Custennin ap Cadwr

Custennin is the first ‘tyrant’ mentioned by Gildas. He was a nephew of Arthur as indicated by a number of sources[1]:

1. The Chronicle of John Hardyng:
“To Constantyne, duke Cader sonne on hye, / his neuewe was, for Cader was his brother, / As well was knowen they had but one mother.”[2]

2. Brut y Brenhinedd p. 182v:
“… i nai ap i vrawd kanis mab oedd y kadwr hwnnw i wrlais iarll keirnyw o eigr verch amlawd wledig mam arthur.”
“… his nephew, his brother’s son, for that Cador was son to Gorlois Earl of Cornwall, by Igerne, Arthur’s mother, daughter of Prince Amlawd.”[3]
as shown in the following extract from the manuscript:

Black Book of Basingwerk, ms. 7006, 182v, NLW.

3. ByA 32:
“Kustenin ap Kadwr ap Gwrlais iarll Kemyw nai ap brawd vnvam ac Arthur.”[4]

It was because he was Arthur’s closest surviving relative that he inherited the crown of Dumnonia. His pedigree appears in Harl. 2414 and Llyfr Baglan. The former is shown below where the names appear as in the manuscript.

Gen. Harl. 2414b Harl. 2414c Harl. 2414d
2 Bledrys
1 Kystennin
0 Petrawg Kador
-1 Klemens Gwrloys
-2 Sartogys Selor
-3 Pandwlff Mor (m. Sglepiado[s])
-4 Gerdan Owen
-5 Maxen Wledig

Note, Harl. 2414b is a continuation of Harl. 2414d. Harl. 2414c had been inserted in between as Gerdan and Owen were both offsprings of Maxen. Gerdan is probably Gratiana, daughter of Macsen Wledig, who according to Harl. 1974 30 and 31 married Tudwal ap Turmwr.

[1] Bartrum, P.C., 2009, 96.
[2] Grafton, R., Ellis, H., 1812, 146.
[3] Parry, J.J., 1937, 182b.
[4] Bartrum, P.C., 1966, 94.

Campus Elleti

HB 41 refers to a site called Campus Elleti:

“As they explored all the provinces they came to the plain of Elled in the country called Glywysing.”

where the envoys found what they were searching for, a child without a father. His name was “Ambrosius”, that is “Embreis Guletic”. The answer to the question of who the plain was named after can be found in JC 4 which consists of three parts:

Gen. JC 4a
JC 4b JC 4c seg.
1 Cadog
0 Gwynllyw
-1 Glywys
-2 Solor
-3 Nor
-4 Owain Finddu Constantinus Owain Finddu
-5 Macsen Wledig Magnus Maximus Macsen Wledig Ceindrech
-6 Maximianus Rheiden
-7 Constantinus Magnus Eledi
-8 Cynan Constantius Chlorus Elen Luyddog Morddu
-9 Eudaf Hen Meirchion

JC 4c mentions the individual, Eledi ap Morddu, as a grandfather of Ceindrech, a wife of Macsen Wledig and mother of Owain Finddu. JC 4a shows Glywys, the eponym of Glywysing, as a descendant of Owain.

The Liber Landavensis mentions the name “Elleti” and the place is located near “Llansanwyr”, that is Llansannor.[1] It may be significant that the village is less than 3 miles distant from Llanillid. There was a chapel dedicated to St. Ilid on Tintagel island.

[1] Davies, W., 1979, 98.

Aeddan Fradog

DSB 12(12) tells us Lluan ferch Brychan was the mother of Aeddan Fradog:

Gen. DSB 12(12) PB 3i CB 15(12)
2 Gafran
1 Aeddan Fradog Aeddan Fradog Aidan Fradog Aeddan Fradog
0 Lluan  Lluan Gafran Fradog Lluan Gafran Fradog Dyfnwal
-1 Brychan II Brychan II Cynfelyn
-2 Garmonion
-3 Dyfnwal Hen
-4 Ednyfed
-5 Macsen Wledig

The PB 3i gives the same information with the added detail that Lluan’s husband was Gafran. CB 15(12) reads:

“lluan mat Aidan Grutauc mat gafran vradavc”[1]

The second “mat” (mater) should probably have been “filius”. This indicates Gafran had the same epithet as his son.

Triad 29 mentions the War-Band of Gafran ab Aeddan as being one of the Three Faithful War-Bands. and BGG G11 provides his ancestry back to Macsen Wledig. Note, this Gafran is not Gafran Fradog, the husband of Lluan.

Some versions of triad 54 speak of a costly ravaging by Aeddan Fradog at the court of Rhydderch Hael of gen. 0. The reference to this incident occurring at Alcud suggests a confusion with Rhydderch Hen. The poem Peiryan Vaban (Commanding Youth) refers to antagonism between these two kings:

“o gyfrang ryderch ac aedan clotleu”
“From the encounter of Rhydderch and renowned Aeddan”

[1] Cy 19, 30
[2] Ancient Wales Studies > Lluan ferch Brychan

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
-5 Maxen wledic Makssen wledig
-4 Ydnyuet Ednyfed
-3 Dyuynyeual hen Dyuynwal hen Morhen?
-2 Kedic Kedic Predur
-1 Senyllt Tutwal Tutclyt Elvfed
0 Nud hael Lewdwn lluydawc Rhyderch Hael
1 Dyngat Thenoi
2 Lleudat

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

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 two Macsen Wledigs

The name Macsen Wledig has been applied to two distinct persons. The first individual appears at HG 2b gen. -7 as Maxim gulecic. I believe this individual corresponds to the Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus of JC 13b gen. -7, see table:

Gen. HG 2b JC 13b
-9 Protector
-8 Protec
-7 Maxim gulecic Custenint Elen
-6 Dimet Constantinus mawr
-5 Nimet Maximianus
-4 Gloitguin Maxen wledic
-3 Clotri Custennin
-2 Triphun Miser
-1 Aircol Ewein
0 Guortepir Prwtech
1 Kyngar
2 Ewein
3 Cyndwr bendigeit

The is consistent with the birth of Constantius Chlorus’s wife, Helena, between 248 and 250.[1]  Magnus Maximus,  the Western Roman emperor born c. 335, appears three generations later at JC 13b gen. -4.

Note, Cyndwr Fendigaid of JC 13b gen. 3 is the St. Kentigern who was the son Owain ab Urien Rheged. It is proposed that Cyngar was the name of Owain’s mother. It could be a female name as one of Brychan’s daughter was named thus. The story concerning the birth of Owain tells us he was born out of wedlock by an unnamed lady. Triad 70 is the only place where the mother is named and it claims her name was Modron ferch Afallach. That is fictional and Bromwich wrote:
“… myth which depicted him [Urien] as mating with the locally worshipped goddess Modron …”

The opening lines of The Dream of Macsen Wledig from Pen. 4.

The opening lines of The Dream of Macsen Wledig from Pen. 4. (The National Library of Wales)

The Pen. 16 version of Breuddwyd Macsen only describes the story up to his stay in Britain. This part of the story refers to Constantius Chlorus’s dream and his visit to Gwynedd.

The version in Pen. 4 of the White Book of Rhydderch has a continuation which starts:
“For seven years the emperor stayed in this Island.”
It then describes his return to Rome, conquering lands on the way, after leaving Caerleon in Gwent. This part refers to events in connection with Magnus Maximus, including the populating of Llydaw.

[1] Harbus, A., 2002, 13.

Why Bartrum’s dating of the Demetian Arthur is wrong

To understand why there is a problem with the birthdate of Arthur ap Pedr given by Bartrum, i.e. 560, we need to look at a manuscript that mentions this individual. 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 part of the Demetian pedigree. The obits shown in the third column are those stated by Bartrum and originate from the Annales Cambriae.

Gen. HG 2a Obit acc. Bartrum Gen. acc. Bartrum Birthdate acc. Bartrum
-2 Cincar 6 510
-1 Petr 7 535
0 Arthur 8 560
1 Nougoy 9 580
2 Cloten 9 600
3 Cathen 10 625
4 Catgocaun 11 650
5 Regin 11 675
6 Teudos 12 700
7 Margetiut 796 13
8 Ouein 811 14?
9 Tancoyslt 15? 790
10 Himeyt 893 16
11 Ioumarc 904 17
12 Elen 929 18
13 [O]uein 18 900

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 as stated by Bartrum.

Using a much larger database of obits the step-size is 32 years. This is consistent with Bartrum who wrote:
“This is based on the well known fact that, on the average, three male generations span almost exactly a century.”
After which he added the note:
“A male generation is the period of time between the birth of father and the birth of son, or daughter. Female generations, birth of mother to birth of son or daughter, are on the average much shorter, and in the period covered are nearer to 20 years, i.e. five to a century.”[1]
The vast majority of generations in my database are male ones.

The larger database gives Arthur’s birth as occuring c. 487, 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. A birthdate of rounded figure 490 would be reasonable on the basis of the dates for Badon and Camlan given in the Annales Cambriae.

Using my generation numbering, Bartum’s estimates for the birthdates from Cyngar to Owain 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. That the manuscript compilers did not always know when one list ended and the next one began can be seen in, for example, JC 10 to 11 where the ending of the first list is repeated in the start of the following one. In the second segment of HG 2, 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 2b Obit acc. Bartrum Gen. acc. Bartrum Birthdate acc. Bartrum
-9 Protector
-8 Protec
-7 Maxim gulecic 388 1 330
-6 Dimet 2 355
-5 Nimet 2 380
-4 Gloitguin 3 410
-3 Clotri 4? 440?
-2 Triphun 4 430
-1 Aircol 5 460
0 Guortepir 6 480

Gildas writing in the 540s in the De Excidio 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. He errs when he identifies the Maxim Wledig with the Roman emperor Magnus Maximus who died in 388. That individual, who the Welsh called Macsen Wledig, belonged to gen. -4, see the table below. 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 Annun/Ednyfed the same generation number, resulting in a step-size of 30 years.

Maxim Wledig was a reference to the emperor Constantius Chlorus who died in 306, which is in line with him being in gen -7. 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 third and last segment, HG 2c, is shown below. Note, the missing names that have been inserted, i.e. Custennin and Macsen Wledig, can be seen in JC 13b.

Gen. HG 2c JC 13b
-7 Constantii Helen luicdauc Custenint Elen
-6 Constantini magni Constantinus mawr
-5 Constans Maximianus
-4 [Macsen Wledig] Maxen wledic
-3 [Custennin] Custennin
-2 Pincr misser Miser
-1 Stater Ewein
0 Eliud Prwtech
1 Ebiud Kyngar
2 Ewein
3 Cyndwr bendigeit

This segment supports the identification of the Maxim with Constantius Chlorus as both appear in gen. -7. The latter individual’s wife, St. Helena, has been conflated with Eudaf’s daughter, Elen Luyddog who was probably St. Helena of Cornwall.

It may be that Barturm, too, noticed HG 2 need to be divided into three segments as he wrote:
“There seems to be three independent strands of pedigree here, see note to ABT 18a.”[2]

[1] Bartrum, P.C., 1974, vol. 1, 6.
[2] Bartrum, P.C., 1966, 126.