Dinas Bran

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd - The rise to power

Llywelyn ab Iorwerth's grandson had a convoluted route to the Princedom of Wales.

By 1258, he was referring to himself not as Prince of Gwynedd but as Prince of Wales.

Llywelyn ab Iorwerth and King John's illegitimate daughter Joan had one son, Dafydd. Llywelyn had another son, Gruffudd, but he was determined to ensure that his entire principality would be inherited by his legitimate son. Before his death, the pope, the king of England and the lesser Welsh rulers, recognised Dafydd as Llywelyn's heir.

On inheriting, Dafydd found that his uncle, Henry III, King of England, was prepared to accept him as Prince of Gwynedd. The king would not, however, allow him the wider role won by his father. In 1246, before the matter was fully resolved, Dafydd died childless.

Power in Gwynedd passed to the sons of Gruffudd, with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd the most prominent among them. Henry sought to limit their authority; his aim was to transform the ancient kingdoms of a distinct people into no more than ordinary lordships of the realm of England.

By 1256 Llywelyn had ousted his brothers. He undertook campaigns similar to those of his grandfather. He secured the allegiance of the Lords of Powys Fadog, seized Powys Wenwynwyn and secured that the authority in Deheubarth was in the hands of those loyal to him. He became not only the leader of Pura Wallia but also its lord.

By 1258, he was referring to himself not as Prince of Gwynedd but as Prince of Wales. To give full substance to his title he needed also to be lord of Marchia Wallie. In 1263 he led his forces into the heart of the March and was welcomed by the Welsh of Brecon, Abergavenny and upland Glamorgan.

His advance was assisted by the barons' revolt in England, whose leader, Simon de Montfort, allied with Llywelyn in 1264. Three years later, through the Treaty of Montgomery, Henry III recognised Llywelyn as Prince of Wales and Llywelyn, in turn, recognised the King of England as his suzerain.

The prince was to be overlord of the lesser Welsh rulers. He was allowed to retain a chain of lordships extending from the borders of Powys to Brecon and gain an ill-defined authority over the Welsh of upland Glamorgan and Gwent.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.