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Introduction ~ Owain ap Gruffudd ~ Rhys ap Gruffudd ~ Llywelyn ap Iorwerth ~ Llywelyn ap Gruffudd ~ Owain Glyndwr
Owain Glyndwr ~ page three
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At Peniel in late spring of 1404, Owain sat and wrote a letter to the French government laying out terms for a formal treaty and requesting once again arms and armed support. The letter was carried to France by John Hammer -brother-in-law and Gruffydd Young his Chancellor. By the end of that year the agreements had all been signed and sealed, also by the end of the year Wales under Owain's control now extended south as far Cardiff . In the east the border ran alongside the river Severn to the north gate of the city of Worcester, then to high ground near Bridgenorth and onward to to the source of the Trent. From there to the source of the Mersey, then by way of the river to the sea. Never before was the land of Wales so large. It seemed that the powers in the English capital of London were content to let the border so to be, or were they?

No they were certainly not. In the valley of the river Monnow on March 11th Owain suffered a major set back. Having attacked the little township of Groment, he was surprised when a vast contingent of armour clad troops arrived from young Prince Henry's newly established headquarters at Hereford. There was such slaughter that day. Again there was Welsh slaughter at the hill of Pwll Melyn near the town of Usk in early May. That day Owain's son Gruffudd led the Welsh force and Lord Grey of Condor commanded the Englishmen. Having driven Gruffudd's men from the hill, lord Grey harassed the fleeing survivors through the river Usk and into the forest of Monkswood. There Gruffudd and many of his ablest commanders were taken prisoner, transported to Monkswood castle and executed. Further incursions were occurring into north Wales, but lucky for Owain the English king had problems of his own.

Harlech - attacked from the sea. Defeat was close at hand

So to Harlech castle where on August 1st, with Ole Goldie and Me flying from the highest keep, Owain convened his second parliament. Good news too, the French were coming. Some 800 men at arms, 600 crossbow-men and 1,200 lightly armed troops had embarked and sailed from France on the 22nd of July. On receiving the news that his allies were coming and that they were to land at Milford Haven, parliament was put into recess and Owain with flags flying marched south at all speed.

O what celebrations there were when the French came ashore from their ships in the Haven of Milford, 10,000 Welshmen roared their approval as the first of the French banners were unfurled. The euphoria however, did not last long; for

Owain had work for his army to do. At Haverfordwest he attacked the castle on a wet moonless night. However the castle garrison held the initial attack, realising that time was of an essence, Owain left a small besieging force and and advanced to the east.

The residents of the small walled town of Tenby were not surprised to see Owain's army surround the town, but the walls were stout and Owain made no attempt to break in, preferring instead to starve them out. This was not to be, after some sixteen days mizzen masts of ships of English fleet were seen on the horizon. When thirty ships hove to and anchored in the harbour it caused the allies to withdraw from around the town.

North to Cardigan Owain marched next, where both the castle and town fell after a short bloody fight. after which the southwest capital of Carmarthen fell to him again. Onward and eastward he marched, Brecon fell before he smashed his way into Hereford. Then on to Woodbury hill eight mile from the city of Worcester, there entrenched in an extremely strong position we awaited the coming of Henry of Lancaster. The decisive battle for Wales and perhaps England was about to commence.

For some five days, as Ole Goldie an I flew in the breeze on the hilltop, troops from both sides skirmished with each other in the valley bottom and on the wooded valley sides, without the respective armies engaging. By the seventh day you could tell by the look on Owain's face that something was wrong, and wrong things certainly were. As other army commanders have done during wars down through the ages, we had advanced to far to quick and Owain could not renew his supplies. There was nothing else left than to retreat. As we withdrew into the hills and mountains of central Wales so Henry advanced west after us; first to Hereford then still onwards he came. Many times he was driven back with heavy losses, nevertheless he slowly gained ground; albeit a few miles each month.

By the middle of 1406 things had taken a turn for the worse. With no further gains and the expected break through into England not achieved, the French forces were recalled home. Any help that could be expected from the Scottish quarter also disappeared when young James, the heir to the Scottish crown, was captured en route to France by a English man of War patrolling the north seas. Once again Wales stood alone. Young Prince Henry at nineteen took over the command of the English army, with a warrant from parliament to bring an end to the Welsh problem. As the year of 1406 wore on, so Owain lost control of the Gower, Tywi and Ceredigion regions: all submitted to English control. Next the English made determined attacks to regain the castle in Wales. Young Henry himself sailed into the mouth of the river Rheidol, to attempt to retake Aberystwyth. When requested by Rhys Ddu for support, Owain marched south and Henry was forced to abandon the idea.

Scribe records at parliment in Macynlleth
A scribe records Owain's address to his first parliament at Machynlleth in 1404

Memorial at Machynlleth
Memorial dedicated to Owain at Machynlleth, Saturday 16th September 2000

Time however was running out, king Louis had already been murdered in France and the French were in negotiations with England in a bid to end their war

. The lords Northumberland and Bardolf, seeing that Owain was losing ground, withdrew their support. Both were killed at the battle of Bramham Moor; against the Sheriff of Yorkshire and his men on Feb 19. Now there would be no more support through the Percy connection. Owain suffered two crushing blows in the year following the death of the two lords, both Aberystwyth and Harlech fell to the English advance.

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