One of the first references to Senghenyth and its princes written in English is the essay of the antiquary and map-maker Humphrey Llwyd, who was born in Denbigh about 1527 and educated at the University of Oxford. He spent many years in the service of the earl of Arundel and served as MP for East Grinstead and later for Denbigh. Llwyd was credited with facilitating the passage of the Bill for the translation of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer into Welsh. He died in Denbigh in 1568.

Cronica Walliae, Llwyd's earliest and by far his largest extant work, was completed in 1559 but remained unpublished. In this essay, Llwyd presents what he regarded as the true history of Wales to readers outside its borders. Based on the medieval Welsh chronicle Brut y Tywysogyon, it is the first attempt to provide a history in English of the lives and acts of the kings and princes of Wales from Cadwaladr to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Welsh prince. The Elizabethan scholar David Powel later used Cronica Walliae as the basis for Historie of Cambria (1584), which became the foundational work for the history of Wales.

The following short extract gives a flavour of 12th century politics of the ruling families and the barbarity of all sides which characterised the interplay between Wales, England and France. At this time the foot loose Henry II Plantagenet was King of England at war with his family and the Kings of Scotland and France. Rhes was prince of South Wales in alliance with Henry.

The text of the first ever edition of Cronica Walliae is based on the Llanstephan manuscript at the National Library of Wales, and the aim of the editor has been to reproduce Llwyd's original as far as it is possible to do so.


1175
In the yere 1175 Howell, sonne to Ierwerth ap Owen of Caerlhyon, toke his uncle Owen Penkarn prisoner, and put out his eies, and gelded him, lest he shulde beget children which shulde enherit Caerlhyon and Gwent. But God provided punishment, for upon the Saturday folowinge came their a great army of Normaines and Englishmen before the towne, and wonne hit, with the castell, maugre Howell and his father, who was not pryvey to his sonnes lewde deede.

And this yere the elder Kinge (Henry II Plantagenet) came to Englande, and William Kinge of Scottes and Roger de Molbraye were taken prisoners at Alnewyke by the barrons of the north, as they came to destroye Englande, in the quarell of the yonge Kinge.

And the elder King put them in saffe kepinge, with the Earle of Lycester, and reaceved Hughe Bygod Earle of Norfolke to his peace, and returned to Normandy with a great army of Welshmen, which were sent him from David Prince of Northwales, to whome the Kinge gave his sister Emma in mariage. And the Kinge sent the Welshmen over the ryver Sene, to cutte awaye the vyttailles which came to his enimyes campe. Wherfore the French Kinge came to talke, and shortely they concluded a peace, so that all the bretherne desired the father forgevenes.

And this tyme dyd David prince of Northwales (beinge bolde of the Kinges affinitie) emprison his owne brother Rodricke in bolter, because he desired parte of his fatheres landes. And the yere folowinge came bothe the Kinges to Englande, and the Scottes1 Kinge was sette at libertie and he became lyedgeman unto Kinge Henrie, and swore to him with all the lordes of Scottelande spirituall and temperall and delyvered the Kinge the townes of Rockesburgh and Berwicke, and the castell of Maydens.

And shortely after dyed Roger Earle of Cornewall base sonne to Henrye the First, and the Kinge seased his landes in Englande, Wales and Normandy to himself, for John his youngest sonne, save a small portion which he leaft his doughters. And aboute the same tyme dyed Richarde Earle of Glocester, and Philippe his sonne was created in his steede. Also William Earle of Arundel] dyed shortly after at Waverley, and was buryed at Wyndham, wherof he was patrone.

And this yere dyd Rhes Prince of Southwales come to the Kinges courte at Glocester and brought with him suche lordes of Southwales as had offended the Kinge, to do the Kinge homage, which pleased the Kinge wonderfull well. And thees were they that came with Rhes: Cadwalhon ap Madock of Melyenyth his cosine germaine, Enyon Clut of Elvael, Enyon ap Rhes of Werthrynyon (which twoe had maryed twoe of his doughters), Morgan ap Caradock ap lestyn of Glamorgan, Griffith ap Ivor ap Meuryg of Saynhenyd, Seysilht ap Dyvynwal, of the Hyer Gwent (which three had maryed his sisters) and Ierwerth ap Owen of Caerlhyon. And the kinge receaved them all to his peace, and restored to Ierwerth ap Owen Caerlhyon againe and they returned home with great joye. And' shortly after William de Bruse Lord of Breknoke desired Seisylht ap Dyvynwal, and Geffrey his sonne, and a great number of the worshipfullest men of Gwent lande to a feast to the caste]] of Abergevenny (which he had receaved of them by composition), [and] they mistrustinge him not, came thither. But he, like a traytor and murtherer, had a great number of armed men' within the castell, which fell upon this lorde and the rest and without mercy slewe them all. And furthwith went to Seisylhts house (beinge not farre thence) and toke his wief, and slewe Cadwalader his sonne before his mother and destroyed the house. And this was a lamentable daye to all the lande of Gwent [148v] and a lesson to trust the treason of the Normaines and Englishmen, which the Welshemen colde never doe afterwarde.


Llwyd's description of the Kingdom of Dinevwr

Nowe remaineth the laste kingdome of Wales called Dinevwr, which althoughe hit was the greatest, yet was hit not the best, as Giraldus witnessith, chiefflye because hit was much molested with Flemings and Normannes, and also that in diverse partes thereof the lordes wolde not obeye ther prince, as in Gwent and in Morgannwg, which was ther owne confusion as shall hereafter appere.

The fourth is called Morgannwg nowe Glamorgan shire conteyning 4 cantreds with 15 comots as:

  • Cantref Croneth* with thees comotes: Rwngnedh ac Avan, Tyr yr Hwndrwd, Tyr yr Iarlh and Maenor Glynogwr;
  • Cantref Pennychen with these: Meyskyn, Glynrhodne, Maenor Dalyvan and Maenor Rythyn;
  • Cantref Brenhinawl with these: Kybwrn, Saynhenydd Uwchkaeach and Iskaeach.
  • Cantref Gwentlhwg, which is nowe in Monmouthshire with thees comotes: Yrhardh,' Kenawl and Eithafedylygyon.

In this parte are thees townes and castells: Lhandaff, the Bishops see, Cardyff called Caerdhydd, Cowbridge called Pontvaen, which is to saye Stonbridge and not Cowbridge, Lantwid called Lhanilhtyd, Neth, Dynwyd, Caerffyli and others and hathe diverse ryvers which runne to the southe sea as Lay, Taff, Tawy, Neth, Afan, Ogwr and Lhychwr. Hit hathe on the southe the sea of Seavarne which devideth hit frome Devenshire and Cornwall, upon the west and northwest Caermerdhyn shire, upon the northeast Breknocke shire and upon the east Monmouth shire. Of this youe shall reade very litle for one Iestyn, beinge chieff of the country, and having warre with his neighboures, called one Robert Fitzhamon with a great number of strangers to his succoure which after they had atchived the enterprice, liked so well the countrey that they founde occasion to fall out with Iestyn and inhabited the countrey them selves and ther heires to this daye.


Williams, I M (2002) Cronica Walliae’, Llwyd, H. 1559. University of Wales