Ieuan ap Gruffudd Leiaf is one of the lesser-known poets of the fifteenth century. He is attributed a total of twenty poems in MCF, four of which are of uncertain authorship. Only two of his poems have been edited, a short satire on Guto (poem 93) in which he complains that he should not have to share a bed with a minstrel of lowly status (Guto composed a spirited reply), and a poem of praise on the rebuilding of Hywel ab Ieuan Fychan’s home in Moeliwrch (Huws 2007: 127–33). Guto is also closely associated with the latter poem, for in it Ieuan challenges Guto to compose as good a poem for Hywel (ibid. 128):
Ni ddenwn, ni ddaw yno,
Ynad fardd onid a fo
Â’i barabl wedi’i buraw
A’i fath a’i lath yn ei law.
Myfyr y gwn ymofyn
– Mogeled na ddeued ddyn –
O feirdd at hwn i’w fwrdd tâl
I’r fort â cherdd gyfartal.
Guto, dyred ac ateb,
Gwybydd nid ar gywydd neb,
Pwy o brydyddion Powys,
Eddyl parch, a ddeil y pwys?
‘I wouldn’t compel a poet-judge
– he won’t come there – except one
whose speech was purified
and whose kind and rod were under his control.
I know full well the work of seeking
– may a man take care that he stays away –
poets for this man for his high table
to come to the table with as good a poem as mine.
Guto, bring a reply,
may you not know anyone with a poem,
who of Powys’s poets,
intention of respect, can bear the weight?’
Guto composed a truly striking poem of praise on the rebuilding of Moeliwrch (poem 90). There is no reason to believe that there was any true animosity between Ieuan and Guto, rather that they knew each other well enough to partake together in the honoruable traditions of debate and satire.
According to DWB Online s.n. Ieuan ap Gruffudd Leiaf, Ieuan composed poetry for patrons in both Penrhyn and Nanconwy as well as humorous poems for the town of Aberconwy and the river Llugwy, whose flow hindered his journey to Penrhyn.
Ieuan was descended on his father’s side from Gruffudd ap Cynan, king of Gwynedd, therefore it is no surprise that his lineage survives in the genealogies. The genealogical table below is based on WG1 ‘Gruffudd ap Cynan’ 1, 3–6. Ieuan was a cousin of Gwladus, the mother of one of Guto’s patrons, Rhobert ab Ieuan Fychan.
The short debate between Ieuan and Guto is based on Ieuan’s perceived self-importance in relation to his lineage. Ieuan refused to share a bed with Guto one night in some patron’s overfull home, due to the fact that he was descended from nobler stock than the lowly minstels. As shown above, Ieuan was indeed descended from the royal family of Gwynedd through his great-great-grandfather, Dafydd Goch (for other family connections, see GILlF 73). Dafydd Goch was the illegitimate son of Dafydd ap Gruffudd, who was Prince of Wales for a short period between the death of his brother, Llywelyn, on 11 December 1282 and his own gruesome death on 3 October 1283 (see DNB Online s.n. Dafydd ap Gruffudd, although Dafydd Goch is not mentioned). Dafydd ap Gruffudd’s two legitimate sons, Llywelyn and Owain, were imprisoned in Bristol for the rest of their lives, but Dafydd Goch lived on in Gwynedd (Smith 1998: 579, footnote 238; Dafydd Goch is not mentioned in idem 1986: 390).
It is assumed that Dafydd Goch was allowed to live mainly as he was not considered his father’s legitimate heir under English law. It is, therefore, interesting that Guto, in his reply to Ieuan’s satire, in all likelihood chose to refer to Ieuan’s associations with the princes of Powys. Guto concedes that Ieuan was the mab i sgwïer ‘son of an esquire’, yet he states that Ieuan’s lineage hailed o Edeirnion – genedl, / O ganol twysogion ‘from the kindred of Edeirnion, from among princes’. He also reminds Ieuan that part of his lineage (possibly on his mother’s side) was descended from cobblers and turners of lowly status. The construction of these lines suggest that the reference to ‘princes’ should be associated with the ‘kindred of Edeirnion’. Furthermore, the only reference to Edeirnion in the poetry of the fourteenth century occurs in a poem by Gruffudd Llwyd for Hywel ap Meurig Fychan and his brother, Meurig Llwyd, of Nannau, who were descended through their mother from Gruffudd ab Owain ap Bleddyn ab Owain Brogyntyn (Parry Owen 2008: 80; GGLl 14.41–6):
Hanoedd eu mam, ddinam ddawn,
O deÿrnedd Edeirniawn:
Glân o lin, goleuni lamp,
Gwawr y Rug, gwir oreugamp;
Gorwyr Owain, liwgain lorf,
Brogyntyn, briwai gantorf.
‘Their mother, perfect faculty, was descended
from the kings of Edeirnion:
from honourable lineage, a lamp’s brightness,
Rhug’s luminosity, best true accolade;
Owain Brogyntyn’s great-grandsons,
finely coloured pillar, he’d shatter a hundred hosts.’
In the twelfth century the commote of Edeirnion was ruled by the princes of Powys. It is unsurprising that Guto was familiar with the princely lineages of the fifteenth-century noblemen of Edeirnion, for he composed poetry for a number of Owain Brogyntyn’s descendants in the commote, such as Ieuan ab Einion of Cryniarth. It is unlikely, therefore, that Guto is referring to Ieuan’s association with the princes of Gwynedd, rather with the princes of Powys, from whom Ieuan was descended through the marriages of his grandfather, his great-grandfather and his great-great-grandfather. The genealogical table below is based on WG1 ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ 1, 3, 13, 20, 24, ‘Gruffudd ap Cynan’ 5, 6, ‘Hwfa’ 5, 6, ‘Iarddur’ 1, 2, ‘Marchudd’ 5 (it is unclear which Angharad was the mother of Gruffudd ap Dafydd Goch, but both were descended from Owain Brogyntyn).
Why, then, did Guto choose to refer to the princes of Powys? On the one hand, he may have wanted to get under Ieuan’s skin by referring to his rather distant association with the princes of Powys instead of his close relation to the princes of Gwynedd. On the other hand, it is possible that Dafydd Goch’s descendants did not recognize their descent from the princes of Gwynedd as Dafydd Goch was not a legitimate son of Dafydd ap Gruffudd. Unlike English law, in Welsh law it is likely that a man deemed illegitimate by the Church could, nonetheless, claim his father’s inheritance (Davies 1980: 106–7). It would, therefore, be surprising if Dafydd Goch’s descendants were not proud of their link with the princes of Gwynedd. However, according to Davies (1980: 108) there is evidence that the right of illegitimate sons to claim their inheritance was generally on the decline by the fifteenth century. It is worth considering whether or not Guto was familiar with this legal ambiguity, for parts of his poem of praise for Hywel ab Ieuan Fychan of Moeliwrch suggest that he was (poem 91). If so, the first option seems more likely, namely that Guto was subtly suggesting that Ieuan’s association with the princes of Gwynedd was not as respectable as he would like to think.
A family of poets
Ieuan’s father, Gruffudd Leiaf ap Gruffudd Fychan, is attributed two poems in MCF, yet they were also attributed to other poets and it is uncertain whether any of his poetry survives (for one of the poems, see DG.net ‘Apocryffa’ poem 91). There are poems attributed to Ieuan’s sons also, namely Sir Siôn Leiaf and Rhobert Leiaf, although the latter may have been Ieuan’s brother as he is named Rhobert ap Gruffudd Leiaf in some sources. Guto names Sir Siôn Leiaf in a poem for Abbot Dafydd ab Ieuan of Valle Crucis (116.11–14):
Syr Siôn, anudon wedy,
Leiaf a roes ei le fry:
Gwnâi dwyll ym, y gwyndyll haidd,
Am ei deiau meudwyaidd.
‘Sir Siôn Leiaf yielded his place yonder,
then followed a breach of promise:
he was deceiving me, that winnowing fan for barley,
regarding his houses of retreat.’
Guto is in all likelihood referring to a poem by Sir Siôn in which Guto, Hywel Grythor and Gwerful Mechain are satirized and Rhisiart Cyffin, dean of Bangor, is praised. For the poem and further on Sir Siôn, see Salisbury 2011: 97–118.
Davies, R.R. (1980), ‘The Status of Women and the Practice of Marriage in Late-medieval Wales’, D. Jenkins and M.E. Owen (eds.), The Welsh Law of Women (Cardiff), 93–114
Huws, B.O. (2007), ‘Ailadeiladu Bywyd ar ôl Gwrthryfel Glyndŵr: Tystiolaeth y Canu i Foelyrch’, Dwned, 13: 97–137
Parry Owen, A. (2008), ‘Mynegai i Enwau Priod yng Ngwaith Beirdd y Bedwaredd Ganrif ar Ddeg’, LlCy 31: 35–89
Salisbury. E. (2011), ‘Rhisiart Cyffin ab Ieuan Llwyd, Deon Bangor’, Dwned, 17: 73–118
Smith, J.B. (1986), Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Tywysog Cymru (Caerdydd)
Smith, J.B. (1998), Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales (Cardiff)