Glendower, Owen (DNB00)
GLENDOWER, OWEN (1359?–1416?), Welsh rebel, more accurately Owain ab Gruffydd, lord of Glyndyvrdwy or Glyndwr (Rawlinson MS. B. 464, f. 42; Owen and Blakeway, Shrewsbury, i. 181), was probably born in 1359; on 3 Sept. 1386 he was between twenty-seven and twenty-eight years old (Scrope and Grosvenor Roll, i. 254, ed. Nicolas). On his father's side he traced back his descent through the princes of Powys Vadog to Bleddyn ab Cynvyn. His father's name was Gruffydd Vychan, i.e. the Little, modernised into Vaughan (Gruffydd Llwyd in Pennant, Tour in Wales, i. 311, ed. 1778). This surname was doubtless to distinguish him from his father, Owain's grandfather, whose name was also Gruffydd, and who was the son of Madog, son of Gruffydd Vychan, son of Gruffydd of Bromfield [see Gruffydd ab Madog, d. 1269] (Bridges, Princes of South Wales, pp. 250–2). The lands of Glyndyvrdwy had long been in the family. Early in Edward II's time Gruffydd ab Madog (b. 1298) was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John L'Estrange of Knockin, near Oswestry (Rot. Parl. i. 306), and the lordships and manors of Glyndyvrdwy and Sycharth were entailed on this couple and their heirs (ib. iv. 440). Glyndyvrdwy was in Edeyrnion and a part of the old shire of Merioneth. It included the valley of the Dee between Corwen and Llangollen. Sycharth, then within the Welsh marches, is now part of the parish of Llansilin, on the borders of Shropshire and the modern county of Denbigh. Owain claimed to be descended from the old line of north Welsh princes, and thence from Cadwaladr Vendigaid and the fabulous Brutus (see Owain's letter in Adam of Usk, pp. 69–71). He also claimed descent from the old houses of Deheubarth, and, through his mother Helen, from Llewelyn ab Gruffydd (Leland, Itinerary, v. 44; Pennant, i. 302; Harl. MS. 807, f. 94). It is pretty clear, however, that Llewelyn's legitimate stock died out in his daughters. Owain also possessed in South Wales the manors of Yscoed and Gwynyoneth, but his main influence was in the north. He derived a revenue of three hundred marks a year from his lands, and was thus among the few Welsh gentlemen of large estate. He had in the north two great houses, of which the chief was at Sycharth, which, by his hospitality, became known as a ‘sanctuary of bards.’ The poet Iolo Goch [q. v.] has left a glowing description of the splendour of this house (text and translation in Y Cymmrodor, v. 264–73; and another translation in Pennant, i. 305). It was called Saghern by the English (Ellis, Original Letters, 2nd ser. i. 11). Owain had another house of only less importance at Glyndyvrdwy itself (ib. i. 12). Owain had a younger brother named Tudor.
It was afterwards believed that great prodigies attended Owain's birth, and contemporaries thought that he had magic help in his struggle against the English. The story, often told, that at the time of his birth the horses in his father's stables were found standing in blood, is really told of Edmund Mortimer in all the original authorities (‘Annales Hen. IV’ in Trokelowe, p. 349; Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 254; Cont. Eulogium Historiarum, iii. 398; Monk of Evesham, p. 179; Holinshed).
Owain became a student of English law at Westminster, and was perhaps called to the bar (‘juris apprenticius’ Ann. Hen. IV, p. 333). He remained a student of ancient deeds. He subsequently became squire to the Earl of Arundel, who had large estates in North Wales and was lord of Dinas Bran, the great fortress overlooking Llangollen, not far from Owain's estates (Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 388; Capgrave, De illustribus Henricis, p. 110). In 1385 he served in the Scottish campaign of Richard II (Scrope and Grosvenor Roll, i. 254). He was summoned as a witness in the famous suit of Scrope and Grosvenor, and on 3 Sept. 1386 gave evidence at Chester in favour of Robert Grosvenor's right to wear the arms azure a bend or (ib. i. 254).
Arundel was a strong partisan of the popular party, and Owain subsequently took service with Henry of Lancaster himself, afterwards Henry IV (‘scutifer regi moderno,’ and therefore not of Richard II, as is generally said; Ann. Hen. IV, p. 333; Walsingham, ii. 246). His connections were therefore thoroughly Lancastrian and constitutional. Yet Wales in general was strongly attached to King Richard, and when Henry IV on his accession made his son Henry prince of Wales, the French metrical chronicler prophesied that the new prince would not gain the lordship without force (Archæologia, xx. 204). Tumults became common from the time of Richard's deposition. Prince Henry's council, under Henry Percy, the famous ‘Hotspur,’ had little success in restoring order.
One of Owain's strongest neighbours was Reginald, lord Grey of Ruthin [q. v.] with whose house the king's tenants in Glyndyvrdwy had long been in conflict. A dispute was now caused by Owain's claim to some land in Grey's possession. It is said by the continuator of the ‘Eulogium Historiarum’ (whose dates are often wrong) that Owain journeyed to Westminster to complain before the Hilarytide parliament in 1401 of Grey's usurpation (Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 388). But Owain was already in arms in 1400. If the story be true, it must refer to the parliament of October 1399, but there is no record of the transaction in the ‘Rolls of Parliament.’ The continuator tells us how the Bishop of St. Asaph, John Trevor, warned the parliament not to despise Owain. The lords replied that they did not care for the barefooted rogues, and Owain went home in a rage with his grievances unredressed.
Owain soon had another complaint. Grey had neglected to deliver a writ summoning Owain to the Scottish expedition, until it was so late that obedience was impossible. Grey then denounced him before the king as a traitor for not appearing (Monk of Evesham, p. 171). Owain now plundered and burnt Grey's estates, and cruelly murdered some of Grey's household (Ann. Hen. IV, p. 333). Grey was much occupied at the time with a quarrel with Gruffydd ab Davydd ab Gruffydd, ‘the strengest thief in Wales.’ The revolt spread. The rumours that King Richard was still alive kindled Welsh feeling for their deposed favourite (cf. Adam of Usk, p. 54). Owain, despite his Lancastrian connections, put himself at the head of the movement, which soon developed into a Welsh national rising against Saxon tyranny.
The rebels were from the first brilliantly successful. The clashing jurisdictions of the Prince of Wales and the marcher lords made united action among the English impossible. The castles were ill-equipped and undermanned, and, when not in Welsh hands, were in charge of Welsh deputies. The civil administration was almost entirely in native hands, and a large Welsh element had crept in even among the ‘English towns.’ Before long all North Wales was in revolt. Owain soon assumed the title of Prince of Wales, and gave himself the airs of a sovereign (Evesham, p. 171; Adam of Usk, p. 46). The Welsh scholars at Oxford and Cambridge left their books and joined in the rebellion. The Welsh labourers from England hurried off to Owain with whatever weapons they could seize (Rot. Parl. iii. 457). In Wales the farmers sold their cattle to buy arms (Ellis, 2nd ser. i. 8). Secret meetings were held everywhere, and the bards wandered about as messengers of sedition. Many castles and ‘English boroughs’ fell into Owain's hands. The great border stronghold of Shrewsbury, with its negligent town-guard and large Welsh population, was hardly beyond the range of danger (Fœdera, viii. 160).
Henry IV heard of the Welsh rising at Leicester on his way back from his expedition to Scotland. On 19 Sept. he issued from Northampton summonses to the levies of ten shires of the midlands and borders. He entered Wales a few days later, and wandered for a month throughout the north. He penetrated as far as Anglesey, where he drove out the Franciscan friars of Llanfaes, who, like their brethren in England, were keen partisans of King Richard, and therefore of Owain (Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 388, but cf. Wylie, p. 147); but as the army began to suffer from want of provisions, and Owain kept obstinately in hiding, Henry had to return to England with a few captives. On 9 Nov. he was at Westminster, where he granted all Owain's forfeited estates to his brother, John Beaufort [q. v.] earl of Somerset.
Owain for some time hid himself with only seven companions (Adam of Usk, p. 46). His bard, Iolo Goch, lamented his disappearance in impassioned strains (the Welsh in Lloyd, Hist. of Powys Fadog, i. 220; English translation in Y Cymmrodor, iv. pt. ii. 230–2). But the rebels were soon as active as ever. In January parliament pressed hard for coercive laws. The king to a great extent accepted their proposals, but still aimed at conciliation, and on 10 March, at the petition of the Prince of Wales, issued a general pardon, from which Owain, himself, and the brothers Gwilym and Rhys, sons of Tudor, were the only exceptions. The commons of Carnarvon and Merioneth humbly tendered their thanks, and offered to pay the usual taxes. Yet with the return of spring the rebels were again active. Gwilym and Rhys seized Conway Castle on Good Friday, though on 28 May they had to give it up. On 30 May Percy won a battle near Cader Idris. He believed he had now subdued the three shires of Gwynedd, but, angry at being left to bear the expense, threw up his command. Before leaving Wales he entered into suspicious dealings with Owain.
Owain's movements during this time are very obscure. He was plainly keeping himself in the background until his agents had got all things ready. A curious letter addressed to his partisan, Henry Don, explains clearly enough his general plan of operations (it is printed in Owen and Blakeway's Shrewsbury, i. 181–2). In the spring of 1401 Owain suddenly appeared in South Wales, in the ‘marches of Carmarthen,’ driven there perhaps by Percy's activity in Gwynedd, or perhaps by the desire of extending the rising to the south. On 26 May the king received the news that Owain had held a great assembly of rebels in that district, ‘with the purpose of invading England, and of destroying our English tongue’ (Ordinances of the Privy Council, ii. 55). Henry at once hurried to Worcester to prepare for a second expedition into Wales, but, finding the accounts of it exaggerated, he abandoned the invasion to attend to pressing business in London. Owain at once hurried to Powys, where on one of the first days of June he was beaten by John Charlton. But the revolt broke out in fresh districts, and Henry Percy's retirement from the post of justice of Wales was followed by new disturbances. By the autumn all Gwynedd, Ceredigion, and Powys were actively adhering to Owain, and in fresh districts the wretched English townsmen saw their houses destroyed, or lost their lives. Welshpool, the stronghold of Edward Charlton [q. v.] was the special centre of these attacks.
In October the king and the Prince of Wales again hastily invaded Gwynedd, and ravaged the country for a month, proceeding first to Bangor and Carnarvon, and thence southwards through Meirionydd to Ceredigion, where the abbey of Strata Florida suffered the fate of Llanfaes (Usk, p. 67; see, however, for the chronological difficulties of this campaign, Henry IV). The best result to Henry was the temporary submission of Ceredigion, which deserted Owain on a promise of pardon from the king (Usk, p. 68). Owain again avoided a battle, but contrived to inflict no small injury on the English, and carried off the equipage of the Prince of Wales and other nobles to the recesses of Snowdon (ib. p. 67). On 2 Nov. Owain appeared with a great host before the walls of Carnarvon, but he was driven off by the garrison, and lost three hundred men.
Owain now affected moderation. His personal relations with Hotspur led to a fresh negotiation between him and Hotspur's father, Northumberland. With Henry's consent a messenger was sent by Northumberland, through Sir Edmund Mortimer, Hotspur's brother-in-law, to Owain, who in reply spoke unctuously of his affection for Northumberland, with whom he would rather treat than with any other lord. He expressed his desire for peace, and his readiness to meet the English lords in the marches, but for the danger caused by the resentment of the English for his supposed vow to destroy the English tongue (Ord. of the Privy Council, ii. 59–60). The council asked the king to name negotiators, and to lay down the basis of a treaty with Owain (ib. i. 175). Meanwhile Owain was writing letters and instructing messengers to the king of Scots and the lords of Ireland. These letters, preserved by Adam of Usk (pp. 69–71), contain a strange medley of bad history and prophecy, with a very practical grasp of military conditions. He wrote in French to his ‘lord and cousin’ of Scotland, claiming kinship on the ground of their common descent from the mythic Brutus, and begging him to assist the fulfilment of the prophecy by a loan of heavy ‘men-at-arms.’ He made similar applications in Latin to his ‘well-beloved cousins of Ireland.’ But his messengers were captured and hanged. A knight of Cardiganshire, named Davydd ab Ievan Goch, was also sent from France to Scotland on Owain's behalf, and taken at sea by English sailors.
During the winter Owain exercised jurisdiction as sovereign over the shires of Carnarvon and Merioneth (Usk, p. 69). On 30 Jan. 1402 he cruelly ravaged the lordship of Ruthin, and carried off a great spoil of cattle to Snowdon. He significantly spared the lordship of Denbigh and the other possessions of the Earl of March. A comet seemed ominous to the panic-stricken borderers (Walsingham, ii. 248). In Lent he again approached Ruthin, tempted Reginald Grey [q. v.] to a rash pursuit, and then, suddenly turning, carried off his enemy a prisoner into Snowdon (Evesham, p. 177). He now carried on his depredations more to the south, until Sir Edmund Mortimer, Hotspur's brother-in-law, and uncle to the Earl of March, gathered together against him nearly all the levies of Herefordshire, besides his Welsh tenants of Melenydd. Mortimer attacked Owain with a small following posted on a hill near Pilleth, in the modern Radnorshire, on 22 June. The Welshmen from Melenydd turned traitors and joined Owain. The Herefordshire men were defeated, with a loss variously given as two hundred in Evesham, p. 178; four hundred in ‘Chron. Giles,’ p. 27; more than a hundred in Walshingham, ii. 250; eleven hundred in ‘Annals,’ p. 341; and eight thousand in Usk, p. 75. The corpses of the slain were disgustingly mutilated by the Welshwomen (Ann. p. 341; cf. Walsingham, ii. 250). Mortimer was taken prisoner and conducted into Snowdon, but it was already rumoured that he was not an unwilling captive (Ann. u. s.), and he was treated from the first with the respect due to a possible king of England.
A third royal expedition was now undertaken. Three great armies invaded Wales from different points in the early part of September; but the elaborate plan to shut up Owain from different sides proved a signal failure. Owain found new hiding-places. The hundred thousand men suffered grievously from the cold and constant storms. The English ravaged the land and took a great spoil of cattle; but within three weeks they had returned home beaten, of course by magic, and believing that Owain could make himself invisible at will. Reginald Grey had now to purchase his ransom at a ruinous cost. Edmund Mortimer about the end of November married Owain's daughter and formed an alliance with his conqueror. On 13 Dec. he was back in his own lordship of Melenydd, and proclaiming that Owain's object was ‘if King Richard be alive to restore him to his crown, and if not that my honoured nephew (the Earl of March), who is the right heir to the crown, shall be king of England, and that the said Owain will assert his right in Wales’ (Ellis, 2nd ser. i. 24–5).
Owain was now closely besieging the few remaining castles which still held out for King Henry. In April and May he gathered a great host together, and boasted that he would no longer shrink from battle if the English resisted his aggressions (ib. i. 11). But already in March the Prince of Wales had been appointed his father's lieutenant in Wales and the marches (Fœdera, viii. 291). About May, Prince Henry marched into the rebels' country, but was, as usual, avoided by Owain. He burnt, however, Sycharth, Owain's chief residence, and afterwards burnt Glyndyvrdwy as well, completing his destructive foray by the devastation of the whole cymmwd of Edeyrnion and parts of Powys (Ellis, 2nd ser. i. 10–13; Ordinances of the Privy Council, ii. 61–2. Mr. Wylie is plainly right in assigning Henry's report of 15 May to this year and not to 1402, as Ellis and Nicolas thought). The prince eagerly clamoured for men and money to relieve the hard-pressed garrisons of Harlech and Aberystwith (Ordinances of the Privy Council, ii. 63).
Owain now turned his attention to South Wales, the marches of which had hitherto been quite free from his inroads. The defection of Edmund Mortimer was followed by the rising of the marcher lordships included in the modern Radnorshire and Breconshire. The rebels besieged Brecon, but were forced to raise the siege by the sheriff of Herefordshire on Sunday 1 July. Owain now for the first time went south of Cardiganshire. On 2 July his arrival in the vale of Towy was followed by a general rising, even in the plain country, and the siege of Dynevor Castle, near Llandilo, by the insurgents. On 3 July Owain appeared at Llandovery, captured the castle, and encamped his host there and at Llandilo for the night. Next day it was believed that he was marching towards Brecon, but he sent only a part of his forces thither, where on 7 July (Saturday) they renewed the siege. He now received oaths of fealty from all Carmarthenshire (much smaller then than the present county), from the Welsh subjects of the marcher lordships of Kidwelly, Carnwallon, and Ys Kennin. He slept on the night of the 4th at Drysllwyn between Llandilo and Carmarthen. On the 5th he was before the gates of the capital of South Wales. On Friday 6 July he took and burnt Carmarthen town, and received the submission of the castle. He next proposed to march to Kidwelly, being safe of the adhesion of the districts of Kidwelly, Gower, and Glamorgan. He sent for a seer, Hopcyn ab Thomas of Gower, to speak with him under a truce at Carmarthen, and begged for an oracle. The seer replied that Owain would be taken in a brief time between Carmarthen and Gower, under a black banner. Thus deterred by superstition from his eastward advance, Owain gladly turned westward on the news that the lord of Carew had assembled against him the Englishry of the Pembrokeshire palatinate. On Monday 9 July Owain lodged at St. Clears, a little town ten miles west of Carmarthen, with 8,240 spears, and ravaged all the surrounding country. But he still shirked a pitched battle. All Tuesday was occupied by negotiations. That night Owain slept at the little port of Laugharne, three miles south of St. Clears. But the negotiations led to nothing, and Owain resolved to retreat to the hills to the northward. He sent seven hundred men to search the ways, and on Thursday 12 July the exploring party fell in with Lord Carew's men, and were all slain. This led Owain to retire to Carmarthen. The exceptional minuteness with which the movements of Owain can be traced during these ten days is due to accidental preservation of the letters of the panic-stricken keepers of the English castles, which have been printed in Ellis's ‘Original Letters,’ 2nd ser. (i. 13–23) and Hingeston's ‘Royal Letters’ (pp. 138–152). All South Wales had now joined the north, for the storm at last broke in Morganwg and Gwent. Usk, Caerleon, and Newport fell into Owain's hands (Adam of Usk, p. 75).
The Percies now suddenly broke into rebellion against Henry IV, having previously established relations with Owain (Hardyng, Chronicle, p. 353, ed. 1812). Owain must still have been in the south when they were in full march for Shrewsbury, hoping that he would join them (Ann. Hen. IV, p. 361). Many Welshmen now joined their ranks, but when, on 21 July, the battle of Shrewsbury crushed for a time the rebellion, Owain had not been able to arrive, or possibly, as one chronicler suggests, feared to put himself too much in the power of his allies (Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 396; cf. Tyler, Henry V, i. 164–9, 385–93). But after the battle he ravaged Herefordshire and Shropshire, paying scanty regard to the informal truces which the terror-stricken borderers had sought to conclude with him (Royal Letters, p. 155; Ord. of the Privy Council, ii. 77). He even crossed the Severn, and returned home to his mountains laden with booty (Adam of Usk, p. 82).
About the middle of September Henry IV marched from Hereford on his fourth expedition against Owain, and reached Carmarthen on 24 Sept. He found no enemy, and all he could do was to revictual and strengthen the castles and walled towns. But it was hard to get garrisons to stay in these remote and dangerous posts (Ord. of the Privy Council, i. 287), and after the king's withdrawal things became much what they had been before, except that Owain never quite got such a hold over the south as in the summer of 1403. The king had hardly left the country when a French and Breton fleet appeared in Carmarthen Bay, and spread a new panic in Kidwelly (Royal Letters, p. 162), but they were able to effect nothing against the new strength of the castles, and marched north to Gwynedd. In January 1404 Owain began with their aid his winter attack on Carnarvon, having now ‘engines, sows, and ladders of great length,’ and only a garrison of twenty-eight to hold the huge fortress against him; but he failed here also, though during the spring Harlech, with its garrison reduced to five English and sixteen Welsh, agreed to surrender to him on a certain day (Ellis, 2nd ser. i. 38). Early in 1404 Owain was again in the south and captured Cardiff, the capital of the Glamorgan palatinate, burning the whole town, except the street in which his allies the Franciscans had their convent. But he seized the books and chalices which the friars had deposited for safety in the castle, and on their remonstrating replied: ‘Why did you put your goods in the castle? If you had kept them at home, they would have been safe’ (Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 401).
The year 1404 marks the highest point of Owain's power. On 10 May, ‘in the fourth year of his reign as prince,’ Owain issued from Dolgelly letters patent in sovereign style, ‘as prince of Wales by the Grace of God,’ appointing ‘Master Griffith Young, Doctor of Decretals, our chancellor,’ and John Hanmer, his own brother-in-law, his special ambassadors to conclude a perpetual or temporary league with the French (Fœdera, viii. 356). The death of Philip of Burgundy had just brought Louis of Orleans into power, so that the enemies of Lancaster were strongly in the ascendant. The ambassadors were splendidly entertained, the French thinking that Hanmer was Owain's brother (‘Religieux de Saint-Denys,’ iii. 164, in Collection des Documents Inédits). King Charles received them in person, and, learning from Hanmer that Owain loved arms above all other things, sent him a present of a gilded helmet, cuirass, and sword (Religieux de Saint-Denys; cf. Juvenal des Ursins, p. 421, in Panthéon Littéraire). Jacques de Bourbon, count of La Marche, was appointed to treat with them, and on 14 July a treaty of alliance was solemnly concluded at Paris between Charles and the envoys of the ‘illustrious and most dread prince of Wales’ against their common foe, ‘Henry of Lancaster’ (Fœdera, viii. 365–8). A list of Welsh harbours was sent by Owain to aid the French in their landing, and on 12 Jan. 1405 he ratified the treaty in his castle of Aberystwith, now at last captured from the English. But the expedition sent to help him under the Count of La Marche proved a disgraceful failure.
Owain had never spared churches or churchmen in his forays, and had burnt to the ground the cathedrals of St. Asaph and Bangor, and reduced to beggary the highborn nuns of Usk (Adam of Usk, p. 90). But, as a necessary result of this French alliance, he now recognised the French pope, Benedict XIII, who reigned at Avignon, hoping thus to free Wales from even ecclesiastical subjection to the schismatic English, who adhered to the Roman pontiff, and perhaps also to restore the fabled archbishopric of St. David's (Pauli, Geschichte von England, v. 33). Bishop Young of Bangor, a faithful partisan of Henry, had not dared to show his face in his diocese since the outbreak of the rebellion, and was now translated to Rochester. At Owain's request a Lewis or Llewelyn Bifort was ‘provided’ with Young's bishopric and apparently consecrated by the Avignon pope. The poets boasted that ‘Rome is Owain's friend secure,’ and that Owain is ‘well begirt with arms of Rome’ (Y Cymmrodor, iv. 230, vi. 99). Bifort long remained one of Owain's most trusted partisans (Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents, i. 668–9). In 1404 John Trevor, bishop of St. Asaph, deserted Henry for Owain, though he had received livings in commendam to compensate for the losses he suffered from Owain's depredations. The Cistercian abbot of Strata Florida and the whole Franciscan order had long been Owain's active partisans. Crusading zeal against schismatics henceforth inflamed the patriotism of the Welsh.
Owain now aspired to reign over an organised state in a regular way, with his chancellor, secretaries, notaries, envoys, letters patent and close. His great and privy seals, well and artistically wrought, are figured from a French impression in ‘Archæologia,’ xxv. 616–19; Tyler's ‘Henry of Monmouth,’ i. 251, ii. frontispiece; and the ‘Archæologia Cambrensis,’ new ser. ii. 121. They represent him as an old-looking man with a forked beard. Owain now summoned a Welsh parliament to Harlech or Machynlleth, consisting of ‘four of the most sufficient persons of every cymmwd under his obedience’ (Adam of Usk, p. 83; Adam of Usk, 2nd ser. i. 43). The English watched with much anxiety the proceedings of his parliament, though Adam of Usk made merry over its absurdity. But no record of its acts has come down to us. If there is any truth in the story of Hywel Sele (Pennant, i. 324), it shows that Owain was not without his difficulties in dealing with his disorderly subjects.
So strong was Owain now, that no general expedition was attempted against him this year, though it was feared he would invade the marches (Ord. of the Privy Council, i. 223). Prince Henry defended the southern border, but Shropshire made a truce with Owain, and Edward Charlton, whose Powys tenants had mostly gone over, by similar means protected his town of Welshpool.
Early in 1405 Owain's forces were more insolent and violent than ever (ib. i. 246). It seems to have been now, if ever, that Owain, Mortimer, and Northumberland signed the famous tripartite treaty for dividing England, ‘to fulfil the prophecy’ which gave Owain as his share all Wales and the lands west of a line drawn from the Mersey to the source of the Trent and thence to the Severn, at a point just north of Worcester, after which it followed the Severn to its mouth (Ellis, 2nd ser. i. 27–8, from Sloane MS. 1776, f. 42 b; Chron. Giles, p. 39; Hall, p. 28, whose account, followed by Shakespeare, is very inaccurate; Tyler, Henry V, i. 150). Yet in March Owain suffered two damaging defeats from Prince Henry in Gwent, in one of which his son Gruffydd was taken prisoner. Later in the year his ‘chancellor’ and John Hanmer were also captured (Ann. Hen. IV, p. 399; Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 402; Ord. of the Privy Council, i. 248–50). All were sent to the Tower. Archbishop Scrope's rising for a time called away King Henry, and in July the long-expected French forces landed in Milford Haven, under the Marshal de Rieux and the Lord of Hugueville (Fœdera, viii. 406–7; Monstrelet, liv. i. ch. xv.). The French urged Owain to besiege Carmarthen, which soon fell for the second time into rebel hands, the defenders receiving Owain's letters patent allowing them to go wherever they liked (Ann. Hen. IV, p. 415; Wals. ii. 272). But the English ships were active, reinforcements were cut off, and before long knights and squires went back to France, leaving only light-armed troops and crossbowmen (Religieux de Saint-Denys, iii. 328). In September Henry IV was at Hereford, preparing for a fresh invasion of Wales. He prevented Lady Despenser escaping to her Glamorganshire tenantry, and perhaps joining Owain (Wals. Ypodigma Neustriæ, p. 412). He relieved the long-beleaguered castle of Coyty in Glamorgan (Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 408). But after losing transport and treasure in sudden floods, he was forced to go back to Worcester, having accomplished nothing (Ann. Hen. IV, p. 414; Wals. ii. 271). On 14 Nov. Francis de Court, lord of the Pembroke palatinate, bought a truce from Owain for 200l. (Fenton, Pembrokeshire, App. pp. 43–4).
Henry IV's worst misfortunes were now over, and Owain's influence was henceforward on the wane. In 1406 Prince Henry received power to restore rebel Welshmen to favour through fines and redemptions (Fœdera, viii. 436–7). On 23 April the Welsh were severely beaten, and a son of Owain slain (Ann. Hen. IV, p. 418; Wals. ii. 273). Northumberland and Bardolf now took refuge with Owain, and fresh ships were sent from France, but only a few of them reached Wales safely. In 1407 Northumberland and Bardolf left Wales for Scotland, taking Owain's two bishops with them, their motive for leaving Wales being ‘fear of King Henry’ (Liber Pluscardensis, i. 348). In the same year Edward Charlton's tenants returned to the allegiance of their lord, and received charters of pardon for their defection (Montgomeryshire Collections, iv. 325–344, Powysland Club). In the summer Prince Henry captured Aberystwith, but Owain won it back by stratagem in the autumn (Wals.. ii. 277). It was soon, however, besieged again, and, Owain failing to relieve it, it surrendered to the prince on 1 Nov. (Fœdera, viii. 419 (misdated), 497–9).
The ruin of Owain's efforts was soon assured. In 1408 Northumberland met his final defeat, and Lewis, bishop of Bangor, who was with him, was taken prisoner (Wals. ii. 278). The south now seems to have been entirely reconquered, and Henry appointed officers in such nests of rebellion as Northern Cardiganshire (Fœdera, viii. 547). Yet Owain still held out bravely in the north, and pressed the northern marchers so hard that they made private truces with him, which the king called upon them to repudiate (ib. viii. 611). In 1411 large English forces were still kept in Wales to supplement the resources of the local lords (Ord. of the Privy Council, ii. 18). But on 21 Dec. 1411 the king, at the request of parliament, issued a pardon to all his subjects except Owain and the impostor Thomas of Trumpington. Owain still, however, avoided capture. In the summer of 1412 he was again in South Wales, and David Gam [q. v.] could only be released from his clutches by a large ransom and a formal treaty (Fœdera, viii. 753). But the Welsh now seldom rose in arms (Tyler, i. 243, from Pells Rolls), and none took the trouble to hunt Owain out of his lairs.
The accession of Henry V was followed by the issue of a general pardon, 9 April 1413, from which Owain was no longer excepted. In June 1413 his wife, his daughter, Lady Mortimer, and other children and grandchildren fell into the king's hands (ib. i. 245). But the old hero still scorned to surrender. At last on 5 July 1415 Sir Gilbert Talbot was appointed to treat with Owain, and admit him to the king's grace and obedience (Fœdera, ix. 283). On 24 Feb. 1416 Talbot had fresh powers to deal with Owain's son Maredudd (ib. ix. 330). It is clear that Owain was then still alive, but this is the last that is heard of him. The English of a later generation believed that he died of sheer starvation among the mountains (Holinshed, iii. 536; Mirrour for Magistrates). Tradition speaks of his haunting the homes of his sons-in-law at Scudamore and Monington, and being buried in Monington churchyard (Pennant, i. 368). When Henry V sailed to France it was still necessary to station large bodies of troops at Cymmer and Strata Florida. Lewis Glyn Cothi's story of the sixty-two female pensioners entertained by Owain in his old age suggests that he died in peace (Gwaith, p. 401).
Owain's wife was Margaret, daughter of Sir David Hanmer of Flintshire, a justice under Richard II (Pennant, i. 307). She was, says Iolo Goch,
The best of wives.
Eminent woman of a knightly family,
Her children come in pairs,
A beautiful nest of chieftains.
Owain also had a numerous illegitimate offspring, whose genealogy is given, not perhaps on much authority, in Lloyd's ‘Hist. of Powys Fadog,’ i. 216–17, from Harl. MS. 2299. Of his sons, one, Gruffydd, was captured by the English in 1405, and was still in prison in 1411 (Ord. of the Privy Council, i. 304; Tyler, i. 245). Another was slain in 1406. A third, Maredudd, is noted as living in 1421 (Notes and Queries, 5th ser. i. 234), but he died a few years later. One daughter (Catharine) married Edmund Mortimer, another John Hanmer, her cousin (ib. i. 234). In 1433 the direct line of Owain was represented by his daughter Alice, wife of Sir John Scudamore of Ewyas, who, in consequence of a parliamentary decision, in 1431, that Owain's attainder was not to affect his heirs to entailed lands, claimed Glyndyvrdwy and Sycharth from the Earl of Somerset, then a prisoner in France (Rot. Parl. iv. 377, 440). Another daughter, Margaret, is vaguely mentioned as wife of a Herefordshire gentleman named Monington. Lewis Glyn Cothi, a bard of the next generation, addressed poems to and wrote an elegy on another daughter, Gwenllian, wife of Philip ab Rhys of Cenarth, near St. Harmon's in the modern Radnorshire (Gwaith Lewis Glyn Cothi, pp. 392–6, 400–2).[The notices of Owain in the chronicles are scanty, inexact, and confusing; the most important references are in Adam of Usk, ed. Thompson; Annals of Henry IV, published with Trokelowe in the Rolls Ser.; the Monk of Evesham's Hist. Ricardi Secundi, ed. Hearne; Walsingham's Hist. Anglicana, vol. ii., and Ypodigma Neustriæ, both in Rolls Ser.; the continuation of the Eulogium Historiarum, also in Rolls Ser.; and for French relations the Chronique du Religieux de Saint-Denys in the Collection des Documents Inédits. More copious and clearer are the documentary authorities, of which the chief in print are Ellis's Original Letters, 2nd ser. i. 1–43; Hingeston's Royal and Historical Letters of the Reign of Henry IV, pp. 35, 69–72, 136–64; Nicolas's Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council, vols. i. ii.; Rymer's Fœdera, vols. viii. ix., original edit.; and Rolls of Parliament, vol. iii. There are no Welsh chronicles, but some particulars can be gleaned from the bards, particularly Iolo Goch, Gruffydd Llwyd, and Lewis Glyn Cothi. Of modern accounts, the most lengthy from the Welsh point of view are the life in Pennant's Tour in Wales, i. 302–69 (ed. 1778), and Thomas's Memoirs of Owen Glendower. Neither is critical. Nothing practically is added to them in Morgan's Historical and Traditionary Notices of Owain Glyndwr in Archæologia Cambrensis, new ser. ii. 24–41, 113–122, or in the recently published account in Laws's Little England beyond Wales. The best modern accounts are in Pauli's Geschichte von England, vol. v.; Tyler's careful and complete Hist. of Henry V, vol. i.; and, so far as it extends, Wylie's Hist. of Henry IV, 1399–1404, which is, despite some errors in the Welsh details, by far the fullest and most satisfactory.]