« ПредишнаНапред »
fortunes ; and it is probable, that Henry the Third might have claimed the honour of effectually subduing this nation, had he succeeded in quenching that high-born spirit of enthusiastic patriotism, which glowed in the breasts of the Cambrian nobility. But this was an achievement reserved for time and oppression only to accomplish ; and for nearly two centuries after the subjugation of their country, we find sparks of this fiery valour occasionally emitted in attempts to regain that freedom so congenial to the wild habits of the mountaineer. : Davydd, who died in 1246, left his country in a very miserable condition; and many causes conspired, at this period, to render deplorable the situation of the Cambro-British. Henry had already succeeded in reducing the territories of the Welsh prince within the limits of Merioneth and Caernarvon; and Anglesey, the granary of Wales, had been so entirely laid waste by the Irish, that a large quantity of corn, which had been deposited there, was either destroyed or carried away by the plunderers. By this event, the Welsh were deprived of their principal source of subsistence; for they could not be supplied with provisions from other parts, as orders had been given by the English king in the Marches, and in Ireland, that on pain of certain death no merchandize or victual should be carried into Wales: he also commanded all the salt-works to be destroyed. Thus harrased and oppressed, they had neither opportunity nor spirit to carry on commerce, or to cultivate their land, and were consequently perishing by famine. They were likewise deprived of the usual pasturage for their cattle, and, to use the words of an old writer, " the harp of the churchmen was changed into sorrow and lamentations; the glory of their proud and ancient nobility was faded away !"* . It was under these discouraging circumstances, that Llewelyn ab Gruffydd, the last crowned Prince of Wales, ascended the tottering throne of his ancestors. Of an age when the heart is replete with enthusiasm and confidence, he shrunk not from the gloomy and desolate prospect before him, but immediately adopted such firm and decisive measures as were best calculated to throw off a yoke which had become so galling and oppressive. “The eyes of the Welsh nobility,” says the historian,
To such a state of misery were the Welsh reduced, that the Bishop of St. David is said to have died of grief, and the Bishop of Llandaff to have been stricken blind. The bishops of Bangor and St. Asaph, likewise, on the entire ruin of their bishoprics, were under the necessity of supplicating alms as a means of subsistence !-Matthæi Paris, monach. Alban. Angl. Histor. major, ad annum, 1246: edit. W. Wats, fol. Paris, 1644.
" were at length opened. A series of injuries had roused them into a sense of their lost condition. Actuated by one common spirit, the chieftains of Wales resorted to Llewelyn, and complained of the grievances which they had long endured from prince Edward, and from the lords of the Marches; that their estates had been taken from them by force, without any colour of justice, and that they also were treated with the most rigorous severity, whenever they committed the smallest offence; but that they themselves could obtain no redress for the injury wbich was done them by the English. In the most solemn manner, and with an afflicted but manly spirit, they declared, that they would rather die in the field, in defence of their natural rights, than be subject any longer to so cruel and detested an enemy. Necessity, virtue, and despair, influenced Llewelyn to second their ardour. They all determined to rescue their country from its vile dependence upon England, or bravely to perish amidst the ruins of its freedom.”*
The result of this gallant determination was the immediate commencement of hostilities against England ; and the two nations were once more involved in a war, which was carried on with mutual energy and valour. But Llewelyn found in prince Edward an adversary in every respect his equal. The rival princes were both young: Edward, indeed, when he first appeared in arms against the Welsh, had scarcely passed his seventeenth year, and Llewelyn was only a few years his senior. The one fought for conquest and renown,-the other for life. and liberty, for his crown and his country; and as both were actuated by motives which spurred them to exertion, it was not likely that the contest would terminate either tamely or speedily. The event has proved how prolonged was its duration,--how fatal and unfortunate to Wales were its termination and immediate consequences !
It is impossible to contemplate the patriotic struggles of the Welsh during this disastrous period, without admiring their heroism. They were gallantly contending for their birth-right,
- for the ancient and revered laws of their ancestors; and the most noble feelings of patriotism and loyalty animated them to defend those laws, and to preserve them from violation by a cruel and detested enemy. But in vain did they strive against the overwhelming power of England. After a succession of unhappy vicissitudes, they submitted to the yoke of the conqueror, and lamented in the gloom and solitude of their mountains the loss of their loved independence.
At the death of Llewelyn—who fell, as a hero ought to fall,
in battle*-the right of sovereignty accrued to his brother Davydd, who did not, however, live long enough to be crowned. This event had no sooner transpired, than Edward gave full scope to his detestation of Llewelyn, and his unfortunate countrymen. His conduct towards this gallant prince was characterized throughout by a malignant and revengeful spirit; and, totally unmindful of even the common feelings of humanity and pity, he offered the most insulting indignities to his mangled remains. He refused them the ordinary rites of sepulture, and Llewelyn's corpse was not suffered to be interred in consecrated ground, until several of the English nobility had interceded with the king; and even this indulgence, small as it was, was not allowed till the dead body of the prince had undergone the ceremony of absolution from the Archbishop of Canterbury. His head, which was brought to Edward soon after the battle by Stephen de Fanketon, as a trophy of the highest value, was immediately sent to the capital, and placed in the pillory in Westcheap, encircled with a silver coronet, in ridicule of a prophecy of the celebrated Merlin, who foretold, that Llewelyn should one day wear the crown of Brutus. It was subsequently fixed on the point of a spear, and carried through the streets by a horseman, and afterwards placed upon the highest turret in the tower of London, where it remained, for a long time, a terrible memento of Edward's cruelty. Davydd was even more unfortunate, for he fell alive into the hands of his enemies. At the death of his brother, he boldly asserted his claim to the throne of Wales ; and his right of sovereignty was unanimously acknowledged by his countrymen. But the King of England did not acquiesce quite so readily in these measures : be was well aware, that while Davydd was in existence, it would be in vain for him to endeavour to take possession of his dominions. He, therefore, promptly followed up the advantage he had gained by the death of Llewelyn, and, advancing farther into the principality, carried terror, dismay, and desolation, in his progress. "Having entirely subdued the inhabitants of the Snowdon mountains, he descended into the plains, and
* Llewelyn reigned thirty-six years, the whole of which period was occupied in warfare with the English.. Warrington, (vol. ii. 271) and the other Welsh historians give a detailed account of his last battle.
+ Hen. Knyghton Chronica de Event. Angliæ, p. 2464. Gutherie's General History of England, vol. i. p. 897, fol. ed. Holinshed says, the head was brought to London by Lord Edward Mortimer, and carried“ on a staffe with an yvie crowne set upon it, in token he was a prince.”—Historie of England by Raphael Holinshed, fol. black letter, p. 281.
soon made himself master of the more level parts of the country; while the miserable natives, in despair, and unresisting, were indiscriminately slaughtered without mercy. Prince Davydd, no longer able to make any resistance, yielded to the torrent which overwhelmed his country; and saved his life, for the present, by concealing himself in the woods and mountains. He was betrayed, however, into the hands of the English by two of his own chieftains ;* and Edward-still cruel and unrelenting—prepared to make an impressive example of his unhappy captive. At an early period of his brother's reign, Davydd had swerved from his allegiance to Llewelyn, and fled into England, where he took an active part against the Welsh, in conjunction with Lord Audley and the other Border Barons.t In return for the services thus rendered, Edward conferred upon him the honour of knighthood, appointing him, at the same time, the seneschal and keeper of all those castles in Wales, which had been taken from Llewelyn. In consequence of this creation, Davydd was considered by Edward, in every respect, a liege subject of England; and the king resolved to proceed against him as a rebel, and not as a prince who had been engaged in the defence of his dearest rights. For this purpose, eleven earls and one hundred barons were summoned to open the process at Shrewsbury, on the 30th of September, 1283, and to sit in judgement on his trial. By this court, the prince was doomed to the death of a traitor; and the severe sentence for the crime of treason was executed upon his person with all its minute and horrid barbarity. I The English seem to bave shared with their king the hatred which he entertained towards his victim. Such, indeed, was the pleasure which the death of Davydd excited, that the citizens of York and Winchester contended, with savage eagerness, for the right arm and shoulder of this unfortunate prince. That honour was decided in favour of the latter, and the remaining quarters were sent,
* These were Einion ab Ivor, and Gronw ab Davydd. When the prince was taken, a relic was found upon him, called Croesenych, supposed to be part of the real cross, highly venerated by the princes of Wales, and brought by St. Neot from the Holy Land. This, with the crown of the celebrated Arthur, and many other valuables, was, at this time, presented to Edward.—Joannis Rossi antiquar. Warwicensis Histor. Regum Anglia, 8vo ed. Oxon. 1745, p. 200-1.
+ He became reconciled, however, to Llewelyn about a year before the death of that prince, and firmly co-operated with him in his contests with the English.See The Chronicle of Caradoc of Llancarvan, englished by Dr. Powell, p. 286.
I Davydd is said to have been the first person in England upon whom this barbarous punishment was fully inflicted.
royal powerthus was ext
teraits in the
with the utmost despatch, to York, Bristol, and Northampton. To feast still more daintily the eyes of the people, his head was sent to the Tower of London, and placed near that of his brother Llewelyn. Every generous idea and every liberal sentiment seem to have been utterly annihilated in the wild frenzy of joy which had seized on the English.*
Thus died Davydd ab Gruffydd, and thus was extinguished the last faint spark of the royal power of Cambria. There were several traits in the character of this prince which are justly calculated to throw an odium on his memory, and an eminent Welsh writer has accused him of perfidy to his brother, to his country, and to Edward, whom he stiles his benefactor and protector. But we are inclined to think more kindly of him, on account of his misfortunes and melancholy death, as well as of the bravery and spirit with which he eventually espoused the cause of his people. Edward, indeed, wished it to appear, that he was ungrateful as well as traitorous; for in the writ for his trial, he thus enumerates his kindnesses to him.-“ Quem susceperamus exulem, nutriveramus orphanum, ditaveramus de propriis terris nostris, et sub alarum nostrarum chlamide foveravimus, ipsum inter majores nostri palatii collocavimus." But allowing that Edward thus fostered and distinguished him, we must consider, that he received in the services rendered by the prince an adequate compensation for his kindness. The king, indeed, was well aware, that the alliance of such an individual was of the utmost importance with regard to his designs upon the Welsh; and it is to this circumstance alone, that we are to attribute his amenity towards Davydd.+ It is not to be sup
* Rymer's Fædera, vol. ii. p. 247-8. Flores Historiarum per - Mat. Westminst. collecti, ed.'1570, p. 371. Annales Waverlienses in Histor. Angl. Script. ed. 1691, p. 238.
+ Although Edward favoured Davydd, he suffered his officers to persecute him with much rancour. He was sued by “one William Venable, an English man,” before the justiciary of Chester, for the villages of Hope and Estyn; contrary to the custom of Wales, and to the spirit of the agreement under which he held them of the king. “ Item, the said Justice of Chester, to the injurie of the said David, did cut down his wood of Lhyweny, and his woods at Hope, as well by the dwellers of Ruthlan, as others; and yet the said Justice had no jurisdiction in those parts. And not being contented to get timber there, for building, as well for Ruthlan, as other places in the countrie, but also destroyed the said woodes, sold it, and carried it into Ireland. Item, where the said David tooke certaine outlawes, and rovers in the woodes, and caused them to be hanged: yet the said Justice accused David to the king, for succoring and mainteiping the theeves aforesaid, which was not like to be true, seeing he caused