15th Century Wales and Ireland

Let’s dive into the countries technically ruled by the Kings of England, but are doing their absolute hardest not to be: Ireland and Wales. As we briefly touched on in the last article, Edmund and Jasper Tudor were fighting rebellions in Wales, so let’s start there!

Wales, if you remember, had been suffering greatly due to the plague and other factors. Their last rebellion ended with the defeat under the hand of Edward I, who created the title Prince of Wales for the English heirs. The Welsh had spent most of the last century licking their wounds, and as we enter this century, they are ready to fight again. England has a habit of using Wales as a bank and levied heavy taxes for things like Scottish border security. A man named Owain Glyndŵr (prosperous land owner, law student, and knighted soldier who fought alongside both Richard II and Henry IV) was particularly fed up with injustices not being answered for. His neighbor, Baron Grey de Ruthryn, poached his lands. He was not the only one who felt ignored, especially after Richard II was disposed. In January 1400, Glyndŵr reclaimed his ancestral title of Prince of Powys and gathers a small group of men to attack Lord Grey’s land, who also happened to be close to Henry IV. The King became more invested in Wales, and the country was forced to choose sides, with much of Northern and Central Wales going to Glyndŵr. Henry sent Sir Henry Percy to reign in the country and the rebels. Amnesty was offered to everyone except Glyndŵr and his Tudor cousins, Rhys and Gwilym (uncles of Edmund and Jasper through their grandmother Maredudd–the men’s only sister). Though they would be pardoned when found in Conwy and arrested. 

Glyndŵr would get his first victory that June at the Battle of Mynydd Hyddgen. England attempted to retaliate, but were driven back. In 1402, they sought legislative means to bring them under their control, and when that didn’t work, Henry sent Edmund Mortimer to crush the rebellion; he was captured. Mortimer’s nephew claimed the throne, so Henry was reluctant to earn his release. Instead, Mortimer made a deal with Glyndŵr and married his daughter, Catrin. Glyndŵr also began receiving assistance from France, who hoped to use Wales as an ally like Scotland. By 1403, the revolt was national, and Welsh fleeing back to join Glyndŵr, who was utilizing the seasoned Welsh soldiers used in English wars like himself. England lost hundreds of men at arms during this time. 

In 1404, he appointed Gruffydd Young as his chancellor, and held parliament where he had himself declared Prince of Wales. He promised an independent Wales, free from English rule, and to reinstate traditional law called Hywel Dda. He also pledged to have two universities built, one in the north and one in the south. The rebellion was growing, and now Glyndŵr needed to figure out how to win. He relied on an old Welsh property that three men would divide England and Wales according to Merlinic lore. These men would be Mortimer and Lord Percy. Glyndŵr would also look for support from outside Wales as well. The Irish declined, so Glyndŵr asked the French and the Brentons for their help. As we know, the French are always down to fight England. They were also aided by the Celts in Scotland and Brittany. In 1405, it seemed everything was going well with the help of the French, and then they met the English forces in Worcester. No one knows why, but no fighting took place. Instead, the French and Welsh slowly left the battlefield before a shot was ever fired. After the French began to pull out, and the English started to use Ireland to launch attacks, and slowly cut off their trade, the rebellion began to fall. Mortimer died in the last battle; his granddaughters as well as Glyndŵr’s wife Margaret and two of their daughters were taken prisoner, and transferred to the Tower of London. They would be dead by 1415. Glyndŵr would continue his rebellions and raids, partly to avenge his wife and daughters. His last major successful raid was 1412. Glyndŵr was never seen again despite a large reward offered for his head. Henry V offered pardons and worked to crush the rebellion through favors, and not much happens in Wales for a while besides smaller isolated incidents. Many of which are Welsh imprisoned or rewarded by the crown. Some men were given money for things like poetry, while others, like Owen Tudor, were imprisoned for various reasons. In 1452, the Tudor brothers were rewarded with the Earldoms of Richmond and Pembroke. Edmund received Richmond located in England, while Japser received Pembroke in Wales. It was in Pembroke that the future Henry VII is born. Henry VI created the Council of Wales and the Marches in 1457 for the Prince of Wales. In 1471, at the Battle of Tewkesbury left Edward of Westminster to be the only Prince of Wales to die in battle as Edward IV ascended. Edward sent his own son, future Edward V, to Ludow to learn ruling over the Welsh. When Henry VII came to the scene, the Welsh threw their support behind the prince, who was part Welsh. It was a major aspect of his victory. His first son, Arthur, took up the mantle of Prince of Wales, practically growing up in Wales. We learn more about his fate, and the fate of Wales in the next century. 

For now, let’s move onto Ireland, which is honestly going to be brief. During this period, it was hard to find any specific events. It is basically understood that the Earls Kildare, Ormonde, and Desmonde are the main sources of power in Ireland, while the crown attempts to assert influence and use it as a place of exile for unwanted courtiers. It seems there was a famine near the end of the century, but otherwise the Irish were focused on their growth and staying as far out of the crown’s control as possible. Henry VII renews attempts to bring Ireland to heel with a new vigor (refuses to allow them to make their own laws), but it will be his son that figures in the key to bringing them into the fold– but even then they rebel, refusing to conform. We will learn more about Henry VIII’s decisions regarding Ireland and how they affect the island in the next century. 

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