Owen Glyndwr and his brother, (A. C, D, 34) TUDOR GLYNDWR, (Tudor ap Griffith Vychan), who was associated with him in the rebellion, were direct decedents in the male line, of the celebrated BLEDYN AB CYNFYN, Prince of Powys and also for a time of Gwyned; whose career has been briefly given, in the preceding pages; and on their mother's side from Prince LLEWELYN, the last British Prince of all Wales, also from, RHYS AB TEWDWR, Prince of South Wales.
BLEDYN AB CYNFYN had a son, MAREDYD AB BLEDYN, Who died in 1129 or 1130, and he had a son MADOG AB MAREDYD (Madoc ap Meredith), who died in 1157, and left a son, (A 26) GRUFFYD AB MADOG (Griffith ap Madoc), who inherited Lower Powys, or Powys Fadog. This GRUFFYD AB MADOG had a son (A 27) MADOG AB GRUFFYD (Madoc ap Griffith), who in the year 1200 founded the beautiful Abbey of Valle Crucis, the ruins of which, stand in one of the loveliest nooks of the Vale of Llangollen and presents one of the most exquisite pictures of the kind in Britain. Beneath its grass grown aisles lies the dust of this chieftain of Powys.
On a conical hill rising some eight hundred feet above the ruins of the Abbey, stands the ruins of Castle Dinas Bran, the most proudly perched mediaeval fortress in Wales and perhaps in all Britain. Here in this eagles nest, swung twixt earth and heaven, lived the Princes of Powys Fadog, and Lords of Bromfield and Yale.
MADOG AB GRUFFYD, the founder of the Abbey, had a son, (A 28) GRUFFYD AB MADOG (Griffith ap Madoc), who was also grandson on the maternal side of Owain Gwyned, Prince of North Wales, and who died in 1270 and was interred in Valle Crucis Abbey. He had at times been on friendly terms with the English king, and at other times was in alliance with the Welsh. He married EMMA, daughter of James, Lord Audley, who had done great service for Henry III. against the Welsh, with a body of German cavalry. Madoc ap Griffith, one of the sons of Griffith and Emma followed, and he died leaving two young sons Llewelyn and Griffith to whom he left his inheritance, dividing it between them. The elder Llewelyn, had Dinas Bran, with the lordships of Yale and Bromfield; while Griffith had Chirk castle and the territory attached to it.
These two boys were by the law, wards of King Edward I., and he placed them in the custody of the great marcher barons, Warren Mortimer and Roger Mortimer. Warren had Llewelyn and Roger had Griffith. The two boys soon disappeared and a black tale is told of a deep pool in the Dee, beneath Holt castle, and a midnight tragedy therein enacted. At any rate, the boys were seen no more and the Earls, according to custom, succeeded to their estates. It seems, however, that the conscience of Earl Warren was stirred later on, to in some measure atone for the outrage he had perpetrated upon the family, as he petitioned the king, while at Rhuddlen in 1282, to have the manors of Glyndyfrdwy, on the Dee beyond Llangollen, and of Cynllaeth, a few miles to the south of it, restored to (A 29) GRIFFITH, an uncle of the two boys who had so mysteriously disappeared. This GRIFFITH was another son of that GRIFFITH AP MADOC who had married EMMA, the daughter of Lord Audley.
In this manner GRIFFITH succeeded to these estates, and he was known as Y. Baron Gwyn or "the White Baron," Lord of Glyndyfrdwy in Yale. He died about the year 1300. Fourth in direct descent from him, and occupying the same position. was (A 33) GRIFFITH VYCHAN, the father of Owen Glyndwr and TUDOR GLYNDWR.
Such was the parentage and ancestry of Owen and his brother TUDOR, through their father.
On their mother's side their descent was also quite as distinguished. Owen stated that their mother, ELEN, or Eleanor, was a great-granddaughter of the Princess Catherine, the daughter of the last Prince Llewelyn, who was the last British Prince of Wales, and no doubt she was, as it is unlikely that Owen could be mistaken about it, and the statement is confirmed by Burke's Peerage (Mostyn), Page 1173 (1906 Ed.) But be this as it may, she also came from other princely stock. She was a daughter of (C 32) THOMAS AP LLEWELYN AP RHYS, a descendent of the Sovereign Prince of South Wales and Lord of Iscoede Vchirwen in Cardigan and of Trefgarn in the parish of Brawdy, Pembrokeshire. ELEN'S sister, Margaret, another daughter of THOMAS AP LLEWELYN AP RFIYS, was the wife of Tudor ap Gronow, of Penomynydd, and they were the grand parents of the famous Owen Tudor from whom the Tudor Kings and Queens of England were descended. Thus it will be seen, that THOMAS AP LLEWELVK AP RHVS, was the ancestor of Owen Glyndwr and TUDOR GLYNDWR, and also of the present king of England, Edward VII.
Shakespeare in his Henry IV. depicts Owen Glyndwr as a Wild Welsh chieftain, but on the contrary he was a polished, educated gentleman of princely birth and accustomed to king's courts and military associations. He was a student at Law at the Inns of Court of London. After receiving his education he seems to have taken up the profession of arms at the English court, and later on he became, certainly, squire of the body to Henry Bolingbroke who afterwards became Henry IV; and it seems strange that men so intimately acquainted and linked together in a relationship so intimate as these two were, should later engage in such a long and bitter war, as the Welsh rebellion under Owen's leadership involved.
Some Welsh authorities state that Owen was also squire of the body, to Richard II. during the later years of his reign: and it is likely he was, after Henry was banished to France in 1398. He is said to have been present when Richard II was made a prisoner by Henry at Flint castle, and if he was, he must have viewed the proceedings with feelings of sorrow and regret, for he was at that time an intimate friend of both.
Owen, being the eldest son, born in 1359, had succeeded to the estates of Glyndyfrdwy and Cynllaeth, (or Sycherth), and through his mother he had also inherited property in Pembroke. The two former estates were close together, if they did not actually join, and there were mansions on each. Glyndyfrdwy was the most important property, but Sycherth or Sychnant was the most imposing edifice. It comprised a gate house, a strong tower and a moat. The main house contained nine halls, each with a wardrobe filled with the raiment of Owen's retainers. Near the house, on a verdant bank, was a wooden building supported on posts and roofed with tiles, containing eight apartments for the guests. There was also a church in the form of a cross, and several chapels. The mansion was surrounded with every convenience and every essential, for the maintenance of profuse hospitality: a park, warren and pigeon house, mill, orchards and vineyard; a Well-stocked fish pond, a heronry and plenty of game of all sorts; and it is stated that the hospitality of the establishment was so great, that the office of gate porter was a sinecure. A tumulus, called "Glyndwr's Mount" crowned by a group of fir trees, marks the location of this famous place: along the railroad about five minutes westward from Glyndyfrdwy station, where the river Dee makes a sudden bend to the north. It is perched high, and nearly overhangs the railroad.
The Commote of Glyndyfrdwy, which formed Owen's Dee property lay in the then newly formed county of Merioneth, though on the east it was wedged in by the Marcher lordships of Chirk, Bromfield and Yale; while on the north it touched the Norman lordships of Ruthin and Denbigh. His rent roll was about two hundred pounds a year, which was very large for those days, and he was probably one of the richest native Welshmen of his times, and all of the contemporary bards unite in praise of his hospitality.
A strip of land known as the Common of Croesau, lay between the Dee valley and the water shed of the Clwyd, It was claimed by Owen, and also by Reginald, Lord Grey, of Ruthin, and was the primary cause of Owen Glyndwr's rebellion. It originally belonged to Owen's estate, but was seized by Lord Grey. Owen appealed to Richard II. and the case was decided in his favor; but later when Henry IV. was king, Lord Grey again seized it, and when Owen once more took his case to the king, Henry refused to even listen to his plea, and Grey was permitted to remain in possession. But this was not the only outrage Grey perpetrated upon him. About this time the king was preparing for his expedition against the Scots, in July 1400, and among the noblemen and gentlemen summoned to his standard was, Owen Glyndwr. This summons was sent through Lord Grey, who kept Owen in ignorance of it until it was too late, to either join the kings army or send an explanation; and on this account Owen was adjudged a rebel at the English court. Owen seems to have remained quietly on his estates, however, for some time afterwards, although a few of his Welsh contemporaries were at this time making some trouble for the Norman and English barons in their midst, and giving evidence of a general unrest and spirit of retaliation among the people, They only needed a leader to make a general uprising an actual fact, and this leader was soon to be found, in the person of Owen Glyndwr, then the leading and most influential and popular Welshman in North Wales. Lord Grey of Ruthin castle, seems to have determined to take advantage of Owen's unfavorable standing at court at this time and perhaps designed to seize his estates. At any rate he collected his forces and joined them with his brother, Earl Talbot of Chirk castle, and they suddenly attacked Owen at one of his manors, (it is uncertain whether it was at Glyndyfrdwy or Sycherth), and he only had time to escape to the neighboring woodlands before it was surrounded. Owen's two manors were about seven or eight miles apart and separated by the Berwyn mountains.
This attack was the last drop needed to fill this Welshman's cup of bitterness to the brim, and it was an evil day for Grey, as well as for his master Henry IV., when this lion was finally hunted from his lair. This gallant and experienced fighter of princely blood was just the leader the Welsh people needed at this time, to set in action their already high strung desire for war. He was a chief after their own heart, and most important of all was the fact that in his veins flowed the blood of the Princes of Powys, of South Wales and of Llewelyn the Great. He was the right man to lead them and also to stir up the enthusiasm and rouse the long crushed patriotism, of an emotional and martial race.
Owen stepped at once to the front and was hailed with acclamation, as their leader, and promptly raised his standard: the ancient Red Dragon of Wales, upon a white ground. He was at this time forty-one years of age, handsome, brave, experienced and able. The hardy mountaineers flocked to his support with their bows and spears and so also did the courageous and tough warlike sons of Wales, come from the valleys, vales and uplands, ready to contest against their country's wrongs.
Thus, in the year 1400, was begun the decade of strife which desolated Wales and embittered the life of Henry IV. of England. Nothing is known of the real cause of the personal enmity between Henry IV. and Owen, which seems to have been evidenced just previous to this time, but it must have been something radical and unforgivable, to break the long, intimate and close friendship of these two. In any event, to Lord Grey, of the great Red Castle of Ruthin, is accorded the undesirable honor, of being the immediate instigator of this devastating war.
In the van of the hosts gathering to Owen's standard, came the Welsh bards, with their harps, and carrying also the bent bow, which was symbolic of war; and to them indeed Owen owed, in great measure, the swift and universal recognition, which made him at once the man of the hour. They persuaded themselves that their deliverance from the Saxons was at hand, and saw in the valiant figure of Owen Glyndwr, the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies, that a Welsh prince should once again wear the "Crown of Britain."
Owen naturally made his first attack on his relentless enemy, Lord Grey of Ruthin. He fell on the little town and made a clean sweep of the stock and valuables; thence he passed eastward and crossed the English border, spreading panic everywhere; harrying and burning the property of the English and their sympathizers, He invaded western Shropshire, capturing castles and burning houses; in fact threatened Shrewsbury itself,
In the meantime the king who had effected nothing in the north against the Scots, learned of the warlike events in Wales and promptly turned about and hastened southward. He reached Northampton Sept. 14, 1400 and promptly summoned his sheriffs of the midland and border counties, to join him at once with their troops, to quell the insurrection in Wales. He marched at once to Shrewsbury and thence into Wales. Naturally neither Henry or his soldiers knew anything about Welsh campaigning or of Welsh tactics and they expected an easy victory. They little realized what an indomitable and wily foe they were to contend with, and in this first campaign they did not even get sight of them; however they got out of the country without feeling the pricks of their spears, which is more than can he said of later invasions. The only success attained in this first campaign was the plundering of the Abbey of Llanfaes, and the invasion is designated by authorities as a "promenade." Henry however on his return to England declared Owen's estates confiscated and bestowed them on his own half-brother, the Earl of Somerset; but many years were to elapse before any English nobleman dared take possession of them. On November 20th a general pardon was offered to all except Owen; but only a very few took any notice of it. It is due King Henry however to state, that he was inclined to greater clemency at this time, than the Parliament.
During the succeeding winter Owen was carefully and wisely making his plans, and the enthusiasm of the day was spreading throughout the land and reached even to the colleges of England, where there were many Welsh students. At Oxford many Welshmen put aside their books and stole home to join Owen's standard, filled with the glow of rekindled patriotism.
In the early spring of 1401, William and Rhys ap Tudor, of the ever famous stock of Penmynydd, took the great castle at Conway by strategy, with forty followers. William and Rhys were among Owen Glyndwr's most trusted lieutenants; however William, who retained command in Conway, was finally starved into submission by Henry Percy (Hotspur), who was then Justice of North Wales for the king. By the terms of surrender, William ap Tudor retired from the fortress, leaving nine hostages in Henry's hands, who promptly put them to death after the usual brutal fashion of the time.
In the meantime Owen had turned his attention to the south. South Wales had hitherto not shown much desire to rise; but when the now renowned Glyndwr raised his Dragon standard on the summit of Plinlinunon, there was prompt response in men and arms. He now fell with a heavy hand on this southern country, and almost in the beginning of this campaign, fought a battle which aroused great enthusiasm and brought almost every wavering Welshman to his support. It seems he was encamped on the summit of Mynydd Hyddgant, with less than 500 men and was surrounded during the night, by 1500 Flemings. Owen promptly took the lead of his troops, and fell upon the enemy with such fury, that he and most of his men cut their way out, leaving 200 dead Flemings on the mountain side.
During this entire summer of 1401, Owen was fighting and ravaging throughout South and Mid-Wales; castles here and there were taken and New Radnor, under Sir John Grendor, was stormed and taken, and the sixty defenders were hung on the ramparts, by way of encouragement to others to yield. He also destroyed the noble abbey of Cwmhir about this time, doubtless on account of the animosity of the Church to his success, and swept on down the Severn Valley; being finally halted by the great Red Castle of Powys, from which he was repulsed, after much hard fighting and the destruction of the suburbs of the town.
In the meantime Henry Percy (Hotspur) had abandoned North Wales and, now in August 1401, throughout all of North, South and Mid-Wales, so far as the open country was concerned, the rule of Owen Glyndwr was supreme, from the English border to the sea.
The English and King Henry were panic-stricken by these events and an invasion of Wales on a large scale was planned at once. The king and Prince Henry, with a large army, entered Wales in October, but after much weary marching without being able to bring Owen to an engagement, they were compelled to retreat to Shrewsbury. where the army was disbanded before the end of the same month. They lost much of their equipment in this campaign, through the harrying of Owen's troops; and the only results attained were the destruction of the Abbey of Ystradfflur, where eleven Welsh Princes, of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, were interred, the execution of an eminent Welsh gentleman and patriot, Llewelyn ab Griffith Vychan of Cayo, who had purposely misled the army, and the capture of one thousand Welsh children.
Following these events Owen moved into North Wales and early in November attacked the great English castle of Carnarvon. Its garrison had, however, been reinforced and he was repulsed with a loss of 300 men. Owen soon afterwards went into winter quarters at Glyndyfrdwy, with his captains and bards. The castle Dinas Bran, then possessed by the English Earl of Arundel, was in plain sight, and the great Chirk castle, in English hands, was less than a dozen miles away; however, the whole country, outside of the castles, was openly or secretly, in sympathy with Owen, and the movement had now become national. There was nothing to check the songs and revelry, which sounded high above the breakers of the Dee, in the long winter nights, in Owen's quarters.
During December, Owen made a dash upon Harlech castle, but it was saved to the king for the time, by reinforcements from Chester, consisting of 400 archers and 100 men-at-arms. However a more satisfactory expedition to Ruthin, in January 1402, resulted in the defeat
and capture of Owen's old enemy, Lord Grey, whose force was cut to
pieces by Owen's followers. Grey was confined in the castle of Dolbadarn, in the Snowdon mountains, and his ransom was set at ten thousand marks. He was held by Owen for nearly a year, when he was released on payment down of six thousand marks and the guaranty of the remaining four thousand, by placing hostages in Owen's hands, among which was his eldest son; Grey was also compelled to agree to never bear arms against Owen, during the remainder of his life. This settlement was arranged with Owen, by the king, through a commission, and it is stated it left Grey a poor man as long as he lived.
In the meantime Owen and Henry Percy (Hotspur) had met, and it seems some understanding, which had bearing on future events, was arranged. Owen also at this time was in communication with the King of Scotland and the native chieftains of Ireland, as well as the King of France; with the object of forming alliances against the English King. His messengers bearing his letters, to King Robert of Scotland and to the Irish chieftains, were however captured and beheaded. The letter to Robert of Scotland is of much interest and it is given in full as follows:
"Most high and Mighty and redoubted Lord and Cousin. I commend me to your most High and Royal Majesty, humbly as it beseemeth me with all honour and reverence. Most redoubted Lord and Sovereign Cousin, please it you and your most high Majesty to know that Brutus, your most noble ancestor and mine, which was the first crowned King who dwelt in this realm of England, which of old times was called Great Britain. The which Brutus begat three sons; to wit, Albanact; Locrine, and Camber, from which same Albanact you are descended in direct line. And the issue of the same Camber reigned loyally down to Cadwalladar, who was the last crowned King of the people, and from whom I, your simple Cousin am descended in direct line; and after whose decease, I and my ancestors and all my said people have been and still are, under the tryanny and bondage of mine and your mortal enemies, the Saxons: whereof you most redoubted Lord and very Sovereign Cousin, have good knowledge. And from this tyranny and bondage the prophecy saith that I shall be delivered by the help and succour of your Royal Majesty. But most redoubted Lord and Sovereign Cousin, I make a grevious plaint to your Royal Majesty, and most Sovereign Cousinship, that it faileth me much in soldiers, therefore most redoubted Lord and very Sovereign Cousin, I humbly beseech you kneeling upon my knees, that it may please your Royal Majesty to send me a certain number of soldiers, who may aid me and withstand, with God's help, mine and your enemies, having regard most redoubted Lord and very Sovereign Cousin to the chastisement of this mischief and of all the many past mischiefs which I and my ancestors of Wales have suffered at the hands of mine and your mortal enemies. And be it understood, most redoubted Lord and very Sovereign Cousin that I shall not fail all the days of my life to be bounden to do your service and to repay you. And in that I cannot send unto you all my business in writing, I send these present bearers fully informed in all things, to whom be pleased to give faith and belief in what they shall say to you by word of mouth. From my Court, most redoubted Lord and very Sovereign Cousin, may the Almighty Lord have you in his keeping."
Written in North Wales on the twenty-ninth day of November (1401).
Sometime in the early part of 1402, Owen moved down the Vale of Clwyd, making a final clearance of Lord Grey's property, and descending with a merciless hand upon Saint Asaph, destroying the cathedral, the bishop's palace and the canon's house. Trevor was then the bishop and he had been friendly to the English.
About this time occurred the famous personal encounter between Owen and his cousin Howel Sele the Lord of Nannau. Howel had not been friendly to Owen's cause, but the latter was induced, by the abbot of Cymmer, to visit him at Nannau, with the hope of promoting a better understanding. Owen came with only a few attendants and during the day, the two went for a stroll in the park, Howel who was a celebrated marksman with the bow, carried this weapon with him, and Owen, seeing a buck through the trees suggested that his cousin try his skill; Howel bent his bow and pretended to take aim, but suddenly swung around and discharged his arrow full at Owen's breast. He, however, had a coat of mail beneath his tunic and the shaft fell harmlessly to the ground. The fate of Howel was swift and terrible and Owen at once burned the house at Nannau to the ground. It is said, that no one but Owen and his companion, Madog, knew of the exact vengeance meted out to Howel. He never returned and his real fate was unknown to his family and followers for many years afterwards. However, one tempestuous evening in November, long years later, a lone horseman was seen urging his flagging steed up the bights of Nannau, and it proved to be Madog; who after the death of the fiery yet generous Glyndwr, was hastening to fulfill his last command and disclose the resting place of Howel's remains. He pointed out a great hollow oak tree, which had been the last resting place of the remains of the lord of Nannau. This tree was afterwards known as the "hollow oak of demons" and the "Haunted Oak". It fell on July 13, 1813 from sheer age and measured at that time twenty-seven feet and four inches in circumference. Sir Walter Scott in his "Marmion," has helped to immortalize this memorable combat between Owen and Howel.
While these events were taking place the Scots were at war with the English in the north and were confronted by Henry Percy, who was a host in himself, in the defense of the English border.
Owen was having things about his own way in Wales, and late in May 1402, with a large force, defeated and captured Edmund Mortimer, uncle and guardian of his nephew, Edmund Mortimer, (the Earl of March), who was the legal heir to the English throne. Eleven hundred English men, including great numbers of knights, were slaughtered in this battle. which occurred in a narrow valley below Pilleth Hill, near Knighton. King Henry refused to ransom Mortimer, which greatly incensed Henry Percy (Hotspur), Mortimers brother-in-law, and the great Percy left the Kings presence in anger, and as it happened never to return.
Owen followed up the great victory of Pilleth, and strong in its prestige, went burning and ravaging, fiercely through Glamorgan and fell upon Cardiff, destroying the whole town except a street where stood a religious house of his friends, the Franciscans, thence he went to the north and invested the three great castles of Carnarvon, Harlech and Criccieth. These events brought to his dragon standard, many wavering Welshmen, who hitherto had not heartily welcomed it with its accompaniment of flaming torches and pitiless spears.
King Henry was greatly aroused and disturbed by Owens achievements; and although the Scots, with French allies, were strongly pressing his forces under Henry Percy in the north and his son Prince Thomas, viceroy in Ireland, was reduced by want of money, to sore straits, he was bent upon raising a great army to subdue Wales. He in fact assembled three great armies, which on August 27th 1402 were assembled at Chester, Shrewsbury and Hereford, under the commands of the Prince of Wales, (the kings son,) the king himself, and the Earl of Warwick, respectively. In all there were one hundred thousand men and they crossed the border into Wales the first week in September.
Henry had learned of Owen's power of "calling spirits from the vasty deep," to his aid, and in less than a week he was convinced that he was the very devil himself. No one had ever before seen such terrible weather, as now descended upon Henry's troops, and by September 22, 1402 there was not an Englishman in Wales, outside of the few castles which still remained in their hands. The vast army had been beaten and driven out of Wales, without the prick of a single Welsh spear, or the flight of a solitary arrow. Henry Percy, had in the meantime, been fighting the Scots and had defeated them in a great battle and captured eighty noblemen and knights, including the Earl Douglas himself. King Henry learned of his victory, at once upon his return in defeat from Wales, and he promptly sent congratulations to Percy, but demanded that the Scottish prisoners be delivered to him. This order enraged Hotspur and he refused to comply.
Soon after these events some sort of an alliance was formed between Owen Glyndwr, Henry Percy (Hotspur) and Edmund Mortimer—who, as will be recalled was a prisoner in Owen's hands—for attacking Henry IV. of England; and in the meantime Mortimer had married, in November 1402, Owen's fourth daughter, Jane.
Owen, in the fore part of 1403, summoned representatives from all Wales, to gather for a parliament at, Machynlleth. There were four from each "Cantref." Owen was by this assembly crowned the "Prince of Wales" and seated on the throne. The persons attending this assembly were not all friends, however, and there was at least one who went there expressly to assassinate Owen. This was Davy Gam, who at one time, had been a member of King Henry's household. His intentions were discovered and he was cast into a dungeon, where he remained many years, being nevertheless eventually freed. Owen in the meantime, however, burned and destroyed his property.
Owen Glyndwr was now in actual and complete possession of all Wales, except some few strong castles which were yet held by the English; however the garrisons of the castles had no influence outside. Owen was the real and actual ruler in Wales at this time. His troops were successfully besieging the great castles of Harlech and Carnarvon and he felt sure of their ultimate fall, and during the early summer of 1403 turned his attention to South Wales, where he was engaged against the remaining English power in that quarter, when in May 1403, Prince Henry made a raid from Shrewsbury and burned Owen's two mansions at Glyndyfrdwy and Sycherth.
Owen was also, certainly, still busily engaged in South Wales, nearly a hundred miles away from Shrewsbury, about the time of the great battle between Henry Percy and King Henry, at that place. There is no doubt that there had been an understanding, between the Percy's and Owen Glyndwr and Edmund Mortimer, to act in unison against King Henry; but Hotspur's messengers must have failed to reach Owen; as he was negotiating with Carew of Pembroke, on July 12, 1403, and for several days afterwards, was busily engaged before the castle of Dynevor. He had no thought at that time of leaving South Wales, and he certainly knew nothing of the impending battle between "Hotspur" and Henry; yet he was likely expecting messages from Hotspur, as he undoubtedly contemplated invading England in conjunction with the Percys. He is represented by some writers, as being within sight of the battle of Shrewsbury while it was going on, but he was certainly far away in South Wales at the time and in ignorance of the fact that Hotspur so sorely needed his aid. Hotspur and his ally, Earl Douglas, with an army of 15,000 men, was confronted with a force twice as large under the command of the King, and after one of the most desperate and bloody battles that ever occurred on English soil, the lion-hearted Percy was signally defeated and slain, July 21, 1403.
The loss of the battle of Shrewsbury was a great blow to Owen's cause and it is interesting to imagine, how different the subsequent history of Great Britain might have been, had Percy's messengers reached Owen, so he could have stood with him at Shrewsbury, with ten thousand Welsh spears.
Anyway by the time King Henry was ready for another invasion of Wales in September, 1403, Owen was as strong as ever, and had in the meantime invaded Herefordshire England, with success. On the 15th of September, Henry invaded Wales and reached Carmarthen, but almost at once retreated and returned to Hereford and thence to London, having accomplished nothing, and Owen's troops again poured over the borders into England and ravaged Herefordshire.
The number of Owen's troops have been variously estimated. It is said however he had 30,000 archers and spearmen in Carmarthen at one time. The Welsh spears were exceptionally long and his men of Merioneth, had an especial reputation for making use of them.
About this time Owen had made some sort of an alliance with the King of France, and French troops were landing in Wales to aid him; but it was not until two years later that the greatest French effort was made in his behalf.
Early in the year 1404 Owen finally captured Harlech castle and it is supposed he moved his family there and made it his headquarters. Later on he also summoned a parliament to meet at Harlech. On July 14th, 1404, a treaty of alliance was concluded between Owen and the King of France and it was signed by their respective ambassadors on that date. At this time Owen's council house was at Dolgelly. The seal which Owen now adopted represents him, with biforked beard, seated on a throne-like chair, holding a scepter in his right hand and a globe in his left. (It has lately been adopted as the corporate arms of Machynlleth).
By the treaty made, with King Charles of France, Owen was recognized and acknowledged as the Prince of Wales, by the French King; and at the same time Henry IV. was designated: Henry of Lancaster, as Charles did not recognize him as the King of England and never had done so.
During 1404, Owen's forces continued the sieges of the castles yet in English hands and ravaged again and again the English border counties. Two fierce engagements occurred during the summer, between Owen and the Earl of Warwick, at Mynydd-cwm-du and at Craig-y-dorth. Owen was defeated in the former and he himself came near being captured; but in the latter battle he signally defeated the English and forced them back over the border.
Aberystwith castle had fallen to Owen during the year, but Harlech was the seat of his government during the winter of 1404-05. On its matchless site, some of the ancient British princes in the early centuries, had built their fortresses: from Bran the Blessed to Maelgwyn.
With Owen this winter, there were no doubt gathered in majestic Harlech, all of his family and near relatives, including his son-in-law Edmund Mortimer and his younger brother TunoR GLYNDWR, as well as his principal captains, and the great Bishop Trevor, who had lately came over to his side. His bards, were of course, also there, to entertain the distinguished company with their patriotic songs. Owen Glyndwr was now at the high tide of his power and renown and it is well to state here, that to this day he is regarded by the majority of the Welsh people as the greatest of the Welsh Princes, from Owen Gwyned to the last Llewelyn.
The opening of the spring of 1405 was now at hand and with this season, came the first serious reverses to Owen's arms. His trusted captain, the renowned Rhys Gethin, with 8000 Welsh troops, moved in March 1405, to the English border and attacked Grosmont, where Prince Henry then was with a strong force. The prince and his followers sallied forth from the castle and attacked the Welsh and after a bloody battle completely routed them, with a loss of 800 men.
Owen, learning of this reverse pushed forward fresh forces under his brother, (ACD 34) TUDOR GLYNDWR, and in less than a week they met Prince Henry with a large force, at Mynydd-y-Pwll-Melyn, in Brecon, and a desperate battle, attended with great slaughter ensued, in which the Welsh commander, TUDOR GLYNDWR himself, was slain, and 1500 of his followers were either killed or taken prisoners. TUDOR was so much like his illustrious brother, in face and form, that the English at first thought the much dreaded elder Glyndwr had fallen; but the absence of a wart under the left eye, a distinguishing mark of Owen, soon disproved their premature conclusion. The slaughter in this battle, had perhaps never before been exceeded or equaled in Wales. Owens son Gryffydd was also taken prisoner at this time and was sent to London and confined in the Tower, where a year later the young King of Scotland was his companion.
These two reverses were a great blow to Owen's cause. King Henry however was kept busy in the early summer of 1405 by the Scots, and by the Earl of Northumberland, who was again in revolt, and who also, had been intriguing with Owen. Furthermore a great French expedition, consisting of 140 ships and 4000 to 5000 men, appeared in July or August of this year and landed at Milford Haven to join Owen's fortunes, and he met them at Tenby with 10000 Welshmen at his back. The French were nominally under the command of the Marshal of France, but Sire de Hugueville was the leading spirit.
These events seemingly made up for Owen's losses in the two engagements earlier in the year.
Owen and his French allies at once invaded England, retaking Glamorgan which had recently receded from him, and also capturing Carmarthen on the way. The allies pushed on through Herefordshire and reached the vicinity of the town of Worcester about the middle of August, where they encamped on the summit of Woodbury hill, still known as "Owen’s camp." Henry IV. with a large army met them here and took an advantageous position on the northern ridge. Each army feared to attack the other in its commanding position and here, in the heart of England, these two armies faced each other for eight days, with no results except a few skirmishes in which some 500 men fell. Henry had recourse to abundant provisions, but the Welsh and French soon ran short of supplies and were thus compelled to retreat. The English king attempted to follow them, but they promptly captured some of his supplies and he then desisted.
During the next month, about September 10, 1405, Henry again invaded Wales, but was soon driven out by Owen and his soldiers, with the aid of the elements, having accomplished practically nothing.
All except some 1700 of the French returned to their own country before Christmas, 1405, but Owen was unmolested by the English during that winter and had, as before, practically entire control of Wales. The French had counted on booty as their reward, and Owen and the Welsh were much disappointed with the results of their expedition, and also displeased with their conduct.
In the meantime, Owen had finally succeeded in subduing Western Pembroke, known as "Little England," and the earl agreed to pay him £200 for a truce to last until May 1406.
Owen now again retired to Harlech castle for the winter of 1405-1406.
The chief event of the early part of 1406, was the signing of the "Tripartite Indenture," which has been attributed by Shakespeare and others to an earlier date, before the battle of Shrewsbury.
The old Earl of Northumberland (Percy), and Bardolph of Scotland, met Owen Glyndwr and Edmund Mortimer at Aberdaron, and on the 28th of February 1406, the notable instrument was signed. By its terms they were bound into a solemn alliance and they agreed thereby, to divide the Kingdom of England and the Principality of Wales between themselves. Owen was to have Wales with considerable English territory added, and Percy and Mortimer, were to have the remainder of England.
Little came of this understanding, however, and as the year 1406 advanced Owen's influence and power seemed to decline. Glamorgan and Ystrad Towi in the south and Anglesey in the north, fell away from him, apparently through weariness of strife and lack of provisions, coupled with the offer of pardons from Henry of England. These defections were, anyway, certainly not due to pressure of English arms.
During the latter part of 1406 and part of 1407, Owen seems to have disappeared to some extent from public view; however his family and friends were yet in possession of Harlech castle and he also held Aberystwith castle, with a strong force, and sometime during 1407 he made a raid through Pembroke.
A great attempt was made by the English in the early fall of 1407 against Aberystwith castle. About all the great English leaders assembled there, including Prince Henry, the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick; as well as many other notable commanders and thousands of knights and men at arms. They brought with them engines of war of every then known kind, including the "King's cannon" which weighed four and one-half tons. But they were powerless against the great castle and the brave Welshmen commanded by Owen's lieutenant, Rhys ap Griffith ap Llewelyn. Provisions ran low, however, and in September, a truce was agreed upon until November 1st (1407). when the Welshmen were to deliver up the castle, unless Glyndwr in the meantime should appear and relieve it. Thereupon Prince Henry and his nobles returned to England, leaving a force of 500 soldiers on guard.
During October, just at the right time, Owen appeared upon the scene and went into the castle with a fresh force, and remained in possession of the west coast and its castles during the winter of 1407-1408.
The summer of 1408 toned Owen still active and formidable, but in this year Prince Henry renewed the sieges of both Aberystwith and Harlech and they both fell to the English during the winter of 1408¬1409, after prolonged and desperate resistance; being in fact starved into submission.
By the fall of Harlech castle, Owen's wife and practically all of his family, with the exception of three married daughters then in England, fell into the hands of the English and were taken to London. Edmund Mortimer, his son-in-law and a member of the Royal family of England, had however died during the siege. Owen himself escaped, doubtless still hoping to retrieve his losses and rescue his family. He held for a time some castles and strongholds in the Snowdon mountains, but his sway was now practically at its end, and after some desultory skirmishes it reached a final close, Numbers of his brave commanders in English hands were executed, including Rhys and William Tudor, who were thus disposed of at Chester.
Owen Glyndvvr's career having reached its melancholy finale he retired from public view. He was offered a pardon by Henry V., who had succeeded his father on the English throne, but the proud old hero seems to have refused to accept it and after living some years in seclusion, he finally died in peace in the year 1416, at the home of his daughter at Monnington in Herefordshire, England, and his body was interred at Monnington church.
Owen had accomplished much, yet in the end the reward was bitter failure for his cherished, patriotic aspirations, and a devastated and ruined country, which required many years for its up-building and recovery, from the desperate, bloody, strife, of nearly a decade. He was the absolute and almost undisputed ruler and monarch of all of Wales, except a few castles, for about seven years; and for nearly ten years he had successfully conducted a war, with a power vastly superior in resources of wealth and men, and in fact one of the very greatest powers of the world at that time, as it is now; and moreover the territory for which he was contending was contiguous to this great power and therefore within striking distance.
This was the last attempt, the last struggle, for Welsh independence. From its close, Wales has remained absolutely, if not always passively, under the government of the throne of England. Welsh pride and Welsh ideals were however in a great measure satisfied, when a King of Welsh princely blood ascended the throne of England, in the person of Henry VII., the first ruler of the Tudor dynasty, to which we have heretofore referred in the preceding pages.
In concluding this brief history of Wales it seems desirable to refer more particularly to some of the places where these Welsh Kings and Princes lived, and also where some of the principal events occurred.
Plates and special remarks are presented herein, of The Town of Llangollen, Castle Dinas Bran, Aberystwith Castle, Harlech Castle, Sycherth, Carew Castle and Pembroke Castle and of other places as well, of which no further description seems required; but there are other places of perhaps equal interest, among which are the following:
Rhuddlan Castle, North Wales, as it now stands, represents the great stronghold built by Edward I.; but an earlier stronghold was built and occupied on this site by Llewelyn ab Seisyllt, Prince of Wales, and his son. There was also an earlier Welsh castle built by former Welsh Princes, on a mount called Tuthill, a furlong south of the castle.
Mold and Caergwrle (Hope) castles, and also a fortified Tower near Mold, North Wales, were frequently the scenes of British and English engagements. Mold was razed by Prince Owain Gwyned in 1144, but was rebuilt and afterwards was taken and retaken in the struggles of the Welsh and English.
Hawarden Castle, North Wales, was stormed and taken by Prince Davyd, brother of the last Prince of Wales, Llewelyn, in 1281, near the close of their final struggle with the English. Llewelyn and Simon de Montfort signed their memorable compact here.
Denbigh Castle stands on the site of an earlier Welsh castle, held by Prince Davyd, as lord of Denbigh, when his brother Llewelyn was Prince of Wales.
Dolbadarn Castle in Snowdonia, North Wales, was one of a number of fortresses built and maintained in the passes of the Snowdon mountains, by the ancient British or Welsh kings and princes, and proved for many centuries, safe retreats, when they were from time to time, driven by their enemies from the more accessible places. It is said to be one of the first of Welsh castles, and it is certainly very old; it is doubtful whether it was built before, or after Roman times in Britain.
Dynevor (Dinefwr) Castle. in Carmarthen, South Wales, stands where an earlier Welsh castle was built by Rhodri Mawr (Roderick the Great), for his son Cadell, Prince of South Wales, whose successors later on moved the seat of government to Carmarthen castle, which for many years was the headquarters of these Princes and their descendants.
Cardigan Castle, with Cardiganshire and other territories, belonged for many years to Prince Rhys, grandson of Rhys ab Tewdwr, and Prince Rhys' son Griffith.
Tenby Castle and the great walls surrounding the town, in Pembrokeshire, were built by the Flemings, under the command of Gerald de Windsor, Governor of Pembroke.
Many other places and castles, which were associated with early Welsh history, could be referred to with interest, but space which should perhaps properly be assigned to such matters, in a work of this kind, has already been much enlarged, and the author feels that he must be content with the foregoing.