Stewart Baldwin posted to soc.genealogy.medieval on 29
Jun 1997 (in part):
Subject: Re: Rhoderic Mawr, King of Wales
"Rhodri Mawr, king of Gwynedd, died in 878. ["Rhoderic" is an Anglicization of the Welsh name "Rhodri".] Although he was an important Welsh king, it is not really appropriate to call him the "first King of Wales", for there were large parts of Wales over which he did not rule. Most sources give the name of Rhodri's wife as ANGHARAD, heiress of Ceredigion, and give his mother as NEST, heiress of Powys, but Patrick Sims-Williams [in the article "Historical Need and Literary Narrative: a Caveat from Ninth-Century Wales", Welsh History Review, vol. 17 (1994), pp. 1-40] has recently argued (conclusively, in my opinion) that neither NEST nor ANGHARAD ever existed, and that they were inventions of later genealogists who wanted to give Rhodri's family a line of descent from the earlier kings of Powys and Ceredigion. Rhodri's ancestry, as taken from the best records (The Harleian genealogies and the Welsh and Irish annals), is given in this genealogy. Names are given here in their Old Welsh forms, with Modern Welsh ["MW"] forms given in brackets.
According to legend, the first Dinefwr Castle (right) was built by Rhodri Mawr - King of Wales in the 9th century. It is unavoidable that attention should focus on those Welsh rulers who extended their power over much of Wales in the centuries prior to the Norman conquest. They foreshadowed the attempts by the princes of Gwynedd in the 13th century to create a unified Welsh state, and they matched contemporary developments in England, and similar, but later, developments in Scotland. So, Rhodri Mawr (844-78) is presented as one who set a pattern for the future. He either ruled or, by his personal qualities, dominated much of Wales.
Chroniclers of his generation hailed Rhodri ap Merfyn
as Rhodri Mawr (Rhodri the Great), a distinction bestowed upon two other
rulers in the same century - Charles the Great (Charlemagne, died 814)
and Alfred the Great (died 899). The three tributes are of a similar nature
- recognition of the achievements of men who contributed significantly
to the growth of statehood among the nations of the Welsh, the Franks and
the English. Unfortunately, the entire evidence relating to the life of
Rhodri consists of a few sentences; yet he must have made a deep impression
upon the Welsh, for in later centuries being of the line of Rhodri was
a primary qualification for their rulers. Until his death, Rhodri was acknowledged
as ruler of more than half of Wales, and that as much by diplomacy as by
Rhodri's fame sprang from his success as a warrior. That success was noted by The Ulster Chronicle and by Sedulius Scottus, an Irish scholar at the court of the Emperor Charles the Bald at Liege. It was his victory over the Vikings in 856 which brought him international acclaim. Wales was less richly provided with fertile land and with the navigable rivers that attracted the Vikings, and the Welsh kings had considerable success in resisting them. Anglesey bore the brunt of the attacks, and it was there in 856 that Rhodri won his great victory over Horn, the leader of the Danes, much to the delight of the Irish and the Franks.
It was not only from the west that the kingdom of Rhodri
was threatened. By becoming the ruler of Powys, his mother's land, he inherited
the old struggle with the kingdom of Mercia. Although Offa's Dyke had been
constructed in order to define the territories of the Welsh and the English,
this did not prevent the successors of Offa from attacking Wales. The pressure
on Powys continued; after 855, Rhodri was its defender, and he and his
son, Gwriad, were killed in battle against the English in 878.
Merfyn Frych - King of Gwynedd - Death: 844 in Battle of Cyfeilioy, Wales & Nest
Gwriad - King of the Isle of Man - b: in Isle of Man, England & Esyllt
"Gwriad, probably from the Isle of Man, and possibly the person named on an inscription ("CRUX GURIAT") on a cross in the Isle of Man which has been dated to the eighth or ninth century. [Note: The genealogy which purports to make Gwriad a direct male-line descendant of Llywarch Hen is almost certainly a late fabrication. It is more likely that his paternal ancestors were among those who are named in HG.4, but the exact line of descent (if any) is uncertain, and Gwriad's parentage must be regarded as unknown. See SW for a discussion of these issues. See also GH.]"
. Source abbreviations:
. HG = Genealogies from Harleian MS. 3859, fo. 193r-195r, edited in EWGT, pp. 9-13 (a copy made ca. 1100 of genealogies compiled probably between 954 and 988)
. GH = Bedwyr L. Jones, "Gwriad's Heritage: Links between Wales and the Isle of Man in the Early Middle Ages", Transaction of the Honourable Society of the Cymmrodorion (1990), 29-44.
. EWGT = Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts, edited by P. C. Bartrum (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1966).
. SW = Patrick Sims-Williams, "Historical Need and Literary Narrative: a Caveat from Ninth Century Wales", The Welsh History Review 17
son of: Elidir
son of: Sandde & Celeinion
son of: Alcwn
son of: Tegid
Gwair - Turton's "Plantagenet Ancestry" shows his wife as Anna - sister of King Arthur but this appears to be due to confusion with another Gwair.
son of: Dwg
son of: Llywarch Hen - King of Rheged
son of: Elidir Lydanwyn - King of Rheged & Gwawr
son of: Meirchion Gul - King of Rheged
son of: Gwrwst Ledlwm - King of Rheged
son of: Ceneu - King of North Britain
son of: Coel Hen Godenbog - King of North Britain & Ystradwal