Llywelyn the Last

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Llywelyn ap Gruffydd or Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf (c. 1223 – 11 December 1282)—meaning Llywelyn, Our Last Leader—, sometimes rendered as Llywelyn II, was the last prince of an independent Wales before its conquest by Edward I of England.


Genealogy and early life

Llywelyn was the second of the four sons of Gruffydd, the eldest son of Llywelyn the Great, and Senena ferch Rhodri. The eldest was Owain Goch ap Gruffydd and Llywelyn had two younger brothers, Dafydd ap Gruffydd and Rhodri ap Gruffydd. Llywelyn is thought to have been born around 1222 or 1223. He is first heard of holding lands in the Vale of Clwyd around 1244. Following his grandfather's death in 1240, Llywelyn's uncle, Dafydd ap Llywelyn, succeeded him as ruler of Gwynedd. Llywelyn's father, Gruffydd, and his brother, Owain, were initially kept prisoner by Dafydd, then transferred into the custody of King Henry III of England. Gruffydd died in 1244, from a fall while trying to escape from his cell at the top of the Tower of London. The window from which he attempted to escape the Tower was bricked up and can still be seen to this day.

This freed Dafydd ap Llywelyn's hand as King Henry could no longer use Gruffydd against him, and war broke out between him and King Henry in 1245. Llywelyn supported his uncle in the savage fighting that followed. Owain, meanwhile, was freed by Henry after his father's death in the hope that he would start a civil war in Gwynedd, but stayed in Chester, so when Dafydd died in February 1246 without leaving an heir, Llywelyn had the advantage of being on the spot.

Early reign

Llywelyn and Owain came to terms with King Henry and in 1247, signed the Treaty of Woodstock at Woodstock Palace[1]. The terms they were forced to accept restricted them to Gwynedd Uwch Conwy, the part of Gwynedd west of the River Conwy, which was divided between them. Gwynedd Is Conwy, east of the river, was taken over by King Henry.

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