Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Madog ap Maredudd

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MADOG ap MAREDUDD (d. 1160), prince of Powys, was the son of Maredudd ap Bleddyn ap Cynfyn and nephew of Iorwerth ab Bleddyn [q. v.] His father, who at his death in 1132 was lord of all Powys (Annales Cambriæ, sub anno, ‘dux Powisorum;’ Brut y Tywysogion, as printed in the Oxford edition of the ‘Red Book of Hergest,’ p. 308, ‘tegwch a diogelwch holl powys ae hamdifyn’). The son Madog, if he did not at once succeed to his father's position, doubtless attained it before long, and held it for some years. The contemporary poet, Gwalchmai, speaks of the influence of Madog as stretching from Plynlimmon to the gates of Chester, and from Bangor [Iscoed] to the extremity of Meirionydd, i.e. over all Powys (Myvyrian Archaiology, 2nd ed. p. 148); the same idea prevailed, too, as to the extent of his power when (probably at the end of the twelfth century) the story of ‘Rhonabwy's Dream’ was cast into its present form (Mabinogion, Oxford edition, p. 144). According to Powel (Historie of Cambria, ed. 1584, p. 153), on the other hand, Madog ruled only over Northern Powys, which thus got its title of Powys Fadog. Maredudd, Powel tells us, ‘had two sons, Madoc … and Gruffyth, betweene whom Powys was diuided;’ but the fact is that Gruffydd died before his father in 1128 (Annales Cambriæ, sub anno). As to the name Powys Fadog, it clearly came into existence at the same time as Powys Wenwynwyn, viz. about the beginning of the thirteenth century, when Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor [q. v.] and Gwenwynwyn [q. v.] ruled Northern and Southern Powys respectively. Madog ap Maredudd was certainly lord of Powys Wenwynwyn, for about 1149 he gave Cyfeiliog, one of its regions, to his nephews, Owain and Meurig ap Gruffydd, and in 1156 he built a stronghold in Caer Einion, which was also a region of Southern Powys (ib.; Brut y Tywysogion, pp. 316, 318).

Madog was prince of Powys during the reign of Stephen, the period during which the Welsh shook off the rigid control established by Henry I, and regained much which they had lost through the Norman conquest. Like other Welsh princes, he seems to have profited by this movement. About 1149 he rebuilt the castle at Oswestry, a spot which had not been Welsh ground for nearly a century, and which was soon recovered by the English. Madog's appearance in the district was probably directly due to the turmoil caused by the civil war, for Oswestry was part of the Fitzalans' territory, and William Fitzalan [q. v.] took active part on the side of the empress (A. N. Palmer, in Y Cymmrodor, x. 43). Rhys Cain's attempt (Cae Cyriog MS. quoted in History of Powys Fadog, i. 119–20) to represent the Fitzalans as the new-comers is discredited by its gross anachronisms.

The salient feature of Madog's career is not, however, his success against the English, but his friendship with them. During the first half of the twelfth century Gwynedd had been gradually growing at the expense of the minor northern principalities, until in Madog's time it was a formidable neighbour to Powys, conterminous with it from Machynlleth to Chester. Madog first adopted the policy, which afterwards became popular with princes of Powys, of protecting his realm by cultivating the friendship of his English neighbours. In the year in which he had fortified Oswestry, his neighbour, Owain Gwynedd [q. v.], had built a castle in Ial, always reckoned a district of Powys. The encroachment called for immediate notice, and in the following year (1150?) Madog enlisted the aid of Ralph, earl of Chester, in an attack upon the prince of Gwynedd. The battle was fought at Consillt, near Flint (Brut y Saeson in Myvyrian Archaiology, 2nd ed. p. 677), and proved a signal victory for Owain. Foiled in this first enterprise, Madog nevertheless adhered to his policy. In 1157, when Henry II made his first expedition into Wales, Madog took no part in the national resistance organised by Owain Gwynedd, but watched the conflict as a spectator, probably in virtue of a secret understanding with the king. The chronicle known as ‘Brut y Saeson’ (followed by Powel and others) says that Madog was commander of the fleet which attacked Anglesey in the course of the campaign (Myv. Arch. 2nd ed. p. 678), but this statement, in itself improbable, is made by no other authority, and probably arose through the confusion of two consecutive sentences in ‘Brut y Tywysogion.’ What the latter (and better) authority says of Madog is that ‘he chose a place for encampment between the king's host and Owain's, that he might receive the first onset the king should make’—a sarcastic description, probably, of Madog's real attitude of armed neutrality. It is not without significance that one result of the campaign was that Iorwerth the Red, Madog's brother, was enabled to destroy the obnoxious castle in Ial.

Madog died in 1160, and was buried in the church of St. Tysilio at Meifod. His son Llywelyn died almost immediately afterwards; other children who survived him longer were: Gruffydd Maelor (d. 1191), Owain Fychan (d. 1186), Elise, Owain Brogyntyn, Marred, who married Iorwerth Drwyndwn, and Gwenllian, who married the Lord Rhys (Giraldus Cambrensis, Itinerarium Kambriæ, i. 1). The genealogists add Cynwrig Efaill and Einion Efaill. The ‘Myvyrian Archaiology’ contains two contemporary poems in honour of Madog by Gwalchmai (2nd ed. pp. 147–9), and four by Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr (pp. 154–6).

[Annales Cambriæ, Rolls ed.; Brut y Tywysogion, Oxford ed. of the Red Book of Hergest; Brut y Saeson and poems in the Myvyrian Archaiology, 2nd ed.]

J. E. L.