Owain Cyveiliog (DNB00)
OWAIN CYVEILIOG or Owain ab Gruffydd (d. 1197), prince of Powys, was the son of Gruffydd ap Maredudd, brother of Madog ap Maredudd [q. v.], prince of Powys. He was, it is said, the offspring of an irregular union of his father with Gwervyl, daughter of Urgen ab Howel. In 1159 Owain and his brother Meurig received from their uncle Madog, then ruling over Powys, the district of Cyveiliog, a region including most of the middle valley of the Dovey, and corresponding to the western portions of the modern Montgomeryshire. Owain remained so closely connected with Cyveiliog that he derived from it his ordinary descriptive name, which effectually distinguished him from his rival, Owain ab Gruffydd, called Owain Gwynedd [q. v.] Madog died in 1160, and his son Llywelyn being slain immediately afterwards, Owain succeeded to the lordship of all Powys. In the first years of his reipi Owain continued his uncle's general policy of alliance with the English against his dangerous neighbour and rival, Owain Gwynedd. But the growing pressure of the Norman marchers, backed up by Henry I, seems to have caused Owain to alter his policy; and in 1165 he joined Owain Gwynedd and the Lord Rhys of South Wales [see Rhys ab Gruffydd] in their resistance to Henry II's invasion during that summer. Most of the fighting took place in Powys, and Henry II withdrew, beaten by the elements and want of food as much as by the enemy, and never ventured on another Welsh campaign. The alliance between the two Owains was continued for some time. In 1166 they drove out their former ally, Iorwerth Goch, from his territory in Mochnant, and divided that district between them. But in 1167 the allies quarrelled, and Owain Gwynedd joined with Rhys of South Wales against Owain Cyveiliog, though the prince of Powys had married Rhys's daughter. Their joint forces invaded Powys, took possession of Caereineon and Talawern, and put Owain to flight. The lord of Powys now fell back on his old friends the marchers. He soon reappeared in company with a 'French' army, won back the lands he had lost, and destroyed the new castle which his foes had built in Caereineon. War continued between Owain Cyveiliog and Rhys. In 1171 Rhys again invaded Powys, and forced Owain to surrender seven hostages for his good behaviour. But a quieter time now followed in Wales. Davydd, prince of Gwynedd [see Davydd I], Owain Gwynedd's son and successor, was Henry II's son-in-law. The Lord Rhys had become the king's 'justice in South Wales.' Henry found it wisest to leave the Welsh princes pretty much to themselves, and they on their part found it prudent to recognise his supremacy. Power in Wales was, moreover, so divided that no single Welsh prince had much chance of winning great triumphs over his neighbours. Owain accordingly continued in his dependence on Henry II. Constant intercourse between Owain and his overlord led to a good deal of personal friendliness between them; and Giraldus Cambrensis tells a story how, when dining with the king at Shrewsbury, Owain found means of covertly rebuking his overlord for his habit of keeping benefices long vacant in order to enjoy the custody of their temporalities (Opera, vi. 144-5). In May 1177 he attended the great council at Oxford, at which Henry II made his son John lord of Ireland. All the other Welsh chieftains were there, and all of them took oaths of fealty to Henry as their overlord (Benedictus Abbas, i. 162; cf. Rog. Hov. ii. 134). As Owain grew older his sons Gwenwynwyn [q. v.] and Cadwallon took his place in the plundering forays and other wild enterprises of a Welsh chieftain. The Welsh chronicles make these youths responsible for the treacherous murder of their cousin, Owain ab Madog, in 1186 (Brut y Tywysogion, p. 232); but Giraldus Cambrensis (vi. 142-3) makes their father directly responsible for this crime. In 1188 Owain alone of the princes of Wales did not go out with his people to meet Archbishop Baldwin when that prelate, in the course of his crusading tour, approached his dominions. For this negligence he was excommunicated (Gir. Cambr. vi. 144). Owain busied his declining years with the foundation of the Cistercian monastery of Strata Marcella (Ystrad Marchell). There he ultimately took the monastic habit, and there he died in 1197 at a good old age. Gwenwynwyn, who succeeded to his father's dominions, completed the endowment of Owain's foundation of Strata Marcella (Arch. Cambr. 3rd ser. xiii. 117).
There is another story, that Strata Marcella was founded by Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor [q. v.] in about 1200. But this seems to be a confusion between Strata Marcella and Valle Crucis in Yale. The 'charter of foundation ' printed in Dugdale's 'Monasticon' (v. 636) seems really to refer to the latter rather than the former foundation.
Giraldus Cambrensis includes Owain Cyveiliog with Owain Gwynedd and Maredudd ab Gruflydd ab Rhys of South Wales as the three Welshmen who in his days were conspicuous for their justice, prudence, and moderation as rulers (Opera, vi. 146). His lavish hospitality — 'There was drinking without regret, without refusal, And without any kind of want' — is celebrated by Cynddelw. Owain Cy veiliog was also specially distinguished for the readiness of his tongue (ib. vi. 144). He was also a poet of some merit, his best-known productions being some verses on Y Gylchau Cymru (the circuit through Wales), and a longer song on the Hirlas horn. Tnese are printed in the 'Myvyrian Archæology of Wales,' pp. 190-2. There are also printed in the same collection two poems of Cynddelw (pp. 161, 170) celebrating the praises of Owain.
[Brut y Tywysogion, Rolls Ser. and ed. J. G. Evans; Annales Cambriae, Rolls Ser.; Gwentian Brut Cambrian Archaeological Association; Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, Rolls Ser.; Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. v.; Benedictus Abbas, Rolls Ser.; Archseologia Cambrensis, 3rd ser., xiii. 116-32; My vyrian Archaiology of Wales, Denbigh reprint; Stephens's Literature of the Kymry, pp. 25-37.]