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or imprison them perpetually;" which beneficent promise was backed by a threat, " that if they sent any to the king to complain, he would behead them also !"
These, in addition to the facts mentioned in a former article, will suffice to show how assiduously the new laws were contemned and violated by those very individuals whose duty it was to carry them fairly and justly into effect; and it requires no very great sagacity to foretell the consequences of these intemperate proceedings. Revolt after revolt sprang up to the great injury of the Welsh, who suffered severely for the temerity and boldness with which they asserted their rights and revenged their wrongs. But, plunged as they were into the most galling captivity by the stronger arm of their enemies, they continued, long after the subjugation of their country, to emit, at intervals, sparks of that fiery and indomitable valour, which all the oppressive efforts of their enemies could not quench entirely.
The affairs of the Welsh were in this situation, and an interval of nearly a century and a half had elapsed since the conquest, when a champion sprang forth from the very midst of this disgraceful gloom, whose valour had well nigh dissevered the chain which bound them so strongly, and whose name will never be breathed by his countrymen, except with sentiments of pride and admiration. We need scarcely add that this heroic champion was Owen GLEN DOWR.
Owen Vychan, or Vaughan, usually called Glyndwr,* was born on the 28th May, 1349, a year," we are informed, markable for the first appearance of the pestilence in Wales, and for the birth of Owen Glendowr." Holinshed, who seems to have imbibed a most bitter antipathy to the “ Welsh rebel,” as he calls him, relates a circumstance attending the birth of the chieftain, which is, doubtless, intended to bear some allusion to his sanguinary and turbulent career: “strange wonders,” he says, " happened at the birth of this man: for the same night that he was born, all his father's horses in the stable were found to stand in blood up to their bellies!” He became allied to the house of Hanmer, in Flintshire, a family of great antiquity and influence in the country, by marriage with Margaret, daugh
* The family name of the hero was Vychan or Vaughan; he is styled Glyndwr, from his patrimony of Glyndwrdwy, or The Bankside of the Dee. No name, perhaps, has been so variously contorted; he is called indifferently Glendowr, Glendour, Glendower, Glyndour, Glyndowr, and Glyndwr. The fast, according to the Welsh orthography, is the most correct; but we have adopted the first as more consonant with English construction. In one statute (4 Hen. IV. c. 34.), he is described as “ Owen ap Glyndourdy, traitour a nostre Sr le Roy.”
ter of Sir David Hanmer, chief justice of the king's bench in the reign of Richard II.; and he appears to have chosen, not only an amiable and virtuous dame, but a very benevolent and prolific one: for Jolo Goch, the chieftain's chief-bard, thus eulogizes her transcendant virtues :
A Gwraig orau o'r gwragedd !
A beautiful nest of chieftains ! A large family was the result of this union; and the sons followed their father to the field, while the daughters were married to chieftains of considerable wealth and eminence in the country
Glendowr was a lineal descendant from the princes of Wales, and lord of considerable possessions near Corwen, in Merionethshire. He received his education in England, and was admitted a student in one of the Inns of Court in London ; for, says Holinshed, “ he was first set to study the laws of the realm, and became an utter barrister, or apprentice of the law, as they term him.” But he soon quitted the drudgery of this profession for avocations more congenial to his ardent and sanguine disposition; and, during the tumults which agitated the country in the reign of Richard II., he did not remain an inactive spectator, but warmly espoused the cause of the king, to whom he was truly attached. He signalized himself even at this early age, and, as a reward for his loyalty and valour, he was created a knight, and appointed scutiger, or squire of the body to that unfortunate monarch, whose fortunes he followed with fidelity as long as his services could be rendered useful. When his royal master was deposed, Owen retired to his estates in Wales, deprecating and lamenting the downfall of his revered sovereign.
At Glyndwrdwy,* then, four centuries ago, lived this Cam
* A green hillock, by the river side, surrounded with oak and fir trees, and about six miles north-east of Corwen, marks the spot where
brian hero, dispensing numerous blessings amongst his happy and devoted tenantry, and, probably, with no loftier wishes than those of contributing to the contentment and happiness of his numerous dependants. His establishment was every way worthy of his rank, and his wealth was rendered tributary to that spirit of boundless hospitality, which it was the pride of the Welsh knight to display. Jolo, his favorite bard, informs us, that within the mansion were nine spacious halls, each furnished with a wardrobe containing clothing for his retainers. On a verdant bank, near the castle, was a wooden building, erected on pillars, and covered with tiles: it contained eight apartments, designed as sleeping chambers for such guests as graced the castle with their company. In the immediate vicinity of the residence, was every requisite for the laudable purposes of good eating and drinking ;-a park, well stocked with deer; a warren, a pigeon-house, and heronry; a mill, an orchard, a vineyard; with a preserve, or stew, well filled, at all times, with pike, trout, and salmon. The hospitality of the chieftain was so profuse, says the bard, that rich or poor, young or old, all were welcome to the good cheer of the castle. In short, Glendowr lived in his castle like a generous and wealthy lord of the soil; and having imbibed from his English education, and from his subsequent residence at court, a taste for a more civilized mode of existence than was then common in Wales, Glyndwrdwy afforded pastimes and amusements of a more rare, and, consequently, of a more costly character, than could be found elsewhere in the principality. A marked and very prominent feature in Glendowr's character, at this time, was the encouragement and liberality which he extended to the then persecuted and despised race of poets. We are informed, by a writer whose researches on the subject of the Welsh bards have been hitherto unrivalled, that, although the once highly-venerated order of Bardism had fallen into sad decay, there remained yet many master-spirits of poesy among the hills. “Hoc ævo,” he says, "multi claruere Bardi, inter quos Jolo Goch (Jolo the Red,) Oweni magnificentiam et victorias ad sidera tulit, fuit enim Owenus bardorum fautor et Macenas, et eos undiquaque ad aulam liberalitate provocabat."* It was this kindness towards the bards which contributed, more than any other circumstance, to
the mansion of the “wild irregular Glendowr" was situated, and all that now remains of it, are a few loose grey stones, scattered about on the eminence. The spot is beautifully secluded, and we have often stopped to admire its beauties, and to indulge in a little retrospective contemplation, as we pursued our angling diversions along the banks of that fine river, the Dee.
* Evan Evans's “ Dissertatio de Bardis,” fol. 89.
render the chieftain an object of adoration to the Welsh; for one of the greatest calamities which had happened to the Cambro-British, was the contempt and misery into which this favoured race had fallen. The provisions made in the national laws, for the encouragement and protection of bards, evince the very high estimation in which they were held by their country
“ The domestic bard,” says the law, “shall receive a beast out of every spoil, at the taking of which he is present, besides a man's share according to his rank in the household. Therefore, if there be fighting, he shall sing the Monarchy of Britain, (Unbenaeth y Prydein,) in front of the battle. When a bard shall ask a gift of the prince, let him sing one piece; when he asks of a baron, let him sing three pieces; and should he ask of a villein, let him sing till he fall asleep. His land shall be free, and he shall have a horse'in attendance from the king. The chief of song shall begin the singing in the hall. He shall be next but one to the head of the family. He shall have a harp from the king, and a gold ring from the queen, when his office is secured to him. The harp he shall never part with.” That the bards sometimes presumed upon their sacred and privileged character, is naturally to be expected; but so highly were they venerated, that their audacity was never punished. The prediction of the oracular Merlin to the profligate Vortigern presents one instance of this presumption; but Taliesin's imprecation on Maelgwyn Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, affords a more striking proof of the boldness of the bard. The prince, it seems had offended him, and Taliesin invoked the following curse :“Be neither blessing nor success to Maelgwyn Gwynedd! May vengeance overtake him, for the wrongs, the treachery, and the cruelty he has shewn to the race of Arthur! Waste lie his lands, short be his life, extensive be vengeance on Maelgwyn Gwynedd! A strange animal shall come from Morfa Rhianedd, shaggy, long-toothed, and fire-eyed. This shall be vengeance on Maelgwyn Gwynedd !"*
It was, then, in the encouragement of the arts of poetry and music, as well as of those appertaining to the cultivation of the land, and in the exercise of all those open-hearted courtesies, in which the opulent and generous Welshman delights to indulge, including, of course, all the customary pastimes of the age, that Owen Glendowr passed his time, during the period immediately consequent upon the downfall of his royal master. We are anxious to place his actual condition at this time before the reader, that he may perceive how careless the Welsh knight
Roberts's “Chronicle of the Kings of Britain,” p. 121; and Wotton's “ Leges Wallicæ,” sub voce “Bardus."
was, with regard to the more stirring events of the world. Unambitious of future fame, or present glory,-contented and happy, he dwelt in the bosom of his family, beloved by all, and much venerated by his numerous dependants. That this was a happy state of existence, will readily be admitted by those who have mingled much with the world: but a fiend broke in upon this paradise on earth, and turned all its peace and felicity into the peril of the tented field, and the active bustle of war and defiance.
The exciting cause of Glendowr's insurrection will display another striking proof of that despotic audacity, which the English nobility too frequently exercised towards the Welsh. Lord Reginald Gray, of Ruthin, a descendant, by the way, of the worthy whose exploits we have already related, imbibed a fancy for some hills, which were contiguous to his own lordship, but which had, from time immemorial, been the property of the Glendowrs; and he, therefore, “as the custom then was," coolly took possession of them. This unjust seizure produced a suit in the courts of law, in which the Welsh chieftain obtained a restitution of his lands, and Lord Gray became, in consequence, his most deadly and inveterate enemy.
On the accession of Henry IV., Gray, relying upon the favour and protection of his monarch, again seized those lands, which had been legally awarded to Owen; and when the latter laid his case before the parliament, he obtained no redress, nor was his application even noticed. This contumely was ag. gravated by an insult of greater, and, eventually, of fatal, consequence. When Henry went on his first expedition against the Scots, Owen was to have accompanied him, with a certain number of his retainers. A writ of summons, for this purpose, was entrusted to Gray, who designedly and rashly withheld it, till the time for the Welsh knight's appearance had elapsed, and it was impossible for him to obey the royal mandate. Lord Gray represented Glendowr's absence as an act of wilful, and, therefore, of traiterous disobedience; by which wicked and treacherous transaction, he procured, from the king, a grant of all Owen's lands, the knight himself being, at the same time, formally declared a traitor. This put an end, at once, to all pacific negotiation. The lion was now fairly roused from his lair, and, in a short time, Owen Glendowr, with a trusty and gallant band of Britons, was spreading fire and desolation through the territories of the presumptuous Gray. He soon recovered the lands of which he had been so unjustly deprived; and, actuated by the spirit of retaliation, took possession of a large portion of the domains of his enemy. But the consequences did not rest here. The mountain wilds of Snowdon and Cader Idris resounded with the tumultuous din of insurrection. Tidings of the chieftain's success