Welsh Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd is this weeks Monarch, so what makes him so interesting?
1- Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was born the second son of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth , Prince of Gwynedd, and Senana Ferch Caradog and is the last sovereign prince of Wales before King Edward III of England conquered the country. His father died in 1244 whilst trying to escape through the window of his cell in the Tower of London where he was being held prisoner with Llywelyn’s older brother Owain.
2- Although originally married to Lady Eleanor de Montford, first cousin to King Edward 1st of England, by proxy it is said that the marriage was one of love with the King of England eventually giving his consent to the couple to be married in Worcester Cathedral. Llywelyn had no illegitimate children outside of the marriage, something considered an oddity for medieval Wales.
3-He had a single heir in the form of his daughter, Princess Gwenllian of Wales. By the age of one both the child’s parents were dead and she was banished to Sempringham priory in Lincolnshire for the rest of her life. She never learnt who she truly was nor saw any of her native homeland again.
4-The Prince of Wales was deeply opposed to King Edward 1st of England, and often went against the kings wishes. This put him deeply out of favour with the King Edward and saw Llywelyn having to fight hard to keep what land and titles he had. King Edward would eventually label the prince a rebel.
5- While the Treaty of Montgomery in 1267 forced King Henry III of England to acknowledge Llywelyn as Prince of Wales, the Prince would lose a lot of the territory granted to him at this time ten years later with the Treaty of Aberconwy and King Edward I.
6-As is usual with most medieval royal families, Llywelyn’s brother, Dafydd, attempted to assassinate him at least once. However, when Dafydd, started a riot against the English by burning King Edward’s castles to the ground and placing others under siege, Llywelyn felt he had no choice but to support his brother in what quickly became a war the Welsh were terribly under prepared for.
7- Supporting his brother in the riots turned war was the Prince of Wales’s final act. After going to meet the King of England and leaving his troops behind Llywelyn discovered the meeting was a trap designed to separate the men from the prince so all could be
slaughtered. The prince who was only wearing a tunic and no armour, was pursued by a knight, possibly one named Stephen de Frankton, and lanced. Upon discovering who he’d killed de Frankton beheaded the body and sent the head to the King before it was sent on to London to be displayed in the city pillory for 24 hours. There it was crowned with Ivy in mockery of the Welsh prophecy that claimed a Welshman would be crowned King in London and become king of all Britain. The Ivy also symbolised the Prince as King of Outlaws. After this the head was carried on a lance to the Tower of London where it was displayed over the gate and remained on display for the next 15 years. Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s body was mangled and the items on his person pilfered (his privy seal and a supposed list of allies in the riots were among these items). It is believed that his body may be buried in the Cistercian Abbey at Abbey cwmhir, or at Llanrumney Hall in Cardiff, but nobody knows for certain if it is in either of these places.
Side Note– Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s brother, Dafydd, was caught by the English several months after his brother’s death and was condemned to death in a special parliament held at Shrewsbury. He was hung, drawn and quartered on October 3 1283. He is the first person to have been charged with what from then on would be called High Treason against the King, and the first person of status in history to have been hung, drawn, and quartered.