Davydd III (DNB00)

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DAVYDD III (d. 1283), son of Gruffudd, son of Llewelyn, son of Iorwerth, last native prince of North Wales, first appears in history in 1241, when his mother Senena agreed to place him and his brother Rhodri in the hands of Henry III as sureties for her performing the agreement she had made with the king respecting her husband and her son Owain, then prisoners (Matt. Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. Luard, iv. 317). Davydd must then have been quite a child. In 1246 his brothers Llewelyn and Owain became rulers of North Wales, and he himself received some territory, the position of which is nowhere stated. All went peaceably for a few years. In the summer of 1253 Davydd received letters of conduct to attend in England to perform homage to the queen and Richard of Cornwall, who were acting as regents during Henry's absence in Gascony (Fœdera, i. 291). This visit to the court where part of his youth was spent may have resulted in the revolt of Davydd in conjunction with Owain against their brother Llewelyn in 1255 (Annales Cambriæ; Brut y Tywysogion gives the date 1254, which is probably wrong). A great battle was fought at Bryn Derwyn between the brothers, where after an hour's hard struggle the rebels were defeated, Owain imprisoned, and Davydd driven from the field. His lands were seized, and he himself seems to have been ultimately captured. In 1257 Henry III made an expedition to Wales and on 25 Aug. issued at Abergele letters patent securing Davydd certain lands in Wales (Pat. 41 Hen. III, m. 3). This may point to a reconciliation of Davydd and Llewelyn, now sole ruler of North Wales. Anyhow, in March 1258 Davydd is mentioned immediately after Llewelyn among the Welsh magnates who formed a confederacy with the Comyns and other Scottish nobles against the king of England (Fœdera, i. 370). In the same year Davydd, in alliance with Maredudd, son of Owain, appeared in South Wales, and near Cilgerran, on the lower Teivi, gained a victory over Patrick de Sayes, Maredudd, son of Rhys Grug, and the marcher lords of south-west Wales. Patrick, who had treacherously advised a sudden attack on the Welsh during a conference, atoned for his crime by death (Matt. Paris, v. 717–18). Davydd doubtless took part in the intermittent warfare between Llewelyn and Henry during the next few years. Yet even then some of the Welsh chiefs feared he was likely to maintain the cause of his captive brother Owain, and advised peace with England on that account (ib. v. 727). In 1261 Davydd was a party to the prolongation of a truce at Montgomery (Fœdera, i. 404), and in 1262, on a rumour of Llewelyn's death, Henry wrote to his friends in Wales hastily denying that Davydd had any right or claim to succeed to the principality (ib. i. 420). Yet in 1263 Davydd for a second time revolted from his brother, who was then capturing the royal strongholds of Gwynedd in alliance with the baronial opposition. Davydd now fled to England and took up the king's side. In 1264 he was severely defeated near Chester in an encounter with Robert Ferrers, earl of Derby, a follower of Montfort's (Dunstaple Annals in Annales Monastici, iii. 235). After Evesham, Davydd was rewarded by a grant of all the forfeited lands of the rebel William Boteler (Cal. Rot. Chart. p. 206). He was, however, kept out of Wales until 1267, when, in the definitive peace between Llewelyn and Henry negotiated by the legate Ottobon, it was provided that he should be restored to his possessions as before his secession to the king's side, and still further provision was to be made for him if that did not satisfy him (Fœdera, i. 474).

For years there was now peace between the brothers. In 1273 Davydd is incidentally mentioned as one of Llewelyn's councillors (ib. i. 505), and in 1274 their very dispute about some lands was terminated by a reference to the North-Welsh bishops and Pope Gregory X in a way that might well have given fresh offence to the English government, already impatient at Llewelyn's delay in performing homage to Edward I (ib. i. 515, cf. Preface to Peckham's Register, ii. xli). Soon after, probably in the course of the same year, Davydd for the third time conspired against his brother. He formed a plot with Gruffudd, son of Gwenwynwyn, lord of Powys, to whose eldest son Owain he married his eldest daughter, and promised the lands of Cydewain and Kerry. It was agreed that Davydd should remain in attendance on his brother, and that, on 2 Feb. 1275 (the year is not certain, but this seems the most probable one; cf. Annales Cambriæ and Brut y Tywysogion, s. a. 1274, and Fœdera, i. 532), Owain should make a sudden attack on the prince's household, on which Davydd should join the assailants. Llewelyn was to be slain and Davydd to receive the principality. But storms and floods prevented Owain's arrival in time. Davydd was betrayed, and escaped to his own lands, whence he waged war against his brother. Owain was seized and a confession extorted from him. Several proposed conferences between the brothers failed to take place. At last Llewelyn seized the lands both of Davydd and Gruffudd, who retreated to Shrewsbury to be under the protection of the English power. In the summer of 1277 Davydd accompanied Edward I in his expedition against Llewelyn. On 16 Aug. Edward from his camp at Flint promised to reward Davydd on the defeat of Llewelyn with half of ‘Snowdon,’ Anglesey, and Penllyn, or all ‘Snowdon’ and Penllyn if the king preferred to keep Anglesey in his own hands. Owain ab Gruffudd, who still remained in Llewelyn's prison, was to share in these spoils, and both princes were to attend the English parliaments like other earls and barons (Fœdera, i. 544). But Llewelyn soon submitted to Edward, and on 10 Nov., through Davydd's mediation (Annales Monastici, iii. 275), a treaty was made between them at Aberconway by which Davydd's lands were all surrendered to Llewelyn, provision being made for him elsewhere, though he still continued the liegeman of his brother (Fœdera, i. 545). The reward of his ‘honesty and faithfulness’ (Rishanger, p. 91) was indeed sufficiently liberal. Edward had already made him a knight, ‘contrary to the Welsh custom.’ He now gave him lands of the value of 1,000l. a year, among which were the cantreds of Duffryn Clwyd and Rhuvoniog (Ayloffe, Cal. of Ancient Charters, p. 62; Rotulus Walliæ, 6 Ed. I), granted on 28 Nov. with the keepership of Denbigh and Hope castles (Rishanger, Rolls Ser. p. 91; Trivet, Eng. Hist. Soc. p. 298; Annales Monastici, ii. 124–5, iii. 275; iv. 287), a territory which must have given him a strong position in the northern marches. This liberality shows Edward's implicit trust in his ‘friend and councillor.’ Edward also married him to Elizabeth, daughter of his old adversary the Earl of Derby, and widow of John Marshall, whose lands at Norton and elsewhere in Cheshire now came into Davydd's hands (Calendarium Genealogicum i. 271). His Cheshire estates included the honour of Frodsham (Langtoft, ii. 172).

For a few years there was quiet upon the marches, but the restless Davydd could not long play the part of a peaceful ruler, and the grasping legalism of Edward's lawyers afforded him a good pretext for new hostilities. He particularly resented the demand of the justice of Chester that he should attend the county court of that palatinate to answer the suit of one William Venables, who claimed lands at Hope, between Mold and Wrexham. Davydd presented himself at the court, but ‘with a loud voice placed God's peace and the king's upon the impleaded land, made obeisance and retired’ (Royal Letter in Record Office, No. 1340, quoted by Mr. Martin in Preface to Peckham's Register, ii. l). He besought Edward in vain to stay the suit and respect the Welsh laws. But fresh differences quickly arose which made matters still worse. Edward took away from him three townships in Duffryn Clwyd. The justice of Chester cut down the woods (but see Rotulus Walliæ, 8 Ed. I for Edward's view) that he claimed to possess; hanged his followers for what to Welshmen was no hanging matter; and accused him of harbouring thieves and outlaws (Peckham, Register, ii. 445–7). But though there was mischief in the air there was no outward sign of the reconciliation which had silently taken place between Davydd and Llewelyn, until on the night before Palm Sunday, 22 March 1282, Davydd made a sudden and successful attack on Hawarden Castle, slew the garrison, and seized in his bed Roger de Clifford, the royal justiciar in those parts (Brut y Tywysogion, s. a. 1281; Annales de Wigornia in An. Mon. iv. 481; Rishanger, p. 97; several chroniclers, however, say that Clifford was captured at Flint). Llewelyn at once came to his brother's aid. The marches were devastated and the royal castles of Flint and Rhuddlan were captured. At the same time one Welsh authority connects Davydd with the capture of the royal castle of Aberystwith and the castles of Llandovery and Carreg Cennen in South Wales (Annales Cambriæ, s. a. 1282); but this if true must have been later in the spring. But by August the great host was assembled at Rhuddlan, with which Edward soon put an end to Welsh resistance, though in the course of it Davydd on one occasion pressed the king hard in a fight in a wood (Trokelowe, p. 40). Davydd fled with his brother to Snowdon. Early in November he was present at the useless conferences at which Archbishop Peckham endeavoured to mediate between Edward and the Welsh. Peckham proposed to Davydd to go on crusade, in pursuance of some old vow, and promised him an honourable provision so long as he did not return home without the royal license, and held out hopes that the king would do something for his children. But these terms Davydd indignantly rejected. He would not go on crusade, for compulsory services displeased God. He was not the aggressor, and was justified in defending his inheritance when wantonly attacked. Peckham withdrew to the royal camp, and Davydd, like his brother, was put under excommunication.

Soon after Llewelyn sallied from Snowdon on his luckless expedition to the south. His death in December left Davydd the last champion of the Welsh cause. But though often loosely spoken of as prince of Wales, Davydd can never be said to have really been generally accepted as sovereign even by his own people, though he certainly called himself by that name (Cont. Flor. Wig. ii. 229; Oxenedes, p. 262; cf. Chronicon de Melsa, ii. 179, which speaks of his summoning a Welsh parliament); while the consent of Edward, which was undoubtedly necessary to his legal assumption of the title, was of course withheld. He was soon hard pressed by the royal troops surrounding Snowdon and penetrating into its innermost fastnesses. His followers fell away from him; the inaccessible castle of Bere was taken from him by the Earl of Pembroke; he was reduced to the life of a wandering fugitive through the hills and bogs of Snowdon; and at last, in June 1283, his hiding-place was discovered to the English by the treachery of his own countrymen. There, lurking in a marsh or resting in a cottage, he was surrounded and captured with his two sons and seven daughters. He was loaded with fetters and taken to Rhuddlan for safe custody. His wife also shared his fate. Edward refused his request for an interview, and on 28 June issued writs for a parliament of earls, secular barons, judges, knights of the shire, and representatives of the towns to meet at Shrewsbury for the trial of the traitor. Even the formal language of the writ is glowing with Edward's indignation at the ingratitude and treachery of the man he had so often befriended (Fœdera, i. 630; Parl. Writs, i. 15–16). The parliament met on 30 Sept. at the appointed place, and at once proceeded to its main business. A special court, of which John de Vaux was president, condemned him on 3 Oct., in the presence and with the approbation of the assembled parliament (Cont. Flor. Wig. ii. 229). The ghastly sentence was at once executed. As a traitor to the king who had made him a knight, he was dragged at a slow pace through the streets of Shrewsbury to the gallows. As the murderer of Fulk Trigald and many others he was hanged by the neck. As a sacrilegious blasphemer who had profaned the week of the Lord's passion, his entrails were torn out and burnt. For compassing the king's death his body was beheaded and quartered. The head was stuck on a pole, and placed on the Tower of London by the side of that of his brother Llewelyn. An unseemly contention between the representatives of York and Winchester for the right shoulder resulted in the triumph of the southern city. The other quarters were exposed at York, Bristol (or Chester), and Northampton. His two sons were imprisoned at Bristol (Annales Cambriæ, s. a. 1283). His daughters became nuns at Sempringham and other monasteries (Fœdera, i. 712). So great was the popular indignation of the Welsh at his fate that Peckham was compelled to throw his protection over two clerks accused of having betrayed their last prince, round whose memory a halo of poetry soon gathered that the commonplace treachery of his life did little to warrant. Bleddyn Vardd, in his elegy on the last of the native princes of Gwynedd, commemorated his daring and royal qualities, and the great victory near Aberteivi of the hero sung by a thousand bards. He also made Davydd the subject of an englyn (Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, ed. 1801, i. 364, 365.). But the English chroniclers, never very tolerant of Welsh princes, can find no language too strong to denounce his treachery both to his overlord and his brother, his faithlessness, his factiousness, and his bloodguiltiness.

[Rymer's Fœdera, Record ed., vol. i.; Matthew Paris's Chronica Majora, ed. Luard, Rolls Ser., iv. 317, v. 717, 718, 727; Annales Cambriæ and Brut y Tywysogion, ed. Williams in Rolls Ser.; Rotulus Walliæ, 5–8 Ed. I., privately printed by Sir T. Phillips; Annales Monastici, ed. Luard, Rolls Ser., especially Annals of Dunstaple, iii. 235, 275, 291, 293–4; Annals of Winchester, ii. 124–5; Osney, iv. 287, 288, 292, 293, 294; Waverley, ii. 397, 400; Worcester, iv. 481; Walter of Hemingburgh (Eng. Hist. Soc.), ii. 9, 14; Trivet (Eng. Hist. Soc.), 298, 301, 302, 303, 307; Continuation of Florence of Worcester (Eng. Hist. Soc.), ii. 229–30; Chronicles of Trokelowe, pp. 39–40; Oxenedes, pp. 261–2; Rishanger, pp. 97, 104; Chronique de Pierre de Langtoft, ii.; Chronicon de Melsa, ii. 163, 179, all in Rolls Series; Martin's Registrum Epistolarum J. Peckham, Rolls Ser., ii. 445, 465, 467, 471, 483, iii. 780, with Mr. Martin's useful preface ii. xxxvii–lvii, some of which documents are also printed in Haddan and Stubbs's Councils, vol. i.; some documents are also found in Appendix to Warrington's History of Wales, and translated in Powel's History of Cambria; Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, vol. i.; Pauli's Englische Geschichte, vols. iii. iv., gives perhaps the best modern account, and the Greatest of the Plantagenets an extreme apology for Edward.]

T. F. T.