Gruffydd ab Rhys (d.1201) (DNB00)

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GRUFFYDD ab RHYS (d. 1201), South Welsh prince, was the son of the Lord Rhys ab Gruffydd [q. v.], and was grandson of Gruffydd ab Rhys (d. 1137) [q. v.] His mother seems to have been Gwenllian, daughter of Madog, son of Maredudd, prince of Powys (Giraldus Cambrensis, Itinerarium Kambriæ, in Opera vi. 15, Rolls Ser.) In 1188 he was already grown up, and was with his father when he received Archbishop Baldwin at Aberteivi (ib. p. 113). He accompanied the crusading party as far as Strata Florida ib. p. 119). The family of the Lord Rhys was broken up by fierce domestic quarrels. Maelgwn, his eldest son, was in 1189 imprioned by his father. Gruffydd now without his father's knowledge handed him over to the custody of his father-in-law William de Braose [q. v.] (Annales Cambriæ, sub an.) Deadly hostility henceforth reigned between the two brothers. In 1191 Gruffydd got possession of the castle of Llanhyver or Nevern in northern Dyved, which his father, on his instigation, had treacherously taken away from his brother-in-law, William Fitz-Martin (Giraldus, vi. 111; Annales Cambriæ, sub an.) In 1192 his quarrel with Maelgwn, now again reconciled to his father, caused Rhys to fail in his siege of Swansea. A little later Nevern fell into the hands 'of the man he hated most in the world, his brother Maelgwn.' Two years later Maelgwn put his father into prison.

Rhys died on 28 April 1197. Gruffydd now paid a hasty visit to the English court, and obtained the recognition of his title. He won Peter de Leia, bishop of St. David's, to his side by submitting to be scourged as a penance for an outrage of his father on the bishop, for which Rhys had died excommunicated ('Ann. de Winton ' in Ann Mon. ii. 66). But the exiled Maelgwn soon came back, captured Aberystwith, and conquered all Ceredigion. Gruffydd at last fell into his brother's hands, and was handed over to the custody of his ally Gwenwynwyn ab Owain [q. v.], prince of Powys, who sold him to the king, who imprisoned him in Corfe Castle (ib. p. 68). In 1198, however, Gruffydd was released when Gwenwynwyn deserted the English. Gruffydd now managed to wrest from Maelgwn 'his share of his territory, excepting the two castles of Aberteivi and Ystradmeurig,' which Maelgwn, despite the most solemn oaths, persisted in retaining. The war of the brothers still continued. In 1199 Maelgwn got hold of Gruffydd's new castle of Dineirth, but Gruffydd possessed himself through treachery of Cilgerran, and in 1200 pressed Maelgwn so hard that he sold Aberteivi to the English rather than let his brother have it. On 22 Nov. 1200 he was at Lincoln witnessing the homage of William, king of Scots, and the funeral of St. Hugh (Hoveden, iv. 142). In 1201 Gruffydd extended his possessions into the vale of Towy by occupying Cantrevbychan with the town of Llandovery (29 June) after his brother Maredudd's death. On 25 July Gruffydd died at the Cistercian abbey of Strata Florida, of which he was a benefactor, where he had already taken upon himself the monastic habit. He was there buried. He had married Maud, or Mahalt, de Braose, who died in 1209. His sons, Rhys and Owain, were driven out by Maelgwn, but in 1207 the great Llewelyn ab Iorwerth appeared in the south, and gave them all Ceredigion save Penwedig, which he reserved for himself. Giraldus describes Gruffydd as 'vir versipellis et versutus' (Op. vi. 111).

[Annales Cambriæ; Brut y Tywysogion; Giraldus Cambrensis, Opera, vol. vi., all in Rolls Series.]

T. F. T.