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Introduction ~ Owain ap Gruffudd ~ Rhys ap Gruffudd ~ Llywelyn ap Iorwerth ~ Llywelyn ap Gruffudd ~ Owain Glyndwr
Owain Glyndwr ~ page two
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Having left the town of Oswestry aflame on the 22nd Owain advanced south with the the intention of doing the same to Welshpool. However, to the west of his intended target he decided to camp on the banks of the river Vyrnwy for a short while before advancing on the town. It was while he and his men lay at rest that the encampment was attacked by armour clad forces forces from Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warickshire, under the command of Hugh Burell. It was a bloody conflict with the river running red with blood, much of it the blood of Owain's men. Soon his men ran and scattered to the four corners of Wales. As for Owain, he and a small band took to the hills. It seemed to everyone that the rebellion was over, The king however, was not so sure. Whilst continuing to march south, he sent a message to the citizens of Shrewsbury warning them of the Welsh that lived in their midst.

The king was right to be wary for Owain soon raised his battle standard once again, this time in the heart of his mother's homeland, the vale of the Twyi in the kingdom of Deheubarth. Having done so he set about rallying men to the cause. Slowly they answered and swore allegiance to him as the Prince of Wales. It was at this time that Welsh scholars in England were observed downing their quills and heading home to Wales. So concerned over this action was one member of the English parliament that he announced to the house that “ those scheming devils in Wales are up to something”. How right and how observant the fellow was.

On having assembled a few hundred men in the vale of the Twyi, Owain next headed north with the intention of setting up a base camp in the mountains. Whilst doing so, in the Hyddgen valley north of Aberystwyth, he and his men trapped and destroyed an English army of over 1500 men on the banks of the river. News of his success spread like wildfire and men flocked to his banner, more so when it was rumoured that it was Owain's intention to march into England and confront Henry the king.

When the rumour of Owain's intended invasion was conveyed to Henry king of England, he took it so seriously that he ordered fighting men from fourteen counties to assemble at Worcester. However, having arrived at the city on the 26 May, Henry decided that perhaps Glyndwr wasn't such a problem after all. By October however, the situation had altered drastically and this time Henry swept into south Wales from his base at Worcester and caused mayhem and bloodshed everywhere.

At Llandovery castle Henry put to death Llywelyn ap Gruffudd Fechan, a wealthy landowner who he suspected of supporting Glyndwr's cause. Other suspected supporters were stripped of their lands and possessions before he traveled north to Strata Florida Abbey, where his troops desecrated the abbey right up to its high alter. As for Henry's hopes of catching Owain, well he might as well have stopped in Oxford, for Owain was in north Wales causing mayhem.

After his victory in the Hyddgen valley Owain next attacked Welshpool, from where he carried off a large amount of plunder. Next it was the counties of Caernarfon and Merioneth that fell to him. However, the attack against the mighty fortress of Caernarfon was a disaster, as it cost the lives of three hundred of his men. Undaunted Owain continued to raid English establishments, as success followed success he began to realize that the time was fast approaching when he needed both military and financial aid.

First the Scots, then the Irish were contacted without success, it was however, the French who were eager to ally themselves against an English king that agreed to support him. While Owain waited for his envoys to return from France he laid siege to Ruthin castle early in 1402. The aftermath of which resulted in both the capture of his old adversary Lord Grey and a large amount of plunder.

Carreg Cennen Destroyed we march on to Carmarthen

Owain was here there and everywhere afterwards, he next struck at the border town of Brecon. However the danger to both the town and castle was removed by the timely arrival of John Bodenham the Sheriff of Hereford with the county's forces. Some two hundred and fifty of Owain's men died in the resulting battle of July 1st. However, he and the bulk of his men had gone, up the Usk valley over the mountains into the vale of the Tywi.

As the men of the Twyi vale flocked to his side once again so he pressed on, by the night of 4th he was ensconced in the castle of Dryslwyn with his alley Rhys ap Gruffudd. There John Scudamore the English Castellan of Carreg Cennen met him under a flag of truce, Scudamore was seeking safe conduct for his wife and family from the castle before Owain attacked. Owain refused, and when we advanced on the castle the following morning and overran it, there were no survivors, well not any that I can remember.

So it was to Carmarthen we marched next, there Owain was joined by followers from the Vale of Conway, Rhys Gethin and his men of Cwm Llannerch, Rhys Ddu of Cardigan, and William Gwyn and his men of Kidwelly. When Owain sent a column up to Newcastle Emlyn, Jenkin ap Llywelyn surrendered the castle without a fight. Now if something should go wrong there was passage clear to the north, so began the siege of Carmarthen town and castle. After twenty four hours Robert Wigmore the king's Castellan surrendered them both.

With Carmarthen safely in his hands Owain next set his sights on the impregnable fortress of Pembroke, on the 9th of July we were at St. Clears, on the 10th at Laugharne: but waiting was Thomas Lord Carew a most able general. Battle was to be engaged on the 12th, but on the night of the 11th Owain had a premonition of a trap, but he knew not where? So in the early hours of the morning, surmising that if Carew had indeed set a trap it would be north of the battlefield, he dispatched a column of some 800 men in a bid to check his possible escape route. His premonition of a trap had been right, the column was cut to pieces. However, when Carew prepared to press home his obvious advantage at the light of day, he found just like dust in the wind we had gone.

Henry Percy, one of Owain's allies, had declared himself against the crown at Chester on July 10th, he was expecting Owain and his men to support him. However, when he engaged the king's forces on 21st at Battlefield near Shrewsbury Owain was not there. I cannot remember for certain whether we could not get there in time, or did Owain not want to commit his mountain troops to a fight on flat open ground. Perhaps he should have been there, the result of the battle may have been different; who knows. All I know is that Henry of Lancaster successfully defeated Percy and his allies that day, then advanced via Hereford into Wales again.

In the upper reaches of the Usk valley on the September 21st, the royal train camped on ground at Defynog; south of Sennybridge castle and the way west across the Senni river. Here Sir John Odcastle received, on behalf of the crown, the submissive Welsh from the lordships of Brecon, Builth, Cantref and Bwlch. Henry himself stayed just a few short days before advancing to Carmarthen, there to fly his flag for a week before leaving for Oxford, again he had failed to bring Glyndwr to his knees.

By the end of 1403 Owain's power in the territory between Caernarfon and Cardigan lay unchallenged. Support from French ships had been of great help, Caernarfon had been attacked from the sea and Harlech was soon to be in his hands. Warships of the French fleet under the command of Jean d'Espagne sailed the waters, of the Irish sea, while French merchant ships delivered goods to the shoreline. Mountain passes were guarded by the men of Wales and Owain himself was free to roam at will. So as 1404 yielded the mantle of winter he set about making his dream come true: that of Wales being governed by the wishes of the people; at Machynlleth his dream became a reality and thus a parliament was born. When its members sat for the first time they passed a motion, submitted by a member from Gwynedd, that Owain should formally be crowned Prince of Wales. It was a great gathering at that time, to which ambassadors and heads of state from many countries came.

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