Mayhem, Murder and Marriage:
The Mortimers and the Welsh Princes
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Details of speakers and Talks
Dr Euryn Rhys Roberts
Competition and conquest: native Welsh society and the early Norman inroads
The advent of the Normans arguably marks more of a break in the history of Wales than any other event between the collapse of the Roman imperial system and the profound changes set in train at the end of the eighteenth century by large-scale industrialization. Unlike the recently unified kingdom of England, Wales at the turn of the second millennium was a land of many kings, many dynasties and many kingdoms; as it would continue to be, to a greater or lesser extent, up until the Edwardian conquest of 1282-3. Power hinged on military prowess rather than on jurisdictional authority, and was exercised, in practical terms at least, through gift-giving, imposing tribute, plundering and alliances. As an arena for competing ambitions and as a land of opportunity, Wales in the eleventh century offered men, both native and foreign, the prospect of power and prestige.
Dr Euryn Rhys Roberts is a Lecturer in Medieval and Welsh History at Bangor University. He specializes in the history of Wales during the Middle Ages and is also interested in how the medieval Welsh past has been used and commemorated in the modern period. He teaches on various aspects of medieval British and European history.
Dr David Stephenson
The Land between Wye and Severn: a Mortimer obsession
For some two hundred years, from the late eleventh century onwards, the Mortimer family struggled to assert mastery over much of the land between Wye and Severn. – which consists of modern Radnorshire and parts of Brecknock. This brought them into collision with the native dynasty, descendants of the shadowy figure of Elystan Glodrydd, as well as with those Welsh princes who aspired to control over a polity of Wales. The eventual triumph of the Mortimers was the backdrop for the control of much of Wales which they achieved in the early decades of the fourteenth century.
Dr David Stephenson is a former Senior Research Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, and Kathleen Hughes Memorial Lecturer at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, Dr Stephenson is now Honorary Research Fellow in Welsh History at Bangor University. He is the author of many books, including Political Power in Medieval Gwynedd (2014), Medieval Powys: Kingdom, Principality and Lordships 1132-1293 (2016), and most recently, Medieval Wales c.1050-1332 (2019).
Dr Rhun Emlyn
Conflict and coexistence: Llywelyn ab Iorwerth and the Mortimers
Llywelyn ab Iorwerth was one of the most significant of medieval Welsh rulers, as reflected in his epithet ‘the Great’. Following a period of dynastic struggle, he established his authority over the kingdom of Gwynedd by the early years of the thirteenth century and then sought to extend his authority and influence over other parts of Wales. This talk will consider the impact that his growing influence had on the lands of the Mortimers and the surrounding area, the relationship between the prince of Gwynedd and the Marcher lords and how these developments set the scene for the conflicts that were to come during rest of the century.
Dr Rhun Emlyn is a lecturer in medieval history at the Department of History and Welsh History at Aberystwyth University. His research interests include the history of universities and education, clerical careers, travel, and the connections that existed between Wales and continental Europe. He has published on the migration of Welsh clergy to England and the way that university education provided Welsh students with opportunities to advance their careers. He is currently completing a monograph on Wales’ relationship with the medieval universities which considers the Welsh students who studied in England and on the continent and the effect their education had on their careers.
Cousins at War: Roger Mortimer and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
First cousins, both grandchildren of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth; one a Marcher baron; the other Prince of Gwynedd, Prince of Wales. This short talk explores the conflicts between the two men which shaped the events that led to the end of native rule in Wales and the death of Llywelyn in an ambush in which Roger’s sons had a leading role.
Philip Hume is the creator and editor of a three-volume series of books on the Welsh Marcher Lordships, and author of vol 1, The Welsh Marcher Lordships I: Central and North (Logaston Press, March 2021); he has written On the Trail of the Mortimers’ (Logaston Press, 2016), is a co-author of The Ludlow Castle Heraldic Roll (Logaston Press, 2019), and author of articles in various journals. Philip is the Secretary of the Mortimer History Society.
Dr Sophie Ambler
Simon de Montfort, Roger Mortimer, and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd: The War of the Marches,1264-5.
At the Battle of Evesham (4 August 1265) the army of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, was annihilated and his body dismembered, his head, testicles, a hand and a foot taken as trophies by his enemies. The battle ended the first English revolution, in which a party of barons and bishops seized control of government from King Henry III. This talk investigates the treatment of Simon’s body and what provoked it. Unique evidence, produced in support of the earl’s cult, sets the trophy-taking within the socio-military culture of the marches, and opens a window onto that culture. The trophy-taking was a marcher response to a Montfortian policy of 1264-5. Simon had tried to eliminate the marcher barons, who posed the greatest threat to his power, in alliance with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. This threat – just as dangerous as that against the crown – was confronted at Evesham by the marcher barons themselves, led by Roger Mortimer. It was not only England’s constitutional future at stake in August 1265, but also the balance of power in the British Isles.
Dr Sophie Thérèse Ambler is Deputy Director of the Centre for War and Diplomacy and Reader in Medieval History at Lancaster University, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She is the author of The Song of Simon de Montfort: England’s First Revolutionary and the Death of Chivalry (Picador/OUP, 2019) and Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213-1272 (OUP, 2017).
Professor Gruffydd Aled Williams
‘A “notorious association”: Owain Glyndŵr and Sir Edmund Mortimer’
The chronicler Thomas Walsingham characterized the relationship between Owain Glyndŵr and Sir Edmund Mortimer consequent on the former’s victory at the battle of Bryn Glas (Pilleth) in 1402 as a ‘notorious association’ (infamis conuersacio) The lecture will investigate the dynamics of the association, its grounding in late fourteenth-century Welsh perceptions of the Mortimers, and its practical consequences during the Glyndŵr revolt, particularly as displayed in the Tripartite Indenture of 1405. Apart from the battle of Bryn Glas, specific topics visited will include the attitudes of Welsh genealogists to the marriage of Mortimer to Catherine, Glyndŵr’s daughter, the possible interaction between Mortimer and the chronicler Adam Usk, the siege of Harlech (1408-9) where Mortimer perished, and the fate in captivity of Mortimer’s wife Catherine and her children.
Gruffydd Aled Williams is Professor Emeritus of Welsh at Aberystwyth University. Though primarily a specialist in Welsh medieval poetry, much of his work since his retirement in 2008 has concentrated on Owain Glyndŵr, an interest inspired by his upbringing in Glyndyfrdwy, Merioneth, the area which gave Glyndŵr his name. In 2010 he delivered the British Academy’s Sir John Rhŷs Memorial Lecture on medieval poetry associated with Glyndŵr. He contributed to Owain Glyndŵr: A Casebook (2013) and his Dyddiau Olaf Owain Glyndŵr |(2015) won Literature Wales’s Welsh language ‘Creative non-fiction’ prize, being later published in English as The Last Days of Owain Glyndŵr (2017). He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and President of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society.