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?
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.
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.
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.
euphoria however, did not last long;
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
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.
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.
A scribe records Owain's address to his first
parliament at Machynlleth in 1404
Memorial dedicated to Owain at Machynlleth,
Saturday 16th September 2000
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.