Sunday, July 16, 2017

Warrior princess Gwenllian and me

family tree, Rhodri Mawr, Princess Gwenllian
I mentioned that I have some illustrious ancestors. Husband spent a long time working on my family history and stumbled across a link to a tree created by an academic in Welsh history. From this link he was able to draw up my tree to show the link between me and numerous famous people including Welsh princes and princesses.

As I say, the original appeared to be a fairly well-researched and academic investigation and is probably quite reliable back until the twelfth century. Following William the Conqueror's invasion more birth/death records were kept, certainly of the nobility, and lines can be traced through time. Before that family history is more about possibility and guesswork than fact so my links to Joseph of Arimathea and indeed Julius Caesar are slightly more suspect. 

One wall of our spare bedroom is covered with one branch of my tree consisting of a few hundred people; in the whole tree there are thousands.


The arrows pointing to the yellow boxes at the top left indicate the presence of Rhodri Mawr or Rhodri the Great. Rhodri gained the epithet Great  both because his kingdom stretched from the north, Anglesey, to the south, Gower, and because he was a fierce warrior.

Leap forward a few centuries and you find Gruffudd ap Rhys, prince of Deheubarth, who was married to Gwenllian, daughter of the king of Gwynedd.

At the time the Normans, who had built Kidwelly castle as a defence against the Welsh, were in possession of it and Gruffudd set off for North Wales to plead for help from his father-in-law to defeat the them. While he was away Norman reinforcements landed and marched to the castle. 

Gwenllian seized the opportunity to prevent the extra troops arriving and gathered a small army to go and do battle, a battle in which she was defeated and her son killed. She was immediately ordered to be beheaded. Although she was unsuccessful it is her spirit and bravery that have ensured her a place in the annals of Welsh history. And I am ashamed to admit I knew nothing of her until our visit to Kidwelly castle on Friday
Later ancestors actually lived in the castle but it all gets a bit confusing so I'll just sit back and relish a warrior Welsh princess as my 22nd great grandmother.

6 comments:

Sharon Qualls said...

Interesting family history. You know all this to be true? Wow, I'm from plain old people.

Liz Hinds said...

Well, let's just say it's possible!

Ole Phat Stu said...

Surely you believe are descended from Adam and Eve, the first incest fans?
Not just some apes, like the rest of us ;-)

Liz Hinds said...

Don't tell any of my Christian friends, stu, but I don't actually believe Adam and Eve existed.

Anonymous said...

Eve took the apple in the garden of eden,
but put back because it didn't have a phone jack ;-)

Rose said...

Wow, that's so exciting! My parents spent quite a bit of time researching their family history some years ago, but I think it's a little harder for Americans with people often changing names when they immigrated here. They were able to go back to the 1600's or so, except for my mother's great-grandfather who is a bit of a mystery. I was hoping for some famous ancestors, too, but I'm afraid mine were all peasant farmers:)