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Machynlleth (Mack un Thleth)

You will leave Cilmeri for your next destination Machynlleth, the delightful little town with the name that English visitors find impossible to pronounce. It is a town that is most sacred to those who wish for an independent Wales, that free from England and able to govern itself and fulfill the ancient dreams of Llewelyn ap Gruffudd and Owain Glyndwr.

Parliament House, Machynlleth
It was at Machynlleth in 1404 that Glyndwr, the great Welsh patriot and visionary, created his first Parliament. It was here that he concluded his alliance with the French king, and revived the ancient dreams of his people, those of the Arthurian tradition first written about by Geoffrey of Monmouth that the Welsh people had nurtured in their hearts ever since.

Owain's banner was that of the Red Dragon, the old symbol of victory of Briton over the Saxon. In 1400, after being crowned Prince of Wales by a small group of supporters, he began his long-awaited rebellion to free his country from English dominance. By 1404, it seemed as if the long-awaited dream of independence was fast becoming a reality. Three royal expeditions against Glyndwr failed. He held Harlech and Aberystwyth and had extended his influence as far as Glamorgan and Gwent. He received support from Ireland and Scotland, had formed an alliance with France and was recognized by the leading Welsh bishops. Glyndwr summoned a parliament at Machynlleth, where he was crowned as Prince of Wales. Then the dream died. Owain's parliament was the very last to meet on Welsh soil and it was the last occasion that the Welsh people had the power of acting independently of English rule. From such a promising beginning to a national revolt came a disappointing conclusion, even more upsetting because of the speed at which Welsh hopes crumbled with the failure of this alliance and the defeat of his allies.

Prince Henry retook much of the land captured by Owain, including many strategic castles. The boroughs with their large populations of settlers, remained English. By the end of 1409, the Welsh rebellion had dwindled down to a series of guerilla raids led by the mysterious figure of Owain, whose wife and two daughters had been captured at Harlech and taken to London as prisoners.

Owain went into the mountains, becoming an outlaw. He may have suffered an early death, for from that time on, nothing is known of him. He simply vanished from sight. According to an anonymous writer in 1415, "Very many say that he [Owain Glyndwr] died; the seers say that he did not." There has been much speculation as to his fate and much guessing as to where he spent his final days and was laid to rest.

Before leaving Machynlleth, be sure to visit Celtica, an exhibition that gives the story of the Celtic peoples, with special emphasis on the Celtic inheritance of modern Wales. Celtica is housed in Plas Machynlleth, dating from 1565, former home of the Marquis of Londonderry and later the Montgomeryshire District Council. It uses the latest audio-visual technology to bring alive the sights and sounds of Wales's Celtic past. You will now turn your steps to Northwest Wales, to Bardsey, the island at the very tip of the Llyn Peninsular.

Next Stop: Aberdaron & Llyn
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