Owain ap Gruffudd
Owain Gwynedd


Born in about 1100, Owain ap Gruffudd of Gwynedd - Owain Gwynedd - is considered as one of the foremost monarchs of Gwynedd as, by the end of his reign he ruled most of Wales. A typical prince prince of his day, he was both warlike and powerful.

Upon the death of their father Gruffudd ap Cynan in 1137, his three sons, Cadwallon, Owain and Cadwaladr shared his kingdom – as was the Welsh custom.

Cadwallon was to die later in battle leaving the kingdom between Owain and Cadwaladr. However. In 1143 - a dark chapter in the family history - Cadwaladr was involved in the murder of a Prince of Deheubarth resulting in him being driven into exile. This left Owain as sole monarch in the kingdom whereupon he proved himself to be a worthy successor to his father by adding lands and power to the kingdom of Gwynedd.

Owain used the chaos of the civil war in England between Stephen and Matilda to stretch his kingdom into Powys and also taking Marcher lands.

The two foremost princes of the day, Owain Gwynedd in the north and Gruffudd ap Rhys  in the south carried Wales through these difficult days. Both were acutely minded of the problems they faced – rival Welsh kingdoms fighting each other, Marcher lords forever seeking new lands in Wales and extending their power and, of course, the ever intrusive, richer and more powerful neighbour, England.

1157 saw Henry II (Stephen's successor) lead an invasion of Gwynedd supported by Owain's exiled brother, Cadwaladr. Owain fought back, with his forces ambushing the English army at Ewloe; the English were thoroughly routed with the King of England only just evading capture. However, Owain was eventually forced to come to terms with Henry, and was required to render homage to Henry. In the politics of the day Owain often had to yield - but he never lost the initiative and was soon acting with complete independence.

Henry invaded again in 1164(65) but was met by an alliance of all the Welsh princes, led by Owain and including Rhys ap Gruffudd - yr Arglwydd Rhys - which led to the successful capture of Basingwerk and Rhuddlan castles by the Welsh alliance. Little other fighting took place as torrential rain forced the English army into retreat. Infuriated by his failure, Henry mutilated many of his Welsh hostages including two of Owain's sons and blinding Maredudd, son of yr Arglwydd Rhys..

Henry II never invaded Wales, or challenged Owain again.

Owain Gwynedd died a powerful, successful ruler whose later years were marked by peace and the building of  structures to enforce both state and church in his own lands. Sadly after his death in 1170, his sons of which he had 5 by two marriages, also a number of illegitimate sons, fought amongst each other for supremacy in the kingdom leading to chaos in the realm. One of his sons, Iorwerth Drwyndwn was the father of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth - better known as Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) - who was to put an end to the feuding.

Native Princes of Gwynedd / Wales




Rhodri Mawr

circa 820-878

Hywel Dda

circa 880 - 950

Grufydd ap Llywelyn

circa 1007-1063

Grufydd ap Cynan

circa 1055 - 1137

Owain Gwynedd

circa 1080


Llywelyn Fawr  (the Great) - Llywelyn ap Iorwerth



Dafydd ap Llywelyn



Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf  (the Last)  - Llywelyn ap Gruffudd

circa 1223


Owain Glyndwr

circa 1349

1400 - 1404

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