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516-768 AD

516: THE BATTLE OF MOUNT BADON
The "Annales Cambriae" (dating from 1100, but which is based on much earlier sources), states that the Battle of Mount Badon took place in 516 and that the Britons were victorious under Arthur, "who bore the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ on his shoulders for three days and three nights." The battle may have been the decisive one that made the existence of Wales possible by halting further westward expansion by the Saxons.



540:"DE EXCIDIO BRITANNIAE"
This work, "Concerning the Fall of Britain", written by the cleric Gildas, gives us a garbled history in which he blames the coming of the Saxons as punishment for the many sins of the native Britons.



550-650: SAXON INFLUENCE
Apart from the heroic defense of Arthur (reputed to have been killed at the Battle of Camlan in 539), Romano-Britain quickly crumbled under the onslaught of Germanic tribes, themselves under attack from the east and wishing to settle in the sparsely populated, but agriculturally rich lands across the narrow channel that separated Britain from the Continent. Their invasions met fierce and prolonged resistance, but more than three hundred years of fighting between the native Celts and the ever-increasing numbers of Germanic peoples eventually resulted in Britain sorting itself out into three distinct areas: the Britonic West, the Teutonic East and the Gaelic North.

These areas later came to be identified as Wales, England and Scotland, all with their very separate cultural and linguistic characteristics. (Ireland, of course, remained Gaelic: many of its peoples migrated to Scotland, taking their language with them to replace the native Pictish. Some Irish also settled in Western Wales but were eventually absorbed into the local population).



600: THE WELSH LANGUAGE BEGINS ITS WRITTEN HISTORY
According to the distinguished historian John Davies, it was around the year 600 that the Welsh language began to be written down as the older Brythonic tongue gradually gave way to Welsh. Poets such as Aneirin and Taliesin showed that the "new" language could produce great literature and thus was much more than a local patois.



425-664: THE AGE OF THE CELTIC SAINTS
Though much of Britain was settled by the pagan Saxons, the Celtic Church (mainly monastic) survived in the West. This was the age of Saints Dyfrig, Illtud, Teilo, Padarn and David (Dew, the patron saint of Wales). Much missionary work took the Welsh churchmen to Ireland (one of these was Patrick himself). It is from this time that the Welsh word Llan appears, signifying a church settlement. The Celtic Church survived the coming of Augustine to Canterbury. It continued many traditions of the early Church that had been superseded at Rome. Even as late as 731, the English historian Bede commented that the Welsh (the Britons) upheld "their own bad customs" against the true Easter of the Catholic Church.

Many of the early British church settlements are dedicated to David, about whom very little is known except that he lived in the 6th Century and died around 589. Information about his life comes from "The Life of St David" written in the late 11th century by Rhygyfarch of Llanbadarn (Church of Padarn) but supplemented by Geraldus Cambrensis around 1200. It was then that the church named for the saint at Ty Dewi (St David's) became a place of pilgrimage. David was not adopted as the patron saint of Wales until the 18th century, when his birth date, March 1st was chosen as a national holiday.



615: THE BATTLE OF CHESTER AND THE SPLIT IN THE BRYTHONIC KINGDOMS
The English peoples gradually gained control over much of Southern Britain. The period saw the defeat of the Welsh at Dyrham in 577 that cut them off from their fellow Britons in the Southwest and the Battle of Chester in 615, that severed contact with the Britons of the North. The Welsh of the Western peninsular were now on their own but could develop as a separate cultural and linguistic unit from the rest of Britain.



633. WALES BECOMES A SEPARATE CULTURAL & LINGUISTIC UNIT
This is signified by the use of the word Cymru in a poem dated 633. The term comes from Cymbrogos, the Celtic word for Compatriot. The Britons, in their never-ceasing battle against the Pagan invaders, referred to themselves as "Cymry" a term still used today. The word Welsh is a later word used by the Saxons to denote those people of Britain (the native population) they considered as "foreign" or who had been "Romanized." Today's Welsh call the English "Sais" (Saxons).



664: THE DEATH OF CADWALADR
The death of Cadwaladr marked the end of any hopes of the Britons regaining their ancient kingdoms on the mainland. Cadwaladr was the son of Cadwallon of Gwynedd, whose intention, according to historian Bede, had been to exterminate the English race. The death of Cadwaladr's father in Rome is the starting point of the "Brut y Tywysogyon", the chronicle of the Welsh princes. The author of the "Brut" stated "And from that time onwards the Britons lost the crown of the kingdom and the Saxons won it." It was apparent that it was all over for Cadwaladr as "King of the Britons" before he even started his reign. The people of Wales would have to wait for the Tudors to re-establish any claim to the throne of Britain. It is significant, therefore, at Bosworth Field in 1485, the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr was carried by Henry Tudor in his defeat of Richard III.



c. 720: LINKS BETWEEN WALES AND BRITANY ARE SEVERED
Contact between the Welsh Church and Yvi of Britanny was the last known link between the two Celtic countries. After that, each "nation" went its own way.



768: CELTIC CHURCH REUNITES WITH ROME
Following centuries of isolation, first following the lead of the Irish Bishops, then those of the rest of Britain, the Celtic Church in Wales (which had been mainly monastic), decided to conform to the Rules of Rome and the authority of the Church that had been set up by Augustine and his successors at Canterbury and agreed upon at Whitby in 664.

  

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