Dafydd IV
8th King of Wales

Dafydd IV.jpg
King of Wales (circa 1601)
House of Deheubarth
Reign 9th February 1600 - 4th October 1640
Coronation 1st March 1600 St Davids Cathedral
Predecessor Marc
Successor Hywel III
Regent Prince Meurig of Morgannwg
Spouse Princess Margaret Stuart of England and Scotland
Issue Prince Hywel, Edling Cymru

Princess Gwenllian of Wales

Princess Catrin of Wales

Prince Gruffud of Wales, Lord of Aberffraw

Princess Olwen of Wales

Full name
Dafydd ap Rhys ap Elen
Posthumous name
Dafydd Gogoneddus (the Glorious)
House House of Deheubarth (Cadet Branch of the House of MacGregor-Glyndwr)
Father Prince Rhys ap Elen ferch Rhodri, Duke of Deheubarth
Mother Margaret Howard of Norfolk
Born 1st February 1588
Cardigan Castle
Died 4th October 1640
Harlech Castle
Burial Royal Crypt, St Davids Cathedral
Religion Roman Catholic
Dafydd was only 12 years of age when he claimed the throne of Wales. The son of Prince Rhys, the first Duke of Deheubarth, Dafydd inherited the title of Duke of Dyfed from his f
Coat of arms of Deheubarth

Coat of Arms of the House of Deheubarth

ather (after his father's title was reduced from the full territory of Deheubarth to the rump of Dyfed). Born on the 1st February 1588 in Cardigan Castle to the Prince and his wife, Margaret Howard (who would live to enjoy the trappings of being the King's Mother) he ushered in a new dynasty, the House of Deheubarth (sometimes called the House of Dyfed) although he was a direct grandson of Queen Elen. Dafydd preferred to underscore his differences with his uncle, King Marc, by making his first official act that of re-writing the dynastic name for himself and his heirs.

Dafydd, Brenin Gymraeg

With some indecent haste, Dafydd had the Archbishop of St Davids crown him King of Wales on the 1st March 1600. The coronation was recorded as a shabby affair, "with blood still on the sheaths" and called the Coroni'r Llafnau Gwaedlyd (Coronation of Bloody Blades). Wales, whilst now possessing a new king, was badly dis-united, religious turmoil still causing havoc especially in Powys and the regions closest to England. The fading Elizabethan regime in England did not at first recognise the young king, and dealt instead with the Prince of Glamorgan and the Lord Archbishop of St Davids, who had organised a Regency Council for the underage monarch. The headstrong new monarch however would not long suffer this block to his rule. The Council ruled for a year and a day, with the king disbanding it on the 1st March, 1601 (though he retained both men in his Privy Council). The same day Dafydd also revoked the acts of parliament passed during his uncles brief reign, including the religious tolerance act. Henceforth, Protestants were barred from public office, and the nobility could have their ranks, titles and lands removed should they convert. This went down well within the king's heartlands (Morgannwg, Deheubarth, Tydewi and other lands loyal to him through the Uprising), it went down less well in the Y Mers, Henffordd, and Powys, all areas which had seen greater numbers of converts to the two main Protestant faiths (Lutheriaeth/Lutheranism and Calfiniaeth/Calvinism).

The next four years were spent quietly suppressing all attempts to defy his power. The Y Warchodlu Frenhinol (King's Household Guard) and the Brenhinol Gaer Gwarchod (Royal Fortress Guard) were used to expand the king's authority; castles and keeps were garrisoned, whilst loyal lords were publicly and richly rewarded. In 1605 the king returned to the full glare of the public eye with his marriage to the Protestant Princess of England, Margaret, daughter to King James VI of Scotland and I of England. The marriage formed part of a new Treaty with the new Anglo-Scottish state, and Margaret had to convert to Roman Catholicism for the marriage to proceed. With a queen (who was only six years of age at the time of her marriage), a loyal Privy Council and the garrisons better armed and manned than for almost two generations, the seventeen year old king, already five years into his reign settles into court life, again centering the court on Caernarfon (after almost two and a half reigns of royal neglect).

The next ten years are spent re-centralising Royal power, creating a circle of nobles in the Royal Court that alternate the greater offices of State. Dafydd is determined to restore the power of the monarch. Influenced by European ideas about the Divine Rights of Kings he called Parliaments, but constantly seeks way to minimise their powers. In 1607, the Prince of Powys (Alecsander) leads a quiet attempt by the nobility to limit the king's power, but Dafydd successfully side-steps the issue. 1607 is also the year that Dafydd concluded a treaty with the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II. The treaty mainly concerned trade and the Welsh ports of Caerodor, Milford Haven, Pembroke and Caernarfon all grew from increased trade with the Holy Roman Empire. During this early period, Caerdydd also started to grow in power as ironworks in the valleys north of Caerdydd began to develop.

Middle Reign

The years 1615 to 1630 are seen as the middle years of Dafydd's reign and see both the growth of Welsh trade and the security of multiple heirs to the Welsh throne being born. Dafydd's child bride, Margaret of Scotland came of age in 1614 (turning 16 in that year). The following year, (1615) the couple renewed their marriage allowing Dafydd to consummate his marriage with his wife, though by this time Dafydd already had at least two illegitimate children. The two officially recognised as royal bastards were by his official mistress, Lady Catrin Fachmadoc. Her sons by Dafydd, Madoc Fitzroy and Llewellyn Fitzroy were raised to the rank of Is-Iarll/Viscount Conwy and Beaumaris respectively). The young queen thrived in Court. Extravagant balls were held in her honour and in the Royal Progress' through the Kingdom she was always more favourably received than her husband. Dafydd was by far the most lavish spender of all Welsh monarchs and the Court reflected this approach to profligate spending. By the 1620's however, Dafydd had begun to be concerned about his legacy. Whilst Wales had settled, religious life returning to Catholic normality and trade bringing increased prosperity to the Kingdom, he wanted more to leave behind him. In 1620 he started a building programme at both Harlech, Garth Celyn and Caernarfon, and by 1625, the year that his heir, Hywel, was born he decided to re-codify Welsh law. This led to the "Long Session", a nine year Parliament, the most extensive parliament since the reign of Owain V. Running from 1625 to 1634, this Parliament looked into almost all areas of Welsh law, updating, re-coding and modernising the Statute books, resulting in the dual codes, the Codex Eugenius and the Codex Davidus. At the end of this period the Welsh Parliament was much stronger, than it had been for generations, a legacy that would be thrown away by his grandson later on in the century. Dafydd however also laid the foundations for this later ruin, with his belief in the Divine Rights of Kings and his use of the Privy Council to circumvent Parliament when he felt the need.

Later Reign 1630-40

The last decade of Dafydd's reign was a fitting end to a long and peaceful one. Dafydd was the first king in a long time to look seriously at the state of the Welsh Navy and appointed Prince Maredudd ap Dafydd Powys-Fadog (1613-1682) as the first Prince-Admiral of the Welsh Fleet. The Long Session would also come to a close during this period, with the final Parliament of 1634 presenting the Great Act (Gweithredu Fawr) of 1634 for Royal authorisation. The heir, Hywel, Edling Cymraeg was brought to court and was introduced as "Crown Prince and Heir to my titles, lands and possessions" by Dafydd in the summer progress of 1636 marking Hywel's formal entry into Court life, but his father was already slowing down, crippled by illness and at times bed ridden. The last four years of his reign were moribund in terms of action from the centre. The system did not fall apart as it had in earlier reigns such was the presence of loyal lords such as the Iarlls/Earls of Ynys Mon, Henffordd and the Dug of Gwent. The strong Chancellorship of Bishop Elphin Preece (1635-43) also maintained the strong central power of the throne that Dafydd had painstakingly recreated around the person of the king.

Such was his authority even in his bedridden final year that with his death on the 4th October 1640 in the now Palace of Harlech the 15 year old Edling, Hywel faced no dissent with his accession. No attempt at a Regency Council, the old king passes away in his sleep and the new king, who is fighting in Europe is unmolested in his position as king, even though it takes another two years in which for him to return and formally receive his crown.

Preceded by:
King of Wales
Succeeded by:
Hywel III

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