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Uniting the Kingdoms? 1066-1603

 
   

England

Wales under the English, 1282-1415

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Edward I created his own principality of Wales in the north-west and south-west, and gave it to his son, Edward. Llywelyn's heartland was now ringed with English fortresses, and under the direct authority of the heir to the English throne. Edward also created new marcher lordships in the north-east, strengthened (like the principality) with 'planted'Glossary term - opens in a pop-up window English tenants and English towns.

Wales was now divided between the principality and the lordships. The principality was split into five shires, administered on the English model. The forty or so marcher lordshipsGlossary term - opens in a pop-up window each kept their own mixture of Welsh and English laws.

Lordship was hugely profitable. Livestock, wool, and the proceeds of administering 'justice' produced much wealth for the lord, and taxes were paid to him, not the king. Marcher lords like the Clares and Mortimers had access to resources and armed manpower that made them great players on the English stage. But oppressive lordship could only go so far without revolt.

The Welsh perceived their exploitation with a bitter sense of disinheritance. Conquered, ruled unjustly, aliens within their own land: no wonder that at least five major risings took place before 1400.

In 1378, Owain Lawgoch, the last descendant of the princes of Gwynedd, was assassinated by an English agent in France. Welsh hopes moved to a young soldier, Owain Glyn Dwr, from the line of the princes of Powys and Deheubarth.

 

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Seal of Owain Glyn Dwr

 

Penal laws applied to the Welsh in 1402

By 1399 Wales was a land of sundered loyalties: 29 lordships had fallen into the hands of Richard II. In that year Richard himself was deposed by Henry IV, the heir of Lancaster. In September 1400, the Welsh Rising broke out. Owain was proclaimed Prince of Wales, and allied with France and the disaffected English lords Percy and Mortimer. By 1404 he controlled most of Wales.

Owain called a Parliament, and laid plans for a Welsh church and universities. But by 1408, Henry IV had defeated the Mortimers and Percies, and the French alliance crumbled. Prince Henry (soon to be Henry V) reconquered Wales for his father; Owain disappeared from English sight in 1415.

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Detail from Edward I creating his son Prince of Wales. By permission of the British Library.
 
Detail from Edward I creating his son Prince of Wales. By permission of the British Library.