Wales, A History
Medieval Ages
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Llewelyn Fawr, grandson of Owain Gwynedd, acceeded as ruler of Gwynedd. Under his leadership, he succeeded in regaining lost territory and wielding Wales into a cohesive political unit. Once again, Wales' unity dissolved in the quarreling between Llewelyn's sons, Dafydd and Gruffudd. Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, grandson of Llewelyn Fawr and son of Gruffudd, once again restored Wales by imprisoning his uncles and taking Gwynedd for himself. This Llewelyn was recogninzed by Henry III in 1267 at the Treaty of Montgomery as Prince of Wales, acknowledging his claim to the kingdoms of Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth. Wales was again free from British influence. All of this was to change though as time again marched into a tide of reversal.

Llewelyn Fawr, meaning Llewelyn the Great, was one of Wales' greatest heroes. After a fierce family struggle, this hero ermerged around 1200. Probably born in Dolwyddelan Castle , he was the son of Iowerth Drwyndwn. He controlled Gwynedd, or northern Wales and eventually also ruled over southern Wales as well.

Dolwyddelan Castle
Dolwyddelan Castle

Llewelyn married the natural daughter, Joan, of King John, but even this close relationship did not prevent King John from attacking Wales, forcing Llewelyn to the fortress of Snowdonia. Llewelyn was allowed to keep his lands in Snowdonia in return for acknowledging John as his overlord and a high payment of tribute and relinquishing large amounts of Welsh lands.

Later, Llewelyn united the Welsh Princes and won the lands lost to John back again. Llewelyn, in an attempt to gather strength for Wales arranged the marriages of his daughters to the powerful English Marcher Lords which controlled the border lands between Wales and England.

In 1230, we read that the Lord Llewelyn hanged William de Braose the Younger, Lord of Brycheiniog, after he had been caught in Llewelyn's bed chamber with Llewelyn's wife, the daughter of John, Joan.

Llewelyn built the Abbey of Aberconwy in 1189 where he spent the last two years of his life, being buried there in 1240. When Edward I invaded Wales, he moved the Abbey to Maenan and built Conwy Castle in Aberconwy where the Abbey had stood. Llewelyn's sarcophagus was then moved to Maenan. At the Dissolution of the Monastries, the sarcophagus disappeared, though a stone of his coffin was found at the Wynn chapel of St.Crwst's Church in Llanrwst. It is unknown where Llewelyn's sarcophagus is buried.

After Llewelyn's death, Wales once again fell into disunion as Llewelyn's two sons: Dafydd and Gruffudd quarreled, destroying all that their father had accomplished.


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