Rhys ap Maredudd

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Dryslwyn Castle, seat of Maredudd ap Rhys

Rhys ap Maredudd (* around 1250, † June 2, 1292 ) was a lord of the Welsh principality Deheubarth from the Dinefwr dynasty . He was the last Welsh ruler in West Wales and leader of a Welsh revolt from 1287 to 1288.

Dominion over Dryslwyn

He was the only son of Maredudd ap Rhys and his wife Isabel, an illegitimate daughter of William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke . After the death of his father in 1271 he inherited his land in Cantref Mawr. Like his father, he was loyal to the English. At the beginning of King Edward I's campaign against Wales , he concluded an agreement in March 1277 with Payn de Chaworth , the royal commander in West Wales. As a reward for his cooperation, he hoped to receive the lands of his cousin Rhys Wyndod and especially his castle Dinefwr Castle , the old residence of the Princes of Deheubarth. Fearing revenge from his Welsh neighbors, he postponed official submission until April 9th. After Chaworth's advance into the valley of the Tywi , Rhys Wyndod submitted on April 24th. On June 5th he handed Dinefwr Castle over to Chaworth, and Chaworth sent Rhys ap Maredudd together with Rhys Wyndod and Gruffydd and Cynan ap Maredudd from Ceredigion to Worcester , where they had to pay homage to Edward I on July 1st . In return, they were allowed to keep some of their lands, which thwarted Rhy's hopes. In addition, the royal officials Rhys now, contrary to what he had agreed with Chaworth in April , wanted to submit him to the royal court of Carmarthenshire . He also had to grant the royal troops the right to open his castle Dryslwyn . Nevertheless, in contrast to the other Welsh rulers, he remained loyal to the king and finally achieved in June 1280 that Maenoeilo was part of the territories that Rhys Wyndod had ceded to the English.

When war broke out again in March 1282 between Llywelyn ap Gruffydd , the Prince of Wales and the English King, Rhys offered his support to the royal commander, Gilbert de Clare . In August and September he supported the English attack on Trefilan Castle , the castle of Gruffydd and Cynan ap Maredudd. His loyalty was rewarded with the handover of Mabwynion and Gwynionydd in Cardiganshire, who had previously belonged to Gruffydd and Cynan, and Mallaen and Caio, the territories remaining to Rhys Wyndod. In return, Welsh troops from Llywelyn ap Gruffydd sacked the traitor's lands. For the hasty occupation of his newly acquired territories and for the illegal occupation of the lands of the minor Llywelyn from Owain , who was considered a royal ward, Rhys had to answer before the royal court after the end of Edward I's second campaign . On October 20, 1283, the court confirmed the newly acquired territories, so that he was now master of all Cantref Mawr except for Dinefwr Castle. Humiliated, however, he lost his independent rule and had to accept his position as the king's vassal .

Conflict with the court and outbreak of rebellion

In September 1286 his relationship with the king deteriorated further. Because of a dispute several years ago with John Giffard , the Lord of Builth and Iscennen, and with Robert de Tibetot , the royal justiciar of West Wales, he was to answer again before the Court of Carmarthenshire. As Lord of Emlyn, where his father had built a new castle, he considered himself submitted not to the Court of Carmarthenshire but to that of Pembrokeshire . The king himself was in Gascon so the royal council agreed to investigate the allegations, but Rhys refused to appear in Carmathenshire.

Disappointed, he began a rebellion against English rule in 1287 and captured Llandovery Castle on June 8, 1287 , then took Dinefwr and Carreg Cennen Castle and sacked the region as far as Swansea in the south, where he was able to conquer Oystermouth Castle , while Aberystwyth Castle in the west resisted the attack. While Edward I himself was still in France, his cousin Edmund, 2nd Earl of Cornwall , took over the suppression of the uprising as royal deputy. The castles in Cardiganshire and North Wales were manned and in August of that year an English army of over 11,000 men under the command of John de Havering , Gilbert de Clare and Robert de Tibetot was assembled in Carmarthen . The siege of Dryslywn Castle began on August 13th. After three weeks of siege, part of the walls collapsed due to undermining , killing some of the Welsh leaders. While most of Rhys' followers surrendered, Rhys himself escaped. Rhy's Newcastle Emlyn Castle was also captured, and his lands were given to Alan de Plugenet. The English conquest of western Wales was thus complete.

Continuation of the rebellion, flight and death

Earl Edmund was already back in England when Rhys took Newcastle Emlyn Castle back in a surprise attack on November 2, 1287. Two days later he ransacked Llandovery . The Earl of Hereford as Lord of Brecon took over the defense of the valley of the Tywi. Another English army enclosed Newcastle Emlyn in late December, and after ten days of bombardment by heavy siege equipment, Newcastle Emlyn surrendered on January 20, 1288. Rhys was able to escape again. A bounty was placed on him, but he was able to survive in hiding until he was betrayed on April 2, 1292 by former followers of his cousin Rhys Wyndod. Rhys was brought in chains to the king in York , where he was charged as a murderer, arsonist, thief and destroyer of royal castles and sentenced to death. On June 2, 1292 he was hanged and drawn .


Rhys had married Ada, a sister of John Hastings , Lord of Abergavenny , in 1285 . After his execution in 1293, she was allowed to return to her family's estates. His son Rhys was mentioned as a prisoner at Norwich Castle in 1340 . With him the house of Dinefwr died out in the male line.


  • Ralph A. Griffiths: The revolt of Rhys ap Maredudd, 1287-88 . In: The Welsh History Review , ISSN  0043-2431 , Vol. 1966, No. 3, pp. 121-143.

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