Rhydderch Hael and Rhydderch Hen

There were two Rhydderchs that have been conflated. The first was Rhydderch Hael, i.e. Rhydderch the Generous of Gwynedd, who appears in BGG 8 while the second was Rhydderch Hen, i.e. Rhydderch the Old of Strathclyde, in HG 6.  ByS 18 indicates that Dyfnwal Hen, a great-grandfather, of Rhydderch Hael according to BGG 8, was a grandson of Macsen Wledig:

Gen. ByS 18 seg.
BGG 8 Pen. 268
2 St. Lleuddad
1 Dingad Tenoi
0 Nudd Hael Lleuddun Luyddog Rhydderch Hael
-1 Senyllt Tudwal Tudclyd Elufed
-2 Cedig Cedig Peredur
-3 Dyfnwal Hen Dyfnwal Hen Morhen?
-4 Ednyfed Ednyfed
-5 Macsen Wledig Macsen Wledig

Rhydderch Hael’s sword, Dyrnwyn meaning ‘White-hilt’, is the first listed of The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain.[1] The reason he was called generous was because he would give his sword to anyone who asked for it. However, it was always returned when it was realised that if it was drawn by any well-born man it would burst into flame. The Chirk Codex of the Welsh Laws states that he was one of the kings involved in the failed attempt to avenge the death of Elidir Mwynfawr.

Note, ByS 18 mentions other sons of Dingad of gen. 1 apart from St. Lleuddad. They have not been shown in the above chart. Although his father-in-law, Lleuddun of gen. 1, ruled in Edinburgh, this is a southern pedigree as indicated by the fact that the Buchedd Llewddoc Sant says Dingad was king of Bryn Buga, i.e Usk. St. Lleuddad  succeeded Cadfan as abbot of Bardsey.

Dreon Lew was the son of Nudd Hael and is mentioned in triad 31 W :

“and the Retinue of Dreon the Brave at the Dyke of Ar(f)dery(dd)”

This allows us to give a floruit for him of 573, the date of the battle of Arderydd according to the AC. His father appears in triad 2:

“Nudd the Generous, son of Senyllt”

ByA 18 mentions brothers of Rhydderch Hael, including Morgan Mwynfawr, i.e. Morgan the Wealthy. Triad 20 calls him, together with Arthur, one of the Three Red Ravagers of Britain since wherever he went neither grass nor plants grew for a period. He is said to have owned the fourth of The Thirteen Treasures of Britain. It was a chariot which would rapidly take whoever was in it wherever they wanted.

Rhydderch Hael’s father was Tudwal Tudclyd. Tudwal means ‘leader of the people’ and Tudclyd ‘defender of the people’.[2] His wife, according to Pen. 268, was Elufed and it can be seen from the above chart that they were second cousins. The Whetstone of Tudwal is the eighth of The Thirteen Treasures of Britain. While it would sharpen a brave man’s weapon, it would blunt that of a coward.

The Stanzas of the Graves tell us that Rhydderch’s grave is at Abererch, which is in Llŷn. The Cyfoesi Myrddin a Gwenddydd states that he was followed by the king Morgan Mawr ap Sadyrnin who, in turn, was followed by Urien.

The reason why the two Rhydderchs were conflated is because their fathers shared the same name and they were both descendants of Dyfnwal Hen. However, by comparing the table above with that below it can be seen their genealogies differ.

Gen. HG 6 HG 8 HG 9 HG 10 seg.
3 Morgan
2 Coleddog
1 Rhydderch Hen Urien Rheged Gwallog Morgan Fwlch
0 Tudwal Cynfarch Oer Lleenog Cyngar Brân Hen
-1 Clinoch Meirchion Gul Maeswig Gloff Dyfnwal Moelmud
-2 [Cynfelyn] Gwrwst Ledlwm [Mar] Garbanion
-3 Dyfnwal Hen [Ceneu] Ceneu [Ceneu]
-4 Coel Hen Coel Hen Coel Hen

Rhydderch was one of the kings who, according to HB 63, fought against king Hussa of Bernicia. The V. Merlini implies he fought in the battle of Arderydd. V. Kentigerni 45 indicates he died soon after the saint, probably in the year 614 and as predicted in the V. Columbae he did not die in battle.

[1] Bromwich, R., 2006, 259
[2] Bromwich, R., 2006, 508

 

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Gwyddno Garanhir

Maes Gwyddno (The plain of Gwyddno) was a lowland area protected by a number of dykes which were managed by a individual named Seithennin, possibly its king. However, one night he failed in his duty through being too drunk and the land was drowned. This area, also known as Cantre’r Gwaelod, is said to be in Cardigan Bay near Aberdyfi.[1]

The region was named after Gwyddno Garanhir (Gwyddno Long-shank). Although Bartrum maintained that he was a legendary character, I believe we can identify him as a historical figure. The following table is a composite one.

Gen. BGG 10, 11
1 Elffin
0 Gwyddno
-1 Cawrdaf
-2 Garmonion
-3 Dyfnwal Hen
-4 Ednyfed
-5 Macsen Wledig

Gen. 1 to -3 are from BGG 10, gen. -4 to -5 are from a fragment of BGG 11. Gwyddno Garanhir appears in gen. 0 and his supposedly legendary son, Elffin, in gen. 1. As explained by Wolcott the Dyfnwal Hen in this pedigree was a different individual to that in the pedigree of the kings of Strathclyde.[2]

The prose Hanes Taliesin describes how Elffin discovered the child Taliesin. Elffin and Maelgwn, the king of Gwynedd, are contemporaries in this story and this is consistent with the fact that former belonged to gen. 1 and the latter to gen. 0. Maelgwn’s son, Rhun, plays a role in the tale which suggests he and Elffin belonged to the same generation, and this is in line with the above chronology.

When the bard Taliesin was 13 years of age he visited Maelgwn Gwynedd, who we are told was Elffin’s uncle, and correctly predicted Maelgwn’s imminent death. The AC tells us Maelgwn died of the plague in 547 and so we may conclude Taliesin was born c. 534.

[1] Rhys, J., 1901, 382
[2] Ancient Wales Studies > Anwn Dynod ap Maxen Wledig