Open main menu

CADWALADR (d. 1173), the son of Gruffudd, the son of Cynan, was the son and the brother of the two most famous north Welsh princes of their time. During his father's lifetime he accompanied his elder brother, Owain, on many predatory excursions against rival princes. In 1121 they ravaged Meirionydd, and apparently conquered it. In 1135 and 1136 they led three successful expeditions to Ceredigion, and managed to get possession of at least the northern portion of that district. In 1137 Owain succeeded, on Gruffudd ap Cynan's death, to the sovereignty of Gwynedd or North Wales. Cadwaladr appears to have found his portion in his former conquests of Meirionydd and northern Ceredigion. The intruder from Gwynedd soon became involved in feuds both with his south Welsh neighbours and with his family. In 1143 his men slew Anarawd, son of Gruffudd of South Wales, to whom Owain Gwynedd had promised his daughter in marriage. Repudiated by his brother, who sent his son Howel to ravage his share of Ceredigion and to attack his castle of Aberystwith, Cadwaladr fled to Ireland, whence he returned next year with a fleet of Irish Danes, to wreak vengeance on Owain. The fleet had already landed at the mouth of the Menai Straits when the intervention of the ‘goodmen’ of Gwynedd reconciled the brothers. Disgusted at what they probably regarded as treachery, the Irish pirates seized and blinded Cadwaladr, and only released him on the payment of a heavy ransom of 2,000 bondmen (some of the chroniclers say cattle). Their attempt to plunder the country was successfully resisted by Owain. In 1146, however, fresh hostilities broke out between Cadwaladr and his brother's sons Howel and Cynan. They invaded Meirionydd and captured his castle of Cynvael, despite the valiant resistance of his steward, Morvran, abbot of Whitland. This disaster lost Cadwaladr Meirionydd, and so hard was he pressed that, despite his building a castle at Llanrhystyd in Ceredigion (1148), he was compelled to surrender his possessions in that district to his son, apparently in hope of a compromise; but Howel next year captured his cousin and conquered his territory, while the brothers of the murdered Anarawd profited by the dissensions of the princes of Gwynedd to conquer Ceredigion as far north as the Aeron, and soon extended their conquests into Howel's recent acquisitions. Meanwhile Cadwaladr was expelled by Owain from his last refuge in Mona. Cadwaladr now seems to have taken refuge with the English, with whom, if we may believe a late authority, his marriage with a lady of the house of Clare had already connected him (Powel, History of Cambria, p. 232, ed. 1584). The death of Stephen put an end to the long period of Welsh freedom under which Cadwaladr had grown up. In 1157 Henry II's first expedition to Wales, though by no means a brilliant success, was able to effect Cadwaladr's restoration to his old dominions. Despite his blindness, Cadwaladr had not lost his energy. In 1158 he joined the marcher lords and his nephews in an expedition against Rhys ap Gruffudd of South Wales. In 1165 Cadwaladr took part in the general resistance to Henry II's third expedition to Wales. In 1169 the death of Owain Gwynedd probably weakened his position. In March 1172 Cadwaladr himself died, and was buried in the same tomb as Owain, before the high altar of Bangor Cathedral (Gir. Cambr. It. Camb. in Op. (Rolls ed.), iii. 133).

The Welsh chroniclers are very full of Cadwaladr's exploits, and celebrate him as jointly with his brother upholding the unity of the British kingdom. Giraldus specially commends Cadwaladr's liberality (Op. iii. 145).

[Brut y Tywysogion (Rolls Ser.); Annales Cambriæ (Rolls Ser.); Gwentian Brut, Cambrian Archæological Association.]

T. F. T.