Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 34.djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.
Llywelyn
Llywelyn
8

giving the rest to his nephews, the sons of Gruffydd ab Rhys. He already bade fair to become prince of all Wales.

The good understanding between Llywelyn and John did not last long. In 1208 John released Gwenwynwyn and restored him to his territories. He also promised to regard Llywelyn as his son, and pardon him all injuries done to Gwenwynwyn (Fœdera, i. 102); but the release of his rival was an act of hostility, and war soon broke out between the prince and the king. In 1209 Gwenwynwyn, with the king's help, drove Llywelyn out of Powys. In the autumn of 1209 Ranulph de Blundevill, earl of Chester [q. v.], joined with Geoffrey FitzPeter the justiciar in leading an army against Gwynedd (Dunstaple Annals, p. 32). The earl rebuilt the old outpost of the English power, the castle of Deganwy, which Llywelyn had previously destroyed. He also built a castle at Holywell. But Llywelyn retaliated by cruel devastations of the earl's lands, while all over Wales his partisans successfully maintained themselves against the adherents of the king and the marchers. In 1209 John prepared a great expedition against Llywelyn, but after holding an interview with him dismissed his forces. In 1210 John passed twice through South Wales on his way to and from Ireland, while the Earl of Chester again fought against Llywelyn in the north (Annales Cambriæ, pp. 66-7; Gervase of Canterbury, ii. 106). But nothing was done that diminished Llywelyn's power.

In 1211 John formed a plan of driving Llywelyn out of his dominions. Most of the lesser Welsh chieftains, who were now much afraid of Llywelyn, were active on his side, with Gwenwynwyn of Powys and the sons of Rhys of South Wales at their head. In the spring a great army assembled at Whitchurch, led by the king in person, and marched to Deganwy. Llywelyn was now so hard pressed that he retreated with all his movable property into the fastnesses of Snowdon, abandoning the plain country to the enemy. But the season was too early for such an undertaking. After enduring severe privations from lack of food, John was forced to retire to England about Whitsuntide (Brut y Tywysogion, p. 269, which erroneously dates the campaign in 1210, but whose general accuracy is borne out by Walter de Coventry, Memoriale, ii. 203). Early in August John again appeared in Gwynedd, building castles to maintain a permanent hold over the country. Among these was a castle at Aberconway. John now marched right through Snowdon (Brut y Tywysogion, p. 209; Annales Cambriæ, pp. 67-8; Flores Historiarum, ii. 140; Matthew Parie, Hist. Major, ii. 532; Worcester Annals, p. 399). He captured Bangor and took the bishop prisoner. At the same time the English took possession of Aberystwith in combination with the sons of Rhys. Llywelyn was now forced by his chieftains to sue for peace. He sent his wife Joan to prevail upon her father to give him honourable terms, and having obtained a safe-conduct himself visited the royal camp. Peace was soon arranged, the terms of which are somewhat differently stated by various chroniclers. Llywelyn made large offerings of cattle to his fatherin-law, and delivered up hostages of high rank as securities for his future good behaviour. He also seems to have ceded to John the four cantreds of Perveddwlad (Brut y Tywysogion, pp. 268-9), that is, the district of the Clwyd. The 'Annals of Worcester,' p. 399, say that he surrendered to John all his lands save Snowdon and Anglesey, and a small district beyond Snowdon, probably Lleyn. This may come to very much the same thing as the statement of the Welsh writer. Northern Ceredigion was also recognised as royal domain.

Peace did not last long. In 1212 Gwenwynwyn and Maelgwn ab Rhys settled their differences with Llywelyn, and formed a confederacy to carry out a sudden attack on the English, or, as they are still called by the native chroniclers, the French (Annales Cambriæ, p. 68). A sudden assault was made on the castles built or restored by John in the previous year. Llywelyn captured Aberconway and all the other new castles in Gwynedd except Deganwy and Rhuddlan. The men of Powys seized Ralph Vipont's castle of Mathraval, and drove its owner into England. This second Welsh rising shook the power of king and marcher alike. John, who had been warned of Llywelyn's treachery by his daughter Joan, hanged eight-and-twenty Welsh hostages at Nottingham (Matt. Paris, Hist. Major, ii. 534), though some hostages still remained alive in his hands. He again prepared to invade North Wales. But he now discovered that his own nobles could not be trusted, and, instead of continuing his course towards Chester, hurried back to London. It was in vain that John sought to set up against Llywelyn, Owain ab Davydd ab Owain. The pretender could not secure possession of the three cantreds of Perveddwlad, now granted to him (Rot. Chartarum, p. 188b). His failure left Llywelyn stronger than ever. In the course of the year Llywelyn won back all his previous losses (Margam Annals, p. 32).

Llywelyn skilfully contrived to defend his