Llywelyn ap Gruffudd

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Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
Fanciful 20th-century drawing
Prince of Wales
PredecessorDafydd ap Llywelyn
SuccessorDafydd ap Gruffudd
Bornc. 1223
Gwynedd, Wales
Died11 December 1282
Cilmeri, Wales
SpouseEleanor de Montfort
IssueGwenllian ferch Llywelyn
FatherGruffudd ap Llywelyn
MotherSenana ferch Caradog

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (c. 1223 – 11 December 1282), Llywelyn II, also known as Llywelyn the Last (Welsh: Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf, lit.'Llywelyn, Our Last Leader'), was the native Prince of Wales (Latin: Princeps Walliae; Welsh: Tywysog Cymru) from 1258 until his death at Cilmeri in 1282. Llywelyn was the son of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fawr and grandson of Llywelyn the Great (Llywelyn I), and he was one of the last native and independent princes of Wales before its conquest by Edward I of England and English rule in Wales that followed, until Owain Glyndŵr held the title during the Welsh Revolt of 1400–1415.

Genealogy and early life[edit]

Llywelyn was the second of the four sons of Gruffydd, the eldest son of Llywelyn the Great, and Senana ferch Caradog,[1][2] the daughter of Caradoc ap Thomas ap Rhodri, Lord of Anglesey.[3][note 1]

The eldest was Owain Goch ap Gruffydd and Llywelyn had two younger brothers, Dafydd ap Gruffydd and Rhodri ap Gruffydd.[1][2] Llywelyn is thought to have been born around 1222 or 1223. He is first heard of holding lands in the Vale of Clwyd around 1244.

Following his grandfather's death in 1240, Llywelyn's uncle, Dafydd ap Llywelyn (who was Llywelyn the Great's eldest legitimate son), succeeded him as ruler of Gwynedd. At this time, Llywelyn went on crusade with Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III of England.[4]

Llywelyn's father, Gruffydd (who was Llywelyn's eldest son but illegitimate), and his brother, Owain, were initially kept prisoner by Dafydd, then transferred into the custody of King Henry III of England. Gruffydd died in 1244 from a fall while trying to escape from his cell at the top of the Tower of London.[5] The window from which he attempted to escape the Tower was bricked up and can still be seen to this day.[6] King Henry could no longer use Gruffydd against him, war broke out between Dafydd II and King Henry in 1245.[7] Llywelyn supported his uncle in the savage fighting that followed.[8] Owain, meanwhile, was freed by Henry III after his father's death and was given a portion of Snowdonia (Eryri) by Henry at the treaty of Woodstock in 1247.[9]

Early reign[edit]


Llywelyn and Owain came to terms with King Henry and in 1247, signed the Treaty of Woodstock at Woodstock Palace.[10] The terms they were forced to accept restricted them to the west of Conwy (Gwynedd Uwch Conwy) around Snowdonia and Anglesey, which was divided between them. The other half of Gwynedd east of Conwy known as the Perfeddwlad was taken over by King Henry.[8]

North Wales division 1247.[8][note 2]

When Dafydd ap Gruffydd came of age, King Henry accepted his homage and announced his intention to give him part of the already reduced Gwynedd. Llywelyn refused to accept this, and Owain and Dafydd formed an alliance against him. This led to the Battle of Bryn Derwin in June 1255. Llywelyn defeated Owain and Dafydd and captured them, thereby becoming the sole ruler of Gwynedd Uwch Conwy. Llywelyn now looked to expand his area of control. The population of Gwynedd Is Conwy resented English rule. This area, also known as "Perfeddwlad" (meaning 'middle land') had been given by King Henry to his son Edward and during the summer of 1256, he visited the area but failed to deal with grievances against the rule of his officers. An appeal was made to Llywelyn, who, that November, crossed the River Conwy with an army, accompanied by his brother, Dafydd, whom he had released from prison. By early December, Llywelyn controlled all of Gwynedd Is Conwy, apart from the royal castle at Dyserth, as a reward for his support and dispossessing his brother-in-law, Rhys Fychan, who supported the king. An English army led by Stephen Bauzan invaded to try to restore Rhys Fychan but was decisively defeated by Welsh forces at the Battle of Cadfan in June 1257, with Rhys having previously slipped away to make his peace with Llywelyn.[11][12]

All of Wales[edit]

Then in 1257, Llywelyn aggressively pursued his interests and gained control of lands in Gwrthrynion, driving out his cousin, the Anglo-Norman, Roger Mortimer. Then to Powys, which affected his fellow Welshman, Gwenwynwyn, and Deheubarth in South Wales, helping his kin against Norman control going as far as the Bristol channel, leaving a trail of destruction during the time of Lent. Despite liberating his fellow Welsh folk, some would return to siding with the English upon his departure. The English retaliated by immobilising a force from Scotland to Deganwy in Wales but did not cross into Conwy, which was officially Llywelyn's Welsh territory. Henry III waited for an Irish naval force to attack on land from the west to corner Llywelyn, however, his force never arrived. The acts of aggression were followed by a peace truce for 1258, of which the Marcher Lords, did not completely abide by.[13]

The leader of Deheubarth, Rhys Fychan now accepted Llywelyn as overlord, but this caused problems for Llywelyn, as Rhys's lands had already been given to Maredudd. Llywelyn restored his lands to Rhys, but the king's envoys approached Maredudd and offered him Rhys's lands if he would change sides. Maredudd paid homage to Henry in late 1257. After the betrayal, in 1259, Llywelyn jailed Maerdudd until Christmas in Criccieth Castle. Maredudd was released only for him to surrender a son as hostage, it was then Dinefwr became a vassal kingdom of Gwynedd.[14][15]

In early 1258, Llywelyn was using the title Prince of Wales,[1] first used in an agreement between Llywelyn and his supporters and the Scottish nobility associated with the Comyn family. The English Crown refused to recognise this title however,[16] and, in 1263, Llywelyn's brother, Dafydd was hostile against the Prince and submitted himself to King Henry.[17]

Then in January 1260, Llywelyn pursued his interests internally by dislodging Roger Mortimer of Buellt. This would be an act of war which would be followed by an English decree which was summoned in Oxford on August 1st. Armies assembled at Shrewsbury and Chester with the sole purpose of removing Llywelyn from power. However, the English could not come to an agreement in government over the matter, and a truce was enacted again for a further 2 years. After 2 years the English continued castle building which caused a revolt from the Welsh, who in turn requested and were assisted by Llywelyn in defending their lands in Maelienydd. After, Llywelyn continued his expansion into south Wales to the Lordship of Brecon, where he received fealty from the Welsh who too ousted their Anglo-Norman Marcher Lord Mortimer. This success brought him to the attention of the Montfort family, which would start a new era for Gwynedd and Llywelyn. The change in territory forced Edward I to return to Wales for the first time since 1254.[18]

On 12 December 1263, in the commote of Ystumanner, Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn (Mathrafal, Powys Wenwynwyn) did homage and swore fealty to Llywelyn. In return he was made a vassal lord and the lands taken from him by Llywelyn about six years earlier were restored to him.[1][19]

Supremacy in Wales[edit]

Coloured map depicting Wales (adjacent to the Kingdom of England, coloured dark orange) following the Treaty of Montgomery of 1267. Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's principality, is green; the territories conquered by Llywelyn are purple; the territories of Llywelyn's vassals are blue; the lordships of the Marcher barons are shown as light orange; and the lordships of the King of England are shown in yellow.
Wales after the Treaty of Montgomery of 1267:
  Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's principality
  Territories conquered by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
  Territories of Llywelyn's vassals
  Lordships of the Marcher barons
  Lordships of the King of England
  Kingdom of England

Llywelyn's interests were now not solely excluded to Wales. In England, Simon de Montfort (the Younger) defeated the king's supporters at the Battle of Lewes in 1264 (Second Barons' War), capturing the king and Lord Edward. Llywelyn began negotiations with de Montfort, and in 1265, offered him 25,000 marks in exchange for a permanent peace, 5,000 of which immediately and then 3,000 a year thereafter. The Treaty of Pipton, 22 June 1265, established an alliance between Llywelyn and de Montfort, although Pope Clement IV warned Llywelyn against allying himself with the excommunicated Montfort. As well as the rule of the whole Principality, Llywelyn was offered the castles of Maud, Hawarden, Ellesmere, and Montgomery.[1][20] Thus, Llywelyn's right to rule the Principality of Wales as the hereditary Prince of Wales would be acknowledged. De Montfort was to die at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, a battle in which Llywelyn took no part.[20][21] After Simon de Montfort's death, Llywelyn launched a campaign in order to rapidly gain a bargaining position before King Henry had fully recovered. In 1265, routed the combined armies of Hamo le Strange and Maurice FitzGerald in north Wales.[20] Llywelyn then moved on to Montgomery, and routed Roger Mortimer's army. With these victories and the backing of the papal legate,[22] Ottobuono, Llywelyn opened negotiations with the king and was eventually recognised as Prince of Wales by King Henry in the Treaty of Montgomery in 1267.[1][23] All of the Welsh Prince submitted to Llywelyn II except for Maredudd ap Rhys Gryg. For this recognition he would have to pay the English crown 24,000 marks a year in installments, this agreement was confirmed by the papacy in Rome.[23] If he wished, Llywelyn could purchase the homage of the one outstanding native prince - Maredudd ap Rhys of Deheubarth - for 5,000 marks. However, Llywelyn's territorial ambitions gradually made him unpopular with some minor Welsh leaders, particularly the Princes of South Wales.

The Treaty of Montgomery marked the high point of Llywelyn's power. Problems began arising soon afterward, initially a dispute with Gilbert de Clare concerning the allegiance of a Welsh nobleman holding lands in Glamorgan.[23] Gilbert built Caerphilly Castle in response to this.[24] King Henry sent a bishop to take possession of the castle while the dispute was resolved but when Gilbert regained the castle by trickery, the king was unable to do anything about it.

Following the death of King Henry in late 1272, with the new King Edward I of England away from the kingdom on a crusade,[23] the rule fell to three men. One of them, Roger Mortimer was one of Llywelyn's rivals in the marches. When Humphrey de Bohun tried to take back Brycheiniog, which was granted to Llywelyn by the Treaty of Montgomery, Mortimer supported de Bohun.[citation needed] Llywelyn was also finding it difficult to raise the annual sums required under the terms of this treaty and ceased making payments.[20]

In early 1274, there was a plot by Llywelyn's brother, Dafydd,[25] and Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn of Powys Wenwynwyn and his son, Owain, to kill Llywelyn.[17] Dafydd was with Llywelyn at the time, and it was arranged that Owain would come with armed men on 2 February to carry out the assassination; however, he was prevented by a snowstorm. Llywelyn did not discover the full details of the plot until Owain confessed to the Bishop of Bangor. He said that the intention had been to make Dafydd prince of Gwynedd and that Dafydd would reward Gruffydd with lands. Dafydd and Gruffydd fled to England where they were maintained by the king and carried out raids on Llywelyn's lands, increasing Llywelyn's resentment. When Edward called Llywelyn to Chester in 1275 to pay homage, Llywelyn refused to attend.

Llywelyn also made an enemy of King Edward by continuing to ally himself with the family of Simon de Montfort, even though their power was now greatly reduced. Llywelyn sought to marry Eleanor de Montfort, born c. 1258, Simon de Montfort's daughter. They were married by proxy in 1275, but King Edward took exception to the marriage, in part because Eleanor was his first cousin: her mother was Eleanor of England, daughter of King John and princess of the House of Plantagenet. When Eleanor sailed from France to meet Llywelyn, Edward hired men to seize her ship and she was imprisoned at Windsor Castle until Llywelyn made certain concessions.[1][26][27][23]

Treaty of Aberconwy[edit]

Gwynedd c. 1277.[note 3]

In 1276, Edward declared Llywelyn a rebel and in 1277, gathered an enormous army to march against him.[23] Edward's intention was to disinherit Llywelyn completely and take over Gwynedd Is Conwy himself. He was considering two options for Gwynedd Uwch Conwy: either to divide it between Llywelyn's brothers, Dafydd and Owain or to annex Anglesey and divide only the mainland between the two brothers. Edward was supported by Dafydd ap Gruffydd and Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. Many of the lesser Welsh princes who had supported Llywelyn had hastened to make peace with Edward. By the summer of 1277, Edward's forces had left from Chester to reach the River Conwy and encamped at Deganwy,[citation needed] while another force had captured Anglesey and took possession of the harvest there. This deprived Llywelyn and his men of food, forcing them to seek terms. The attack came from all directions from east of the border, Henry da Lacy attacked from Shrewsbury and Montgomeryshire, Roger Mortimer to Builth and Gwenwynwyn returned to take back Cyfeiliog and other parts of Powys. The lack of provisions forced Llywelyn into hiding, but the Welsh did see minor successes against the English.[1][28]

Following the battles, the result was the Treaty of Aberconwy, signed by Llywelyn on the 9th of November 1277. The outcome and peace accord guaranteed the return of lands to Llywelyn, however at a price. He regained Anglesey and parts of Snowdonia as his Kingdom of Gwynedd ruled as the Prince of Wales with the homage of five lords. He would have to pay a fine of 50,000 marks for the incident and would forgo his share of the rent of Anglesey to the crown. Whilst, the Llyn Peninsula was given to his brother Owain who was released from jail in 1254. Then the Perfeddwlad in Gwynedd was given to Dafydd ap Gruffydd,[25][29] with a promise that if Llywelyn died without an heir, he would be given a share of Gwynedd Uwch Conwy instead.

English parliament; left to right:- Alexander III of Scotland, Edward I of England, Llywelyn II Prince of Wales.[29]

With the peace accord in place, Llywelyn went to London and Parliament for the Christmas of 1277 and paid homage to the King of England. Llywelyn met Edward, and Eleanor with the royal family at Worcester; after Llywelyn agreed to Edward's demands, Edward gave them permission to be married at the door of Worcester Cathedral on the 13th of October 1278. It was a minor ceremony attended by the Kings of Scotland and England, the Earl of Lancaster. Eleanor was to die in childbirth on the 19th of June, 1282 after she gave birth to a daughter named Gwenllian.[26][1][29] A stained glass window exists to this day depicting the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Eleanor. By all accounts, the marriage was a genuine love match; Llywelyn is not known to have fathered any illegitimate children, which is extremely unusual for the Welsh royalty. (In medieval Wales, illegitimate children were as entitled to their father's property as legitimate children.)

Llywelyn exacted peace for several years, however, the English continued to pursue an Anglicisation policy in Wales. In the North East of Wales, the four cantrefs of the Court of Chester were brought under power violently. Whilst in the South West in Cardiganshire (Ceredigion) and Carmarthenshire the same policy was enacted by local sheriffs. The rough policy forced the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Peckham to attempt to bring harmony between the Church of England and the Church of Wales. In 1280, Peckham met with Llywelyn to make an agreement on the changes. However, Llywelyn's intentions were distracted, and claimed the truce was broken by his fellow kin, Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn. The archbishop reminded Llywelyn that his grievance would not be heard, as Llywelyn's terms of Cyfraith Hywel (Welsh law code) were unreasonable in a contemporary setting. However, Llywelyn reconciled with his brother, Dafydd III, and they listened to the grievances of the cantrefs in Chester and once more secretly plotted a revolt together, this time, the forces of Wales were united against the English.[30]

Last campaign and death[edit]

The death of Llywelyn

By early 1282, many of the lesser princes who had supported Edward against Llywelyn in 1277 were becoming disillusioned with the exactions of the royal officers.[citation needed] On Palm Sunday that year, Dafydd ap Gruffydd attacked the English at Hawarden Castle and then laid siege to Rhuddlan. Meanwhile, the revolt quickly spread to other parts of Wales, with Aberystwyth castle captured and burnt by Maredudd ap Rhys (heir of Prince of South Wales/Deheubarth) and rebellion in South Wales,[30] also inspired by Dafydd according to the annals, where Carreg Cennen Castle was captured. Llywelyn, according to a letter he sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury John Peckham, was not involved in the planning of the revolt. He felt obliged, however, to support his brother and a war began for which the Welsh were ill-prepared.

Events followed a similar pattern to 1277, with Edward's forces capturing Gwynedd Is Conwy, Anglesey and taking the harvest. The English force occupying Anglesey tried to cross to the mainland on a bridge of boats, but failed and was defeated in the Battle of Moel-y-don. The Archbishop of Canterbury tried mediating between Llywelyn and Edward, and Llywelyn was offered a large estate in England if he would surrender Wales to Edward, while Dafydd was to go on crusade and not return without the king's permission.[4] In an emotional reply, which has been compared to the Declaration of Arbroath, Llywelyn said he would not abandon the people whom his ancestors had protected since "the days of Kamber son of Brutus" and rejected the offer.

Llywelyn now left Dafydd to lead the defence of Gwynedd and took a force south, trying to rally support in mid and south Wales and open up an important second front. On 11 December at the Battle of Orewin Bridge at Builth Wells, he was killed while separated from his army. The exact circumstances are unclear and there are two conflicting accounts of his death. Both accounts agree that Llywelyn was tricked into leaving the bulk of his army and was then attacked and killed. The first account says that Llywelyn and his chief minister approached the forces of Edmund Mortimer and Hugh Le Strange after crossing a bridge. They then heard the sound of battle as the main body of his army was met in battle by the forces of Roger Despenser and Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. Llywelyn turned to rejoin his forces and was pursued by a lone lancer who struck him down. It was not until some time later that an English knight recognised the body as that of the prince. This version of events was written in the north of England some fifty years later and has suspicious similarities with details about the Battle of Stirling Bridge in Scotland.

An alternative version of events written in the east of England by monks in contact with Llywelyn's exiled daughter, Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, and niece, Gwladys ferch Dafydd, states that Llywelyn, at the front of his army, approached the combined forces of Edmund and Roger Mortimer, Hugo Le Strange, and Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn on the promise that he would receive their homage. This was a deception. His army was immediately engaged in fierce battle during which a significant section of it was routed, causing Llywelyn and his eighteen retainers to become separated. At around dusk, Llywelyn and a small group of his retainers (which included clergy) were ambushed and chased into a wood at Aberedw. Llywelyn was surrounded and struck down. As he lay dying, he asked for a priest and gave away his identity. He was then killed and his head hewn from his body. His person was searched and various items recovered, including a list of "conspirators", which may well have been faked, and his privy seal.

The Llywelyn Monument at Cilmeri near Builth Wells

If the king wishes to have the copy [of the list] found in the breeches of Llywelyn, he can have it from Edmund Mortimer, who has custody of it and also of Llywelyn’s privy seal and certain other things found in the same place.

— Archbishop Peckham, in his first letter to Robert Bishop of Bath and Wells, 17 December 1282 (Lambeth Palace Archives)[31]

The privy seal of Llywelyn the Last, his wife Eleanor and his brother Dafydd are thought to have been melted down by the English after finding them upon their bodies to make a chalice in 1284.[32]

There are legends surrounding the fate of Llywelyn's severed head. It is known that it was sent to Edward at Rhuddlan and after being shown to the English troops based in Anglesey, Edward sent the head on to London. In London, it was set up in the city pillory for a day, and crowned with ivy (i.e. to show he was a "king" of Outlaws and in mockery of the ancient Welsh prophecy, which said that a Welshman would be crowned in London as king of the whole of Britain). Then it was carried by a horseman on the point of his lance to the Tower of London and set up over the gate. It was still on the Tower of London 15 years later.[31]

The last resting place of Llywelyn's body is not known for certain; however, it has always been tradition that it was interred at the Cistercian Abbey at Abbeycwmhir. On 28 December 1282, Archbishop Peckham wrote a letter to the Archdeacon of Brecon at Brecon Priory, in order to

... inquire and clarify if the body of Llywelyn has been buried in the church of Cwmhir, and he was bound to clarify the latter before the feast of Epiphany, because he had another mandate on this matter, and ought to have certified the lord Archbishop before Christmas, and has not done so.[31]

There is further supporting evidence for this hypothesis in the Chronicle of Florence of Worcester:

Aerial view of the ruined abbey of Cwm Hir

As for the body of the Prince, his mangled trunk, it was interred in the Abbey of Cwm Hir, belonging to the Cistercian Order.[31]

Another theory is that his body was transferred to Llanrumney Hall in Cardiff.[33]

The poet Gruffudd ab yr Ynad Coch wrote in an elegy on Llywelyn:

Do you not see the path of the wind and the rain?
Do you not see the oak trees in turmoil?

Cold my heart in a fearful breast
For the king, the oaken door of Aberffraw

There is an enigmatic reference in the Welsh annals Brut y Tywysogion, "… and then Llywelyn was betrayed in the belfry at Bangor by his own men". No further explanation is given.


With the loss of Llywelyn, Welsh morale and the will to resist diminished. Dafydd was Llywelyn's named successor. He carried on the struggle for several months, but in June 1283 was captured in the uplands above Abergwyngregyn at Bera Mountain together with his family. He was brought before Edward, then taken to Shrewsbury where a special session of Parliament condemned him to death. He was dragged through the streets, hanged, drawn and quartered.

After the final defeat of 1283, Gwynedd was stripped of all royal insignia, relics, and regalia. Edward took particular delight in appropriating the royal home of the Gwynedd dynasty. In August 1284, he set up his court at Abergwyngregyn, Gwynedd. With equal deliberateness, he removed all the insignia of majesty from Gwynedd; a coronet was solemnly presented to the shrine of St. Edward at Westminster; the matrices of the seals of Llywelyn, of his wife, and of his brother Dafydd were melted down to make a chalice which was given by the king to Vale Royal Abbey where it remained until the dissolution of that institution in 1538, after which it came into the possession of the family of the final abbot.[34] The most precious religious relic in Gwynedd, the fragment of the True Cross known as Cross of Neith, was paraded through London in May 1285 in a solemn procession on foot led by the king, the queen, the archbishop of Canterbury and fourteen bishops, and the magnates of the realm. Edward was thereby appropriating the historical and religious regalia of the house of Gwynedd and placarding to the world the extinction of its dynasty and the annexation of the principality to his Crown. Commenting on this a contemporary chronicler is said to have declared "and then all Wales was cast to the ground."[35]

Most of Llywelyn's relatives ended their lives in captivity with the notable exceptions of his younger brother Rhodri ap Gruffydd, who had long since sold his claim to the crown and endeavoured to keep a very low profile, and a distant cousin, Madog ap Llywelyn, who in 1294 led a revolt and briefly claimed the title Prince of Wales. Llywelyn and Eleanor's baby daughter Gwenllian of Wales was captured by Edward's troops in 1283. She was interned at Sempringham Priory in England for the rest of her life, becoming a nun in 1317 and dying without issue in 1337, probably knowing little of her heritage and speaking none of her language.

Dafydd's two surviving sons were captured and incarcerated at Bristol Gaol, where they eventually died many years later. Llywelyn's elder brother Owain Goch disappears from the record in 1282. Llywelyn's surviving brother Rhodri (who had been exiled from Wales since 1272) survived and held manors in Gloucestershire, Cheshire, Surrey, and Powys and died around 1315. His grandson, Owain Lawgoch, later claimed the title Prince of Wales.

Family tree[edit]

Llywelyn the Great
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
Dafydd ap Llywelyn
Owain Goch ap Gruffydd
d. 1282
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd
Dafydd ap Gruffydd
Rhodri ap Gruffydd
Gwenllian of Wales
Llywelyn ap Dafydd
Owain ap Dafydd
1275–1287–c. 1325
Tomas ap Rhodri

In popular culture[edit]

The Llywelyn mural in Builth Wells - geograph.org.uk - 2947935.jpg
Sculpture of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd by Henry Alfred Pegram, Cardiff City Hall

The life of Llywelyn the Last is the subject of Edith Pargeter's Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet: 'Sunrise in the West' (1974); 'The Dragon at Noonday' (1975); 'The Hounds of Sunset' (1976); and 'Afterglow and Nightfall' (1977).

The 1982 Bardic Chair at the National Eisteddfod of Wales was awarded to Gerallt Lloyd Owen for his awdl Cilmeri, which Hywel Teifi Edwards has called the only 20th-century awdl, that matches T. Gwynn Jones' 1902 masterpiece Ymadawiad Arthur ("The Passing of Arthur"). Owen's Cilmeri reimagines the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in battle near the village of the same name on 11 December 1282, while leading his doomed uprising against the occupation of Wales by King Edward I of England. Owen's poem depicts the Prince as a tragic hero and invests his fall with an anguish unmatched since Gruffudd ab yr Ynad Coch wrote his famous lament for the Prince immediately following his death. Owen also, according to Edwards, encapsulates in the Prince's death the Welsh people's continuing "battle for national survival."[36]

The lives of Llywelyn Fawr, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and Dafydd ap Gruffydd are the subject of Sharon Kay Penman's "Welsh Trilogy": Here be Dragons (1985), Falls the Shadow (1988) and The Reckoning (1991).

An alternate history/time travel science fiction series, After Cilmeri by Sarah Woodbury, explores what might have happened if Llywelyn had survived the ambush at Cilmeri, and had a son and assistance from people from the future.

Llywelyn the Last is the subject of the New Riders of the Purple Sage song "Llewellyn". The song focuses on the Conquest of Wales by Edward I, but specifically on the Campaign of 1282–83. In the song, the band claims "In September, Edward [Edward I] moved up to the baird/ His forces stronger every day/ Llewellyn then turned southward bound/ His forces lay upon the ground." It also claims that the message of Llywelyn's death came "soon thereafter."

Llywelyn is a minor character in Jean Plaidy's novel Edward Longshanks, the seventh novel of the Plantagenet Saga series.

Bertrice Small includes Llywelyn's life in her book, A Memory of Love, which centres on the fictional life of one of his illegitimate children, Rhonwyn.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to several non-contemporary Welsh genealogical tracts, the mother of Llywelyn was Rhanullt, daughter of Rǫgnvaldr Guðrøðarson, King of the Isles. If correct, these sources could indicate that Llywelyn's father married a daughter of Rǫgnvaldr in about 1220. Contemporary sources, however, show that Llywelyn's mother was Senana.
  2. ^ Division of Gwynedd in 1247 following the succession of the brothers Owain (whose lands are shown in dark green) and Llywelyn (light green) ap Gruffydd. The Commote of Cymydmaen (gold) was granted to Dafydd ap Gruffydd by Owain when he reached majority in 1252 (Source: J. Beverley Smith)
  3. ^ The division of Gwynedd following the Treaty of Aberconwy in 1277. Llywelyn continued to rule west of the River Conwy (indicated in green). The Perfeddwlad, east of the Conwy, was divided between Dafydd ap Gruffydd (shown in gold) and areas ceded forever to the English Crown (shown in red).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i (Pierce 1959)
  2. ^ a b (Tout 1893, p. 14)
  3. ^ Colin A. Gresham (1973). Eifionydd: a Study in Landownership from the Medieval Period to the Present Day. University of Wales Press. p. 345. ISBN 978-0-7083-0435-8.
  4. ^ a b Hurlock, Kathryn (2011). Wales and the Crusades, c. 1095-1291. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. pp. 111–112, 193–199. ISBN 978-0708324271.
  5. ^ Wynford Vaughan-Thomas (1985). Wales, a History. M. Joseph. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7181-2468-7.
  6. ^ "The Last Prince of Wales: The Death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd". historyhit.com. 12 June 2023. Retrieved 28 November 2023.
  7. ^ "Dafydd ap Llywelyn (died 1246), prince". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales.
  8. ^ a b c (Turvey 2010, p. 99)
  9. ^ "Owain ap Gruffydd, or Owain Goch, (fl. 1260), a prince of Gwynedd". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales.
  10. ^ Davies, John History of Wales p.140
  11. ^ Lloyd, J.E. A history of Wales pp. 720-721
  12. ^ Turvey 2010, pp. 99–100.
  13. ^ Tout 1893, pp. 14–15.
  14. ^ Turvey 2010, p. 100.
  15. ^ Tout 1893, p. 15.
  16. ^ Moore, D. The Welsh Wars of Independence, Stroud 2005, p. 135
  17. ^ a b "Dafydd (David) ap Gruffydd (died 1283), prince of Gwynedd". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd at Wikimedia Commons

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
Born: 1223 Died: 11 December 1282
Regnal titles
Preceded by Prince of Wales
Title next held by
Edward Plantagenet
Prince of Gwynedd
Principality abolished
Prince of Gwynedd
Succeeded by