Cadwgan (d.1112) (DNB00)

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CADWGAN (d. 1112), a Welsh prince, was a son of Bleddyn, who was the son of Cynvyn, and the near kinsman of the famous Gruffudd, son of Llewelyn, on whose death Harold appointed Bleddyn and his brother Rhiwallon kings of the Welsh. This settlement did not last very long, but Bleddyn retained to his death possession of a great part of Gwynedd, and handed his territories down to his sons, of whom, besides Cadwgan, four others, Madog, Rhirid, Maredudd, and Iorwerth, are mentioned in the chronicles. Cadwgan's name first appears in history in 1087, when, in conjunction with Madog and Rhirid, he led a North Welsh army against Rhys, son of Tewdwr, king of South Wales. The victory fell to the brothers, and Rhys retreated to Ireland, whence he soon returned with a Danish fleet, and turned the tables on his foes in the battle of Llechryd. Cadwgan escaped with his life, but his two brothers were slain. Six years later Rhys was slain by the Norman conquerors of Brecheiniog (1093), and Cadwgan availed himself of the confusion caused by the catastrophe of the only strong Welsh state in South Wales to renew his attacks on Deheubarth. His inroad on Dyved in May prepared the way for the French conquest of that region, which took place within two months, despite the unavailing struggles of Cadwgan and his family. But the Norman conquest of Ceredigion and Dyved excited the bitterest resistance of the Welsh, who profited by William Rufus's absence in Normandy in 1094 to make a great attack on their newly built castles. Cadwgan, now in close league with Gruffudd, son of Cynan, the chief king of Gwynedd, was foremost among the revolters. Besides demolishing their castles in Gwynedd, the allied princes penetrated into Ceredigion and Dyved, and won a great victory in the wood of Yspwys, which was followed by a devastating foray which overran the shires of Hereford, Gloucester, and Worcester (Gwentian Brut, 1094, cf. Flor. Wig. s.a.) But, as Mr. Freeman points out, Cadwgan fought in the interest of Gwynedd rather than of Wales. His capture of the castles of Ceredigion was followed by the wholesale transplantation of the inhabitants, their property, and cattle into North Wales. A little later Cadwgan's family joined in forays that penetrated to the walls of Pembroke, the only stronghold, except Rhyd y Gors, now left to the Frenchmen. Two invasions of Rufus himself were needed to repair the damage, but the great expedition of 1097 was a signal failure. Rufus ‘mickle lost in men and horses,’ and Cadwgan was distinguished as the worthiest of the chieftains of the victorious Cymry in the pages of the Peterborough chronicler, who in his distant fenland monastery commonly knew little of the names of Welsh kings (A.-Sax. Chron. s.a. 1097: ‘Sum þaera waes Caduugaun gehaten, þe heora weorðast waes’). Such successes emboldened Cadwgan and his ally Gruffudd to attempt to save Anglesea when threatened in 1099 by the two earls Hugh of Chester and Shrewsbury. But the treachery of their own men—either the nobles of Mona or some of their Irish-Danish allies—drove both kings to seek safety in flight to Ireland. Next year they returned to Wales, and made peace with the border earls. Cadwgan became the man of the Earl of Shrewsbury, and received as a fief from him Ceredigion and part of Powys (Brut y T., s.a. 1100; according to the Gwentian Brut Arwystli and Meirionydd were his possessions in Powys). In 1102 Robert of Bellême [q. v.] called upon Cadwgan and his brothers Iorwerth and Maredudd for help in his great war against Henry I. Great gifts of lands, horses, and arms persuaded Cadwgan and Maredudd to join Robert in Shropshire, but Iorwerth stayed behind, and his sudden defection is regarded by the Welsh chroniclers as a main cause of Robert's fall. Iorwerth now appears to have endeavoured to dispossess Cadwgan and Maredudd of their lands as supporters of the fallen Earl of Shrewsbury. But though he succeeded in putting Maredudd into a royal dungeon, he made peace with Cadwgan and restored him his old territories. Thus Cadwgan escaped sharing in the disgrace and imprisonment of Iorwerth by Bishop Richard of Belmeis, Henry's steward in Shropshire. It is probable that it was some other Cadwgan who became an accomplice in the murder of Howel, son of Goronwy, in 1103, and the Owain, son of Cadwgan, slain in the same year, was probably this unknown Cadwgan's son. Anyhow Cadwgan, son of Bleddyn, had a son Owain, who in 1105 began his turbulent career by two murders, and in 1110 (A. C., B. y T. 1105) was the hero of a more famous adventure. Cadwgan had given a great feast in his castle of Aberteiv, the modern Cardigan, which was largely attended by chieftains from all parts of Wales, for whose entertainment bards, singers, and musicians were attracted to the rejoicings by costly prizes (Gwentian Brut, s.a.). Among the guests was Gerald of Windsor, who after the fall of Arnulf of Montgomery was the most powerful man among the French in Dyved, and his famous wife Nest, whose beauty so excited Owain's lust that not long after he took advantage of his father's absence in Powys to carry her off by violence from the neighbouring castle of Cenarth Bychan. The rape of the Welsh Helen excited great commotion, and Cadwgan, hurrying back in great anxiety to Ceredigion, found himself powerless to effect her restoration to Gerald. Ithel and Madog, sons of Rhirid, and Cadwgan's nephews, were incited by Richard of Belmeis to attack Owain, and even Cadwgan, who fled to an Irish merchant ship in the harbour of Aberdovey. After running all kinds of dangers, Owain escaped to Ireland, while Cadwgan privately retired to Powys. Thence he sent messengers to Bishop Richard. King Henry's lenient treatment of him showed that the king regarded Owain's crime as no fault of his father. For a while Cadwgan was only suffered to live on a manor of his new wife, a Norman lady, daughter of Pictet Sage, but a fine of 100l. and a promise to abandon Owain effected his restoration to Ceredigion, which in his absence had been seized by Madog and Ithel. But the fiat of the English king could effect little in Ceredigion. Owain continued his predatory attacks on the French and Flemings, in one of which a certain William of Brabant was slain. In anger Henry sent again for the weak or impotent Cadwgan, and angrily told him that as he was unable to protect his territory, he had determined to put Ceredigion into more competent hands. A pension of twenty-four pence a day was assigned to the deposed king on the condition that he should remain in honourable restraint—he was not to be a prisoner—at the king's court, and never seek to return to his native soil. These terms Cadwgan was compelled to accept, and Gilbert, son of Richard, was invested with Ceredigion. But next year the murder of Iorwerth by his nephew Madog put Powys, which Iorwerth had lately governed, into the king's hands. He then gave it to Cadwgan, who thus once more acquired lands of his own. But Madog, already deprived of Ceredigion, was determined not to yield Powys as well to his uncle. Meanwhile Cadwgan, ‘not imagining mischief,’ returned to his dominions. Surrounded by Madog's retainers at Trallong Llewelyn, he as usual conducted himself weakly. All his own attendants fled. Unable to fight, unwilling to flee, he fell an easy victim to his enemies. ‘Knowing the manners of the people of that country, that they would all be killing one another,’ says the ‘Brut y Tywysogion,’ Richard, the steward, gave Cadwgan's lands to Madog, his murderer. But Henry I reversed his act, and made Owain, the abductor of Nest, his father's successor.

[The Brut y Tywysogion (Rolls Ser.) gives most of the above facts; the Annales Cambriæ (Rolls Ser.) is shorter, but sometimes clearer; the Gwentian Brut (Cambrian Archæological Society) adds a few, perhaps doubtful, details; Professor Freeman's William Rufus gives the only full modern account, and adjusts the often imperfect chronology of the Brut.]

T. F. T.