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Llewelyn of Wales
lewelyn ap Gruffydd was the Prince of Wales. He was accepted as the ruler of the Welsh and when King Edward became King of England he expected the Prince to pay homage and accept Edward as his overlord. According to the Treaty of Shrewsbury Llewelyn had to pay the English crown a sum of money each year for the privilege of ruling the Welsh people. Since the death of Edward's father, Henry III, the payments had stopped. Edward sent for Llewelyn several times but the Welsh Prince failed to respond. Llewelyn further annoyed King Edward by arranging for Eleanor de Montfort, who had been promised to him as a bride for his support of Henry III in the Baronial revolt against the barons, to come from France.
The war with the Welsh begins
In 1276 Edward declared war on the Welsh Prince. Edward's ships managed to intercept Eleanor de Montfort en-route from France. The bride-to-be was captured and brought to England and imprisoned. Edward hoped that Llewelyn would back down to have Eleanor released but he refused. In the south and central areas of Wales the Welsh quickly abandoned their allegiance to Llewelyn and the Marcher Lords who had castles on the English-Welsh border areas took control. The only areas Llewelyn had control over were the northern areas of Wales.
Castle building, the key to success
The Welsh fighters had the advantage in northern parts of Wales as they knew the land that they were fighting in. The English, on the other hand, were at a disadvantage as they had to rely on supplies being transported through enemy territory from England. Invaders of Wales had always found it hard to subdue the Welsh because it was easy for the Welsh to use the mountainous terrain to cut off attacking armies from their supplies.
To solve the supply problem Edward built a series of castles along the north coast of Wales where they could easily be resupplied from the sea. Edward employed the castle building skills of a man known as James of St. George. Flint Castle in Clwyd was begun in 1277 and was one of the first castles to be constructed. Rhuddlan Castle was started shortly afterwards. The design of these castles was based on fortifications Edward had seen on his travels in France and consisted of a strong castle attached to a town enclosed by a strong wall. The towns were populated with English traders who could supply the army and start trading with the local Welsh people.
Llewelyn defeated but the war flares up again
By the end of 1277 Llewelyn had been defeated by the English. The Welsh Prince accepted King Edward as his overlord and was allowed to marry Eleanor de Montfort. At Christmas that year Llewelyn visited Edward at the English court to pay homage to the king. Llewelyn had been subdued but not for long. In 1282 the Welsh Prince and his brother David rose up in revolt against the English. The English suffered a serious defeat while attempting to cross the Menai Straits from Anglesey to North Wales. The Welsh were waiting for the English and many of the English knights drowned when the boat bridge that they were crossing on was destroyed.
Whilst fighting in the south of Wales Llewelyn was killed. He had moved to the rear of his army feeling secure with the way the war was progressing. A detachment of English found a way across the River Wye which Llewelyn was using for protection and moved around the rear of the Welsh army where the Prince was resting. Before Llewelyn could rejoin his army he was cut down and killed. His head was cut off and taken to King Edward. David was captured six months later and executed.
A new Prince of Wales
Edward arranged a 'Round Table' event and tournament at Nefyn in Wales where he promised the Welsh that he would provide them with a Prince of Wales. In the same year Edward (II) was born who was invested as the Prince of Wales in February 1301.After the second Welsh rebellion Edward decided to bring Wales under direct rule. The Statute of Rhuddlan brought English laws to Wales. Edward appointed sheriffs and bailiffs for the northern territories while the southern areas were left under the control of the Marcher Lords.
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Event Participants and Locations