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Brut y tywysogyon

Brut y tywysogyon (‘Chronicle of the Princes’) is the most valuable narrative source for the history of medieval Wales. Translated from a lost Latin original, three independent versions in Welsh survive from the 14th cent. as continuations of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae. These versions are in Peniarth 20, Red Book of Hergest, and Cotton, Cleopatra B V, with a continuation in Black Book of Basingwerk; all three have fine modern editions by Thomas Jones. They begin with Cadwaladr Fendigaid whose death (682) was regarded as a key event in the history of Britons and Saxons. They end with the equally crucial death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (1282); Peniarth 20 continues to 1332, drawing on other lost annals, and Black Book of Basingwerk has a continuation to 1461 of little value. The Latin original used church and monastic annals from the 8th cent. and, for 900–1100, others kept at St Davids and possibly Llanbadarn Fawr. It was perhaps composed at the Cistercian abbey of Strata Florida (Cardiganshire). Sometimes cryptic, often bloody, the extant versions are also eloquent and rhetorical with moving laments of great kings. Their compilation reflects the strong sense of identity of the Welsh faced with foreign conquest.

Ralph Alan Griffiths

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