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posed, that Edward,-even ruthless and stern as he was,would have persecuted this unhappy man with such unrelenting malignity, had he entertained towards him any feelings of real affection. Let us think more favourably, then, of the last representative of the royal house of Cambria. It is true, that his desertion of Llewelyn was an act of extreme culpability; but he had his provocation for the crime, and his subsequent bravery in defence of his country was a redeeming virtue, which fully counterbalanced the evils of his disloyalty.
Davydd being dead, the subjugation of Wales appeared at length to be founded on a firm and secure basis: all opposition to the will and power of the English monarch seemed to be removed, and the main-spring of resistance was thought to be destroyed. Edward, therefore, issued a proclamation, promising to take under his protection all his new subjects; at the same time assuring them, that they should still enjoy their liberties and property, and hold their estates by the same tenures as those by which they had hitherto held them under their native sovereigns. This promise was scrupulously performed on the part of the king, who reserved to himself only the same rents, services, and duties, as had always been claimed by the princes of Wales. And that he might receive no more than what was justly due to him, he appointed Thomas, Bishop of St. David's, Reginald de Grey,and Walter de Clifford, to inquire into the particular nature of the tenures, and their value was estimated and decided by juries, composed entirely of Welshmen.* This scrutiny was also productive of a material change in the jurisprudence of the Welsh, for, in consequence of the information furnished by his commissioners, the king introduced into the conquered country a series of laws, similar to those of England, and appointed English officers to carry them into execution.t
them to be hanged.” He was also threatened by Reginald de Grey, another justiciary, that the castle of Hope should be taken from him, and that his children should be secured as pledges of his future fidelity.-- Warrington, vol. ii. Appendix No. IV.
* In consequence of this scrutiny, “ the rents,” says Carte, were much lowered, particularly those of Anglesey, which yielded 1000 marks annually to Llewelyn, and yet paid afterwards but £450 a year; and the services, which were burthensome enough, and continually exacted in the times of their own princes, were prodigiously lightened, and very rarely demanded by the kings of England, who had little occasion for them by reason of their non-residence.”Carte's General History of England, vol. ii. p. 196, fol. ed. 1750; see also, Wotton's Leges Wallica, (Appendix No. iii.) p. 518 in notâ.
+ This new, or rather altered system of jurisprudence, is to be found in the Statutum Walliæ, or Statute of Rhyddlan, (12 Ed. I.)
To these he entrusted an authority almost absolute, and entertaining, in common with the rest of their countrymen, an unbounded animosity towards the Welsh, they exercised that authority with unsparing and remorseless vigilance, and entirely subverted the judicious measures of their monarch. If they thought that rigorous and oppressive measures were adapted to crush the proud and gallant spirit of the Welsh, they calculated wrongly ;-they served but the more effectually to rouse and irritate it; and, notwithstanding the destruction of the royal power, there existed a number of brave and Tesolute patriots, who, headed by chieftains as remarkable for their nobility, as for their valour and military skill, boldly determined to regain their independence, or to sink amidst the ruins of their country's freedom. Rhys ab Meredydd, a chieftain of great influence in South Wales, was the first who rebelled against the domination of the English, and during Edward's absence at Guienne, he appeared in arms against the ruling power, at the head of six thousand followers. For a short time, Meredydd was successful; but at length, after having been proclaimed a traitor, he fell into the hands of the enemy, and was executed at York,-his castles and domains having been previously confiscated.*
Soon after the suppression of this revolt, Edward, being still engaged in warfare with the King of France, attempted an experiment of taxation on his newly-acquired subjects; and, anticipating considerable resistance on the part of the Welsh, he appointed as the collector of this impost, (wbich was to consist of a fifteenth of all moveables,) Roger de Pulestone, a man high in the monarch's favour, and of a brave and daring spirit. No sooner, however, did he attempt to execute his
which is in form of a charter, and contains a most complete code of laws for the government of Wales. Among other salutary regulations are the following. Wales was divided into counties, with sheriffs, coroners, and other officers in each: the county-courts were to be holden monthly, and those of the sheriff half-yearly. The forms of writs were also settled, with the method to be used in all law proceedings, which were to be carried on and decided within the principality; it being expressly provided, that the Welsh should not be sued for debts and trespasses in the English courts. It is worthy of remark, that the following counties only were made by this statute, Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Merionethshire, Flintshire, Caermarthenshire, Cardiganshire, Pembrokeshire, and Glamorganshire; the others being added by the 27 Hen. VIII.
* Polydori Vergilii Urbinatis Hist. Angli p. 326-7, fol. ed. 1520. Matthew Westminster (Flor. Histor. p. 184) says, he was executed at Berwick.
commission than he was indignantly and outrageously opposed, and three insurrections sprang up in consequence in different parts of the principality. The natives of West Wales, or Powisland, rose under Maelgwyn Vychan, or Vaughan; those of North Wales under Madoc, an illegitimate son of the deceased Llewelyn; while the Sudwallians were led to the field by Morgan, the representative of a noble family in South Wales; and the revolt commenced with acts of hostility, which evinced a decided resolution in the Welsh, that the sword alone should determine the dispute. Roger de Pulestone and his colleagues, in the collection of this obnoxious tribute, were the first who fell a sacrifice to the fury of the rebels; they were hanged, and afterwards beheaded. A considerable number of English, assembled at Caernarvon, were the next victims; and this hazardous and unfortunate experiment had well nigh effected a complete restitution of independence to Wales. A resolute spirit of resistance and patriotism seemed to be once more diffused throughout the principality; and such of the Welsh as had not already embraced the cause of their country, flocked readily to the standard of the insurgent chieftains, and by their numbers and success became so formidable, that Edward, then on the point of embarking with his army for France, deemed it expedient to recall his forces, and march at their head directly into Wales.* After encountering many difficulties, he succeeded in stationing the greater part of his troops at Conway castle, in Caernarvonshire, where he was closely besieged by the enemy. Deficiency of provisions was the principal evil which befell the English garrison. Indeed, their distress in this respect was so great, that Edward, in common with the soldiers, was obliged to eat the coarse viands which were found in the castle, and to use for his drink water sweetened with honey. It is said, that a single flagon of wine only remained in the fortress, and this was of course reserved for the king. But he could not be
prevailed upon to appropriate it to his own use, and, causing it to be mixed with water, he ordered the liquor to be distributed among the garrison, declaring, with a manly spirit, that necessity had made all things equal to them, and that they should all
Polydore Vergil (Histor. Angl. p. 332,) attributes the success of the Welsh to a very curious circumstance. He says, that the Welsh were so fortunate, because the English army was hired with money sacrilegiously taken by the king from abbies and other religious places; “ So that it was a judgment from above, (as an old Welsh Historian has expressed it) more than the force of the Welsh, which overcame the English.”—Wynne's Hist. of Wales, p. 307.
share alike, until God should relieve them.* The consequence of this misfortune might have proved fatal to Edward's ambition, had not a reinforcement of troops, bringing with them a plentiful supply, remedied the evil, and enabled them to hold out the siege with bravery and success. After a short time, the insurgents were driven to the mountains with great loss, and the royal army merrily spent its Christmas in the castle of Conway.
The Earl of Warwick now received orders to explore the recesses of the Snowdon mountains, and to secure the stability of the conquest by putting to death every person found in arms. He obeyed the injunctions of his sovereign but too well. In a pass on the mountain, (the Thermopylæ of Cambria,) he attacked a numerous body of the Welsh, and after a sanguinary conflict, by superiority in numbers and tactics, he vanquished the gallant patriots, who, struggling for the expiring liberties of their fathers, “ when they failed to conquer, chose to fall!”+
* “Rex cum paucibus gentibus (says Henry Knyghton) transivit aquam de Coneway, et fuit in castello suo, sed propter undas maris exercitus ejus non potuit festinanter sequi eum, et impediuntur : sic quod non possint venire ad eum. Wallenses eventum videntes obsiderunt regem in castello suo, et nunquam in totâ vitâ suâ fuerat in tantâ egestate : quia non habuit nisi aquam cum melle mixtam. Nam Wallenses ceperunt omnia victualia ejus, et occiderunt gentes ejus. Et Rex habuit paucum de vino, quasi vix unam lagenam, et fecit miscere in aquâ, et dare omnibus qui cum illo fuerunt; et dixit: In necessitate omnia sunt communia, et omnes habebimus unam diætam donec Deus melius nobis succurrat.” Chronic. de Eventib. Angl. p. 2471-2.
† An account of this action is given as follows by a quaint but faithful historian :-“Whilst the King remained in Conway, the Earl of Warwick, being informed that a great number of Welsh were assembled, and had lodged themselves in a certain valley betwixt two woods, chose out a troop of horse, together with some cross-bowmen and archers, and set upon them in the night time. The Welsh, being thus surprised, and unexpectedly encompassed about by their enemies, made the best haste they could to oppose them, and so pitching their spears in the ground, and directing the points towards the enemy, endeavoured by such means to keep off the horse. But the Earl of Warwick having ordered his battle, so as betweene every two horses there stood a cross-bowman, so gauled the Welsh with the shot of the quarrels, that the spear-men fell apace, and then the horse, breaking in easily upon the rest, bare them down with so great a slaughter as the Welsh had never received before. After this, King Edward, to prevent any more rebellious attempt of the Welsh, cut down all the woodes in Wales, wherein in any time of danger they were wont to hide
This victory proved almost decisive ; but there was yet another act to perform before Edward could ensure to himself the undisputed possession of the principality : and this was the destruction of the Burds. The heroic sentiments of freedom and of glory which animated the Welsh, and prompted them so frequently and enthusiastically to attempt the recovery of their lost liberties, were, in a great measure, excited by the inspired lays of their poets,—an order of men, of unlimited influence, and held in the highest estimation by the people. While they existed, to rouse by their wild and soul-stirring songs the dormant energies of their countrymen, no permanent submission to the will of the conqueror could be expected. Their extinction, therefore, became necessary for the security of the conquest, and the stern Edward is said to have ordered their extermination, for the crime of having stirred up the people to disobedience and rebellion.*
It was by measures thus decisive and severe, that Edward the First succeeded in subjugating the Cambro-British. Had he not been gifted with singular sagacity and courage, he could never have accomplished this grand object of his ambition; for we have seen, that his designs were opposed by the Welsh with unabated ardour and bravery. There is something noble and magnanimous even in the downfall of this ancient people. We have shewn that no common calamity could intimidate them; that no privation or suffering could induce them to forsake their country's cause, even when they knew that no advantage could result from the contest. And it was not till they had lost their beloved sovereign, and witnessed the horrible revenge wreaked upon his rightful successor, that they became disheartened and sad, and bowed them to the domination of their ruthless conqueror.
“ The fall of nations," observes the historian, " distinguished only by misfortunes, or
and save themselves. And for a further security, he repaired and fortified all the castles and places of strength in Wales, and built the castle of Beaumaris in Anglesey. And so having put all things in a settled posture, and punished those that had been the occasion of the death of Roger de Pulestone, he returned with his army to England." Wynne's History of Wales, 308.
History of the Gwedir Family, p. 62; on the authority of which pearly every subsequent historian has chronicled the event. inclined, however, to doubt the actual occurrence of the fact. Edward certainly extended towards the Bards the rigorous severity with which he persecuted their countrymen ; but we can find no satisfactory proof of their massacre. We shall say no more, however, on the subject at present, as we may, perhaps, be induced to enter more minutely into the question at some future period.
VOL. V. PART II.