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Owen Glendower

Owen Glendower

The Welsh national leader Owen Glendower (c. 1359?-c.1415) led Welsh opposition to English rule during the early 1400s.

Owen Glendower, also known as Owain ap Gruffydd and Glyndyfrdwy, Lord of Glyndwr and Sycharth, claimed descent from Bleddyn ap Cynvyn and from Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native Prince of Wales. After inheriting estates in Merioneth, Glendower probably studied law at one of the Inns of Court in London. By 1385 he was serving as a squire with King Richard II against the Scots. Possibly knighted in 1387, he also served the Earl of Arundel under Henry of Lancaster (who became Henry IV in 1399). Glendower headed a Welsh rebellion in 1399, and, after being captured at Flint Castle, he was pardoned, but some of his lands were not restored to him. After an unsuccessful appeal to Parliament, Glendower turned to rebellion and in 1400 took the title of Prince of Wales.

As a rebel, Glendower gained considerable support because of agrarian discontent. He and his followers seized south Wales and gained control of Conway, Ruthin, and Hawarden; they also attacked the royal army in the north. In 1402 Glendower was crowned at Machynlleth, and he simultaneously negotiated with the English for peace and with Ireland and Scotland for help. Aided by the weather, Glendower checked the royal forces sent against him, and at Pilleth he captured Reginald de Grey and Sir Edmund de Mortimer. This action paved the way for a treaty with the Mortimers and the Percys for the overthrow of the King. After his daughter married Mortimer, Glendower released him, and during the next few months he gained control of Carmarthen, Usk, Caerleon, and Newport. This alliance ended with the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403), in which Glendower failed to join the Percys. For the next few years Glendower and his followers controlled Wales; they ravaged the English border, regulated Church appointments, and sent the bishop of St. Asaph as an ambassador to France. Capturing Harlech and Cardiff, Glendower controlled the area west of Worcester, and in 1405 he called for a Welsh Parliament.

From 1405 onward, Glendower's power started to decline, and his sons were captured by Prince Henry. Glendower recaptured Carmarthen with the help of the French, but he was defeated in battle in 1406, deserted by his ally the Earl of Northumberland the following year, and then lost Aberystwyth in 1408 and south Wales. Glendower's wife and several of his relatives were captured by the English in 1413, and although King Henry V made several offers of full pardon in an attempt to calm the border on the eve of his French campaign, Glendower never submitted to the English.

Glendower is believed to have died on Sept. 20, 1415, at Monnington, Herefordshire. His sons concluded negotiations with the English the following spring, but the terms of their pardons were less favorable than those that had been offered to Glendower.

The main aim of Glendower and his followers was to secure the political and ecclesiastical independence of Wales. They also wanted to preserve the native language and culture of Wales.

Further Reading

The standard biography of Glendower is Sir John E. Lloyd, Owain Glyn Dwr (Owen Glendower) (1932). Other biographies include Arthur G. Bradley, Owen Glyndwr and the Last Struggle for Welsh Independence (1901), and John D. G. Davies, Owen Glyn Dwr (1934). For general historical background see Ernest F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485 (1961).

Additional Sources

Davies, R. R., The revolt of Owen Glendower, Oxford, England; New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Henken, Elissa R., Fulfilling prophecy: Owen Glendower, legend and symbol, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1996.

Sale, Richard, Owen Glendower's way, London: Hutchinson, 1985.

Skidmore, Ian, Owen Glendower, Prince of Wales, Swansea: C. Davies, 1978.

Williams, Glanmor, Owen Glendower, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1993. □

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Owen Glendower

Owen Glendower (glĕn´dou´ər, glĕndou´ər), Welsh Owain Glyndwr, 1359?–1416?, Welsh national leader. A scion of the princes of Powys, he was also claimant through his mother to the lands of Rhys ap Gruffydd; he was thus one of the most powerful lords in Wales. After studying law in London and fighting in the English army, he returned to Wales. In 1400 he emerged as the leader of a revolt against English rule. The immediate occasion was a quarrel with his neighbor Lord Grey of Ruthin, an English border baron; but deeper causes of the national upheaval that followed lay in Welsh antagonism toward their English overlords, Welsh resentment of unjust English laws and administration, and widespread economic discontent. Owen, proclaimed (1400) prince of Wales by his followers, kept the revolt against Henry IV of England burning for years. In 1402 he captured Sir Edmund de Mortimer, whose nephew the 5th earl of March had a claim to the English throne, and secured his support. He then allied himself with the discontented Percy family (Sir Henry Percy; his father, Henry Percy, 1st earl of Northumberland; and Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester). The defeat of the Percys at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 (in which Owen did not take part) was only a temporary setback for the Welsh leader. The following year he displayed his skill as a daring guerrilla fighter by capturing the key castles of Aberystwyth and Harlech. He was recognized by Charles VI of France, with whom he made (1404) an alliance, and summoned (1405) his own parliament. However, the failure of an expedition from France on his behalf (1405–6) weakened him, and the recapture by the English of Aberystwyth (1408) and Harlech (1409) left him powerless. He disappeared into the mountains and refused to take advantage of the general amnesty offered by Henry V.

See biography by G. Williams (1966).

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Glendower, Owen

Glendower, Owen (c.1354–c.1417), Welsh chief. He proclaimed himself Prince of Wales and led a national uprising against Henry IV, allying himself with Henry's English opponents, including Henry Percy. He continued fighting against the English until his death.

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Glendower, Owen

Glendower, Owen See Glyn Dw̧r, Owain

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