Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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RHODRI MAWR (‘ the Great ’) (d. 877 ), king of Gwynedd, Powys, and Deheubarth ;

son of Merfyn Frych (q.v.) by Nest , daughter of Cadell ap Brochwel of Powys . He succeeded his father as king of Gwynedd in 844 . In 855 , on the death of his uncle, Cyngen , he became king of Powys , and in 872 , when Gwgon , king Seisyllwg ( Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi ) and brother to his wife, Angharad , died, the southern realm came under his rule. There was thus created for the first time a loose union of at least three major Welsh provinces, and though dissolved at Rhodri 's death, this temporary association gave birth to an aspiration which coloured the outlook of successive generations of Rhodri 's descendants as rulers of Deheubarth or Gwynedd down to the loss of Welsh independence. In his life-time Wales was gravely menaced by the Danes , and evidence exists pointing to bold and vigorous leadership during this crisis. It would appear that he died in battle against the Saxons , leaving six sons of whom two became founders of medieval dynasties, Anarawd (q.v.) of the house of Aberffraw , and Cadell (q.v.) , father of Hywel Dda (q.v.) , of the house of Dinefwr .


  • A History of Wales: from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


Professor Thomas Jones Pierce, M.A., F.S.A., (1905-1964), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959