Three of Guto’s poems for Dafydd Llwyd ap Gruffudd have survived:
Guto also composed a poem to thank his wife, Catrin daughter of Maredudd, for a purse, where Dafydd is also praised (poem 87). Other poets composed poems for Dafydd:
The eight surviving poems for Dafydd and Catrin reflect the substantial patronage offered to the poets in Abertanad. For poems for Dafydd’s parents, see Gweurful daughter of Madog.
Gruffudd Hiraethog composed a poem of praise for Siôn Edward of Oswestry, the son of Dafydd’s nephew, Maredudd ap Hywel (GGH poem 40).
The genealogical table below is based on WG1 ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ 9, 10, 48, 50, ‘Gruffudd ap Cynan’ 15, ‘Rhirid Flaidd’ 1, ‘Seisyll’ 4, ‘Tudur Trefor’ 17; WG2 ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ 10 F1, F2, ‘Gruffudd ap Cynan’ 15 A1. Those named in Guto’s three poems for Dafydd and Catrin are shown in bold print, and two unnamed brothers to whom Guto refers are shown in italic. The names of his patrons are underlined.
Dafydd was one of Ieuan Gethin’s descendants and therefore related to an extended family that exerted substantial influence in the March west of Oswestry during the fifteenth century. His father, Gruffudd ab Ieuan Fychan, was a cousin to two of Guto’s patrons, namely Sieffrai Cyffin of Oswestry and Dafydd Cyffin of Llangedwyn. He was also a nephew to another patron, Hywel ab Ieuan Fychan of Moeliwrch.
Both Guto’s and Hywel Cilan’s elegies to Dafydd show that both he and his wife, Catrin, died of the bubonic plague (poem 89). Huws (2001: 30) argued that they fell prey to a significant epidemic of 1464–5. According to Gottfried (1978: 50), the outbreak of 1463–5 was one of seven national epidemics: ‘The epidemic of 1463–1465 … [was] almost certainly bubonic plague.’
The earliest copy of Ieuan ap Tudur Penllyn’s elegy for both Dafydd and Rheinallt ap Gruffudd of Mold was written in Pen 75, 108–11 (c.1550–75), where a list of deaths, probably copied from a liturgical calendar, was also recorded on pages 5–8. The first name recorded is Reinallt ap gruffyth ap blethyn, who died on Wednesday 4 November 1465. It seems that 1466 was the year originally written in the manuscript, yet another record on page 6 notes that Rheinallt died in 1465. The opening lines of Ieuan ap Tudur Penllyn’s elegy, if taken literally, suggest that Dafydd died on Tuesday 3 November 1465 (GTP 50.5–6):
Echdoe’r aeth uchder ei wallt,
A thrannoeth yr aeth Rheinallt.
‘Yesterday his height of hair passed away,
And the next day so did Rheinallt.’
Yet again, Guto states that Dafydd died on a Thursday (89.21–2). Whereas it is unlikely that Dafydd died on that exact day, it is highly likely that he died before Rheinallt at the beginning of November or at the end of October, and that his wife, Catrin, also died a few days before him. The evidence of Pen 75 concerning their deaths is supported by the seasonal nature of the plague (Gottfried 1978: 50; see further ibid. 99–100 and 146–7; Hatcher 1986: 29):
Initiating and terminal dates are given in the chronicles and letters for the epidemic of 1463–1465 which restrict the periods of extreme virulence to the late summer and early autumn.
It is unlikely that both Dafydd and Catrin were old when they died, as their children were not old enough to come into their inheritance (89.49n). This is supported in Ieuan ap Tudur Penllyn’s elegy for both Dafydd and Rheinallt (GTP 50.7–8): Cefndyr o filwyr o faint / Fu’r rhain heb feirw o henaint ‘These mighty soldiers were cousins who did not die of old age.’ The sorrowful occasion is reflected in the case of another young family in England that suffered from the plague over a decade later (Platt 1996: 68):
[Successful Norfolk lawyer Thomas] Playter married a young Suffolk heiress … and their family was still growing, with another child on the way, when both were carried off, within three weeks of each other, by the ‘great death’ of 1479.
Although there is no evidence concerning Dafydd’s age, it can be guessed at in connection with the man whom Ieuan elegized in the same poem as Dafydd. According to a note in the margin of a poem by Tudur Penllyn to request a black bull from Rheinallt in BL 14866, 167v (1586–7), medd rhai nid oedd Reinallt xxvii mlwydd pan fu farw ‘some say that Rheinallt was not yet 27 years old when he died’. Rheinallt’s date of birth can therefore be estimated at c.1438. Strictly speaking, Dafydd and Rheinallt were half-cousins through their grandmother, Tibod daughter of Einion, and, as the genealogical table below shows, both men were born in the same generation. It is not unlikely, therefore, that Dafydd was also born c.1440 and that he was in his late twenties when he died.
Dafydd Llwyd’s career
The poets’ hyperbole in matters of military might is well-known, yet the quantity of references to Dafydd’s skill as a soldier is notable. Ieuan ap Tudur Penllyn calls both Dafydd and Rheinallt Cefndyr o filwyr o faint ‘mighty soldiers who were cousins’, cousins whose weapons will now rust and whose lands will lie unprotected (GTP 50.7, 41–6, 55–66). According to Roberts (1919: 120), Rheinallt assisted his father’s famous cousin, Dafydd ab Ieuan ab Einion, in the defence of Harlech castle in 1461–4. He was therefore a Lancastrian, yet he excelled himself between 1464 and his death in October 1465 with both the pursuit of land and the age-old animosity between the Welsh and the English in the March. He executed the former mayor of Chester at his home in Y Tŵr in Mold and an army of men from Chester was sent after him in retaliation. Yet their plans became known to Rheinallt, who proceeded to attack his enemies in his own home and harry them back to Chester, where he set a part of the city on fire (ibid. 120–2).
Unfortunately, we have no similar information about Dafydd Llwyd. Lewys Glyn Cothi calls him ysgwier colerawg ‘a collared esquire’ (GLGC 211.1) and, as Johnston points out in his note on the line, this status is referred to in a book known as Graduelys (GP 202):
Ac yn nessa i varchoc ysgwier coleroc. Tri rhyw ysgwier ysydd. Cyntaf yw ysgwier o gorph y brenhin. Ail yw ysgwier breiniol. Hwnnw a fydd o dri modd, o waed, o vowyd, o wyroliaeth y ennill gwroldeb corph. Trydydd ysgwier yw ysgwier o howshowld, neu o gerdd, neu o ophis arall y vrenhin neu y dywyssoc neu y raddau arglwyddiawl eraill, drwy y gwneuthyr yn goleroc vreiniol.
‘And second to a knight is a collared esquire. There are three kinds of esquires. The first is an esquire of the king’s household. The second is a privileged esquire. There are three kinds of this esquire, namely of blood, of life and of valour to attain the valour of the household. The third is an esquire of either the household or of poetry or of another office for a king or for a prince or for other degrees of lordship, by being made a collared esquire by privilege.’
It is unclear whether these definitions are relevant to Lewys’s description nor which one would be most relevant to Dafydd. The main significance of Lewys’s poem may be the fact that he composed it in order to request a military weapon, for it is comparable to the poem that Guto composed to request a brigandine on Dafydd’s behalf from Sieffrai Cyffin. Nonetheless, it is Guto’s delight in maintaining an extended metaphor that underpins the defensive imagery of his poem. It seems the brigandine is portrayed more as a symbolic defence for the March against Powys’s outlawry than as armour for use in actual warfare (98.23n). That may have been enough, it seems, to stoke Dafydd’s pride in his gift from his relation in Oswestry. If Dafydd was in fact a soldier, on the basis of the extant records it is unlikely that he played a major part in any military campaign.
Gottfried, R.S. (1978), Epidemic Disease in Fifteenth Century England: the Medical Response and the Demographic Consequences (Leicester)
Hatcher, J. (1986), ‘Mortality in the Fifteenth Century: Some New Evidence’, The Economic History Review, 39: 19–38
Huws, B.O. (2001), ‘Y Bardd a’i Noddwr yn yr Oesoedd Canol Diweddar: Guto’r Glyn a Hywel ab Ieuan Fychan o Foeliwrch’, G.H. Jenkins (gol.), Cof Cenedl XVI (Llandysul), 1–32
Platt, C. (1996), King Death, the Black Death and its Aftermath in Late-medieval England (London)
Roberts, T. (1919), ‘Noddwyr Beirdd: Teuluoedd Corsygedol, y Crynierth, a’r Tŵr’, Y Beirniad, viii: 114–23