The First Marriage of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth

Virtually since the study of Welsh history began in earnest it has been asserted that Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (d.1240) was only married once and this to the daughter of King John.  Such an assertion can now be seen to have been false as is shown in the following text taken from the book, The Aberconwy Register and Aberconwy Abbey.

The full text and footnotes of the paper are reproduced in Academia.

The status of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth's marriages played a great and devastating part in the thirteenth century history of Wales.  It certainly led to much warfare, destruction and killing and much fighting on the granges of Aberconwy abbey.  To consider how this came about it is necessary to look at what marriage actually meant at the time.  Today marriage is thought of as a pairing of adults.  In the twelfth century marriage could and did take place between young children.  Pope Alexander III (1159-1181), in a letter to the archbishop of York, ordered that there should be no espousal or marriage before the age of seven.  In a later ruling, he changed this age to twelve.  Even so, younger marriages still took place with papal dispensations and in both the cases of Rhodri and Llywelyn without, although Llywelyn tried to rectify his irregular union after the event and Rhodri spent a year engaged and apparently even had banns read.  Earlier King Henry II had obtained papal approval for the marriage of his son Henry to Princess Margaret of France.  They married on 2 November 1160, the young Henry having been born on 28 February 1155 and Margaret about 1 January 1158.  Therefore he was five and she not yet three.

Similarly as the age of marriage was being raised, the way marriage was performed was also being altered.  At the Council of Westminster in 1076 it was ruled that:

    No one should give his daughter or other relative to anyone without priestly blessing, otherwise it will be judged not a legitimate marriage but a fornicator's marriage.

This was reiterated at the Council of Westminster in 1200 when it was stated that marriage should only take place:

    publicly in front of the church and in the presence of a priest.  No marriage should be contracted without a public announcement in church on three occasions.

This was the first direction for banns to be read in England.  Giraldus Cambrensis was well aware of this and stated that the readings of the banns should occur on the three Sundays preceding the wedding.  As will be seen, Rhodri ab Owain had his banns read three times as early as the Spring of 1192.
The wedding service subsequently carried out was somewhat similar to that still performed today.  The marriage should have begun at the church door with the priest asking if there was any reason why the couple could not be legitimately married.  The heart of the ceremony was still the priest's following questions to the bride and groom.

    Do you take this keep in sickness and in health?

If both members of the couple replied Volo (I do) then the priest and the man giving the woman away would hand her to the groom.  The latter would put a ring on her hand saying:

    With this ring I honour you...with my body I wed you.

All this took place outside the church, before the main door.  During this ceremony the husband was expected to give his wife her dower ‘at the church door'.  The bride's father or guardian would then present to the groom a marriage portion - property or cash to increase the size of the husband's estate.  This might be done by handing over a symbolic object such as a knife or a sod of turf.  It was only now, after the actual wedding had taken place, that everyone entered the church to hear mass.  During the mass, the couple would lie prostrate before the altar and the altar cloth would be held over them. The husband would then kiss the bride, but first he had to give the priest the kiss of peace during the communion.
Unfortunately, there were occasional problems with marriage when things went wrong.  The Church stated that for a marriage to be legal both parties had to consent, 'Marriage is contracted by consent alone.'  However, this led to the well founded worry that marriages could be conducted in secret and the truth of the matter would therefore be difficult to know.  Consequently, it was increasingly held that the marriage ceremony needed to be witnessed, so it became common practice for all marriages to be made in front of the church in a public ceremony before witnesses and with the blessing of a priest.  Despite this, lawsuits and appeals to the clergy and even the pope show that the fact of marriage could and often was successfully appealed.  Sometimes the marriage partners were willing in the absolution of their marriage, sometimes not.  Indeed, whether a marriage was legal or had even occurred was also argued out in clerical courts.  This bears great relevance to what happened in Wales during the first half of the thirteenth century.
Much confusion exists about Llywelyn ab Iorwerth's first marriage, with most historians having denied that any such match ever took place.  It will be shown here that this view totally ignores the original evidence as accepted by Prince Llywelyn, King John and Pope Innocent III, to name but the most important.  That said, the evidence is really quite straight forward.
It was during the last months of Gruffydd ap Cynan's principality of North Wales that the young Llywelyn ab Iorwerth appears to have begun to think of regularising his own marriage status.  Quite obviously he was worried that he had been illegally married.  This can be deduced from three surviving pieces of papal correspondence.  Considering what Llywelyn called himself in the first of these, it is possible that there was either an agreement that he would succeed Gruffydd to paramountcy in North Wales or the more likely scenario, that he had forced Dafydd ab Owain to recognise him as his heir to the title of king/prince of North Wales in 1198.  In favour of the former there seems to have been an easy transfer of lands from Gruffydd to Llywelyn on the former's death and there seems to have been no attempt by any other prince, even Gruffydd's brother, Maredudd, to dispute this process for at least twelve months. 
It is unfortunate that the original evidence in these three papal letters has been poorly studied and consequently misconstrued by earlier historians.  This has disguised both their importance and their meaning.  To put this right it is best to first print the offending ‘translations' and then the full letters in their precised form and finally the full text in an English translation, with the original Latin appearing in Appendix 9, p.342.

    7 Kal Dec 1199, Lateran.  Mandate to the bishop of Man, the archdeacon of Bangor and the prior of the isle of Glannan, to take cognisance of and decide the case of R prince of North Wales, who wishes to marry a daughter of the prince of the Isles previously betrothed to his uncle.

From this precis it has generally been assumed that Prince R must have been Llywelyn, possibly on the widely held, but erroneous belief, that he had been prince of North Wales since 1194.  As noted above, this does not conform with the original evidence and if any prince was lord of North Wales in 1199 it was Gruffydd ap Cynan or even Dafydd ab Owain and not their nephew Llywelyn.  Yet, before looking at the document this precis came from, it is worth commenting on the lords of North Wales to elucidate which prince appears to be being discussed in papal circles.
Although it is rarely stated, Rhodri is the only known prince of North Wales who is historically recognised to have had a Manx royal bride in the late twelfth century.  In November 1199 his near relatives included Gruffydd ap Hywel the son of Hywel ab Owain (d.1170), Gruffydd ap Cynan (d.1200), Maredudd ap Cynan (d.1212), Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (d.1240), Madog ap Gruffydd (d.1236), Gwenwynwyn (d.1216), Goronwy ab Einion (d.1206+), Cadwallon ab Owain (d.bef.1231), Maredudd ab Owain (d.bef.1231), Meurig Powys (d.1200), Owain ap Dafydd (d.1212), Thomas ap Rhodri (d.bef.1243), Einion ap Rhodri (d.1209+) and Gruffydd ap Rhodri (d.1240+).  Obviously there is no Prince R. amongst these and possibly the R. has been written in mistake for the initial letter of Rhodri ab Owain, the prince who had previously been married to the lady in question.  Alternatively, the capital letter could have been miswritten or entered wrongly.  What can be said is that the only men liable to call themselves princes of North Wales at the time were Gruffydd ap Cynan and his brother Maredudd, Madog ap Gruffydd, Gwenwynwyn and, of course, since the discomfiture of Dafydd ab Owain in 1197, Llywelyn ab Iorwerth.  Of these there is evidence that Gruffydd ap Cynan did describe himself as prince of North Wales before 1199.  The possibility that Llywelyn ab Iorwerth did likewise has not to my knowledge been previously demonstrated, although it has been asserted without the foundation of quoting any original documents that prove such a case.  The possibility of Llywelyn using this title is not proved in the twelfth century as is shown in the above chapter, Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth from 1199 to 1202.
The marital status of the sons of Cynan at this time is uncertain, but Gruffydd's known children were born before 1175, so it is possible that he was seeking a new wife in 1199.  Of Maredudd ap Cynan's children, Llywelyn Fawr (the real one, not Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, see Appendix 11, p.348) was born before 1200 and his brother Llywelyn Fychan before 1212 - which would at first sight suggest that it is possible that Rhodri's widow might have been their mother.  Madog ap Gruffydd was married to Ysota Lacy before 1199 and she outlived him.  Gwenwynwyn married Margaret Corbet around 1204.  She is thought to have been his first wife.  Finally, Llywelyn ab Iorwerth was having children by his ‘wife' from apparently 1197 until after 1200.  This does not mean that Llywelyn did not enquire about taking a Manx wife in 1199, but surely the evidence as stated above would more likely mean that one of the sons of Cynan was the prince of North Wales referred to.  This is especially true when considering the title and the marital statuses of the nephews of Rhodri.  It would have been beneficial for them to consider taking a bride to strengthen their political position in North Wales.  Of course, none of this is provable, but it does beg the question as to why this Prince R was taken to be Llywelyn ab Iorwerth by later historians if they had not seen the original document this precis was taken from.
Concerning this ‘the bards' of the sixteenth century and their later copyists state that Llywelyn ab Iorwerth was ‘married' to Tangwystl ferch Llywarch Goch of Rhos.  As such it would initially seem possible that Gruffydd ap Cynan was the prince seeking the hand of his aunt by marriage and that no more was heard of the affair due to his death within three months of the pope asking for an inquiry to be made.  It should further be remembered that a letter took about a month to go from Rome to North Wales if the weather and all else were favourable.  Therefore, on this basis, it is a surprise that most historians have definitively asserted that Llywelyn was the Prince R referred to in the papal document precis.
After this discussion of the logic of the readings of the document it is necessary to print a translation of the entire original document, as copied into a contemporary papal register, as this has not previously been widely disseminated.  It also shows yet again how important it is to go back to the original authority and not take the judgements of previous historians as sound, especially when the logic behind these assumptions can be seen to have been suspect .

    To the bishop of Man, the archdeacon of Bangor and the prior of Ynys Llannog [Ynys Seiriol or Priestholm].
    Betrothals may not be entered into before seven [years].
    At the Lateran, 24 November 1199.
    Our beloved noble man, Prince R. of North Wales, has asked our permission that it is lawful for him to take to himself for a wife the daughter of our beloved son, the prince of the Isles, notwithstanding that it has come to light that his paternal uncle was betrothed to her, when she was below marriageable years, nevertheless at the time neither side were brought together [for consummation of the marriage].  Since the truth to us is not apparent at what age the girl was pledged or betrothed has come to light and to who she may have been [pledged] before, [whether] pure [when] betrothed to the nephew or the paternal uncle, with the following diversities of the facts and also the diversities of the laws in this matter we have not been able to give an answer, because under canonical laws in doubtful causes it is not possible to advance an unconditional judgment.  However, wishing, as much as we are able with God, that the just petitions of the before mentioned prince may be clearly heard without hindrance where you please, we direct that you come together in an inquiry of them which we have before set out in a sure fashion for your examination, that justice may be done on every point.  Wherefore, through your understanding of the apostolic scriptures we entrust, to what extent you will call to your presence those summoned to be seen, with anxious care you will examine whether the girl might not have reached her seventh [year] when it appears she was espoused to the nephew, or betrothed to the paternal uncle.  For in either of these before mentioned cases, because just as espoused as betrothed may not be held with justice, if they have not reached their seventh [year], notwithstanding whether that was made with the paternal uncle first or afterwards, unless there is something else which may impede [it], the same girl may lawfully be able to enter into marriage with the nephew.  Nevertheless, if truly espoused or betrothed at the time she appears to have been seven years of age or older, when from which time betrothals begin to be acceptable, if the betrothal of the paternal uncle had taken place before, it is not possible for her to enter into marriage with the nephew; because, following traditions and canonical observations, no one is able to contract in marriage a blood relative or to take her as wife, and these two cases are not to be judged unequal.  If however, the espousal with the nephew preceded [that with the uncle], what followed afterwards was not binding, since the following act cannot annul the first, because such a firm choice was willingly made for betrothal by the principal parties, should the marriage between them have been consummated.  If truly the nephew was espoused to her before the seventh [year] and his paternal uncle in the seventh or after the seventh had been betrothed to the same, the nephew on account of the aforesaid rule will not to able to take her to wife, but, if on the contrary, it is the other way around he may be lawfully joined to her.  On account of the same aforementioned recommendations we have forwarded, when you have reached agreement of the fact, you will not be able to doubt the law.  Therefore, distant to appeal, following these different premisses, you are enjoined to take care of the assigned task.
    With respect to which whether all, etc, you, brother bishop, with another court.

The first thing to notice from examining this document is that although the original copyist has decided that it concerned Prince R, it must have originally been Prince L for Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth as two subsequent letters ,which will be examined later, are certainly directed towards the marriage of that prince.
If it is accepted that the letter was concerned with the marriage of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth then it appears that the pope does not ask the local court to decide the case of a prince of Wales wishing to marry his aunt, but to decide if there was an impediment to the marriage which had already taken place, as both uncle and nephew had been betrothed to the bride before she was seven years of age, the minimum usual age for betrothal.  Obviously this had not mattered to Llywelyn or her previous spouse, Rhodri ab Owain.  It was only now, some four years after the event and at least one child later that Llywelyn sought to regularise his marriage situation in the eyes of the Church.  The consequence was the formation of the ecclesiastical court under local ecclesiastics who could be little but favourable to Llywelyn's wishes.  The grammatical cases of the verbs of the letter are standard for this era and could imply that the marriage had not taken place, but equally they could be taken to mean that it had.  Events show that the latter case is correct.
From this it can be adjudged that the court was set up to decide whether the current prince and princess of North Wales were married illegally and if they were, the logical conclusion was that the marriage was to be annulled.  Further, as it had been stated that Rhodri's bride was underage when they married, as well as when Llywelyn was betrothed to her, this would have a bearing on the case.  It had further been stated to the pope that the marriage between Rhodri and the girl was never consummated and therefore her remarriage to the nephew, Llywelyn, was legal.  Despite this, the pope was worried that the real age of the bride appeared uncertain and he therefore asked the bishop to check into this as well as the bride's status when she married both the uncle (Rhodri) and the nephew (Llywelyn).  It can therefore be seen that the statement of the precis of the papal register that Llywelyn wished ‘to marry a daughter of the prince of the Isles previously betrothed to his uncle' is not a clear precis of the document and is consequently misleading.  This misapprehension has bedevilled studies of thirteenth century Wales ever since.  It should be noted here that the name of Llywelyn's first bride had apparently been lost by the time of Lewis Dwnn and it was only John Wynne of Gwydir who invented Tangwystl ferch Llywarch Goch as Llywelyn's first spouse.  This matter shall be discussed further after the status and problems with Llywelyn's first marriage are examined.
Over three years after the commission first deliberated upon Llywelyn's marriage, another papal court of inquiry was set up as the outcome of the first had obviously proved unsatisfactory to settle the matter.  Once again it is worthwhile printing the mangled precis of the papal register and then looking at what was really said.  According to this tainted source, on 19 April 1203, a mandate was sent to:

    the abbot of Aberconwy (Abenton), the prior of Enlli (Henli) and Master M., a canon of Beddgelert (Berlinton), within the diocese of Bangor, to cause to be observed the sentence about the marriage between the daughter of the prince of the Isles and L Prince of North Wales.

Another more modern ‘translation' goes slightly further than this with:

    the abbot of Aberconwy (Abercon), the prior of Enlli (Henli) and Mr M. canon of Beddgelert (Berlincon), of dioc. Bangor.  Confirms the judgement of the delegates in the case committed to them in no.168 above, declaring that for the sake of restoring peace L(lywelyn) prince of North Wales might marry the daughter of the prince of the Isles.  They had been betrothed when she was 8 years old, but later she was betrothed against her will to his uncle, now dead.  Mandate to cause the sentence to be observed, unless there be reasonable objection.

Again this is hardly what was stated to have been recorded in the original letter.  The full text from the register of papal correspondence actually reads:

    To the abbot of Aberconwy, the prior of Enlli and Master M, a canon of Beddgelert, in Bangor Diocese.
    He confirms the sentence concerning the betrothals between the daughter of the prince of the Isles and the prince of North Wales.
    At the Lateran, 19 April 1203.
    Formerly the beloved son, the noble man, Prince L of North Wales, humbly asked us, that it be permitted by our grant [that] the same daughter of the noble man ... prince of the Isles, of which he himself wrote of his espousal, to take as wife etc.  In almost the same manner, just as in the register of our second episcopal year [the 1199 entry above] during the month of December, [that] he would to be able to be always united with [her].  Accordingly, with the parties in the presence of the appointed aforesaid judges, just as they intimated to us through their letters, by the same through the witnesses it was clearly established, with respect to the girl, she having completed eight years, by Prince Llywelyn of North Wales, as much by his consent as that of her parents, he had espoused [her], but, by necessity delayed from proceeding, by his paternal uncle without his [Llywelyn's] consent after a while he [Rhodri] betrothed [her], who, though never carnally known to him, he [Rhodri] went the way of all flesh.  Hence, the judges themselves, having received the advice of these prudent men, [that] the same girl by the aforesaid Prince Llywelyn of North Wales, in the form of a judicial sentence, pardoned by apostolic authority, their promise of marriage, lest the discord formerly risen between them, however at present caused to rest, might be raised again, just as they intermated to us through their letters.  We therefore the same sentence, unless any reasonable cause may stand in the way, considering it authoritative and secure, we entrust to you by the authority at hand, since you in person can bring about, by this distant appeal, by ecclesiastical decree to be observed inviolably.  That if not all, two etc.

Here finally we get towards the truth of the matter.  The previous enquiry started in 1199 had found that Llywelyn's marriage was suspect, but the prince had persevered in it and the ecclesiastics acquiesced in this as the marriage had taken place for the political reason to stop strife between the two parties.  Despite it being stated that Llywelyn's betrothed had not been carnally acquainted with his uncle, Rhodri, while they were married, the pope did not appear to believe this and was prepared for the marriage to be quashed, although he was content for it to continue for the sake of peace.  It seems obvious from this that Llywelyn had persisted in the marriage since his first request to the pope in 1199.  Now, nearly four years later in April 1203, the matter was before the pope again.  A conclusion from this would appear to be either that the problems with the marriage had not been suppressed by Llywelyn's actions in 1199, when he wrote to the pope, or that Llywelyn was now looking for a way out of his marriage.  The birth of children in 1197 and before 1200 as well as these two appeals to the pope would suggest that Llywelyn did not put aside his bride before 1203.
It is therefore a possibility that Llywelyn stuck by his wife in this period, while coming under increasing ecclesiastical pressure to put her aside.  Such pressure had been brought against previous princes of Wales to end non canonical marriages, viz. Owain Gwynedd with his cousin Christina ferch Goronwy, Rhodri ab Owain with his cousin Agnes ferch Rhys and Cadwallon ap Madog with his cousin Eva ferch Madog.  Considering this, it is fantastic that Giraldus makes no mention of this affair in all his works, when obviously he should have been favouring the canons of the church and supporting his pope in bringing religious orthodoxy to Wales. 
Another reason that Llywelyn was finally brought upon to relent concerning his first marriage appears to have been more political than mere ecclesiastical pressure.  In mid April 1205 Llywelyn married Princess Joan, the illegitimate daughter of King John.  Despite this, there is some evidence that the match was contemplated as early as 27 May 1203, when King John was looking at bringing Ellesmere, the dower of his aunt, Emma Plantagenet, under his direct control.  The implication is that the king was thinking of using this as dower for his own daughter being given in marriage to Llywelyn.  Therefore, it can be seen that all the pieces fit nicely together.  Llywelyn married his aunt by marriage soon after the death of Rhodri.  This was probably done to honour his alleged betrothal which would have to have been made before 15 June 1192 when Rhodri married the girl and apparently granted her lands in dower which had been granted, no doubt by Gruffydd ap Cynan, to Aberconwy abbey - hence the land claims made by King Reginald against Aberconwy abbey in September 1192.  If correct this would mean that the two known children of Llywelyn, the unnamed one who died in 1197 and Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, were both the grandchildren of King Reginald of Man.  This can virtually be confirmed by checking against the almost universally baseless assertions found in Wikipedia under the erroneous and anachronistic title of Llywelyn the Great rather than Llywelyn ab Iorwerth:

    Little is known of Llywelyn's mistress, Tangwystl Goch, except that she was the daughter of Llywarch "Goch" of Rhos.  Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (c. 1196–1244) was Llywelyn's eldest son and known to be the son of Tangwystl.

It is a great pity that no contemporary ‘knew' that Gruffydd was the son of Tangwystl, rather than he was a child of Llywelyn's then legitimate wife.  The pope's letters therefore make far more sense when considering Gruffydd ap Llywelyn's obvious grievance against his father and younger half-brother, Dafydd ap Llywelyn (d.1246); especially when it is realised what trouble Llywelyn went to in having Princess Joan declared legitimate; especially when he didn't go to such trouble for his own surviving child from his ill-starred first marriage, but he did make the effort, as detailed below, to have Gruffydd castigated by the pope as ‘the son of a slave girl'.  Once again the world of history has been ill-served by those who wish to make events up and fill in the historical voids with their own ignorance, rather than fact.
Finally, it can be seen that despite the matter of Llywelyn's marriage being unsound, the affair was still rumbling on two years later.  Consequently, the pope wrote again to his brethren of England concerning the matter - and it is immediately apparent that he wrote to the bishops of the see of Canterbury and not to the heads of lesser establishments, like abbots, priors and canons in Wales.  Unfortunately, yet again, this mandate has been cruelly precised.  Thus it was said to have been recorded:

    17 February 1205 [13 Kal Mar].  Mandate to the bishops of Ely, Norwich and St Asaph to bring to an end the cause relating to the marriage of the daughter of the prince of the Isles and Prince L. of North Wales.

The more modern version at least leans a bit more towards the complexity of the subject:

    17 Feb 1205.  To bp of Ely, bp of Norwich and bp of St Asaph.  Recounts the earlier history of the marriage case concerning Prince L of North Wales and the daughter of the prince of the Isles.  The last judges were not satisfied that the marriage of Llywelyn was valid and sent to the pope further evidence, including evidence that L, when betrothed to the girl, had married a sister of the earl of Chester.  As a result the pope decides that there has been no valid marriage between L and the daughter of the prince of the Isles.  He orders the addressees to summon the parties and give judgement accordingly.

Once again, when the copy of the original document is examined, rather than the best known, but misleading 39 words of the first precis, the story told is very different and totally changes the perception of Welsh history in this period.  The pope's real letter of some nine hundred words runs:

    To the bishops of Ely, Norwich and St Asaph.
    In order that they may conclude overturning the case of the marriage between the daughter of the prince of the Isles and the prince of North Wales.
    At St Peters, 16 February 1205.
    When formerly the beloved son, the noble man, Prince [Llywelyn] of North Wales, humbly asked of us, that from us to himself he might be allowed permission, the daughter of the noble man Prince [Reginald] of the Isles, whom he himself [Llywelyn] had claimed to espouse, to take in wife, notwithstanding that [Rhodri] his paternal uncle had been betrothed to the same woman before she was of marriageable age, since neither of them married the same [woman], we commissioned Bishop [Michael] of Man, of good memory, and our beloved sons [Gervase?] the archdeacon and Prior [?] of Ynys Llannog, to conclude the actual case in the specified form [This was on 24 November 1199, Book II, No.233 above].  And so with the parties assembled in the presence of the aforesaid judges, just as they themselves intimated to us via their letters, through the witnesses it was clearly established, that the aforesaid girl, having reached eight years, by Prince L. [Llywelyn] of North Wales, so much through her assent as through her parents, she was pledged, but, due to necessity he put off marrying her in person, the paternal uncle [Rhodri] of the same Llywelyn, without the consent of the same [Llywelyn] presently in person married her, who, she by no means became known carnally [to him], went the way of all flesh.  Therefore the previously named judges, having taken counsel of experienced men, granted the aforesaid prince of North Wales by apostolic authority, that he might betroth the same girl, lest the discord that once arose between himself and the parents of the girl, and was then calmed, should again arise.  We therefore, being of the same opinion, unless there might be other reason certainly to oppose it, desiring strongly that it might be maintained; [so] to our beloved sons, the abbot of Aberconwy, the prior of Enlli and Master M, a canon of Beddgelert, of Bangor diocese, we gave orders, by distant appeal, that they might strongly observe in person through ecclesiastical sentence.  Truly the aforesaid abbot and his co-judges, on account of the terms expressed in our letters, concerning that marriage, just as we had observed contained in their letters, zealously and carefully, received from the witnesses, they undertook to seek the truth.  Therefore by the production of four witnesses, and by rendering their depositions into writings, the things which they believed were sufficient to settle the case, with the assent of both parties, they undertook to transmit to us, that the truth of the business might be manifest to us, and that they might consider the conscience of the aforesaid prince; who said that the previous judges, and particularly the archdeacon and prior were ignorant of the law, and that our letters were obtained through mistaken propositions, nor did he himself believe that [the marriage] might be able to be saved with the same girl, who had been delivered over as wife to his paternal uncle [Rhodri], she often being in the one bed with him.  We therefore, by carefully examining the depositions of the witnesses, find it proven by them, that the same L. [Llywelyn] had himself sworn to take the girl herself in marriage, but she herself did not proclaim it, nor was it proved by witnesses that it had been blessed, or even that she might have been on the one land with the same, in as much as their lands are divided by the sea between them.  Likewise, enclosed in the records of the judges we have observed, that sufficient witnesses have been approved in court by themselves [the judges], [that] the girl was of eight years when the same L [Llywelyn] swore to take her.  However, the father of the girl [King Reginald], delayed taking his daughter into North Wales at the stated time, not to mention that the same L. [Llywelyn], the sister of the noble man Earl [Ranulf] of Chester, without objection anywhere, about the end of that year he took as his wife, and R. [Rhodri] his paternal uncle [Llywelyn's] was betrothed to the girl spoken of, and after a year in the presence of the Church entered into marriage with her, and from the beginning of May up to the feast of St Vitus the martyr [15 June], as often as it pleased the same, in the same bed he lay down with the same, and he returned to Wales and a considerable amount of time went past.  The other [Rhodri], in the second year from the time of the betrothal, truly the first from the time of their marriages, he returned to Man, peacefully cohabiting with his wife, and he took her with him through land and sea, but, at length at the court of her parents he left the same behind, he returned to Wales [1194], and there he went the way of all flesh.  Therefore the judges mentioned above deduced from the words of the witnesses that the aforesaid R. [Rhodri] had by that time been betrothed to the same girl for three years and three months, not to mention during two years and two months and fifteen days since the time of their marriages; however, there has been a difference between the witnesses, with some, from the fact that the girl at that time was slim/thin/meagre, in respect of which they judged that she had not been known carnally, although she was of marriageable age and swelling maturely/early; yet, some said it was unknown to them if it had come to light that she had been carnally known, truly some might believe that she might not have been known, truly some asserted that they had heard from R. [Rhodri] himself that he had not known her carnally; although adding that they themselves did not know whether afterwards she could have been with him.  In truth, the aforesaid bishop of Man, just as in his writings, and his following co-judges who examining the enclosed, with his co-judges absent, as much from the girl herself as from her parents, from her nurse and the household of the same he has been told on oath that the aforesaid R. [Rhodri] had not known the girl herself carnally.  Therefore, once the paternal uncle [Rhodri] had gone the way of all flesh, when the aforesaid L. [Llywelyn] asked from the king of Man a younger daughter to join in marriage, nor was he able to obtain that from the same, in as much as he was already coupled with her another way, the frequently said girl, with the assent of the preceding judges, after a while he [Llywelyn] joined her physically to himself.  Therefore it was established from the aforesaid that between the often mentioned L. [Llywelyn] and the aforesaid girl, at the time she might have been eight years, whose consent nevertheless was not found clearly expressed, before the paternal uncle, the same Llywelyn had entered into marriage with her, merely through words that in the future they would celebrate espousal; therefore, because the same Llywelyn neither took or pledged to the same, nor at the time had themselves blessed, in fact, on the contrary, they had not even been in the same land at the same time in so much as any lands, just as is expressed above, the sea divided between them: from whence it cannot be presumed that he was able to attempt anything, because they would not have been able to consummate.  It was also determined from the preceding that the girl herself was in her ninth year when the often said R. [Rhodri] married her [by pledge], and in her tenth when she was conducted [married], and for a further two years was frequently in the one bed with him.  From whence it is plainly deducted that the first letters were obtained by supplying a false proposition, seeing that it was maintained by the former that neither of them had taken the same.  And since they might have been simultaneously in one bed together, it is to be presumed according to the law that they had been one flesh, when furthermore in her twelfth year, in which the girl freely and lawfully in this gave her consent, she was willingly with the same, it is evident that she legally consented in this marriage and was not able to enter into legal marriage with the nephew afterwards.  Hence the same L. [Llywelyn] should not have been legally able to take her [as wife], and, if he has physically joined [in marriage] with her after the death of his paternal uncle, he requires to be rightly separated from her.  And therefore we command through your brotherhood through these apostolic letters, to what extent, you call those who should be summoned for this, cause a verdict itself in the following form, that the appeal is set aside, concluded, done, etc.

It is quite clear from this that Llywelyn's marriage, which appears to have begun soon after Rhodri's death, ended in the period of 1203 to 1205.  It also appears clear from this that Llywelyn was trying to maintain the marriage in 1199, but that his attitude had changed dramatically by 1203.  The story would seem to go like this.  After the initial inquest of 1199 it was decided that Llywelyn's marriage was unsound, but should not be annulled due to its benefits to all parties.  Yet by 1203, Llywelyn's position seems to have changed and certainly by 1205 he denounced the archdeacon of Bangor and the prior of Ynys Llannog as having been ignorant of the law when they examined the cause in 1199.  The implication of this is that he now wished to abandon his current wife and acquire the king's daughter as his spouse.  The result of this was the second inquisition of 1203 and the papal confirmation of 1205 that Llywelyn's marriage was unsound and was to be quashed.  The second enquiry was led by the abbot of Aberconwy and although it found that Llywelyn should not have married his current wife, it allowed matters to stand as it had brought peace to a dispute.  The abbot obviously knew this as part of his lands were the bone of contention between the king of the Isles and Llywelyn.  Quite obviously the abbot was protecting his own lands as well as the general well being of the land.  The result was the third hearing led by English ecclesiastics which has been preserved in greater detail than the two previous ones.  This shows clearly that most witnesses were of the opinion that Rhodri and his wife had not known each other carnally, but their evidence was not accepted as they were forced to make the lawyers' plea that although they knew that this had not happened, they could not swear that it had not happened out of their sight.  The main proponent of this view appears to have been Llywelyn ab Iorwerth himself.  It is therefore apparent that the prince had changed his viewpoint between 1199 and 1203.  The most logical reason for this, after his marriage had been accepted by the pope in 1199, is that he now wished to have his marriage annulled so that he could make a better match with a Plantagenet spouse.  Comparisons with his eighth great grandson, Henry VIII, are apparent.
A final point must be raised about the death of Rhodri as the dates given by the pope do not agree with the death date of the prince given in both the St David's and the Strata Florida versions of the Annales Cambriae.  They both record this as the first event of 1195, yet the pope's statement that Rhodri had been betrothed for three years and three months and married for two years, two months and fifteen days, means that he must have died about 30 August 1194.  This makes much more sense than Rhodri hanging about in limbo for twelve months after his defeat at Coedana.  Llywelyn chased him back from there to Holyhead where he died, no doubt of either dysentery or his wounds.  This also means that Rhodri betrothed the girl about 1 June 1191 when he was in the Isle of Man.  This again suggests that Rhodri was expelled from Gwynedd in late 1190 or early 1191.  Finally, the fragments of original evidence provide a plausible scenario for the events of 1190 to 1194, until and unless further original evidence might come to hand and change this reading.  The alternative that Rhodri became engaged to the Manx princess about 1 June 1192 and then married her a year later does not really work, as this would mean that King Reginald complained to the Cistercian chapter in 1192 before his daughter would have been given any dower and that Rhodri would have married her immediately before his Manx invasion of Anglesey.  In short, the 15 June 1192 marriage is the date that works best with the available evidence that survives.
The pope's final letter on the matter shows that by 1205 Prince Llywelyn had clearly repented of his former attitude and put his wife aside.  What became of her is unknown, but she was only 21 in 1203.  The pope's summation of the case and the appointment of the three bishops from Canterbury province in 1205 was obviously done to ensure that Llywelyn was free to marry again and this he did in mid April 1205.  The pope's summary clearly shows the desire for the regularisation of Llywelyn's matrimonial affairs and this it appears was intended to ensure that Gruffydd ap Llywelyn would never inherit Gwynedd if the proposed Plantagenet marriage proved fruitful.  It should also be noted that canonically illegal marriages seem commonplace at this time as is easily confirmed by a quick study of the Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles.
Looking at the personages involved in settling the cause of Llywelyn's marriage it is apparent that most were of Gwynedd, viz. the bishop of Man (who may have held or claimed some influence in Mon), the archdeacon of Bangor, the prior of Ynys Llannog, the abbot of Aberconwy, the prior of Enlli and a canon of Beddgelert.  All these were people directly connected with and within the patrimony of Prince Llywelyn.  However in 1205, two of those appointed were from the east of England and could not have been pressurised by Llywelyn.  Such might mean that the pope was worried by Llywelyn's attitude, or, more likely, he wished King John to be certain that Llywelyn was free to marry.  Certainly the responses of the ecclesiastical judges from Llywelyn's principality suggest that they were not overawed by him.  Further still, the princely complaints of the ignorance of two of them suggests that Llywelyn made strenuous efforts to overturn the previous finding in favour of the validity of his first marriage.  It is also interesting to see that the abbot of Aberconwy was placed in charge of overseeing the dissolution of Llywelyn's marriage in 1203.  This again shows the importance of the abbey after only seventeen years in existence.
It can be seen from this evidence that Llywelyn has never been known to have had any mistress or any illegitimate children, other than the surviving Gruffydd who was apparently only made illegitimate in 1203 by the dissolution of his parent's marriage.  The final question about Llywelyn's matrimonial habits that must be asked is was Tangwystl Goch the real name of Llywelyn's first wife, the daughter of King Reginald.  This Tangwystl, the alleged daughter of Llywarch Goch, appears to be a seventeenth century invention made simply to tidy up the family tree.  That said, there may have been a real person of this name who was associated with Prince Llywelyn.  Around 1336, ie over 130 years after the time being written about, the survey of Denbighshire recorded that the land of Dyncadvel in Llannefydd (Carvedvennith) was at some unknown time mortgaged to Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth for £13.

    Certainly which prince gave the said mortgage to some friend of his named Tangwystl Goch' and he sold that to some Cynan ap Laurence whose heirs hold that...
    Qui quidem Princeps dedit dictum pignus cuidam amice sue nomine Tanguestel Goch' que illam vendidit cuidam Canon ap Lauwar cuius progenies tenet illam...

The word used to describe Tangwystl is amice.  This comes from the Latin, amic/us and its case is vocative, singular and masculine.  If Tanguestel was a woman then surely the word would have been amica.  In short, it cannot be certain if this Tangwystl was male or female from the text, although the former is explicitly stated by the Latin, though this could possibly be a scribal error.  Finally, this supplies no evidence as to whether he/she was a lover of Llywelyn and mother of two of his children.
If there is no evidence that Tangwystl was female or the mother of Llywelyn's first children, there is another far more credible wife for Llywelyn in the form of Rhunallt, the daughter of the king of Man.  By c.1500 the bard Guttyn Owen mistakenly thought that Rhunallt was the bride of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, and not his mother.  Historically it is clear that Gruffydd only had one wife and that this was Senana ferch Caradog (bef.1200-52+).  Further they appear to have married before 1214 judging from the birth dates of their children.  This allows no time for Gruffydd to have married and had children by another wife.  As Senana outlived her husband there is little chance that Gruffydd had another wife from the Isle of Man.  The matter is confirmed by a poet contemporary to Owain Goch ap Gruffydd, the brother of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (d.1282), who calls Owain of the lineage of the kings of Man.  Quite clearly this refers to Owain's grandmother and establishes the four brothers' lineage through Rhunallt and the kings of Man.  It would therefore appear that this was not a very oblique reference to their distant ancestry through the half Irish Gruffydd ap Cynan (d.1137) as has been suggested in modern histories.
With Llywelyn ab Iorwerth's first wife clearly identified as Princess Rhunallt it is worth taking a further look at what occurred with the marriage of Llywelyn and Joan Plantagenet.  On 26 May 1222, the new pope, Honorius III (1216-27), the successor to Innocent III (1198-1216) who had quashed Llywelyn's first marriage, wrote to ‘his beloved noble man, Lord Llywelyn of North Wales'.  This was in reply to a now lost letter of the prince asking that as Llywelyn, with the consent of King Henry III, Archbishop Stephen of Canterbury and Legate Pandulf, had abolished the detestable custom that illegitimate children should inherit just as if they were legitimate, that the pope would confirm this.  Further, the prince asked that the pope would confirm Llywelyn's statute that his son Dafydd ‘by his legitimate wife Joan, daughter of the late king of England' should succeed him by hereditary right in all his possessions'.  Various versions of this text have been printed.  It is therefore once again necessary to consider them here and then see what was actually stated.

    26 May [7 Kal June] 1222, Confirmation for Llywelyn Lord of North Wales, on his petition showing that there is a detestable custom in his country that the son of the handmaid should be heir with the son of the free, putting legitimate and illegitimate sons on the same footing, of an ordinance made by him, with the consent of King Henry and by the authority of Stephen Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury and Pandulf Bishop Elect of Norwich then acting as legate, to the effect that his son, Dafydd born of Joan, daughter of the late king of England, should succeed him.

The text this translation appears to have come from actually seems to have run:

    Nobili viro Lowelino domino Norwallie.  Confirmat statutum quod ipse in terra suae ditioni subiecta cum consensu Henrici regis Anglorum fecerat, consentientibus quoque Stephano Cantuariensi archiepiscopo S R E Cardinali et Pandulpho Norwiciensi electo Apostolicae Sedis Legato, contra abusum in eius terra introductum, ut illegitimi succederent in hereditates sicut et legitimi, ordinando ut David filius suus quem ex Iohanna filia cl. mem. [et] regis Angliae uxore sua legitima suscepit, haereditario iure in omnibus bonis suis ei succedat.
This literally translates as:

    To the nobleman Lord Llywelyn of North Wales.  Confirming a statute that [Llywelyn] himself in the land lying under his authority made with the consent of King Henry of the English, likewise acting together with Archbishop Stephen of Canterbury... and Pandulf the elect of Norwich and legate of the Apostolic See, against the abuse which has been introduced into his land, that the illegitimate may succeed in hereditary [title] just as the legitimate: orders that Dafydd his son who was born from Joanna the daughter of Clementia [cl. mem.] [and] of the king of England, his [Llywelyn's] lawfully accepted wife, that he might succeed him in hereditary right in all his goods.

The differences are readily apparent and at first sight the handmaidens of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth appear ready to be dispatched back into the realms of scripture from which they were summoned forth in the last century.  However, recent scholarship has found and translated the original letter of the pope, filling in many blanks from standard formulae found in other papal letters, which have largely been left out in the first two extracts above.

    Petition stating that since a detestable custom has developed in his land, whereby the son of the handmaiden was equally heir with the son of the free woman and illegitimate sons obtained an inheritance as if they were legitimate, Llywelyn has abolished this custom, that was contrary to divine and human law, with the consent of King Henry of England, as well as the authority of Archbishop Stephen of Canterbury and Pandulf, bishop elect of Norwich and legate, and has ordained that henceforth the canonical sanctions should be inviolably followed in the aforesaid cases, issuing a statute whereby Dafydd, his son by his legitimate wife Joan, daughter of the late king of England, should succeed him by hereditary right in all his possessions.  Llywelyn seeks confirmation of the statute by apostolic authority.

The above precis had been made from the following Latin text:

    Nobili viro Lowelino domino Norwallie.  Cum a nobis petitur... effectum.  Sane tua petitio nobis exhibita continebat quod cum quedam detestabilis consuetudo vel potius corruptela inolevisset in terra tue ditioni subiecta, ut videlicet filius ancille esset heres cum filio libere et illegitimi filii hereditatem sicut legitimi obtinerent, tu karissimi in Cristo filii nostri Henr regis Anglor illustris domini tui accedente consensu ac etiam interveniente auctoritate venerablilis fratris nostri Stephani Cantuarien archiepiscopi sancte Roman ecclesie cardinalis ac dilecti filii Pandulfi Norwicen electi tunc in partibus illis legationis officium exercentis consuetudinem seu corruptelam huiusmodi iuri divino et humano contrariam abolere ac extirpare curasti, statuendo ut in predictis casibus id decetero in prefata terra inviolabiliter conservetur quod cautum est per canonicas et legitimas sanctiones, secundum statutum huiusmodi ordinando ut David filius tuus quem ex Iohanna filia clare memorie regis Anglie uxore tua legitima suscepisti hereditario iure te succedat in omnibus bonis tuis; quare nobis humiliter supplicasti ut predictum statum apostolico roborare munimine dignaremur.  Nos igitur iustis precibus tuis benignum impertientes assensum, statutum ipsum sicut provide factum est auctoritate apostolica confirmanus communimus.  Nulli ergo conffirmationis infringere.  Si quis autem... Dat' Alatri vii kal iunii anno sexto.

A more literal translation of this would run:

    To the nobleman Lord Llywelyn of North Wales.  Bringing about from us the attached petition.  Certainly your petition to us showed that since some detestable custom or rather corruption has developed in the land subject to your authority - as evidently the son of the slave girl could be the heir together with the son of the free woman and illegitimate sons could obtain the inheritance just as the legitimate - you [Llywelyn] and your Lord Henry, the illustrious king of the English, beloved sons of Christ, have agreed in harmony and also furthermore with the intervening authority of our beloved sons, our venerable brother Archbishop Stephen of Canterbury, cardinal saint of the Roman church and also Pandulf the elect of Norwich then in those parts as official legate in the customary manner, or if the corruption of this sort contrary to divine and human justice is to be abolished and rooted out in curing, it is required to be established that in the preceding case it henceforth in the before mentioned land inviolably will be followed that the provisions of the law is by canonical and lawful ordinances, according to the statute of this sort as composed [by you] that Dafydd your son, who from Joan the daughter of Clementia and the king of England, your legal wife, should succeed in receiving your inheritance by right in all your possessions; wherefore from us you asked as a supplicant that the preceding apostolic statute we might think worthy to strengthen by this fortification.  We therefore to your just prayers bestow assent, the statute itself just as provident is made by the authority of the apostolic See strongly fortified and confirmed.  Therefore no one is to infringe on this confirmation.  However if any do....  Dated at Alatri the seventh calends of June in our sixth year.

This important document therefore indicates that even at this late date Llywelyn was very interested in bolstering the lineage of his children by his second marriage by further downgrading the legitimacy of his children by his first wife.  It also gives us the true name of Princess Joan's mother, Clementia.  This adds another dimension to the story of Prince Llywelyn's marriages, for this Clementia is easily traceable in the records and she impacted appreciably on the politics of the age (Fig.13). 
Clementia was born before 1180, possibly in Fougères, Brittany, to William Fougeres (d.7 June 1187) and his wife, Agatha Hommet.  Agatha was a granddaughter to the great Richard Humez Hommet (d.1181), the seneschal of Normandy for Henry II.  Her ancestry is asserted in a copy of a charter, probably of 1232, when the widowed Clementia gave away her Lincolnshire lands of Freiston (Fotstun) and Bennington (Benyngton) on the death of her husband, Earl Ranulf of Chester.  In this she describes herself as Clemenciae filiae Willielmi de Fugeres.  Before 1193 she would seem to have presented Count John with an illegitimate daughter who was named after the king himself, Johanna.  Today this Johanna is better known as Princess Joan or in modern times, Siwan of Wales.  Before 1199 Clementia had married Alan Vitre of Dinan, for 1199 is the last possible year in which she could have given birth to Gervaise Vitre of Dinan.  Before 1218 Gervaise married Juhel Mayenne and presented him with three daughters before his death in battle in 1220.  Gervaise lived on until after 23 December 1236.  Another reason Clementia's marriage must have taken place before 1199 is that on 7 October 1200 she, obviously as a widow, married the thirty year old Earl Ranulf Blunderville of Chester.  A copy of the charter by which her brother, Geoffrey Fougeres, gave her away tells much of her history.  In this charter Geoffrey granted lands to Earl Ranulf together with his sister, Clementia.  This included all the lands that she was given when she married Alan Dinan, which was all the land the family held in the valley of Mortain (Moretoniae) and the manor of Bennington (Belingtona) in England.  This was currently held by William St John by the custom of England as he had received it as the marriage portion of his wife, Olive, who was the mother of Clementia's and Geoffrey's grandfather, Ralph Fougeres.  Before the witness list came a confirmation of William Hommet, the constable of Normandy, who swore that the gifts were legal.  This William was maternal grandfather to Clementia and Geoffrey.  A second charter made on the day of the wedding carried the seals of both Williams and Ranulf as well as confirming the lineage of Clementia and her marriage to Alan Dinan.  There can be little doubt that the Queen Clementia of Wales who died in 1252 was the same woman who was wife to Earl Ranulf and Alan Dinan and mother of Princess Joan of Wales (d.1237).
From all this information it is possible to see that when Prince Llywelyn married Johanna Plantagenet in April 1205, Earl Ranulf (Fig.13) became his step father-in-law.  It is also possible that he was already his brother-in-law, if Llywelyn had married Ranulf's sister in 1192.  Here we finally have the coming together of Ranulf and Llywelyn in alliance and this explains much of their acting in unison in the coming years.  The Tewkesbury chronicler was certainly aware of the relationship, for on the death of Princess Joan in 1237.  He wrote:

    The Lady Johanna of Wales died, the wife of Llywelyn, daughter of King John and Queen Clementia, 30 March.

Queen Clementia is a bit of an overstatement, but no doubt the scribe who wrote the entry was aware that Clementia was the legitimised consort of a king and the mother of a princess.  The ecclesiastical logic that as Joan was the legitimised daughter of King John then Clementia must have been lawful wife and consequently was queen dowager of England is therefore natural, if a little strange to us today.
The knowledge that these events give to us makes much more sense of the relationship between Earl Ranulf and Prince Llywelyn.  It was one of father-in-law to son-in-law.  This makes far more sense of Llywelyn rushing to meet Ranulf when he returned from Crusade on 16 August 1220.  It is just such a great pity that this scribe never finished the sentence he was writing about the affair.  This relationship explains why Earl Ranulf abandoned Cheshire's western provinces in Wales so easily to Llywelyn.  He did not abandon them, he passed them on to his step-daughter and his son-in-law.  There was no ‘conquest' of Tegeingl by Llywelyn, it became a marriage portion and this is why the cantref was treated differently in Llywelyn's 1211 treaty with King John.  This treaty and Tegeingl will be examined later.  Consequently, the harmony seen between the two is more easily explainable.  Especially when it is remembered that Ranulf was childless and therefore that Llywelyn, via his wife, Johanna could be considered as an heir to his wife's dower.  Such a family bond tends to make a nonsense of the suggestion that Ranulf ‘had a fellow-feeling for a great territorial lord whose franchises were threatened by the activity of the central government'.  It also makes far more sense of the contemporary statement that Ranulf was both family and friend to Llywelyn.  Family was the reason for their closeness, not politics.
Clementia's daughter, Johanna Plantagenet, would appear to have been at least forty years old at the time of her death in 1237, ie born before 1197.  This age is suggested as the children she bore Llywelyn were born from 1208 at the latest onwards.  According to the pope it was against religion and custom for husbands and wives to indulge in carnal relations before the girl had reached the age of eleven.  This suggests, but does not prove, that Johanna was born before 1197 to be at least eleven by that date.  As her mother was married to Alan Dinan before 1198 at the very latest and gave birth to his daughter, Gervaise (d.1236) before 1199, it would suggest that Johanna was born before 1198 at the very earliest to allow Clementia time to give birth to her second daughter, Gervaise, by 1199.  Johanna's marriage to Prince Llywelyn in 1205 would suggest she was a minimum of eleven years old, again according to the pope's letter quoted above concerning her predecessor as Llywelyn's wife, although the evidence related above shows she was probably at least twelve.  During their married life Johanna presented Llywelyn with at least seven children, Dafydd around 1213, Gwladys Ddu before 1208, Margaret before 1209, Angharad, Gwenlliam and Helen/Eleanor all before 1210 and finally, after a suspiciously long gap, Susannah before 1228.  These tentative dates are based upon marriage dates or contemporary mentions.  It can therefore be seen that Johanna died quite young, being somewhat over forty years old, especially when considering the age her mother reached.  Clementia Fougeres died on 26 December 1252.  She was aged at least 72.  Little is recorded of her activities after her marriage to Earl Ranulf in 1200.
That the problem of succession was strong in Prince Llywelyn's mind is obvious from the great lengths he went to strengthen his second marriage.  Indeed, on 29 April 1226, he, working in tandem with his nephew, King Henry III (1207-72), secured a papal dispensation which legitimised his wife.  The precis of this runs:

    Dispensation to Joan wife of Prince Llywelyn of North Wales, declaring her legitimate, but without prejudice to the king or realm of England.  Mandate to the bishops of St David's, Bangor, and St Asaph, on the showing of Prince Llywelyn, that he, by command of King Henry, caused an oath of fealty to be taken by the great men of Wales to his eldest son David, to give counsel and help that the oaths so taken be inviolably observed.

It would appear from this that Llywelyn did everything practical, after he succeeded in having his first marriage annulled by the pope, to make as sure as possible that his marriage to his second wife was as secure as he could make it for the benefit of his youngest son, Dafydd ap Llywelyn (d.1246).  It has been argued that an oath of fealty was given to Dafydd in 1226 on his reaching fourteen years of age.  If this is the case, Dafydd was born in March 1212, ie. about a month before the pope's reply to Llywelyn's letter, when presumably the ceremony of fealty took place.  A week later, on 6 May 1226, a papal bull was issued confirming Prince Llywelyn of North Wales in all the liberties that King John had allowed him.  It was at this time that Dafydd's half brother, Gruffydd, was granted a large share of Powys.  It is therefore possible that Dafydd's coming of age was recognised with Gruffydd being granted Powys as his patrimony.  It should be remembered that Llywelyn's mother was Margery ferch Madog, the daughter of the last king of a united Powys, Madog ap Maredudd (d.1160).  It is therefore quite possible that Llywelyn was intending to substitute Gruffydd for the heirs of Gwenwynwyn as prince of Powys.  If this was his intention it failed within two years and Gruffydd was condemned to six years imprisonment by his father.  It is interesting to note that Gruffydd was apparently imprisoned in Degannwy castle immediately before the Ceri campaign of 1228.  As Ceri was an area that had been under Gruffydd's control it is possible that Gruffydd's removal from southern Powys by his father was another factor in having the king invade the commote, and that just maybe the king was acting on behalf of his vassal, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, just as he would later claim to do in 1241.  It is to be presumed that the six years of Gruffydd's imprisonment, which seems to have begun early in the year and certainly before 26 September 1228 when Abbot William of Chester died, was used by Dafydd to tighten his grip on Wales as the only legitimate heir to his father.
Another factor that has been generally overlooked in the affairs of North Wales is the involvement of the kings of Man.  King Reginald obviously wanted a good life for his daughter and seemed happy with her marrying two princes who were vying for supremacy in North Wales.  He certainly was intricately involved with Rhunallt's marriage to Rhodri as he invaded Mon - unsuccessfully as it turned out - on the strength of it.  His dispute with Aberconwy abbey was quite likely due to Rhunallt's marriage portion having been granted to Aberconwy abbey by Gruffydd ap Cynan after he had overwhelmed Rhodri in Mon.  The dower was probably made in June 1192 when Rhodri took Rhunallt as his wife.  What Reginald thought of Llywelyn's marriage to his daughter after the prince had helped hound Rhodri to his death is unknown, although he obviously consented in it as she had been left under his care in Man when Rhodri had returned to Wales.  Further, the bishop of Man being appointed to oversee the cause of the marriage in 1199 would suggest that he was still favourable to it at that date.  The pope's later comments would also support that view.  Finally in 1205, a series of royal documents concerning the king of Man throw more light upon the affair.
On 8 February 1205, when Prince Llywelyn had set aside Rhunallt, but had yet to marry Joan Plantagenet, King John, while at Woodstock, took Reginald under his personal protection.

    King John undertakes the protection of King Reginald of Man.
    Know that we have accepted our beloved kinsman, King Reginald of Man, into our safe-keeping, protection and legal maintenance and all his lands and his men.  And we prohibit anyone, to inflict injury upon, or annoyance on the same, because if any should make forfeit against him, this fact will be reflected upon by us.

That this was happening exactly when Llywelyn was finalising his wedding plans with John's daughter is too apparent a coincidence to overlook.  It would appear that the king was ensuring that Reginald would not be vexed or suffer undue loss caused by the annulment.  On the same day, one year later at Salisbury, the king issued a safe conduct for his ‘beloved and faithful relation, King Reginald of the Isles' in coming to see him over Easter.  Even the phraseology of this demands comment.  In what way was King John related to King Reginald IV of Man?  Strictly speaking, he was his half second cousin once removed, via his great grandmother being an illegitimate daughter of King Henry I, King John's great grandfather.  If this was not the family so obliquely being alluded to in John's letters, then it seems more likely the immediate link of King John and King Reginald with Prince Llywelyn via his first wife is the answer, though neither suggestion can be directly proved.
It is not possible to state what the two kings discussed, but John's attitude is interesting in that he accepted Reginald as a king, but only ever referred to Llywelyn as prince.  It is entirely possible that Reginald's continuing dealings with King John may have been due to his interest in otherwise unknown lands in Mon, held as the dower of Rhunallt.  Certainly it is possible to speculate that Reginald took Llywelyn's side in the Welsh war of 1210-11 and 1212-17.  Two records support this assumption.  On 16 March 1212, King Reginald of Man became a liege man of King John, after John seems to have acquired military control of Man during his Irish campaign of 1211.  With Llywelyn having been brought soundly to heel in August 1211 this seems a natural move to confirm John's power in the Irish Sea.  The notification of the agreement also shows John's sly sense of humour, considering his struggle with the pope at this time.
    Greetings to all faithful Christians and King Reginald of the Isles, I present a charter for inspection.
    Know that he has come to be the liege man of the lord King John of England against all mortals as long as I live, and the same thereupon tenders faithfulness and an oath of allegiance.  And in this thing I therefore make this charter thereupon.  Witnessed Bishop Peter of Winchester, Earl W of Salisbury, Earl Geoffrey Fitz Peter of Essex, Earl Saer of Winchester, William Briwere and Warin Fitz Gerold at Lambeth.

If this was the king's method of binding Llywelyn's ex-father-in-law to him, the process failed as Reginald subsequently joined in the Welsh revolt.  This can be seen by a letter of the regent to the king of 16 January 1218.  In this Earl William Marshall states:

    The king of the Isles has letters of conduct to come to the king to pay his homage to the same & for the excesses made by his men against the lord king, as much in England is in Ireland, by the men of his land, & in staying and in returning.  And the conduct will endure up to 15 days after Easter in the second year of the reign of King Henry, witnessed by the earl at Winchester.  And the justiciar of Ireland is ordered not to interfere, or permit molestation to occur, or any unjust injury or inconvenience to the said king, or his men, or the lands of the said king of the Isles.

Quite evidently the king of the Isles had been at war with the king of England before this point.  The obvious time for his rebellion was in the period leading up to Magna Carta.  Unfortunately, of Reginald's actions and the status of his daughter at this time there is no further mention.  Although this is the last time that Reginald seems to have been recorded in possible dealings with Wales, his family involvement with Llywelyn appears one more time, much later in 1241.  This will be considered in a later Chapter, Aberconwy Abbey During the Wars of Prince Dafydd, 1240 to 1246.
In conclusion, it can be seen that the artificially created ‘evidence' that Llywelyn did not have a first wife coloured the opinions of the editors of the nineteenth century papal registers, thus reinforcing a recent invention at the cost of real history.  Once more ‘the infallible bards' who recorded history accurately down through the generations until they could be written down in the sixteenth century can be seen to have the historical strength of nothing more than wishful thinking.  The damage done to medieval history by ‘bards' and ‘heralds' from the Renaissance onwards concocting family trees and ‘history' may possibly never be undone.  As if such invention were not bad enough, a quick search of the Internet shows that modern ‘bards' have given the fictional (and male) Tangwystl a birth date of c.1168 in Denbighshire and a death date of 30 March 1226 in Caernarfonshire.  Such dates are totally fantastic - even more so when you consider that there were no shires in North Wales other than Cheshire and Shropshire before 1284!  Mind you, this does contradict that historically woeful source, Wikipedia, which gleefully speculates that Tangwystl had obviously died in childbirth as she is heard of no more.  Certainly that is a useful way to dispose of the awkward fact of the lady's non existence in contemporary records.

This is one chapter out of the book: The Aberconwy Register and Aberconwy Abbey


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry

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