I’m delighted to welcome Anna to the blog, and she’s written a fabulous post about her historical research.
Those unruly Welsh – a post about those that would not give up
Some years ago, I published His Castilian Hawk, where the story is set against the backdrop of Edward I’s conquest of Wales in 1282-83. Some may think that after Dafydd ap Gruffyd was executed in late 1283, Wales was permanently cowed, bowing its neck abjectly before its new overlord. Not at all like in Scotland, where the Scots just wouldn’t give up, no matter what Edward I threw at them.
Hmm. I dare say those medieval Welshmen would snort—rather loudly—at the notion that they somehow lacked in bravery. Also, one must keep in mind that the English king could command vastly more men than the Welsh could. Plus, Wales was not a cohesive unit as Scotland was. No, Wales was subdivided into various little principalities, and since the death of Llewellyn Fawr in 1240 no one had really managed to unite all Wales again. Also, large chunks of Wales had been under English control for yonks, ruled over by the so called Marcher Lords.
So it was a fragmented people who were invaded by the English in 1282-83, and in some places people didn’t overly care who sat in the nearby castle. Besides, many Welshmen had no reason to risk their neck for Llywellyn ap Gruffyd or his brother as they were princes of Gwynedd, not of Wales. But that does not mean the Welsh had rolled over and given up. In fact, there’d be a sequence of rebellions—of varying size—over the years. What all those rebellions have in common is that they failed, even if the impressive Owain Glyndwr in the early 15th century came close to success.
In my latest release, Her Castilian Heart, the adventures and misfortunes that beset my fictional protagonists, Robert FitzStephan and his wife Noor, are to some extent set against the backdrop of another Welsh rebellion, that of Rhys ap Maredudd.
Rhys was a member of the royal house of Deheubarth, a principality in mid Wales. Deheubarth and Gwynedd were traditional enemies, so when Dafydd ap Gruffyd prodded his older brother into rebellion in 1282, Rhys sided with the English. Actually, already in the Anglo-Welsh wars of 1276-77, Rhys submitted to England, hoping that by doing so he’d be able to keep his lands—and regain the impressive Dinefwr Castle, the traditional seat of the princes of Deheubarth.
In the aftermath of the 1282-83 conquest, Rhys was rewarded for his loyalty with more land.
“And Dinefwr?” he asked.
King Edward likely raised an eyebrow. No way was he about to return such an impressive castle to a Welsh princeling. Instead, he forced Rhys to sign a quitclaim, effectively handing over “his” castle permanently to the English king. Rhys may not have liked this, but he seems to have swallowed his disappointment and instead focussed his attention on fortifying his remaining castle of note, Dryslwyn.
But it must have rankled, losing Dinefwr. Also, Rhys seems to have been under the impression that he’d been promised Dinefwr if he rode with the English against his fellow Welshmen. Whatever the case, in 1287, Rhys rebelled.
He had some initial success, but King Edward’s appointed regent, Edmund of Cornwall (the king himself was in Gascony) acted with speed, assembling a huge host that marched into Wales. By October, the rebellion had effectively been stamped out until all that was left was a core of determined men besieged at Dryslwyn. This was when King Edward’s interest in siege machines came in handy: soon enough several huge trebuchets began bombarding Dryslwyn’s walls with projectiles. In all that upheaval, Rhys managed to slip away.
For some weeks, things were quiet, but in mid-November Rhys popped up again, urging his fellow Welshmen to join his rebellion. A new, much smaller force was assembled to sort things out—one in which I’ve included Robert FitzStephan and his friend, Roger Mortimer. Rhys took refuge in yet another castle, this time the triangular-shaped Newydd Emlyn.
The English packed together their siege weapons, loaded them onto carts, requisitioned forty oxen and hauled them all the way up to Newydd Emlyn. Ten days of siege and the English won—but the elusive Rhys had managed to slip away. Again.
For the coming four years, he somehow managed to stay hidden. Some people think he may have escaped to Ireland, but if he had, one wonders why he came back only to be captured. In 1291, Rhys ap Maredudd was executed in York, far from the land of his birth. His son and namesake was to spend the coming fifty years in prison.
Rhys was not the last Welshman to rebel against Edward. Some years later, the fires of rebellion would yet again threaten Edward’s iron hold on this his newest dominion—but of that I will write in the next book in the series!
Thank you so much for sharing such a fascinating post. Good luck with your new book and with writing the next one.
Here’s the blurb:
Blood is not always thicker than water…
At times a common bloodline is something of a curse—or so Robert FitzStephan discovers when he realises his half-brother, Eustace de Lamont, wants to kill him.
A murderous and greedy brother isn’t Robert’s only challenge. He and his wife, Noor, also have to handle their infected relationship with a mightily displeased Queen Eleanor—all because of their mysterious little foundling whom they refuse to abandon or allow the queen to lock away.
Eustace is persistent. When Robert’s life hangs in the balance, it falls to Noor to do whatever it takes to rip them free from the toothy jaws of fate. Noor may be a woman, but weak she is not, and in her chest beats a heart as brave and ferocious as that of a lioness. But will her courage be enough to see them safe?
There is some sexual (consensual) content. Also some violence
Available on Kindle Unlimited
Universal Link : http://myBook.to/HEART
Meet the author
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.
Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!
Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com
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