Home | Main Menu | Castle Index | Historical Essays | Recommended Castles | What's New | Links

The Early Welsh Kingdoms

The table that immediately follows comes from
The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens
by Mike Ashley, Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. New York, 1998.

View, purchase or read reviews about this book at Amazon.com

The native British retained a degree of autonomy in Wales throughout the Roman occupation. Little is recorded about them that can be established as firm historical fact though it is possible that the Silures, Ordovices and Demetae continued to be ruled by tribal chieftains within the Roman administration. Towards the end of this period an influx of Irish from the west and British from the east began to test these tribal boundaries and new ones emerged based, initially, on the old tribes, but subsequently developing into four main kingdoms - Gwent, Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth.

Deheubarth came into existence in 920 when Hywel Dda (depicted at right) combined the former kingdoms of Dyfed and Seisyllwg. Occasionally rulers of Deheubarth gained control over Gwynedd and vice versa. The Normans conquered Deheubarth in 1093, though descendants of the ruling family were allowed to hold authority over Cantref Mawr ("the Great Cantref") and Ystrad Tywi, and from this base the former kingdom of Deheubarth briefly re-emerged in the 12th century under Maredudd ap Gruffydd and the Lord Rhys. Thereafter Norman control was re-exerted and Deheubarth ceased to exits as a kingdom after 1234.

Ruler Born Reign Died Notes
Hywel Dda (the Good) c882 920-50 950 also ruled Gwynedd and Powys 942-50
    After Hywel's death Gwynedd regained its independence. Hywel's three sons split the kingdom of Deheubarth, but after Rhodri died in 953 and Edwin in 954, Owain was able to reconsolidate it.    
Owain ap Hywel   954-86 988 retired
Maredudd ab Owain   986-99 999 also annexed Gwynedd from 986
    After Maredudd's death the combined kingdoms of Gwynedd and Deheubarth were ruled from Gwynedd by Cynan ap Hywel from 999-1005.    
Edwin ab Einion   1005-18    
Cadell ab Einion   1005-18    

In 1018, Llywelyn ap Seisyll of Gwynedd, who married into the Deheubarth royal family, laid claim to Deheubarth and ruled until his death in 1023. Gwynedd and Deheubarth were then overrun by Rhydderch ab Iestyn of Gwent, who styled himself king of Deheubarth.
Rhydderch ab Iestyn   1023-33 1033 also ruled Gwent; killed in battle
Hywel ab Edwin   1033-44 1044 killed in battle
    Hywel was overthrown by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Gwynedd in 1044 and, in the ensuing power struggle, Rhydderch's son Gruffydd laid claim to Deheubarth.    
Gruffydd ab Rhydderch   1047-55 1055 also ruled Gwent; killed in battle
    Conquered by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Gwynedd from 1055-63.    
Maredudd ab Owain ab Edwin   1063-72 1072 killed in battle
Rhys ab Owain ab Edwin   1072-78 1078 killed in battle
Rhys ap Tewdwr   1078-93 1093 briefly overthrown in 1081; killed in battle

Deheubarth was overrun by the Normans in 1093, remaining in their possession until 1155. Territory was granted to Rhy's son Gruffydd in 1116, and further land was progressively regained after the grand revolt of 1136/37.
Gruffydd ap Rhys c1090 1116-37 1137 ruled only Cantref Mawr; killed in battle
Anarawd ap Gruffydd c1116 1136-43 1143 murdered
Cadell ap Gruffydd   1143-51 c1175 seriously injured and incapacitated
Maredudd ap Gruffydd c1130 1151-55 1155 rebuilt old kingdom of Deheubarth
Rhys ap Gruffydd c1133 1155-97 1197 in 1158 submitted to Henry II and dropped title of king, being known as the Lord Rhys
Gruffydd ap Rhys   1197-1201 1201  
Maelgwyn ap Rhys c1170 1199-1230 1230 gained control of Ceredigion, though he lost the northern part in 1207
Rhys Gryg (the Hoarse)   1216-34 1234 ruled Cantref Mawr (from 1204) and neighbouring territory; died of wounds

After the deaths of Maelgwyn and Rhys the princes of Deheubarth were effectively minor lords subject to Gwynedd and ruling small commotes and cantrefs in Ystrad Tywi and Ceredigion with no real authority. Rhys ap Maredudd below was the last to make a stand in the South and was briefly proclaimed lord of Ystrad Tywi.
Rhys Mechyll   1234-44 1244 ruled Cantref Mawr only
Maredudd   1244-71 1271 ruled Cantref Mawr only
Rhys ap Maredudd   1271-83 1291 ruled Cantref Mawr only; executed for treason

HYWEL DDA (d.950) = Elen, dau of Llywarch

Rhodri (d.953) Owain (d.988) Edwin (d.954)





Gruffydd = Gwenllian

THE LORD RHYS (d.1197) = Gwenllian

Gruffydd Rhys Gryg Maelgwn Maredudd


Learn more about early Medieval Wales
Learn more about the early kingdoms of Wales

Home | Main Menu | Castle Index | Historical Essays | Recommended Castles | What's New | Links

Copyright © 2009 by Mike Ashley and the Castles of Wales Website