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Gruffydd ap Cynan

Gruffydd ap Cynan (c.1055–1137), king of Gwynedd (1081–1137). He was the son of Cynan ab Iago, a descendant of Rhodri Mawr but an exile in Ireland, and Ragnhildr, daughter of the Scandinavian ruler of Dublin. With skill and persistence, he turned himself from an adventurer into a ruler of Gwynedd, contending with Viking-Irish, Anglo-Normans, and volatile Welsh along the way. With Viking and Norman aid, he returned to re-establish Rhodri's line in Gwynedd (1075), but then attacked Rhuddlan and failed to overcome rivals. In his second foray (1081), again with Viking aid, he allied with Rhys ap Tewdwr in Deheubarth, but he was betrayed to the Normans and imprisoned at Chester. He took part in the major uprising of 1094, but by 1098 was again in Ireland. Only with Norman agreement did he return permanently (1099) and rule in Anglesey, whence he extended his dominion to the east and south, consolidated his control of Gwynedd, and created a stable, prosperous kingdom. His court poet, Meilyr Brydydd, and the History of Gruffydd ap Cynan commissioned by his son Owain (in Latin, later translated into Welsh), suggest a cultural vitality, perhaps under Irish influence, that extolled his achievements.

Ralph Alan Griffiths

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