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Bleddyn ap Cynfyn (Old Welsh: Bledẏnt uab Kẏnẏn;[1] d. AD 1073), sometimes spelled Blethyn, was an 11th-century Welsh king. Harold Godwinson and Tostig Godwinson installed him as the ruler of Gwynedd on his father's death in 1063, during their destruction of the kingdom of Bleddyn's half-brother, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. He became king of Powys on his brother Rhiwallon's death in 1069. His descendants continued to rule Powys as the House of Mathrafal.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Bleddyn was born to a Powys nobleman, Cynfyn[2] His mother, Llywelyn ap Seisyll's widow Angharad, was the daughter of King Maredudd of Dyfed, whose realm had been lost to the Irish pretender Rhain before its conquest by Llywelyn.

Gruffydd, Angharad's son by her first husband was initially dispossessed upon his father's early death. Slowly, however, he rebuilt his father's realm, annexing its successor states. Although bards and annalists had called many leaders "King of the Britons", Gruffydd was the first to rule all the free Welsh after he conquered Morgannwg in response to its invasion of Dyfed. Bleddyn may have been residing in Powys, where he married Haer ferch Cillyn, daughter of the Lord of Gest Cillyn y Blaidd Rudd ("Cillyn the Red Wolf").

ReignEdit

Gruffydd's consolidation of power and alliance with Ælfgar of Mercia made him a threat to Harold Godwinson, earl of Hereford. Upon Ælfgar's death in 1060, Harold and his brother Tostig quickly invaded; the following year, they invaded again and were left in mastery of Wales after traitors among his men killed Gruffydd during a retreat. The south was restored to the Houses of Dinefwr and Morgan, but Powys and Gwynedd were given to Gruffydd's half-brothers Bleddyn and Rhiwallon. These two submitted to Harold and swore themselves vassals and allies of Edward the Confessor.[n 1]

Closely allied with Harold, the brothers joined the Saxon resistance to William the Conqueror following his conquest of England. In 1067, they joined the Mercian Eadric the Wild in his attack on Norman Hereford, ravaging the lands as far as the River Lugg. In 1068, they joined Earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria in their attacks as well.

In 1070, Gruffydd's sons challenged Bleddyn. Rhiwallon and Idwal and Maredudd died in the Battle of Mechain. Bleddyn was the king of both Gwynedd and Powys.

In 1073, Robert of Rhuddlan stealthily established his forces on the banks of the River Clwyd and attempted to ambush and capture Bleddyn. He narrowly failed, but seized valuable booty in raids further south. Bleddyn was killed in 1073 by King Rhys ab Owain of Deheubarth, having been betrayed by the lords of Ystrad Tywi. When Rhys was later defeated at the 1078 Battle of Goodwick by Bleddyn's successor, Trahaearn ap Caradog, and killed by Caradog ap Gruffydd of Gwent shortly afterwards, this was hailed as "vengeance for the blood of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn".[citation needed] After his death, Gwynedd was seized by Trahaearn and later recovered for the House of Aberffraw by Gruffudd ap Cynan; but in Powys, Bleddyn was the founder of a dynasty which lasted until the end of the 13th century.

LegacyEdit

Bleddyn's legacy in the Chronicle of the Princes was that of a benevolent ruler:

The most lovable and the most merciful of all kings… he was civil to his relatives, generous to the poor, merciful to pilgrims and orphans and widows and a defender of the weak… the mildest and most clement of kings… [he] did injury to none, save when insulted… openhanded to all, terrible in war, but in peace beloved.

Bleddyn was also responsible for a revision of the Welsh law which continued in force in his dynasty's domain of Powys. Gwynedd's Venedotian Code noted that he changed the legal composition of the homestead (tyddyn) for purposes of inheritance etc., varying its size depending on the social status of the owner. The homestead of a nobleman (uchelwr) was 12 Welsh acres, that of a serf (Med. eẏllt, Mod. aillt) had 8, and that of a bondsman or slave (Med. godaẏauc) had 4. (The text, however, notes the uncommonness of this division and says it was generally understood as 4 acres regardless of status.)[1]

ChildrenEdit

Bleddyn had at least five children:

NotesEdit

  1. ^ K. L. Maund is of the opinion that Bleddyn ruled Gwynedd and Rhiwallon Powys.

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ a b Owen (1841), Book II, Ch. XII, §1.
  2. ^ Wolcott, Darrell. Ancient Wales Studies. "Sorting out the Gwaitfoeds". Accessed 10 Feb 2013.

BibliographyEdit

  • Maund, Kari (2014), The Welsh Kings: Warriors, Warlards and Princes, The History Press, ISBN 978 0 7524 2973 1.
  • Davies, R.R. (1991), The age of conquest: Wales 1063-1415, O.U.P, ISBN 0-19-820198-2.
  • Jones, Thomas Jones, ed. (1952), Brut y Tywysogyon: Peniarth MS. 20 version, University of Wales Press.
  • Owen, Aneurin, ed. (1841), "The Venedotian Code", Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales; Comprising Laws Supposed to be Enacted by Howel the Good, Modified by Subsequent Regulations under the Native Princes prior to the Conquest by Edward the First: And Anomalous Laws, Consisting Principally of Institutions which by the Statute of Ruddlan were Admitted to Continue in Force: With an English Translation of the Welsh Text, to which are Added A few Latin Transcripts, Containing Digests of the Welsh Laws, Principally of the Dimetian Code, London: Commissioners on the Public Records of the Kingdom. (in Welsh) & (in English)

Further readingEdit

Bleddyn ap Cynfyn
Mathrafal Dynasty
Born: Unknown Died: 1075
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
King of Gwynedd and Powys
1063–1075
Succeeded by
Trahaearn ap Caradog (Gwynedd)
Iorwerth ap Bleddyn (Powys)