December of 1215 came however, Llywelyn once again donned his war
bonnet and marched south from the 'Eyrie', this time he was ahead
of an army which comprised of troops from every Welsh kingdom which
was free of English rule. There was Hywel ap Gruffudd ap Cynan and
his men, those of Llywelyn ap Maredudd ap Cynan, Gwenwynwyn of Powys,
Maelgwyn, Rhys Gryg, the sons of Gruffydd ap Rhys, Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon
and the personal bodyguard of Madog ap Gruffydd.
the 8th the force attacked Carmarthen, by the 13th it had fallen.
Then the castles of Kidwelly, Llanstephan. St. Clears, Laugharne,
Narberth and Newport all fell in quick succession. But the two biggest
prizes were secured on the 26th, Cardigan was recaptured and Cilgerran
overrun. Now with his son-in-law ruling over the former De Broase
lands Wales was virtually free from English holdings. Determined
that the new areas should be divided up equally between all the
princes of the south, Llywelyn called a meeting at Aberdovey early
in 1216, perhaps this was the first parliament who knows. It was
a great success for all of the men of importance in Wales at the
time were there, and each was satisfied with the outcome.
man however broke once again with the concept of a united Wales,
for he had seen his ambition to be Prince of Wales destroyed. Gwenwynwyn
of Powys allied himself once again with king John. O how foolish
the man was, for Llywelyn was quick to react. Ahead of a thousand
men he entered southern Powys and drove Gwenwynwyn into permanent
tyrant King John died on October 19th 1216 and Llywelyn awaited
the coronation of a new king with just a little trepidation, but
he had nothing to fear. For the new king Henry III had wise councilors
about him and saw no reason to provoke Llywelyn into open warfare,
especially as he swore an oath of allegiance to Henry at Worcester.
is possible that from that point in time, with peace settled over
the land, Llywelyn could have quietly and patiently returned Wales
to complete independence which we may have seen today. It was not
to be, for greed, deceit and misfortune were to raise their heads
once again in the Welsh Marches.
was the granting of the border fortress of Montgomery by the king
to Hubert de Burgh on the 27th of April in 1228 that sowed the seeds
of war. When de Burgh ordered the clearing of Kerry Forest thus
depriving many of the village of Kerry their livelihood, that troops
loyal to Llywelyn placed Montgomery castle under siege. Llywelyn
however, was not in attendance and in fact Joan met the king at
Shrewsbury castle to apologise on behalf of Llywelyn for the acts
of his troops. That may have been the end of the affair had it not
been for the stupidity of man.
sooner had the dust settled on the incident than Henry invited the
Barons of the march, which included the Earls of Pembroke and Gloucester,
William de Broase and Roger Clifford to assemble at Montgomery with
the intentions of invading Kerry once again. This they duly did
and upon securing the ground upon which to build it, Henry ordered
the construction of a castle to begin. When the walls had risen
to some six metres so did Llywelyn and his men strike. O what 'bloody'
retribution was reeked, hundreds of the king's men died in the assault,
others were killed while abroad in the forest searching for food.
William de Broase was captured as he tried to escape from the forest
with his lifeguards, all in all it was a great victory for Llywelyn,
more so when the king agreed to raze the castle to the ground.
1229 William de Broase was set free upon the promise of a ransom
payment of £2500, but Llywelyn had a suspicion that whilst
in captivity William had been having an affair with his wife Joan.
This was confirmed when Broase was staying at Aberffraw one night,
and Llywelyn burst into his wife's bed chamber and found them in
bed together. Joan was thrown into jail whilst de Broase was placed
in chains until a few days later when Llywelyn had him hanged from
a tree in front of over a thousand people.
even this event did not cause the embers of war to break into flames,
however, they were certainly smoldering. Hubert de Burgh had become
the King's Justiciar and his treatment of the Welsh throughout south
Wales was causing concern to Llywelyn, however, it was the beheading
of twenty one Welsh prisoners by the garrison at Montgomery castle
that was the last straw.
almost three thousand troops Llywelyn marched south from the 'Eyrie',
Montgomery, Radnor and Hay on Wye were consigned to flames. Next
it was Brecon before he crossed the mountains into Glamorgan, there
to be met by Rhys ap Gruffudd, Hywel ap Maredudd, Morgan Gam and
their men. Into their path fell the town and castle of Neath, not
a stone was left standing or a piece of timber not burnt after they
had crossed the river Neath and headed north.
west Wales too the men of the Deheubarth dynasty had answered his
call. Maelgwyn ap Maelgwyn, Rhys Gryg and Owain ap Gruffydd had
first battered their way through the gates of Cardigan town, then
burnt it and razed what stone they could find to the ground. Two
days later the battered, bewildered remnants of the castle's garrison
surrendered. They were a pitiful sight, but that did not stop them
from being put to the sword.
Cardigan, that proud fortress standing on the north bank of the
mouth of the river Teifi, was back in Welsh hands. It had been eight
long years since it had been so, and Llywelyn's authority in west
Wales had suffered because of its loss.