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The Early Welsh Kingdoms

Gwent & Glywysing

(later Morgannwg or Glamorgan)

The information that 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.

The rulership of south-east Wales is complicated by the many sub-divisions of the land due to partible succession. Essentially there were two main kingdoms: Gwent and Glywysing, both descended from the Silures. Petty chieftains responded to the stronger rulers, sometimes from Gwent and sometimes from Glywysing but it was not until the tenth century that the two kingdoms effectively united under the name Morgannwg. The following lists the primary rulers. In almost all cases lands were sub-divided between sons and brothers, resulting in many sub-kingdoms who are not listed here.

Ruler Reign Died Notes
Erb 420s   Gwent
Nynniaw 450s   Gwent
Tiethfallt 480s   Gwent
Glywys 490s   founder of Glywysing
Honorius or Ynyr 510s   Gwent
Gwynllyw 520s   Glywysing
Iddon 540s   Gwent
Cadoc or Cadog 550s   Glywysing
Tewdrig or Theodosis 550s ?584 Gwent; abdicated but killed in battle
Meurig or Mouric c580-c615 c615 Gwent & Glywysing
Cynfeddw 610s   possibly sub-king in Gwent
Arthwyr or Arthwyr ap Meurig c615-c630   probably ruled Gwent
Morgan, Mwynfawr - the Generous c630-c655 655 Gwent & Glywsing; may have died in battle

Although Morgan is reckoned to have been succeeded by his son Ithael, there remains a gap in the chronology which is difficult to fill.

Ithael c715-c745   Gwent & Glywysing
Ffernfael ap Ithael 745-775 775 Gwent
Rhys ab Ithael 745-?   Glywysing
Arthwyr ap Ffernfael 775-?   Gwent
Arthfael ap Rhys 800   Glywysing
Ithael ab Arthwyr ?-848   Gwent
Meurig ab Arthfael 830s   Gwent
Rhys ab Arthfael 830s   Glywysing
Brochwael ab Meurig 880s   Gwent
Ffernwael ab Meurig 880s   Gwent; ruled jointly with above
Hywel ap Rhys c840-c885 885 Glywysing
Owain ap Hywel c885-c930 930 Glywysing
Arthfael ap Hywel 920s   Gwent
Cadell ap Arthfael 930s 942 Gwent
Gruffydd ap Owain 930-934 934 Glywysing; Gower from 928; killed in battle
Cadwgan ap Owain 930-950 950 West Glywysing; killed in battle

On the death of Cadwgan his brother, Morgan, united Gwent, Gower and Glywysing and created the single kingdom of Morgannwg, later called Glamorgan. Details of this kingdom follow below.

 

Under Morgan the Old the former kingdoms of Gwent and Glywysing were united as Morgannwg. The individual kingdoms retained their identity to some degree and Morgannwg continued to be fragmented under successor kings, although there was now more propensity to unity, especially in facing the advance of the Danes and later the Normans.
Ruler Reign Died Notes
Morgan Hen ab Owain 930-974 974 Morgannwg
Nowy ap Gwriad 950s   Gwent
Owain ap Morgan 974-?   Glywysing
Arthfael ap Nowy 970s c983 Gwent; probably murdered
Rhys ab Owain 990s   Glywysing (part)
Iestyn ab Owain 990s c1015 Glywysing (part)
Hywel ab Owain c990s-c1043 1043 Glywysing (part)
Rhodri ap Elisedd 983-c1015 c1015 Gwent
Gruffydd ap Elisedd 983-c1015 c1015 Gwent
Edwyn ap Gwriad 1015-45   Gwent; imprisoned and blinded by Meurig
Rhydderch ab Iestyn c1015-33 1033 Glywysing & Deheubarth; killed in battle
Gruffydd ap Rhydderch 1033-55 1055 Glywysing & Deheubarth; killed in battle
Meurig ap Hywel 1045-55   Gwent

Morgannwg and Gwent were taken over by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Gwynedd, 1055-63.

Cadwgan ap Meurig 1063-74   Morgannwg
Caradog ap Gruffydd 1075-81 1081 Gwent 1063-74; usurped Morgannwg; killed in battle
Iestyn ap Gwrgan 1081-91 ?1093 deposed; died in a priory

Glamorgan (Morgannwg) and Gwent were taken over by the Normans in 1091 under the control of Robert Fitzhamon. The descendants of Caradog ap Gruffydd became lords of Caerleon until they were deprived of their lands in 1270; the descendants of Iestyn ap Gwrgan became lords of Afan until deprived of their lands in 1282.

 

Learn more about the early kingdoms of Wales

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