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II.: THE INHABITANTS OF WALES. - Augustin Thierry, History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, vol. 2 
History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, translated from the seventh Paris edition, by William Hazlitt (London: H.G. Bohn, 1856). In 2 volumes. Vol. 2.
Part of: History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, 2 vols.
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THE INHABITANTS OF WALES.
Wars of the Welsh against the Anglo-Normans—Complete submission of Wales—Persecution of the Welsh bards—Welsh refugees in France—Yvain of Wales—Free companies—The chevalier Rufin—Promises of the king of France to the Welsh—Insuriection of Owen Glendowr—Panic terror of the English soldiers—Landing of the French in Wales—March and retreat of the French—Termination of the insurrection of the Welsh—Wars of the succession in England—Enterprise of Henry Tudor—The Welsh under Henry VII., Henry VIII., Elizabeth, and the Stuarts—Actual state of the Welsh population—Turn of mind and character of the Welsh nation—Differences of idiom in Wales—Language of Cornwall.
The reproach of fickleness and perfidy, so long lavished on the free populations of southern Gaul by their national enemies, the French and the Anglo-Normans, was constantly applied by the latter to the natives of Cambria.1 And, indeed, if it were perfidy not to recognise any right of conquest, and to make incessant efforts to shake off the foreign yoke, the Welsh were certainly the most faithless of all nations; for their resistance to the Normans, by force and by stratagem, was as pertinacious as had been that of their ancestors against the Anglo-Saxons. They carried on a perpetual war of skirmishes and ambuscades, intrenching themselves in the forests and marshes, and seldom risking an engagement on level ground with horsemen armed at all points. The wet and rainy season was that in which the Cambrians were invincible;2 they then sent away their wives and children, drove their flocks into the mountains, broke down the bridges, let loose the ponds, and beheld with delight the brilliant cavalry of their enemies sinking in the waters and mud of their marshes.3 In general the first engagements were in their favour, but in the long run force gained the victory, and a fresh portion of Wales was conquered.
The chiefs of the victorious army took hostages, disarmed the inhabitants, and forced them to swear obedience to the king and justiciaries of England; this compulsory oath was speedily violated,1 and the Welsh insurgents would besiege the castles of the foreign barons and judges. On the news of this resumption of hostilities, the hostages, imprisoned in England in the royal fortresses, were generally put to death, and sometimes the king himself had them executed in his presence. John, son of Henry II., had twenty-eight, all under age, hanged in one day, before he sat down to breakfast.2
Such were the scenes presented by the struggle of the Welsh against the Anglo-Normans, up to the period when king Edward, the first of that name since the conquest, passed the lofty mountains of North Cambria, which no king of England before him had crossed. The highest summit of these mountains, called in Welsh Craigeiri, or the snowy peak, and in English Snowdon, was considered sacred to poetry, and it was believed that whoever slept there awoke inspired.3 This last bulwark of Cambrian independence was not forced by English troops, but by an army from Guienne, composed for the most part of Basque mercenaries.4 Trained in their own mountains to military tactics almost identical with those of the Welsh, they were more adapted to surmount the difficulties of the country than the heavy cavalry and regular infantry who had hitherto been employed in the service.
In this great defeat perished a man whom his countrymen, in their old spirit of patriotic supersition, had regarded as predestined to restore the ancient British liberty. This was Llewellyn ap Griffith, chief of North Wales, who had gained more victories over the English than any of his predecessors.5 There existed an old prediction, that a prince of Wales would be crowned at London; mockingly to accomplish this prophecy, king Edward had the head of Llewellyn, crowned with a wreath of ivy, stuck on a pike on the topmost turret of the Tower of London. David, brother of this unfortunate prince, attempted to resume the war; but, taken alive by the English troops, he was hanged and quartered, and his head was placed beside that of his brother on the battlements of the Tower, where the rain and the wind bleached them together.1
It is said, that after his victory, Edward I. assembled the leaders of the conquered people, and announced to them that, out of regard to their spirit of nationality, he would give them a chief, born in their own country, and who had never spoken a single word either of French or English. All were full of joy at this, and sent forth loud acclamations.2 “Well then,” said the king, “you shall have for a chief and prince, my son, Edward, just born at Caernarvon, and whom I here name Edward of Caernarvon.” Hence the custom of giving the title of prince of Wales to the eldest sons of the kings of England.
Edward I. erected a great number of fortresses on the coasts,3 that he might at all times forward troops by sea; and cut down the forests of the interior, which might serve as a refuge for the partisan bands.4 If it be not true that he ordered the massacre of all the Welsh bards, he it was, at all events, who commenced the system of political persecution, of which this class of men were constantly the object on the part of the kings of England.5 The principal bards had perished in great numbers in the insurrectionary battles; the survivors, deprived of their protectors, after the downfal of the rich men of the country, and compelled to sing their verses, from town to town, were placed within the category of men without ostensible means of living, by the Anglo-Norman justiciaries. “Let no minstrels, bards, rhymers, or other Welsh vagabonds, be henceforth permitted to overrun the country as heretofore,” said their ordinances.6 No native Welshman could, under the same ordinances, occupy the smallest public post in his native country; to be viscount, seneschal, chancellor, judge, constable of a castle, registrar, forester, etc., it was essential to have been born in England, or in some other foreign country.7 The towns and castles were occupied by foreign garrisons, and the natives were taxed arbitrarily, or, as the royal decrees expressed it, at the discretion of their lords, to supply maintenance for the garrisons of the said castles.1
Many, forced by the conquest to expatriate themselves, passed into France, where they were well received; this emigration continued during the whole of the fourteenth century, and it is from these refugees that descend the French families that bear the now common name of Gallois or Le Gallois. The most considerable of those who proceeded thither in the reign of Philip VI. was a young man named Owen, whom the king retained in his palace, and brought up among the pages of his chamber. This Owen was of the family of Llewellyn, probably his great nephew, perhaps his grandson; and the French, who regarded him as the legitimate heir of the principality of Wales, called him Evain or Yvain of Wales.2 After the death of Philip de Valois, the young exile continued to reside at the court of France, greatly beloved by king John, by whose side he fought at the fatal battle of Poitiers. Afterwards, in the reign of Charles V., war recommencing against the English, Owen was entrusted with various military commands, and, among others, with a descent upon Guernsey, which had been English since the conquest of England by the Normans. Although a simple squire, he had more than once knights of renown under his orders; his company, as it was then called, consisted of an hundred men-at-arms, at whose head he made several campaigns in Limousin, in Perigord, and in Saintonge, against the captains of the king of England. One of his relations, John Win or Wynne, celebrated for his graceful deportment, and who was surnamed le poursuivant d’amours, served with him in this war, having, in like manner, under his banner a small troop of Welsh exiles.3
The grand-nephew of Llewellyn nourished in exile the thought of freeing his country from English domination, and of recovering, as he himself says in a charter, the inheritance of the kings of Wales, his predecessors.1 He received from king Charles V. assistance in money, munitions, and vessels; but notwithstanding this support, his ambition and his courage, he never revisited Cambria, and only encountered the English on foreign fields. He followed Duguesclin into Spain, where, for two years, the kings of France and of England waged war in the name of the rivalry of two pretenders to the throne of Castile, Peter the Cruel and Henry de Transtamare.
In one of the combats fought in this war, the earl of Pembroke and other English knights of Norman origin, were taken prisoners by the French, and, as they were being conducted to Santander, Owen went to see them, and, addressing the earl in French, said: “Come you, sir earl, to this country to do me homage for the lands you hold in the principality of Wales, of which I am heir, and which your king takes from me contrary to all right?”2 The earl of Pembroke was astonished to hear a man, whom he did not know, address him in this manner: “Who are you,” asked he, “that speak to me thus?” “I am Owen, son of the prince of Wales, whom your king of England slew, disinheriting me; but, when I can, with the aid of God and of my dear lord, the king of France, I will apply a remedy; and know, that were it place and time for me to combat you, I would prove upon you that you and your fathers, and those of the earl of Hereford, have done me and mine treason and wrong.” Hereupon one of the earl of Pembroke’s knights, named Thomas Saint-Aubin, advanced to the Welshman and said: “Yvain, if you seek to maintain that in my lord, or his father, there has been or is any treason, or that he owes you homage, or anything else, throw down your glove, and you will soon find one to take it up.” “You are a prisoner,” answered the Welshman; “I cannot in honour challenge you now, for you are not your own man, but belong to those who have taken you; when you are free, I will speak further to you on the subject, and the thing shall not remain where it is.”3 The dispute, however, had no result, for before the earl of Pembroke and Thomas Saint-Aubin had regained their liberty, Yvain of Wales died of a stiletto stab administered by a countryman of his, in whom he placed full confidence, but who had sold himself to the king of England. This murder was committed in the year 1378, near the town of Mortagne in Saintonge, then besieged by the French. The assassin effected his escape, and went into Guienne, where he was well received by the seneschal of Landes and the other English commanders.
Very few Cambrians consented to serve the ruler of their country; and they who came to the wars of France, under the standard of Edward III., did so on compulsion, and against their will. The Welsh who were levied, en masse, to form bodies of light infantry, brought with them into the king of England’s armies their national enmity to the English, and often quarrelled and came to blows with them; often, too, they deserted to the French with arms and baggage, or spread over the country to live as free companies. This was a profession much in vogue at this time, and in which the Cambrians excelled, from their long habit of guerilla warfare in their forests and mountains. Thus, one of these great companies, which at this period rendered themselves so celebrated and so terrible, was under the orders of a Welshman, who was called in France the chevalier Rufin, but whose real name was probably Riewan.1 This captain, under whom adventurers of all nations had assembled, had adopted, as his district of pillage, the country between the Loire and the Seine, from the frontiers of Burgundy to those of Normandy. His head-quarters were sometimes near Orleans, sometimes near Chartres: he put to ransom or occupied the little towns and the castles, and was so dreaded, that his men went in scattered troops of twenty, thirty, or forty, and none dared attack them.2
In the second half of the fourteenth century, when the kings of France and England were mutually exhausting every means of injuring each other, the former, who had learned to comprehend the national spirit of the Cambrians, sought to turn to account the patriotism of this petty nation, whose existence was scarcely suspected by his predecessors of the twelfth century.1 More than once his emissaries proceeded to north and south Wales, promising the natives the aid and protection of France, if they would rise against the English power. These agents spread themselves over the country, most of them attired as mendicant monks, a body greatly respected at this period, and whose habit was least liable to suspicion from the circumstance that it was worn by men of every nation, who made it a means of support. But the Anglo-Norman authority detected these manœuvres, and on several occasions expelled all foreigners from Wales, priests, laymen, and more especially the itinerant monks.2 It also prohibited the native Welsh from holding, upon any tenure whatever, any lands on the English territory.3 The long expected insurrection was to commence on the arrival of a French fleet in sight of the Welsh coast; for several years this fleet was expected by the Cambrians and by the English with very different feelings. Many proclamations of king Edward III. and Richard II. have this preamble: “Whereas our enemies of France propose to land in our principality of Wales—”4 followed by orders to all the Anglo-Norman lords of the country and marches of Wales, without delay, to garrison and provision their castles and fortresses, and to the justiciaries to seize and imprison, in safe custody, all men suspected of corresponding with the enemy.5
The preparations of France for a descent upon Wales, were less considerable and less prompt than the king of England feared, and the Cambrians hoped. A rumour of it spread in the year 1369, and there was then formed a project of restoring the family of Llewellyn in the person of the unfortunate Yvain of Wales; but this pretender to the crown of Cambria died; and the century passed away without any real effort. In making great promises to the Welsh, France had no other design than that of exciting an insurrection which would create a diversion of part of the forces of England; and, on their side, the Welsh, unwilling rashly to hazard a movement, awaited the arrival of the promised succours ere they would revolt. At length, weary of the delay, and impatient to recover their national independence, they put themselves in motion, taking the chance of being supported. The immediate occasion of the insurrection was a casual circumstance, of little importance in itself.
Towards the end of the year 1400, a noble Welshman, who, from an ambition to shine, had repaired to the court of England, where he was well received, offended king Henry IV. and was compelled to quit London. Partly from personal resentment and the embarrassment of his position, partly from an impulse of patriotism, he resolved to place himself at the head of a movement which all his countrymen desired, but which no one had ventured to commence. He descended from an ancient chief of the country, and was called Owen Glendowr, a name which, at the court of England, in order to give it a Norman aspect, had been converted into Glendordy.1 As soon as Owen had raised the ancient standard of the Kymrys, in the recently conquered portion of Wales, the most considerable men of these districts collected around him. Among others, there were several members of a powerful family, named Ab Tudowr, or son of Tudowr, who counted among their ancestors one Ednyfed Vychan, who, desirous of having armorial bearings, like the barons of England, had emblazoned on his escutcheon three severed Norman heads.2 On the report of this national movement, the scattered remnant of the Welsh bards became animated with a new enthusiasm, and announced Owen Glendowr as the man who was to accomplish the ancient predictions, and to restore the crown of Britain to the Kymrys. Several poems, composed on the occasion, have come down to us.3 They produced such an effect, that, in a great assembly of the insurgents, Owen Glendowr was solemnly proclaimed and inaugurated chief and prince of all Cambria. He sent messengers into South Wales to diffuse the insurrection, while the king of England, Henry IV., ordered all his loyal subjects of Wales, French, Flemish, English, and Welsh, to arm against Owen de Glendordy, self-styled prince of Wales, guilty of high treason to the royal majesty of England.4
The first engagements were favourable to the insurgents. They defeated the English militia of Herefordshire, and the Flemings of Ross and Pembrokeshire. They were about to cross the English frontier when king Henry, in person, advanced against them with considerable forces. He obliged them to retreat; but he had scarcely set foot on the Welsh territory, than incessant rains, flooding the roads, and swelling the rivers, prevented his further advance, and compelled him to encamp his army for several months in unhealthy places, where they suffered at once from sickness and hunger. The soldiers, whose imaginations were excited by fatigue and inaction, recalled to mind with terror old popular legends as to the sorceries of the Welsh,1 and believed the bad weather they suffered to be the work of supernatural powers, obedient to Owen Glendowr.2 Seized with a sort of panic terror, they refused to march further against a man who had the tempest at his disposal. This opinion gained ground among the people in England; but all Owen’s magic consisted in his indefatigable activity, and in his great ability. There was at this period, among the Anglo-Norman aristocracy, a party of malcontents who desired to dethrone king Henry IV. At their head were Henry Percy, son of the earl of Northumberland,3 a family most powerful in the country ever since the conquest, and Thomas Percy, his brother, earl of Worcester; with these the new prince of Wales established a correspondence, and the alliance they concluded attached for a moment to the cause of Welsh independence all the northern marches of Wales, between the Dee and the Severn, and more especially of the county of Chester, whose inhabitants, of pure English race, were naturally less hostile to the Cambrians than were the Normans and Flemings established in the south. But the complete defeat of the two Percys, in a battle fought near Shrewsbury, dissolved the friendly relations of the Welsh insurgents with their neighbours of English race, and left them no other resources than their own strength and their hope in the aid of the king of France.4
This king, Charles VI., who had not yet entirely fallen into imbecility, seeing the Cambrians at open hostility with the king of England, resolved to fulfil towards them his promises and those of his predecessors. He concluded with Owen Glendowr a treaty, the first article of which ran thus: “Charles, by the grace of God, king of France; and Owen, by the same grace, prince of Wales; will be united, confederated and bound to each other by the ties of true alliance, true friendship, and good and solid union, especially against Henry of Lancaster, the enemy of the said lords, king and prince, and against all his aiders and abettors.”1
Many Welshmen proceeded to France to accompany the troops which king Charles was to send, and many of them were taken in various landings which the French first attempted on the coast of England, preferring to enrich themselves with the pillage of some great town or sea-port, than to make war in the poor country of Wales,2 among mountains and marshes.
At length, however, a large fleet sailed from Brest to aid the Cambrians; it carried six hundred men-at-arms, and eighteen hundred foot soldiers, commanded by John de Rieux, marshal of France, and John de Hangest, grand-marshal of the cross-bowmen. They landed at Milford in Pembrokeshire, and seized upon that town and upon Haverford, both founded, as their names indicate, by the Flemings, who in the reign of Henry I. had taken possession of and occupied the country. The French then proceeded eastward, and, at the first purely Welsh town they reached, found ten thousand insurgents, commanded by a chief whom the historians of the time do not name. The combined forces then marched to Caermarthen, and thence to Llandovery, and thence towards Worcester, attacking and destroying on their way the castles of the Anglo-Norman barons and knights.3 Some miles from Worcester, a strong English army met them, but instead of offering them battle, it took up a position, and entrenched itself in the hills. The French and Welsh followed the example, and the two hostile bodies remained thus for a week in presence of each other, separated by a deep valley. Every day both armies formed into battle array to commence the attack, but nothing actually took place beyond some skirmishing, in which a few hundred men were killed.
The French and Welsh army soon suffered from want of provisions, the English occupying the plain around their encampments. Acting upon their usual tactics, the Welsh threw themselves by night on the baggage of the enemy, and, carrying off most of their provisions, necessitated the retreat of the English army, which, it would appear, was resolved not to commence the fight.1 The French men-at-arms, little accustomed to a dearth of food, and whose heavy armour and extensive baggage rendered incommodious and disagreeable to them warfare in a poor and mountainous country, grew weary of the enterprise, in which there was much obscure danger, and little renown to be acquired by brilliant feats of arms. Leaving therefore the Cambrians to contend with their national enemies, they quitted Wales, and landed at Saint Pol-de-Leon, relating that they had made a campaign, which in the memory of man no king of France had ventured to undertake,2 and had ravaged more than sixty leagues of country in the territories of the king of England, glorying only in the injury done to the English, and not at all in the aid they had given the Welsh, in whom, for themselves, no one in France took any interest.
The insurgents of south Wales were defeated, for the first time, in 1407, on the banks of the Usk, by an English army under the command of Henry, son of king Henry IV., who, bearing in England the title of prince of Wales, was charged with the conduct of the war against the chief elected by the Welsh. A letter which he wrote to his father, announcing this victory, is preserved among the ancient public acts of England. It is in French, the language of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy, but in a French somewhat differing in orthography, grammar, and, as far as we can judge, in pronunciation, from the language of the court of France at the same period. It would appear that, with the accent of Normandy, retained in England by the men of Norman descent, another accent had gradually combined, differing from all the dialects of the French language, and which the sons of the Normans had contracted by hearing English spoken around them, and by themselves speaking the Anglo-French jargon, which was the medium of their communications with the lower classes. This, at least, may be inferred from reading the following passages,1 taken promiscuously from the letter of the son of Henry IV., “Mon tres-redoutè et três soverein seigneur et peire . . . le onzieme jour de cest present moys de Mars, vos rebelx des parties de Glamorgan, Uske, Netherwent et Overwent, feurent assemblez à la nombre de oyt mille gentz . . . A eux assemblerent vos foialx et vaillants chivalers . . . vos gentz avoient le champe; nientmeins . .”
The fortune of the Welsh insurgents constantly declined after their first defeat, although ten years elapsed between that defeat and the entire subjection of the country. Perhaps, also, their hope of the aid of the French, a hope continually deceived but still fondly cherished, caused them a kind of discouragement never felt by their ancestors, who relied only on themselves. Owen Glendowr, the last person invested with the title of prince of Wales by the election of the Welsh people, survived the ruin of his party, and died in obscurity. His son Meredith capitulated, went to England, and received his pardon from the king.2 The other chiefs of the insurrection were also pardoned, and several of them even obtained posts at the court of London, in order that they might not return to Wales, which, indeed, had ceased to be inhabitable by the Welsh, from the increased vexations of the agents of English authority. Among these Cambrians, exiles by necessity or ambition, was a member of the family of the sons of Tudowr, named Owen ap Meredith ap Tudowr, who, during the reign of Henry V., lived with him as groom of his chamber, and was very much in grace with the king, who granted him many favours, and deigned to address him as nostre chìer et foyal. His manners and handsome form made a vivid impression on queen Catherine of France, who, becoming widow of Henry V., secretly married Owen ap Tudowr or Oven Tudor, as he was called in England. He had by her two sons, Jasper and Edmund, the second of whom, on attaining manhood, married Margaret, daughter of John de Beaufort, earl of Somerset, issue of the royal family of Plantagenet.
It was at this period that the branches of this family were slaughtering each other in a dispute for the possession of the crown conquered by William the Bastard. The right of hereditary succession had by degrees prevailed over the election retained, though imperfectly, in the first periods following the conquest. Instead of interfering to adjudge the crown to the most worthy to wear it, the Anglo-Norman aristocracy contented themselves with examining which of the pretenders approached nearest by his lineage to the original stock of the Conqueror. All was decided by the comparison of those genealogical trees of which the Norman families were so proud, and which from their form were called pé de gru, or crane’s foot, in modern English, pedigree. The order of hereditary succession was tolerably peaceful so long as the direct line of descendants of Henry II. endured; but when the inheritance passed to the collateral branches, numerous pretenders on the score of hereditary right arose, and there were more factions, troubles, and discords, than the practice of election had ever occasioned. Then broke out the most hideous of civil wars, that of relations against relations, of grown men against children in the cradle. For several generations, two numerous families were killing each other, either in pitched battles or by assassination, to maintain their legitimacy, without either of the two being able to destroy the other, some member of which always started up to combat and dethrone his rival, and reign until he himself was dethroned.1 There perished in these quarrels, according to the historians of the time, sixty or eighty princes of the royal house, nearly all young, for the life of the males was brief in these families. The women, who lived longer, had time to see their sons massacred by their nephews, and the latter by other nephews or uncles, themselves speedily assassinated by some equally near relation.
In the reign of Richard III., of the house of York, who owed the crown to several assassinations, a son of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, named Henry, was in France, whither he had been obliged to fly as an antagonist of the York party. Weary of living in exile, and relying on the universal hatred excited by king Richard, he resolved to try his fortune in England, as a claimant of the crown, in right of his mother, a descendant of Edward III. Having neither cross nor pile,1 as an old historian expresses it, he applied to the king of France, Louis XI., who gave him some money, with which he hired three thousand men in Normandy and Brittany. He sailed from Harfleur, and, after a passage of six days, landed in Wales, the country of his paternal ancestors. On landing, he unfurled a red flag, the ancient standard of the Cambrians, as though his project were to raise the nation, and render it independent of the English.2 This enthusiastic people, over whom the power of emblems was ever very great, without examining whether the quarrel between Henry Tudor and Richard III. was not wholly foreign to them, ranged themselves, by a sort of instinct, around their old standard.
The red flag3 was planted on Snowdon, which the pretender assigned as a rendezvous for those Welsh who had promised to arm in his cause. Not one failed on the appointed day.4 Even the bards, resuming their ancient spirit, sang and prophesied, in the style of other days, the victory of the Kymrys over the Saxon and Norman enemy. But the matter in hand was by no means the release of the Cambrians from the yoke of the foreigner; all the fruit of the victory for them was to place a man with a little Welsh blood in his veins on the throne of the conquerors of Wales. When Henry Tudor arrived on the frontiers of England, he found a reinforcement of several thousand men brought to him by sir Thomas Boucher, a Norman by name and origin; other gentlemen of the western counties came with their vassals and yeomen to join the army of the pretender. He penetrated into the English territory without encountering any obstacle, as far as Bosworth in Leicestershire, where he gave battle to Richard III., defeated him, killed him, and was crowned in his stead under the title of Henry VII.
Henry VII. placed in his armorial bearings the Cambrian dragon beside the three lions of Normandy. He created a new office of poursuivant-at-arms, under the name of rouge-dragon,1 and, with the aid of the authentic or fabulous archives of Wales, traced his genealogy back to Cadwallader, the last king of all Britain, and, through him, up to Brutus, son of Æneas, the pretended father of the Britons.2 But to these acts of personal vanity was limited the gratitude of the king to the people whose devotion had procured him victory and the crown. His son, Henry VIII., while he allowed the Welsh, whom Henry VII. had ennobled for services rendered to his person, to retain the Norman titles of earls, barons, and baronets, treated, like his predecessors, the mass of the people as a conquered nation, at once feared and disliked, and undertook to destroy the ancient customs of the Cambrians, the remnant of their social state, and even their language.3
When the religious supremacy of the pope had been abolished in England, the Welsh, whom the Roman church had never aided in their attempts to maintain their national independence, adopted, without repugnance, the religious changes decreed by the English government. But this government, which gave every encouragement to the translation of the Bible, did not have it translated into Welsh; on the contrary, some natives of that country, zealous for the Reformation, having, at their own expense, published a Welsh version of the Scriptures, far from praising them, as would have been done in England, the authorities ordered the destruction of all the copies, which were taken for this purpose from the churches, and publicly burnt.4 English authority, at about the same time, attacked the historical manuscripts and documents, then more numerous in Wales than in any other country of Europe. The high families who possessed archives began to keep them secret, either as a mode of paying court to England, or to preserve them from destruction.5 Some of these families even incurred disfavour for communicating curious information to the learned men, who, towards the close of the sixteenth century, made researches into the antiquities of Wales. An estimable writer, Edward Lhuyd, author of British Archaiology, experienced infinite mortification on account of the publication of his book. This class of learning and research became matter of suspicion in the eyes of authority, and he who to prosecute it went to reside in Wales, was doubly an object of distrust. One antiquarian was actually subjected to public prosecution for an offence of this sort, in the reign of Elizabeth, the last descendant of Henry Tudor.
The Scottish family of the Stuarts showed quite as little good will to the Welsh nation; and yet, when the English rose against this family, the majority of the Welsh enrolled themselves on its side, from a sort of national opposition to the feelings of the English people. Perhaps, too, they hoped to effect some degree of freedom for themselves, amid the troubles of England, and by a compact with the royal family, whom they supported against the English. Things, however, turned out otherwise; royalty succumbed, and Wales, as being royalist, had to endure still greater oppression than before. Since that time the Welsh have tranquilly participated in all the political changes occurring in England, no longer rebelling, but still not forgetting the grounds upon which they might to themselves justify rebellion. “We will bear in mind,” says one of their writers, “that the lordships and best lands of the country are in the hands of men of foreign race, who have taken them by violence from the ancient legitimate proprietors, whose names and real heirs are well known to us.”
In general, the possessors of great domains and lordships in Wales were, up to a recent date, and probably still are, to a certain extent, harder than those in England towards their farmers and peasants; a fact, no doubt, attributable to the comparative novelty of the conquest of the Welsh provinces, not accomplished until about the fourteenth century, so that the nobles there are much newer-comers, and to the further circumstance that the tongue of the natives has always remained distinct from that of the conquerors. The species of national hostility between the seigneurs and the peasants has extended the emigration of the poorer Welsh families to the United States of America. There these descendants of the ancient Kymrys have lost their manners and their language, and have forgotten, in the bosom of the most complete liberty that civilized man can enjoy, the vain dreams of British independence. Those who have remained in the land of their ancestors retain, amidst the poverty or mediocrity of fortune which has ever been their lot, a character of haughty pride, the offspring of great recollections and long hopes, always deceived, but never abandoned. They stand with erect front before the powerful and rich of England and of their own country, “and think themselves a better and nobler race,” said a Welshman of the last century, “than this nobility of yesterday, the issue of bastards, of adventurers, and of assassins.”1
Such is the national spirit of the most energetic among the present Cambrians, and they carry it, sometimes, to such a point, that the English designate them Red-hot Welshmen. Since the revolution of America and of France, this spirit is combined in them with all the grand ideas of natural and social liberty that those revolutions have everywhere aroused. But, whilst ardently desiring the progress of high modern civilization, the enlightened inhabitants of Wales have not lost their ancient passion for their national history, language, and literature. The wealthy among them have formed associations for the publication of their numerous collections of historical documents, and with the view of reanimating, if possible, the cultivation of the old poetic talent of the bards. These societies have established annual poetical and musical meetings, for the two arts ever go hand in hand in Wales; and out of, perhaps, a somewhat superstitious respect for ancient customs, the literary and philosophical assemblies of the new bards are held in the open air, on the hills. At the time when the French revolution still made the English government tremble, these meetings, always very numerous, were forbidden by authority, on account of the democratic principles which prevailed at them.2 Now they are perfectly free, and there is every year awarded by them the prize of poetical inspiration, a faculty which the Cambrian language expresses in one word, Awen.3
The Awen is now found principally among the northern Welsh, the last who maintained their ancient social state against the invasion of the Anglo-Normans.1 It is also among them that the native language is spoken with the greatest purity, and over the largest extent of country. In the southern counties, earlier conquered, the Welsh dialect is mixed up with French and English idioms. There are, indeed, entire districts whence it has completely disappeared; and often a brook or bridle-path marks the separation of the two languages, of, on the one side, corrupt Cambrian, on the other, a barbarous English, spoken by the mixed posterity of the Flemish, Norman, and Saxon soldiers who conquered the country in the twelfth century. These men, although, for the most part, of the same condition with the conquered population, have retained a sort of hereditary disdain for it. They affect, for example, not to know the name of a single individual inhabiting the part of the hundred or parish in which Welsh is spoken. “I don’t know the man,” is the reply; “I believe there’s some such person lives somewhere in Welshland.”2
Such is the actual state of that population and that language, for which the bards of the sixth century daringly predicted eternity of duration: their prediction, however, will not, at all events, be falsified in our days. The Cambrian idiom is still spoken by a sufficiently extensive population to render its future extinction very difficult to foresee. It has survived all the other dialects of the ancient British language; for that of the natives of Cornwall came within the category of a dead language towards the close of the last century. It is true that since the tenth century, when it was driven by the Anglo-Saxons beyond the river Tamer,3 the population of Cornwall has never played any political part. At the time of the Norman conquest, it supported the English of the adjacent counties in their resistance to the foreigners, but, conquered with them, it participated in all the phases of their subsequent fate. As it gradually mingled more and more closely with the populations of English race, its original language lost ground from north to south, so that, an hundred years ago, there were only a few villages at the extremity of the promontory, where the ancient idiom of the country was still spoken. In 1776, some travellers questioned, on this subject, an old fisherman in one of these villages, who answered: “I only know four or five persons who speak British, and they are old people like myself, from sixty to eighty years of age; the young people don’t know a word of it.”1
Thus the eighteenth century beheld the end of the language of Cornwall, which now exists only in a few books. It differs in a remarkable manner from the Welsh dialect, and had probably been spoken in the ancient times by all the British tribes of the south and east, by the men whom the old annals call Loëgrwys, who, before they joined the Kymrys in Britain, dwelt, for a longer or shorter period, in the southwest of Gaul.2
[1 ] Wallensium fides est fidei carentia. (Matth. Paris, ii. 437.)
[2 ]Ib. p. 938.
[1 ]Ib. 638.
[2 ] Antequam cibum sumeret, fecit viginti octo pueros. . . patibulo suspendi. Deinde cum sedisset ad mensam cibis intendens et potibus. . . (Ib. p. 231.)
[3 ] Pennant, Tour in Wales (the Journey to Snowdon), ii. 179.
[4 ] De Vasconensibus atque Basclis. (Matth. West., Flor. Hist., p. 411.)
[5 ] See Appendix XXV.
[2 ] Quod Wallensibus multum placuit. (Ib. p. 433.)
[3 ] Ranulf. Hygden, Polychronicon, lib. i., apud Rer. Anglic. Script. (Gale) iii. 188.
[5 ] Cambrian Register for 1796, p. 463, et seq.
[6 ] Rymer, Fædera, iii. pars iv. p. 200.
[1 ]Ib. p. 199.
[2 ] Froissart, i. cap. ccliii. p. 551, and cap. cccv. p. 420.
[3 ] The names of three other distinguished Welshmen, Edward Ap Owen, Owen Ap Griffith, and Robin ab Llwydin, figure in the roll-calls or lists of men-at-arms, towards the close of the fourteenth century. See Appendix Nos. XXVI-XXX.
[1 ] See Appendix No. XXXI.
[2 ] Froissart, i. cap. cccvi. 421, et seq.
[3 ]Ib. ii. cap. xvii. p. 28, 29.
[1 ]Ib. i. cap. clxxviii. p. 206.
[1 ] See Book VIII.
[2 ] Rymer, ii. pars iii. p. 72.
[3 ]Ib. iii. pars iii. p. 97.
[4 ]Ib. iii. pars ii. p. 165 and 173.
[5 ]Ib. p. 173.
[1 ] Rymer, iii. pars iv. p. 191—198.
[2 ] Pennant, Tour in Wales, ii. 260.
[3 ] Cambrian Biography, p. 273.
[4 ] Rymer, Fædera, iii. pars iv. p. 191, and iv. pars i. p. 15.
[1 ] See Book XI.
[3 ] Rymer, iv. pars i. p. 49.
[4 ] See Appendix XXXII.
[1 ] Rymer, iv. pars i. p. 69.
[2 ] Monstrelet, i. 14.
[3 ] Chron. Britann.; Lobineau, Hist. de Bretagne, ii. 366.
[1 ] Monstrelet, i. 17.
[2 ] Chronique Britann., loc. sup. cit.
[1 ] “My greatly dreaded and most sovereign lord and father,—the eleventh day of this present month of March, your rebels of Glamorgan, Uske, Netherwent and Overwent, were assembled to the number of eight thousand men; your faithful and valiant knights assembled against them, your men kept the field; nevertheless—” (Rymer, iv. pars i. p. 79.)
[2 ]Ib. pars ii. p. 153.
[1 ] Philippe de Comines, Mem., p. 97.
[1 ]Ib. p. 256.
[2 ] Pennant, Tour in Wales, i. 31.
[3 ] See Book I.
[4 ] Pennant, ut sup. ii. 375.
[1 ]Ib. i. 31. Rymer, iv. passim.
[2 ] Cambro-Britons, i. 456.
[3 ] Archaiology of Wales, i. preface x.
[1 ] Cambrian Register for 1796, p. 241, 242.
[2 ]Ib. 465, in notâ.
[3 ]Ib. p. 438.
[1 ] Cambrian Register for 1796, p. 438.
[3 ] See Book II.
[1 ] Miscellaneous Tracts, published by the Society of Antiquaries of London, v. 83.
[2 ] See Book I.