Davydd II (DNB00)

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DAVYDD II (1208?–1246), prince of North Wales, was the son of Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, the greatest of the later Welsh rulers, and of his wife, Joanna, bastard daughter of King John. Llewelyn and Joanna were married at Ascensiontide 1206 (Annales de Wigornia in Annales Monastici, iv. 394). Davydd was probably born in 1207 or 1208. In May 1220 Llewelyn had an interview with Henry III at Shrewsbury, and on 5 May, as the result or in prospect of that conference, the king took Davydd under his protection, and recognised him as Llewelyn's heir (Fœdera, i. 159). This was the more necessary as open war had broken out between Llewelyn and his elder son Gruffudd, who, though probably of illegitimate birth, was not on that account disqualified from being a formidable rival of Davydd. In October 1229 Davydd visited the king at Westminster, performed homage to him, and received a grant of 40l. a year and forty librates of land (ib. i. 196). In 1230 an agreement was made for his marriage with Isabella, daughter of William de Braose [q. v.], and niece of William Marshall, earl of Pembroke. The castle of Builth was promised as her portion (An. Dunst. in An. Mon. iii. 117). But before the match came off, William de Braose was caught hiding in the chamber of the Princess Joanna, Davydd's mother, and the indignation of the Welsh magnates was only appeased by the public execution of the suspected adulterer. Yet Llewelyn at once wrote to Eva, Braose's widow, and to the Earl of Pembroke, to propose that the marriage should still take place, and it was cele- brated accordingly (Shirley, Royal Letters, i. 368, 369). In December 1232, when negotiations were entered into between Henry and Llewelyn, one of the subjects of discussion was the assignment to Davydd of a reasonable portion of the Braose estates (Fœdera, i. 208). But Llewelyn's alliance with Richard Marshall probably prevented the accomplishment of these schemes. In 1234, after Richard's death had restored quiet in the marches, Davydd received a safe-conduct for himself and his father's counsellors to go to Westminster to treat of peace (Cal. Rot. Pat. 18 Hen. III, m. 8, and 19 Hen. III, m. 19). This suggests that Davydd had already begun to act for his father, now advancing in years and infirmities. In 1237 Davydd again served as his father's ambassador. It was arranged that he should be met by Archbishop Edmund and conducted to Worcester, and his safe-conduct was issued to meet the king in June, at which time a truce of a year was settled; but Henry was compelled to go to York to hold a conference with the king of Scots, and the interview was postponed till Michaelmas (Fœdera, i. 232; Cal. Rot. Pat. 21 Hen. III, m. 7; Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, vol. i. No. 1348). Next year, however, new troubles arose. Gruffudd, Davydd's half-brother, had since 1234 regained his liberty, and professed to acquiesce in Davydd's succession. To secure this, Llewelyn induced the chieftains of Wales to perform homage to his son. Already in May Henry wrote to remonstrate against Davydd receiving the fealty of any of his barons until he had himself done homage to his overlord (Fœdera, i. 235), but on St. Luke's day a great meeting of Welsh chieftains at Strata Florida answered the objections of Henry by oaths of fealty to his nephew (Brut y Tywysogion, s. a.). Flushed with this success, Davydd at once attacked his brother, and seized his possessions. Before the year was out he had left him nothing but Lleyn, the peninsular part of the modern Carnarvonshire. In 1239 he enticed Gruffudd to a conference through the mediation of Richard, bishop of Bangor, and then treacherously seized him and cast him with his son Owain into prison at Criccieth. His father's illness had practically made Davydd ruler of Wales.

On 11 April 1240 Llewelyn died at the monastery of Aberconway, where he had already taken the habit of religion. Davydd was at once recognised by the magnates of Wales as their new prince. In May he appeared at Gloucester to meet King Henry, performed homage to his uncle, who knighted him, and granted him his father's lands, and accepted a convention which referred all disputed points to the mediation of the legate Otho and others (Fœdera, i. 239; An. Theok. in An. Mon. i.115). But troubles were already brewing. Bishop Richard of Bangor had excommunicated Davydd and then fled to Henry's court, and persuaded the king to take up the grievances of Gruffudd (Matt. Paris iv. 149). The legate left the country; Davydd neglected to appear at Worcester to choose a fresh arbiter, and sent ambassadors to his uncle with insufficient powers to discharge their work. When at last arbiters were appointed at a meeting at Shrewsbury in May 1241 (Fœdera, i. 241), Davydd did not attend their first meetings at that city, and his reception of the homages of rebellious royal tenants, his refusal to liberate Gruffudd, and his assistance to his new vassals against Ralph Mortimer, were additional grievances in the king's eyes. The failure of the arbitration involved an appeal to arms. On 2 Aug. the royal forces mustered at Shrewsbury, where a compact was entered into between the king and Senena, wife of Gruffudd. Henry then advanced through Chester into North Wales, and occupied Dyserth Castle in the Vale of Clwyd. But Davydd was unprepared for resistance; many Welsh chieftains were friendly to Gruffudd, and the unusual dryness of the summer had made the bogs and morasses as accessible to the enemy as to his followers. A dexterous manœuvre of the English cut Davydd off from his retreat of Snowdon (An. Wigor. in An. Mon. iv. 433). Without striking a blow he signed a capitulation on 29 Aug. at Alnet on the Elwy, near St. Asaph, which was confirmed the next day in the king's tent at Rhuddlan (Fœdera, i. 242–3). He surrendered Gruffudd into the king's hands, promised to abide the decision of the royal courts as to the lands which Gruffudd claimed, surrendered Mold to the seneschal of Chester, allowed Gruffudd ab Gwenwynwyn his whole claim to Powys, and to the sons of Maredudd ab Cynan their whole claim on Meirionydd, and gave similar full redresses to the complaints and claims of the marchers. In October Davydd appeared in London to complete his submission. He agreed to surrender his principality to Henry if he died without heirs of his body (Kal. and Inv. of Exchequer, i. 114). In return, perhaps, Gruffudd was safely confined within the Tower. The agreements made by Henry with his wife at Shrewsbury were little observed. His safe custody was the best guarantee of Davydd's fidelity.

Except a few border troubles, Wales now remained in peace for several years. In 1242 Davydd was asked to send Welsh troops for the French war (Fœdera, i. 246). In 1243