Chapter 7


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Rebellion

Owain Glyndwr Parliament House The plan seemed perfectly logical and attainable. After all, Henry IV's crown was seen even by many Englishmen as having been falsely obtained, and many welcomed armed rebellion against their illegitimate ruler. Hoping to make the Welsh Church completely independent from Canterbury, and that appointments to benefices in Wales be given only to those who could speak Welsh, Glyndwr was also ready to implement his wish to set up two universities in Wales to train native civil servants and clergymen. Then the dream died.

Owain's parliament was the very last to meet on Welsh soil; 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 terrible, disappointing conclusion, even more upsetting because of the speed at which Welsh hopes crumbled with the failure of the Tripartite Indenture.

Henry Percy, (Hotspur) was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury, and the increasing boldness and military skills of Henry's son, the English prince of Wales and later King Henry V, began to turn the tide against Glyndwr. In France, Louis of Orleans, Owain's friend and supporter, was assassinated, and because of subsequent anarchy in that country, his French allies could not sustain their support; they withdrew their forces from Wales.

Owain's other main ally, the Scottish king, was taken prisoner by the English. Saddest of all, like so many of his predecessors, Glyndwr was betrayed at home. It is not too comforting for Welsh people of today to read that one of the staunchest allies of the English king and enemy of Glyndwr was a man of Brecon, Dafydd Gam (later killed at Agincourt, fighting for the English).

A sixth expedition into Wales undertaken by Prince Henry retook much of the land captured by Owain, including many strategic castles. Edmund Mortimer was killed at the siege of Harlech (right) in 1409. The boroughs, with their large populations, had remained English, and 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.

The English response was predictable: again the imposition of harsh, punitive measures were enacted against any signs of further resistance to their rule. The Welsh people were forced to pay large subsidies; they were prohibited from acquiring land east of Offa's Dyke or even within the boundaries of the English boroughs in Wales. The Charter of Brecon of 1411 is typical of the English response to Welsh hopes:
The liberties of Brecon shall be restricted to whose whom we deem to be Englishmen and to such of their heirs as are English on both their mother's and their father's side.
Englishmen were even protected from conviction at the suit of Welshmen within Wales. To Charles VI of France, Glyndwr wrote "My nation has been trodden underfoot by the fury of the barbarous Saxons." He went into the mountains, or into a secret monastery, becoming an outlaw. He may have suffered an early death for nothing is known of him either by the Welsh or the English. Owain Glyndwr 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." ("Annals of Owain Glyndwr") There has been much speculation as to his fate and much guessing as to where he ended his final days and was laid to rest.

Chapter 8: Survival
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