The king list of Gwynedd

The line of descent of the Venedotian kings is given in HG 1. However, this list poses a problem in terms of chronology until it is treated as two fragments as shown in columns two, three and five in the table below.

Gen. HG 1:1st seg. ChB HG 1: 2nd. seg. ByA 28c
13 Owain
12 Hywel D.
11 Cadell
10 Rhodri M.
9 Merfyn F. Esyllt
8 Cynan D.
7 Rhodri M.
6 Idwal I. Conobertus
5 Cadwaladr F. Alain II
4 Cadwallon Salomon II
3 Cadfan Hoel III
2 Iago Alain I (Beli m. Rhun)
1 Beli Hoel II Rhun H. Perweur
0 Rhun Hoel I Maelgwn G. Rhun R.
-1 [Einion] Budic Cadwallon L. Einion
-2 Aldwr Einion Y. Mar
-3 Salomon I Cunedda W. Ceneu
-4 Gradlon Edern Coel
-5 Conan M. Padarn B.
-6 Tegid

Note, although the manuscript states Merfyn Frych was the son of Esyllt, later sources indicate he was her husband, a viewpoint supported by Bartrum. As can be seen in the third column, the list states that Rhun was the father of Beli. This is correct but that individual was not Rhun Hir, the son of Maelgwn Gwynedd, who appears in the fifth column above.

Rhun Hir married Perweur f. Rhun Ryfeddfawr whose name appears in ByA 28c and they both belonged to gen. 1 as shown in the table. Triad 79 tells us she was one of the Three Lively Ladies of Britain. ByA 28c errs when it says Perweur was the “Mam Beli m Rhun …”. As can be seen from the third column Beli m. Rhun belonged to the same generation as his supposed parents. ByB confirms that Rhun was the father of Beli. HRB wrongly asserts that Einion was the father whereas in fact he was the grandfather. It was this Rhun and not Rhun Hir who fled to Armorica. His daughter, Tymyr, married Hoel II who appears in ChB.

Both HRB and ByB assert that Einion was Rhun’s brother whereas he was his father. This allows us to solve a 1500 year old murder mystery which is not a whodunit but a “who was it dun to”, as we know the identity of the murderer but it is unclear who the victim was. Gildas wrote of Maelgwn:

In the first years of thy youth, accompanied by soldiers of the bravest, whose countenance in battle appeared not very unlike that of young lions, didst thou not most bitterly crush thy uncle the king with sword, and spear, and fire?[1]

The Latin text uses the word “avunculus” where the above passage reads “uncle”. Strictly speaking, that term means mother’s brother. However, in this context I believe this can be linked to the fact, given in JC 23, that an Einion was not only half-brother to Cadwallon Lawhir, Maelgwn’s father, through their father Einion Yrth, but that their mothers were sisters, daughters of king Didlet.

Although HRB states Rhun escaped to Armorica after the death of Einion because he was driven out by the Saxons, it would seem that Maelgwn had a hand in it as well. After Maelgwn’s death his son successfully thwarted challenges to his kingship. However, it would seem that the rightful lineage to the throne was reestablished when Beli became king. As can be seen in the above table, Cadwallon is correct when he tells Salomon II  in the ByB that their two fathers were two second cousins.

[1] Williams, H., 1899, 77

 

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2 thoughts on “The king list of Gwynedd

  1. Pingback: The king list of Ceredigion | Arthurian Web

  2. Pingback: Cyfoesi Myrddin a Gwenddydd ei chwaer | Arthurian Web

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