databas cerddi guto'r glyn

Noblemen’s interests

Playing chess
Playing chess
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 Yr oedd gampau ar Ieuan
 I’w garu mwy no’r gwŷr mân:
 Ar Ieuan deg a’i rôn dur
 Y perthyn campau Arthur.
(poem 106.37-40)

In Guto’r Glyn’s day, men of the Welsh gentry classes were expected to master a variety of physical and intellectual feats, including playing board games, physical feats and hunting. Well-educated patrons would be praised by poets for their learning and knowledge and many also had a great interest in music. Such accomplishments were an important reflection of their status in society, a status emphasised and reinforced by the poets.

It seems the gentry also needed to have a good ear - one of the twenty-four feats they were expected to master was tuning a harp!

The full list of twenty-four feats dates from the sixteenth century (in the hand of Gruffudd Hiraethog in Peniarth 155), but references in poetry demonstrate that similar feats were practised before this time.

There were physical feats (see Games):
1. strength
2. running
3. jumping
4. swimming
5. wrestling
6. riding
7. archery
8. fencing with sword and buckler
9. fencing with a two-handed sword
10. fighting with a quarterstaff

Feats relating to hunting (see Hunting):
11. hunting with hounds
12. fishing
13. falconry or fowling

Cultural feats (see Learning and knowledge and Status and heraldry):
14. poetry
15. playing the harp
16. reading Welsh
17. drawing coats of arms
18. heraldry
19. singing a cywydd poem with music
20. singing a cywydd of four and accenting

‘Minor feats’:
21. playing gwyddbwyll (a kind of board game)
22. playing tawlbwrdd (another kind of board game)
23. playing ffristial (some kind of game involving dice)
24. tuning a harp.
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