Episode Five: A Fiery Backlash
Although on the surface things settled down and relations were just about cordial between the prince and the king, before long tensions started to rise between them again. But this time it was Dafydd who felt peeved enough to turn on Edward. The lands awarded to him adjoined the English border, and the English officials he encountered were heavy-handed and arrogant in their treatment of the Welsh, often disregarding their laws and customs. Having ousted his brother from power, Dafydd now found Edward’s rule to be even worse. So feeling oppressed in his own native land, he and a group of similarly disaffected Welsh lords decided enough was enough.
In the middle of the night on 21st March 1282, on the eve of Palm Sunday, Dafydd ap Gruffudd and a group of cohorts broke into Hawarden Castle, the home of Roger Clifford, one of Edward’s best friends. Once inside they killed many of Clifford’s household, burned the castle and dragged Clifford himself off into captivity. The organised rebellion was widespread. The next day, both the king’s new castles at Flint and Rhuddlan received the same treatment, as well as the castle at Aberystwyth in the south. The rebels also targeted the towns around the castles, where English discrimination against the Welsh was rife.
When Edward heard the news three days later he was incensed. And baffled. In his view, he’d treated Dafydd very well, granting him Welsh lands and welcoming him into “the great ones of the palace”. And this is how he repaid him. For Edward, enough was also enough, and he vowed to put an end to the “malice of the Welsh” and subdue them forever.
Llywelyn appears not to have been involved in this initial round of attacks. By this time he was around 60 years old, but when his young wife died in childbirth, depriving him of an heir to succeed him in his depleted estates, he decided he had nothing to lose and waded in on the side of his brother and his countrymen. It was a bad decision…
Quest Update: Two Thousand Acres of Sea
Time to hit the tracks again today, and it was in very welcome cooler and fresher conditions that we bid goodbye to Rhuddlan and the mouth of the Clwyd and began our next leg of the Castle Quest. Our journey took us along miles of open coastline, past Colwyn Bay and towards Llandudno, as the mountains began to appear inland and the sea stretched away to the great blue yonder.
Soon after we set off, I noticed a dot out to sea on the distant horizon which, as we progressed, gradually became a large cargo ship, until we converged with it precisely as it docked to collect its load from a quarry. It was fascinating to watch.
After a brief stop to enjoy a particularly quiet and pleasant sandy beach, we moved on again along the coastal path, which rewarded us with a lovely view of Great Orme from the pebbled bay. Now, after a shorter walking day tomorrow, and hopefully a drive up into the mountains, I’m looking forward to the next Castle on Sunday, and soon we’ll be deep into Llywelyn’s heartlands.