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
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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

 

Arthur and Urien

The evidence for Arthur being a genuine historical figure is very similar to that for Urien. Both appear in the Welsh pedigree lists, Arthur in HG 2 and Urien in HG 8.

Gen. HG 2 HG 8
1 Nowy Urien Rheged
0 Arthur Cynfarch Oer
-1 Pedr Meirchion Gul

That Urien became incorporated into the Arthurian cycle is not necessarily a creation of the High Medieval writers since Urien belonged to gen. 1. Taliesin was a contemporary of Arthur and Urien. It is, consequently, not suprising that he wrote praise poetry about both, in The Chair of the Sovereign and Urien of Yrechwydd respectively.

St. Kentigern, who died in 614 according to the AC, was incorrectly identified with Cyndeyrn Garthwys, a grandson of Urien. I believe Kentigern was Cyndeyrn Fendigaid of gen. 1. This assertion is given support by the V. Kentigerni 24 which describes how a king called Melconde Golganu attempted to stop Kentigern from constructing a monastery. The king is identified as Maelgwn Gwynedd who belonged to gen. 0 and so could well have interacted with Kentigern.

The year of Kentigern’s birth can be determined with reasonable certainty. He is said to have died in 612 or 603. The latter date is more likely as his death occurred on 13 January on a Sunday. He is said to have lived 185 years which is likely to be an error for 85 years, giving a birthdate of 518.

Gen. ABT 18a ByS G 18
3 Cyndeyrn Garthwys
2 Owain
1 Cyndeyrn Fendigaid Urien Rheged
0 Owain Cynfarch Oer
-1 Cyngar Meirchion Gul

This confusion can be seen in triad 1 which describes Cyndeyrn as Chief of Bishops in the North but gives him the wrong cognomen, i.e. Garthwys.[1] The error may have resulted in further misidentifications as indicated in the above table below.

Gen. Corrupted list
ByS G 18
3  Cyndeyrn Fendigaid Cyndeyrn Garthwys
2 Owain Owain
1 Urien Rheged
0 Cyngar Cynfarch Oer

However, Cyngar (Hound love) and Cynfarch (Hound horse), the name of Urien’s father, are not the same.

I believe that doubt has been created concerning Arthur’s existence because of the supernatural stories built around him by later writers. This sort of phenomenon has similarly cast doubt, in the minds of some, on the historicity of Jesus.

[1] Bromwich, R., 2006, 1