The New Principality of Wales

After the death of Llywelyn ap Grufudd in 1282 and the defeat of Dafydd ap Grufudd in 1283, there was no longer a captain for the Welsh ship of state. In theory, Llywelyn ap Dafydd was the new Tywysog Cymru, but his captivity at the hands of Edward I meant that in reality there was no more Prince of Wales. On March 3, 1284, Edward enacted the Statute of Rhuddlan, also known as the Statutes of Wales. The statute is named for Rhuddlan Castle, one of the new fortifications Edward built to quell any Welsh resistance.


Rhuddlan_Castle_inner courtyard

This statute turned the kingdoms of Wales into pieces of the English Principality of North Wales and former rulers into Edward’s vassals.

Edward I erected four new marcher lordships in northeast Wales, Chirk, Bromfield and Yale, Dyffryn Clwyd and Denbigh; and one in South Wales, Cantref Bychan. He restored the principality of Powys Wenwynwyn to Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn who had suffered at the hands of Llewelyn, and he and his successor Owen de la Pole held it as a marcher lordship. Rhys ap Maredudd of Dryslwyn would have been in a similar position in Cantref Mawr, having adhered to the king during Llewelyn’s rebellion, but he forfeited his lands by rebelling in 1287. A few other minor Welsh nobles submitted in time to retain their lands, but became little more than gentry.

There was one more shaker of salt for Edward to rub onto the wounds of the defeated Welsh. In 1301 Edward named his son, Edward of Caernarfon (the future King Edward II), the Prince of Wales. The Tywysog Cymru was Welsh no more.




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