the young princes were
threatened from the east as well as the west.
six weeks after the engagement by the two young princes, was camped
at Conway and unbeknown to him king John called for a general mobilisation
of Welsh allies. Not only did Llywelyn's enemies answer the call
such as Gwenwynwyn, Maelgwyn and Rhys Gryg, but surprisingly former
allies such as Hywel ap Gruffydd and Madog of northern Powys. The
first time that princes of northern Powys had turned away from the
flag of the princes of Gwynedd
the alliance marched against Llywelyn, twice they failed to capture
him or destroy his army, for Llywelyn and his men simply faded into
the mountains of the 'eyrie' and no army commander was prepared
to march into what was 'Fortress Snowdonia'. But after the second
attempt at his capture Llywelyn was left in a precarious position,
surrounded as he now found himself on all sides by his enemies.
In was only the intervention of Joan with her father king John that
allowed Llywelyn to retain that he had secured in the north.
south Wales the situation was no better, for the king's men had
swept all before them. Having done so they had then turned on Llywelyn's
young allies in west Wales. With no support to call on, they soon
surrendered. The two were sent in chains to make peace with the
royal castles, the symbols of John's power, began to appear across
the country, many garrisoned by 'bloody' mercenaries who killed
and tortured the local population for no reason at all. It was however,
when Falkes of Breaute built a new castle at Aberystwyth in the
name of the king, that the princes in south and west Wales realised
the terrible treachery they had committed against their fellow Welshmen
by supporting king John.
ap Rhys and Rhys Gryg, desperate to undo the damage they had done,
struck at Aberystwyth castle with fury in late autumn of 1211. The
garrison were killed to a man, the castle was pulled to the ground
and the timbers burnt. Yes! it appeared that a new national uprising
was in the offering and the princes of the south waited to see if
the Prince of Gwynedd would lead them.
on amicable terms with his father-in-law king John, Llywelyn accompanied
Joan to Cambridge at Easter in 1212. Once there he was not slow
to discover that John was at loggerheads with most of the Barons
of the realm, so on returning to Aberffraw he informed the princes
of the south that he to was ready to once again brake out into open
revolt and lead them.
he himself swept across north Wales and ravaged and destroyed every
English castle and garrison other than Rhuddlan and Deganwy. He
dispatched troops from Bala to assist Gwenwynwyn in the recovery
of Powys and some to assist Rhys Gryg in his recovery of west Wales
for the Welsh cause. His troops also accompanied those of Rhys Gryg
during the destruction of the town of Swansea, but all was done
in the name of Llywelyn, now Prince of Wales.
was furious, involved in the preparation for an attack on France,
he now switched his resources to Chester for an immediate campaign
against Llywelyn. His Barons were ordered to meet him at Nottingham
for a council of war, but few attended, for they themselves were
preparing for another war, that of one against John himself.