The Welsh Empire

The Welsh Empire

The Welsh Empire (Y Ymerodraeth Cymric) was born during the reign of Arthur (1795-1831). Known to posterity as the "Soldier King", Arthur, like his father Rhisiart had been born to war. Fighting the English for the liberation of Wales as the War of Independence came to a close Arthur began to look for foreign adventures with which to enrich the close to bankrupt Welsh Kingdom.

The Empire would soon see its first colony (Y Wladfa - Patagonia) and eventually the Empire would encompass lands in Africa and islands scattered across the south Pacific ocean.The Empire itself would last until the early 1970's although Welsh troops would continue to be involved in peace keeping operations in the former colonies up until the present day.

List of Welsh Imperial Territories

  • Y Wladfa (Patagonia) - Part of modern day Argentina
  • Ynysoedd y De Iwerydd (South Atlantic Islands) - Ynys Iestyn and Ynysoedd Rhyngosod y De  (South Iestyn Island and South Sandwich Islands - OTL South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands)
  • Affrica Gorllewinol Cymraeg (Welsh West Africa) - Modern Day Countries Y Gambia, Gini & Sierra Leone (Gambia, Guinea (OTL Guinea and Guinea Biseau) & Sierra Leone)
  • Affrica Gyhydeddol Cymraeg (Welsh Equatorial Africa) - Gini Gyhydeddol (Equatorial Guinea)
  • Talaith Llynoedd Mawr Affrica (African Great Lakes Province) - Bwrwndi (Burundi)
  • Tiriogaethau Cymraeg y Môr Tawel (Welsh Pacific Territories) - A composite region comprising four governorships - Caledonia Newydd, Ffiji, Tonga & Samoa (New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa)

The First Colony - Y Wladfa 1800-40

The first colony was Patagonia, Y Wladfa. With the war with England drawing to a close, Arthur's small navy started looking for new targets. Spanish shipping in the Atlantic was the obvious answer. With Wales tied to the United Kingdom by treaty against the French Empire, Arthur felt little need to honour previous treaties with the Spanish. The Naval Captains, looking for territory to exploit lighted upon the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (future Argentina).

Arthur took a gamble and allowed an army to embark on the conquest of the territory.
Y Wladfa Colony

Map of the Colony of Y Wladfa

Landing on the Argentinean coast, the Welsh troops began to set up a local camp. The Viceroy of Rio de la Plata (modern Argentina and Uruguay) led an army south to deal with the Welsh troops. The Battle of Trerawlson was fought in Patagonia with the Welsh army victorious. The result of the battle was that the Welsh army ranged northwards until it reached the border of modern day Rio Negro province. Securing the border against Spanish attacks the Treaty of Trerawlson was signed in 1800 establishing the Welsh Colony of Y Wladfa. The treaty also established the rights of the Spanish settlers as well as making way for considerable emigration from Wales to the new lands in the next 20 years, something which Cystennin would later have to deal with in terms of a population crisis in Wales.

Dux Patagonicus v1

The Coat of Arms of both the Duke of Patagonia and the Colony

The Welsh colony sat ill at ease initially with the Viceroyalty, but careful Welsh governance of the Spanish population quickly put hearts at ease north of the Rio Negro. During the first 20 years the emigration from Wales was almost 250,000 people, most of whom settled in the Talaith Chubut province, but also saw smaller numbers settling in the Santa Cruz (Talaith Sanctaidd Croes) and Rio Negro (Talaith Afon Du), Such a large population shift led to demands from Trerawlson for greater autonomy from Caerdydd. Arthur's answer in part was to appoint a plenipotentiary Governor and to also raise his infant son, Prince Iestyn (1806-1838) to the position of Dug Y Wladfa (Dux Patagonicus in Latin or Duke of Patagonia). Eventually the Dug moved to a Ducal Palace built in the capital Trerawlson in 1821. Before the new Duke, Arthur had also sent a new army unit. The Catrawd Frenhiniol Y Wladfa (Royal Regiment of Patagonia), which would survive into modern times as the Argentine 14th Mechanised Infantry Regiment, was part of Arthur's army reforms. The men who had rebelled in the 1815 Army Rebellion had to be punished, and borrowing an idea from the British, Arthur decided to exile these men to Y Wladfa where they would be charged with the protection of the new colony.

The colony continued existing peacefully with its Spanish neighbours until the Argentine wars of independence. Wales trod a fine line and refused to allow the Governor to intervene north of the Rio Negro, but with the establishment of the Argentine Republic the relationship between the two areas became strained.

The north continued to look south, seeking to reclaim "Argentinian" lands. During the 1820's things remained stable but with the death of Arthur in 1831 the Republic began testing the borders of Y Wladfa. With the death of Iestyn Dug Y Wladfa in 1838 the colony was plunged into political chaos as the young duke had begun to rule more and more directly and with his death the governor was too weak politically to resist the Argentines.

In 1840 the Argentine-Welsh war broke out. The CFW fought bravely against the Argentine army, but the colony was too far from Wales and in the august of 1840 Trerawlson fell to the Argentines. With the fall of the capital the colony surrendered and the Treaty of Buenos Aires was negotiated. The new treaty was largely a reversal of the one establishing the Welsh colony. Argentina absorbed the colony and enshrined the protection of the Welsh population. Due to the large numbers of Welsh descendants living there (immigration continued to the area even after 1840) the two countries maintain a close relationship (even with the modern day complication of the Welsh ownership of the Iestyn and Sandwich islands which Argentina claims)

Affrica Gorllewin Cymru


The Welsh west African territories were an effort born of the English occupation. Where Y Wladfa was born
Colonial Map of Sub-Saharan Africa

Map of Colonial Africa

from a kings desire to own imperium abroad, the African colony was born of a families economic need. During the English Occupation there was a period when as part of the pacification of the Welsh nobility there were the forced emigrations. One such family were the Pritchards of Abergaveny. Lord Iestyn Pritchard (1665-1720) began a long tradition of resistance to English rule. Brother to Queen Marged of Wales, he out lived both her and her son (Dafydd V). With the English conquest of Wales Iestyn became involved in the Rebellion of Gwent. Iestyn was executed by the English for his part in that rebellion. His son, Lord Gwillym (1688-1723) was killed during the 1723 Glamorgan-Gwent uprising, and Gwillym's daughter was forced by the English to take Holy Orders. Gwillym's brother, Dafydd, became the de jure Lord of Abergaveny, but to keep him under control his son, Henry (1723-49), was taken along with other Welsh nobles sons to the English Court as hostage. Upon his release (and marriage to an arranged English wife) Henry took part in another rebellion against England, dying within the fortress of Caerodor in 1749. The next step taken by the English authorities was to exile the family. Sending Lady Annabella and her son Henry (1743-1795) to the American colonies. It was here that the family began its interest in Africa. Settling in Annapolis in Maryland, the Lady Annabella looked to preserve her sons status and began to invest what remained of the family fortune (after the British State confiscated a large portion) in shipping, primarily into companies importing slaves into the colonies. The family had previously been investors in the Welsh slave trade based from Caerodor, but these investments had fallen during the five-year revolt. Lord Henry (1743-1795) continued his mothers investments during his short life. Following his service in the Continental Army of George Washington, Henry went into direct business rather than shadow owning and married his daughter to the son of one of his business partners.

In 1800, following the Welsh Restoration, Henry's daughter, the Lady Rhiannon, returned the family to Wales, although her husband (Thomas Deacon) and her brother Gwillym Pritchard remained in business together exporting slaves to the Americas. Exerting pressure on the Admiralty and on the Court, Deacon and Pritchard persuaded the king to allow an expeditionary force to explore the option of gaining land in the west of Africa for commercial gain. So was born the Welsh West African Colony.

Birth of the Colony

Guinea Coat of Arms (Welsh)

Coat of Arms of Welsh Guinea (Adapted from the Portuguese arms)

The small force set sail from Penfro in the April of 1803, containing 6 ships (3 of whom were part of the Pritchard & Deacon Company fleet). The ships held some 300 marine soldiers most of whom had seen service in the recent Welsh Independence wars. The force was technically a private army with state blessing, and the target was the Portuguese holding of Guinea on the west African coast. Targeting the failed English outpost at Bolama, Deacon & Pritchard quickly pressed the Portuguese settlers. The Portuguese government was ill placed to aid the settlers due to the Napoleonic wars and the Welsh were able to expel the Portuguese from Guinea. As the settlement's aim was the same as the previous administration, the local African leaders saw no difference between the Welsh and Portuguese and the flow of slaves to the trade centres continued. Deacon & Pritchard then pressed for state recognition of the colony in the Welsh Senedd and by Arthur. With war between France and Britain and with Wales on the allied side, Deacon & Pritchard launched in 1804 a strike at the French enclave of Albreda on the Gambia. The enclave fell quickly and greedy, Deacon and Pritchard stuck at the British St James fort taking that during the same campaign. In a small treaty dated 1805, Britain ceded the Gambia territory to the Welsh for their continued assistance in the wars against Napoleon (with the English considering the loss of the small territory a small price to pay). Satisfied, the two men returned to Wales having created a new colony for the Welsh Empire.

1830's Expansion

During the 1830's, the West African Company ( the renamed Deacon & Pritchard Company) under the control of John Howard (husband of Enid Deacon, Lady of Abergavenny) and Enid's second cousin Llewelyn Pritchard (who would assume the title Lord Abergavenny upon the death of Enid in 1837) expanded its territory in Africa. Targeting the important slave exporting territory of Equatorial Guinea. A brief war, fought in 1833 saw the Spanish ejected from the territory, although significant numbers remained after the Welsh took control. The 1830's also saw the Welsh African Colony move into the territory of the British Freetown Protectorate. This was a dangerous move as the British were allies of Wales, but combined with a revolt by the Sierra Leone natives the Welsh were able to take Freetown, ejecting the British governor and in the aftermath the Welsh Governor of Welsh Guinea was in a position to declare the area Welsh. There followed two years of intense negotiations before (following financial payouts to the English Sierra Leone Company) an agreement was reached making Sierra Leone officially part of Welsh West Africa.

Tiriogaethau Cymraeg y Môr Tawel (Welsh Pacific Territories)

Welsh ambitions in the Pacific date to the reign of Cystennin and the 1830's. During this time, Welsh ships ply trade within the islands, establishing trading posts on what would later become New Caledonia in 1838. This first Welsh entry into Pacific politics is short lived, with the locals slaughtering the Welsh mission. The important step however was the recognition of Welsh interests in the area. At the same time, Welsh merchants were developing links on the Fijian and Tongan island chains. Welsh interest in the area waned during the Civil War, but immediately following Rhisiart III's victory, the Senedd (which had monitored Welsh overseas possessions during the Civil War) began moves to formally claim territory in the region.

The first area were the islands of New Caledonia. Following the massacre of the Welsh traders back in 1838, the Welsh State had kept a watch on the islands. Now

in the 1850's this careful watch was transformed into a formal annexation of the islands. The British did initially oppose the Welsh claim to the island chain, but this was withdrawn in 1853.

At the same time as the Senedd was laying claim to New Caledonia, other ships were sailing towards the Fijian and Tongan chains.
Colonial Flag of New Caledonia

The colonial flag of New Caledonia

While New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa were all incorporated into the Welsh Empire as colonies, Tonga was only a trading partner and later under protected state status in 1900. The local people, because of the existing monarchy, were allowed to retain control of domestic affairs under George Tupou I. The protected state status ended in 1970. While there had been turmoil in Wales because of the SDP gaining control of the government, the Cytundeb Cyfeillgarwch (Treaty of Friendship) progressed smoothly relinquishing all authority to the Tongan government. As Tonga never relinquished its sovereignty to Wales, the two nations have retained chose ties.

While Tonga retained its own flag and New Caledonia and Samoa have both adopted new flags, Fiji still uses its flag from the colonial period.