Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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ITHEL DDU ( fl. second half of 14th cent. )

was most probably an Anglesey man — ‘of the land of Meilyr ,’ says Iolo Goch (q.v.) , though Iolo also locates him in Llŷn , and indeed further transports him to Bardsey . Iolo styles him ‘a famous poet ,’ but all that we have to substantiate that claim is a single cywydd , preserved in two copies, Pen. MSS. 77 (441) and 78 (135) . It would indeed seem that Ithel was no professional bard , but rather a quasi-squire , a mighty hunter and a boon companion (according to Iolo ), and like the rest of his class a patron of bards . It was by his command (says Iolo ) that Iolo Goch composed the very scurrilous lampoon, printed by Charles Ashton in his edition of Iolo (no. xl), upon the mother of the poet Gruffydd Gryg — see further the article on Gruffydd . An ‘elegy’ by Iolo , on Ithel 's supposed death on Bardsey — assassinated, so it is hinted, by Gruffydd Gryg — can hardly be regarded as historical evidence; it is pretty clearly a ‘leg-pull,’ in the same genre as the lampoon mentioned above.

Sources:

  • Henry Lewis , introduction to Cywyddau Iolo Goch ac Eraill, 1350–1450 , 1st ed 1st ed., liv-lvi.

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959