Llywelyn the Great

From Academic Kids

Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (c. 1173April 11, 1240) was a Prince of Gwynedd. Although he is often referred to as a Prince of Wales, his official title was "Prince of Aberffraw and Lord of Snowdon" (the first "official" Prince of Wales was his son, Dafydd). He was also known as Llywelyn the Great or, in Welsh, Llywelyn Fawr.

Llywelyn was born in 1173, the grandson of Owain Gwynedd. His father Iorwerth having been disposed by Owain's other sons after Owain's death, Llywelyn was left to fend for himself until, as a youth, his natural superiority made itself felt and he defeated his uncles to take Gwynedd for himself. He consolidated this conquest in 1205 by marrying Joan, illegitimate daughter of King John of England. Despite occasional disputes with John and his successor, Henry III, Llywelyn succeeded in maintaining Welsh independence. After a long struggle, he gained the ascendancy over his main rival, Gwenwynwyn of Powys, so as to unite the country.

His marriage to Joan has an unusual history. Following the birth of a legitimate heir, Dafydd ap Llywelyn, and a daughter, Elen (who was married off to the Norman Earl of Chester), Joan committed adultery with William de Braose or Breos, a Norman noble of south Wales who had allied himself with Llywelyn by the marriage of his daughter, Isabella, to Llywelyn's son, Dafydd. On learning of the affair in 1230, Llywelyn executed de Braose and Joan was imprisoned. Some time later, she was forgiven and restored to her position as princess, dying in 1237.

Llywelyn died in 1240 and a power struggle arose between his legitimate son, Dafydd, and his older, illegitimate son, Gruffydd, who according to Welsh law had equal rights of inheritance. Llywelyn had departed from tradition by naming Dafydd as his sole heir, as he recognised the Welsh custom of dividing inheritance equally amongst all male sons prevented a cohesive polity from forming, preventing a united Wales. Gruffydd was killed attempting to escape from the Tower of London in 1244, leaving the field clear for Dafydd, but Dafydd himself died without heirs in 1246, and was eventually succeeded by his nephew, Llywelyn the Last.

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Preceded by:
Dafydd ap Owain
Prince of Gwynedd
1195–1240
Succeeded by:
Dafydd ap Llywelyn
Preceded by:
Gwenwynwyn
Prince of Southern Powys
1216–1240
Succeeded by:
Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn

Template:End boxcy:Llywelyn Fawr

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