Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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LLYWELYN ap GRUFFYDD or LLYWELYN BREN (d. 1317 ) .

He is described as son of Gruffydd , not Rhys (a patronymic which has hitherto caused some confusion), in a letter announcing his capture in 1316 . Record evidence reveals him as a man of culture with unusual literary interests for a person of his class and period, possessing considerable property and personal wealth in Senghenydd and Miscin — ' a great man and powerful in his own country ,’ as a contemporary chronicle has it. All this suggests that he was the son of Gruffydd ap Rhys , a native vassal of the honour of Glamorgan , and a great-grandson of Ifor Bach , lord of Senghenydd , and Nest , granddaughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr . Since 1256 Senghenydd had been fully absorbed into the feudal organisation of the honour, and Llywelyn appears to have been on excellent terms with the young earl, Gilbert de Clare , holding office under him and, possibly, acting as the earl's leading adviser on native affairs . With Gilbert 's untimely death in 1314 , Glamorgan passed for a time into royal custody, an event accompanied by changes in local administration, particularly when Pain de Turberville , lord of Coity , was appointed custos in 1315 ; Pain , a near neighbour and enemy of Llywelyn 's kinsmen of Afan , was no friend of Welshmen , whatever their degree. Llywelyn was removed from office, and there followed a short period of bitter personal recrimination on both sides, which reached a climax in Llywelyn 's unsympathetic hearing before Edward II . Fearing treachery, he returned home secretly early in 1316 , and in view of general discontent throughout the Welshries, had no difficulty in raising a widespread revolt among the hillsmen of Glamorgan . The rebellion, though attended by serious devastation of the Vale and a number of determined attacks on several important strongholds — including Caerphilly — was over in a few weeks. The rebels had little hope of success when the marcher lords combined under de Bohun and Mortimer , to whom Llywelyn made the heroic personal surrender which won the admiration of an alien chronicler. He was in prison at Brecon on 22 March . From 27 July 1316 to 17 June 1317 he was held in the Tower of London . By that time Glamorgan was being exploited in the interests of the Despenser s and Llywelyn fell a victim to their greed; his estates were seized, and he was brought to Cardiff where he suffered a traitor's death . Among the charges later brought against the Despenser s was the murder of Llywelyn Bren . With the deposition of Edward II , the estates in Senghenydd were resumed ( 11 Feb. 1327 ) by his sons — Gruffydd , John , Meurig , Roger , William and Llywelyn .

Sources:

  • Archaeologia Cambrensis , 1851 , 179-91;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Malmesbury , Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II (1882–3) ;
  • Calendar of Ancient Correspondence concerning Wales (1935) ;
  • Calendar of Close Rolls ;
  • Calendar of Patent Rolls ;
  • Ralph Griffiths, ‘The Revolt of Llywelyn Bren, 1316' in The Glamorgan Historian , II, 186-96 .

Author:

Professor Thomas Jones Pierce, M.A., F.S.A., (1905-1964), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959