Owain Gwynedd

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Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd (Middle Welsh: Owain Gwyned; c. 1100 – November 28, 1170), in English also known as Owen the Great, was King of Gwynedd from 1137 until his death in 1170. He is occasionally referred to as "Owain I of Gwynedd"; and as "Owain I of Wales" on account of his claim to be King of Wales. He is considered to be the most successful of all the north Welsh princes prior to his grandson, Llywelyn the Great. He was known as Owain Gwynedd to distinguish him from another contemporary Owain ap Gruffydd, ruler of part of Powys who was known as Owain Cyfeiliog. Owain Gwynedd was a member of the House of Aberffraw, a descendant of the senior branch from Rhodri Mawr.


Early life

Owain's father, Gruffydd ap Cynan, was a strong and long-lived ruler who had made the principality of Gwynedd the most influential in Wales during the sixty-two years of his reign, using the island of Anglesey as his power base. His mother, Angharad ferch Owain, was the daughter of Owain ab Edwin. Owain was the second of three sons of Gruffydd and Angharad.

Owain is thought to have been born on Anglesey about the year 1100. By about 1120 Gruffydd had grown too old to lead his forces in battle and Owain and his brothers Cadwallon and later Cadwaladr led the forces of Gwynedd against the Normans and against other Welsh princes with great success. His elder brother Cadwallon was killed in a battle against the forces of Powys in 1132, leaving Owain as his father's heir. Owain and Cadwaladr, in alliance with Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth, won a major victory over the Normans at Crug Mawr near Cardigan in 1136 and annexed Ceredigion to their father's realm.

Accession to the throne and early campaigns

On Gruffydd's death in 1137, therefore, Owain inherited a portion of a well-established kingdom, but had to share it with Cadwaladr. In 1143 Cadwaladr was implicated in the murder of Anarawd ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth, and Owain responded by sending his son Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd to strip him of his lands in the north of Ceredigion. Though Owain was later reconciled with Cadwaladr, from 1143, Owain ruled alone over most of north Wales. In 1155 Cadwaladr was driven into exile.

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