Gruffydd ab Llywelyn (d.1244) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23
Gruffydd ab Llywelyn (d.1244)

by Thomas Frederick Tout
1904 Errata appended.

GRUFFYDD ab LLYWELYN (d. 1244), Welsh prince, was the eldest son of Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, it is said, by Tangwstyl, daughter of Llywarch Goch (Williams, History of Wales, p. 303). As early as 1221 he was acting as lord of the cantrev of Meirionydd and the cymmwd of Ardudwy. He was disloyal to his father Llewelyn, who thereupon invaded his country and was persuaded with difficulty to accept his submission (Brut y Tywysogion, p. 309). In 1223 Gruffydd was entrusted by Llewelyn with a numerous army to oppose William Marshall, earl of Pembroke, who had returned from Ireland to South Wales, and had taken Aberteivi and Carmarthen from Llewelyn. A battle was fought by Carmarthen with doubtful result, but lack of provisions immediately afterwards obliged Gruffydd to retire to the north. A little later Gruffydd again took arms and intercepted the earl at Carnwyllon(ib.) Afterwards, however, he seems to have quarrelled with his father again, and underwent six years' imprisonment. He was released in 1234 (ib.), and before long obtained the government of extensive regions in central Wales, including Arwystli, Kerry, Cyveiliog, Mawddwy, Mochnant, and Caereinion, as well as the cantrev of Lleyn (ib. ; but cf. Annales Cambriæ). His father was now old and paralysed, and Gruffydd attacked him with such vigour that Llewelyn was compelled to submit himself to the English (Matthew Paris, Hist. Major, iii. 385). Davydd [q. v.], Llewelyn ab Iorwerth's son, by Joan, King John's bastard daughter, received early in 1238 the homage of the Welsh barons, and took all Gruffydd's dominions away from him except Lleyn. In 1239 Gruffydd was entrapped into a conference with his brother by the mediation of Richard, bishop of Bangor. Davydd seized and imprisoned him at Criciceth (Brut y Tywysogion, sub an. 1139; Annales Cambriæ; Matt. Paris, iv. 8, wrongly makes Gruffydd's imprisonment to begin after Llewelyn's death).

The Bishop of Bangor excommunicated Davydd and went to England, where he persuaded King Henry to take up the cause of Gruffydd, whose friends promised a heavy tribute. On 12 Aug. 1241 Senena, Gruffydd's wife, made a convention with Henry at Shrewsbury (Matt. Paris, iv. 316-18). Many of the Welsh magnates favoured his cause. Henry invaded Wales and Davydd was compelled to submit. He now handed over Gruffydd to Henry's custody, warning him that if he were released there would be more troubles in Wales. The question as to Gruffydd's claims was to be submitted to the king's judgment (Fœdera, i. 242-3).

Gruffydd was now sent to London (about 29 Sept. 1241) under the care of John of Lexington, and confined in the Tower, along with his son Owain and some other Welsh captives. He was, however, honourably treated. The government allowed half a mark a day for his support, and his wife Senena was allowed to visit him. He tried, however, to escape on the night of 1 March 1244, having made a rope from his linen, and broke his neck in the attempt, as he was a very tall and heavy man (Matt. Paris, iv. 295-6). Of Gruffydd's sons Owain Goch (i.e. the Red) and Llewelyn [q. v.] became in 1246, on Davydd's death, joint princes of Wales. Davydd [q. v.], his youngest son, tried to maintain the principality after the death of Llewelyn.

Gruffydd's arms are emblazoned on the margin of the manuscript of the 'Historia Major' of Matthew Paris. They were 'quarterly or and gules with four lions passant counterchanged' (Matt. Paris, vi. 473).

[Brut y Tywysogion; Annales Cambriæ; Matthew Paris's Historia Major; Annales Monastici, all in Rolls Series; Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i., Record edition.]

T. F. T.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.143
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
307 i 20f.e. Gruffydd ab Llewelyn: for Llewelyn read Llywelyn