Ancient Mysteries Arctic/Nordic/Teutonic Owen Glyndwr - The Last Struggle For Welsh Independence

Owen Glyndwr - The Last Struggle For Welsh Independence

Owen Glyndwr - The Last Struggle For Welsh Independence
Catalog # SKU3923
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Arthur Granville Bradley
ISBN 10: 0000000000
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Owen Glyndwr
The Last Struggle
For Welsh Independence

With A Brief Sketch of
Welsh History

Arthur Granville Bradley

Men of the Glyndwr type live in history rather by their deeds, and the deeds of those they lead and inspire. This is peculiarly the case with the last and the most celebrated among the soldier patriots of Wales.



Though so little remains to tell us of the actual man himself, this very fact has thrown a certain glamour and mystery about his name even in the Principality. While numbers of well-informed Englishmen are inclined to regard him, so far as they regard him at all, as a semi-mythical hero under obligations to Shakespeare for such measure of renown and immortality as he enjoys, if the shade of Henry the Fourth could be called up as a witness it would tell a very different story. It is at any rate quite certain that for the first few years of the fifteenth century, both to England and to Wales, to friends and to foes, Owen was in very truth a sufficiently real personality. What we do know of him, apart from his work, might well suggest infinite possibilities to the novelist and the poet. It is my business, [iv] however, to deal only with facts or to record legends and traditions for what they are worth, as illustrating the men and the time.

Glyndwr is without doubt the national hero of the majority of Welshmen. Precisely why he takes precedence of warrior princes who before his day struggled so bravely with the Anglo-Norman power and often with more permanent success, is not now to the point. My readers will be able to form some opinion of their own as to the soundness of the Welsh verdict. But these are matters, after all, outside logic and argument.

It is a question of sentiment which has its roots perhaps in sound reasons now forgotten. There are in existence several brief and more or less accurate accounts of Glyndwr's rising. Those of Thomas, written early in this century, and of Pennant, embodied in his well known Tours in Wales, are the most noteworthy,-while one or two interesting papers represent all the recent contributions to the subject. There has not hitherto, however, been any attempt to collect in book form all that is known of this celebrated Welshman and the movement he headed. I have, therefore, good reason to believe that the mere collection and arrangement of this in one accessible and handy volume will not be unwelcome, to Welsh readers especially.

Thus much at least I think I have achieved, and the thought will be some consolation, at any rate, if I have failed in the not very easy task of presenting the narrative in sufficiently popular and readable guise. But I hope also to engage the interest of readers other than Welshmen in the story [v] of Glyndwr and his times. If one were to say that the attitude of nearly all Englishmen towards Wales in an historical sense is represented by a total blank, I feel quite sure that the statement would neither be denied nor resented. Under this assumption it was thought well to attempt a somewhat fuller picture of Wales than that presented by the Glyndwr period alone, and to lead up to this by an outline sketch of Welsh history.


THE main subject of this book is the man whose memory, above that of all other men, the Welsh as a people delight to honour, and that period of Welsh history which he made so stormy and so memorable. But having what there is some reason to regard as a well founded opinion that (to the vast majority of English readers) the story of Wales is practically a blank, it seems to me desirable to prepare the way in some sort for the advent of my hero upon this, the closing scene of Cambrian glory. I shall therefore begin with a rapid sketch of those nine centuries which, ending with Glyndwr's rising, constitute roughly in a political and military sense the era of Welsh nationality. It is an audacious venture, I am very well aware, and more especially so when brought within the compass of a single chapter.

Among the many difficulties that present themselves in contemplating an outline sketch of Welsh history, a doubt as to the best period for beginning it can hardly be included. Unless one is prepared to take excursions into the realms of pure conjecture and speculation, which in these pages would be altogether out of place, the only possible epoch at which to open such a chapter is the Saxon conquest of England. And I lay some stress on the word England, because the fact of Wales resisting both Saxon conquest and even Saxon influence to any appreciable extent, at this early period, is the keynote to its history.

What the British tribes were like, who, prior to this fifth century, lived under Roman rule in the country we now call Wales, no man may know. We do know, however, that the Romans were as firmly seated there as in most parts of Britain. From their strong garrisons at Chester, Uriconium, Caerleon, and elsewhere they kept the country to the westward quiet by means of numerous smaller posts. That their legions moved freely about the country we have evidence enough in the metalled causeways that can still be traced in almost every locality beneath the mountain sod. The traces, too, of their mining industry are still obvious enough in the bowels of the mountains and even beneath the sea, to say nothing of surface evidence yet more elaborate. That their soldiers fell here freely in the cause of order or of conquest is written plainly enough in the names and epitaphs on mortuary stones that in districts even now remote have been exposed by the spade or plough. But how much of Christianity, how much of Roman civilisation, these primitive Britons of the West had absorbed in the four centuries of Roman occupation is a matter quite outside the scope of these elementary remarks. Of civilisation beyond the influence of the garrisons there was probably little or none. As regards Christianity, its echoes from the more civilised parts of the island had probably found their way there, and affected the indigenous paganism of the mountains to an extent that is even yet a fruitful source of disagreement among experts. Lastly, as it seems probable that the population of what is now called Wales was then much more sparse in proportion to the rest of the island than in subsequent periods, its condition becomes a matter of less interest, which is fortunate, seeing we know so little about it.

With the opening of the fifth century the Romans evacuated Britain. By the middle of it the Saxon influx, encouraged, as every schoolboy knows, by the Britons themselves in their weakness, had commenced. Before its close the object of the new-comers had developed and the "Making of England" was in full operation.

For these same conquered Britons many of us, I think, started life with some tinge of contempt, mingled with the pity that beyond all doubt they fully merit. Mr. Green has protested in strong terms against so unjustifiable an attitude. He asks us to consider the condition of a people, who in a fiercely warlike age, had been for many generations forbidden to bear arms; who were protected by an alien army from all fear of molestation, and encouraged, moreover, to apply themselves zealously to the arts of peace. That men thus enervated made a resistance so prolonged is the wonder, not that they eventually gave way. If this nation, which resisted for a hundred years, is a fit subject for criticism, what can be said of their conquerors who, five centuries later, in the full enjoyment of warlike habits and civil liberty, were completely crushed in seven by a no more formidable foe? While the pagan Saxons were slowly fighting their way across England towards the Severn and the Dee, the country about and behind these rivers had been galvanised by various influences into an altogether new importance.

After the departure of the Romans, the Welsh tribes, less enervated probably than their more Romanised fellow-countrymen to the east, found in the Scots of Ireland rather than the Picts of the North their deadliest foes. It was against these western rovers that the indigenous natives of what for brevity's sake we are calling Wales, relearnt in the fifth century the art of war, and the traces of their conflicts are strewn thick along the regions that face the Irish Sea. But while these contests were still in progress, three powerful tides of influence of a sort wholly different poured into Wales and contributed towards its solidity, its importance, its defensive power, and its moral elevation.

304 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 12 point font

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