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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 34.djvu/15

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Llywelyn
Llywelyn
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national liberties at the same time as he acted in concert with the general opposition to John. He posed as the champion of the Roman church against the excommunicated king. Innocent III accordingly absolved Llywelyn and his allies Gwenwynwyn and Maelgwn ab Rhys from the oaths of fealty which they had taken to the English king, and urged them as an earnest of their repentance to wage active war against him. At the same time their dominions in Wales were relieved from the general interdict into which John's whole kingdom had now been plunged for five years (Brut y Tywysogion, p. 273).

As John's distress increased, Llywelyn's success became more decided. In 1213 he captured the castles of Deganwy and Rhuddlan, the last barriers to his complete command of Gwynedd. 'All the good men of England and all the princes of Wales,' says the 'Brut y Tywysogion' (p. 281), 'combined together against the king, so that none of them without the others should enter into peace with the king until he had restored to the churches their laws and privileges, and unto the good men of England and Wales their lands and castles, which he had taken from them without either right or law.' John sought in vain to buy off Llywelyn with promises. At his daughter Joan's entreaty he offered to restore the hostages that still remained in his hands (Fœdera, i. 126). He also urged, without result, a meeting between Llywelyn and royal commissioners to settle his grievances (ib. i. 127). While the 'Saxons of the North' marched south upon London, Llywelyn and the Cymry invaded England and sat down before Shrewsbury, which surrendered without striking a blow. Giles de Braose, bishop of Hereford, joined the resources of the great house of which he was the head with those of the Welsh prince. On his death his brother and heir, Reginald de Braose, obtained possession of his estates with Llywelyn's help, and thought it no disparagement to marry Llywelyn's daughter (Dunstaple Annals, p. 52). Llywelyn's allies, the confederate barons, had not forgotten his interests. Clauses for the Welsh prince's advantage were inserted in the 'Articles of the Barons' sent to John in May 1215 from Brackley (Stubbs, Select Charters, p. 294). Their substance was embodied in articles 56-8 of Magna Carta signed by John on 15 June (ib. pp. 303-4). By them John promised to make restitution to all Welshmen unlawfully disseised of lands or liberties, and to restore forthwith the hostages that had survived the Nottingham massacre in 1212. Among these was a son of Llywelyn. Thus the Welsh prince took no inconsiderable share in the great struggle for the charter, and reaped no small advantage from it.

The granting of the charter led to no cessation of hostilities in Wales. A great wave of Welsh revolt followed upon Llywelyn's northern successes. The harassed Welsh chieftains of the south saw in his triumph an opportunity for vengeance against their English lords and neighbours. All over the south they rose in arms. During the summer Maelgwn and his nephews took possession of Dyved, winning over all the Welsh to their side. They then called upon Llywelyn to help them. Winter had now set in, but the season was unusually mild, and Llywelyn, marching with a large army to the south, fought a vigorous campaign all through December. On 8 Dec. Llywelyn appeared before Carmarthen, driving out the 'French' garrison 'not by arms but through their own fears.' In five days the castle was in his hands. He now razed it to the ground. The great castles of the south—Llanstephan, St. Clear's, Newcastle-Emlyn, Aberteivi, Cilgerran, Kidwelly—all fell into his possession. He was triumphant from the borders of the Pembrokeshire palatinate to the frontier of the Earl of Gloucester's lordship of Glamorgan. At last he returned to the north, 'happy and joyful with victory.'

Such a career of Welsh conquest had not been known since the Normans first came into Wales. Llywelyn had become the undoubted leader of the whole Welsh people. He was no longer prince merely of Gwynedd, but prince of all Wales not ruled by the Normans. Early in 1216 Maelgwn and the other south Welsh chieftains, once so hostile to Llywelyn, submitted their conflicting claims to his arbitration. All the 'wise men' of Gwynedd gathered round Llywelyn at Aberdovey, where, in a sort of Welsh parliament of magnates, Dyved, Ceredigion, Ystrad Tywi, and Kidwelly were partitioned among a number of rival princelings. Alarmed at Llywelyn's power, the faithless Gwenwynwyn went over in 1216 to King John, 'treating with contempt his oath to the chieftains of England and Wales and violating his homage to Llywelyn' (Brut y Tywysogion, p. 291). Llywelyn vigorously expostulated with his vassal for breaking his faith, and, finding remonstrance fruitless, invaded his dominions. Gwenwynwyn was soon forced to take refuge in Cheshire, but, despite John's help, could never regain his dominions. Henceforth Llywelyn ruled over Upper Powys. The troubles of the end of John's reign and the civil war that ushered in that of Henry III gave Llywelyn abundant opportunities to consolidate his newly won power. When in