Sanan ferch Elise


HG 15 states:

[G]ripiud . teudos
caten . tres sunt
filíí nougoy .
et sanant elized .
filia illorum . mater erat
regis pouis

Bartrum correctly interprets this[1] slighlty corrupted text thus (the generation numbers are mine):

Gen. HG 15
10 Gruffudd Tewdws Cathen
9 Nowy Sanan
8 Elise

Gruffudd, Tewdws and Cathen were three sons of Nowy, the king of Powys, and Sanan daughter of Elise. JC 8 has:

Gruffud a the6dos. a cathen. meibyon y vrenhin powys. o sanant verch elisse y mam. Elisse. verch neuue hen

The full pedigree list in JC 8 is:

Gen. JC 8
14 Tewdwr
13 Griffri
12 Elise
11 Tewdwr
10 Gruffudd Tewdws Cathen
9  Vrenhin Powys Sanan
8 Elise
7 Nowy Hen
6 Tewdwr
5 Rhain
4 Cadwgon
3 Cathen
2 Ceindrech
1 Rhiwallon
0 Idwallon
-1 Llywarch
-2 Rhigeneu
-3 (Rhain Dremrudd)
-4 (Brychan I)

Comparing the two tables above, the ruler of Powys, Vrenhin Powys, in gen. 9 is clearly a reference to Nowy, Sanan’s husband. Bartrum errs when he maintains that the Nowy Hen listed in JC 8 and of gen. 7 is her husband’s name displaced :

Y Cymmrodor XLIII 57

In fact, he is shown correctly in gen. 7 and was Sanan’s grandfather. There is, however, a genuine error in the document when it states Elise was the daughter of Nowy Hen as Elise is a male name.

Note, Rhain Dremrudd and his father Brychan I are interlopers in this pedigree as the former was a contemporary of St. Cadog.

Bartrum proposed the idea that Nowy, the husband of Sanan, was the son of Madog using the lineage that appears in JC 16:

Gen.  JC 16 seg.
15 Lleucu
14 Adwent
13 Eliffer
12 Gronwy
11 Cynhaethwy
10 Ceno
9 Nowy
8 Madog
7 Sandde
6 Tudwal
5 Merin
4 Madog
3 Rhun
2 Cenelaph Dremrudd
1 Cynan
0 Casanauth Wledig Thewer
-1 Brydw
-2 Cadell Ddyrnllug
-3 Cateyrn
-4 Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu

Cadair Early Series (Aberystwyth University)

Nowy ap Madog occupies gen. 9 as does Nowy in the previous tables and I believe Bartrum’s proposal was sound. Unfortunately, however, he abandoned this idea, as can be seen by his crossing out in this chart:

He tentatively adopted Dumville’s incorrect proposal that Elise, not Nowy, was the king of Powys and that his father was Gwylog who appears in HG 27 and on the PE.[2] In this scheme Nowy, the husband of Sanan, is made the son of Tewdwr ap Rhain, see the pedigree chart below:



Britons and Anglo-Saxons in the Early Middle Ages 51

Dumville’s chronology does not work. He suggests Tewdwr ap Griffri was a signatory of a land charter dated 934. In fact the LL states this individual was Tewdwr ab Elise.

[1] Cy XLIII 53
[2] Dumville, D.N., 1993

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 three fragments as shown in the second to fourth columns in the table below.

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

As can be seen in the second 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 fourth column.

Rhun Hir married Perweur f. Rhun Ryfeddfawr whose name appears in ByA 28c and they both belonged to gen. 1 as shown in the above 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 second column Beli m. Rhun belonged to a generation one earlier than that of 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 an uncle. 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. 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]

In the Latin text the word for uncle is avunculus which strictly 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 Einion Yrth, their father, 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


Why Bartrum’s dating of the Demetian Arthur is wrong

To understand why there is a problem with the birthdate of Arthur son of Pedr given by Bartrum, i.e. 560, we need to look at a manuscript that mentions this individual. The names in the tables below are in the same order as they occur in HG 2, namely progressing from the most recent to later individuals. My allocation of the generation numbers are in the first column and they are based on the principle that the generation number of an offspring should be one greater than that of the parent. The generation number in the fourth column are those given by Bartrum. The first table shows the first segment of the Demetian pedigree. The obits shown in the 3rd column are those stated by Bartrum and originate from the AC.

Gen. HG 2: 1st seg. Obit acc. Bartrum
Gen. acc. Bartrum Birthdate acc. Bartrum
13 Owain 18 900
12 Elen 929 18
11 Llywarch 904 17
10 Hyfaidd 893 16
9 Tangwystl 15? 790
8 Owain 811 14?
7 Maredudd 796 13
6 Tewdws 12 700
5 Rhain 11 675
4 Cadwgon 11 650
3 Cathen 10 625
2 Gwlyddien 9 600
1 Nowy 9 580
0 Arthur 8 560
-1 Pedr 7 535
-2 Cyngar 6 510

Using my generation numbers, regression analysis of the five obits in the above table give a generation step-size of 28 years. On the basis of this statistical technique and on the assumption that the average life expectancy was 65 years, it follows that an estimate of Arthur’s birthdate is 531, not 560.

Using a much larger database of obits the step-size is 32 years. Indeed, Bartrum states a male generation (the period between the birth of a father and that of his child) is about 33 years whereas a female generation (the period between the birth of a mother and that of her child) is about 20 years. The vast majority of generations in my database are male ones.

The larger database gives Arthur’s birth as occuring c. 495, this being the mid-value in the range for gen. 0. The Demetian Arthur’s birthdate is in the period that one would expect for the individual around whom the Arthurian cycle was built.

Using my generation numbering, Bartum’s estimates for the birthdates from Owain to Cyngar in the above table has an average step-size of 26 years, which is far too small. To achieve a more realistic step-size, he has given a number of parents and offsprings the same generation number, viz. Elen/Owain, Cadwgon/Rhain and Nowy/Gwlyddien. This results in a more satisfactory step-size of 33 years, but at the cost of artificially giving parents and offsprings the same generation number.

The reason why Bartrum’s analysis went astray may have been because he believed that HG 2 was a single pedigree list, whereas in reality it consists of three seperate segments. In the second segment, shown below, he made use of two dateable events, namely the birth of Gwerthefyr and that of Macsen Wledig. In the Harleian document itself there names take the form Guortepir and Maxim gulecic respectively.

Gen. HG 2: 2nd seg. Obit acc. Bartrum
Gen. acc. Bartrum Birthdate acc. Bartrum
-1 Gwerthefyr 6 480
-2 Aergol Lawhir 5 460
-3 Tryffin 4 430
-4 Clodri 4? 440?
-5 Clydwyn 3 410
-6 Ednyfed 2 380
-7 Annun (Dyfed) 2 355
-8 Macsen Wledig 388 1 330
-9 Protec
-10 Protector

Gildas writing in the 540s in the DE describes Gwerthefyr, whose name takes the form Vortipor, with the words “… though thy head is now becoming grey … though the end of life is gradually drawing near …”. So, Bartrum’s birthdate for him of 480 cannot be too wrong, although, perhaps, a little on the late side. He errs when he identifies the Macsen Wledig with the Roman emperor Magnus Maximus who died in 388. This forces him to use an average generational step-size for the second segment of 21 years, which is not credible. Again, he circumvents this problem by giving Clodri/Tryffin and Dyfed/Nyfed the same generation number, resulting in a step-size of 30 years.

In this instance the name Macsen Wledig was a reference to the emperor Constantius Chlorus, who died in 306, for the following reasons. He was born in the year 250 and this date falls into the period of my gen -8. His wife was Helena. This tallies with the first part of the Mabinogion tale entitled the Dream of Macsen Wledig  in which  Macsen came to Britain and married Elen Luyddog, the daughter of Eudaf.

It will be noted that there is an anomaly in that Bartrum’s tentative birthdate given to Clodri is 10 years after that of Tryffin who Bartrum believed was his nephew.

The 3rd and last segment of HG 2 is shown below. Note, the missing names that have been inserted, i.e. Custennin and Macsen Wledig, can be seen in JC 13.

Gen. HG 2: 3rd seg.
0 Eifudd
-1 Eiludd
-2 Stater
-3 Pincr misser
-4 [Custennin]
-5 [Macsen Wledig]
-6 Constans
-7 Constantinus magnus
-8 Constantius Elen Luyddog

This segment confirms the identification of Macsen with Constantius, as his wife St. Helena has been given the cognomen of Eudaf’s daughter, namely Luyddog.

Amlawdd and Gwen

JC 7 states that Cunedda Wledig had two daughters, Tegid and Gwen, the latter being the wife of Amlawdd Wledig:

D6y verchet Cuneda Tecgygyl A Gwen g6reic Anla6d wledic.

ByA 29(13, 14) agrees with the above, adding that Gwen was the mother of Cynwal Garnhwch:

Dwy ferchet Kunedda: Tegit, Gwenn ferch Kunedda gwreig Amlwyd wledig, mam Kynwal garnhwch.

Amlawdd and Gwen’s son Cynwal Garnwch appears in CO as Kynwal Canhwch, the father of Gwen Alarch whose name means White Swan. Bartrum in WCD says Kynwal’s name appears to be the Welsh equivalent of the Ulster hero Conall Cernach. Cynwal may have been given this name as it was also that of Amlawdd’s own father.

Locating Arthur

The Demetian pedigree according to Bartrum.

The Demetian pedigree according to Bartrum. Cadair Early series (Aberystwyth University)

After fixing Arthur in time to the late 5th/ early 6th century we need to locate him geographically. That so much folklore attached to him suggests it is certain he was regarded as an exceptional leader and if he was the ruler of one of the British kingdoms he is likely to appear in one of the surviving king lists. This narrows the search down to just two individuals: Artur mac Aedan of Dalriada and Arthur map Pedr of Dyfed. However, neither men supposedly lived in the right time frame. According to the AT the former individual died in battle in 596 and, therefore, could not have been also fighting at Badon. Bartrum, the genealogist of the Welsh medieval period, dated the latter ruler to around 560. It would seem this individual too may need to be eliminated from our search. Unless, of course, this dating can be shown to be incorrect, see Why Bartrum’s dating … .