The Rise and Fall of Owain Glyn Dŵr: England, France and the Welsh Rebellion in the Late Middle Ages
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Owain Glyn Dwr is a towering figure in Welsh history, best known for a revolt against the English crown in the early years of the fifteenth century. Despite facing overwhelming odds, Glyn Dwr was successful enough, for a time, to re-establish native rule in a Wales deemed to have been conquered over a century previously.The rebels proved to be surprisingly capable opponents during the ensuing conflict. Militarily, their campaigns were well planned and more efficiently executed than those of the better-equipped and highly regarded English troops, who heavily outnumbered the rebels. Flexible and adaptable, the Welsh demonstrated that they were effective soldiers, commanded by an excellent leader who was supported by talented subordinates. Although Henry IV sent some of his finest commanders against them, notably the earl of Arundel, the Percys and the Charltons, the Welsh repeatedly prevailed. King Henry, a crusader and renowned warrior, also failed in his campaigns against Owain's rebels. The conflict with Wales was a vital proving ground for his heir, the future Henry V.Due to their successes and leadership, the rebels' military and political strategies evolved, enabling Glyn Dwr to call himself 'Prince of Wales', in direct challenge to the English heir. The Welsh, scorned by the king as being a people of meagre reputation, also displayed an unexpected political maturity, creating a native parliament which, in probably its third sitting, produced a charter outlining their vision for an independent Welsh future. In addition, Glyn Dwr established diplomatic contacts with France, Brittany, Scotland, both popes, Irish lords and rebel English factions. These diplomatic initiatives led to a treaty with France, followed by the insertion of a sizeable French expeditionary army into Wales: a hugely significant event in British history.England's efforts to kill the rebellion met with repeated defeat, until Henry's diplomats skilfully managed to become involved in the power struggle at the heart of the French court. Their quiet, barely perceptible but brilliant achievements gained England a critical advantage, enabling it to defeat the rebellion politically, then militarily. Although the Welsh revolt did not secure lasting political independence and therefore proved unsuccessful, it did spur into action a reluctant rebel, who is portrayed in this study not only as a warrior of notable prowess, but moreover as a thinker, diplomat and an exceptional leader.
'The history of Wales has too often been relegated to the sidelines of history; this book places the events of Glyn Dwr's revolt into the centre of the history of Europe in the early fifteenth century' --Helen Nicholson, Professor of Medieval History, Cardiff University'In this stimulating, revisionist study of a remarkable soldier and statesman, Gideon Brough explores how and why Owain Glyn Dwr was able to secure French support for his struggle against England, thereby ensuring that the Welsh rebellion became a distinctive thread within the tangled skein of the Hundred Years War. From the bloody battle on the slopes of Bryn Glas to the stand-off near Worcester between the Franco-Welsh army and Henry IV s host, the military aspects of the story are compelling. But it is in his exploration of the protagonists' diplomatic manoeuvres, perhaps most notably those of the English envoys who broke the Franco-Welsh alliance, that Brough's book particularly impresses.' --Dr Andrew Ayton, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Hull and the University of Keele