Owain Glyndŵr was descended from the princes of the kingdom of Powys on his father”s side, Gruffydd Fychan II Tywysog, hereditary of Powys Fadog and Lord of Glyndyfrdwy, and from the princes of the kingdom of Deheubarth on his mother”s side Elen ferch Tomas ap Llywelyn. On September 16, 1400, Glyndŵr instigated a revolt in Wales against the rule of King Henry IV of England. Although initially successful, the uprising was eventually put down. Owain Glyndŵr was last seen in 1412 and was never captured or accepted royal pardons, nor was he betrayed by his followers. His final years constitute a mystery.
Owain Glyndŵr constitutes a prominent figure in the popular culture of Wales and England, immortalized by William Shakespeare in his play Henry IV (as “Owen Glendower”), a wild and exotic man ruled by magic and emotions (“when I was born the sky was covered with wild shapes, with fiery clouds, and the foundations of the earth itself trembled like a cowardly man” -Enrique IV, Part 1, Act 3, Scene 1). At the end of the 19th century the nationalist movement Young Wales considered him the father of Welsh nationalism, revising his historical image as a local leader and through popular accounts turning him into a national hero of Wales alongside the legendary King Arthur.
In 2000, celebrations were held throughout Wales to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Owain Glyndŵr”s revolt. In 2002 he was ranked 23rd as one of the 100 Greatest Britons in History.
Owain Glyndŵr was born around 1359 (some authors consider that in 1354), in the bosom of a prosperous landowning family, which was part of the Anglo-Welsh gentry of the Welsh Marches (the border between Wales and England) in the northeast of Wales. His social class occupied an intermediate place in society, living among both the Welsh and the English, occupying important positions as Lords of the Marches in the kingdom of England and as uchelwyr – Welsh nobles descended from the nobility before the English conquest – in traditional Welsh society. His father was Gruffydd Fychan II, hereditary Tywysog of Powys Fadog and Lord of Glyndyfrdwy, who died sometime before 1370 leaving his wife Elen ferch Tomas ap Llywelyn of Deheubarth a widow. Owain was very young at the time and probably had an older brother named Madog who would have died earlier.
Young Owain ap Gruffydd was educated in the home of David Hanmer, a lawman who would become a judge of Kings Bench. Owain was subsequently sent to London to study law at the Inns of Court. He probably studied as an apprentice for seven years, long enough to gain a good judicial knowledge as a landlord but not to become a judicial officer. He was possibly in London during the peasants” revolt of 1381. In 1383 he returned to Wales, where he married David Hanmer”s daughter Margaret, with whom he had a large family and established himself as Squire of Sycharth and Glyndyfrdwy with all the associated responsibilities.
Owain Glyndŵr entered the king”s service in 1384, when he took up garrison duties under Sir Gregory Sails on the English-Scottish border at Berwick-on-Tweed. In 1385 he entered combat under King Richard II of England in the war against France and in the same year also served under John of Gaunt again on the Scottish border. In 1386 he was called to testify at the trial of Scrope vs. Grosvenor at Chester. In 1387 he was in the southeast of England in the service of the Earl of Arundel, where he took part in a battle to repel a Spanish-Flemish fleet trying to land on the Kent coast. On the death of his father-in-law, Sir David Hanmer in late 1387, he was knighted by King Richard and returned to Wales to take charge of his estates. He possibly stood with Henry Bolingbroke (future Henry IV of England), son of John of Gaunt at the Battle of Radcot Bridge in December 1387. Between 1385-1387 he had an intense military experience in various scenarios and participated in some important maneuvers.
From 1387 King Richard II found himself increasingly distracted by his growing conflict with the nobility. Owain Glyndŵr”s opportunities for advancement were limited by the death of Sir Gregory Sais in 1390 and the removal from court of the Earl of Arundel, his main political allies, so he turned to managing his estates in Wales, living quietly for several years. The bard Iolo Goch (“Iolo the Red”), a Welsh nobleman, visited him often during the 1390s and dedicated several of his compositions to Owain, praising his generosity and honesty “Rare was it to see there .
The names and number of Owain Glyndwr”s siblings are not known exactly. The following is a list of the data left by J Y W Lloyd Knight.
Tudur, Isabel and Lowri are given as his siblings by Professor RR Davies. That Owain Glyndŵr had another brother was probably Gruffudd. In addition, he possibly had a third, Maredudd.
In the late 1390s, a series of events occurred that pushed Owain Glyndŵr into rebellion. During these years King Richard II had initiated a bold plan to consolidate the crown”s hold on the realm and destroy the power of the nobles who constantly threatened his authority. As part of this plan, Richard began to concentrate his power base in southeastern England and London to create a new principality around the county of Cheshire and systematically create a broad power structure out of Wales, which during this time was ruled by a scattered group of semi-autonomous feudal lords, bishops, earls and officials under direct royal rule. Richard eliminated his rivals and seized their lands or gave them to his favorites. In the process he elevated a number of Welsh nobles to occupy the structure of the new fiefs. For these favored individuals, the last years of Richard II”s reign were a time of opportunity. In contrast, the English nobles considered the king to be dangerously out of their control.
In 1399 Henry Bolingbroke, heir to the Duchy of Lancaster, returned from exile to reclaim his lands. Henry gathered an army and marched to confront the king. Richard II hurried back from Ireland to negotiate with his rival. They met in Wales at Conwy Castle to discuss the restitution of Henry”s lands. Regardless of the initial intentions of each, Richard II ended up being arrested, deposed and imprisoned, first at Chester and later at Pontefract Castle in West Yorkshire. The English parliament proclaimed Henry Bolingbroke regent and subsequently king. Richard II died in strange circumstances in Pontefract Castle, shortly after the failure of a revolt of his supporters among the nobility of the kingdom, but his death was not made public for some time. In Wales, nobles like Owain had to redefine their allegiance for the first time in a long time. Traditionally the Welsh had been supporters of King Richard II, who had succeeded his father the Black Prince as Prince of Wales. The fall of Richard II also meant that the opportunities for Welsh nobles to rise were reduced. Many were uneasy about the uncertain future.
The dispute with Baron de Grey
The Welsh revolt began over the dispute between Owain Glyndŵr and his English neighbors, the De Greys of Ruthin or Dyffryn Clwyd (in Welsh), a family of English landowners with holdings in Wales and an anti-Welsh reputation. Territorial disputes between Owain”s family and their neighbors had dragged on throughout the century. In 1399 Owain had appealed to the English parliament to settle the dispute and had won. However, with the accession to power of Henry IV of England, Baron Reginald Grey – a friend of the new monarch – used his influence to have the court decision overturned. Owain appealed. His appeal was rejected without even being heard before parliament. In addition Baron de Grey caused Owain to receive a royal request to join Henry IV”s campaign against the Scots. Technically, as a vassal of the English king, Owain was obliged to provide troops to the monarch as he had done in the past. However, De Grey delayed handing Owain the royal request, making it easier for the Welshman to be charged with treason by the king, who confiscated his property and ordered Reginald Grey to deal with the Welsh nobleman. De Grey set out to eliminate his rival and Owain decided to rebel.
On September 16, 1400, Owain was proclaimed Prince of Wales. With a small band of supporters including his eldest son, his brothers-in-law and the Dean of St. Asaph, Owain attacked the Grey possessions. The rebellion quickly spread across northeast Wales and on September 19 Ruthin Castle, the Grey stronghold, was attacked. On September 22 the town of Oswestry was so badly damaged by Owain”s raid that it had to be rebuilt. On the 24th Owain headed south, attacked Powys Castle and sacked Welshpool. At the same time, the Tudor brothers of Anglesey started a guerrilla war against the English. The Tudors were a prominent noble family closely linked to Richard II. Gwilym Tudor and Rhys Tudor had been Welsh archer captains in Richard”s campaigns in Ireland, and soon swore allegiance to their cousin Owain.
King Henry IV, heading north to invade Scotland, had to be diverted from his objective and on September 26 was at Shrewsbury prepared to invade Wales. In a lightning campaign, Henry led his army across north Wales, but was constantly buffeted by bad weather and attacks by Welsh guerrillas. On October 15 he retreated to Shrewsbury Castle.
In 1401 the Welsh revolt began to spread. Much of north and mid-Wales joined Owain. Several English towns, castles and cities in the north were attacked. Even in the south at Brecon and Gwent attacks by bandits and outlaws calling themselves Plant Owain (the Sons of Owain) began to occur. King Henry IV commissioned Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland, to restore order. Percy issued an amnesty in March for all rebels who laid down their arms, except Owain and the Tudor brothers (ancestors of the future King Henry Tudor). Most of the country seemed to calm down and agreed to pay the usual taxes, but the Tudors knew they needed a bargaining chip to avoid the threat hanging over their heads, so they decided to conquer Conwy Castle. Although the castle was defended by only fifteen soldiers and sixty archers, it was well supplied and reinforced by sea, and the Tudors had only forty men. On Good Friday, which coincided with April 1 (April Fool”s Day in England)-all but five of the castle”s inhabitants were gathered in the town church when a carpenter appeared at the castle gate, and according to Adam of Usk”s Chronicon, pretended to have come to take care of some work. Once inside, the carpenter attacked the guards and left the door open for his companions to enter. Although Henry Percy arrived in haste with 120 soldiers and 300 archers, he was forced to negotiate and gave the Tudors an amnesty.
Owain also won his first major battlefield victory. In June, at Mynydd Hyddgen in Pumlumon, Owain and 400 of his men defeated an army consisting of 500 English and Flemish soldiers from Pembrokeshire, killing 200 of the enemy and taking the rest prisoner. Henry IV undertook another punitive expedition, destroying the abbey of Strata Florida, after which bad weather forced the English to return to Hereford Castle without any decisive victory.
The English sensed that if the Welsh revolt succeeded it would inevitably end up attracting supporters of the deposed King Richard and rumors of rebellion were constantly coming in. It is possible that as early as 1401, Henry Percy was secretly negotiating a truce with Owain and other leaders of the revolt. Nevertheless, the English enacted the Welsh Penal Laws to strengthen their rule. The laws codified common practices that had been enforced in the Marches of Wales for many years, such as prohibiting the Welsh from buying land in England, holding public office in Wales, bearing arms, owning castles or fortresses, or Welsh children and young men from being educated or adopted by the guilds. In addition, no Englishman could be convicted on the accusation of a Welshman, Welshmen would be severely penalized if they married English women, and all public meetings would be banned. These laws were a clear message to the Welsh conspirators. Many Welshmen who had risen socially in England lost their positions and joined the rebellion.
In January 1402 Owain succeeded in capturing his enemy, Baron Reginald de Grey, at Ruthyn. He held him for a year until he received a substantial ransom from King Henry IV. In June 1402 Owain”s forces faced an army led by Sir Edmund Mortimer, uncle of the Earl of the Mark at the Battle of Bryn Glas in mid-Wales. Mortimer”s army was defeated and Sir Edmund himself fell to the Welsh. Owain Glyndŵr agreed to release Edmund Mortimer in exchange for a large ransom, but unlike with the Baron de Grey, King Henry IV refused to pay. In response to his monarch”s refusal, Sir Edmund negotiated an alliance with Owain and married Catrin, one of Owain”s daughters.
Also that same year the French and Bretons aided the Welsh rebels in their war against England. The French wanted to use the Welsh in the same way they used the Scots as a retaining wall against English expansion. French privateers began attacking English ships in the Irish Sea and provided arms to the Welsh. French and Breton mercenaries were also present in Owain”s attacks.
The revolt spreads
In 1403 the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr became a national movement in Wales. Owain”s supporters spread across the west and south. Recreating the march of Llywelyn the Great in the west, Owain marched down the Tywi valley. Welsh settlements rose in his wake, and English manors and castles surrendered or were conquered. Finally, he managed to occupy Carmarthen, one of the main English strongholds in the west. Owain then turned and attacked Glamorgan and Gwent.
Abergavenny Castle at Gwent was attacked and its walled city burned. Owain continued to advance up the Usk river valley until he reached the coast, burning Usk and taking the castles of Cardiff and Newport. The king”s officials reported that Welsh students at Oxford University were abandoning their studies to join Owain and workers and craftsmen were abandoning their trades in England to return to Wales in waves. Owain also attracted support from Welsh soldiers stationed in France and Scotland. Hundreds of Welsh archers and soldiers left the English army to join the rebels.
In North Wales Owain”s supporters launched a second attack on Caernarfon Castle, this time with French support. In response, Henry of Monmouth, son of Henry IV, attacked and burned Owain”s estates at Glyndyfrdwy and Sychart. Henry Percy (who was nicknamed “Hotspur”, hot spur) who advocated a policy of negotiation and appeasement, went over to Owain”s side and rebelled in Cheshire, a stronghold of the supporters of the ousted Richard II, and challenged his cousin Henry IV. Henry of Monmouth, then only 16 years old, headed north to confront Henry Percy. On July 21 he arrived at Shrewbury, just ahead of Percy, forcing the rebels to camp outside the town. The king”s son immediately attacked, provoking the Battle of Shrewsbury, to prevent Henry Percy and the rebels from joining the Earl of Northumberland, who was also coming to the town. The battle raged all day and Henry of Monmouth was wounded in the face by an arrow, but fought on with his men. When news spread that Henry Percy was dead, the rebels” resistance collapsed. By the end of the day Percy”s rebellion was over. More than 300 knights had been killed and some 20,000 men had been killed or wounded.
In 1404 Owain captured and fortified the castles of Harlech and Aberystwyth. Anxious to show himself an able and serious ruler, he held courts at Harlech and appointed Gruffydd Young as chancellor. Shortly thereafter he also convened his first parliament (or more properly a Cynulliad or assembly) of all Wales at Machynlleth, where Owain IV of Wales was crowned and announced various measures of government. He declared his intention to create an independent kingdom of Wales with a separate parliament and Welsh church from England. He would order the building of two national universities (one in the south and one in the north) and reestablish the traditional law of Hywel Dda. Several churchmen and prominent members of Welsh society came to his summons. English resistance was reduced to a few isolated castles and walled towns.
The Tripartite Contract and the Year of the French
Owain Glyndŵr demonstrated his new position by negotiating the “Tripartite Contract” with the Earl of the Mark and the Earl of Northumberland. The Contract agreed to divide England and Wales among the three. Wales would extend to the River Severn and the River Mersey, annexing most of Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire. The Mortimers would take the south and west of England and Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, would take the north of England. Most historians consider this “Tripartite Contract” to be a mere fantasy. However, it should be remembered that in early 1404 the situation was very favorable for Owain. The English communities on the Welsh border were weakened and were reaching agreements with the Welsh rebels. It was rumored that former allies of King Richard II were sending money and arms to Wales and that Cistercian and Franciscan monks in Wales were collecting funds and donations to support the rebellion. On the other hand, the rebellion of Richard II”s supporters was still viable. In fact, the rebellion started by Percy did not end completely until 1408, when the Sheriff of Yorkshire defeated the Earl of Northumberland at Bramham Moor. Whether the Tripartite Contract was a fantasy or not, Owain was benefiting from the convulsive political situation.
On the international front the situation was also favorable for Owain Glyndŵr. Owain sent his chancellor Gruffydd Young and his brother-in-law John Hanmer to France to negotiate a treaty. The result was the promise of aid for the Welsh rebels. The immediate effect of these negotiations seems to have been that a combined army of Welsh, French and Bretons besieged Kidwelly Castle. The Welsh also had the half-hearted support of the Scots and Irish, who traveled to Wales via a fleet provided by France. The Scots attacked the Llyn Peninsula in 1400 and 1401. In 1401 a Breton squadron defeated the English in the English Channel and devastated Jersey, Guernsey and Plymouth, while the French landed on the Isle of Wight. In 1404 a French fleet burned Dartmouth and devastated the Devon coast.
1405 was the “Year of the French” in Wales. On the continent the French armies invaded Aquitaine and simultaneously in West Wales landed a French army of 2800 knights and soldiers led by Jean de Rieux, a Breton nobleman and Marshal of France. Unfortunately he did not get a supply of drinking water and many of his war horses died. Jean de Rieux joined Owain and together they took the town of Haverfordwest, but failed to conquer the castle. They then continued to advance, recapturing Carmarthen and besieging Tenby. The Franco-Welsh army crossed South Wales and invaded England, advancing through Herefordshire and Worcestershire. They met the English army west of Great Witly, about 10 km from Worcester. Henry IV”s army was positioned on Abberley Hill to the south while Owain positioned his troops on Woodbury Hill to the north. The armies remained encamped undecided to attack for eight days and never actually engaged in battle. For reasons that have never been clear, both sides decided to withdraw. According to the main theory, Henry IV”s strategy was to hold out for days by intimidating the Welsh army, until the latter, in need of supplies, was forced to retreat to Wales.
Although more French soldiers continued to arrive for the rest of the year, in the absence of decisive results, and faced with the need for more troops on the continent, the French king withdrew his troops from Wales.
The decline of the rebellion
By 1406 most of the French troops had withdrawn and in Paris, the court of King Charles VI was ready to sign peace with England. Even Owain”s letter to King Charles VI of France and Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon, promising to change the obedience of the Welsh church from Rome to Avignon, did not produce results. The international alliances of the Welsh rebels withdrew their support.
The rebels began to have other problems. Earlier in the year Owain”s armies were defeated at Grosmont and Usk at the Battle of Pwll Melyn. Although it is difficult to know the military maneuvers of these battles, it appears that Prince Henry of Monmouth or possibly Sir John Talbot, managed to significantly damage several raiding parties led by Rhys Ghetin (“Rhys the brown”) and Owayn”s eldest son, Gruffydd Glyndŵr. The outcome of these battles is unclear but it appears that Rhys was killed at Grosmoth and Gruffydd was captured at Usk. Gruffydd was sent to the Tower of London and died six years later in prison. King Henry IV employed increasingly brutal tactics, beheading more than 300 Welsh prisoners before Usk Castle. John ap Hywel, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Llantarnam was killed at the Battle of Usk while administering the sacraments to the dead and wounded on both sides. That same year the English armies seized the island of Anglesey from Ireland, eliminating Welsh resistance.
At the same time, the young Prince Henry imposed a tactic of economic blockade. Using the castles that remained under English control, they began to reconquer Wales, preventing trade and the arrival of arms. In 1407 this strategy began to take effect. In March 1000 men of Flintshiere appeared before the county magistrate and agreed to pay a communal fine for their support of Owain Glyndŵr. Gradually the same situation began to be repeated throughout Wales. In July the Earl of Arundel pacified the area around Oswestry and Clun, and one by one the local lords began to surrender. In summer, Owain”s castle at Aberystwyth was besieged and in autumn surrendered. In 1409 Harlech Castle surrendered. Several Welsh envoys were sent to France for help, but got no response. Gruffydd Young tried to enlist the support of Scotland but to no avail. Sir Edmund Mortimer was killed in the final battle and Owain”s wife Margaret, along with their two daughters, and three granddaughters were taken prisoner and imprisoned in the Tower of London. All died in prison before 1415.
Owain became an outlaw. In 1410 Owain and his followers attempted a final suicide raid in Shropshire, in which many of the rebel leaders were captured. Rhys Ddu (“Rhys the Black”) of Cardigan was captured and executed in London, along with Philip Scudamore and Rhys ap Tudor. Their bodies were torn to pieces and their heads displayed in public.
In 1412 Owain captured and subsequently freed Dafydd Gam (“David the Crooked”), a Welsh supporter of King Henry IV in an ambush at Brecon. However, it was the last victory of the revolt. It was also the last occasion on which Owain”s enemies saw him alive. In 1414 rumors arose in Herefordshire that Sir John Oldcastle, a Lolardo leader, was communicating with Owain Glyndŵr. The English sent reinforcements to the main castles in north and south Wales. Bandits and outlaws who had participated in the rebellion remained active for several years in Snowdonia.
Henry IV died in 1413 and his son Henry V began to adopt a more conciliatory policy towards the Welsh. Royal amnesties and pardons were offered to the main leaders of the revolt and other opponents of Henry IV”s rule. In a symbolic gesture, the body of Richard II was buried in Westminster Abbey. In 1415 Henry V offered a royal pardon to Owain Glyndŵr, as he prepared for war with France. There is evidence that Henry V was negotiating with Maredudd Glyndŵr, Owain”s son, but to no avail. In 1416 Maredudd himself was offered a royal pardon, but he also refused it, although he eventually accepted it 1421, suggesting that Owain had finally died.
The Annals of Owain Glyndŵr taken from the medieval manuscript “Panton MS. 22”, end in the year 1422. The last entry on the Welsh rebel reads:
There is no reliable data on Owain from 1412 onwards. Although huge bounties were offered for his head, he was never captured or betrayed. He refused royal amnesties and pardons. According to tradition when he died he was buried at Sycharth or at the estates of his daughters” husbands – Kentchurch in south Herefordshire or Monnington in west Herefordshire, ironically, both locations in England. Owain”s daughter, Alys Glyndŵr, had secretly married Sir John Scudamore, the Sheriff of Herefordshire. Somehow she managed to survive the rebellion and remain in office. It was also rumored that Owain had eventually retired to Kentchurch. In his book The Mystery of Jack of Kent and the Fate of Owain Glyndŵr, Alex Gibbon claim that the local hero Jack of Kent, also known as Siôn Cent – related to the Scudamore family – was in fact Owain Glyndŵr himself. Gibbons notes several similarities between Siôn Cent and Glyndŵr (including physical appearance, age, education, character) and states that Owain spent his last years in the company of his daughter Alys, posing as an old Franciscan friar friend of the family. Many folk tales and legends show Owain disguising himself to confuse his enemies during the rebellion.
Sir John Donne (died 1503) was the grandson of John Scudamore and Alys Glyndŵr. He was a partisan courtier of the House of York, diplomat and soldier, who from 1485 held a place at the court of Henry VII of England. Through the Donne family many prominent English families descended from Owain Glyndŵr, including the De Vere family, Earls of Oxford and the Cavendish family, Dukes of Devonshire.
In 2006 Adrien Jones, president of the Owain Glyndŵr Society said: Four years ago we visited a direct descendant of Glyndŵr at Kentchurch Court, near Abergavenny. He took us to Monnington Straddel, in Herefordshire, where Alice , one of Owain Glyndŵr”s daughters, lived. He told us she spent her last days there and died. It was a family secret for 600 years and even Sir John”s mother, who died shortly before we visited, refused to reveal the secret. There is even a burial mound at Monnington Straddel, where it is believed he was buried.
Owain Glyndŵr has been credited with the paternity of the following children:
Consequences of the rebellion in Wales
In 1415 English rule returned to Wales. The leading rebels were dead, imprisoned or impoverished due to huge fines. Few Welsh families or parishes had not been affected by the rebellion in some way. The cost in human loss, physical destruction and ruined lives was enormous. Wales, already an impoverished area of England before the revolt, was further impoverished by looting on all sides, economic blockade and communal fines. Travellers” accounts of the time tell of ruined castles, such as Montgomery, and destroyed abbeys, such as Strata Florida and Abeeycwmhir. The markets of many towns were abandoned and Welsh trade virtually disappeared. The farmlands were now fallow wastelands with no one to work them. As late as 1492 an official of the King of Glamorgan still blames the devastation wrought by the revolt for the meager tribute collected that year.
Many prominent families ended up ruined. In 1411 John Hanmer declared that poverty was the reason he could not pay the fines imposed on him. The Tudors lost their dominions in Anglesey and northwest Wales, and the family seemed ruined until Maredudd, the third son of the family, emigrated to London in search of new fortune. The prominent Henry Dwn, who with French and Bretons had besieged Kidwelly Castle in 1403 and 1404 accepted the king”s pardon and a fine for rebelling. However, he somehow managed to avoid payment. For many years after his surrender and despite official prohibitions, he housed escaped rebels, imposed various fines on vassals who had not supported him, toured the country with his retinue, and even plotted to assassinate the king”s judge. Nevertheless, his grandson fought alongside King Henry V in 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt. Other nobles, however, did not prove so fortunate. Many of Owain”s followers ended up in exile. Others simply did not fit into the new order. Henry Gwyn (“Henry the White”) – heir to the lordship of Llansteffan – left Wales for good and died in the service of the king of France facing his former comrades at Agincourt. Gruffydd Young also ended up in exile. In 1415 he was in Paris. He lived another 20 and was appointed first Bishop of Ross in Scotland and later of Hippo in North Africa.
Outside Wales Owain Glyndŵr is remembered in the guise of his caricature “Owen Glendower” in Shakespeare”s play, Henry IV, an eccentric Welshman who claims to be able to summon spirits from the deep, and possesses certain mystical elements. Owen Glendower is a wild and exotic man, a man ruled by magic and his emotions in contrast to the logical and pragmatic Hotspur (Henry Percy).
After Owain Glyndŵr”s death there was little Welsh resistance to English rule until the 16th century, when the Welsh-born Tudor dynasty allowed many Welsh to rise in Welsh society. These nobles considered Owain”s revolt to have been a catastrophe for Wales.
It was not until the 19th century that Owain Glyndŵr”s reputation was revitalized. The Cymru Fydd (Young Wales) movement recreated him as the father of Welsh nationalism. The discovery of Owain”s Great Seal and his letters to the French in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France helped revise his historical image as a leader of local importance. During World War I, Welsh-born Prime Minister David Lloyd George unveiled a statue in his honor at Cardiff Town Hall, as well as a postcard showing Owain at the Battle of Mynyd Hyddgen. The popular memory of Wales has always held him in high esteem and almost every Welsh parish has its own local legends or anecdotes about Owain.
Owain Glyndŵr joined the long list of rebels who resisted English rule over the British Isles, and has been remembered as a national hero in Wales, along with King Arthur, and numerous groups have adopted his symbolism to advocate independence or nationalism in Wales. For example, during the 1980s, a group calling itself Meibion Glyndŵr claimed authorship of burning several English vacation homes in Wales. Perhaps ironically, however, Owain Glyndŵr was part English. According to Welsh legends, if Wales was ever threatened again, he would rise from his resting place to defend his land, in a manner similar to King Arthur. The creation of the National Assembly for Wales following the 1997 referendum led to the Wales-wide celebration of the 600th anniversary of the revolt in 2000. Several stamps were issued with his effigy, streets, parks and public squares were dedicated to him all over Wales. Owain”s personal banner – which combined the Powys and Deheubarth banners – began to spread across Wales, especially at rugby matches against the English. A campaign has been launched to make September 16, the day Owain raised his banner in rebellion, a national holiday in Wales. A national prize for art and literature the Glyndŵr Award, was created in his honor. In 2007 The Manic Street Preachers, a Welsh folk music group wrote the song “1404” in honor of Owain Glyndŵr. That same year a statue of Owain Glyndŵr on horseback was placed in Corwen Square to commemorate his life and influence in the area. There is also a tourist trail known as Glyndŵr”s Way, which runs through Wales near the places where he lived.
As well as in Shakespeare”s play, Owain Glyndŵr has appeared in other literary works and has been the protagonist of several historical novels:
In 1983 UK TV broadcast the film Owain, Prince of Wales, directed by James Hill.
For a survey of the various forms in which Owain Glyndŵr has appeared in modern Welsh literature, E. Wyn James wrote Glyndŵr a Gobaith y Genedl: Agweddau ar y Portread o Owain Glyndŵr yn Llenyddiaeth y Cyfnod Modern (Aberystwyth: Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigion, 2007).
Glyndŵr appeared briefly as a past gentleman of the word and a ghost serving the Lady in Terry Brooks” Word.
Glyndŵr appeared as an agent of Light in Susan Cooper”s novel, Silver on the Tree, in The Dark is Rising sequence.