Alternate History

King Owain V (Welsh History Post Glyndwr)

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Owain V
2nd King of Wales

1. Owain V.jpg
King of Wales
King of Wales
Reign 30th August 1462 - 4th September 1490
Coronation 1st January 1463, St Davids Cathedral
Predecessor Maredudd
Successor Hywel I
Prince of Gwynedd
Reign 1487 - 4th September 1490
Predecessor New Creation
Successor Hywel I of Gwynedd
Spouse Anne of Cardiff
Issue Hywel I

Maredudd ap Owain, Prince of Powys

Full name
Owain ap Maredudd ap Owain
Posthumous name
Owain Deddfu (the Lawgiver)
House House of Glyndwr
Father Maredudd ap Owain ap Gruffyd
Mother Margaret Percy
Born 13th June 1429
Sycharth Manor
Died 4 September 1490 (Aged: 61)
St Davids, Lordship of St Davids
Burial Royal Crypt, St Davids Cathedral
Religion Roman Catholic

Owain ap Maredudd ab Owain - Owain V Glyndwr - King of Wales 1462-1490

Early Life

Owain was born on the 13th June 1429 in Sycharth Manor to Queen Marged Perci and the king of the Welsh, Maredudd ab Owain. His early years were spent between the Castle of Harlech and the Manorship of Sycharth, In 1431 a marriage treaty was proposed that would end one of the anomalies of the 1408 Treaty of London, namely the town of Shrewsbury. The town remained a Marcher Lordship outside either the Welsh or English Crowns control, even though formally, the Earldom rested within Welsh territory as a result of the treaty. Prince Owain would marry the sole surving daughter of the Earl, the Lady Mary, and when her father died, the title of Earl of Shrewsbury would move to his son-in-law thus bringing Shrewsbury into the Welsh fold.

The marriage was conducted on the 14th March 1438 in St Davids Cathedral, the young 8 and a half year old Prince marrying the equally young 12 year old heiress. This first marriage was a happy childhood romance. Both children were young enough to form a bond that strengthened as they grew until they were able to consumate the union. Once married they lived in Harlech Castle under the stern eyes of Maredudd's senschal, Griffith ap Ieuan, whilst Maredudd waited until Owain was old enough to start grooming him for his role as both heir to the Crown and future king.

Owain and Mary's first child was born 25th April 1443 whilst Owain was still only 13 years old. Christened Owain, it looked like the Powys-Fadog dynasty was secure, though that joy was short lived. Young Owain lived only three years before dying. Owain was followed by Elenor (16th June 1445) and then by Gwenllian (30 Nov 1449).

From 1447 Owain begun to be included in his fathers councils, taking the position of Lord of Sycharth. The kings council was dominated by the elder nobles but Owain soon started gaining followers among the younger sons of the nobility.

Wars of the Roses  

As the 1450's opened, England seemed a land torn apart by feuding. Maredudd, bound both by custom, oaths and the time spent in England as a young man felt obliged to support Henry VI. Owain, young, bold, brash and by 1452, again father to a son and heir, Gruffudd ab Owain ap Maredudd (10th Jan 1452) was drawn to the ideals of Richard of York and his bustling sons. The very antithesis to the shambolic Henry.

When the Wars started in 1455, Maredudd and therefore Wales, openly supported Henry in his struggles. Maredudd saw in Henry both a fellow monarch, but also a pliable one, someone who could be manipulated in Wales' favour. Afterall, Welsh independence was still only a little over 55 years old at this point, with the March and Herefordshire still heavily populated with Englishmen who felt little natural loyalty to Harlech and the king. That said, only a few Welsh men at arms travelled to aid Henry, and those that did, did so under the banner of the Mortimer family, Edmund VI Earl of March.

As the decade progressed though, both Owain and his court favourite, Dafydd Young, gained more and more momentum, with Maredudd entering his 60's and becoming increasingly frail.

The Prince Goes to War

In an attempt to regain political control in Wales, Maredudd now aged 69, ordered his son to lead Welsh troops to aid Henry. Owain, leading a contingent of Welsh Men at Arms, Archers and a small contingent of cavalry (mainly populated by Welsh nobility), took part in the battle of Blore Heath, which saw Henry's Lancastrian army defeated. Owain, and the Welsh soldiers, managed to escape, but not without losses.Later on in 1460, Owain took part again in a Lancastrian loss. The battle of Northampton saw Owain injured in the thigh, and also convinced him of the Yorkist claim to the English throne. Owain entered into correspondance with the young Edward of York, even though, his father and therefore Wales, still openly supported the captured Henry.

In 1460, Owain also gained control at last of the Welsh political set up. His man, Dafydd Young, nephew to the formidable chancellor of his grandfather, Gruffudd Young, took up the Chancellorship with a vigour. As a result of this not quite Palace Coup, Owain offers to take Chester from its Lancastrian garrison for his new Yorkist ally.

In a final attempt to stem his sons growing grip on power, Maredudd leads the siege, but falls ill on the 30th August 1462 of an infected arrow wound and dies shortly after.

Coat of arms of Wales

Coat of Arms of Owain V of Wales

Long Live the King

Two personal tragedies clouded the new Kings early years. His son and heir, Gruffudd, died just before Maredudd. The young prince died on the 26th July 1461, leaving the new king without an heir and without a brother to leave the throne to either. However, the new king was young, only 33 years old when he was crowned king on the 1st Jan 1463.

The new king had also delivered a prize to his neighbour and leige lord, Edward. In the late summer of 1462, Chester fell to the Welsh army. Earlier in the year Owain had sworn the same oath of allegiance as his father had done to Edward IV of England, and in 1464 led another Welsh contingent to serve with Edward in the Battle of Hexham. This year also saw the death of his wife and childhood sweetheart, Mary.

Owains devastation at the death of his wife prompted him to move the court from Harlech to Caernarfon, which he completed in 1465. Dafydd Young the ambitious Chancellor, managed to produce the marriage of Owain to the wealthy heiress Anne of Cardiff, an Anglo-Norman who was only aged 14 at the time of her marriage to the now 36 year old monarch.

In 1469 Owain remains loyal to Edward by siding with him as England again lurches into anarchy, leading to his refusal to acknowledge Henry's kingship in 1470. In 1471, Owain sends troops under Mortimer to the Battle of Tewkesbury and with Edward again ensconced on the English throne Owain felt able to look to Welsh matters at last.

Middle Reign

Peace in England, a new Queen in Wales, Owain felt able to start codifying Welsh law. Something started by his grandfather, but ignored by his father. Taking the Whitland laws of Hywel Dda as his starting point, Owain summoned the "Long Parliament" at Machynlleth, this parliament lasted from 1472 to 1479 and dealt with in depth the codification of Welsh law, Welsh alliances, primarily with Scotland, England, the Papacy and France, and the fulfilment of Owain Glyndwr's vision of Welsh Universities to rival those of Oxford and Cambridge.

During this period, Owains heir, Hywel was born (16th April 1474) and his yonger son Maredudd (29 May 1479) giving his dynasty some more security and then with the spring of 1479, the Welsh Parliament ratified the final rafts of legislation which Owain then decided to submit to Edward of England.

The 1480 Treaty of Sycharth was the last act of Welsh vassal status (though no one foresaw this at the time). The Treaty acknowledged, both Owain and his chosen line of succession, plus the legality of Welsh law. The treaty also, again, recognised the border of the River Severn up to Shrewsbury and the northern border running down past Chester. It also recognised that Gloucester would remain English and that Worcester would be split by the river into English and Welsh Worcester whilst Shewsbury was confirmed as Welsh.

1484 saw the birth of both Owain Glyndwr and Owain ap Maredudd's dream. Young College St Davids, Kings College Caernarfon and Mortimer College Ludlow opened to their first students.

Final Years

1483 saw Owain make the first moves to shake the feudal ties bonding him to the English throne. With the accession of Richard to the English throne, Owain saw his best chance to break the links. Refusing to acknowledge him as overlord or his feudal lord, Owain openly supported the rival claims of Henry Tudor, a man descended from Welsh stock, a family who had served Owain Glyndwr during the War of Independance who had sought their fortunes in England following the war. A man who was now the successor to the Lancastrian claim to the throne. In 1485, Owain allowed him to land in Milford and safe passage through Wales to fight at Bosworth. Suddenly there were Welsh kings on both sides of the border.

The Principalities

In 1487 Owain completed what was to shape Wales for centuries to come. During his long reign, he had regulated Welsh law, held regular parliaments, issued coinage bearing his image, promoted trade with Europe, but one thing still haunted him. Wales was still a very fractured nation, easily distracted. The solution to Owain was the creation of strong feudal vassals, similar to England. Vassals who would be able to hold the disparate sections of Wales together, giving the king in the center a position of strength.

To this end Owain instituted the Tripartite Principality. Gwynedd, Powys and Morgannwg were all brought back. Owain, to secure his claim to the throne declared himself the Prince of Gwynedd, whilst raising his youngest son, Maredudd to the title of Prince of Powys, gifting him the lands of both Powys' extending south to the borders of Brycheiniog. Gwillym Bren, Lord of Senghenydd was raised to the title of Prince of Morgannwg. In addition to these changes, Owain regulated the other territories of Wales.

St David's was raised to a Lord Archbishopric, whilst southern Pembrokeshire, Ystrad Towy, Kidwelly, Gower, Brycheiniog, Ergyng, Dean and Herefordshire were raised to Earldoms. Edmund Mortimer was confirmed as Earl of March. The territories that would later comprise Gwent and Deuhbarth were retained as Royal Territories.

Preceded by:
King of Wales

Succeeded by:
Hywel I

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