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cient bardic prophecy, which predicted the fall of Henry, under the name of Moldwarp, or “ cursed of God's own mouth ;" and to revive those pleasing and heroic sentiments, which are always associated, in the mind of a Briton, with the achievements of the mighty Uthyr Pendragon, (the father of the immortal Arthur) he adopted the title of the Dragon; Percy was styled the Lion, and 'Mortimer the Wolf: and, now in the meridian of his glory, he assembled the states of the principality at Machynlleth, in Montgomeryshire, where he was formally crowned and acknowledged Prince of Wales.*
At this assembly, the newly-crowned prince narrowly escaped assassination. A gentleman of Brecknockshire, called Dafydd Gam (afterwards knighted, for preserving the life of Henry the Fifth, at the battle of Agincourt,) was among the chieftains who attended the coronation of Glendowr. He had been long in the service of Bolingbroke, and was firmly attached to that king. Instigated by his attachment to Henry, or, as some say, by the personal exhortations of the monarch himself, he formed the cowardly design of murdering his prince. His plot, however, was timely discovered, and he was immediately arrested and thrown into prison. He would have met with the punishment due to the crime be meditated, had not the prince's most zealous friends exerted their influence in
He was pardoned, therefore, upon condition that he would adhere, in future, to the common cause of his countrymen, a condition that he had no opportunity of observing, as he was kept in rigid confinement for the remainder of the war.
The affairs of Owen Glendowr now bore so prosperous an aspect, that Charles, King of France, entered into an alliance with him,t and compensated, in a slight degree, for the loss of the gallant and high-spirited Hotspur, who fell in the battle of Oswestry, about a year before. But he did not reap any very extensive advantages from this union.
When it was contracted, he appears to have arrived at the very acme of his career, and the crisis was any thing but favourable. Although fortune had hitherto smiled upon him, the time was not far distant when he was to experience her capricious mutability; for, in an engagement between a party of his adherents in
* The building in which this memorable Synod was convened, is still to be seen : it forms part of the stables of the principal inn at Machynlleth.
+ The treaty, which is still in existence, is dated from Dolgelley, in right royal style: “ Datum apud Dolgellum, 10 die mensis Maii, 1404, et Principatus nostri quarto," and begins, "Owenus, Dei gratia, Princeps Walliæ, &c.” Rymer, viii. 356.
number about eight thousand,) and some English troops, the former were defeated with great loss. To repair this misfortune, Glendowr instantly dispatched his son Gruffydd, with a strong force; and another battle was fought five days afterwards at Mynydd y Pwll Melyn, in Brecknockshire, when the Welsh again sustained a defeat, the prince's son being taken prisoner, and his brother Tudor slain. The latter resembled the prince so closely, that it was at first reported that Glendowr himself had fallen; but, on examining the body, it was found to be without a wart over the eye, by which the brothers were distinguished from each other.
After this defeat, many of the patriot's followers deserted him, and he was compelled to conceal himself in caves and desert places; from which he occasionally ventured forth to visit a few trusty friends, who still adhered to him, and who supported him with food and other necessaries.*
It is possible that our chieftain's career would have terminated without further hostilities, had not his new ally, the king of France, afforded him assistance. A fleet, carrying an army
of twelve thousand men, sailed from Brest, and reached Wales after a favourable voyage. But this succour, seasonable and liberal as it was, seemed only to prolong the war, without being eventually of any important service. Glendowr never perfectly recovered the defeat of Mynydd y Pwll Melyn. From that time he acted chiefly on the defensive, or meditated nothing more than mere marauding excursions : his followers were daily forsaking him, and he was at length obliged to seek refuge among the mountains, from whence he never emerged to perform any exploit of consequence. “ A world it was, says an old annalist, " to see his quotidian removing, his painful and busy wandering, his troublesome and uncertain abiding, his continual motion, his daily peregrination in the desert felles and craggy mountains of that barren, unfertile, and depopulate country.”+ Notwithstanding his ill fortune, however, he was still considered so important an enemy, that Henry the Fifth condescended to propose terms for a cessation of hosti
and a treaty to this effect was concluded a short time
* There is a cavern near the seaside in the romantic and wild district of Celynin, in Merionethshire, still called Ogov Owain, or the Cave of Owen. Into this we have often crept in our boyhood, but we did not then know that it had afforded shelter and concealment to “ the last of Cambria’s patriots, wild Glendowr.” Such, however, is the fact, and he was supported here by his kinsman, Ednyfed ab Aaron, the representative of the Royal tribe of Ednowain ab Brad
+ Hall's Chronicle, 19.
before his death, which happened on the 20th of September, 1415; and afterwards renewed with his son Meredydd, on the 24th of February in the year following.* This, let us observe, contradicts the general opinion that the Cambrian patriots died in extreme distress-—“ lacking meat to sustain nature, and for mere hunger and lack of food miserably pining away.” It was immediately after the defeat of Mynydd y Pwll Melyn, that he experienced those calamities usually attributed to a later period of his life; and we have every reason to suppose that he died-broken, indeed, in body, but unsubdued in spirit. As to the miserable deprivations alluded to by Hall, and other Chroniclers, they must have been merely imaginary, as his death took place at the house of one of his daughters, who had married a wealthy knight of Herefordshire. Rapin says, that he did not die till the year 1417; but the Welsh accounts, to be preferred in this case, place the event in 1415; and they further state that he was buried in the church-yard of Monnington in the above-named county, although there is now neither monument nor memorial of any kind to mark the spot where his bones were laid.
Thus died Owen Glendowr, after an eventful life of sixtysix years. Considering the gloom of the age in which he lived, he was, in every respect, a very important and extraordinary character; and possessed a rare combination of physical as well as moral excellencies. He was bold, active, ambitious, and brave; he had the “will to dare, and the power to do," and he possessed no inconsiderable portion of military skill. He was hospitable to profuseness, the patron and liberal encourager of bards, the protector of the injured, the father and the friend of his devoted dependents. In his friendships he was eager, confiding, and faithful even unto death in his enmities, he was unforgiving, cruel, and revengeful. In his general character, he was patriotic, enthusiastic, irascible, and impetuous, so that in him were combined all the characteristics of the warm-hearted Cambro-Briton; and his gallant spirit, unsubdued to the last, achieved those exploits, which are familiar to this day to the mountain-peasant of Merionethshire. Owen was also deeply imbued with all the dark superstitions of the time. The fearful omens, which he doubtless believed had ushered in his birth, had considerable influence upon his future life. At his nativity
“ The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes;
These signs bad mark'd him extraordinary,
Shakspeare, indeed, has gloriously delineated the portrait of this remarkable man. His belief in supernatural agencynay, more,-his exulting boast that he “ could call spirits from the vasty deep," and his ill-constrained choler at the taunts of the provoking Hotspur, are admirable illustrations of what we have every reason to suppose might have been the character of the Cambrian chief: and, although in this enlightened age, we cannot but regard with detestation the cruelties which, in compliance with the custom of the times, he often inflicted upon those who fell into his hands, yet we must admire his heroism, and admit that the causes which incited him to arms, in the first instance, were a powerful extenuation of the illegality of his conduct. But it is of little importance now, whether he might have been justified or not in the course which he pursued. Years have rolled on, and repaired the ravages which he and his opponents committed; the bones of his brave warriors have mouldered into dust, and. no traces of their valiant exploits remain, save such as tradition will supply in the minds of their admiring countrymen.
The laws, which were enacted by the English parliament in consequence of the insurrection of Owen Glendowr, subjected the Welsh, as we have in another place observed, to a state of bondage, if possible more severe than that in which they were immersed previous to the rebellion. While they were yet in arms, the provisions of these statutes could not well be enforced ; but no sooner was the rebellion quelled, than they were put into execution with the most relentless promptitude and vigilance. In 1400, (2 Hen. IV.) an act passed, by which all native Welshmen were incapacitated from purchasing property in England, or from being made burgesses in any of the English towns ; and they were not allowed to hold any civil office whatever. In consequence, also, of the complaints, which were daily made of the daring incursions of the Welsh borderers, (in which they frequently plundered the English lordships to a very large amount,) it was enacted, that, if restitution was not made within seven days after request had been preferred under the seal of the sheriff, mayor, or bailiff, of the place, where the injured party dwelt, it was lawful for the aggrieved person to arrest any Welshman coming from the district, where the plunderer resided, with goods or cattle for sale; and he was to be detained, although he bore no relation whatever to the robbers, until complete satisfaction had been rendered for the robbery.
In 1402, the tumults in Wales seem to have engrossed a con
siderable portion of the attention of the legislature, as several enactments were made for the purpose of limiting the extension of the revolt. In the first place, it was ordained, that an Englishman marrying a Welshman should lose his privileges, and become incapable of enjoying any office in the principality. No Englishman, by the same statute, (4 Hen. IV.) could be convicted in Wales at the suit of a Welshman, unless by English justices, and on the evidence of English burgèsses. It was, also, enacted that there should be westours, rymours, ministral, ou autres vacabondes, pur faire Rymorthas, ou coillage,” no wasters, rhymers, minstrals, or other vagabonds, to institute assemblies or collections ;* that no Welshman should bear arms; that no victual, arms, or ammunition should be conveyed into Wales, “sanz speciale congee de notre seigneur le Roy, ou de son conseil; and that no Welshman should possess or command any “ chastel, fortresse, ne maison defensive," but that
* Some of these terms require explanaticn. “A player at wasters," Mr. Barrington informs us, on the authority of Minshew, “signifies a cudgeller;" but an ingenious correspondent supposes it rather to imply "a wrestler,” from “wast,” hodie waist. Mr. Pennant, however, offers another signification. He supposes it corrupted from gwester, which, in Welsh, means "the proprietor of a place of public entertainment;" and such a place, he observes, must have been very convenient for rendezvous of this nature. Tours, vol. iii. p. 389. The word Kymortha is misspelt from the Welsh cymorth, (plural cymorthau) an assembly of people to assist each other in manual labour. They exist even at present, and there are cymorthau for spinning, for works of husbandry, and for other employments. But we are inclined to believe that the cymorthau of that period were rather of a political character. They were composed, says Mr. Pennant, of men the most dreaded by tyrants and usurpers; of bards, who animated their countrymen, by recalling to their recollection the heroic exploits of their ancestors, and by relating, in soul-stirring and immortal verse, their sanguinary and successful contests with the Saxons and the Romans. They revived, also, the remembrance of ancient prophecies, and shewed that, in the hero Glendowr, descended from the illustrious race of their princes, was to be expected the completion of the fondlycherished predictions of the oracular Merlin. The band of minstrels now struck up, and the harp and the pipe filled up the measure of that overpowering enthusiasm, which their wild recitations had already engendered. The people afterwards rushed fearlessly to battle, and, like their ancestors, when excited by the chants of the Druids, despised that death, which was destined to confer upon them an envied immortality.