Text: Brut y Tywysogion

Brut y Tywysogion “The Chronicle of the Princes” was begun by churchmen in the eighth century (probably originally in Latin) and was continued by other churchmen until 1282, when Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was killed. The chronicle was translated into Welsh, possibly at the Welsh monastery of Strata Florida.

The following text was adapted by Michael Newton from the translation into English by William ab Ithel in the 19th century.

1091: One year and one thousand and ninety was the year of Christ, when Rhys, son of Tewdwr, king of South Wales, was killed by the (Norman) French, who inhabited Brecheiniog; and then fell the kingdom of the Britons. And then Cadwgan, son of Bleddyn, despoiled Dyved on the second day of May. And then, two months after that, about the calends of July, the French came into Dyved and Ceredigion, which they have still retained, and fortified the castles, and seized upon all the land of the Britons. And then Malcolm, son of Dwnchath [“Duncan”], king of the Picts and Scots, and Edward his son, were killed by the French. And then queen Margaret, the wife of Malcolm, prayed to God, trusting in Him, after she had heard that her husband and son were killed, that she might not survive in this mortal state; and God hearkened unto her prayer, for by the seventh day she was dead.

1092: King William Rufus, who first by a most glorious war prevailed over the Saxons, went to Normandy to keep and defend the kingdom of Robert his brother, who had gone to Jerusalem to fight against the Saracens and other barbarous nations, and to protect the Christians, and to acquire greater fame. Whilst William remained in Normandy, the Britons resisted the domination of the French, not being able to bear their cruelty, and demolished their castles in Gwynedd, and repeated [in vengeance] their depredations and slaughters among them. And then the French led their armies into Gwynedd; and Cadwgan, son of Bleddyn, went against them, and attacked and prevailed over them, putting them to flight, and killing them with immense slaughter. And that battle was fought in the wood of Yspwys. And towards the close of that year the Britons demolished all the castles of Ceredigion and Dyved, except two, to wit, Pembroke and Rhyd y Gors. And the people and all the cattle of Dyved they brought away with them, leaving Dyved and Ceredigion a desert.

1093. The French devastated Gower, Cydweli, and the Vale of Tywi; and the regions remained a desert. And about the middle of harvest King William raised an army against the Britons; and after the Britons had taken to their refuges in the woods and glens, William returned home empty, without having gained anything.

1094. William, son of Baldwin, died, who founded the castle of Rhyd y Gors, by the command of the King of England. And after his death the custodians left the castle empty. And then the Britons of Brecheiniog, Gwent, and Gwenllwg resisted the domination of the French. And then the French directed an army against Gwent, but they retreated empty-handed; and in returning back they were slain by the Britons, in the place called Celli Carnant. After that the French raised an army against the Britons, meditating the devastation of the whole country; without being able to fulfill their intention, on returning back, they were cut off by the sons of Idnerth, son of Cadwgan, Gruffudd and Ivor, in the place called Aber Llech. And the inhabitants remained in their houses, confiding fearlessly, though the castles were yet intact and the garrisons in them.
In that year, Uchtrud, son of Edwin, and Howel, son of Goronwy, with many other chieftains of the family of Cadwgan, son of Bleddyn, marched and fought against the castle of Pembroke, despoiled it of all its cattle, ravaged the whole country, and with an immense booty returned home.

1095. Gerald the steward, to whom had been assigned the stewardship of the castle of Pembroke, ravaged the boundaries of Menevia. And then, the second time, William, king of England, assembled innumerable hosts, with immense means and power, against the Britons. And then the Britons avoided their impulse, not confiding in themselves, but placing their hope in God, the Creator of all things, by fasting and praying, and giving alms, and undergoing severe bodily penance. For the French dared not penetrate the rocks and the woods, but hovered about the level plains. At length they returned home empty, without having gained anything; and the Britons, happy and unintimidated, defended their country.

1096. The French, for the third time, assembled their troops against Gwynedd, conducted by two leaders, with Hugh the Fat, earl of Shrewsbury, as chief over them; and they encamped against the isle of Anglesey, in the place called Aber Lliennog, where they built a castle. And the Britons, having retreated to their strongest places, according to their custom, agreed in council to save Anglesey. And they invited to their defence a fleet that was at sea from Ireland, which had accepted gifts and rewards from the French. And then Cadwgan, son of Bleddyn, and Gruffudd, son of Cynan, left Anglesey, and retreated into Ireland, for fear of the treachery of their own men. And then the French entered the island, and killed some of the men of the island. And whilst they tarried there, Magnus, king of the Vikings, came, accompanied by some of his ships, as far as Anglesey, hoping to be enabled to take possession of the countries of the Britons.

And when king Magnus had heard of the frequent designs of the French to destroy the whole country, and to reduce it to nothing, he hastened to attack them. And as they were mutually shooting, the one party from the sea, and the other party from the land, Earl Hugh was wounded in the face, by the hand of the king himself. And then king Magnus, with sudden determination, left the borders of the country. So the French reduced all, as well great as small, to be Saxon. And when the people of Gwynedd could not bear the laws and judgments and violence of the French over them, they rose up a second time against them, having, as their commander, Owain, son of Edwin, the man who had originally brought the French to Anglesey. […]

1101. When Magnus, king of the Vikings, had hoisted sails on a few ships, he made depredations on the shores of Britain; and when the Britons saw that, they arose from the mouths of the caves in multitudes like ants in pursuit of their spoils. And when they saw the king had so few in number with him, they advanced boldly, and arranged in order of battle against him. And when the king observed that, he prepared his army, without looking upon the multitude of his enemies, and the smallness of his own number, according to the manner of the Scottish Gaels; recollecting his innumerable victories of former times, be made a disadvantageous attack. And after the battle had proceeded, and many been killed on both sides; owing to the pressure and overpowering numbers of his foes, the king was killed. And at that time Iorwerth, son of Bleddyn, was cited to Shrewsbury, through the treachery of the king’s council. And his pleadings and claims were arranged; and on his having come, all the pleadings were turned against him, and the pleading continued through the day; and at last he was adjudged to be fineable, and was afterwards cast into the king’s prison, not according to law, but according to power. Then failed all the hope, and the fortitude, and the strength, and the happiness, of all the Britons. […]

1113. Gruffudd, son of Rhys, whom we have mentioned above, made an attack, in the first battle, upon the castle that was near Arberth, and burned it. From there he proceeded to Llanymddyvri, where there was a castle of a certain leader, called Rickert, son of Ponson, the person to whom king Henry had given Cantrev Bychan; and he essayed to breach and burn it, but was not able, for the garrison of the castle withstood him […] Then Gruffudd, son of Rhys, made a night attack upon the castle. And when Owain and his companions heard the noise and shouting of the men coming near, he and his companions suddenly arose front the house they were in, and towards the place where he heard the shout, advanced forward himself before the troop, supposing his companions to be close behind him; but they, leaving him alone, had fled, and thus he was slain there. After burning the outer ward, without entering the tower, he returned with his spoils to the accustomed woods. Thereupon the foolish youths of the country on every tide collected to him, imagining that he was to overcome every thing, because of that event; for there was a castle in Gower which he burned entirely, killing many men therein. And then William of London, through fear of him left his castle and all his cattle and fond riches.

When that was over, as Solomon says, “The spirit becomes elevated against the rail of man,” so he prepared, being swollen with pride and with the presumption of the unruly rabble, and the silly inhabitants, to arrange foolish expeditions from Dyved into Ceredigion, and to take the part opposed to equity, being invited by Cedivor, son of Goronwy, and Howel, son of Idnerth, and Trahaiarn, son of Ithel, who were near in proximity of kindred and acquaintance, and who agreed that he should have dominion. And those were with him before all the men of Ceredigion; and none could be more mischievous than that Cedivor, to the country in general, before he left Dyved, as he did, full of various nations, such as Flemings, French, and Saxons, and his own native tribe; who, though they were one people as the men of Ceredigion, nevertheless, had hostile hearts, on account of their disquietude and discord formerly; and more than that, being in fear of offending King Henry, the man who had subdued all the sovereigns of the isle of Britain by his power and authority, and who had subjugated many countries beyond sea under his rule, some by force and arms, others by innumerable gifts of gold and silver; the man with whom no one could strive but God alone, from Whom he obtained the power.

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