Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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IOLO GOCH ( c. 1320 - c. 1398 ), poet ,

a native of the Vale of Clwyd , son of Ithel Goch ap Cynwrig ap Iorwerth Ddu ap Cynwrig Ddewis Herod ap Cywryd . According to Hugh de Beckele 's Extent of Denbigh ( 1334 ), Ithel Goch rented a small portion of the family's ancient patrimony in the township of Llewenni where he possessed a dwelling house. He also rented from the lord small parcels of land in Llechryd and Berain . Of the works attributed to Iolo in the manuscripts the oldest which can be dated is the awdl to Dafydd ap Bleddyn (q.v.) , bishop of S. Asaph from 1314 to 1346 , and one of the latest is the cywydd to Ieuan Trevor II (q.v.) , bishop of S. Asaph , composed, in all probability, in 1397 . Between these two poles we can trace the following cywyddau written by him: panegyric upon Edward III , end of 1347 ; elegy upon Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd who d. in 1356 ( Iolo attended his funeral at Carmarthen ); elegy upon Tudur Fychan of Tre'r Castell , Anglesey , who d. in 1367 ; panegyric upon Sir Hywel y Fwyall , before 1381 ; elegy upon Ithel ap Robert , archdeacon of S. Asaph , who d. 1382 ; elegy upon Ednyfed and Gronwy , sons of Tudur Fychan ( Gronwy was drowned in 1382 ); panegyric upon Ieuan ab Einion of Chwilog when he was sheriff of Caernarvon ( 1385-90 ); panegyric upon Sir Roger Mortimer , earl of March (and earl of Denbigh ) , who was b. between 1395 and 1398 ; and an awdl calling down blessings on the court of Hywel Cyffin , dean of S. Asaph from 1385 to 1397 . There are three cywyddau which he sang to Owain Glyndŵr , but the last of these cannot very well have been written later than 1386 . Accordingly Iolo belonged entirely to the 14th cent. , and was the contemporary of Dafydd ap Gwilym and Llywelyn Goch Amheurig Hen (qq.v.), upon both of whom he wrote elegies. He also carried on a poetic controversy with Gruffydd Gryg (q.v.) . His awdlau were written in the manner of the ‘Gogynfeirdd,’ and even his cywyddau bear many traces of antiquity both in respect of vocabulary and syntax. Like Dafydd ap Gwilym he had quarrelled bitterly with the Grey Friars . One of his cywyddau , written in the form of a dialogue between the body and the soul (an old literary device) describes a strolling poet's tour through Kerry , Newtown , Maelienydd , Elfael , Builth , the upper Taff valley , Caeo , Kidwelly , Ystrad Towy , Whitland , and Cardigan as far as Strata Florida ; this tour probably took place about 1387 . One of his most celebrated cywyddau is that addressed to the labourer, a cywydd containing a magnificent description of the plough. Iolo Goch 's principal patron was Ithel ap Robert . Most of his patrons were staunch supporters of the English Crown and his voice was never raised in rebellion.


  • Lewis , Roberts , and Williams , Cywyddau Iolo Goch ac Eraill, 1350–1450 ( 1925 ed.), ix-lxxvii; ( 1937 ed.), ix-xii.
  • [Fuller but less critical edition by Charles Ashton, 1896 — and see Cardiff Free Libraries: Catalogue of Printed Literature in the Welsh Department (1898) .]


Emeritus Professor Henry Lewis, D.Litt., (1899-1968), Swansea

Published date: 1959