Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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CADWALADR (d. 664 ), prince .

He was the son of Cadwallon ap Cadfan . On his father's death in 633 , Gwynedd fell under the power of an adventurer, Cadafael ap Cynfedw , whose rule seems to have ended with his ignominious retreat from the battlefield of Winwed Field in 654 . Cadwaladr then came to his own, but fell a victim to the great pestilence of 664 .

Uneventful as was his reign, he became a great figure in later bardic lore. In the prophecies of Merlin , for instance, as handled by Geoffrey of Monmouth , it is foretold that Cadwaladr will summon Cynan and will make a treaty with Alben ( Scotland ). That Cadwaladr would return to lead the British race to victory over the Saxons became a commonplace of the cywyddau brud , the darkly phrased poems in which the bards shrouded their incitements to national resistance. Henry VII claimed descent from the popular hero ‘in the twenty second degree’ ( Wynne , 336) and the red dragon of Cadwaladr was one of the three standards which he offered up at S. Paul's in 1485 .

But he also appears in a very different character, as Cadwaladr the Blessed , the patron saint of Llangadwaladr in Anglesey , Llangadwaladr in Denbs. , and Bishton , formerly Llangadwaladr , in Mon. In the oldest form of the ‘ Pedigrees of the Saints ,’ the saint is said to be the son of Iago ap Beli ( Br. SS. , iv, 369), i.e. great-uncle of the prince, and it is possible that two members of the same family have been confused.

Geoffrey of Monmouth winds up his ‘ History of the Kings of Britain ’ with his own fanciful version of the doings of Cadwaladr and ends by tacking on to the story the particulars recorded by Bede of the death of Cadwalla of Wessex .

Sources:

  • J. E. Lloyd, A History of Wales: from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest , 190, 230-1;
  • The Historia Regum Britanniae of Geoffrey of Monmouth , 1929 , 388, xii, 16;
  • The Lives of the British Saints , ii, 43-6.

Author:

Sir John Edward Lloyd, D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A. (1861-1947), Bangor

Published date: 1959