« PreviousContinue »
MOTTE-CASTLES IN SOUTH WALES
It is not possible to fix certain dates for all the Norman. conquests of the several provinces of South Wales. These conquests proceeded from various points, under different leaders. We might have expected that the earliest advances would have been on the Herefordshire border, the earldom of Hereford having been given by William I. to William FitzOsbern, one of his most trusted and energetic servants. Ordericus tells us that FitzOsbern and Walter de Lacy first invaded the district of Brecknock, and defeated three kings of the Welsh.1 This looks as though the conquest of Brecknock was then begun. But it was not completed till the reign of Rufus; in 1093 Bernard of Neufmarché defeated and slew Rhys ap Tudor, King of South Wales, in a battle which the Welsh chronicler speaks of as the fall of the kingdom of the Britons. William FitzOsbern died in 1071, and he had scarcely time to accomplish more than the building of the border castles of Wigmore, Clifford, Ewias, and Monmouth, and the incastellation of Gwent, that is the country between the Wye and the Usk, which had already been conquered by Harold.
It seems probable that Pembrokeshire was one 1 Ordericus, ii., 218, 219 (edition Prévost). 2 Bruty Tywysogion, 1091.
of the earliest Norman conquests in South Wales, as in in 1073 and 1074 the Brut tells of two expeditions of "the French" into Dyfed, a region which included not only what we now call Pembrokeshire, but also Strath Towy, which comprised an extensive district on both sides of the valley of the Towy.' The Annales Cambria name Hugh de Montgomeri, Earl Roger's eldest son, in connection with the second of these expeditions, seven years before the expedition of King William into Wales in 1081.2 The House of Montgomeri certainly took the most conspicuous part in the conquest of Dyfed and Cardigan, which was completed, according to the Brut, in 1093.3 Arnulf of Montgomeri, fifth son of Earl Roger, was the leader of this conquest. But his father must at the same time have been operating in Cardigan, as the building of the castle of Cilgerran, which is on the very borders of Pembroke and Cardigan, is attributed to him.
How far Earl Roger made himself master of Ceredigion it is impossible to say. Later writers say that he built the castle of Cardigan, but we have not been able to find any early authority for this statement, which in itself is not improbable. Powell's History makes him do homage to William Rufus for the lordship of Cardigan, but here again the authority is doubtful. The fact
1 Brut, 1071. "The French ravage Ceredigion (Cardigan) and Dyfed"; 1072, "The French devastated Ceredigion a second time.
2 A.-S. C., 1081. "This year the king led an army into Wales, and there he set free many hundred persons "-doubtless, as Mr Freeman remarks, captives taken previously by the Welsh. The Brut treats this expedition as merely a pilgrimage to St David's !
3 "Then the French came into Dyfed and Ceredigion, which they have still retained, and fortified the castles, and seized upon all the land of the Britons." Brut, 1091 = 1093.
• Powell's History of Wales professes to be founded on that of Caradoc, a Welsh monk of the 12th century; but it is impossible to say how much of it is Caradoc, and how much Powell, or Wynne, his augmentor.
NORMANS IN CARDIGAN
that a castle in or near Aberystwyth was not built until 1109 may indicate that the conquest of Northern Cardigan was not completed till it became the portion of the De Clares. This took place in 1109, when Henry I. deposed Cadwgan, a Welsh prince whom he had made Lord of Cardigan, and gave the lordship to Gilbert de Clare, who immediately proceeded to build the above-mentioned castle, and to restore Earl Roger's castle at Cilgerran (Dingeraint).' From this time the castle and district of Cardigan continued to be an appanage of the House of Clare (of course with frequent interruptions from Welsh invasions), and of the family of William Marshall, to whom the Clare lands came by marriage. The authority of these earls was suspended during the reign of Henry II., when he made Rhys ap Griffith, who had possessed himself of Ceredigion by conquest, Justiciar of South Wales, but in the reigns of John and Henry III., the Close Rolls show that Cardigan Castle and county were generally in the hands of the Marshalls.
The conquest of Pembrokeshire must have been closely followed by that of what is now Carmarthenshire, which was then reckoned as part of Dyfed. We first hear of the castle of Rhyd y Gors in 1094, but it evidently existed earlier. This castle we believe to have been the important castle of Carmarthen (see post). It was founded by William, son of Baldwin, sheriff of Devon, and cousin of the Gilbert de Clare who at a later period was made Lord of Cardigan by
1 Brut, 1107.
2 "In the Brut, Ystrad Towy does not only mean the vale of Towy, but a very large district, embracing most of Carmarthenshire and part of Glamorganshire. Welsh Historical Documents, by Egerton Phillimore, in Cymmrodor, vol. xi.
3 Brut, 1092.
Henry I. We thus see at what an early date this important family made its appearance in Welsh history.
The conquest of Brecknock (Brecheiniog) we have already briefly referred to. It must have begun as early as 1088, for in that year Bernard de Neufmarché gave to St Peter's Abbey at Gloucester the church and manor of Glasbury. The inheritance of Bernard passed by marriage to the De Braoses, and from them to the Mortimers. It is convenient to mention in this connection the Norman conquest of Radnor, of which the De Braoses and Mortimers were the heroes. A charter of Philip de Braose, not later than 1096, is dated at "Raddenoam." Even during the anarchy of Stephen's reign, the Mortimers were able to maintain their hold on this district, for the Brut relates that in 1145, Hugh, son of Ralph Mortimer, conquered Malienydd and Elvael the second time. These two districts properly belong to Powys, though geographically in South Wales.
We leave to the last the conquest of Glamorgan, which may possibly have been one of the earliest, but whose date is still a matter of dispute, owing to the legendary nature of the Aberpergwm version of the Brut, the only one which even alludes to this conquest. We have, however, an initial date given us in the year 1082, when the Brut y Tywysogion tell us of the building of Cardiff Castle. The conquest of "Morgannwg," that is the country between the Usk and the Neath, was the most permanent of any of those accomplished by the Normans in Wales, but its details
1 Lloyd, "Wales and the Coming of the Normans," Cymmrodor. Trans., 1899 refers to Marchegay, Chartes du Prieurie de Monmouth.
2 Brut, 1143.
3 The date given is 1080, but as the dates in the Brut at this period are uniformly two years too early, we alter them accordingly throughout this chapter.
CONQUEST OF GLAMORGAN
are the most obscure of any. The earlier version of the Brut takes no notice of the conquest of Glamorgan; the later version which goes by the name of the Gwentian Chronicle1 tells us that the Norman Robert Fitz Hamon, being called in to the help of one Welsh prince against another, conquered Glamorgan for himself, and divided it amongst his followers, who built castles in all parts of the country. The date given is 1088. It seems to be agreed by historians that while the facts of Robert Fitz Hamon's existence and of his conquest of Glamorgan are certain, the details and the list of followers given in this chronicle are quite untrustworthy.2
The district called Gower did not then form part of Glamorgan, as it does now, though it is still ecclesiastically separate. If we are to believe the Aberpergwm Brut, it must have been conquered in 1094, when William de Londres, one of the "knights" of Robert Fitz Hamon, built a strong castle in Cydweli (Kidwelly).3
We will now briefly notice such of the castles of these various districts as are mentioned in the sources to which we have already referred in our last chapter, taking them in the order of the modern counties in which they are found.
1 Now more often called the Aberpergwm Brut, from the place where the MS. is preserved.
2 See Freeman, Norman Conquest, v., 820; William Rufus, ii., 79; and Prof. Tout, in Y Cymmerodor, ix., 208. For this reason we do not use the list of castles given in this chronicle, but confine ourselves to those mentioned in the more trustworthy Brut y Tywysogion.
3 The same MS. says, under the year 1099, “Harry Beaumont came to Gower, against the sons of Caradog ap Jestin, and won many of their lands, and built the castle of Abertawy (Swansea) and the castle of Aberllychor (Loughor), and the castle of Llanrhidian (Weobley), and the castle of Penrhys (Penrice), and established himself there, and brought Saxons from Somerset there, where they obtained lands; and the greatest usurpation of all the Frenchmen was his in Gower."