The word ‘map’ in the Welsh genealogies

E. W. B. Nicholson explained the origin of the use of the word ‘ap’ in the Welsh genealogies, see The Dynasty of Cunedag and the ‘Harleian Genealogies’. Take HG 1. Notice the repetition in the names: Cein, Guorcein, Doli, Guordoli, Dumn and Gurdumn. In the manuscript the names are listed in columns preceded by the word ‘map’ as indicated by Phillimore, see The Annales Cambriae and Old-Welsh Genealogies from Harleian MS 3859. These six names appear thus:

map. Cein.
map. Guorcein.
map. doli.
map. Guordoli.
map. dumn.
map. Gurdumn.

Nicholson explains (p. 65) that the manuscript we have is a copy of an original which was of a different form. He writes:

My next point is that in their original form these were not all of them certainly ‘genealogies’ in the modern sense of the word-that, in fact, No. 1 is not a genealogy but a table of succession. Part, at least, of the original table had no map’s, but the preposition guor, ‘over’, in their place.

He then presents how the original table would have shown these names:

guor cein doli
guor doli dumn
guor dumn Amgueryt

In the later versions of the manuscript, the word ‘guor’ was replaced by the word ‘map’ at the start of each line presumably because it involved less repetition, there being no need to restate the last name in one line as the first name in the next. However, accidently the ‘guor’ in just the above three lines of the text were left in, thus generating three fictitious names: Guorcein, Guordoli and Gurdumn. Nicholson goes on to state:

In other words, we have before us what may not be a table of direct blood-descent at all, but only of succession

The above three lines of the text would thus read:

Before Cein, Doli
Before Doli, Dumn
Before Dumn, Amgueryt

showing no assertion of a son-to-father relationship.


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
[3] Nash-Williams, V. E., 1950, 63
[4] Bartrum, P. C., 2009, 555

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:

Gen. HG 1:1st fragment ChB HG 1: 2nd. fragment 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, see above table.

Both HRB and ByB incorrectly assert that Einion was Rhun’s brother whereas, in reality, 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 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 is correct when he tells Salomon II  in the ByB that their two fathers were two second cousins.

[1] Williams, H., 1899, 77