Gwenllian II verch Gruffydd (c.1097 - 1136) MP

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Birthplace: Ynys Môn, Wales
Death: Died in Maes Gwenllian, Outside Walls, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Cause of death: Taken prisoner, executed, and then beheaded by the Normans
Occupation: sister to Owain Gwynedd
Managed by: Jocelynn Elaine Oakes
Last Updated:

About Gwenllian II verch Gruffydd

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd (Gwenllian, daughter of Gruffydd) (b.c. 1097, died 1136) was Princess-consort of Deheubarth in Wales, and the daughter of Gruffydd ap Cynan (1055-1137), prince of Gwynedd, and a member of the princely Aberffraw family of Gwynedd. Gwenllain was the sister of prince Owain I of Gwynedd (died 1170). Gwenllian's "patriotic revolt" and subsequent death in battle at Kidwelly Castle contributed to the Great Revolt of 1136.

There are several notable artistic depictions of Gwenllian. However, she is often confused with Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, who lived two centuries later.

Early life

Gwenllian was the youngest daughter of Gwynedd's prince Gruffydd ap Cynan and his wife Angharad. She was born in 1097 on Ynys Môn at the family seat at Aberffraw, and was the youngest of eight children; four older sisters, Mared, Rhiannell, Susanna, and Annest, and three older brothers, Cadwallon, Owain and Cadwaladr. Gwenllian grew to be strikingly beautiful, and after Gruffydd ap Rhys, the prince of Deheubarth, ventured to Gwynedd around 1113 to meet with her father, she and Deheubarth's prince became romantically involved and eloped.[1]

Gwenllian joined her husband at his family seat of Dinefwr in Deheubarth. However, Deheubarth was struggeling against the Norman invasion in south Wales, with Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in footholds through-out the country. While the conflict between the Normans and the Welsh continued, the princely family were often displaced, with Gwenllian joining her husband in mountainous and forested strongholds.[1] From here, she and Gruffydd ap Rhys led retalitory strikes against Norman-held positions in Deheubarth.[1]

[edit]The Great Revolt 1136

See also Wales and the Normans: 1067–1283

By 1136 an opportunity arose for the Welsh to recover lands lost to the Marcher lords when Stephen de Blois displaced his cousin Empress Matilda from succeeding her father to the English throne the prior year, sparking the Anarchy in England.[2][3] The usurption and conflict it caused eroded central authority in England.[2] The revolt began in south Wales, as Hywel ap Maredudd, lord of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire), gathered his men and marched to the Gower, defeating the Norman and English colonists there. [2][1] Inspired by Hywel of Brycheiniog's success, Gruffydd ap Rhys hastened to meet with Gruffydd I of Gwynedd, his father-in-law, to enlist his aid in the revolt.[2]

While her husband was in Gwynedd seeking an alliance with her father against the Normans, Maurice of London and other Normans led raids against Deheubarth's Welsh, and Gwenllian was compelled to raise an army for their defense.[2] In a battle fought near Kidwelly Castle, Gwenllian's army was routed, and she was captured and beheaded by the Normans.[2] In the battle her son Morgan was also slain and another Maelgwen captured and executed.

Though defeated, her 'patriotic revolt' inspired others in south Wales to rise.[2] The Welsh of Gwent, led by Iowerth ab Owain (grandson of Caradog ap Gruffydd, Gwent's Welsh ruler displaced by the Norman invasions), ambushed and slew Richard Fitz Gilbert, the Norman lord who controlled Ceredigion.[2]

When word reached Gwynedd of Gwenllain's death and the revolt in Gwent, Gwenllian's brothers Owain and Cadwaladr invaded Norman controlled Ceredigon, taking Llanfihangel, Aberystwyth, and Llanbadarn.[2]

[edit]Gwenllian's legacy

Gwenllian's actions can be compared to another Celtic leader: Boadicea or Buddug. This is the only known example of a medieval age woman leading a Welsh army into battle. The field where the battle is believed to have taken place, close to Kidwelly Castle and north of the town, is known as Maes Gwenllian (Welsh for Field of Gwenllian) . A spring in the field is also named after her, supposedly welling up on the spot where she was beheaded.

For centuries after her death, Welshmen cried-out Revenge for Gwenllian when engaging in battle.[1] Additionally, Gwenllian and her husband harassed Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in Deheubarth, taking goods and money and redistributed them among the Deheubarth Welsh who were themselves dispossessed by those colonizers, as a pair of Robin Hoods of Wales, wrote historin and author Philip Warner[1]

Gwenllian's youngest son went on to become a notable leader, The Lord Rhys.

Gryffith ap Rhys ap Tewdwr, the rightful Prince of South Wales, openly defied the King and continually created pandemonium and general mayhem in the Carmarthen - Llandovery - Swansea district. Gryffith's wife, Gwenllian, daughter of Griffith ap Cynan, Prince of North Wales, was, in her own right as formidable a foe as her husband, and in the year 1130, while her husband was fundraising in the North, she, at the head of an army, marched on Kidwelly; taking on the King's forces led by Maurice de Londres, Lord of the Manor of Kidwelly.

The King's army took up their position on the slope of a hill about a mile and a half north of Kidwelly, on the west bank of the Gwendraeth Fach River, a district still known to this day as Kingswood. Opposite, on the other side of the river, the actual site of the engagement is now the location of a farm Maes Gwenllian (Gwenllian's Field). On this site, both Gwenllian and her son Morgan, were put to death by the victorious de Londres, and it is said that Gwenllian's severed head never left the field!

--------------------

  • Gwenllian verch Gruffydd

born about 1085 Aberffraw Castle, Caernarvonshire, Wales

died 1136 Battle of Maes?

father:

  • Gruffydd ap Cynan Prince of Gwynedd

born 1055 Dublin, Ireland

died 1137 Caernarvonshire, Wales

buried Bangor Cathedral, Is Gwyrfai, Caernarvonshire, Wales

mother:

  • Angharad verch Owain of Tegaingl

born about 1065 Tegaingl, Flintshire, Wales

died 1162

married about 1082

siblings:

  • Rhanullt verch Gruffydd born about 1083 Caernarvonshire, Wales
  • Owain "Fawr" ap Gruffydd Prince of Gwynedd

born about 1087 Caernarvonshire, Wales

died December 1169 Caernarvonshire, Wales

buried Bangor Cathedral, Is Gwyrfai, Caernarvonshire, Wales

  • Susanna verch Gruffydd born about 1095 Caernarvonshire, Wales
  • Yslani verch Gruffudd born about 1104 Caernarvonshire, Wales

Membyr "Ddu" ap Gruffydd born about 1114 Caernarvonshire, Wales

Rhael verch Gruffydd born about 1116 Caernarvonshire, Wales

Annes verch Gruffydd born about 1118 Caernarvonshire, Wales

  • Margred verch Gruffydd born about 1120 Caernarvonshire, Wales

Tudwal ap Gruffydd born about 1122 Caernarvonshire, Wales

Elen verch Gruffydd born about 1089 Aberffraw Castle, Anglesey, Wales

Merinedd verch Gruffydd born about 1091 Aberffraw Castle, Anglesey, Wales

  • Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd born about 1096 Caernarvonshire, Wales

died March 1172 buried Bangor, Caernarvonshire, Wales

Cadwallon ap Gruffydd born about 1097 Caernarvonshire, Walesey, Wales died 1132

spouse:

  • Gruffydd ap Rhys

born about 1081 Llandilo, Carmarthanshire, Wales

died April 1137

children:

  • Nest verch Gruffydd born about 1100 (or 1130?) Carmarthenshire, Wales

Morgan ap Gruffydd born about 1116 Carmarthenshire, Wales died 1136

  • Maelgwn ap Gruffydd born about 1119 Carmarthenshire, Wales died 1136?

Anarawd ap Gruffydd born about 1121 Carmarthenshire, Wales died 1143

Cadell ap Gruffydd born about 1125 Carmarthenshire, Wales

Owain ap Gruffydd born about 1126 Carmarthenshire, Wales

  • Rhys "Fychan" ap Gruffydd born about 1129 Dynevor Castle, Llandilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales

died after 24 April 1197 buried St. David's, Pebidiog, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Maredudd ap Gruffydd born about 1128 Carmarthenshire, Wales died 1136

  • Gwladus verch Gruffydd born about 1130 Carmarthenshire, Wales

Son ap Gruffydd born about 1134 Carmarthenshire, Wales

biographical and/or anecdotal:

notes or source:

ancestry.com

GWENLLIAN (d. 1136), daughter of Gruffudd ap Cynan (q.v.), by Angharad, daughter of Owen ap Edwin. She m. Gruffydd ap Rhys (q.v.) shortly after 1116, the most famous of her sons being the ‘lord’ Rhys ap Gruffydd (q.v.). At the opening of the great Welsh uprising in 1136, she led an attack on the Norman fortress of Kidwelly, in her husband's absence, and was killed fighting outside the town, at a spot still known as Maes Gwenllian.

Bibliography:

Hist. W.

Author:

Professor Thomas Jones Pierce, M.A., F.S.A., (1905-1964), Aberystwyth

--------------------

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd (Gwenllian, daughter of Gruffydd) (b.c. 1097, died 1136) was Princess-consort of Deheubarth in Wales, and the daughter of Gruffydd ap Cynan (1055-1137), prince of Gwynedd, and a member of the princely Aberffraw family of Gwynedd. Gwenllain was the sister of prince Owain I of Gwynedd (died 1170). Gwenllian's "patriotic revolt" and subsequent death in battle at Kidwelly Castle contributed to the Great Revolt of 1136.

There are several notable artistic depictions of Gwenllian. However, she is often confused with Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, who lived two centuries later.

Early life

Gwenllian was the youngest daughter of Gwynedd's prince Gruffydd ap Cynan and his wife Angharad. She was born in 1097 on Ynys Môn at the family seat at Aberffraw, and was the youngest of eight children; four older sisters, Mared, Rhiannell, Susanna, and Annest, and three older brothers, Cadwallon, Owain and Cadwaladr. Gwenllian grew to be strikingly beautiful, and after Gruffydd ap Rhys, the prince of Deheubarth, ventured to Gwynedd around 1113 to meet with her father, she and Deheubarth's prince became romantically involved and eloped.[1]

Gwenllian joined her husband at his family seat of Dinefwr in Deheubarth. However, Deheubarth was struggeling against the Norman invasion in south Wales, with Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in footholds through-out the country. While the conflict between the Normans and the Welsh continued, the princely family were often displaced, with Gwenllian joining her husband in mountainous and forested strongholds.[1] From here, she and Gruffydd ap Rhys led retalitory strikes against Norman-held positions in Deheubarth.[1]

[edit]The Great Revolt 1136

See also Wales and the Normans: 1067–1283

By 1136 an opportunity arose for the Welsh to recover lands lost to the Marcher lords when Stephen de Blois displaced his cousin Empress Matilda from succeeding her father to the English throne the prior year, sparking the Anarchy in England.[2][3] The usurption and conflict it caused eroded central authority in England.[2] The revolt began in south Wales, as Hywel ap Maredudd, lord of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire), gathered his men and marched to the Gower, defeating the Norman and English colonists there. [2][1] Inspired by Hywel of Brycheiniog's success, Gruffydd ap Rhys hastened to meet with Gruffydd I of Gwynedd, his father-in-law, to enlist his aid in the revolt.[2]

While her husband was in Gwynedd seeking an alliance with her father against the Normans, Maurice of London and other Normans led raids against Deheubarth's Welsh, and Gwenllian was compelled to raise an army for their defense.[2] In a battle fought near Kidwelly Castle, Gwenllian's army was routed, and she was captured and beheaded by the Normans.[2] In the battle her son Morgan was also slain and another Maelgwen captured and executed.

Though defeated, her 'patriotic revolt' inspired others in south Wales to rise.[2] The Welsh of Gwent, led by Iowerth ab Owain (grandson of Caradog ap Gruffydd, Gwent's Welsh ruler displaced by the Norman invasions), ambushed and slew Richard Fitz Gilbert, the Norman lord who controlled Ceredigion.[2]

When word reached Gwynedd of Gwenllain's death and the revolt in Gwent, Gwenllian's brothers Owain and Cadwaladr invaded Norman controlled Ceredigon, taking Llanfihangel, Aberystwyth, and Llanbadarn.[2]

[edit]Gwenllian's legacy

Gwenllian's actions can be compared to another Celtic leader: Boadicea or Buddug. This is the only known example of a medieval age woman leading a Welsh army into battle. The field where the battle is believed to have taken place, close to Kidwelly Castle and north of the town, is known as Maes Gwenllian (Welsh for Field of Gwenllian) . A spring in the field is also named after her, supposedly welling up on the spot where she was beheaded.

For centuries after her death, Welshmen cried-out Revenge for Gwenllian when engaging in battle.[1] Additionally, Gwenllian and her husband harassed Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in Deheubarth, taking goods and money and redistributed them among the Deheubarth Welsh who were themselves dispossessed by those colonizers, as a pair of Robin Hoods of Wales, wrote historin and author Philip Warner[1]

Gwenllian's youngest son went on to become a notable leader, The Lord Rhys.

Gryffith ap Rhys ap Tewdwr, the rightful Prince of South Wales, openly defied the King and continually created pandemonium and general mayhem in the Carmarthen - Llandovery - Swansea district. Gryffith's wife, Gwenllian, daughter of Griffith ap Cynan, Prince of North Wales, was, in her own right as formidable a foe as her husband, and in the year 1130, while her husband was fundraising in the North, she, at the head of an army, marched on Kidwelly; taking on the King's forces led by Maurice de Londres, Lord of the Manor of Kidwelly.

The King's army took up their position on the slope of a hill about a mile and a half north of Kidwelly, on the west bank of the Gwendraeth Fach River, a district still known to this day as Kingswood. Opposite, on the other side of the river, the actual site of the engagement is now the location of a farm Maes Gwenllian (Gwenllian's Field). On this site, both Gwenllian and her son Morgan, were put to death by the victorious de Londres, and it is said that Gwenllian's severed head never left the field!

--------------------

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd (Gwenllian, daughter of Gruffydd) (b.c. 1097, died 1136) was Princess-consort of Deheubarth in Wales, and the daughter of Gruffydd ap Cynan (1055-1137), prince of Gwynedd, and a member of the princely Aberffraw family of Gwynedd. Gwenllain was the sister of prince Owain I of Gwynedd (died 1170). Gwenllian's "patriotic revolt" and subsequent death in battle at Kidwelly Castle contributed to the Great Revolt of 1136.

There are several notable artistic depictions of Gwenllian. However, she is often confused with Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, who lived two centuries later.

Early life

Gwenllian was the youngest daughter of Gwynedd's prince Gruffydd ap Cynan and his wife Angharad. She was born in 1097 on Ynys Môn at the family seat at Aberffraw, and was the youngest of eight children; four older sisters, Mared, Rhiannell, Susanna, and Annest, and three older brothers, Cadwallon, Owain and Cadwaladr. Gwenllian grew to be strikingly beautiful, and after Gruffydd ap Rhys, the prince of Deheubarth, ventured to Gwynedd around 1113 to meet with her father, she and Deheubarth's prince became romantically involved and eloped.[1]

Gwenllian joined her husband at his family seat of Dinefwr in Deheubarth. However, Deheubarth was struggeling against the Norman invasion in south Wales, with Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in footholds through-out the country. While the conflict between the Normans and the Welsh continued, the princely family were often displaced, with Gwenllian joining her husband in mountainous and forested strongholds.[1] From here, she and Gruffydd ap Rhys led retalitory strikes against Norman-held positions in Deheubarth.[1]

[edit]The Great Revolt 1136

See also Wales and the Normans: 1067–1283

By 1136 an opportunity arose for the Welsh to recover lands lost to the Marcher lords when Stephen de Blois displaced his cousin Empress Matilda from succeeding her father to the English throne the prior year, sparking the Anarchy in England.[2][3] The usurption and conflict it caused eroded central authority in England.[2] The revolt began in south Wales, as Hywel ap Maredudd, lord of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire), gathered his men and marched to the Gower, defeating the Norman and English colonists there. [2][1] Inspired by Hywel of Brycheiniog's success, Gruffydd ap Rhys hastened to meet with Gruffydd I of Gwynedd, his father-in-law, to enlist his aid in the revolt.[2]

While her husband was in Gwynedd seeking an alliance with her father against the Normans, Maurice of London and other Normans led raids against Deheubarth's Welsh, and Gwenllian was compelled to raise an army for their defense.[2] In a battle fought near Kidwelly Castle, Gwenllian's army was routed, and she was captured and beheaded by the Normans.[2] In the battle her son Morgan was also slain and another Maelgwen captured and executed.

Though defeated, her 'patriotic revolt' inspired others in south Wales to rise.[2] The Welsh of Gwent, led by Iowerth ab Owain (grandson of Caradog ap Gruffydd, Gwent's Welsh ruler displaced by the Norman invasions), ambushed and slew Richard Fitz Gilbert, the Norman lord who controlled Ceredigion.[2]

When word reached Gwynedd of Gwenllain's death and the revolt in Gwent, Gwenllian's brothers Owain and Cadwaladr invaded Norman controlled Ceredigon, taking Llanfihangel, Aberystwyth, and Llanbadarn.[2]

[edit]Gwenllian's legacy

Gwenllian's actions can be compared to another Celtic leader: Boadicea or Buddug. This is the only known example of a medieval age woman leading a Welsh army into battle. The field where the battle is believed to have taken place, close to Kidwelly Castle and north of the town, is known as Maes Gwenllian (Welsh for Field of Gwenllian) . A spring in the field is also named after her, supposedly welling up on the spot where she was beheaded.

For centuries after her death, Welshmen cried-out Revenge for Gwenllian when engaging in battle.[1] Additionally, Gwenllian and her husband harassed Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in Deheubarth, taking goods and money and redistributed them among the Deheubarth Welsh who were themselves dispossessed by those colonizers, as a pair of Robin Hoods of Wales, wrote historin and author Philip Warner[1]

Gwenllian's youngest son went on to become a notable leader, The Lord Rhys.

Gryffith ap Rhys ap Tewdwr, the rightful Prince of South Wales, openly defied the King and continually created pandemonium and general mayhem in the Carmarthen - Llandovery - Swansea district. Gryffith's wife, Gwenllian, daughter of Griffith ap Cynan, Prince of North Wales, was, in her own right as formidable a foe as her husband, and in the year 1130, while her husband was fundraising in the North, she, at the head of an army, marched on Kidwelly; taking on the King's forces led by Maurice de Londres, Lord of the Manor of Kidwelly.

The King's army took up their position on the slope of a hill about a mile and a half north of Kidwelly, on the west bank of the Gwendraeth Fach River, a district still known to this day as Kingswood. Opposite, on the other side of the river, the actual site of the engagement is now the location of a farm Maes Gwenllian (Gwenllian's Field). On this site, both Gwenllian and her son Morgan, were put to death by the victorious de Londres, and it is said that Gwenllian's severed head never left the field!

--------------------

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd (Gwenllian, daughter of Gruffydd) (b.c. 1097, d. 1136) was Princess-consort of Deheubarth in Wales, and the daughter of Gruffydd ap Cynan (1055-1137), prince of Gwynedd, and a member of the princely Aberffraw family of Gwynedd. Gwenllain was the sister of prince Owain I of Gwynedd (d.1170). Gwenllian's "patriotic revolt" and subsequent death in battle at Kidwelly Castle contributed to the Great Revolt of 1136.

There are several notable artistic depictions of Gwenllian. However, she is often confused with Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, who lived two centuries later.

Early life

Gwenllian was the youngest daughter of Gwynedd's prince Gruffydd ap Cynan and his wife Angharad. She was born in 1097 on Ynys Môn at the family seat at Aberffraw, and was the youngest of eight children; four older sisters, Mared, Rhiannell, Susanna, and Annest, and three older brothers, Cadwallon, Owain and Cadwaladr. Gwenllian grew to be strikingly beautiful, and after Gruffydd ap Rhys, the prince of Deheubarth, ventured to Gwynedd around 1113 to meet with her father, she and Deheubarth's prince became romantically involved and eloped.[1]

Gwenllian joined her husband at his family seat of Dinefwr in Deheubarth. However, Deheubarth was struggeling against the Norman invasion in south Wales, with Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in footholds through-out the country. While the conflict between the Normans and the Welsh continued, the princely family were often displaced, with Gwenllian joining her husband in mountainous and forested strongholds.[1] From here, she and Gruffydd ap Rhys led retalitory strikes against Norman-held positions in Deheubarth.[1]

The Great Revolt 1136

See also Wales and the Normans: 1067–1283

By 1136 an opportunity arose for the Welsh to recover lands lost to the Marcher lords when Stephen de Blois displaced his cousin Empress Matilda from succeeding her father to the English throne the prior year, sparking the Anarchy in England.[2][3] The usurption and conflict it caused eroded central authority in England.[2] The revolt began in south Wales, as Hywel ap Maredudd, lord of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire), gathered his men and marched to the Gower, defeating the Norman and English colonists there. [2][1] Inspired by Hywel of Brycheiniog's success, Gruffydd ap Rhys hastened to meet with Gruffydd I of Gwynedd, his father-in-law, to enlist his aid in the revolt.[2]

While her husband was in Gwynedd seeking an alliance with her father against the Normans, Maurice of London and other Normans led raids against Deheubarth's Welsh, and Gwenllian was compelled to raise an army for their defense.[2] In a battle fought near Kidwelly Castle, Gwenllian's army was routed, and she was captured and beheaded by the Normans.[2] In the battle her son Morgan was also slain and another Maelgwen captured and executed.

Though defeated, her 'patriotic revolt' inspired others in south Wales to rise.[2] The Welsh of Gwent, led by Iowerth ab Owain (grandson of Caradog ap Gruffydd, Gwent's Welsh ruler displaced by the Norman invasions), ambushed and slew Richard Fitz Gilbert, the Norman lord who controlled Ceredigion.[2]

When word reached Gwynedd of Gwenllain's death and the revolt in Gwent, Gwenllian's brothers Owain and Cadwaladr invaded Norman controlled Ceredigon, taking Llanfihangel, Aberystwyth, and Llanbadarn.[2]

Gwenllian's legacy

Gwenllian's actions can be compared to another Celtic leader: Boadicea or Buddug. This is the only known example of a medieval age woman leading a Welsh army into battle. The field where the battle is believed to have taken place, close to Kidwelly Castle and north of the town, is known as Maes Gwenllian (Welsh: Field of Gwenllian) . A spring in the field is also named after her, supposedly welling up on the spot where she was beheaded.

For centuries after her death, Welshmen cried-out Revenge for Gwenllian when engaging in battle.[1] Additionally, Gwenllian and her husband harassed Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in Deheubarth, taking goods and money and redistributed them among the Deheubarth Welsh who were themselves dispossessed by those colonizers, as a pair of Robin Hoods of Wales, wrote historin and author Philip Warner[1]

Gwenllian's youngest son went on to become a notable leader, The Lord Rhys.

--------------------

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd (Gwenllian, daughter of Gruffydd) (b.c. 1097, d. 1136) was Princess-consort of Deheubarth in Wales, and the daughter of Gruffydd ap Cynan (1055-1137), prince of Gwynedd, and a member of the princely Aberffraw family of Gwynedd. Gwenllain was the sister of prince Owain I of Gwynedd (d.1170). Gwenllian's "patriotic revolt" and subsequent death in battle at Kidwelly Castle contributed to the Great Revolt of 1136.

There are several notable artistic depictions of Gwenllian. However, she is often confused with Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, who lived two centuries later.

Early life

Gwenllian was the youngest daughter of Gwynedd's prince Gruffydd ap Cynan and his wife Angharad. She was born in 1097 on Ynys Môn at the family seat at Aberffraw, and was the youngest of eight children; four older sisters, Mared, Rhiannell, Susanna, and Annest, and three older brothers, Cadwallon, Owain and Cadwaladr. Gwenllian grew to be strikingly beautiful, and after Gruffydd ap Rhys, the prince of Deheubarth, ventured to Gwynedd around 1113 to meet with her father, she and Deheubarth's prince became romantically involved and eloped.[1]

Gwenllian joined her husband at his family seat of Dinefwr in Deheubarth. However, Deheubarth was struggeling against the Norman invasion in south Wales, with Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in footholds through-out the country. While the conflict between the Normans and the Welsh continued, the princely family were often displaced, with Gwenllian joining her husband in mountainous and forested strongholds.[1] From here, she and Gruffydd ap Rhys led retalitory strikes against Norman-held positions in Deheubarth.[1]

The Great Revolt 1136

See also Wales and the Normans: 1067–1283

By 1136 an opportunity arose for the Welsh to recover lands lost to the Marcher lords when Stephen de Blois displaced his cousin Empress Matilda from succeeding her father to the English throne the prior year, sparking the Anarchy in England.[2][3] The usurption and conflict it caused eroded central authority in England.[2] The revolt began in south Wales, as Hywel ap Maredudd, lord of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire), gathered his men and marched to the Gower, defeating the Norman and English colonists there. [2][1] Inspired by Hywel of Brycheiniog's success, Gruffydd ap Rhys hastened to meet with Gruffydd I of Gwynedd, his father-in-law, to enlist his aid in the revolt.[2]

While her husband was in Gwynedd seeking an alliance with her father against the Normans, Maurice of London and other Normans led raids against Deheubarth's Welsh, and Gwenllian was compelled to raise an army for their defense.[2] In a battle fought near Kidwelly Castle, Gwenllian's army was routed, and she was captured and beheaded by the Normans.[2] In the battle her son Morgan was also slain and another Maelgwen captured and executed.

Though defeated, her 'patriotic revolt' inspired others in south Wales to rise.[2] The Welsh of Gwent, led by Iowerth ab Owain (grandson of Caradog ap Gruffydd, Gwent's Welsh ruler displaced by the Norman invasions), ambushed and slew Richard Fitz Gilbert, the Norman lord who controlled Ceredigion.[2]

When word reached Gwynedd of Gwenllain's death and the revolt in Gwent, Gwenllian's brothers Owain and Cadwaladr invaded Norman controlled Ceredigon, taking Llanfihangel, Aberystwyth, and Llanbadarn.[2]

Gwenllian's legacy

Gwenllian's actions can be compared to another Celtic leader: Boadicea or Buddug. This is the only known example of a medieval age woman leading a Welsh army into battle. The field where the battle is believed to have taken place, close to Kidwelly Castle and north of the town, is known as Maes Gwenllian (Welsh: Field of Gwenllian) . A spring in the field is also named after her, supposedly welling up on the spot where she was beheaded.

For centuries after her death, Welshmen cried-out Revenge for Gwenllian when engaging in battle.[1] Additionally, Gwenllian and her husband harassed Norman, English, and Flemish colonists in Deheubarth, taking goods and money and redistributed them among the Deheubarth Welsh who were themselves dispossessed by those colonizers, as a pair of Robin Hoods of Wales, wrote historin and author Philip Warner[1]

Gwenllian's youngest son went on to become a notable leader, The Lord Rhys.

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Born in 1097 to Gruffudd ap Cynan, ruler of Gwynedd, and his wife Angharad, Gwenllian grew up in North Wales at a time of great unrest. Since the Norman invasion of England in 1066, the followers of William of Normandy had been pushing west into Wales, forcing the Welsh Princes into military action to defend their territories. It was against this background that Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth, a south-western region of Wales, travelled to Anglesey to meet with Gwenllian's father and there met and fell in love with Gwenllian, who was said to have been beautiful and well educated, eloping with her soon after.

Gwenllian settled with her husband and his family in Deheubarth but the unstable political situation meant they were often on the move and also heavily involved in retaliatory strikes against the Normans as they encroached further into the kingdom, Gruffydd and Gwenllian often seizing Norman goods and money and distributing it among their own people.

Finally, the outbreak of civil war in England in the 1130s gave the Welsh the chance they had been hoping for to drive the Normans out for good, but whilst Prince Gruffydd was in the North trying to form an all-important alliance with his father in law in 1136, the Normans planned a counter attack, led by the Lord of Kidwelly Maurice de Londres.

Gwenllian received word from a spy that ships were already sailing up the Glamorgan coast carrying Norman reinforcements and she immediately rode out to muster an army. Her force was small compared to the Normans however and Gwenllian's plan was to conduct raids on the Normans whilst sending a small group to prevent the Norman reinforcements landing. In the meantime, she set up camp in the woods near Kidwelly Castle to organise her men and await her husband's return. Gwenllian was betrayed however by a fellow Welshman who led the Normans straight to her and she was forced to counter a surprise attack with a hopelessly outnumbered and ill-equipped army. The Welsh were said to have fought valiantly, but they were soon defeated and Gwenllian and two of her sons were captured and beheaded by the Normans.

News of her execution soon spread, giving impetus to a popular revolt that saw the Welsh Princes drive the Normans out of much of South Wales. It was said that in that revolt, and for many years afterwards, the Welsh battle cry was 'Ddail Achos Gwenllian' - Revenge for Gwenllian - and the field where she died has been known as Maes Gwenllian ever since. The author and chronicler Gerald of Wales likened her to the legendary Queen of the Amazons.

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd remains the only example of a Welsh woman leading an army into battle and it has been claimed that she was the inspiration for another shieldmaiden, Eowyn of Rohan, in J.R.R Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings :D

She seems rich pickings for some sort of historical novel/film/tv-series. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Excellent discussions about Gwenllian, the Welsh herione: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/wales/posts/Gwenllian-Welsh-heroine http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/docs/cadw/publications/Gwenllian_EN.pdf

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Gwenllian II verch Gruffydd's Timeline

1097
1097
Wales
1110
1110
Age 13
Dynevor Castle, Llandilio, Carmarthenshire, Wales
1110
Age 13
Wales
1110
Age 13
Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales
1114
1114
Age 17
Llandilo, Carmarthenshire, , Wales
1116
1116
Age 19
Carmarthenshire, Wales
1118
1118
Age 21
Dynevor Castle, Llandilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales
1119
1119
Age 22
Carmarthenshire, Wales
1120
1120
Age 23
Aberffraw,Anglesey,Wales
1126
1126
Age 29
Carmarthenshire, Wales