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Maelgwyn ap Rhys

(c. 1168—1231)


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B. c.1168, 6th s. of Rhys ap Gruffydd and Gwenllian; issue: Maelgwyn Fychan (‘Junior’); d. 1231; bur. Strata Florida.

Maelgwyn, short, restless, ambitious, and a sixth son, struggled all his life to construct a territorial base for himself. This involved frequent campaigns against his father and his brothers. As early as 1187 he conducted a raid on Tenby and acquired a following in Ceredigion. In 1188, when archbishop Baldwin conducted his recruiting mission to Wales, Maelgwyn pledged himself to join the crusade though, like many others, he did not do so; instead, he waged war on his father. His surplus energy was devoted to fighting his eldest brother, Gruffydd. Deheubarth's influence declined apace. On Rhys's death in 1197, Maelgwyn seized Ceredigion and managed to capture Gruffydd. When Gruffydd was released and began to do well, Maelgwyn did a deal with king John, handing over Cardigan castle in exchange for lands in Ceredigion. In 1211 he was attacked and defeated by his nephews, Rhys and Owain, before John's increasing difficulties in England persuaded him to change tack once more, joining Llywelyn ab Iorwerth. At Llywelyn's distribution of territories in 1216, Maelgwyn was given extensive lands in west Wales, including Carmarthen and Llandovery. In 1222, when Gruffydd's son Rhys died, Llywelyn gave Maelgwyn half the estates in Ceredigion. He died in 1231 and was succeeded by his son, Maelgwyn Fychan.

Subjects: British History.


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