Identifying Cynan Wledig

The name Cynan Wledig appears in its Latin form as Aurelius Caninus in the De Excidio where it is listed as one of five tyrants alive at the time of Gildas. Their territories were as follows:

Dumnonia (Constantinus),
? (Aurelius Caninus),
Dyfed (Vortiporius),
Rhos (Cuneglasus),
Gwynedd (Maglocunus).

Bartrum suggests Aurelius Caninus can be identified with Cynan Garwyn of Powys, which is plausible. He adds that there is no consensus as to which kingdom he ruled. Gildas’s list follows a geographical progression which suggests Cynan ruled over an area of South Wales. He would have been of gen. 0 or 1, as were the other tyrants, suggesting that he may have been Cynan ap Casanauth Wledig of Powys, see JC20 16b at Sanan ferch Elise.

The five rulers appear in the DEB after the Ambrosius passage. It may be they inherited his kingdom as indicated by:

brenin Emrys y bumran
King Emrys of the Five Parts

[1] Cylchg LlGC XVIII, 414.
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Y Gogledd

The term Y Ogledd, the North, is taken to cover N. England and S. Scotland. The document BGG has a number of pedigrees unrelated to these areas. The obvious instance is the last one which includes Amlawdd Wledig. However, there are others like the one for Rhydderch Hael and Elffin and, therefore, I believe the term would have covered places like Gwynedd. It is claimed that the Welsh took stories from N. Britain and transferred them into Wales. This conjecture is incorrect as Y Gogledd would have included N. Wales.

Cyfoesi Myrddin a Gwenddydd ei chwaer

This poem, Dialogue between Myrddin and his sister Gwenddydd, is from the LCH. It is taking place after the battle of Arderydd of 575. It then conflates Rhydderch Hen, who may have participated in that battle, with Rhydderch Hael of Gwynedd. The dialogue refers to his victory at the ford of the river Towy. This river flows through Caerfyrddin before entering Carmarthen Bay.

BGG 8 gives no name as successor to Rhydderch, see Rhydderch Hael and Rhydderch Hen, but the poem tells us it was Morgan Mawr ap Sadyrnin. The dialogue states Gwenddoleu, who was of gen. 1, see the table below, would have been the natural successor as supreme British monarch but for his death at Ardderyd. Sadyrnin was St. Sadwrn and there is a Llansadwrn both in Carmarthenshire and in Anglesey.[1] A stone bearing his name in Latin, Saturninus, was found at the parish church in Anglesey.[2] Nash-Williams states Sadwrn Farchog was the brother of St. Illtyd.[3] Their mother was Rieingulid, daughter of Amlawdd Wledig, according to the V. Illtuti. This allows us to conclude Morgan also belonged to gen. 1. The poem goes on to say Morgan was suceeded by Urien. As he too belonged to gen. 1, it may have been that Urien replaced Morgan as leader of the British forces. This may have been the reason behind Urien’s assassination. Bartrum had difficulty reconciling this sequence of three kings and suggested the sequence was in reverse order.[4] However, this was not the case and his mistake was to assume that Rhydderch Hael and Rhydderch Hen were the same individual.

Gen. BGG 6
  HG 8
1 Gwenddoleu Nudd Cof Urien Rheged
0 Ceidio Cynfarch Oer
-1 Arthwys Meirchion Gul
-2 Mar Gwrwst Ledlwm
-3 Ceneu [Ceneu]
-4 Coel Hen Coel Hen

At this point the poem goes back a generation and begins to give the pedigree of Gwynedd, starting with Maelgwn, largely in conformity with that given in HG 1, see The king-list of Gwynedd. The Venedotian sequence ends with Anarawd ap Rhodri Mawr.

[1] Wade-Evans, A. W., 1911, 30 and 74
[2] CISP LSADW/1
[3] Nash-Williams, V. E., 1950, 63
[4] Bartrum, P. C., 2009, 555

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

 

The king list of Gwynedd

The pedigree 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 separate lines of descent, labelled HG 1a and HG 1b:

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

Although later sources show Merfyn Frych as the husband of Esyllt, a viewpoint supported by Bartrum, this earlier document is correct in stating he was her son. 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 fifth column above.

Rhun Hir married Perweur ferch 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 second column Beli ap Rhun belonged to the same generation as his supposed parents. Brut y Brenhinedd confirms that Rhun was the father of Beli. Historia Regum Britanniae wrongly asserts that Einion was the father whereas in fact Einion Yrth was a grandfather. It was Rhun ap Einion Yrth and not Rhun Hir who fled to Armorica. His daughter, Tymyr, married Hoel II who appears in Chronicon Briocense, see above table.

Both HRB and ByB correctly 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]

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 half-brother to Cadwallon Lawhir, Maelgwn’s father, through their father Einion Yrth. 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 Iago became king. As can be seen in the above table, Cadwallon ap Cadfan is correct when he tells Salomon II  in the ByB that their two fathers were two second cousins.

[1] Williams, H., 1899, 77