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ancy, technically dissoluble at the will of the King upon the death of his vassal, and actually voided by rebellion against his authority. That Llywelyn and the other Welsh chieftains who, according to the English conception of society, were feudatories of the English Crown, appreciated the full extent of their dependence is perhaps doubtful. The exact position of the chief of a people still retaining much of the apparent independence, but much of the real bondage, of tribalism, is by no means clear. The customs of Gwynedd had been greatly modified by centuries of contact with England from the primitive system which still prevailed in Ireland, as it is set forth in the Book of Rights. Still it may be doubted whether the principle of absolute dependence, which was the keystone of the social, political, and to some extent even the ecclesiastical system of the English, was comprehended in all the fulness of its meaning by the chiefs or princes of Gwynedd. The fatal defect of the tribal system, as it was working itself out in Wales, lay in this, that it engendered no cohesive element whereby the sense of family unity could broaden out into the nobler and wider conception of nationality. It is indeed highly probable that the Welsh would ultimately have compassed national unity on the lines. upon which their constitution was based, but it would have been a work of time, and would have to be wrought out through much intestine disorder. It would also have involved the modification, perhaps the subversal, of the principle of equality which gave to the tribal bond its strength, and would probably have proceeded in the direction of class dependence which was the basis of the English system. This system, carried out with firmness and equity, through the personal power and statesmanship of the Conqueror and the first two Henrys, was that under which England has developed to be what we know her to-day.
It is, indeed, evident that the Welsh constitutionat any rate the element of sovereignty within it-was
rapidly assimilating certain ideas associated with the power of a feudal monarch. Llywelyn ap Iorwerth is a much more feudal ruler than his father Owain Gwynedd. His attempt to secure the succession of his son David, by assembling the Welsh chieftains at Strata Florida Abbey in 1238, to do homage and swear fealty to David, was a distinct departure from Welsh constitutional practice, and was copied from the methods of the English kings. David, we are expressly informed by the Welsh chronicles, endeavoured to introduce English laws into Gwynedd, though it is questionable whether he met with much success. Probably his reforms were rather in the direction of the consolidation of a body of court functionaries; and it is to some such action as this that I would look for the explanation of what are known as the Fifteen Tribes. Some of these chieftains, indeed, distinctly appear as holders of courtly offices, and their descendants would, no doubt, have developed into political or judicial functionaries, had not the conquest of Edward I swept away the cause of their existence. This was the natural tendency. Feudalism exalted the power of the chief. It was but natural that the Welsh princes should look with envy upon the irresistible force that accompanied the decrees of the King of England. On the other hand, there was the intense conservatism of a system which, though much of it had become meaningless and out of harmony with the new forms of activity that were becoming manifest, still presented many features of attraction and preserved its hold over the sentiments of the nation. It is this play of institutions, founded upon absolutely different conceptions of society, that renders the study of the political and economic history of the English occupation of Wales so interesting, and withal so difficult.
Of the difficulties arising out of the existence of the two systems, the English and the Welsh, we gain a glimpse in the complaint addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the men of Tegeingl, a few years
before the incorporation of Wales into the realm of England. They complained that, "First they were spoiled of their rights and privileges and customs of the country, and were compelled to be judged by the laws of England, whereas the tenor of their privilege was to be judged according to the laws of Wales, at Tref Edwin, at Rhuddlan, and at Caerwys." But, while this complaint that they were judged by the laws of England was constantly urged by the Welsh, it appears from the evidence taken before the Commission of 1280-1, appointed to inquire what the laws of Wales really were, that in actual practice the Welsh preferred the judicial procedure of England. So, also, we find that the men of the lordship of Kerry, in Montgomeryshire, petitioned Henry III that the English laws should run through Wales and the Marches. The English insistence upon the adoption of their own legal and fiscal procedure emanated from their opinion of the superiority of those methods. But though the Welsh clearly appreciated the great excellence of certain portions of the English law, they had not arrived at that stage of development at which their own institutions had been entirely outgrown. The report of the Commissioners of 1280-1 probably led Edward to see that the adoption of a policy of total subversion would be unsatisfactory, even if enforced by the strong hand, and that the wise course was to permit the continuance of those features of Welsh law which still retained some vitality, such as the equal division of inheritance between all the heirs, and the method of assessing the revenue. In this broad and statesmanlike spirit, the ordinance known as the Statute of Rhuddlan, was drawn up soon after the thorough conquest of the country in 1282-3.
One of the immediate results of the conquest was the establishment of fortified towns, having charters of privileges strictly confined to the burgesses who were induced to settle therein. Such were Flint, Rhuddlan, Conwy, Beaumaris, Caernarvon, Criccieth, and Har
lech. These towns were, no doubt, established as much as centres of influence to wean the Welsh from their pastoral mode of life, as were the strong castles intended for a menace and mark of subjugation. The charters are in practically identical terms; there is no expressed exclusion of Welsh burgesses, but we know from other evidences that the privileged townsmen must have been entirely English. In the 18th Edward I (A.D. 1290), a charter was granted to the town of Caerwys, conferring on the burgesses similar liberties to those accorded to the English castellated towns, but no importation of English seems to have taken place, nor does there appear to have been any intention of erecting a fortress. The question naturally arises, why Caerwys should have been selected for this honourable distinction.
Some years later (i.e., in the 31st Edward I, A.D. 1303), a charter was granted to the vill of Rhosfair, in Anglesea, which from this circumstance soon afterwards acquired the name of Newborough. The terms of the document are similar to that of Caerwys. Now, there seems to be as little reason for elevating Rhosfair into
borough, and according to it considerable privileges, as there was in the case of Caerwys. No castle was built there, nor was an English colony introduced. Why, therefore, were these two towns thus distinguished? I venture to suggest that the reason is to be sought in the fact that both places had been the private patrimony of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last Prince of Wales, and that, by virtue of the rebellion and death of a revolted subject of the English Crown, these estates (and, of course, those of Llywelyn's adherents) had passed into the direct possession of the English monarch. And that either to mark his or his son's assumption of the personal, as well as political, power of Llywelyn, or from a wisely sentimental desire to propitiate the Welsh, Edward elevated the two places most closely associated with the last Welshman who bore the title of Prince of Wales to positions of
5TH SER. VOL. VIII.
honour, altogether out of proportion to their real geographical status. The Rev. Henry Rowlands, author of Mona Antiqua, thus refers to the borough of Rhosfair: "This parish [Newborough] was anciently a demesne of the Manor of Rhossir, which was situate here. Formerly, it was not called a township, but a manor, where the regulus or prince of the tribe fixed his residence and abode; wherefore formerly, under the government of the Welsh princes, this parish was divided into two portions, one of which I find to have been assigned for the more immediate duties of the court, according to the custom of the nation; the other, in a manner, held by free tenants, though bound to their lord by a predial covenant. The former of these again appears to have been laid out in two ways, and accordingly maintained two orders of domestic servants; that is to say, first, those domestic stewards who were wont to call themselves Maerdrevs, having for their possession twelve gavels (the British nation. gave the name of gavels to certain portions of land which were allotted to tenants in right of homage); secondly, those fellows of the meanest sort, called Gardenmanni (Garddwyr), who occupied twelve small gardens; these people were very much engaged in drudgeries. The second portion of the manor, which was designed for works, reckoned only eight gavels for its possessors, and from the circumstance of that possession it gave them the name of free natives, whose posterity even to this day [i.e., circa 1710] occupied their possessions, with appurtenances, by hereditary right. Thus, in those ages, was the parish divided; but afterwards, when the ancient government had passed away, the Princes of Wales and the Kings of England converted the first-named portion of the manor which lay nearest the prince's court, by the emancipation of the vassals and the bestowal of privileges, into a borough." We may be tolerably certain
1 Arch. Camb., 1st Series, vol. i, pp. 305-6. Though Rowlands was perfectly well aware that the mediæval name of this place was